BOTELER, Thomas.

Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery to Africa and Arabia,

performed by His Majesty's Ships Leven and Barracouta from 1821 to 1826. Under the command of Capt. F. W. Owen, R.N.

London: Richard Bentley, 1835 Stock Code: 117586
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"This great surveying undertaking" (Burton)

First edition, commercially rather uncommon. Sir Richard Burton, in a footnote in his Two Trips to Gorilla Land and the Cataracts of the Congo (1876) described the journeys of the Leven and Barracouta as "this great surveying undertaking".

"Following the re-establishment of British sovereignty in South Africa at the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, and with trade possibilities emerging along the east coast of Africa, the British Admiralty decided to undertake a major survey of the African coastline. An expedition was fitted out at Woolwich in 1821, led by William Fitzwilliam Owen on board Leven, a ship-sloop of 26 guns, assisted by Commander William Cutfield on the 10 gun brig Barracouta. The expedition progressed to southern Africa and in late 1823, while the Barracouta was surveying part of the African coast north of Mozambique, Owen sailed to Bombay in Leven to obtain provisions and to send completed charts back to England. He then proceeded to Muscat to obtain permission to survey the coastline of Omani possessions in east Africa, and on New Year's Day 1824 commenced a survey of the Arabian coastline. Owen had planned to trace the coast from Muscat to Dhofar, but unfavourable winds prevented this. He therefore commenced at Ra's al-Hadd, continuing to the island of Masira, where he charted its outer coast to its southern point at Ra's Abu Rasas Leven continued along the coast past Ra's Markhaz and the Kuria Muria islands, discontinuing the survey at Ra's Mirbat after Owen had contracted rheumatic fever. From Ra's Mirbat the Leven sailed to Socotra, and thence to the African coast to meet up with the Barracouta Both Owen and Thomas Boteler published lengthy books about their journeys. Boteler was initially second lieutenant on Leven, but after the death of Captain Cutfield of the Barracouta during the survey of Delagoa Bay, Mozambique, was transferred to the Barracouta as first lieutenant. Owen's book, badly edited by Heaton Bowstead Robinson, is at times confusing, and it is difficult to know whether the words are those of Owen or Boteler Boteler's book, edited by Richard Bentley (Boteler having died in 1828 from the effects of fever), is less spoiled by editorial meddling and more faithful to the original manuscript. Chapter 6 of volume II includes an account of the Leven and her operations in Arabian waters, but is based on Owen's journal, as neither Boteler nor Barracouta visited Oman" (New Arabian Studies, Vol. 2, 1994, pp. 10-11).

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2 volumes, octavo (219 x 136 mm). Late 19th-century red half calf, decorative gilt spines, pinkish linen cloth sides, top edges gilt, marbled endpapers.


Lithograph frontispieces and 2 plates by C. Hamberger or T. M. Baynes after Boteler.


From the library of British Arabist and colonial agent Col. S. B. Miles (1838-1914), with printed bookplate noting his widow's bequest of his collection to Bath Public Library in 1920, with associated manuscript shelf-marks and blind-stamps as usual. Spines sunned and with a few dark blemishes, touch of soiling to front cover of volume II, embossed library stamps to plates, scattered light foxing. A very good, tall copy.


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