"THE GLORY ATTENDING MY DEATH WILL FAR SURPASS ALL I COULD ENJOY OR CONCEIVE IN LIFE": FIRST FOLIO EDITION OF THE WORKES OF KING CHARLES, THE FIRST ROYALLY SANCTIONED EDITION OF EIKON BASILIKE, 1662
CHARLES I. Basilika: The Workes of King Charles, The Martyr. With a collection of Declarations, Treaties, And other Papers concerning the Differences Betwixt His said Majesty and his Two Houses of Parliament. London: Printed by James Flesher for R. Royston, Book-seller to His Most Sacred Majesty, 1662. Thick folio (10 by 14-1/2 inches), contemporary full brown morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, red morocco spine label; pp. (16), 120, (2), 458, (12), 733, (7). $10,500.
First folio edition of the works of King Charles I—the enormously popular (and vainly suppressed) testament to the executed monarch's political principles and spiritual devotion—the first edition directly approved by Charles II, beautifully printed with three magnificent double-page copper-engraved plates, engraved frontispiece (by Hollar) and title page, in lovely morocco-gilt with the king's coat of arms stamped in gilt on the covers.
In late 1647, with tensions between Charles I and Parliament mounting, the king fled from Oliver Cromwell and the army. In November, he escaped "to the Isle of Wight, where he seems to have expected that Colonel Hammond, the governor of Carisbooke Castle, would protect him… Hammond, however, was faithful to his trust, and Charles became a resident, and before long a prisoner in the castle" (DNB). The next year, he would be tried and executed. "A few hours after the King's execution, his Eikon Basilike was in the hands of the people… So marvelous was its effect, that contemporary authorities declare that nothing but the Government's ingenious and persistent condemnations of the work prevented an immediate restoration of the crown"(Almack, 3). "Charles' posthumous campaign of persuasion was perhaps the most successful he ever waged… By the end of the first year of the Commonwealth, 'The King's Book' was everywhere, showing up like an irrepressible phantom, even in miniature editions designed for concealment" (Schama, History of Britain II:177). "The work is a masterpiece in its expression of Charles' principles… and by making a martyr of this Stuart king, [it] exercised a considerable influence on English history" (Kunitz & Haycraft, 212), helping prepare the way for the 1660 Restoration of Charles II. This collection features the first royally sanctioned printing of the Eikon Basilike. Directly approved by Charles II and licensed exclusively to London printer Richard Royston, this majestic and wide-margined folio printing was seen as the finest production of the late king's writings. With splendidly engraved title page ("Aeternitati sacrum"), coat of arms frontispiece and three intricately designed double-page plates by W. Hollar and A. Hertocks (in this copy, preceding the Life of Charles I; preceding part title to Declarations and Papers (page 53, second part); and preceding part title to Papers and Passages Concerning the Treaty of Peace at Uxbridge. Without the extra and frequently absent leaf bearing the epitaph "M.S. Sanctissimi Regis." Without additional frontispiece, noted in some copies only. Numerous engraved ornamental initials. First gathering and separate Collection of Declarations, Treaties title page ruled in red; with rear colophon leaf. Mispagination of page 201 as 199 (part one) as issued without loss of text. ESTC R9377. Almack 61. Wing C2075. Madan 65. Lowndes, 413. Engraved armorial bookplate (Thomas Walpole). With two pages of 19th-century owner's ink annotations in a neat hand bound in as flyleaves.
Without front and rear free endpapers. Only very faint evidence of dampstain to lower corner of a few leaves; text and plates generally quite clean and fresh. A bit of rubbing to joints and spine ends, morocco-gilt binding quite sound and very handsome.