PERCIVAL, Robert. An Account of the Island of Ceylon, Containing its History, Geography, Natural History, with the Manners and Customs of its Various Inhabitants; to which is added, The Journal of an Embassy to the Court of Candy. London, C. and R. Baldwin, 1803.
4to. Entirely uncut in 20th-century three-quarter crushed morocco over marbled boards, spine with raised bands and directly lettered in gilt; pp. [iii]-xii, 416 (bound without half-title), four folding engraved maps and charts, lower outer corner of p. 137 repaired, slightly later stamp of the Jesuit Residence in Galvia (southwest of Liverpool) in the margins of two pages, stamp erased from title; occasional light spotting, a good copy.
First edition of this comprehensive description of Sri Lanka before Britsh colonisation, written by a British army officer with much overseas experience. 'In 1797 Percival travelled to Ceylon, where he seems to have remained for three years; afterwards he published An account of … Ceylon … [with] the journal of an embassy to the court of Candy (1803). In this he described the effects of Portuguese and Dutch rule, citing instances of Dutch cruelty and treachery, and discussing the population, economy and main towns of Ceylon. Sydney Smith declared the work to abound with curious and important information' (ODNB).