Supplementing Niebuhr

Irwin, Eyles. Begebenheiten einer Reise auf dem rothen Meer, auf der arabischen und ägyptischen Küste, ingleichen durch die thebaische Wüste. Aus dem Englischen übersetzt.

Leipzig, Weidmanns Erben und Reich, 1781.

8vo. (10), 476 pp. With 4 folding engr. plates and 3 folding engr. maps. Contemp. half vellum with blue marbled boards. All edges red.


First German edition. "Irwin's report contains several additions to the observations of C. Niebuhr" (cf. Henze II, 688), and significantly more detailed maps and charts. The East India Company servant Eyles Irwin, born in Calcutta in 1751, was appointed to survey the Black Town in 1771 and "was made superintendent of the lands belonging to Madras [...] In 1776 he became caught up in the political storm that overtook the governor of Madras, George Pigot, who was placed in confinement by members of his own council. Irwin supported Pigot, and in August he was suspended from the company's service. Early in 1777 he left India in order to seek redress in England. Irwin later published an account of his journey home, which was entitled 'A series of adventures [...]'. In this he displayed his classical education and described his experiences and observations during the journey, which lasted eleven months [...] Irwin returned to India in 1780 as a senior merchant and his route was again overland, but this time via Aleppo, Baghdad, and the Persian Gulf" (ODNB). The author recounts his imprisonment in Yanbu, Arabia, and further voyage to Jeddah, as well as his adventures in Egypt, his journeys through the Peloponnese and the Balkans as well as Persia. He includes an "Ode to the Persian Gulf", in which he extols the beauties of Bahrain. In 1802, Irwin was to produce a musical play, "The Bedouins, or Arabs of the Desert: a Comic Opera in Three Acts (1802), which played in Dublin for three nights.

Translated by Johann Andreas Engelbrecht (1733-1803), commercial correspondent and average adjuster (not "J. A. E[beling]", as a contemporary owner has resolved the initials under the preface). Binding somewhat rubbed and bumped; pencil scribblings to last leaf but one. Slight brownstaining. Formerly in the Ottoman collection of the Swiss industrialist Herry W. Schaefer.


Blackmer 865 (note). Chatzipanagioti-S. 463. Holzmann/B. II, 11272. Ibrahim-Hilmy I, 326. Gay 66. Cox I, 232. Brunet III, 459. Graesse III, 430. Cf. Macro, Bibliography of the Arabian Peninsula, 1293 (2nd London ed.).