An Important Shakespeare Source Book
BARCKLEY, Sir Richard, Knight. Discourse of the Felicitie of Man. Or His Summum Bonum. London: William Ponsonby , 1598.
First edition. Small quarto (7 1/4 x 5 1/8 inches; 185 x 131 mm). [31, [1, blank], 155, 158-618 pp. Same as British Library copy, pagination skips 156-157 but collation is complete. With errata leaf, and two leaves with woodcut tree emblems with the author’s monogram (wone with tiny closed tear). Errata leaf and final woodcut leaf, misbound towards the front between leaves *3 and *4. Leaf *6 misbound before *5. Engraved head and tail pieces. Title-page with engraved headpiece and central anchor device.

Nineteenth-century half calf over marbled boards. Spine lettered and ruled in gilt. Edges speckled brown. Outer hinges starting, but holding firm. Edges a bit rubbed. Previous owner's bookplate on front pastedown. Title-page and final leaf toned. Title-page trimmed short at top margin, not affecting headpiece. Various old ink ownership notes on title-page, one dated 1698. More ink scribbles on blank recto of woodcut page. A bit of neat marginalia and some underlining, particularly to pages 45, 111, 212, and 318. Outer margin of leaf E2 with paper loss, not affecting text. Final 100 pages with some intermittent dampstaining. Page 596 with some marking and a small hole in outer margin. A tiny paper repair to upper outer corner of page 616, not affecting text. Final leaf with some ink marking, and minorly trimmed at top and bottom, a small marginal tear and a tiny hole to inner margin, nothing affecting text.

A rare and important work containing inspiration for three of Shakespeare's plays. A fine collection of amusing histories and small narratives; including the foundation of the Taming of the Shrew, pp. 23-26, Antony and Cleopatra, p. 46, and Pyramus and Thisbe, p. 52.

[A Discourse of the Felicitie of Man] purports to be an ethical treatise on human happiness, consisting of six books. In the first, the author offers to prove, and by example to shew, that felicity consists not in pleasure,- In the second, not in riches,- In the third, not in honour and glory,- In the fourth, not in moral virtue, or in the action of virtue, after the academicks and peripateticks, nor in philosophical contemplation,- In the fifth he declares his own opinion of the happiness of this life- and in the sixth, he shews, wherein consists the true felicity and summum bonum of man, and the way to attain it." (Retrospective Review: And Historical and Antiquarian Magazine, Volume 1. By Henry Southern, Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas, pg 271-272).

Jaggard, p. 15. Graesse ("Ouvrage tres amusant par les historiettes entremelées"). STC 1391. ESTC, S100775.

HBS # 68229 $6,000