The History of the Worthies of England.
London: Printed by J.G.W.L. and W.G. 1662. First Edition [with the Index also in 1st. edition]
Folio, engr. portrait by D. Loggan, + 3 leaves (title, Dedication, To the Reader) + 494 leaves (text) + 6 leaves (Index), light waterstain on title some foxing (occasionally heavy) and browning throughout (as usual), otherwise a very good copy, bound in full antique-style calf, 3-line fillet borders in blind, morocco label on spine.
The pagination in this work is exceedingly erratic, and the signatures are not much better. For example sigs. E and K are only 3 leaves, Rr, Ss, and Zzz[z] are not required at all, and many others are 2 leaves instead of 4. A very full collation, both by signature and by pagination, is given by Strickland Gibson with which the present copy has been carefully compared. It is warranted complete. Some copies contain an index which was first printed by Olive Payne in 1737 on 6 leaves [as in the present copy], and reprinted by W. Pickering on 5 leaves c. 1825
“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..... Fuller was conscientious, according to his light, in trying to check authorities. Besides, he jogged indefatigably about the country to inspect public records, manuscripts, places, and buildings, and to question natives and surviving relatives... The Worthies is a lineal descendant of the mediaeval encyclopedias. Apart from the lists of sheriffs and gentry, we skip at our risk, for Fuller’s best goods may be under the counter. Thus we read, to the greater glory of God, about the Vicar of Bray; the use of malt to make drink in Derbyshire (‘a master-piece indeed’); the marriage customs of Lapland; Devonshire strawberries and cream; the Dunmow flitch....” [D.Bush: English Literature in the Earlier 17th. Century. O.U.P. 1945.]
“But it is of persons that he [Fuller] writes most delightfully. His anecdotes are full of lightning sketches of Elizabethan and Jacobean characters caught off their guard....” [W. Addison: Worthy Doctor Fuller. ]
A rich fund of information and anecdote, still entertaining today, Fuller’s Worthies is the unacknowledged source of a surprising number of phrases and fables current to this day, perhaps the most famous being the story of Sir Walter Raleigh laying down his cloak for Queen Elizabeth. Fuller is credited with coining the word ‘biographist’ to describe himself.
Reference: Wing F 2440 Gibson, Strickland (editor): Bibliography of...Thomas Fuller in Papers of Oxford. Bib. Soc. 1935 vol. IV pp.63-162 Pforzheimer cat. 391
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