Leycesters Common-wealth [bound with Leycesters Ghost, 1641]ANON
Conceived, spoken and published with most earnest protestation of all Dutifull good will and affection towards the Realm, for whose good onely, it is made common to many.
First edition. 4to. (189x135mm). pp. [viii], 182, [ii], 35. Full calf, with gilt double fillet to the borders of the upper and lower covers. Spine has five raised bands and six compartments, lavishly decorated in gilt. The second compartment has a red label with the title in gilt. Highly decorated dentelles and marbled endpapers. Some discolouration and slight cracking to the outer edges of the boards. Rubbing to the head and foot of the spine and to the edges but this is a very nice, near fine binding. The contents are fine with only minor foxing. There is an engraved portrait, by W. Marshall, of Robert Dudley, The Earl of Leicester tipped in on the verso of the blank page before the title page. The front pastedown has the armorial bookplate of Kennet of the Dene and there is a handwritten note by Lord Kennet tipped in on the first blank page together with the sale catalogue entry noted in pencil "Maggs 1958".
"Leycesters commonwealth" is a political tract against Elizabeth I’s government and in particular, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. More specifically, it was read as a Catholic attack on the increasing Protestantism of Elizabeth’s advisors. It went through many stages and forms, both in manuscript and in print, and is most well known by the title "Leicester’s commonwealth" which was the title given to it in 1641. This 1641 edition was the basis for much subsequent historical and biographical writing on Leicester. It was first printed in Antwerp in 1584 with the title "The copie of a leter, wryten by a master of arte of Cambridge, to his friend in London". It was formerly attributed to Robert Parsons (who always denied authorship) and is sometimes attributed to Thomas Morgan. The true identity of the author is so uncertain that we have ascribed it to Anon.
"Leycesters commonwealth" was republished in 1641 and was versified as "Leycesters ghost" in that same year. Leycester’s Ghost is often attributed to Thomas Rogers but also to to Simon Ford, William Cecil, Lord Burghley, and Robert Parsons. Again, Anon might be the safest attribution.
ESTC. R9399; Wing, L968. Leycesters Ghost, ESTC. R9349; Wing, R1837A.