DARWIN, Charles (1809-1882), Robert FITZROY (1805-1865) and Philip Parker KING (1793-1856). Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of the Adventure and the 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.
4 volumes 8vo., (9 x 5 6/8 inches). (Without the half-title in volume one). 47 engraved plates (spotted and a bit browned) and 9 folding maps by J. Gardner and J. and C. Walker, including one loose in pocket at end of volume II (one or two repairs at folds). Modern full navy morocco, gilt.
Provenance: with the faint penciled ownership inscription of Rev. John Allen Wedgwood (1796-1882), who officiated at the wedding of his cousins Emma Wedgewood and Charles Darwin in 1839, on the half-title of volume III.
"IT DETERMINED MY WHOLE CAREER" (Darwin)
First edition, first issue of volume III, which is Darwin's "Journal and Remarks 1832-1836", and his first printed book, and a pleasing association copy.
This celebrated voyage, which lasted five years, was the "key formative event in Darwin's life. It 'determined my whole career' (Autobiography, 76), giving him an unrivalled opportunity to make observations, collect animals and plants, and explore some of the most beautiful, desolate, and isolated places in the world. Under FitzRoy the voyage's objectives extended to include geophysical measurements, and the 'Beagle' was equipped with a variety of instruments and devices, including a lightning conductor and a large number of marine chronometers for measuring longitude. The Admiralty intended the officers to make a chain of exceptionally accurate measurements round the globe. The ship also carried out trials on Beaufort's wind scale" (Desmond, Moore, and Browne).
Between 1832 and 1836 the 'Beagle' visited the Cape Verde Islands, Brazil, Montevideo and Buenos Aires, Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn, the Falkland Islands, Patagonia, the west coast of South America (Chiloé, Valparaíso, Lima), most famously the Galápagos Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia (Sydney, Tasmania, King George's Sound), the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Mauritius, Cape Town, and St Helena and Ascension. In all these places Darwin collected a vast numbers of specimens: insects, birds, molluscs, small vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants, meticulously recording their provenance, appearance, and behaviour in his notebooks and diaries.
Of these the specimens the greatest and most important by far became the birds from the Galápagos Islands, which the ornithologist and artist John Gould helped Darwin to classify on his return to England. The similarities and differences between the species inhabiting different islands, and between the island species and those of continental South America, gave rise to Darwin's initial thoughts on the possibility of transmutation of characteristics in species, and represents to history the origin of his revolutionary and controversial theories of evolution. Freeman 10; Hill I pp 104-5; Norman 584; Sabin 37826. Catalogued by Kate Hunter