A new voyage to the East-indies. Viz. I. To Suratte, and the Coast of Arabia, containing a compleat description of the Maldivy-Islands, their Product, Trade, &c. II. The Religion, Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants, never before related by any English Author. III. Many curious Observations concerning Arabia and India, not to be found in any other Books of this nature; with Directions for Travellers... To which is added, A particular Account of the French factories in those parts, and of the general Trade throughout all India. With many excellent remarks by the Sieur Luillier.

SYMSON William (1715.)

£9500.00  [First Edition]

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First edition. Engraved half-title, two engraved folding plates, and a double hemisphere world map. 12mo. Contemporary panelled calf, rebacked, sprinkled edges. A very handsome copy. [viii], 340, [11 index], [1]pp. London, Printed by H. Meere for A. Bettesworth,

An exceptional copy of a famous plagiarism, which was one of Swift’s inspirations for Gulliver’s travels. Though both Symson and his voyage were fictive, the book is nevertheless an early English-language source on Arabia, with descriptions of Muscat, Dhofar, Aden, Mocha and Jeddah.  


Picking truth from fiction was a hard task for eighteenth-century readers, as a lack of knowledge of non-European geography and unscrupulous publishers conspired to blur the lines between real travel accounts, imaginary voyages and fake narratives. A new voyage to the East-Indies… is of the last variety: an outright lie posing as a genuine account.  


Unlike some falsified works, which were often intentionally fantastical, A new voyage… contains a great deal of fairly accurate information; especially in those parts concerning Western India. This is because the main narrative — covering the West coast of India, Oman, Yemen, the Red Sea and Southern Africa — plagiarises John Ovington’s A Voyage to Suratt… (London, 1696), which was chiefly based on his time as an East India Company chaplain. Only a few sections of that work, such as those on the court of the Great Mogul and the Arabian Peninsula, were gleaned from other sources (see Donald F. Lach & Edwin J. Van Kley, Asia in the Making of Europe. (Chicago, 1998), vol.III, p.579).  


The Arabian content of A new voyage… rephrases Ovington’s text, but is still valuable as an example of the information available to English readers at the time. Eight pages are devoted to Muscat, commenting on its position, population, produce and trade. The famous port cities of Yemen are also described, Aden, “being one of the most ancient and pleasantest Cities in Arabia” and Mocha, “The prime Port of Trade in the Red-Sea” (p.210-11).   


Not in Macro.

Stock Code: 232683

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