Description

    A Rare Early American Imprint

    Cotton Mather. A Companion for Communicants. Discourses Upon The Nature, the Design, and the Subject of the Lords Supper; With Devout Methods of Preparing for, and Approaching to that Blessed Ordinance. Boston: Samuel Green for Benjamin Harris at the London Coffee House, 1690.

    Twelvemo. [8], 167, [1, publisher's advertisement] pages.

    Full contemporary brown mottled calf with paper library call label on the spine. Housed in a modern half leather drop-down box with an inset compartment custom-designed for the book inside. Noticeable wear, rubbing, and dampstaining to the boards. Corners bumped and chipped. Boards slightly bowed. Joints somewhat split, but strong. Foxing to text, with occasional unobtrusive marginal scribbling. Text trimmed, with minor loss to a few headlines. Margins to two leaves chipped with minor loss to letters of text. Lacking the front free endpaper and possibly a blank. City Library Association of Springfield, Massachusetts blind-stamp to title page, some perforated stamps in the text, and paper label to rear free endpaper. A very good, unrestored copy of a rare early American religious text.

    From the library of Joshua Gee, a Boston clergyman who served alongside Mather as pastor of the original Old North Church, a Congregationalist meeting house, from 1723 until Mather's death in 1728. Gee preached and published the "Sermon on the Death of Cotton Mather" and served in that church until his own death in 1748. Two pages (front pastedown and rear flyleaf) inscribed in some variety of personal code or shorthand.

    There are two poems in an unknown hand on the rear pastedown and last free endpaper. One is titled "To my Father taking Chariot for Salam" and was likely written by Mather in reference to his father's trip to the 1692 Salem Witch Trials, in part: "...And our forsaken hours till you Returne/ Can not but Darkly Look & Sadly mourn." The second, long attributed to Mather, is the epitaph for Puritan poet and minister Michael Wigglesworth (1631-1705). Its last two lines refer to Wigglesworth's early work on the final judgment "The Day of Doom." It reads, in part: "...he to his paradise is Joyfull Come/ and waits with Joy to see his Day of Doom."

    Cotton Mather (1663-1728) was the son of Puritan minister Increase Mather, an important figure in the early days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and later president of Harvard University. Young Cotton followed very much in his father's footsteps, graduating from Harvard at age fifteen and then assisting the elder Mather in pastoring the Old North Church. Cotton Mather was a highly influential and prolific writer, both on subjects sacred and secular. He became quite a controversial figure for his close friendship with and influence over many of the judges who presided over the Salem witch trials in 1692. Although warning against their use of "spectral evidence" in deciding a case, Mather, a believer in witchcraft, later defended just that same practice. Though a Harvard graduate, Mather had a major role in the early history of Yale University. Founded as the Collegiate School of Connecticut in 1701, the institution was in need of a benefactor to build and expand. Mather contacted a wealthy trader named Elihu Yale on their behalf; Yale contributed goods worth £560 sterling when sold and the resulting building, and later the university, was named after him. A believer in modern science, Cotton Mather developed early methods of plant hybridization using corn and later defended (most unpopularly) the use of smallpox inoculations during the 1721 epidemic in Boston. That same year he published The Christian Philosopher, a seminal American work harmonizing Newtonian science and religion. Mather saw teaching as the main goal of his writing, and Benjamin Franklin once said that Mather's book Essays to do Good was the work that most guided his youth.

    A rare early American imprint in a contemporary binding from one of the great religious leaders of the time, with contemporary poetry in manuscript.

    Evans 535. Holmes 67. Wing M1091.


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    October, 2009
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