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A Voyage to Cochinchina, in the Years 1792 and 1793:

containing a General View of the Valuable Productions and the Political Importance of this Flourishing Kingdom; and also of such European Settlements as were visited on the Voyage: with Sketches of the Manners, Character, and Condition of their Several Inhabitants. To which is annexed an Account of a Journey, made in the Years 1801 and 1802, to the Residence of the Chief of the Booshuana Nation, being the Remotest Point in the Interior of Southern Africa to which Europeans have hitherto penetrated ...

Published: London: Cadell and Davies, 1806

Stock code: 86737

Price: £4,750

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

First edition of the “first illustrated English work on … Vietnam”(Hill). A description of the outward voyage of Lord Macartney’s embassy to China. “The voyage visited Madeira, the Canary Islands, and Rio de Janeiro; a description of that city and of Brazil in general is given. Touching at Tristan da Cunha, the ship rounded the Cape and eventually reached Cochin China via the city of Batavia on Java. The volume is also of Cook interest, as it describes finding Captain Cook’s Resolution transformed into a smuggling whaler under the French flag”. The “substance of the sketch” of Cochinchina “is taken from a manuscript memoir drawn up by Captain Barissy, a French naval officer who, having several years commanded a frigate in the service of the King of Cochinchina and being an able and intelligent man, had the means and the opportunity of collecting accurate information” (Preface). The African part of the volume – which “might perhaps, with more propriety, have formed an appendix” to Barrow’s South African travels – relates to his “two missions into the interior in order to reconcile the Kaffirs and Boers and to obtain more accurate topographical knowledge of the colony. He visited most parts of the Cape Colony, including the countries of the Kaffirs, Hottentots and Bushmen. He conducted the first census of Cape Colony, undertook a few amateur geological surveys, and contrived an interview with Shaka, king of the Zulus” (Howgego). The son of a Lancashire journeyman tanner, Barrow was initially educated in the local grammar school, subsequently working as “as a clerk in a Liverpool iron foundry, as a landsman on a Greenland whaler, and as a mathematics teacher in a Greenwich academy preparing young men for a naval career” (ODNB). At this time he gave private tuition to Thomas Staunton, son of Sir George Staunton, to whom, as he later admitted, he ‘was indebted for all the good fortune’ of his life, which began with his service as comptroller of household to Lord Macartney’s embassy. Today, Barrow is perhaps “best known for his Mutiny on the Bounty (1831) but, during his lifetime, his accounts of his travels in eastern Asia and southern Africa, published between 1801 and 1807, were better known and more influential. These established new standards for travel writing … His interests ranged widely, but the great bulk of his output had a geographical focus, usually with an underlying imperial theme and a belief in progress and the superiority of British civilization … Collectively, these activities established his pre-eminence within British geography”. The account is superbly illustrated with aquatints of views, “types”, and natural history specimens, Abbey commending the aquatinting as “of excellent quality”. Crested bookplate of Edward Strutt, first baron Belper to the front pastedown. A Benthamite radical, Belper “was a recognized authority on questions of free trade, law reform, and education and earned the respect of many eminent contemporaries … In his later life he also developed an interest in science and literature. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society on 22 March 1860, and to fellowships of the Geological Society and the Zoological Society” (ODNB).

Quarto (265 204 mm). Contemporary streaked calf, red morocco label renewed, rolled bands, urn devices gilt in compartments, gilt panelling to the boards, enclosing central marbled panel, undulate edge-roll, marbled endpapers. 19 hand-coloured aquatint plates after W. Alexander and S. Daniell, including 3 of Africa and 3 of Rio de Janeiro (one a folding view of the land round the harbour), 2 maps (one a coloured lithograph of Rio, the other an engraved chart of South Africa with route inked in red). Slightly rubbed, rebacked with the original spine laid down, restoration at the head- and tail-cap, corners bumped, light browning throughout, and some foxing, some offsetting from the plates as usual, particularly the map of Rio, very good.

Bibliography: Abbey Travel 514; Cordier Sinica 2388-9; Cordier Indosinica 2424; Hill 66; Howgego, I, B36; Mendelssohn, I, p89; Sabin 3657; Tooley 86.

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