Numero LXXV. Nouvelles Extraordinaires de Divers Endroits du Vendredi 18 September, 1789 ... Extrait d'une lettre de Madrid du 1 Septembre ...
Leiden: Etienne Luzac, 18 September 1789. Small 4to. (8 1/2 x 6 1/4). Woodcut arms of the Netherlands at the head of the first sheet. 4pp. With a 4pp. "Supplement aux Nouvelles Extraordinaires de Divers Endroits du Numero LXXV" inserted. Together, 8pp.
Extremely rare broadsheet containing news of the Malaspina expedition: among the earliest printed records of Spain's greatest scientific voyage to the Pacific Ocean, California and the Northwest Coast of America in the 18th century.
The extract under the above heading continues: "... Les Corvettes de la Marine Royage, la Découverte & l'Entreprenante, commandées par Don Alexandre Malespina, Capitaine de Frégate, ont mìs à la voile de Cadix le 30 Juillet dernier. L'Expédition, dont elles son chargées, ayant pour objet les progrès des Sciences & de la Géographie, elles ont été munies de tout ce qui est nécessaire pour faire un voyage autour du Monde; & outre des Oficiers d'une habilité reconnuë, elles ont à bord des Astronomes, des Naturalistes, des Botanistes, des Peintres de Perspective & de Botanique, pourvus d'une Collection ample & précieuse d'Instruments de Mathématiques, de Physique, & Astronomie." Other news in the broadsheet concerns revolutionary events in France, including a lengthy speech from Necker given at the National Assembly, as well as news from Russia, Stockholm, the Hague and elsewhere.
In 1789, Malaspina and Bustamente drew up plans for this scientific circumnavigation which was to rival Captain Cook, the purposes being to chart the most remote regions of America and to observe the political state of America relative to Spain. Alexander Dalrymple assisted them with scientific instruments, a brilliant team of scientists was assembled and ships specially constructed. Surveys were made of the east and west coasts of South America, they fixed the exact position of Cape Horn, correcting Cook's reading. On receipt of orders to investigate the apocryphal Strait of Anian they sailed for Alaska and entered Yakutat Bay at the supposed latitude of the strait, where the Malaspina Glacier flows into the sea, and followed the coast to Prince William Sound and Nootka. Malaspina surveyed the coast south to California at Monterey Bay and crossed the Pacific in 1791. Two of his officers and Jose de Espinosa y Tello returned north in search of a North-West Passage and published the charts and account of this secondary voyage in 1802. In the Philippines, New Zealand and New South Wales, Malaspina continued charting before making an easterly passage around the Horn for Spain.
"In spite of having commanded Spain's greatest scientific voyage of exploration to the South Seas in the eighteenth century, [Malaspina] is virtually unknown. He had enemies in the Spanish court who suppressed his reports, which were not printed until...1885. Some scholars consider the exploits of his five-year voyage as great as those of La Pérouse or of Captain Cook" (Hill). Eighteenth century material concerning the voyage is of the utmost rarity.
Howgego M26; Cf. Hill 1068.