11 - 13 July 2000
[SIDNEY, Sir Philip (1554-1586) and HERBERT, Mary, Countess of Pembroke (1561-1621)]. Manuscript copy of their English translation of the Psalms of David in an elegant 17th-century hand in brown ink, on recto and verso, 355 pages, 145 x 190mm, numbered on recto, horizontals and verticals ruled in red (faded), psalm numbers and incipits in red (faded), variants added in the same hand in a darker ink on pages 1-11; inscribed on the last page 'Haec meminisse juvat Apr. 23 163[...]' (faint, and last numeral completely faded); bibliographical references in a later hand in pencil, ink blots and smudges on pages 50-51, and scribbled signatures in an immature hand; signed on first page 'H.Cotton 1820' and annotated on 3rd blank, 'Collated and perfect H.C.'; early 20th-century blue morocco gilt, the spine gilt in six compartments, lettered in one, top edges gilt. Provenance. H[enry] Cotton; John Alexander Fuller-Maitland (bookplate); Sir Hugh Walpole (pencilled note on front free endpaper).
The verse translation of the Psalms was begun by Sir Philip Sidney around 1580 and continued after his death by his sister, the Countess of Pembroke, who is thought to have translated Psalms 44-150. Manuscript copies were circulated during her lifetime but the translation was not published until 1823, from the manuscript at Penshurst. Mary Herbert was Sidney's first audience for the Arcadia; she is believed to have translated the Psalms from the Hebrew. Henry Cotton (1789-1879), who owned the manuscript in 1820, was a clergyman and scholar, and sub-librarian of the Bodleian Library from 1814 to 1822.
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