Very Rare, London Published, 1616 Coryate's Traveller for the English Wits
An incredible book for the seasoned explorer-traveller. Written by the first Englishman [and Elizabethan] to do so, simply for the joy of travelling to unvisited parts, and first published in 1616. Tom Coryate is known as only the second Englishman to visit India, and the first ever traveller of the so called Grand Tour. The man, that history accredits, who introduced dinner forks to the English speaking world. This superb tome is entitled 'Greeting from the court of the Great Moghul, and resident in Asmere a town in Eastern India'. By Tom Coliate. A seemingly small book, composed of numerous letters, sent in the early 1600's to his English friends, from India. They were various gentleman of note and standing, including the Master of the Rolles in Chancery Lane and to the "Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen" at the Mermaid Inn. Coriates Traveller for the English Wits; Greetings from the court of the most mighty monarch, the Great Moghul. Publ London 1616. Very rare, original, early 18th century copy. It has many border annotations and quotes, made by an owner, some in ancient Greek, and additions affixed on the inside cover including old bookseller advertisements. The original and first 1616 printing is now so rare that we do not know of another coming on to the market in the last ten years, and today, if one was to appear it would be not unreasonable to attract a likely price of ?20,000. In 1912 another of his published books the earlier Cortyate's Crudities sold for the princely sum of ?45, the equivalent today of the paid employment of a household of servants for one year. Thomas Coriate traveller for the English wits, greeting: from the court of the Great Mogul, resident at the Towne of Asmere, in Easterne India ([London]: 1616), p.27. The remarkable and eccentric Coryate (1577-1617) was only the second Englishman to visit India simply out of curiosity, a journey of some 3,300 miles, most of which he accomplished on foot. In a letter to his mother in England Coryates writes, 'I have rid upon an elephant since I came to this Court, determining one day (by Gods leave) to have my picture expressed in my next Booke, sitting upon an elephant' (p.26). Coryat was born in Crewkerne, Somerset, and lived most of his life in the Somerset village of Odcombe. He was a son of George Coryate (d. 1607). He was educated at Winchester College from 1591, and at Gloucester Hall, Oxford from 1596 to 1599. He was employed by Prince Henry, eldest son of James I as a sort of "court jester" from 1603 to 1607, alongside Ben Jonson, John Donne and Inigo Jones.
From May to October 1608 he undertook a tour of Europe, somewhat less than half of which he walked. He travelled through France and Italy to Venice, and returned via Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. He published his memoirs of the events in a volume entitled Coryat's Crudities hastily gobbled up in Five Months Travels in France, Italy, &c' (1611). In 1611 he published a second volume of travel writings, this one entitled Coryats Crambe, or his Coleworte twice Sodden. Coryat's letters from this time refer to the famous Mermaid Tavern in London, and mention Ben Jonson, John Donne and other members of a drinking club "Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen" that met there.
Ever restless, he set out once again in 1612, this time on a journey that would ultimately lead to Asia, visiting Greece, the eastern Mediterranean including Constantinople by 1614, and walking through Turkey, Persia and eventually Moghul India by 1615, visiting the Emperor Jahangir's court in Ajmer, Rajasthan. From Agra and elsewhere he sent letters describing his experiences; this very book his Greetings from the Court of the Great Mogul was published in London in 1616, and a similar volume of his letters home appeared posthumously in 1618. In September 1617, at the invitation of Sir Thomas Roe, he visited the imperial court at Mandu, Madhya Pradesh. In November 1617 he left for Surat; he died of dysentery there in December of that year, his demise hastened by the consumption of sack. Though his planned account of the journey was never to be, some of his unorganized travel notes have survived and found their way back to England. These were published in the 1625 edition of Samuel Purchas's Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrimes, contayning a History of the World in Sea Voyages and Lande Travells, by Englishmen and others.
Coryat's writings were hugely popular at the time. His accounts of inscriptions, many of which are now lost, were valuable; and his accounts of Italian customs and manners?including the use of the table fork?were influential in England at a time when other aspects of Italian culture, such as the madrigal, had already been in vogue for more than twenty years. He is considered by many to have been the first Briton to do a Grand Tour of Europe; a practice which became a mainstay of the education of upper class Englishmen in the 18th century.