BOYLE, Roger, Earl of Orrery.

A Treatise Of the Art of War:

Dedicated to the Kings Most Excellent Majesty.

In the Savoy: Printed by T.N. for Henry Herringman, 1677 Stock Code: 137601

Presentation copy from an Irish Machiavel

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First and only edition, presentation copy inscribed by the recipient on the title page: "This book was presented by the Authour the Earle of Orrery to Edward Proger, 1677" and with the later ownership inscription of Catherine Proger. This is likely to be Edward Proger (1618x21-1713), the courtier who served as a Groom of the Bedchamber for Charles II, to whom the book is dedicated.

Roger Boyle, 1st Earl of Orrery, was an Anglo-Irish politician and soldier. Early on he travelled abroad throughout France, Italy, and Switzerland before returning to Ireland in 1641 to fight against the Irish rebels. After the execution of Charles I, Boyle proved invaluable in the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, yet at the Restoration he re-ingratiated himself with the monarchy, was advanced to an earldom and appointed one of three Lord Justices of Ireland.

The treatise presents as a comprehensive military manual. "Its title harks back to Machiavelli's Art of War; but it was also very much a product of the times. The Dutch blockade of the Thames in 1667 had prompted Orrery to campaign for the improvement of Irish coastal defences at Kinsale... Orrery cites not Hannibal but the Turkish Janissaries as a warning against the dangers of treating one's adopted land too much as home. Written to encourage the king to commit to war in Europe, the Treatise has a frontispiece showing Charles II triumphant in the field with the title 'Carolus IIus Dei gratia Angliae, Scotiae, Franciae et Hiberniae Rex'. This portrait was, as yet, hypothetical - Charles II's only appearance on the field, at Worcester, had left little to glorify - but the Treatise offered plenty of encouragement towards future royal success" (Deana Rankin, Between Spenser and Swift: English Writing in Seventeenth-Century Ireland, Cambridge UP, 2005, p. 182).

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Folio (307 x 196 mm). Contemporary mottled calf, spine gilt in compartments, red morocco label.


Engraved portrait frontispiece of Charles II by Abraham de Blois (trimmed just inside the plate mark at the outer margin, touching the first letter of the caption), errata and table of contents leaf inserted before quire B, 6 double-page engraved plates m


With the armorial bookplate of Thomas Francis Fremantle, purchased by him from Pickering & Chatto, 25 May 1901, 3s. Spine ends neatly restored, a couple of trivial marks, but an excellent tall copy, the paper crisp and fresh, the plates clean and without tears or frays.


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