“THE DESIGNS OF MAN ARE AS BUBBLES ON A TROUBLED OCEAN”: FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT OF THE WAR IN THE PENINSULA, HANDSOMELY BOUND
NAPIER, William Francis Patrick. History of the War in the Peninsula and in the South of France, from the Year 1807 to the Year 1814. London: John Murray; Thomas & William Boone, 1828-40. Six volumes. Octavo, early 20th-century three-quarter red calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, tan morocco spine labels, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $3200.
First edition of this authoritative first-hand account of the entire war, with 55 maps and strategic plans, handsomely bound by Sotheran.
Napier's account is informed by his own long and direct engagement as an officer in the British Army. Wounded multiple times, and fallen ill several times as well, Napier continued to lead both sieges and defensive maneuvers throughout the campaign, but arrived too late to participate in Waterloo. "In 1823, on the suggestion of Lord Langdale, Napier decided to write his History of the Peninsular War. He lost no time in collecting materials. He went for some time to Paris, where he consulted Soult, and then to Strathfieldsaye, to be near the Duke of Wellington. The Duke handed over to him the whole of Joseph Bonaparte's correspondence which had been taken at the battle of Vittoria, and which was deciphered with infinite patience by Mrs. Napier" (DNB). This work is a very thorough, year-by-year examination of the entire war, relating the history of events in Spain and Portugal that led to the conflict, together with an account of the geography of the Iberian Peninsula, made clear from 55 strategic maps, with an emphasis on the operations of Wellington's army, its battles, its sieges and its campaigns. Lowndes 1648.
Text block closely trimmed occasionally affecting edges of maps, interiors generally quite nice, light wear and occasional scratching to calf, and a few small spots of soiling to bindings. Near-fine condition.