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pay. (in india Observed (London: 1982), m. Archer and R. Lightbown also suggest that ‘There may, however, have been deeper reasons. Williamson had liberal opinions and took a humane attitude to the controversial issue of providing free passages to England for children born to the British by indian “wives”. it may have been his views on such subjects which led to his banishment from india’, p. 67.)


newly impoverished and thrown back on his own resources, Williamson set up a musical shop on The Strand, selling music, intruments, etc. and also published a number of his own compositions: ‘Some of his songs, “The Daffodil”, “Since in the mirror of my Eyes”, and ‘“Ra’ma’nee”, are to his own translation of poems by Yuqueen and Sonda, and he has the distinction of being amongst the earliest to publish transcriptions of indian music, in his 1st and 2nd Collections of Original Hindostanee Airs, opp. 4 and 9 (c. 1800)’ (op. cit, p. 680). however, Williamson’s great interest appears to have been writing, and he is believed to have closed the shop in circa 1802, to concentrate on his books. Wide-ranging — they included a triple-decker novel, an angler’s guide, and a mathematical text-book — his writings naturally capitalised on his experience of india, and apart from the songs and Oriental Field Sports (1807), his other Asian books are The East india Vade-Mecum: or, Complete Guide to Gentlemen intended for the Civil, Military, or naval Service of the Hon. East india Company (London: 1808) and The European in india: from a Collection of Drawings by Charles Doyley ... with a Preface and Copious Descriptions by Captain Thomas Williamson (London: 1813). however, none of these enterprises brought him the fortune he had hoped for, and he died in poverty in 1817, as the Gentleman’s Magazine reported in its obituary pages: ‘At Paris, capt Williamson, author of “indian Field Sports”. in a private letter received from Paris the account is given in the following terms: “Against the English church here is stuck up a notice of the death of capt. Williamson leaving a wife and 7 children destitute”’ (vol. Lxxxvii, 1817, p. 637).


of these works, the best-known and most celebrated was Oriental Field Sports, of which martin hardie states, ‘The book is not only a mine of information as to the manners, customs, scenery, and costume of India, but contains one of the finest series of sporting plates ever published’ (English Coloured Books (London: 1906), p. 136). Widely admired for its dramatic images depicting the pursuit of tigers, elephants and all manner of prey by English and indian hunters on foot or on elephants, Oriental Field Sports was issued in parts between 1805 and 1807. The text leaves bearing pp. 1 to 140 appearing sequentially in parts 1 to 19, and the pre- and postliminary leaves in part 20, but the plates were not issued in sequential order, and the plates in the Abbey copy had variant numbering, with two plates numbered xvi, two numbered xvii, two numbered xviii, and none numbered xi, xv, or xxxiii, and those which appeared in parts 1 to 14 were watermarked ‘J Whatman | 1804’ and those in parts 15 to 20 were watermarked ‘E&P | 1804’. in this copy, the plates are consecutively numbered, except for plates xiii and xiv where the numbering is transposed (although the titles are correct), and the pattern of watermarks in the plates follows that given by Abbey, with the exceptions of plates ix, xviii, and xix. Plate xxxi is in Tooley’s presumed first issue, reading ‘hunting Jackalls’ (and not ‘Jackals Rescueing [sic] a hunted Brother’), and the text and plates bear early watermarks. This copy does not retain the slip advertising howitt’s British Field Sports, which Tooley notes is contained in part 20.


complete copies of Oriental Field Sports in very good condition with such fresh and delicate colour as this have become increasingly rare on the market: in 1906, martin hardie complained strongly in his English Coloured Books that bookseller’s catalogues encouraged the ‘ruthless destruction’ of fine colour-plate books, adding ‘of [...] Oriental Field Sports it is said —”These famous plates measure 22 x 18 inches, and framed would make a fascinating series to adorn a smoking-room”’ (p. 302), and the dismemberment of copies continued through the twentieth century. This copy is particularly interesting for the variant, possibly proof, plate bound in before the additional title: this plate was made from the stencil used for the additional title, and (like the additional title) includes the title-text in the principal cartouche, but omits the imprint text (‘Pub by Edwd orme | 59 Bond Street’) found in the secondary cartouche at the lower left-hand corner (the sheet has no visible watermark).


Abbey, Travel, 427; Lowndes 2936; Mellon, Books on the Horse and Horsemanship, 88; nissen, ZBi, 4416; Schwerdt ii, pp. 297-298; Tooley 508.


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