ROYLE, John Forbes (1799-1858). Illustrations of the Botany and other branches of the natural history of the Himalayan Mountains, and of the Flora of Cashmere. London: William H. Allen and Co., 1839. 2 vols, 2° (370 x 265mm, and 360 x 262mm). Half-titles, vol. I mostly unopened, 2 hand-coloured lithographed frontispieces, 100 lithographed plates by M. Caucci after Vishnuperaud, J. de Carle Sowerby and others, all but three hand-coloured (occasional marginal dampstaining in the text vol., occasional light browning or spotting, a few plates shaved usually in the imprint, a few plates with small protruding sections folded-in by the binder, a very few short repaired tears, some light marginal browning to text vol.). Plates vol. in contemporary green straight-grain half morocco by Henington and Galabin, with ticket, spines gilt with arabesques, edges gilt (some scuffing to extremities); text vol. in modern quarter calf over linen boards, red and green gilt lettering pieces on the spine. Provenance: text: Wigan Free Public Library (blind-stamp); plates: C. Moore (contemporary inscription).
FIRST EDITION of this accomplished work on the botany of India. Surgeon, naturalist and botanist, and the son of a Captain in the service of the East India Company, Royle joined the medical staff of the Bengal Army in Calcutta in 1819. Combining his botanical interest with his medical and military duties, he became the superintendent of the garden at Saharunpore in 1823, employing others to produce a valuable collection of economic plants (DNB). Returning to England in 1831, he published the results of his researches in the present work, in which he encourages the introduction of cinchona plants into India. Royle's care and accuracy as a writer is complemented by the fine plates. Following the decline of Mughal patronage, skilled Indian artists such as Vishnupersaud were in the 19th-century commissioned by British writers to illustrate their books. In the Natural History field, both Royle and Roxburgh made use of such artists. BM(NH) IV, 1758; Great Flower Books, p.134; Nissen BBI 1690. (2)