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Letters From India;

Describing a Journey in the British Dominions of India, Tibet, Lahore, and Cashmeer, During the Years 1828, 1829, 1830, 1831. Undertaken by Order of the French Government... Second Edition. Very carefully corrected and revised.

Published: London: Edward Churton, 1835.

Stock code: 45433

Price: £530

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First published in French in 1833, the year after Jacquemont’s death, the English first edition was 1834. Jacquemont was one of the founders of the Société d’Histoire Naturelle, worked at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, and studied geology under Arago at the École des Mines. In 1827 he was invited by Pierre Louis Cordier of the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle to undertake a fully-salaried scientific expedition to India. Landing in Pondicherry in 1828, he proceeded to Calcutta, thence to Benares, Agra, and Delhi “and in the company of Lord William Bentinck arrived in 1830 at Simla.” (Howgego) While there he joined the Gerard brothers in explorations of the passes leading to Tibet, claiming to have crossed into the country twice, and was encouraged by them to obtain permission to visit Kashmir. At Lahore, he successfully obtained audiences with Ranjit Singh who granted the necessary authority, and Jacquemont headed into Kashmir “Unlike most of his contemporaries he made no attempt to disguise himself.” Deserted by his porters, subjected to incessant heat, he was captured by a bandit adherent of Ranjit, Nihal Singh “who was desperately in need of a prestigious hostage.” But so persuasive was Jacquemont that Nihal was soon a trusted servant who accompanied him to Srinagar; “He spent four months there, making forays into the surrounding country and amassing a considerable collection of plants, stuffed birds and fishes, and geological specimens.” Returning to Delhi, he was stricken with ill-health and died in 1832 at Bombay of an abscess on the liver. His letters proved to be immensely successful, perhaps because of their providing what the DIB describes as “a most vivid account … of the social condition of India in those days.”

2 volumes, small octavo (170 102 mm), recently bound in tan full morocco, title gilt direct to spine, fine beaded rolled panel gilt to the boards, top edges gilt, others uncut, marbled endpapers. Engraved frontispieces and vignette half-titles to each. Light browning, marginal foxing, frontis. and half-title to Vol. I with short splits repaired verso with archival tape, overall very good.

Bibliography: Howgego II, J1; Yakushi, J10c.

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