DOBBS, A. Remarks upon Capt. Middleton's Defence. London: Printed by the Author's Appointment, 1744, [xii], 172pp., 8pp. adverts, half-title, engraved folding map, [Staton & Tremaine 194; Sabin 20406]
MIDDLETON, C. A Reply to the Remarks of Arthur Dobbs, Esq; on Capt. Middleton's Vindication. London: George Brett, 1744, x, 192, 94pp., [ii errata], [vi] pp., [Staton & Tremaine 195; Sabin 48857]
MIDDLETON, C. Forgery Detected. London: M. Cooper, 1745, [ii], vi, 33, [i-iii] pp., [Staton & Tremaine (second supplement) 6389; Sabin 48855]
DOBBS, A. A Reply to Capt. Middleton's Answer to the Remarks on his Vindication. London: J. Robinson, 1745, [iv], 128pp., half-title, [Staton & Tremaine 196; Sabin 20407]
MIDDLETON, C. A Reply to Mr. Dobbs's Answer to a Pamphlet, entitled, Forgery Detected. London: M. Cooper, 1745, [ii], 28pp., [not in Sabin, but cf. 48857 footnote; not traced in Staton & Tremaine]
MIDDLETON, C. A Rejoinder to Mr. Dobbs's Reply to Captain Middleton. London: M. Cooper, 1745, [iv], 156pp., half-title, [not traced in Staton & Tremaine; Sabin 48856]
A complete collection of all seven octavo Dobbs-Middleton controversy pamphlets, bound in three uniform contemporary calf volumes. The only known set in private hands.
All of these pamphlets are rare.
Arthur Dobbs was an active advocate for the exploration and discovery of a north-west passage to the Pacific from the early 1730s. On a visit to London in 1734-5 he met with Admiral Charles Wager and appears to have been in communication with the Hudson's Bay Company and Admiralty. In 1740 the Admiralty eventually provided two small vessels and on Dobbs's recommendation, Captain Christopher Middleton, who had undertaken an unsuccessful voyage of discovery for the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1737, was placed in command. After much hardship and bad weather Middleton reached 65 degrees 10 minutes north, further north than any previous explorer, to find that Dobbs's proposed passage was in fact a closed inlet. Middleton abandoned the search and made a voyage home that was every bit as harrowing as the journey out.
"Within a month of the expedition's return Middleton read before the Royal Society his ‘Account of the extraordinary degrees and surprising effects of cold in Hudson's-Bay’, an impressive blend of firsthand experience and scientific observation that won Middleton's paper the society's annual Copley medal. It was an appropriate tribute to an explorer who had accomplished useful survey work in difficult conditions along the west coast of Hudson Bay, and who had made the first reasonably accurate chart of the region. Dobbs, however, was not convinced, and in the spring of 1743 alleged that Middleton had deliberately concealed the entrance of a passage through Wager Bay. For Dobbs the question of a passage was now part of a larger scheme to break the trading monopoly of the Hudson's Bay Company, and Middleton's refusal to admit that he had found a passage was put down to bribery by the company. This malicious accusation marked the beginning of a dispute that led to an inconclusive investigation by the Admiralty, and the publication of no fewer than five books and pamphlets by Middleton and three by Dobbs. Not until the end of this wearisome paper war in 1745 was Middleton offered another command by the Admiralty" (ODNB).
The manuscript index in the first volume lists all the titles in the dispute ("Pieces between Middleton & Dobbs") including "Vol. in 4to. An Acct. of ye Countries adjoining to Hudson's Bay, &c. D." which is no longer present in this set. This lot therefore comprises seven of the eight books and pamphlets in the Dobbs-Middleton dispute. However see lot 400 for a copy of the eighth work, in a near uniform binding.
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