“An ill cook cannot lick his own fingers”. Proverbs, Sir Thomas More’s most memorable witticisms, & The Lord’s Prayer in Anglo Saxon

Camden, William (1551-1623)

Remaines Concerning Britaine: Their Languages. Names. Surnames. Allusions. Anagrammes. Armories. Monies. Empreses. Apparell. Artillarie. Wise Speeches. Proverbs. Poesies. Epitaphes. Written by William Camden Esquire, Glarenceux, King of Armes, Surnamed the Learned. The fift Impression, with many rare Antiquities never before imprinted. By the industry and care of Iohn Philipot, Somerset Herald.

London: Thomas Harper for John Waterson, 1637


Quarto: 18.2 x 13.5 cm A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Hhh4 (lacking final blank Hhh4)


Bound in contemporary English blind-ruled and sprinkled calf with a later paper label. The binding is in very nice condition with minor scrapes and small faults. The edges of the text block are sprinkled red. Internally, this copy is in excellent condition with crisp, white leaves. The added, engraved portrait of the author is bound facing the title page. Bookplate of the Earl of Ilchester.

The rude rubble and outcast rubbish of a more serious work." Thus Camden, in his introduction, describes the present work. Despite these remarks, the "Remaines" is full of curious riches. This collection of genealogical, historical, and linguistic material proved immensely popular, going through seven editions in the seventeenth century. Camden originally collected this information for inclusion in an edition of his "Britannia" that never materialized.

This fascinating work covers all manner of topic: descriptions of the climates, topography, and inhabitants of the British Isles; names (of both men and women) and their derivations; the development of the surname; various aspects of language and specific points of dialect; poetry; anagrams; acrostics; and proverbs (of which there are nearly 400 and these are quite delightful). In the chapter on languages, Camden demonstrates the development of English from the Anglo-Saxon tongue by reproducing five renderings of the Lord’s Prayer, the first written "about the yeare of Christ 700 found in ancient Saxon glossed Evangelists, written by Eadfride, eighth bishop of Lindisfarne." And the last version "as it is in the translation of Wickeliffe".

In the chapter "Wise Speeches", we find quotations from such notable figures as William the Conqueror, Richard III, the epigrammist John Heywood, and Sir Thomas More, including the latter’s famous remarks on the scaffold. In the section "Poems", Camden mentions William Shakespeare (along with Sidney and Jonson) as one of the "most pregnant wits of these our times, whom succeeding ages may justly admire." (p.319)

The "Remaines" is also of interest for Camden’s description of 136 unillustrated emblems under the heading "imprese", a word that he defines as "a device in a picture with his Motto, or Word, borne by noble and learned personages to notify some particular conceit of their own."

The poems on the death of Queen Anne of Denmark, wife of James I, is bound before the page that records an epitaph of the Queen’s beloved son, Prince Henry, who died in 1612 at the age of 18. Henry’s death devastated the queen, who withdrew from court and died seven years later, after a series of illnesses. The poems were composed by William Swadon, (1560-1623), the Queen’s chaplain and Archdeacon of Worcester.

STC 4526; The English Emblem Tradition, Vol. 4, Edited by Peter M. Daly and Mary V. Silcox (1999)