The Cruise; a Poetical sketch, in Eight Cantos. By a Naval Officer.
First edition of this extremely uncommon poetical account of a two-month “shakedown” cruise with a new ship’s company on a British man of war. The work was begun as a pastime during a “regimen on shore … recruiting an extremely exhausted constitution”. Finding his “Sketches of Scenes which had occurred on Naval Service … increasing,” the author decided to connect them with a “Regular Detail of Duties,” and “Characters to be met with in the Service,” in the belief that “a Work might be formed, conveying a correct idea of the Naval Life … during so memorable an Epoch as the present.” The cruise begins at the latter end of September 1805, and ends with the arrival of the news of the great victory at Trafalgar and the death of Nelson; “the foe is beaten! – nay!- they are no more!! – But Nelson, godlike Nelson!, lies in gore!!! Nelson’s the fearful price! – our spirits sink, – e’en while the brimming cup of joy we drink!” In the main the style of this epic poem is far less fraught, prosaic almost, presenting a highly-detailed and graphic narrative of life, above and below decks, onboard a man of war undertaking a typical cruise in home waters and on the enemy coast during the Napoleonic wars. The main text is accompanied by extensive factual and historical notes which are further indexed at the end, the whole comprising an almost encyclopaedic compilation of information on the minutiae of life – duties, hardships and attitudes – manning the “wooden walls” during the Nelsonian period. Despite the wealth of detail, the author remains persistent in his anonymity. Extremely uncommon: only two copies on COPAC (BL and Cambridge); no copies on OCLC or KVK; not in NMM; just one copy at auction in over 40 years.
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Octavo (228 132 mm). Uncut in original boards, rebacked to style with replacement paper label. Boards a little rubbed at the extremities, light toning, scattered foxing, a very good copy.