There is very little evidence for the genesis of the edition of Jacques De Reves or Jacobus Reefsen, better known as the orthodox Calvinist minister, religious poet and Leiden professor of theology Jacobus Revius (1586-1658). His preface, signed from Deventer, implies that he had in his possession a great many letters, from which he selected three hundred for printing. The fate of those letters which he chose not to include in his edition is unknown. The printers seem to have been unable to read the date of De Reves’ own prefatory letter to the volume, which suggests that he did not see it through the press himself. Of the three hundred letters preserved in the edition, not a single autograph survives. This fact, and the distribution of some idiosyncratic spellings, have led to a suspicion that the volume was set entirely from the original autographs. If so, these letters, which must have been in Scaliger’s care at his death in 1609, managed to find their way to the printers at Harderwijk fifteen years later. They may have been discarded after the edition was printed.
This edition of the French letters is an unpretentious piece of printing. It contrasts with the care with which the Latin letters were printed just a few miles away three years later. In the edition De Reves, as in that of Heinsius, lines of asterisks and dots are used to mark omitted words. Often, these omitted words are names of people and places, dates and numbers. The omissions seem to indicate where the typesetters could not read the original autograph, rather than a policy of active censorship on the part of De Reves or anyone else.
De Reves, a Calvinist minister, seems to have had in mind a protestant, French-speaking, readership. Most of the correspondents included in the edition are protestants. At the moment, we do not know of any edition before 1624 which can be easily compared to his edition of the letters to Scaliger. Editions of letters by an eminent figure do exist in French, but collections of letters to someone are harder to find. The decision to include in the volume only French letters excluded all the correspondence of the other protestant scholar-hero, Isaac Casaubon, whose letters were published in 1638 (see the chapter on Scaliger, Casaubon and Lipsius).