1622. London: by W. Stansby, and William Barret, 1622.
Folio, [vi lacking initial blank but including portrait and woodcut title], 248 pp. Fine engraved portrait of Henry VII by John Payne, title within elaborate woodcut border of columns, strapwork, and scrolling vines, woodcut head- and tailpieces, initials, tex=-0 t within ruled borders. Contemporary calf, sides with borders double-ruled in blind, rebacked. Title with early inscription “Rebecca Lytton my wife’s book.” She was married to Sir Rowland Lytton MP.
§ First edition of what is usually called the earliest English historical monograph. “Henry the Seventh was almost entirely composed in the aftermath of Bacon’s fall from grace in 1621. He sent a copy of the manuscript to James I in October of that year, a gesture which has been interpreted as an attempt to gain favour by presenting the king with a flattering portrait of his ancestor. Others have pointed out that some aspects of Henry’s character as sketched by Bacon are less than attractive. He is described, for example, as the ‘Salomon of England’—a reference to the heavy burden of taxation he imposed on his people. Whatever Bacon’s true intention there is no doubt that subsequent accounts of Henry VII have been strongly influenced by his portrait of a wise, circumspect, and often inscrutable monarch” (Finch). Gibson distinguishes two “editions” of 1622, noting that one is a line-for-line reprint of the other, but adds that “several copies, particularly those in which the errata are wholly uncorrected, are made up from quires of both early and late edns. of the book” (p. 100). The present copy, with the all listed errata uncorrected, is one of those copies with mixed edition points. STC 1158/9; Gibson 116a/b. Item #105438