Finely Engraved Map Illustrating Alaska, The Pacific Northwest and a Conjectural Canadian Arctic Coastline
Scarce map of the Northern part of North America, from the German edition of Forster's A Voyage Round the World in His Majesty's Sloop Resolution, commanded by Captain James Cook, during the years 1772—73—74—75, which was first published n London 6 weeks prior to the Official account of Cook's second voyage.
Jan Rajnold Forster was a Polish emigrant to Scotland, who served as the naturalist on James Cook's second voyage, accompanied by his 18 year old son, Jan Jerzy Adam Forster (who also went by Georg, George and Joannes Georgius Adamus Forster). When the voyage returned to England, Jan Rajnold Forster' was not allowed a joint credit for the Official Account and was barred from publishing an account of the expedition prior to publication of the Official Account. The conflict put Jan Rajnold in financial jeopardy and disillusioned Jan Jerzy, who believed his father’s and Captain Cook’s narratives were completely different, his father's focusing on the several hundred new species of fauna and flora they had discovered and Captain Cook’s on the navigation and mapping. Jan Rajnold gave his journals to his son, who, not bound by the same restrictions as his father. It was his son who published this work.
The map that incorporates the recent discoveries of a number of English explorers in the second half of the 18th Century, covering all of Canada, Alaska and south to Cape Mendocino and Long Island. Shows all of the Great Lakes, Baffin and Hudson Bays, the Aleutians, and the Bering Strait. The northern coastline is indistinct with only a short portion at the Coppermine River delineated. Details include Indian nations, major cities, watershed and topography
The map provides a fascinating treatment of the "Oregon River" (Jonathan Carver's mythical western river) as well as the Upper Mississippi and Upper Missouri Rivers, offering a marvelous insight into the image of the watershed on either side of the Rocky Mountains which enticed dreams of a watercourse to the Pacific via a short portage. A similar river connecting the Great Slave Lake with Cook Inlet is also shown, with English nomenclature along the Alaskan Coastline and a profile of Mt. St. Elias.
A fascinating composite of the reported explorations in the region through 1790.
In the preface, Foster explains the reasons for publishing his account of Cook's voyages, offering a scathing attack on the "compilers" of the official account:
Another narrative of this circumnavigation, is said to have been written by captain James Cook . . . under whose command it was performed. . .
At first sight it may seem superfluous to offer two relations of this voyage to the world; but when we consider them as narratives of interesting facts, it must be allowed that [Cook's] will be placed in a stronger light, by being related by different persons. Our occupations when in harbour were widely different; whilst captain Cook was employed in victualling or refitting the ship, I went in quest of the manifold objects which Nature had scattered throughout the land. Nothing is therefore more obvious, than that each of us may have caught many distinct incidents, and that our observations will frequently be foreign to each other. But above all, it is to be observed, that the same objects may have been seen in different points of view, and that the same fact may often have given rise to different ideas. Many circumstances familiar to the navigator, who has been bred on the rough element, strike the landman with novelty, and furnish entertainment to his readers. The seaman views many objects on shore with retrospect to maritime affairs, whilst the other attends to their œconomical uses. In short, the different branches of science which we have studied, our turns of mind, our heads and hearts have made a difference in our sensations, reflections, and expressions. . . . The history of captain Cook's first Voyage Round the World, was eagerly read by all European nations, but incurred universal censure, I had almost said contempt. It was the fate of the History, to be compiled by a person who had not been on the voyage; and to the frivolous observations, the uninteresting digressions, and sophistical principle of this writer, the ill-success of the work has been attributed; though few are able to determine, with what degree of justice the blame is thrown upon the compiler. The active life of captain Cook, and his indefatigable pursuits after discoveries, have made it impossible for him to superintend the printing of his own Journals; and the public, I am much afraid, must again converse with him by means of an interpreter. His present performance will, in all probability, have another circumstance in common with the former, where many important observations, thought obnoxious, have been suppressed, as is customary in France. The same authority which blew off M. de Bougainville from the island of Juan Fernandez, could hush to silence the British guns, whilst the Endeavour cannonaded the Portuguese fort at Madeira . Without entering farther into this subject, I shall only observe, that the above remark will give an adequate idea of the authenticity of a performance, which is submitted to censure and mutilation, before it is offered to the public. . .