The New Edition

There are currently just over sixteen hundred letters in the inventory of the correspondence which we have compiled. The edition will include all surviving letters to Scaliger, as well as those from him. It is projected that it will fill five volumes, and it is hoped that it will be in print in time for the four hundredth anniversary of Scaliger’s death in 2009. Once the printed edition has been completed, we hope to make our inventory of the letters available online.
The sources for this collection are very varied. Scaliger was something of a celebrity in seventeenth-century Europe and his autographs became very collectable. Of the entire corpus of the correspondence, just over a third survives in autograph manuscripts, and 80% of these are in Scaliger’s hand. In the 1620s two printed editions emerged which are of central importance to our own edition. The first of these was printed in the Netherlands in 1624, edited by Jacobus Revius or Jacques de Reves. It is a collection of exactly three hundred letters, all in French, written by the great and the good to Scaliger. The second essential seventeenth-century edition was printed at Leiden in 1627, carefully edited by Scaliger’s student Daniel Heinsius. This Leiden edition has a total of 479 letters from Scaliger, of which just eight are in French, and these French letters are relegated to the very last pages of the book. There are also many minor printed sources, including a nineteenth-century edition of more than one hundred letters. The new edition will include about one hundred and thirty letters which have never been printed before.

Both of the seventeenth-century editions group the letters according to correspondent, not according to the date of the letter. The new edition will arrange the correspondence in chronological order, a very simple step which nevertheless clarifies the genesis and resolution of many events. This chronological arrangement also allows us to see some of the effort involved in maintaining such an extensive correspondence. It is often possible to identify couriers, both reliable and unreliable. Sometimes packets of letters can be reconstructed, sent together to be distributed when they reached their destination. The chronological arrangement of the new edition reveals, for example, that Casaubon wrote two letters to Scaliger on the same day; and it shows that on his 62nd birthday in August 1601 Scaliger sat down and wrote no fewer than seven surviving letters.