Sale 624 Lot 25
* BRUCE, James (1730-1794). Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile, in the Years 1768...1773. [Appendix]: Select Specimens of Natural History collected... Edinburgh: G. G. J. & J. Robinson, 1790.
5 volumes, 4to (294 x 227 mm). 55 engraved plates, 3 engraved folding plans, 3 engraved folding maps, 4 leaves of Ethiopian dialects; half-titles. Red half morocco, contemporary marbled boards (recased, expertly restored at corners, rebacked preserving portions of original spine). Provenance: Kensington Libraries (armorial bookplate).
FIRST EDITION. Bruce of Kinnaird had studied Arabic and Ethiopic and was British Consul at Algiers. Believing the source of the Nile to be somewhere in Abyssinia, Bruce travelled from the Red Sea coast (near present day Eritrea) and reached Gondar where he spent three years at the royal court. By 1770 he had jointed an expeditionary force which brought him within reach of his goal -- to the spring south of Lake Tana form which the Blue Nile rises -- and was forever convinced this was the source of the main Nile. He remained in the Sudan and Egypt until returning to Scotland in 1773, but disillusioned by the reception he received there did not publish his journals until 1790. It is however "one of the most splendid narratives in the literature of African explorations" (Hallett, Africa to 1815). Blackmer 221; Hilmy I:91; Nissen ZBI 617.