Voyage médical autour du monde, exécuté sur la corvette du Roi la Coquille, commandées 1822, 1823, 1824 et 1825 ou Rapport sur l'état sanitaire de l'équipage pendant la durée de la campagne, avec quelques renseignemens sur des pratiques empiriques locales en usage dans plusieurs des contrées visitées par l'expédition; suivi d'un mémoire sur les races humaines répandues dans l'Océanie, la Malaisie et l'Australie.
Paris: Roret, 1829.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 8vo - over 7¾ - 9¾" tall. Very Good. Item #002431
8vo (200 x 125 mm). ii, , 244 pp., including half-title. Contemporary half-calf over marbled boards, marbled edges, spine lettered and decorated in gilt (light wear to board fore-edges and corners). Light occasional foxing, a bit stronger to first and final pages, but generally quite clean and bright internally; half-title with small tear at top margin. Provenance: illegible ownership signature at head of title. ----
RARE FIRST EDITION of this valuable medical and ethnographic complement to the round-the-world voyage of Louis-Isidore Duperrey, commander of the Coquille during the expedition in the Pacific carried out from 1822, and of which Lesson, botanist and physician, also gives a detailed report in 1838-1839.
"The son of a navy clerk of modest means, Lesson had had little formal education when in 1809, not yet sixteen years old, he entered the naval medical school of Rochefort. Lesson was largely self-taught in natural history, which became a lifelong passion. In 1811, he was conscripted into the navy as a third-class auxiliary surgeon, serving on several French ships and seeing action against the British. He qualified as officier de santé in 1816, competed successfully for third-class navy pharmacist that same year, and was promoted to second-class pharmacist in 1821. By this time, Lesson had also made a botanical survey of the Rochefort region, which was published much later (Flore Rochefortine, 1835). Lesson would probably have remained an obscure naturalist had he not embarked in 1822 on the corvette Coquille for a voyage of scientific exploration and discovery which dramatically altered his life and brought him into national prominence. On 11 August 1822, the Coquille sailed from Toulon, commanded by Duperrey with J.-S.-C. Dumont d'Urville second in command and responsible for acquisitions in botany and entomology. The other two naturalists, Garnot and Lesson, also served as medical officers; Garnot's fieldwork covered mammals and birds, while Lesson was assigned fish, mollusks, crustaceans, zoophytes, and geology. Among the places visited by the Coquille were Tenerife, Brazil, the Falkland Islands, Chile, Peru, Tahiti, New Ireland, the Moluccas, and Australia, where Garnot was forced by illness to leave the expedition in January 1824, and Lesson assumed his scientific and medical duties. The Coquille proceeded to New Zealand, the Caroline Islands, New Guinea, Java, Mauritius, Réunion, and St. Helena, finally landing at Marseilles on 24 March 1825. On 18 July 1825, Cuvier and Latreille reported to the Academy of Sciences on the expedition's zoological data and collections, which had been deposited at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Lesson and Garnot were praised for bringing back hitherto unknown species of birds, reptiles, fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. Lesson was also cited for his remarkable colored illustrations of fish and mollusks and for his valuable aid to Dumont d'Urville for the insect collection. A later report on the voyage of the Coquille, made by Arago to the Academy on 22 August 1825, mentioned 330 geological specimens brought back by Lesson. For Lesson, the four years of leave in Paris from 1825 to 1829 were his most productive scientifically. He wrote furiously, published the results of his voyage, studied, and made friends with outstanding naturalists and scientists of the capital. Upon his return to Rochefort he taught botany at the naval medical school and in 1831 was made professor of pharmacy. A succession of promotions culminated in 1835 with his appointment as the top-ranking navy pharmacist (premier Pharmacien en chef) for Rochefort. In 1833 he was elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences" (DSB).
Literature and references: Ferguson, J.A. Bibliography of Australia, 1279; A. Bergman, Lesson, René-Primevère. In : DSB, vol. VIII, p. 265; Bagnall, 3135; O'Reilly-Reitman, 4216 and 9040; not in the catalogue of the Hill collection.
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