[CROZET, Julien Marie, 1728-1780; SURVILLE, Jean-François-Marie de, 1717-1770] ROCHON, Alexis Marie, editor.
Nouveau voyage a la Mer du Sud : commencé sous les ordres de M. Marion … On a joint à cet voyage un Extrait de celui de M. de Surville dans les mêmes Parages.
The first French voyages to Australia and New Zealand.
Paris : Barrois l’aîné, 1783. Octavo, quarter calf with gilt ornament and contrasting morocco title label over papered boards, expertly rebacked; pp viii, 291, with 7 engraved plates, including folding map; the plates with occasional pale foxing; a very good copy, finely bound.
Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne (1724-1772) was a skilful and accomplished mariner. In 1746, at the age of just 22, he had commanded the Prince de Conty, which had aided Bonnie Prince Charlie in his escape from Scotland. By the 1760s he was living on the Isle de France (Mauritius), and in 1770 a French vessel arrived there from France with the Polynesian Aotourou on board. Aotourou had been collected on Bougainville’s circumnavigation in 1768 and was now to be returned to his native Tahiti. Dufresne undertook to make the voyage to Tahiti, largely at his own expense, but the expedition was struck by smallpox and Aotourou died shortly after setting sail from Mauritius. The expedition continued, however, and after claiming the sub-Antarctic Crozet Islands for France, reached Van Diemen’s Land in March 1772, where the two ships anchored at what is now known as Marion Bay. The sailors became the first Frenchmen to set foot on Australian shores, as well as the first Europeans to encounter the indigenous inhabitants of Tasmania. After relations with the Aborigines became hostile, the ships sailed on to New Zealand, only the second time (after de Surville) the French had reached this part of the world.
After initial peaceful contact – the French were able to communicate with the Māori based on the few Polynesian words Aotourou had taught them – the expedition broke a covenant by fishing at Manawaora Bay, and were attacked by the Māori, who killed and cannibalised twenty-six of their number, including the commander du Fresne. Crozet, second-in-command of the voyage, retaliated by sacking a village and killing 250 of its inhabitants, before setting sail and returning to France. Du Fresne’s journals were lost, but Crozet’s manuscripts enabled the publication of this volume in 1783. It includes much detailed information on Māori life and customs. Also included is the first printed account of the earlier expedition to New Zealand of de Surville, who had mapped part of the west coast at the same time as Cook.
Davidson wrote in A Book Collector’s Notes ‘It is an exceedingly rare item and is seldom available’.
Hill, 401; Kroepelien, 1104; O’Reilly & Reitman, 326; Davidson, pp. 98-99.