SCOT, Sir John


Delitiae poetarum Scotorum hujus aevi illustrium.

Amsterdam, Iohannem Blaeu, 1637.


FIRST EDITION. 12mo. Two volumes. pp. 1) 1-12, (ii), 13-699, (i): 2) pp. 573, (iii). Roman letter some Italic. Blaeu’s woodcut printer’s device on both titles, small woodcut initials “Bought at Amsterdam Sept. 25 1877, H. A. B.” on front fly. Light age yellowing, the odd marginal spot or mark. Very good copies, crisp and clean; volume I in contemporary vellum over boards, nearly matching vellum, titles inked on spines in same C17th hand.

First edition of the largest anthology of Scottish neo-Latin poetry ever produced, edited by the Fife laird Sir John Scot of Scotstarvit and the Aberdonian poet Arthur Johnstone. The two volumes were printed at the sole cost of Scot and preserved the last fruits of Scottish latinity. Scottish neo-Latinists saw themselves first and foremost as part of an international community of renaissance humanists fascinated by the Classical past. Despite James VI’s accession to the English throne in 1603, and subsequent negotiations over closer Anglo-Scottish Union, the majority of the Scots featured in the Delitiae poetarum Scotorum identified much more closely with the cultural and intellectual life of Continental Europe than they did with that of England.

“The Delitiae Poetarum ltalorum opened the floodgates to a series of national anthologies, all in Latin, all entitled Delitiae, all printed in Frankfurt. Along came collections for France, Belgium, Germany, Hungary and Denmark. (…) There was a strange irony in all this. Neo-Latin was, of course, the international language par excellence, transcending national boundaries. (…) Yet the collections clearly had competitive, nationalistic ambitions. It was as if the new chauvinism and confidence of the Renaissance vernacular languages had been diverted into Neo-Latin. (…) (John Scot of Scotstarvet) had the time, motivation and, most importantly, the money to undertake the Herculean labor. John Scot of Scotstarvet, a Fife laird and a dilettante poet himself, had the education and finances to win friends and influence people, particularly in Europe. What makes the subsequent enterprise of special interest is the fact that we have a detailed account of its progress, for Scot scrupulously preserved all incoming mail. The correspondence, now in the National Library of Scotland, reveals a great deal: how Scot accumulated and edited the material and why it took almost twenty years before the Delitiae found its way into print. (…)

From about 1619, Scotstarvet had been collecting and receiving specimens of Scottish latinity. (…) Work by thirty-seven poets was finally chosen. Many of those included had made a name for themselves abroad: James Crichton in Italy, George Crichton in Paris, Thomas Dempster almost everywhere; John Barclay’s Latin novels were widely read in Europe; John Johnston used European presses almost exclusively; Andrew Melville was well-known among Continental Calvinists; James Halkerston wrote witty epigrams on the Pope and Henri III. (…) The work avoided overt antiquarianism which by this time would probably have lacked popular appeal. Still Scotstarvet could be proud of his labours; the text was sound and Blaeu did it justice. In the next century, Samuel Johnson would call it “a collection to grace any nation.” Perhaps the greatest satisfaction to those who produced it was that the English never had the like.” Christopher A. Upton. ‘National Internationalism: Scottish Literature and the European Audience in the Seventeenth Century’.

Very good copy of this important national anthology.

Shaaber S83/J238.


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Animadversions upon M. Seldens History of Tithes, and his review thereof: before which is premised a catalogue of seventy two authors, before the yeere 1215

London, John Bill, 1619


FIRST EDITION Small 4to. pp. (xliv) 236. Italic and Roman letter. Large woodcut royal arms to verso of t-p, woodcut ornament to first blank, woodcut initials and head- and tail-pieces. Contemp. ms bibliographical notes to prelims, autograph ‘Francis Thompson 1690’ to front pastedown, C19 armorial bookplate of Earls of Macclesfield to front pastedown, their armorial blindstamp to first few leaves. Printer’s ink splash to one page. Else a very good, clean copy in contemp. limp vellum, ms title to spine, lacking ties.

First edition of Richard Tillesley’s (1582-1621) response to John Selden’s 1618 History of Tythes. Tillesley, after studying at Oxford, received two rectories in Kent, and was installed as archdeacon of Rochester. As a good clergyman, Tillesley believed that tithes were the church’s by divine right; Selden, on the contrary, had set out to demonstrate that tithes were an historical development, and not established iure divino. Any attempt to counter Selden’s arguments might have been considered foolhardy, given the great jurist’s formidable reputation as a scholar and historian, but three concerted responses were produced not long after the work’s publication (as recorded by Wood, Athenae Oxon. II, 303). Tillesley and Richard Montague dealt with the legal side, and Stephen Nettles with the Rabbinical or Judaical.

Tillesley’s treatise is dedicated to James I (who had forced Selden to apologise for his work) and represents an “aggressive attack” (DNB), which triggered a rapid exchange of apologiai between the two scholars. Selden was sufficiently provoked by Tillesley’s Animadversions to issue a privately-circulated response. The text of Selden’s pamphlet is reproduced, with a further counter-attack, in Tillesley’s updated second edition of the present work, published in 1621.

Tillesley treats the historical aspect of the tithes controversy in minute detail, quoting liberally from the relevant Classical, ecclesiastical and historical authorities. Seventy-two authors, from AD 180 to 1215, are listed in a preface to the main argument, with brief summaries of their position on the question of tithes. Tillesley endeavours to demonstrate that tithes had been continuously and universally enjoined by divine law. Particular attention is paid to the English church, where Tillesley makes use of documentary sources, such as the foundation documents and ledgers of various churches. Lest the question be reduced to a sectarian matter, he urges that no-one “be persuaded that the originall of exacting Tythes, was from the insolencie of the Pope”. Scholarly though Tillesley’s work is, there are points where he fails to appreciate the subtlety of Selden’s arguments, such as in his attempts to confute his adversary’s distinction between ‘divine natural law’ and ‘ecclesiastical or positive law’.

Francis Thompson is possibly the Yorkshire MP of the same name, fl. 1670, who sat on many committees, including one to reform the bankruptcy law. He married, aged 14, Arabella Alleyn, an orphanned heiress whom his father had kidnapped as a suitable spouse.

STC 24073; Lowndes VII, 2684.


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SARPI, Paolo

The History of the Quarrels of Pope Paul V with the State of Venice.

London, [Eliot’s court press for] John Bill, 1626


FIRST EDITION thus. 4to. pp. [xx], 435, [i]. Roman letter within printed rule border, woodcut initials and headpieces, C19 armorial bookplate of the Earl of Macclesfield on pastedown, Shirburn Castle blindstamp to first three ll. T-p slightly dusty, tear to lower margin of X4 just affecting catchword and border, generally a very good, clean copy in contemporary English polished vellum, lacking ties.

Sarpi’s account of the interdict controversy of 1605 to 1607 first published, posthumously, in Venice in 1624, translated for the first time here into English by Christopher Potter. At the beginning of the reign of Paul V, Venice had attempted to restrict Papal prerogative over her territory by asserting the right to try ecclesiastics in the secular courts, and license ecclesiastical foundations and acquisitions of property. Paul V demanded the Republics’ formal submission to his authority, which was refused, largely at the instigation of Sarpi, who was appointed state canonist and theological counsellor. A war of pamphlets followed, inspired or controlled by Sarpi, who had received the further appointment of censor of everything written at Venice in defence of the Republic. Rome imposed interdicts which were ignored in many cases, and Sarpi assumed even more protestant positions – subjection of the clergy to the state, toleration of worship, rejection of the Council of Trent. Never before in a religious controversy had the appeal been made so exclusively to reason and history. The Venetian clergy, a few religious orders excepted, disregarded the interdict, and discharged their functions as usual. The Catholic powers refused to be drawn into the quarrel though at one point it looked as if they would. In the event, a compromise was reached through the intervention of the King of France, by which time the Venetians had substantially achieved their original objectives, Papal dignity was saved and Sarpi’s extremism abandoned. The opinion of Le Courayer, that Sarpi “était Catholique en gros et quelque fois Protestant en detail” (that he was Catholic overall and sometimes Protestant in detail) seems not altogether groundless. Christopher Potter, the translator, was one of the most prominent recruits of the Laudian party from the Puritan clergy. A very good copy of a work of lasting political importance which arroused considerable interest in England at the time.

STC 21766


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PRYNNE, William

Histrio-Mastix, The Players Scourge, or, Actors Tragaedie…

London, Printed by E. A[llde, A. Mathewes, T. Cotes] and W[illiam]. I[ones]. for Michael Sparke, 1633


FIRST EDITION 4to. pp (xxxiv) 512; ff. 513-568 pp. 545-832 (ii) 831-1006 (xl). Roman and Italic letter, head- and tail-pieces. Slight age yellowing, the odd little waterstain towards end, light and mostly marginal. Tear to head of t.p without loss, two small marginal excisions, ancient repair to blank verso, couple of minor paper flaws to text. Contemp. MS annotations to initial blank, partial contemp. ms. index to final A good copy, in handsome contemp. binding of thick dark calf, covers triple ruled in blind, 4 raised bands, decorated bands at head and tail of spine, small repair to former.

FIRST EDITION of a work begun by Prynne in 1624, condemning stage plays as “the very Pompes of the Divell”. The argument for the immorality of theatre is drawn from an exhaustive number of sources which Prynne lists on the title page: Scripture, 55 Synods and Councils, 71 Christian Writers, over 150 Protestants and Papists, and 40 “Heathan Philosophers” and emporers. Prynne apologizes in his introduction for the length of the work, which he claims is absolutely necessary if he is to adequately combat such an “infectious leprosie” that has spread to City, Court and Country. The size of the treatise also relates to the size of the market for printed plays: Prynne reckons generously that over 40,000 had been printed in the past two years, and worse, that they are in better quality than other books: “Shackspeers Plaies are printed in the best Crowne paper, far better than most Bibles”. Ironically, the text is divided into Acts and Scenes. “Despite its unreadability as a whole this book still exercises a very genuine fascination” (Pforzheimer cit. infr.).

William Prynne (1600 – 1669), puritan polemicist and sometime barrister, did not so much live as rage throughout the major political upheavals of 17th century England. “The Cato of this age” at the best of times, “an indefatigable and impertinent scribbler” at the worst, his prolific output ranging from the sinfulness of toasting one’s health to more topical take-downs of Milton, lead Anthony Wood to remark: “I verily believe…he wrote a sheet for every day of his life” (DNB cit. infr.). This work, about a thousand pages longer than Prynne’s usual printed pamphlets, marked the beginning of his notoriety: “For the publication of this work the author was sentenced by the Star-chamber to pay a fine to the King of 5000l. to be degraded from his profession of the law and to lose his ears in the pillory” (Lowndes cit. infr.), reputedly because the publication coincided with the staging of “Shepherd’s Paradise”, in which Queen Henrietta Maria and her ladies featured. Distinct from Prynne’s overall hatred for the theatre, was his seething disapproval of female actors (“imprudent strumpets”). Not one to give up, Prynne continued to write tracts against Laud and episcopacy within prison and without. By the Civil War he was restored to his degree and to Lincoln’s Inn, was an ardent defender of the legality of Parliament, and spearheaded Laud’s prosecution, becoming something of a political figure. During the interregnum he found himself in and out of prison, remaining a key intermediary between politics and the public through his continuous outpouring of pamphlets. After the restoration he lived the rest of his life according to Wood as a very affable keeper of the records and archives in the Tower of London, receiving visitors “with old-fashion compliments such as were used in the reign of King James I”.

STC 20464a “Anr. issue, w. ‘Errataes’ on ***4v”. Pforzheimer II 809. Lowndes 5 p. 1987. DNB XVI 432-37. Not in Groiler.


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WILSON, Thomas

A Discourse upon Usurie.

London, Roger Warde, 1584


8vo. ff (xvi) 201 (iii) Black letter, two large historiated woodcut initials, contemp. autograph Richard Crakenthorp on title, faint C19 library stamp of the Birmingham Law Society on B1 and O3; general age yellowing, mostly light. A good, clean, well margined copy in full modern calf antique.

Second and last contemporary edition of Thomas Wilson’s classic work on all aspects of usury in the form of a dialogue or, more accurately, speeches made between a rich merchant, a zealous preacher and a civil lawyer. This is the first authoritative work on the then vigorously debated subject by an English author and provides considerable insight into the economic life of Elizabethan England as well as a history of usorial prohibitions . Wilson himself was a doctor of civil law and sometime master of the court of Requests, unsurprisingly therefore, the lawyer has the best part. Wilson’s professional background does bear fruit however as no common lawyer of the period would have been able to cite so freely the legal writers of ancient Rome, of the mediaeval schools and of modern European jurisprudence. The tone of the work is more practical than academic however, with propositions explained and justified by the use of practical and financial examples. What is particularly interesting to the modern reader are the techniques employed not to contravene the usury laws whilst still financing transactions and earning a good return on one’s money. If these rules did nothing else they gave rise to a wide range of very sophisticated commercio-financial arrangements which otherwise would not have seen the light of day for centuries to come. The autograph on the title is almost certainly Richard Crakenthorpe’s (1567-1624) Protestant divine and author of three published works, all controversial and anti Catholic, and “Popish Falsifications” that has survived in ms. only. See Milward p. 237.

STC. 25808. Kress I 159. Goldsmiths 227.


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