CASE, John.


CASE, John. Thesaurus Oeconomiae.

Oxford, Joseph Barnes, 1597


FIRST AND ONLY EDITION. 4to. Pp. (xii) 278 (x). Roman letter, Italic letter. Large woodcut printer’s device to tp, floriated and historiated head and tail pieces and initials. Foldout typographical table before A1, small tear at fold. Attractive C15 manuscript in English hand of De Vita Honestate Clericorum used as flyleaves front and back. Slight age yellowing, light water stain to fly and first couple of leaves, worm trails to gutter pp. 127-240. A good, clean copy in handsome contemporary blind-tooled Oxford calf, large central arabesque within blind-ruled panel, small tools in each corner, diagonal blind lines over stitches on spine and board edges adjacent to spine, very slightly rubbed.

Handsomely bound and rare treatise by the Aristotelian writer and Englishman, John Case (d. 1600). Case was a chorister at New College and Christ Church Oxford before being awarded a scholarship at St John’s in 1564. At university Case acquired a reputation as a disputant. The English antiquary Anthony Wood (1632-1695) stated he was “popishly affected” and “a man of an innocent, meek, religious and studious life.”. He married Elizabeth Dobson, widow of John Dobson, the keeper of Bocardo Prison. Case obtained leave from Oxford in order to read logic and philosophy to young men, specifically Roman Catholics, in his house in the city. Over time it became a largely attended philosophical school as Case’s reputation grew. Among his pupils was the controversialist Edward Weston (1566-1635). He wrote handbooks for his students which proved extremely popular. On top of his work in logic and dialectics he was an authority on music and a distinguished physician, becoming M.D. in 1589. His portrait resides in the Bodleian.

This work is a commentary on the pseudo-Aristotelian economics (the attribution of ‘Oeconomica’ to Aristotle is spurious, ESTC). It is peppered with Case’s neo-scholastic debate, which reframes the ancient text within its early modern British context. It is exceptional in its mention of the household, gender roles and romantic relationships, therefore providing many insights into marriage and the lives of women during this period. An anti-Machiavellian narrative characterises Case’s writing, and his opinions on women can be labelled as feminist. “[With] its sophisticated views on the role of imagination and representation in marriage, its forceful insistence on marriage as a concord based on virtue and consent, and its consistent picture of wedlock as a corporate rather than an individualistic institution, the Thesaurus Oeconomiae is in both intellectual and emotional terms the most complex analysis of marriage that any early modern English writer produced.” (Knapp, Robert S. ‘Is it appropriate for a man to fear his wife?’: John Case on Marriage.’ English Literary Renaissance Vol. 28, No. 3, Studies in Gender Relations, 1998).

Only four copies in US libraries; two at Folger, one at Henry E. Huntington and one at Indiana Univ. ESTC S107585; Lowndes Vol I 384; Madan p. 44; Not in Adams, Hull, or Erdmann.