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Some Account, &c.

Y one of those singular and unexpected accidents that occasionally attend the fortune of the collector, I am enabled to offer a curious addition to our bibliographical knowledge of the celebrated Arcadia, by a short notice of an edition, hitherto unknown, and of singular curiosity as containing that work with the new "additions," published eight years before the well-known copy of 1613, which has heretofore been universally considered the genuine fourth edition. So far, however, from this being the case, it now appears that the fourth edition was published in a complete state in the year 1605, and that the edition of 1613 must have been merely a reprint of it.
      There must necessarily be some secret history connected with the publication, or it would be impossible to account for the circumstance of the edition of 1613 being comparatively a common book, while not only is no other copy known of the edition of 1605, but its very existence has not been p.4 / suspected by Lowndes, or by any other bibliographer. The probability is that when the fourth edition was printed in the year 1605, some other bookseller held a copyright in some or all of the miscellaneous pieces at the end, and that the publication of the work was thus stopped. Were this the case, it is very likely no arrangement was concluded on the subject till 1613, Matthew Lownes, the publisher of the edition of 1605, having apparently no interest in any other issue of the work. The following is an exact copy of the title-page of this unique edition :—


      This printed title is in the centre of a large engraved border, representing various personages connected with and emblematical of the arts and sciences, the Globe surmounting the whole. Following the title is one leaf, " To my deare Lady and Sister the Countesse of Pembroke," signed, " Your loving brother, Philip Sidney." Then there is an address to the reader, signed H. S., one leaf. The Arcadia now follows : the first book, pp. 1 to 95 ; the second book, pp. 96 to 234; the third book, pp. 235 to 390 ; the fourth book, pp. 391 to 431 ; the fifth book, pp. 432 to 471. "Certaine Sonets written by Sir Philip Sidney," p. 472. Translation from the Diana of Montemayor, p. 487. "The Defence of Poesy, by Sir Philip Sidney, Knight," p. 491. " Astrophel p.5 / and Stella, written by the noble Knight, Sir Philip Sidney," p. 519. At p. 570 commences " The Lady of the May," thus quaintly beginning—" Her most excellent Majestie walking in Wansteed Garden, as she passed downe into the grove, there came svddenly among the Traine one apparrelled like an honest man's wife of the countrey, where crying out for justice, and desiring all the Lords and Gentlemen to speake a good word for her, she was brought to the presence of her Majestie, to whom upon her knees she offered a supplication, and used this speech," ending at p. 576. This, it will be seen, is the ordinary collation of the edition of 1613, as cited by Lowndes, with the exception of the address to the reader, which, I believe, is the same as in the second edition. The first, namely that of 1590, it is well known, is in an imperfect state. " The disfigured face, gentle Reader," writes H. S., " wherewith this worke not long since appeared to the common view, moved that noble Lady, to whose honour consecrated, to whose protection it was committed, to take in hand the wiping away those spottes wherewith the beauties thereof were unworthely blemished. But as often repairing a ruinous house, the mending of some old part occasioneth the making of some new : so here her honourable labour begun in correcting the faults, ended in supplying the defects; by the view of what was ill done guided to the consideration of what was not done. Which part with what advise entred into, with what accesse it hath beene passed through, most by her doing, all by her directing, if they may be intreated not to define, which are unfurnisht of means to discerne, the rest (it is hoped) will favourably censure. But this they shall, for their better satisfaction, understand, that though p.6 / they finde not here what might be expected, they may find neverthelesse as much as was intended, the conclusion, not the perfection of Arcadia : and that no further then the Authors owne writings, or knowne determinations could direct. Whereof who sees not the reason, must consider there may bee reason which he sees not. Albeit I dare affirme he either sees, or from wiser judgements then his owne may heare, that Sir Philip Sidneies writings can no more be perfected without Sir Phillip Sidneie, then Apelles pictures without Apelles. There are that thinke the contrary, and no wonder. Never was Arcadia free from the comber of such cattell. To us, say they, the pastures are not pleasant : and as for the flowers, such as we light on we take no delight in, but the greater part grow not within our reach. Poore soules, what talke they of flowers ? They are roses, not flowers, must doe them good, which if they find not here, they shall do well to goe feed elsewhere : Any place will better like them : For without Arcadia nothing growes in more plentie, then Lettuce sutable to their lippes. If it bee true that likenes is a great cause of liking, and that contraries infer contrary consequences : then is it true, that the worthlesse reader can never worthely esteeme of so worthy a writing : and as true, that the noble, the wise, the vertuous, the curteous, as many as have had any acquaintance with true learning and knowledge, will with all love and dearenesse entertain it, as well for affinitie with themselves, as being child to such a father. Whom albeit it do not exactly and in every lineament represent ; yet considering the fathers untimely death prevented the timely birth of the childe, it may happily seeme a thankeworthy labour, that the defects p.7 / being so fewe, so small, and in no principall part, yet the greatest unlikeness is rather in defect then in deformity. But howsoever it is, it is now by more then one interest, the Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia : done as it was, for her ; as it is, by her. Neither shall these paines bee the last (if no unexpected accident cut off her determination) which the everlasting love of her excellent brother will make her consecrate to his memory."
      It is only necessary to add that, in all main particulars, this unique edition corresponds with the ordinary one of the later date ; but it appears to be well deserving this short notice, not merely for its extraordinary rarity, but on account of the increasing appreciation of the writings of Sir P. Sydney—an appreciation which has so largely affected their pecuniary value, that even the 1613 edition of the Arcadia, the most common of all the impressions of that work, produced upwards of 8 a few days since, at an auction at Messrs. Sotheby's. It was certainly a fine copy, but still the price appeared to be large for a book of constant occurrence.

      Feb. 25th, 1854.