Davids hainous Sinne. Heartie Repentance. Heavie Punishment …

London, Printed by Tho. Cotes, for John Bellamie … 1631.

Small 8vo., pp. 78, wanting the terminal blank; tiny restoration to blank upper corner of title-page and lower corner of A4-5, A2 shaved at outer margin with the loss of a few letters, else a handsome copy in early nineteenth-century straight grain olive morocco, joints slightly rubbed; Thomas Thorpe’s pencilled note (‘fine copy, extremely rare 8/8/0’), the Bute copy with his Cardiff Castle bookplate; bookplates of J. O. Edwards and Robert S Pirie.

£3750

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First and only edition of Fuller’s first book, and his only volume of verse. It is a three-part poem written in a variation of rhyme royal, recounting King David’s adultery with Bathsheba and its consequences.

Shunning the tale’s opportunities for erotic (and later military) description, Fuller instead ‘anticipates Milton’s method of appropriating the matter of Biblical narrative: he interiorises epic action by making internal moral deliberation … the sphere of heroic accomplishment’ (Raymond-Jean Fontaine, in The Sacred and Profane in English Renaissance Literature). When David catches sight of Bathsheba bathing, Fuller is careful to remind his readers that however beautiful she may be, she is surpassed by God’s creation:

   Her skinne, as is the skie not halfe so cleare,
   Her curious veines, for colour come not neare
   Those azure streaks, that in the Heavens appeare.

Lest any have been inadvertently titillated, Fuller warns ‘let no lustfull thoughts lodge in thy minde … they must be kill’d’. The story goes on to relate how David had Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, killed, how he was reproved by ‘plaine dealing’ Nathan the prophet, and how dire consequences fell upon him and his children.

Rare. ESTC records only ten copies: six in the UK, four in North America (Folger, Huntington, Harvard, Yale).

STC 11463; Gibson and Keynes I.

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