Title Information At the Circulating Library
Author and Title: Eliza Lynn Linton. The True History of Joshua Davidson, Christian and Communist
First Edition: London: Alexander Strahan, 1872. 1 volume, post 8vo., 5s.
Summary: Joshua Davidson is the poor son of a carpenter living in a small town in Cornwall. Based on his study of the gospels, he develops a doctrine of "practical Christianity" based on a strict imitation of Jesus's actions and teachings. In general, he sees most professed Christians falling far short of Jesus's example and he is quick to point out these failings. These beliefs lead him variously into conflict with clergymen of all denominations, politicians, philanthropists, and his fellow workers. Run out of his home town, Joshua moves to London where he successfully rehabilitates a prostitute Mary and a burglar Joe. Despite following Jesus's example by ministering to the worst of sinners, he is ostracized by "respectable" society for associating with criminals. Joshua's membership in trade unions leads him towards more overt political activism. Eventually, Joshua's beliefs lead him to communism when he concludes that Jesus and his apostles lived collectively. When the commune is proclaimed in Paris, Joshua rushes to join but his Christianity clashes with the professed atheism of the revolutionaries. He escapes death but Mary dies. Returning to England, Joshua is harassed and tarred with the crimes of the Paris commune. While attempting to give a talk to a group of working men, Joshua is killed by a mob inflamed by a clergyman's denouncement of his "practical Christianity." The novel is told from the perspective of Joshua's life-long friend John.