"IN THESE LANDS, THE HORSE-THIEF IS THE GREAT ENEMY OF MANKIND": FIRST EDITION OF RICHARD BURTON'S THE CITY OF THE SAINTS AND ACROSS THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS TO CALIFORNIA
BURTON, Richard F. The City of the Saints and Across the Rocky Mountains to California. London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1861. Octavo, original gilt-stamped green cloth expertly rebacked with original spine laid down. $3800.
First edition of this important travel narrative exploring 19th-century America from the civilized East to the Wild West, with an extensive look at the early Mormon community including an interview with Brigham Young, illustrated with a folding plan of Salt Lake City, a folding chart, frontispiece, and eight plates.
"[Burton's] view of America is fresh, lively, sharp, and pertinent. The City of the Saints is one of his best works… a rare account by an experienced traveler who was alert to every detail, to language, to the nuances of a dynamic developing nation that showed high civilization on its eastern coast and progressive barbarism as one traveled westward. Here are emigrants, soldiers, desperadoes, wanderers, frontier women… lists of routes and way stops, the legal system and frontier justice, analyses of raw materials… it is mid-century America in 500 pages" (Rice, 334-35). Perhaps most interesting in this work is Burton's impartial look at Mormonism. Burton provides one of the finest contemporary accounts of Brigham Young to be written by someone outside of the Mormon community. Burton painstakingly catalogued both his appearance and his behavior, attempting to gain insight into his character and his place within the religion. He said of Young, "There is a total absence of pretension in his manner, and he has been so long used to power that he cares nothing for its display." Burton also spent time during his three-week visit attending various activities, from religious services to social activities, and examining the infrastructure of Salt Lake City. Here, he attempts to provide an impartial view of Mormon polygamy, comparing it to other polygamous traditions in Africa and the Middle East. Burton's dedicated immersion into the culture of Mormonism makes this one of the best and most complete travel narratives about Salt Lake City written by a non-Mormon. Penzer 68-69. Howes B1033. Flake & Draper 1027. Faint owner signature. Owner stamp on half title. Binder ticket.
Expert paper repair to rear two leaves, only a few faint spots of foxing to text, very light rubbing to binding, gilt bright. A near-fine copy.