Holmes, Sir Maurice. (Intro. by).


2nd.ed., David Magee, San Francisco & Francis Edwards Ltd., London; 1957. Limited to 750 copies only (400 for US & Hawaii ; 300 for England & elsewhere). Xi + 42 pp., frontis., facsimile title-page from original edition, & 4 plates (1 fldg.). Plain d.j., fore-edges uncut. 23 x 17cm. FINE. A special Limited Edition of a rare book first published in London in 1786 of which only a handful are known to have survived. David Samwell provides a contemporary account of - among other things - the death of two seamen, Cook and Clerke. The RESOLUTION and DISCOVERY had returned home to the Nore on the 4th October 1780 without their original commanders onboard, having been away at sea for four long years. There is no mystery surrounding Clerke’s death. He died of consumption off Avacha Bay in August 1779. Cook’s controversial demise however is a different matter and of all the numerous published and unpublished records the fullest, most detailed and most objective is that by Samwell. The author also tackles the question as to whether Cook’s seamen were responsible for introducing venereal disease into the Hawaiian Islands. Samwell was born in 1751 the son of a Welsh vicar and he obtained his medical qualification for the Navy in 1775. A year later he was appointed surgeon’s mate in the RESOLUTION and went on to be promoted surgeon to the DISCOVERY. This publication came to be printed through the offices of one of Samwell’s friends, Dr. Andrew Kippis, who asked him to contribute a biography of Cook for his second edition of Biographia Britannica. He was so struck with the result that he urged Samwell to publish it separately prior to its appearance in his own work – a generous and unselfish gesture. A French translation was published in Paris the same year, and Kippis incorporated Samwell’s account of Cook’s death in his biography of the great Navigator, first published in 1788 – preceding the entry in the 4th volume of Biographia Britannica which was published in 1789. This reprint of Samwell’s extremely important work is enhanced by an interesting Introduction by Sir Maurice Holmes. A FINE COPY OF DAVID SAMWELL’S IMPORTANT ACCOUNT OF THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN COOK, LIMITED TO 750 COPIES ONLY.

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