MONTAGU, Lady Mary Wortley. Letters Of the Right Honourable Lady M-y W-y M-e: Written during her Travels in Europe, Asia and Africa, to Persons of Distinction, Men of Letters, &c. in different Parts of Europe. Which contain, Among other curious Relations, Accounts of the Policy and Manners of the Turks. Drawn from Sources that have been unaccessible to other Travellers. Complete in One Volume. Berlin, Sold by August Mylius, 1781.
Small 8vo. Contemporary German speckled boards with gilt-stamped lettering-piece to spine; viii, 381, frontispiece engraved by Chodowiecki; extremities with light wear, internally very good; duplicate from the learned academy based in Halle, the Leopoldina, with library stamps and shelf-marks.
Edited and prefaced in a proto-feminist vein by Mary Astell, this is one of the rarest 18th-century printings of the letters of Lady Montagu, who had gathered much first-hand experience of Ottoman society and life. 'Lady Mary left London in August 1716 to accompany her husband on his embassy to Constantinople, seat of the Ottoman empire. Owing to the transformation of European politics by the battle of Peterwardein shortly after they set out, and a requirement that Wortley Montagu pick up further instructions at both Hanover and Vienna, they travelled overland, criss-crossing Europe on the way. They reached Turkey in spring 1717, after a fearsome journey through wolf-infested forests and across the battlefield of Peterwardein (where bodies of men, horses, and camels still lay deep-frozen in the snow). Lady Mary sent home long letters describing her travels, and she kept copies for future reworking as a travel book. She laid a foundation of expertise in Turkish culture in three weeks billeted in Belgrade with an efendi, or Islamic scholar, with whom she had wide-ranging conversations on oriental languages, literature, religions, and social customs. She was delighted with the civility of women at a public bath building in Sofia, socially poised and graciously welcoming although stark naked' (ODNB). - This beautiful produced Berlin edition not in any Turcica collection catalogue.
BLURB FOR THE 1760s four volumes: "Lady Mary, who had suffered from the disease, encouraged her own children to be inoculated while in Turkey. On her return to London, she enthusiastically promoted the procedure, but encountered a great deal of resistance. However, her example certainly popularized the practice of inoculation with smallpox in British high society. The numbers inoculated remained small, and medical effort throughout the 18th century was concentrated on reducing the risks and side-effects of the inoculation process." – Salah Zaimeche, et.al. Lady Mary Montagu Wortley's husband was appointed ambassador to the Porte in 1716 and she accompanied him to Constantinople. During her sojourn in Turkey she recorded her observations and experiences in a journal which provided material for her letters which she composed a few years after her return to England. These are not actual letters but provide the substance of her life abroad and her opinions on Turkish life and customs. Montagu is chiefly remembered for her letters, published posthumously, which described her travels in various countries, particularly the Ottoman Empire. "Early in 1716, Edward Wortley Montagu was appointed Ambassador at Istanbul. Lady Mary accompanied him to Vienna, and thence to Adrianople and Istanbul. He was recalled in 1717, but they remained at Istanbul until 1718. The story of this voyage and of her observations of Eastern life is told in the Turkish Embassy Letters, a series of lively letters full of graphic description. The book of the Letters is often credited as being an inspiration for subsequent female traveller/writers, as well as for much Orientalist art. Lady Mary returned to the West with knowledge of the Ottoman practice of inoculation against smallpox, known as variolation. Several decades later, in the 1790s, Edward Jenner developed the method of vaccination, based on the same principle." – Salah Zaimeche, Salim Al-Hassani and Ahmed Salem, "Lady Montagu and the Introduction of Smallpox Inoculation to England." REFERENCES: Atabey 829; Blackmer 1150; Rothschild 1452.