1799 · London
First edition. This account of a mission to Polynesia and Tahiti (funded by the London Missionary Society) supplies, it must be said, much more by way of the missionary travellers' interested observations of lands and people's exotic to them than it does reports of the proselytizations they pursued; it was compiled by chief mate William Wilson from his own journals and those of Captain James Wilson. Dr. Thomas Haweis, co-founder of the London Missionary Society, edited the work and the Rev. Samuel Greatheed provided (anonymously) the "Preliminary discourse; containing a geographical and historical account of the islands where missionaries have settled, and of others with which they are connected." The Hill catalogue says, "The narrative is fresh, although sometimes naive, and provides a glimpse of everyday life on the islands that the mariner or naturalist didn't consider worth reporting." There is a most interesting Appendix, also, canvassing everything from native dress to houses to dances to cookery to canoes to marriage and the place of women to funeral customs — not forgetting human sacrifice and sports.
The volume is illustrated with six plates and seven oversized, folding maps, and includes an extensive list of subscribers. An inferior, less expensive edition appeared in the same year, printed by Gillet; the present example is sometimes identified as the Gosnell edition to distinguish it from the Gillet production.
ESTC T87461; Hill, Pacific Voyages, 1894; Sabin 49480. Contemporary reverse sheep, framed and panelled in blind, spine with leather title-label; leather peeling at extremities, front joint repaired and back one starting from head, spine with label rubbed and two compartments discolored. Hinges (inside) reinforced with cloth tape; front free endpaper lacking. Front pastedown with institutional bookplates; dedication leaf with pressure-stamp in upper margin and rubber-stamped numeral in lower margin. Title-page and dedication with offsetting to margins; title-page with small hole not touching text. First map foxed, with tears along two folds; sixth map with jagged tear along one inner corner; other maps lightly foxed. Occasional stray small spots of staining and some offsetting from plates onto opposing pages; a few page edges slightly ragged. In sum, in fact, a sound, clean, and pleasant volume. (Inventory #: 19603)