JOLLIFFE, Thomas. Letters from Palestine […]

London, James Black, Covent Garden, 1820


8vo. pp. [12] 377 [3], Roman letter, a little italic.  Five full page interleaved engraved plates by Neele & Son of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, the Pyramids and Sphinx, one full page map, all in clear impression. Map browned, occasional foxing, light yellowing. Untrimmed, very well margined copy in later half calf over yellow marbled boards.

Second edition of the complete collection of Thomas Jolliffe’s (1781-1872) 30 letters on his travels through Palestine and Egypt, dedicated to the politician Thomas Samuel Jolliffe (1746-1824). The transcripts from Palestine date between 7th August and 10th September 1817, and his writings from Egypt are from October of the same year. He also writes from Acre, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Gaza, Damietta, Cairo, Rosetta and Alexandria.

The letters from Palestine follow Jolliffe on his travels through Galilee, Judaea and the Red Sea. As he passes, he summarises the history of the city, commenting on its name and any sites of interest, particularly those of Antique or Biblical significance. Jolliffe spends the majority of his sixth letter on the history of Jerusalem, focusing on the destruction of the Temple under the Vespasian and the reemergence of its Christian significance during the Crusades. He also compares the landscapes around him with Biblical descriptions to assess their accuracy and additionally refers to ancient sources, including Pliny and Josephus. He relates in Herodotean style the beliefs of the locals about their history and describes some local customs, such as the garb of a bride.

In Egypt, he often quotes Volney, whose own account of his travels through Egypt was greatly celebrated. There, he describes Giza and the pyramids, and, despite a foot injury, his venture into one of the burial chambers, followed by a critique of the ancient sources, notably Herodotus, who wrote an account of his own travels through Egypt, as well as Diodorus Siculus, Strabo and Pliny and some modern travellers’, such as the Vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) and other unnamed sources.

He turns to contemporary Egypt, its justice system and culture (such as the baths), with a brief account of the life and character of Mahomet Ali (1769-1849), ruler at the time and a divisive figure in the West. Joliffe is aware that Ali was not popular in England but writes a convincing apology for the man and his policies.

 In his letters from Alexandria, he attempts to decipher a Greek inscription on Pompey’s pillar, referring to earlier scholarly literature, in his more general discourse on the column itself. He then compares Strabo’s description to the view before him, including references to other classical texts, such as the Iliad, and outlines the history of Alexandria’s famous ancient library. An engaging and learned account of early 19th C travel through the Near East.

Lowndes 1224. Blackmer 878.