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DARWIN, Charles Robert (1809-1882) -— FITZROY, Robert (1805-1865, editor). Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle. London: Henry Colburn, 1839.
DARWIN, Charles Robert (1809-1882) -— FITZROY, Robert (1805-1865, editor). Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle. London: Henry Colburn, 1839.
DARWIN, Charles Robert (1809-1882) -— FITZROY, Robert (1805-1865, editor). Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle. London: Henry Colburn, 1839.
DARWIN, Charles Robert (1809-1882) -— FITZROY, Robert (1805-1865, editor). Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle. London: Henry Colburn, 1839.
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DARWIN, Charles Robert (1809-1882) -— FITZROY, Robert (1805-1865, editor). Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle. London: Henry Colburn, 1839.

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DARWIN, Charles Robert (1809-1882) -— FITZROY, Robert (1805-1865, editor). Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle. London: Henry Colburn, 1839.

First edition of Darwin's first published book, one of the finest examples of scientific autobiography ever published; an extraordinary presentation copy, inscribed by the Commander of the Beagle, connecting two exceptional Victorians.

Darwin's Journal and Remarks 1832-1836, published as volume III in the set, was the result of Fitzroy's invitation to Darwin to contribute to the official narrative of the voyage of the Beagle. Next to the Origin, it was his most important and most popular book, leading to the opening of his first notebook on 'Transmutation of Species' in 1837. While Darwin's studies on the voyage concentrated initially on geology, the experience also aroused a desire to understand and explain the distribution and development of the species he encountered. 'The five years of the voyage were the most important event in Darwin’s intellectual life and in the history of biological science. Darwin sailed with no formal scientific training. He returned a hard-headed man of science, knowing the importance of evidence, almost convinced that species had not always been as they were since the creation but had undergone change … The experiences of his five years in the Beagle, how he dealt with them, and what they led to, built up into a process of epoch-making importance in the history of thought' (DSB). In his own words: 'The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event in my life, and has determined my whole career' (Charles Darwin, Life and Letters I, p.61).

Volume I of the Narrative concerns the initial surveying expedition, 1826-1830, under Philip Parker King in the Adventure, during which FitzRoy succeeded Pringle Stokes as commander of the accompanying Beagle. Volume II describes FitzRoy’s continuation and completion of the survey with the Beagle alone, ending in 1836. ‘The surveys he carried out in South American waters established FitzRoy as a first-rate hydrographer and won for him the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society (1837). Because his marine surveys were accurate to such a high degree they are still used as the foundation for a number of charts of that area’ (DSB).

Volume I is inscribed and signed on the half-title by the Captain of the Beagle, Robert FitzRoy, presenting the book to John Lee (1783-1866). Both Fitzroy and Lee were pioneer meteorologists, and this is probably the reason for the gift of these volumes: Lee was a founder of the British Meteorological Society in 1839, and FitzRoy was instrumental in the founding in 1854 of the Meteorological Office of the Board of Trade, and was its first head. FitzRoy issued the first daily weather forecasts, published in The Times, and actually invented the term ‘weather forecast’. 'If it had not been for Robert FitzRoy, the name Charles Darwin would now be remembered, if at all, as that of a country parson with an interest in natural history ... FitzRoy is known, so far as he is widely known at all, as Darwin’s Captain on the voyage of HMS Beagle during which the young naturalist made the observations which provided the inspiration for the further years of hard work on which his theory would be based. But if Charles Darwin had never lived, the name of Robert FitzRoy might be widely held in higher esteem than it is in our world, where it has remained forever in the shadow of Darwin' (Gribbin, FitzRoy, pp.5-6). 'Ever since his Beagle days FitzRoy had shown an interest in the study of the weather. Therefore, when the British government created (1855) the Meteorologic Office, instructed to gather weather information for shipping, it was not surprising that the Royal Society should ask FitzRoy be placed in charge of it … While a committee of the Royal Society deliberated about the exact nature of the work to be done by the Meteorologic Office, FitzRoy contacted the ship captains who would make meteorological observations for him. He was not satisfied merely to amass weather information; he wanted to warn sailors and others of approaching weather changes' (DSB).

Only one other complete copy of the Narrative in its original binding and inscribed by FitzRoy has appeared at auction, Christie’s South Kensington, 21 Sept 2005, lot 79; a copy inscribed by FitzRoy but lacking one of the plates sold at Bonham’s 19 June 2013, lot 43. Freeman 10; Hill 607; Norman 584; Sabin 37826.

4 volumes including index of vol. II, octavo (235 x 145mm). Half-titles, 8 engraved folding maps and charts loosely inserted in pockets at the front of each volume, as issued, the ribbon for extracting the charts still present in each pocket, 48 plates and charts, and 6 text illustrations, with advertisements dated August 1839 at end of the appendix (some light spotting to plates, a few of the charts split at folds). Original blue cloth (spines somewhat faded and with minor repairs). Provenance: Robert FitzRoy (presentation inscription ‘Dr. Lee, LL.D., a tribute of esteem and respect from Robt. FitzRoy, Sept. 19th, 1856’ to:) – John Lee (1783-1866, English philanthropist, astronomer, mathematician, antiquarian and barrister; inscribed in his hand ‘John Lee, Hartwell, a present from the accomplished author, 22 September 1856’, and with Lee’s armorial bookplate).
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