“ALL MEN HAVE RECEIVED SOME ABILITIES TO ACTUATE, SOME TALENTS TO IMPROVE”: HANDSOME 17TH-CENTURY EDITION OF ALLESTREE’S THE GENTLEMAN’S CALLING
(ALLESTREE, Richard). The Gentleman’s Calling. London: Printed by R. Norton, for Robert Pawlet, 1679. Small octavo, contemporary full dark brown calf gilt, raised bands, black morocco spine labels, all edges gilt. $1200.
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. This fascinating treatise discusses various attributes of men, namely those “advantages” of education, wealth, time, authority and reputation, and dispenses advice on appropriate conduct: “Come to the Glutton when he is laboring under the load of an over charged stomack; to the Drunkard when his mornings qualm is revenging on him his last nights debauch; to the lustful person, when the torment of his bones admonish him of the sins of the flesh: and then ask them whether Temperance be not more pleasant then its contrary.” Allestree’s biographer, Bishop Fell, who likely assisted Allestree in writing The Whole Duty of Man and The Gentleman’s Calling, 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 Gentleman’s Calling, a perennially popular handbook, originally published in 1660, ran through 19 editions by 1679 (the present edition) and a further five editions were issued by 1696. Wing A1127. Early ink owner signature to title page; engraved armorial bookplate.
About-fine and quite desirable in lovely contemporary calf-gilt.