[Allestree, Richard], The Art of Contentment. At the Theatre in Oxford, 1689. Second impression. 18cm, 8vo, 214 pages plus a table of contents. Wing A1165. Title page backed with Japanese paper on which the book plate of Alfred Seal Haslam has been remounted on the verso, taken from an earlier binding. The modern binding is full brown calf with five raised bands and a gilt title label. The title page bears the signature of William Haslam dated 1799, believed to be the father of parliamentarian Alfred Seal Haslam, who took over his father’s business. Trained as an engineer, Alfred Seal Haslam patented a new method of ammonia compression, enabling him to transport meat from Australia under refrigeration, holding a monopoly for some fourteen years on marine meat transport.
Allestree was a prominent royalist divine and credited with an enormously popular group of self-improvement books, including The Whole Duty of Man (1654), The Gentleman’s Calling (1660), The Ladies Calling (1673), The Government of the Tongue (1674) and The Art of Contentment (1675). Judging from the numbers of the editions of his books and the number of surviving copies, after the Bible, they must have been a staple text in almost every literate Restoration household. Curiously, Allestree did not attach his name to any of them, and the Dictionary of National Biography thus describes his authorship as a matter of conjecture.