Item #3985 A True Picture and Story of Two Brethern borne in Genoa in Italie, 1620, the one called Lazaz, the other John Baptist, both at this present living, and to be seene in the Strand at London, 1637. Decemb.6. [title repeated in Latin].
A True Picture and Story of Two Brethern borne in Genoa in Italie, 1620, the one called Lazaz, the other John Baptist, both at this present living, and to be seene in the Strand at London, 1637. Decemb.6. [title repeated in Latin].
A True Picture and Story of Two Brethern borne in Genoa in Italie, 1620, the one called Lazaz, the other John Baptist, both at this present living, and to be seene in the Strand at London, 1637. Decemb.6. [title repeated in Latin].

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A True Picture and Story of Two Brethern borne in Genoa in Italie, 1620, the one called Lazaz, the other John Baptist, both at this present living, and to be seene in the Strand at London, 1637. Decemb.6. [title repeated in Latin].

London: Printed by A[gustine].M[atthews]. for Robert Milbourne, 1637. Broadside on laid paper, 15” x 12.5” on sheet measuring 19” x 14”; title, engraved portrait measuring 6.75” x 5” with separate publication credit reading “Printed for Robert Milbourne at the Unicorn neare Fleet bridge,” four columns of verse, two in Latin flanking the portrait and two below in English.

Apparently the only known copy of this fascinating, illustrated broadside depicting and interpreting two asymmetrically-conjoined Italian brothers—one “perfect” and the other a “monstrum horrendum” whose ill-formed body protrudes laterally from his brother’s abdomen—and advertising an opportunity to see this wondrous pair “in the Strand at London” in December of 1637.

The parasitic twins Lazarus and John Baptista Colloredo were apparently on tour in “many parts of Christendom” (Pender p. 157) and even Turkey for the better part of ten years. As traveling spectacles go, the pair were somewhat unusual in that Lazarus was both the showman and the show, obtaining permission in each new city “to shewe a monnster” (Jillings p. 57) which, of course, was only such by virtue of its confusing unity with him. He himself was consistently described as a perfect gentleman, “comely” and blond, unremarkable when wearing a traveling cloak and employing two servants as well-dressed as himself (one to sound a trumpet and indicate the start of the viewing, the other to collect money from spectators), and even possibly marrying and fathering several children (Bondeson p. xix). On tour he carried a “self”-portrait of both himself and John Baptista, which he would hang outside his lodgings as an advertisement of their presence. Accounts by anatomists and physicians who visited the brothers confirm John Baptista’s consciousness to have been very minimal: he hardly, if ever, opened his eyes, had faint but utterly foul-smelling breath, and could not speak, although when pinched or prodded as he undoubtedly was at every showing, would give feeble cries of distress. Due presumably to an inability to drain cerebral-spinal fluid, John Baptista’s head eventually grew twice as large as Lazarus’, and his gaping, toothy, and saliva-dribbling mouth rimmed by red lips and an unkempt blond beard must have been an astonishing sight, to say the least.

Besides the fascination inspired by their grotesque appearance and the contrast between Lazarus’ genteel affability and intelligence and his twin’s “shapeless and speechless” existence (Pender p. 157), the brothers’ ambiguous state unleashed a flood of questions about the nature and causes of monstrosity and the boundaries of personhood, especially vis-à-vis the resurrection (had they one soul or two?). Even from a very mundane and earthly perspective, however, “[b]eing ontologically linked had implications for each brother: after meeting them twice the anatomist Thomas Bartholin opined that although Lazarus was ‘commonly in good spirits,’ he was ‘now and then a little dejected, when thinking on his future fate,’ as the death of his brother would ‘by the consequent putrefaction and stench, be the destruction of himself.’ It was not only Lazarus’s existence that was threatened as a result of the twins’ indivisibility: several Parisian doctors related the story that the larger brother had been condemned to death for having committed murder, but could not be executed for the crime because it would have entailed the death of his innocent parasitic twin” (Jillings p. 59).

Several broadsides describing the twins are known. Unlike other publications describing the brothers, however, which tend to focus primarily on the biological or spiritual intricacies of their condition, the present broadside consists of two unattributed poems, the first of which is an untitled and essentially straightforward, sympathetic description:

The Childe, a piteous, hideous, Infant blinde,
Whether the mind wants eyes, or eyes want minde;
Is seen, but sees not, fed, but never eates,
His speechless mouth, takes neither drink nor meates:
Nor eares, nor eyes, nor feet, nor hands, can do
Such offices as Nature fram’d them to.
Ever a burden to his loving brother,
Ever a Childe, nor ere like to be other…

All the Spectators flocking to this scene,
Wonder, and aske what may this wonder meane.

This first poem sets the stage for the second, which frames the twins as a portent, a common theme in monster broadsides of the era, converting their problematic physicality into a scathing commentary on Catholicism. The “Solutio Ænigmatum” or “The Key and Morall of this Riddle,” likens the parasitic interdependency between John Baptista and Lazarus to the empty religion of the clergy and masses leeching off the healthy body of England:

Loe heere the English of this Latine Monster,
This prodigie, prodigious thus I conster,
See here the lively Picture in this Table,
The clearest Embleme of the Romish Babel:
Clergie and Laity, the infant hath in one,
Blind both in faith and true Religion…

What ever they believe or know is nought,
Unlesse the Pope do ratifie their thought…

As asserted by Pender “Lazarus was the residuum of the extinguished light of faith, a sign that the monstrous, speechless populous, as well as the clergy, embrace a corrupt, diminished church…The inseparable brothers were an emblem of the fate of a Catholic England: the imperfect brother lived on the substance of another, while the perfect brother (England) nurtured a perpetually boyish sibling, believing that if it died, he too would die…”

Robert Milbourne (alternatively spelled Mylbourne, Milborne) was a bookseller operating from 1617 to 1640 in various locations, including the Great South Door of Pauls; The Greyhound, Paul’s Churchyard; and the Unicorne, near Fleet Bridge (as noted on the portrait). Milbourne seems to have published a number of other anti-Catholic works, including John Gee’s scourging and immensely popular volumes The Foot Out of the Snare and New Shreds of the Old Snare, both in 1624. Records show Milbourne as having frequently worked with the printer, Augustine Matthews, who was active from 1619–1653 and was significantly involved in dramatic and theatrical printing. Matthews printed Middleton’s A Game of Chess (one of four unlicensed editions in 1624), Milton’s A Maske Presented at Ludlow Castle in 1637, the 2nd Quarto of Shakespeare’s Othello in 1630 for Richard Hawkins, and King John for Thomas Dewe in 1622, among many other works, including some by Beaumont and Fletcher. Matthews’ career was apparently punctuated at least once by the loss of his press (and pauperism) as governmental retribution for unlicensed or undesirable printing.

While Milbourne published another broadside (printed by Marmaduke Parsons) featuring the same engraving and accompanied only by the Latin text, only two copies of which are recorded (Harvard and Bayerische Staatsbibliothek), the present broadside is especially appealing and striking in its incorporation of both Latin and English versions of the text. Apparently, Milbourne wanted his message to reach unlearned as well as learned audiences and expected both demographics to be drawn in by the monstrous common denominator of the Colloredo brothers. In addition to the two broadsides, the engraving itself was published separately with the curious title (perhaps another suggestion of religious portent) “Israel: The Twin Brothers.”

Rare. Evidently the only known copy. Not in OCLC or ESTC.

A rare and fascinating cultural prism of early modern England.

PROVENANCE: Collection of writer, artist, and ephemerist Peter Jackson of London.

REFERENCES: Jillings, Karen. “Monstrosity as Spectacle…” in Popular Entertainment Studies, vol. 2 no. 1, pp. 54–68; Bondeson, Jan. “The Two Inseparable Brothers; and a Preface” in The Two-headed Boy, and Other Medical Marvels, pp. vii–xix; Pender, Stephen. “No Monsters at the Resurrection” in Monster Theory, pp. 157–161; Parker, Martin. “The Two Inseparable Brothers”; EBBA 30865; Sayle, Charles. Early English Printed Books in the University Library, Cambridge, (1475–1640), pp. 930; Clegg, Cyndia Susan. Press Censorship in Caroline England, p. 108; Hotchkiss, Valerie and Fred C. Robinson. English in Print from Caxton to Shakespeare to Milton, p. 99; Palmer, Alan and Veronica. Who’s Who in Shakespeare’s England: Over 700 Concise Biographies of Shakespeare’s Contemporaries, p. 162; Stahmer, Carl G. “Digital Analytical Bibliography…” Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 79, no. 2, p. 276; Plomer, H. R. “The Printers of Shakespeare’s Plays and Poems,” The Library: A Quarterly Review of Bibliography and Library Lore, vol. vii, no. 26.

CONDITION: Good, losses to margins in lower corners, relatively light staining at edges, very skillful and discreet reinforcement with light application of paper pulp to some thin areas at edges on verso.

Item #3985


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