815F      Sir William Cornwallis d. 1631

Essayes, by Sr William Cornwallyes, the younger, knight. Newlie corrected.

London: Printed by Thomas Harper for I. M., 1632           $3,500


Octavo  5 ½ 5 x 3 ½. [A3] missing A1 blank, B-Z8, Aa-Oo8. This collation is consistent with Pforzheimer catalogue.  Engraved title page. by T. Cecill containing two portraits supposed to represent Sir William and his father, Sir Charles Cornwallis.


Third edition of the “Essayes”, Parts I and II; second edition of the “Discourses.”  DSC_0242                               This is a nice copy bound in full contemporary calf rebacked. The spine has gilt label
Overall, the leaves are in excellent condition, this copy has ample margins, not often found in this work.


This book is consists of three seperate works each with a seperate title page but published together. The first “Essayes” is followed by “ Essayes the Second Part” and “Discourses upon Seneca the Tragedian”.
While some state that Cornwallis “was a friend of Ben Jonson, and employed him to write ‘Penates, or a Private Entertainment for the King and Queen,’ on their visit to his house at Highgate on Mayday, 1604. This is not the author of the essays rather it is his Uncle.

His essays are in imitation of Montaigne, but lack the sprightliness of the French author. Yet they are true essays and therefor differ from Bacon, whose ‘Essays” are a collection of aphorisms. They cover such topics as ambition, resolution, youth, essays and books, and humility. DSC_0239 Cornwallis spent his life in studious retirement. The “Essayes” is also a work of considerable Shakespearean interest – it is “so rare that a writer in ‘Shakespeare’s Centurie of Prayse,’ could not find a copy”. This work is also referred to at length by Hunter in his “New Illustrations” of the Tempest, who argues that as Florio’s translation of Montaigne had undoubtedly been seen by Cornwallis before 1600, so too, it was probably seen and used by Shakespeare in his composition of the Tempest (see Hunter, Joseph “New Illustrations of the life, studies, and writings of Shakespeare” London: J.B. Nichols and son 1845).


STC 5781; Arber IV, 92; Huntington C.L., 90; Grolier Club W-P I, 182; Hoe Catalogue I (1903) 322. Hazlitt I, 101.

See also : Encyclopedia of the Essay edited by Tracy Chevalier  http://www.am41SU533HULL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_azon.com/Encyclopedia-Essay-Tracy-Chevalier/dp/1884964303/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454524110&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=encycloedia+of+the+essay