"HE MADE THE PROFITABLE POSSIBILITIES OF THE PACIFIC KNOWN": SCARCE 1729 COLLECTED "BEST" EDITION OF DAMPIER'S VOYAGES, WITH ENGRAVED MAPS AND PLATES
DAMPIER, William. A Collection of Voyages. In four volumes: Containing I. Captain William Dampier's Voyages round the world… II. The voyages of Lionel Wafer… And Davis's expedition to the golden mines. III. A voyage round the world… By W. Funnel… IV. Capt. Cowley's voyage round the globe. V. Capt. Sharp's journey over the Isthmus of Darien, and expedition into the South-Sea. VI. Capt. Wood's voyage through the Streights of Magellan. VII. Mr. Roberts's adventures and sufferings amongst the corsairs of the Levant: his description of the Archipelago Islands, &c. Illustrated with maps and draughts: also several birds, fishes and plants. London: Printed for James and John Knapton, 1729. Four volumes. Octavo, contemporary full tan paneled and speckled calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, tan morocco spine labels. $24,000.
Scarce 1729 "best edition" of Dampier's important voyages, including Wafer's account of Dampier's Panama isthmus crossing, Funnell's account of Dampier's last commanding voyage on the St. George, as well as Hacke's account of several other pirating expeditions. With 36 maps and elevations (17 folding) and 27 engraved plates (four folding), a handsome and desirable copy in contemporary paneled calf-gilt.
"Dampier was the best known, and probably the most intelligent, of the famous group of buccaneers that tormented the Spaniards in the South Sea from 1680 to 1720. His industry in taking notes of all he saw was equaled by his pains in preserving them from destruction. His first voyage, under Captain Swan in the Cygnet, took him from Virginia to Spanish America and across the Pacific to the East Indies. He traveled extensively in the Orient on several voyages which lasted from 1683 to 1691. It was on one of these trips that the first landing was made by the English on Australian shores… His description of the aborigines of Australia probably inspired Jonathan Swift to write about Gulliver among the Yahoos… Dampier's accounts show him to have been a careful observer of everything affecting navigation and of the natural history of the lands he visited. His style is clear and simple, making his writings almost classical. A precursor of the 18th century, he was not interested in marvels, but in examination and description of natural phenomena. Through his writings, Dampier made the profitable possibilities of the Pacific known" (Hill). In 1703, Dampier was given command of the privateer vessel St. George. This voyage turned out to be so fraught with problems (including mutiny) that Dampier himself gave no account of his time upon the St. George. Volume IV of this 1729 edition, however, does include an account by the ship's mate, William Funnell. During Dampier's service as pilot for Captain Woodes Rogers' privateer voyages with the ships Duke and Duchess in 1708, a sailor Alexander Selkirk (member of Dampier's former St. George crew) was rescued from the island of Juan Fernandez. The incidents of Selkirk's marooning later inspired Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Of this voyage, Dampier also remained silent—Rogers' own Cruising Voyage (1712) is the most famous account. His final voyage was a successful one, having captured a Manila treasure ship carrying £200,000 in merchandise. Unfortunately, Dampier never enjoyed his share of the prize money, as it was not paid until after his death in 1715. First published between 1697-1709. Advertisement leaf at rear of Volume I. Hill 422. NMM 117-120. Sabin 18373-18377. Evidence of bookplates in Volumes I-III; bookplate present in Volume IV.
Text and plates remarkably clean and fine, contemporary calf-gilt with only minor rubbing, near-fine and quite handsome. A desirable set.