# 40355

LAPLACE, Cyrille Pierre Théodore (1793-1875)

Cyrille Laplace, French navigator : autograph letter, signed, regarding the published account of his circumnavigation in La Favorite. Toulon, 16 September 1835.

$2,400.00 AUD

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Manuscript in brown ink, 2 pp., octavo (200 x 135 mm), on wove paper watermarked ‘MARION’; headed ‘Toulon, 16 September 1835’, and signed at the foot ‘C. Laplace’, the letter is to an unnamed recipient (but the content makes it clear it is addressed to a representative of the Imprimerie Royale, the publisher of his voyage account); in French; closely written, in a very neat and legible hand; a few spots of foxing, otherwise clean and complete.

Rare unpublished letter of the French naval officer and explorer Cyrille Laplace (1793-1875), with a request to the relevant government authorities to supply a batch of undelivered copies of his account of the circumnavigation in La Favorite, which had been promised to him.

Laplace completed two circumnavigations: the first, in La Favorite (1830-1832), is described by him in the official voyage account Voyage autour du Monde par les Mers de l’Inde et de la Chine: executé sur la Corvette de l’État la Favorite, pendant les Années 1830-32, which was published toward the end of 1833. The second would be undertaken in l’Artémise (1837-1840). Laplace, through his diplomatic efforts, helped lay the foundations for French trade in Oceania. He also played a key role in the establishment of the Hawaiian Catholic Church.

Although the primary objective of Laplace’s expedition in La Favorite was to re-establish French influence in Indo-China, it was also expected that he would try to forge economic opportunities for the French throughout the Pacific region. During its circumnavigation La Favorite called at Hobart (11 July – 7 August 1831) and Sydney (16 August – 21 September 1831), where numerous social events were held in honour of the ship’s visit. At the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, where the ship anchored on 2 October, the crew presented local Māori chiefs with guns. The New Zealand visit of the French caused consternation in New South Wales and was treated by the British Government as a matter of serious concern; it was probably one of a number of factors which led indirectly to the Treaty of Waitangi in February 1840.

Laplace writes from Toulon:

“[…] On arriving in this port I found my officers of La Favorite impatiently awaiting their copies of La Favorite [i.e. the voyage account] which, according to my calculation, they should have received several weeks ago. This delay has saddened me, [and] I am all the more annoyed that some of my comrades believe (albeit in good humour), or pretend to believe, that my poor work has remained unfinished […] I would ask, my dear sir, that you would be good enough to assure me as to whether the copies of La Favorite in question, as well as those which I had intended for several of my friends, left the depot. A wooden box arrived a few days ago at the prefecture, but it only contained the copies intended for Admiral Emeriault [Émeriau] and the library […]. If these fears are well-founded, then please be so kind as to send a new message and include the last two volumes of the account which belong to Pironneau (?) as well as the first two, just in case he has not received the copies granted to him by the State, as I have no doubt that Mr. Bapimes (?) has responded to my request to the Minister for the 10 copies; please once again be so kind as to include one in the first box that you will send to Toulon […]. Please, as we have agreed, take the copy that I asked you to accept; then [organise] those that I owe to the depot, and arrange for the rest to be delivered to my brother-in-law […]”.