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The First Five Bookes of Ovid's Metamorphosis, 1621, Englished by James G. McManaway
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The First Five Bookes of Ovid's Metamorphosis, 1621, Englished
James G. McManaway

THE DISCOVERY[1] DURING THE SUMMER OF 1947 of a copy of The First Five Bookes of Ovids Metamorphosis "Imprinted for W:B: 1621" puts an end to many conjectures[2] about this mysterious and elusive littlc book; but not to all, for according to the title-page, it belongs to "edit: 2d." The copy, which was acquired for the Folger Shakespeare Library, may be the very one of which just one hundred and forty years ago Joseph Haslewood supplied to Sir Egerton Brydges the following account:

Art. IV. The First Five Bookes of Ovid's Metamorphosis, Second Edition. Imprinted for W.B. 1621. 16 mo pp. 141, besides Introduction.
This edition of the translation of Ovid by Geo. Sandys, is unnoticed in all the lists of his works. The title is engraved on a curtain, supported by two flying Cupids; above the curtain, Venus lying on a couch of clouds, holding a burning heart, attended with doves and the god of love, and below a full assembly of the heathen deities. "Fr. Delaram, sculp."[2a] A head of Ovid in an


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oval, with verses beneath, as in the folios. "Ovid defended," is the only article prefixed to this edition, which has a trifling variance from the subsequent ones, as giving "Ovid's selfe-censure," a translation of the concluding lines of lib. 15 . . . Of the edition, dated 1621, I have never seen any other copy than the one above described. The date of the first edition of the five books yet remains to be ascertained.[3]

More than once the failure of scholars to locate this or any other copy of the book—nowhere is the name of the owner of the copy in question stated—has led to speculation about the accuracy of Haslewood's description and even about his honesty.[4] The vindication of the antiquary, who suffered deeply from the scorn of some of his more genteel contemporaries, in this instance may help to validate his other contributions to bibliography.

The Folger copy of The First Five Bookes—which, until another comes to light, I shall call unique—corresponds in almost every detail to that described by Haslewood. The book, which measures 6.4 x 10.2 cm., is actually a duodecimo and not a sexagesimo. When purchased, it possessed only the rear cover and portions of the backstrip of eighteenth-century calf, and its condition was such that after a careful examination


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the book was taken apart and then rebound in green niger. On blank leaf ¶6v, written in a childish scrawl as part of a doggerel statement of ownership, is the name of Thomas Hickman. The collation appears to be, ¶6 A-F12 (F12, possibly a blank, wanting). Leaves "¶1/6 were not conjugate, each having been backed with heavy wove paper. For this reason the collation . . . cannot be entirely certain; but the exact correspondence of chain-lines made it appear highly probable that these two leaves had originally been conjugate . . . All other pairs of leaves were normally conjugate except F2/11, F3/10, of which there was every reason to believe that they had originally been conjugate."[5] Contents: ¶1r, engraved title; ¶1v, blank; ¶2r-6r, "OVID DEFENDED"; ¶6v, blank; A1r-F11r, the text; F11v, blank. Pp. [xii] + 141.

It will be noticed immediately that the Folger copy lacks a leaf bearing the head of Ovid engraved in an oval, with verses beneath. Probably this was a frontispiece which was lost at the time the little book lost its front cover.[6] The title-page is exactly as Haslewood described it, and the prefatory defense of Ovid begins, as Haslewood said it did, with a translation from the concluding lines of Book XV of the Metamorphoses. These points have been conjecturally called in question, and it is doing simple justice to Haslewood to affirm his accuracy. The first sentence of "Ovid Defended" is identical in the editions of 1621 and 1626,[7] except that the words "from detraction" have been added in line 3 of the later edition. In the 12mo, the second sentence is as follows:

And, in that the traduced may with modesty enough
report their owne merits, I will first begin with


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Now haue I ended, what the Thunders rage,
Nor fire, nor steele shall raze, nor eating Age.
Come when it wil my death's vncertayn houre;
Which o're this body onely hath a powre.
Yet shall my better part transcend the skie:
And my immortall Name shall neuer die.
For, wheresoe're the Roman Egles spred
Their conquering wings, I shall of all be read.
And, if we Prophets true presages giue;
I, in my fame, eternally shall liue.[8]
The reference "a," is identified on ¶6r as "L. 15 in fin." The preface continues: "A prediction already confirmed by many lustres of Ages. Heare we now that accurate Orator, Marcus Annaevs Seneca." The section continues as in 1626 until Erasmus is reached, where the earlier edition provides an ampler testimony. After Stephanus, 1626 inserts Marcus Antonius Tritonius and Bernardus Martinus. There are occasional variations in the wording of the transitional sentences.

Though the book was originally entered in the registers of the Company of Stationers to Matthew Lownes and William Barrett on 27 April 1621,[9] the engraved title-page of the second


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edition names only W[illiam B[arrett].[9a] The printer of this edition is unknown, and no guesses as to his identity can be hazarded because the book contains no printer's devices, no ornaments, and no initial letters. From the date of the second edition, it is obvious that the book was popular, for a reprint was called for within twelve months of the date of entry.

The relationship between the second edition of 1621 and the folio of 1626 is very close. In the preliminaries, for example, the edition of 1626 has on the verso of the leaf of dedication an engraving that has for its central feature the head of Ovid in an oval, with verses beneath; this corresponds to the engraving described by Haslewood but now wanting in the Folger copy of the 1621 edition. Each edition has an engraved title-page, but these differ radically. And each edition has a section enentitled, "Ovid Defended."[10] It is in the texts of the translation that the editions most closely resemble each other. These may be minutely collated for page after page without discovery of even a literal difference. From time to time, the compositors of the 1621 edition were forced by the length of a line to use an ampersand or to indicate the omission of "n" or "m" by printing a vowel with a tilde.[11] Occasionally 1626 corrects a typographical error in 1621 [12] or introduces one.[13] Sandys devoted


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much attention to smoothing the metre of the lines in the edition of 1626, frequently altering the spelling of a dissyllabic word to insure that it should be pronounced as a monosyllable and eliding e's and o's before vowels or the letter h.[14] Otherwise, except for verbal changes or alterations in the translation, which will be discussed together in another connection, the text of the first five books of the 1626 edition agrees to a remarkable degree with that of the edition of 1621. Only in the reprinting of Bibles, I think, will such literal correspondence be found in other seventeenth-century books.

If this be true, it follows that a corrected copy of the second edition of 1621 must have been supplied to the printer in 1626 for the use of his compositors,[14a] and the accuracy of the reprint suggests that Sandys read the proofs zealously. Now if a copy of the second edition of 1621 was used as printer's copy in 1626, it is a safe presumption not only that this second edition was an exceptionally faithful reprint of the first edition of 1621 but that the latter was printed from a manuscript supplied by Sandys himself. It would follow that Sandys planned the book and its engravings in conjunction with his publishers, William Barrett and Matthew Lownes.[15]

While Sandys was in Virginia, William Barrett died, and on 3 April 1626, his relict, Mistress Barrett, conveyed to John Parker her rights in a number of books, including Sandys's Ovid.[16] Then, a little more than one month later, William


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Stansby entered "A booke Called Ovids Metamorphosis XV bookes, in English verse by George Sandes."[17] Although the imprint on the engraved title-page names neither printer nor publisher and the colophon reads, "Printed by William Stansby 1626," it may be presumed that Stansby served as publisher of this edition, for in 1626 Sandys expected to return shortly to Virginia. He probably assumed that his rights in the book were fully protected by the pregnant words, "Cum Priuilegio," engraved on the title-page. This phrase alludes to letters patent granted by King Charles to Sandys on 24 April 1626[18] that gave him exclusive publishing rights for twenty-one years.[19] These rights he had to assert within two years, for Robert Young published an octavo reprint of the complete translation early in 1628.

The details of the transaction by which Young became possessed of rights in the book are obscure. Matthew Lownes was dead before 10 April 1627, for on that date many of his titles were transferred to his son Thomas,[20] but not the Ovid. Soon after, Thomas Lownes conveyed a large group of books to Humphrey Lownes and Robert Young,[21] but again the Ovid is not named. Yet the minutes of Court Book C, are explicit in their statement that "the assignmt to Robt Younge . . . shalbe . . . Crost out of the Regester Booke of the Company." It must be assumed that in a private and unrecorded transaction[22] Matthew Lownes had before his death transferred to Young his interest in The First Five Bookes, as recorded long before on 27 April 1621, and that Young had, somewhat


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unethically perhaps, taken advantage of this right in five books to reprint the complete translation of fifteen books.

The wording of the minute in the Court Book suggests that, though he had provided Stansby with a copy of the 1621 edition to print from in 1626, Sandys considered his Fifteen Books an independent publication and that he gave no compensation to John Parker, who had acquired William Barrett's rights in The First Five Bookes, or to Matthew Lownes, who had transferred his rights in the duodecimo to Robert Young.[23] It is my belief, as stated above, that William Stansby, printer of the folio of 1626, probably served only as Sandys's agent. But the outraged poet took no chances when he made his demands upon the Company of Stationers: the minute records that

Mr Sandes Patent for the sole printing of the 15. bookes of Ovides Metamorphosis by him translated into English verse was openlye reade in the hall this quarter day. And it is ordered that th' entrance of Mr Barret and Mr Lownes deceased of the first five books and the assignmt to Robt Younge, and the Entrance of the whole 15. bookes to mr Stansby shalbe all Crost out of the Regester Booke of the Company for that noe man shall laye anie claime to the printing of the same or any pte thereof.[24]
And so it was done, but the transfer of Mistress Barrett's rights to Parker was somehow overlooked.

Between the years 1621 and 1626 Sandys made a number of revisions of his translation of the first five books of the Metamorphoses. Some of these appear to have been introduced for the purpose of improving the accuracy of the translation. Thus the reading of 1621 (p. 9, line 24), "Or must th' Earth be by saluages possest?" is changed in 1626 to "Must Earth be onely by wild beasts possest?" (Met. 1. 249, ferisne paret populandas tradere


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terras). Again, "trembling" (1621, p. 80, line 28) is corrected to "wrathfull" (cf. Met. III. 577, ira tremendos), and "Epogus" (1621, p. 82, line 13) to "Epopeus" (cf. Met. III. 619).

More frequently Sandys amended his translation to improve the Latin pronunciation of proper names. In 1621 (p. 23, line 31), Pleias is trisyllabic, with the accent on the second syllable:

But, calls his sonne, of bright Pleïas bred;
in 1626 both syllabification and accent are changed:
But, calls his sonne, of fulgent Pleias bred;
(Met. 1. 670, Pleias enixa est letoque det imperat Argum). In one case at least, Sandys corrected the pronunciation of one name at the expense of another. In 1621 (p. 36, line 13), he was not satisfied with his rendition of "Citheron":
Mycale, with the sacred Citheron:
so he revised it to
High Mycale, diuine Cithaeron, wast:
(cf. Met. 11. 223, Dindymaque et Mycale natusque ad sacra Cithaeron), thus doing violence to the pronunciation of "Mycale."

Some of the revisions entail the rewriting of a complete line or even a couplet. The ravishment of Io, (1. 599-600) is rendered thus in 1621 (p. 21, lines 21-22):

With darknesse he the Earth inveloped;
And catching her, inforc't her Maiden-head.
In 1626, the couplet is changed to read:
He in the Aire a sable cloud displai'd,
Caught, and devirginat's the strugling Maid.
The account of Phaeton's conversation with Apollo (Met. 11. 33-34) appears in 1621 (P. 29, lines 27-28) as follows:
What brought thee hither, Phaeton, said hee,
My dearest sonne? well worthy so to bee.


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In 1626, the passage is altered thus:
Who said, What hether drew thee Phaeton,
Who art, and worthily my dearest Son?
Once Sandys rewrites a passage (Met. 111. 185-88) to secure greater precision and compression. In 1621 (p. 66, line 31— p. 67, line 3), five lines are required:
When from her aged Love shee takes her flight:
Such was Diana's, taken in that plight.
Although inuiron'd by her Virgin trayne,
Shee side-long turneth, casting with disdayne
A killing looke; and wisht her deadly Bowe:
Three lines suffice in 1626:
Such flusht in Dians cheeks, being naked tane.
And though inuiron'd by her Virgin trayne,
Shee side-long turnes, looks back, and wisht her bow: . . .
The later version profits by the removal of the couplet that elaborates the reference in the preceding line to "rosie Morn," and in this revision Elizabethan exuberance can be seen yielding to classical correctness. Other examples might be cited of Sandys's efforts to polish his lines, but these indicate the care he expended on the translation.

Now that the finding of a copy of the second edition of The First Five Bookes of Ovids Metamorphosis has cleared Joseph Haslewood of charges of inaccuracy (or worse) and thrown new light on the history of Sandys's famous translation, it remains to inquire once again whether this book in the edition of 1626 may be considered the first published verse in the English language which was written on the mainland of North America.[25] The answer must be given in the negative. Another "American" poem preceded it by fully three years. In Catalogue


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77, A Selection of Extremely Rare and Important Printed Books and Ancient Manuscripts issued early in 1948 by the London firm of William H. Robinson Ltd., item 98 is a broadside ballad entitled, "Good Newes from Virginia . . ."[26] This was published without date in London "for John Trundle," but the title informs us that the poem was "Sent from Iames his Towne this present moneth of March, 1623 by a Gentleman in that Country." Since the ballad gives a highly circumstantial account of the Indian massacre of 1622, the date is probably accurate and the attribution of authorship correct. The author may have been "a Gentleman," but surely his literary attainments were of the slightest, if the ballad is a fair measure. The first stanza is typical:
No English heart, but heard with griefe
the massacre here done:
And how by sauage trecheries,
full many a mothers sonne:
But God that gaue them power and leaue,
their cruelties to vse,
Hath giuen them vp into our hands,
who English did abuse.
There is no need to detail the evidence of the author's first-hand knowledge of events. The ballad may be read in the facsimile provided in the bookseller's catalogue. It has, moreover, been available to scholars and historians in another form for eight years, having been reproduced as Number 105 in "Photostat Americana, Second Series," in May 1940 from the copy in the Public Record Office in London.[27]

Appropriately enough, this rare ballad, generally overlooked


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by literary historians, includes a fine tribute to George Sandys:
Stout Master George Sands vpon a night,
did brauely venture forth:
And mong'st the sauage murtherers,
did forme a deed of worth.
For finding many by a fire,
to death their liues they pay:
Set fire of a Towne of theires,
and brauely came away.



It is a pleasure to record my thanks to Mr. Lionel Robinson for putting me in touch with the owner, who had found the book in a barrow in front of an obscure bookshop.


For an historical survey of the facts hitherto known to bibliographers and scholars, and of their hypotheses, see Richard Beale Davis, "Early Editions of George Sandys's 'Ovid': The Circumstances of Production," The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, XXXV (1941), 255-76.


A comparison of this engraving with photostats from the University of Chicago Library and Harvard University Library indicates that Delaram copied in reverse the unsigned engraving which serves as the general title of a duodecimo edition published in Amsterdam in 1619 by Guilielmus Ianssonius with the title, Pub: Ovidii Nasonis Opera (another copy is credited to Mills College and a fourth to the Bibliothèque Nationale). The work also appears in a 1624 edition (cf. copies credited to the American Antiquarian Society and to the Bibliothèque Nationale), but Dr. Brigham writes me that the copy in the library of the American Antiquarian Society is not a Jansson publication. The title-page of this edition, which has no engraved general title, reads as follows: "Publii Ovidii Nasonis Operum Tomus I. quo continentur Heroidum Epistola. Amorum Libri III. De arte Amandi Libri tres. De Remedio Amoris Libri II. Et alia, qua aversa pagella indicat. [cut of 2 globes] Amsterdami Apud Guilielmum Caesium Anno MDCXXiiii." The appearance of the name Caesium suggests that the copy listed in the catalogue of the Bibl. Nat. as by "G. Janss. Caesium" may be inaccurately described. In 1629 the Jansson edition was reprinted with a different title, Pub: Ovidii Nas: Opera. Daniel Heinsius textum recensuit, by Ioannes Ianssonus (I have used a photostat of the title-page of the Harvard copy; other copies of this edition are in the Boston Public Library, the Washington and Lee University Library, the British Museum, and the Bibliothèque Nationale). This 1629 edition has an engraved title-page, unsigned, that is closely copied from that of 1619. According to the catalogue of the Bibliothèque Nationale, later editions were published by J. Jansson in 1634 and 1647 and by J. Blaeu in 1649. I am indebted to Dr. F. T. Bowers for directing my attention to the Dutch engraving and to F. C. Francis, Esq., Mr. William A. Jackson, Dr. Clarence S. Brigham, and Mr. P. G. Morrison for assistance in securing photostats and collecting other information about the Jansson editions.


Censura Literaria (1808), vi, 132-33, 135.


It has been hinted that the entry in Censura Literaria is a fabrication of the sort frequently attributed to John Payne Collier—cf. Davis, op. cit., pp. 261-62.


Quoted from the bibliographical note by my colleague, Dr. Giles E. Dawson, Curator of Books and Manuscripts, which is inserted at the end of the volume. Similar signed notes are placed in every old book which is rebound at the Folger. The old calf cover is mounted inside the rear cover.


If the frontispiece was printed on leaf F12 which was then detached and prefixed to the book, its loss would be readily accounted for.


Upon his return from Virginia in 1626, Sandys published in a small folio his translation of all fifteen books—see below. See further Davis, op. cit., and also his "America in George Sandys' 'Ovid'," The William and Mary Quarterly, 3d. Ser., IV (1947), 297-304.


Readers may wish to compare this 1621 version with the translation that appears at the end of the folio of 1626: And now the Work is ended, which, Ioue's rage, Nor Fire, nor Sword shall raze, nor eating Age. Come when it will my deaths vncertain howre; Which onely of my body hath a powre: Yet shall my better Part transcend the skie; And my immortall name shall neuer die. For, where-so-ere the Roman Eagles spread Their conquering wings, I shall of all be read: And, if we Prophets truly can diuine, I, in my liuing Fame, shall euer shine.


Arber's reprint, iv, 53. (If Haslewood had had access to the Stationers' Registers, he might have guessed that the first edition was almost certainly dated 1621.) This is the first entry of Sandys's translation. The compilers of the S.T.C. err, as pointed out by Russell H. Barker, T.L.S., 27 Sept. 1934, p. 655, and again by R. B. Davis, "Early Editions," p. 259, note 14, in identifying Sandys's work with the one entered to Jonas Man on 23 February 1617/18. The earlier book, "Ouids metamorphosis gramaticallie translated by John Bringsley" is in fact S.T.C. 18963, of which two copies (British Museum and Folger) are extant. Printed by Humphrey Lownes for Thomas Man in 1618, it is a textbook translation of Metamorphoses, Bk. I, by the celebrated teacher and Puritan divine, John Brinsley. Davis, loc. cit., mistakenly credits the entry of 23 Feb. 1617/18 to "master Lownes"; instead the entry was to Jonas Man "vnder the handes of Master Lownes senior warden."


Until a copy of the first edition of 1621 is discovered, it cannot be known whether the words "edit:2d." were added to the plate at the time the book was reprinted, or even whether the first edition had an engraved title. But certain minor differences in the formation of the letters suggest the possibility that "edit:2d." is an addition. If so, the insertion did not crowd the adjacent lines unpleasantly, but it should be noted that the absence of "edit:2d." would not spoil the appearance of the page.


See note 8 above for detailed comparison. I wish to record my indebtedness to my colleague, Dr. E. E. Willoughby, for several suggestions and to my son, James G. McManaway, Jr., for valuable assistance.


Cf. 1621, p. 20, line 27: To streams, & gentle Nymphs that streams frequet. and 1626, p. 15, line 32: To streams, and gentle Nymphs that streams frequent.


Cf. 1621, p. 8, line 10: Nor rhine, for Thee, lesse thought, Augustus, tooke, with 1626, p. 6, line 13: Nor thine, for Thee, less thought, Augustus, tooke,


Cf. 1621, p. 9, line 4: An other part on hissing Embers broyles. with 1626, p. 6, line 39: An other patt on hissing Embers broyles;


Cf. 1621, p. 40, l. 17: Nor lesse the Heliades lament; who shead with 1626, p. 30, l. 19. Nor lesse th' Heliades lament; who shead or 1621, p. 67, l. 10: To his Browe th' antlers of long-liuing Harts: with 1626, p. 50, l. 20: T' his Browe th' antlers of long-liuing Harts:


It is possible that 1626 was set from a copy of the lost first edition. If so, the printer of the second edition must have worked with remarkable accuracy, for the close correspondence observable between the editions of 1621 and 1626 is rarely found in two independent printings of a copy text.


The fact that one of the publishers, Lownes, to whom the first edition of 1621 was entered was a warden of the Company lends additional weight to my belief that the 1621 venture was not piratical, as has been more than once suggested.


Arber, IV, 157-58.


7 May 1626. See Arber, IV, 160.


A typographical error in D.N.B. causes Sir Sidney Lee to seem to date this grant 1621, to the confusion of scholarship.


Noted by Alexander Brown, Genesis of the U. S. (1840), II, 994; Davis cites the edition of 1880.


Arber, IV, 176.


On 30 May 1627; cf. Arber, IV, 180.


For a preliminary discussion of this and other interesting points of copyright practice, see Giles E. Dawson, "The Copyright of Shakespeare's Dramatic Works," in Studies in Honor of A. H. R. Fairchild, ed. C. T. Prouty, The University of Missouri Studies xxxi (1946), 12-14. The subject is treated at greater length in his forthcoming essay, "Copyright of Plays in the Early Seventeenth Century," in The English Institute Annual, 1947 (Columbia University Press).


It is possible, of course, that Young acquired these rights prior to Sandys's return to London in 1626 and that some arrangement should have been made with him instead of with Lownes.


See Davis, "Early Editions," pp. 270-71, for this text and an account of later troubles that beset Sandys.


Professor Davis has demonstrated that although Books vi-xv were translated on the voyage to America or while Sandys was in residence in Virginia, the first explicit references to the American scene occur in the commentary of the edition of 1632—cf. his "America in George Sandys' 'Ovid'," cited above.


The ballad is to be sung to the tune of "All those that be good fellowes." It consists of two parts, the first of eight stanzas, and the second of fourteen stanzas. Below the title are a woodcut of a ship and another of an armed man, surveying the corpses that lie at his feet.


Reproductions are available in the fifteen American libraries that subscribe to "Photostat Americana." The stanza quoted below is printed by Davis, "Early Editions," p. 265, from E. D. Neill, Virginia vetusta (1885), 147-48.