SECOND, ENLARGED EDITION OF A BEST-SELLING ACCOUNT OF RUSSIA AND THE CRIMEA ON THE EVE OF THE CRIMEA

The Russian Shores of the Black Sea in the Autumn of 1852 with a Voyage down the Volga, and a Tour through the Country of the Don Cossacks ... Second Edition – Revised and Enlarged.

Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1853.

8vo (215 x 135mm), pp. [iii]-xiv (title, imprint on verso, preface to second edition, preface to first edition, blank, contents), [2 (list of illustrations, verso blank)], [1]-380; tinted lithographic frontispiece by W. & A.K. Johnstone after Oliphant, wood-engraved head- and tailpieces and illustrations, 2 lithographic maps by W. & A.K. Johnston, one folding and bound to throw clear; bound without the half-title and the advertisements found in some copies, some light marking and light marginal browning, map marked and with short, skilfully-repaired tears; contemporary half green calf over marbled boards, spine gilt in compartments, gilt morocco lettering-piece in one, all edges speckled red, green silk marker; extremities a little rubbed and bumped, otherwise a very good copy.

£125

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Second edition, revised and enlarged. The diplomat and traveller Oliphant (1829-1888) and his companion Oswald Smith journeyed through Russia and the Crimea shortly before the outbreak of the Crimean War, and his overview of the region also includes details of visits to Nizhnii Novgorod (which is depicted in the frontispiece) and other Russian cities, including Sevastapol, which Oliphant and Smith entered in disguise in order to map its fortifications. Nerhood considers that Oliphant ‘describes places and people in an informative way, especially the long journey down the Volga River, with its peculiar means of transportation and the peoples along its banks’, and this, together with the approach of the Crimean War (which led Lord Raglan to approach Oliphant for information), ensured the work’s popularity. The first edition appeared in late 1853 as the Crimean War broke out (an advertisement on p. 10 of The Times of 25 October 1853 describes it as ‘preparing for publication’) and this second edition was published shortly afterwards (the preface is dated December 1853), with an additional chapter, since ‘[t]he Eastern Question has now assumed so serious an aspect, that facts connected with the Russian Shores of the Black Sea, which at the period of my visit in 1852 were devoid of any special political interest, are invested with the utmost importance, for it is possible that the southern portion of the Empire may shortly become the theatre of war, and considerations, the value of which I scarcely appreciated a few months ago, have since occurred to me as possessing strong claims upon our attention’ (p. [v]). Third and fourth editions, which were reprints of this second edition, appeared in 1854.

Abbey Travel 233; Bibliothéque Impériale Publique de St.-Pétersbourg, Catalogue de la section des Russica O-327; for the 1st ed., cf. Cross, In the Land of the Romanovs G122 (dating the 2nd ed. to 1854); Nerhood 242.

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