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(Continued from p. 36.) Il Decamerone di M. Giovanni Boccaccio, nuovamente coretto et con diligentia stampato. In Firenze, Giunti 1527, octavo.
This edition of Boccaccio's Decameron is much esteemed for its superiority, in point of correctness, over every previous edition, they having been printed from manuscripts disfigured by the ignorance of the transcribers, and every edition, till this made its appearance, contained a repetition of errors. The only complete copy of the author's original work had been made by François D’Amaretto Maneli, a Florentine gentleman, in 1384, nine years after the author's death ; and it was reserved for three young and learned Florentines to superintend this editition, published by the Giuntis; and they, very judiciously, made use of texts much more correct than any that had been previously consulted, and took advantage of the defects observable in others, to render their own edition more correct. It was afterwards counterfeited at Venice, under the same form and date, and those not in the secret have sometimes bought the counterfeit for the original. De Bure, in his “ Bibliographie Instructive,” vol. iv. p. 60, has made several remarks by which to distinguish the editions from each other; the most palpable difference to common observers may be seen in the title-page, whereon is a flowret, representing the fleur de lys of the Giuntis, engraved on wood, and surrounded or enclosed by a square or border, which border, in the original, appears separated in many parts, as if composed with so many pieces; whereas, in the false edition, this square appears entire, without the least separation or division whatever; beneath this fleur de lys appears the date M-DXXVII, which in the original has the separation points square, but in the counterfeit they are triangular, thus MaDaXXVIIA Osmont, “ Dictionnaire des Livres rares," tom. i. p. 109, repeats what De Bure has said, and adds, that at line 14 of the 'S: page of the original are the two words “rifrigerio gid,” which are
printed as one word in the copy, by being joined, and making “ rifrigeriogia”; as also that in the original, folio 33, verso, the word Giorntaa is printed at the head of the page, which, in the counterfeit, is altered to Giornata. In the original, page 24 is marked 42, and page 108 is numbered 168, which faults are core rected in the counterfeit. “Son prix,” says Osmont, “est arbitraire, elle se vend jusqu'à 6 à 700 livres.” At M. Paris' sale at Edwards' in Pall Mall, in 1791, a fair copy in red morocco was bought by Mr. Wood. hull for £15. The rarest edition of Boccaccio's Decameron is the first, printed in 1470 or 1471, and of which, I have been told, a copy has been sold for 100 guineas; however this may be, at Paris' sale Molini bought a copy (having the last leaf rather imperfect) for £16.
List of some of the principal Editions of Shakspeare's Works, as also the Prices paid by the Booksellers of London to the Editors of several of them.
The first folio edition of the Works of Shakspeare, in a collected form, was published in 1623, by Jaggard and Blount; reprinted 1632, 1664, and 1685; an edition verbatim from the one of 1623, but very inaccurately printed, was published, in 1808, by Longman and Co. Shakspeare's Works, by Rowe, 7 vols. 8vo. London,
1709. Do. 9 vols. 12mo. 1741. Pope, 6 vols. 4to. 1725. Do. 10 vols. 12mo. 1728. Theobald, 7 vols. 8vo.
1733, Do. 8 vols. 12mo. 1740. Hanmer, 6 vols. 4to. 1744.
177 t. Warburton, 8 vols. 8vo.
1747. Johnson, 8 vols. 8vo.
1765. Stevens, 4 vols. 8vo. 1766.
Shakspeare's Works, by Capell, 10 vol. crown 8vo.
1768. - - Johnson and Stevens, 10 vols. 8vo. 1773–2nd edit. 10 vols. 8vo. 1778 -3d edit. 10 vols. 8vo. 1785—4th edit. 15 vols. 8vo. 1793. Of the latter edit. 25 copies were printed on large paper, one of which was sold at Isaac Reed's sale in 1807, for £29.
- Johnson, Stevens, and
Reed, 21 vols. 8vo.
- Malone, 10 vols, cr. 8vo. To these may be added, Boydell's in 9 vols. folio. Chalmers's, 9 vols. 8v0.— Wood's, 14 vols. 12mo.Rann's, 6 vols. . 1200.-Ayscough's, 2 vols. 8vo. and perhaps twenty other editions,
£ s. d. Mr. Rowe was paid for editing Shakspeare, 36 10 0 Mr. Hughes for do. ........
....... 28 70 Pope, do. .............
....... 217 12 O -- Fenton, do. · ......
30 14 0 -- Gay, do. ........................... 35 17 6 -- Whalley, do.
12 00 - Theobald, do.
652 10 0 Dr. Warburton, do. ......
500 00 Mr. Capel, do............................
300 00 Dr. Johnson, for the first edition, ......... 375 00
for the second do. ......... 10000 The following anecdote related in · Dibdin's Bibliomania, or Book Madness,' will not be misplaced here.
A singular story is extant about the purchase of the late Duke of Roxburgh's fine copy of the first edition of Shakspeare. A friend was bidding for him in the sale room; his Grace had retired to a distance to view the issue of the contest. Twenty guineas and more were offered from various quarters for the book : a slip of paper was handed to the Duke, in which he was requested to inform his friend whether he was to "continue bid. ding,”-his Grace took his pencil, and wrote underneath, by way of reply,
Lay on Macduff!
Such a spirit was irresistible, and bore down all opposition : his Grace retired triumphant with the book under his arm.
Mr. Reed, editor of the much-esteemed edition of our bard's works, possessed a copy of the first edition, divided into 3 volumes, and illustrated with additional portraits, and which, at his death, was sold for £38.
Athenian Letters, or the Epistolary Correspondence of un Agent of the King of Persia residing at Athens.' - This work consists of the imaginary correspondence of a company of Greeks, the contemporaries of Socrates, Pericles, and Plato; but, in reality, the actual correspondence of a society of learned men at the University of Cambridge, who, under fictitious characters, communicated to each other the results of their researches into ancient history, and through this medium laid before the public an entertaining and instructive work. When this correspondence had continued for a considerable time, and the number of letters had become so large as to render the transcribing of them for the use of the association too troublesome, it was agreed that twelve copies should be printed, which was accordingly done in 1740. A copy of this edition, it is evident, from the smallness of the number printed, exclusive of any other consideration, must be a great rarity, and whenever met with, either in a book auction or a bookseller's shop, must sell for a pretty high sum. In 1781 another small edition of 100 copies was printed in 4to, and in 1798 a more extended edition in 2 vol. 4to. with portraits, &c. and which was, I believe, reprinted last year for Messrs. Cadell and Davies. « This book is said to be the best commentary on Thucydides ever written.”
Miller's Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century.
Destruction of Libraries in the Time of Henry the Eighth,
at the Dissolution of Monasteries. It is a circumstance well known to every one at all i conversant in English history, that the sunnression of the lesser monasteries by that rapacious monarch Harry the Eighth, took place in 1536. Bishop Fisher, when the abolition was first proposed in the convo. cation, strenuously opposed it, and told his brethren that this was fairly showing the king how he might come at the great monasteries. “And so, my lords,” concluded he, “ if you grant the king these smaller monasteries, you do but make him a handle, whereby, at his own pleasure, he may cut down all the cedars within your lebanons.” Fisher's opinion was borne out by the subsequent acts of Henry, who, after quelling a civil commotion occasioned by the suppression of the lesser monasteries, immediately abolished the remainder; and on the whole, suppressed 645 monasteries: of which twenty-eight had Abbots that enjoyed seats in Parliament. Ninety colleges were demolished, 2374 chantries and free chapels, and 110 hospitals. Bayle, in his Epistle upon Les lande's Journal, much laments the destruction that took place in the religious houses at this period; those who purchased them took the libraries as part of the booty. Some they sold to the grocers, and others they sent over sea in ship loads. “I know a merchant,” says he, “who bought two noble libraries for forty shillings each.”
Letters from a Gentleman in the North of Scotland, to his Friend in London. 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1754.
The author of these Letters was one Birt, an understrapper commissary, who, as is natural to such people, was, in his own opinion, a man of great consequence. Major Hepburn of Aldercron's Regiment, mentioned at Madras an anecdote of Birt, which, I think, happened at Inverness. Birt giving himself some consequential airs, said, “ he represented his Majesty.” Upon which a dry Scot replied, “ Hoot mon ! - You represent his Majesty! He, God bless him! is muckle better represented on a bawbee."
This anecdote I found in a copy of the Letters,'
purchased at Dalrymple's sale, 1809.