HERESBACH, Conrad. Foure Bookes of Husbandrie…Newly Englished, and increased by Barnabe Googe, Esquire.

London, John Wight, 1586


Small 4to. Ff. (xii) 194. Black letter, some Roman. Tp with ornamental woodcut, ornamental head piece, full page armorial woodcut of Barnabe Googe to verso of tp, floriated initials, ornamental tailpiece, woodcut printer’s device to last leaf. Woodcut of poppy plant to f. 130. Stamp of Lawes Agricultural Trust to pastedowns, ms to tp ‘W. Poole 1810’, ‘R’ in earlier hand. Ms autograph and annotations to f. 123 and 160 by Raphe Bolton (1565-1634). Slight worming ff. 106-160, slight age browning, a few very light water stains, marginal tear to outer edge of f. 144. A good copy with generous margins in attractive C19 mottled calf by Riviere & Son, ornamental gilt spine, red morocco labels, aeg.

Attractive copy of the successful first English translation, by Barnabe Googe (1540-1594), of this guide to animal husbandry. Conrad Heresbach (1496-1576) was a prominent reformer and Calvinist from North Rhine-Westphalia. He attended the Latin ecclesiastical school at the Benedictine Monastery at Werden, and there developed a passion for humanistic studies. He went on to pursue Latin in Hamm, Münster, and finally at the University of Cologne. There he also read Ancient Greek and Hebrew, and having graduated he took a second degree in law. Heresbach’s experience at Cologne was immensely important for him: there he became acquainted with the Dutch reformer, philosopher, and renowned scholar Erasmus of Rotterdam. It was through this close connection that he gained a position as tutor to the dukes of Cleves at Wesel.

The work is composed in the form of a dialogue, and takes the reader on a journey through an imagined countryman’s manor. The farm is described, as well as the stables, apiary, fishpond, dovecote and beehives. Divided into four books, the contents covers arable ground, tillage, pasture, gardens, orchards, woods, cattle, poultry, foul, fish and finally bees. Viticulture and the art of making wine are described in book 2, and veterinary medicine in books 3 and 4. Fussell states that the book, “written in the form of a discussion between four persons, aims at collecting all the available information from classical and Biblical sources, and adding to that the information that more modern writers had gleaned, together with the experience of various friends of the author.” (Fussell I p. 12). Heresbach lists the sources he has used at the beginning of the book, dividing the authors into classical, biblical and contemporary sections. They include Homer, Plato, Ovid, Horace, Constantine, and contemporaries Philip Partridge and Kenworth Datforth.

Barnade Googe was an English poet and translator. In fact, he was one of the earliest English pastoral poets and took great inspiration from classical bucolic poetry. In 1557 Googe’s father passed away, leaving him the manor of Horkstow and the lands of Alvingham Priory in Lincolnshire. Here he spent time practising farming and agricultural upkeep. A “servant” and “near kinsman” of William Cecil, these terms given to Googe by Cecil himself in a letter dated 1563, Googe also became intensely involved with English poetry and was closely associated with writers such as Jasper Heywood and George Turberville. He published a work entitled ‘Eglogs, Epytaphes, and Sonettes’ in 1563. Prior to the publication of this poetry anthology, no one in England had ever published poetry under their own name. Googe wrote poetry in the native style similar to the poetry of Walter Raleigh and George Gascoigne. Googe’s ardent Protestantism influenced his poetry; he laments the decay of the old nobility and scorns the fast rising nouveau riche in Eglog 3. Foure Bookes of Husbandrie was one of a number of foreign works that Googe translated for an English audience.

ESTC S103977; Luborsky & Ingram 13198; Lowndes 1050; Fussell 1 p. 12; McDonald p. 46; Not in Simon, Bitting or Vicaire.
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