17 June 2008
LESSEPS, Ferdinand Marie, vicomte de (1805-1894). Percement de l'Isthme de Suez, exposé et documents officiels. Paris: Henri Plon, 1855.
8o (228 x 148 mm). Half-title, 2 folding engraved maps. (Occasional light foxing.) Modern half calf and marbled boards, original printed wrappers bound in. Provenance: presentation inscription, "de la part de l'Auteur", on original front wrapper (slightly trimmed by binder).
FIRST EDITION, AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY, of Lessep's proposal for the construction of the Suez Canal. Lesseps had begun his diplomatic career in Egypt, during the years 1833-38, where he had befriended the Viceroy's son Mohammed Said, and grown interested in the project of the Saint-Simonians to construct a canal across the Isthmus of Suez linking the Mediterannean with the Red Sea. In 1854 Said granted him a concession for the project. "De Lesseps was not deterred by either political or practical objections to the project; but capital had to be raised to finance it. In this treatise of nearly three hundred pages... he set out the whole case for the canal and his proposed method of building it. He secured the support of Napoleon III and raised a capital of two hundred million francs. Construction was begun in 1859 and completed ten years later" (PMM). En francais dans le texte 274; Norman 1336; PMM 339.
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