An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere…

An Account of the Voyages…
An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere…

London: W. Strahan & T. Cadell, 1773.

Three volumes, quarto, with a total of 52 maps, views and plates (many folding), in contemporary full tree calf, gilt spines with morocco labels.

Cook's great first voyage and the discovery of the eastern coastline of Australia.

A really handsome set of this fundamental book: the official account of Cook's great first voyage in the Endeavour, during the course of which he discovered and charted the entire east coast of Australia, naming it New South Wales. Published three years after the earliest surreptitious publication of the unofficial narrative now know to have been written by the sailor Magra, this is the full official version of the voyage, sanctioned by the Admiralty, and published after some delay in its preparation in this elegant and substantial form. It is the first full-dress narrative and illustration of this extraordinary voyage, and consequently has the greatest significance for any collection of Australiana or of voyages.

A really handsome set of this fundamental book: the official account of Cook's great first voyage in the Endeavour, during the course of which he discovered and charted the entire east coast of Australia, naming it New South Wales. Published three years after the earliest surreptitious publication of the unofficial narrative now know to have been written by the sailor Magra, this is the full official version of the voyage, sanctioned by the Admiralty, and published after some delay in its preparation in this elegant and substantial form. It is the first full-dress narrative and illustration of this extraordinary voyage, and consequently has the greatest significance for any collection of Australiana or of voyages.

The collection sets the scene for the Cook narrative by including in the first volume the official narratives of the voyages of Byron, Wallis and Carteret; the compendium thus contains the cream of eighteenth-century English exploration in the Pacific Ocean. The Cook narrative, which occupies the whole of the second and third volumes, was edited from Cook's journals by the professional writer John Hawkesworth. It was not to everyone's taste: Cook himself, notoriously reticent, disliked his editor's use of the first person in the narrative. It does however give an enthralling account of his exploration of Tahiti, New Zealand and the east coast of Australia. Hawkesworth was given the original journals of Captains Byron, Wallis, Carteret and Cook, as well as the private journal of Joseph Banks, in order to prepare the book for publication, a task which took almost two years. Cook himself was in the middle of his second voyage when it was finally published in London to widespread enthusiasm on 9 June 1773 (Cook was actually in Cook Strait, New Zealand at the time, having just left Queen Charlotte Sound).

Hawkesworth's involvement in the book was controversial, and much ink has been spilt on the subject of his fitness for the task (the dilettante man of letters Horace Walpole is known to have wittily criticised Cook's enthusiasm for the fishermen of 40 islands, Samuel Johnson an apparent fixation with exotic insects, while indignant letters to contemporary editors attacked everything from Hawkesworth's apparent lasciviousness to his godlessness), but these tempests cannot distract from the fascinating story, the moments of early contact, and the great characters such as Banks or the Tahitian priest Tupaia. The plates, charts and views are magnificent, and most famously include the first astonishing engraving of a kangaroo, charts of New Zealand and the east coast of Australia, and the moving depiction of the Endeavour, hauled on shore just north of Cape Tribulation on the north Queensland coast to fix the hole that nearly sent them to the bottom.

This particularly attractive set is a good example of the second and best, because most complete, edition: the additions make it at least the equal of the first edition: it includes the chart of the Strait of Magellan and the List of Plates (missing in many copies of the first edition). Furthermore, this edition contains additional preliminary material in the form of a new preface in which Hawkesworth replies to the charges of poor editing made against him by Dalrymple.

The book was an essential adornment to any serious Georgian library, and this lovely set is in an elegant and perfectly preserved binding of the period.

Beddie, 650; Borba de Moraes, p.395; Hill, 783; Holmes, 5(n); Kroepelien, 535(n).

Price (AUD): $17,500.00  other currencies     Ref: #4401858

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