New-London [Conn.]: Printed by Samuel Green, 1821. First edition. 12mo, contemporary calf, red leather label, gilt rules and lettering, 260, 40 pages. Tears from margins of a few leaves (no loss of text), somewhat stained and foxed throughout; boards a bit bowed, somewhat rubbed; a good, sound copy. Item #19771
An autobiography and poetical miscellany from the popular Irish-born itinerant Methodist preacher Maffitt (1794-1850), a “charismatic preacher of the first order” (ANB) sometimes called “the Beau Brummel of preachers.” Maffitt, who had been preaching to large crowds at camp meetings around New York and Connecticut, no doubt published this account to capitalize on his contemporary popularity. (The account of his life and conversion and journey to America concludes with Maffitt heeding an inspired message from his recently-deceased brother to up and leave his chamber of mourning for a camp meeting in Thompson, Connecticut. Maffitt’s reputation would take something of a hit the following year after his loss in a highly public libel suit against a Boston newspaper that implied Maffitt had “plagiarized a sermon, and suggested that he enticed young women to his bedchamber during a ‘pretended’ sickness” (ANB). Despite renewed success, he would be dogged by stories of drinking and sexual impropriety throughout his career. This copy with a contemporary ownership inscription for Harvey G. Capron, Mansfield [Conn.] Dec. the 30, 1821, “paid 4/6”—suggesting the regional sale among those in the western Connecticut circuit. American Imprints 5900.