“FATED TO OCCUPY NO TRIFLING PLACE ON THE RECORDS OF AFTER TIMES”: THE CHARACTER OF THE RUSSIANS AND A HISTORY OF MOSCOW, 1823 FIRST EDITION, WITH SPLENDID HAND-COLORED AQUATINT PLATES—PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR
(RUSSIA) LYALL, Robert. The Character of the Russians, and a Detailed History of Moscow. London: T. Cadell, 1823. Large quarto, contemporary three-quarter brown calf rebacked with original spine neatly laid down, marbled boards, endpapers and edges. $9800.
First edition, with 23 plates, including 13 beautiful hand-colored aquatints (three folding, many views of Moscow), a large folding map of Moscow, and a mounted engraved portrait of the author, not issued with this work. A scarce and desirable presentation copy, inscribed on the front flyleaf by the author: "To Dr. Hume, A Memorial of Gratitude and Friendship, from the Author."
Scottish physician Robert Lyall visited St. Petersburg in 1815 and became a colleague of the Tsar's physician Sir Alexander Crichton. From 1816-20 Lyall was attached to the residence of Countess Orlov-Chesmenska at Ostrov near Moscow. In 1822 he traveled "in the double capacity of courier and physician, with the Marquis Pucci, Count Salazar and Edward Penrhyn, through the Crimea, Georgia and the southern provinces of Russia." Lyall's colorful experiences richly inform his Character of the Russians, but this beautifully illustrated work, having "freely exposed the corruption and immorality of the Russian nobles and officials, gave great offence at St. Petersburg" and was banned by Imperial ukase (DNB). "We are pretty certain that no other English writer has either had the same opportunities to make a good [book], or shown a better disposition to make use of his advantages" (Allibone, 1145). With 13 hand-colored aquatints engraved by Edward Finden after Lavrov (one a large folding panorama of the Kremlin), additional architectural plates, a large folding map of Moscow by Mutlow and two in-text woodcut engravings, as well as an inserted engraved portrait of Lyall on india paper and mounted, not called for in the list of plates. Abbey Travel 227. Bookplate.
Faint dampstain affecting lower margin of a few gatherings only. Corners gently rubbed. An extremely good copy, scarce inscribed by the author.