(London: Rycharde Tottell, 1574 [colophon dated 1575]). 138 x 90 mm. (5 3/8 x 3 1/2"). 16 p.l., 168 leaves. Translated by Nicholas Grimald.

Later (18th century?) tree calf, rebacked to style by Blair Jeary, raised bands, red morocco label. Title page with attractive wood-engraved border, woodcut initials. With parallel columns of English (in black letter) and Latin (in roman type) text. Front pastedown with (18th century?) inscription noting the book was printed in the 16th year of Queen Elizabeth's reign; front flyleaf with signature of R. R. Bloxam dated 1819 (possibly Rugby schoolmaster Richard Rouse Bloxam, 1765-1840) and bookplate of the Fox Pointe Collection; title page with early ink signature of Robert Coribankes(?). Brüggemann, p. 501; Moss I, 307; Schweiger I, 232; STC 5284; ESTC S122028. Mild soiling and browning to first and last leaves, occasional faint (mostly marginal) dampstains, torn corner of H7 neatly (and rather charmingly) repaired with two wax dots to margin, S2 with expertly repaired short tear into text, paper flaw (crease) to T1 affecting one line, otherwise a pleasing copy, clean and fresh internally with nothing approaching a serious defect, the expertly restored binding firm and not without appeal.

This is a respected English translation of "De Officiis" ["On Duty"], Cicero's manual on the virtuous life, addressed to his son who was studying philosophy in Athens. Written in the last year of the statesman's life, the work maintained its hold on the minds of the educated throughout the Enlightenment, becoming a sort of behavior manual for the European gentleman. Cicero uses the four cardinal virtues, Forethought, Courage, Moderation, and Justice, as a framework for his precepts, and reminds Marcus to lead a life of active service as well as philosophical contemplation, and to aim at the common good rather than the personally profitable. A poet and dramatist as well as a classical scholar, translator Nicholas Grimald[e] (1519-62) was an Englishman of Italian origin and a cleric who shifted with the perilous times from Protestantism to Catholicism under Mary. He is best remembered for his contribution of some 40 poems to "Tottel's Miscellany" of 1557, but his classical scholarship was highly esteemed as well. The work was first translated into English by Robert Whittington and published in 1534; according to Brüggemann, our Grimald version first appeared in 1553. This is a scarce work: ABPC and RBH find just two other copies at auction since 1975, while ESTC and OCLC locate seven copies in North American libraries.