A Narrative of Captain Cook's Three Voyages. Kippis, Andrew. 1838 (first published 1788)

Kippis, Andrew. 
A Narrative of Captain Cook's Three Voyages
This edition published in 1838 (first published 1788).

While searching the internet, I found this book for sale. It was printed in Philadelphia in 1838, was without a cover and was small measuring just over 3 inches x 5 inches x 1 inch. It was a two volume work bound in a single book.

I purchased the book at a reasonable price and kept it in a drawer for about a year. Wanting to include the book with others in my Cook collection, I bound the book in leather and had the title inscribed on it.

I found several very old four leaf clovers pressed in between the pages which proved to be a good omen. The book was fascinating. The author, Andrew Kippis (1725-1795) is known as a prolific writer, biographer and nonconformist clergyman with many letters behind his name including D.D., F.R.S., and S.A.1 In producing this work, Kippis had access to and acknowledged help with such Cook contemporaries as Sir Hugh Palliser, Lord Howe, the Earl of Sandwich, Elizabeth Cook, Mr. (David) Samwell and Sir Joseph Banks (then President of the Royal Society). The dedication of the book to The King (George III) was dated June 13, 1788, London, the date of the original publication in London. 2

The book is described as a true narrative of Captain Cook's three voyages. Though not a daily record, it is nearly so recounting the activity of many incidences I have not found elsewhere. One easily can transcend to the time of Endeavour and Resolution with the feeling of being just a short step away from the voyages themselves. I was taken by the many detailed incidences of danger our Navigator masterfully faced and of his professional dealing with the crew and native peoples encountered.

The concluding pages of the book contain several writings of Cook's contemporaries that illuminate his personality. The section called "Testimonies of Applause" includes quotes from Captain James King, David Samwell, Dr. Reinhold Forster, Dr. John Douglas and "Val. Maximus, lib. ii. Cap. 6." 3

Even though I have read many books on our hero, this book helped me feel much better acquainted with Captain Cook and his missions. I found John Robson's book of maps4 to be a valuable reference while reading the Kippis book.

I suspect that many people have read Kippis. If not, it is worth the effort. There are several editions available. I located one that could be read on the internet.

Gerald Tedrow


  1. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:
    Kippis was made Doctor of Divinity of the University of Edinburgh in June 1767
    he became Fellow of the Royal Society in 1779
    he was made fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1788.
  2. Kippis, A. The Life and Voyages of Captain James Cook. George Newnes, London. 1788.
  3. The quote is "Virtutis uberrimum alimentum est honos." According to Allan S. Arlidge it means "Honour is a most productive nourishment for virtue" and comes from the Roman, Valerius Maximus, Book II, Chapter 6. See Cook's Log, page 5, volume 27, number 4 (2004).
  4. Robson, John. Captain Cook's World: Maps of the Life and Voyages of James Cook R.N. Random House. 2000. Reviewed in Cook's Log, page 1793, volume 24, number 1 (2001).

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 42, volume 33, number 2 (2010).

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