The Indian observer. By the late Hugh Boyd, Esq. and others. Compiled by Mr. Bone.

Calcutta, Joseph Cooper, 1795.

8vo, pp. [12 (including list of subscribers)], xxxv, [5], 273, ii, [1 (blank)], with engraved frontispiece portrait of Boyd; some loss at head of pp. 155-156 (touching headline), closed tear to pp. 269-270 (without loss), a few light marks; very good in contemporary calf, neatly rebacked with original gilt red morocco lettering-piece; corners neatly repaired; ink inscription to recto of frontispiece ‘Lieut: Colonel Henry Conran’ (c.1767-1829, later Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica).


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The Indian observer. By the late Hugh Boyd, Esq. and others. Compiled by Mr. Bone.

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Scarce first edition thus of this collection of letters by the Irish writer Hugh Boyd (1746-1794), compiled by Andrew Burchet Bone, and with a life of Boyd by Lawrence Dundas Campbell.

Originally published in the Hircarrah in 1793 and 1794, the letters here discuss, inter alia, philosophy (especially Rousseau), the French, poetry and painting, conversation, dress, the theatre, ancient Greece and Rome, music, marriage, human nature, Sir William Jones, and, naturally enough, the British in India. Apologising for the delay in publication and typographical inaccuracies, the editor refers to ‘the yet infant state of the press in India’. The list of subscribers includes the Madras Circulating Library.

Boyd had a colourful career: a popular figure in London fashionable society, he numbered ‘Edmund Burke, Catharine Macaulay, David Garrick, John Wilkes, and Joshua Reynolds among his wide circle of acquaintances’ (ODNB). He married into money but having exhausted his wife’s fortune was forced to join the East India Company in Madras, being captured by the French on his return from an unsuccessful diplomatic mission to Ceylon. Following his release, he devoted himself to journalism, running the Madras Courier and launching the Hircarrah. He gained fame after his death when it was claimed that he was Junius, the pseudonymous writer of letters to the Public Advertiser which were highly critical of the government.

ESTC T135037; Shaw 284. ESTC records only 3 holding libraries in the US (California State Library, NYPL, and Library of Congress); Library Hub shows only the British Library copy in the UK.

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