The Life of the Very Reverend & Learned Cotton Mather. Samuel MATHER.
The Life of the Very Reverend & Learned Cotton Mather
“A Son Honoreth His Father” (Malachi 1:6)
Boston, for Samuel A. Gerish, 1729

The Life of the Very Reverend & Learned Cotton Mather.

8vo. (2) p.l., iv, 6, 10, 186 pp., including list of subscribers and list of subject’s works. Bound in contemporary paneled sheep, worn, front board shaken, ownership inscription on front endpaper; browning and some foxing typical of period, but generally very good.

First edition of this classic of American hagiography, the life of the most celebrated and prolific New England pastor, Cotton Mather, written by his son Samuel. The biography of a “star” clergyman written soon after his death became a well-established genre in colonial America and found a wide audience. As often as not, such a biography was penned by the pastor’s son, who not infrequently was also his successor. This was a particularly strong tradition in the Mather dynasty, with a life of its founding member, Richard, written by his son Increase, whose son Cotton in turn wrote his life, whose son Samuel wrote the work at hand. Drawing on the subject’s voluminous diaries, the work retails the basic narrative of Cotton Mather’s life, his service to his church and scholarship, with quotations and paraphrases of some of his works as a form of tribute, concluding (as required by the genre) with an inspiring deathbed scene.

When a call for subscribers was announced, the list of respondents (printed in the work) was double what the author expected, and the work remained popular until well into the 19th century through its subsequent editions and abridgements.

* Sabin 46799; B.M. Levy, The Life of Cotton Mather, i-xvii; David Levin, Cotton Mather,195-6.


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