ESSAYS, OR COUNCILS CIVIL AND MORAL and WISDOM OF THE ANCIENTS Edited by B. Montague Esq

(London: William Pickering, 1845).

A SCARCE AND VERY HANDSOME EDITION, collecting all 58 of Bacon's important ESSAYS as published in 1625 edition and also with the 31 mythological fables known as WISDOM OF THE ANCIENTS. Though Bacon considered the Essays "but as recreation of my other studies", he was given high praise by his contemporaries, even to the point of crediting him with having invented the essay form. We now know he did not invent the form, but the ESSAYS have nevertheless remained in the highest repute. The 19th century literary historian Henry Hallam wrote that, "They are deeper and more discriminating than any earlier, or almost any later, work in the English language".
Bacon's genius as a phrase-maker appears to great advantage in the ESSAYS. In "Of Boldness" he wrote, "If the Hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the hill", which is the earliest known appearance of that proverb in print. The phrase "hostages to fortune" appears in the essay "Of Marriage and Single Life" – again the earliest known usage. The 1999 edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations includes no fewer than 91 quotations from the Essays.
In WISDOM OF THE ANCIENTS Bacon claims playfully to unveil the hidden meanings and teachings behind ancient Greek fables. He retells thirty-one of them, suggesting that they contain hidden teachings on varied issues such as morality, philosophy, religion, civility, politics, science, and art. Item #27521

An early printing of the Basil Montague edited edition very attractively printed by William Pickering. With engraved portrait of Bacon as frontispiece, architectural title-page featuring anchor device of the Aldine English Disciples, engraved head and tail pieces and 4 line initials throughout. 8vo, in very handsome antique three-quarter calf over marbled boards by Worsfold, the spines with gilt tooled raises bands between gilt framed compartments with central gilt tools, two compartments gilt lettered, additional gilt lettering at the tail, gilt ruling at backing and corner pieces, marbled endpapers, t.e.g. xxvii, [4], 355pp. A fine copy of this scarce work.

Price: $295.00