A LETTER FROM DR. BRAY, TO SUCH AS HAVE CONTRIBUTED TOWARDS THE PROPAGATING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE IN THE PLANTATIONS [caption title].
[Np, but probably London. 1700]. 3pp. printed on a folded sheet. Folio. Some soiling on final blank page. Overall a very good copy, untrimmed. In a large folding paper board case. A rare printed circular letter written by Bray immediately upon his return from Maryland. Founder of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, Bray was engaged in the important work of establishing parochial libraries in the colonies. In 1695 he was appointed by the governor of Maryland to assist in dividing the province into parishes. While waiting for a new act to be passed, he spent time looking for missionaries to be sent to the province. He found that he could enlist only poor men unable to buy books, and he seems to have made the provision of parochial libraries a condition of his going to Maryland. He was responsible for establishing no less than thirty-nine libraries in North America, the first being that at Annapolis. It was felt that he could do greatest service to the church in Maryland if he returned to England to have the law, which had run into several difficulties, enacted. The opening words of the present letter reflect a sense of urgency: "Being apprehensive that my so sudden Return for England, may occasion some misconstructions...I thought my self in duty...bound, to represent hereby a General View of those Reasons, which have induced me to make it so soon, and unexpectedly." He then gives seven reasons for his return from Maryland: "It is the joint request of the Clergy of MARY-LAND, who...urged me...that I should go over with the Law for England; not that the Quakers are openly, and the Papists more covertly, making efforts against the Establishment of our Church by false representations...That to impose upon them an Establish'd Maintenance for the Clergy, would be prejudicial to the interest of the Province, by obliging so many wealthy Traders to remove from thence. The Falsity of which they thought me best able to make appear, by means of my late Parochial Visitations, throughout the greatest part of the Province...by which...I shall be enabled to give an Account of the Names of all Heads of Families, and of the Religion and Morals of every individual Man, Woman and child, Freeman and Slave, White and Black, throughout MARY-LAND." Bray speaks of the church in America as being but in its "infancy," but goes on to mention the state of religion in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the East and West Jerseys; and the success of parochial libraries in Pennsylvania, New York, New England, Carolina, Bermuda, and the Leeward Islands. He concludes with a summary of advances and achievements up to the time of the letter, particularly the advances made in educating the black population. This letter is sometimes mistakenly considered an issue from Bradford's New York press (see Evans), but the statements herein make it more probable that it was printed in England after Bray's return in 1700. A rare and important work. SABIN 7478. EUROPEAN AMERICANA 700/28. WING 4293A. EVANS 903. BAER MARYLAND 197.
(Item ID: WRCAM20889) $5,000.00