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DOWNING, Sir George. A Discourse written by Sir George Downing, The King of Great Britain's Envoy Extraordinary to the States of the United Provinces. London, John Luttone, 1672.

8vo., (2) ff., the first blank and integral, 31, (1), 139, (1) pp., (2) ff. Disbound. Toned throughout, with a few leaves soiled; trimmed somewhat closely at top margin, just touching a few page numbers. Overall very good.

$2,850

Scarce second, much augmented edition (first 1664) of this early tract on New York. The author answers the charge by the Dutch of instigating war with England, as a result of which New Amsterdam was retained by the latter. The original edition was a pamphlet of 21 pages; the present edition reprints Downing’s initial letter dated 1664, and, as a simple glance at the collation of the present edition suggests, adds much new material, including how the Dutch suffered tribulations at the hands of the local Indians (16ff.). Speaking of the Dutch settlement on Manhattan Island, Downing writes:

“And as to the business of New-Netherland (so called) this is very far from being a surprise, or anything of that nature, it being notoriously known that That spot of Land lyes within the limits, and is part of the possession of His Subjects of New England, (as appears most evidently by their Charter) and that those few Dutch that have lived there, have lived there merely upon connivance and sufferance, and not as having any right thereunto; and that this hath from time to time, and from year to year been declared unto them, and yet so far as the English were contented to suffer them to remain there, provided that they would demean themselves peaceably and quietly; but that the said Dutch, not contenting themselves therewith, did still endeavor to encroach further and further upon the English, imposing their Laws and Customs, and endeavoring to raise Contributions and Excises upon them, and in places where no Dutch had ever been; Whereupon they have been formerly been necessitated several times to send soldiers for the repelling of them.” Quoted in Church for 585 (1664 ed.) (see pp. 20-21 of the present edition).

According to Cole, the author of this tract was a nephew of Governor Winthrop and the second graduate of Harvard College. He returned to England soon after graduation, and in 1657 was appointed ambassador to The Hague by Cromwell. “Colbert, the famous French minister, characterized him as ‘le plus grand querelleur des diplomats de son temps. To him is attributed the Navigation Act to which England owed so much of her naval power, and no one was more instrumental than he in bringing New Netherland under the English Dominion.”

NUC lists LC, NN, Huntington, Harvard, Wellesley and the Clements Library. The work appeared the same year under at least three (and perhaps four) different imprints: John Luttone; D. Newman; Dorman Newman; Dorman Newman and John Luttone. NUC also lists three copies with the Dorman Newman imprint: Clark, JCB, Cleveland. OCLC adds Boston Atheneum. For the first edition of 1664, NUC only lists Newberry. From the entry in Church, there is a copy at the Huntington Library, where the only other copy listed is at the British Library. At the time, the first edition was considered so rare that a facsimile was made in a limited edition from the Huntington copy. Since Church, however, the first edition has become significantly less rare, with OCLC reporting NYPL, Delaware, Indiana, Harvard, Texas and the Bell, and one further copy which surfaced in the trade in the past 20 years: Sotheby’s London, June 23, 1988 #154 £1100.


* Church 617; Wing D2108; Sabin 20,779; Alden-Landis 672/85; JCB III.236-237.

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