BOSWELL, James. An Account of Corsica. The Journal of the Tour of that Island and Memoirs by Pascal Paoli. By James Boswell Esq; Illustrated with a New and Accurate Map of Corsica.

London, Charles Dilly, 1769






8vo, frontispiece plate with engraved portrait of Pascal Paoli by J. Lodge after Henry Bembridge, title page, Letter and Preface (pp. xxxii), large engraved folding map of Corsica (from the same plate as in the first edition, but with a scale of miles added), text from pp. 33 to 400. Bookplate to front pastedown of American collector Joseph Y. Jeanes from Philadelphia. Rebound in late C19th half red morocco and marbled paper over boards by the famous Philadelphia binders firm Pawson and Nicholson (see printed name to top outer corner of verso of first front endpaper). Corners and joints partly rubbed and worn, small tear to folding map, lightly yellowed throughout and occasional minor spotting. Waterstaining on head of flyleaf with Boswell s inscription: To Andrew Lumisden Esq: as a mark of sincere regard from the Author . A very good copy.


Third edition of this famous account of Corsica by the English writer, novelist and travel diarist James Boswell, which is also an important presentation copy from the author to his dear friend Andrew Lumisden. The preface to this edition includes for the first time a eulogistic letter from George Lyttelton to Boswell in praise of Paoli. Boswell, a Scottish lawyer, is mainly remembered as the biographer of Samuel Johnson. He was invited to visit Corsica by Paoli in August 1764 whilst he was travelling in Italy. Boswell was determined to get to Corsica and stated that had he not received a formal invitation, he should still go, and probably be hanged as a spy. He crossed from Leghorn to Corsica; saw the great Paoli; talked politics to him… He also took the liberty of asking Paoli a thousand questions with regard to the most minute and private circumstances of his life (DNB). He apparently played Scottish airs to the Corsican peasantry. He returned to London with his head full of Corsica, and against Johnson’s advice, resolved to write an account of his experiences.


This is a refreshing contemporary observation of eighteenth-century Corsica and covers a number of aspects; the first chapter consists of a geographical analysis of the Island followed by a historical and political overview. The book concludes with Boswell s journal of his tour of the Island and the memoirs of Pascal Paoli. However, the book did not receive general approval. Walpole laughed at it and Gray described the journal as a dialogue between a green goose and a hero . Boswell never ceased to champion the Corsican cause and published a volume of Essays in favour of the Brave Corsicans in the spring of 1769. Andrew Lumisden (1720 1801), an active and accurate antiquary , was a Scottish Jacobite with whom Boswell became acquainted in Rome in 1765. They became good friends and Lumisden later assisted Boswell when he was writing the Life of Dr Johnson, by deciphering place names in the diarists journal of a French tour in late 1775.


Bibliography: Rothschild pp. 446, 447.