4to, pp. viii, 459, with an engraved frontispiece of Charles III, an engraved dedication, six engraved plates (of which two folding) and a folding engraved map; some very light spotting towards end of volume, but an excellent, fresh copy, untrimmed in the original boards; rubbed, later printed paper label on spine; early inscription ‘Swaffham Book Club’ in ink on upper cover; from the library of Ian Robertson (1928–2020).
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Travels through Spain, with a view to illustrate the natural history and physical geography of that kingdom, in a series of letters. Including the most interesting subjects contained in memoirs of Don Guillermo Bowles, and other Spanish writers, interspersed with historical anecdotes. Adorned with copper-plates and a new map of Spain. With notes and observations relative to the arts, and descriptive of modern improvements.
First edition; a very pleasing copy of ‘one of the most complete pictures of Spain then available to the British reading public’ (Oxford DNB).
John Talbot Dillon (1734–1806) was educated at Westminster School before joining the Royal Navy aged thirteen. Leaving after only two years, he then spent much of his life abroad, travelling extensively in Spain. ‘Dillon records that he had been in Lisbon in 1756, but in 1778 he visited Spain for the third time and, in his words, “traversed the whole kingdom”, a journey which afforded him greater pleasure, being acquainted with friends there and no longer being a stranger to its manners and customs. Shortly after his arrival in Madrid, Dillon came across a book entitled Introducción a la historia natural y a la geografía física de España, by Don Guillermo Bowles, which had been published three years earlier. In his estimation it contained such an “abundant variety of accurate information” that a translation would be found of considerable interest to English readers. It was Dillon’s translation and adaptation of this volume which formed the basis of his “own” Travels through Spain. Bowles would be his “chief guide, with respect to the principal objects of natural history, without being a mere copyist in every minute detail”, for Dillon aimed at “catching the quintessence of his book”. In addition, he would include “such original remarks” as might be acceptable to his candid reader; while certain quotations from the Travels of Don Antonio Ponz were also incorporated into the text as a guide for future travellers. It is not easy, in such a hybrid work, without going into a detailed comparison with the original, to distinguish Bowles from Dillon. The earlier work was certainly a confused and unsystematic account of his journeys, which Dillon proceeded to put into some form of topographical sequence, but whether Bowles would have approved of the liberties taken with his book is another matter, however pleased he may have been to learn that an English version was in preparation. Whether he ever saw a copy is unlikely, for he died on the 25th of August of the same year in which it was published’ (Robertson).
ESTC T148854; Palau 73959 (giving erroneous year of publication). See Robertson, Los curiosos impertinentes (1992) pp. 76–9.
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