"THE MOST COMPELLING JUSTIFICATION FOR COOK'S VOYAGES": FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST BIOGRAPHY OF CAPTAIN COOK, 1788
(COOK, James) KIPPIS, Andrew. The Life of Captain James Cook. London: Printed for G. Nicol and G.C.J. and J. Robinson, 1788. Tall quarto, contemporary diced brown calf sympathetically rebacked and recornered with elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, marbled endpapers. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $8500.
First edition of the first biography of Captain James Cook, with copper-engraved frontispiece portrait by James Heath, an unusually large, wide-margined copy in contemporary gilt-ruled calf boards.
"This work contains an admirable precis of the three voyages, with valuable information from the original sources. It introduces most of Samwell's Narative of Captain Cook's Death, and also gives accounts of the various tributes to Cook's memory" (Cox I, 64). "Kippis went further than most writers in transforming Cook's voyages from scientific missions with a multiplicity of purposes to expeditions motivated wholly by the urge to civilize and improve the world. He was not entirely naïve about the results of Cook's discoveries, recognizing that many thoughtful observers questioned the value of European contact for Pacific peoples, but concluded that Cook's humanitarian motives outweighed any possible negative consequences… [Kippis' Life] became the most compelling justification both for Cook's voyages and for continued European involvement in the Pacific in years to come" (Withey, 406-7). Page of publisher's advertisements at rear. Beddie 1962. Howgego C176. Armorial bookplate of John Lees, likely that of Sir John Lees, first baronet of Blackrock, or his descendant, Sir John Lees, third baronet. Armorial bookplate of "J.C.B."
Interior very fresh with only lightest scattered foxing, occasional expert archival paper repairs. A splendid large, wide-margined copy in near-fine condition.