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NAPIER, Edward Delaval Hungerford Elers.

The Linesman;

or, Service in the Guards and the Line during England's Long Peace and Little Wars.

London: G. W. Hyde, 1856 Stock Code: 75386
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First and only edition of this three-decker, giving a fictionalized account of life in the British Army in the first half of the 19th century, including campaigning and cantonment life in India and the First Burma War.

"It has been justly remarked that no work of fiction can equal in point of interest, one composed of incidents derived from the common occurrences of every-day life. In the following pages I have endeavoured, with the aid of imaginary characters, to illustrate this position, by portraying a few ordinary events in the career of an Officer of the Line " (Preface).

Napier was educated at the Royal Military College, appointed ensign in the 46th Regiment in 1825, rising to captain in 1830, "He served with his regiment in India, and was present with the nizam's subsidiary force at the siege of Hyderabad in 1830. The regiment returned home in 1833, and in 1836 Napier entered the senior department of the Royal Military College, but left in 1837, before passing his examination, on the regiment being ordered to Gibraltar. He commanded the light company for several years. While at Gibraltar he frequently visited Spain and north Africa for field sports, and also took a cruise in his stepfather's ship, HMS Powerful (84 guns), in which he visited Constantinople and Asia Minor, and acquired a knowledge of the Levant, which led to his subsequent employment on special service there" (ODNB). Commanded a force of irregular cavalry in Syria during operations in 1840-1; contracted ophthalmia while in Egypt, and retired on half-pay in 1843. "In 1846 Napier was sent to the Cape with other special service field officers to organize the indigenous levies, and ably commanded bodies of irregulars during the Cape Frontier War of 1846-7." During the Crimean War despite the his own best efforts, and those of his stepfather Admiral Charles Napier who was in command of the Baltic Fleet, he failed to find employment, but "with characteristic energy he did good work during the first winter of the war in collecting funds for warm clothing for the troops, and personally superintending its shipment."

The shortcomings of the British military establishment in the context of this campaign are a theme which he covers in his preface, hoping that "the Chelsea Board of Inquiry will prove the death-blow to a system probably more corrupt than ever system was before!" This was not to be the case, and Col. Tulloch, to whom the novel is dedicated, was forced to defend his criticisms of the commissariat to the detriment of his health, and his career.

An entertaining and revealing addition to the picture of early Victorian service life, by a military man of "literary and artistic ability." Uncommon, Library Hub has BL, NLS, Oxford and Cambridge only, WorldCat adds six copies in the USA and one in South Africa.

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3 volumes octavo. Original red morocco-grained cloth, title gilt to spines, blind floral panel to the boards, cream endpapers.


Somewhat rubbed, rebacked with the original spines laid down, hinges a little clumsily repaired, accession numbers inked to the front free endpapers, light toning, but overall very good. Contemporary ownership inscriptions of Janet R. Ogilvie to the title pages, later gift inscription - "H.F.M. Marne from H.A. Mayo, 1911" - to the front free endpaper of volume I.


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