27 September 2006
ALEXANDER DALRYMPLE (1737-1808)
An Historical Collection of the Several Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean. London: for the Author, sold by J. Nourse, T. Payne and P. Elmsley, 1770-1771. 2 volumes in 1, 4° (267 x 212mm). Half-titles and 3pp. of errata. 4 folding engraved maps, 12 plates, 8 of these folding. (Without directions to the binder, spotting, small repair on title, maps with a few short tears at folds.) Contemporary calf, spines gilt with red morocco lettering-piece, yellow edges (rebacked, extremities rubbed). Provenance: Thomas Murdoch (bookplate) -- a 20th-century collector (ink stamp on front blank and half-title).
FIRST EDITION OF THIS 'IMPORTANT WORK' (Hill), a valuable summation of all the published information then available about the southern Pacific, and one of a select number of works which Cook took with him on his second voyage. 'Dalrymple is now considered to have been a latter-day Hakluyt' (Hill). He remarks in his preface that the collection 'is almost entirely a literal translation' of Spanish and Dutch accounts of voyages in the South Pacific with particular reference to the existence of a Southern Continent. Pedro Fernandez de Quiros' account of the discovery of 'Australia del Espiritu Santo' in 1605-6 figures prominently. Dalrymple, the Hydrographer to the East India Company, was a rival to Captain James Cook to lead the expedition aboard the Endeavour to find 'Terra Australis'. The present work was published while Cook was away and led to Dalrymple's election to the Royal Society. A first issue dated 1769 is known; it is 'exceedingly rare, and there are only a few copies extant' (Hill 409). Hill 410; Sabin 18338; Spence 335.
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