CARTWRIGHT, John The Preachers travels: ...through the great countreyes of Syria, Mesopotamia, Armenia, Media, Hircania and Parthia. With the authors returne by the way of Persia, Susiana, Assiria, Chaldæa, and Arabia

London, by William Stansby for Thomas Thorppe, 1611


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. [vi], 107, [i] [lacks blank A4]. Roman letter. Title within typographical border, woodcut floriated initials and headpieces. Small restoration in upper blank margin of F3, small marginal inked symbol on t-p (contemp.). A very good, well margined copy, crisp and clean in modern calf antique.

Very rare first edition of John Cartwright’s fascinating description of his groundbreaking travels in the Near East and Arabia; he is the first Englishman to have been to and recorded all four keys sites of antiquity in the Near East: Babylon, Nineveh, Persopolis and Susa, and was the earliest English traveller certainly to have visited Armenia. Cartwright most probably left England in April 1600, and travelled to Aleppo via Sicily, Zante (Xakinthos) and Crete. At Aleppo he was welcomed by the consul Richard Colthurst, and he met John Mildenhall, then in the employ of Richard Staper, a member of the newly formed English East India company, who was on his way to the Muhgal court in India.

The two Englishmen travelled together for part of the way, members of a Caravan of some thousand people. Cartwright gives an elaborate and fascinating account of their journey from Aleppo to Kashan via Armenia. His description of Armenia is most detailed and valuable. He remarks on the widespread distribution of the Armenian Nation and notes ‘their great liberty in the Ottoman kingdom’, the reason for which he ascribes to their commercial acumen. He also mentions their two patriarchs and describes in detail the state of the Church in Armenia. He berates their faith for being ‘spotted with superstitions’ but gives them a backhanded compliment in pointing out their resistance to Rome. Both Cartwright and Mildenhall had proposed to travel together to Lahore, but the former, for reasons which he does not set down, parted company, allowing Mildenhall to travel to Lahore alone and himself “setting forwards to the great Citie of Hispaan (Ispahan), three daies travell distant from Cassan”.

His Journey home includes, pp.67-71, part of G. Manwaring’s ‘True discourse of Sir Anthony Sherley’s travels into Persia,’ a description of Sherleys’ audience with the Shah, first published in full in ‘The three brothers,’ 1825. He then describes in detail Persopolis, Susa, The “Island of Eden”, the City of Bagdad, before his return to Aleppo. Cartwright, in addition to describing the numerous places on his various journeys, also writes of the routes in use, describes products of commercial interest, and examines the potential for commerce. Though he refers to himself, and is generally known as “the Preacher”, he makes no mention in his travels of preaching in any of the places he visited or to any congregations and it is much more probable that his travels were prompted by commercial considerations. He was sometime agent of the Muscovy company. A very rare book, one of the earliest English narratives of travels in the Near East. “The account of his journeys is one of the most valuable of the period” (Howgego, Exploration, p.197).

STC 4705. Cox vol. 1, page 205-6 “This is one of the most interesting and valuable accounts of old English travels in the East we possess. The occasional Christian comments on Mohamedean darkness are not accompanied by any prejudices in the narrative.” OCLC 37749438, 4687781. Not in Gay, Blackmer.
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