DAMPIER, William (1652-1715)
[DAMPIER]. Nouveau voyage autour du monde ; ou l’on decrit en particulier l’isthme de l’Amerique … plusieurs cotes & isles des Indes Occidentales, les isles du Cap Verd, le passage par la Terre del Fuego, les Cotes Meridionales du Chili, du Perou, & du Mexique, l’Isle de Guam, Mindanao, & des autres Philippines, les Isles Orientales qui sont pres de Cambodie, de la Chine, Formosa, Lucon, Celebes, &c. la Nouvelle Hollande, les Isles de Sumatra, de Nicobar, de Saint Helene, & le Cap de Bonne-Esperance. Ou l’on traite des differens terroirs de tous ces pays, de leurs ports, des plantes, des fruits, & des animaux qu’on y trouve : de leurs habitans, de leurs coutumes, de leur religion, de leur gouvernement, de leur negoce, &c.
Rouen : Jean-Baptiste Machuel le Jeune, 1715. Five volumes, duodecimo, bound in contemporary calf, spines in compartments with gilt ornament and contrasting morocco title labels lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers, title pages in red and black, a total of 64 engraved maps, charts and views (including three frontispiece engravings), many of them folding, engraved initials, headpieces and tailpieces.
A fine set of the first collected edition of Dampier, in a handsome contemporary French binding.
As a boy, Dampier had sailed on merchant ships, firstly to Newfoundland and then to Java. He then tried his hand at farming in Mexico and the Caribbean. By his late twenties he was commanding raids on Spanish ships and settlements in South America, plundering them for loot. In 1686 Dampier set sail across the Pacific to ransack Spanish colonies in the East Indies, and later that year his ship the Cygnet was beached on the north-west coast of New Holland, making him the first Englishman to set foot on Australian shores. Dampier made extensive notes of the exotic species he found there, before making the return voyage to England via the Cape of Good Hope. His account of this voyage was first published in 1697. Dampier returned to New Holland in 1699-1701 in the Roebuck, and again published an account of this dramatic voyage (1703). He was to make further piratical voyages, as well as a third circumnavigation, before his death in London in 1715.
The Rouen edition is the first collected edition of Dampier’s works, and predates the first such English edition by fourteen years. It includes many fine copperplates of Australian fauna and coastlines. Dampier’s contribution to the early study of Australia is significant, and he has been referred to as ‘Australia’s first natural historian’.