“A RICH JEWEL, SPARKLING ON THE BOSOM OF THE OCEAN”: KEATE’S ILLUSTRATED ACCOUNT OF THE PALAU ISLANDS, 1788
KEATE, George. An Account of the Pelew Islands, Situated in the Western Part of the Pacific Ocean, Composed from the Journals and Communications of Captain Henry Wilson, and Some of His Officers, Who, in August 1783, Were There Shipwrecked, in the Antelope, a Packet Belonging to the Honourable East India Company. London: G. Nicol, 1788. Quarto, contemporary full tree calf rebacked in calf-gilt with original red morocco spine label and marbled endpapers preserved. $3500.
First edition of this riveting account of a “bold and hazardous enterprize,” with stipple-engraved frontispiece portrait of Captain Henry Wilson, folding map of the Palau Islands and 15 superb full-page engraved plates of native portraits (the chief, his wife and son), views and plans, weapons and utensils.
"The exploring untraversed oceans, in spite of every danger that could menace, or dismay— the discovering multitudes of islands, and of people, whose existence was not known before— and the fame of fixing the geography of the Southern World, were the noble fruits of this bold and hazardous enterprize." "In August 1783, the Antelope, commanded by Henry Wilson, of the East India Company's Marines, ran on a rock near one of the Pelew Islands… Wilson and his crew escaped safely to shore. He and his men were well treated by the natives, and in time they managed to build a small vessel from the wreck, in which they were able to reach Macao, taking with them Prince Lee Boo, one of the king's sons. Wilson brought him to England where he was lionized and created a very good impression—he, however, unfortunately died of small-pox" (Cox). Following the Prince's death, the East India Company dispatched a mission to inform King Abba Thulle, and to present him with gifts of European seeds and plants. Keate describes the Palau Islands as "a rich jewel, sparkling on the bosom of the ocean." Four London editions were published between 1788-89, of which this is the first. Cox II, 302-3. Hill 907. Howgego W41.
A handsome, large copy, with binding beautifully restored.