Voyage de La Prouse autour du monde publi conformment au dcret du 22 avril 1791 et rdig par M. L. A. Milet-Mureau....
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Paris: de l'Imprimerie de la Rpublique An V. (1797). Four quarto text volumes handsomely bound in later half calf with mottled boards. Spines decoratively gilt in compartments with raised bands and contrasting morocco title-labels. Endpapers and all edges marbled. Text printed on pale blue paper. Complete with half-titles and engraved portrait (a little foxed and with some offsetting to title-page). [With] folio atlas bound in later full calf with raised bands (rubbing to extremities and title-label). The atlas is complete with engraved pictorial title-page by Philippe Triere after Jean Michel Moreau le Jeune and 69 maps and plates 20 of which are folding. Front free endpaper partially detached some discolouration to edges of first and last pages some offsetting of plates and slight foxing. Notwithstanding this is a remarkably fresh set of the first edition. In 1785 at the behest of King Louis XVI French navigator La Prouse (1741-1788) embarked on a circumnavigation of the Pacific and what was undoubtedly one of the great voyages of discovery. Unfortunately La Prouse did not have the opportunity to bask in the glory that would surely have been his had he made it back alive. La Prouse was charged with completing the navigational work begun by Captain Cook; making observations on the various places their inhabitants flora and fauna etc.; and determining the activities of rival European powers in the Pacific as well as opportunities for the promotion of French interests. With two ships under his command La Boussole and L'Astrolobe an impressive party including naturalists astronomers historians and artists and armed with two of Captain Cook's compasses acquired through Joseph Banks La Prouse weighed anchor at Brest on 1 August 1785. The expedition rounded Cape Horn sailed up the coast of Chile across to the Sandwich Islands then north to Alaska and down the coast of North America as far as Monterey Bay in California. La Prouse then proceeded across the Pacific to Macao and Manila then up the coast of Asia to the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia before proceeding south to Botany Bay via Samoa Tonga and Norfolk Island. Two and a half years out from Brest on 24 January 1788 La Prouse arrived at Botany Bay just as Captain Arthur Phillip was planning to move with the First Fleet to Port Jackson. La Prouse set anchor two days later on the northern shore of Botany Bay (at La Prouse) and remained for six weeks until 10 March 1788 when he set sail for the voyage home. He was never heard from again and it wasn't until some forty years later that the wrecks of La Boussole and L'Astrolobe were discovered off Vanikoro in the present-day Solomon Islands (see entry for Dillon). Fortunately La Prouse sent back regular reports to France (the last of which was sent from Botany Bay) which were subsequently published in 1797 by France's then revolutionary government. As noted in the ADB "[t]hese volumes are still mines of cartographic and scientific information about the Pacific." (ADB 1967 vol. 2 p. 85).
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