[CLELAND, John] GROSE, John Henry.
Voyage aux Indes Orientales.
Traduit de l'Anglois par M. Hernandez, l'un des Auteurs du Journal Étranger.
First French edition, one year after the first London. An extremely interesting account of India in the mid-eighteenth century; “a compendium of observations on both English and Indian cultures … the declining power of the Mughal government, and its replacement with English measures. A plethora of observations on subjects such as trade, fortifications, public buildings, and relations with the French” (Riddick) these last probably accounting for its rapid translation. Born in 1732, the son of an immigrant Swiss jeweller; “After taking a course in writing and merchants’ accounts at J. Bland’s academy in Bishopsgate, Grose was elected a writer in the East India Company in November 1749 and arrived to serve in the Bombay presidency in August 1750. He was advanced to deputy secretary early in 1753, but his career ended soon after, when he was dismissed the service and sent home, ‘having been deprived of his senses for some months past, and there being no hope of his recovery'” (ODNB). His life thereafter was somewhat rackety, running through his inheritance in his father’s lifetime and being forced by debt to flee to France where he lived for four years. “His mother’s death brought another inheritance (though vested in two of his brothers), [when] he returned to England in 1774, but only after being imprisoned for attempting to travel without a passport and badly injuring one of those arresting him. No later reference to him has been found.” The editing, and augmentation, of this work for publication has recently been shown to be the work of John Cleland. In his “avertissement” the translator, Philippe Hernandez, remarks that Grose had been “plus … aidé” [greatly assisted] by “M. Cl.”, “homme célébre en Angleterre par ses productions, son style & son gout” [famous in England his works, style and taste]. Circumstantially this identification of Cleland as “a key collaborator or perhaps the text’s ghostwriter”could be seen as being confirmed by the fact that Hernandez was one of the editors of the Journal Étranger in which excerpts of Fanny Hill had been published in 1755. Further hard evidence has been traced by Hal Gladfelder, who publishes a letter sent by Cleland to his lawyer in 1757 asking him to obtain “some papers relating to” the East Indies, as a “Mr. Grose of Richmond” has “appl[ied] to me for some materials towards a treatise” on the subject (Fanny Hill in Bombay: The Making and Unmaking of John Cleland, pp34-5). He also identifies a great deal of “material that echoes his preoccupations and experience”: his etymological researches; his interest in the political effects of trade; “the extended accounts of Mogul seraglios and the dancing girls of Surat [which] are akin to passages in the Coxcomb and the Dictionary of Love” (p35); together with a somewhat malicious story relating to a sea captain, William Boag, with whom Cleland had tangled previously, which could have no other source. Represents Cleland’s only writing on his time in India.An interesting edition of an important text with typically tangled eighteenth-century origins.
Octavo (166 96 mm) Contemporary streaked calf, tan morocco label, raised bands with gilt reeding, compartments gilt with penels enclosing a floaral tool, edges stained red, marbled endpapers. Housed in a neat tan cloth drop-back box. Half-title bound in. Somewhat worn, stripping from the boards, upper joint cracking but sound, erosion at the corners and edges, particularly the lower rear, with some minor loss to the lower fore-corner of the rear endpapers and last few leaves, text unaffected, light toning to the text, but overall a very good, honest copy in unrestored contemporary condition.
Bibliography: NMM, I, 447 for the 1772 edition; Riddick, Glimpses ... 11Don't understand our descriptions? Try reading our Glossary