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    Sale 7590

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    4 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 100

    COMENIUS, John Amos (i.e. Jan Amos Komensky, 1592-1670). Autograph letter signed ('Comenius') to Martin Opitz, Leszno, 22 March 1639, in Latin, one page, folio, integral address panel (to Opitz in Danzig), remnant of seal (loss from seal tear to left margin not affecting text, even browning and minor staining). Provenance: Leo Liepmannsohn auction, Berlin, 9 March 1891; Stargardt, 8/9 June 1982, lot 328; the Albin Schram Collection.

    Price Realised  

    COMENIUS, John Amos (i.e. Jan Amos Komensky, 1592-1670). Autograph letter signed ('Comenius') to Martin Opitz, Leszno, 22 March 1639, in Latin, one page, folio, integral address panel (to Opitz in Danzig), remnant of seal (loss from seal tear to left margin not affecting text, even browning and minor staining). Provenance: Leo Liepmannsohn auction, Berlin, 9 March 1891; Stargardt, 8/9 June 1982, lot 328; the Albin Schram Collection.

    A letter of introduction: Comenius writes to the German poet Martin Opitz von Boberfeld, addressing him as the 'German Virgil', and introducing 'the Polish Virgil', Matthias Gloskovius, urging them to be friends ('Si me amas, ama hunc virum'), and to 'inspire one another to greater daring in those things which benefit not the world, but the church, to the honour not of Apollo or Minerva, but of Christ'; he is grateful to Opitz for heeding his advice not to alter the melodies of Ambrosius Lobwasser (1515-1585), which he hopes will become canonical. He reproves Opitz however for inserting a translation of a psalm into his secular poems, and suggests he takes on a full-scale verse translation of the Song of Songs: if he is reluctant, they will find someone else to do it, but 'I would prefer Alexander to be painted by none other than Apelles':

    'Hoc non placet, quod mundanis poematibus Tuis finem imponere volueris Psalterio. Vellem Te appendicem aut corollarium adjicere, Canticum Canticorum Salamonis, amoris scilicet sponsae Christi cum Sponso suo redigas in rhythmos, stylo Tuo. Si renuis, reperiamus alios, qui operam non renuent: vellem aute[m] Alexandrum nonnisi ab Apelle pingi'.

    Opitz, considered the greatest German poet of his age, had been historiographer and secretary to Vladislaw IV Vasa of Poland in Danzig since 1635; he was to die later in the year of this later, on 20 August, of the plague. Having been driven out of Bohemia during the Thirty Years' War, Comenius and the Bohemian Brethren had taken refuge in Leszno in Poland in 1628.


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