Saturday, July 30, 2011

Annotating a 1643 English-Latin Phrase Book

Traveling has kept me away from the blog for a little while, but today’s post will be the first in a series of uninterrupted weekly entries as we continue into August and finish up the summer. The book I am highlighting today is a copiously annotated dictionary used by an English book owner in the Restoration and early eighteenth century. The Center owns several books with manuscript-enhanced dictionaries, indices, and reference guides, but this is the first one to make it onto the web.

note the faint pen trials

Johann Amos Comenius (Jon Amos Komenský), Janua linguarum reserata (The Gates of Languages Unlocked: or a Seed-Plot of all Arts and Tongues; containing a ready way to learn the Latin and English Tongue). Sixth Edition. London: Printed by James Young, and are sold by Thomas Slater, 1643.
[376] p. ;  18 cm. (8vo); Wing C5512 
Renaissance Center copy is in later half calf and marbled boards (covers largely detached) 

Appearing in over fifteen editions between 1631 and 1672, this portable English-Latin phrase book belongs to one of several different groups of books published in seventeenth-century England under the title Janua linguarum, or "the gates of languages" (literally "gates of tongues"). While this particular book presents a bilingual guide, others might have been trilingual (Comenius' own Janua linguarum trilinguis and Porta linguarum trilinguis with English, Latin, and Greek), quadrilingual (William Bathe's Janua linguarum, first pub. 1617 in English, Latin, French, and Spanish), or even "silingual" (the 1629 and 1630 editions of Bathe add German and Italian). For English publication disputes over Janua linguarum and a table of English editions, see Adrian Johns, The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), pp. 223-6.

Comenius (1592-1670) was an early proponent of universal education and his published works (especially Janua linguarum) were heavily used in European schools (the book also appeared in Continental editions). The popularity of Janua linguarum even prompted authors to compose companion volumes. Jean de Grave wrote a "path-way to the gate of tongues" in 1633, intended as an introduction to Comenius' book for "little children" (STC 12198, often bound with the 1633 edition of Porta linguarum trilinguis). Wye Saltonstall's Clavis ad portam, or a key fitted to open the gate of tongues appeared in 1634, and it too is often found bound with Porta linguarum (ESTC).

The Center's copy is from the 1643 sixth edition of the bilingual Janua, which was "carefully reviewed, and exactly compared with all former editions, foreign and others, and much enlarged both in the Latin and English" by John Robotham (who had also corrected and amended the text in an earlier edition). Our particular copy bears several marks of provenance, recording the association of the book with four different English readers/owners.

eighteenth- or nineteenth-century inscription of "Geo[rge] Jepson"

The second image contains several seventeenth-century inscriptions. They read (in three separate hands):

John Widdowes His Booke
anno dom: 1667 [all struckthrough]

George Yardley His Booke


George Yardley Liber Eius
Testis Antonius Meeke 1672

From these notes we know that around 1670 the book passed from John Widdowes to George Yardley (who struck out the earlier inscription). The third inscription appears to be in the hand of Anthony Meeke, who has "witnessed" Yardley's ownerships of the book ("testis" means "witness"); it also plays on the common ownership formula "hic liber est meus, Testis est Deus." I have been unable to identify the Greek note at the bottom of the page, which I believe is in Yardley's hand. 

Two other pages contain Greek and Latin notes in the same hand:

unidentified Greek note

"Foemineum servile genus, crudele, superbum" ("womankind is servile, cruel, [and] proud"). From the fourth eclogue of Baptista Mantuanus' Bucolica (first pub. 1503)
An additional (much later) ownership inscription provides more information about our annotator, George Yardley.

Written fifty years after the first inscription (which seems to have been penned by a youth), Yardley's later note is the product of an Anglican clergyman: "A[ssembly].M[inister]. & R[ector] de Notgrove" and "V[icar] de Mickleton." According to British History online, George Yardley attained the post of rector at Notgrove in 1687. To be found in the Mickleton Parish Records (Gloucestershire Archives) is a collection of "[p]rinted almanacs interleaved with manuscript notes, which belonged to Rev George Yardley, Rector of Notgrove and Vicar of Mickleton 1707-1746." (Yardley died in 1746, and his printed almanacs range from 1718-1745.) This note is dated July 20, 1730.

As I mentioned in this entry's headnote, one of the book's former owners (probably Yardley) copiously annotated the two indices that conclude this copy of Janua linguarum. While I don't think paleographical evidence presents a conclusive case for any of the former owners, considering Yardley's known practice of adding manuscript notes to printed books (as in his interleaved almanacs surviving among the Mickleton Parish Records), it seems likely he is the annotator of the indices. The book's first index, the Latin "index vocabulorum," is prefaced by an interesting note about John Robotham's editing of its content:

"The former Index, even in the Dutch copy, was very faulty in the cyphers, and defective in many words; which put me to a needlesse trouble, in striving to insert in the text, such words as I found not in the Index (and therefore thought them lacking) which afterward I met with in the book. This Index is very exact; and may serve as a Dictionary to the learner, and a ready helpe to him that would adde any further supply to the booke it selfe."

The passage is interesting for a few reasons. We know these indices (one of Latin words, the other of English) were "very faulty" in earlier editions, forcing the Janua's English editor to augment the lists with additional entries. The editor also claims the lists "may serve as a Dictionary to the learner," and may even be "a ready helpe to him that would adde any further supply to the booke it selfe." In other words, these printed lists form a complete and "exact" English-Latin dictionary, which a reader may nonetheless supplement with a "further supply" of words in manuscript. 

The book's manuscript annotations respond directly to Robotham's invitation to "adde" such "a further supply" by inserting missing words (according to alphabetical order) into the body of the printed text. Here are three examples from the (less copiously) annotated Latin index:

Added words include abnormis, abramis, absis, adolesere, adultum, arteres, and culsium (with the added note "being compounded it wants the supine").

The "Index Anglicus" is much more heavily annotated and includes words in both English and Latin. Since nearly every page contains manuscript annotation, I have decided not to upload all thirty (or so) images, but instead post a range of images with representative annotation. In each image's caption I have listed some of the words added in manuscript (in modernized English).

acorn, adamant
back, balsam, baron, bay tree
bemoan, bosom, beaver
bastard, camel, cane, capon, carbuncle, carp, carpet, carter, cates
cedar, cellar, center, ceremony, chariot, cherish, crystal, cheekbone, chickpeas, choler, chough
christ, circumference, circumstance, client, cocksure, colander, collar, colt
comfort, comedy, complete, compose, conical, constellation, conscience, consume, contempt, content, contest
The rest of the volume continues in the same way. With further archival research into books annotated by George Yardley and manuscript-enhanced copies of Janua linguarum, one could ask a number of interesting research questions about material reading practices, early modern education, and the development of the English language: how common was dictionary-annotation in early modern England? how did readers customize such books with manuscript notes? what sort of relationships existed among printed dictionaries, manuscript-enhanced printed dictionaries, and manuscript word-lists? what can such annotations tell scholars about the history of our language?

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