WATKIN TENCH (1758?-1833)
A complete account of the settlement at Port Jackson, in New South Wales, includung an accurate description of the situation of the colony; of the native; and of its natural productions. London: sold by G.Nicol and J.Sewell, 1793. 4° (28.6 x 22.5cm). 8pp. subscribers' list. One folding engraved map of Port Jackson and the surrounding area by J.Walker. (Light browning to map, occasional very light soiling.) Original boards, grey paper covers, oatmeal-coloured paper backstrip, letterpress on paper title label on backstrip, uncut (light scuffing to extremities with resultant loss of a few characters from title label, 60mm. tear to front free-endpaper). Provenance: Leonard Fosbrook ? (fl.1803-1814, deputy-commissary at Port Philip settlement: see D.A.B., signature 'L.Fosbrooke' on front free-endpaper).
FIRST EDITION. A FINE UNSOPHISTICATED COPY OF ONE OF THE RAREST EARLY ACCOUNTS OF THE SETTLEMENT OF AUSTRALIA. Tench, having served in the Marine Corps during the American war of independence, volounteered for service with the convict settlement about to be established at Botany Bay. He sailed in the transport Charlotte as one of the two captain-lieutenants of Marines on 13 May 1787, arriving in Australia on 20 January 1788. He served with some distinction, occupying his leisure time with exploration, and eventually returned to England aboard the Gorgon in December 1792. His tour of duty was recorded in two works: A Narrative of the expedition to to Botany Bay (London, 1789, 8°) and the present volume.
"Less detailed than David Collins, less matter of fact than Arthur Philip or John White.. TENCH WAS THE FIRST TO MOULD AUSTRALIAN EXPERIENCE INTO A WORK OF CONSCIOUS ART. To a sound eighteenth-century stlye - he had read Voltaire and Gibbon - he added an interest in the novel, the pictureque and the primitive which foreshadows romanticism. His eye ranged over the convicts and the Aboriginals with a mixture of shrewd common-sense and sympathetic tolerance, and his reaction to the country itself shows the same quality... his writing combines the freshness of immediately recorded experience with elaborate set pieces and reflections." (D.A.B.). Ferguson 171; Wantrup 16.