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Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, &c. By an English Officer.

[JARDINE, Alexander].

  • Publisher: London, Printed for T.Cadell, in the Strand, 1788.
London, Printed for T.Cadell, in the Strand, 1788.. FIRST EDITION. 2 volumes. Large 8°, early nineteenth-century half calf over marbled boards (joints weak; head and foot of volume II spine defective; other binding wear), spines gilt with raised bands in six compartments, crimson and dark green lettering pieces in second and third compartments from head, gilt lettering, marbled endleaves, all text-block edges marbled. Some very light browning and occasional mild foxing. Minor worming in blank lower margin of 74 leaves of volume I, never affecting text. In good condition. xv, 496; vii, 528 pp. *** FIRST EDITION. The work appeared again printed in Dublin, 1789. A "second, corrected" edition appeared in London, 1790, by the same publisher as the present work, with xv, 487; vii, 528 pp. There are as well editions of London, 1793 and London, 1794. The text was also translated into German and published in Leipzig, 1790. Alexander Jardine, army officer and author, was the illegitimate son of Sir Alexander Jardin, fourth baronet (1712-1790), also an army officer. He eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, served as counsel in La Coruña from 1779 to 1795, and died in Portugal in 1799. Stationed in Gibraltar, in 1771 Jardine was appointed as a representative of the English government to Sultan Mohammed Ibn Abdallah. The letters touch on his time in Morocco (volume I, pp. 1-189), where he visited Tetuan, Larache, Meknes, and traveled into the Atlas Mountains. The rest of the first volume deals with France, mostly with Paris, and with general observations on the French character, language, literature, the arts, government, education, the military, religion, industry, agriculture, etc. There are brief passages relating to Orleans, Tours, Angoulême, Bordeaux, and some places in between. Jardin's active military career ended in 1776, when he became a British agent in Spain, gathering intelligence for four years in sometimes dangerous conditions. His time in Spain is dealt with in volume II, pp. 1-400; the principal theme of these pages is Spanish government and society, there is also a defense of sexual equality and advocacy of greater similarity in education and dress between the sexes. He traveled to Fuenterrabía, then from San Sebastián, Vergara, Bilbão, Ribadeo, El Ferrol, Santiago de Compostela to La Coruña. Also visited and commented on are Santander, Cádiz, the Sierra Morena, Cordoba, Aranjuez, El Escorial, and Madrid. Portugal is treated on pp. 401-504 of the second volume, while Jersey is dealt with in the final pages. Having entered Portugal from Galicia, Jardine draws a favorable comparison with Spain. He traveled to Braga and Porto, then went on to Lisbon. As with the other sections, the pages on Portugal deal mainly with the author's observations on just about every possible aspect of Portuguese life. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography notes, "[The book's] larger theme is government and society, but it is notable for its defence of sexual equality and advocacy of greater similarity in education and dress between the sexes." The Letters were read by Mary Wollstonecraft, who reviewed the book in the Analytical in 1789. The influence of Jardine's ideas on sexual equality can be seen in Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women, 1792. See Chernock, Men and the Making of Modern British Feminism, p. 21. *** ESTC T87008. Foulché-Delbosc 181A. Palau 123184. See Robertson, Los curiosos impertinentes, pp. 118-127, 157, 251, et passim. See also Polt, Jovellanos and His English Sources, pp. 11-13, et passim. For more on Jardine and this book, see the article on him in DNB. Not in Duarte de Sousa.

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