4to, pp. , 104; small portion of blank margin of A4 torn away, else a good copy in later calf, rebacked in brown morocco; ownership signature to title-page of William Woollcombe of Corpus Christi College Oxford (fellow 1812-1819), dated 1818.
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A Tongue-Combat, lately happening betweene two English Souldiers in the Tilt-boat of Gravesend, the one going to serve the King of Spaine, the other to serve the States Generall of the United Provinces. Wherein the Cause, Course, and Continuance of those Warres, is debated, and declared …
First edition, written in reply to a rare pamphlet with a near-identical title by Richard Verstegan [or Rowlands], an intelligence agent in the Netherlands for the English Jesuits. Verstegan’s original Toung-Combat comprised a dialogue between the pro-Catholic Red Scarf and the Protestant Tawny Scarf, the latter a patsy for Red Scarf’s arguments. Here Hexham reprints Red Scarf’s portion of the conversation in its entirety, but rewrites Tawny-Scarf’s rejoinders at length to expose the ‘many falshoods … wrapt up in those waste-papers’ – it is as a result an unusual sort of palimpsest, enabled by the dialogic structure of the original work.
As a young man the soldier and author Henry Hexham had served under Sir Francis Vere among the English forces sent to assist the Dutch (as England’s most important Protestant allies) against Spanish occupation, remaining there after Vere’s return to England in 1606. He published there a number of translations of Protestant works (from Dutch to English and vice versa). ‘Hexham was still in the Netherlands some … years later when his religious motivation in fighting for the Dutch was further confirmed by his A tongue combat lately happening between two English souldiers … the one going to serve the king of Spain, the other to serve the states generall (1623), which he was prompted to write after reading a pamphlet disparaging the policies of Elizabeth I and James I and “the truth of the reformed religion wherein I was educated” (Hexham, A Tongue Combat, sig. A2)’ (ODNB).
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