Horace taken to new heights by Captain Cook notes

Listing on its endpapers details of the Endeavour’s crew and other information about Cook’s first voyage to Australia and the Pacific, a 1737 edition of Horace’s works that belonged to the ship’s surgeon sold for £50,000 at Bonhams.

The reason that an otherwise unexceptional 1737 English language edition of Horace’s ‘Odes, Satyrs and Epistles’ – lacking a portrait and three text pages – sold for the substantial sum of £50,000 in the Bonhams (27.5/25/20/13.9%) sale on June 26 is to be found on the front endpaper notes shown below.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Ian McKay

This was one of the books that William Perry, surgeon’s mate (and later surgeon) on the Endeavour took with him on Captain James Cook’s first circumnavigation of the globe in 1768-71.

On one page Perry notes details of the ship’s officers, crew and passengers, servants, etc.

The names of Cook and the naturalist Joseph Banks are prominently displayed, but also on the list is the American-born seaman of Corsican ancestry, James Magra, who on their return to England, and to the great annoyance of the authorities, published the unauthorised first account of that historic voyage.

On the opposing page, boldly titled ‘Tales of Horace/Endeavour/6th Septem off Cape Finisterre 1768’, Perry has added his own name above dated notes on their departure and return to England.

Private libraries

Most books taken on the voyage would have related to navigation, other voyages, science and natural history and both Banks and the expedition artist, Sydney Parkinson, had private libraries at their disposal. The former’s books are now housed in the British Library.

Other officers may well have brought along recreational reading matter but Bonhams could trace only one other book taken aboard the Endeavour – and that too was part of Perry’s personal library.

This was a copy of Malcolm Flemyng’s Introduction to Physiology (1759) offered by Australian dealer Hordern House in 2005 as part of ‘The Parsons Collection. Rare Pacific Voyage Books…’ is now in the Grainger Museum & Collections at Melbourne University.