Considerations on the Measures Carrying-On with Respect

AMERICAN REVOLUTION   |   Matthew (Baron Rokeby) ROBINSON-MORRIS

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"OUR COLONIES MIGHT BE WELL ENOUGH WERE IT NOT FOR DR. FRANKLIN WHO HAS WITH A BRAND LIGHTED FROM THE CLOUDS SET FIRE TO ALL AMERICA": FIRST EDITION OF ROBINSON'S TIMELY & IMPORTANT DEFENSE OF AMERICA, CONSIDERATIONS ON… BRITISH COLONIES IN NORTH AMERICA, 1774

(AMERICAN REVOLUTION) ROBINSON-MORRIS, Matthew (Baron Rokeby). Considerations on the Measures Carrying-On With Respect to the British Colonies in North America. London: R. Baldwin, 1774. Octavo, period-style half calf gilt, marbled boards; pp. (iv) (1) 2-160. $2500.

First edition of the British statesman's blunt and influential defense of America, declaring "we have not far to see for the cause of the present situation… all undoubtedly proceed[s] from our having taxed the colonies without their consent," and proclaiming parliamentary acts targeting colonial Charters to be "making the worst war on mankind," with Jefferson and Adams each owning copies in their libraries, Adams' personal copy containing his note praising Robinson-Morris as "one of the warm Friends of American Liberty, in Great Britain."

Despite passage of the Stamp Act and Britain's punishing response to the Boston Tea Party, many colonists believed the mother country was itself in a crisis "brought on by political and social corruption… but if they had not realized it themselves… reports from the home country proclaimed that the English nation had departed, once and for all and completely, from the true principles of liberty" (Bailyn, 312-13). Many of these reports came from British radicals friendly to America. Of these, Matthew Robinson–Morris, 2d Baron Baron Rokeby, was "one of the most candid and best informed… on the interests of Great Britain and her colonies" (Monthly Review). A prominent statesman who served in Parliament from 1747 to 1761, he was "an enthusiast for liberty, and the measures for the coercion of the American colonies were especially repugnant to his sense of justice" (Cyclopedia of American Biography). His Considerations on the Measures clearly lays out the roots of the conflict: "We have not far to seek for the cause of the present situation… all undoubtedly proceed[s] from our having taxed those colonies without their consent."

Writing of the Boston Tea Party, he asks: "Does anyone in America or in England imagine, that all these disputes and feuds are only about… a pound of tea?" The Americans, he writes, have no choice "left for preserving their right but destroying the tea." Robinson-Morris especially attacks Britain's Intolerable Acts, passed earlier the same year, declaring that the "breaking of [colonial] Charters is making the worst war upon mankind… the whole will no doubt be received in America as a declaration of war." Yet he also disapproves of the bold actions taken by American leaders and singles out Benjamin Franklin, saying: "our colonies might be well enough, were it not for Dr. Franklin, who has with a brand lighted from the clouds set fire to all America."

Jefferson had a copy of Considerations on the Measures in his library, and in January 1775, Edward Dilly, a London bookseller, wrote John Adams: "I have also sent you 4 Copies of Mr. Robinson's Considerations on the Measures" (Adams Family Correspondence Vol. I). Later, in 1786, Adams and Robinson-Morris corresponded at length: "Adams was impressed with Robinson-Morris… on the title page of his personal copy Adams wrote that the baron was 'one of the warm Friends of American Liberty, in Great Britain.'" At his death he was praised as a "man of very vigorous understanding; who thought upon all occasions for himself, and acted with unexampled consistency up to his own principles" (Papers of John Adams: December 1785 to January 1787, xi-xii). First edition. With half title. "Two issues noted, one with [this copy] and without 'April 1774' at the end," some copies with an errata slip: no priority established (Adams, American Controversy 74-68a). Advertised in London in May 1774. Precedes the American editions. Sabin 72151. Adams, American Independence 134a. ESTC T142060. Howes R372. Title page with inked name of the author. Small inkstamp to margin of first text page. One small annotation (p.30).

Text very fresh with mere trace of foxing.

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