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A Narrative of the Proceedings relative to the Discovery of the Longitude at Sea ; by Mr. John Harrison's Time-Keeper; Subsequent to those published in the Year 1763
London: Printed for the Author, and Sold by Mr. Sandby, 1765. Octavo, with the rare half-title, 18 pp.; a remarkably tall untrimmed copy, numbered in ink "no. 23" to half-title, disbound but fine in Sangorski & Sutcliffe quarter morocco box. Cook's "faithful guide through all the vicissitudes of climates" Very rare: John Harrison's self-published pamphlet defending the success of his elegant chronometer H-4, and staking his claim to be awarded the full "Longitude Prize" of £20,000. An exact copy of H-4 built by Harrison's colleague Larcum Kendall would be carried on Cook's second voyage to great acclaim, Cook himself calling it 'our faithful guide through all the vicissitudes of climates' (Journals of Captain James Cook, ed. Beaglehole, II, p. 692). All of the eighteenth-century books and pamphlets relating to the riddle of longitude, of which this is one of the most significant, were published in very small editions and are now understandably rare. Harrison had been worrying away at the riddle of longitude for over three decades by the time he published this book. H-4 had first been properly tested in 1761, when Harrison's son William took it with on a voyage to Jamaica in the ship Deptford for a sea-trial. Although the trial was a triumph which exceeded the demands of the Longitude Act, Harrison's claim to the Prize was not recognised, meaning that he was forced to another West Indies trial of H-4 in 1764. Again accompanied by William, on this occasion H-4 computed the longitude of Barbados within 9.8 geographical miles, exhibiting accuracy three times greater than that required by the Act. Despite this success, the board still refused to issue the award, in some part due to resistance from the Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne, an advocate of the cheaper lunar distance method. Faced with another refusal, Harrison had this appeal to the Board of Longitude printed. It includes his relevant correspondence with the Admiralty and the basis for his claim, concluding that 'whereas a method (invented by your Memorialist) for the Discovery of the Longitude hath been tried by Experiments made according to the Appointment of your Honourable Board… Your Memorialist therefore humbly prays; that your Honourable Board will be pleased to grant him such Certificate as directed by the above recited Act'. The board, however, continued to be unmoved, even sponsoring subtle changes to the Longitude Act the same year as this work was published. Under duress, Harrison would even be forced to reveal the technical specifications of his invention. The work was printed with the technical assistance of the maker of optical instruments James Short, who is usually listed as the author/editor. Although noted in several libraries, this work is very rarely offered for sale. The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich did not have a copy until 2003 when it acquired the papers of the Second Viscount Barrington, himself a member of the Board of Longitude in the eighteenth century.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-07-22           Check availability:      Biblio    


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