Rough Scan

_The Morall Fabillis:_ Thomas Bassandyne, Edinburgh, 1571.  Small 8vo.
_Collation:_ A-G8 H4; 60 leaves.
_Contents:_ Ara title; A1b _The Taillis contenit in this prefent Buke;_ A2a-H3b (pp. 3-118) text; H4 blank.

This little book is a curiosity in more senses than one.  Another example of the art of Thomas Bassandyne would have been interesting in any case, but this edition has the distinction of being almost entirely printed in the cursive 'lettres de civilité.'  Some time after my discovery of the edition, I saw a letter written by the late E. Gordon Duff to Mr George P. Johnston, Secretary of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society.  The letter was attached to the descriptive slips of the Bibliographical Society, which, since 1932, have been kept in the National Library of Scotland, and read:

=======_July_ 7,1914.


I meant to have written you before to tell you of a most interesting book I saw lately at York Minster, a copy of the "Morall Fabillis of Esope the Phrygian, Compylit in Eloquent and ornate Scottis Meter be M. Robert Henryson, Edinburgh" - Imprinted att Edinburgh be me Thomas Bassandyne, dwelland at the nether Bow, Anno 1571.
It is a curious little book, half of it printed in the curious cursive "lettres de civilité."  They have at York several other early Scottish books of which D. and E. could quote no copies.  I am re-reading the printed catalogue carefully and marking all the Scottish books to 1700.

====Yrs sincerely,
=======E. GORDON DUFF.

And an investigation of the slips of the Bibliographical Society revealed two entries relating to the book: the first by Mr G. P. Johnston, recording the details of Duff's communication, the second by Mr H. G. Aldis, with a pencil note: '. . . requires to be checked and divisions of lines marked.'  That the existence of the edition should have been known to such excellent bibliographers as Gordon Duff and Aldis in 1914, the year of the completion of Gregory Smith's S.T.S. edition of Henryson, is a piece of improbability only surpassed by the fact that, as far as the present editor is aware, these three separate pieces of evidence-Mr Kellas Johnstone's note, Mr Gordon Duff's letter, and the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society slips-have lain useless from that time to this.
Every title-page on which the words 'Newlie imprinted' appear (the Charteris print of the _Fables_ for example) does not necessarily imply the existence of an earlier edition.  The meaning and use of the word 'Newlie' in this connection are too ambiguous for that.  But in the case of the Bassandyne edition, the matter is left in no doubt.  The description reads 'Newlie corectit, and Vendicat, fra mony Errouris, quhilkis war ouersene in the last prenting, quhair baith Lynes, and haill Versis war left owt.'  This was a not infrequent claim.  At the end of John Scot's edition of Lyndsay's _Dreme_, in the printer's epistle to the reader, the formula appears in similar terms:

===Gentyll redaris, I wyll adverteis zow that
===thare is of thir Bukis, Imprentit in France,
====The quhilkis ar verray fals.  And
=====wantis the tane half, and all
======wrang spelit, and left out
=======heir ane lyne, and thar
=========twa wordis.

And in the Henrie Charteris (1568) edition of the _Warkis_, the same claim is made, at considerable length, in the address to the reader, and, on the title-page, in terms almost identical with that of the Bassandyne Henryson.  '. . . Newly correctit, and vindicate from the former errouris quhairwith thay war befoir corruptit: and augmentit with sindrie warkis quhilk was not befoir Imprentit.'  The 'last prenting,' in the case of the Henryson, was probably the Charteris print of the previous year - at least, it is unlikely that another unknown edition appeared in the interval and has since been utterly lost - unlikely, but (in the light of recent events) not impossible.  Let us assume, for the moment, that the Charteris print is the 'last prenting' referred to, and compare the two texts to see how far Thomas Bassandyne's claim to have 'corectit and Vendicat' the _Fables_ is justified.
Certainly the Bassandyne copy does contain lines that are not in the Charteris print, and at least one 'haill Verse.'  The stanza beginning, 'O wantoun man!' (l. 381) for example, which is lacking in Charteris, is present both in Harleian and Bassandyne.  And the stanza, 'Fy! puft up pryde, . . . (l. 593), which is not in Harleian, is in both Charteris and Bassandyne: so that, on the score of completeness at least, Bassandyne's claim is justified.  His is the most complete single text of the Fables.
Concerning the _nature_ of the text presented by Bassandyne, one can justly say that it is better in every way than either Charteris or Harleian.  It is not only more complete than either, but it shows no trace of Anglicisation in spelling or in word-forms.  The terminations are more definitely and consistently Scots, and there are fewer traces of misreading and misunderstanding in the text.  On these grounds, the editor has chosen the Bassandyne print as the basis of his text of the _Fables_, and has reproduced it (apart from slight normalisation, indicated in the text) literally, believing that it may be interesting to students of early Scottish printing and poetry to have an accurate text of this hitherto unknown edition.
There is another aspect of this text which is not uninteresting, and that is the type in which it is printed.  It was obviously this feature of the book which interested Mr Gordon Duff, and, when the facts are known, it is not surprising.  There is certainly no earlier known instance of the use of civilité type in Scotland; it is doubtful even if there is an earlier use in any English printed book.  The type was first used by Robert Granjon of Lyons, in his _Dialogue de la Vie et de la Mort_, etc. (Lyons, 1557), in the Dedication of which the printer gives an account of the reasons which led him to engrave the new 'lettre Françoyse d'art de main.'  The invention earned him a ten years' Royal Patent, which, however, failed to protect his rights in the matter.  In 1559 the type was used in Antwerp for a book called _La Civilité puérile distribuée par petitz chapitres_, a translation from Erasmus by Jehan Louveau, printed by Jehan Bellère, and from this publication the type took the name by which it was commonly known.  Civilité was rapidly popularised and freely used in the S. Netherlands, while Plantin purchased some from Granjon and commissioned the latter to engrave him some new characters.  In Antwerp and Ghent the type was promptly and freely imitated.  The best accounts of the type are to be had in _Les Caracteres de Civilité de J. Enschedé en Zonen_ (Haarlem, MDCCCCXXVI) and Sabbe et Audin, _Les Caractères de Civilité de Robert Granjon et les Imprimeurs flamands_ (Anvers-Lyon, 1921).  The type was used in the printing of the colophon to _The Grammer-Warre. . .  Imprinted at London by Henry Binneman, dwelling in Knight Rider streate, at the signe of the Mermayde.  Anno_ 1576; and was used in the printing of wine-licenses granted by Raleigh, in accordance with the monopoly granted him in 1583 (see article in the _Trans. of the Bibliographical Society_, xiii. p. 291, and facsimiles: _English Current Writing and Early Printing_, by Hilary Jenkinson); but there seems to be no known occasion of its use for the text of any English book earlier than that date.  It is little short of amazing that this uncommon type should make its first appearance in an Edinburgh printing-house; yet the natural suspicion that the Henryson may have been printed in France or the Netherlands is not supported by the evidence of the text.  The body of the Fables is entirely in civilité, while Roman has been used for all the Moralitas sections.  (_See_ facsimile, _frontispiece_).  There are two cuts in the book: the first, on the title-page, a portrait of Esop surrounded by creatures and objects from the Fables; the second (leaf A3b) an illustrative cut of the _Cock and the Jasp_.  These engravings are both of interest.  In the first place, they supply the lost originals for the coloured drawings in the Harleian MS. of the _Fables_.  Previous editors have agreed that the Harleian MS. was obviously derived from a printed original, but no such original could be found.  Whether the Bassandyne text should be regarded as the parent of the Harleian will be discussed below; but there is no denying the family resemblance between the _Cock and the Jasp_ in the two texts (readers may conveniently compare the facsimiles in this edition with those of the Harleian in the S.T.S. edition) or between the drawing to the _Preiching of the Swallow_ and some of the details on the Bassandyne title-page.  It is possible, too, that the book noted in Foulis of Colinton's note-book, '1673, January 6.  For AEsop's Fables in Scots to Archie, with the cuts £1, 7. O,' may be Bassandyne's text, or a lost reprint of it.
But the cut on the title-page of Bassandyne's edition is to be found again and again, with only the slightest variation, in dozens of fifteenth century editions of AEsop, printed in Germany and elsewhere.  Examples are to be found in several volumes of Albert Schramm, _Bildershmuck der Fruhdrucke_ (v., viii., xii. etc.), in sufficient number to show that Bassandyne's title-page is perhaps one of the latest examples of a long tradition.  This matter will be discussed at greater length in the editor's bibliography of Henryson, which is in course of preparation, and will be published separately.
If Thomas Bassandyne had this type in Edinburgh in 1571, it is at least surprising that no other example of its use has come down to us.  The natural suspicion that the book might have been printed abroad, in France or the Netherlands, where the type was common, is dispelled by the nature of the text.  The book has none of the blemishes common in Scots books printed 'furth of the realm.'  There are no signs of imperfect understanding of the text, no un-Scots usages or spellings, no instances even of the use of 'et' as in the Chepman & Myllar pamphlets.  Further, a comparison of the book with other productions of Bassandyne's press (and the Harleian MS.) is productive of new evidence, which, for the sake of clearness, is set out below.

1. The capital A on page 6 of the Henryson is identical with that on page 341 of Bassandyne's Lyndesay (1574) and is similar to one in the Harleian MS.
2. The capital T on p. 3 of the Henryson is identical with that on p. 95, etc., of the Lyndesay.
3. The Roman type used in the Henryson has no lower-case or capital 'z'.  Neither has the Roman in the Lyndesay.  Both use lower-case and capital 'z' instead.
4. The cut of the _Cock and the Jasp_ on p. 6 of the Henryson is almost identical with one in the Harleian MS., and some of the details from the title-page of the Henryson reappear in the Harleian drawing to the _Preiching of the Swallow._
5. But the Bassandyne Henryson supplies lines that are not in Harleian.

In view of this evidence, and in default of any good evidence to the contrary, it would seem (a) that the Henryson is a genuine product of Bassandyne's press, and (b) that the printed text and the Harleian MS. have no direct relationship, but derive from a common original.

The Fabulous tales of / Esope the Phrygian, Compiled / moste eloquently in Scottische / Metre by Master Robert / Henrison, & now lately / Englished.

Every tale Moralized most aptly to / this present time, worthy / to be read. / [Ornament : (Mackerrow 186,) with Motto: _Occulta Veritas Tempora patet_.] / Imprinted at London by / Richard Smith. /  Anno. 1577.

The volume was carefully described in David Laing's edition (1865) and his description was fully reprinted int he S.T.S. edition, where any interested will find it.  The printer (who was also the printer of George Cascogne's _Steel Glas_) seems also to be the translater, and according to him, the work was 'Finished in the Vale of Aylesburie the thirtenth of August Anno Domini 1574.'  It is obviously not a text that could possibly add much to the sum of our knowledge of Henryson's _Fables_.  Apart altogether from the entire Anglicisation of the text, it is apparent that the translator has failed to understand, not only the difficulties and obscurities of his original, but many of the most elementary points of language and syntax.  A few of his most desperate remedies are recorded in the footnotes.  The question of the possible relation between this text and the Harleian MS. is to some extent beound up with the relation between Harleian and Bassandyne.  Smith, in his Dedication of the translation, writes: 'There came into my hande a Scottishe pamphlet of the Fabulous Tales of Esope, a worke, Sie, as I thinke, in that language wherein it was written, verie eloquent and full of great invention.'  So far as we know, there were only two possible printed texts for Smith to read, the Charteris and the Bassandyne, and of the two, Smith's version much more closely resembles the latter.  But the relation between Smith and the Herleian MS. is closer than either of these resemblances; and, as we are bound to accept his statement that he worked from a printed text, we are again driven to assume the existence of another early text of the _Fables_, possibly that which served as common original to Bassandyne and Harleian.  A fuller account of the evidence for these comclusions will be given in the editor's forthcoming bibliography.