JOHN BYRON (1723-1786) [AND CHARLES CLERKE, 1741-1779]
A Voyage round the World, in His Majesty's Ship The Dolphin, Commanded by the Honourable Commodore Byron. In which is Contained, A faithful Account of the several Place, People, Plants, Animals, &c. seen on the Voyage: And, among other particulars, A minute and exact Description of the Streights of Magellan, and of the Gigantic People called Patagonians. Together with An accurate Account of Seven Islands lately discovered in the South Seas. By an Officer on Board said Ship. London: J. and F. Newbery, 1767. 8° (210 x 120mm). 3 engraved plates and one leaf of advertisements (Title restored at lower margin, not affecting text.) 20th-century marbelised roan, spine gilt in compartments, gilt morocco lettering-piece.
FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION OF THE FASTEST CIRCUMNAVIGATION TO DATE on an Admiralty voyage ostensibly sent to the East Indies but whose true object was to make further discoveries in the South Seas, to search for 'Terra Australis' and to investigate New Albion on the N.W. American coast. In 1764 Byron sailed in the Dolphin with Captain Mouat on Tamar, with junior officers Charles Clerke and John Gore. Both Clerke and Gore later sailed with James Cook, with Clerke taking command of the final voyage after Cook's death. From Brazil, Byron continued south through severe storms and ice for Patagonia and through the Straits of Magellan, relating one of the best accounts of the straits to date and earning the name 'Foul-Weather Jack'. He searched for rumoured islands and identified new islands off the Falklands before being forced back to the straits by storms. His full passage through the straits took seven long weeks. He was no stranger to Cape Horn weather, however, having survived the wreck of Anson's ship Wager on his 1749 circumnavigation. Ashore in Patagonia he reported on the eight-foot tall Indians he found there (pictured in the frontispiece), a myth which endured for many years, and finally sighted the Falklands. He claimed them for England, unaware that Bougainville had recently claimed them for France. Ignoring his instructions to sail for New Albion, he headed for Juan Fernandez and the Tuamotus, where he discovered Danger Island, and others in the Tokelaus and Gilberts before making for the Philippines, Sumatra, the Cape of Good Hope and home to England. No significant discoveries were made, but on this fast voyage he lost no men to scurvy, secured the Falklands for England and stirred the Admiralty to make further exploratory voyages into the South Pacific. Appended are Byron's notes on the Patagonians and earlier first-hand accounts of them by Magellan, Cavendish and others. A map to accompany the voyage was only published in the Spanish edition of 1769. Hill 313; Kroepelien 152.