Patrick Pollak

Antiquarian and Rare Books, Manuscripts, Images and
Related Items


 Click on an image to enlarge it. Click an enlarged image to view the previous/next image. 

A First Letter to the People of England. On the Present Situation and Conduct of National Affairs.

TOGETHER WITH: A Second Letter to the People of England. On Foreign Subsidies, Subsidiary Armies, and Their Consequences to this Nation. TOGETHER WITH: A Third Letter to the People of England, on Liberty, Taxes, And the Application of Public Money. TOGETHER WITH: A Fourth Letter to the People of England. On the Conduct of the M---rs in Alliances, Fleets , and Armies, since the first Differences on the Ohio, to the taking of Minorca by the French. TOGETHER WITH: A Fifth Letter to the People of England, On The Subversion of the Constitution: And, The Necessity of it's being restored. TOGETHER WITH: A Sixth Letter to the People of England, On the Progress of National Ruin; In Which It is shewn, that the present Grandeur of France, and Calamities of this Nation, are owing to the Influence of Hanover on the Councils of England.

pp. 56; 56; 64; 111, (i); (iv), 99, (i) Advertisement; (iv), 121, (i). Contemporary calf, rebacked, the first few leaves a bit dusty in the margins, else a very good copy.

*Letters First, Second and Third are fourth editions of 1756; Letter Fourth is a first edition of 1756; Letter Fifth is the first edition of 1757; Letter Sixth is a second edition of 1757. Letters Third to Sixth have half-titles - these are not called for in the first two Letters. JOHN SHEBBEARE [1709-1788], was born in Bideford, North Devon, and educated in Exeter, where, it was said, 'he gave evidence of his future eminence in misanthropy and literature'. Before the full flowering of these talents, Shebbeare was apprenticed at sixteen to a surgeon and afterwards set himself up in practice. Lampooning his master and members of Exeter Corporation forced his move to Bristol where he entered into a partnership with a chemist and in 1840 published a treatise on the Bristol Waters, '...together with the Cause of Diabetes and Hectic, and their Cure...'. In 1752 he went to Paris and claimed to have received a medical degree and to have been elected to the Academy of Sciences. By 1754 he was back in London and metamorposed into a political writer - his first publication, a novel reflecting on recent legislation on marriage, put him into prison. On release in 1756 he wrote another, epistolary, novel, tactfully pseudonymous, purporting to be memoirs of an Italian Jesuit long resident in London, a barely disguised attack on the Duke of Newcastle. At the same time, he wrote a number of articles for the London newspapers and started on a series of Letters to the People of England. By 1758 and after the Sixth Letter had virulently attacked the Hanoverian monarchy, a general warrant for his arrest was issued and later in the month, all copies of the newly published Seventh Letter, were supressed. It was said that Shebbeare was determined to write himself into a post or into the pillory. In June of that year he was tried for libel and convicted, with the penalties of a fine, three years in prison, security for good behaviour for seven years and to stand in the pillory at Charing Cross. At least part of his ambition had been realised. His friendship with the under-sheriff of London enabled him to turn the stand in the pillory to his advantage - he issued hand-bills of invitation to all, to see the 'British champion', and was permitted to stand between the pillory boards for an hour, protected from the weather by a servant with an umbrella. He left, to cheers from the crowd. Clearly Shebbeare had other support, for after release from prison, a memorial was presented by several MPs and he was awarded a pension of £200 a year! An extraordinary character, he figures in the works of Smollett, was caricatured by Hogarth and recalled in Fanny Burney's 'Early Diaries', where she recounts that his conversation was marked by exceptional coarseness and consisted chiefly of abuse of women and Scotsmen, whom he declared to be 'the two geatest evils on earth'. In addition to his prolific pamphleteering, he issued a number of medical works [see WELLCOME CAT.], The above Letters are not so uncommon separately, but it is a rare advantage to have the first six together. The seventh, having been impounded, is obviously rare, and even imprisonment did not deter him from publishing an eighth, in 1770.

No publisher for the First, Second and Third Letters. M. Collier for the Fourth; J. Morgan for the Fifth and Sixth. London.

Date Published: 1756-1757. 8vo. in 4s. 6 volumes in 1.

Stock No. 55529

Price: 700.00