|With permission of University of Iowa Special Collections|
The Rehearsal Transpros'd (1672) was an attack on Samuel Parker, the Bishop of Oxford -- but more than that, it was a defense of religious freedom and an argument for the the separation of church and state. But Marvell's biting, ironic style is what made it such a sensation and a scandal (you'll notice that Marvell's name doesn't appear on the title page -- he stayed anonymous to stay out of jail). In fact, not only does the Rehearsal, as a product of London's underground press, not include Marvell's name, but it doesn't include the name of a printer or publisher either. More than this, the first edition include a false imprint on the title page, which was all part of Marvell's joke, poking fun at a Samuel Parker for a geographical error made in his own work: "London, Printed for J.D., for the Assigns of John Calvin, at the Signs of the King's Indulgence, on the South Side of Lake Lemane" (the joke is that Parker mistakenly refers to Geneva being on the "rank soil of the south side of Lake Lemane" in his own book, while as Marvell points out, "the lake likes East and West, and Geneva is built on the West side of it").
It doesn't seem like much, but it was just such smart-assed humor that drove the authorities wild, and the censors quickly shut down printing of the book. Luckily for Marvell, King Charles II himself enjoyed the book, and so insisted it be allowed -- but the second issue was printed only with substantial revisions, including the title page pictured above, which removes Marvell's cutting humor.
This is where the Iowa copy gets interesting: here's an enlarged photo:
Although the censors had stepped in, Marvell's work was already the talk of the coffee shops, where the clever, sarcastic title page was clearly part of the appeal. The wag that bought this copy clearly also had access to the first edition, and copied in the original joke. He also went through the copy dutifully restoring other deletions that the censor, Roger L'Estrange, had demanded. But still more interestingly, while the annotator seems to know all about that first edition, he doesn't ever include the author's name -- was Marvell's identity, at this point, still a secret?
At any rate, the secret was out by the following year, when Marvell issued the Rehearsal Transpros'd: The Second Part, with his name on the title page. But Marvell continued to develop his ironic use of the paratext. Here's the title page from the University of Iowa copy of that book:
Notice that he's included a note saying that this edition had been "licensed" by the censors. And above that license, he's included another quote from his opponent: "If you have any thing to object against it, do your worst. You know the Press is open." This was Parker, challenging his opponents -- and by turning Parker's own words against him, once again, Marvell both takes up that challenge and implies that the press is not quite as open, or free, as the Bishops would have us believe.