3 vols., 8vo., complete with half-titles and corrigenda leaves in each volume, quire X (index) in volume II complete but bound in wrong order; occasional foxing but a good copy in attractive contemporary half calf and marbled boards, slightly rubbed, spine with gilt device in compartments; from the library of John Gladstone, the Liverpool merchant and father of statesman W. E. Gladstone, with the Fasque bookplate in each volume.
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Philosophical Rhapsodies. Fragments of Akbur of Betlis. Containing Reflections on the Laws, Manners, Customs and Religions, of certain Asiatic, Afric, and European Nations. Collected and now first published … In three Volumes …
First edition of this eccentric travel-inspired treatise drawing upon the author’s experience in India and his travels in Europe. The prefatory ‘advertisement’ establishes the fiction that ‘the following fragments were written by a native of Assyria [Akbur], who … was removed to the continent of Europe, and thence to England … he then travelled; and in various countries threw together the reflections which appear in the following sheets’. Compartmentalised into ‘fragments’ rather than chapters, the work is generically indistinct, and offers a compilation of fiction, philosophy, history and travel to reflections on foreign lands, notably China, Japan, Tartary, Hindostan, Greece and the Middle East. Sulivan cites widely in order to illustrate his points, emphasising Akbur’s familiarity with Milton, Pope, Thomson, and Dryden, as well as law, the classical canon and contemporary scholarship.
Like the narrator, Sulivan (1752-1806) had been dispatched from his own country as a young man, initially to India (likely under the influence of Laurence Sulivan then chairman of the East India Company and probably a relative).
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