Memoirs and Travels of Mauritius Augustus Count de Benyowsky.

London: G.G.J. and J. Robinson, 1790.

2 vols., quarto, a fine copy in original boards, respined, cased.

Marco Polo for the eighteenth century

A superb tall and uncut copy in the original boards of this bestseller, a racy and not always completely reliable account of adventures: the work is renowned for its importance to the Pacific northwest, but is equally important as an account of the Indian Ocean.

A superb tall and uncut copy in the original boards of this bestseller, a racy and not always completely reliable account of adventures: the work is renowned for its importance to the Pacific northwest, but is equally important as an account of the Indian Ocean.

Born in Hungary and a career soldier, the known facts of Benyowski's life would seem remarkable enough, not least his service in the Polish Army and capture by the Russians, his political exile to Siberia and escape via Kamchatka, and the adventures of his ensuing voyage to Taiwan and Madagascar on a ship belonging to the French Compagnie des Indes. His later life became inextricably tied to Madagascar, as he lobbied the French, English and finally some merchants in America to furnish him with a ship with which to establish a colony and raid French settlements. He is recorded as having been killed by French forces dispatched from nearby Mauritius in 1786, which not only underlines his importance to the region in what was a period of hectic exploration and empire building, but also serves as an important marker of French ambitions in the era of La Pérouse.

According to the Preface the publication of this sprawling account of his adventures was a project undertaken by the Portuguese philosopher Jean Hyacinthe de Magellan in an attempt to recoup some of his losses: Benyowski had been into him for a large amount of money when he died as Magellan had been one of the Count's more gullible backers for the Madagascar scheme. However Magellan too died before the book had been fully published. It was brought out by the Robinsons in the style of strictly contemporary accounts of Pacific voyages by Meares, Portlock and Dixon, and outsold them all by some margin: for a generation Benyowski was almost as famous as Cook, not least because the Memoirs were adapted for the stage by Kotzebue.

Hill, 115; Lada-Mocarski, 45.

Condition Report: Respined, and with slight rubbing to the boards, but in excellent condition.

Price (AUD): $8,000.00

US$5,586.16   Other currencies

Ref: #5000325

Condition Report