BLAGDON, Francis William (1777-1819). Picturesque Scenery in the Kingdom of Mysore from Forty drawings Taken on the Spot by James Hunter. London: William Bulmer and Co. for Edward Orme, 1805 [but 1834].

$ 8,500.00

Parts 1 and 2 only (of 3) from "A Brief History of Ancient and Modern India, from the Earliest Periods of Antiquity to the Termination of the Late Mahratta War".

Folio, (23 x 16 4/8 inches). Letterpress title-page and list of plates for "Picturesque Scenery in the Kingdom of Mysore", engraved frontispiece portrait of Tippoo Sultan, engraved general title-page (long closed tear), folding plate of the native judges (closed marginal tear), and 39 (of 40) FINE HAND-COLOURED AQUATINT VIEWS of the Kingdom of Mysore, watermarked 1831, 1832 and 1834 (loose, lacking "The Square, and Entrance into the Palace of [Tippoo sultan]"). Contemporary half maroon morocco, marbled paper boards, maroon morocco gilt lettering-piece on the front cover (detached).

Later edition, first published in parts in 1805, comprising "A Brief History of Ancient and Modern India", "Picturesque Scenery in the Kingdom of Mysore from Forty Drawings taken on the spot by James Hunter, Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery; Serving in a Detachment from that Corps under Marquis Cornwallis in the War with Tippoo Sultan" and "24 Views in Hindostan Drawn by William Orme from the Original Paintings by Mr. Daniell" (not present here).

A life-long journalist and author, Blagdon began his career as a horn-boy employed to sell the Sun newspaper. In 1802 Blagdon began editing Modern Discoveries (1802-1803), a series of travel accounts in Egypt in the train of Napoleon Bonaparte, Africa, and the Southern Provinces of Russia. His A Brief History of Ancient and Modern India, which was reissued in 1813 as an appendix to Captain Thomas Williamson's European in India. He was editor of the Morning Post for some years, and he was imprisoned for six months in 1805 for libelling John Jervis, earl of St Vincent, about his naval administration. In 1809 Blagdon launched a Sunday paper, Blagdon's Weekly Political Register. But in spite of all this industry Blagdon was ruined by speculation, and this and other publishing ventures collapsed, and he died in penury and obscurity.

Tippoo or Tipu Sultan, otherwise known as the "Tiger of Mysore" fought the British for control of southern India in the First and Second Mysore Wars (1767-1769 and 1780-1784). Tipu was a "skilled political operator and sought alliances against the British and the Marathas by sending embassies to rulers like Zaman Shah Durrani of Afghanistan and the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid I. His most powerful allies were the French and he hoped they would send troops to his aid, but Napoleon’s failure to conquer Egypt in 1798 rendered any chance of establishing a base for a military attack on British India impossible. Nevertheless, the British, under the expansionist governor-generalship of Richard Wellesley, 2nd Earl of Mornington, believed he was in league with France and invaded, sparking the Fourth Mysore War (1799).

"Supported once again by the Nizam of Hyderabad, the British greatly outnumbered Tipu’s army, but he made a stand at Mallavelly on 27 March 1799. Defeated by Colonel Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, Tipu was forced back to his capital Seringapatam, which was soon besieged by Lieutenant-General George Harris. As he was running short of supplies, Harris stormed the city as soon as a practicable breach had been opened, Major-General David Baird leading the assault by 4,800 men on 4 May 1799.

"Tipu led a stout defence that saw nearly 10,000 Mysoreans killed, including Tipu himself who may have been betrayed by one of his own confidants. His body was dragged from beneath a pile of dead by the city’s northern gate, suggesting that he had continued fighting to the very end. Following his death, Mysore was partitioned and the rump of the state given to a British client ruler. Tipu, nicknamed the ‘Tiger of Mysore’, was one of the most formidable Indian opponents the British ever faced and his death removed one of the blocks to their conquest of the sub-continent" (National Army Museum online). Abbey Travel 424. SOLD AS A COLLECTION OF PLATES.