Narrative of a Voyage Round the World, in the Uranie and Physicienne Corvettes, Commanded by Captain Freycinet, During the Years 1817, 1818, 1819, and 1820; on a Scientific Expedition Undertaken by Order of the French Government

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Author: Arago, Jacques Étienne Victor (1790-1855)

Year: 1823

Publisher: Treuttel and Wurtz, Jun. and Richter

Place: London


[6]+xxvii+[3, Table of Contents and Directions for Placing Plates]+285; [2]+297+[3] pages with folding frontispiece map and 14 lithographed plates (two folding) Part 2: 299 pages with 11 lithographed plates, tables, in-text red line diagram and appendices. Quarto (10 3/4" x 8 1/2") bound in half leather with new spine and original marbled boards. (Ferguson 885; Hill 298; Sabin 1865) First English Edition.

Jacques Étienne Victor Arago was a French writer, artist and explorer, author of a Voyage Round the World. Jacques Arago joined Louis de Freycinet as an artist when he left Toulon in 1817 in command of a scientific voyage around the world aboard the corvette Uranie. The expedition returned in 1820 and Arago was the first to publish an account, the Promenade autour du monde, in the form of letters to a friend named Battle, in 1822. An English translation followed in 1823. He continued to expand on his adventures in further editions and in the late 1830s published a much longer version under the title Souvenirs d'un Aveugle (Memoirs of a Blind Man). There are significant differences from the Promenade and the reliability is in doubt. Having been given a challenge many years later by a lady at a social dinner, he then published Voyage autour du monde, sans la lettre A (Voyage around the world, without the letter A), later known as Curieux voyage autour du monde, in 1853, where he tells of his round trip lipogrammatically, that is, without once using the letter "A". the lady replied with a letter without the letter C. "The Uranie, with a crew of 125 men under the command of Captain Louis de Freycinet, entered the Pacific from the West to make scientific observations on geography, magnetism, and meteorology. Arago was the artist of the expedition, which visited Western Australia, Timor, Hawaii, and New South Wales. The original ship was wrecked off the Falkland Islands. Two months later the expedition continued aboard the Physicienne, which stopped for a time at Rio de Janeiro. These letters, written in a lively and witty literary style, provide vivid descriptions of the topography and the inhabitants of the Pacific islands. The book achieved great success." - [Hill, 28 & 29]. The scientific reports were separately published by Freycinet from 1825 to 1844, the most notable of which recorded the measurement of the southern hemisphere. Arago's popular account focuses on the scenery, people and natural history of the Pacific, reflected in the title of the first French edition: Promenade autour du monde. His drawings are among the most realistic expedition illustrations of their time, well outside the classical rendition given to Pacific islanders by Bartolozzi in his interpretation of the drawings of Webber and Hodges on Cook's voyages. Louis de Freycinet had first been to the Pacific with Nicholas Baudin's Australian exploratory expedition of 1800-1803 when he was responsible for its charts and atlases. This 1817 expedition was of his own design, intended for scientific rather than geographic discovery. Sailing east from the Cape of Good Hope in the Uranie, he made for Timor, Micronesia and Hawaii, Australia, and the Malouines (Falkland Islands), where his one ship was wrecked and another was purchased and re-christened Physicienne. Appended are vocabularies for Timor, the Marianas and Carolines, and Hawaii.


Folding lithographed map trimmed with slight loss at right-hand edge. 2 folding plates at foot with short tears to edges, plates foxed and offset, title browned, light water-staining towards end affecting 2 plates. Contemporary half calf rubbed, rebacked, corners repaired else very good.

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