STEARNE, John, Bp. Tractatus de Visitatione Infirmorum, seu de eis Parochorum Officiis, quae Infirmos et Moribundus Respiciunt.


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Dublin: Typis Jos. Ray, Impensis Jacobi Milner Bibliopolae in vico vulgo dicto, Essex Street, 1697. pp. [xii], 120. With initial imprimatur leaf. Contemporary full panelled calf. Surface wear to covers and minor wear to extremities. Inoffensive mild waterstain to the lower margin of a few pages. Early inscription on front pastedown “Monday fortnight in ye forenoon at Kilmallock ... “. A very good copy. Exceedingly rare.
Wing printings S 5362. Sweeney 4835.
John Stearne (1660-1745), Bishop of Clogher, son of the founder of the Irish College of Physicians, was born in Dublin. He was marked out for preferment in the Church of Ireland, being Chaplain to Sir Charles Porter, Lord High Chancellor. He was the predecessor of Jonathan Swift in the deanery of St. Patrick’s; was created Bishop of Dromore in 1713 (so that Swift could be appointed Dean in his place), and was translated to Clogher in 1717. He expended large sums on the cathedrals and palaces of the dioceses he presided over, built the College Printing-office at Trinity, at a personal cost of £1,200, and bequeathed £30,000 for various charitable uses. Swift corresponded with him for many years on the most intimate and friendly terms; but in 1733 the Dean is said to have sent him a “letter full of bitter sarcasm and reproach, to which the Bishop returned an answer that marks a superior command of temper; but it appears ... that his lordship deserved much of what Swift imputed to him”. Stearne left a vast estate for charitable purposes. Lawrence Sterne, the author, is said by some to have been descended from him. At the time that he delivered this Sermon, Stearne was curate of St Nicholas Within the Walls. He preceded Swift in the deanery of St Patrick’s prior to occupying the see of Dromore and then that of Clogher. In the world of Irish publishing he is an honoured figure through his donation in 1726 of moneys for the erection of a printing house in Trinity College, Dublin.
Almost a hundred years after the bishop’s death, this work was translated into English in 1840 and published under the title The Curate’s Manual.


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