“ONE IS NOT MADE BUT BORN A POET”: FULLER’S WORTHIES, 1662 FOLIO FIRST EDITION, WITH AN EARLY BIOGRAPHY OF SHAKESPEARE
FULLER, Thomas. The History of the Worthies of England. Endeavoured by Thomas Fuller, D.D. London: J[ohn]. G[rismond]. W. L. and W[illiam]. G[odbid]., 1662. Folio (8-1/2 by 12-1/2 inches), 18th-century full paneled calf rebacked, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, red morocco spine label, marbled endpapers, gilt armorial centerpiece on covers. $2200.
First edition, with engraved frontispiece portrait of the author, in nicely rebacked calf with armorial centerpieces.
The Worthies of churchman and antiquarian Thomas Fuller appeared after his death in 1662, the fruits of much research; as he wrote, "My pains have been scattered all over the land, by riding, writing, going, sending, chiding, begging, praying and sometimes paying too, to procure manuscript material" (Drabble). The Worthies "is among other things a dictionary of national biography, a series of county histories, a topographical and historical gazetteer, a guide-book, and a dictionary of proverbs" (Bush, 233). It is also the source of many famous anecdotes, such as that of Sir Walter Raleigh laying down his cloak in a puddle so that Queen Elizabeth could walk across. In the section on Warwickshire is the fullest biography of Shakespeare that had been published at that time (three paragraphs in length): "He was an eminent instance of the truth of that Rule, Poeta non fit, sed nascitur, one is not made but born a Poet. Indeed his Learning was very little, so that as Cornish diamonds are not polished by any Lapidary, but are pointed and smoothed even as they are taken out of the Earth, so nature it self was all the art which was used upon him" (p. 126). Coleridge wrote that "next to Shakespeare, I am not certain whether Thomas Fuller, beyond all other writers, does not excite in me the sense and emotion of the marvelous … you will hardly find a page in which some one sentence out of every three does not deserve to be quoted for itself as a motto or as a maxim" (Allibone, I: 644). Wing, F2440. Pforzheimer, 391. Jaggard, 108. Bookplates, including that of Lord W. Kerr, likely of the long line of Kerrs who were marquesses of Lothian.
Interior clean, binding in excellent condition, handsomely rebacked.