London: J. Budd, 1808. iv,381pp. Handsome 19th-century half calf and marbled boards, spine gilt, leather label. Minor wear to extremities. Light occasional foxing. Very good. Item #WRCAM48970A
The first British edition of the Gass narrative, usually considered the best, is printed in a large and elegant format as opposed to the American original; it is also rarer than the Pittsburgh first edition. The two-page introduction by English publisher J. Budd is dated April 18, 1808 and makes a virtue of the fact that Gass "appears to have been of inferior rank in the Expedition; but, for those who wish to know the unadorned truth, that circumstance is not likely to be lamented. From such facts as he records, the reader will be able to form a much more correct idea of the real state of the country, than he would from a narrative, written under the influence of a desire to establish or confirm certain pre-conceived positions; not to mention another influence, too generally prevalent in America, namely, that of self-interest, for which there may be such ample scope for indulgence, in giving an account of countries, immediately adjoining that of a nation of land-jobbers." Because of the delay in the publication of the official account, Gass' journal was the first to appear, and as such was eagerly taken up by readers starved for information about Lewis and Clark. Gass was a sergeant who, by order of Lewis and at the insistence of Thomas Jefferson, kept a journal of the expedition's activities, and this book seems closely based on that document. "Patrick Gass was a rough reliable frontier soldier when he joined the Lewis and Clark expedition. He was made a sergeant when Sergeant Floyd died. He writes a terse soldier's narrative, exasperating in its brevity, but always with rugged honesty. His story was for many years the only true account of the expedition - the first real information the nation had of the Oregon country and of the Louisiana Purchase. It is a work of primary importance" - Webster A. Jones. WAGNER-CAMP 6:2. HOWES G77, "b." LITERATURE OF THE LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION 3.2. GRAFF 1517. FIELD 595. REESE, BEST OF THE WEST 29 (ref).