(London: Printed by the Widow Orwin for Thomas Man, 1597). 187 x 130 mm. (7 3/8 x 5 1/8"). 5 p.l., 93 pp. FIRST EDITION. PRESENTATION COPY.
20th century gray paper boards. Printer's device on title page. Title page inscribed "Gyven to [name inked through, but perhaps "Thomas Langham"] by the author, Jo. Norden"; tail margin of title inscribed "Constantin Aclyn his booke"; 19th century ink signature of Benjamin Hynam on recto and verso of title. Front pastedown with early 20th century bookseller's description pasted on. STC 18614; ESTC S113322. Boards a bit soiled but otherwise unworn, minor dust-soiling or browning to head margins, one quire a little browned, occasional trivial smudges or tiny rust spots, but an excellent copy, generally clean and fresh.
Written during a fallow period in the author's regular career as a cartographer, this work emphasizing the importance of service to God for all leaders and common soldiers in the sovereign's army was inscribed by the author to a friend or patron. One of several works Norden dedicated to the earl of Essex, it got our author into professional difficulties when Essex's enemy Robert Cecil rose to power and was in a position to impede Norden's career as a mapmaker. Norden quickly tried to push responsibility onto a "false Norden" from Kent (he was from Somerset), but biographer Frank Kitchen has established that the shared "interests, backgrounds, written expression, everyday circumstances, and style" indicate there was but one author. Though best known for his surveys and maps--including the first county maps of England to include roads--the pious Norden (ca. 1547-1625) also produced numerous works of devotion and prayer, among them the enormously popular "A Pensive Mans Practice," which went to 40 editions in his lifetime. While his sincere religious sentiments are not to be doubted, it must be acknowledged that Norden was most moved to write these manuals when he was between surveying jobs and short of money. Aimed at soldiers of every rank, the present work urges the "necessity of the fear and service of God" and "the use of all divine virtues both in commanding and obeying, practicing and proceeding in the most honorable affairs of war." Norden also encourages civilians to support and respect the military, and to pray for men-at-arms. This is an especially rare work: OCLC and ESTC find five copies in U.S. libraries, and except for the two copies in the Cottesloe Library, there seems to have been only one other--defective--copy at auction listed by RBH and ABPC. The present item is even more desirable as an extremely uncommon presentation copy signed by a 16th century English author. (ST15850)