London: Thomas Richardson and Son, (circa 1877). Contemporary dark red morocco (5 3/4 inches tall), expertly rebacked with original spine laid-down, green coated endpapers, gilt dentelles, all edges red. Closed tear to inner margin of title page, gentle wear to original spine, upper corner bumped. A near-fine copy. Item #1033
"THE GARDEN OF THE SOUL HAS FOR MANY YEARS ENJOYED THE FAVOUR AND RESPECT OF THE CATHOLICS OF THIS KINGDOM" Victorian edition of Bishop Challoner's "manual of spiritual exercises and instructions for Christians"—a venerable handbook of English Catholic piety in a contemporary clerical binding. Baptized Catholic as a teenager and sent to the English College at Douai for schooling, Richard Challoner later returned to England to shepherd the isolated English Catholics for more than fifty years before his death in the aftermath of the sectarian Gordon Riots (1781). Partly compiled and partly composed by Challoner and first published in 1740 and 1741, the Garden of the Soul appeared at the same time as Challoner's two-volume English Martyrology (a forceful Catholic response to John Foxe's Book of Martyrs) but preceding his much needed-revision of the Douay-Rheims Bible (1750).
Printed in Derby ("Permissu Superiorum") and published by Thomas Richardson with a small title vignette of the Lamb of God. Preceded by a Table of Moveable Feasts, the text is composed of two general sections: I. Christian Doctrine; or a summary of Christian faith and morality, and II. The Sacraments. With a brief Preface to the Present Edition describing the Garden of the Soul as broadly influential, often imitated, and widely printed during its printing history. The profusion of printings led to substantial drift of the texts (two appendixes collect variant readings of the same prayer). This copy was specially-bound for the Rev. Lord Charles Thynne (with his ex-libris, stamped in purple, bound as the half title) in an ornate binding of gilt-paneled morocco with Lord Thynne's central monogram and corner initials ("C.T."). This copy also has a clipped epigraph which has been pasted to the verso of the title page: "Thy Beloved is of such a nature, that he will admit of no other: but will have thy heart to himself, and sit there like a king on his own throne" (Thomas a Kempis). Additionally, three prayer leaves have been trimmed and tipped-in before the preface. A handsome copy of this treasury of English Catholic devotions in a desirable Victorian binding.