A Journal of a Voyage Round the World, in His Majesty's Ship The Dolphin,

CLERKE Charles. ([c. 1780])


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Commanded by the Honorable Commodore Byron... By a Midshipman on Board the said Ship. 12mo. Contemporary sheep. iv, 5-94pp. London, A. Manson, c.

An unsophisticated copy of this rare surreptitious account of Byron‘s 1764-66 circumnavigation, which was the fastest on record at the time. This work is usually attributed to Midshipman Charles Clerke, who later served on all three of Cook’s voyages. He spent the final six months of the third voyage in command and contributed to the official account.

It records the aspects of the Dolphin’s voyage for which it is famous: namely an encounter with the Patagonian Giants and its claim of the Falkland Islands for Britain. As with other unofficial accounts, it takes part of its vitality from what are surely embellishments, none being more salient than those relating to the Patagonians. While Byron’s official account (first published in Part I of Hawkesworth’s Voyages) describes a relatively short meeting, Clerke’s suggests a longer stay as he comments on numerous facets of Patagonian society, such as education, medicine, taxation and urbanity. Another point of differences the estimation of the height of the natives, which Byron deems to be between 6.6 and 7 feet, while Clerke claims their stature to extend to ‘about ten feet’. In this respect, the Midshipman’s report is fleshed out according to the body of the myth and would have appealed greatly to the popular imagination back in Europe.  

While this account appeared in a number of editions, our copy alters from the 1767 edition (believed to be the first) in that it is shorter and is not illustrated. The pagination links it with a 1784 edition, printed for A. Millar & J. Hodges. Any Midshipman edition is rare and this is certainly the case for the book in question, of which there are only 9 in WorldCat (2 of which are in Europe).


Stock Code: 210660

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