|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.