Printed for the author, 1770- London, 1771. Two volumes in one, quarto, 17 engraved maps and plates in contemporary half cal.
First edition of this important collection of Spanish and Dutch voyages, announcing the dawn of the golden age of Pacific exploration.
This classic voyage text was a work of far-reaching importance by the leading English hydrographer.
Passionately involved in the argument over the possible existence of a southern continent, Dalrymple partially translates here some twelve original accounts which support his belief in its existence. His collection begins with Magellan’s voyage of 1519, and the Spanish accounts that he translates include Mendana’s voyage to the Solomon Islands in 1595, and that of De Quiros in 1606. The Dutch accounts include those of Le Maire, Schouten, Tasman, and Roggeveen. Dalrymple’s long introduction on trade and his ‘investigation of what may be farther expected in the South Sea’ carefully expound his belief in the existence of a “Great Southern Continent”, a theory only finally laid to rest when Cook later sailed right over a substantial portion of it.
Dalrymple (1737-1808), the great hydrographer, who had made his career in the East India Company, had originally been offered the command of the Endeavour voyage to observe the transit of Venus, but partly because of his insistence on being given an Admiralty commission, the command went instead to Cook. His disappointment is hinted at in the remarkable “undedications” of this work: to Byron ‘who discovered scarcely anything but Patagonians’ and to Banks who ‘infatuated with female blandishments forgot for what he went abroad and hastened back to amuse the European world with stories of enchantments…’.
Davidson, ‘A Book Collector’s Notes’, pp. 36-7; Hill, pp. 71, 73; Holmes (first edition), 32; Kroepelien, 245