"ONE OF THE GREATEST TRAVEL NARRATIVES EVER WRITTEN": FIRST EDITION OF EXPLORER SAMUEL HEARNE'S JOURNEY FROM PRINCE OF WALES' FORT IN HUDSON'S BAY, 1795, WITH FIVE LARGE FOLDING MAPS AND FOUR ENGRAVED PLATES
HEARNE, Samuel. A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay, to the Northern Ocean. Undertaken by order of the Hudson's Bay Company, for the discovery of copper mines, a north west passage… in the years 1769, 1770, 1771, & 1772. London: Printed for A. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1795. Tall quarto (9-1/2 by 12 -inches), 20th-century half brown calf and marbled boards, raised bands, green morocco spine label; pp. xliv, 458. $8200.
First edition of Hearne's dramatic record of his historic overland expedition in which "he was the first European to cross the Barren Lands to the Arctic Ocean, and in so doing he disproved the existence of the Strait of Anian, a rumored northwest passage to China. He was also the first to see and cross Great Slave Lake" (ODNB), with five folding maps (including large color-outlined map) and four engraved plates (three folding).
Hearne's achievements as an explorer and naturalist set a new benchmark in the annals of North American exploration. Having served with the Hudson's Bay Company for decades, "he played an important role in delineating the region between Hudson Bay and the Arctic Ocean" (Hill 791). When Hudson's Bay Company sent him on an expedition north from Churchill, Hearne was accompanied by the Chipewyan Matonabbee. The expedition "traveled 1300 miles on foot to the Coppermine River. He was the first European to cross the Barren Lands to the Arctic Ocean, and in so doing he disproved the existence of the Strait of Anian, a rumored northwest passage to China. He was also the first to see and cross Great Slave Lake"(ODNB). Named governor of Prince of Wales Fort, in 1782 he surrendered in an attack led by the French Captain La Perouse, who found and claimed Hearne's manuscript. When the fort was later surrendered to the British, "La Perouse stipulated that the manuscript be published" (Hill 791). On recovering his work, Hearne submitted it "for publication in October 1792," only to die soon afterward. "Journey, his greatest achievement, did not appear in print until 1795. Hearne's book is one of the greatest travel narratives ever written" (18th-Century Naturalists of Hudson Bay, 81-84). In addition to detailed notes on the region's geography, Hearne provides important information about its natural history and native peoples. Bound without rear page of advertisements and binder's directions. Hill I, 141. Lande 1120. Rich I, 390. Sabin 31181 (incorrectly calling for eight maps). Stevens 1732. Early owner inscription to title page. Trace of small inkstamps to lower edge of title page recto and verso.
Interior generally fresh with occasional ight marginal dampstaining affecting some plates, small bit of expert restoration to large folding map. A desirable wide-margined copy.