A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF AFRICAN, ASIAN, AND EUROPEAN CIVILISATIONS


Mores, leges, et ritus omnium gentium.

Lyon, Sébastien Gryphius, 1546.

£2,950

8vo, pp. 311, [25]. Italic letter, little Greek; woodcut historiated initials; clean tear affecting two letters on 261; a fresh copy in contemporary Oxford calf, tooled in blind, triple fillet, central panel of plants, goblets and amphoras (Oldham, Blind-stamped Bindings, no. 873, as in use between 1535 and 1557); slightly scratched, spine varnished; minor losses to joints and spine, corners a bit chipped; pastedowns and front endpaper from a late fourteenth-century English manuscript in minuscule batarde, Latin, pale iron gall ink, double column, probably from a scholastic commentary; little worm trail on both endpapers and rear pastedown; Henry Haule’s autograph on title, with a Greek inscription from Isocrates (Speeches, 1.29: ‘future is a thing unseen’); extensive underlining and annotations by him throughout the book, using three different inks; Hebrew inscription of an unskilled early hand [Haule’s?] repeating incorrectly the beginning of Ecclesiastes 1,2 (‘Vanitas vanitatum, dixit Ecclesiastes’) on fly; contemporary music score over earlier manuscript on rear pastedown; twentieth-century bookplate on front pastedown, ms acquisition note on fly.

A desirable early edition of this renowned ethnographic compendium, first published in Augsburg in 1520. Drawing from classic and Renaissance authorities, the three scholarly books described the customs and laws of the nations of Africa, Asia and Europe. As opposed to the medieval books of wonders, it provided the first systematic and reliable account of long-established civilisations. It thus completely left aside the recent discoveries from the New World. The work, addressing to scholars and prospective travellers, was a great success, frequently reprinted and translated into major vernacular languages. An English version of the first two books by William Waterman appeared in London in 1555. Boemus’s treatise exerted a considerable influence over the finest geographical works, beginning with Sebastian Münster’s Cosmographia (1544).

Henry Haule (155?-1622), a descendant from the medieval de Aula family of Wye, was a lecturer in law at Middle Temple Hall in 1595 and 1601 and a well-established attorney of several noble families in Kent. Attracted by Puritanism, he made several benefactions for the local poor and offered legal assistance to the common people. At the turn of sixteenth century, he bought, from the Barham family, Digons in Maidstone, which was the core of his estate later including Chillington House. Haule is mostly famous for his miscellaneous notebook, registering loans, payments and personal business over the years 1590-1595. This unrecorded volume offers new important elements to expand our little knowledge of him. By comparing his handwriting from his notebook, it seems that he started glossing Boemus prior to the 1590s and kept going through it well after. As one might expect, his learned annotations become particularly dense in chapter 25 of book 3rd, devoted to British Isles.

BM STC Fr., 72; Adams B 2266; Henry Haule Notebook (1590-1595), ed. by F. Hull, 2 vols, Maidstone 1990.

L1786a

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