The Travels of Hildebrand Bowman, Esquire... Who went on shore

The Travels of Hildebrand Bowman, Esquire... Who went on shore in the Adventure's large Cutter, at Queen Sound New Zealand, the fatal 17th of December 1773; and escaped being cut off, and devoured, with the rest of the Boat's crew, by happening to b e a-s

Price: 18,750.00 AUD

London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1778. Octavo, with two etched plates; later quarter calf binding. First edition of one of the scarcest - and oddest - pieces of the entire Cook literature, now widely recognised as the first New Zealand novel and, since the appearance of a critical edition in 2016, the subject of much modern study. This imaginary voyage to Australia and New Zealand has the author signing on as a midshipman on the Adventure on Cook's second voyage "into Carnorvirria, Taupiniera, Olfactaria, and Auditante, in New Zealand; in the Island of Bonhommico, and in the powerful Kingdom of Luxo-Volupto, on the Great Southern Continent...". As the Cook bibliographer Holmes noted of this truly Swiftian adventure, "apart from its Cook interest, this book touches upon the American Revolution and is of aeronautical interest from the plate of flying prostitutes". A long analysis of this remarkable and rare book appears on our website: search 4505966 at The early details of the voyage are dealt with summarily but quite accurately; when the ship arrives in New Zealand in October 1773 Bowman's more extraordinary exploits begin with the massacre by Maori at Grass Cove, Wharehunga Bay, witnessed by our hero from a safe distance, after which his voyage becomes Gulliver-like voyage through the "fifth division of this Terraqueous Globe lasting fifteen months". As well as the whole imaginary voyage genre, well under way by the 1770s, the narrative owes an obvious debt to More's Utopia, while other stylistic influences would clearly include Robinson Crusoe (1719), and Smollett's Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771). The exact identity of the author remains uncertain, although Cliff Thornton has argued persuasively for Robert Home (1752-1834), an English painter of Scottish ancestry, as a better candidate than John Elliott (1759-1834), midshipman on the Resolution during Cook's second voyage, who has also been suggested in recent years. Home was an interesting figure from an interesting family: his sister, the poet Anne Home, married the great anatomist John Hunter; his brother Everard became Hunter's pupil and subsequently assistant, catalogued Hunter's collection (and probably plagiarised him into the bargain). Robert himself had stowed away on a voyage to Newfoundland, worked on anatomical drawing for Hunter, and studied under Angelica Kauffman by the time of the Bowman publication, By 1780 he was exhibiting at the R.A. and then worked in both Italy and Ireland before departing for India where he became the leading Anglo-Indian artist, celebrated for his depictions of the Moguls. A good biography by Philip Mould appears at The recent publication edited by Lance Bertelson, Professor of English at the University of Texas, Austin, has been well reviewed by Graeme Lay for the Captain Cook Society ( Bertelson 'places The Travels of Hildebrand Bowman firmly in its literary and historical context. He states, "The work provocatively weaves together popular fascination with Cook's voyages, sensational conceptions of the newly charted Pacific, contemporary ideas on human development and culture, topical satire on London life, and a fanciful castaway story". Furthermore the novel is "unique in literary history and unsurpassed as a teaching text. Of equal importance, it marks the birth of a national literature. It is the first New Zealand novel"...'. Bernard Smith (in European Vision and the South Pacific, second edition, pp. 100-103) has made the interetsing comparison with Lord Monboddo's 18th-century stidy of language, partly insipired by languages of the south Pacific: "Lord Monboddo (1714-99) was one of the early champions of the theory of evolution. During the last quarter of the eighteenth century he became widely known throughout Europe as the advocate of a theory of progress which asserted that man and the higher apes belong to the same species. Man in his original state, he claimed, following Rousseau, lived an isolated and brutish existence. In his Origin and Progress of Language (1773-6), Monboddo made extensive use of material which he found in accounts of Pacific voyages... That Monboddo was greatly interested in Pacific exploration as a new field for the study of man is clearly revealed by a remark made after discussing the cases of natural men from the Pacific already quoted above. 'This is all', he wrote, 'so far as I have observed, that has hitherto been discovered in the South Sea concerning the natural state of men there. But we have reason to expect from those countries, in a short time, much greater and more certain discoveries, such as I hope will improve and enlarge the knowledge of our own species as much as the natural history of other animals, and of plants and minerals.' "Monboddo, then, gained many of his ideas concerning the nature of man from his reading of South Sea voyages, and his ideas, in their turn, influenced at least one author of an imaginary voyage to the Pacific in describing a people encountered there. This was the author of The Travels of Hildebrand Bowman, Esquire, into Camovirria, Taupiniera, Olfactaria, and Auditante, in New Zealand; in the Island of Bonhommica, and in the powerful Kingdom of Luxo-Volupto, on the Great Southern Continent. Written by Himself, who went on shore in the Adventure's large Cutter, at Queen Charlotte's Sound New Zealand, the fatal 17th December 1773; and escaped being cut off, and devoured with the rest of the Boats crew, by happening to be a-shooting in the woods; where he was unfortunately left behind by the Adventure (1778). As the title suggests, Bowman's Travels, though introduced by circumstances attending Cook's second voyage, really belongs to the fictitious voyage literature so frequently used as a vehicle for satire during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The motto on the title-page of the book at once reveals the author's interest in the notions of Monboddo: 'An Ape, and Savage (cavil all you can), Differ not more, than Man compared with Man.' His descriptions of the Taupinierans reveals the author following rather closely Monboddo's notions of a people in a pure state of nature. Bowman's Taupinierans lived in caves by the sea, where they huddled together during the day snorting and snoring 'in the midst of putrid fish and their own nastiness', coming forth at night to hunt for shell-fish which, eaten raw, was their sole diet. Bowman recounts how he succeeded in dragging a male member of the species out of a cave and examined it in the light of day when he found that apart from its bushy beard it was quite naked and that, although it possessed human form, the face resembled that of a hog and had eyes like a mole. These people were too stupid and sluggish to aspire to any form of personal adornment, neither tattooing nor ear and nose ornaments being found upon them. After overcoming an initial revulsion at the sight of such loathsome creatures, Bowman succeeded in making friends with one of the Taupinieran boys. 'All animals', the author points out, 'when young, are prettier, and more playful, than those come to maturity.' The acquaintanceship enabled him to make a further discovery. 'One evening when we were at romps, I discovered to my great surprise, that he had a short tail, like that of a young pig; being scarcely able to believe my own feeling, I examined it over and over, and found it an undoubted truth.... both sexes were furnished with these small appendages.' Monboddo had described primitive fish-eaters, cave-dwellers, and people furnished with tails. On the question of tails the author indirectly admitted his indebtedness to Monboddo's book in the process of making a satirical thrust at the Scottish philosopher's credulity: I am apprehensive that my veracity may be here liable to suspicion; which has set me on reading books of travels, and examining the opinions of authors on that subject, since my return home. Great was my joy, to find that several travellers had seen men with such rear appendixes; which a learned judge in the northern part of this island has made a collection of, and, after a thorough examination, gives entire credit to. It is also very satisfactory to me, that this my account of the Taupinierans, will give a singular pleasure to this learned gentleman; who has been sneered at by some smatterers in knowledge, on this very account. One other quality of Bowman's Taupinierans deserves mention. They were nocturnal animals: Their blindness in the day, and clear-sightedness in the dark, became from repeated observations a fact not to be doubted by me; however contrary it may be to the common course of nature all over the world, both in men and most kinds of animals. I shall not pretend to account for this phenomenon, unless the resemblance of their eyes to those of moles, may be thought sufficient for that purpose. But it may be asked, Did nature form those people's eyes, on purpose for their peculiar way of living in the side of that mountain? The nocturnal nature of the people finds no parallel in Monboddo and may be taken as another extension to the field of biology of those ideas of antipodal inversion so often present in the descriptions of the political institutions of southern Utopias. Provenance: Maggs Bros., London; private collection (Sydney). Some light soiling but a good copy.

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