London: M. Flesher for Richard Mynne, 1634. First English language edition. Translated out of the original Greek; with notes: by Meric Casaubon, Marcus Aurelius' extremely influential expression of Stoic philosophy.
Small quarto (leaves measure 182 x 133 mm) collating: , 27, , 210, 46 pp, with the engraved plate in the "Notes" section. Lacks preliminary blank (as usual). Bound in early to mid-twentieth century full calf to style with raised bands, gilt title on the spine and a double blind rule. Page edges stained red. A proper rebind in excellent condition. Internal contents generally in Very Good condition with some underlining and marginal notes on approximately 50 pages (appearing in an early or contemporary hand).
Confusingly, the two copies that appear at auction discuss a portrait. The first record, Sothebys 1980, has the portrait (by Faithorne) although the inner margin of the leaf is repaired/extended. Then Bonhams, 2008 says their copy is lacking the portrait, undoubtedly basing that assertion on the Sothebys record. However, the copy at the Huntington which we have examined, as well as EEBO and the records we can find on worldcat do not have or indicate a frontis portrait. Further, the National Portrait Gallery dates the Faithorne portrait of Marcus Aurelius as from 1650 - 1670, well after the publication date of this book. As a result, it is our belief that the Sothebys copy had an inserted portrait that was not published with the book. Beside the two copies at auction we could find just two copies offered by the trade, both at Bauman, 2010 and 2012 for $10,500 and $16,000 respectively. Neither of those copies had a portrait and both were lacking the engraved plate, that is present in our copy.
“No one would now dare write a book like Marcus Aurelius’ To Himself, or, as we call it in English, The Meditations, and present it to the world as philosophy. He didn’t either. But once published, these, his most intimate thoughts, were considered among the most precious of all philosophical utterances by his contemporaries, by all Western Civilization after they returned to favor at the Renaissance, and most especially by the Victorian English, amongst whom The Meditations was a household book” (Rexroth, Classics Revisited, 112).
Provenance: Hamilton Vogdes (bookplate). STC 962. Palmer, 16. Harris, 100. (Item #1857)