London: Printed by J.D. for Brabazon Aylmer Senr & Junr, 1707. First edition. Illustrated with six full-page cuts reminiscent of the “Danse Macabre” depicting skeletons, sepulchers piled high with skulls, and other morbid imagery. Scattered light foxing throughout with greater degrees of foxing to signatures K-M. Repair to p. 15, touching text, but not affecting legibility. Union Theological Seminary’s blindstamp on title-page, p. 113, and p. 235, and rubber ink stamp to gutter margin of p. iii. A very good copy. Rebound in modern vellum, title hand-lettered in ink on spine, new endpapers. Octavo. xvi, 236 pp. Item #16504
Josiah Woodward (1660-1712) was a Church of England clergyman, moral reformer, and writer of penny tracts, which were often published anonymously. Fair Warnings is a conduct book that serves to inspire the reader to live a moral, Christian life via frightful pictures of people on their deathbeds, “living” skeletons, powerful men contemplating their deaths, Roman Emperor Adrian leading his own funeral march while a portrait of a robed skeleton is held high, and other such morbid illustrations and content (Oxford DNB).
This is followed by Archbishop Tillotson’s “Serious Advice to a Sick Person,” a reprinted letter written by the archbishop to Nicholas Hunt of Canterbury, who was dying from cancer; the purpose of the letter was to provide spiritual reassurance to Hunt. The work closes with “A Prospect of Death: A Pindarique Essay,” an ode that encourages one to live a pious life, a table of notable persons mentioned in the work, and a list of books that might be given to attendants at a funeral instead of inexpensive trinkets.