AA with Vase and Birds



VOL. VIII. Third Series.   JULY, 1910.   NO. 31.


he remarkable use which, in the latter part of the fifteenth and during the sixteenth centuries, was made by printers of emblematical head-pieces and tail-pieces has frequently been treated of in the pages of BACONIANA*, but attention does not appear to have been drawn to a family of head-pieces in which a light A and a dark A form the principal feature. I have searched diligently through many hundreds of books, printed between the years 1560 and 1650, which have passed through my hands during the last few years, with the result that I have found nine variants of the design. In seven of these the same block appears to have been used in various books; in two cases two blocks have been made slightly differing in size. {*footnote: See Vol. II., page 317 ("Bacon's Essay of Pan and the Hieroglyphic Tail-piece of Pan"): page 370 ("The New Birth of Time"); Vol. III., page 105 ("Tell-tale Title-pages in the Pan Cipher"); Vol. V., page 77 ("Emblem Pictures in Baconian Books"); Vol. VI., No. 24, page 10 ("Hieroglyphic Symbols and Pictures"); Vol. IX., page 157 ("Emblems from Nature used by Bacon and Shakespeare"); Third Series, Vol. I., pages 6 and 105 ("Hidden Symbols"); Vol. II., page 91 ("The Migration of Woodblocks"); page 197 (Haviland's Head-piece").}
    In drawing attention to this device I do not profess to have arrived at any definite conclusion as to its interpretation or its purpose, but the evidence which will be advanced appears to point to the blocks being the property of one person or Society, and my suggestion is that when an order was given to a printer to set up the type of a book forming one of a certain class it was stipulated that he would be supplied with a block which he was to reproduce on a given page or pages. That nine distinct designs, varying widely in other respects, were used, in all of which the light A and the dark A formed the outstanding feature, justifies the assumption that it had a special significance. Was this significance of general knowledge amongst printers and readers or was it an earmarking device used by one person or one Society? If the evidence to be put forward justifies, if not a definite answer to this question, at least the formation of a reasonable conclusion on the point, it may be hoped that students of the literature of the period may contribute to these columns any data that may fall in their way to assist in the elucidation of the subject.
    In MDCXVI was published "Les Emblemes Moraulx et Militaires Du Sieur Jacob De Bruck Angermundt Nouvellement mis en Lumiere A Strasbourg, Par Jacob de Heyden Graveur."
    In Emblem No. 18, now reproduced, the light A and the dark A will be found in the branch of the tree which the man is about to cut off. (Figure I.)
    Another Emblem does not contain the light A and dark A, but it contains the bark of the trunk and branches of the tree, the strong contrast between the dark and light, which feature is usually represented in most of the title-pages of books in which this device is found. (Figure II.)

      Camden in his "Remaines Concerning Britaine," 1614, commences a chapter on "Impreses," at the head of which the device is found, thus: "An Imprese (as the Italians call it) is a device in picture with his Motte, or Word, borne by noble and learned personages, to notifie some particular conceit of their owne: as Emblemes (that we may omitte other differeces) doe propound some general instructions to all." Then follow a number of examples and amongst them this :--

    "Variete and vicissitude of humane things he seemed to shew, which parted his shield, Per Pale, Argent & Sables and counterchangeably writte in the Argent, ATER and in the Sables ALBUS."

    But even if the light A and dark A are used in the design of the head-piece to represent Albus and Ater it does not afford any satisfactory explanation as to why they are so used. Another and more satisfactory interpretation is that the device is intended to convey the impression that the book contains that which is overt and that which is concealed, or that there is in connection with its origin or publication some facts which are not revealed.
    In the light of present information it is useless to pursue these conjectures further. It is a reasonable presumption that these devices were designed with a purpose and were not used indiscriminately according to the caprice of the printer.
    One other fact in connection with the use of these devices may be mentioned. In nearly every case the book in which they appear contains lines addressed "To the Reader," either without a signature or in some case with initials which cannot be identified with any name connected with the authorship, translation or publication of the work. These proems are similar in language, in literary style, and in peculiarities of construction.
    Here then is my theory for what it is worth. There was at the close of the sixteenth century some man (possibly it was a secret society, but the supposition of it being one man is preferable) who held that it was desirable that certain classical and foreign works should be translated into the English language, and he caused translations to be made. He recognised that on certain subjects there was a lack of information, so he caused books to be written on these subjects. He was a versatile writer himself -- a poet, too -- and his pen was incessantly producing works as the author of which he preferred to remain unknown. He superintended the printing and production of all these books. To those which did not directly proceed from his pen he wrote a foreword addressed "To the Reader." But in all these works he placed his sign-manual, and for this he used an emblematic device containing the light A and the dark A.

      Before proceeding to give fac-similes of these head-pieces it may be well to make it clear that in the sixteenth century there was no method of duplicating blocks. There appeared in BACONIANA an article by Mr. Harold Bayley on Migration of Woodblocks.* {*footnote: BACONIANA, Third Series, Vol. II., page 91.} This article before publication was submitted to Mr. Charles T. Jacobi, of the Chiswick Press, London, who is the author of "Books and Printing" (London, 1902), and several works on typography. He says :--

    It is a well-known fact to Bibliographers that the same blocks were sometimes used by different printers in two places quite far apart, and at various intervals during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. That the same blocks were employed is apparent from a comparison of technical defects of impressions taken at different places, and at two periods. There was no method of duplication in existence until stereotyping was first invented in 1725; even then the details were somewhat crude, and the process being new, it met with much opposition and was practically not adopted until the early part of the nineteenth century. Electrotyping, which is the ideal method of reproducing woodblocks, was not introduced until 1836 or thereabouts. Of course, it was quite possible to re-engrave the same design, but absolute fidelity could not be relied on by these means, even if executed by the same hand.

    The impressions here reproduced have all been examined in the books in which they are stated to be found by a very capable expert in wood engraving, and without hesitation he affirms that, except where otherwise stated, they are printed from the same block. The earliest date at which I have been able to find the head-piece is 1563, in "De Furtivis Literarum Notis Vulgo. De Ziferis," loan. Baptista Porta Neapolitano Authore. Cum Privilegio Neapoli, apud Ioa. Mariam Scotum. MDLXIII. (Figure III.) [See A False-dated Book for Ledsem's correction.]
    It is used only once -- over the dedication Ioanni Soto Philippi Regis. There is no other head-piece in the book. John Baptist Porta was, with the exception of Trithemius, whom he quotes, the first writer on cypher. [See discussion in Early Cryptography.]. At the time at which he wrote cypher-writing was studied in every court in Europe. It is significant that this emblematic device is used in the earliest period in which head-pieces were adopted, in a book which is descriptive and is in fact a text book of the art of concealment. I cannot find any impressions from this particular block elsewhere, but the exact design appears in our literature in 1590.

      The earliest English printed book in which I have been able to find the light A and the dark A is "The Arte of English Poesie," printed by Richard Field and bearing date 1589. Information as to the authorship and contents thereof have appeared in BACONIANA and elsewhere from the pens of Mr. Parker Woodward and the late Rev. Walter Begley.* {*footnote: BACONIANA, Third Series, Vol. III., page 95. Bacon's "Nova Resuscitatio," by Rev. Walter Begley, Vol. I.} The title-page bears the familiar "Anchora Spei" emblem. On the next page is a dedication signed by Richard Field to Lord Burgley, which commences thus :--

    This Booke (right Honourable comming to my handes, with his bare title without any Author's name or any other ordinarie addresse, I doubted how well it might become me to make you a present thereof, seeming by many express passages in the same at large, that it was by the Authour intended to our Soveraigne Lady the Queene and for her recreation and service chiefly devised.

    Over this dedication is a design, 4 in. x 1O-12ths, much more elaborate than that in Baptista Porta, which is reproduced. (Figure IV.)
    In 1591 was published a translation by Sir John Harington in English heroical verse of "Orlando Furioso," imprinted at London by Richard Field for John Norton and Simon Waterson. In this volume the light A and the dark A appear no less than 96 times in 24 groups of 4 each.

      It is stated that Harington translated the episode of Alcina and Ruggiero from the "Orlando Furioso," but the queen deeming it proper to be offended at the licentiousness of the tale strangely enough imposed as a remedy the translation of the whole epic, a task which he is said to have performed with the help of his brother Francis. Prefixed thereto is "A Preface, or rather a briefe apologie of Poetrie, and of the Author and Translator of this Poeme." This is unsigned. In it occurs the following, being the first known reference to "The Arte of English Poesie" :--

    "Neither do I suppose to be greatly behovefull for this purpose to trouble you with the curious definitions of a Poet and Poesie, and with the subtill distinctions of their sundrie kinds, nor to dispute how high and supernaturall the name of a Maker is, so christened in English by that unknowne Godfather, that this last yeare save one, viz., 1589, set forth a booke, called The Arte of English Poetrie."

    The work is divided into 46 books. At the head of each, set in a frame, is The Argument. The frames of 24 of these books are composed of designs of the light A and dark A. The design as it appears over The First Booke or Canto is reproduced. (Figure V. [Fifth Book])
    The block at the bottom is the identical one which was used in "The Arte of English Poesie." A second block has been engraved and is used at the top of the frame. On either side is a new device, 3 5-12ths ins. x 7-12th ins. (Figure VI.)
    The same arrangement is observed in the second edition printed by Richard Field in 1607. Here on the first impression the old block shows signs of a crack across the figure to the right of the centre. This defect gradually increases as its use proceeds, until over the 46th Book there is a clear break of 1-18th in.
    The device on either side (Figure VI.) is reproduced in the first edition of Spencer's "Faerie Queen," printed by William Ponsonby in 1596. It is also in "How to Chuse, Ride, Trayne and Dyet, both Hunting Horses and Running Horses," by Gervase Markham, printed by E. A. for E. White, 1606.
    In the first collected edition of Ben Jonson's work, 1616--1640, the same design as in "The Arte of English Poesie" will be found; the printer is W. Stansby.

      In 1579 was published "An Arithmetical Militare Treatise named Stratioticos: compendiously teaching the science of Nubers as well in fractions as integers, and so much of the Rules and AEquations, Algebricall and Arte of Numbers Cossicall as are requisite for the profession of a soldier, &c. Long since attepted by Leonard Digges, gent. Augmented, digested, and lately finished by Thomas Digges, gent. It was printed by Henrie Bynneman, dwelling in Thames Street, neere unto Baynard's Castle, at London, A.D. 1579." There is an unsigned proem "To the Reader."
    Leonard Digges was a most excellent mathematician, a skilful architect and a most expert surveyor of land.* {*footnote: "Athenae Oxoniensis" (1813), Vol. I., page 414.} Two small treatises were published by him during his lifetime, viz., "Tectonian" (1556) and "Prognostication Everlasting, of right good effect" (1555). These were augmented and re-published by his son, Thomas Digges, in 1592 and 1591 respectively. He also in 1590 republished his father's "Stratioticos," which was imprinted by Richard Field at London. This contains an impression of the Anchora Spei device from the same block used in Harington's "Orlando Furioso." According to Anthony Wood, Thomas Digges was highly skilled in the most difficult and curious demonstrations mathematical and was much esteemed by John Dee, Thomas Allen and others.* {*footnote: Ibid, page 636, or if on another page; "Athenae Oxoniensis" (1813), Vol. I., page 636.}
    In the 1590 edition of "Stratioticos," printed by Richard Field, two appendices are added, and, so far as I can trace, for the first time the emblematic head-piece, found in John Baptist Porta's cypher book of 1563, is reproduced. The impression is from a new block, and is placed at the commencement of each appendix. (Figure III.) The design has been closely followed as to size and detail, but there are several minute differences which prove that it has been re-engraved. [See A False-dated Book for Ledsem's correction to this claim.]
    In 1593 this identical block is used once in printing "A Plaine Discovery of the whole Revelation of Saint John, set foorth by John Napier L., of Marchistoun, younger. This book was printed in Edinburgh by Robert Waldegrave, Printer to the King's Majestie."
    In 1595 it is over the dedication to William Earle, of Darbie, signed by Thomas Lodge, in "A Fig for Momus," printed for Clement Knight at London.
    In 1595 the same design, but engraved on another block differing in size, is used as a tail-piece after the proeme of the author in the translation of "The Florentine Histoire," by Macchiavelli, hereafter referred to [below]. The same block is found over characters added to The Wife, now the Widow, of Sir Thomas Overbury. Printed in 1614 by T. C.
    In 1603 the "Stratioticos" block is used in the dedication unto the Rev, and Hon. Lord Michele de Sylva of "The Courtier of Counti Baldessar Castilio," translated into English by Thos. Hobby and printed by T. Creede.
      In the same year the identical block showing signs of wear is on the title-page and over the third book of Daemonologie, in forme of a dialogue written by James I., printed for William Cotton and Will Aspley at London. There is another variety of the device in this book [refered to below].
    In 1611 it will be found on pages 697, 760 and 780 of Joshua Sylvester's translation of the works of Salusti de Barto, printed by Humphrey Lownes.
    In 1609 it is again used once only over verses To the young gentleman Readers in Five Bookes of Philosophicall Comefort by Boetius.* {*footnote: Spedding says that Elizabeth is supposed to have translated the "Deconsolatione" of Boetius to console herself after the news of the French King's apostasy ("Life and Letters," Vol. I., page 255).} On this occasion the book is printed by John Windet for Mathew Lownes.
    In 1609 W. Hale prints for Thomas Adams "The Summe of the Conference between John Rainholdes and John Hart touching the Head of the Faith of the Church," and over the dedication to the Earle of Leicester is the same design.
    In 1610 it is the only Imprese in "The Perpetual Government of Christ's Church," by Thos. Bilson, Warden of Winchester College, printed for Thomas Adams.
    In 1614 John Legatt, printing for Simon Waterson "Remaines Concerning Britain," by Camden, inserts the device from the identical block eight times, and on page 106 over "Surnames" it is printed upside down.
    In 1615 it is found in two books by Richard Braithwaite, both "printed by I. B. for Richard Redmer, and are to be sold at the West dore of Paul's at the Starre," viz., "A Strappado for the Devill," in which it occurs four times and "Love's Labrynith or The True Lover's Knot," in which it is twice produced.
    In the same year it is used in "The English Housewife," by Gervase Markham, printed by John Beale for Roger Jackson and repeated in the 1637 edition.
      In 1621 it figures over the dedications of the first and second parts of "Nature's Embassie: or the Wilde-man's Measures," by R. Braithwaite, and in the same year over the commencement of the second part of "The Shepherd's Tales." Both works are printed for Richard Whitaker and have on their title-page the Anchora Spei device.
    In 1625 it is used once in "Geography Delineated Forth," in two books by Nathaniel Carpenter, fellow of Exeter College, Oxford. This book is printed for Henry Cripps at Oxford by John Lichfield and William Trune, Printers for the famous University.
    It is also found in the 1639 and 1642 editions of Bacon's Essays, printed by John Beale.
    Taking up the threads again, in 1593 Venus and Adonis makes its appearance, "imprinted by Richard Field, and are to be sold at the signe of the White Greyhound in Paules Church-yard."
    Over the celebrated dedication to the Earle of Southampton is the design used on the sides of the frames in "Orlando Furioso."
    On the title-page and also on the title-page and first verse of Lucrece is an emblematic device, which will be referred to hereafter as associated with the same design as that which appears over the dedication to Lord Burleigh in "The Arte of English Poesie." (Figure [VII].)* {*footnote: This is a reproduction of the reproduction of the design contained in the Clarendon Press, 1905, fac-simile.} Both Venus and Adonis and Lucrece have on the title-page the Anchora Spei device, but printed from different blocks.
    In 1595 was published "The Florentine Historie," written in the Italian Tongue by Nicholo Macchiavelli and translated into English by T. B., Esq., London. Printed by T. C. for W. P. The frontispiece is from the well-known block which appeared subsequently in the first folio edition (1609) of the "Faerie Queen." Over the first book of the Florentine History is a device very similar to that in "The Arte of English Poesie." (Figure VIII.) This was reproduced on page 413 of the second edition (1636) of Kingswell Long's translation of Barclay's "Argenis." [See also below]
      Shake-speare's Sonnets, never before imprinted, bear date 1609. At the foot are the words: "At London By G. Eld for T. T. and are to be solde by William Apsley." Over the first Sonnet is a device now reproduced, which does not appear to have been used elsewhere. The design is very similar to, though not identical with, the Baptista Porta, 1563, emblem. (Figure IX.) Underneath the centre ornament will be seen a key. "With this same key Shakespeare unlocked"--what? It will be observed that in this as in every other design the inner sides of the two A's are drawn to represent the letter C.
    In 1611 was published the first folio edition of the Authorised Version of the Bible, with a device also found in the first folio 1623 edition of the Shakespeare plays.
    In 1612 the first quarto edition of the Scriptures appeared. The title-page of the Genealogies is now reproduced. (Figure X.) The design at the head of the page is apparently in every detail identical with the head-piece used in the first quarto edition of Venus and Adonis, 1593, and Lucrece, 1594, whilst that on the lower half of the title-page is the same as that found over the dedication in "The Arte of English Poesie," 1589, although a new block has been engraved.
    All these works were printed by Richard Field, whereas the Authorised Version of the Bible was produced by Robert Barker, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majestie. How did it come about that, when devices had to be provided for the adornment of the most important book of the century, this remarkable selection was made? It was certainly paying a very great compliment to the authors of "The Arte of English Poseie" and "Venus and Adonis" thus to associate their productions with this monumental work. Did the King or the Bishops make the selection? Such an important matter would surely not be left to the printer.
    The design (Figure XI.) was, so far as I can trace, first used in a book printed by Adam Islip in 1602. It is styled "A Discourse upon the Meanes of wel governing and maintaining in good peace, a Kingdome or other Principalitie. Against Nicholas Machiavel, the Florentine. Translated into English by Simon Patericke." The author's name is not stated, but it is attributed to a French lawyer, named I. Gentillet, an adherent of the Reformation, who died at Geneva about 1595. The dedication is to Francis Hastings and Edward Bacon, and is well worthy of careful consideration. The device is used six times in the book.
      In 1621 it appears sixteen times in "A learned summary upon the famous Poeme of William of Saluste, Lord of Bartes. Translated out of French by T.L.D.M.P. Printed in London for John Grismand and sold at his Shoppe in Paules Alley at the signe of the Gunne."
    In 1625 it will be seen in "The True and Royal History of the famous Empresse Elizabeth." Darcie's translation from the French edition, which contains in the early pages some extraordinary proems. It is stated to be printed for Benjamin Fisher, to be sold at the Talbot, Pater Noster Row. The device is therein used ten times.
    In the same year, 1625, it appears in "Barclay, His Argenis, printed by G. P. for Henry Seile." It is twice used in this book, which purports to be a translation from the Latin, first published in Paris in 1621.
    It also appears once in the second edition (1636) of this translation of the Argenis printed for Henry Seile. There is in this book, on page 413, another design of the light A and dark A, as in the Florentine History, 1595. (Figure VIII.) [See also above]
    "The Mirrour of State and Eloquence" is a book remarkable for the dogrel lines which are placed under a portrait of Bacon, which is a very bad imitation of the Marshall portrait prefixed to the 1640 Gilbert Wat "Advancement of Learning." The copy I have is dated 1656. Printed for Lawrence Chapman. The design is over the heading Bacon's Remains on the page bearing the printer's signature B.
    What at first sight appears to be a much more elaborate design (Figure XII.) engraved for large folios will be found on four pages in Lodge's translation of "Seneca," printed by William Stansby in 1614. On a close inspection it will be found to consist of two blocks of the Baptista Porta (1563) design, with the opposite ends cut off and joined together so that the centre represents the letter X.
    In 1616 the same printer makes use of the identical block in a book entitled "The Surveyor." It will be seen on page 175 at the commencement of the fourth book.
      In the First Folio Edition of the Shakespeare Plays, 1623, the lines to which the name of Henry Holland are attached are surmounted by a design containing the light A and the dark A (see Figure VII). This is similar to that in "The Arte of English Poesie," except that a sheaf of corn has been substituted for the bowl of flowers in the centre, and a scroll has been added at either end to make the size suitable for a folio page instead of a quarto. (Figure XIII.) The page containing the names of the actors prefixed to the play of Henry V. also has this design at the top. Isaac Jaggard and Ed. Blount were the printers. This same design is over the commencement of Edward Topsell's "History of Serpents," printed by W. Jaggard in 1608. The centre of the design without the scroll at either end but from a different block is found over the Preface to the Reader in Daemonologie, 1603, before referred to. (Figure XIV.)
    There are no doubt many more books in which these blocks have been used, but the point to be determined is the exact dates when they were first introduced and when they cease to be found.
    I would ask any readers of BACONIANA to look through books of the period which they may have in their possession, and if any variant of the design can be found in a book not before enumerated to advise me of the fact. If space can be found in the next number I propose to advance some arguments in favour of the theory which I have ventured to suggest.