6 December 2004
BRIGHT, Timothy (ca 1551-1615). A Treatise of Melancholie. London: Thomas Vautrollier, 1586.
8o (143 x 93 mm). 157 leaves (including errata leaf S8). Woodcut printer's device on title. (Some minor marginal dampstaining at beginning.) Early 19th-century calf gilt (spine ends repaired); cloth slipcase. Provenance: Gen. Hon. Robert Taylor (signature on title and bookplate).
FIRST EDITION OF "THE FIRST COMPREHENSIVE DESRIPTION OF DEPRESSION IN ENGLISH" (Garrison-Morton). Bright's work, the first treatise on mental illness by an English physician, distinguishes two types of depression: one proceeding "from the mindes apprehension" and requiring "cure of the minde," and the other of bodily origin, in which the melancholic humor "deluding the organical actions, abuseth the minde." Theology, however, played as much a role as science for Bright, and the cures for certain forms of melancholy required the influence of spiritual consolation. Bright's work directly influenced Robert Burton, and his name is listed in Anatomy of melancholy among the four authors who preceded him in this subject (Part I.Sec.I. Memb.I.Subs.3). Keynes convincingly suggests that Bright's work influenced both the language and thought of Shakespeare's Hamlet.
A later issue was published the same year under the imprint of J. Windet (see STC 3748). Garrison-Morton 4918; Keynes Bright, pp. 9-13; Norman 343; STC 3747.
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