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In The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, Elizabeth Eisenstein links three key events-the Italian Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the rise of modern science-to the expansion of "print culture" in early modern Europe. Until social and cultural historians embraced the history of books and reading in the 1970's, the study of the printing press and the book trade was often restricted to the highly specialized field of descriptive bibliography. This presentation hopefully blends the best from both the bibliographical and the historical worlds. Examination of the holdings of the University of Illinois Library convinced this researcher that such an approach sheds new light on the importance of the bustling business of clandestine publishing in early modern Amsterdam. It also shows that there is much exciting scholarly work left to be done.
Section One of this paper will survey the historical context for the early modern printing business. Section Two will demonstrate how to identify clandestine printing, applying the techniques of descriptive bibliography to copies of Stam's Geneva Bible and Hobbes' Leviathan. All examples can be found in the University of Illinois Library.
In Five Hundred Years of Printing, S.H. Steinberg notes that the seventeenth century is commonly acknowledged to be the "golden age" not only for overall Dutch economic and cultural prosperity, but also for their book trade. As most of the audience is aware, the liberation of the northern Netherlands from Spain was followed by a period of extraordinary growth in educational and publishing institutions, including the University of Leiden and the house of Elzevir, and a gradual movement of business activity from Antwerp in the south to Amsterdam in the north.
Printing historians' consensus is that Christophe Plantin was the first great Dutch printer, settling in Antwerp in 1549 and creating a publishing empire in a city already bustling with printing activity. Increasingly nervous about Spanish authorities discovering his secret conversion to Protestantism, Plantin moved to Leiden, where he became the university's printer before his eventual return to Antwerp. This was an extremely important era for the protestant University of Leiden, where new academic disciplines flourished and students and faculty from a variety of religious backgrounds and countries were admitted. The relatively tolerant attitude toward a diversity of ideas at Leiden is important background for understanding the successful business of clandestine printing in the Netherlands.
Louis Elzevir learned the trade in Plantin's shop but he, too, had concerns that his religious convictions might threaten his personal security. So in 1580 he settled in Leiden and inaugurated a series of classical texts that became his firm's stock in trade. By the time of his death in 1617, Elzevir had established a truly international network of readers and distributors.
Thus the Netherlands was well positioned economically and politically to take on the business of clandestine publishing. Its northern urban centers, including Amsterdam, were relatively tolerant of ideas clashing with Protestantism, but there was certainly a desire at the same time to capitalize on the prevalent anti-papist sentiment. Also, Holland's seafaring heyday had created the markets and infrastructure for vigorous overseas trading operations. As Eisenstein comments somewhat ironically:
Given the existence of profit-seeking printers outside the reach of Rome, Catholic censorship boomeranged in ways that could not be foreseen. Lists of passages to be expurgated, for example, directed readers to 'book, chapter, and line' where anti-Roman passages could be found; thus relieving Protestant propagandists of the need to make their own search for anti-Catholic citations drawn from eminent authors and respected works. 'Early copies of all the original Indexes found their way as soon as they were produced to Leiden, Amsterdam and Utrecht and were promptly utilized by the enterprising Dutch publisher as guides.' (p. 416, including quotations from G.H. Putnam's books on censorship)
In fact, as K.H.D. Haley notes in his The Dutch in the Seventeenth Century, there is some suggestion that in the seventeenth century more books were printed in the Netherlands than in all the rest of Europe put together. He goes on to say:
This is the kind of guess which is scarcely capable of statistical proof, but when the vast output, ranging from the thickest of folios to the most ephemeral pamphlet and news-sheet, is taken into consideration, it is not so wild as it seems. Foreigners brought their writings to be printed in the Dutch Republic to avoid the attention of their own censorship-notably in the reign of Charles I. Laud complained in 1632 that the Durch, printing more accurate texts on better paper and in clearer type, were able to sell Geneva Bibles in England eighteenpence cheaper than their English competitors. (p. 123)
Meanwhile, England's restrictive policies on printing were creating a market opportunity for the Netherlands. As M.E. Kronenberg pointed out in two essays in The Library, the Netherlands had been providing Protestant printed works in the English language surreptitiously since the 1520's, and the English had continually issued proclamations-one as early as 1526--against this practice.
What were some of the differences between the two countries, both regarding general history and the history of the printing trades? William Speck offers a general perspective in his essay, "Britain and the Dutch Republic," to complement Kronenberg's more specific comparisons between the two nation's printing trades. As might be expected, the Dutch printing trade and distribution networks at this time were far more developed than the English system, including the all-important university presses. The mix of revolutionary ideas in England was arguably more volatile and thus more threatening and vulnerable to censorship. The Puritan Revolution and two civil wars from 1642-1649 brought forth a complex spectrum of religious ideas that could not be tolerated either by the royalists or the Parliamentarians. As is evident in the life and writings of Hobbes, this was a tricky environment for a revolutionary thinker, let alone a traditional one! His De cive, published in 1642, was placed on the Roman index in 1654, even though four editions had previously been issued; and the Oxford University Press was ordered to burn it in 1683, after six editions had been published.
Second, England's printing trade had always been more controlled, perhaps due to the more centralized monarchical form of government compared to the loose Dutch United Provinces. The Stationers' Company had been organized since 1403, and in 1557 the printer-publishers received a royal charter so that they could better monitor heretical and seditious writings. In 1586 the Star Chamber decreed that printing would only be allowed in London, with exceptions made for the university presses at Oxford and Cambridge. In 1643 a Parliamentary ordinance restricting printers and booksellers moved John Milton to write his famous Areopagitica, one of Western civilization's most moving testaments to the power of free and open discussion of ideas. It was not until 1695 that the Licensing Law was abandoned in England.
Given the above historical context, what were the "mechanics" of clandestine printing?
Most scholars believe that the most common subterfuge was a falsified imprint. Examples will be shown in Section Two of this lecture. Sometimes the place of publication was falsified; sometimes the name of the printer. Protestant Dutch printers seemed less afraid of getting in trouble with Dutch authorities than determined to get their books-packed in tubs with more ordinary wares--past the authorities in the English ports. And, as Steinberg notes, no Dutch printers using false imprints were burned at the stake.
It should be noted here that various terms are used for the practice and bibliographic evidence of the above type of printing: "counterfeit," "clandestine", "fictitious imprints," and "surreptitious" are but four, and in some instances there are important distinctions. This paper's examples best fit the definition in Woodfield's Surreptitious Printing in England: " . . . a fictitious printer's name or imprint and no location or a false location; . . . no printer's name or imprint and no location or a false location; . . . the actual printer's name completely translated and no location or a false location." (p. vii)
UIUC has dozens of examples of this type of surreptitious English language printing from Amsterdam during the early modern period. The types of books range are mostly political or religious in subject, and this paper is a work in progress. Professor Nash continues to work on his important "bibliography file" which documents, by subject, such special titles as "fictitious imprints." His file will illustrate, from UIUC's collections, all the definitions in Carter/Barker's ABC for Book Collectors. I hope by the next IFLA I will be able to announce its completion! The examples presented today are from a set of Geneva Bibles and from Hobbes' Leviathan. We continue to work on John Milton; Illinois holds the second largest collection of his works in the world.
UIUC has collected suppressed literature for over fifty years, due to Dean of the Library Robert Downs' interest in this topic. The University of Illinois Rare Book and Special Collections Library holds the Baskette Freedom of Expression collection, which contains everything from papal indexes to Madonna's Sex. Suppressed or censored literature not contained in the Baskette collection will eventually be cross-referenced.
Highly recommended is the 1996 exhibition catalog from Yale University Press: The Reformation of the Bible: the Bible of the Reformation, by Hotchkiss and Price. While its focus is on the sixteenth century, its background on the political problems of translating the Bible into vernacular languages and creating various textual variants for Protestant sects and volatile political edicts is valuable for understanding the later clandestine publishing business.
The University of Illinois has four editions of this English language Bible; STC 2174-2180: numbers 2174-2177. Bruce's The English Bible gives a thorough history of this particular Bible. This is a "Geneva" Bible, thought to be a translation done in Geneva by the English community there. It first appeared in 1560. The translators believed that by returning to the Hebrew, they achieved a more faithful rendering of the text. The translation and notes, however, are Calvinist and anti-Roman Catholic; they irritated James I very much. Especially in this Calvinist Junius version of Revelation, the translators believe that the "persecuting powers" are the papacy. This Bible was published in Elizabeth I's reign and a tribute to her is included. It was also the Bible of Shakespeare; it is sometimes called the "breeches Bible" because of the famous Genesis 3:7 translation: Adam and Eve " . . . sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves breeches." For fifty years this became the "household Bible of English-speaking Protestants." Even the Archbishop of Canterbury liked it. The Soldier's Pocket Bible, issued in 1643 for Cromwell's army, consisted of extracts from the Geneva Bible. The last edition was printed in 1644. It was replaced by the Bishop's Bible when Anglicans and others became increasingly uncomfortable with the Calvinism in the Geneva Bible's annotations.
Why did this Bible need to be smuggled into England? Because in 1615 Archbishop Abbot prohibited the publishing of a Bible without an Apocrypha, and these Bibles, almost without exception, did not include the Apocrypha, although it is listed in the contents. Puritans did not use the Apocrypha. Also in 1637 Archbishop Laud prohibited the publication of the Geneva Bible, by decree of the Star Chamber.
Several editions of this Geneva Bible were printed by Jan Fredericksz Stam of Amsterdam. The story, along with a bibliography, appears in A.F. Johnson's "J.F. Stam, Amsterdam, and English Bibles." Stam was a commercial Dutch printer who published Puritan material in English. English printers complained bitterly about these pirated copies. While it is true that some of these Bibles were purportedly printed for English Protestants in the Low Countries, we know that many were pirated into England. In 1601 Robert Barker complained that the Christopher Barker title page was being used illegally by Dutch printers. In Greg's A Companion to Arber, which includes documents from the Company of Stationers of London, we find a 1633 correspondence from William Boswell, Ambassador at the Hague: "I have herd credibly that 3, or 400 coppies wear immediately Sent from Amsterdam for London vnto the Stationer of the Mary-gold in Pauls-church-yard; to bee passed for white paper, and so never looked into, or lette passe by negligence, or falshood of the searchers." Stam's name is specifically mentioned in the complaint.
How does a researcher discover that a book like this Bible was, indeed, surreptitiously printed? As has already been demonstrated, a crucial factor is to understand from an historical point of view exactly why it might be necessary to do so, and to look for documentary evidence, which exists in this case. Then one turns to the book itself for the bibliographic evidence.
In this case we know that there is a problem with the printing date on the title page, which states that the Bible was published in 1599. The italic type font in STC 2176, "cum privilegio," is first found with Elzevier in 1631. We know from biographical information that Stam could not have printed these Bibles until after 1599. Then, certain ornaments are peculiar to Stam-note the STC 2175 Sig. Aaaa2 recto initial "D" with the squirrel-and this kind of evidence supports the historical data. Finally, since UIUC is fortunate to have four editions, we can see that STC 2177, compared to the other three, actually has a page stating that Stam printed the book in Amsterdam in 1633.
Then one can move on to determine the printing order and variants. One way to achieve this is by comparing errata pages with changes in subsequent editions; this will be very clear when we look at Leviathan. With these Bibles, the variants are identified by comparing Esther 1:1. Note that the line breaks differ among the four Bibles.
Leviathan was first printed in 1651, just before he returned to England. Documentary evidence suggests that Hobbes wrote it quickly, in Paris, from 1649 to 1651. In 1651 he wrote a friend that the book was being printed in England, and that he was receiving a sheet every week for correction. The work was entered in the Stationers' Register on Jan. 20, 1651.
Hobbes figured that his anti-Roman Catholic attacks were more likely to get him into trouble than his support for sovereign authority. After all, that authority did not necessarily have to be royalist and he could rationalize Cromwell as a leader strong enough to keep order so essential to England's well-being. So at this point Hobbes decided he was safer in England than in France, where his anti-clerical statements were getting him into trouble. Hobbes moved back to England and died there in 1679. When earlier in this paper I refer to the problem of revolutionary minds trying to navigate in a world with changing rules about censorship, Hobbes is a rich example.
The outcry against Leviathan came slowly and the contemporary discourse surrounding this book is well documented in Samuel Mintz' The Hunting of Leviathan. In 1652 a bookseller, Luke Fawn, appealed to Parliament that Hobbes was a writer dangerous to the idea of religion and therefore "deserving" of censorship. The second attack came in 1655 from Presbyterian Richard Baxter in "Humble Advice." While there is no record of a Parliamentary ban in the 1650's, the Stationers' Company did try to suppress Leviathan. In 1670 they refused to reprint it. There was obviously a public demand for the book, and the ban forced the price up from 8s. to 30s. Samuel Pepys notes that he was lucky to find a second-hand copy on Sept. 3, 1668 for 24s.
While Hobbes was never physically attacked, there is documentary evidence that some clerics thought he should be burned at the stake. He therefore destroyed some of his papers as public verbal abuse mounted. In 1654 De Cive was placed on the Index.
Leviathan is a general political treatise advocating strong sovereign authority. It is based on Hobbes' belief that men are equal-equal in their selfishness and desire for power. It is for this reason, not because the populace is weaker than the sovereign, that someone or some few people are needed to rule and control the natural tendencies for war and destruction. The sovereign's action is law; he determines right and wrong for a given society. The subjects write a contract creating a sovereign and transferring all power and authority to him. Hobbes believed the best sovereign model to be monarchy, but he did not believe in "divine right" or mystical royal power. The king had to get the job done or else. Power could not be divided effectively between king and parliament; subjects had to be totally obedient to the sovereign. Hobbes opposed natural law and supported written civil law. He correctly foresaw the danger of natural law supporting revolutionary theory in the coming French and American revolutions.
Hobbes was not religious and warned of the church having too much power over the state. But if one had to have a religion he preferred the Anglican doctrine, because he thought the Puritans and Protestants encouraged men to encroach on civil authority and set themselves up as their own judges. Hobbes really hated Roman Catholicism and had to leave France because of that; in England his problem was his atheism. In 1666 Hobbes actually wrote an essay on heresy to prove why he could not be legally burned for his opinions. In 1688 the first collected edition of Hobbes' work was published in Holland.
This presentation is based on MacDonald and Hargreaves, Thomas Hobbes: A Bibliography, published by the Bibliographical Society in 1952. There are three Leviathan editions bearing the imprint "Printed for Andrew Crooke at the Green Dragon . ." with the 1651 date. The three editions are called "head," "bear," and "ornament" for the ornaments on the printed title pages. UIUC has the "head" and the "bear."
"The Head" is the real first edition, printed in London from Hobbes' work sending sheets back and forth from Paris. We know the "Head" is the first because the errors in the "Errata" have not been corrected, whereas in the other two they have been, systematically from the second to the third editions. We believe that Crooke was the publisher because he had done other works of Hobbes. Crooke's son lists it in his catalogue of Hobbes' works.
Other key comparisons are the engraved title pages, the printed title pages, and the errata and corrections.
Note the difference in the wear of the two plates. Hobbes' bibliographer has examined the copies and is certain that all 3 were made from the same plate. "Head" is new, "Bear" is worn, and "Ornament" has been retouched. The identity of the engraver is not known to the bibliographer. There are differences in watermarks, suggesting that more than one printer may have worked on it. (The UIUC copy has the fleur-de-lys.)
Here we see the difference in ornament mentioned above. The first edition has the "head" ornament. The second has the "bear" which, according to experts, was not seen in England before the end of the 17th century but was definitely seen in Holland much earlier. This bear, the Van Kyck italic type, and the St. Christopher ornament suggest Amsterdam as the city of origin.
Note the St. Christopher ornament in the 2nd edition; it probably refers to Christoffel Cunradus, an Amsterdam printer. There is further evidence on this that I won't detail here.
Page 54 in both editions is but one example of the heretical ideas getting Hobbes into trouble. Some of these ideas were not included in the subsequent Latin edition.
Note the two errata pages are identical in content in these two editions, but that "bear" was changed in the second edition.
I hope that this presentation will challenge librarians to do this kind of research when cataloging and identifying works in their collections. I also hope that librarians will encourage faculty and students to use documentary evidence of this kind in their research. This approach creates a rewarding link between descriptive bibliographers and historians, and both fields have much to gain one from the other.