Autograph letter signed, from the Earl of Sandwich to "Dr Hawkesworth at Mrs Banwells Great Ormond Street" COOK: FIRST VOYAGE, John Montagu SANDWICH, fourth Earl.
Autograph letter signed, from the Earl of Sandwich to "Dr Hawkesworth at Mrs Banwells Great Ormond Street"

Autograph letter signed to John Hawkesworth…
Autograph letter signed, from the Earl of Sandwich to "Dr Hawkesworth at Mrs Banwells Great Ormond Street"

London: c. 1771.

Quarto, autograph manuscript in ink; single page on a bifolium with address panel; on paper watermarked "LVG"

First Lord of the Admiralty to Cook's first editor

Amusing original letter from Sandwich to John Hawkesworth, ghostwriter of the official account of Cook's first voyage. Sandwich writes: "That I may be certain whether you are alive or dead, I shall be obliged to you if you will either come yourself or send your ghost to dine with me tomorrow. I am most sincerely yours Sandwich." This witty communication dates from the period when Hawkesworth was preparing the Cook account, during Sandwich's third term as First Lord of Admiralty (1771-82; of course, it was during this appointment that James Cook discovered Hawaii on his third voyage and named them the Sandwich Islands in his honour). The letter probably dates from late 1771, while Hawkesworth was at work on the journal. He died in November 1773, not long after the book's publication.

Amusing original letter from Sandwich to John Hawkesworth, ghostwriter of the official account of Cook's first voyage. Sandwich writes: "That I may be certain whether you are alive or dead, I shall be obliged to you if you will either come yourself or send your ghost to dine with me tomorrow. I am most sincerely yours Sandwich." This witty communication dates from the period when Hawkesworth was preparing the Cook account, during Sandwich's third term as First Lord of Admiralty (1771-82; of course, it was during this appointment that James Cook discovered Hawaii on his third voyage and named them the Sandwich Islands in his honour). The letter probably dates from late 1771, while Hawkesworth was at work on the journal. He died in November 1773, not long after the book's publication.

Hawkesworth was introduced to Sandwich by Charles Burney in September 1771 when "the First Lord was casting around for someone to 'write the voyage' - that is, to take Cook's journal and put it into a form suitable for the reading of the polite world; and not only Cook's journal but those of the three other circumnavigators, Byron, Wallis and Carteret. Cook and Banks, we remember, were patriotically anxious that this should be done as soon as possible, and it was all the more important to get something authentic on the market… Burney recommended his friend Dr John Hawkesworth, who had time and could do with the money…" (Beaglehole).

Fanny Burney recorded in her diary for 15 September 1771 that "My father has had a happy opportunity of extremely obliging Dr. Hawkesworth. During his stay in Norfolk, he waited upon Lord Orford, who had always been particularly friendly to him. He there, among others, met with Lord Sandwich. His Lordship was speaking of the late voyage round the world and mentioned his having the papers of it in his possession; for he is First Lord of the Admiralty; and said that they were not arranged, but mere rough draughts, and said that he should be much obliged to any one who could recommend a proper person to write the Voyage. My father directly named Dr. Hawkesworth and his Lordship did him the honour to accept his recommendation... I cannot but be amazed, that a man of Lord Sandwich's power, &ca., should be so in ignorance of men of learning and merit, as to apply to an almost stranger...".

The money was decent: Hawkesworth earned a substantial £6000 from the publishers Strahan and Cadell and completed the first two volumes in just four months. A landmark publication, this would help to cement Cook's reputation in the eyes of the public, serving Sandwich's official purpose.

Beaglehole, Life, p.289.

Condition Report: Expertly repaired tear, otherwise fine.

Price (AUD): $5,850.00

US$4,181.85   Other currencies

Ref: #4504815

Condition Report