IRELAND – JOHN STEVENS and THE BATTLE OF THE BOYNE
Lot 148
IRELAND – JOHN STEVENS and THE BATTLE OF THE BOYNE
Sold for £43,200 (US$ 72,611) inc. premium
Lot Details
IRELAND – JOHN STEVENS and THE BATTLE OF THE BOYNE
Volume of autograph manuscripts by the Jacobite author and soldier Captain John Stevens, including his journal of the Boyne campaign and other Irish journals, and three literary translations, including the first two books of the novel, Argenis; the archive comprising (in order of binding): part of an account of travels through Wales [when Collector of Taxes for Welshpool] in November [1688] after hearing of James II's flight (3 pages, starting at page 2 which has been scored through); "A Journall Of all my Travells since I left London to follow our most mercifull most pious and most gracious Sovereign James ye 2d... with an acc.t of all our marches and other memorable passages wherein I bore a parte since first I had the honor of a Comission in his Maj.ties army in Ireland", 1688-1690 (192 pages, incomplete at the end); journals of voyages to Lisbon and back, in 1679 and 1682 (14 pages); notes on his army service during Monmouth's Rebellion (3 pages); a journal of his journey to Dublin when accompanying Henry Earl of Clarendon as Lieutenant General of Ireland in 1685 (14 pages, incomplete at the end); "An Account of my Voyage & Journey from Dublin to London" in 1686 (5 pages); further Irish journals kept when serving Clarendon (22 pages, opening with the conclusion of another travel journal); "The Publick Catholick zeale of Spaine" dedicated to Pope Alexander VII "with the posthumous pen of Francisco de Quevedo Villegas... the most renowned witt of his age & famous for his writings" (12 pages); "A Voyage to the Holy Land through Egypt & Arabia made by the Rd. F. Boucher of the holy order of S. Francis" (32 pages); "Barclay's Argenis", books I and II (190 pages, with rodent damage to the first 48 pages, but mostly in the margins and with loss of text confined to the first dozen leaves, evidently made prior to binding), eighteenth century vellum, spine inscribed as MS 39 and bearing traces of a printed label [?from the Warburton sale] and the printed Phillipps number 6471, inner cover inscribed "MSS 49", facing leaf inscribed with summary of contents and marked below in pencil by Phillipps "This MSS was examined in 1865 by Professor Von Ranke for his Memoirs of Wm 3rd/ Thos Phillipps", annotated in pencil by Phillipps's grandson Thomas Fitzroy Fenwick ("T.F.F.") as having been lot 327 in the Warburton sale of 19 November 1759 [John Warburton, Somerset Herald], some dust-staining and other signs of wear, mostly made before binding, but overall in good sound condition, 4to, 1679-1690 where dated

Footnotes

  • LITERARY AND AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL PAPERS OF THE JACOBITE AUTHOR JOHN STEVENS, INCLUDING HIS IRISH JOURNALS AND CELEBRATED EYE-WITNESS ACCOUNT OF THE BATTLE OF THE BOYNE: Captain John Stevens (c.1662–1726) was the son of one of Catharine of Braganza's pages, probably by a Spanish mother. He was educated by the English Benedictines and served as a soldier under James II, taking part in the campaign against Monmouth (of which he gives a brief account in the present volume), and accompanying Lord Clarendon, the Lord Lieutenant, to Ireland in 1685 as one of his gentlemen-at-large (also described in this volume). In January 1687 he was appointed Collector of Taxes at Welshpool, although being forced into exile on the Revolution of 1688 (also partly covered in this volume). Having fled to France, he joined the Jacobite army that went to Ireland in 1689, serving throughout the campaign as an officer in the Grand Prior (Berwick)'s Regiment: his important record of this campaign forming the main part of the journals assembled here (see below). After a brief spell with his brother in Lisbon, he returned to London by 1695, devoting the rest of his life to an attempt to make a living by his pen. He specialized in translating from the Spanish, especially Quevedo, and among other antiquarian work made significant additions to Dugdale's Monasticon Anglicanum. After his death, his indigent widow sold his manuscripts to the herald John Warburton, with our volume appearing in the Warburton sale of 1759 as lot 327. It later entered the collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps, when it was seen by the great historian Leopold von Ranke, who printed an extract in his History of England principally in the Seventeenth Century, vol.vi, pp.128-143, where he writes that "I was particularly pleased at finding in the Collections of Sir Thos Phillipps a Diary kept during the years of the Irish war, which gives us an insight into the feelings and views of those who followed the banners of James II. As to the native Irish and their plans we already had at any rate a certain amount of information, though conveyed in native fashion, but hitherto nothing has been published as to the English who were moved by loyalty and religious feeling to follow the king to France, and from thence to Ireland. What I now publish – in its original form and spelling – pourtrays to us the real features of the party to which the author belonged" (p.128); an opinion supported by Stevens's modern biographer, G. Martin Murphy, who believed it "all the more valuable an eyewitness account for having been written by a Jacobite who was not an Irishman" (ODNB). Phillipps has written in pencil on the fly-leaf: "This MSS was examined in 1865 by Professor Von Ranke for his Memoirs of Wm 3rd/ Thos Phillipps".

    The preceding item in the Warburton sale, Lot 326, was another manuscript by Stevens of the Boyne campaign and is now in the British Library (Add MS 36296). The BL manuscript was published by Robert Murray in 1912 as The Journal of John Stevens ... 1689–1691. Both accounts are textually similar and both largely autograph, although the BL version extends further than ours, breaking off on 12 July 1691, whereas ours ends on 30 July 1690 (ours ending abruptly at the conclusion of a full sheet and seemingly incomplete through misbinding, while the BL version similarly breaks off in mid flow, but with a blank verso). Comparison of the two versions establishes beyond doubt that ours is the first version and that the BL manuscript is a subsequent revision: for example a marginal addition to our manuscript at page 163 has been incorporated into the main body of the text of the BL manuscript. Generally speaking, ours is the more roughly or hurriedly written. However the first 32 pages of ours is in a neater scribal hand (easily distinguishable by its use of the Secretary 'e' formation), while the rest is autograph. The same scribal hand does not appear in the BL version, which does however have several pages in what appears to be another scribal (possibly family) hand; the BL manuscript, for example, shows a striking contrast between the neat hand at f.10v and Stevens's undoubted autograph on the facing page, at f.11r. Another feature of our manuscript is that on certain pages someone (probably Stevens) has gone through adding capitalization and adding past participle contractions, as for example altering "perceived then covered" to "perceiv'd then cover'd" at p.161. One imagines that this was done with printing, or a least copying, in mind; but, where we have checked, these alterations do not seem to have been carried over into the BL manuscript. What is certain however is that, its opening section apart, our manuscript is in Stevens's autograph throughout; as are the other manuscripts bound up in the volume: for another example of his hand, see his letter to Sir Hans Sloane, Sloane MS 4061, f.120.

    Stevens's eye-witness account of the Battle of the Boyne – the entry for 1 July 1690 itself comprising some three thousand words, of which Ranke prints about a third – obviously holds pride of place in this collection: it is indeed, one that has become famous, being featured, for example, on the BBC's website This Sceptred Isle (devoted to an extract from Stevens's description of Carrigogunnell, to be found at pp.175-6 of our manuscript). It is an account that, in its resolute avoidance of heroics and unsparing style, has something of a twentieth century feel; as in his description of the way in both officers and rank-and-file comported themselves at the Boyne: "No Generall Officer above a Brigadier was seen among us, & which is very rare, among us no word was given. Nor is it to be forgot that his Ma.ty having appointed brandy to be distributed to each regiment, that each man might receive his proportion in order to cheare them for the fatigue of the day, it was never delivered till we were marching when the souldiers quitting their ranks for greediness of the liquor, not having time to stay beat out the heads of the hogheads & dipped into them the kettles they had to boile their meat, & drank so extravagantly that I am sure above 1000 men were thereby tendered unfit for service, & most were left dead drunk scattered about the fields" (pp.166-7, a passage dropped by Ranke). While Stevens's account of the Boyne is well-known, the other journals, recording his travels in Ireland earlier during James II's reign, appear to be otherwise unknown. His descriptions of English and Welsh travels – dating as they do a decade or so before Celia Fiennes – are also of considerable interest.

    Nor should Stevens's other manuscripts bound in this volume be ignored. His translation of Barclay's Argenis, running as it does to nearly 200 pages, being possibly the most significant: as far as we are aware, his translation of this important, and in its time extremely popular, Latin novel, first published in 1621, remains unpublished. Literary manuscripts of this period are far from common, especially such a substantial manuscript by a noted translator of a significant text. The other two works comprise "A voyage to the Holyland through Egypt & Arabia by the Rd F. Boucher of the holy order of S. Francis who made a pilgrimage thither & continued there some time./ I have abridged nothing of the relation, but set it down at large as he delivered it, only omitting his pious & godly reflections & devout ejaculations which compose the greatest part of his Book" (presumably taken from the Bouquet sacré ou voyage de Terre Sainte by the Franciscan Jean Boucher), and the Dedication to Alexander VII written "with the posthumous pen of Francisco de Quevedo Villegas" (the dedication to Quevedo's posthumously-published Politica de Dios).
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