BROWNE, Sir Thomas. Religio Medici. Waltham Saint Lawrence: The Golden Cockerel Press, 1923.
Large 4to., pale blue cloth-backed paper boards, paper label to spine; printed throughout in black, with the occasional red heading/initial; cockerel in gold to final leaf; pp. 81, [xi]; boards rather browned and marked to edges; paper label chipped; endpapers a little offset; corners marginally rubbed, showing through to boards; else internally clean. Provenance: Bookplate of Francis E. Bliss to front paste-down.
A rather scarce publication within the Golden Cockerel canon, one of only 115 copies, of which 105 were for sale. Although never originally intended for print, this meditative essay proved to be immensely popular and established Browne's fame as a writer.
A spiritual testament and early psychological self-portrait, originally published in 1643. Structured upon the Christian virtues of Faith and Hope (part 1) and Charity (part 2), Browne expresses his beliefs in the doctrine of sola fide, the existence of hell, the Last Judgment, the resurrection and other tenets of Christianity. He also discusses the relationship of science to religion, a topic which has lost none of its contemporary relevance.
In the early nineteenth century, Charles Lamb introduced Religio to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who after reading it, exclaimed "O to write a character of this man!". Later, in Confessions of an English Opium-Eater Thomas de Quincey wrote "I do not recollect more than one thing said adequately on the subject of music in all literature. It is a passage in Religio Medici of Sir T. Browne, and though chiefly remarkable for its sublimity, has also a philosophical value, inasmuch as it points to the true theory of musical effects."
The Cockerel edition is described by Keynes as being "handsome, but is intended for the eye of the bibliophile rather than for the use of the public at large". Nonetheless, it would make a welcome edition to any collector of Golden Cockerel material.