BROME, Richard


The Antipodes: a Comedie. Acted in the Yeare 1638, by the Queenes Majesties Servants, at Salisbury Court in Fleet-street.

London, I. Okes, for Francis Constable, 1640.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. 44 unnumbered leaves. A-L⁴. Roman letter, some Italic. Typographical headpieces, woodcut initials, Selbourne library stamp on verso of title and F4, ‘1687’ and ‘1658’ manuscript on F4, “Charles Hunees (?) His Booke” in early hand on verso of D3, extensive inscription in mid-seventeenth hand entirely inked over on margin of A2 verso, alongside the printed character list, on A4v, names of 14 actors in contemporary manuscript; “Scenæ / Antipodes = London” in the same hand below; Series of page numbers, on the upper left or upper right corners, small tear to lower margin of first four leaves. “Similar numbering in a comparable hand appears in a British Library copy of The Sparagus Garden (London, 1640) owned formerly by W. W. Greg.” Joshua J. McEvilla. Light age yellowing, cut a little short in lower margin, a few signatures and catchwords fractionally shaved, the occasional ink splash mark or spot. A very good copy in red crushed morocco ‘Jansenist’ by Riviere, circa 1900, title, author and date gilt on upper cover, edges gilt ruled, inner dentelles richly gilt, all edges gilt, marbled endpapers.

First edition, exceptionally rare, of Richard Brome’s best work, his comic masterpiece, with a most important, recently discovered, cast list in manuscript which “helps to illuminate the state of the Salisbury Court players in 1638, directly following the reopening of the theatres after several months of closures due to outbreaks of plague.” Joshua J. McEvilla, p. 171. ‘The Antipodes’ was first acted at Salisbury Court, in Fleet Street, in 1638. The main character, Peregrine, becomes obsessed with the travels of Mandeville to the point that it makes him ill. The Doctor, who undertakes to cure him, proposes that they should travel together to the Antipodes, telling him that the Antipodes under England are English “To the exterior show; but in their manners, Their carriage, and condition of life, Extremely contrary,” a place of inversions and reversals. He then gives his patient a strong sleeping potion, and conveys him to the house of a lord.

When Peregrine wakes, a play is acted before him to represent the manners of the Antipodes. Everything is performed in a contrary fashion to what is normal; two sergeants with drawn swords run from a gentleman who wishes them to arrest him; a lawyer refuses all fees; a citizen makes a complaint of a gentleman who will not cuckold him, etc., etc. At the conclusion of the play, Peregrine recovers his senses. The title page of this first edition states that the play was acted in 1638 by Queen Henrietta’s Men at the Salisbury Court Theatre, the regular troupe and venue for Brome’s dramas from 1637. Critics typically situate Richard Brome’s ‘The Antipodes’ in a satiric tradition of travel writing in the vein of Joseph Hall’s ‘Mundus Alter et Idem’ (1605), arguing that the play is allegorical and a travel drama which, in being a play, goes nowhere and everywhere.

“The Antipodes is a veritable tour de force. It is not surprising that the company at the Salisbury Court Theatre were prepared to go to court to wrest the play away from the Beestons at the Cockpit, claiming a prior right to stage it on account of a contract that they had allowed virtually to lapse during the plague months, when the theatres were closed. Brome claimed that the profits accruing to Queen Henrietta Maria’s Men, Richard Heton’s company at the Salisbury Court, were considerable, which suggests they had a popular success on their hands. That the play was available in print as a quarto two years after the initial performances again attests to its popularity. No other play by Brome has such an intricately woven dramatic fabric or is so layered in its satirical strategies and ways of creating meaning. A consequence of this is that The Antipodes has attracted more critical commentary than Brome’s other plays, where the sheer range of approaches intimates how dense the dramatic fabric is.” R. Cave, ‘The Antipodes, Critical Introduction.’

The early provenance of this copy is most intriguing. There is no direct evidence as to who wrote the list of players, though the manuscript on A2 might disclose this, however there is no doubt of the authenticity and the importance of the list. “These aspects of the book’s provenance, although noteworthy, are perhaps rendered immaterial by the self-validating nature of the cast list. As noted above, the Brome contract proceedings record the composition of the players at Salisbury Court at two historical instances. …  The membership of the company as specified by the Selboune list seems to correspond to the membership as suggested by the contract documents and the book’s title page. According to the title page, ‘The Antipodes’ was ‘Acted in the yeare 1638 by the Queenes Majesties Servants, at Salisbury Court in Fleet-street.’ Since nine of the players of the list were plaintiffs in the suit against Brome and since the players of the merger are on the list, the list appears to convey genuine information. … One aspect of the list which serves both to authenticate its fidelity as a piece of evidence and to expand scholarly knowledge of period drama is the way that it falls in line with an important dialogue from the late seventeenth century.

James Wright’s ‘Historia Histrionica: An Historical Account of the English-Stage’ (London, 1699) remains a cornerstone to scholars’ accounts of the playhouses of the Shakespearian stage. The cast list in Selbourne’s copy of ‘The Antipodes’ serves to authenticate one claim made in this oddly nostalgic piece. Trueman, when discoursing with another character, Lovewit, casts a glance back at the conditions of public playing in England before the outbreak of war. He notes that ‘Cartwright, and Wintershal belong’d to the private House in Salisbury-Court’ (B2r). Although Kathman has used this allusion as evidence, no solid piece of evidence has drawn William Wintershall and Cartwright, the younger, to the same playhouse at the same time. Where scholars have had to rely on Wright’s memory in order to argue that these players were colleagues, the Selbourne list establishes that they played together at Salisbury Court.”

Joshua J. McEvilla suggests that the numbering of the pages is in the hand of the great Shakespeare scholar W. W. Greg, and was perhaps bound in a collection of other works in his library. His greatest achievement, among many, was ‘A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama to the Restoration,’ published in four volumes between 1939 and 1959. This work is exceptionally rare on the market with only one other copy in auction records. An exceptionally important copy.

STC 3818. ESTC S106712. Pforzheimer 106. Not in Lowndes or Grolier. For an in depth discussion of the list of players names see Joshua J. McEvilla, ‘The Original Salisbury Court Players of Richard Brome’s The Antipodes’, Notes and Queries, 2012.


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BOAISTUAU, Pierre and BELLEFOREST, Francois de, etc.


Histoires Prodigieuses Extraictes de plusieurs fameux autheurs.

Paris, Chez la Vefue Guillaume Cauellat 1597-98.


16mo. Six volumes in three. 1) ff. (x) 191 (iii); 2) pp. 120 (viii) (last two leaves blank); 3) pp. 372 (iv); 4) pp. 80 (vi) (last leaf blank) 5) pp. 159 (i); 6) pp. 91 (v) (last leaf blank). Roman letter, some Italic. Cavellat’s woodcut printer’s device on each title, a larger version repeated on verso of last of volumes IV and VI, numerous nearly 1/2 page woodcuts in text, generally at the beginning of each tale, one fold out woodcut of a knife (often missing) in volume VI, floriated woodcut initials and headpieces. Light age yellowing, minor marginal spotting in places, light water stain to volumes II, V and VI, the odd marginal spot. Good copies, a bit short, finely bound in early C18th red morocco, covers bordered with a triple gilt rule, spines with gilt ruled raised bands, compartments gilt ‘a la grotesque,’ inner dentelles gilt, all edges gilt. 

A lovely set of this beautifully printed and illustrated popular work, a collection of stories of Monsters and extraordinary events. The original 40 stories by Boaistuau in volume I of this set were first published in 1560 and were hugely popular, leading to many further editions with additions by other authors, culminating in this set, with the addition of 15 stories in volume II by Claude de Tesserant, 17 in volume III by Bellesforest, 11 in volume IV by Rod Hoyer, 8 stories in vol V translated from the Latin of Arnauld Sorbin by Belleforest, and 6 anonymous stories (by I. D. M.) in the final volume.

Boaistuau and Belleforest’s popular reworking of these tales, and their other translations, had tremendous influence in England, especially on the playwrights of the Elizabethan period, Shakespeare included, who often used their stories as the basis for their works. The first manuscript of this work, now in the Wellcome Library, was dedicated and presented to Elisabeth I by Boaistuau.

“In the winter of 1559/60 Pierre Boaistuau, a French popular writer, set off for England bearing a book that he hoped to lay before the young Queen Elizabeth, newly installed on the throne of England. This book, later entitled Histoires Prodigieuses – which can be loosely translated as ‘Wondrous Tales’ – had not yet been published. It had been handwritten by a professional scribe in a fine Italic script, and was dedicated to ‘The Most Illustrious, Most Excellent and Most Virtuous Princess Elizabeth, by the grace of God Queen of England. …

Histoires Prodigieuses is an example of a genre of literature that was immensely popular in the 16th and 17th centuries: tales of an admonitory or educative nature, drawn from biblical, classical or other reputable sources, that were nonetheless intended to astonish and delight the reader. It is not so much an original creative work of literature as a compilation and retelling of stories that derive largely from earlier authoritative sources and thereby gain added credibility and value. Boaistuau, whose final work it proved to be, had already published several such compilations before Histoires Prodigieuses in a brief flurry of activity from 1556, and indeed he helped establish the genre as his works continued to be expanded, reissued and translated by others after his death.’ Dr. Richard Aspin, Wellcome Library.

This famous collection of tales of a prodigious nature, describe natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, floods, storms), freaks of nature (e.g. Siamese twins), fantastic occurrences of spectres and phantoms, tritons, sirens and other marine monsters, and gruesome instances of excesses (e.g. of eating and drinking, corpulence, fertility, torture and cruelty, avarice, famine, and violent death). In the ‘Advertissement au lecteur,’ Boaistuau tells us that his stories are taken from many authors, and indeed he clearly identifies his sources from Plato and Aristotle, to Josephus and Saints Jerome and Augustine, to Polydorus Vergil and Sebastian Munster.

He pretends that he has compiled his little book to show how the anger of God and the violence of his justice are manifested in abominations of nature, so that men might search their consciences and be horrified at their misdeeds. Volume VI contains a story of a woman (undoubtedly possessed by the devil), who was stabbed in the side and lived for a year with the knife protruding from her until it was removed by a German doctor. The story is illustrated with a folding plate of a life size portrait of the knife as it was once removed from her body. One suspects that his real motivation was sensationalism, always a best seller.

The text is extensively illustrated with woodcuts of monsters and prodigies, which suggests the popular market. Pierre Boaistuau, called Launay (d. 1566) is described by the Nouv. Biog. Gén. as “un bon parleur et non sans une certaine érudition.” A most interesting, readable work. “The subject was a popular one and the blocks were well designed.” Harvard C16th. Fr. 103 on the first edition with illustrations. These later editions mention America, cf. Alden 595/9.

BM STC FR. C16th p. 70. Brunet I 982-3. Wellcome 898 (earlier edition).


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Laberinto d’amore … con una epistola a Messer Pino de Rossi confortatoria.

Florence, [heirs of Filippo Giunta], 1525.


8vo. oblong, ff. 72. Italic letter; capital spaces with guide letters; title a bit dust-soiled, intermittent soiling and foxing, particularly to margins; marginal paper flaw in f. 22, two leaves loosened in final gathering, a few tiny worm holes in margins of first and final leaves. A wide-margined copy in contemporary Venetian brown morocco, gilt panel with four apple leaves at corners, in the elegant style of the ‘Venetian Apple binder’ (M. M. Foot, The Henry Davis Gift, III, nos. 297-298); gilt title ‘Corbacio’ on front cover and initials ‘M. [faint s or decorative piece?] M.’ on rear, all edges gilt; skilfully re-backed, outer corners restored. In slipcase.

The elegant binding provides a good example, unusual in shape, of the essential Venetian style of the second quarter of the sixteenth century (gilt external panel with apple leaves at internal or external corners, central title in capitals), which was brought to perfection by the so-called Mendoza Binder, recently identified as Andrea di Lorenzo. Though not his work, this was executed by a capable binder, probably pre-dating Andrea by a few years. The gilt initials on the rear cover appear to be those of the owner, perhaps pointing towards a member of the Venetian noble families of Mocenigo or Morosini, bearing the traditional names of Marco or Michele.

Early and accurate imprint of Boccaccio’s Corbaccio (or Labirinto d’amore) and his epistle to Pino de’ Rossi, both first published in 1487 in Florence. With Petrarch, Boccaccio laid the foundations for the humanism of the Renaissance and raised vernacular literature to the level and status of the classics of antiquity. His vivid prose was taken as a model by the sixteenth-century Renaissance scholars in their attempts to create a common written language for the Italian peninsula. Corbaccio (The Crow) recounts the dream of a young man, suffering from his unrequited love for a widow. It is essentially a misogynist invective, contradicting Boccaccio’s sympathies for the fairer sex expressed in many others works.

It is still not clear whether Corbaccio should be read as autobiographical or as a literary exercise adopting the anti-feminist point of view but ultimately dealing with torment of love. Written after the political crisis of 1360 in the Commune of Florence, the letter of consolation to Pino de’ Rossi, an exiled Florentine statesman, reflects Boccaccio’s disillusion with politics and his faith in the rise of a new cultural era opened up by Petrarch’s studies of classical literature. The preface by the publisher Bernardo Giunta is of particular interest. It addresses ‘gli amatori della Lingua Toscana,’ i.e. the humanists writing in Italian vernacular, who were praised for their constant effort to re-establish this style as a literary language, as it used to be in the time of Boccaccio.

Not in BM STC It. Adams, B 2182; Gamba, 67; Renouard, xlviii:79; Brunet, I, 1016 (‘assez rare’).


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BACON, Francis

Verulamiana; or opinions on Men, Manners, Literature, Politics and Theology.

London, R. Dutton, T. Hurst, John Cawthorn, 1803.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. Engraved authorial portrait + (xxviii) 319. Roman and italic letter. Light age yellowing, a good, clean, well-margined copy in contemporary quarter-Russia marbled boards, spine gilt-ruled in six compartments.


SCOT, Sir John


Delitiae poetarum Scotorum hujus aevi illustrium.

Amsterdam, Iohannem Blaeu, 1637.


FIRST EDITION. 12mo. Two volumes. pp. 1) 1-12, (ii), 13-699, (i): 2) pp. 573, (iii). Roman letter some Italic. Blaeu’s woodcut printer’s device on both titles, small woodcut initials “Bought at Amsterdam Sept. 25 1877, H. A. B.” on front fly. Light age yellowing, the odd marginal spot or mark. Very good copies, crisp and clean; volume I in contemporary vellum over boards, nearly matching vellum, titles inked on spines in same C17th hand.

First edition of the largest anthology of Scottish neo-Latin poetry ever produced, edited by the Fife laird Sir John Scot of Scotstarvit and the Aberdonian poet Arthur Johnstone. The two volumes were printed at the sole cost of Scot and preserved the last fruits of Scottish latinity. Scottish neo-Latinists saw themselves first and foremost as part of an international community of renaissance humanists fascinated by the Classical past. Despite James VI’s accession to the English throne in 1603, and subsequent negotiations over closer Anglo-Scottish Union, the majority of the Scots featured in the Delitiae poetarum Scotorum identified much more closely with the cultural and intellectual life of Continental Europe than they did with that of England.

“The Delitiae Poetarum ltalorum opened the floodgates to a series of national anthologies, all in Latin, all entitled Delitiae, all printed in Frankfurt. Along came collections for France, Belgium, Germany, Hungary and Denmark. (…) There was a strange irony in all this. Neo-Latin was, of course, the international language par excellence, transcending national boundaries. (…) Yet the collections clearly had competitive, nationalistic ambitions. It was as if the new chauvinism and confidence of the Renaissance vernacular languages had been diverted into Neo-Latin. (…) (John Scot of Scotstarvet) had the time, motivation and, most importantly, the money to undertake the Herculean labor. John Scot of Scotstarvet, a Fife laird and a dilettante poet himself, had the education and finances to win friends and influence people, particularly in Europe. What makes the subsequent enterprise of special interest is the fact that we have a detailed account of its progress, for Scot scrupulously preserved all incoming mail. The correspondence, now in the National Library of Scotland, reveals a great deal: how Scot accumulated and edited the material and why it took almost twenty years before the Delitiae found its way into print. (…)

From about 1619, Scotstarvet had been collecting and receiving specimens of Scottish latinity. (…) Work by thirty-seven poets was finally chosen. Many of those included had made a name for themselves abroad: James Crichton in Italy, George Crichton in Paris, Thomas Dempster almost everywhere; John Barclay’s Latin novels were widely read in Europe; John Johnston used European presses almost exclusively; Andrew Melville was well-known among Continental Calvinists; James Halkerston wrote witty epigrams on the Pope and Henri III. (…) The work avoided overt antiquarianism which by this time would probably have lacked popular appeal. Still Scotstarvet could be proud of his labours; the text was sound and Blaeu did it justice. In the next century, Samuel Johnson would call it “a collection to grace any nation.” Perhaps the greatest satisfaction to those who produced it was that the English never had the like.” Christopher A. Upton. ‘National Internationalism: Scottish Literature and the European Audience in the Seventeenth Century’.

Very good copy of this important national anthology.

Shaaber S83/J238.


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Folio, 178 leaves, A6, a-m8.6, n8, o-x8.6, y-z6, &6, 76, missing first blank.  Elegant Roman letter; printer’s device at end; tiny marginal wormholes to first leaf, small damp stains to outer upper corner of initial and final gatherings, marginal clean tear at foot of kv, miii and final blank. A very good, wide-margined copy in contemporary plain vellum, title and editorial data gilt on green morocco labels to spine, gilt bands to compartments; small crack to spine, upper joints lightly cracked; extensively annotated by five contemporary or nearly contemporary Italian scholars, one of whom inscribed above the colophon ‘Romilij prandi liber’; Hans Fürstenberg’s label on front pastedown, nineteenth-century title and later bookseller’s annotation on front endpaper verso, stamp of Count Ercole Giuseppe de Silva (1756-1840) at foot of first leaf.

Second edition, slightly more correct, of the works of Apuleius, edited by one of the earliest patrons of printing in the Italian peninsula, the bishop of Aleria, Giovanni Andrea Bussi (1417-1475), and first published in Rome in 1469 by Sweynheym and Pannartz. Half of the book is taken up by Apuleius’ masterpiece, the Metamorphoses or Golden Ass. It is the only Ancient Roman novel surviving in its integrity, recounting the adventures of a curious student of magic, Lucius. At the beginning of the book, one of Lucius’ attempts to perform a spell accidentally turns him into an ass. Hence, he travelled in search of ways to get back his human form, which only the goddess Isis was at last able to bestow on him.

This edition gathered other rhetorical and philosophical works written, attributed to or translated by Apuleius. His interest in esotericism and Neoplatonism made him very suitable for Renaissance readers’ taste, following Plato’s revival in the second half of the fifteenth century. Bussi’s preface opens with a praise of Cardinal Bessarion, the leading figure of this revival, who frequently referred to Apuleius in his Adversus Platonis calumniatorem as a necessary tool for a full understanding of Platonic thought. One can also read here an interesting essay on magic, entitled Asclepius after the Greek god of healing. It was thought to be authored by Apuleius, even though it is part of the famous Corpus Hermeticum brought to the West by Michael Psellus and translated into Latin and Italian by Marsilio Ficino. Under the influence of Egyptian tradition, Asclepius provides detailed description of such esoteric practice as the animation of statues and the art of imprisoning demons’ souls.

This copy bears very interesting and extensive scholarly marginalia, written by five Italian humanists between the last decade of fifteenth century and the first half of the following century. The earliest are in a contemporary hand, probably from the Neapolitan area, featured with a large and quite thick cursus. In one of his bookseller catalogues (IV, 1906, no. 46), Tammaro De Marinis cautiously attributed these manuscripts to the humanist Giovanni Pontano, as the pencil inscription on the front endpaper verso records. Nevertheless, a comparison with the samples of Pontano’s writing (Autografi dei letterati italiani: il Quattrocento, I, pp. 331-342) reveals that this attribution is incorrect, though the writing style might pertain, like Pontano’s, to the Neapolitan milieu of the twilight of the fifteenth century.

Alongside several annotations recording the unusual combination of words used in Apuleius’s creative Latin, this scholar records at the foot of the final errata what appears to be an unpublished, very cynical proverb in Latin, reading ‘Ignorant as a child, poor as a young man, he prepares himself for the hanging of old age’. Another hand, sharper and quicker, wrote on the verso of the final blank six of the fourteen verses comprising De origine rosarum, an Ovidian poem by Dracontius (c. 455-c. 505) – the whole text being first published by Bernardino Corio in his History of Milan, Venice 1554. Many annotations are by a slightly later hand, about the first quarter of sixteenth century, belonging to the otherwise unknown Romilio Prandi or Pranzi, his ex libris above the colophon. A fourth scholar, nearly contemporary to Prandi, annotated extensively; below De origine rosarum on final verso, he also made a fair copy of an unpublished caudate sonnet in the Italian vernacular about the true nature of the soul (‘Vol saper alchuni che cosa sia / l’anima humana: el modo e la figura / la qualità: la forma: e la natura …’), whose final line, perhaps too licentious, has been partially torn away. Finally, a fifth hand of the mid-sixteenth century dwelt in the margins on the Greek origin of rare Latin terms used by Apuleius in his works.

ISTC, ia00935000; Hain, 1316; BMC, VII, 1047; GW, 2302; Goff, A-935; Brunet, I, 361; Graesse, I, 171.


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Rime degli Accademici Timidi … per fregio della laurea … dell’una, e l’altra Legge.

Mantua, Alberto Pazzoni, 1731.


8vo., pp. 36. Roman and Italic letter; a few damp stains, small rust spot to middle of gutter. Good copy in elegant contemporary gilt paper embossed with flowers; minor loss; several contemporary autographs, presumably of fellow members to pastedowns.

An interesting collection of rhymes written by the members of the Academy of the Shy Men, celebrating the graduation in law of one of their fellows. This important intellectual academy was active in Mantua from the beginning of seventeenth century.


SPERONI, Sperone [with] GIRALDI, Giambattista

Canace. Tragedia [with] Giudicio Sopra la Tragedia di Canace et Macareo

Lyon, D. Farri, 1566.


8vo. Two works in one, ff. 48 + 54 (ii) last two blank. Italic letter. Historiated initials, printer’s woodcut device on both titles, “Franco di flamminis” manuscript In contemporary hand on second, small manuscript armorial device below, extensive marginalia in the same hand in the second work, bookplate of Allardyce Nicoll. Light age yellowing, the odd marginal spot. A good copy in C18 marbles paper wraps.

Excellent edition, with Giraldi’s important ‘guide,’ of Speroni’s most famous, influential and controversial play, first published in 1546. A versatile and extremely influential man of letters, Speroni was known for his literary criticism, in the many prose dialogues and treatises he wrote over his long career, and for this Senecan revenge tragedy, Canace, which instigated a feud among the Italian literati on the tragic genre that lasted for decades. Sperone was born in Padua and taught in various capacities at the city’s university, where he was acquainted with Pietro Bembo, Giraldi, and Tasso, and was at the center of the powerful literary circle at Padua.

This is a verse tragedy, undivided into scenes, based on the Greek legend of Canace, daughter of Aeolus, who was forced by her father to commit suicide for having fallen in love with her brother, Macar. It was composed for Padua’s literary academy, the Accademia degli Inflammati, and was printed at Firenze in 1546. The work was highly polemical, the subject of incestuous twins was always going to be controversial, and was performed only once. “It was Speroni’s Canace that most exploited the incest theme. In fact, Speroni theorized that incest may not be an evil: but even if it is, an evil hero may evoke a catharsis. In the critical battle over Canace, one thing is clear: incest is justified as a legitimate way to arouse pity and fear… Canace was, nevertheless castigated for its lasciviousness.” Richard Fabrizio.

The public reaction led Speroni to write an Apologia (1550), which he never finished. It is accompanied by Giraldi’s long essay on the work and on the nature of tragedy in both theatre and poetry in general. This was long attributed to Cavalcanti but is now considered Giraldi’s, himself an influential playwright. He is renowned as the author of the ‘Hecatommithi,’ a collection of tales told in the manner of Boccaccio which provided the plots of Measure for Measure and Othello. A good copy of one of the best editions of this work.

BM STC C16th It. p. 636. cf. Gamba 1653. Fontanini, I, p. 507.


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His devine weekes and workes translated

London, Humfrey Lownes, 1613.


4to., pp. (xxxii) 819 (xlvii) 87 (ix). Roman letter. Engraved title page by William Hole after C. Swytzer (Johnson 26:4), title within arch, Royal arms above supported by two pairs of pillars on which are resting terrestrial and celestial globes, medallion depicting the creation of woman, surmounted by pediment inscribed with the Hebrew name of God, angels at either side, further biblical panels at foot. Verses within arch made up of printers rules on next two pages, woodcut portrait of author on third. Eleven pages with printed central column containing the name of a Muse, printed title pages with astronomical diagrams, dedicatory verse to Philip Sidney in the form of a pyramid with his armorial hedgehog at head, each section of text commencing with woodcut headpiece and ‘Argument’ within typographical border, woodcut tailpieces, full page woodcut of the Garden of Eden on p. 214, white on black ‘memento mori’ on p. 669, full page woodcut of the Resurrection on p. 671; ‘History of Judith’ with separate title page with device, woodcut monogram of James I after dedication, large woodcut printer’s device on recto of last, contemporary ex-libris “George Parkins”on fly, “Mich: Constable; – 1620” at head of title, Light age yellowing, very occasional marginal soiling, and minor marginal water stains. A very good, clean copy in contemporary calf, covers bordered with triple blind rule, expertly re-backed, raised bands ruled in gilt and red morocco label, a.e.r.

A handsome copy of the fourth edition, corrected and augmented of Joshua Sylvester’s first English translation of Du Bartas’ (1544-1590) principal works, his great ‘La Sepmaine’ on the creation of the world, ‘La Seconde Sepmaine’ on the deeds of the early heroes, ‘Urania’- a poem in praise of poetry which James VI of Scotland personally translated, an epic of the history of Judith and a very extensive collection of diverse poems. In his day Du Bartas’ works were enormously popular; La Croix de Maine recorded thirty six eds. in six years apart from translations into English, Latin, Italian, German and Spanish. Nowhere was the Hugenot Du Bartas more appreciated than England where his religious tone and fanciful style earned the author the epithet ‘divine’ and he was placed an equal of Ariosto. Spenser, Hall and Johnson all speak of Du Bartas in the highest terms and Milton was clearly in his considerable debt. To a great extent this was due to Sylvester whose very free translation (almost a paraphrase) in rhymed decasyllabic couplets was so successful that Southey describes him as the most popular poet of the reign of James I.

To the modern reader a particular point of interest are the numerous references to the New World. The 22 page chapter ‘The Colonies’ mentions Drake, Newfoundland, Columbus, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Patagonia, Magellan, as well as the places’ notable physical features, distinctive animals and plants and most important produce. This is not just a list of names, but descriptive eg. “And Plate’s flat Plains, Where flowers another Nile”. The ‘Index of the hardest words’ (an admirable feature) explains Vespucci as America’s first discoverer, the habits of South American ‘cannibals’ and ‘Americans’ and ‘the French disease’, brought first from the Indies etc. There are also many references and descriptions relating to the East Indies and elsewhere.

STC 21652. Lowndes II 679. Grolier I 244 (3rd edn., which has the same collation but not identical composition). Alden 613/51.


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GRATAROLO, Bongianni

Altea. Tragedia di m. Bongianni Gratarolo di Salo

Venice, Francesco Marcolini, 1556.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. ff. 46 (i) (lacking last blank). Italic letter. Historiated woodcut initials, printer’s woodcut ‘Veritas filia temporis’ device on title repeated within oval frame on recto of last, bookplate of Allardyce Nicoll on pastedown. Light age yellowing, the occasional oil spot or stain, cut a little close in upper margin, fractionally shaving one or two running headlines. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, recased.

First and only edition of Gratarolo’s first work, a mythological tragedy, dedicated to Count Camillo Capriiolo of Brescia. The play is written in blank verse but with verses that end with two unaccented syllables, described by Quadro as ‘ritmo privo affatto di splendore e di noblità’. The plot is loosely based on the Greek myth: Melagro, Altea’s son, kills the boar sacred to Diana, and gives the spoils to Atalanta from whom in turn they are taken by Altea’s brothers. Melagro revenges this act by killing them. Altea, to avenge her brothers, kills her son. Then, after her daughter, Deianira, has announced to her the death of her own husband, Hercules, consumed by the famous shirt of Nessus, Altea dies and finally the wrath of Diana is appeased. Gratarolo’s work, unlike the confidently expounded theatrical tragedy of Giraldi and his followers, represents a shift away from theatre, and is a evidently intended for print rather than performance, a so called ‘closet drama’. He wrote three such tragedies Altea, Astianatte, and Polissena, published between 1556 and 1589, and a history of his home town ‘Storia della Riviera di Salò’, Brescia, 1599. A good copy of a scarce work.

BM STC It. C16th p. 311. Fontanini I p. 518. Censimento CNCE 21648. Not in Gamba.


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