“THE DESIRE OF HAPPINESS IS SO COESSENTIAL WITH OUR NATURE…”: HANDSOME 17TH-CENTURY EDITION OF ALLESTREE’S THE ART OF CONTENTMENT
(ALLESTREE, Richard). The Art of Contentment. Oxford: At the Theatre, 1677. Small octavo, contemporary full dark brown calf gilt, raised bands, black morocco spine labels, all edges gilt. $900.
Early edition of this manual for proper gentlemanly conduct, self-improvement, and the enjoyment of life, with engraved frontispiece, finely bound in contemporary calf-gilt.
Although the book is anonymous, it has been theorized for many years that one of the authors is Richard Allestree, canon of Christ Church, a Royalist who was persecuted during the Commonwealth. Allestree’s biographer, Bishop Fell, wrote that “few of his time had either a greater compass or a deeper insight into all parts of learning; the modern and learned languages, rhetoric, philosophy, mathematics, history, antiquity, moral and polemical divinity” (DNB). The Art of Contentment was first published in 1675. A popular work, it was reprinted many times in the coming years. The present copy is from the fifth edition; a total of ten editions were issued by 1700. Wing A1089. Early owner signatures, including one on title page; engraved armorial bookplate.
About-fine and quite desirable in lovely contemporary calf-gilt.