MORE, Thomas.


MORE, Thomas. Omnia […] Latina Opera. [with] A dyaloge of syr Thomas More knyght.

Louvain, apud Ioannem Bogardum, 1565. [with], [London, J. Rastell, 1529].


FIRST COLLECTED EDITION of I, and FIRST EDITION of II. Folio. 2 works in 1. I: ff. [6], 136, lacking 2 final blanks; II: ff. [cxxvi], [i]. Double column. I: Roman letter with Italic, occasional Greek. Printer’s device to title, decorated initials and ornaments, occasional slight browning, tiny ink burn to outer edge of Q2-3. II: Black letter, large printer’s device to penultimate leaf, decorated initials. Title and last verso dusty, the odd light ink splash or smudge, occasional light yellowing. Very good copies in elegant c1800 vellum over boards, gilt ruled, gilt portcullis to corners, spine gilt, morocco labels, a.e.r., marbled eps. I: C18 autograph ‘G.H. Wheler’ and C17 ‘BASS’ to title, 3 epigrams on James V on E4 crossed out in an early hand; II: ms ‘Robert Tetlow 1617’ and ‘A mangone petiti quoque fuit misero non tamen in mangone’ (‘sought from a dealer, a wretched fellow however not at the shop’) to title, a few C16 English ms marginal glosses, occasionally trimmed but legible, and c.1600 ms pen trial ‘Honoured Sir I hope you will be pleased’ to last verso.

Very interesting works of Thomas More, with one of the two 1565 ‘first’ editions of his Latin ‘opera omnia’, and the rare 1529 first English edition of his ‘Dialogue’. Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) was a statesman under Henry VIII, one of the most influential English Renaissance humanists, especially through works such as ‘Utopia’ (1516), and a saint and martyr of the Catholic Church. First printed here by John Rastell, and requested by the Bishop of London, More’s ‘Dyaloge’ is devoted to the most controversial questions pertaining to the Catholic faith, in the making of the English Reformation: the veneration and worship of images and relics, prayers to the saints, and the rationale of going on pilgrimage. It is in the form of a humanist dialogue between More, on the side of the Catholic Church, and a messenger, who reports how image veneration, the worship of saints, and pilgrimage have been abused. Most interesting are the sections where More upholds, unexpectedly, the importance of the English translation of the Bible, praising the aptness of the English vernacular for the sacred text, and pondering on how the common people should read and interpret passages on their own. In 1530, William Tyndale wrote ‘An Answer’ to More’s ‘Dyaloge’ rebutting his theories and defending himself from his direct attacks. The first title is one of the two printings, which appeared in Louvain in 1565, of More’s complete Latin works. Since the two printers worked in tandem, and the text is identical, they are considered two variants of the first collected edition. The first work is, notably, More’s ground-breaking political satire, ‘Utopia’ (1516), a travelogue reporting on the customs, inhabitants, religion and society of the fictional island, in a not-too-veiled comparison to Henrician England. In this copy, three of the ‘Epigrammata’ – witty, moralistic short poems on a variety of subjects – were censored by an early reader, all three criticising James V of Scotland, and the second the Battle of Flodden in particular. Other works include his celebrated translation of Lucian, an answer to Luther written on behalf of Henry VIII, and a treatise on Christ’s Passion. Two important first editions.

It seems from the inscription that the curmudgeonly bookseller was alive and well in the early 1600’s.

I: USTC 404463; Gibson 75a; Pettegree & Walsby 21640; Shaaber M211. II: Folger, LC, HRC and Trinity College copies recorded in the US. ESTC S104969; STC (2nd ed.), 18084; Gibson 53. R. Marius, Thomas More (1999).
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