During the height of Whitefield’s fame in England, the formalists and secularists took to the time-honoured [or dishonoured] tradition of satire. Pamphlets, engravings, and literary works lampooned and harpooned the great evangelist. Many rose to his defense, but of all the efforts to legitimize the Great Awakening in general and the ministry of George Whitefield in particular, this is perhaps the most curious. It attempts to show by a series of character, personal, and even coincidental alignments that Whitefield was indeed in the line of the great reformer, John Wickliff.
Tyerman recounts that, “in the midst of all this abuse [i.e. anti-Whitefieldian material], however, an encomium was published... an extremely rare curiosity... none more curious than this.”
The Parallel Reformers; or, The Renowned Wickliff and the Reverend Mr. Whitefield Compared; shewing by many parallel instances ye great resemblance between those Pious Divines in Respect of Christian Zeal and Fortitude. Improved from some curious observations lately published at Boston in New-England, and Reported at London whereunto are added their Effigies Curiously Engraved. J. Lewis. 1740.
This is the only edition of one of the most curious and desirable examples of pro-Whitefield ephemera contemporarily published to the Great Awakening. There is no “American” edition of the print. It is only the text that came from the Boston. The plate itself was published solely in London and apparently the only institutional examples are the NPG and the British Museum.
Like all extant examples, including the British Museum example, this has the date [and the publisher] burnished off.
Image 7 3/8 by 10 1/4 inches. Plate size 9 x 11 3/4 inches.
One very diminutive stain on the upper left corner not in the plate, but on the mount, one small hole, amounting to one quarter inch at lower center right in text, neatly filled in with manuscript. The whole trimmed to black line edge of image and very expertly archivally mounted. Old neat fold. Beautifully hand-colored. An exceptional example and without known counterpart in terms of the hand-finishing. No other example we could trace was hand-colored, so perhaps completely unique in this regard.