1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bell, John (traveller)

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BELL, JOHN (1691–1780), Scottish traveller, was born at Antermony in Scotland in 1691, and educated for the medical profession, in which he took the degree of M.D. In 1714 he set out for St Petersburg, where, through the introduction of a countryman, he was nominated medical attendant to Valensky, recently appointed to the Persian embassy, with whom he travelled from 1715 to 1718. The next four years he spent in an embassy to China, passing through Siberia and the great Tatar deserts. He had scarcely rested from this last journey when he was summoned to attend Peter the Great in his perilous expedition to Derbend and the Caspian Gates. The narrative of this journey he enriched with interesting particulars of the public and private life of that remarkable prince. In 1738 he was sent by the Russian government on a mission to Constantinople, to which, accompanied by a single attendant who spoke Turkish, he proceeded in the midst of winter and all the horrors of war, returning in May to St Petersburg. It appears that after this he was for several years established as a merchant at Constantinople, where he married in 1746. In the following year he retired to his estate of Antermony, where he spent the remainder of his life. He died in 1780. His travels, published at Glasgow in 1763, were speedily translated into French, and widely circulated in Europe.