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CLARKE, Hewson.

An Impartial History of the Naval Military and Political Events in Europe from the Commencement of the French Revolution to the Entrance of the Allies in Paris,

and the Conclusion of a General Peace. Including a Copious Original Narrative of the Origin & Progress of that Revolution, Biographical Memoirs of Buonaparte & other Principal Persons, together with a Comprehensive Account of the Transactions in America & the East & West Indies.

Bungay: Brightly & Childs, 1815 Stock Code: 130348
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First edition. A truly remarkable survival, a full set of this compendious popular history retaining throughout the flimsy wraps from the original part issue. The work covers the period from the decay and collapse of the Ancien Régime to the Fall of Bonaparte, well-illustrated with portraits from drawings by the skilled copyist Matthew Shepperson and provided with an excellent range of maps. Originally planned to complete in two volumes, unfolding events overtook the publisher's intentions and the work expanded. On the wraps of double-issue 77-8 the publishers explain; "Since the commencement of this Work, the most extraordinary Events have taken place. The Return of Buonaparte from Elba, his Defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, and his Transportation to St. Helena all require the minute attention of the Historian, and will be related with impartial accuracy. This will necessarily extend the Work beyond the limits first intended". By parts 119-120, they "recommend to the Subscribers, for the sake of uniformity, to divide the second Vol. and bind the work in 3 Vols.", and with the final triple issue a Vol. 3 title page is provided "for such as choose to bind them in 3 Volumes". The 1816 reissue was formally published in three volumes.

A fine source for contemporary readings of the turmoil that engulfed Europe between 1789 and 1815. The author, Hewson Clarke (1787-c.1845), autodidact satirist and historian, was sent to Emmanuel College, Cambridge by a patron, however "having done very little work, but after circulating a satirical skit on senior members of the university, he left without a degree and went to London" (ODNB). He was not popular among his literary contemporaries; "he notoriously offended Byron, his peer at university, who called him "a living libel on mankind". Richard Welford, in Men of Mark 'twixt Tyne and Tweed claimed that 'this youth disgusted by his vanity all to whom he was introduced, became prodigal, and incurred considerable debts, sunk into the vilest debauchery, and frequently reviled his benefactor'". The date of Clarke's death has been the subject of considerable speculation, Welford commented that he died aged about thirty, "seized with madness", while in his history of Newcastle Mackenzie asserted that in 1827 he was already dead, "unnoticed and unlamented", however correspondence with editor and author R.A. Davenport in 1845 shows him to have been alive and well in Chambly, near Montreal, Canada. A surprisingly uncommon work in any form, just 6 locations on Library Hub, but surely unfindable "as issued".

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2, or 3, volumes quarto (280 x 225 mm). 125 "parts" in 66 fascicles, all stab-stitched in the original crude, fragile brown or blue "sugar paper" wrappers, in all but four cases these are unprinted apart from the part number stamped in the upper left-hand corner of the front wrap.


Three elaborately engraved volume title pages, fine allegorical frontispiece of "Britannia protecting Europe from the horrors of War and Slavery & triumphing over Discord" by James Neagle after Matthew Shepperson, 46 engraved portraits after Shepperson, 1


The last fascicle lacking the lower panel of the wrappers, otherwise all complete with some minor chips and splits, a few pages coming loose, or never caught by the stitching, with a few consequent splits, but no loss, overall extremely well preserved, very good.


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