Dutch books in the 1727 Catalogue: Erik Geleijns

In December we, a team of cataloguers of the Short-Title Catalogue, Netherlands and Short Title Catalogus Vlaanderen projects, visited Dr. Williams’s Library. In five days, we recorded over 400 copies of Dutch and Flemish editions, some 15% of which were titles not yet represented in the databases – a surprisingly large number to find in a ‘new’ library.

Among the books we added to the STCN database were two copies of Leiden editions donated by their authors to the Flemish theologian, historian and geographer Petrus Bertius (1565-1629). One is a copy of Daniel Heinsius’s edition of Aristotle’s Ethica Nicomachea, printed by Jan Paets Jacobszoon in 1607 (1042 Q 16), the other is a copy of the edition of the minor works of the sixth-century Greek historian Hesychius Milesius by Joannes Meursius (1579-1639), published by Govert Basson in 1613 (1081 L 18).

The humanist, classical scholar and poet Daniel Heinsius (1580-1655) studied at Leiden University from 1598, where he received tuition from the famous philologist Joseph Scaliger. Heinsius was appointed professor of Greek in 1605 and became librarian to the University in 1607. Joannes Meursius or Joannes van Meurs was a classical scholar and a professor of history at Leiden.

The recipient of their books, Petrus Bertius, was the subregent and later regent of the States’ College, a school of theology associated with the University that provided scholarships to talented students who lacked the means to enroll at the university. In the years following 1608 Bertius became involved in the theological dispute between Jacobus Arminius and Francis Gomarus on predestination, and eventually fled the Netherlands to Paris. He is famous for compiling the first catalogue of Leiden University Library, the Nomenclator avtorvm omnivm, quorum libri [...] exstant in bibliotheca Academiæ Lvgdvno-Batavæ of 1595. Bertius died in Paris in 1629. Nothing is known of the fate of his library, and it is as yet a mystery how his books ended up in Dr Williams’s Library.

Another book with a notable provenance is one given to Adriaen Pauw (1585-1653), probably in 1620. Pauw was pensionary of Amsterdam at the time and later became Grand Pensionary of Holland. With others, he represented the Dutch Republic in the negotiations for the Westphalian Peace from 1646 to 1648. The book given to him is again an edition by Meursius of a classical text: the surviving minor works (‘Quæ exstant, opuscula’) of the second-century Greek historian Phlegon of Tralles, printed by Isaac Elzevier in 1620 (2011 D 25). The book appears in the 1654 (auction) catalogue of Pauw’s library as ‘Tralliani Phlegontis mirabilia, gr. & lat. Meursii, 4. Leydae 1620’, but again we have no idea how it ended up in London.

Recording the provenance of copies added to the database is not standard STCN procedure, although STCN staff will often take photographs of provenances, bindings or other characteristics of the books for their own research projects. The books catalogued so far represent roughly a quarter of all Dutch and Flemish editions in DWL; we will return to the library regularly until all of them have been entered in the database.

Erik Geleijns (erik.geleijns@kb.nl)