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Life in the Forests of the Far East.
Smith, Elder and Co., London 1862 - A CLASSIC OF JUNGLE TRAVEL. BY A FELLOW EXPLORER OF ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE. IN THE RARE ORIGINAL PUBLISHER'S CLOTH. 2 vols. octavo (220 x 140mm.), pp. xix, 400, 4 (publisher's ads), 16 (publisher's ads dated May 1862); xviii, 420. Half titles in both volumes, 3 folding lithographic maps, 4 hand-coloured lithographic plates of pitcher plants, 12 tinted lithographic plates of landscapes and native peoples, original tissue-guards. Original publisher's pebble-grained blue cloth, covers with a double-fillet frame in black, spines decorated and lettered in gilt, chocolate brown endpapers, pastedowns with printed publisher's ads. Wear to edges of a few leaves, maps with a couple of closed tears repaired, occasional slight stains, a couple of very small ink spots. Slight expert restoration to the upper joint of vol. 1, hinges reinforced, closed tear to front free endpaper vol.1, a little rubbed. Overall a very good copy. FIRST EDITION. A beautifully illustrated account of pioneering expeditions on the island of Borneo, by a fellow explorer of Alfred Russel Wallace. St John (1825-1910) worked as Secretary for Sir James Brooke, the "White Rajah", in Sarawak, Borneo, from 1848-1855. His Life in the Forests of the Far East is his journals of those years, describing his accounts of operations against Malay pirates, two ascents of Mount Kinabalu (discovering near the summit a giant species of carnivorous pitcher plant, illustrated in the book), and his expeditions into the interior of Borneo, at that period almost entirely unexplored by Europeans. "Very few works can be considered in the same class as Wallace. One of these few is Life in the Forests of the Far East" (Harrison p. vi). "Two well-written and beautifully illustrated volumes" (DNB). "[St John] took an early interest in the exploits of James Brooke, the 'rajah' of Sarawak. When Brooke visited England in 1847 he invited St John to return with him to Sarawak the following year as his private secretary. St John accompanied Brooke on many of his excursions and in his campaigns against pirates, then in 1851-55 undertook his own explorations, visiting the northeast coast of Borneo and ascending its major rivers. In 1856 he was appointed consul-general to Brunei, and in this capacity he explored around the capital and penetrated deep into the interior. . ." (Howgego III p 601). "St John made two of the first great inland explorations [of Borneo]. First with Hugh Low, the conquest of Mt. Kinabalu. . . second, less obviously impressive but in my view more difficult, his ascent of the whole course of the great Limbang River" (Harrison p. vii). St John's travels in Borneo coincided with those of Alfred Russel Wallace, and the two men became lasting friends until St John's death in 1910, maintaining a correspondence on a wide range of topics, including human evolution. Wallace stayed with St John in the Raja's mountain-top cottage in Sarawak in December 1855 (Wallace p. 94), and appears in St John's book in his discussion of Orang Utan hunting (St John vol. 1 p. 22). Very rare in the original cloth: only two copies at auction since at least 1975 (ABPC). LITERATURE: Harrison, T. Life in the Forests of the Far East. Oxford (1974). Howgego, R. Encyclopedia of Exploration. Potts Point (2008). Wallace, A R. The Malay Archipelago. London: Macmillan (1869). Casey Wood 1931.
      [Bookseller: Nicholas Marlowe Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-05-04           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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