COOK'S LAST VOYAGE Autograph letter signed by John Douglas, to "Dear Sir", discussing the publication of the journals of Cook's third voyage, Windsor Castle, 6 October 1782
Lot 173
COOK'S LAST VOYAGE
Autograph letter signed by John Douglas, to "Dear Sir", discussing the publication of the journals of Cook's third voyage, Windsor Castle, 6 October 1782
Sold for £ 2,750 (US$ 3,834) inc. premium

Lot Details
COOK'S LAST VOYAGE
Autograph letter signed by John Douglas, to "Dear Sir", discussing the publication of the journals of Cook's third voyage ("...Be so good as present my Respects to Lord Sandwich, who may inform Sir Joseph Banks that he may depend upon my writing on Slips of Paper, as he desires, what I conceive may be a proper Inscription on each of the Plates. I wish I had been more assisted by Capt King in doing this, than I have been; but, in his Absence, I shall have Recourse to [Cook's artist] Mr Webber himself...I understood from Lord Sandwich, when I had the Honor of dining with him, that Sir Joseph was to be about two Months in the Country...Sir Joseph will find the Impressions of the Plates, & the Inscriptions, such as I can make them out, left for him at his House in Soho Square..."), inscribed in an early nineteenth century hand "To Sir Joseph Banks" [and possibly from the Banks Papers], 1 page, foliated "201" at the top right-hand corner, guard (irregular edge where removed from a binding), 4to, Windsor Castle, 6 October 1782

Footnotes

  • PUBLICATION OF THE JOURNALS OF COOK'S LAST VOYAGE, the first two volumes of which were edited by the Anglican clergyman and man-of-letters, Dr John Douglas. Although Douglas had had Cook's journals in his possession since late 1780, and had worked with Cook himself on his Voyage towards the South Pole, he did not scruple to alter or rephrase the original: 'although the first two volumes were Cook's in name, they were Dr John Douglas' in style. As Douglas wrote at the time, "The Public never knew, how much they owe to me in this work" (BL, Egerton mss 2181, f.48); and until Professor Beaglehole's labours scholars could only guess at how much of the published account was Cook's and how much his meddlesome editor's' (Glyndwr Williams, 'James Cook', Dictionary of Canadian Biography). The completed work, with a third volume contributed by Captain King, was finally to appear in June 1784 as the Voyage to the Pacific Ocean...for Making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. The publication was supervised by Joseph Banks, for whom our letter was clearly intended (if not actually addressed). The two years' delay in bringing the book out was caused in part by the excessive complexity of the plates, with which, as our letter shows, Douglas had to contend.

    In addition to his editorial duties, Douglas contributed an Introduction that was to prove particularly influential, in which he urged his fellow countrymen – 'Every nation that sends a ship to sea will partake of the benefit; but Great Britain herself, whose commerce is boundless, must take the lead in reaping the full advantage of her own discoveries'. This being a process, as Glyndwr Williams points out, that was to be under way within three years, with, among other voyages, the sailing of the First Fleet to Botany Bay and Bligh's expedition to Tahiti in quest of breadfruit (Voyages of Delusion: The Quest for the Northwest Passage, 2002, p.354).

    Provenance: From the Enys collection.
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