[Letters on the American War].

HARTLEY David (1779)

£6500.00 

“A MOST PARTIAL & UNJUST CONCLUSION WITHOUT ANY PREMISES"

Sixth Edition. 8vo. (200 x 120mm). ii, 126 [2 (instructions to binder)] pp., lacking the title-page but extensively annotated throughout [see below]. A little browned in places, occasionally closely cropped (sometimes touching the annotations) but largely the margins of the leaves have been folded-over to preserve the annotations. 18th-century calf-backed marbled boards, once part of a larger tract volume, lower board missing and endleaves torn away, spine ruled in gilt, remains of a red morocco label.

[London: printed for Almon ... Kearsly, Dilly, Cruttwel l... and Becket, 1779

First published in 1778. An eighth edition also appeared in 1779.

 

"...this wretched cause of so much bloodshed and destruction, the Tea Tax." Hartley's objections to the American War of Independence and the imposing of the Tea Act vehemently opposed by a contemporary reader. 

 

Extensively marked-up, underlined and annotated by an informed but deeply critical reader: George, 7th Baron Kinnaird (1754-1805). Despite lacking the title-page the 29 lengthy marginal annotations in this copy have been (for the most part) carefully  preserved by the binder with many of the lower and fore-margins folded to preserve the manuscript text. The manuscript annotations amount to well over a thousand words of text and predominantly take issue with Hatley's printed text. 

 

David Hartley (1731-1813) was passionately opposed to the American War of Independence and his Letters on the American War set out in details his views on the subject and outlined how he believed a peace treaty could be agreed.

 

The annotator most often takes an individual statement by Hartley - marks it with an asterisk - and then uses a marginal annotation to carefully rebut it: on p.55 Hartley states that "Reconciliation with America is the last stake that we have to contend for" with the annotator clearly stating their case in the margin: "at what price? the acknowledgement of the Independency of america[?]". 

 

Later Hartley discusses the various controversial Acts (such as the Stamp and Sugar Acts) and states that "All these duties were reserved specially under the controul of parliament" (p.57). In the margin the annotator attempts to argue that the revenue from the Acts was in fact intended to protect America too: "for this reason they [the Acts] were on a large scale & intended as a fund to support & defend the colonies in case of another War. The Tea act was intended only for the purpose above mentioned to rend the Judges & Gov^ers^ less dependent on the provinces & consequently to remove a great many grounds of dispute."

 

On the next page, Hartley calls for, "the repeal of this wretched cause of so much bloodshed and destruction, the Tea Tax", and states that without it, it will be impossible to find peace between England and America. The annotator replies by stating: "Not this Tea Tax alone but the repealing of the whole system of American laws of Taxation. I am convinced the principle of that act was not the establishing of a mere crown revenue - as it was done in consequence of repeated complaint from the Gov^ers^ and Judges ..." (p.58).

 

The annotator becomes more agitated on the following page when Hartley argues: "If the American, in the year 1773, instead of throwing the tea overboard, had submitted to pay the duty, would the produce have been under the controul and disposition of parliament? This is the test, and the plain answer is, No". The annotator replies: "What wretched sophistry! the opposition made by American gainst paying the Tea duty was on the ground of the Parli^t^ of G.B. not having the right of imposing any Tax's at all..." (p.59).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

THE ANNOTATOR:

 

The only clue to the identity of the annotator is the Kinnaird bookplate on the front pastedown. It seems very likely that this pamphlet was extracted from a large number of similar political pamphlets - many quite rare and also concerning America - from the Kinnaird library that were sold at Christie's on 15/12/2013, lot 160. At the foot of p.5 in this pamphlet is a manuscript note stating: "see the proceedings of the province of S[outh]. C[arolina] in [?vol] two...". In the Kinnaird pamphlets, comprising 43 titles in 5 volumes, sold at Christie's was a copy of Sir Egerton Leigh's Considerations on Certain Political Transactions of the Province of South Carolina (1774). 

 

Provenance: Barons Kinnaird of Inchture, with armorial bookplate of Charles Kinnaird, 8th Baron (1780-1826), with his arms impaled with FitzGerald, for his wife, Lady Olivia Laetitia Catherine FitzGerald, youngest daughter of the 2nd Duke of Leinster. The Barony of Kinnaird of Inchture (Scotland) was created in 1682 for Sir George Kinnaird (d. 1689), M.P. for Co. Perth 1661-63, and became extinct on the death of the 13th Baron in 1997 (from 1831-78 they also held the English Barony of Kinnaird of Rossie).

 

The annotator would have been his father, George, 7th Baron Kinnaird (1754-1805) who succeeded to the title in 1758. George Kinnaird is known as an art collector who was part of the consortium that bought the Orléans Collection in 1792 but he was also a banker and partner in the firm of Ransom, Morland and Hammersley, chairman of the British Fire Office insurance company and treasurer of the Royal Institution from 1801. He was a Scottish representative peer in the House of Lords from 1787-90,  Kinnaird also helped to found the Dundee New Bank in 1802. As such, he would have been conscious of the financial stress that the American War of Independence was putting on the British economy and would have been well placed to make comment on the implications of colonial taxation on America, albeit from the British point of view. He would have been at once conscience that the financial instability caused by the War was bad for his banks investments and the wealth of his investors but also keen to support and extend a taxation system derived from the colonies which stimulated the domestic economy. 

 

Later Provenance: With Simon Finch Rare Books (pencil stock number on the pastedown). Anonymous sale, Dominic Winter, 11/11/2020, lot 2: "extensively annotated to margins throughout in manuscript by an authoritative hand...It is possible the annotator is Andrew Elliot (1728-1797), Governor of New York (1779-1783)." We have compared Andrew Eliot's hand with that of the annotator and they do not match and our conclusion is that the annotator was George, 7th Baron Kinnaird.

Stock Code: 242233

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