3 pages, 4to, seal-tear affecting a few words, slight dust-soiling." />
26 February 2004
BRUCE, James. Autograph letter signed ("James Bruce") to Mrs. Riddel, Kinnaird, 12 January 1794 3 pages, 4to, seal-tear affecting a few words, slight dust-soiling.
"I WOULD NOT COULD NOT SUFFER ONE I TENDERLY LOVED TO BE TORN FROM MY SIDE"
Bruce writes to the wife of a Mr. Riddel, pressing her on her feelings for her husband's dangerous voyage: "So Mr Riddel is still in the West Indies. Tell me, I pray you Dear Madam, are you naturally so indifferent with those you love that Seas, Fevers & a nose sparing barbarous war do none of them appal you for my part who am a Man versed in dangers & difficulties I would not could not suffer one I tenderly loved to be torn from my side for all the riches I could gain from Either Indies upon such a dangerous voyage." Bruce asks Mrs. Riddell to request that her husband "pick up for me a few Species of Phosphorous or fire flies or beetles or some Horned Scarabae or Beetles any Scorpions or Scolopendra that are small enough not to incommode him & any few Conchs or small shells of out of the way & vivid Colours that I may place them in a part of My Museum to be dedicated to you." Bruce mentions that he is at work on "a very Elegant Edition of My Travels" and promises her a copy "dress'd in the Gayest manner not like a Widow but glittering like a Bride."
The present letter was written just three months before Bruce's death, and shows the great explorer, at sixty-four years old, continuing as ever his pursuit of discovery and adventure. "Bruce's character is depicted with incomparable liveliness by himself. It is that of a brave, magnanimous, and merciful man, endowed with excellent abilities, though not with first-rate intellectual powers, but swayed to an undue degree by self-esteem and the thirst for fame" (DNB).
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