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English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations

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Howe, Admiral Richard
15 AUTOGRAPH LETTERS SIGNED, MOSTLY AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF IN NORTH AMERICA, TO THE 1ST EARL OF CLARENDON (LORD HYDE)
complaining of inadequate instructions and delays in confirming his position, writing from America on the progress of the war on land and sea, the policies of the London government and position of the opposition, the attitude of the rebels ("...the manner in which the resistance has been conducted proves that no regular government can be established here but by compulsion...") with warnings at their lack of interest in a negotiated peace, writing on 20 November 1777 in the aftermath of the British defeat at Saratoga of his wish to be relieved of command, later commenting on the rebels' increasing confidence, and discussing the evacuation of Philadelphia, including news of William Tryon and Ambrose Serle, with extensive discussion of patronage and his proposed peerage, also including a partial duplicate (in Howe's autograph) and a draft letter, partially in Hyde's hand, by Howe to Benjamin Franklin, cautiously opening a line of communication between Franklin and Hyde but warning that "on the present American context, your principles & his, or rather those of Parl[iamen]t are, as yet, so wide from each other that a meeting merely to discuss them might give you an unhappy trouble" (20 February 1775), 51 pages, plus blanks, chiefly 4to, London, New York, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Philadelphia, often on board HMS Eagle, 20 February 1775 to 15 June 1778 (where dated), docketed

[with:] retained copies of letters by Clarendon to Howe, including a long letter setting out Howe's remit including his "discretionary power to negotiate" and with military and diplomatic advice ("...The idea of subduing disaffection & of reviving loyalty by reason alone may be conceived, but must not delude; an attempt may be made to compass by a well-adapted proclamation so laudable an end; though but little I am afraid is to be obtained by the pen, 'till the sword has been successful...", 16 March 1776), expressing his confidence that military success will bring the rebels to the negotiating table and of Howe's place in those negotiations  ("...I reflect with satisfaction that your Lordship knows Dr Franklyn, since he has been, & is likely to be, their leading negotiator. It is disagreeable to converse in armour; but one must have a defence of steel against the wiles of cunning men...", 29 November 1776), 25 pages, plus blanks, folio, 1776-1777, stab-stitched in paper wrappers 


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Provenance

This is one of 22 lots that have been removed from Holywell House, Hampshire, the home of the Villiers family, Earls of Clarendon. They chiefly relate to the life and careers of two contemporaries: Henry Hyde, Viscount Cornbury (1710-53), and Thomas Villiers (1709-86), created successively Baron Hyde of Hindon (1756) and Earl of Clarendon (1776).

Cornbury was the last heir to the Earldom of Clarendon that had been created for the statesman and historian Edward Hyde (1609-1674). Cornbury had Jacobite sympathies but was MP for the University of Oxford – with which his family had powerful connections – from 1732 until 1751. He became disillusioned with politics in the later 1740s and spent his final years in France. Cornbury counted Pope and Swift amongst his friends, and was himself the author of pamphlets and at least two plays (see lots 6 and 7). He died, unmarried, in Paris in 1753. Most of Cornbury’s property was inherited by his niece, Charlotte (née Capel). Thomas Villiers, second son of the Earl of Jersey, was her husband. Villiers had spent the 1730s and ‘40s as a diplomat mostly in the German-speaking world (none of his diplomatic papers are included in this offering) and, following his retirement from the diplomatic service, he entered government in the 1760s. As Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1771-82 and 1783-86), Clarendon was in Cabinet during the American War of Independence (see lots 14-19).

Catalogue Note

"...The treacherous conduct of these People in the flagrant violation of the convention of Saratoga, and the most insolent pretension that the Ratification of it should be duely notified to their congress by the court of Great Britain, will sufficiently point out to your Lordship, the Idea they have formed of their ability to uphold their Independence; and the regard they will have to any terms of accommodation short of that preliminary..." (12 March 1778)

A SIGNIFICANT CORRESPONDENCE RELATING TO THE AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE. Admiral Richard Howe (1726-1799) was appointed naval commander-in-chief in the Americas on 5 February 1776 and arrived in New York on 12 July, just after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Howe had long connections with the colonists and knew Benjamin Franklin, and he undoubtedly hoped that a settlement could be reached without bloodshed; however, as these letters show, he soon realised that matters had gone too far for this to be possible. His two naval tasks were to support the army - whose second in command was his brother, William - and enforce the blockade against the rebels. His failure in both tasks was probably more to do with his inadequate resources than a lack of ability, and he was recalled in 1778.

English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations

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London