Paraphrasis Psalmorum Davidis Poetica. … Eiusdem Buchanani tragœdiæ duæ, Iephthes, & Baptistes.

Amsterdam, ex officina Henrici Laurentij. 1618.


12mo. Three parts in one. pp. 69, 64-65, 72-431, [i]. A-S¹². Italic letter, some Roman. Woodcut ornament on title, contemporary autograph of “Row: Woodward” at foot of title, his motto above “De juegos el mejor es con la hoja”, hand written bookplate of the ‘Earl of Westmoreland’ 1856 on pastedown, Robert S Pirie’s bookplate on fly with his pencil purchase note. Light age yellowing. A very good copy in contemporary vellum over thin paste boards, yapp edges, C19th paper labels on spine with title and shelf mark, a.e.r.

A very rare edition of this collection of three important neo-Latin works by George Buchanan, with a most interesting and important English provenance; from the library of Rowland Woodward a close friend of John Donne, who addressed many poems to him. Woodward owned a copy of Donne’s Pseudo-Martyr, presented to him by Donne, now in the Bodleian (shelf mark Arch H. e. 83) which also has Woodward’s autograph and motto. Keynes describes it thus; “Another presentation copy, now in the library of John Sparrow, was given by Donne to his friend Rowland Woodward. At the top of the title-page, here reproduced is written the Spanish motto ‘De juegos el mejor es con la hoja’.(of games the best is with the leaf) .. A short account of Woodward will be found in Pearsall Smith’s life and letters of Sir Henry Wotton, Oxford 1907. .. Donne addressed poems to him and to other members of his family, and he may have owned the Westmorland MS. of the Poems. (See Grierson II Lxxxi). Another book from his library, one volume of ‘Memoires de L’Estat de France sous Charles Neufiesme’ 2nd edn, 1578’, is in the possession of Mr. Desmond Flower. It has the signature and motto and carries the hand written bookplate of the Earl of Westmorland, 1856.” Keynes p. 7.

“The late Sir Edmund Gosse concludes the first volume of his ‘Life and Letters of John Donne’ (I899) by saying, “There is none of Donne’s friends of whom we would more gladly know more than of Rowland Woodward.” He states that nothing is known of him but his name, the epistles that Donne wrote to him, and the gift to him by Donne of a copy of the Pseudo-Martyr; he concludes that the important Westmoreland MS. also was given to him by Donne. …Mr. Pearsall Smith .. establishes that Woodward was at Venice with Wotton in 1605; during his residence there he was sent as a spy to Milan and imprisoned by the Inquisition. In 1607, while bringing home dispatches, he was attacked by robbers in France and left for dead. On February 2, 1608, £60 was paid to his brother Thomas for Rowland’s “surgeons and diets.” In 1608 he entered the service of the Bishop of London. In I625 he petitioned for a pension. In I630 he became Deputy Master of Ceremonies, and died in I636-I637” M. C. Deas “A Note on Rowland Woodward, the Friend of Donne.” The Review of English Studies, Vol. 7, No. 28 (Oct., 1931), pp. 454-457. Deas also points out the later connection between Woodward and Francis, Earl of Westmorland, who must have acquired Woodward’s books, including the Pseudo-Martyr presentation copy and the important “Westmorland” manuscript, along with this work. Keynes translates the ‘Hoja’ as ‘leaf’ but it can also mean ‘blade.’

“For some two hundred years the paraphrasing of the Psalms in Latin verse attracted many poets to try their hand, including some of Europe’s best. The object was not primarily devotional or pedagogical, and they were not, at least at first, set to music or used in churches; the impulse was literary and artistic, a response to the challenge of recasting the poetry of the ancient Hebrews, usually accessed in Latin translations, into classicizing verse. The genre became especially popular in the years after 1530, when numerous versions were written, some in the elegiac metre and others in a variety of mainly lyrical metres. George Buchanan took the latter path, and was actually the first to produce a complete set, in which he used some thirty metres for the 150 psalms. He began work when in France, continued them in Portugal (helped in part by a period of confinement near Lisbon decreed by the Inquisition), and finished them in the early 1560s, soon after his return to Scotland.” Roger Green

“The most famous neo-Latin drama written by an author from Britain was the tragedy of Iephthes sive votum (Jephthah, or the Vow, 1553), inspired by the biblical story of Jephthah (Judges 11). In a poignant example of tragic irony, Jephthah made a vow that if granted victory, he would sacrifice the first living thing that he met on his journey home – only to be greeted by his daughter. The same author also wrote the successful gospel-based Baptistes sive calumnia .. on the beheading of John the baptist. These dramas were written in France by the Scottish humanist George Buchanan (1506-82). They dealt with religious beliefs – for instance, about the status of vows or about the relation between God and Evil – but also with practises of worship.” Andrew Hiscock, Helen Wilcox “The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern English Literature and Religion.”

An extremely rare edition with most important English provenance,

Not in BM STC Low countries C17th. Shaaber B 797. See Keynes p. 6-7. Durkan 156


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