Friday, March 09, 2007

A Poetic Silkworm?

We have an interesting 18th century silk-related title in our current catalog-

"The Silkworm: A Poem. In Two Books. Written by Marcus Hieronymus Vida, and translated into English Verse by the Reverend Samuel Pullein, of Trinity College, Dublin" Published in Dublin; printed by S. Powell, for the author: 1750.

This is quite a remarkable piece of poetry- both the original and the translation. Marcus Hieronymus Vida [1470-1566] of Cremona was a gifted poet who was patronized by the Pope and did quite a remarkable job of, as Pullein notes, making a detailed poem about the raising of silk worms interesting.

Pullein [b.1713] was himself no slouch, and won the Royal Dublin Society’s Madden Prize for this work. In the same year that he published this poem, Pullein wrote an essay to promote the culture of silkworms in Ireland, and several years later he wrote his influential book “The culture of silk, or an Essay on Its Rational Practice and Improvement for the Use of the American Colonies”.

The engraved frontispiece shows the interior of a silkworm room-

The engraving has many interesting details, including the trays on which mulberry leaves and stems are kept-

The fancy ceiling with medallions-

And a Classical doorway; we can also see potted plants in the yard ourside-

The Classical theme continues as the worms are tended by several women in robes vaguely resembling those of ancient Greece-

This is a hardcover. 6.25”x10”, x, 141 pages, engraved frontispiece; with the final errata and “Observations” sheet, which is often lacking. Newly rebound in green “silked” cloth with paper spine label; new endpapers; title page repaired at the top, not affecting the text; text with light toning and a few spots, but overall nice. [30745] $500.00

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