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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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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