CAVENDISH, William. Earl of Devonshire. HOBBES, Thomas (?)


Horæ subseciuæ. Observations and discovrses.

London, [Eliot’s Court Press] for Edward Blount, 1620.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. (viii), 222, (iv), 223-324, (ii), 325-417, (iii), 419-503, (iii), 505-542. A⁴ B-X⁸ Y⁴ Z-2K⁸ 2L-2M⁴ 2N-2O⁸. Roman letter. Title and text within double box rule, floriated woodcut initials and typographical headpieces, “The Earle of Devonshires Book, Pre: 10 R.E.” (probably Richard Evelyn, father of the celebrated John) and other early annotations in early hand on front fly, later inscriptions with various Latin and English mottos, ‘C.J.’ initialed at head of title. Light age yellowing, the very rare marginal spot. A very good copy, crisp and clean in contemporary calf, spine bordered with gilt and blind rules large arabesque gilt to centers, spine rebacked to match, gilt and blind ruled in compartments with central fleurons gilt, new endpapers, lozenge on rear cover half chipped away and finely restored.

Rare, first and only edition of these important essays by William Cavendish, deeply influenced by Montaigne and Bacon, with the first edition of three discourses now attributed to Thomas Hobbes, Cavendish’s tutor, and thus the first edition of some of Hobbes’ earliest works. “Hobbes’s first discussions of substantive moral issues drew on these (skeptical) ideas, particularly as put forward by Bacon. … Hobbes and his pupils in the Devonshire household followed this precedent in a highly Baconian, and Montaigne-like, set of essays that they appear to have composed between 1610 and 1640. … The earliest example is a long ‘Discourse against flatterie’ which was published in 1611. This was an earlier version of a discourse with the same name which appeared in a group of four discourses as an adjunct to a collection of very Baconian essays, in an anonymous volume entitled Horae Subsecivae in 1620.

The essays (it is known from a manuscript at Chatsworth) were by William Cavendish, later the second earl, and Hobbes’s first ‘pupil’ (though that is rather a misnomer – Cavendish was only two years younger than Hobbes, had graduated from Cambridge the same year that Hobbes graduated from Oxford, and became his ‘tutor’ and had married the same year.) The ‘Discourse against flatterie’ is dedicated to Cavendish’s father in law in terms that are entirely appropriate for Cavendish himself. … The MS volume of Essayes at Chatsworth is dedicated by ‘Your Lordships most observant and dutiful sonne W. Cavendishe’ presumably to the first Earl by his son, Hobbes’ pupil, in Venice. The MS is in Hobbes’ hand and also contains some annotations by Hobbes. This not need mean very much however … clearly it was a matter of some indifference whether Hobbes or his pupil wrote out these treatises. …

(The essays and discourses are very important) as evidence for the intellectual life within the Cavendish household, and for the context out of which (at the very least) Hobbes’s own ideas developed. Hobbesian themes surface in these essays and discourses, however, and there seems to have been a complex intellectual relationship between Hobbes and his pupil.” Tom Sorell, ‘The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes.’

The three discourses, ‘A Discourse of Lawes’, ‘A Discourse of Rome’, and ‘A Discourse upon the beginning of Tacitus’ have now been more clearly established to be by Hobbes himself. “That the Horae Subsecivae had its origins in the Cavandish household and that Sir William Cavendish penned the ‘Observations’ and the ‘Discourse against Flattery’ published therein is certain. From the style, it is abundantly clear that the author of the three discourses now attributed to Hobbes was someone other than the author of the ‘Observations’ … and the three remaining discourses are in the style, and to some degree in the mode of argument strikingly similar to the later works of Hobbes. These discourses have recently been republished in a critical edition ‘Three discourses: A Critical Modern Edition of Newly Identified Work of the Young Hobbes.’ ed. Noel B. Reynolds…” Paul A. Rahe. ‘Against Throne and Altar: Machiavelli and Political Theory Under the English.’ 

A very good copy of this rare work; ABPC records no copies sold at auction, and ESTC gives only four locations for the work in US libraries, at Folger, Huntington, New York Society and Northwestern University.

ESTC S105996. STC 3957.


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BURTON, Robert


The Anatomy of Melancholy.

Oxford, for Henry Cripps, 1632.


Folio pp. (x) 78 (vi) 722 (x), two additional unnumbered ll. after 218. Roman letter, splendid engraved t-p by Christoffel le Blon (Johnson 35:1) depicting allegorical figures of solitude, jealousy, love, mania, superstition, hypochondria etc, with portraits of Democritus (in a garden) and the author, reinforced at fore-edge, woodcut ornaments and initials. Uniform age yellowing, a good clean copy in contemp. calf, rebacked, spine neatly remounted, upper cover loosening. morocco label. Text of a Latin letter to the author covering fly (1719), early C18 family marginalia on 2 ll., autograph of William Colbron 1652 on preceding stub. In folding box.

Fourth edition, ‘corrected and augmented,’ in this case truly so as the author made corrections and additions to each edition published during his lifetime. The Anatomy is divided into three partitions, which are subdivided into sections, members, and subsections. Prefixed to each partition is an elaborate synopsis as a sort of index (there is a full index at the end), in humorous imitation of the practice common in books of scholastic divinity of the day. Part I deals with the causes and symptoms of melancholy, its species and kinds, part II with its cures, part III with the more frivolous kinds of melancholy and part IV with love melancholy and religious melancholy, with some moving sections on the ‘Cure of Despair’.

It was one of the first works in English to consider in depth human psychiatric problems, of which it shows considerable understanding, and was an immediate best-seller, encompassing all the charm, humour and learning of the age. As a work of literature it has something in common with More’s ‘Utopia’, Rabelais and Montaigne and like these exercised a considerable influence on the thought of its own and later times. Dr Johnson said it was the only book that took him out of bed two hours earlier than he intended, ‘Tristam Shandy’ was penetrated with it, Charles Lamb modelled his style on it and Milton gathered hints from the verses prefixed to it. Although humorous, on every page is the impress of a deep and original mind. Burton never travelled abroad, and hardly outside Oxford, but he was fascinated by geography and cosmography and there are numerous references to foreign lands, especially the Americas. To live in the right part of the world for one’s humours, Burton rightly held, was one of the best ways of avoiding melancholy. Burton was also a serious scholar and a great bibliophile; most of his collection is now in the Bodleian.

William Colbron (1593-1662) came to New England in 1630 with the Winthrop fleet and resided in Boston. He became a freeman of the Massachusetts Bay Commonwealth in May 1631, and a farmer, civil officer and church deacon. He died in 1662.

STC 4162. Lowndes I 328. Pforzheimer I 119 and Printing and the Mind of Man 120 (1st edns). Madan I 162:3. Alden 632/18 “Included are numerous scattered refs to the Americas”, p 194. Norman 381 (1st) “the classic study on depression”. Osler 4621 “A great medical treatise”. Heirs of Hippocrates 252 (2nd) “Almost half of the thousand references to other authors are medical”.


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SCOTUS, Michael


Liber physiognomiae.

(Passau), (Johann Petri), (c. 1487-1488).


4to. 44 unnumbered leaves, a-c8, d6, e8, f6. Gothic letter. Rubricated throughout, capital spaces with guide letters, initials supplied in red. Light age yellowing, early paper repair at head of blank inner margin of first quire, title page fractionally dusty. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in modern vellum over thin paste boards.

Extremely rare incunable edition of the Physiognomy or ‘Book of Secrets’ by the renowned Scottish astrologer, philosopher, alchemist, translator from the Arabic, and scholar Michael Scot. “In the first half of the thirteenth century Michael Scot, the translator of Aristotle’s History of Animals produced a ‘Book on Physiognomy’ (liber phisionomiae), better known in the Renaissance under the title ‘On the Secrets of Nature’ (De Secretis naturae), that has been described as the first true work on physiognomy composed in the medieval West. Dedicated to Frederick II, Michael Scot composed the work to enable the emperor to distinguish, from outward appearances, trustworthy and wise counselors from their opposite numbers. Such a science is so useful to a ruler that Michael Scot does not hesitate to describe it as a “doctrine of Salvation” that enables its practitioners to identify those inclined to virtue or vice”. Irven M. Resnick. ‘Marks of Distinctions: Christian Perceptions of Jews in the High Middle Ages.’

“The work is divided into three books, each having its own introduction. The first expounds the mysteries of generation and birth, and reaches, as we have already remarked, even beyond humanity to a considerable part of the animal world so much studied by the Arabians. The second expounds the signs of the different complexions, as these become visible in any part of the body, or are discovered by dreams. The third examines the human frame member by member, explaining what signs of the inward nature may be read in each. The whole forms a very complete and interesting compendium of the art of physiognomy as then understood. … The book attained a wide popularity in manuscript, and the invention of printing contributed to increase its circulation in Europe.

No less than eighteen editions are said to have been printed between 1477 and 1660. … The last two chapters of Book I in the Fhysionomia of Scot show plainly that he had the Arabic version of Aristotle’s History of Animals before him as he wrote. … Meanwhile let us guard against the impression naturally arising from our analysis of the Fhysionomia, that it was a mere compilation. Many parts of the work show no correspondence with any other treatise on the subject that is known to us, and these must be held as the results of the author’s own observations. The arrangement of the whole is certainly original.” J. wood Brown. “The Life and Legend of Michael Scot.”

“Michael Scot (c. 1175 – c. 1235), who was born in Scotland and travelled to Spain, deserves a special place among the translators of this century. Scot was a philosopher, alchemist, astrologer, and translator from Arabic. He was in Toledo in 1217, in Padua and Bologna in 1220, and in Rome between 1224 and 1227. He ended his days in the service of Frederick II in Sicily. Scot was able to translate some important Arabic works of a revolutionary nature. He produced a translation of al-Bitruji’s treatise which contained the first attack on traditional astronomy. His translations of some of Aristotle’s works with Ibn Rushd’s commentaries were among the first works that introduced Averroistic philosophy to the Latin world.

Scot gave also the first Latin translation of Aristotle’s biological and zoological works including De Animalibus. Most of these major works were achieved while Scot was in Toledo, where he was able to enlist the help of native Arabic-speaking assistants. While Scot was in the Service of Frederick II, as court astrologer, he translated Ibn Sina’s De Animalibus and wrote several works on astrology, alchemy, physiognomy, and the occult sciences. The name Michael Scot became associated in the popular imagination with black magic. He was famous in his own time and in the following generations as an astrologer and magician. He was called a wizard and thus he gained a place in Dante’s inferno.” A. Y. Al-Hassan ‘Science and Technology in Islam: The exact and natural sciences’. A good copy of this rare and most interesting incunable.

BMC II 616. Goff M559. HC 14547. BSB-Ink M-384. GW M23296.


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Venice, Aldus et Andreae Soceri, December 1517.


8vo. ff. 190 (ii). Italic letter, anchor and dolphin device on title and verso of last, capital spaces with guide letters, C19 armorial bookplate of the Earl of Macclesfield on pastedown, Shirburn Castle blind stamp to head of first two leaves. A very good copy in mid-seventeenth century English calf, covers bordered with a double gilt fillet, spine double gilt ruled in compartments with fleur de lys at corners and central fleurons, title gilt in one compartment, raised bands, all edges speckled red.

Second Aldine edition, a reprint of Aldus’ edition of 1501, with the letter from Pliny the Younger to Cornelius Priscus on verso of title as its only prefatory matter. Martial, certainly a Spaniard and probably a Basque, spent his working life in Rome carefully observing his fellow men and recording them for us in these exquisite vignettes. The Epigrams (Martial’s most important work), are short poems, each expressing pointedly and concisely a single idea, and are generally in the form of a satire.

Martial describes with the most realistic detail the vices of his age. The fortune hunters, gluttons, drunkards, debauchers, hypocrites of various kinds and stingy patrons come to life in his verses, along with the occasional plea for a gift or a loan, thanks given to a faithful friend or honest critic, or a simple hello or farewell. Many offer vivid glimpses of the contemporary Roman scene, the hot sausage vendor on his round, or the tiresome guest who arrives too late for breakfast and too early for lunch.

Beneath the humour, there is the serious intention to expose the frailties of humanity, albeit with more amusement than indignation. Martial himself pleaded that his epigrams were far more serious than most other authors’ tragedies and he was probably right. Perhaps because of allegations of obscenity – but Martial did not invent, he described what he saw – the Epigrammata was relatively neglected in the first century of printing. A very good copy from the extraordinary library of the Earls of Macclesfield. Early editions of Martial are now scarce.

BM. STC. It. p.420. Renouard 81:11. Adams M 694. Brunet III 1490. Censimento 16 CNCE 37562; UCLA 161.


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De l’Heur et malheur de mariage, ensemble les loix connubiales de Plutarque, traduictes en françois, par Jehan de Marconville

Paris, Jean Dallier, 1571.


8vo. ff. (viii) 83 (i). Roman letter, italic side notes. Woodcut publisher’s device on title page, floriated woodcut initials and head-pieces, book plate of Charles V. D. Elst on pastedown. Light age yellowing. A very good copy in C19 French crushed red morocco ‘Jansenist,’ signed Hardy-Menil, spine with raised bands, gilt title, edges with double gilt rule, inner dentelles richly gilt, all edges gilt, joints slightly crushed at head.

Rare second edition of this curious work on the pros and cons of marriage, first published in Paris in 1564, concurrently with another work examining the good and evil of women. Both are mentioned in the privilege given to Jean Dallier at the end of this book and were probably complementary. Marconville published many works which presented arguments, for and against, in a tradition derived from Erasmus, and prefiguring Montaigne’s Essais. The present work addresses such things as adultery, marriage ceremonies both Christian and pagan, degrees of consanguinity, how to punish a wife, jealousy, and the unhappiness caused by being married to a “Mauvais Femme.”

“Some French Catholics who began cautiously endorsing marriage were Jean Bouchet, Jean de Marconville, and Francois de Billon. Jean de Marconville was a Catholic who sought the unity of the Church, but objected to the use of force against the Protestants. He addressed the issue of marriage in his ‘De l’Heur et malheur de mariage,’ published in 1564. The stated premise was that men and women were meant to be married. He advocated marriage as security ‘against the disordered affections of the flesh and against the vices of incontinence and sensuality.’” Yvonne Petry. ‘Gender, Kabbalah, and the Reformation.’

This was taken in part and reworked from a French translation of Mexia’s ‘Diverses Lecons’ by Claude Gruget. “Marconville conceals Mexia as a source, juggles the order of Mexia’s three linked chapters on marriage, and leaves his reader with a false impression of his source material. Marconville borrowed and compiled from Mexia’s ‘Diverses Lecons,’ but, more importantly, he changed the meaning and context of the examples. Marconville transformed Mexia’s writings on variety and diversity into an argument for monogamous Christian marriage. … Marconville’s work … echoes Mexia and copies his phrases, but alters them slightly to emphasise the more formal requirements of the public ceremonies required for a legitimate marriage. For Mexia, the consent alone (seul consentment) of the couple suffices, helped along by ceremonies. For Marconville, a more public (solonnel) arrangement is required to demonstrate this consent that he emphasises as ‘mutual.’ Lyndan Warner. ‘The Ideas of Man and Woman in Renaissance France: Print, Rhetoric, and Law.’

Very little is known of Marconville’s life. A country gentleman born about 1540, he was a fairly prolific writer in the popular philosophical vein, and a friend of a number of better known literary contemporaries such as Thevet and Belleforest. Hofer (NBG) describes his works on women as “recherchés pour leur singularité.”

This Edition not in BM STC Fr. Adams M-551. Brunet III 1408. “Traités assez recherchés”. Cioranescu 14017 (1st ed.). Gay II 470. “Livre rare et tres curieux.” Not in Tchermerzine or Hull ‘Chaste, silent & obedient’.


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FICINO, Marcilio


De triplici vita (with) Apologia (and) Annotatio.

Basel, Johann Amerbach, not after 1498.


4to. 100 unnumbered leaves. (a-l8, m-n6). Roman letter with Gothic head-lines. Contemporary annotation to a few ll. including index hands. Light age yellowing, occasional oil splashes to the margins of a few leaves, a very crisp, clean and well-margined copy in contemporary ruled and blind-rolled half-pigskin over oak boards, ink stain to lower pigskin with small hole, slight tear to spine at tail, original brass clasp.

A handsome copy of the second Basel edition of Marsilio Ficino’s (1433-99) ‘Three Books on Life’, dedicated to his patron Cosimo de’Medici. For the famous translator of Plato, and of the hermetic philosophers from ancient Egypt, this was a slight departure from high scholarship into the realm of popular writing that blended folk remedies with the classics, or as the author himself writes, ‘Galen, physician of Bodies, and Plato, physician of souls.’ The first book ‘On Healthy Life’ considers black bile, the cause of madness and melancholy, but as Ficino argues, the only bodily substance that engenders profound thought, and thus the origin of genius. In this way Ficino’s book is not only a ‘Treatise on Healthy Living for the Learned’ as he calls it, but the first to defend the temperamental genius because “it sometimes helps to be a little crazy” (Kaske cit. infr.).

After arguing “Why Melancholics are Intelligent” Ficino’s final chapters of Book One provide remedies for rheum, phlegm, stomach aches, and headaches: the side-affects of melancholy. The second book ‘On Long Life’ continues in this vein with advice on diet, exercise, and daily habit (sometimes suspect: ‘we should avoid both continual thinking and sexual intercourse’) in order to leave a happy and healthy life. The final six chapters are addressed to the elderly, with one chapter dedicated to the uses of rose-honey, probably the earliest known superfood, and another on the significance of art and music to the well-lived life.

Book Three radically changes pace from treatments for the body to consultations with the stars, reading something like a New Age Self-Help Book, i.a. “How We Should Use the Planets in Medicines”, “Seven Ways in Which We Can Accommodate Ourselves to Celestial Things”, “Astronomical Precautions to Be Taken in Procreating Children, In Preparing Meals, in Buildings, and in One’s Dwelling Place and Clothing”. It is not only the longest of the three books, but the most controversial, as every chapter prescribes occult practices in the name of therapy, for instance instructing readers how to capture the spirits of the stars into silver or gold rings. It was this portion of De vita which put Ficino into direct conflict with the Church for the first time: although he claims he is merely interpreting Plotinus, the more blatant references to magic are not from Plotinus but from the hermetic philosophers Proclus, and especially Al-Kindi’s Picatrix.

From Ficino’s correspondence in 1490, we know Pope Innocent VIII found inklings of heresy in the work, and he successfully petitioned his friends in Rome for help in restoring his name to favour. The book concludes with an Apologia, another preventative measure to contain the dispute with Rome that broke out after the book’s publication. In it, Ficino emphasises his vocation as a priest and physician, interested in physical healing for the sake of spiritual healing, and repeats again and again that he does not approve of ‘profane magic’, but only ‘natural magic’, that of the Magi who first adored Christ at his birth. Rare in completely original condition, as here.

BMC III 759. Cantamessa I 2588. Goff F-160. Hain *7063. Osler 2584. Wellcome 2257. Kaske “Three Books on Life: A Critical Edition”. Thorndike IV Chap. 58.


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MARTINI, Matthaeus


De moribis mesenterii abstrusioribus.

Leipzig, Capar Closemann, 1630.


8vo., pp. (16) 365 (41). Roman and italic letter. A good, well-margined copy, vellum stub in early English hand, in fine contemporary English calf, border triple-ruled in blind, slightly worn at foot of spine, all edges speckled red. “price 1:4” on verso of fly, on title page “W.K. p. 1:4” and “Will: Kemp” in contemporary manuscript.

Third edition of a medical treatise published in 1616 and 1625, concerning illnesses of mesentery, or the lining between the bowels and the back wall of the abdomen, by Matthaeus Martini, a physician from Eiselben. The treatise describes the causes of obstruction in this area of the body, offering dietary remedies like citrus, and concludes with practical remedies for purging the body of illness, sometimes literally, as with Martini’s recipe for vomitus provocatio. It also links the illnesses of the lower body to the mind; Martini argues that diseases of the mesentery are symptoms of melancholy, cold and dry black bile, so warm and moderately dry climates are recommended.

The second part takes up more than half the volume, and considers the mesentery in terms of ‘the history and management of the mental condition of hypocondriacs,’ melancholy. Following a poem about imbalances of the humours, by which the mesentery and bowels are first affected, Martini provides a compendium of remedies from Galen, Hippocrates, Avicenna and others, to treatments resulting from his own research. He concludes with an extensive index.

A similar position was taken by Robert Burton, who lists the mesentery among the chief causes of hypochondriacal (or ‘windy’) melancholy in Part I of The Anatomy of Melancholy. Both authors cite Laurentius to support their assertion, and it is striking that both draw causal links between the psychological and the physical — although Martini offers these in a shorter, more practical medical guide. He describes his own work in the subtitle, as ‘according to a School of Physicians until now overlooked, and not written by a famous Ancient.’

In the dedicatory preface (addressed to the Lords and Nobles of the city of Nuremberg), Martini explains that he spent most of his life training in Italy, under Doctor Phillippus Camerarus, a native of Cologne who had also been educated in Italy until held a heretic by the Inquisition. Little is known about Martini himself. His other works include a treatise on the diagnosis and cure of scurvy (1624), and another work on hypochondria (1643). An interesting copy clearly imported into England in sheets; Kemp unfortunately has not been identified.

BMC C17 Ger. M394. Wellcome 4091. Not in Durling, Heirs of Hippocrates, Garrison, Morton or Osler.


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