JAMES BRUCE (1730-1794)
Travels to discover the source of the Nile, in the years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, and 1773. Edinburgh: J. Ruthven for G.G.J. & J. Robinson of London, 1790. 5 volumes including Appendix, 4° (291 x 228mm). Half-titles. Engraved title vignettes and 1 headpiece, 3 folding engraved maps, 4 engraved plans (3 folding and each with a facing leaf with 1p. of letterpress explanation), 54 engraved plates by Heath, and others, after Bruce and Luigi Balugani (including 44 natural history plates), vol.I with 4ll. printed with 7 Ethiopic dialects. (Lacking final blank in vol.II, some light old spotting, particularly to vol.II and V, the first map misbound facing p.125 in vol.III, some light offsetting of plates in vol.V.) Contemporary green half calf, the flat spines gilt and divided into six compartments by fillets and a roll tool, red morocco lettering-pieces in the second and fourth compartments, the others with an elaborate repeat pattern in gilt of a large trophy tool surrounded by cornerpieces of scrolling foliage (covers slightly scuffed, extremities occasionally bumped, some small chips to head and foot of spines).
A FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION OF BRUCE'S MAJOR WORK ON THE UPPER NILE. 'Bruce... travelled in North Africa for a year and then went on to Crete, Asia Minor and Syria... he finally arrived in Egypt in 1768 accompanied by the Italian artist Luigi Balugani. Bruce spent five years in upper Egypt, Abyssinia, and in the exploration of the Nile... More than 150 years had passed since any European had visited Abyssinia except the French surgeon Poncet, and Bruce's account of his travels provided important information... But the interest of his travels is to be found as much in their literary qualities as in his portrayal of Abyssinia.': Blackmer 221; Hilmy I, 91; Hosken p. 29; Nissen ZBI 617. (5)