A Voyage Round the World.
BOUGAINVILLE Louis de (1772.)
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Performed by His Most Christian Majesty, in the Years 1766, 1767, 1768, and 1769... Translated from the French by John Reinhold Forster. First English edition. 4to.xxvii, 476pp. Plus folding plate & 5 folding charts. Contemporary calf, beautifully rebacked by Aquarius. J. Nourse, London.
This, the first English edition of the first official French circumnavigation, was prepared for the press by both the Forsters. Georg, apparently, made the translation while his father contributed a preface and added copious footnotes. It is clear that Alexander Dalrymple had a hand in the production of the charts in this work.
Bougainville's first objective on his voyage around the world was to organise the handover of the Falkland Islands from France to Spain. Having completed this task he sailed for Patagonia, where, like Wallis, he measured the height of the fabled Patagonian Giants and found them to average less than six feet.
It is however his travels in the Pacific for which Bougainville is perhaps best known, including the New Hebrides, Samoa, the Solomons and Tahiti. The latter captured the Comte's imagination and, as well as a long description of the island and its people, he includes a vocabulary of some 300 words at the end of the text. Like many Europeans of the period he compared the Tahitians to Greek gods, and their island to Elysium, as did Joseph Banks in the following year when he arrived with Cook. Spence, 158; Cox I, 55; Hill, 165; JCB II, 1816; Kroepelien, 113; Sabin, 6869; Howgego, B142.
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