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- No. VI. Two LETTERS FROM DR. TAYLOR, ON
THE PARIS BIBLE AT CAMBRIDGE.
.. 1. To the Earl of Oxford.
Cambridge, Dec. 20, 1740.
- When the Library of the late Bp. Moore came to be better known; nothing, in that very valuable Collection, was more likely to astonish the curious, than a Book of the three first Paris Printers, with a date, which not only contradicted the best and most authentic accounts of the Settlement of the Press in that City, but, what is still more amazing, the express testimony of those very Printers themselves upon another occasion. For, my Lord, not only
* See the Origin of Printing, pp. 107. 171. - See also Dr. Mill's Prolegomena to his edition of the Greek Testament, where the MS. in question is described.
+ Mr. Maittaire, who had seen a copy of this letter, thus speaks of it in his latest publication on the subject : “ Biblia Latina, per Gering. Crantz, et Friburger, fol. 1464. [Palmer's History of Printing, p. 100. 102. Annal. I. 5. & 273. & * 1.41.] At vero constat illos Typographos artem ante annum 1470 non exercuisse [Annal. 1 25. & * 1.77.] Rectè igitur (uti mihi compertum est ex epistolâ ad virum nobilem, 1740, Dec. 20 data, cujus exeinplar ab amico ad me missum fuit) fraudem detexit vir in re antiquarià apprime versatus, et sagaci oculo locum contemplatus facilè animadvertit duas voces (semi-lustrum) fuisse repositas pro veris (tribus-lustris)." Annal. Topogr. Tomi Quinti Pars posterior, p. 565.
Naldé, Naudé, in his Addition to the History of Lewis XI. and Chevillier, Library-keeper of the Sorbonne, in his Dissertation upon the Origin of Printing, have uncontestably fixed the date of the Paris press at 1470; but the Edition of the Epistles of Gasparinus Pergamensis, which was set out at Paris the same year, is a convincing proof that this art had not been exercised in that part of Europe before this date ; as will appear from the colophon :
Ut Sol lumen, sic doctrinam fundis in orbem,
Musarum nutrix, regia Parisius,
Artem scribendi, suscipe promerita
Francorum in terris, ædibus atque tuis :
Hos impresserunt; ac facient alios. “Thus stood the History of Printing, when the late Bishop of Ely [Dr. Moore procured a Vulgate Bible in folio, with a colophon that spoke, and that in the name of Michael (Friburger], Ulric (Gering), and Martin (Crank], the printers, as expressly for 1464, as any other testimony could do for 1470. Your Lordship very well remembers, I transcribed it for your Lordship's use a few years ago, at Mr. Morgan's * instance, and that it stands thus :
Jam semi undecimus lustrum Francos Ludovicus Rexerat, Ulricus, Martinus, itemque Michaël Orti Teutoniâ hanc mihi composuere figuram.'
“ The Owner of the Book, misled by a false chronology (perhaps that of Chevillier, who dates
* “ John Morgan, B. D. rector of Medburne in Leicestershire, from St. John's, formerly fellow of the same College, I was well acquainted with when, many years ago, I was at Lisbon for my health, where he was Chaplain to the English Factory there established. He is now dignified by the Bishop of St. Asaph in his diocese, though he lives in London. He was Chaplain to Minorca by purchase, which he parted with in 1772 or 1773. Beneficed in one of the Welsh Cathedrals, Commissary to the Bishop of Chester.” Cole's MSS. 49, p. 107, &c. -- Mr. Morgan took the degree of B. A. 1722; M. A. 1726 ; B. D. 1734; and held the rectory of Medburne from 1749 to 1773. He was inti. mateat Wimple, but never got any preferment from that connexion,
the the reign of Lewis XI. from July 1460), ordered his Binder to mark his Copy on the back with 1463. But as Lewis XI. began his reign, according to the best accounts, one year later, viz. succeeding his father Charles VII. July 1461, and crowned the August following, the true date carnot be higher than January, or February, 1464. About which time, therefore, we must suppose this Book to be printed.
“There is another very material difficulty arising from this date, besides the contradictory accounts mentioned above; which I believe none of those have taken notice of, who yet were very sensible of the other. And that is this. If we admit the story of Faust's exposing his new-printed books to sale at Paris (I cannot indeed admit of the whole upon account of some notable absurdities in it), we can scarce allow him to bring those books to market till 1463 : for he had finished them at his press in Germany but in 1462; and that pretty late in the year: viz. the eve of the Assumption (14 Aug). Now, if ours be a true date, how shall we account for the surprize of the Paris purchasers, which they are said to express at the exact similitude of so many Copies that Faust offered to sale, and at the novelty of an Art, of which they had formed no idea (for so the story runs), when they had the very same invention brought home to them some time before, and actually exercised in their own City at the same juncture? For, besides the time which must be required in laying-in materials, and setting up a printing-house; this very large Volume, consisting of 240 sheets, which was finished at press but at the beginning of the year 1464, must have required, when the invention was very young, and the press moved heavily, a considerable time longer than the compass of one year to bring it to perfection.
“ Upon shewing this curiosity a little while ago to Mr. Maurice Johnson, of Spalding, a gentleman exceedingly well versed in Antiquities, he almost
immediately cried out, that there had been an eragement, and that in those two words which establish the date, Semi, my Lord, is a visible forgery, wrote with the hand in printing-ink, on a place that had been scratched with the knife; but, otherwise, no bad imitation of the type; and, except that it borders a little too close upon the following word, upon the whole is a very ingenious counterfeit*. The other word, Lustrum (thus, Lustru), has undergone no alteration but in the last letter, which is very ill connected with the letter preceding, and in a quite different manner from any other part of the Book, where these two letters meet. Besides, my Lord, that part of the word, which remains in print, and untouched, betrays, upon comparison, and to a very ordinary attention, the imposture at the end of it.
“When Mr. Palmer wrote the History of Printing, and was led, by the nature of his subject, to consider the circumstances of Bp. Moore's, or the Cambridge Bible, he could by no means get over the difficulty of this colophon; but was forced to cut the knot, by saying, that, probably, the Gentleman at Cambridge, who transcribed for Mr. Maittaire, had mistaken the words, and wrote semi Lustrum instead of tribus Lustris; which is, surely, such an hallucination, as I can suppose no man guilty of, who transcribed, and that by way of evidence, three lines for a friend with his eyes open.
“ However, my Lord, Mr. Palmer was not far from the mark; though, surely, his manner of accounting for the difficulty was the clumsiest of all conjectures; and what must, of necessity, have been exposed and confuted as often as the Book should
*“Dr. John Taylor, my most worthy good friend, formerly Fellow of St. John's college, and Registrar of the University, and now (1759) archdeacon of Buckingham, Chancellor of Lincoln, and Residentiary of St. Paul's, took no small pains to make an useful Catalogue of the Books in the Royal Public Library at Cambridge; where I well remember his sbewing me this rasure and forgery." W. C.
be laid open. For I will venture to pronounce, that this is a copy of the edition of the Bible in 1476; which is what Mr. Palmer alluded to in his tribus Lustris : an edition pretty well known, and altogether reconcilable with the testimony of our Printers, and History of Printing; the colophon of which, “Jam tribus undecimus Lustris Francos Ludovicus Rexerat, Ulricus, Martinus, itemque Michaël, Orti Teutoniâ, hanc mihi composuere figuram,' is, either through wantonness ; or, perhaps, in affectation of being thought to be the master of a singular copy; or, what is still more likely, out of avarice, transferred into what it is at present; and what has puzzled the most inquisitive for above twenty years last past.
“ But, my Lord, the colophon of 1476 consists in all of five lines :
Jam tribus undecimus Lustris Francos Ludovicus Rexerat, Ulricus, Martinus, itemque Michaël, Orti Teutoniâ, hanc mihi composuere figuram Parisii arte suâ: me correctam vigilantèr Vænalem in Vico Jacobi Solaureus offert.' But as these two last lines might be easily spared, our impostor was very willing to part with them; since the colophon, thus reduced, must necessarily set his copy at a greater variance from the known edition of 1476. Upon a close examination I found they had been totally erased, and ordinary piece of illumination drawn over the place for the better disguise. Across this part of the page, as far as the opposite column, there has formerly been a rent; whether a casualor designed one, I leave your Lordship to guess, when I add, that on the back of the leaf is pasted (seemingly in a careless manner) a piece of pretty thick paper, in order to look like restoring what had been torn asunder; but withal so artfully contrived, that it should cloak all that part of the leaf where the erasement has been made,