Large, Thick MS Beautifully Written, Illustrated
By an Early 19th Century English Naval Cadet
(MARITIME MANUSCRIPT). WHICHCOTE, THOMAS.
A PLAN OF MATHEMATICAL LEARNING TAUGHT IN THE ROYAL ACADEMY PORTSMOUTH. PERFORMED BY THOMAS WHICHCOTE, A STUDENT THERE.(Portsmouth, England: April 27, 1804). 375 x 279 mm (14 3/4 x 11"). 1 p.l. (title), 1-161,  (blank), 162-236,  (blank), 237-94,  (illustration), 295-96,  (blank), 297,  (blank), 298,  (blank), 299,  (blank), 300-424,  (blank), 425,  (blank), 426,  (blank), 427-54,  (blank), 455-509 pages, all written in a beautiful, clear cursive hand.
Pleasing contemporary tree calf, flat spine skillfully rebacked preserving most of original backstrip, gilt in panels formed by multiple plain and decorative rules with sunburst centerpiece, red morocco label. COPIOUSLY ILLUSTRATED with 10 half-page and two full-page ink wash illustrations, one half-page and one full-page pen and ink drawings, and 10 half-page watercolors, all land- or seascapes; eight full-page maps and one folding map, all in color; five full-page black and white diagrams, 11 full-page color diagrams, and numerous diagrams in the text, some heightened with color. Front free endpaper with ink ownership inscription of "Thomas Whichcote, Esq., of His Majesty's Ship ye Beaulieu of 44 Guns." Corners a little bumped, spine a bit dry and crackled with a couple of one-inch chips, minor loss of gilt, folding map with two-inch tear along a fold, just touching the edge of the image, last two leaves with slight soiling and fraying to fore edges, isolated minor thumbing, small stains, and other trivial imperfections, but A VERY FINE MANUSCRIPT, the expertly restored binding sound and attractive, the leaves clean and crisp, the handsome writing entirely legible, and the illustrations demonstrating considerable artistic skill on the part of Midshipman Whichcote.
This compendium of mathematical knowledge necessary for an officer in the Royal Navy was written and beautifully illustrated by a student at the Royal Naval Academy at Portsmouth, which was founded to recruit and train officers from among the many qualified young men who lacked the family connections otherwise to obtain a naval commission. The volume covers arithmetic, geometry, plane trigonometry, geography, navigation (at 100 pages, by far the longest section), spherics, spherical trigonometry, astronomy, latitude, longitude, marine surveying, fortification, gunnery, and mechanics. The text is neatly written in a very skilled and controlled hand, and examples of calculations are given. Perhaps the most unexpected and pleasurable features of this manuscript are the illustrations, which sometimes approach a kind of modest magnificence. Whichcote was a talented artist, and while at the Royal Naval Academy, he would have had the opportunity to study with noted marine artist Richard Livesay (1750-1826), who served as drawing master there from 1796 to 1811. The ink washes and watercolors here portray not only ships and scenes at sea, but also several fine landscapes, including a full-page view of the Portsmouth Academy. The fine maps show Christmas Island, the Coast of Kamchatka, Table Bay and the Cape of Good Hope, the western Atlantic with the coastline of North America and the West Indies, and the eastern Atlantic with the coast of Africa, Ireland, Greenland, and Iceland. The whole is beautifully preserved and a wonderful artifact of early 19th century naval knowledge. (ST11776)