London: George Nicol, 1792. 4to, Contemporary tan calf, with 7 plates of plans and charts including a fine engraved oval portrait frontispiece of Bligh by Conde after Russell, folding plan of the Bounty, folding plan of the Bounty’s launch, a plate of bread-fruit, and 4 other plans and charts (3 folding)
RARE FIRST EDITION OF ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS SEA TALES IN ALL OF MARITIME LITERATURE.
On their way to introduce the bread-fruit as a cash crop to the West Indies from the South Sea Island, “Bread-fruit Bligh” and eighteen of his crew were set adrift by Fletcher Christian, the master’s mate of the “Bounty,” and made a journey of about 4000 miles in an open boat before landing on the East Indian island of Timor. Several of the mutineers, who had settled on Pitcairn Island, were eventually captured and three were executed in England. “An extremely important book” (Hill, p. 27). Interestingly enough, Bligh was subjected to two further mutinies in his career, though only the last, in New South Wales, can be blamed upon the harsh exercise of authority. Though Bligh’s account of the mutiny had been published first in 1790, it was because, as the publisher explains in his Advertisment, for the need of “communicating early information concerning an event which attracted the public notice: and being drawn up in a hasty manner, it required many corrections.” The present work is the first appearance of the story of the entire expedition. “Having acquired a high reputation as a skillful navigator, [Bligh] was appointed to the Bounty, of 250 tons, in December 1787, arriving at his destination, Otaheite, ten months afterwards. Here he remained for five or six months, during which period his crew became demoralised by the luxurious climate and their apparently unrestricted intercourse with the natives. The object of the voyage, namely to obtain plants of the bread-fruit with a view to its acclimatisation in the British West India islands, having been accomplished, Bligh set out on his voyage thither. But his irascible temper and overbearing conduct excited (under the leadership of Fletcher Christian) a mutiny on board the ship; and on 28 April 1789 he, with eighteen of his crew, were overmastered and cast adrift in an open boat, only twenty-three feet long, and deeply laden; they had a small amount of provisions allotted to them, but no chart. In this frail craft they sailed, for nearly three months, a distance of 3,618 miles, touching at some small islands, where they got only a few shellfish and some fruit; but at length, thanks to Bligh’s skill, resource, and courage, they reached Timor” (DNB)
Sabin 5910; Hill 135; Howgego, I, B107