Glasgow: Robert and Andrew Foulis, 1763.
First Edition. One engraved folding map by John Riddell. (Duplicate signature Rr in vol. II.) pp. xvii, , 357, [2 pages ads]; 426 pp.,errata slip, subscribers list. 2 vols. Small 4to (240 x 180 mm). Contemporary mpottled calf, conbtrasting leather spine labels. (tiny amount of worming to Siberia foiding map) . handsome copy Blackmer 111; Cordier Sinica 2093; Cox I:256; Gaskell Foulis 415; see Lust 314; Cox I 256. Item #366377
A British expatriate, Bell travelled throughout Russia and the east during the years 1715-38. He accompanied the embassies of Peter the Great to Ispahan in Persia in 1715-18, travelled to Peking in China through Siberia in 1719-21, to Derbent in Persia in 1722, and to Constantinople in 1737-38.
The account includes detailed descriptions of the manners, customs, geography and scenery in the countries visited. The work was reprinted in 1764 and 1788, and published in French and German editions.
The engraved folding map shows the route between Moscow and Peking The LONDON QUARTERLY REVIEW called this work, "The best model for travel-writing in the English language." [see: ALLIBONE, Vol. I, p.180]
ODNB: Bell, John (1691–1780), diplomatist and traveller, the son of Patrick Bell of Antermony, Stirlingshire, and Anabel Stirling of Craigbarnet, was born on his father's estate at Antermony. No details of his education are extant, but it is stated that, after obtaining the degree of doctor of medicine, he decided to visit foreign countries. He obtained letters of recommendation to Dr Areskine, chief physician and privy councillor to Tsar Peter I, and left London in July 1714. The tsar was at this time planning a diplomatic mission to the sophy of Persia, and on Dr Areskine's advice Bell was engaged in the tsar's service and included in the mission. He left St Petersburg on 15 July 1715 and proceeded to Moscow, and from there to Kazan and south along the Volga to Astrakhan. The mission then sailed down the Caspian Sea to Derbent and travelled on to Esfahan in Persia, where they arrived on 14 March 1717. They left Esfahan on 1 September and returned to St Petersburg via Saratov on 30 December 1718.
On his return Bell learned of another mission, to China, on which he was included following the recommendation of the British ambassador. Bell's account of his remarkable journey is recorded in his one publication, Travels from St Petersburg in Russia to Various Parts of Asia (1763). Despite the tedium of the sixteen-month expedition, Bell's account of the journey to Kazan and through Siberia to China is the most complete and interesting part of his travels. Of particular note are his descriptions of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese wall, and his residence in Peking (Beijing). The embassy left the capital on 2 March 1721 and arrived at Moscow on 5 January 1722. In the same year Bell accompanied an expedition into Persia as far as Derbent, but returned to St Petersburg in December 1722.
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