Quaker history: “Observations of an Enlightenment Gentleman in Georgian Bath”

Jude Harris writes:
Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institution (BRSLI) is preparing a new publication to be published in March 2018, entitled Edmund Rack: The Observations of an Enlightenment Gentleman in Georgian Bath.
Edmund Rack, son of a Norfolk draper and an active Quaker, arrived in Bath in 1775
Rack wrote a daily journal between December 1779 and March 1780. He quickly became a prime mover within the scientific and literary community. His curiosity in the scientific activities of the Enlightenment led to his involvement in the formation of the first Bath Philosophical Society and The Bath and West Agricultural Society. His inquiring mind, energetic organisation and progressive ideals made a considerable impact on the intellectual pursuits of the city. He comments frequently on the Quaker Meeting he attends and the journal captures a sense of his moral values in this ‘city of fun’ alongside his sometimes mischievous views.
Stept into the New Rooms as I returned. 17 card tables full – gold and notes. What insignificant beings! How did I wish at that moment for the Gorgons snaky head to turn them all into stone and convert their treasure to a more rational use. 22 January 1780

Went to Meeting in the forenoon – William Matthews preachd about Regeneration. Coming home stepd into the Cathedral, and heard the latter half of an excellent sermon on ‘Blessed are the peace makers’. When I got home my little dog and cat were at variance – I rememberd the text, parted them, and hope to inherit the blessing.” 16th Feb 1780

Rack’s delightful journal offers important historical evidence of Quaker practice in 18th century Bath. It will be fully illustrated with pictures conveying the spirit of the time, the heyday of Georgian Bath.
BRLSI is inviting subscribers to support the printing and publication costs of the journal in advance of publication. For an individual subscription of £50, your name will be printed in the book and you will receive a free copy. Alternatively a subscription can be taken out in the name of another, as a gift or in memory of a particular person.
The book will be available generally from 24 March, when it will be launched with a programme of three talks by local historians at BRLSI about Rack’s life in Bath.
If you would like to participate, please contact Jude Harris jude.harris1@btinternet.com and you will be sent a form to fill in.

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