FIRST EDITION OF WILLYAMS' A VOYAGE UP THE MEDITERRANEAN, 1802, WITH 42 HAND-COLORED AQUATINTS, INCLUDING TWO MAPS
(MEDITERRANEAN) (MIDEAST) (NAPOLEONIC WARS) WILLYAMS, Cooper. A Voyage up the Mediterranean in His Majesty's Ship the Swiftsure, One of the Squadron under the Command of Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson… With a Description of the Battle of the Nile on the First of August 1798. London: Printed by T. Bensley for J. White, 1802. Quarto, modern three-quarter brown calf gilt, raised bands, burgundy morocco spine label, marbled boards. $4500.
First edition of this "intelligent and useful" narrative of the Mideast, quarto issue, "a finely produced book" with engraved dedication page and 42 splendid finely hand-colored aquatint plates, including a double-page folding map of the Mediterranean with insets and a full-page "Plan of the Battle of the Nile," along with wonderful views of Alexandria, Gibraltar, the Rock of Scylla, Venice and more, attractively bound.
Cooper Willyams served as chaplain to Lord St. Vincent on the Swiftsure, a ship of the squadron commanded by Nelson in the Mediterranean. "He was present in this vessel at the battle of the Nile, and his narrative, which was full of engravings from his own drawings, of A Voyage up the Mediterranean, contained 'the first, the most particular, the most authentic account of the battle… His journals and drawings of the expeditions in which he took part are 'intelligent and useful" (DNB). The handsome plates in this work include many by renowned aquatint engraver Joseph Stadler, who produced illustrations for 31 books, including Thrornton's Temple Flora (1807) and worked for both Ackermann and Boydell. Many of his plates are "among the finest ever executed" and "much appreciated in their time" (Prideaux, 12, 369). Heralded as "a finely produced book," Voyage features views of Alexandria, Rhodes, Mount Carmel, Syracuse, Minorca, Gibraltar, Venice, the Rock of Scylla and much more (Abbey Travel 196). Issued along with a large-paper issue of 100 copies, no priority established. "It seems likely that the book was available colored or uncolored [with sepia wash applied by hand] in both small and large paper" (Abbey). The present volume is from the regular paper, colored issue. Abbey, Travel 196. Prideaux, 357. Brunet V:1458. See Tooley 511. Ex-library American Museum of Natural History, Central Park, New York, with ink stamp on verso of title page and each plate and a few text leaves; early owner ink signature to title page.
Light scattered marginal foxing to text only, plates clean, hand-coloring fine with delicate shading. Upper corners gently bumped. An excellent copy of the desirable hand-colored issue.