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International Journal of the Classical Tradition

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 329–343 | Cite as

Edmund Bolton’s vindication of Tiberius caesar: A ‘lost’ manuscript comes to light

  • Patricia J. Osmond
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Abstract

This article presents the evidence for attributing to the English historian and antiquarian Edmund Bolton (1575–c.1634) an anonymous, unpublished manuscript entitled AVERRVNCI or The Skowrers. Ponderous and new considerations vpon the first six books of the Annals of CORNELIVS TACITVS concerning TIBERIVS CÆSAR (Genoa, Biblioteca Durazzo, Ms. A IV 5). As a summary of work in progress towards a critical edition of, and commentary on, the text, it also introduces the principal issues surrounding the study of the author and his subject: the place of the treatise in the context of his life and work; its connections to the anti-Tacitean movement in Stuart England; and its contributions to the development of source criticism and philological analysis in an age of political controversy. Bolton’s Skowrers provides not only a passionate defense of monarchy but also a carefully argued refutation of Tacitus’ account of Tiberius and the first scholarly and systematic attempt in early modern historiography to rehabilitate the emperor’s reputation.

Keywords

Classical Tradition Critical Edition British Library Latin Translation Passionate Defense 
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References

  1. 1.
    British Library (henceforth “BL”), Ms. Add. 64908 (Coke Papers, vol. 39), fols. 160r–163v. A partial transcription and abridgement of Bolton’s letter to Sir John Coke (fol. 160r) was published in Historical Manuscripts Commission, Twelfth Report (London, 1888), Appendix, Part II. The Manuscripts of the Earl Cowper, K.G. preserved at Melbourne Hall, Derbyshire, 65–66. The letter is cited by D.R. Woolf in The Idea of History in Early Stuart England (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), n. 76, 311, who refers to the work on Tacitus that Bolton describes in his letter as “a vindication of Tiberius’ reputation (now lost)” (194; cf. 196). Whereas Woolf states that the manuscript was sent with the letter to Sir John Coke (n. 76, 311, and 196), the text of the letter indicates that Bolton was sending at this time only the “Epistle Dedicatorie” and “Five Conclusions.” Moreover, as we learn from The Skowrers itself, this “vindication of Tiberius” cannot be identified with the lost (or still missing) history or life of Tiberius written by Bolton earlier in his career. David Norbrook refers to Bolton’s “monarchist commentary on Tacitus’ Annals” (citing the same reference to HMC) in “Lucan, Thomas May, and the Creation of a Republican Literary Culture,” in Culture and Politics in Early Stuart England, eds. K. Sharpe and P. Lake (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1993), 56 and n. 24.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    On Bolton’s life and work see the early biographies by Thompson Cooper in DNB 5. 325–27, with bibliography including the summary by Rev. Joseph Hunter, in BL, Ms. Add. 24488, fols. 66–87, and the remarks of T.E. Spingarn, ed., Critical Essays of the Seventeenth Century, 1. 1605–1650 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908), xx-xxiii, and notes to Bolton’s Hypercritica, 239–41. Sir John Coke (1563–1644), a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge (Bolton’s own alma mater), was principal secretary of state to Charles I from 1625 to 1640, during which time he earned a reputation as a strong proponent of royalist policies.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Paul Oskar Kristeller, Iter Italicum 1 (London and Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1963), 246 and Ibid. Paul Oskar Kristeller, Iter Italicum 1 (London and Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2 (1967), 523. Kristeller drew his information from the Catalogo della biblioteca di un amatore bibliofilo, 96, listing the manuscript as “s. XVI. Lord Gordon, considerazioni politiche sopra i primi sei libri degli annali di Cornelio Tacito.” In the new catalogue edited by Dino Puncuh, I manoscritti della raccolta Durazzo (Genoa: SAGEP Editore, 1979), it is described in the entry, 49 (A IV 5), p. 118, as a paper manuscript measuring 293×200 mm, and consisting of 111 pages. The full title (on p. 1 of the manuscript) reads AVERRVNCI or The Skowrers. Ponderous and new considerations vpon the first six books of the Annals of CORNELIVS TACITVS concerning TIBERIVS CÆSAR. A description of the hand will be given in the forthcoming study of the manuscript by Robert W. Ulery, Jr.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Puncuh, ibid. I manoscritti della raccolta Durazzo (Genoa: SAGEP Editore, 1979), states that the anonymous author of the Skowrers was certainly writing during the reign of Charles I, for he not only cites several contemporary authors but refers to “our queen, the daughter of Henry IV of France” (Henrietta, wife of Charles I). Puncuh also identifies him as a Catholic, adding that he may have taken refuge on the continent. He did not press any further, however. The earlier attribution of the work to Lord Gordon had been rightly dismissed, but inquiries conducted by British colleagues in the libraries of London and Oxford, he says, had yielded no results. According to records in the Archivio Durazzo, the manuscript was purchased by Giacomo Filippo Durazzo III, marchese di Gabiano, on 30 December 1801 for 2 lire genovesi.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    The Skowrers, 81. I thank the owner of the Biblioteca Durazzo Giustiniani, marchesa Emanuela Brignone Cattaneo, for permission to examine and quote from the manuscript. The electronic transcription of the text was made by Eric A. Parks, formerly Editorial Assistant of the International Journal of the Classical Tradition.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ibid., The Skowrers, 5. I thank the owner of the Biblioteca Durazzo Giustiniani, marchesa Emanuela Brignone Cattaneo, for permission to examine and quote from the manuscript. The electronic transcription of the text was made by Eric A. Parks, formerly Editorial Assistant of the International Journal of the Classical Tradition.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bolton himself had had some training in the law, as we know from his autobiographical sketch in BL, Ms. Harley 6521, fol. 247, cited by Woolf —(cited above, n. 1), n. 60 at 310. On the influence of legal studies on historical scholarship, see Woolf’s observations on John Selden’s Historie of Tithes, 220–21. The ‘controversia,’ as a legal dispute or, later, a declamation or school exercise would have been known to Bolton from the rhetorical works of Cicero, Quintilian, and especially Seneca Rhetor.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cornelius Tacitus sane ille mendaciorum loquacissimus.” Tertullian, Apol. 16.3 (I p. 115, 12f. Dekker [= Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina I) = Ad nat. I 11,3 (I p. 30, 9 [ib.]). Dekker [= Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina I)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    The Skowrers, 8–10.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ibid. The Skowrers, 26.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ibid. The Skowrers, 50–52.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid. The Skowrers, 20.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ibid. The Skowrers, 51.Cf. Hypercritica (ed. Spingarn [cited above, n. 2]), Critical Essays of the Seventeenth Century, 1. 1605–1650 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1908), I.ii (p. 83), II.ii (p. 93), II.v (p. 95), etc.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ibid. The Skowrers, 11.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ibid. The Skowrers, 11; cf. 13.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ibid. The Skowrers, 59–60.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Among modern studies of Stuart historiography and political thought with special attention to Tacitism and discussions (or mention) of Bolton, I cite in particular: Thomas H. Blackburn, “Edmund Bolton’s The Cabanet Royal: A Belated Reply to Sidney’s Apology for Poetry,” Studies in the Renaissance 14 (1967): 159–71; Alan T. Bradford, “Stuart Absolutism and the ‘Utility’ of Tacitus,” The Huntington Library Quarterly 46 (1983) 127–155 (at 138–48); Ronald Mellor, “Tacitus, Academic Politics, and Regicide in the Reign of Charles I: The Tragedy of Dr. Isaac Dorislaus”, International Journal of the Classical Tradition 11 (2004–2005), 153–193 (at 169) (above in this volume); J.H.M. Salmon, “Stoicism and Roman Example: Seneca and Tacitus in Jacobean England,” Journal of the History of Ideas 50 (1989): 199–225 (at 223–24), and “Precept, example, and truth: Degory Wheare and the ars historica,” in: The Historical Imagination in Early Modern Britain, eds. D.R. Kelley and D.H. Sacks (Cambridge: Woodrow Wilson Center and Cambridge University Press, 1997), 11–36 (at 16–18); R. Malcolm Smuts, “Court-Centred Politics and the Uses of Roman Historians, c.1590–1630,” in: Culture and Politics in Early Stuart England (cited above, n. 1), eds. K. Sharpe and P. Lake (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1993), 21–43 (at 39–43); and D.R. Woolf, (cited above, n. 1), The Idea of History in Early Stuart England (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), esp. 190–99; each with further bibliography.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    See, in particular, Smuts, “Court-Centred Politics,” 22–23 and 40–41, on the changing directions of Tacitism in early Stuart England.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    See Salmon, “Stoicism and Roman Example,” 223–24 and Smuts, “Court-centred Politics,” 39–46.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    In addition to the discussions in Salmon, “Stoicism and Roman Example,” and Smuts,” Court-centred Politics,” see Woolf, —(cited above, n. 1),, 174–75, and Ronald Mellor, ed., Tacitus: The classical heritage (New York: Garland 1995), 148–52. In 1628, two English translations appeared of Pierre Matthieu’s Ælius Sejanus, histoire romaine, also suggesting obvious parallels with the Duke of Buckingham (See for one: The powerfull favorite, or the life of Aelius Seianus, by P. M. [“Printed at Paris” {i. e., London?}: s.n., 1628.).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    On classical culture and Tacitism in particular in early Stuart England, see, in addition to the studies of Bradford, Salmon, Smuts, and Woolf —(n. 17 above) the relevant sections in Mellor’s Tacitus: The classical heritage (cited above, n. 20) (New York: Garland 1995), 148–52, with excerpts from selected sources of the period; Kenneth C. Schellhase, Tacitus in Renaissance Political Thought (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1976), ch. 7, 157ff; Malcolm Smuts, Court Culture and the Origins of a Royalist Tradition in Early Stuart England (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1987) 84ff., and R.W. Ulery, Jr., “Cornelius Tacitus,” in: Catalogus translationum et commentariorum: Mediaeval and Renaissance Latin Translations and Commentaries (=CTC), eds. F. Edward Cranz, V. Brown, and P.O. Kristeller, vol. 6 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic Univ. of America Press, 1986), 87–174 (at 96); each with further bibliography.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    The passages are excerpted from The Skowrers, 54, 57, 58, 71 and 74.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Hypercritica, I.iii —(Spingarn [cited above, n. 2], 83. On the composition, see Woolf, Idea of History (cited above, n. 1) The Idea of History in Early Stuart England (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), 192–93 and n. 65, at 210, and “Edmund Bolton, Francis Bacon and the Making of the Hypercritica, 1618–1621,” Bodleian Library Record 11.3 (1983): 162–68. Bolton follows Isaac Casaubon in the preface to his edition and Latin translation of Polybius (1609), contrasting Polybius with Tacitus whom he criticizes for his “levity, malice, and most apparent falsehood.”Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    See Bradford —(cited above, n. 17) “, 138–47 and Woolf, Idea of History, 193–96, who describes Bolton’s Nero Caesar as an early and significant attempt to integrate antiquarian scholarship into historical narrative.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Mention of the history or life of Tiberius is found in: (1) Nero Caesar (London 1624) p. 82: “In the life which I haue diligently written of TIBERIVS there is more;” (2) The Cabanet Royal (23 Octob. 1627), BL, Ms. Royal 18.A.LXXI, fol. 11r: “The perfecting of learned Historie a great felicitie of the CABANET, and College roial. The life of TIBERIVS CÆSAR, in manuscript, to that purpose.” (On this see Blackburn, —“Edmund Bolton’s The Cabanet Royal” [cited above, n. 17] “: 167 and n. 12 The Skowrers); and (3) The Skowrers, 38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    The Skowrers, 38.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    “EDMVNDUS MARIA BOLTONVS//Aetatis suae 47. 1622.” BL, Ms. Harley 6521, f. 152v. I thank prof. Carolyn Valone for making a preliminary examination of this manuscript.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    In the Paris, 1608 edition of Tacitus used by Bolton (see Appendix, n. vi), the fragment of book 5 continues through ch. 11 (whereas chapters 5–11 are now assigned to the beginning of book 6).Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Mellor, —Tacitus (cited above, n. 20), 81–99: Savile’s The Ende of Nero and Beginning of Galba was published with the first and second editions of his translation of the Histories in 1591 and 1598.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Linda Levy Peck, Northampton: Patronage and Policy at the Court of James I (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1982), 119–21 and notes 72–78 (at p. 241).Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Bolton’s project for a royal academy is discussed in Blackburn, who also edits part of BL, Ms. Royal 18. A.LXXI, fols. 10v and 11r. See also Woolf, —Idea of History (cited above, n. 1), 191–92. A dramatic representation of Bolton’s scheme for an “academy of honour” is discussed in Timothy Raylor, “The ‘Lost’ Essex House Masque (1621): A Manuscript Text Discovered,” English Manuscript Studies 1100–1700, 7 (1998): 86–130 (at 113–15).Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    On Speed’s history, see Woolf, —ibid, and also 64–72. In BL, Ms. Harley 6521, f. 251v and in The Skowrers, 108, Bolton quotes Francis Bacon’s recommendations to James I in his Advancement of Learning, bk 2. for a general history of Great Britain.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    On Bolton’s misfortunes at this time, see DNB 5.326 and Woolf, —Idea of History (cited above, n. 1), 196.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Cf. his remarks in The Skowrers, 81.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Woolf, —Idea of History (cited above, n. 1), 192, commenting on Bolton’s Hypercritica, suggests that he may have aspired to the chair of history at the University of Cambridge. Although the Brooke lectureship founded by Fulke Greville was abruptly suspended in 1627, Lord Brooke himself attempted to preserve it, and there were (unsuccessful) efforts in the years following his death in 1628 to restore it. (Cf. Mellor, “Tacitus, Academic Politics and Regicide etc.” [cited above, n. 17] in the Reign of Charles I: The Tragedy of Dr. Isaac Dorislaus”, 181–2.) Some years earlier (1615) Sir John Coke had advised Greville on the qualifications of candidates for the lectureship (see Kevin Sharpe, Politics and Ideas in Early Stuart England. Essays and Studies [London and New York: Pinter Publishers, 1989], 219–20); and in 1628 he was the executor of Greville’s estate (see Joan Rees, Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, 1554–1628. A Critical Biography [London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971], 40–41, and the documents, cited in note 56, from Historical Manuscripts Commission, Twelfth Report [London, 1888] Appendix, Pt. 1, 370, 427, and 449). Bolton’s repeated references to “the unwarie youth” seem to indicate that he was writing with students in mind. Moreover, in a letter of 24 Sept. 1633 to Sir Hugh Hamersley (BL, Ms. Harley 6521, fol. 247), Bolton seems to be responding to specific points in the “job description” drawn up earlier by Coke for candidates for Lord Brooke’s chair.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    The description of his proposed history is quoted from the Hypercritica (ed. Spingarn —[cited above, n. 2]), IV, vii (p. 114); cf. The Skowrers, 107–09. Bolton may also have hoped that his Vindiciae Britannicae (ca. 1630–33), would secure him a post as city chronicler; see Woolf, Idea of History, 196, and Idem, Reading History in Early Modern England (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 42.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    See, for example, Donald R. Kelley, who writes in Foundations of Modern Historical Scholarship (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), p. 11: “It is true that partisanship often distorted historical perspective and protected certain legends, but it served also to give impetus, organization, and direction to historical investigation and to discredit various errors.” Cf. Woolf, Idea of History (cited above, n. 1) The Idea of History in Early Stuart England (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), 216–21, on Selden’s blending of philology and history, erudition and argument in his Historie of Tithes.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Bradford, —“Stuart Absolutism” (cited above, n. 17) “, 147, commenting on the lost Tiberius Caesar, describes it as “a companion piece to his Nero Caesar,” and adds: “(This second volume might have anticipated the effort of modern historians to restore a pre-Tacitean image of Tiberius.) Bolton’s audacity is overwhelming. It was one thing to try to replace lost portions of Tacitus, as Savile had done, but to challenge Tacitus on his own ground by creating an anti-Tacitean version of the Annals was a breathtaking enterprise.”Google Scholar
  39. i.
    The letter of Edmund Bolton to Sir John Coke is written in a neat italic hand on the first leaf of a bifolium (fol. 160r), with the address on the verso of the second leaf (161v); the dedicatory epistle to the Privy Council and Conclusions, in the same hand, are written on fols. 162r-v and 163r of a second bifolium. The transcriptions are published by permission of the Department of Manuscripts of the British Library. I thank Dr. Andrea Clarke and Dr. Helen Dixon for checking some of the readings. A partial transcription and summary of the letter to Sir John Coke was published in Historical Manuscripts Commission, Twelfth Report (London, 1888), Appendix, Part II. The Manuscripts of the Earl Cowper, K.G. preserved at Melbourne Hall, Derbyshire, 65–66.Google Scholar
  40. ii.
    The bifolium was folded and sealed. In the lower part of fol. 161v the address is written, apparently in the same hand as that of the letter: “To the right honorable, Sir John//Coke, knight, Principal Secretarie of Estate//At Court//For Special Seruice.” At the top right of the same folio a different hand has written: “1634 Aug 29//Mr. Edw Bolton.”Google Scholar
  41. iii.
    The letters following “Brita” are not clear, and what may have been a mark over one of the letters is cancelled or blotched. The form “Britanñ” is given in the transcription published in Historical Manuscripts Commission, Twelfth Report. Bolton elsewhere uses “Britain” and “Britanu(m)” as adjectives (e.g., “Britain empire”; “Britanum empire”).Google Scholar
  42. iv.
    The contrast between kingship and tyranny, the one aimed at the public interest, the other at private advantage, was a common theme in Greek and Roman political thought, but the “greatest doctor of vertuous policie” may refer specifically to Aristotle, who summarizes the difference between kingship and tyranny in Politics, 5.10.9–10. The passage also recalls the words of Seneca’s De clementia, 1.11.4: “Quid interest inter tyrannum ac regem… nisi quod tyranni in voluptatem saeviunt, reges non nisi ex causa ac necessitate?Google Scholar
  43. v.
    Seneca, De beneficiis, 2.20.2.Google Scholar
  44. vi.
    Justus Lipsius published his first edition of Tacitus’ Opera at Antwerp in 1574 with his Notae and a dedicatory epistle to the Emperor Maximilian II; between 1581 and 1607 other editions appeared with new sets of his commentaries. Bolton used the 1608 edition of Tacitus’ Opera (with preface by Carolus Aubertus) containing commentaries by Lipsius et al. and printed in Paris by Petrus Chevalier: C. Cornelii Taciti et C. Velleii Paterculi scripta qvae exstant. (On the editions of and commentaries on Tacitus, see Ulery, “Tacitus,” CTC 6 —[cited above, n. 21],, “Composite Editions,” 99–102 and “Justus Lipsius,” 112–121).Google Scholar
  45. vii.
    Louis d’Orléans published his Nouae cogitationes in libros Annalium C. Cornelii Taciti qui extant in Paris in 1622 (containing a dedicatory preface to Louis XIII composed when he was still Dauphin), to which Bolton says he prefixed “vertuous caueats… concerning that authors small pietie to God [and] errours in morall doctrine” (The Skowrers, 2). The work is also mentioned in Bolton’s notebook: “Nouae cogitationes in Cor. Tacitum authore Ludouico d’Orleans. In epistola ad Ludouicum XIII cum Delfinus fuit…” (BL, Ms. Harley 6251, fol. 152v).Google Scholar
  46. viii.
    At the beginning of his notebook (BL, Ms. Harley 6521, fol. 1) Bolton gives a list of ca. 50 authors or editors of collections, from which he drew, or intended to draw, material on the Julio-Claudian emperors, including ancient Roman and Greek writers from the first through the sixth centuries, early medieval chroniclers, and Renaissance historians and antiquarians.Google Scholar
  47. ix.
    Along the lower right side of fol. 163v is written “Edward Bolton, to the Lords,” apparently in the same hand that wrote on fol. 161v “Mr. Edw Bolton.”Google Scholar

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