1782. London: G. Robinson, 1782.
2 vols., 8vo, (8) 1-358; (6) 1-347pp. With a folding chart and 21 engraved plates; a very good copy in contemporary speckled calf,black labels, backstrips scuffed, overall slight wear, a very good set as issued with a small wormhole at the head of the text of vol. 2 from the front to p. 80.
§ The surgeon’s mate describes Cook’s third voyage
First edition of the second English-language account of Cook’s third voyage: ‘an important supplement to the official account, which it preceded by two years’ (Forbes).
Ellis, surgeon’s mate and talented amateur artist, sailed first on the Discovery and later on the Resolution. On his return he was in financial straits and, despite the prohibition by the Admiralty of the publication of any unauthorised account of the voyage, sold his narrative to a London publisher for fifty guineas. It was published over his name, and was thus the first account of the expedition to acknowledge its authorship, earning the condemnation of Sir Joseph Banks, who wrote to him in January 1782 that ‘I fear it will not in future be in my power to do what it might have been, had you asked and followed my advice’.
Ellis’ narrative contains much valuable information on Alaska, the Northwest Coast, and Hawaii, and the attractive engraved plates, after the author’s drawings, include eight of Hawaii, two of Alaska, and three of the Northwest Coast. The plates show Ellis to have been a talented amateur artist, and represent a significant contribution to the graphic record of the voyage. They ‘are among the earliest published on the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska, and the Northwest’ (Hill). Choris’s famous views did not appear until almost forty years later. Ellis’ views of Hawaii provide the first general depictions of the islands, as Rickman’s book, published in the previous year, showed only the death of Cook while Zimmermann’s account was not illustrated.
There is a chapter devoted to their visit to Van Diemen’s Land in January 1777, in the course of which Ellis painted a famous watercolour view of Adventure Bay, now in the National Library of Australia.
Ellis died in 1785 after a fall from the main mast of a ship lying at Ostend.
Bibliography: Forbes 41; Hill, 555; Lada-Mocarski, 35. Item #125616