The Grounds and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy…

The Grounds and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy and Religion enquired into. In a Letter written to R. L. by [EACHARD, John.]
‘brims over with wit and humour’

~ The Grounds and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy and Religion enquired into. In a Letter written to R. L. London: by W. Godbid for N. Brooke, 1670.

Small 8vo (140 × 85 mm.), pp. [viii] (incl. initial blank, 131, [5] (adverts). Title within double ruled borders and with woodcut ornament, woodcut initials, decorative headpieces. Small wormhole/track from p. 80 onwards affecting a few letters, but generally (and considerately) confined to a line-space. Early manuscript corrections to text. Contemporary unlettered sheep, blindruling to covers and spine. Minor expert repair to head of spine, minor wear to corners. Early ownership inscriptions (James Bird, Queen’s College, Oxford) to initial blanks, later armorial bookplate (Ethel Mary Portal). An attractive copy.

First edition. ‘This work, which brims over with wit and humour, had a rapid sale, and passed through many editions. The author represents the contempt with which the clergy were generally regarded as being in great measure due to a wrong method of education or the poverty of some of the inferior clergy’ (DNB).

The book, with its occasionally hilarious anecdotes of disasters in the pulpit, was widely discussed and criticised. It later formed the basis of Macaulay’s account of the English clergy around the time of the accession of James II in his History of England.

Eachard was Master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge and later Vice-Chancellor of the University. He was something of a learned wag and here forestalled the likely assumptions of the reader in a good-humoured preface: ‘I can very easily phansie, that many upon the very first sight of the Title, will presently imagin, that the Author does either want the great Tithes, lying under the pressure of some pitiful Vicaridge; or that he is much out of humour, and dissatisfied with the present condition of Affairs; or lastly, that he writes to no purpose at all, there having been an abundance of unprofitable Advisers in this kind.’ Wing E50.

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