WESTON, Elizabeth Jane

UNRECORDED VERSE BY POETESS OF THE 1600s

Ad Serenissimum, Potentissimum, ac Invictissimum principem ac Dominum, Dn. Matthiam Secundum.

Liepzig, Valentin. Am Ende. 1612.

£5,400

FIRST EDITION. 4to. Four unnumbered leaves. (-)4, (last blank). Italic letter, some Roman. Title within typographical border with small woodcut ornament, woodcut initial, typographical headpieces, large grotesque woodcut tailpieces, early manuscript page numbering to outer blank corners. Light, even age browning (poor quality paper). A very good clean copy, unbound.

Extraordinarily rare first, and only separate edition of the final published poem of the Elizabethan and Jacobean poetess Elisabeth Weston, written in praise of Mathew II on his election as Holy Roman Emperor. This first edition of one of the earliest published female British poets is lacking, as far as we can see, to all British and American libraries.

Elizabeth Weston (1582 – 1612), poet, was born in London, but her recusant father was forced out of England in her infancy and settled at Brux near Prague. Her youthful Latin verses, chiefly dedicated to awakening sympathy for an impoverished widow and her orphaned daughter, attracted considerate attention and were admired by a humanistic circle including Scaliger, Heinsius, Gerrardius, Lipsius, and Dousa. Her works were collected and edited by the Silesian noble Georg Martin von Baldhoven, who printed them in 1602 together with his encomium of the author, at his own expense. Elizabeth was a considerable scholar, speaking and writing perfectly in English, Greek, Italian, Latin, German, and Czech.

Her poems consist of addresses to princes, including James I, who it is said had recommended her to the Emperor, together with epigrams, translation of Aesop and epistles to friends. Farnaby includes her works in his ‘Index Poeticus’ (1634), and Elizabeth is the only woman to appear in his list of distinguished Latin writers, past and present; Evelyn specifically mentions her poem in praise of typography. “The coronation encomium that Weston wrote for Matthew II on his election as Holy Roman Emperor in Frankfurt in 1612, just four months before she died, is far more ambitious (than her encomium to James I on his coronation). It opens with an extended simile in which Alexander the Great is compared, of course unfavourably, with Matthias, the greatest of kings, who has conquered ‘hearts, not only bodies’ (22-23). Unlike the Macedonian king, Matthias has shed no blood. The contrast continues in a series of five antitheses: Matthias has conquered through ‘bono pacis non belli … tumultu’; his victory is ‘pietatis opus … /Non feritatis,’ his preference is ‘Demulcere malos mavis quam sumere poenas’; he not surprisingly favours disarmament but quells armed uprisings and brings peace, not bloodshed (10-19). There follows a chronological list of Matthias’s successes: wresting kingdoms from his brother, Rudolf, obtaining the Germans’ votes to become Holy Roman Emperor, and finally establishing himself as ‘Monarcha mundi’ (27-31). Respecting tradition, Weston ends on a note of appeal and prays for his reign to last for centuries through his offspring, a pious wish since in 1612 the middle aged Emperor had none, although he had married the much younger Anna of Tyrol in the previous year, and she asks for it to extend ‘ab occasu … Solis ad ortum.’ Weston is using conventional vocabulary, yet in reversing the usual order, ‘from sunrise to sunset,’ ‘east to west’ she is foreshadowing her explicit appeal twelve lines on to wage war against the Turks, exterminating the ‘Mohammedan foes’ to the root. Only then will the true faith extend worldwide and the church take on greater power.” Brenda Hosington.

“The well-wrought verses of an unknown bard. Renaissance Englishwomen’s Latin poetry of praise and lament. Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Upsaliensis.Vol. I.” An exceptionally rare first edition of one of the earliest published British female poets; we have found no copy of this edition on Worldcat or in German libraries online.

Not in Shaaber or BM STC Ger. C17. See Cheney and Hosington, Introduction to the Collected Writings.

L1839

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SCOT, Sir John

NEO-LATIN COLLECTION OF NATIONAL SCOTTISH POETRY

Delitiae poetarum Scotorum hujus aevi illustrium.

Amsterdam, Iohannem Blaeu, 1637.

£1,750

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.

L2140

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ACCADEMICI TIMIDI

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

Mantua, Alberto Pazzoni, 1731.

£1,250

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.

CJS4

SALUSTE DU BARTAS, Guillaume de

His devine weekes and workes translated

London, Humfrey Lownes, 1613.

£1,950

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.

L1951

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LANGLAND, William

ONE OF THE BEST KNOWN REFLECTIVE POEMS OF THE MIDDLE AGES

The vision of Pierce Plowman newlye imprynted after the authours olde copy.

London, Owen Rogers, 1561.

£23,500

4to. 256 unnumbered pages. [cross]², A-2H⁴, ²I². Without, as nearly always, the Crede, an unconnected second work. Black letter. Title with small woocut ornament, floriated and white on black criblé initials, extensive marginalia in a later hand, bibliographical notes on on front free endpapers in the same hand, “S. Sandes. ex dono p. sherwood **?. 1681” shelf mark above, bookplate of ‘Waldo Bryant’ on pastedown. Title page fractionally yellowed early price mark at head, browning to 4 leaves. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in C17th speckled calf, covers blind ruled to a panel design, blind fleurons to corners, rebacked circa 1900, spine with raised bands fleurons gilt in compartments, red morocco label gilt.

Exceptionally rare copy of the fourth edition of Piers Plowman. The Vision of Piers Plowman is considered the most important work in Middle English with the exception of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and is attributed to William Langland. It is thought to have been written between 1360 to 1399, and describes the vision of the poet set in the Vale of Berkeley and the adjacent Malvern Hills. It reflects, among other things, the author’s concern with the corruption of the Church, the merits of poverty, and the supreme virtue of love. Langland began the poem in about 1370 when he was forty five and continued to update and enlarge the work over the next twenty years. The manuscripts attest to this development and appear first in eleven parts then in twenty and finally in twenty three. It was first published in 1550 during the reign of Edward VI in twenty parts, which this edition copies.

“Practically no aspect of English medieval life passes without comment in Piers Plowman. The text draws upon a number of literary forms—among them the beast fable, sermon, and debate—but Langland is primarily a satirist working within a complex allegorical dream vision. In it Langland grapples with the most serious questions of his generation, so he must be viewed in the context of the religious, social and economic upheavals sweeping mid-to late-fourteenth-century England. Piers Plowman is a series of quests, of searches for answers as the dream narrator Will goes from authority to authority. The object of the search, however, changes as the poem proceeds. First the search is for what is expected of the Christian living in the world, then its object becomes Truth and salvation, and this transforms into a quest for Dowel, Dobet and Dobest (that is, do well, do better, and do best), which becomes in turn a vision of Faith, Hope, and Charity, which at length returns the Dreamer to the human world. The poem concludes with the beginning of yet another quest as Conscience vows to become a pilgrim ‘and walken as wide as the world lasteth, To seken Piers the Plowman’” The Poetry foundation.

“What is truly exceptional about Langland is the kind, and the degree, of his poetic imagination. (…) Sublimity—so rare in Gower, and rarer still in Chaucer—is frequent in Piers Plowman. (…) The great vision wherin the poet beholds ‘the sea, and the sun, and the sand after’ and sees ‘man and his make’ among the other creatures, has in it a Lucretian largeness which, in that age no one but Langland attempts. It is far removed from the common, and beautiful, descriptions of nature which we find in medieval poetry. (…) It belongs rather to what has been called the ‘intellectual imagination’ (…) This power of rendering imaginable what before was only intelligible is nowhere, I think, not even in Dante, better exemplified than in Langland’s lines on the Incarnation.” CS Lewis ‘The Allegory of Love.’

“The crede (…) is as usual laking. Its rarity, about half a dozen copies have survived, is probably due to contemporary proscription because of its Wycliffite doctrine. (…) Except as linked in the title, the Crede has no connection with the Vision” Pforzheimer, 799. A very good copy of this most important work of English poetry. All C16th editions are extremely rare.

ESTC S114908. STC 19908. Pforzheimer, 799. Hayward English poetry no. 12. Lowndes V 1888 “The Crede .. is very seldom found in the volume, though mentioned in the title page.” Ames IV 2845.

L1993

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DIONYSIUS Periegetes

THE GEOGRAPHY OF ANTIQUITY IN VERSE

De Situ Orbis

Ferrara, Ioannes Maciochus, 1512.

£1,950

EDITIO PRINCEPS, 4to., 52 unnumbered leaves. A-E8F, G6. First half Greek letter, rest Roman, quite undecorated. Slight age yellowing, the Greek text with marginal annotations in a 16th C Greek hand. Very slight marginal soiling to last couple of leaves, a good, clean, well margined copy in 19th C tan morocco, joints a bit rubbed.

First edition of the original Greek text of Dionysius, first edition of the Latin translation of Remmius Palaemon and first edition of the commentary and additions of Celio Calcignini: the whole was edited by the printer, together with Ludovicus Bonaciolus. Dionysius, fl. probably in Alexandria in the first century B.C., produced this elegant and terse description of the habitable world in Greek hexameters. It was probably intended as a school geography, and certainly was used as such in the ancient world; it achieved great popularity as one of the earliest descriptions of far away places, both in antiquity and again, in translation, in the first decades of printing.

BM. STC. It. p. 217. Adams D 643. JFB D 206. “Première édition rare”: Brunet II 729. NUC records copies only at Lib. of Congress, Princeton, Newberry and Univ. of Minnesota.

L2135

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BAUDIUS, Dominicus

STUFFED WITH MANUSCRIPT REMAINS

Amores (with) Dissertationum ludicrarum at amoenitatum scriptores varii

Leiden, Franciscus Hegerus and Franciscus Hackius, 1638.

£1,450

8vo, two volumes in one: 1): FIRST EDITION. pp. (12), 518, (2); 2): pp. 7, (1), 567, (1), final gathering Aa8 incorrectly bound after initial table of contents. Predominantly Roman letter, little Italic and Greek; decorated initials and head- and tail-pieces, printer’s device on title 1 (a little dusty), detailed full-page engraved portrait of Baudius at f. ***viv, engraved title 2; occasional spot to margins. A very good copy in contemporary plain vellum; a bit worn, front cover crudely repaired after partial removal of central vellum, overs boards made from multiple ll. of earlier ms; all edges blue; contemporary owner’s inscription to title 1) ‘Con. Ernest Ruppelius Arzb.’; contemporary annotation to verso of rear endpaper.

A very amusing collection of Neo-latin poetry and essays published by the main competitors of the Elzevier press. The first work is the editio princeps (variant B of the imprint) of a sammlung of love writings, mainly by Domenicus Baudius. Baudius (1561-1613), probably a nickname for Dominique Baudier, was a prominent poet, historian and professor at the University of Leiden. Graduate in law in 1585, he received encouragement from Joseph Justus Scaliger and De Thou to engage in Latin poetry and later befriended Philip Sidney, Daniel Heinsius and Hugo Grotius. He started teaching at the University of Leiden in 1602, first as professor of rhetoric and then of history. For this reason, he was entrusted with the composition of a chronicle of the Dutch war between 1609 and 1611. His Amores were edited posthumously by Peter Schrijver (1576-1660), a younger colleague of his in Leiden as well as a Neo-Latin poet and historian in his own right. They gather several of Baudius’s letters and verses recounting his erotic often-failing adventures, along with a great number of other pieces related to love and marriage by both his erudite friends (Hensius, Grotius, Schrijver, Scaliger and Salmasius) and earlier humanists such as Erasmus, Lelio Capilupi, Giovanni Carga and even Thomas More with his Qualis uxoria deligenda. Schrijver took the opportunity to include some annotations by himself, Salmasius, Pithou and Lipsius about the famous anonymous poem of late antiquity Pervigilium Veneris. This edition, printed by George Vander Marse, was published jointly in Leiden by Hagerus & Hackius and in Amsterdam by Louis Elzevier.

The other half of the volume is taken up with the second edition of a collection of scholarly divertissements, bearing a new title in respect of the princeps issued in 1623 as Argumentorum ludicrorum scriptores. It comprises short smart essays in praise of swimming, laughing, fleas, elephants, donkeys, ants, cows, lice, flies, blindness, malaria and gout. Among the authors are Melanchton, Willibald Pirckheimer, Celio Calcagnini, Marco Antonio Maioraggio, Jean Passerat and again Lipsius, Hensius and Scaliger.

The voluminous manuscript binder’s waste is a potential feast for scholars.

1) Brunet I, 703; Graesse, I, 312; Gay, I, 103 (‘recueil estimé et peu commun’); Willems, 961 (‘le volume des Amores est bien execute, et les beaux exemplaires son assez recherchés … Il était dèjà rare en 1712’).

2) Brunet, II, 762; Graesse, II, 410; Gay, II, 14; Willems, 1633.

L1941

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DE’MEDICI, Lorenzo

Poesie Volgari.

Venice, Figliuoli di Aldo, 1554.

£8,750

FIRST EDITION. 8vo. ff. 205 (iii). Roman and Italic letter, anchor device to title page and verso of last, historiated woodcut initials. Light age yellowing, very light water stain towards outer margin, very occasional spot or mark. Without O5-8 as usual and excluded from the register, comprising canzoni that were suppressed. A very good copy, crisp and clean in c. 1800 vellum, spine gilt ruled in compartments, olive and red morocco gilt lettered labels, original gilt and gauffered edges, arms of Hon. George Fortescue blind stamped on upper cover.

FIRST EDITION of the poems and poetic commentary of Lorenzo de’Medici, some of which are were written as early as age 17. The sonnets, sestinas, and songs are almost entirely preoccupied with love for beautiful women, in a style both imaginative and lively that strives toward the lyric of Dante and Petrarch. In his “Comment” on the poems, Medici expounds on life, love, his philosophical influences, and even current events that inspired him. For instance, he describes the death of Simonetta Vespucci, “la bella Simonetta” after his own nickname for the model for Boticelli’s Venus, and its influence over his work: throughout Florence her early death produced sadness and ‘a most ardent longing for her. And therefore she was taken uncovered from her house to the burial place, and moved all who crowded around to see her to copious tears’. Poems written later in life are also included in the volume, of a more serious and religious nature: on the virgin Mary, and the Crucifiction and Resurrection of Christ.

Lorenzo de’Medici “The Magnificent” (1449 – 1492), scholar, politician, and poet, was the driving force behind the flourishing culture of 15th century Florence through his patronage of the arts. Walter Pater’s characterization of Lorenzo’s age with that of Pericles is perhaps most apt: “It is an age productive in personalities, many-sided, centralized, complete. Here, artists and philosophers and those whom the action of the world has elevated and made keen, do not live in isolation, but breathe a common air, and catch light and heat from each other’s thoughts. There is a spirit of general elevation and enlightenment, in which all alike communicate.”

George Fortescue (1791-1877) son of the first Earl Fortescue, was member of Parliament for Hindon, who supported many pro-catholic bills in parliament. Although little noticed a a collector, he had a fine library, particularly of Aldines.

Renouard 162.23 “Presque tous les exemplaires sont multilés de cinq chansons (Canzoni) dans le feuille O”. Adams M1005. Ahmanson-Murphy IIIa 410. Gamba 648 “Raro…Questa edizione Aldina fu tenuta in molto pregio”. Not in Gay.

L1815

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THEOCRITUS

Eidullia…

Venice, Aldus Manutius, February 1495

£49,500

EDITIO PRINCEPS, Folio, 140 unnumbered ll, AA8 BB8 ΓC8 ΔD8 EE6 ZF6 ΘG6 ZZζζ10 AAαα8 BBββ8 ΓΓγγ8 ΔΔδδ8 EEεε6 αa8 βb8 γc10 δd8 εe8. Greek and Roman letter, woodcut initials and headpieces. Contemporary ms marginal Latin translation in a very neat hand of the Golden Song of Pythagoras and the Moral Precepts of Phocylides on ΔΔδδ8-ΕΕεε5. T-p and verso of last a little dusty, a very good, clean, copy with very wide margins, in beautiful contemporary calf over wooden boards, covers ruled, five borders surrounding a central panel. The borders alternate between repeated intricate designs formed by a single tool repeated – first, a cross, second, a curved and studded X shape, and third an acanthus-leaf – and widely spaced double-cross single tool designs. Central panel of three blind-ruled lozenges, double-cross design inside and outside the lozenges. The volume originally had four large metal clasps, two at the side and at top and bottom; gaps filled with a much smaller cross design, probably contemporary with the gilt dentelle outer border (c1600), edges and corners with small old repairs in 19th-century calf, rebacked to match, four raised bands, blind ruled. Some small wormholes to front and back covers. A very handsome and unusual Italian binding, similar to that of a Cicero ms ascribed to Naples, now in the Vatican.

FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE of this hugely important collection of Greek works, including the EDITIO PRINCEPS of Theocritus’ Idylls 19-30, Hesiod’s Theogony, [Hesiod’s] Shield of Heracles, Theognis’ Elegiacs, [Pythagoras’] Carmina Aurea, and [Phocylides’] Poema Admonitorium; the first Greek edition of Cato’s Distichs; the second edition of Theocritus’ Idylls 1-18 and Hesiod’s Works and Days (editio princeps Milan, 1480). The second issue of the present edition has reset text in the two outermost sheets of quire Z F, and all of Θ G; near the end of printing missing lines of Megara (attributed to Theocritus) were rediscovered in a manuscript and added. Thus, the verso of the last leaf of Θ G is blank in this present copy, as per Renouard. Aldus Manutius dedicated the work to his former teacher, Battista Guarino, professor at Ferrara, whom Manutius addresses in his epistolary dedication as ‘quidem aetate nostra Socrates’.

The combination of Greek texts printed in this compendium is interesting and, to modern eyes at least, surprising. It opens with the thirty hexameter Idylls of Theocritus, a Hellenistic poet writing in Alexandria at the Ptolemaic court (cf. Idylls 16 and 17). Theocritus is most famous as the ‘inventor’ of pastoral poetry (Virgil imitated the ‘bucolic’ Idylls 1-11 in his Eclogues), but, taken as a collection, the Idylls present pastoral, epic, romantic and realistic tropes, all with a characteristically Hellenistic lightness of touch (though a third or so of the Idylls are probably spurious). Not only does this volume embody for the first time all thirty Idylls together in print, it includes the editio princeps of Hesiod’s Theogony, the didactic poem, in epic hexameters, telling of the birth of the gods, and the ecphrastic Shield of Heracles, attributed to Hesiod in antiquity. With these narrative hexameters are a number of didactic Greek works, providing moral instruction as well as educational value. These encompass the Sententiae Elegiacae of Theognis – again, the editio princeps – an archaic poet whose lyric couplets provided gnomic maxims, and the first printed Greek translation of Cato’s Distichs: one of the most popular Medieval Latin school texts, the Distichs give practical and moral advice for leading a good life (e.g. ‘Be oft awake: from too much sleep abstain./ For vice from sloth doth ever nurture gain’). Most interesting in this copy in particular are the Aurea Carmina, attributed to Pythagoras, and Phocylides’ Poema admonitorum. The former consists of 71 hexameter lines of moral exhortations which, though adhering to Pythagorean philosophy, are believed to be fourth or fifth-century A.D.; the latter, a Hellenistic collection of Jewish moral teachings, also in hexameters, falsely attributed to the archaic poet Phocylides (cf. Walters, The Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides, pp 8-11): ‘Love of money is the mother of all evil. Gold and silver are always a lure for men’, 43-44. Fascinatingly, in the wide margins of the pages containing these two poems, their Latin translations have been painstakingly transcribed in a neat, clear humanist hand. Since the final ms letters of some lines on these pages have been cropped, and re-added beneath in the same hand, they were written before the book was bound – perhaps while it was still in its original wrappers. Why the annotator – doubtless the original owner – chose these two poems in particular remains a mystery; perhaps he felt the moral teachings especially applicable. Remarkably, the translations follow the 1494 Lascaris, the very first book issued by Aldus, and presumably were transcribed in the present copy for ease of reference.

A very fine copy with beautiful binding of an incunabular compendium of important Greek texts, offering a fascinating insight into contemporary tensions between Humanist and Medieval approaches to learning, combining the editiones principes of important Greek authors with works that were central to moral and educational learning in the Middles Ages.

BMC V 554 (IB. 24402-8); BMC STC It. C15 667; Renouard 5:3 “cette édition est très rare”; HC 15477; CIBN T-101; Hoffmann III, 373; Essling 888; Sander 7235; Goff T-144. For binding, cf. De Marinis I pl 9, 114.

L1834

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SPENSER Edmund


The Faerie Queen (with) The Shepherds Calendar: Together with the Other Works.

London, H. L. For Matthew Lownes, 1609 and 1611

£4,950

FIRST COLLECTED EDITION. Folio, pp. [ii] 363 [iii] (last blank) + [x] 56 [ii] (last blank) [cl]. Double column, Roman letter. Large woodcut printer’s device on both titles of the Faerie Queen, smaller devices on each title of the second part, large woodcut foliated and grotesque woodcut initials of various sizes, extensive head and tail-pieces and other ornaments, epitome of each canto within ornate woodcut border, 12 large woodcuts illustrating each month to Shepherds Calendar, C18 autograph of ‘Alexr. Murray’ of Abercairny on title, repeated on A2, C18 large engraved bookplate of the ‘House of Abercairny’ on pastedown. First title fractionally dusty, very light age yellowing in a few leaves of second vol. A fine copy, crisp and clean, in fine early 19th century olive straight grained morocco, covers blind and gilt ruled to a panel design, large blind scrollwork roll to outer border, fine gilt blocks at corners of inner panel, spine with blind ruled raised bands, large gilt and blind ornaments in compartments, finely tooled at head and tail, title gilt lettered in one compartment, inner dentelles gilt, a.e.g. spine a little darkened, upper outer joint cracked.

The first folio edition, with minor variants, of the Faerie Queen, the pre-eminent achievement of Edmund Spenser and one of the flowers of Elizabethan literature, bound with the first folio ed. of his other poems, from the first issue of the first collected edition of poems. “This is the first edition with the two cantos of Mutabilitie… In 1609 Lownes published the present which either did not sell very well or was issued in a large edition, for two years later when he published a collected edition of Spenser’s works he included the sheets of this 1609 Faerie Queen with the title cancelled” Pforzheimer. This 1609 edition (not the reissue with the cancel title) is here bound with the second part of the 1611 edition to make the first collected edition of Spenser’s poetry.

Any note on Spenser’s works is really superfluous. He was the first great poet in England since Chaucer, the most learned apart from Milton, the most influential “poet’s poet” as described by Lamb, and acknowledged by Shakespeare as the master of “music and sweet poetry”. “He lives as an exquisite word painter of widely differing scenes, and as supreme poet-musician using with unrivalled skill a noble stanza of his own invention, unparalleled in any language” (Cambridge History of Eng. Lit.). His influence on subsequent literature cannot be exaggerated: Milton found him a ‘sure guide’ both as a thinker and a poet; Dr Johnson pointed out the derivation of ‘The Pilgrims Progress’ from the Faerie Queen; Dryden called the author his ‘Master in English. The Faerie Queene was a major influence in the writings of Coleridge, Wordsworth, Lamb and many others.

“Spenser was known to his contemporaries as ‘the prince of poets’, as great in English as Virgil in Latin. He left behind him masterful essays in every genre of poetry, from pastoral and elegy to epithalamion and epic…… Milton was later to claim Spenser as ‘a better teacher than Aquinas’, and generations of readers, students, and scholars have admired him for his subtle use of language, his unbounded imagination, his immense classical and religious learning, his keen understanding of moral and political philosophy, and his unerring ability to synthesize and, ultimately, to delight.” Cambridge University, ‘The Edmund Spenser biography’. A fine copy.

Abercairny is a great gothic house in Perthshire which belonged to the Moray or Murray family – noted for their fierce allegience to the Jacobite cause – for six centuries before passing by marriage to the Home – Drummonds. It is now known as Drummond castle.

STC. 23083 and STC 23083.3. Lowndes 2476-7. Grolier, Langland to Wither 234 and 239. “It is the first folio edition, and frequently occurs with other works of the author bound at the end” Pforzheimer 971 and 972.

L1085

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