CRESWELL, Joseph. Exemplar literarum, missarum, e Germania.

[s.p., s.n., but Rome], [V. Accolto], 1592


FIRST EDITION thus. 8vo. pp. (viii) 186 (iv). Roman letter, little Italic. Woodcut t-p vignette, decorated initials and ornaments. Slight foxing in a few places, one gathering browned (poorly dried), small original paper flaw to lower edge of K5, brownish water stain to outer blank margin of M3-4. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, lacking ties, title inked to spine in handsome calligraphic Gothic hand (fading towards foot), traces of worming to covers, head and foot of spine a bit rubbed. Contemporary ms. ‘Ex’ to t-p, ms. casemark ‘I[n] s fen[est]ra abac[ulo] po no3’ of Bib. Altempsiana to upper cover.

This copy was in the famous Bibliotheca Altempsiana, established in Rome in 1568 by the Austrian Cardinal and papal legate Marco Sittico Altemps (1533-1619). In the C18, the original nucleus of the collection became part of the Vatican Library, whilst the remaining portion, which had been retained in the family palace, was sold by the heirs in the early C20. 

A good copy of the very scarce first Latin edition of this important Jesuit work for an international audience in defence of English Catholics. After studying at Rheims and the Roman College, Joseph Creswell, S.J. (1583-1623) followed in the footsteps of the Jesuit Robert Persons as rector of the English College at Rome and vice-prefect for the English Jesuits in Spain. He was active in the religious controversies of the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean period. ‘From his vantage point at the English College […] [Creswell] wrote a series of fictional letters, supposedly by an English traveller, about continental reactions to the edict. This compilation, in turn, he “edited in Leipzig” as “Ioannes Pernius” […]. It has often been conjectured that the “Exemplar” was the result of consultation between Persons and Creswell’ (Houliston, 52). Addressed to William Cecil, it first appeared in English as ‘An advertisement written to a secretarie of my L. Treasurers of Ingland’ (Antwerp, 1592), and was later printed in Latin in Rome by Vincenzo Accolti (see Allison & Rogers, ‘Catholic Books’, 19767). ‘Exemplar’ especially criticised Elizabeth I’s 1591 proclamation ‘for remedy of the treasons which, under the pretext of religion, have been plotted by seminaries and Jesuits, who have been sent secretly into the kingdom’. Loyal to the Pope and Philip II (whose daughter Persons considered a potential successor, by lineage, to the English throne), these Jesuits were ready to help the Spaniards invade England. The Proclamation established ‘Commissioners of good repute, in each province, city, and port’, to ‘discover and banish’ traitors in disguise, suspected of being priests, and dangerous recusants (CSPD, 33 Eliz. 1, p.112 ff.). Creswell attacked the political theory by which loyalty to Catholicism was equal to treason. He upheld that Catholics who lived as Protestants were a greater political danger, whilst priests or Jesuits who openly preached the Catholic doctrines of the primitive church could be deemed religious traitors, but not political, as they were careful to maintain peace. Barbarous punishment for Catholics would also play to their strengths by turning traitors into martyrs. Creswell’s was the first of a series of important apologetic works by eminent Jesuits, including Verstegan’s ‘Philopater’ (1592), against Cecil, and Persons’s ‘Conference’ (1594), a harsh intervention into the English succession debates. They were usually printed abroad, rarely in no more than a few hundred copies. When seized from smugglers on the coasts of England, they were immediately destroyed.

No copies recorded in the US.ESTC S122215; Sommervogel II, 1656:2. V. Houliston, Catholic Resistance in Elizabethan England (Aldershot, 2007).

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