James Bruce (1730-1794)
Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile in the years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, and 1773. Edinburgh: printed by J. Ruthven for G. G.J. and J. Robinson, London, 1790. 5 volumes, 4 (29.5 x 23.8cm.) Engraved title vignettes, 55 plates, 3 battle plans with leaf of explanation opposite each, 3 folding maps, 4 leaves showing Ethiopic dialect scripts. (Dampstaining in vols. IV-V, several leaves and final map affected by clean tears, occasionally deep, lacking half titles and 4X4 at end of vol.II, called for by Blackmer). Contemporary mottled calf (rebacked, corners worn).
FIRST EDITION. Bruce arrived in Egypt in 1768 and spent 5 years in Upper Egypt and Abyssinia, sailing up the Nile to Aswan, crossing the desert to the Red Sea, and landing at Masuah, the port of Abyssinia, in September 1769. With the sole exception of the French surgeon Poncet, no European had visited Abyssinia for the previous 150 years and Bruce's account is therefore of unique importance. He reached Gondar, the capital, February 1770, explored the sources of the Blue Nile, left Gondar in 1771, travelled to Sennaar in Nubia, and reached Aswan in November 1772, returning to England in 1774. The plates in this work, published over 15 years after his return, were based on his own drawings and those of Luigi Balugani, the Italian artist who accompanied him. Blackmer 221; Nissen ZBI 617. (5)