IRWIN, Eyles.

IRWIN, Eyles. Buonaparte in Egypt; (with) Reply to Irwin.

Dublin, G. Nicol, Pall Mall, 1798; (with), London, T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies, the Strand, 1798


FIRST EDITION 8vo. pp. [2] 4-23 [1]. Roman letter. Light browning, slight foxing, one small marginal hole, not affecting text. (with)

FIRST EDITION 8vo. pp. 53 [1]. Roman letter. Slight browning, very occasional foxing.

Good, well-margined copies in modern morocco(?), spine gilt.

An interesting combination of pamphlets by Eyles Irwin (bapt.1751-1817) discussing contemporary foreign affairs relating to the Napoleonic wars.

The first title, ‘Buonaparte in Egypt’ focuses on Napoleon’s landing in Egypt and attempts to predict his strategy, and possible move towards India, claiming that his ‘appearance in Egypt has put calculation to the blush’. A marginal note on page 15 specifies that ‘the moment this Pamphlet came by post from Dublin, to be reprinted in London, the particulars of the fulfilment of the Author’s warmest wishes and predictions arrived from Sir Horatio Nelson, giving an account of the total destruction of the Egyptian Armada; which renders the conveyance of the supplies to Buonaparte, the necessity of which the Author, with his great knowledge of the country, so clearly points out, absolutely impossible’. Notes of this type are found throughout the text, suggesting it to be a news-style publication. Irwin compares the French commander to Louis IX and his leadership of the Seventh Crusade, Alexander the Great and the Triumvirs of Rome. The enemy expedition is therefore considered on an unusually heroic scale. Buonaparte’s potential setbacks, including the arrival of Nelson and the defeat of the French fleet off the coast of Africa, are also considered as the narrative supports the British cause more explicitly. The author does not underestimate the character and achievements of Napoleon and warns that his current inferior position may not last.

The second pamphlet is anonymous, though its address to the East India Company would suggest it is also Irwin, who was in their service from 1766 until his retirement in 1794, aspiring to the dictatorship but failing to obtain the post. The discourse begins following Nelson’s victory, which ‘has had the effect of dispelling the alarm which existed in the public mind for the consequences of Buonaparte’s supposed expedition against the British possessions in Asia’, blaming the previous pamphlet for the ‘delusion’. The ‘reply’ rebuts some of Irwin’s original points, namely the comparison to Louis IX, before considering ‘the feasibility of getting forward a part of the [French] army from Cairo to the Red Sea, and the probable means that [Napoleon] should rely on for securing transports to meet them there’ before moving on to India. Dismissing the possibility that Napoleon could move his Mediterranean fleet over the Arabian Peninsula, he considers Middle Eastern alliances, use of captured ships and even the use of American and Dutch freight ships, accustomed to conveying produce from the French islands, as potential means of transporting troops further East.

ESTC: T29779, T44625. Not in Lowndes or Blackmer.
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