Skip to main content

La.III.439: Esther Inglis, "Les Quatrains du Sieur de Pybrac", 1607 (dated)

Identifier: La.III.439

Scope and Contents

This manuscript contains the popular religious and moral Quatrains written by Guy du Faur, Seigneur de Pybrac. This calligraphic copy of the Quatrains was produced by Esther Inglis as a gift for the New Year ("pour ses estrennes"), offered to Robert Cecil (1563-1612), 1st Earl of Salisbury. It is one of Esther Inglis’ floral, illuminated manuscripts, which she produces between 1600 and 1608. Within her corpus of over sixty manuscripts, this illuminated, oblong manuscript type accounts for close to one-third of Inglis’ work; these are her most prolific years, with many of her floral manuscripts being produced for members of the circle surrounding Henry, prince of Wales. These manuscripts all have highly decorative title-pages, with flora and fauna painted against a gold ground, in a manner similar to late-medieval illuminated manuscripts. Within the main text of these manuscripts, Inglis copies her verses in a wide variety of calligraphic scripts, and accompanies each verse with an individual botanical illustration. This particular copy of the Quatrains is unusual for its clear evidence of intervention by later readers. The manuscript has been rebound and the text itself is imperfect, with 38 of its 126 verses missing. In addition, almost all the original botanical illustrations within the main text have been cut out.


Folios i-iiv: Blank

Folio 1r: Title-page

Folio 1v: Blank

Folios 2r-52r:
Incipit: Dieu tout premier, puis pere et mere honore | Sois iuste et droit : et en toute saison
Explicit: Couurir sa faute, et ne la rapporter, | Prompt a louer, et tardif a reprendre.

The main text of the manuscript is written on the rectos only. The text of the Quatrains is imperfect and, in some places, out of sequence. The verses included appear in the following order.
Folio 2r: Quatrains I and II
Folio 3r: Quatrains III and IV
Folio 4r: Quatrains V and VI
Folio 5r: Quatrain LX
Folio 6r: Quatrain IX
Folio 7r: Quatrain LIX
Folio 8r: Quatrain LXXIII
Folio 9r: Quatrain XII
Folio 10r: Quatrains XIII and XIV
Folio 11r: Quatrains XV and XVI
Folio 12r: Quatrains XVII and XVIII
Folio 13r: Quatrains XIX and XX
Folio 14r: Quatrains XXI and XXII
Folio 15r: Quatrains XXIII and XXIV
Folio 16r: Quatrains XXV and XXVI
Folio 17r: Quatrains XXIX and XXX
Folio 18r: Quatrains XXXIII and XXXIV
Folio 19r: Quatrain XXXVII
Folio 20r: Quatrain XXXVIII
Folio 21r: Quatrain XL
Folio 22r: Quatrains XLI and XLII
Folio 23r: Quatrains XLIII and XLIV
Folio 24r: Quatrains XLVII and XLVIII
Folio 25r: Quatrain XLIX
Folio 26r: Quatrain LIV
Folio 27r: Quatrains LV and LVI
Folio 28r: Quatrains LXI and LXII
Folio 29r: Quatrains LXIII and LXIV
Folio 30r: Quatrains LXV and LXVI
Folio 31r: Quatrains LXVII and LXVIII
Folio 32r: Quatrains LXIX and LXX
Folio 33r: Quatrain LXXIV
Folio 34r: Quatrain LXXV and LXXVI
Folio 35r: Quatrains LXXIX and LXXX
Folio 36r: Quatrains LXXXIII and LXXXIV
Folio 37r: Quatrains LXXXV and LXXXVI
Folio 38r: Quatrains XCI and XCII
Folio 39r: Quatrains XCIII and XCIV
Folio 40r: Quatrains XCVII and XCVIII
Folio 41r: Quatrains CI and CII
Folio 42r: Quatrains CIII and CIV
Folio 43r: Quatrains CV and CVI
Folio 44r: Quatrains CVII and CVIII
Folio 45r: Quatrains CIX and CX
Folio 46r: Quatrain CXI
Folio 47r: Quatrains CXII and CXIII
Folio 48r: Quatrains CXV and CXVI
Folio 49r: Quatrains CXXI and CXXII (imperfect)
Folio 50r: Quatrain CXIV
Folio 51r: Quatrain LI
Folio 52r: Quatrains CXXIII and CXXIV

Folio 52v: Blank, except for later provenance inscription

Folios iiir-vv: Blank


Inglis’ group of floral, illuminated manuscripts is characterised by the wide variety of scripts which they incorporate; in this phase of her work, she includes scripts which she does not use elsewhere, including mirror-writing (letter renversée). The re-binding and mis-ordering of this manuscript of Quatrains means that Inglis’ particular sequence and full range of scripts is no longer maintained, but in its original form, this manuscript would have included larger versions of scripts followed by successively smaller modulations. Inglis’ scripts follow models by the French writing-master Pierre Hamon, in his Alphabet de plusieurs sortes de lettres (1567), including droicte (upright Roman minuscule), ronde venecienne (italic), lettre chanceleresque, lettre pattée, lettre carrée, lettre mignardée, lettre destat, and roman and italic capitals.


The manuscript has an illuminated title-page, with a border of botanical designs painted against a gold ground which surrounds the central dedicatory text. The border has a pattern of pansies alternating with birds, carnations, and butterflies. However, most of the original floral illustrations, with which Esther Inglis accompanied the verses of the Quatrains in this manuscript, have been cut out by a later reader. Remaining botanical illustrations can still be seen on folios 19r, 22r, 38r, 39r. It is likely that these are of a lower artistic quality than those illustrations which are now missing.


  • Creation: 1607 (dated)


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Contact the repository for details

Biographical / Historical

Esther Inglis (c.1570-1624) was a Franco-Scottish Huguenot calligrapher, writer, and artist. She was the daughter of French parents, Nicolas Langlois and Marie Presot, who emigrated as refugees from France to Britain to escape religious persecution, and settled in Edinburgh. Esther Inglis was a prolific and exceptionally skilled scribe; a corpus of over 62 manuscripts survives worldwide, and many of these books were produced as gifts to be presented to prospective patrons. Inglis and her husband, Bartholomew Kello, were associated with the court of King James VI/I; many of her manuscripts were produced for members of the Royal household, and by 1604 they had followed James to London, after his accession to the English throne in 1603. La.III.439 was produced during the period which Inglis and Kello spent in London; between 1607 and 1614, Kello held a rectorship in the parish of Willingale Spain, Essex.


1 bound MS volume : 54 folios.

Custodial History

David Laing, purchased in London in 1865.

Provenance inscription on folio 51r: [P]ryemrose book I. Johnstoen[?]. An inscription in the same hand on folio 52v records prices of beef and mutton.


- Esther Inglis’s Les Proverbes de Salomon: A Facsimile, ed. by Nicolas Barker (London: The Roxburghe Club, 2012), p. 102.
- Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, ed. by Elizabeth L. Ewan and others (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), p. 179.
- A. H. Scott-Elliot and Elspeth Yeo, ‘Calligraphic Manuscripts of Esther Inglis (1571-1624): A Catalogue’, The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 84.1 (1990), 10–86, pp. 59-60.
- Anneke Tjan-Bakker, ‘Dame Flora’s Blossoms: Esther Inglis’ Flower-Illustrated Manuscripts’, in Writings by Early Modern Women, ed. by Peter Beal and Margaret J. M. Ezell, English Manuscript Studies, 1100-1700 (London: British Library, 2000), IX.
- Georgianna Ziegler, ‘"More than Feminine Boldness": The Gift Books of Esther Inglis’, in Women, Writing, and the Reproduction of Culture in Tudor and Stuart Britain, ed. by Mary Burke (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2000), pp. 19–37, p. 20.

Physical Facet

Material: Paper.

Layout: The manuscript has an oblong format, and is written on the rectos only.

Binding: The manuscript has been rebound. The upper front binding has been pasted over with its original cover of brown calf leather stamped with ornamental gold designs in the centre and corners, and scattered stamped gold detailing. The embossed design is different on upper and lower bindings. Holes for ribbon ties are visible on the upper cover only; the ribbons are now missing. Inner front pastedown reads "Part of original binding on new covers", in a modern hand.

Foliation: ii+1-52+iii


Binding: 105 x 140 mm

Folio: 97 x 130 mm

Written space: 70 x 20mm [Title-page outer border]

Processing Information

Catalogued by Anna-Nadine Pike, with reference to research compiled by Jamie Reid-Baxter.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379