Book Description


[full title and imprint:} MARTIN, Robert Montgomery. History of Southern Africa: Comprising the Cape of Good Hope, Mauritius, Seychelles, &c. (‘The British Colonial Library’, vol. III). London: W. Nicol for John Mortimer, 1836.

Octavo (166 x 104mm), pp. [8 (series-title, imprint on verso, title, imprint on verso, contents, illustrations)], 336. Engraved frontispiece by J.W. Cook, retaining tissue guard, wood-engraved title-vignette, and 2 double-page engraved maps by J. & C. Walker with outlines added in red by hand. Letterpress tables in the text, some full- or double-page. (Some light browning, a few light spots or marks, some creasing affecting final quires.) Contemporary British calf, boards with borders of double blind rules with fleuron cornerpieces in blind, spine in compartments, later gilt morocco lettering-pieces in 2, others decorated in blind, board-edges and turn-ins roll-tooled in blind, lemon-yellow coated endpapers, all edges speckled red. (Spine faded, extremities slightly rubbed and bumped, traces of silk marker, now missing.) A very good copy.

Provenance: James Hunter, Hafton House, Argyll and Bute (1814-1854, engraved armorial bookplate [Franks 15766] with manuscript pressmark on upper pastedown) – Quentin George Keynes FRGS (1921-2003, with his characteristic pencil purchase note on front flyleaf).
Dealer Notes
First ‘British Colonial Library’ edition. The author and civil servant Robert Montgomery Martin (c. 1800-1868) was born in Dublin, and ‘[h]is life was dominated by a self-appointed task – the study of the British empire, which Martin saw in terms of a vast free-trade area of new territories in allegiance to the British crown’ (ODNB). After training as a physician Martin worked in Sri Lanka before joining Captain William Fitzwilliam Owen’s surveying expedition to Africa as an Assistant Surgeon and Naturalist. Following further medical appointments in Australia and India, Martin returned to Ireland in 1830 and established himself as a writer and historian of the British Empire, whose publications, ‘although drawing on official sources, were influenced by his practical Christianity and by his association with leading intellectuals. He was a founder member of the Statistical Society of London (1834), the Colonial Society (1837), and the East India Association (1867). He opposed duelling, suttee, and slavery, advocated the abolition of flogging, and was active in the work of the Aborigines Protection Society’ (op. cit.).

In 1834-1835 ‘came his pioneering, five-volume History of the British Colonies’ (op. cit.), the fourth volume of which was titled Possessions in Africa and Austral-Asia (1835). The text of History of the British Colonies was then restructured, revised, and enlarged, and issued as The British Colonial Library, in which the first section of Possessions in Africa and Austral-Asia was published as History of Southern Africa: Comprising the Cape of Good Hope, Mauritius, Seychelles, &c. A number of variant issues of the present title are recorded by the South African Bibliography, and in this copy the series-title bears the imprint of John Mortimer and the two maps have the imprint ‘Published by John Mortimer’.

This copy was formerly in the library of the Scottish landowner James Hunter at Hafton House, his house at Hunters Quay, Argyll and Bute. It was subsequently acquired by the noted collection of the explorer and bibliophile Quentin Keynes, who travelled extensively in Africa throughout the second half of the twentieth century, and collected a remarkable library of books and manuscripts relating to the exploration of Africa, particularly during the nineteenth century. Some of these works provided the basis for Keynes’s Roxburghe Club book The Search for the Source of the Nile: Correspondence between Captain Richard Burton, Captain John Speke and Others, from Burton’s Unpublished East African Letter Book; together with Other Related Letters and Papers (London, 1999) and his collection was also a resource that he drew upon for his own travels in Africa.

South African Bibliography III, p. 270.

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Author MARTIN, Robert Montgomery
Date 1836
Publisher London: W. Nicol for John Mortimer

Price: £149.50

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