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18th-century colonial history of Mauritius, with an eye-witness account of the battle of Madras

GRANT, Charles, vicomte de VAUX and John Pope HENNESSY.
Letters from Mauritius in the eighteenth century by Grant, Baron de Vaux including an account of Labourdonnais' capture of Madras.
Mauritius, printed for private circulation, 1886. 8vo. With a large, folding engraved map (43x59 cm). Contemporary half gold- and blind-tooled red calf, decorated (pseudo-marbled) paper sides. With the author and title lettered in gold on the spine. [2], X, 192, VI pp.
€ 3,950
First edition of a very rare work with letters concerning Mauritius. The letters, which date from 1740-1758, were written by Louis Charles Grant, baron de Vaux (dates of birth and death unknown) and Bertrand-François Mahé, comte de la Bourdannais (1699-1753). They offer a unique insight into daily life on the island and the conflicts between the British and French colonial administrations.
Bertrand-François Mahé was a naval officer who worked for the French East India Company. He was the governor of Mauritius from 1735-1740. In 1744, he led a military expedition to take the city of Madras, India, from the British. The battle was inconclusive and both armies withdrew. The French, again led by Mahé, returned for a surprise attack in 1746. The British could not defend the poorly constructed fortifications and surrendered, leaving the French in control of the city for the next few years. This work contains an account of these events, partly in Mahés own words, and complete with a large map of Madras.
Louis Charles Grant was the governor of Mauritius from 1740-1758 and corresponded with Mahé during this time. His letters are remarkable, because they not only detail the battle of Madras, but also describe the plantations, as well as the wildlife, the climate, the inhabitants and the resources on the island.
Sir John Pope Hennessy (1834-1891), who compiled this work based on the translations of Grants son, was the governor of Mauritius from 1883-1889, when it was a British colony. Henessey writes in his introduction that in the colonial histories of the western European countries, no other expedition can compare to the one Mahé led from Mauritius to Madras. According to him, these letters "give the fullest details we possess of the planning and fitting out of this expedition." Henesseys introduction offers extra historical information and adds a different point of view to the letters, making this work a valuable and complete overview of a turbulent period in French and British colonial history.
The edges of the boards are scuffed and the leather rubbed. The front flyleaf is folded and the folded map shows a horizontal tear in the middle, but without loss. Overall in good condition. WorldCat 903231391, 560035315 (9 copies); cf. Cunniah, Les mutations écologiques et les conditions sociales relevées par Louis-Charles Grant à l'île de France (1740-1748). In: Revue historique de l'ócean Indien, 11, 2014, pp. 423-435; not in: Francis Edwards, Catalogue of books on Africa
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Related Subjects:

Africa  >  Cartography & Exploration | East & Southern Africa
Asia  >  India & Sri Lanka
Europe  >  France, Greece & Italy | United Kingdom & Ireland
Military history  >  Military History 18th Century