551G Nicholas Ling fl. ca. 1599
Politeuphuia, Wits Common-wealth. Newly corrected and amended.
London : printed for E. Flesher, in the year 1684. $4,900
Duodecimo 5 3/4 x 3 1/4 inches. A-O12 (lacking A1, blank). , 321,  p. ; 12 . edition(?), first printed in 1597. This copy is bound in full period style calf, a very nice copy.
Usually ascribed to John Bodenham, who planned the collection, though the work appears to have been done by Nicholas Ling. Cf. Dedication; also DNB.p. Often cited as Wits’ commonwealth, and some editions appeared under that title. Published first in 1597, as the first in a series of which Mere’s “Palladis tamia”, 1598, was the second, “Wits theater of the little world,” by Robert Allott, 1598, the third, and “Palladis palatium, wisedoms’ pallace,” 1604, the fourth. Cf. DNB.
“The popularity of this book, of which altogether some eighteen editions before the end of the seventeenth-century were issued, was due it would seem to the fact that it filled a peculiar need of the public of the day. It is difficult to imagine the style and tone of the conversation of the later years of Elizabeth’s court — the written word is the only clue. But it is certain that the more commonly endowed members of a society which included men of such wide reading and extensive knowledge as Bacon, Selden, Jonson and Raleigh must have frequently felt the need of some compendium of wise and sententious aphorisms by means of which they might ornament their discourse. It is just that function which this volume appears to be intended to fulfill for it is a compilation of precepts and maxims, frequently with their source noted, gathered under various heads such as ‘Of Courage’, ‘Of Nobilitie’, etc. Each division begins with a definition and ends with a Latin quotation, while the tables which are appended enable one to search not only the divisional topics, but also the individual aphorism much in the manner of a modern Bartlett.“The popularity of this type of manual in the early years of the seventeenth century may be compared with the deluge of ‘outlines’ of this and that which the public of the present day is encouraged to imagine will provide a short and easy road to knowledge and culture. This appears to be substantiated by the fact that this book is but one, the first of a series, of four volumes which for the want of a better name is called the ‘Wits Series’. From the fact that there is no indication in this book that it was to be followed by others it may be assumed that the series, as a series at least, was not projected until after the demand for this first book indicated the public taste.“In the address To the Reader, which otherwise appears to be a reprint of the text of the third edition, the present is numbered the ‘fifteenth edition’. It is quite possible that it is the fifteenth but we have only the publisher’s word as no copies of editions five to eight can be traced, and it is a well known ‘puffing’ device to misnumber editions.” (Pforzheimer)
Wing L-2337; Pforzheimer 803.
Copies – N.America : Folger , Harvard , Huntington , Indiana University, San Francisco Public Library, University of Cincinnati , University of Illinois.