St John's College K.53 (James 536)

Henry Tubbe, Meditations in three centuries, c. 1650


'Meditations in three centuries. By H. Tubbe M.A. sometimes of St Iohn's Colledge in Cambridge.' Henry Tubbe (1618-55) was born in Southampton and educated at the Free School of Croydon. He was admitted to St John's College as a pensioner in 1635 and was soon elected a Foundation Scholar. He took the degree of BA in 1638-9 and that of MA in 1642 but was unable to obtain a Fellowship. Tubbe wrote poetry and prose but published nothing during his lifetime. His literary remains are preserved in this manuscript and more extensively in British Library Harleian MS 4126.

This manuscript is divided into three parts – 'The First Centurie', 'The Second Centurie' and 'The Third Centurie' – each of a hundred chapters. Each part is prefaced with a dedication to an unidentified dedicatee: 'To the Right Honourable the Great Example of Religion and Vertue, the Lady --', 'To the Right Honourable the Lady --', and 'To the most vertuous and worthy of all Titles Mrs -- Daughter to the right Honourable The Lady --'. Moore Smith identifies these dedicatees as either Lady Spencer or the Marchioness of Hertford, and Lady Spencer's daughter. The three hundred chapters originally had no rubrics but these have subsequently been supplied for all the chapters in the first part and for some in the second and third parts.

One hundred of these meditations, drawn from all three parts of the manuscript, were published in London by Robert Gibbs in 1659 as Meditations divine & morall (ESTC R3392). Eighty-five of the published meditations are practically identical with the versions in this manuscript, except for differences of spelling and punctuation. The remainder are abbreviated or extended from the versions found here.

An entry in the Register of the Stationers' Company for 1 July 1659 refers to the St John's manuscript: 'Mr Samuel Mearne. Entred for his copie under the hand of Mr Pulleyn Warden a Booke called Meditations in three centuries by Henry Tubb MA sometime of St John's Colledge in Cambridge vjd.' The intention to publish it was clearly abandoned, and the manuscript was left in the hands of Octavian Pulleyn, Warden of the Stationers' Company, who signed the title page.

Manuscript extra information

280 x 190mm. 89 folios. Paper, with watermark visible on folio 1. Single neat hand – Tubbe's autograph – throughout, with rubrics to the chapters in two different hands of the 17th and 19th centuries. Binding: blind-tooled sprinkled calf over pulp boards; gilt label on spine.

The title page bears the inscription 'Octav: Pulleyn Warden July 17 1659'. This is the bookseller Octavian Pulleyn the Elder, who operated out of St Paul's Churchyard 1636-66. In the nineteenth century the volume came into the possession of Frederick Hendriks (Notes and Queries 2 November 1861 pp. 346 and 406). At the sale of Hendriks' books it passed to the bookseller Bertram Dobell (1842-1914) who sold it, about September 1910, to Edward Almack (1852-1917), whose book label also appears inside the volume. In 1916 Sotheby's sold the manuscript for £5.5.0 to Maggs, from whom it was purchased in 1919 by Robert Forsyth Scott, Master of St John's College. Scott presented it to the College library in the same year, and his donation label appears inside the front cover. A letter regarding the manuscript from G.C. Moore Smith to Scott, dated 1 April 1919, is pasted to the front flyleaf.