HALL, Joseph

HALL, Joseph Epistles, the first [second] volume: conteining two Decads. [with] Characters of Vertues and Vices. [and] Of 1. Ethickes, 2. Politickes, 3. Oeconomicks. [and] Pharisaisme and Christianitie. [and] The Passion Sermon.

1) London, A.Hatfield for E. Edgar and S. Macham, 1608; 2) London, M. Bradwood for E. Edgar & S. Macham, 1608; 3) London: H.L. for E. Edgar & S. Macham, 1609; 4) London: H.L. for S. Macham, 1609; 5) London: W.S. for E. Edgar, 1609


FIRST EDITIONS of the first four and the last volume. 8vo. Six works in one volume. 1) pp. [xiv], 190, [ii]. A-N8. 2) Title within architectural border. The second decade of epistles has divisional title page within typographical border, pagination and register are continuous, first blank but for signature ‘A’, last blank except for rule borders. 2) pp. [viii], 215, [i]. [A] B-O P . title within woodcut architectural border. 3) [xvi], 173, [iii], A-M .The first leaf is blank except for signature-mark “A”, last blank. Title within architectural border, second title within typographical border, pagination and register continuous. 4) pp. [viii], 174, [iv]; pp. [vi], 87, [iii]. A B-S . “Salomons ethicks, or morals”, “Salomons politicks”, and “Salomons oeconomicks” each with separate dated title page; pagination and register are continuous. “An open and plaine paraphrase vpon the Song of songs” has separate dated title page and pagination; register is continuous, last leaf blank except for rule border. 5) pp. [viii], 87, [i]; A , B-F , G . [without first blank] 6) pp. [viii], 96. A-F G , [without first blank], title page within woodcut architectural border. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut initials, various woodcut head and tail pieces, small portrait in pencil on front pastedown, of a young cavalier, bookplate of Robert S Pirie on rear pastedown, John Sparrow’s label above. Very light age yellowing, small minor burns to blank lower margin of two leaves, waterstain [original?] in quire C of last work. Fine copies, crisp and clean in contemporary limp vellum, covers gilt ruled to a panel design, small fan fleuron gilt to outer corners, central arabesque gilt, spine double gilt ruled in compartments scrolled fleuron gilt at centres, one corner creased, a little rubbed.

An exceptional sammelband of six early works by Joseph Hall, all but one (a second issue of the first) in first editions, containing all original blanks, entirely unsophisticated and probably unchanged since first bought. “Modeled after Seneca, a significant characteristic of Hall’s poetic style was the employment of terse, aphoristic verse to convey his satirical sentiments. Such a device was a radical departure from the verbose, ornate Ciceronian style which had been favored by Continental and English writers throughout the sixteenth century. Further, Hall adhered to classical sources which employed satire as a vehicle for moral instruction and for the advocacy of social improvement. Indeed, Hall enhanced the aesthetic philosophy of his sources, demonstrating how morality and social responsibility can be achieved through a devotion to Christian ideals. These fundamental concepts inform many of Hall’s early works, including the ‘Mundus Alter et Idem’, ‘Characters of Vertues and Vices’, and the Epistles. … Despite that fact that he was a genuine literary innovator on several fronts, Hall has been chiefly remembered as the unfortunate recipient of Milton’s attacks. However, as literary scholars have come to assess the full measure of Hall’s literary and ecclesiastical accomplishments, his reputation as a pivotal figure in the Tudor and Jacobean periods has been assured. Many critics have examined Hall’s early forays into satirical writing, particularly focusing on how Hall transformed Senecan satire into a vehicle to express his own Christian values” Audrey Chew.

The Epistles contain a collection of letters on a wide variety of subjects including education, liturgy, miracles, divorce, the character of a courtier, duelling, comments upon his travels in Continental Europe and advice to other contemporary travellers, French and Russian affairs, Protestant separatists in Holland, trade with the Turks, and his defence of the married clergy, and the Oath of Allegiance.

“In 1608 appeared Characters of Virtues and Vices, an attempt to bring home to men’s conviction the nobleness of virtue and the baseness of vice. Nothing illustrates more clearly how tentative was the progress of social literature. Theophrastus had aimed at reproducing the humorous side of social faults, Hall employs his method to expound the practice of a moral system. The first book of characters, The Characterisms of Virtue, all exemplify in different forms an ideal of spiritual aloofness and self-mastery amid the errors and turmoil of the age…. The second book, The Characterisms of Vices, has a no less didactic purpose. But its object is to render vice despicable, and Hall has, perforce, interwoven his descriptions with illustrations of the complex follies and errors of his time. Thus, the second series of characters, if less artistically perfect, serves a higher purpose and embraces a wider field than the work of Theophrastus. We read of frauds, superstitions, conspiracies, libels and lampoons, vain doctrines and reckless extravagance.” The Cambridge History of English and American Literature

Joseph Hall (1574-1656), Bishop of Norwich, poet, moralist, satirist, controversialist (against Milton, i.a.), devotional writer, theological commentator, autobiographer and practical essayist, one of the leading hommes de lettres of the Jacobean age. He was at the centre of public life under James I representing that King at the Synod of Dort in 1618, assisting in his negotiations with the Scots and in Lord Doncaster’s French embassy and was foremost among the defenders of the temporal and spiritual powers of the Bishops in the Puritan Parliament of 1640-41. However, it is as a writer that Hall is now remembered.. While Hall may not have been the first English satirist, as he claimed, he certainly introduced the Juvenalian satire into English.

ESTC S122077. ESTC S103632. ESTC S122990. ESTC S122080. ESTC S122081. ESTC S92844. STC 12662; 12663.2; 12648; 12712; 12701; 12693.7. Lowndes 860. Not in Pforzheimer, or Grolier.
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