The Defense of Poesy
Glasgow: R. Urie, 1752. Twelvemo, full eighteenth-century calf, spine ruled in gilt, pp. [1-2] 3-106. Ink ownership signature dated 1838 to front free endpaper. Two tiny wormholes; text block resewn at an early date; light occasional foxing; expert repair to binding joints and corners.
Handsome early edition of Sir Philip Sidney's Renaissance defense of poetry, in which he argues that the poet has a potentially greater impact on the world than the philosopher or historian: “no other human skill can match him." While philosophers offer abstract precepts that only educated readers can grasp, and historians offer colorful but often uninstructive real-life examples, the great poets combine the power of precept and example to maximum effect, inspiring all those who listen. “Anger, the Stoics said, was a short madness; let but Sophocles bring you Ajax on a stage, killing or whipping sheep and oxen, thinking them the army of Greeks, with their chieftains Agamemnon and Menelaus; and tell me, if you have not a more familiar insight into anger, than finding in the schoolmen his genus and difference?" This 1752 printing is the second separate printing of The Defense of Poesy, preceded by the first edition of 1595; the essay also appeared in collected editions of Sidney's work throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A near-fine example of an English Renaissance classic.