JAMES, Silas.

A Narrative of a Voyage to Arabia, India, etc.

Containing, Amidst a Variety of Information, a Description of Saldanha Bay; with Remarks on the Genious and Disposition of the Natives of Arabia Felix; the Manners and Customs of the People of Hindoston; of the Island of Madagascar and other parts beyond the Cape of Good Hope. Interspersed with some Particulars Relative to the Author's Remarkable Interview with his Father, on the Coast of Malabar. Performed in the Years 1781, 82, 83, and 84.

London: printed for the author and sold by W. Baynes, 1797 Stock Code: 117608
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First edition, scarce. James was a cabin-boy on Commander Johnstone's abortive expedition to seize the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch in 1781. After being ambushed by the French in the Cape Verde Islands, and subsequently failing to take the Cape, Johnstone gained a consolation victory at Saldanha. Johnstone himself then returned to England, but sent a detachment to the East Indies station under Captain James Alms. The detachment sailed along the Arabian coast from Bab al-Mandab to a bay near Mocha, where a landing-party acquired provisions from local Arabs. The ships then anchored off Ra's Marbat near Mukalla to carry out repairs before sailing for India, encountering heavy winds at the mouth of Persian Gulf which drove them towards the Persian coast. James also briefly describes the Red Sea and its marine life - "some of the most curious prodigies of nature" (p. 56), including what appears to have been a type of catfish. There was a variant imprint the same year, with an undated title page and a list of subscribers bound in.

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Octavo in half-sheets (211 x 120 mm). Late 19th-century tan calf by Riviere, spine richly gilt in compartments, twin morocco labels, rolled floral border gilt to covers, yellow edges, marbled endpapers, bound red silk page-marker.


Lithographic portrait frontispiece.


From the library of British Arabist and colonial agent Colonel Samuel Barrett Miles (1838-1914), with printed bookplate noting his widow's bequest of the collection to Bath Public Library in 1920, and associated manuscript shelf-marks and blind-stamps as usual. Front joint repaired, rear joint and tips a little rubbed, contents tanned, occasional pale spotting, title page slightly marked, and with an effaced ownership inscription to upper outer corner, repaired tear to pp. v/vi, and a small hole just costing half a letter recto, similar repair to lower outer sig. S2, the text unaffected, still a very good copy, bound with the half-title.


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