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    Mary Austin Holley: Texas. Observations, Historical, Geographical and Descriptive, In a Series of Letters, Written during a Visit to Austin's Colony, with a view to a permanent settlement in that country, in the Autumn of 1831. By Mrs. Mary Austin Holley. With an Appendix, Containing specific answers to certain questions, relative to Colonization in Texas, issued some time since by the London Geographical Society. Also, some notice of the recent political events in that quarter. Baltimore: Armstrong & Plaskitt, 1833. First edition of the first book in English entirely about Texas. No copyright notice on verso of title page. 12mo (7" x 4.5"). 167pp. with appendix. Folding map in facsimile: Map of the State of Coahuila and Texas by W. Hooker (13.25" x 10.75"). Reddish-brown cloth, with title and decorative device in gilt on front board. Cloth is rubbed and soiled, with some light moisture droplets; spine faded. Edges and extremities are worn; corners bumped. Joints worn; front hinge starting, rear hinge cracked, but binding is tight and sturdy. Gilt dulled. Significant foxing throughout. A few pages chipped and/or dog-eared. Page 86 mis-numbered as "62." Facsimile folding map tipped to rear pastedown is fine. Book is in generally very good condition. Housed in a custom cloth clamshell box with leather title label to spine.

    An epistolary account of the author's journey to Texas (specifically to Austin's Colony) in the fall of 1831. Mrs. Holley was, in fact, a cousin of Stephen F. Austin, and the book is dedicated to him. Holley was enthusiastic about the country and its prospects, and in this series of letters, she describes many aspects of the region, including the landscape as well as the political, economic, and social climate. Holley was so taken with this "splendid country" that she rhapsodizes about Texas, describing it as an almost idyllic utopia: "Ones feelings in Texas are unique and original, and very like a dream or youthful vision realized. Here, as in Eden, man feels alone with the God of nature, and seems, in a peculiar manner, to enjoy the rich bounties of heaven, in common with all created things. [...] [T]he profound stillness; the genial sun and soft air, - all are impressive, and are calculated, both to delight the imagination, and to fill the heart, with religious emotions" (Holley, p. 127). She concludes - somewhat vehemently - that a person would do well to "settle accounts at home, and begin life anew in Texas. He will find, here, abundant exercise for all his faculties, both of body and mind, a new stimulus to his exertions, and a new current for his affections. He may be obliged to labour hard, but riches are a very certain reward of his exertions" (p. 131). Mrs. Holley was certainly one of the most persuasive boosters of emigration to Texas, and many of her readers were no doubt swayed to head to this new Promised Land as soon as they could!

    Reference: Basic Texas Books 93. Graff 1934. Howes H593. Raines, p. 116. Sabin 32528. Streeter 1135.

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    November, 2009
    21st Saturday
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