Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - December - 2011 Issue

Travel and Exploration from Peter Harrington

Harrington79

Travel & Exploration from Peter Harrington.

Peter Harrington has issued their 79th catalogue, Travel & Exploration. Add to that the subtitle, Voyages, Navigation, Naval Architecture, Charts & Atlases, Military Campaigns, & Archaeology. Offered are 223 items, and you will find it filled with works from many of the great travelers and explorers, such as Cook, Burton, Bougainville, Stanley, and Shackleton. Others are not thought of so much as explorers but as those who chronicled others' findings, or dealt into the natural or human mysteries, such as Darwin, Haklyut, Dalrymple, Roberts, and Ortelius. Others made their name elsewhere, but loved to travel and explore anyway, such as Theodore Roosevelt, Churchill, and Lawrence of Arabia. This is a fine collection of books and manuscripts, and will appeal to those who collect the travels and explorations of another era, when much of the world was still a great mystery.

Richard Burton visited numerous locations around the Middle East, Africa and even America, writing accounts of the places he saw. None of his travels was more spectacular than this one: Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah, three volumes published 1855-6. Burton participated in the Hajj, or sacred pilgrimage to Mecca expected of Muslims. However, it is forbidden to non-Muslims, and Burton not being Muslim, risked his life to witness the event. He came dressed as an Afghan tribesman, which first required not only learning the language, but the requisite cultural behaviors to pull it off. Burton was one of only a handful of westerners to succeed in visiting Mecca, and just the second to write a detailed account. Item 31. Priced at £9,750 (British pounds, or about $15,052 in U.S. Currency).

Nicholas Maillard came to Texas from England in January of 1840. He settled in Richmond, where he co-edited the local newspaper. He next was admitted to the bar in Fort Bend County. However, in August, he suddenly returned to England. He then began writing and speaking about Texas, and in 1842 published this book: The History of the Republic of Texas, from the Discovery of the Country to the Present Time and the Cause of Her Separation from the Republic of Mexico. This is not exactly a promotional piece for the new republic. Years later, Jenkins described it as “the most vitriolic denunciation of the Republic of Texas, written with absolutely no regard for the truth.” Wrote Maillard, Texas is “filled with habitual liars, drunkards, blasphemers, and slanderers; sanguinary gamesters and cold-blooded assassins; with idleness and sluggish indolence (two vices for which the Texans are already proverbial); with pride, engendered by ignorance and supported by fraud.” Why Maillard was so upset with Texans is not clear. He considered their revolution against Mexico treasonous, and while Jenkins may be right that Maillard had little regard for the truth, he was not completely inaccurate in proclaiming the country was “stained with the crime of Negro slavery and Indian massacre.” Item 133. £7,500 (US $11,578).

Next we have an account of an exploration noted not for what was found, but for the conclusions to which those discoveries led: Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries Visited by the H.M.S. Beagle... This is the journal of Charles Darwin, taken during the Beagle's voyage around South America from 1832-36. Darwin was the naturalist on this voyage. His account was originally published as one volume of four in the official account of this and a preceding voyage. Darwin's part was so popular that this first separate edition was published shortly thereafter (1839). However, don't expect to find anything about evolution or natural selection within its pages. Darwin had not yet developed his conclusions from what he had seen. He had made his observations about differences and similarities between species located on the South American continent versus nearby islands, but had yet to fully understand the explanation. Item 61. £8,500 (US $13,122).

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