Relation abrégée d'un voyage fait dans l'intérieur de l'Amérique méridionale. Depuis la côte de la mer du Sud, jusqu'aux côtes du Brésil & de la Guiane, en descendant la riviere des Amazones, lûe à l'assemblée publique

Relation abrégée d'un voyage fait dans l'intérieur de l'Amérique méridionale. Depuis la côte de la mer du Sud, jusqu'aux côtes du Brésil & de la Guiane, en descendant la riviere des Amazones, lûe à l'assemblée publique

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Author: La Condamine, Charles Marie de (1701-1774)

Year: 1745-1746

Publisher: Chez la Veuve Pssot

Place: Paris


2 volumes in one. Relation abrégée xvi+216 pages with folding map; with Lettre a Madame*** sur l'Emeute Populaire Excite' e En la Ville de Cuenca au Peru, le 20 dAout 1739 108 pages with foldout plate. Octavo (8" x 5 1/4") bound in contemporary mottled calf with five raised spine bands with red label in gilt lettering and gilt designs to compartments. First edition complete with second part of the tragic death of the surgeon Jean Seniergues (not present in all copies).

The Lettre a Madame *** sur l'emeute populaire excitee en la ville de Cuenca au Perou, le 29. d'août 1739, [Paris: chez la veuve Pissot?], 1746, is sometimes bound with this edition of La Condamine's Relation; it is unclear whether the "Lettre" was issued with a "second issue" of the Relation in 1746.

Charles Marie de La Condamine was a French explorer, geographer, and mathematician. He spent ten years in present-day Ecuador measuring the length of a degree latitude at the equator and preparing the first map of the Amazon region based on astronomical observations. He joined the French Geodesic Mission to present-day Ecuador which had the aim of testing a hypothesis of Isaac Newton. Newton had posited that the Earth is not a perfect sphere, but bulges around the equator and is flattened at the poles. Newton's opinion had raised a huge controversy among French scientists. Pierre Louis Maupertuis, Alexis Claude Clairaut, and Pierre Charles Le Monnier traveled to Lapland, where they were to measure the length of several degrees of latitude orthogonal to the arctic circle, while Louis Godin, Pierre Bouguer, and La Condamine were sent to South America to perform similar measurements around the equator. The expedition was beset by many difficulties, and finally La Condamine split from the rest and made his way to Quito, Ecuador separately following the Esmeraldas River, becoming the first European to encounter rubber in the process. He joined the group again on 4 June 1736 in the city of Quito. La Condamine is credited with introducing samples of rubber to the Académie Royale des Sciences of France in 1736. The meridian (longitudinal) arc which La Condamine and his colleagues chose to measure the length of passed through a high valley perpendicular to the equator, stretching from Quito (now the capital of Ecuador) in the north to Cuenca in the south. The scientists spent a month performing triangulation measurements in the Yaruqui plains — from 3 October to 3 November 1736 — and then returned to Quito. After they had come back to Quito, they found that subsidies expected from Paris had not arrived. La Condamine, who had taken precautions and had made a deposit on a bank in Lima, traveled in early 1737 to Lima to collect money. He prolonged this journey somewhat to study the cinchona tree with its medicinally active bark (containing the anti-malarial drug quinine), the tree being hardly known in Europe. After returning to Quito on 20 June 1737, he found that Godin refused to disclose his results, whereupon La Condamine joined forces with Bouguer. The two men continued with their length measurements in the mountainous and inaccessible region close to Quito. When in December 1741 Bouguer detected an error in a calculation of La Condamine's, the two explorers got into a quarrel and stopped speaking to each other. However, working separately, the two completed their project in May 1743. La Condamine chose to return by way of the Amazon River, a route which is longer and more dangerous. His was the first scientific exploration of the Amazon. He reached the Atlantic Ocean on 19 September 1743, having made observations of astronomic and topographic interest on the way. He also made some botanical studies, notably of cinchona and rubber trees. In February 1744 he arrived in Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana. He did not dare to travel back to France on a French merchant ship because France was at war (the Austrian Succession War of 1740–1748), and he had to wait for five months for a Dutch ship, but made good use of his waiting time by observing and recording physical, biological, and ethnological phenomena. Finally leaving Cayenne in August 1744, he arrived in Amsterdam on 30 November 1744, where he stayed for a while, and arrived in Paris in February 1745. He brought with him many notes, natural history specimens, and art objects that he donated to the naturalist Buffon (1707–1788). La Condamine published the results of his measurements and travels with a map of the Amazon in Mém. de l'Académie des Sciences, 1745 (English translation 1745–1747). This included the first descriptions by a European of the Casiquiare canal and the curare arrow poison prepared by the Amerindians. He also noted the correct use of quinine to fight malaria.


Some foxing, corners bumped and rubbed, some scuffing to leather, bookplate of Haskell F Norman and Ruben Dussaunt to front paste down and end paper, spine renewed to style else a very good copy.

SOLD 2018

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