Antiquates Fine & Rare Books has released a catalogue of Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Books. Antiquates is located in the U.K. with most, but not all, of what is offered reflecting their location. Politics and theology, quite contentious during this time, are the subject of many of these titles, but there is also poetry, medicine, and various other topics to be found. Controversy abounds. Then again, in the U.K., it still does. Here are a few samples.
We begin with a eulogy none of us ever hopes to have. Item 1 is The Young Man's Warning-piece. Or, A Sermon preached at the burial of William Rogers. Apothecary. With an History of his sinful Life, and Woeful Death. Together with a Post-script use of Examples. Poor William Rogers. His own vicar used his eulogy as an example of a sinful life. It seems Mr. Rogers made a habit of drinking, keeping bad company, not performing his religious duties, and not even recanting his sinful ways. The result is he was struck down just as he prepared to return to church (makes you wonder whether he was punished for being sinful or for returning to his church). Supposedly, he ended up filled with fears of damnation on his deathbed. This cheery piece was written by Rogers' vicar, Robert Abbot, and published in 1671, apparently the final edition of a work first printed in 1636. Priced at £450 (British pounds, or about $701 in U.S. dollars).
William Rogers' fate was probably gentle compared to that endured by another sinner, 22-year-old James Duncalf. Item 30 is A discourse Concerning Gods Judgements; Resolving many weighty questions and cases Relating to them. This was from a sermon preached at Old Swinford and published in 1678. Mr. Duncalf appears in an appendix as an example of God's judgment on the wicked. Evidently, God was not in a good mood in the 17th century. Mr. Duncalf is described as “the man whose hands and legs lately rotted off.” Thankfully, we have Simon Ford, a righteous clergyman, to explain why. £450 (US $701).
This next piece uses both law and scripture to condemn German cousins marrying, which seems an obscure concern for the English. Nevertheless, here is such a book, and it evidently had a purpose perhaps not immediately recognizable from its title today: Two Discourses Introductory to a Disquisition Demonstrating the Unlawfulness of the Marriage of Cousin Germans; From Law, Reason, Scripture, and Antiquity. The author was an Anglican clergyman, John Turner, with the treatise published in 1682. A few years earlier, William of Orange had married his cousin, Mary, both English royals and heirs, but William was Prince of Orange, which would have qualified him to be considered Germanic. The two had married to help secure William's influence in Britain and role as a potential successor to the throne. William was fourth in line, but Mary was second. Evidently, Turner was not happy with this arrangement. Eventually, the couple would be called to England by Protestants to overthrow Mary's father, the Catholic-leaning James II, and they would serve as co-regents William and Mary. Item 94. £225 (US $350).
This item is much more positive than the previous theological screeds, but is equally far-fetched. Item 25 fits comfortably into the realm of medical quackery: A late discourse Made in a Solemne Assembly of Nobles and Learned Men at Montpellier in France...Touching the Cure of Wounds by the Powder of Sympathy... The author of this 1658 first edition was Kenelm Digby, an English natural philosopher in exile in Paris who was not much of a medical scientist. Digby concluded that a salve of copper sulphate could heal wounds. Copper sulphate is used to kill weeds and pests, and is used as a fungicide. Its only medical use has been to induce vomiting, kind of a backhanded curative substance, but it is now considered too dangerous for even this use. Still, it might have seemed like a logical salve back in 1658 but for the manner of its application. Digby did not advocate applying it to the wound. Instead, it was to be applied to clothing containing blood from the wound, or the object which caused the wound. Evidently, Digby had seen this done and the wound healed, from which he concluded cause and effect. For what it's worth, Wikipedia tells us that Digby was “the father of the modern wine bottle.” £750 (US $1,169).
Here is another Digby from the same era, though I do not know whether the two were related. Item 92 is Matters of Great Note and Consequence, published in 1641. It is an attack on George Digby, an earl and ally of Charles I, the unpopular British monarch who would be overthrown and executed later in the decade. However, the attack is made on a rather odd basis. The author looks at the history of previous owners of Digby's residence, Sherborne Castle, dating all the way back to 1100. Apparently, there were some dubious characters among the ownership, including the disgraced Walter Raleigh, and this somehow proved that Digby must be disreputable too. £375 (US $584).