"RIGOROUS YET OPTIMISTIC PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY": ALLESTREE'S WORKS, 1687 FOLIO EDITION
(ALLESTREE, Richard). The Works of the Learned and Pious Author of the Whole Duty of Man… The Second Impression. Oxford: George Pawlett, 1687. Folio (10 by 15 inches), contemporary full dark brown paneled calf rebacked with original spine preserved, later red morocco spine label, raised bands, later pastedowns. $1850.
Second folio edition of the works of Richard Allestree, including The Whole Duty of Man, with engraved frontispiece, an impressive folio volume.
Richard Allestree was a canon of Christ Church and a Royalist who was persecuted during the Commonwealth. Allestree's biographer, Bishop Fell, wrote that "few of his time had either a greater compass or a deeper insight into all parts of learning; the modern and learned languages, rhetoric, philosophy, mathematics, history, antiquity, moral and polemical divinity" (DNB). "Allestree's influence on the late 17th-century church may owe less to his preaching or his university lectures than to the series of moral and devotional works initiated by The Whole Duty of Man (1657). The Whole Duty of Man was intended to show 'the very meanest readers' how 'to behave themselves so in this world that they may be happy for ever in the next'. This best-selling manual's prescription of morality and effort was balanced by an emphasis on divine grace and devotional practice: the result was sober, orthodox, common-sense advice pitched at the level of ordinary Anglican parishioners… The Whole Duty was a publishing sensation, and Timothy Garthwait, the bookseller who had purchased it 'from the Author upon Valuable consideration', took steps to prevent pirate editions in London and Dublin… A total of six further works in this vein appeared as by the author of the Whole Duty between 1660 and 1678 and all were collected as a single folio, The Works of the Author of 'The Whole Duty of Man'… This series shows that Allestree was no prisoner of the ivory tower and that his Arminian theology was easily translated into a rigorous yet optimistic practical Christianity" (ODNB). The collected works first published in 12mo in 1682; first published in folio by Bishop Fell at Oxford in 1684. Includes The Gentleman's Calling, The Ladies Calling, The Art of Contentment, Private Devotions, The Causes of Decay of Christian Piety, and others. Wing A1083.
Interior with very occasional light dampstaining and a few dog-eared corners expertly repaired; contemporary calf boards remargined and repaired at edges. A very good copy of this impressive folio edition.