CASTLEREAGH’S HALF-BROTHER IN CONSTANTINOPLE

A Steam Voyage to Constantinople, by the Rhine and the Danube, in 1840-41, and to Portugal, Spain, &c., in 1839 … To which is annexed, the author’s correspondence with Prince Metternich, Lords Ponsonby, Palmerston, &c. …

London, Henry Colburn, 1842.

2 vols, 8vo, pp. [2], xii, 354, with engraved frontispiece and 1 plate; [2], ix, [1], 354, [26 (publisher's advertisements dated Jan. and May 1841)], with engraved frontispiece; light foxing to frontispieces and occasionally elsewhere, a very few small marks; very good in original mauve cloth by Leighton & Eeles (binder’s ticket), upper covers with gilt centrepiece depicting oriental scene, spines lettered in gilt, lower covers blocked in blind, pale yellow endpapers; spines sunned, some discolouring to covers; circular bookplates of Lord Eldon to front free endpapers.

£1500

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A Steam Voyage to Constantinople, by the Rhine and the Danube, in 1840-41, and to Portugal, Spain, &c., in 1839 … To which is annexed, the author’s correspondence with Prince Metternich, Lords Ponsonby, Palmerston, &c. …

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First edition, scarce on the market, of this ‘very interesting work’ (Blackmer) by Vane (1778-1854), the half-brother of Lord Castlereagh who served under Wellington in the Peninsular War and later as ambassador at the Congress of Vienna.

Although criticised for his love of drink, women, and finery (which earned him the nickname ‘the golden peacock’), Vane showed remarkable bravery as a cavalry officer and skill in negotiating with the likes of Metternich. This work dates from a period of foreign travel undertaken during a break in his career.

The majority of the first volume is devoted to Vane’s time in Constantinople, covering, for example, its shops (and traders’ habit of cheating Europeans), Turkish compliments, youthful troops, the beauty of Turkish women, peering through a trap door in the royal apartments ‘affording a view of the sea rolling beneath’, slavery, and the Hagia Sophia at Ramadan. The second encompasses other travels, taking in Smyrna, Corfu, Athens, Malta, Portugal, and Spain. There are frontispiece portraits of Prince Metternich and Sultan Abdulmejid, and a fine lithographed view of Constantinople by Day & Haghe. The bindings feature an attractive gilt centrepiece portraying an oriental dancer and musicians performing to an audience.

Blackmer 1611 (‘A very interesting work, consisting mainly of political and military observations, with comments on the state of Greece under the Bavarians’).

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