Sold for £9000 as part of a Chorley’s (20/15/12.5/10% buyer’s premium) of Prinknash Abbey sale of September 17-18, it is a work in which he describes his experiences in the kingdom of “&the High and Mighty Prince Pedesha Shassallem, usually called the Great Mogull”.
The title-page includes references to the magnificence of the Court of Malcandy, kept by the Nabob Viceroy, or vice King, but then goes on to condemn “&their detestable Religion, mad and foppish rites, and Ceremonies, and wicked Sacrifices and impious Customes used in those parts”.
Bruton was a seaman who accompanied an English trading mission while in the service of the East India Company.
He was impressed by the industry and wealth of the Indians and admired the cities he saw – one of which is the subject of the book’s only other illustration – but he saw Muslims and Hindus as untrustworthy, foolish, uncultured and wicked.
As if to emphasise this prejudice the frontispiece depicts turbanned figures pulling the car of the Juggernaut, on which sits “a frightening idol”, as it trundles over the bodies of sacrificial victims.
In a later half-green morocco gilt binding by Rivière this scarce first edition, which was part of the library of a descendant, is inscribed to the effect that it was acquired in a 1903 Sotheby’s auction for five guineas.
This time the price was £9000, but auction records do show one other copy. Sold for £11,000 at Sotheby’s in 2014 as part of the great exploration and travel library of Franklin Brooke-Hitching was a copy that had previously resided in some other distinguished collections – the Huth and Penrose libraries among them.