"THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT… IN THE HISTORY OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE": DARWIN'S VOYAGE ON THE H.M.S. BEAGLE
DARWIN, Charles, FITZROY, Robert, and KING, Philip Barker. Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle, between the Years 1826 and 1836, Describing their Examination of the Southern Shores of South America, and the Beagle's Circumnavigation of the Globe. London: Henry Colburn, 1839. Four volumes. Octavo, period-style three-quarter brown calf, raised bands, burgundy and black morocco spine labels, marbled boards, endpapers and edges. $46,000.
First edition of the account of the most famous voyage in the history of biological science and modern thought. Volume III is the first issue of Darwin's Journal, his first published book, containing the observations and fieldwork that form the basis for On the Origin of Species.
"The five years of the voyage were the most important event in Darwin's intellectual life and in the history of biological science. Darwin sailed with no formal scientific training. He returned a hard-headed man of science, knowing the importance of evidence, almost convinced that species had not always been as they were since the creation but had undergone change… The experiences of his five years in the Beagle, how he dealt with them, and what they led to, built up into a process of epoch-making importance in the history of thought" (DSB). Darwin's Journal, "his first published book, is undoubtedly the most often read and stands second only to On the Origin of Species as the most often printed" (Freeman, 31). It is "one of the most interesting records of natural history exploration ever written and is one of the most important, for it was on this voyage that Darwin prepared for his lifework, ultimately leading to The Origin of Species" (Hill I:104-05). Volume I contains Captain King's account of the first expedition, which surveyed the coasts of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego; Volume II, with its appendix volume, is Captain Fitzroy's account of the second voyage of the Beagle. Complete with 44 plates, four inserted charts and maps, and eight folding maps. (Folding charts and maps, originally issued loose, have been bound into their respective volumes, at the rear.) Bound with half titles, except for Appendix to Volume II. Bound without publisher's advertisements at rear of Appendix volume. Freeman 10. Norman 584. Hill I:104-05. Sabin 37826. Faint evidence of inkstamps on title pages.
Text and plates generally clean, folding maps in excellent condition, with only the occasional short split or bit of archival reinforcement to verso. Period-style bindings handsome and fine. A most desirable about-fine copy.