“A RECORD OF NOBLE DEEDS WRITTEN IN PICTURESQUE LANGUAGE”: ORME’S MILITARY HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA, WITH 36 ENGRAVED MAPS, PLANS AND VIEWS, IN CONTEMPORARY MOROCCO-GILT
ORME, Robert. A History of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan… London: F. Wingrave, Successor to Mr. Nourse, 1803. Two volumes in three. Quarto, contemporary full navy straight-grain morocco tooled in blind and gilt, raised bands, all edges gilt. $4200.
Fourth edition of Orme’s chronicle of the Carnatic Wars between the British and the French in India (1745-63), which ultimately resulted in the British East India Company becoming the dominant foreign power in India, paving the way for the establishment of the British Raj. Illustrated with 36 engraved maps, plans and views (most folding), handsome in full contemporary morocco-gilt.
A contemporary view praised Orme’s work, saying it “occupies so vast a field that every future of modern India must unavoidably trench in a greater or less degree upon his premises” (Lowndes, 1731-32). It “is a contemporary memoir, for Orme was in India in the [East India Company’s] service during practically the whole time of which he wrote. It is a record of noble deeds written with picturesque details, and in dignified and natural language appropriate to its subject. Its accuracy in all important matters is unquestionable” (Cambridge History of English and American Literature, XII § 15). “Macaulay has praised Orme’s history as one of the most authentic and finely written in our language” (DNB). First published 1775-78. The spine of Volume II is misnumbered as III, and vice versa. Engraved armorial bookplate, morocco-gilt monogrammed ownership labels on spines. The handsome morocco-gilt binding, while unsigned, is likely the work of George Mullen of Dublin, active in the first quarter of the 19th century, as it incorporates tools he is known to have used; in particular the blind-tooled strapwork on the covers is characteristic of his work.
Expert paper repairs to a few folding maps near stubs, expert repairs to joints and corners. Text generally quite clean, contemporary morocco-gilt bright and quite handsome.