Wind and weather on the coasts of India and the Arabian Gulf: first edition of a rare meteorological work

Capper, James. Observations on the winds and monsoons; illustrated with a chart and accompanied with notes, geographical and meteorological.

London, C. Whittingham, 1801.

4to. XXVIII, 29-234 pp. With 1 folding engraved map of the world depicting all the world-wide seas and waters and several tables printed within the text. Contemporary half calf, marbled boards, gold-tooled spine.


First edition of a rare geographical and meteorological treatise on the winds and the weather in different places in the world, written by James Capper (1743-1825), a former colonel in the East India Company who devoted much of his time to meteorology after his return to England. In his Observations of the Winds and Monsoons, Capper concentrates especially on the winds and weather of the East Indies, the coast of India and the Arabian Gulf, using information obtained by his own observations, ship logs, and earlier publications. Also the meteorology of the Mediterranean is discussed. In a very scholarly manner Capper describes several kinds of winds, such as monsoons, hurricanes or the so-called 'Sumyel', an easterly wind, and the 'Harmattan', which is a land-wind which also blows, according to Capper, in the Gulf of Guinea and the western coasts of Africa.

Although he acknowledges in his preface that he borrows some information from other authorities such as Bacon, Franklin, Bishop Watson, Kirwan "and other eminent philosophers", Capper introduces a new hypothesis in this work, namely that hurricanes are a type of whirlwind. Therefore his book must not be viewed only as a survey of previous knowledge on winds and weather in different parts of the world, supplemented by his own observations, but also as a work making original contributions. It is also a lively and extensive account of the currents of the wind and the climate of various parts of the world, particularly the Indian coasts and the Gulf region.

Bookplate of Marcus Somerville on the front pastedown and his owner's inscription on the title-page. Binding slightly worn around the edges, corners bumped, some minor stains (not affecting the text), with a tear in the folding plate (not affecting the plate), otherwise in good condition.

Lowndes, p. 369.