CAMPION, Edmund, Saint. HANMER, Meredith

CAMPION, Edmund, Saint. HANMER, Meredith Two Histories of Ireland

Dublin, Printed by the Society of Stationers, 1633


FIRST EDITION of second part. Folio. pp. [xii], 138, [2], 219, 221-223, [ii]. [without the last section by Spenser]. Roman letter, some Italic. Title with large architectural woodcut border, triple columns to sides, crowned rose at head (see Mckerrow and Ferguson 274, asterisks replacing ‘IR’) large floriated initials, grotesque woodcut and typographical headpieces. Light age yellowing, light browning to the Hanmer, very rare marginal mark or spot. Very good copy, crisp and clean in contemporary calf, covers bordered with a double blind rule, rebacked to match, morocco label gilt.

First edition of Hanmer’s history and second of Campion’s, both seminal historical works on Ireland, brought to the press by Sir James Ware of Dublin (1594-1666), the father of Irish historical studies, who despite the burdens of various Crown offices devoted the greater part of his life’s work to the history of that country. Amongst all else he collected and had translated many ancient Irish chronicles, charters and other documents otherwise most likely to have been lost. Hanmer (1543-1604) is a much less attractive character; a person who attached himself to the Church of Ireland when his misdemeanours in the Church of England had rendered his position untenable; but he was a worthier man of letters than of the cloth and his history, printed here for the first time, is a work of merit and learning. It comprises the second and most substantial part of this volume, and covers a period from earliest times up to 1284. It is not a bare chronicle of events but an inquiring and usefully discursive history, eg. Hanmer’s linguistic comparison of ancient British and Irish. It is continued from 1285-1421 in 16 pages by Henry Marlbourgh but unlike Hanmer’s this section is a list of events with little interesting narrative. Campion (1540-1581), Saint, scholar, priest and martyr was probably the outstanding Oxford figure of his generation. His adherence to the old faith however prevented him from remaining there and in 1569 he moved to Ireland to assist James Stanihurst, recorder of Dublin and speaker of the House of Commons, in his project for reviving Dublin University, founded by Pope John XXI, but by then extinct. The government disapproved and while Campion was in Ireland orders were given for his arrest, which he eluded, and effectively on the run he composed this history, probably principally to account for his absence from England and to show how he had spent his time. The first part deals with the history of Ireland before Henry II’s conquest and is interesting for its description of the country and its peoples. The second takes the history to 1571, about half deals with the C16. According to Gillow, Campion wrote the book in ten weeks and it is almost as much pamphlet advocating education as the means to tame Ireland as serious history. It demonstrates however Campion’s skill as a writer and his elegant and eloquent prose. It was first printed by his friend Stanihurst in his edition of Holinshed’s Chronicles (1587). This edition is recorded by ESTC as containing a third part by Spenser. However there are many variants, and it seems probable that this version, with the two histories only, was originally issued without the Spenser section. “The Campion-Hanmer section was originally supplied with a title reading ‘Two Histories of Ireland. The One Written by Edmund Campion, the other by Meredith Hanmer, Dr. of Divinity.’ The dedication and preface make no mention of any intention to publish Spenser’s View as a third part and it is possible that originally the historical and the political treatises were intended by Ware to form two distinct volumes. However, though several copies of the Spenser section are known separately bound, .. no copies of the ‘Two Histories’ are recorded.” Pforzheimer. This copy does indeed appear to be a copy with the first two parts bound together without the Spenser part as originally intended.

ESTC S118078. STC 25067. Lowndes III 922. Pforzheimer III 983. [‘The History of Ireland’ with Spenser part] Gillow I pp. 385-6.
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