Glasgow: John Gilmour, 1765. 76pp. Dbd. Internally quite clean. Very good. Item #WRCAM29188
A satirical assault on the Scottish church, based on the fictional story of a community of castaways abandoned during Lord Anson's voyage to South America. According to the story, one of Anson's ships, the Wager, is lost while sailing the South Seas during his circumnavigation of 1741. A good number of the survivors sail the lifeboat through the Straits of Magellan to Brazil. As they travel north, they are forced to skirt the coast line so they can occasionally swim to shore for food and water. While still near the mouth of the Straits, a great storm blows up and prevents eight of them from returning to the boat. Of these eight, four are quickly killed by the natives, but four survive to be carried off to the kingdom of a far-off prince where the majority of the narrative takes place. One of these sailors survives to make it back to Great Britain, and ostensibly he has related an account of his adventures and this strange kingdom to Witherspoon. This survivor witnessed a particular incident where a servant saves the life of the king at the last moment. In gratitude, the prince decides to elevate the position of all his servants. With their new wealth, they slide into laziness and the power of the prince is compromised. It was Witherspoon's intention to apply this parable to the condition of the Scottish church and the increasing complacency of its clergy. Witherspoon, a noted clergyman, would emigrate to America in 1768 to become president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. A London edition also appeared in 1765. OCLC locates only five copies of this Glasgow edition. OCLC 28885512.