Online Adoptions 2014: Books-Folger Shakespeare Library
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Online Adoptions 2014: Books

Adopt a New Acquisition

Happy Birthday to the Dutch Prince

Johannes Barbonius. LVII morale sinne-beelden... t'Amsterdam, 1641

Adopt for: $975

Johannes Barbonius. LVII. morale sinne-beelden, aen sijne hoogheydt… Fredrick Hendrick prince van Orangien… wesende den 29 ianuarij anno 1641 oudt 57 jaren. Amsterdam: Theunis Iacobsz, 1641.

In 1641, Dutch sovereign Frederick Hendrick (1584–1647), received for his birthday a copy of this emblem book which was published for the occasion. But there ‘is no such thing as a free emblem book’ (the latter substantive is nowadays often replaced by the more mundane word ‘lunch’, indicating a major shift in culture, from book to food). The fifty-seven emblems – as many as the number of winters he had lived – all contain lessons for the country’s ruler, which was still tied up in a war with the southern provinces. Emblem number 10, for instance, depicts the chameleon. The accompanying commentary emphasizes the importance of people in a prince’s entourage telling him the truth. But as a rule, servants behave like chameleons, changing their opinion according to ever-changing circumstances. This emblem book thus represents an important speculum principium or mirror for princes – be it a very catchy one.
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