La Navigation, Poëme. LA PEROUSE, J. ESMÉNARD, Joseph-Alphonse.
La Navigation, Poëme.
La Navigation, Poëme.
La Navigation, Poëme.

La Navigation, Poëme.

Paris: Chez Giguet et Michaud, 1805.

Two volumes, octavo, engraved frontispiece and half-title in each volume; nineteenth-century mottled calf, gilt.

Waiting for La Perouse

First edition of Esmenard's epic poem on voyages of discovery generally, and La Pérouse specifically. The work includes a plate of the 'Naufrage des Canots de la Pérouse au Port des Français', showing the tragic events in Alaskan waters in 1786 when the expedition's boats got into serious trouble in (present-day) Lituya Bay with substantial loss of life.

First edition of Esmenard's epic poem on voyages of discovery generally, and La Pérouse specifically. The work includes a plate of the 'Naufrage des Canots de la Pérouse au Port des Français', showing the tragic events in Alaskan waters in 1786 when the expedition's boats got into serious trouble in (present-day) Lituya Bay with substantial loss of life.

A hardy and experienced mariner himself, Esmenard composed the poem while under sail with Villaret-Joyeuse to Martinique. The epic poem demonstrates his broad knowledge of the voyages of the eighteenth century, with references to Bougainville, Malaspina, Byron, Wallis and Surville, as well as sections on the 'immortelle' Anson and 'sage et malheureux' Cook.

The work is an homage to the great French sailor La Pérouse, 'maître du monde', and is one of the most beautiful examples of the enduring interest in his fate, given that by 1805 he had been missing for over a decade. On the scaffold Louis XVI is said to have repeated his continual question: "Is there any news of La Pérouse?"

Esmenard writes that the distraught French people still wait and hope for his return, but probably in vain. In fact, both text and image assume that La Pérouse has wrecked on some fatal island: 'Dans ce gouffre écumant que la mort environne, / De leur fatal naufrage embrassent les débris, / Voyez-vous ces soldats, entendez-vous leurs cris, / Mêlés au bruit lointain des rochers et de l'onde?'

Very rare: not known to Ferguson but appearing in the Addenda volume noting Bibliothèque Nationale and National Library of Australia copies only.

Ferguson, Addenda, 409a (noting Bibliotheque Nationale and National Library of Australia copies only); McLaren, 320 (adding Mitchell Library copy); Sabin, 22880 (later edition only)

Price (AUD): $3,250.00  other currencies Ref: #3704934

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