An Essay on Naval Tactics, Systematical and Historical… In Four Parts.
T. Cadell, ( 1790, 1797), London
2 vols. 4to. xii, (5)-165 pp.; ix, (5)-34; 29; 61 pp. 30 and 22 b/w engraved plates, some with hand coloring.
This was Nelson’s handbook at Trafalgar. It is the first effort by an Englishman to systematize naval tactics with theories based on actual engagements. Clerks widely studied and influential work was written at the time of a movement for tactical reform within the Royal Navy. He drew on numerous historical examples, including several in the American Revolution: Arbuthnot off the Chesapeake (March 1781); Graves off the Chesapeake (September 1781); and Rodney and DeGrasse (1782). Nelson fought the Battle of Trafalgar by Clerks principles. This must be considered Clerks grandest achievement. -D.N.B. Part I was privately printed in 1782, and finally published in 1790. Parts II-IV were published in 1797. This is, therefore, the first complete collection of Clerks writings, which were reprinted in their entirety in 1804 and several times thereafter. Not in Neeser or Sabin, in spite of the American interest. Corbett, “Signals and Instructions”, pp. 377-78. Smith, “Navies of the American Revolution”, 349 (citing only the 3rd edition of 1827). Adams & Waters 360. Two volumes in original paper boards, rebacked with paper in contemporary style, with paper labels. Pages are clean and untrimmed. Plates in vol. I show light worming in two spots, not affecting images. Outer edges of the first 35 pages in vol. II are waterstained, not intruding on text block. Both volumes of this set bear the contemporary engraved bookplate of H.R. Glynn who, at the date of publication, had attained the rank of Post Captain. He became a full admiral in 1846. (See OByrne p. 401) A scarce and important work in contemporary binding.