London: Thomas Roycroft, 1669. First edition, 2 parts in 1; folio, title page in red and black, engraved portrait frontispiece by William Faithorne, text primarily in triple column and printed in Roman, Italic, Hebrew and a variety of other exotic fonts, pp.  & 4008 columns (this copy's pagination identical to variant B in ESTC); in this copy column 1108 is repeated; collated as in ESTC: a-b² [chi]1(=*F2?) *A-*E² *F1 A-Z² 2A-4L 4M²; 4N-5E² 5F-9C ; ²A-3B² (the terminal Lexicon Orientale in this copy is misbound after 3B2, as often); full contemporary calf recently rebacked, red morocco label on spine; corners bumped and showing; covers worn, a few old institutional rubberstamps, but generally a good, sound copy, with occasional early annotations in ink and pencil throughout. One of the great scholastic undertakings of the 17th century, under squalid and heart-wrenching conditions. The work was 18 years in the making and the story of its compilation is fraught with tales of unremitting toil, constant vigils, bodily suffering, loss of fortune, orphaned children, prison terms and fire (see DNB for the long, sad tale surrounding Castell and his life-long labor). Brian Walton, in his Preface to the great London Polyglot Bible of 1657 (also printed by Roycroft -- "conspicuous among printers who did credit to their profession in the 17th century"), cites Castell as being especially responsible for the Samaritan, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions. While Castell's work "marks an epoch in Semitic scholarship ... it met with a deplorably cold welcome in England ... At the time of his death about 500 copies still remained unsold, and his niece and executrix, Mrs. Crisp, lodged the remnant of her uncle's life-work in one of her tenant's houses at Martin in Surrey, where for some years the rats played such havoc with the learned pages that when the stock came to be examined scarcely a single copy could be made up from the wreck of the sheets, and the fragments were sold for the sum of 7 pounds" (DNB). Wing C-1225; Ebert 3663; Graesse II, p. 65; Vancil, p. 46; Zaunmüller, pp. 344-345; Lowndes I, 386: "The work, embracing all the oriental languages in Walton's Polyglot, and designed to complete it, is, says Dr. A. Clarke, probably the greatest and most perfect work of the kind ever performed by human industry and learning." (Inventory #: 48807)
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