The compleat gentleman: or a description of the several qualifications both natural and acquired, that are necessary to form a great man. Written originally in Spanish ... and now translated into English by T. Saldkeld

London: printed for T. Osborne, 1730. First edition in English, 8vo, pp. [12], 236; 20th-century full crimson goat, gilt-panewled spine in 6 compartments, gilt-lettered direct in 3, t.e.g.; one or two tiny scuff marks; generally fine throughout. Baltasar Gracian was an aphorist, imaginary biographer, and novelist, who published studies of ideal figures and handbooks on the arts of rhetoric and comportment. Many high officials felt attacked by the controversial and critical works of this Jesuit priest-professor. Gracian refused to be censored, and was eventually confined to solitary house arrest, where he died. His El Discreto (1640) is addressed to the ordinary man. He aimed at portraying what came to be regarded later as the distinguishing qualities of the English gentleman. Each of the 25 chapters deals with one of these qualities (Sense and Genius, Speaking and Acting, Politeness and Order, etc.). There is no fixed plan of composition. We find dialogues, letters, allegories, essays, all brought in to illustrate the virtues in question. The translator sums it up: "Good natural parts well cultivated with Literature, a Genius, a True Taste, a good discerning Faculty, a Knowledge of the World, good Nature, good Breeding and Virtue, all these qualities' and accomplishments harmoniously corresponding and agreeing together make up the great, amiable and consummate character recommended by the author." This is the rare First English translation of this book. Palau lists it erroneously under the translations of Oraculo Manual (III, 391). Heltzel, Courtesy Books, 660. Item #54684

Price: $1,250.00