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CAPPER, James.

Observations on the Passage to India through Egypt,

and across the Great Desert; with Occasional Remarks on the adjacent Countries, and also Sketches of the different Routes.

Published: London: for W. Faden, J. Robson, and R. Sewell, 1783

Stock code: 88377

Price: £2,500

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First edition. Capper was educated at Harrow and joined the army of the East India Company “in His Majesty’s Train of Artillery in the East Indies, first as a soldier cadet and later as an officer. He was then for a while a free merchant in Bengal before becoming in 1768 a captain in the Madras army and in 1769 senior writer for the presidency of Bengal … [later] appointed the East India Company’s commissary-general upon the coast of Coromandel” (ODNB). In early 1777 he was sent home with despatches, remaining in England until the autumn of 1778 when, “to explore the feasibility of opening a new channel for transmitting intelligence between Europe and India, he returned to Madras by way of Aleppo, the Arabian desert, and Basrah.” The present work contains details of his journey from India to England in early 1777, via Ceylon and Suez, and his return journey in 1778-9. Given more or less in journal form, it is full of fascinating details of local life, offering numerous hints for the traveller in the region. As was so often the case, Capper felt himself badly treated by John Company, issuing a lengthy memorial detailing the abuses of the company’s lax and corrupt civilian management in India. “Despite this he resumed his career in India in 1785, when he became comptroller-general of the army and fortification accompts on the coast of Coromandel, charged with reducing expenditure in Madras. He resigned in 1791 and returned to Britain. The East India Company twice thereafter refused him a pension.” He later made a name for himself as a meteorologist, and as a local philanthropist in south Wales where he settled.

Quarto (250 197 mm). Attractive recent half calf on marbled boards to style by Trevor Lloyd, red morocco label, urn device gilt to the compartments. 2 engraved folding maps. List of errata verso of dedication leaf struck through and the listed errors corrected in ink in a contemporary hand, lightly browned, some spotting, but overall a very good copy.

Bibliography: Blackmer 282; Gay 206; Wilson p.37; not in Atabey.

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