Paris: Saillant & Nyon, 1771. ,417,pp. with twenty-three maps and plates. Half title. Contemporary mottled calf, gilt, leather label. Minor shelf wear. Small contemporary bookplate of the Duc de Decrès on front pastedown. Very minor foxing in margins of half title and last leaf. A remarkably bright and clean copy. Fine. Item #WRCAM49586
First edition of this important work. Bougainville first undertook an expedition to the Falkland Islands and Patagonia, at his own expense, to secure them for French colonization. To avoid possible conflict due to Spain's envy of this acquisition, France gave up the territory to her. The narrative of that expedition was related in THE HISTORY OF A VOYAGE TO THE MALOUINE ISLANDS... (Paris, 1770). After delivering the Falklands to Spain, Bougainville was ordered across the Pacific to the East Indies, and then home. The completion of the three-year voyage marked the first official French circumnavigation and inspired much French interest in the Pacific islands. The party collected abundant natural history information concerning the regions visited; a chapter on the Falklands gives the history of their settlement as well. The expedition stopped at many South Sea islands, among them Tahiti, and included is a long section on that island as well as a vocabulary of the natives. Bougainville was in Buenos Aires when the order arrived for the expulsion of the Jesuits from Paraguay, which he describes in detail. An extraordinary capstone to this remarkable voyage was that Bougainville lost only seven out of two hundred men. "Bougainville also touched at the Moluccas, Batavia, and Mauritius before he arrived once again in France in 1769. Although Bougainville made only a few important discoveries, he created a great deal of interest among the French in the Pacific, which resulted in the voyages of Marc-Joseph Marion de Fresne and Jean François de La Pérouse. The largest island in the Solomons and two straits in the Pacific bear his name, and the tropical flowering vine called bougainvillea was also named for him. Bougainville later took part in the American Revolution, survived the French Revolution, and was made a senator and count of the Empire by Napoleon I. Bougainville's accounts of Pacific Islanders in this work echoed Jean Jacques Rousseau's concepts of the 'noble savage,' and inspired Denis Diderot to write his denunciation of European contact with indigenous peoples" - Hill. This copy belonged to Admiral, later Duc, Denis Decrès, Napoleon’s Minister for the Navy and the Colonies from 1801 to 1814, with his bookplate on the front pastedown. Decrès was the Minister directly responsible for Nicholas Baudin's voyage to Australia. Therefore, there could have been much instructive value in the present volume for Decrès, who perhaps used Bougainville's experiences with regard to Baudin, to assist in the various enquiries into voyage events, many of them relating to Baudin's unfortunate command. A highly distinguished French naval provenance for one of the country's legendary travel narratives. HILL 163. SABIN 6864. O'REILLY & REITMAN 283. BORBA DE MORAES, p.115. DU RIETZ 117. COX I, p.55.