“A NEW STAR… IN THE FIRMAMENT OF AMERICAN POLITICAL POLEMICISTS”: WILLIAM COBBETT’S FIERY REVOLUTIONARY ATTACK, BLOODY BUOY, 1797
COBBETT, William. The Bloody Buoy, Thrown out as a Warning to the Political Pilots of all Nations… By Peter Porcupine. London: J. Wright, 1797. Octavo, original blue wrappers, stitched as issued, uncut. $950.
Second English edition of Cobbett’s incendiary attack on the French Revolution and its American supporters, published only one year after the initial Philadelphia edition, rare in original wrappers.
“In 1794 a new star appeared in the firmament of American political polemicists. Few journalistic novae possessed more unlike antecedents. William Cobbett, virtual fugitive from England and refugee from France, was a natural genius of sorts, with little in his background to explain his later notoriety and considerable achievements” (Stewart, William & Mary Quarterly). Bloody Buoy, Cobbett’s fiery attack on the French Revolution, appeared under his pseudonym Peter Porcupine and is one of his most notorious works. Having fled England for America in 1792, the contradictory Cobbett was “heir to the pamphleteering eminence of Paine” (Cambridge History), though—as herein—he often attacked Paine’s politics. When his first newspaper failed, Cobbett began its successor Porcupine’s Gazette in 1797. In this edition of Bloody Buoy, published that same year, Cobbett names himself the “avowed and mortal enemy” of all who betray liberty, using this collection of pieces—“all written from Frenchmen”—as evidence. Cobbet is also famous for having disinterred the bones of Paine in 1819, seeking to give him “a proper burial in his native” England (Fruchtman, 434). Cobbett proved an inattentive caretaker, for Paine’s bones remain lost to this day. Second English edition, issued same year as the third American edition (published in Philadelphia by Cobbett); preceded by the 1796 first edition, published in Philadelphia by Benjamin Davies and the 1796 English edition. Abridged versions published in pamphlet form under the title A Bone to Gnaw. “Table” bound out of order; one page advertisement at rear. Bound without early leaf (vii-viii). Evans 30207. Gaines 12g. See Sabin 13873, 13874. Contemporary owner signature.
Faint scattered foxing and some edge-wear, original paper wrappers laid onto modern blue paper, slight loss to scarce original spine label. An extremely good copy of this fascinating polemic in America’s early history.