An Essay on the Natural History of Guiana in South America. Containing A Description of many Curius Productions in the Animal and Vegetable Systems of that Country. Together with an Account of the Religion, Manners and Customs of several Tribes of Indi

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Author: Bancroft, Edward Bartholomew (1745-1821)

Year: 1769

Publisher: Printed for T Bechet and P A De Hondt

Place: London


iv+402+[ii] pages with frontispiece. Octavo (8 1/4" X 5 1/4") bound in full leather with five raised bands and red label in compartment with gilt lettering to spine. Book plate of William ("Billy") Charles de Meuron Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 7th Earl Fitzwilliam [Sabin 3106: Wood p.220] First edition.

Edward Bartholomew Bancroft was a Massachusetts born physician and chemist who became a double-agent, spying for both the United States and Great Britain while serving as secretary to the American Commission in Paris during the American Revolution. On July 14, 1763, after fleeing his apprenticeship, Bancroft left New England for the sugar-producing slave colonies of Dutch Guiana, where he became a plantation doctor. He soon expanded his practice to multiple plantations and wrote a study of the local environment. Based on observations of experiments already being performed on live eels by Dutch colonists in and around Surinam and Essequibo, Bancroft concluded that American eels and torpedo fish discharged electricity to stun their prey, rather than by imperceptibly swift mechanical action, as had previously been argued. Although he left South America in 1766, he published An Essay on the Natural History of Guiana, in South America in London 1769, where with the encouragement of Benjamin Franklin, he embarked on a career as a man of letters. Bancroft later wrote extensively about the chemistry of dyes, based in part on his work in Dutch Guiana, contrasting non-European dyeing techniques unfavorably with the learned "philosophical chemistry" of natural philosophers like himself. In London, Bancroft's Natural History of Guiana (1769) attracted the attention of Paul Wentworth, New Hampshire's colonial agent in London, who hired Bancroft to survey Wentworth's plantation in Surinam and make recommendations for more efficient operation. Bancroft spent two months there before returning to London. While in Surinam, Bancroft wrote a three-volume, semi-autobiographical novel, The History of Charles Wentworth, Esq. The epistolary novel, which follows the life of a plantation owner (with the same surname as his friend and employer), imitates Voltaire's Candide and reflects Bancroft's deistic beliefs, ridiculing passages in the Bible and criticizing Christianity for its "detestable spirit of intolerance and persecution."

William ("Billy") Charles de Meuron Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 7th Earl Fitzwilliam KCVO CBE DSO MP (25 July 1872 – 15 February 1943), styled Viscount Milton 1877–1902, was a British Army officer, nobleman, politician, and aristocrat. He was born in Pointe de Meuron, Ontario, Canada, and died at the family's seat, Wentworth Woodhouse. He sat in the House of Commons for Wakefield from 1895 until 1902, when he inherited the title Earl Fitzwilliam on the death of his grandfather William Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 6th Earl Fitzwilliam. His father William Wentworth-FitzWilliam, Viscount Milton had pre-deceased him.


Without 2 advertisement pages at end. Moderate wear, hinges cracked with front cover detached, minor foxing, minimal damp-staining, early owner's signature on title page, later owner's bookplate on front pastedown else a good copy, internally very good.

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