Roma Ruens, Romes Ruine.London, Thomas Purslow, 1644
FIRST EDITION. 4to. Pp. (xviii) 62. Roman letter, some Italic. Title within typographical border, full page frontispiece woodcut of burning tower of Babylon, ornamental head and tail pieces. Contemp. ms numerals at upper outer corner of tp and frontispiece. Many edges untrimmed, very slight age yellowing, ink splashes to blank verso of last, a good clean copy with generous margins in modern calf.
The Puritan Apologist Daniel Featley (1582-1645) was known for his anti-Catholic views and continual disputes with Jesuits. His plain speaking manner is also present in Rome Ruens, which sought to challenge the authority of Rome, and of the Pope. Featley’s views were developed through the patronage of his benefactor, John Rainolds, a leading Puritan spokesman. Fame so spread of Featley’s skill at debate that he even engaged in a heated discussion with King James, the contents of this conversation later published by Featley in ‘Cygnes Cantio: or learned Decisions and…Pious Directions for Students in Divinitie, delivered by…King James at Whitehall’ in 1629. He was involved in the translation of the famous King James Bible, demonstrating his strong, albeit tumultuous, relationship with the monarchy. Featley was a chaplain in ordinary to Charles I. Featley’s 1626 publication entitled Ancilla Pietatis was a favourite read of Charles’s during the political chaos of the civil war. Featley served the English ambassador at Paris, Sir Thomas Edmondes, and during this time delivered audaciously anti-Catholic sermons which were published in his Calvis Mystica in 1636. English Theologian Peter Heylyn called Featley “a Calvinist always in his heart”, though Featley did not shy from defending the Church of England in his many debates. During the tumult of the civil war Featley avoided two assassination attempts as well as being subject to violence and robbery.
Featley was eventually imprisoned for his controversial views and his ongoing loyalty to Charles I, and it is during this period that he wrote this treatise against the Roman Catholics at the request of parliament. While writing it, says his nephew, he was allowed three books at a time from his library. Featley was plagued with bad health throughout his life, and after eighteen months’ confinement he was permitted upon bail to transfer to Chelsea College for change of air. However, shortly afterwards he died of asthma and dropsy, on the 17th April 1645, and on the 21st was buried according to his own wishes in the chancel of Lambeth church, ‘at which time a very great multitude of persons of honour and quality attended the funeral rites.’ (‘A Puritan’s Mind’, Biography of Daniel Featley).ESTC R4369; Not in Lowndes.