HEARNE, Samuel (1745-1792). A Journey from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay, to the Northern Ocean. Undertaken by Order of the Hudson's Bay Company, for the Discovery of Copper Mines, a North West Passage, &c. in the Years 1769-1772. London: A. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1795.
4° (298 x 217mm). 5 folding engraved maps, one hand-coloured in outline, and 4 plates, 3 folding, all after the author. With final leaf 3N2. (Spotting to maps and plates, mainly marginal, some offsetting from folds, occasional soiling of text margins.) Contemporary tree calf, spine gilt with red morocco lettering-piece (lower joints cracked, extremities a little rubbed).
FIRST EDITION of 'this beautiful volume' (Sabin). After joining the Hudson's Bay Company in 1766, Hearne was posted to Prince of Wales's Fort (now Churchill, Manitoba). In 1769 and 1770 he led two unsuccessful expeditions to investigate Indian reports of copper mines near a northern river. But on his third expedition, benefitting from the choice of Matonabee, an Ojibwe chief, as guide, 'Hearne travelled 1300 miles on foot to the Coppermine River' becoming 'the first European to cross the Barren Lands to the Arctic Ocean, and in so doing he disproved the existence of the Strait of Anian, a rumoured north-west passage to China. He was also the first to see and cross Great Slave Lake. At "Bloody Falls" he unwillingly witnessed the massacre of Inuit by native Americans of his party' (ODNB). Appointed governor of Prince of Wales's Fort in 1775, Hearne was forced to surrender to La Pérouse in 1782. After being held prisoner, he sailed back to Gosport in England in a tiny sloop provided by the French. According to both Sabin and Hill, it was La Pérouse who preserved the manuscript of his book and who later surrendered it back to the British, along with their Fort, stipulating that it must be published. Hill 791: 'much attention is given to the natural history and the Indian tribes of the region'; Howgego H-51; Sabin 31181 (incorrect collation).