4to, pp. , 163, [1, blank]; a very good copy in nineteenth-century half calf with marbled boards, spine gilt, rubbed; joints cracked; cords sound, some insect damage to rear cover; bookplate sometime removed from front pastedown; ownership inscription of Robert Southey to title page dated ‘Keswick 1820’, and 11-line note in his hand to front flyleaf; sold at the sale of his library, Sotheby’s 18th May 1844, lot 2340, £1 11s; with a note by the purchaser; contemporary ownership inscription of John Mason to final blank page.
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Altare Christianum: or, the dead Vicar’s Plea. Wherein the Vicar of Gr. being dead, yet speaketh, and pleadeth out of Antiquity, against him that hath broken downe his Altar. Presented, and humbly submitted to the consideration of his Superiours, the Governours of our Church.
First edition, from the library of Robert Southey, with an ownership inscription an eleven-line note in his distinctive diminutive hand.
Pocklington’s high church, altar-wise polemic, a rebuff of his former patron, the troublesome bishop John Williams, served him well in the short term: ‘It is significant that [in June 1637] he was sworn a chaplain-in-ordinary to the king’ (ODNB). However, with the advent of the Short Parliament in 1640 the same book got its author into difficulty. Southey notes: ‘For writing this book, and another entitled “Sunday no Sabbath” , Dr Pocklington was deprived of all his living, dignities and preferments, disabled from ever holding any place or dignity in Church or Commonwealth, and prohibited from ever coming within the verge of the King’s Courts. And the book was ordered to be burnt by the hangman.’ It is, though, ‘remarkably free from the ill spirit of the times in which it was written’. Possibly the poet was thinking of the political insecurities of his own age and position; indeed he expresses a good deal of sympathy and admiration for this fellow courtier, who found himself at the wrong end of what Southey calls an ‘abominable tyranny’.
The work was read by Southey as part of his research for The Book of the Church, in which Pocklington is mentioned in volume II, a passage echoing the note here. Though Southey was a prodigious reader he rarely annotated his books; in the 1844 sale comprising almost four thousand books, fewer than one hundred feature annotations in his hand.
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First edition thus, this copy owned by the future Pope Clement XII, of a remarkable history of recent and contemporary events, first published in 1540 and here updated by almost ten years, resuming the account of world event and Italian politics and including references to American history from 1522.
ANNOTATED BY FRENCH THEOLOGIANS BASIL, Saint, and Janus CORNARIUS (editor).
[Opera, Greek] Απαντα τα του θειου … Βασιλειου … Divi Basilii Magni opera.
Editio princeps of St. Basil’s complete works in the original Greek. In 1532 Froben had published, under the editorship of Erasmus, an edition containing the De Spiritu Sancto, the Hexaemeron, the Homilies on the Psalms, twenty-nine further homilies, and some letters. The present edition was an attempt to provide all the known works of Basil in Greek within one volume and was prepared by the medical doctor Janus Cornarius (c. 1500–1558) who in 1540 had made a Latin translation based partly on Erasmus’s edition: ‘Although inclining to the Reformation, Cornarius never took up any theological stand on confessional matters and his translation of Basil is dedicated to the Archbishop of Mainz, Albrecht. Doing so, Cornarius was acutely aware that he was leaving himself open to accusations of meddling in theology, a realm of learning that he knew little about. However, his decision to translate Basil was quite deliberate and thought out. As he says in his preface to Albrecht, he disapproves of the separation of realms of knowledge and thinks that he is not the first among pagan and Christian physicians to intervene on theological terrain. Thus intervening he wants to show, firstly, that a medical doctor too can be a good Christian and, secondly, he hopes to pacify confessional quarrels of his own time by appealing to Basil’s time and the bishop of Caesarea’s stand in the church’s combat against heresies’ (Irena Backus, ‘The Church Fathers and the Humanities in the Renaissance and the Reformation’ in Re-envisioning Christian Humanism (ed. J. Zimmermann, 2017), p. 48).