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Lot 20

“Extremely Rare”—Davidson

20. [COOK'S SECOND VOYAGE]. WALES, William. Remarks on Mr. Forster's Account of Captain Cook's Last Voyage round the World, in the Years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775. London: J. Nourse, 1778. [2], 110 pp. 8vo, new sympathetic full brown calf, new endpapers. Title page lightly foxed, scattered pencil marks, light browning and staining to a few leaves. Phrase struck out in ink on p. 48 (as usual). Old ink shelf mark on upper right blank margin of title page and cancelled Office Hydrographical ink stamp on title page. From the Admiralty Library (former endpaper with the library's ink stamp retained in separate acid-free envelope, for provenance documentation).

     First edition of one of the rarest Cook pieces. Beaglehole II, pp. cli-ii. Beddie 1292. Cox I, p. 61. Davidson, p. 61 ("an extremely rare item"). Hocken, p. 19. Holmes 30. Kroepelien. 1335. O’Reilly-Reitman 388. Rosove 343.A1.b. Sabin 101031. Spence 1236. Streeter Sale 2413. Not in Hill.

     This merciless attack is in response to remarks made by George and John Forster in their A Voyage Round the World (see Item 19 preceding) and, more particularly, in reaction to John’s Letter to the Right Honourable the Earl of Sandwich. Wales (1734?-1798) was a mathematician who accompanied Cook on his second and third voyages primarily to make various astronomical and mathematical observations. Forster had had the bad grace to cast aspersions on Cook, Wales, and some of Cook’s officers in his hastily published account of the second voyage. In a vituperative mood, Wales castigates both father and son, advancing the proposition that the narrative was published under the son’s name merely to protect and hide his father’s illegal role in the work. Going through Forster’s book page by page, Wales refutes many points and interpretations advanced there, at one point even accusing the Forsters of fornicating with Native women (p. 55). Wales’ indignation at Forster’s remarks about the Natives is palpable. In general, history seems to agree that the Forsters did not deserve the treatment they received here. John Knox Laughton in the DNB (“Forster, Johan”) states Wales attacked “with more ill-nature than good judgment,” and Davidson concludes Wales’ “attack really arose from the ill-feeling that developed towards these German scientists” (p. 62). ($20,000-40,000)


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