A voyage to New Guinea, and the Moluccas, from Balambangan: including an account of Magindano, Sooloo, and other islands; and illustrated with thirty copperplates. Performed in the Tartar galley, belonging to the Honourable East India company, during the years 1774, 1775, and 1776 to which is added, a Vocabulary of the Magindano Tongue.

FORREST, Captain Thomas

Published by G. Scott, 1779
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4to [ii] xxiii, 388, 13 [i] Engraved frontispiece with portrait of the author, plus 32 engraved plates and maps. Original calf boards with remnants of gilding on edges, rebacked with raised compartments. Some losses to plate imagery probably from fore-edge trimming during a rebinding, with a cutout along the edge of plate 1, and rip on p. 126. Some discoloration, but other clean interior and good condition. Ownership inscription from 1782 and later ownership stamp for "Library of C. Gilbert Beetem, Esq." First edition of a truly amazing journey from one of the most experienced ship captains sailing the eastern seas. Captain Thomas Forrest, a veteran of "over twenty years in the ‘country trade’" and fifteen voyages from Hindustan to the East and four from England to India, here documents a trade journey he made on behalf of the East India Company, whose express purpose was to inquire after the "acquisition and cultivation" of goods and "be assured that cinnamon, cloves, nutmegs, pepper and clove bark, may with proper management be easily introduced into Balambangan." Forrest starts from that small settlement on the island of Borneo and sailed east to the northern coast of New Guinea. After exploring the passage between New Guinea and the Moluccas, he journeys to Mindanao, then back to Borneo and finally to the Malay Peninsula. More than just a geographic or ethnographic study, this travel narrative includes topics of interest for every collector. Forrest’s recollections include everything from his encounter with a wild boar that he fails to kill to descriptions of multi-day wedding ceremonies. He even devotes an entire chapter to the "Cinnamon Tree in Ceylon," its properties, and medicinal uses, complete with a botanical illustration of cinnamon leaves. Full of maps and illustrated panoramas, detailed coastal charts, genealogical trees and lists of city populations or items exchanged with Chinese vessels, the book concludes with the very important English to Magindano and Papua vocabulary, supporting its popular use as a tool for other western traders. Forrest (1729? – 1802?) volunteered for the New Guinea mission and was responsible for establishing the settlement at Balambangan nine years previous. Almost nothing is known about his family or childhood, and he first enters into written record as a midshipman in the English Royal Navy in 1745. Over the next few decades he joined the East India Company and rose through its ranks for become a captain. One of Forrest’s chief concerns was maritime safety, as is reflected by his role in the Seven Years War against the French, his treatise on monsoons, and his 1789 proposal for a "better mode of victualling . . . in warm climates." This latter document "received considerable attention in the field of maritime medicine" (see Brown). In Voyage to New Guinea Forrest mentions that very little alcohol was brought on the vessel and that his European shipmates "soon reconciled themselves to tea and coffee." Apart from descriptions of distant exotic lands, the Captain’s text is fascinating for its wisdom and insight into daily maritime life. Bookseller Inventory #

Bibliographic Details

Title: A voyage to New Guinea, and the Moluccas, ...
Publisher: G. Scott
Publication Date: 1779
Edition: FIRST EDITION.

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