Rapport sur la recherche à faire de M. de la Pérouse…
Rapport sur la recherche à faire de M. de la Pérouse, fait à l'Assemblée Nationale, au nom de ses deux Comités d'Agriculutre [sic], Commerce & de la Marine, précédé de la pétition de la société d'histoire naturelle de Paris, sur la même sujet.

Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1791.

Octavo, 16 pp.; tipped into modern wrappers, with a fitted case.

First call for the search for La Pérouse

The direct catalyst for the D'Entrecasteaux voyage in search of La Pérouse, who had not been heard from since 1788: the exceptionally rare separate printing of the petition to the Assemblée Nationale for an expedition in search of the French navigator, and the consequent report to the Assembly by Delattre, the deputy for Abbeville. It was this petition and report that compelled the National Assembly to issue its first decree in February 1791 formally acknowledging its fears for the expedition, as well as a second in April calling for the publication of all La Pérouse's accounts and charts. Delattre's work was thus directly responsible for the commissioning of the voyage of D'Entrecasteaux and Kermadec to search for their predecessor.

The direct catalyst for the D'Entrecasteaux voyage in search of La Pérouse, who had not been heard from since 1788: the exceptionally rare separate printing of the petition to the Assemblée Nationale for an expedition in search of the French navigator, and the consequent report to the Assembly by Delattre, the deputy for Abbeville. It was this petition and report that compelled the National Assembly to issue its first decree in February 1791 formally acknowledging its fears for the expedition, as well as a second in April calling for the publication of all La Pérouse's accounts and charts. Delattre's work was thus directly responsible for the commissioning of the voyage of D'Entrecasteaux and Kermadec to search for their predecessor.

---

No news of La Pérouse had been received since he failed to reach Mauritius in December 1788, and over the ensuing two years pressure mounted in France for an expedition to search for his two vessels. It was the Société d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris that made the fateful intervention when, in January 1791, they decided to petition the National Assembly. Delattre, one of their deputies and the chairman of the Comité d'Agriculture et de Commerce, was given the task of preparing the report published here, and of presenting their demands.

Delattre compares apparent French inactivity to date unfavourably with the urgency that the British have shown in searching for the Bounty mutineers; he also points out that before the Revolution the King had ordered all vessels to respect the expeditions of Captain Cook: if France could be so generous to a British navigator they would do well now to show honour to their own. He insists that it is time for La Pérouse's intended route to be published so that all nations involved in Pacific trade and exploration can assist in locating the ships. He gives an overview of the proposed route, demonstrating that the two ships were supposed to have been in the Torres Strait by July 1788, from whence they were ordered to investigate the Gulf of Carpentaria and the coast of west Australia, before proceeding to Mauritius at the end of the year.

The difficulty Ferguson had in cataloguing the work is testament to its rarity. He first noted it in the addenda to Volume II, basing his entry on the Edward Weber Allen checklist of La Pérouse (1941) and a copy in the Turnbull Library in New Zealand. The full entry in the Ferguson Addenda volume derives from a Maggs catalogue of 1950, with a record of three copies -- Allen Collection (California), Turnbull Library, and National Library of Australia. It was not recorded by McLaren for his bibliography "Lapérouse in the Pacific". This is the second time that we have handled this copy; the only other example that we have seen for sale in recent decades is now on exhibition at the Musée Maritime de Nouvelle-Calédonie

Provenance: Private collection (Sydney).

Allen, Jean François Galaup De Lapérouse: a Check List, p. 10; Kroepelien, 286; not in the catalogue of the Hill collection.

Price (AUD): $6,400.00  other currencies Ref: #4505107

Condition Report