III. GRAPHIC WIT...
Elzevier-Mathys mark in Mary's book
To this discussion of the origin of the title-page mark of Female Poems (1679), I am pleased to acknowledge the alert eye of Hugh Mowbray Jones, a London collector, who wrote me in 1996, in response to a query I had placed in TLS, that the Elzevier-Mathys mark in Mary's book could also serve as an allusion to one of the most controversial pseudonymous royalist tracts of the century, published some thirty years before Female Poems...by Ephelia, and bearing a similar, though not identical, title-page device: the 710-page Defensio Regia pro Carolo Primo (Defense of Charles I) by "Claudius" (Claude de Saumaise or Salmasius, 1588-1653, a celebrated French scholar at Leiden). This typographical mark on the title-page of Salmasius's book (Nov. 1649) is an elegant calligraphic line device of the cul-de-lampe variety, a style of book ornament popularized by the Elzevier printers. In this particular case, the mark emanated from Salmasius's printer, the Jansson firm of Amsterdam (Jansson mark 189), for issue by the book's publisher, the Bonaventure and Abraham Elzevier firm of Leiden. Salmasius's brave publisher in Cromwell's London was William Dugard (Rahir 68, 220, 448) (see Appendix G).
Salmasius's pro-monarchical tract, originally issued in both folio and duodecimo formats, elicited a strong response from John Milton, whose Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio... of 1651 saw fourteen editions by 1695 (Madan 119-145). Copies of Milton's response were publicly burned in Catholic France, which upheld ancient traditions of absolutist monarchy. As Elizabeth Skerpan mentioned to me in 1999, "This butterfly mark on your poet's title-page is a Stuart butterfly!" And, yes, it may be construed as such, as my poet had been the wife of a Stuart, the adoptive daughter of a Stuart monarch (Charles I), and the author of two bold political broadsides in 1678 and 1681 in support of the Stuart administration.
We can say, therefore, that the title-page device of Female Poems...by Ephelia, with its rich resonance in Elzevier, Mathys, Jansson, Papillon, Salmasius, and Milton, not only serves as a graphic conceit of the author's identity, but that it also links this curious English octavo of 1679 to several prestigious names and debates in the history of seventeenth-century printed books (Mulvihill, 'BookTalk').