"OF ARMS I SING, AND TRANS-ATLANTIC WAR": COCKINGS' EPIC POEM THE AMERICAN WAR, 1781 FIRST EDITION
[COCKINGS, George]. The American War, a Poem; in Six Books. London: Printed by W. Richardson, for the Author: and Sold by S. Hooper… and P. Broke, 1781. Small quarto, 20th-century three-quarter tan calf, burgundy morocco spine label. $2400.
Scarce first edition of this anonymously published "impartial" epic narrative poem about the American Revolution—"a very remarkable specimen of poetry"—with engraved frontispiece illustration depicting the attack on Bunker's Hill.
George Cockings "had a small place under the British government at Boston, Massachusetts, but little else is known of his origins or early life. On his return to England he obtained the post of registrar of the Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce in the Adelphi, a post which he held for thirty years. His experiences in North America led him to write poems and dramas… Some of these… obtained a measure of success, and went through three or four editions in America and England" (ODNB). Though English, perhaps Cockings' experience in Massachusetts made him sympathetic to the colonists' perspective; he states in his "Advertisement" that he has "studiously avoided entering into political disquisitions; arraigning neither the conduct of the ministry, no the resolutions of the continental leaders, in this unhappy contest with the North American colonies." "A very remarkable specimen of poetry" (Monthly Review, LXV, 469). Sabin 14108. An early owner has inked the author's name in a neat hand on the title page.
Text generally clean; binding fine and attractive. An uncommon title.