3. Cook and His Contemporaries 2
Jacques-Julien Houtou de La Billardière 1755-1834
Relation du voyage à la recherche de La Pérouse: fait par ordre de l'Assemblée Constituante pendant les années 1791, 1792 et pendant la 1ère. et la 2de. année de la République françoise
Paris: Chez HJ Jansen, Imprimeur-Libraire, 1800, 2 vols
The disappearance of Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse, and his crew in 1788 was one of the great mysteries of the 18th century. This lavish book is the account of the voyage led by Joseph-Antoine Bruni d’Entrecasteaux to search for him and further explore the southern Australian coastline and the South Pacific region. They failed to find La Pérouse. La Billardière was the naturalist on board and his account of the voyage was the first to be published because of the revolution in France, when d’Entrecasteaux found himself on the wrong side politically.
John Bysh, active 1829–1861
Bysh's Edition of the Voyages and Adventures of La Perouse: To which is added The life of Hatem Tai, or, The generosity of an Arabian prince
London: John Bysh, 1829
This chapbook is representative of a cycle of plays and narratives that speculated on or augmented the life of La Pérouse after his disappearance. Bysh’s edition is a juvenile version based on The Life of La Pérouse, the Celebrated and Unfortunate French Navigator (1801). In it, La Pérouse is stranded on an island. The indigenous inhabitants kill all his crew but he is saved by their queen. They marry and have a child. La Pérouse’s actual wife and child, having set out from France, find and rescue him. The story is illustrated with a series of crude woodcuts that depict the high scenes of the story
George Keate 1729–1797
An Account of the Pelew Islands, situated in the Western Part of the Pacific Ocean: Composed from the journals and communications of Captain Henry Wilson, and some of his officers, who, in August 1783, were there shipwrecked, in The Antelope
London: Printed for Captain Wilson; and sold by G. Nicol, 1788, 2nd ed.
A popular 18th-century book concerning the Pacific, Keate’s Pelew Islands accounts for the shipwreck of the Antelope and the survival of Captain Henry Wilson and his officers. Wilson found the local people to be friendly and helpful, a point that Keate remarked on, suggesting that, ‘it is solely to the benevolent character of their inhabitants, we owe the safe return of our countrymen’. The engraved portrait of one of King Abba Thulle’s many wives, Ludee, reinforces the popular late 18th-century notions of the ‘noble savage’ and ‘native beauty’.
Scott, Major (John) 1747–1819
An Epistle from Oberea, Queen of Otaheite, to Joseph Banks, Esq.
London: Printed for J Almon, 1774
Cook’s voyages spawned a number of imaginary travelogues and supplements, including this epistle parodying Joseph Banks’ purported romantic adventures with Oberea, Queen of Tahiti. This feigned letter from Oberea to Banks fondly recalls their amorous encounters. It has been styled on Ovid’s Heroides, where Oberea, as Calypso, laments her abandonment by Banks (Ulysses). Such parodies were greatly enjoyed by the public.