Letters of Lord Acton; Lord Acton and His Circle
New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1906. First American edition. Thick octavo (9 1/8 inches tall), original green cloth, gilt spine and front board, uncut edges. One corner slightly bumped, small contemporary ink-stamp to blank flyleaf, several leaves unopened. A nearly-fine copy, uncommon in this condition. Item #1390
"THE MOST ERUDITE MAN OF HIS GENERATION"
First American edition of the Letters of Lord Acton—"the most erudite man of his generation"—edited by the English Benedictine, Aidan Gasquet, with his lengthy Introduction. Printed on laid paper and complete with the engraved frontispiece portrait of Acton. A bright, fresh copy.
John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, First Baron Acton, was the scion of an old Anglo-continental family and the most prominent lay Catholic in Victorian England. Denied the chance to attend Oxford, Acton spent several years in Germany studying with Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger. In 1859, he returned to England and assumed editorship of the Catholic monthly, "The Rambler" (succeeding Newman) where "Acton and his group produced the most intelligent Roman Catholic writing of the century" (Owen Chadwick, The Victorian Church). Tracing the turbulent years of 1858-1875, much of the correspondence illuminates Acton's resistance to the Ultramontanism sweeping the Church, which culminated in the promulgation of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility at the First Vatican Council (December 1869 - October, 1870). Under pressure from the papacy and the English hierarchy, Acton was forced to suspend his editorship of The Rambler, but he remained loyal to the Church and Gasquet remarks that Acton was "fortified by the rites of the Church" on his death in 1902. Aidan Gasquet had a long and distinguished clerical career (Prior of Downside Abbey, President of the Pontifical Commission for Revision of the Vulgate, Vatican Librarian, Cardinal) but today he has had a more mixed reputation as an historian. His introductory essay is supplemented with a brief Conclusion at the end of the text. Prefaced with a detailed Table of Contents. Uncommon in the condition.