Item #4504302 Relation de Deux Voyages dans les Mers Australes & des Indes, faits en 1771, 1772, 1773 & 1774… Extrait du Journal de sa Navigation pour la découverte des Terres Australes…. Yves Joseph de KERGUELEN-TREMAREC.
Relation de Deux Voyages dans les Mers Australes & des Indes, faits en 1771, 1772, 1773 & 1774… Extrait du Journal de sa Navigation pour la découverte des Terres Australes…

Relation de Deux Voyages dans les Mers Australes & des Indes…
Relation de Deux Voyages dans les Mers Australes & des Indes, faits en 1771, 1772, 1773 & 1774… Extrait du Journal de sa Navigation pour la découverte des Terres Australes…

Paris: Knapen & fils, 1782.

Octavo, with a folding map; contemporary French mottled calf, spine gilt in compartments; a good copy.

Suppressed account of the French search for a continent towards the South Pole

The only edition: a key work in the history of France's discoveries in the "Terres Australes". Its rarity is traditionally explained by the bulk of the edition having been suppressed by the French government, supposedly because of the book's dedication "A la Patrie". The book gives the very important account of two significant voyages which set out from France under the command of Kerguelen with the highest hopes for discoveries in the Indian Ocean and indeed for the longed-for southern continent.

The only edition: a key work in the history of France's discoveries in the "Terres Australes". Its rarity is traditionally explained by the bulk of the edition having been suppressed by the French government, supposedly because of the book's dedication "A la Patrie". The book gives the very important account of two significant voyages which set out from France under the command of Kerguelen with the highest hopes for discoveries in the Indian Ocean and indeed for the longed-for southern continent.

On his first voyage, Kerguelen found and charted the inhospitable Kerguelen Island, four years before Cook's visit there. His irresponsible reporting of the value of his discovery assured him of his second command, a circumnavigation with emphasis on scientific as well as geographical discovery - it ended in disaster, with Kerguelen dismissed from the service and imprisoned for six years because of a series of episodes at sea all of which demonstrated gross negligence.

Kerguelen's two voyages finally proved to the French what Cook had already generally demonstrated - that the southern continent was a fiction - but more importantly, their disastrous result ensured that promotion in the French navy would henceforth be based on merit rather than breeding. 'La Pérouse may not have been a well-connected courtier, but he was honest and capable: that he was given the opportunity to lead the most comprehensive French expedition of the eighteenth century was a direct result of the Kerguelen episode…' (J. Dunmore, French Explorers in the Pacific; pp. 196-249 give a full history of Kerguelen and his significance in the history of French exploration).

Often overlooked in the miasma of incompetence surrounding Kerguelen is the startling achievement of his companion Saint-Aloüarn, who was given command of the small Gros Ventre to accompany Kerguelen on his first voyage. While Kerguelen headed back to France, the smaller Gros Ventre continued to sail in the dangerous Indian Ocean and headed for New Holland, reaching the coast near modern-day Augusta on Flinders Bay; they then sailed north over 1000 kms to Dirk Hartog Island where Saint-Aloüarn became the first European to formally claim possession of Western Australia. Saint Aloüarn died in Mauritius on his way home, having dictated a letter to advise Kerguelen that he had taken possession of western New Holland.

The size of Kerguelen's ambitions for his second voyage are easily seen in the fact that he had three ships, that he was supposed to complete a circumnavigation of the globe, and that there were plans for scientific discoveries of the sort that would later be associated with La Pérouse and Baudin, none of which he achieved. This is as may be: the most fascinating loose-end of all is that if Saint Aloüarn's claim of possession had in fact been followed by the landing of some of Kerguelen's frustrated settlers, the history of western Australia may well have been very different.

Kroepelien, 641; not in the Hill collection.

Condition Report: Joints of the binding neatly repaired.

Price (AUD): $15,500.00

US$10,196.05   Other currencies

Ref: #4504302

Condition Report