Religio Medici. A Letter to a Friend, Christian Morals, Urn-Burial, and Other Papers

By: Browne T;

Price: $100.00

Quantity: 1 available


THIS COPY OF RELIGIO MEDICI IS THE PRINTING (BOSTON, 1862) TREASURED BY SIR WILLIAM OSLER. 7 inches tall hardcover, xviii, 432, blindstamped brown pebbled cloth binding, edges red-stained, engraved portrait frontis with tissue guard. Corners worn, spine ends frayed, spine faded, binding tight, pages age-toned but unmarked, overall very good minus. Edited by Fields with a 'Biographical Sketch' of Browne on pp. vii - xviii. The portrait is newly engraved from the folio published in 1686. Sir Thomas Brown was born in London in 1605 and died in 1682. Religio Medici (The Religion of a Doctor) is a spiritual testament and an early psychological self-portrait. Published in 1643, it became a European best-seller which brought its author fame at home and abroad. OSLER LIBRARY NEWSLETTER, No. 89, October 1998: Sir Thomas Borwne's Religio Medici and the Publishing house of Ticknor & Fields, by David Carlin: 'Sir William Osler will always be closely associated with the writings of Sir Thomas Browne. Osler encountered Browne early in life, and remained a devoted champion until his death. He was particularly affected by the Religio Medici, of which he wrote, 'No book has had so enduring an influence on my life.' The most important book Osler ever owned was the second book he purchased. This was the 1862 Religio (second edition), published by Messrs. Ticknor and Fields of Boston (the present copy is one of this printing). Osler always kept this copy of Religio near him and would put it in his bag if he was to be away from home for the night. During Osler's last illness, at the end of 1919, this volume was at his side. When Osler's funeral service was held at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, the book lay on the purple pall covering his coffin. Osler bought the book in 1867, and later called it, 'the father of my Browne collection.' But we may well ask why a Boston publisher would print this 17th century English essay, at a time when America was embroiled in its great Civil War. Boston, in 1862, was a city of vibrant intellectual activity at the height of an oratorical age. Emerson was a Browne disciple, and Thoreau was reading the Religio in 1847 'for the light it shed on his own essential problems. By the time the Boston Religio appeared, Ticknor & Fields was, possibly, the most important publishing house in America. Fields inscribed his edition of the Religio to the two great (living) literary physicians in his life: John Brown and Oliver Wendell Holmes. At the time of publication Fields did not have a close relationship with Dr. John Brown. Holmes, on the other hand, was a central figure in the life of James T. Fields. Holmes was the only medical author who survived the firm's transition to publishing fine literature. The original binding of the 1862 Religio bears little resemblance to the gilt leather that presently enshrouds Osler's copy. The firm chose one of their popular bindings: simple, solid colour pebbled cloth, with both covers blind stamped, and with an elegant embossed title on the spine. The firm of Welch Bigelow & Co. was responsible for printing the first and all subsequent editions of the Religio. The text is set elegantly, with wide margins, and in two colours: black with red initials. Scattered throughout are fine printer's ornaments which divide sections and chapters in a pleasing and balanced way. Varying type sizes are carefully considered, and are placed in relation to each other in such a way that even the smallest type size can be read comfortably. Superb typography is the most distinguished feature of the book. All of the firm's editions of the Religio were printed from the same electrotyped plates. The book's red text was made even more visually striking by staining all of the paper edges a deep red colour. The printing of the first edition of the Religio was completed in December 1861, and sold for $1.50. Only 992 copies were produced. These sold well enough to warrant a second printing of 1000 copies in early February of 1862. The back of the title page is clearly marked 'second edition', even though the work, having been printed from the same plates, is identical to the first. It may not be an exaggeration to claim that the Osler Library owes its existence to James T. Fields and his obsession with England. If Fields had not published the Religio would Osler have come to Browne some other way? I wonder what Osler was thinking when, during his last illness, he scribbled in the margins of his precious volume, 'I doubt if any man can more truly say of this book comes viae vitaeque [count the ways of life]'.'

Title: Religio Medici. A Letter to a Friend, Christian Morals, Urn-Burial, and Other Papers

Author Name: Browne T;

Categories: Religion, Religion, History,

Publisher: Boston, Ticknor and Fields: 1862

Item: 1.00 lbs

Seller ID: 219

Keywords: history;medicine;religion;death;America;Osler