WATHEN, James.

Journal of a Voyage, in 1811 and 1812, to Madras and China;

Returning by the Cape of Good Hope and St. Helena; in the H.C.S. the Hope, Capt. James Pendergrass.

London: Printed for J. Nichols, Son, and Bentley; and Black, Parry, and Co., 1814 Stock Code: 142461
£3,250.00

"in everything a picturesque turn of fancy" and the hint of an exotic imposture

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Notes

First edition of this attractive, informative and well-illustrated travelogue. In 1811, Wathen (1751-1828), a glover from Hereford occupied his retirement with numerous expeditions mostly within the British Isles, and many written up for Gentlemen's Magazine, to which he was a frequent contributor. In 1811 he sailed to India and China with Captain James Pendergrass, an old school friend, the voyage resulting in the present work which, published to generally favourable reviews, includes seven views of India, six of Indonesia, nine of China, and two of St. Helena.

"The author displays in every thing a picturesque turn of fancy, and is attracted on all occasions by the visible imagery which surrounds him. Both by his descriptions and his sketches, he has added to our knowledge of Madras and its neighbourhood, of Pulo-penang, and of Canton; and he will be followed by the reader and the gazer with much gratification and little fatigue" (The Monthly Review, vol. 77, 1815, p.278). An pencilled note in the margin at p.81 reveals an intriguing incident. one evening while being entertained by Mr. Griffiths "a very opulent merchant, the only surviving partner of the House of Hope and Company", they were "honoured with the company of two distinguished Indian chiefs for about an hour in the evening". They arrived in "eight elegant palanquins... proceeded and followed by numerous retinue with lighted flambeaux... the guests were said to be an uncle and his nephew. The elder spoke a little English... the dresses and turbans of these visitors were splendidly ornamented with gold and jewels. They drank some wine, and stayed about an hour... we were informed that they were relations of the present Nabob of Arcot". The marginal note reads "Ed. Griffiths of Newcourt & his brother were these Indian chiefs. Auctore E.G. ipso. 1864".

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Description

Tall quarto (266 x 215 mm). Contemporary streaked calf, rebacked in sheep, black morocco label, lozenges in blind to the compartments, panel in gilt to the boards, marbled edges and endpapers, the endpapers later.

Illustrations

24 hand-coloured aquatint plates by Clark after the author's own sketches.

Condition

A little rubbed, particularly at the board edges, some offsetting from and to the plates and text-block lightly browned as usual, remains a very good copy.

Bibliography

Abbey Travel II 517; Cordier Sinica p.2107, misdated to 1824; Lust 386; Mendelssohn II, p.591.

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