HOBBES, Thomas (1588-1679). Leviathan; or, The matter, forme, & power of a common-wealth, ecclesiasticall and civill. London: Andrew Crooke, 1651.
2° (277 x 178mm). Engraved frontispiece, title with woodcut ornament of a head in a frame of scrolls and tassels, folding letterpress table. (A few brown spots on title, L4v and M1r affected by wax drips near bottom of page, 2H3 and 2L1 with piece torn from blank margin, some rust spots and occasional light browning.) Mottled calf by Mansell, dog tooth and gilt fillet borders, spine with calf lettering-piece in one compartment and date at foot, the other five compartments with repeated flower tool and gilt rules across bands, gilt edges (light scuff marks to covers, joints and corners a little rubbed).
FIRST ISSUE OF THE FIRST EDITION, with head ornament on title. 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 was the 'soul' of the Commonwealth. It was in a hypothetical state of nature, deprived of political organisation, that Hobbes so memorably, and to the outrage of his contemporaries, described human lives as 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.' Macdonald & Hargreaves 42; Norman 1082; PMM 138; Wing H-2246.