A facile traictise, contenand, first: ane infallible reul to discerne trevv from fals religion. 

Louvain, Imprinted be Lauerence Kellam, [1600]


FIRST EDITION. 12mo. pp. [36], 444, [24]. [*¹², **⁶, A-S¹², T-X⁶]. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut initials typographical headpieces and ornaments, small woodcut of the crucifixion, Milltown Park library and William O’Brien’s ex legato label on fly, early autograph of ‘Jane Pyee’ on second leaf. Title page soiled, cut a little close just trimming a few side notes in outer margin, just touching text block on last few leaves, light age yellowing, feint waterstain in lower margin towards end, the occasional mostly marginal mark or spot. A good copy in C19th calf, covers blind ruled to a panel design, fleurons to inner and outer corners, spine remounted, rubbed. a.e.r.

Extremely rare first edition of this counter reformation treatise by the formidable Scottish Jesuit Priest John Hamilton, most probably printed for distribution on his clandestine return to Scotland the same year, dedicated to James VI. “Hamilton became one of the most prominent members of the Catholic League, especially during the resistance to Henry IV. ..(He) was one of the representatives of the Sixteen of Paris who offered the crown to Philip II of Spain. The society also decreed the death of Brissot, president of the parliament of Paris, and of L’Archer and Tardif, two of the councillors. When Tardif could not be found Hamilton went out to seek him, and, discovering him ill in bed, dragged him as he was to the execution chamber. Hamilton is stated to have said mass frequently in his cuirass, and to have baptised an infant in full church without taking off his armour. When Henry entered Paris in 1594 Hamilton was apprehended with a halbert in his hand about to join the band gathered to resist the entrance of the king, though the other ringleaders were executed, he succeeded in making his escape, and retired to Brussels. In his absence he was condemned to be broken on the wheel for the murder of Tardif, and the sentence was executed on his effigy. About 1600 he and Edmond Hay the jesuit returned to Scotland, apparently on a secret proselytising mission. It was probably as preparatory to his return to Scotland that he published at Louvain in 1600 the present work. Burton says that Hamilton ‘had that subtle gift, the empire over language; and the words came to him at his bidding,—words expressive of Christian meekness, humility, charity, and all that might seem more appropriate to the secluded anchorite than to the man of storm and strife.’ This is undoubtedly true of Hamilton’s prayers, but his controversial writings are chiefly notable for the wild extravagance of their calumnies against the reformers, and the gravity with which extraordinary stories are related of their commerce with the devil. On 24 Nov. 1600 a proclamation was issued by the king and council against Hamilton and Hay. On 22 June 1601 an act was passed against resettling them, but for several years they not only succeeded in eluding capture, but even in holding frequent meetings in different parts of the country for the celebration of the mass and other catholic services. His escape was probably procured by his nephew, Thomas Hamilton, first earl of Haddington, who was then practically at the head of the justiciary of Scotland. .. He was, however, finally captured in 1608, for on 30 Aug. of that year Sir Alexander Hay desired the lieutenant of the Tower to receive two priests, Hamilton and Paterson, sent by the Earl of Dunbar.… Hamilton died in prison, but the date has not been ascertained.” DNB. A most interesting and rare work.

ESTC S118183. STC 12730. Allison & Rogers II, 370.


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