I’m currently involved in a project that requires me to check holdings against the English Short Title Catalogue. I’m finding some amusement among the titles of these old works.
Today’s first category is: Most ambitious title in an original monograph. And the winner is…
A briefe chronicle, of the successe of times, from the creation of the world, to this instant· Containing, the originall & liues of our ancient fore-fathers, before and after the Floude, as also, of all the monarchs, emperours, kinges, popes, kingdomes, common-weales, estates and gouernments, in most nations of this worlde: and how in alteration, or succession, they haue continued to this day. by Anthony Munday,
Printed by W. Iaggard, printer to the Honourable Citty of London, and are to be sold at his house in Barbican, 1611.
…and in the category Most exposition crammed into one title, the winner is:
Monro his expedition vvith the vvorthy Scots Regiment (called Mac-Keyes Regiment) levied in August 1626. by Sr. Donald Mac-Key Lord Rhees, colonell for his Majesties service of Denmark, and reduced after the Battaile of Nerling, to one company in September 1634. at Wormes in the Paltz. Discharged in severall duties and observations of service; first under the magnanimous King of Denmark, during his warres against the Emperour; afterward, under the invincible King of Sweden, during his Majesties life time; and since, under the Directour Generall, the Rex-chancellor Oxensterne and his generalls. Collected and gathered together at spare-houres, by Colonell Robert Monro … for the use of all worthie cavaliers favouring the laudable profession of armes. To which is annexed the abridgement of exercise, and divers practicall observations, for the younger officer his consideration; ending with the souldiers meditations going on service. by Robert Monro
Printed by William Iones in Red-Crosse streete, 1637.
…and finally. For Title most likely to encourage readers towards sin rather than away from it, today’s winner is, most definitely:
Histrio-mastix. The players scourge, or, actors tragædie, divided into two parts. Wherein it is largely evidenced, by divers arguments, by the concurring authorities and resolutions of sundry texts of Scripture; … That popular stage-playes … are sinfull, heathenish, lewde, ungodly spectacles, and most pernicious corruptions; condemned in all ages, as intolerable mischiefes to churches, to republickes, to the manners, mindes, and soules of men. And that the profession of play-poets, of stage players; together with the penning, acting, and frequenting of stage-playes, are unlawfull, infamous and misbeseeming Christians. All pretences to the contrary are here likewise fully answered; and the unlawfulnes of acting of beholding academicall enterludes, briefly discussed; besides sundry other particulars concerning dancing, dicing, health-drinking, &c. of which the table will informe you. By William Prynne, an vtter-barrester of Lincolnes Inne. by Prynne, William
Printed by E. A[llde]. [Thomas Cotes, Augustine Mathewes,] and W[illiam]. I[ones]. for Michael Sparke, and are to be sold at the Blue Bible, in Greene Arbour, in little Old Bayly, 1633.