This remarkable book, written by a gentleman 'of the honourable East India Company's service', tells of his travels across the world, from England to the Caribbean (Havana, New Providence), South Africa (the Cape), and eventually India. Published in 1825, it begins with details of life aboard an East Indiaman, and takes the reader all the way to the subcontinent in an easy style which holds the interest from the first page to the last. Also published in a single volume, the two volumes we offer are of a manageable size, and handsomely bound - possibly at the dictates of the original purchaser.
John Howison (1797-1859) was a trained doctor and author, who, as a young man, set up a medical practice in Canada, where he stayed for some 30 months. After returning to Scotland, via the United States, the West Indies, and Cuba, he published his “Sketches of Upper Canada, domestic, local, and characteristic: to which are added, practical details for the information of emigrants of every class” (Edinburgh, 1821), which was favourably reviewed, went rapidly into 3 editions, was translated into German, and became a standard source on Canadian conditions at the time. At the end of 1821 Howison was posted to Bombay, where he worked for 20 years, spending his army leaves travelling across India and Africa and writing a number of books “Foreign scenes and travelling recreations” (1825), “Tales of the colonies” (1830), and “European colonies” (1834).
Our books are in remarkably good condition for their age, possibly having been specially bound at a date later than that of publication. The covers are moderately worn, consistent with their age, with some cracking at the front top spine angle on both books, and a little equivalent weakness at the bottom of each. There are some minor stains and scuff marks, but the gilt double line borders are bright, and the red panels with title & volume number on the spine are unblemished. The six spine panels are also outlined in double gilt lines. Inside, Volume I is, strangely, missing its title and halftitle pages, and the front cover is slightly loose, with the string binding visible, but otherwise holding firm. There is only light foxing to the first and last couple of pages, the pages otherwise being clean and bright. Curiously, the bookseller seems to have pasted his label upside down inside the back cover, at the top of the final pastedown of volume I, though a shadow of the label is visible at the foot of the reverse of the front fep. Volume II retains the title page (though a shred of paper suggests that a halftitle page may be missing), and a little ink scribble at the top R/H corner appears to be a name, trimmed down when the book was re-bound - further evidence of this presumed alteration. The seller's label is here placed at the foot of the front pastedown. The binding is firm throughout, and foxing is confined to the outer few pages, and about 6 pages in the middle of the book (see photo). Very nice copies of a rare and interesting text.