« PreviousContinue »
HIERONYMI MORLINI NOVELIA FABULÆ XX. ET COMEDIA.
Neapoli. In ædibus Joannis Pasqueti de Sallo, M.D.XX. Die vint. Aprilis. 4to.
There are not many scarcer books than this above described. Altho' it is represented as remarkable for its want of delicacy and purity, it obtained the sanction of the supreme authority for its publication, at a period when the church was alike vigilant in detecting, and prompt and severe in punishing, works which were deemed of improper tendency.
It has annexed to its title page, et privilegio Cæsareæ Majestatis et Summi Pontificis Decennio duratura.”
The work is introduced by the following verses:
“ Cum gratia
PETRUS GRAVINA AD LECTOREM,
Perlege nec pigeat geniales volvere lusus,
Invenies lepidis seria mixta jocis,
Jure potes qui nunc tale novavit opus.
Nulla quibus similes Indica terra tegit.
The reader also will probably thank me for inserting the following:
SALVATOR PICCOLUS AD LECTOREM.
Nec spernas lusus, nec verba tegentia sensus
Tantum perdiscas, sed meliora vide.
Quæ multum vitæ nempe prodisse queunt.
Flores et fructus iste libellus habet.
In these four lines which succeed, the author threatens some person who had made sarcàstic remarks upon him or his works. .
AUCTOR AD QUENDAM INVIDUM, GARRU
, LUMQUE DE SE MALE MERITUM.
Est quidam, est quidam, quidam quem dicere nolo,
Est quidam, est quidam qui nimium loquitur. Hic quidam, hic quidam, si non sua comprimit ora,
Discet quid pretium garrulitatis erit.
I have never seen but this copy of Morlinus, which is in the Roxburgh collection, nor do I believe that there is another in this country. There was one in Gaignat's library, which sold at his auction for eleven hundred and twenty livres. There was one also in the Valliere collection, which produced eight hundred livres. It is mentioned in both the above catalogues as a work of the most extraordinary rarity.
The edition of this author, which I am about to describe, singular as it may seem, is to be found no where but in the Roxburgh collection. How it came there was thus explained to me by Mr. G. Nicol.
The great collectors of books and competitors for rare publications in their time were, Lord Oxford and Lord Sunderland. This copy of Boccace came into the hands of a London bookseller, who shewed it to the above noble Lords, and demanded a hundred guineas as the price of it. This sum must, at that time, have appeared enormously extravagant, nor can we wonder that they severally hesitated about giving it. Whilst they were deliberating, an ancestor of the Duke of Roxburgh saw and purchased the volume. The two noble collectors were invited to dinner, and the subject of Boccace being purposely introduced, Lord Oxford and Lord Sunderland began to talk of this particular copy. The Duke of Roxburgh told them that he thought he could shew them a copy of this edition; which they defied him to exhibit. To their mortification and chagrin, he produced the book in question.
If there shall happen to be a public auction of the late Duke of Roxburgh's most valuable
library, I think I may venture to foretell that this Boccace will produce not much less than five hundred pounds.
The more particular description of this most rare book is as follows: I transcribe from De Bure, No 3654.
“ Il Decamerone di Messer Giovanni Bocaccio. Editio Primaria et eximia raritatis, per Christophorum Valdarfer Ratisponensem excusa (Venetiis) Anno 1471, in fol.”
De Bure had never seen it, but has taken his description from former bibliographers. The reader who wishes for more particular information on the subject, may consult the Bibliographie Instructive, Belles Lettres, vol. 2. p. 48. et seq.
THIS old printer's name is sometimes written Fawkes. There was another of the same name who printed before him, and I believe, followed Wynken de Worde. The productions of both are among the rarest specimens of our earliest English literature.
This tract, which I am about to describe, is not only a very great curiosity in itself, but, I believe, a unique copy; at least I have never seen or heard of any but this, which belongs to the British Museum.
It is in black letter, and duodecimo form. No date. It has this title page :
“ DE CURSIONE LUNE.
Here begynneth the Course and Disposicion of the Dayes of the Moone in Laten and in Englishe, whiche be good, and whiche be badde, after the Influences of the Moone. Drawen out of a Boke of Aristoteles de Astronomiis.'
It is a kind of astrological fortune-telling treatise, in which, after describing the phases of the moon, and foretelling the fortunes and characters of those who shall liappen to be born on