London: Printed for J. Johnson, St. Paul's Church Yard, 1798. First English language edition. Hardcover. 3 volumes, lacking atlas folio. Octavo. Vol. I: x, 532pp. Vol. II: x, 498pp. Vol. III: viii, 446pp. followed by 60 page section "Tables, Shewing the Course of L'Boussole, During the Years 1785, 1786, 1787, and 1788, from the Time of the Ship's Sailing from Europe till its Arrival in Botany Bay" & "Tables, Shewing the Course of L'Astrolabe, During the Years 1785, 1786, and 1787, from the Time of the Ship's Sailing from Europe till its Arrival in Kamtschatka." Contemporary gold-ruled three-quarter calf over marbled boards with gold decorated spine. Ribbon markers. Frontispiece engraving of La Pérouse in vol. I. First English language edition of the captivating account of de La Pérouse's ill-fated 1785-1788 expedition. After the American Revolutionary War, King Louis XVI ordered a exploring voyage to rival that of Captain Cook. The objectives were geographic, scientific, ethnological, economic, political and to explore the North and South Pacific, including the coasts of the Far East and Australia. Jean-Francois de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse was given command of two ships (the Boussole & Astrolabe) which left France in 1785. After rounding the Cape Horn in early 1786, they reached Hawaii in May of the same year. After charting the shoreline during the summer months they sailed towards California, arriving in Monterey on September 13, 1786. Less than 10 days later the ships set sail for China via the South Pacific, spending more than a year in Asian waters. La Pérouse reached Australia in January 1788. Six weeks later both ships wrecked, hitting a coral reef off Vanikoro Island. According to the inhabitants of the Island, some surviving sailors built a two-masted boat from the wreckage of the Astrolabe and left in a westward direction a few months later. Their fate remains unknown. During his voyage the captain sent back letters with accounts of his experiences during the voyage. He also sent French officer J. Baptiste Barthélemy (Baron de Lesseps) to Europe with journals, charts and documents. In 1791 Louis Antoine Milet-Mureau was commissioned to edit a book from these materials, which was first published in France in 1797. English translations appeared a year later. "There are three separate translations into English from the original French of which two, the one published by Stockdale and that published by Johnson appeared in the same year, 1798. The preface to the Stockdale edition leads one to suppose that Johnson's was issued slightly earlier" (Ferguson, Australia 270. Hill, p. 471; p. 174n). With all the 41 maps and engravings, many in fold-out. Translated from the French.
Age wear, abrasions and some staining to bindings. Ex-libris of Labor Omnia Vincit on inside of front covers. Closed tears on pages 277/278 in vol. I & pages 11/12 in vol. II. Brown water staining on top right margin of plate (between pages 430/431) in vol. II. Water staining on few pages (incl. frontispiece), slightly affecting text or plates. Very minor worming on first two blank leaves in vol. I. Slight foxing to some leaves & plates, usual rippling to leaves. Bindings in fair, interior in overall good to good+ condition. Item #29582