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LITHGOW, William.

The Totall Discourse,

of the rare aduentures, and painefull peregrinations of long nineteene yeares trauayles from Scotland, to the most famous kingdomes in Europe, Asia, and Affrica. Perfited by three deare bought voyages, in surueighing of forty eight kingdomes ancient and moderne; twenty one rei-publickes, ten absolute principalities, with two hundred ilands. The particular names whereof, are described in each argument of the ten diuisions of this history: and it also diuided in three bookes; two whereof, neuer heretofore published. Wherein is contayned, an exact relation, of the lawes, religion, policies, and gouernment of all their princes, potentates, and people. Together with the grieuous tortures he suffered, by the inquisition of Malaga in Spaine, his miraculous discouery and deliuery thence: and of his last and late returne from the northerne iles.

London: Nicholas Okes, and are to be sold by Nicholas Fussell and Humphery Mosley, 1632 Stock Code: 144436
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First collected and complete edition of Lithgow's travels, a particularly nice copy in contemporary calf; "a book of uncommon value and interest, for its descriptions of men and manners even more than of places" (DNB).

Lithgow (1582-1645?), travelled extensively across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East from the age of twenty onwards, publishing accounts of his travels in 1614, 1616, and 1623, these earlier narratives here collected together with his subsequent travels, and heavily revised.

"Born and educated in Lanark, he was known as 'Cut-lugged Willie' after four brothers had cut off his ears when they found him with their sister. Between 1609 and 1629, Lithgow travelled, in three journeys and mostly on foot, through Europe, Greece, Turkey (1609-11), Crete, the Levant, Egypt and North Africa, covering in all, he estimated, more than 36,000 miles. His adventures include being assailed in Libya, beset in Moldavia, and being arrested and tortured as a spy in Malaga. He bathed in the River Jordan, visited the holy shrines and took home a few souvenirs including 'a pair of Garters of the Holy Grave, all richly wrought in Silk and Gold' for presentation to Queen Anne, wife of James I. Embedded in his euphuistic narrative are the first reports of such novelties as coffee-drinking in Europe, Turkish baths, the Aleppo-Baghdad pigeon post, artificial incubation, and Turkish tobacco pipes. He also wrote some poetry. Lithgow continued travelling (1614-19 and 1620-22) within the British Isles, and in 1627 walked from London to Edinburgh. Between 1628 and 1644 he travelled in England, Scotland and Holland" (Howgego).

"Lithgow cuts an eccentric figure even in the company of other early-seventeenth-century British travellers" (Hadfield, in Speake, p. 729). With the only corroboration for many of his tales being his own word, it is difficult to discern what is true and what fanciful, yet even so his tales greatly appealed to his contemporary readers. Lithgow's stories include enriching himself from the bodies of two barons who mutually killed each other in a duel, capturing a pirate ship, his companions dying of thirst in the desert, and various near-death experiences. He "seems to have been one of a small number of early-seventeenth-century English writers who set out to become professional travellers and travel writers. The Totall Discourse is lively and opinionated, as Lithgow mixes astute observations with dogmatic self-righteousness. Despite his views, he obviously made acquaintances on his travels and was able to extract information from useful local sources. His style is often ornate, perhaps as an attempt to compensate for his relatively humble origins with his metropolitan English readership. But Lithgow, at his best, has an eye and ear for the ordinary details that mark out different cultures" (ibid.).

Of particular interest is Lithgow's interactions with Muslims and his portrayal of the Islamic faith. "Islam and Muslims present a major focus of the book, encountered both briefly and from afar, such as in hostile and threatening encounters with Turkish galleys and Moorish corsairs, and more intimately and at leisure, as at civilised dinners with well-known former compatriot renegades, Christian-cudgelling janissaries, and caravan companions with the propensity for tobacco consumption... Christian-Muslim themes abound in the book... including a short account of the main features of the Islamic faith and a critical though not very original depiction of the life of Muhammad... Throughout the work, Lithgow presents Muslims as simple and gullible people, easily led astray by the teachings of their priests and holy men, following ridiculous restrictions on food and drink, yet nevertheless hypocritically breaking these same rules" (David Thomas, Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History, vol. 8, pp. 233-4). The frontispiece depicts Lithgow in Turkish costume, with walking staff and a large turban, "a gesture that now seems ironic but was probably a common custom among travellers" (ibid.).

Provenance: early 19th century crested stencil to frontispiece recto of a cockatrice statant, wings displayed, above the monogram "RT"; this is the crest of the Twysden family, and raises the possibility that the original owner of the book was the antiquary Roger Twysden (1597-1672); "Twysden's scholarly activities led him to assemble a large and important collection of books and manuscripts, although most of this was dispersed in the nineteenth century when Roydon Hall passed out of the Twysden family" (ODNB).

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Quarto (192 x 138 mm). Contemporary sprinkled calf, ruled in blind, gilt bead tool to board edges, book block edges sprinkled red. Housed in a brown cloth flat-back box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Integral woodcut frontispiece, woodcut repeated on S2v, and 7 further woodcut illustrations.


Early inscriptions to inner front board (list of linens, reference to the Beglerbeg - the western version of the Turkish Beylerbey, a governor of a province of the Ottoman Empire - of Greece on p. 73) and rear inner board (price notation), some early annotations to text (underlining and marginal lines and crosses, occasional marginal words). Without a front free endpaper, perhaps as so bound, with rear endpapers (somewhat creased). Minor wear to calf along foot of boards and to tips, two tiny wormholes to spine, general light rubbing and minor patches of abrasion, front hinge tender but without split to calf, the binding overall a very fresh example. Contents generally clean and crisp, light chipping around frontispiece extremities expertly and discreetly stabilized, occasional very minor worming not affecting text, faint staining at bottom fore corner of signatures A-S, light creasing at a few page corners, small burnhole to 3Q2. A very desirable copy.


ESTC S108574; STC (2nd ed.), 15713 [a variant title imprint for the edition does not list Fussell and Mosley, no priority established]. Howgego L134; Andrew Hadfield, "Lithgow, William", in Speake (ed.), Literature of Travel and Exploration: An Encycloped


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