SANDYS, George


A relation of a iourney … Containing a description of the Turkish Empire, of Ægypt, of the Holy Land, of the remote parts of Italy, and ilands adioyning.

London, Printed [by Thomas Cotes] for Ro: Allot, 1627.


Folio pp. (iv) 309 (i). A², B-2D, two fldg. engraved plates, without last blank. Mostly Roman letter, some Italic. Fine engraved architectural title by Delaram depicting Isis, the Sibyl and ‘Achmet’, Truth and Constance above, the Cumaean Sibyl below, with early hand colouring, double full page map of the eastern Mediterranean and Near East, smaller double-page engraved view of the sultan’s seraglio with early hand colouring, 46 fine illustrations of places and costumes engraved in text, a few with early hand colouring, many after Natale Bonifacio, variant issue without the engraving, often missed, intended to fill a blank spot left on D4v. General light age-yellowing, minor, very light marginal water-staining in places, t-p very slightly soiled, rare mark or spot. A very good copy, crisp and clean, in handsome contemporary calf, covers blind and double gilt ruled to a panel design, fleurons gilt to outer corners, central arabesque gilt, rebacked to match, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, corners restored.

Third edition of the story of Sandys’ great journey throughout 1610 through north Italy, Venice, Turkey, Egypt, the Greek Islands and Palestine; George Sandy’s Relation is one of the most interesting and important travel books of the English Renaissance. He was an observant traveller as well as an able writer and the work was immediately popular, as well as regarded as authoritative. Izaak Walton noticed in his ‘Compleat Angler’ (pt. i, ch. i) Sandys’ account of the pigeon courier service between Aleppo and Babylon, and Milton derived hints for his ‘Ode on the Passion’ (st. viii) from Sandys’ ‘Hymn to my Redeemer’ composed on visiting the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. One of the works responsible for reviving English interest in the ‘Near East’, it is still important for its references to contemporary customs and commerce and its contribution to the geography and ethnology of the area (see J.F.B. S90 of 1st ed.). Its faithful engravings of maps, views, costumes and antiquities doubtless contributed to the work’s wide popularity.

“Sandys was a perceptive observer of other peoples and cultures, noting details from everyday life as well as those of more obvious importance, and he was able to move easily from one to the other in his writing. He comments on the significance of the crocodile in Egyptian cultural and religious life, as well as recognising the achievements of Egyptian civilisation. Sandys account of the Jews is notably sympathetic to their plight and the anti-semitic prejudice they have suffered, and he includes comments on Jewish women (again, sympathetic in the main.)”. Andrew Hadfield. ‘Amazons, Savages, and Machiavels: Travel and Colonial Writing in English. 1550 -1630.’

Sandys was also deeply interested in America. He was one of the undertakers named in the third charter of the Virginia company and later treasurer and member of its Council. His celebrated translation of Ovid was actually completed in America.”These travels written in a pleasant style are distinguished by erudition, sagacity and a love of truth” Lowndes.

ESTC S114571. STC 21728. See Blackmer 1484 and Gay 2232. Lowndes VI 2189. Taylor 1089. Alden 637/89 – includes references to the Turks’ use of tobacco.


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Church of England. The primer in Englishe [and] Latin: set forth by the kynges maieste [and] his clergie to be taught learned, [and] read: [and] none other to be vsed throughout all his dominio[n]s.

London, by Eduuard VVhitchurche, 1548.


[BIBLE] The epystles & gospels, of euery Sondaye, and holye daye, thorow oute the hole yere, after the vse of the Church of Englande.

London, by Thomas Raynalde, 1550.


8vo. Two works in one. 1) 126 of 136 unnumbered leaves: a, B, A-P. (a1 [t-p] and a2 in excellent facsimile, lacking A1-8. 2) 162 of 164 unnumbered leaves. A-U, X. (lacking C8 and X8), missing leaves with blanks inserted. Black letter, some Roman and Italic, text of book one in red and black in double column, white on black criblé initials in both works, “Natal Society Library” old stamp on a few leaves. Light age yellowing, margins of first and last leaves restored, minor worm holes and damp stains to lower margin of first few quires, holes just touching a few letters, expertly restored on a few leaves, very light waterstaining in places, last few leaves a little dust soiled, minor marginal mark or spot in places. Good copies, generally crisp and clean in dark calf over bevelled wooden boards antique, circa 1900, signed “WHS[mith]”, covers double blind ruled to a panel design, two blind stamped lozenges at centres, ‘Henry VIII Primer’ blind lettered to upper panel of upper cover, spine with raised bands, blind worked in compartments, title gilt lettered. clasps and catches

Exceptionally rare editions of these two early vernacular ‘Books of Hours’ the first is the last of Henry VIII’s Primers and the second ‘The Sunday Epistles and Gospels’ was printed two years later during the reign of Edward VI. Both works are of great importance, made at the very foundation of the Anglican Church. The Primer is a book of devotion and instruction, a prayer book to be used by ordinary people on a daily basis that contains “prime texts” such as the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. “The period 1544-1560 is important for the study of the Anglican litany. Composed in 1544, it was revised slightly in 1547-1548 and again in 1558-1559. The litany was first printed in a booklet entitled An exhortation to prayer… Also a litany…. From 1545 it was included in the primer issued by Henry VIII and subsequently by Edward VI. From 1549 it was included in the Book of Common Prayer in its several editions. .. The Catholic litany of the saints was also printed and used during the period 1544-1560, especially during the reign of Queen Mary I but occasionally during other reigns as well.” J. Frank Henderson ‘Anglican and Catholic Litanies and Primers in England 1544-1559.’

“The King (Henry VIII) had issued a letter on August 20th, 1543, desiring ‘general rogations and processions to be made’ owing to the rain and bad weather; other troubles, such as war and pestilence, were also pressing upon people both at home and abroad. The people responded but slackly, and this slackness was put down partly to the fact ‘that they understode no parte of suche prayers or suffrages as were used to be songe and sayde’: consequently (June 11th, 1544) there were ‘set forthe certayne godly prayers and suffrages in our natyve Englishe tongue’ to this ‘Letanie with suffrages to be said or songe in the tyme of the said processyons’ there was prefixed ‘An exhortation unto prayer, thoughte mete by the Kinges Maiestie and his clergy to be read to the people in every church afore processyons.’ This litany represents the present English Litany in its actual form, with the exception of three clauses of invocation, and very nearly in its present words. The work was no doubt done by Cranmer, and was probably his first essay in this direction. .. It is important, however, to consider the relation of reform to the books of private devotion, and especially to call attention to the King’s Primer, which was issued about the same time as the Litany. .. Shortly after this, about the year 1541, the King began to exercise some modifying influence on the Primers, and this led up to the issue, in 1545, of King Henry’s Primer, which quickly brought to an end the series of Primers of the old type. This included the new form of Litany as issued in the previous year, with revised forms of the Hours of Our Lady and the Services of the Dead, besides other prayers both old and new. Here for the present things rested, both with regard to public and private worship.” Francis Proctor ‘A New History of the Book of Common Prayer’. This edition printed three years later was the last of the Henry VIII primers. It is exceptionally rare; ESTC records two copies only one at the BL the other at Yale University. The second work is even rarer, recorded in one copy only at St. Pauls Cathedral.

ESTC S91038. STC 2975.7. ESTC S91038 STC 2975.7


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AELFRIC, Abbot of Eynsham

A Saxon treatise concerning the Old and New Testament.

London, Iohn Hauiland for Henrie Seile, … at the signe of the Tygers head, 1623.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. [lxi], 43, 43, [xx], 14, 14, [xxv] : pi², [par.], a-f, A-V. “A testimony of antiquitie” and “A sermon of the Paschall Lambe, and of the sacramental body and bloud of Christ our Sauiour” have separately dated title pages; “Here follovveth the words of Elfrike Abbot of S. Albons” and “The Lords Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten commandements in the Saxon and English tongue” have divisional titles; register is continuous.” ESTC. Roman, Saxon and Italic letter. Woodcut device of Prince Charles at head of dedication, woodcut initials, typographical ornaments, bookplate of Eric Stanley on pastedown. Light age yellowing a few leaves a little browned, minor dust soiling in places the rare mark or spot. A very good, crisp copy, in C17th speckled calf, covers box ruled with a double blind rule, two blind floriated rolls, rebacked, raised bands, gilt ruled in compartments with gilt fleurons, red morocco label, a.e.r.

Rare first edition of William L’isle’s translation of these important Saxon texts. Lisle was a pioneer in the study of Anglo-Saxon. He is one of the known owners of the E manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the so-called Peterborough Chronicle, in which he made notes on interleaved pages. Interest in the doctrinal position of the early English church on various points in controversy in his day first led him in that direction. In this work he printed for the first time, with an English translation, the ‘Treatise on the Old and New Testament,’ by Ælfric Grammaticus, whom Lisle wrongly identified with Ælfric of Abingdon the archbishop of Canterbury. Lisle found the manuscript in Sir Robert Cotton’s library. An appendix contains ‘the Homilies and Epistles of the fore-said Ælfricus,’ and a second edition of ‘A Testimonie of Antiquitie, etc., touching the Sacrament of the Bodie and Bloud of the Lord,’ first issued by Archbishop Matthew Parker and Parker’s secretary, John Joscelyn in 1566. There follow two extracts from (a) Ælfric’s ‘Epistle to Walfine, Bishop of Scyrburne,’ and (b) his ‘Epistle to Wulfstan, Archbishop of York,’ expressing disapproval of a long preservation of the consecrated elements after Easter day. The book concludes with the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and Ten Commandments in Anglo-Saxon, with a verbal interlinear translation intended to serve as exercises for beginners. L’Isle, with the publication of this book, really set in motion the seventeenth-century project of publishing Old English texts (only a few texts had been had been printed in the C16th), and before the century was out, a good many of the familiar Old English prose and verse works would have been set into type at least once.

A Saxon Treatise is by Abbot Aelfric of Eynsham (c.955-c.1010), author of the Catholic Homilies and Lives of the Saints and the most prominent known figure of Old English literature. Its editor and translator, William Lisle (c.1569-1637), was significant as an Anglo-Saxon scholar who pioneered the recovery of Old English. But equally important here is Lisle’s religious and political purpose in translating the work, which he explains in a forty-page preface, extremely long in proportion to Aelfric’s text, with its own table of contents. Just as in the previous generation Archbishop Matthew Parker had collected works, including Aelfrician manuscripts, to find evidence for the existence of Protestantism in Britain’s past to rebut the Catholic taunt of where the Protestant church was before Luther, Lisle explains his desire to preserve ‘an auncient monument of the Church of England’ (b1r), and therefore to validate the Church of England as an ancient body. He further emphasises the value possessing the Scriptures in a known tongue to promote clear understanding, and stresses the long tradition of the English Scriptures, as shown by the existence of much of the Bible in Anglo-Saxon.” Senate house library.

A good copy of this rare work.

ESTC. S100438. STC 160. Lowndes. 13.


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BUTLER, Charles

The English Grammar. (with) Rhetoricæ Libri duo. (with) Syngeneia. De propinquitate matrimonium impendiente, regula. (and) The femininʿ monarchiʿ, or the histori of beeʿs. Shewing their admirable naturʿ, and propertis.


Oxford, Printed by William Turner, for the author, 1634. (with) London, Excudebat Ioannes Hauiland impensis authoris, 1629. (with) Oxford, Excudebant Iohannes Lichfield & Guilielmus Turner, Academiæ typographi, 1625. (and) Oxford, Printed by William Turner, for đe author, 1634.

Four vols. in one. FIRST EDITION of the third. 4to. 1) pp. [viii] [xxiix] 2-63 [i]. 2) 252 unnumbered pages. A-P, pi², A-Q. 3) pp. [iv], 71, [i]: A-I, K². 4) [xvi], 112, 115-182: [par.]-2[par.], B-Z, 2A². Roman letter, some Italic, Greek and Black. Titles with printer’s devices, woodcut headpieces and initials, typographical ornaments, wood-type music in last volume, book plate of James Elwin Millard (1824 – 1894) on pastedown. Light age yellowing, very rare mark or spot. Very good copies, crisp and clean in contemporary calf, covers bordered with a double blind and single gilt rule, leafy arabesque gilt at centres, rebacked to match, spine with gilt ruled raised bands fleurons gilt, tan morocco label gilt lettered, a.e.r. a little rubbed at extremities.

An excellent sammelband of four major works of the extraordinary scholar Charles Butler. The first is the second edition of his remarkable treatise on Grammar (which he put into practise, cf. last of the work in this Sammelband ‘the Feminine Monarchy’). It is a reissue of the 1633 first edition, with preliminaries reset and an added dedication to Prince Charles.The work hopes to remedy “the imperfection of our alphabet, for it is come to passe; that sundry letters, of frequent use in our tongue, have yet no peculiar and distinct characters,”  and secondly “in many words we are fallen from the old pronunciation.” Thenceforward, the text is printed in a special phonetic manner, shunning orthography in favour of writing “altogether according to the sound now generally received” in an attempt at standardisation and simplification. “The author dwells upon the capriciousness of English orthography (‘neither our new writers agreeing with the old, nor either new nor old among themselves’), and proposes the adoption of a system whereby men should ‘write altogether according to the sound now generally received.’ DNB.

The Rhetoricase Libri Duo, here in an expanded edition, “was intended to be a school text book and was an edition in Latin for English school-children of the work of the French Scholar Pierre de la Ramée who had met his death at the hands of the mob in the notorious Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s day in 1572” John Shute. ‘The English theorists of the seventeenth century with particular reference to Charles butler.’ “The last of the Elizabethan Ramists was Charles Butler, whose Rhetoricae Libri Duo first appeared in 1598. A rare instance of an Oxford convert to Ramism, Butler took a degree at Magdalen Hall only a few years before Hobbes became an undergraduate there. Although Butler’s treatise amounts to little more than a further reworking of Talon’s Rhetorica, it proved extremely successful in its own right, and probably served more than any other work to popularise the tenets of Ramist Rhetoric in England” Quentin Skinner, ‘Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes.

The third work is the First edition of Charles Butler’s work on consanguinity in marriage. ‘Dealing with problems of consanguinity and in particular with affinity as a bar to Matrimony. Even the ‘broad-chested’ Fuller was content to quote the opinion of the learned Dr. Prideaux, Vivce- Chancellor of Oxford, who ‘commended it as the best ever written on that subject’… The book appears to have been prompted by the marriage of Butler’s son, William to a cousin, Mary Butler, at Wooton in 1624” John Shute.

The final work is Butler’s most celebrated, the third and best edition of his ‘Feminine Monarchy’ a classic English guide to Beekeeping, and the first to be translated into phonetic English, combining Butler’s love of bees with his work in orthography. In “De Printer to de Reader”, readers concerned with “de Ortograpi of dis Book” are encouraged to consult Butler’s English Grammar (1633), in which he put forth a new orthology where words were spelled “according to de sound”.

Known as the Father of English Beekeeping, Butler addresses in his preface the great classical tradition that relies upon “the Muses birds” as models of religion, government and labor, “worthily to bee most admired”, but notes that Philosophers “in al their writings they seeme vnto me to say little out of experience”. Butler’s treatise is the first to argue that worker bees were female, not male, and the first to popularise the idea in England that the hive is lead not by a king but a queen bee. Not only do these ground Butler’s practical treatise firmly in methods of entymological observation that would be refined by the end of the century in books such as Robert Hooke’s Micrographia (1665), but they also relate directly contemporary political debates that made use of bee hierarchy as a model for government.

An excellent sammelband of four rare works.

1) ESTC S106979. STC 4191. Madan, I.165-6. 2) ESTC S106985. STC 4200. 3) ESTC S106987. STC 4201 Madan, I, p.122. 4) ESTC S106981. STC 4194. Madan, I, p.177


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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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