The Mistress of Vision; Together with a Commentary by the Rev. John O'Connor S.T.P. and with a Preface by Father Vincent McNabb, O.P.
Ditchling, Sussex: Douglas Pepler, 1918. First edition. Quarto (10 1/2 inches tall), original cloth spine, gray paper boards, original dust wrapper. Book about-fine, very good original wrapper re-margined and made complete. A wonderful copy. Item #681
"LEND ME, O LEND ME / THE TERRORS OF THAT SOUND, / THAT ITS MUSIC MAY ATTEND ME, / WRAP MY CHANT IN THUNDERS ROUND, / WHILE I TELL THE ANCIENT SECRETS IN THAT LADY'S SINGING FOUND"
First edition of Father John O'Connor's study of Francis Thompson's Marian poem, this copy scarce in fine original boards complete with the rare original dust wrapper illustrated by Eric Gill.
Francis Thompson, declared Fr. Calvert Alexander, knew "the exultant surge of resurrection, not partial, not momentary, as was the case with so many others, but a triumphant entering into the full spirit of Catholicism out of which arose his best poetry" (Alexander, The Catholic Literary Revival). Thompson's troubled life and brief career influenced a generation of Catholic artists and writers, perhaps none more than Eric Gill. When Thompson died of tuberculosis in 1907, the Meynell family helped Gill to secure a commission to carve the altar tomb for Thompson at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green. This experience apparently affected Gill greatly during the final approach to his own conversion in 1913.
The Mistress of Vision first appeared in volume II of The Works of Francis Thompson, published by Burns Oates shortly after Thompson's death. This subsequent Ditchling printing features three wood-engravings by Eric Gill, including "Agnes Redemit Oves," with an additional engraving, "Sedes Sapientae," appearing on the front of the dust wrapper. Fr. O'Connor's running commentary appears opposite the verses for each of the 26 stanzas. Fr. Vincent McNabb, the early mentor and spiritual guide to the lay Dominicans gathered at Ditchling, provides a Preface: "To Francis Thompson, the Catholic poet, the world of life, of science, of history, of literature was one because God thought of it, and it lasteth and forever shall because God loveth it." The colophon notes that this was "printed 'in days whose feet are rumorous on the air' by Douglas Hilary Pepler at Ditchling Sussex, in the year of Our Lord MCMXVIII, and completed on the Feast of Our Lady of Ransome." This is no. 24 of S. Dominic's Press publications, first issued in black paper wrappers in the same year. A "Catalogue of Books" (and tracts, catalogues, and wood engravings) published by Pepler appears at the rear. Calvert Alexander, The Catholic Literary Revival. Evan Gill, 366.