DALRYMPLE, Alexander (1737-1808)
An Historical Collection of the Several Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean
London: Printed for the author, and sold by J. Nourse and T. Payne, 1770 [-1771]. 2 volumes in one, quarto. (10 3/8 x 8 3/8 inches). Two volumes bound in one. [iii]-xxx,24,24,204,; ,124,20,8,12,40pp. 16 engraved maps and plates (4 folding maps, 12 plates [6 folding]). Lacks both half-titles and the leaf after the Introduction in volume one (c4, often lacking). (Minor foxing).
Contemporary calf, spine with raised bands in six compartments, red and green morocco lettering pieces in the second and third, the others with a repeat decoration in gilt (rebacked with original gilt spine laid down
Provenance: Earl of Derby (armorial bookplate); Paul Peralta-Ramos (small red inked ownership stamp on endpaper)
A rare, early work arguing for the existence of a great Southern Continent and reviewing the early Spanish and Dutch exploration of the South Pacific, illustrated with fine maps and plates: from the library of the Earls of Derby.
"This important work, issued before the return of Captain Cook's expedition, is the result of Dalrymple's strong belief in the existence of a southern continent" (Hill). In it, the author translates and reviews twelve foreign accounts of voyages which he believed supported its existence, including the Spanish voyages of Magellan, Mendana's voyage to the Solomon Islands in 1595, and that of De Quiros in 1606. The second volume comprises the Dutch accounts including those of Le Maire, Schouten, Tasman, and Roggeveen. All are preceded by a valuable introduction, a section explaining the sources for his Chart of the South Sea, as well as chapters on the Solomon Islands, including a comparative vocabulary, and the "natural curiosities at Sooloo."
Although Dalrymple's thesis on the existence of a southern continent would be disproved by Cook, Hill refers to Dalrymple as a cartographer "without peer" and as "a latter-day Hakluyt." Dalrymple made his career as a hydrographer to the East India Company. Originally offered the command of the Endeavour voyage to observe the transit of Venus, the command would be given instead to Cook, partly because of Dalrymple's insistence on being given an Admiralty commission. His disappointment and anger at the Admiralty is brought forth in the remarkable "dedication" of this work, in which he critiques previous British explorers of the region. Dalrymple would be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1771 and would later become the Hydrographer to the Board of Admiralty. In that capacity, Dalrymple would be responsible for preparing for publication the maps from the expeditions of Vancouver, Colnett and others.
Two issues of the work were published. "[The] first issue of 1769 is exceedingly rare, and there are only a few copies extant. The regular trade edition was issued in 1770 [as the present copy]. The second volume, printed in 1771, is exactly the same in both sets. However the two issues of the first volume have different title pages and preliminary materials" (Hill). Among the changes to the dedication are variant dates (April 1, 1769; Jan. 1, 1769), along with amended text to the attack on Captain Samuel Wallis ("who left the arms of a calypso"; "who, infatuated with female blandishments, forgot for what he went abroad"). In the latter issue, both the title and dedication are present as cancels.
Davidson, A Book Collector's Notes, pp. 36-7; Hill 410; Holmes (first issue) 32; Kroepelien 245; Spence 264; Sabin 18338.