Archive for January, 2010

A Bookish Interlude with…Wit in a Constable

Actus primus, Scena prima.

Enter Holdfast, Tristram.


Did you ere we departed from the Colledge
Orelooke my library?

Trist. Yes sir, I spent two dayes in sorting Poets from Historians,
As many nights in placing the divines
On their owne chayres, I meane their shelves, and then
n separating Philosophers from those people
That kill men with a license: your Physitians
Cost me a whole dayes labour, and I find sir,
Although you tell me learning is immortall,
The paper and the parchment, tis contayn’d in,
Savors of much mortality.

Hold. I hope my bookes are all in health.
Trict.  In the same case the Mothes have left them, who have eaten more
Authenticke learning then would richly furnish
A hundred country pedants; yet the wormes
Are not one letter wiser.

Hold I have beene idle
Since I came back from Cambridge, goe to my stationer
And bid him send me Swarez Metaphysickes,
Tolet de anima
is new forth,
So are Granadas commentaries on
Primum secundae Thomae Aquinatis
Get me the Lyricke Poets.  And—
. I admire
How he retaines these Authors names, of which
He understands no sillable, ’twere better
I bought the Authenticke Legend of Sir Bevis,
Some six new Ballads and the famous Poems
Writ by the learned waterman.
Hold. Iohn Taylor, get me his nonsense.
Trist.  You mean all his workes sir.

Hold.  And a hundred of Bookers new Almanacks.
Trist. And the divell to boot,
Your fathers bookes in which he keeps th accounts
Of all his coyne will scarce yield crowns to afford
Your fancy volums : why you have already
Enough to furnish a new Vatican,
A hundred country pedants can read dictats
To their young pupills out of Setons logicke,
Or Golius Ethicks, and make them arrive,
Proficients learn’d enough in one bare twelmonth
To instruct the parish they were borne in : you
Out of an itch to this same foolish learning
Bestow more money yearely upon books:
Then would for convent sisters build an almes-house.
Hold.  You displease my patience Tristram.

Henry Glapthorne, Wit in a constable. A comedy written 1639. The author Henry Glapthorne. And now printed as it was lately acted at the Cock-pit in Drury lane, by their Majesties servants, with good allowance.  London, Printed by Io. Okes, for F.C. and are to be sold at his shops in Kings-street at the signe of the Goat, and in Westminster-Hall, 1640.  Beinecke call number: Z77 91k.

From the Reading Room: The Text Font of the First Folio

Contributed to Early Modern at the Beinecke by Reed Reibstein, an undergraduate student in the Yale University History of Art Department and a student in Professor David Kastan’s Fall 2009 class, Materializing the Word: The Book as Object, Technology, Concept, and Event, 1500-1800.

From the Reading Room: This series of postings highlights the research of students, research fellows, and other scholars working in the Beinecke’s early modern collections.

As the compositors in William Jaggard’s print shop plucked countless sorts out of their cases, composing page after double-columned page from 1621 to 1623, they could not have suspected that they were handling a font that would be the object of more study than perhaps any other before or since. The font certainly would not have appeared remarkable in any way; it was cast on a pica body, the most common size of the era, and fonts made from the same punches had been owned by more than thirty printers since 1570. Moreover, the font was weathered, having been in use probably for well over a decade.

Surprisingly, it was precisely this battered condition that made it so fruitful for detailed analysis: the numerous visible defects in the sorts of the First Folio’s text font have proved the most powerful tool for reconstructing the book’s printing history. Charlton Hinman in The Printing and Proof-Reading of the First Folio of Shakespeare devoted 98 pages in his first volume and much of the second to an analysis of the Folio’s type, making the text font the subject of an extraordinary amount of research.

Despite an extensive analysis of its distinctive sorts, few Folio scholars (including Hinman) have examined the origins and characteristics of the font itself, and the limited information available in the literature to date is more a result of generalization than of detailed scrutiny. I measured the dimensions of the text font in the Beinecke’s First Folio (BEIN 1978 +83), finding twenty lines of type to measure 82.7 mm.

Visual and historical evidence have led me to suggest that the font is the second pica roman of Pierre Haultin (as described by H.D.L. Vervliet in The Palaeotypography of the French Renaissance), cast for Jaggard’s use probably around 1603 or 1608 by an unknown typefounder who likely inherited the matrices from Pierre’s nephew Jerome Haultin. The font was old and in poor condition when it was used to print the Folio, which supports the view that Jaggard and his pressmen did not see the Folio as an unusually important book.

If the results of this research are to be accepted, they will correct two particularly enduring statements made about the font by Horace Hart in 1902: The font appears to be of French origin, not Dutch, and it was not commissioned specifically for the printing of the Folio but rather had been in use for fifteen or twenty years by 1623.

Images drawn from Beinecke call number: 1978 +83. Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, histories, & tragedies. Published according to the true originall copies. London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623.