Letters Historical and Critical, from a Gentleman in Constantinople To his Friend in London.

Giving An Account of the Largeness and Extent of that City... By a Gentleman, in the Retinue of his Excellency, the Earl of Kinnoul, his Britannick Majesty's Ambassador to the Grand Seignior.

London: printed for George Spavan, 1735 Stock Code: 117450
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British account of 18th-century Constantinople

First edition. The anonymous author was a member of the retinue of George Hay, 8th Earl of Kinnoul, who served as British ambassador to Constantinople from 1729 to 1737. His account of the city, people, religion and rulers of Constantinople was written not long after he arrived, and was sent in two letters to Britain in 1730. Despite being impressed by the city's scale and architecture, he is largely unsympathetic to the Turkish people and government: "I could not, as yet, see the least virtue in any of them; for what is most remarkable in them, is pride and idleness, accompanied with as great a share of sensuality as can be imagined". Even so, it is a valuable account of a westerner partaking in Turkish life, including eating kebabs, frequenting coffee shops and smoking shisha, alongside providing observations on Turkish slave markets, circumcision and the Islamic religion. The work is scarce, with just eight copies known in public institutions and no known auction records.

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Octavo (190 x 123 mm). Rebound in modern boards, printed paper label to front board.


Crossed out contemporary ownership inscription on title page. Some blemishes to contents, a few pages lightly creased, small stain at foot of final few pages, else a very good copy.


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