Transatlantic Sketches. Comprising Visits to the Most Interesting Scenes in North and South America, and the West Indies. With Notes on Negro Slavery and Canadian Emigration.
FIRST EDITION. Captain Alexander excellent travelogue devotes his first volume to South America and his second to North America. Alexander first travelled from London to Guiana making particular enquiry into the slave trade, before exploring the interior with its primeval forests at the foot of the Andes. His next port of call was to the Barbados reporting on the destruction of a recent hurricane and thence to Tobago in search of evidence of Robinson Crusoe. Breathlessly Alexander turns next to Trinidad; Grenada; The Antilles; St Vincent; Jamaica and onto Cuba where he made a thorough exploration of the island. He quit Havana and took a passage to New Orleans, ‘or “the Wet Grave,” and arrived their during the sickly season.’ Seeing the cane breaks and cypress swamps of Louisiana, including the all pervasive slavery. After this Alexander headed north by boat up the Mississippi and from Memphis he covered the next leg of his journey on foot and wagon. On he went trough Tennessee and Kentucky taking another boat on river Ohio he reached Cincinnati, explored Virginia, crossed Lake Erie to ‘Buffaloe, and saw the glories of Niagara.’ Still not satisfied he now crossed Lake Ontario, traversed Upper Canada, engaging with the native Americans, and once at Kingston thought to descend ‘the Ottawa, by the Rapids of St. Anne, to Montreal, and then embarked on the St Lawrence, for Quebec.’ Gathering up information on the recent emigrants, he was after all of Scottish decent, Alexander then travelled down the eastern states visiting Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington ‘to see Congress open.’ He interviews the president, General Jackson, and at last embarked from Boston for his home voyage to Liverpool. In all he confessed to travelling 10,000 miles in twelve months and packed all his observations into these two volumes. Something of a thrill seeker his tour of the Americas was taken between his stint with Persian Army during the war with Russia in 1826 and his actions in Portugal for the Miguelite War of 1832-4 and Kaffir War of 1835. In the preface he notes that being unattached to any regiment he decided ‘having already visited many parts of the Old World, I determined on an expedition to the New, previous to returning to full pay.’ He was in both the Crimea and Maori War later in his career and had time help bring the Egyptian obelisk ‘Cleopatra’s Needle’ to London from Alexandria. The Dictionary of National Biography is slightly dismissive of Alexander’s exploits but his prose is full of insights and an endearing breathless wonder, typical possibly of much nineteenth century explorations and exploitation but entertaining nonetheless.
Author ALEXANDER Capt. James Edward.
Binding contemporary full green morocco, the boards blocked in blind and gilt, the spins with raised bands, lettered and decorated in gilt, gilt edges; a handsome copy.
Publisher London: Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street.
Condition Two volumes, 8vo, pp. [iii]-xxiii  ‘Illustrations’, 384; xv  ‘Illustration’, 320; engraved map and 10 etched plates on cream paper;