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Lot 15

“he held a pencil, not a musket”

15. [COOK’S FIRST VOYAGE]. PARKINSON, Sydney. A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, in His Majesty’s Ship, the Endeavour. Faithfully Transcribed from the Papers of the Late Sydney Parkinson, Draughtsman to Joseph Banks, Esq. on His Late Expedition, with Dr. Solander, Round the World. Embellished with Views and Designs, Delineated by the Author, and Engraved by Capital Artists. London: Printed for Stanfield Parkinson, and Sold by Richardson and Urquhart, Evans, Hooper, Murray, Leacroft, and Riley, 1773. xxiii [1, blank], 212, [2, errata] pp., 27 copper-engraved plates, most after Parkinson’s original art work (Natives, artifacts, costumes, sailing vessels, scenes, view), copper-engraved map (Map of the Coast of New Zealand Discovered in the Years 1769 and 1770, by I. Cook, Commander of His Majesty's Bark Endeavour. [lower right below neat line] B. Longmate sculpsit. 4to (34 cm tall), contemporary marbled boards expertly rebacked and with new corners in recent sympathetic tan calf, spine with gilt decorations in compartments, original gilt-lettered red morocco label retained, spine with raised bands, original endpapers retained. Boards moderately rubbed (with a few voids) and with a few ink spots, interior fine except for occasional foxing and offsetting to plates. Overall a fine copy, with the plates in strong impression. Contemporary ink inscription on front pastedown of Nicholas Nicholas dated 1773. Sabin, John Russell Bartlett, and Rich all note “Large Paper,” the misinterpretation of which has given rise to the apparent myth of large paper copies.

     First edition, first issue (without the added two leaves of Parkinson’s letters, rarely found here). Bagnall 4466. Beaglehole I, pp. ccliii-cclv. Beddie 712. Davidson, pp. 54-56. Cox I, p. 58. Hill I, pp. 223-224. Hill II:1308. Hocken, p. 12-13. Holmes 7. JCB III:1875. Kroepelien 944. National Maritime Museum Voyages 564. Pritzel 6935: “Plants for use of food, medicine, etc. in Otaheite p. 35-50.” O’Reilly-Reitman 371. Sabin 58787. Streeter Sale 2406. Wickersham C6557a.

     Parkinson (1745?-1771) was one of the tragic figures of Cook’s first voyage, both in life and to a certain extent in death. Of humble Quaker origins, he came to Banks’ notice and was offered the position of draughtsman on Cook’s first voyage, a position he filled to apparently universal applause. He did not survive long, however, after the expedition left Batavia and was buried at sea, a young man full of promise who remained unrealized to a large extent.

     Upon the Endeavour’s return to England, his brother, Stanfield, attempted to recover his brother’s effects from Banks, apparently believing he had been made executor of his brother’s estate in a will signed before Sydney left England. In a plot worthy any Renaissance playwright, the story of Stanfield’s efforts to recover his brother’s possessions is recounted here in the Preface, which was actually written by Dr. William Kenrick. Banks is portrayed in the Preface as a deceiving, scheming, and underhanded man who would do or say practically anything to keep possession of Sydney’s better materials, including his writings. Even the intervention of John Fothergill could not smooth things over, although in the end Banks somewhat relented and lent Sydney’s papers to Stanfield. Despite the usual disclaimers of hating to say such things about men of “whose superior talents and situation in life better things might be expected” (p. v), Kenrick and Stanfield lay on the lash with relish. The entire performance is an interesting insight into eighteenth-century publishing imbroglios, situations that would be repeated in publications relating to Cook’s next two voyages. Banks’ bullying performance is herein ironically commented upon visually in the frontispiece, which is a fine, delicately rendered portrait of Sydney that no doubt raised sympathies in the reader’s mind for its subject.

     Stanfield and Kenrick lost no time in getting the papers edited and ready for press, although Sydney’s journal was not available and is apparently lost. Even in that enterprise, however, they were frustrated by others more powerful than they. Hawkesworth obtained an injunction stopping publication of Parkinson’s work until his own official account had appeared, although Parkinson, because he was Banks’ private employee, was under no compunction to withhold publication until the official account had appeared. In an apparent fit of pique, and probably egged on by Banks, Hawkesworth omitted any mention of Parkinson’s name in his account. In the end, all this intrigue and nastiness seems to have hastened Stanfield’s death.

     Be all that as it may, Parkinson’s Journal and its accompanying plates are early, rich sources for Cook’s first voyage, and the modern reader may regret the possibilities lost when Sydney Parkinson slipped into the seas. An accomplished observer and also something of a linguist, Parkinson recorded early vocabularies and observations about South Sea languages and “may fairly be said to have inaugurated the study of Pacific linguistics” (Joppien & Smith).

     Parkinson also recounted in a lively, graceful, insightful way incidents and observations of the people and places encountered on the voyage. Parkinson, for example, early on recognized the sometimes improper use of firearms against the natives, a situation that disturbed Cook himself and has continued to draw comments from modern scholars. He recounts an instance in which a Native managed to seize a piece of cloth from a sailor: “... but as soon as the young man had taken it, his companions paddled away as fast as possible, shouting, and brandishing their weapons as if they had made a great prize; and, being ignorant of the power of our weapons, thought to have carried it off securely; but a musket was fired at them from the stern of the ship: the young man fell down immediately, and it is probable, was mortally wounded, as we did not see him rise again. What a severe punishment of a crime committed, perhaps, ignorantly!” (p. 104). As Joppien & Smith note: “...he held a pencil, not a musket” (Vol. I, p. 23).

     Beaglehole (I, pp. cclxviii-ccllxxi), discusses in general the hundreds of images left by this talented amateur artist. In this work, which gave Europeans early views of the South Pacific, the drawings were engraved on copper by John Newton, Richard Barnard Godfrey, Thomas Chambers, Samuel Middiman, Peter Mazell, W. Darling, and Barak Longmate (the elder), who engraved the map. No doubt, the care and expense that Stanfield was exerting to create a beautiful and expensive monument to his brother may also have excited Hawkesworth’s jealousies. It is generally conceded that the images in this volume are the most handsome of the first voyage.

     The engravings in this volume reveal a draughtsman of surprising ability and insight. The views of the Tahitian natives produced here are the only form in which those are known, the originals being lost, although it is his renderings of Maoris that are some of the more famous and widely reproduced such views from the first voyage. He seemed especially fascinated by tattoos and recorded several faces in which such ornamentation figured prominently. His depictions of Natives are engaging, lifelike, and animated. He also drew numerous pictures of plant life apparently, but in a final twist of publishing fate, both he and his brother had their revenge on Banks, who apparently persuaded Hawkesworth to omit Parkinson’s name from the twenty-three illustrations by him that appeared in the official account. When the modern edition of Cook’s Florilegium (see Item 17 herein) appeared, it included some of Parkinson’s drawings, which indicates that even though Hawkesworth may have suppressed all mention of him in the official account, Banks apparently thought enough of him to have his drawings transferred to copper plates at the time. With that publication, Parkinson finally was repaid in part the debts owed his abilities by those who conspired against him. ($8,000-16,000) 

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