New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1906. First American edition. Thick octavo, original green cloth gilt, uncut. One corner slightly bumped, small library stamp on free endpaper, several leaves unopened. A nearly-fine copy, uncommon in this condition. Item #142
First American edition of the letters of Lord Acton, tracing the turbulent years of 1858-1875, edited by the English Benedictine, Aidan Gasquet. 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). Much of the correspondence illuminates Acton's resistance to the ultramontanism sweeping the continent, culminating 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 but he remained loyal to the Church and Gasquet's remarks that Acton was "fortified by the rites of the Church" on his death in 1902. 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 he has had a mixed reputation as an historian. His lengthy introductory essay "Acton and His Circle" is supplemented with an abrupt Conclusion at the end of the text. With an engraved frontispiece portrait of Acton and a detailed Table of Contents. A treasure trove of Acton's thought.