COLLINS, Greenville (1643-1694). Mr. Greenvil Collins Master of His M:ts Ship the Speedwell, His Journall of the Voyage of the Said Shipp Sent, and Lost, Upon the Discovery of a North-East Passage Anno 1676
COLLINS, Greenville (1643-1694). Mr. Greenvil Collins Master of His M:ts Ship the Speedwell, His Journall of the Voyage of the Said Shipp Sent, and Lost, Upon the Discovery of a North-East Passage Anno 1676. Capt. Jno Wood. (v.p., May-August 1676). Manuscript folio (14 x 9 inches; 35.6 X 22.9 cm). 2 full-page maps handcolored in outline, one in-text map of the Shetland Islands, one double-page map in ink and wash of "Mount Missery," 3 ink and wash text illustrations, including one of a walrus and her calf, 18 pages of text within rules. Eighteenth-century marbled wrappers, strips of marbled paper pieced along lower margin and fore-edge of lower wrapper (edges somewhat worn and frayed), in half red morocco case. AN EARLY FIRST-HAND MANUSCRIPT ACCOUNT OF THE QUEST FOR THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE. A manuscript journal of great interest by the renowned hydrographer, Greenville Collins, recording the details of a seventeenth-century expedition from Great Britain along the northern coast of Russia and through Nova Zembla, in search of an eastward passage to Japan and China. In 1493, to defuse trade disputes Pope Alexander VI split the discovered world in two between Spain and Portugal, leaving France, the Netherlands and England without a sea route to the trading nations of Asia. The desire to establish such a route motivated much of the European exploration of both coasts of North America. When it became apparent that there was no route through the heart of the continent, attention turned to the possibility of a passage through northern waters (but it was not until 1906 that passage from Greenland to Alaska was successfully navigated). At the command of King Charles II, the expedition set out from Deptford 6 May 1676. It consisted of two ships, the Speedwell, with John Wood as its captain and Greenville Collins as its master, and the Prosperous, commanded by Captain William Flawes. As shown by Collins's map, they sailed north toward Greenland, and then east along the ice north of Russia, through the Barents Sea. Greenville Collins is best known as a hydrographer in the Royal Navy and the author of Great Britain's Coasting Pilot (1693), the first survey of the country's coast undertaken by a Briton. The three maps that he drew within his journal attest to his talent and ability. The first single-page colored map shows the polar regions on a circular projection stretching from the ButOn 29 June, the Speedwell ran aground and was wrecked during a storm. The crew got safely ashore, but the ship had become separated from the Prosperous in a heavy fog. They were not rescued by the Prosperous until 8 July. Collins's log records the voyage of the Speedwell in great detail, with daily entries giving the location of the ship, wind, and weather conditions, and observations on their surroundings, including the natives, animals, and topography of the Shetland Islands. He provides a detailed map, complete with depth soundings of the passage, and directions for sailing into Brace Sound. He describes magnificent icebergs and ice formations, noting that some were the color blue, as high as the towers of Westminster Abbey, and others shaped like triumphal arches. He mentions the numerous "sea horses" (i.e., walruses) they saw and attempted to kill, and includes a sketch of a female walrus and her calf. Whales were also sighted. Once the Speedwell had run aground, the crew was able to salvage their provisions and weapons, although Captain Wood had lost his journal and notes in the wreck. The crew set up a camp called "Mount Missery," of which Collins drew a double-page topographical view, until the Prosperous came to their rescue. ton, Hudson, and Baffin Bays in the west around the Arctic Circle to the presumed northern coastline of Russia to 185o east of Greenwich. The other single-page colored map is a detailed chart showing the routes of the Speedwell and Prosperous through the arctic seas north of Lapland to Nova Zembla. The in-text map shows part of the Shetland Islands and Brace Sound, with a cartouche and scale. Manuscript accounts of seventeenth-century voyages of exploration are rare, and the present journal provides a unique opportunity to obtain a firsthand account of a very early attempt at finding a northeast passage in search of the riches of Asia. The present manuscript remains unpublished, although Captain Wood prepared two accounts largely copied from Collins's journal. One resides in the Rawlinson papers (Rawlinson A.467: "A Relation of a Voyage for the Discovery of a Passage by the North-East to Japan) and the other in Samuel Pepys's library. As Captain Wood had lost his journal and notes, Samuel Pepys, a secretary of the Commission, ordered him to use the account submitted by Collins. On 4 September 1676, Pepys recorded that "he had this morning received His Majesty's orders in favour of Mr. Collins.from whom and this journal.his Majesty has received so much satisfaction that.it is his pleasure that he [Collins] be appointed to the Mastership of the Galley frigate [Charles] now going forth from Woolwich." Only two other logs by Collins survive. One, dated ca. 1677, records his service with the galley frigate Charles on an expedition to Tangier. The other records his encounters with Algerine pirates. In addition to his journals, thirty-six manuscript charts by Collins are known to survive, all but ten of them in the Admiralty Hydrographic Department in Taunton. After good service as master on three other ships, Collins was made a captain and appointed to command the 18-gun HMS Larke in 1679. He remained in the Royal Navy until 1693. PROVENANCE: Bookplate of the Duke of Hamilton; Voyages and Travels from the Library of David Parsons (sale, Sotheby's New York, 11 December 2007, lot 18) REFERENCE: Arader Galleries gratefully acknowledges the research of Captain Paul Hughes, PhD, a marine consultant who has studied Greenville Collins' work for over ten years. Bookseller Inventory # 65ERM0052 Price: $1,500,000.