Important acquisitions

How true Christiane liberfie [sic] consisteth in the true service of God, and not to doe what each one listeth, as our carnall gospellers wold have it so be. [with:] A treatise shewing how the sarifice [sic] of the Holy Masse the worthie receiving of Christs bodie in the holy Sacrment [sic] the power to remite sinnes giuen to Churchmen, the praying to Saints halpe all good Chrsitians to Saluation aginst the Co[m]mon dotrine of the Proaestants [sic], which affirne that all the faithfull are Saued by only faith in the blood of Christ with a probation of purgatorie and holy images. A Rouen. Prentet in the Prent Hous of Marin Michel. 1614.

Author -
Title How true Christiane liberfie [sic] consisteth in the true service of God, and not to doe what each one listeth, as our carnall gospellers wold have it so be. [with:] A treatise shewing how the sarifice [sic] of the Holy Masse the worthie receiving of Christs bodie in the holy Sacrment [sic] the power to remite sinnes giuen to Churchmen, the praying to Saints halpe all good Chrsitians to Saluation aginst the Co[m]mon dotrine of the Proaestants [sic], which affirne that all the faithfull are Saued by only faith in the blood of Christ with a probation of purgatorie and holy images. A Rouen. Prentet in the Prent Hous of Marin Michel. 1614.
Imprint A Rouen, prentet in the Prent Hous of Marin Michel.
Date of Publication 1614
Language English / Scots
Notes These are two extremely rare works bound in one volume which provide evidence about the continuing life of the Scottish Catholic community, fifty years after the Reformation had been legally established in this country. The first work is only known from this copy, and so it seems appropriate to give a description of its contents here. The text is divided into two parts. The first section presents the Catholic interpretation of 'true Christian liberty'; how the merits of Christ's redeeming sacrifice, obtained through receiving the sacraments, allow believers to be freed from subjection to sin and the Devil, and to live a life of charity and good works. The second section describes the Protestant understanding of Christian liberty in critical terms. Protestants, the writer argues, believe their liberty consists in not having to obey the law of God, because they have faith instead. The writer argues that Protestants consider that they can live as wickedly as they like and still expect to receive eternal salvation. They have disregard for the laws of civil society as well as for the laws of God. The writer cites the writings of Luther and Calvin to support his points. Ultimately, he claims, the Protestant's 'liberty' is slavery to Satan. He goes on to give some amusing (if improbable!) examples of Protestant liberty in action. He gives the example of a young woman asking her Protestant minister 'yf she with saue conscience might play the wanton', and the minister being obliged to reply that 'she may passe hir time with any young man she liketh best prouiding she doe the tourne quyetly without slaunder, because she is not bound in conscience to keepe the commandement of God where it is said: Thou shalt not commit adulterie, by reason of the libertie of the their Gospell'. The work ends with a sadly incomplete copy of a poem, supposedly from Martin Luther to Katherine Bora, the ex-nun whom he married. It includes the lines 'A whit I doe not caire of heauen or hell / Prouydiing in thy fauour I may duell'. The text is available in facsimile published by the Scolar Press (Ser.49.207). The second work is known from one other copy, at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. It is a calmer defence of various points of Catholic doctrine, particularly the Mass, the sacraments, prayers to the saints, purgatory and holy images. The two works may well have been issued together. They are both in octavo gathered in fours, from the press of the Rouen printer Marin Michel. They are two of only three works in English / Scots produced by this press (see STC vol. III p. 254). The other work was published the following year: this is A shorte declaration of the lives and doctrinde [sic] of the Protestants and puritans, STC 20451, known in three copies only (British Library, Edinburgh University and Folger, and available on Early English Books Online (EEBO)). This work accuses the Protestant leaders of various immoralities. In particular, John Knox is arraigned for committing 'horrible incest' and using necromancy to seduce a noble lady. The writer makes it clear that he is Scottish, describing how he was told about Knox's life by a lady in Edinburgh. Other fantastic tales of Scottish ministers follow. There can be little doubt that all three works were written or compiled by the same Scottish Catholic writer. There are numerous distinctively Scottish spellings such as 'pairte', 'Magistrat', 'prent'. The only other clue to the author's identity is the initials 'I.P.' which sign the prefatory address to the second work. English recusant works printed on the Continent are fairly well-known and documented; the much smaller number of works with a Scottish connection is much less-well studied. Like other recusant publications, these texts contain interesting ideas, but the extravagant abuse levelled at the Protestants seems unlikely to have won them many converts. It is interesting to note that in the year of publication, 1614, the Jesuit John Ogilvie (eventually canonised) was carrying out his missionary work in Scotland, leading up to his martyrdom in 1615. This volume has recently been dispersed from the library of Prinknash Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Gloucestershire, England. It has different Prinknash bookplates inside the front and rear boards. It is bound in contemporary limp vellum, with a gilt flower ornament stamped in the centre of each cover. The volume is imperfect. It is stained throughout, most notably obscuring the text on the first title page. The first work has damage to leaf F3 and lacks leaf F4, which would have completed the poem mentioned above; the second work has some text missing on D2, E1 and K3, and is apparently missing a blank leaf at the end - the text ends with 'Finis' and an apologie for the printer's mistakes, and so is presumably complete. The printing throughout is poor, and suggests that the compositor was not familiar with the English or Scots languages. Nevertheless, this is a remarkable survival and an important addition to the national collections.
Shelfmark RB.s.2662(1-2)
Reference Sources STC 5161.5; 19072.3; ESTC S91420; S94574. Allison & Rogers, English Counter-Reformation, II 916 and 584
Acquired on 20/04/07
Search for Important Acquisitions
      

 

Please let us know what you think of this resource, if you have information to add about an acquisition, or if you have rare Scottish books that you would like to donate or sell. E-mail us at rarebooks@nls.uk

Back to Important Acquisitions Introduction