CONTEMPORARY SCOTTISH ROYAL BINDING
The spared houres of a souldier in his travels. Or The true marrowe of the French tongue, where in is truely treated (by ordre) the nine parts of speech.
Dort, Par Nicolas Vincentz. Pour George Waters, Ano. 1623
FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. 523, : [dagger]⁶ A-2V⁶. “Pages 427-447 contain the first hour of “Doomes-Day” by William Alexander, Earl of Stirling. Quires [dagger] and Z-2V have horizontal chain lines and watermarks through quire folds.” ESTC. Roman and Italic letter, text in double column. Typographical border on verso of title page with woodcut arms at centre, pasted over with the engraved armorial bookplate of Thomas Hamilton (1721-1794), 7th Earl of Haddington, woodcut initials and tail-pieces, contemporary autograph ‘Hadington’ on t-p, early shelf mark on pastedown. Light age yellowing, rare thumb mark or very minor stain. A very good copy in fine contemporary Scottish calf, covers gilt and blind ruled to a panel design, large thistles gilt to outer corners, centre-piece of four gilt thistle tools, crowned above and below, initials at side and above excised, spine with raised bands double bind ruled, gilt fleurons at centres, slightly later tan morocco label gilt, holes for ties, all edges blue, ‘Marrow of the French Tongue’ in contemporary mss in large letters on fore-edge, extremities fractionally rubbed.
A fine copy of this rare and most interesting French Grammar made for the use of British Soldiers fighting in the Netherlands; the work is full of contemporary poetry, aphorisms, ‘Godly songs’ and proverbs. The binding is noble and Scottish. The thistle and crown device with two leaves, gilt stamped on the covers is very intriguing. The work is dedicated to Charles I however this crowned thistle device was used by Charles’ brother Henry on is bindings (see Toronto Armorial bindings.) It was also a device used on coins by James I. The early owner of the work was Thomas Hamilton 1st Earl of Haddington and the work stayed in the family library for the next four hundred odd years, so it is also possible that this was bound for him as Earl of Haddington. The removal of the initials on the covers makes it impossible to be more precise as to whether it was made for royalty or for the Earl. Hamilton was on very friendly terms with James VI, his legal talents being useful to the king, and he was one of the eight men called the Octavians who were appointed to manage the finances of Scotland. Widely regarded as an able administrator, Hamilton was entrusted with a large share in the government of Scotland when James removed to London in 1603. In 1612 he was appointed Lord Clerk Register to the Privy Council to succeed John Skene. After the death of James VI the earl resigned his offices, but served Charles I as Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland. In 1619, he was created Earl of Melrose. Upon the death of the first and last Viscount of Haddington (1626), the king agreed to exchange the title of Earl of Melrose to that of Earl of Haddington.
John Wodroephe took advantage of his experiences as a soldier in the Netherlands to publish this most interesting French grammar. “What seems so far to have been overlooked is Woodrophe’s most distinguishing characteristic, which is also the most curious aspect of his book, namely that he compiled a French grammar for British Soldiers in the Netherlands, the country where it was also first published in 1623, a combination of circumstances which is rare indeed. .. True, the author describes it as useful for all other potential students of French, but much of the book is specially directed at members of the British forces serving on behalf of the States General under Prince Maurice of Orange against the Spanish army in the Netherlands. More, a thin but persistent personal note runs through the first edition, to be excised from the shortened London edition of 1625. In this the military connection is hidden from view, its title now reading ‘The marrow of the French tongue’. As the soldier no longer dominates the titlepage, so the author has deleted, or has had deleted for him, whatever appeared as a personal revelation in the first edition. .. The book is dedicated to Charles in both prose and verse: King James and Anne receive their poetic due is several sonnets; Frederick, King of Bohemia, and his wife, the Princess Elizabeth, follow their royal parents.” Anna Simoni. ‘John Wodroephe’s Spared Hours.’
“Writing in the early seventeenth century, the French teacher John Wodroephe warned of the dangers of competence acquired through oral practise alone, without the intervention of grammatical rules. To illustrate ‘what Advantage hee gaineth above him who thinketh to obtaine the said Tongue by the eare only’, Wodroephe gave the story of three sons of gentlemen who learnt more in six months from Wodroephe’s rule-based tuition than they had over four years in Paris .. Wodroephe’s instance on rules to accompany oral experience is particularly interesting because it betrays a concern not only with grammatically correct speech but with the acquisition of a prestige variety” Learning Languages in Early Modern England. John Gallagher
A beautiful copy of this rare work in a significant contemporary Scottish binding.
ESTC S118592. STC 25939.