"AFTER HAVING UNDERGONE A GREAT DEAL OF RIDICULE… WE WERE AT LENGTH CAST ADRIFT IN THE OPEN OCEAN": BLIGH'S NARRATIVE OF THE MUTINY, 1790 FIRST EDITION
BLIGH, William. A Narrative of the Mutiny on Board His Majesty's Ship Bounty; and the Subsequent Voyage of Part of the Crew, in the Ship's Boat, from Tofoa, One of the Friendly Islands, to Timor, a Dutch Settlement in the East Indies. London: George Nicol, 1790. Slim quarto, period-style full mottled calf-gilt, red morocco spine label, marbled endpapers. $17,500.
First edition of Bligh's gripping account of "one of the most heroic sea voyages ever made," with folding plan of the H.M.S. Bounty and three charts (two folding).
Not long after sailing on the third voyage of James Cook, in December of 1787 William Bligh "was dispatched to the Pacific for the purpose of introducing the breadfruit tree from the South Sea islands to the West Indies." As captain of the Bounty, with Fletcher Christian as his master's mate, Bligh and his crew crossed south of New Zealand and after "discovering the Bounty Islands… [h]is voyage then looped through the South Pacific… before anchoring at Tahiti" on October 26, 1788 (Howgego B107). Recounting "one of the most heroic sea voyages ever made… this is Captain Bligh's own account of the mutiny, one of the most remarkable incidents in the whole of maritime history… The mutiny was largely due to Bligh's harshness to his crew; also partly to attachments that had sprung up between the crew and certain of the women of Tahiti, where the Bounty afterwards returned, before sailing to Pitcairn Island… After the mutiny on the Bounty, Captain Bligh with 18 others was set adrift in the ship's launch. After a very remarkable voyage of 4,000 miles, in an open boat across the South Pacific, they managed to reach Timor… After the publication of his narrative, Bligh presented copies to the Lords of the Admiralty and other influential people in the hope that his account of the mutiny would absolve him from any blame that might have been leveled against him" (Hill 132, 139, 141). "In the course of this hazardous journey Bligh took the opportunity to chart and name parts of the unknown north-east coast of New Holland as he passed along it." Bligh's chart of the New Holland coast was first published in this edition (Wantrup, p.128). Three engraved charts (two folding) after William Harrison, engraved by J. Walker, and one engraved folding plan of the Bounty's launch. Cox II (South Seas) 1790. Ferguson 71. Hill 132. Kroepelien 87. Sabin 5908a. Wantrup 61.
Text with expert cleaning and a few minor expert paper repairs, beautifully bound. A most desirable wide-margined copy.