20 November 2002
HOBBES, Thomas (1588-1679). Leviathan: or the matter, forme, & power of a common-wealth ecclesiasticall and civill. London: Andrew Crooke, 1651.
2° (282 x 173mm). Engraved frontispiece, title with woodcut ornament of a head in a frame of scrolls and tassels, folding letterpress table. (Frontispiece slightly soiled at lower margin, L3 and Vv3 holed with slight loss to two and one line of text respectively, rust hole in Dd4 and Gg2 also slightly affecting text.) Contemporary English calf, gilt spine in compartments with morocco lettering-piece and repeated flower-and-acorn design, yellow edges (old repair to upper cover, some worming and chipping to lower cover, joints rubbed and cracked, lower corners worn). Provenance: Marquess of Hertford, Ragley Hall Library (bookplate) -- some scoring in pencil.
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE with head ornament on title. Apart from their differing title ornament, the two later issues also have the errata corrected. Hobbes was in Paris when the edition was being printed, receiving 'every week a sheet to correct.' The celebrated frontispiece illustrates his view of the State as an aggregation of individual men submitting voluntarily to the absolute sway of the sovereign who is the 'soul' of the 'common-wealth.' It was in a hypothetical state of nature, deprived of political organisation, that Hobbes memorably described human lives as 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.' Macdonald & Hargreaves 42; Norman 1082; Pforzheimer 491; PMM 138; Wing H-2246.
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