MACKENZIE, Alexander, Sir (1764-1820). Voyages from Montreal, on the River St. Laurence through the Continent of North America, to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans; In the Years 1789 and 1793. With a preliminary account of the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the Fur Trade of that Country. London: T. Cadell, W. Davies, Cobbett and Morgan, and W. Creech, 1801.
4o (288 x 225 mm). Half-title and errata leaf. Engraved portrait frontispiece and 3 engraved folding maps, the first partly colored (each with short tears repaired on verso, some pale spotting). (Some scattered pale spotting, stain near gutter in gathering l.) Original boards, uncut (rebacked, endpapers renewed); calf gilt slipcase. Provenance: Henry Addington (1757-1854), Chancellor of the Exchequer, later Prime Minister (presentation copy from the author)
THE NARRATIVE OF THE FIRST KNOWN TRANSCONTINENTAL CROSSING
FIRST EDITION. PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED TO HENRY ADDINGTON on the half-title: "The Right Honorable Henry Addington Chancellor of the Exchequer from the Author." Mackenzie, a Scotch-born fur trader, emigrated to North America in 1779 and was employed by the North West Company, a rival of the Hudson's Bay Company. In what is now the province of Alberta, Mackenzie and a cousin set up a trading post, Fort Chepewyan, on Lake Athabasca (1788). This was the starting point of his expedition of 1789. The route followed the Mackenzie River from the Great Slave Lake to the river's delta on the Arctic Ocean. Mackenzie crossed the Rocky Mountains in 1793 from Fort Chipewyan to the Pacific coast of what is now British Columbia. These journeys together constitute the first known transcontinental crossing of America north of Mexico. The work has further importance ethnographically, as it contains vocabularies of the Knisteneaux, Algonquin, Chepewyan, Hegailer and Atnah Indian languages. After expeditiously returning to Montreal after the voyage, Mackenzie sailed for England to be entertained as a colonial hero. His Voyages, written with the aid of a ghostwriter named William Combe, became an instant bestseller (see Peter C. Newman, Empire of the Bay, p.329). "No writer upon the subject of Indian customs and peculiarities, has given us a more minute, careful and interesting relation of them, as indeed none were better fitted to do, by long experience among them. His investigations...were remarkable for their accuracy; Sir John Franklin more than once expressing his surprise at being able to corroborate their correctness" (Field).
A SUPERB ASSOCIATION COPY, INSCRIBED TO HENRY ADDINGTON. "Addington's great achievement as speaker was to restore the prestige of the office, which had suffered since Speaker Onslow's time... Addington's relationship, both personal and political, with Pitt was never closer than during his speakership. Pitt confided in him over his fumbling, suddenly ended courtship of Eleanor Eden, Lord Auckland's daughter. Pitt, too, specially asked to see Addington before he fought his duel with George Tierney in May 1798, and Addington went to Putney Heath to watch from afar, perhaps guilt-stricken that the quarrel had originated in the Commons during debate. When Pitt's health broke down in 1800 he retired to Woodley, Addington's small estate near Reading, to recuperate" (Oxford DNB). Addington assumed the Prime Ministership in 1801, the year Mackenzie's Voyages was published. This presentation must have been made early in the year, as Addington gave his first speech as Prime Minister on 25 March. Addington's early actions in negotiations with Russia were critically important; he negotiated a treaty which resulted in peace with France, however temporary. He is often contrasted with Pitt, whose boldness outshone Addington's toryism, but recent scholarship has stressed Addington's abilities with foreign diplomacy. Field 967; Graff 2630; Hill 1063 ("This is the first and finest edition of one of the most important of Canadian books."); Lande 1317; NMM 810; Peel 25; Phillips Maps 593 (first map); Pilling 2384; Sabin 43414; Staton & Tremaine/TPL 658; Streeter sale VI:3653; Wagner-Camp-Becker 1:1; Wheat Mapping the Transmississippi West 251.