“THE MOST POWERFUL POLITICAL WRITER OF THE DAY”: FIRST EDITION OF COBBETT’S LETTERS ON THE REVOLUTION, 1815
(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) COBBETT, William. Letters on the Late War between the United States and Great Britain. New York: J. Belden, 1815. Octavo, contemporary full tree calf gilt, black morocco spine label. $1250.
First edition of this passionate defense of American rights by the controversial British pamphleteer who was one of the “founders of American party journalism” (ANB).
To William Hazlitt, William Cobbett was “not only unquestionably the most powerful political writer of the day, but one of the best writers in the language… He is a kind of fourth estate in the politics of the country” (The Spirit of the Age). Cobbett was born in England but lived intermittently the United States as a political refugee. According to historian John McMaster, “Cobbett was, of all the pamphleteers at that time in America, the most able, the most sarcastic, the most entertaining and successful… the vigor of his style… marked him out as the chief of pamphleteers” (History of the People of the United States, 206-207). Throughout his life Cobbett faced prosecution as a result of his incendiary prose. “Cobbett is very outspoken in defense of American rights, particularly in letters to the Prince Regent, the earliest dated from Newgate Prison in 1811 and 1812. His treatment is most sympathetic to the United States” (Gaines 68a). With 11 dots in the bottom rule of the title page. Another edition printed in 1815, with 16 dots: no priority established. Gaines 68a. Goldsmiths 21091. Howes C518. Kress B6462. Sabin 13889. Shaw & Shoemaker 34378.
Some scattered foxing and embrowning; slight abrasions to bottom of spine. A very good copy.