Boscovich, Rugjer Josip. Giornale di un viaggio da Costantinopoli in Polonia [...].

Bassano & Venice, Remondini, 1784.

4to. XXIV, 231 pp., final blank page. Original Italian carta rustica binding, spine reinforced with paper and bearing a handwritten title-label.


First Italian edition of this detailed report of a journey from Constantinople to Poland via Bulgaria and Moldavia. A snapshot of the Ottoman Balkans and their varied inhabitants in the mid-18th century, enriched with an intriguing description of the ruins of Troy.

The journey was untertaken by the Jesuit polymath Boscovich (1711-87) together with the British ambassador to the Sublime Porte Sir James Porter (1710-86). Boscovich, who is today celebrated for having anticipated features of atomic physics as early as 1758 in his "Philosophiae naturalis theoria", had travelled to Constantinople in 1761 with the Venetian ambassador Pierre Correro to observe the transit of Venus. As he arrived late and failed to observe the transit, Boscovich accompanied Sir James on his return to England via Poland, the outbreak of war between Austria and the Ottoman Empire having rendered other routes impassable. From Poland Boscovich then proceeded to St Petersburg, where he was elected a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Ill health soon compelled him to return to Italy.

Couched as a travel diary, the account covers the entirety of Boscovich's journey to Poland from 25 May to 15 July 1762, describing in detail the small villages and towns he visited. From Ragusan merchants to Greek princes, and the quality of 'eau de vie' in Bulgar villages, Boscovich notes details with the detached skill of the scientist. The account of the 'mihmandar', the Ottoman official assigned to act as a guide-cum-minder for diplomatic travellers within the empire, is a particularly substantial one. The work concludes with an account of the ruins of Troy as observed by Correro in 1761, as well as a brief summary of Boscovich's forthcoming magnum opus, the five-volume "Opera pertinentia ad opticam et astronomiam" (1785).

The "Journal" was first published in French in 1772; the present edition is the first in the original Italian. An alleged 1772 Italian edition recorded by De Backer/S. appears to be a ghost.

Hinges and head of spine worn. Binding somewhat foxed and loosened in places. A light waterstain to the lower corner of a few leaves. Acquired in 1890 from the Italian bookseller Franceschini as noted on front pastedown. Untrimmed, wide-margined copy.

De Backer/S. I, 1844, 87. DSB II, 331. Whyte, Boscovich, p. 220. OCLC 20041024. Cf. Atabey 137 (1772 ed.). Not in Blackmer or Weber.

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