DARWIN, Charles Robert (1809-1882) and other contributors. Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America and the Beagle's circumnavigation of the globe. Edited by Captain Robert Fitzroy. London: Henry Colburn, 1839.
3 volumes in 4, including the appendix to volume II, 4° (234 x 146mm). 48 plates and maps, one folding, most etched, 8 folding engraved charts in front pockets. 'Mr. Colburn's list of new publicatiions' at end of the appendix. (Some light browning and spotting to plates and charts, frontispiece in vol. I loose, plate opposite p. 498 in vol. II waterstained, occasional light spotting of text, a few quires in vol. III with light waterstain, 2C4r of the appendix vol. slightly soiled.) Uncut in original blue cloth [Freeman variant a], sides and spines panelled in blind, spines gilt-lettered (vol. I worn with lower cover detached and spine lifted and chipped, vol. II similarly worn, vol. III faded on spine but otherwise sound, appendix vol. frayed along spine). Provenance: Robert Doyne (bookplate).
VOLUME III COMPRISES THE FIRST ISSUE OF DARWIN'S FIRST BOOK, with the subsidiary title Journal and Remarks 1832-1836 by Charles Darwin. It was actually completed much earlier than volumes I-II, being in print early in 1838, and the work of a different London printer, Whiting. The other volumes, printed by J. L. Cox and Sons, consist of the more technical part of the narrative, volume I comprising Proceedings of the First Expedition, 1826-1830, under the command of Captain P. Parker King; and Volume II of the Proceedings of the Second Expedition, 1831-1836, under the Command of Captain Robert Fitzroy.
When issued separately in 1839, volume III bore the title Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the various countries visited by H.M.S. Beagle. Today Darwin's work is universally referred to as The Voyage of the Beagle, Freeman describing it as 'the most often read' of all his books and one that 'stands second only to On the Origin of Species as the most often printed.' Darwin joined the Admiralty survey ship H.M.S. Beagle as an unpaid naturalist after taking a poor degree at Cambridge, the general purpose of the voyage being to survey the coasts of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, Chile and Peru, to visit some Pacific Islands, and carry a chain of chronometrical stations around the world. His experiences on the five year voyage are what transformed him into a great scientist. Although he embarked on 27 December 1831 with no formal scientific training, Darwin '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' (Gavin de Beer, DSB p. 566). Freeman 10; Hill I, p. 104; Norman 584; Sabin 37826. (4)