"ONE OF THE WORLD'S FINEST EXAMPLES OF PRISON LITERATURE": 1747 FIRST AMERICAN EDITION OF WILLIAM PENN'S NO CROSS, NO CROWN, IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN BINDING
PENN, William. No Cross, No Crown. A Discourse Shewing the Nature and Discipline of the Holy Cross of Christ. Boston: Rogers and Fowle, 1747. Two volumes bound in one. 16mo, contemporary full American sheep, raised bands. $6500.
First American edition of this scarce William Penn polemic, written during his imprisonment in the Tower of London in 1669—an excellent copy in contemporary American sheep binding.
"The most popular of all the religious pieces of William Penn" (Lowndes, 1822). "In 1669, while imprisoned in the Tower of London for publishing an unorthodox work, he composed the first draft of his famous No Cross, No Crown (1669), directed against luxury, frivolity, vicious amusements, and economic oppression" (DNB). In this work he expounded the Quaker-Puritan morality with eloquence, learning, and flashes of humor, condemning the worldliness and luxury of Restoration England and extolling both Puritan conceptions of ascetic self-denial and Quaker ideals of social reform. No Cross, No Crown stands alongside the letters of St. Paul, Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, and John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress as one of the world's finest examples of prison literature. Penn was released from the Tower in 1669" (Britannica). "His most ambitious and most learned work… This was not a theological treatise in the ordinary sense but rather what might be called a guide to practical Christianity and a commentary on daily Christian living… For two centuries it remained the basic guide for Quaker living… Since that time it has been only rarely reprinted and yet remains generally accepted as the clearest exposition of the beliefs of members of the Society of Friends, which has always been strongly represented in the State which bears his name" (PMM). With separate title pages and pagination, as issued. First published in London in 1669; title page states "seventh edition" (overall). Evans 6041. ESTC W28689. Sabin 59722. See PMM 150. Early owner signatures and annotations to pastedowns.
Without free endpapers (blanks). Text generally quite clean, some mild rubbing to extremities of binding. Near-fine, scarce, and quite desirable in contemporary American sheep.