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Biathanatos [graece]. Biathanatos [graece]. Biathanatos [graece]. Biathanatos [graece].
Biathanatos [graece].
DONNE, John.

Biathanatos [graece]....

A Declaration of that Paradoxe, or Thesis, that Selfe-homicide is not so Naturally Sinne, that it may never be otherwise. Wherein The Nature, and the extent of all those Lawes, which seeme to be violated by this Act, are diligently surveyed.

Availability: In stock

Published: London printed by John Dawson, [for Henry Seile, 1644]

Stock Code: 108342

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


First edition, first issue. Large-paper presentation copy, with a letter of transmittal by John Donne the Younger to John Marckham bound in. Donne's letter is dated from Covent Garden, 6 October 1647, and is directed "For his much honored friende Mr John Marckham": "I have sent you this booke, according to my promise but my inclination to send you, I make account, is above that. If by anie discourse of mine it might seeme otherwise to you, my words betrayed my intention, which is, very much to bee Sr, your most humble Servant Jo: Donne."
An early exercise in learned casuistry intended for a strictly limited circle of readers, Biathanatos was published posthumously by Donne's son and literary executor. "Caught between his father's injunction that the manuscript should be spared 'both the Presse and the Fire', Donne the younger eventually opted for publication, rather than the deliberate annihilation of the fire or the accidental damage of time and chance, remarking that the work was in equal danger of being 'utterly lost' and 'utterly found'" (ODNB).
This copy was later in the library of Clement R. Markham (1830-1916), the collector and prolific writer on historical geography, with his bookplate and a note dated October 1871 and manuscript Markham genealogy tracing his own descent from Margaret Donne, third surviving daughter of the poet. He identifies the original recipient of this copy, John Markham, as the second son of Sir Anthony Markham, of Sedgebrooke, by Bridget, daughter of Sir James Harington, MP, 1st Baronet of Ridlington, Bridget being the subject of Donne's "Elegy on the Lady Markham". (Curiously Donne did not know Lady Markham and wrote the poem to please his most important benefactress, Lucy, countess of Bedford, who was a first cousin of the dead lady.)

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Quarto (195 x 145 mm). Nineteenth-century purple morocco, covers gilt with a wide foliate border roll, spine gilt in six compartments with red morocco labels, marbled endpapers, gilt edges. Housed in a dark blue cloth flat back box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Woodcut initials, woodcut and type-ornament headpieces.


Extremities rubbed, a few scattered rust-spots, lacking blanks ¶1 and Ee2, an excellent copy. Formerly in the library of Richard Heber (Evans, 2 March 1836, lot 728).


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