First and only edition of ‘the first of the complete eulogies to Cook’ (Smith, Imagining the Pacific: In the Wake of the Cook Voyage, p228), a handful of copies traced in auction records, this copy particularly large; withal a superb copy of a book noted as a fine example of eighteenth-century Italian printing, with attractive Roman types for the original Italian text, and Italic for the English translation (Parks). Gianetti was a dilettante poet and professor of anatomy at the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence. His rhapsodic account includes what were fast becoming common features of tributes to Cook, such as his humble beginnings and his introduction of the fruits of European civilisation — new plants, breeds of cattle, technology, and commercial skills — to the peoples of the Pacific (Williams, The Death of Captain Cook: A Hero Made and Unmade, p71); Kippis, Cook’s biographer, noted that ‘greater honour is paid to [Cook’s] name abroad than at home. A remarkable proof of it occurs, in the eulogy of our navigator, by Michael Angelo Gianetti, which was read at the Royal Florentine Academy, on the ninth of June, 1785, and published at Florence, in the same year’ (p505). The dedication is to Sir Horace Mann, British ambassador in Florence. The translation, signed ‘R.M.’, is by English poet Robert Merry, who arrived in Florence in 1784 and entered the city’s circle of expatriate English writers and dissident Italians, returning to England in 1787 following an affair with the mistress of the grand duke; it is Merry’s extravagant style, which Gifford later characterised as ‘Truth sacrificed to letters, sense to sound’ (ODNB), which is responsible for some of the more high-flown elements in the English text, most famously the claim that Cook, who in fact never learnt to swim, could swim so well as to ‘cleave the waves of the Ocean with the facility of its inhabitants’. A fascinating, highly appealing example of Cook’s rapid European apotheosis, printed six years after his death.
First edition. 4to (31.5 x 23 cms), [iv], 87, [i] pp., parallel Italian and English text, modern full green levant morocco gilt by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, all edges gilt, a fine example.[Beddie, 1957; Forbes, 99; Holmes, 51; Kroepelien, 486; Parks Cook, 116; Sabin, 27267; Spence, 226; not in Hill.]
Carl Wendell Carlsmith (book label).