BUCKINGHAM, James Silk.

Travels in Mesopotamia.

Including a Journey from Aleppo to Bagdad [sic], by the route of Beer, Orfah, Diarbekr, Mardin, & Mosul; with researches on the Ruins of Nineveh, Babylon, and other ancient cities.

London: Henry Colburn, 1827 Stock Code: 139041
£1,250.00

Unfortunately this item is no longer available.

"Full of lively descriptions"

First octavo edition, published in the same year in quarto. Buckingham (1786-1855) spent much of his early life as a merchant sailor. Between 1813 and 1814 he travelled in Egypt, meeting Muhammad Ali Pasha, who despatched him to Bombay to develop trade with India. There he accepted a further commission from the Imam of Muscat, but was forced to return to Egypt by the East India Company. From Cairo he travelled overland India through Syria, Iraq and Iran. Travels in Mesopotamia recounts the Aleppo to Baghdad leg of the voyage, undertaken in mid-1816.

In 1818 Buckingham established the Calcutta Journal, an antigovernment periodical, and was expelled from India five years later, subsequently becoming a vocal supporter of the temperance and other Liberal movements. He "spent far longer in the Arab world than most other occasional visitors" (Hamilton, The Arcadian Library, p. 96) and his travel writings, which he wrote partly to fund legal battles in defence of his character, are "especially notable for the information they provide about social conditions in the many countries he visited" (ODNB). Travels in Mespotamia is considered "full of lively descriptions and sympathetic characters" (Blackmer) and is dedicated to Lady Hester Stanhope, "one of the brightest ornaments of her sex and station". The two folding plates are from drawings by the "brilliant linguist, orientalist and archaeologist" Claudius James Rich (Wright, p. 92).

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Description

2 volumes, octavo (215 x 129 mm). Near contemporary dark green calf, decorative gilt spines, dark maroon twin labels, sides with border of paired gilt fillets enclosing a blind dog-tooth panel, corner rosettes in gilt and blind, gilt foliate edge roll and turn-ins, combed marbled edges and endpapers.

Illustrations

Wood-engraved frontispiece to each volume and 25 similar vignettes, engraved folding map by Sidney Hall showing Buckingham's routes, lithograph folding plan of the Ruins of Babylon and folding plate showing the principal ruins at Babylon, both by F. Ross

Condition

Engraved armorial bookplate of Richard Blanshard (1817-1894), barrister and first governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island; prior to this appointment he had "served in India during the Sikh War of 1848–49, and at the end of the campaign was decorated for bravery" (Dictionary of Canadian Biography); ownership inscription in purple pencil to front free endpapers of one Reginald J. Sims. Bindings a little rubbed at extremities, a couple of labels chipped, some light scuffs and abrasions to covers, dark tide-mark to front cover of vol. I, folding map a little proud of fore-edge, scattered foxing, yet this remains an attractive set.

Bibliography

Arcadian Library 11106; Atabey 163 for the first octavo edition (1827); Blackmer 233; Burrell 128; Howgego II B69; Weber 146; Denis Wright, The English Amongst the Persians (2001).

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