London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, and J. Hatchard, by G. Sidney, 1815. Item #00394
A 19th Century Best-Seller
From the Hanoverian Royal Library at Marienberg
[ROYAL BINDING]. CUNNINGHAM, J. W. The Velvet Cushion. Seventh edition. London, for T. Cadell and W. Davies, and J. Hatchard, by G. Sidney, 1815.
Twelvemo, (187 x 118 mm). Near-contemporary dark green cloth, front cover with the royal arms of Britain and Hanover stamped in blind, back cover with blind central cartouche, spines titled in gilt with large gilt ornaments either side, red sprinkled edges, from the Hanoverian royal library at Marienberg with pencilled shelf-mark on the inside front cover of vol. I. A few scattered spots internally, but still a fine fresh copy, the binding almost as new.
First published the previous year, Cunningham's novel, subtitled “an historical account of divisions within the Church of England since the Reformation”, went through eleven editions in three years.
John William Cunningham (1780–1861) was one of the leaders of the evangelical movement in the mid-19th century and a strong supporter of the Church Missionary Society. He served as curate to John Venn at Clapham parish church, the epicentre of the famous Clapham sect, and portrays Venn in the book as Berkely. Frances Trollope, who lived in Clapham, took a pot-shot at evangelicalism in general and Velvet Cunningham in particular in her scurrilous novel The Vicar of Wrexhall (1837), earning her a magisterial rebuke from Samuel Wilberforce himself for 'a most abominable personal attack'.