This is the 1774 first French edition of the first chart to detail the Great Barrier Reef, discovered by the legendary navigator James Cook during his first voyage aboard the H.M.S. Endeavor
. This west-oriented chart captures the great explorer's difficult journey along the coast of Australia from Cape Tribulation to Cape York, during which he became the first European to navigate - with difficulty, and under duress - the Great Barrier Reef, which he tellingly named 'The Labyrinth.'
The southernmost extent of this chart is 'Cap Tribulation,' so called by Cook because 'here begun all our troubles.'
There on June 10, 1770, the Endeavor
struck a reef northeast of the cape, and then ran aground on what is now named Endeavour Reef. This site bears the note (in French) that 'the ship remained 23 hours on this rock and was badly damaged.' Cook and crew were forced to throw overboard some fifty tons of cargo and supplies in order to float Endeavour off the rocks, but was finally able to limp to shore and beach the ship for repairs at the mouth of the Endeavour River, also shown.
The ship having been repaired, Cook then had to find his way first around, then through what he himself termed an 'insane Labyrinth' of coral. From a hill near Endeavour River, Cook observed
'with great concern, innumerable sand banks and shoals lying all along the coast in every direction… the outermost extended as far as I could see with my glass, and many of them did but rise over water.'
Thus one of our greatest natural world heritage sites presented itself to its discoverer: a forbidding and deadly obstacle. With great difficulty, on August 13, Cook was able to navigate to open water and steer free of 'The Labyrinth' for a time but as the chart shows, he was compelled to venture in to the Reef again. The danger and difficulty of this passage is made apparent on the chart with its many depth soundings, turns and setbacks. This perilous journey continued up the coast to Cape York, when the Endeavor
was finally able to leave the Labyrinth behind.
Publication History and Census
This map was engraved by Robert Bénard for the 1774 French edition of James Hawkesworth's 1773 account of Cook's voyages. It follows the 1772-1773 English edition engraved by William Whitchurch and published in 1773. While Hawkesworth's book is well represented in institutional collections, this separate map is catalogued only by the National Library of Australia in OCLC.
Captain James Cook (7 November 1728 - 14 February 1779) is a seminal figure in the history of cartography for which we can offer only a cursory treatment here. Cook began sailing as a teenager in the British Merchant Navy before joining the Royal Navy in 1755. He was posted in America for a time where he worked Samuel Holland, William Bligh, and others in the mapping of the St. Lawrence River and Newfoundland. In 1766 Cook was commissioned to explore the Pacific and given a Captaincy with command of the Endeavour. What followed were three historic voyages of discovery, the highlights of which include the first European contact with eastern Australia, the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands (among many other Polynesian groups), the first circumnavigation of New Zealand, some of the first sightings of Antarctica, the first accurate mapping of the Pacific Northwest, and ultimately his own untimely death at the hands of angry Hawaiians in 1779. The influence of Cook work on the mapping and exploration of the Pacific cannot be understated. Learn More...
John Hawkesworth (c. 1715 - November 16, 1773) was an English born writer and editor born London. Hawkesworth, who is said to have been self educated, succeeded Samuel Johnson as the parliamentary debate compiler for "Gentleman's Magazine". He was a deeply religious and moral map who brilliant defense of morality earned him an LL. D degree from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Hawkesworth went on to publish a series of scholarly books and essays including a 12 volume edition of Jonathan Swift's work. In 1772 Hawkesworth was commissioned by the Admiralty to compile and edit James Cook's journals. The resultant work An Account of the Voyages undertaken ... for making discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere was one of the first ethnographic account of the South Seas and was widely published in England and abroad. Though highly influential, Hawkesworth's work received heavy criticism from scholars who claim that he liberally altered much of the text in the name of morality. Learn More...
Robert Bénard (1734 - c. 1785) was a French engraver. Born in Paris, Bénard is best known for supplying a significant number of plates (at least 1,800) for the Encyclopédie published by Diderot and Alembert. He also is remembered for his work with the Académie des Sciences, most notably the Descriptions des Arts et Métiers Learn More...
Hawkesworth, J., Relation des voyages entrepris par ordre de Sa Majeste britannique, actuellement regnante; pour faire des decouvertes dans l'hemisphere meridional ..., (Paris: Chez Saillant et Nyon ... Chez Panckoucke, Hotel de Thou) 1774.
Very good condition. One wormhole at centerfold with no loss to printed image, else excellent condition with full margins.