Describing particularly, the Isthmus of America, several Coasts and Islands in the West Indies, the Isle of Cape Verd, the Passage by Terra del Fuego, the South Sea Coasts of Chili, Peru and Mexico… [with] Voyages and Descriptions… [and] A Voyage to New Holland, &c. In the Year, 1699 [and] A Contintuation of a Voyage to new Holland…
First editions. 4 vols bound in 3, 5 maps (4 folding); 3 folding maps; folding map & 14 plates; folding map & 15 plates. 8vo. Contemporary panelled calf gilt ,, vi, 550, 4; [vii], 184, 132, [iv], 112, ; [xviv], 162, , ads.; [xvi], 198; , ads.pp. London, James Knapton, 1697, 1699, 1703 & 1709.
A Fine Set of the Scarce First Editions. One of the Most Famous of the Buccaneering Voyages.
William Dampier, an orphan of Weymouth, England, spent twelve and a half years as a pirate, plundering ships in the West Indies and Central America, and eventually making his way across the Pacific to the Philippines, the East Indies, and Australia. Having set out in 1679, he returned home in 1691 and published his carefully-kept journal in 1697; it proved to be a sensation. Dampier may have been a buccaneer, but he was such an astute observer of people, places, and natural history and his works are often included with the publications of more explicitly scientific expeditions.
‘William Dampier combined a swashbuckling life of adventure with pioneering scientific achievements. In 1676, he started his career as a buccaneer preying on ships on the Spanish Main and struggling through the impenetrable jungle of the Isthmus of Panama in search of gold. He could easily have ended up on the gallows. Poor and obscure yet determined to sail the world to make his fortune, he was to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe three times. Among his many extraordinary achievements, Dampier mapped the winds and the currents of the world’s oceans for the first time. He inspired Darwin one hundred and fifty years later with his notes on the wildlife of the Galapagos islands and elsewhere. His portrait in London’s National Portrait Gallery shows a lean, strong-featured man with a thoughtful expression, brown shoulder-length hair and a plain coat, holding a book in his hand. He is styled ‘Pirate and Hydrographer’ but even that tells only part of his story. He was a pioneering navigator, naturalist , travel writer and explorer, as well as hydrographer who was, indeed, quite happy to seek his fortune as a pirate.’ Preston.
After years of adventure along the coasts of Spanish America Dampier joined Capt. Swan in the Cygnet in 1685. Swan was also eager to try his hand in the western Pacific, and after taking several small Spanish prizes among the East Indian Islands, they made for the vaguely known coast of New Holland, which was sighted on 4th June, 1688, near the Lacepede Islands. The vessel sailed along the coast to the entrance of King Sound, where she was repaired. Here Dampier made a full survey of the country and noted its inhabitants as the most miserable people in the world. As such, Dampier is regarded as being the first Englishman to set foot on the Australian mainland.
After several adventures Dampier reached England and wrote the first of these volumes. This work is considered to be the first travel book and set the tone for all voyage accounts until the publication of Cook’s First Voyage. It was an immediate success (by 1729 six editions had been printed) and the publisher, Knapton, urged Dampier to write a second volume.
In 1698 Dampier was put in command of the Roebuck in order to make an expedition to New Holland, New Guinea, and the Moluccas. On 2nd August, 1699 he arrived on the coast of Western Australia, sailing northward along the coast he arrived at an inlet which he named Sharks Bay. By this time his crew were in such bad condition and the country appeared so hostile that Dampier was forced to set sail for Timor and replenish his supplies. The voyage continued from there to New Guinea, New Ireland and New Britain returning finally via the Cape of Good Hope in 1701.
His subsequent work was again a success and again Knapton persuaded him to write a continuation, and these appeared in 1703 and 1709 respectively and are included with this collection of First Editions.
Hill 417, 419, 420, 421; Cox I, 42