A Chronological History of the Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean.
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This is a rare or used book from the Berkelouw Rare Books Department.
London: Printed by Luke Hansard 1803-1817. Five royal quarto volumes bound in contemporary speckled calf (not quite uniform) with gilt borders to front and rear boards and dentelles. Spines decoratively gilt and with contrasting red and green morocco title-labels. The first and second volumes have been re-backed with the original spines laid down and the back joint of volume III has been skilfully repaired. Endpapers and all edges marbled. Complete with 41 engraved charts and plates many of which are folding and 6 in-text woodcuts. Notwithstanding a little staining and foxing this is a very good set of the first edition. James Burney (1750-1821) sailed with Captain Cook on both his second (1772-1775) and third (1776-1780) Pacific voyages. He started out as an able seaman on board the Resolution progressing to Commander of the Discovery by the end of the third voyage. Burney was a witness to Cook's death at Kealakekua Bay in Hawaii in 1779. Burney's literary career began when he was forced into retirement for disobeying direct orders whilst convoying East India Company ships to Madras in 1782 (Oxford DNB online edn 2008). Burney in fact kept company with such literary giants as Samuel Johnson Charles Lamb William Hazlitt and Robert Southey (Oxford DNB). Burney's Discoveries in the South Sea is his tour de force in which he describes in chronological order the voyages and discoveries in the Pacific from the early voyages prior to Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe to Louis-Antoine de Bougainville's voyage to the Falkland Islands that is just prior to Cook's voyages. Burney dedicated the work to his life-long friend Sir Joseph Banks who encouraged Burney in his endeavour and allowed him unrestrained access to his considerable library. Burney was also able to obtain original accounts of Spanish discoveries from Alexander Dalrymple's collection of "scarce Spanish books" (p. ix) and was furthermore "favoured by Mr. Arrowsmith with many useful communications." (p. x) The result is as noted by Hill (2004 221) "The most important general history of early South Sea discoveries containing practically everything of importance on the subject." Burney was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1809. This cornerstone in the field of Pacific exploration is now somewhat difficult to come by.
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