University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department


TWO HUNDRED YEARS BEFORE THE MAST

SOUTH SEAS

Aside from voyages to the arctic, maritime exploration falls into two distinct periods: one before 1650 in the New World, the other in Pacific between 1680 and 1780, when the Frenchman Bougainville and the Englishman James Cook ascertained the essential geographical facts about the southern oceans, including Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands. Although exploration of the South Seas continued well into the nineteenth century, an increasing number of voyages in the southern Pacific concentrated on the expansion of trade resources and the consolidation of political and commercial influence.


William Dampier (1652-1715).
A New Voyage Round the World. London: James Knapton, 1699-1709. 4 volumes.

Volumes 3 and 4 bear the titles A Voyage to New Holland ... and A Continuation of a Voyage to New Holland ... On his first voyage around the world, Dampier was among the first Englishmen to land on Australian shores, at the entrance of King Sound. In 1699 he undertook a second voyage to Australia, known as New Holland, and afterward published this very readable account of the journey, which includes accurate information on the islands in the Pacific.

Gift of Joseph Y. Jeanes, Jr.


John Marra.
Journal of the Resolution's Voyage.... London: F. Newbery, 1775.

On his second voyage, 1772-75, James Cook sought to verify reports of the existence of a great southern continent. He brought with him a competent staff of astronomers, naturalists, and artists, including Johann and Georg Forster. Cook sailed eastward, keeping along the edge of the ice in the southern hemisphere. Cook made a complete circumnavigation of the Antarctic, made numerous landings at New Zealand and islands in the south seas, discovered New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, the Isle of Pines, and Sandwich Land, rediscovered South Georgia island, but never sighted the Antarctic continent and refuted its existence. This voyage is particularly remarkable for its hygienic success after more than 1,000 days his crew remained free of scurvy and other diseases, losing only one man to sickness.

This publication is a rare account of Cook's second voyage, the first full version to appear in print, written by John Marra, a gunner's mate on the Resolution. It was published surreptitiously a year and a half before Cook's official narrative, recording many incidents omitted by Cook and giving the reasons Sir Joseph Banks and his twelve assistants withdrew from the expedition at the last moment. Marra himself made an unsuccessful attempt to desert at Tahiti.

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates


Thomas Forrest (1729-1802).
Voyage to New Guinea. Dublin: W. Price and H. Whitestone, et al., 1779.

Between 1774 and 1776, English navigator Thomas Forrest commanded an exploring expedition to New Guinea for the East India Company with a view to developing new trade sources. The voyage was one of examination and inquiry rather than discovery. He pushed his explorations as far as Geelvink Bay in New Guinea, examining the Sulu Archipelago, the south coast of Mindanao, and the islands of Mandioli, Batjan, and Waigeo. His published account of the voyage pays particular attention to the manners and customs of the peoples he encountered.

Gift of Joseph Y. Jeanes, Jr.


William Bligh (1754- 1817).
A Voyage to the South Sea ... for the Purpose of Conveying the Bread Fruit Tree to the West Indies, in His Majesty's Ship the Bounty ... London: George Nicol, 1792.

This is the first edition of the official account of the voyage of the Bounty. The account of the mutiny was published separately by Bligh in 1790. This edition includes a somewhat revised version of the text of the mutiny narrative. The account was based upon Bligh's journal but was written, edited, and seen through the press by James Burney, under the supervision of Sir Joseph Banks, during Bligh's absence from London on his second breadfruit voyage.

In 1787 the ship Bounty under command of Lieutenant Bligh was dispatched to Tahiti for the purpose of collecting bread fruit trees and conveying them to the West Indies for transplanting. This work of collecting was successfully carried out. But while at the Island of Aitutaki, of the Cook or Hervey group, the crew mutinied under the leadership of first mate Fletcher Christian. Bligh with eighteen others was put into the ship's launch along with a few provisions and some instruments and set adrift. After a voyage of 3600 miles and forty-one days the launch succeeded in reaching Timor and Java in the Dutch East Indies, where they were taken in by the Dutch and hospitably treated. Bligh bought a small schooner and continued on to England. The mutineers themselves divided into two parties. One group landed at Tahiti where they were eventually apprehended and tried in England. The other group remained with the Bounty and eventually formed a settlement at Pitcairn Island.


Edmund Fanning (1769-1841).
Voyages to the South Seas....New York: William H. Vermilye, 1838.

Edmund Fanning was an American sea captain, explorer, and promoter of South Sea trade. Early in his career he discovered the group of islands in the South Pacific that today are called the Fanning Islands. Fanning promoted and acted as agent for more than seventy expeditions to the South Seas, occasionally taking part himself. In 1833, he published his memoirs as Voyages Around the World .... This second edition of his memoirs and all subsequent editions bear the title Voyages to the South Seas ....

Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates


Thomas Jefferson Jacobs.
Scenes, Incidents, and Adventures in the Pacific Ocean. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1844.

This narrative recounts the voyage, of the Margaret Oakley under the command of the American sealing captain and explorer Benjamin Morrell. He is known mostly for his early sealing expeditions in the South Seas which are recounted in his 1832 A Narrative of Four Voyages to the South Seas. The voyage of the Margaret Oakley is among his later journeys. On this voyage it is rumored that he pirated the Margaret Oakley, then did some original exploration in the South Seas before being shipwrecked at Madagascar.


Introduction Circumnavigations Arctic Explorations Collections Personal Narratives Scientific Expeditions Fiction

for reference assistance email Special Collections
Return to list of exhibitions
Footer
Back to the UD Special Collections Home Page

This page is maintained by Special Collections

Last modified: 12/21/10
  • UD Library Special Collections  •   181 South College Avenue  •   Newark, DE 19717-5267  •   USA
    Phone: USA +1 302-831-2229  •   ©2014