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The Collation

The Folger has recently acquired some interesting hybrid books; that is, books which consist of a mixture of thematically-connected printed, manuscript, and graphic material gathered from a variety of sources into a single binding. Sidney scholar and Folger reader Margaret Hannay and I just spent some time with one of these acquisitions, an embellished copy of Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke’s translation of Philippe de Mornay’s treatise, A discourse of life and death (London, 1600), with 17 pages of manuscript texts and 4 pages of hand-colored prints appearing before and after the printed text, all tightly focused on the theme of the transitory nature of life.

title page; click any photo to enlarge

This edition of Sidney’s work is fairly scarce—it is known to survive in only eight copies, including this one. The last printed page has the date 1605 written in gold ink next to the printed words “At Wilton” (Wilton House was the seat of the earls of Pembroke), while the title page (see above) has the date 1600 written in gold ink. 


Dye as “to colour, stain” or “to fix a colour in the substance of” (OED) is used since the 14th century. The motto “Dye to liue. Liue to dye.” sounds like a wordplay of die and dye, e.g., disguise to live, live to disguise, or alike.

The “lead white” does the function of dye.

Jim — April 20, 2012

Has this booklet been translated into modern english? and where can i find it?
His famous work called “Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos” has been heralded as one of the greatest booklet ever written in defences against tyranny. Now i hope u can help me by directing me to more of his works.

helbert tham — November 14, 2012

Yes, the work was edited in 1983: The Countess of Pembroke’s translation of Philippe de Mornay’s Discourse of life and death, ed. Diane Bornstein ([Michigan]: Published for Michigan Consortium for Medieval and Early Modern Studies; c1983). The original spelling version is available as a free e-book: His other works are listed in various online biographies of him (you could always start with the Wikipedia entry!).

Heather Wolfe — November 15, 2012

And I forgot to mention that it was (co-)edited even more recently by one of the authors of this post, Margaret Hannay, in The Collected Works of Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, Volume I: Poems, Translations, and Correspondence, edited with Introduction and Commentary by Margaret P. Hannay, Noel J. Kinnamon and Michael G. Brennan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)!

Heather Wolfe — November 15, 2012

[…] The Harmonies are a particularly famous example of this reworking of texts, and are often discussed by later readers as shocking: Can you imagine cutting apart your bible and remaking it? [slide 16]15 But there are other examples of what Adam Smyth calls “reading with scissors” in this period.16 John Gibson’s commonplace book, put together while he was imprisoned in the 1650s, cuts out and repurposes print material with his manuscript additions. [slide 17] Gibson is not the only one to remix works. This copy of Mary Sidney’s translation of Philippe de Mornay’s A Discourse of Life and Death (1600) has been supplemented an early user with images cut from Richard Day’s A booke of Christian prayers, hand colored and pasted in, and with manuscript couplets.17 […]

multivalent print, or, learning to love ambiguity in three easy lessons | Wynken de Worde — August 4, 2013