361G Mather, Cotton. 1663-1728

Magnalia Christi Americana: Or, The Ecclesiastical History of New England, from its First Planting in the Year 1620. Unto the Year of Our Lord, 1698. In Seven Books. I. Antiquities: In Seven Chapters. With an Appendix. II. Containing the Lives of the Governours, and Names of the Magistrates of New-England: In Thirteen Chapters. With an Appendix. III. The Lives of Sixty Famous Divines, by whose Ministry the Churches of New-England have been Planted and Continued. IV. An Account of the University of Cambridge in New England; In Two Parts. The First Contains the Laws, the Benefactors, and Vicissitudes of Harvard College; with Remarks upon it. The Second Part contains the Lives of some Eminent Persons Educated in it. V. Acts and Monuments of the Faith and Order in the Churches of New-England, passed in their Synods; with Historical Remarks upon those Venerable Assemblies; and a great Variety of Church-Cases occurring, and resolved by the Synods of those Churches: In Four Parts. VI. A Faithful Record of many Illustrious, Wonderful Providences, both of Mercies and Judgments, on divers Persons in New-England: In Eight Chapters. VII. The Wars of The Lord. Being an History of the Manifold Afflictions and Disturbances of the Churches in New-England, from their Various Adversaries, and the Wonderful Methods and Mercies of God in their Deliverance: In Six Chapters: To which is subjoined, An Appendix of Remarkable Occurrences which New-England had in the Wars with the Indian Salvages, from the Year 1688, to the Year 1698.

London: Thomas Parkhurst, 1702.                     $13,000

Magnalia Christi Americana 361G
Magnalia Christi Americana

Folio, 12.27 X 7.75. First edition [ ]1, A-C4, D2, B-F4, Aa-Ii4, Kk2, Aaa-Zzz4, Aaaa-Gggg4, Aaaa-Mmmm4, Nnnn2, Mmmmm-Mmmmm4, Nnnnn2, Aaaaaa-Llllll4, Mmmmmm1, Aaaaaaa-Ppppppp4 Including the final leaf, advertisments. The folding map is in very nice condition. Bound in 19th century full calf, a very solid copy. “The most famous American book of colonial times.” (Streeter) Mather’s work contains important contemporary accounts of all aspects of life in seventeenth-century New England including the arrival of the “Pilgrims” at Plymouth colony; a description of Boston; biographies of John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Colony and William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth Colony; a history of Harvard College, including a catalogue of the graduates from 1642 to 1698. Mather, an important figure in the Salem witch trials of 1692, devotes a chapter to the enumeration of “the Wonders of the invisible world in preternatural occurrences” in New England. The “Magnalia” also provides a great deal of contemporary information on the interactions (and wars) between the Europeans and the Native American tribes of seventeenth-century New England, including “A History of Remarkable Occurances, in the War which New-England had with Indian Salvages, from the year 1688 to the year 1698.” According to Sabin, the map of New England is often lacking. In this copy, the map showing the coast of (present-day) Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island has been preserved.

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“Cotton Mather, American Congregational clergyman and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 12th of February 1663. He was the grandson of Richard Mather, and the eldest child of Increase Mather and Maria, daughter of John Cotton. After studying under the famous Ezekiel Cheever (1614-1708), he entered Harvard College at twelve, and graduated in 1678. He was elected assistant pastor in his father’s church, the North, or Second, Church of Boston, in 1681 and was ordained as his father’s colleague in 1685. In 1688, when his father went to England as agent for the colony, he was left at twenty-five in charge of the largest congregation in New England, and he ministered to it for the rest of his life. He soon became one of the most influential men in the colonies. “He had much to do with the witchcraft persecution of his day. In 1692 when the magistrates appealed to the Boston clergy for advice in regard to the witchcraft cases in Salem he drafted their reply, upon which the prosecutions were based. He attended the trials, investigated many of the cases himself, and wrote sermons on witchcraft, the “Memorable Providences” and “The Wonders of the Invisible World” (1693), which increased the excitement of the people. Accordingly, when the persecutions ceased and the reaction set in, much of the blame was laid upon him; the influence of Judge Samuel Sewall, after he had come to think his part in the Salem delusion a great mistake, was turned against the Mathers; and the liberal leaders of Congregationalism in Boston, notably the Brattles, found this a vulnerable point in Cotton Mather’s armour and used their knowledge to much effect. “Mather took some part as adviser in the Revolution of 1689 in Massachusetts. In 1690 he became a member of the Corporation (probably the youngest ever chosen as Fellow) of Harvard College, and in 1707 he was greatly disappointed at his failure to be chosen president of that institution. He received the degree of D.D. from the University of Glasgow in 1710, and in 1713 was made a Fellow of the Royal Society. Like his father he was deeply grieved by the liberal theology and Church polity of the new Brattle Street Congregation, and conscientiously opposed its pastor Benjamin Colman, who had been irregularly ordained in England and by a Presbyterian body; but with his father he took part in 1700 in services in Colman’s church. Harvard College was now controlled by the Liberals of the Brattle Street Church, and as it grew farther and farther away from Calvinism, Mather looked with increasing favour upon the college in Connecticut; before September 1701 he had drawn up a “scheme for a college,” the oldest document now in the Yale archives; and finally (Jan. 1718) he wrote to a London merchant, Elihu Yale, and persuaded him to make a liberal gift to the college, which was named in his honour. “His later years were clouded with many sorrows and disappointments; his relations with Governor Joseph Dudley were unfriendly; he lost much of his former prestige in the Church his own congregation dwindled and in the college; his uncle John Cotton was expelled from his charge in the Plymouth Church; his son Increase turned out a ne-er-do-well; four of his children and his second wife died in November 1713; his wife’s brothers and the husbands of his sisters were ungodly and violent men; his favourite daughter Katherine, who “understood Latin and read Hebrew fluently,” died in 1716; his third wife went mad in 1719; his personal enemies circulated incredible scandals about him; and in. 1724/1725 he saw a Liberal once more preferred to him as a new president of Harvard. He died in Boston on the 13th of February 1728 and is buried in the Copps Hill burial-ground, Boston.” (EnBrit) Howes M-391; Streeter Sale 658; European Americana 702/127; Holmes, Cotton Mather 213; Sabin 46392; Church 806; McCorkle 702.3,680.4

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