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Bartholomew Fayre [Richard Whitlock's Copy]

 
Bartholomew Fayre [Richard Whitlock's Copy] by JONSON, Ben (1631)

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Author: JONSON, Ben
Title: Bartholomew Fayre [Richard Whitlock's Copy]
 
Year: 1631
Publisher: I.B. for Robert Allot
Place: London
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: No
 
Price: £4500
 
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Seventeenth century writer Richard Whitlock's annotated copy containing an unpublished defence of the Jacobean stage and a manuscript quotation from John Donne. Single disbound play, sewing largely failed, which collates A2-A6; B-M4, lacking first blank. The title page appears in the second state with a mixture of 1st and 2nd state textual readings throughout. The text is stained and dog-earred and grubby and appears to have been disbound from a larger volume by the time that Whitlock acquired it in the mid seventeenth century - Whitlock's page reference for the Donne poem must come from the edition of his poems first published (and repeatedly reprinted) from 1635 onwards, giving a terminus a quo for this annotation.

Richard Whitlock (1616-1672) was educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, became a physician and Fellow of All Souls and published a collection of essays and characters, Zootomia, in 1654 which challenged the antipathy to plays. On this particular play text Whitlock has written his ownership signature next to the woodcut on the title page: 'R Whitlock LL.Bacc:' Opposite this he quotes from pseudo-John Donne's 1603 poem in praise of Ben Jonson: 'The State & Mine Affaires are the best Playes, Next These, 'Tis nor more nor lesse than due Praise. Jo. D. Donne. poems.pag: 207' (Whitlock's system of full stops in his Donne citation is very similar to his near-contemporary Milton's in his annotation of the Philadelphia Shakespeare First Folio).

Alongside Jonson's printed name on the title page Whitlock has added a Latin tag that begins 'Imperator... Prol.. Possunt'(?) Whitlock appears to have himself repaired a tear with loss which had already occurred to A4 (the second leaf of Jonson's 'Induction') where a triangle of text 10cm along the tail of the page and reaching up 15cm of the gutter is inserted. On the verso of his new repaired leaf Whitlock has made a concerted effort to replace the missing words from a printed passage about the judgements passed on plays 'Hee that will sweare, Ieronimo, or Andronicus are the best playes... '. Into the margin Whitlock has jotted the missing words before subsequently inserting those words in the right places at the line ends of the new leaf.

Whitlock has responded most vigorously to Jonson's epilogue to the play on the final page which Jonson addressed to 'Your Maiesty' who 'hath seene the Play' and in particular Jonson's speculation that they might break their licence 'or be prophane, or make prophane men speake'. Whitlock responds in manuscript at the foot of the page: 'Tis not prophane to make prophane men speake/ How e're their offensines here are iudged by ye weake/ Or guilty Hypocrites of this Mimick Age/ That hate or feare such satyrs of ye Stage/ On ye same score deformed Faces doe/ The Looking-glass yt Represent them true... RW' These lines make an interesting pendant to Whitlock's defence of the moral probity of the stage in Zootomia, or Observations of the Present Manners of the English in 1654.

Scattered through the text are further light ink annotations apparently by Whitlock, mostly marginal lines as at the character Quarlous's comments on marriage at p 11 and beside 'Quarlous's 'you are a modest undertaker...' at page 26. Also occasional pencil annotation in the form of marginal lines, possibly in another hand? Provenance: laid in, an invoice for the sale of the book in 1982 by Barrie's Bookshop, Cheltenham.
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