Vita et martyrium Edmundi Campiani martyris Angli è Societate IesuAntwerp, apud heredes Martini Nutii, 1618
FIRST EDITION. 12mo pp. 360 (xii). A-P¹², Q . Roman letter. Title with woodcut Jesuit device, woodcut initials, C17 ms. ex libris of Jesuit College, Paris at head of t-p, C18 printed ownership slip of Dusouleur on pastedown, C19 bookplate of Saint Sulpice Seminary, Paris, below, “C. B.” in later hand above. General light browning, (poor quality paper). A good copy in contemporary vellum over thin boards, traces of ties.
Rare first edition of a life of the Jesuit priest Edmund Campion, martyred in 1581 on the English mission; it carries a dedication to the English Jesuits as well as a Jesuit imprimatur and imperial privilege, and was intended for import into the country. “The earliest sources for Campion’s life are far from simple. Campion’s fellow missionary, Robert Persons, one of the greatest catholic writers of the period, was commissioned to write a life by the Jesuit General Claudio Acquaviva. He began writing in 1593, but gave up within a year of starting. He also wrote about these events in various other scattered memoirs ..Parson’s passed his incomplete ‘Of the life and martirdome’ and his ‘Notae breves’ for the unfinished chapters, to Paolo Bombino, S.J. and was personally at his elbow in Rome for at least some of the time Bombino was writing. Bombino published his Vita et Martyrium in Antwerp in 1618, and then in an elegant edition in Mantua, in 1620. Bombino drew on several sources other than Persons, and used at least one manuscript still extant in the English College in Rome. Richard Simpson, the outstanding modern biographer, made full use of Bombino (as his notebooks show.)… Persons was not Bombino’s only source : he also had access to other information, especially of the capture at Lyford Grange, the first disputation, the secret meeting with the Queen, and the trial. Many priests who were eyewitnesses survived long after the death of Persons.” Dr Gerard Kilroy. ‘Edmund Campion: A Scholarly Life.’
Son of a London bookseller, Campion’s sharp wit was spotted early and he was maintained at Christ’s Hospital school by the Worshipful Company of Grocers. They sent him on to St. John’s College, Oxford, with the ready agreement of the founder, Sir Edmund White. Campion became one of the heroes of contemporary oratory, a man destined to go far in English public life; many of his later persecutors admired him greatly in their youth. This, coupled with his stoicism and grace of bearing during his torture and trial, helped make the cruel proceedings extremely poignant. Bombino wrote amongst many works a life of St. Ignatius Loyola; and Habsburg and Medici funeral orations.