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The Mediterranean Pilot:

being an Exact Account of the Coasts of Spain, Provence, Italy, the Islands of Yvica, Majorca, Minorca, Corsica, Sicily, &c. With a Particular Description of all their Roads, Coasts, and Harbours; the Marks to know them, Directions for Sailing into them, and the Dangers that lie about them, and along the Coasts. The Soundings, and Depth of Water, with the Nature of the Ground. The Latitude of each Place, with the Variation of the Compass, and the Distance from one Place to another. The Whole being collected from Observations made upon the Spot, by Henry Michelott, Pilot on Board the King of France's Gallies. Translated from the French.

London: Richard and William Mount & Thomas Page, 1715 Stock Code: 125965
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First English edition. Exceedingly uncommon, a single copy cited by Adams & Waters, at the Ministry of Defence, and only one other copy located in ESTC, Library Hub, and WorldCat, at Oxford. Not found in the National Maritime Museum's online catalogue.

This translation of Michelot's Le portulan de partie de la Mer Mediterranee (Marsailles, 1703) was executed by Thomas Corbett, secretary of the Admiralty board from 1718 to 1720. As he notes in his dedication to Sir George Byng it was by the latter's orders that this translation was undertaken 'and indeed you have judged the design so useful in its kind, that I have often heard you wonder it had not been attempted sooner; and that a book of so much accuracy and exactness, with respect to the places it treats of, should have been naturalized into the language of most sea-faring nations, except ours' (pp. iii-iv).

For the greater part of the War of the Spanish Succession, Byng served in the Royal Navy's Mediterranean squadron. On being promoted to rear-admiral of the red in 1703, he proceeded to the Mediterranean in the Ranelagh. He returned there after the winter season to command the detachment engaged in bombarding and capturing Gibraltar, and distinguish himself at the battle of Malaga. In the ensuing years he served in the operations preventing French capture of Barcelona, bombarding Alicante, capturing Ibiza and Majorca, and, in 1707, participating as second-in-command in the siege of Toulon. He was appointed commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean squadron in 1708, and again for the Sicilian campaign (1718-1720), during which he successfully defeated the Spanish fleet at the battle of Cape Passaro. Corbett had joined Byng, under whose patronage he rose to the post of Secretary of the Admiralty, as an ordinary seaman aboard the Ranelagh on 24 March 1704. By 14 December he was rated Byng's clerk and from 29 December 1705 his secretary. These years of service in the Mediterranean must have convinced both men of the need for an English coastal pilot of that sea and, more specifically, for a translation of Michelot's work.

With bookplate of the naval historian Michael Oppenheim (1853-1927), author of A History of the Administration of the Royal Navy and of Merchant Shipping in Relation to the Navy (London, 1896).

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Quarto (245 x 195 mm). Contemporary panelled calf, discreetly rebacked.


A little browned, but overall very good.


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