Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Thomas Rowley: Latin Poet?

Foolish though it may by, I am obnoxious enough to think that I ought to be able to solve all the mysteries that a new acquisition throws my way. One in a while, however, I buy something that might benefit from a real expert in the areas in question.  Fortunately, I have some friends and acquaintances out there with many specializations; this little blog post will leave many questions unanswered, but I'd be delighted if any of my readers could help me answer them, or even come closer to answers.
Rowley's Latin poem.

The item in question is a pair of printed binding fragments. When I purchased these, they were billed as incunabula fragments, but I suspect they are slightly later. The printed text appears to be Nicolas Panormitano's Repertorium super Decretalium, but with some additional materials I haven't traced in any actual incunabula printings (the additions are common in printings from the later 16th century; I haven't yet determined when and where they first were printed). I'd guess from the style of printing that these printed fragments derive from the first half of the sixteenth century. 

On their own, these scraps from an old legal book might not be especially interesting, but these are covered with scribbles and texts from a Englishman, Thomas Rowley, perhaps dating around 1600.

Two post-incunabula binding fragments with
Rowley's writing, none of which appears in the
center sections, corresponding to the spine
of the newer book in which they were re-used.

I haven't been able to trace Rowley: the name isn't uncommon, and Thomas Chatterton seems to have used the name for a late medieval poet who was the product of his own hoaxing imagination--a coincidence that further complicates internet searches on the name. But Rowley used these leaves (which must have been the free end-pages of a book he owned) for a variety of little bits and bobs, including the four lines of Latin verse pictured above.

To the best of my abilities in transcription, these verses read as follows:

Justitiam regnumque dei super omnia quære
Sic tibi largientur cætera cuncta satis
Cras[. . . . . . . . ] cures, curet sibi crastinus ipse
Sufficit ille dies tempus in omne malis.

This passage is followed by his signature, "Thomas Rowley" (at the bottom left of the top image, you may see his name written another time, with "Th / Rowly" just legible. Many of these items seem to be mere pen-trials). 

I am unsure of some parts of the transcription: "largientum" is probably wrong; the ellipses mark out a passage I'm even less sure of. Again, any clarification would be much appreciated. I think this is a syllable-counting verse form, rather than hexameters, but Latin meters are not my strongest suit, either.

Elsewhere, Rowley's notes here include a tag from Vergil and the poetic version of the Lord's Prayer (beginning “O pater omnipotens clarique") that was most familiar from having been used in Lyly's Grammar. Such passages are easily searchable on the web. But these four poetic lines I have not been able to trace, nor Rowley's evocative English line "The Gordian knot w[hi]ch nothing canne vnloose but death." 

With his expressive italic script, Rowley seems to have been well enough educated, and perhaps even a bit ambitious in a literary way, if we can judge his writing by so few bits. I wish I knew a bit more about him.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Mini-Catalogue 192: Poetry, Manuscripts, Archives.

I've spent a good part of the last several weeks getting some new bridge-work done on my "two front teeth," as the old song has it. I lost one of them in a basketball encounter with the back of a friend's head in the early nineties, and just like all across the country, I guess the infrastructure in my mouth was finally beginning to crumble. Luckily, I was in a position where I could get it replaced.

English calligraphic broadside poem, ca. 1782

But I've also been able to put together a little list of 15 items, loosely grouped under the triple rubric of "Poetry, Manuscripts, Archives."  As usual, when I cobble together such groupings, some items fit more than one of the categories.

Included, of course, is the calligraphic poem pictured above, an English item I cannot help but compare to the colorful manuscripts that were being produced at the same time by Americans working in the "fraktur" tradition, inherited and transformed from German-language regions of Europe. 

Anyway, here's hoping you'll find something in the list to sink your own teeth into.