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  3.7 Volume of Notes From Dr John Hope's Lectures  

©Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Volume of notes from Dr John Hope's Lectures at the Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

Manuscript: Edinburgh, summer 1780
Ink and pencil; the binding leather, Seringapatam c.1786-99, stamped and gilded in Persian style

Bound volume:
2 x 5 x 29 cm


manuscript note inside the volume records that the notes were taken by Francis Buchanan at lectures at the Botanical Garden, Edinburgh, in summer 1780. Buchanan's friend, one Mr Boiswell, accidently left the notes in his trunk, which was seized during action against Tipu at Satimungulum, during the Second Mysore War.

Tipu was interested in botany and horticulture, and may have recognised from the diagrams in the manuscript that the notes referred to the way in which plants breathe. Certainly, he had the manuscript bound in tooled leather and added it to his considerable Library of works, including volumes on jurisprudence, philosophy, astronomy, lexicography, history, poetry and religion. There were also treatises on farriery, archery, management of fruit trees, medicine, mineralogy, talismanic art, the art of dyeing and of making perfume, and rules for nuptial ceremonies. Three European works are mentioned, and a memorandum book, in which Tipu himself wrote: 'Names of the three Islands, belonging to the English: Ireland - Guernsey - Jersey. On the English Island, there was once a Rajah of the tribe called Coosseea., a hundred years ago, the English Rajah put the Rajah of the Coosseeas to death, and took possession of his country.' In a footnote, the author, Col. Wood, adds: 'Coosseea seems intended for Ecossais, Scotch; and the Rajah for one of the kings of Scotland.'

After the Fall of Seringapatam, Tipu's library was listed by Major Ogg, and allocated to the Asiatic Societies of Calcutta and London. The bound volume of notes was returned to was returned to Francis Buchanan at Seringapatam on 23 May 1800, during his survey of Mysore after Tipu's death. The volume was brought back to Scotland and the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, where it remains today.

The Edinburgh Journal and Critical Review of July 1809 reviewed Charles Stewart's 'Descriptive Catalogue of the Oriental Library of the late Tippoo Sultan of Mysore,' published in 1809. Stewart notes that many of the volumes in Tipu's library had actually been acquired by his father, seized during the war of 1780 from the fort of Chitor. The author also describes the style of Tipu's bindings:

'All the volumes that had been rebound at Seringapatam have the names of God, Mohammed,his daughter Fatima, and her sons Hasan and Hasain, stamped in a medallion on the middle of the dover, and the names of the first four Khalifs… on the four corners. At the top is "The government given by God;" and at the bottom, "God is sufficient." A few were impressed with the private signet, "Tippu Sultan." The Buchanan manuscript is similarly decorated, and suggests that Tipu possessed a rich but elegant taste for fine bindings.

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