DOBBS, Arthur (1689-1765)
An Account of the Countries Adjoining to Hudson's Bay, in the North-West part of America: containing a description of their lakes and rivers, the nature of the soil and climates, and their methods of commerce, &c. shewing the benefit to be made by settling colonies, and opening a trade in these parts: Whereby the French will be deprived in a great measure of their traffick in furs, and the communication between Canada and Mississippi be cut off: With an abstract of Captain Middleton's journal, and observations upon his behaviour during his voyage and since his return ... The whole intended to show the great probability of a North-West passage
London: printed by J. Robinson, 1744. Quarto. (10 x 8 inches). , ii, 211, pp. Folding engraved map "A New Map of part of North America." 7 lines of errata at foot of final page. Scattered minor foxing.
Contemporary speckled calf, rebacked spine with raised bands in six compartments, titled in second compartment, red morocco lettering piece, bordered in gilt.
Provenance: Edwin Sandys, Baron Sandys (armorial bookplate)
Large paper copy of the first edition of this attack on the Hudson's Bay Company monopoly in the Americas, with a valuable early account of the search for a Northwest Passage.
Dobbs was an active opponent of the monopoly of the Hudson's Bay Company pointing out that if they did not alter their policies, then the French would quickly occupy the central plains to the west of their traditional areas of influence (as, in fact, they did). This and other works on a similar theme by Dobbs led to the investigation of the monopoly by a British Parliamentary committee in 1749. Dobbs never saw the Bay and his information was largely based on French publications and Canadian sources, particularly that of Métis trader Joseph La France. According to Peter C. Newman, the account of La France's exploits is this work's "most valuable historical contribution" ( Empire of the Sun , p.213). The second main thrust of Dobbs' narrative concerns his advocacy of the necessity of searching for a Northwest Passage: he gives an account of the early exploration of the area, and of the opportunities that further exploration would offer. In addition, he fires the opening broadside in his attack on Christopher Middleton for his leadership of the 1741-1742 expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. This controversy, played out in print, lasted for more than three years.
Field 433; Howes D-373; Kershaw 422; Lande 1144; NMM 796; Peel 8; Sabin 20404; TPL 193; Streeter VI:3637; Verner & Stuart-Stubbs 21; Wagner Northeast Coast 549.