The Voyages of Captain Cook. (1773)

[COOK, Captain] HAWKESWORTH, John.

An Account of the voyages undertaken by the order of his present majesty for making discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, and successively performed by Commodore Byron, Captain Wallis, Captain Carteret and Captain Cook, in the Dolphin, the Swallow, and the Endeavour...

Published: First and Second Voyages W. Strachan and T. Cadell, London; Third Voyage G. Nichol, T. Cadell, London, 1773, 1777, 1784.

Date: 1773

9 volumes, 8 quarto (270 x 211 mm) and one folio (550 x 393 mm). Bound by the Chelsea Bindery in full dark brown sprinkled calf (quarto volumes) and dark brown half calf over marbled boards (folio volume), raised bands to spines, red and green morocco labels, decorative tools to compartments, floral rolls to turn-ins in blind, all edges yellow, marbled endpapers, boards of quarto volumes with gilt single frames, gilt decorative cornerpieces, and blind rolls. With 145 engraved plates of which 50 folding, 59 engraved maps and charts of which 39 folding, and 36 tables of which 2 folding. Boards very gently bowed, occasional and minimal scuff marks to leather, light tanning to plates, occasional spotting to margins of text block, a few minor professional repairs to margins of plates. An Account of the Voyages: Short tear to top margin of title page and pp. 577-579 in vol. I; light dampstain along top margin of pp. 481-799 in vol. III. A Voyage towards the South Pole: Ownership inscriptions to front flyleaves, bookplate, blind stamp, and cancellation stamp of Lowell Library to verso of title page. A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean: Light blue stains along top and fore edges of frontispieces of volumes I and III, ownership inscriptions to title pages of same volumes, small residue of label to verso of front flyleaf of vol. I. A thorough condition report of what is essentially an excellent set. A complete set of the first editions (with the first voyage being first issue) of the official accounts of James Cook's (1728-79) three Pacific voyages. The first voyage was planned by the Royal Society with the objective to observe 'the transit of Venus across the face of the sun, which would enable the distance between the earth and the sun to be calculated. The Royal Society's first choice to lead this expedition was Alexander Dalrymple, but the Admiralty, who were to provide the ship, insisted that it should be commanded by a naval officer, and so Cook was appointed instead' (ODNB). During this expedition, which lasted between 30 July 1768 and 12 June 1771, Cook carried out running surveys of the New Zealand coast and of the east coast of Australia, the latter resulted in his discovery of Botany Bay which 'was to have a significant effect on the history of that continent'. The success of this first voyage led to Cook being commissioned in 1772 for a second journey to further explore the vast Southern Ocean. As proposed by Cook, the expedition set out on 13 July 1772 to circumnavigate 'the globe from west to east in a high southern latitude' in the hope to locate a southern continent, as theorised by Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier. While no such continent was discovered, Cook was first to cross the Antarctic circle on 17 January 1773. He returned to Plymouth on 29 July 1775. This second voyage brought further promotions to Cook, who was made post-captain, appointed fourth captain of Greenwich Hospital, as well as being elected member of the Royal Society in 1776. That same year, he volunteered to command a third voyage as 'an attempt should be made to find out a Northern Passage by Sea from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean' (BL, Egerton MS 2177B), as well as to chart the coastline of the North Pacific. Leaving Plymouth on 12 July 1776, the expedition sighted the western coat of North America on 7 March 1778; 'for the next six and a half months Cook carried out a running survey of some 4000 miles of its coast from Cape Blanco on the coast of Oregon to Icy Cape on the north coast of Alaska' (ODNB). However, unable to cross Bering Strait, Cook decided to winter on Hawaii, where he died on 14 February 1779 following a conflict with native Hawaiians. Command of the expedition passed initially to Captain Clarke until he succumbed to tuberculosis in late August 1779, at which point command passed to Captains Gore and King, who returned the ships to England on 4 October 1780. Cook's voyages contributed greatly to the geographical and ethnographic knowledge of the southern hemisphere: they 'disproved the existence of a great southern continent, completed the outlines of Australia and New Zealand, charted the Society Islands, the New Hebrides, New Caledonia, and the Hawaiian Islands, and depicted accurately for the first time the north-west coast of America, leaving no major discoveries for his successors. In addition the scientific discoveries in the fields of natural history and ethnology were considerable and the drawings made by the artists were of great significance'. They brought great fame to Cook, who was recognised during his lifetime for his contributions to exploration and science. Despite the ongoing conflict between Britain and America during his third voyage, Benjamin Franklin, who was the Colonial representative in Paris at the time, granted Cook's expedition safe passage from American and French warships and privateers. Franklin, who had previously met Cook in London, issued a general laissez-passer declaring that 'the increase of geographical knowledge facilitates the communication between distant nations in the exchange of useful products and manufactures and the extension of arts whereby the common enjoyments of human life are multiplied and augmented, and science of other kinds increased to the benefit of mankind in general' (Lyons, The Society for Useful Knowledge, p. 144). Cook discovered New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, the Isle of Pines, Sandwich Land and rediscovered and charted numerous other lands. He was the first to survey New Zealand where he spent six months. Also a pioneer as regards the health of his men, on his second voyage Cook lost only one man out of 118 in a voyage of more 1000 days; he had conquered scurvy. As a commander, an observer and a practical physician, his merits were equally great. He won the affection of those who served under him by sympathy, kindness and unselfish care of others as noteworthy as his gifts of intellect.

Printing and the Mind of Man 223. National Maritime Museum Catalogue of the Library, Volume One, 565, 577 and 587. Encyclop'dia Britannica, 11th Edition.


Offered by Adrian Harrington Rare Books