Historical Memoirs of My Own Time. in Two Volumes. Part the First, from 1772 to 1780. Part the Second, from 1781 to 1784.

By: Wraxall, N. William

Price: $125.00

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Book Condition: Very Good


First edition. Front joint of first volume neatly repaired by previous owner, spines toned and a bit dried, owner bookplate of Sir Robert Johnson Eden on front endpaper of first volume, a few pages lightly foxed, minimal marginalia on just a couple pages. 1815 Full-Leather. iv, 549, [3]; 583, [5] pp. 8vo. Full calf, black morocco spine labels, gilt titles and rules, marbled edges and endpapers. Wraxall references intent for a third volume in the preface, but this would not be published until 1818. After receiving some sort of education in Bristol, he was sent to Bombay in 1769 with the East India Company, and was appointed judge-advocate and paymaster of the forces in the Gujarat expedition, and that against Baroche in 1771. For reasons that remain unclear, he abandoned this career in 1772 and returned to England, and seems to have decided to become a professional travel writer. During 1774–5 he travelled extensively in Europe, especially Portugal and Scandinavia, moving (at what must have been some considerable expense) in diplomatic and royal circles, garnering numerous anecdotes which later found their way into his published travelogues and the Historical Memoirs (published in 1815). During 1774 he became involved with those of the Danish nobility who were campaigning for the return from exile in Germany of Queen Caroline Matilda, sister of George III. Wraxall had an interview with Caroline Matilda in her Hanoverian retreat at Celle in September 1774 and became devoted to her cause, carrying messages between her and George III. He gave some £500 of his own money towards reinstating her on the Danish throne; unfortunately, Caroline Matilda died on 11 May 1775. Thereafter Wraxall wrote several times to George III, asking to be reimbursed: these requests remained unanswered for five years, until Wraxall became an MP in 1780, at which point he received 1000 guineas from Lord North, no doubt to ensure his loyalty in the House of Commons. In 1775 Wraxall published Cursory Remarks Made in a Tour through some of the Northern Parts of Europe, dedicated to Viscount Clare in gratitude for his patronage. Wraxall's travelogue is elegantly written, and its Scandinavian and Russian itinerary was novel and therefore of great interest to the reading public (it rapidly went through four editions); although the Gentleman's Magazine (1st ser., January 1776, 24) wished that he could 'be prevailed on to strike out all mention of every woman that he would have us believe reigned the sovereign of his affections for an hour'. The narrative is self-consciously chivalric and testifies to Wraxall's lifelong interest in tales of intrigue and distress, although Queen Caroline Matilda's predicament does not figure in the text, presumably in the interests of diplomacy. He presents himself as a citizen of the world, observing that 'I have always found the great and good to be of no country' (Wraxall, Cursory Remarks, 32), and boasts that 'danger and fatigue have no terrors for me, when knowledge is the reward of my endeavors' (ibid., 268). Samuel Johnson wrote to Hester Thrale (22 May 1775) that 'Wraxal is too fond of words, but you may read him' (Letters of Samuel Johnson, 2.209–10). Wraxall continued to travel around Europe during the late 1770s, visiting Germany and Italy in 1778–9. In 1780 he returned to England and became member of parliament for Hindon (Wiltshire), through the influence of Lord George Germain, a lifelong ally... The first part of the narrative is a collection of anecdotes gathered during his European travels, including some grisly tales of aristocratic murder allegedly told to Wraxall by Lady Hamilton; but it was the second and more substantial section which generated public interest and critical outrage. Here Wraxall describes in fascinating, often scurrilous detail the political world and the London social scene, commenting on everything from hairstyles and costume to the conduct of the American war. He was a supporter until 1783 of Lord North; but he relates how Fox's India Bill of that year prompted him to abandon the coalition party (even though North had promised him a seat at the board of greencloth) and throw his weight behind Pitt, to whom he remained generally loyal, and who arranged for his

Title: Historical Memoirs of My Own Time. in Two Volumes. Part the First, from 1772 to 1780. Part the Second, from 1781 to 1784.

Author: Wraxall, N. William

Categories: British, Early Imprints, Political,

Edition: First Edition

Publisher: Printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies, in the Strand. / J.M'Creery, Printer: 1815

Binding: Full-Leather

Book Condition: Very Good

Jacket Condition: No Jacket

Seller ID: 2289839

Keywords: BIOGRAPHY MEMOIRS N. WILLIAM WRAXALL,