HALL, Joseph

HALL, Joseph Contemplations upon the principal passages of the Holy Story. The Second Volume. in foure books

London, Printed by H. L[ownes] for S. Macha[m], & are to be sold in Pauls Church-yard at the signe of the Bul-head, 1614


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp [xvi], 478 [i.e. 475], [v]. A-2H . Roman letter, some Italic with box rule. Title within woodcut architectural border, first two leaves are blank except for signature-mark “A” and “A2” within box rules, last two leaves blank except for box rules, books 6-8 each have separate dated title page, pagination and register are continuous, floriated woodcut initials, historiated and grotesque head pieces.“Jane Jordan her Book. given me by Mr. Jordan” in a near contemporary hand on verso of A2, engraved armorial bookplate of Basil T. Fanshawe on pastedown, John Sparrow’s label above, Robert S Pirie’s bookplate on rear pastedown. Very light age yellowing, recto of first and verso of last leaf slightly dusty. A fine copy, crisp and clean in contemporary limp vellum, yapp edges, one green cloth tie preserved.

A fine copy of the first edition, second instalment of Joseph Hall’s most influential and important meditations on the scriptures (books five to eight) the first volume of which was published in 1612. The essays in this volume cover David’s reign to the events of Esther following the Babylonian Captivity. “The simple meditation, un-supplemented by either resolve or injunction, may have come down to the moralists of the seventeenth century through ecclesiastical channels. Bonaventura’s Meditationes Vitae Christi was early translated into English, and Richard Rolle’s Meditatio de Passsione was widely read. These treatises rehearse, one after another, incidents of scriptural story that have happened to arrest the author’s attention, and add to each a few words of pertinent comment or exhortation. A more unpretentious form of essay could scarcely be devised. It held its place nevertheless throughout the century, and Joseph Hall’s ‘Contemplations upon the principal passages of the Holy Story’ is only one of the finer specimens of the type.” Elbert Thompson. The Seventeenth-Century English Essay “Hall’s devotional works are certainly his best. To this class rather than to that of exegesis we may assign his ‘Contemplations upon the Principall Passages of the Holy Storie,’ issued in eight volumes between 1612 and 1626, and again in the edition of his works in 1634.” DNB.

Hall was vehemently opposed to the ‘Spanish Match’ the marriage of Charles with the ‘Infanta’ a Catholic bride, and his contemplations often hide a political message. “Hall’s ‘Contemplations upon the Holy Story’, meditations on the Bible, which had been issued in instalments since 1612, dealt in 1622 with Solomon’s marriages in a manner which could only be seen as relevant to the proposed Spanish and Catholic royal match… Hall’s protest at the proposed marriage of Charles to a Catholic gained momentum with his description of how Solomon built heathen temples for his wives to worship in: ‘Each of his dames had their Puppets, their alters, their incense’.” E. Clarke ‘Politics, Religion and the Song of Songs in Seventeenth-Century England.’

Joseph Hall (1574-1656), Bishop of Norwich, poet, moralist, satirist, controversialist (against Milton, i.a.), devotional writer, theological commentator, autobiographer and practical essayist, was 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. Fuller called him ‘the English Seneca for his pure, plain, and full style’. While Hall may not have been the first English satirist, as he claimed, he certainly introduced the Juvenalian satire into English.

A fine copy of this first edition

STC 12652. ESTC S103630. Lowndes 980
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