1777. London: Strahan and Cadell, 1777.
2 vols., 4to, xl, 378; (8), 396; and the folio atlas containing 63 plates untrimmed and mostly not folded (i.e. the true atlas format); the text volumes in contemporary polished calf, rebacked with orange and green labels, the atlas bound to style, all by Aquarius. Armorial bookplate of Gervase Beckett in each volume. Full collation on request.
§ First edition. A highly desirable copy of the official account of Cook’s great second voyage, with the very rare separate atlas: almost all copies of the second voyage account had the engraved plates bound into the text volumes, but in this copy their separate atlas format has been preserved. We have seen only a couple of examples of this format. The text - here in fine, crisp condition - has demonstrably never had engravings bound with it.
The account of the second voyage was the only publication that Cook was to prepare himself. He had been greatly dissatisfied with Hawkesworth’s treatment of the first voyage and made sure that the second voyage was published in the way that he wanted.
The superb engravings can be seen to their best advantage in this folio format where they do not have to be folded as is usual. The images are mostly the work of William Hodges whose presence on the voyage resulted also in a superb series of oil-paintings.
"Disappointed with Hawkesworth’s rendering of his first voyage in An Account of the Voyages… (1773), Cook was determined that the second would not be similarly treated: although he had the editorial help of Dr John Douglas this ‘is certainly Cook’s book. There were to be no more Hawkesworths. “The Journal of my late voyage”, writes Cook to his friend Commodore Wilson at Great Ayton, “will be published in the course of next winter, and I am to have the sole advantage of sale. It will want those flourishes which Dr Hawkesworth gave the other, but it will be illustrated and ornamented with about sixty copper plates, which I am of opinion, will exceed every thing that has been done in a work of this kind… As to the Journal, it must speak for itself. I can only say that it is my own narrative, and as it was written during the voyage” …’ (Beaglehole). The two resulting quarto volumes, with their dramatic illustrations after the expedition’s official artist, William Hodges, ‘would have given pleasure to any author’, but they were never seen by Cook, who had embarked on his fatal last voyage by the time they appeared." (Hordern House)
This was historically the most important of Cook’s three voyages. For the first time the Antarctic circle was crossed when, at the beginning of the voyage, Cook cruised as far south as possible, round the edge of the Antarctic ice. In the Pacific, he visited New Zealand again, and either discovered or revisited many of the islands, including New Caledonia, Palmerston and Norfolk Islands, Easter Island, the Marquesas, New Hebrides, Tonga, the South Sandwich Islands and South Georgia.
Between February and May 1773, the two ships separated, and Furneaux, commander of the Adventure, supplied Cook with the narrative of his experiences in the Adventure printed here: they called at Adventure Bay in Van Diemen’s Land, and sailed up the east coast “intending to coast it up along shore, till we should fall in with the land seen by Captain Cook, and discover whether Van Diemen’s Land joins with New Holland”. Before they stood away for New Zealand, Furneaux had come to the opinion that “there is no strait between New Holland and Van Diemen’s Land, but a very deep bay…”.
Bibliography: Beddie, 1216; Hill, p. 61; Holmes, 24; O’Reilly-Reitman, 390; Printing and the Mind of Man, 223. Item #125613