London: Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd., 1904. First edition. Original gilt red morocco boards (6 1/2 inches tall), top edge gilt. Early owner signature (dated 1912), foxing to early leaves, minor wear to spine ends, gentle toning to spine and margins of front board, gilt bright. A near-fine copy. Item #832
"JESU...BE THOU MY LOVE AND ALL MY THOUGHT / AND HELP THAT I MAY BE TO THEE BROUGHT / WITHOUTEN THEE MAY I DO NOUGHT" First edition of Robert Hugh Benson's immersion in medieval English spirituality—a scarce devotional handbook in the rare publisher's leather binding. Benson's study is centered on the writings of Richard Rolle ("the Hermit of Hamphole"), commonly regarded as "the first of the great mystics who thrived in fourteenth-century England" (Robert Ellsberg). Medieval devotion was imbued with "an intense and passionate love for the Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ." The English spiritual writers demonstrated a familiarity and intimacy with the Son of Man and "Rolle's writings exemplify the positive and affirmative style of English mysticism" (Ellsberg). The book is composed of: Characteristics of English Devotions, An Introduction to Prayer, Part I. The Love of Jesus, Part II. The Passion of Jesus, Part III. Devotions for Communion, Part IV. General Devotions. Notes. The collection concludes with a Short Life of Richard Rolle (placed after the Notes). Benson's introductory chapter references the novel John Inglesant, Joseph Shorthouse's influential 1881 spiritual romance. John Inglesant was a book Benson read with an "absolute passion" as a young man and it was clearly a sustaining text as Benson completed this project in a time of great personal change, noting in his brief Preface that "it is right to add that the book was practically finished while I was still a member of the Church of England." Printed throughout in red and black with a frontispiece illustration of the crucified Jesus after Velasquez and dedicated: "To Jesus Christ / God and Man / And to All His True Lovers." Approbations. Robert Ellsberg, All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets and Witnesses for Our Time.