Book Provenance: The Blendworth Mystery of the Pseudonymous Apologist

I realize the title of this post sounds more like a Poirot novel, but I am actually refering to another example of mysterious book provenance I found in our library today. In 1851, the London publisher Thomas Bosworth published a second edition of Cases of Conscience; or, Lessons in Morals: for the Use of the Laity by Pascal the Younger (a.k.a. Pierce Connelly). The book is more of a pamphlet, and so was easily published together with a letter to W. E. Gladstone, Member of Parliament for the University of Oxford, who apparently held to some rather appeasing positions regarding the validity of the Church of Rome. The author attempts in this letter to convince Gladstone of the inconsistency of Romanism with true piety.

The letter itself is interesting reading, but the mysterious part is the handwritten, 4-page, note I found tucked within the book. The handwriting is rather hard to read (for me, at least), but it appears to be commending this publication along with the Church of Rome’s reply (which is not included in our binding). My best effort at interpreting note with links to images of the pages:

[page 1]
Blendworth _____
Hon. dean –
Feb. 6, 1859

My dear _______ /
I am very anxious / to put before you two / pamphlets written by / a friend of mine of / distinguished ability. / Their titles are “Cases / of Conscience or Lessons / in Morals for the use / of the Laity” by Pascal / [page 2] The Younger and / these men _____ Pascal / the Younger. / The Church of Rome’s / Defense against Cases / of Conscience with a Reply. / I consider these Pam- / phlets as one of the / severest blows, which the / Church of Rome has / received in modern / [page 3] times – a blow from which / she cannot recover – / Pray tell me the name / of your London bookseller / that _____ send you a / copy of each (of which I / expect _____ exceptance) / in kind to forward – / Should you like the Pam / phlets, those ____ will / kindly recommend them / to others; as it is a great / [page 4] object with my friend / (whose name I _____ _____ / mention) to sell his _____ / In this once well off, he / is now alas! in needy / circumstances -/
My archdeacon (_____) / says “this reply” is one of / the cleverest things he has / ever seen -/
_____ are my dear _____ / In _____ /

Edw. L. Ward

My best guess at the identity of the author is Edward Langton Ward, rector of Blendworth until his death in 1881.

Any help you can give me in deciphering the script of this note would be appreciated, for curiosity’s sake if nothing else. The next to last unreadable word appears to be the same as the second unreadable word.

Don’t you just love books?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. C. Gaudet says:

    I realize this reply is nearly 3 years since you posted, but I do have some suggestions on deciphering a few of the lost words.

    Page 2: I’m not sure, but I belive you’re mistaken in “these men.” The first letter appears to be a capitol “I” judging from later words.
    Page 3: 1. …London bookseller/ that I may send you a copy… (hence the previous capitol I) and 2. “should you like the Pam/phlets, I hope you will kindly…
    Page 4: 1. (whose name I need not mention) – Not sure but I believe that word starts with an “n.” It looks very similar to the first letter of the soon-following “needy.” – Not sure about the “sell his ____” But the following sentence, I believe should begin, “For tho once well off…” rather than “In this well off…”

    I wish I could figure more. Amazing discovery though! A scrap of paper can become a real treasure, given a hundred years between the pages of a book.


  2. Charlotte Frost says:

    A few suggestions
    Page 1, inside address: Blendworth Rcty [Rectory]/Horndean [Hampshire village formed of the parishes of Blendworth and Catherington]
    Page 1, salutation: My dear Griffiths
    Page 3, lines 6-7: (of which I request your acceptance)
    Page 4: The archdeacon’s name was Wigram. He was archdeacon of Winchester.
    Page 4, closing lines: Believe me/My dear Griffiths/Yrs sincerely,

    I believe that Catherington had a rector called Griffiths. Will check it for you.

    Interesting that Ward planned to use Griffiths’ bookseller to convey the gift.

    A useful insight into anti-Catholicism in a C19 English parish. Thank you for putting it online.

    Best wishes, Charlotte

  3. Charlotte Frost says:

    This has probably leapt off the page at you by now, but just in case, how about …

    Page 2, lines 2-3: [Cardinal Nicholas] Wiseman versus Pascal the Younger

    Very best wishes

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