An unattested edition of the founder of Methodism John Wesley's infamous argument for taxing the American colonies, and his general condemnation of Americans, published in the year before Independence. A Calm Address represented a reversal of sentiment on the part of Wesley; until its first appearance as a pamphlet from the Bristol press of William Pine in September of 1775, Wesley had expressed fondness, sympathy, and admiration for the American cause (though had confessed appall at the treatment of enslaved people in the South). Swayed by Samuel Johnson's Taxation No Tyranny, published at London a few months earlier, Wesley plagiarized substantive portions of Johnson's essay for his own. Modern bibliographer and historian of Methodism Franklin Baker's "The Shaping· of Wesley's Calm Address" is a cautiously researched reconstruction of the coming-to-be and publication history of Wesley's essay, which, by February of 1776, had seen more than a dozen editions and sold more than 50,000 copies in the British Isles. Baker notes that each subsequent edition bears Wesley's editorial changes, and the whole publishing effort illustrates adjustments in his argument over time, which came to grow even more vehemently and steadfastly opposed to the collective American aspiration to tax themselves. Our edition seems to be unattested; it conforms to none of the known editions from the Baker 305A-Q series, but bears Wesley's first editorial changes following the William Pine edition of September 1775, notably the addition, on page 21, of an expository footnote reading: That is, in connexion with the Lords and Commons, clarifying the clause on the same page that states: Our Sovereign has a right to tax me. Very few copies of any edition of A Calm Address were sold in the colonies; by that time ports had been closed to British ships, and all discovered copies confiscated and destroyed by those fearing a backlash against Methodists in the colonies. Withal a pivotal work in the story of American independence, and one of Wesley's most overtly political flourishes.
Full title: A CALM | ADDRESS | TO | OUR AMERICAN | COLONIES. || [Rule] | By JOHN WESLEY, M. A. | [Rule] || Ne, pueri, ne tanta animis aſſueſcite bella, | Neu patriæ validas in viſcera vertite vires. || VIRGIL. || [Double typographic decorative rule] | LONDON: | Printed by R. HAWES, in Dorſet-Street, Spitalfields, | MDCCLXXV.
London: R. Hawes, 1775.
12mo, 195 x 118 x 2 mm; A12, 23,  pp. Untrimmed and stab-stitched, as issued. Title soiled and a bit tired, with short closed tears to margins, leaves dog-eared, sewing largely perished. An unsophisticated copy in original condition.
cf Sabin 102647; cf Howes W263; Baker 305(?); Baker, Franklin, "The Shaping· of Wesley's 'Calm Address'," Methodist History, Vol. XIV, No. 1, 1975, pp. 3-12.