SIMPSON, George (1787-1860). Narrative of a Journey Round the World, during the years 1841 and 1842. London: Henry Colburn, 1847.

$ 1,800.00

8vo., ( 9 ½ x 6 ¼ inches). 24-page publisher’s advertisement at the end of volume one (slightly toned). Fine folding engraved “Map Shewing the Author’s Route” with the route lined in red (a bit browned); frontispiece portrait of the author in volume one (spotted). Original publisher’s plum cloth, both covers decorated in blind, the smooth spine lettered in gilt and stamped in blind (rebacked with some loss, spines rather faded).

Provenance: With the late 19th-century manuscript ownership inscription of Clinton Hart Merriam (1855-1942) on front free endpapers and title pages; contemporary bookplate “School Library. / B. Abbott. Hitchin.” in each volume.

First edition, with page 336 misnumbered as 436. The only one of Simpson’s works to be published during his lifetime. “…Simpson completed plans for a great adventure he had contemplated for many years. He would undertake a journey around the world and en route would make a first-hand inspection of the situation in Oregon and review with the Russian American Company the operation of the agreement he had negotiated in 1838. The journey would also allow him to visit exotic places and to indulge his penchant for record-breaking speed. Simpson left London on 3 March 1841 for North America, accompanied because of failing eyesight by a young secretary, Edward Martin Hopkins. He made his way across North America, by way of Halifax, Boston, Montreal, and the canoe route up the Ottawa, and on his arrival at Fort Colvile (near Colville, Wash.) he recorded that he had ‘performed a land journey of about 1,900 miles in 47 days out of which we had travelled but 41, having been detained 6 en route.’ To achieve this, he and his party had ridden 11 hours a day. Simpson reached Fort Vancouver at the end of August and on 1 September left, aboard the HBC’s steamship Beaver, for a tour of the posts along the northwest coast, in company with Chief Factor James Douglas. After meeting with Chief Factor John Work at Fort Simpson (Port Simpson, B.C.) and with other HBC officers, Simpson decided upon a complete reorganization of the trade for the Pacific coast. The company had succeeded in eliminating the American coastal trade through direct competition and by monopolizing the trade in supplies with the Russians, and Simpson came to the conclusion that the expensive series of permanent posts which had guaranteed this success were no longer necessary. When he returned to Fort Vancouver he informed McLoughlin of his intention to close all of the posts except Fort Simpson and to conduct the trade in the Beaver. This decision sparked a bitter conflict between Simpson and McLoughlin, who had in many ways been the architect of the trade operated by these posts, and it resulted in their permanent alienation. At the end of 1841 Simpson made a short visit to California and then proceeded to the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands where, in February 1842, he met with McLoughlin for a final session of discussions on the Columbia district. In spite of McLoughlin’s protests, Simpson gave him instructions to close forts Taku (Alaska) and McLoughlin (near Bella Bella, B.C.) and to begin the construction of new headquarters for the district on Vancouver Island to replace Fort Vancouver…

“Simpson left the Sandwich Islands in March 1842 and sailed to Sitka, intending to continue his trip round the world by way of Russia and Europe. Before doing so, however, he decided to make a last tour of the HBC posts on the northern coast. When he reached Fort Stikine (Alaska) on 25 April he discovered that John McLoughlin’s son John, who was in charge of the post, had been murdered. Simpson concluded that young McLoughlin had been killed in a drunken fight. He was wrong and McLoughlin never forgave Simpson for blackening his son’s reputation. The last phase of Simpson’s journey took him across Siberia back to Europe and London, where he arrived on 21 October. The entire trip had taken only 19 months and 19 days. He did not set a record, which would have been impossible because his business responsibilities required considerable time, but his pace was nevertheless remarkable” (John S. Galbraith for DCB).

Clinton Hart Merriam (1855-1942) was an “American biologist and ethnologist, who helped found the National Geographic Society (1888) and what is now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service… Between 1872 and 1876 he traveled as naturalist with the Hayden Geological Surveys in Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. From 1885 to 1910 he headed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Division of Ornithology and Mammalogy, which became the U.S. Biological Survey (1896) and is now known as the Fish and Wildlife Service. While a research associate with the Smithsonian Institution (1910–39) and chairman of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (1917–25), he conducted a study of the Pacific Coast Indians, collecting data on 157 Indian tribes” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

A nice copy with a fine provenance. Howes S495. Lada-Mocarski 129. Hill 1572. Cowan, p. 589. Graff 3786. Gagnon 3316. Sabin 81343. TPL 2548. Streeter Sale 3710. Wagner-Camp 140:1. Forbes 1670.