LIFE AND REMARKABLE ADVENTURES OF ISRAEL R. POTTER, (A Native of Cranston, Rhode Island) Who was a Soldier in the American Revolution..
[Potter, Israel Ralph]
Price: 250.00 USD
(Providence: By J. Howard for I. R. Potter, 1824), A SCARCE EARLY AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY AND INSPIRATION FOR HERMAN MELVILLE. Potter's story is according to Howes "purported autobiography, of dubious authenticity" and tells of the life of Potter an American injured at the Battle of Bunker Hill who was taken prisoner by the English, conveyed to England where he was forced to remain scratching a livelihood for himself and his family by crying "old chairs to mend" through the streets of London. With the assistance of Congress, he finally succeeded (at the age of 79) in returning to his native county in 1823 after 48 years of exile. According to Potter's account he had been a veteran of the Battle of Bunker Hill, a sailor in the Revolutionary navy, a prisoner of the British, an escapee in England, a secret agent and courier in France, and a 45-year exile from his native land as a laborer, pauper, and peddler in London. This very scarce, and somewhat obscure, piece was read by a young Herman Melville, who eventually turned it into his only historical novel, "Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile", published in 1855. Melville's plot combines a number of Potter's claimed encounters, such as King George III, Horne Tooke, and Benjamin Franklin, with some he never had, such as Ethan Allen and John Paul Jones. First edition, the J. Howard imprint, same year as the Henry Trumbull imprint and edited by Trumbull as well. With a frontispiece engraving of Potter supporting his family by calling "old chairs to mend". 12mo, contemporary marbled boards backed in calf. 108pp. A well preserved text, the paper surprising clean for an American publication of the period, the binding with some wear and weakness to the hinges.