HELLISH REWARDS, IN BECKFORD’S BINDING
Infernus damnatorum carcer et rogus aeternitatis pars IIAntwerp, Jan Cnobbaert, 1631
24mo., pp. (26), 353, (5). Roman letter, little Italic; fine engraved title with standing figures of Eternal Life and Death and St. Michael as judge holding a scale, plus dedicatee’s coat of arms at foot; 9 full-page engraved illustrations, typographical tail-pieces; clean tear at outer lower corner of A3, just touching text. A very good copy in very fine straight grained c. 1800 blue morocco, probably by Roger Payne, finely gilt panel with four flower and leaf pieces and studded background, gilt decorated spine with title, turn-ins with sprigs at corners and fleurs-de-lys at sides, gauffered edges; additional leaf recording Quaritch’s purchase from the Beckford Collection at Hamilton Palace, 1882, on front of first fly.
Rare edition of a curious booklet illustrating the dreadful tortures for sinners in hell, first published in Munich in the same year. Raised a Lutheran, Jeremias Drexel (1581-1638) converted very early to Catholicism and joined the Society of Jesus. He was a prolific and successful writer of devotional books, widely read and translated. Besides teaching rhetoric in Dillingen, he served as a preacher for 23 years at the court of Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria, and his wife, Elizabeth of Lorraine. This work is said to have been presented to them, though the dedication addresses the apostolic nuncio in Germany, bishop Pier Luigi Carafa (1581-1655), whose arms appear at foot of title.
Eight torments are described, commented on, and vividly illustrated with fine engravings, i.e. darkness, lamenting, hunger and thirst, stench, fire, excruciating remorse, ill company and desperation. The engraving related to lamenting shows an improbable music sheet with notes and lyrics (‘Vae vae vae, ah ah ah ah, heu eheu aeternitas’) of the chant of sorrow sung by the damned.
This copy comes from the library of two eminent British collectors, William Beckford (1760-1844) and the 10th Duke of Hamilton (1767-1852). It was bought at the famous ‘Hamilton Palace sale’ at Sotheby’s on 11 July 1882, lot 2625, as the additional leaf makes clear. The printed note is by the winner of the bid, Bernard Quaritch himself (1819-1889). Doubtless bound for Beckford, such a sumptuous binding is quite remarkable on a small format edition.No recorded copy in the US or elsewhere on OCLC.Not in Brunet or Graesse. Sommervogel, III, 195:15.