DARWIN, Charles. -- FITZROY, Robert (1805-1865, editor), and Capt. Philip Parker KING (1793-1856). Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. London: Henry Colburn, 1839.
4 volumes, including Appendix to vol. II, 8o (234 x 148 mm). 6 (of 8) folding engraved maps loosely inserted in front cover pockets, 47 etched plates and engraved plans, and one folding engraved map, woodcut illustrations (lacking 2 folding maps from pocket of Vol. III, one or two minute tears in creases of maps). (Lightly browned, one or two spots, Vol. III quite spotted with a few pale stains.) Original dark-blue cloth decorated in blind, spines with title, author's name, and imprint 'Colburn, London' in gilt at foot [Freeman binding variant a], pockets retaining their original ribbons for extracting the maps (all but the Appendix expertly rebacked preserving the original cloth); modern green cloth slipcase. Provenance: E.L. Amory (bookplate volumes I., II., and Appendix); Henry Guerlac (1910-1982), scientific historian (bookplate volumes II., Appendix and III.).
"IT IS A MOST DANGEROUS TASK, IN THESE DAYS, TO PUBLISH ACCOUNTS OF PARTS OF THE WORLD" (Darwin)
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE OF DARWIN'S FIRST PUBLISHED BOOK, Journal and Remarks 1832-1836, contained in volume III. The young Darwin seems to have been genuinely surprised by FitzRoy's invitation to publish his journal as part of the official narrative of the Beagle's five-year circumnavigation.
"Of course I have said I am perfectly willing," Darwin wrote to his sister Caroline on the homeward journey, "he [FitzRoy] has read over the part I have on board and likes it. I shall be anxious to hear your opinions, for it is a most dangerous task, in these days, to publish accounts of parts of the world, which have so frequently been visited" (Correspondence I, p. 496). However, his presence as captain's companion and gentleman scientist, and the chances he took to explore the hinterland of South America on horseback, had ensured it was a surveying voyage like no other. While his studies concentrated initially on geology, applying the theories proposed in Lyell's Principles of Geology (vol. I of which was given him by FitzRoy), the experience also aroused a desire to understand and explain the distribution and development of the species he encountered, leading to the opening of his first notebook on "Transmutation of Species" in 1837. Overall the great open-mindedness and pointed curiosity of the Journal make it the most interesting and readable scientific autobiography yet published. Freeman 10; Hill 607; Norman 584; Sabin 37826. (4)