The Expedition for The Survey of The Rivers Euphrates and Tigris, Carried on by Order of The British Government, in The Years 1835, 1836, and 1837; Preceded by Geographical and Historical Notices of The Regions situated between The Rivers Nile and Indus. TWO VOLUMES – ALL PUBLISHED.

Chesney, Françis Rawdon.

Book ID: 4480


4to. xxvii, [2], 799 pp., lithographed folding frontispiece, 42 plates, appendix, index / xvi, 778 pp., frontispiece lithograph, 19 plates, tables including 2 large folding charts, numerous woodcuts, half-titles, title, contemporary cloth, lightly faded and rubbed round edges, speckled outer edges, spine of volume one professionally repaired retaining its originality, gilt title on spine, small library stamps on front end paper & title pages, previous owner’s small stamp on each plate, volume 2 hinges slightly weak, scattered spotting, Lacking the slipcase of maps, Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, first edition, 1850.


Francis Rawdon Chesney (1789-1872) was sent to China before he finished writing the history of this expedition and half the manuscript was lost. This also accounts for the odd numbering of the plates; 97 were intended for the full work of which only 49 were actually printed, not in numerical order. Chesney was the ‘founder of the overland route to India’ (Dictionary of National Biography.) In 1829 he set out for Constantinople intending to take part in the Russo-Turkish War; instead he made a tour of inspection in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt which had two results – the overland route to India and the Suez Canal ( de Lesseps was led to attempt the enterprise after reading Chesney’s report).
In 1831 Chesney carried out his preliminary survey of the Euphrates alone, floating down the river on a raft. A parliamentary committee recommended a full-scale expedition, and two steamships were assembled near Bir in 1835, near the property of John Barker. During the voyage the S. S. Tigris sank and after many difficulties the S. S. Euphrates finally reached Basra. Chesney’s history of the expedition includes minute surveys of history, geography, geology of the areas traversed, but does not provide a day-by-day account of the expedition. This is the concluding portion of Chesney’s account, which was originally lost in China.
References: Blackmer 337; Atabey 234; Marlowe, `Perfidious Albion’ pp 216-18; Searight, pp 121-4; Hilmy I, 133.

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