(London: E. C[otes]. for James Collins, 1668). 152 x 95 mm. (6 x 3 3/4"). 8 p.l., 160 pp. Two parts in one volume (with continuous pagination, but with three title pages). Third Edition.
Contemporary speckled calf, rebacked preserving most of original backstrip, raised bands flanked by gilt and blind rules, panels with small gilt flower at center, black morocco label, marbled endpapers (corners of upper cover restored). Front free endpaper with ownership inscription of "J. H. C." dated 1849; title page with about half the letterpress in old inked facsimile. Wing G-799 and G-818. Thin two-inch crack to tail edge of rear board, leather on upper board a little crackled, leaves trimmed close at head with running titles occasionally cut into, the text lightly browned, otherwise an appealing copy of a book expected to be found dilapidated--the restored binding solid and the text surprisingly fresh and clean.
This major publication on witches is divided into two parts, the first setting out a rationale for belief in witches and spirits, the second providing "palpable evidence" of their existence. Joseph Glanvill (1636-80) presided as rector of the Abbey Church at Bath and was a chaplain to Charles II, but neither these lofty positions nor his membership in the Royal Society deterred him from embracing a belief in the existence of witches. (Glanvill was not unusual among natural philosophers in Restoration England for his belief in spirits and their ability to intervene in the material world.) Ultimately, he was less concerned with defending belief in actual witches than he was with discouraging the disbelief in demons and spirits that could lead to heresy and atheism. To this end, he was actively engaged in gathering evidence of spiritual and psychic phenomena, heading up, with Henry More (1614-87), an association for "psychical research" (a kind of prototype for the modern Society for Psychical Research). It was in this capacity that he ended up doing such things as listening to a ghostly drummer who was tapping out his vengeance in a house at Tedworth in Wiltshire, a rhythmic séance that is dealt with at length in the second part of the text here. Glanvill was known throughout Europe and the New World as one of the leading defenders of belief in witchcraft. Unfortunately, his influence reached Cotton Mather, who greatly affected the Salem witch trials and whose writings drew heavily from Glanvill's work. (ST12868)
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PJP Catalog: ELIST1.029