Donne, John (1572-1631) Pseudo-Martyr. Wherein out of Certaine Propositions and Gradations, this Conclusion is Evicted.
London: Printed by W[illiam] Stansby for Walter Burre, 1610.
First edition of Donne's first published work, quarto, bound in later full calfskin, title page slightly wrinkled, paper defect to Ee2, Qq2 with marginal browning, Bbb1 with a closed tear, no loss, Hhh1 & 2 with marginal restoration, a few letters in facsimile; some headlines trimmed with slight loss to the ruling, bookseller's ticket of Pickering & Chatto pasted inside front board, purchased from Goodspeed's in 1971; 7 7/8 x 6 in.
In his first appearance in print, Donne wades into the religious controversy surrounding the Crown's requirement that all subjects, including Roman Catholics, swear an Oath of Allegiance to James I. A convert from Catholicism to Protestantism himself, Donne's maternal grandfather went into exile and his stepfather was jailed, both for failing to take the very same oath. In this light our author throws himself into squaring this particular circle. Employing a variety of rhetorical angles, he argues that the Oath of Allegiance could be understood as more of a political than a religious agreement, allowing for individual religious freedom and not necessarily precluding a belief in Catholicism. The title suggests that English Catholics need not consider the Oath as anything akin to actual martyrdom, unlike Christians persecuted in Ancient Rome.