WALES, William (1734-1798) and BAYLY, William (1737-1810). [SECOND VOYAGE] -- The Original Astronomical Observations, made in the Course of a Voyage towards the South Pole, and Round the World, in His Majesty's Ships the Resolution and Adventure, in the Years MDCCLXXII, MDXXLXXIII, MDCCLXXIV, and MDCLXXV. London: Printed by W. and A. Strahan, 1777. 4o (295 x 238 mm.). Four plates comprising: folded map, two folding plates, one double-page plate (some light soiling). Contemporary tree calf (rebacked).
Provenance: Nevil Maskelyne (1732-1811), astronomer royal, his ownership signature; Margaret Maskelyne, bookplate.FIRST EDITION. Wales and Bayly were sent in 1769 by the Royal Society to Hudson's Bay to observe the Transit of Venus. Wales was engaged by the Board of Longitude to make astronomical observations on the second voyage. This volume records the observations made after Bayly joined Wales aboard the Resolution after having served as astronomer on the Adventure and Discovery. At this time the Royal Society was under the leadership of Nevil Maskelyne, who was made astronomer royal in 1765, and was therefore an instrumental figure behind Cook's voyages. His own observations and discoveries produced impressive results: 90,000 observations between 1776 and 1811 with only one assistant; perfecting the method of transit-observation; obviating the affects of parallax; inventing the prismatic micrometer. Like Cook, he was awarded the Copley medal for his achievements. Maskelyne had himself attempted to observe the Transit of Venus at St. Helena in 1761 but was unsuccessful. Maskelyne interviewed the possible observers scheduled for another attempt and chose Wales and Bayly at a rate of 400 pounds per annum each. Wales "was the cleverest and one of the most amiable men in the Resolution," a friend of the artist Hodges and also with Cook himself. Wales's experiences on the voyage are said to have been the inspiration fo Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Bayly did not enjoy such favor, or acclaim, but his participation in the voyage nonetheless produced valuable scientific discovery. (See Ricahrd Hough, Captain James Cook, 1994). The present volume joins these participants in one of the second voyage's important missions with its creator. Maskelyne makes a notation on p.138 of the Astronomical Observations made at the Island of Ascension in which he corrects the coordinates for the highest part of the island from W. by N. 1/4 N to "E by S 1/4 S" and the distance from four to three leagues. Sabin 101029; Mitchell Library Cook 1287; Holmes 26. AN IMPORTANT ASSOCIATION COPY.