Vasily Tatishchev and the Activities of a Provincial Chancellery in the Writings of Jonas Hanway, English Merchant and Traveller
The text published here is a translation of a chapter and a few excerpts from the British merchant and traveller Jonas Hanway’s book, An Historical Account of the British Trade over the Caspian Sea. The translated sections are united by the common theme of V. N. Tatishchev, with whom Hanway met in 1743–1744. In Hanway’s book, we find his impressions of Tatishchev, who was serving at this time as governor of Astrakhan, as well as the rumours and opinions circulating about Tatishchev in St Petersburg and the local region. Hanway also quotes a letter written by Tatishchev a few years after this meeting in Astrakhan, in which he requested assistance in the publication of his Istoria Rossiiskaia. Hanway’s observations on the administrative practices of provincial officials and institutions are of considerable interest. Here, Hanway informs the reader about Tatishchev’s relationship with the authorities in Petersburg, his business affairs, and his rather multifaceted reputation. Isolated extracts from Hanway’s text were translated and published in the mid-nineteenth century: these mainly focused on Tatishchev’s letter and personality. In this new publication, we provide a translation (with commentary) of all the information that Hanway provides about his two stops in Astrakhan: this allows us to better understand the context of his meeting with Tatishchev. The translation is based on the third edition of Hanway’s work: an introductory article is provided, offering general information about Hanway, his book, and the condition of Astrakhan’s provincial administration during the Englishman’s visit.
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