Treasures of New College Library : the Pamphlets Collection

 “… but that religious pamphlets, especially if they had a shade of allegory in them,  were the very rage of the day.”[1]

In the days before radio, television and instant news pamphlets allowed theological debate and comment to be carried on in cheap, portable and accessible print. New College Library has an exceptional Pamphlets Collection with over 30,000 items. Spanning the development of the Scottish Church from the time of the Reformation to the present century, the sermons, theological debates and reports of Church government and discipline which are contained in this collection are a reflection of the parallel development of Scottish history, and of the establishment and disestablishment of a national Scottish Church.

The Church of Scotland’s lament. Pamphlets Collection, New College Library B.c.4.28/9

  “The Church of Scotland’s lament over the Pride of Her Ministers, with their Top Wiggs, and Long Gravates …” is just one example of the Pamphlets in this collection. Dating from the 1700s, it is a humorous poke at a well to do Church of Scotland minister, with the writer contrasting the minister’s comfortable existence with the struggles of the Covenanters in times past.

As I write the 2012 General Assembly is in full swing, and many Church of Scotland ministers are coming and going – but I haven’t spotted any wigs or ‘Gravates’  (cravats, I think). Nevertheless comment, discussion and criticism of the Church’s activities will be just as much in the news as when this pamphlet was written.

This pamphlet  is newly catalogued online as part of the Funk Cataloguing Projects at New College Library, which has enabled the cataloguing of over 12,000 pamphlets. 

[1] Hogg, James The private memoirs and confessions of a justified sinner (London: A.M. Philpot Ltd., 1824)


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