London: Printed for James and John Knapton, 1729.
Hardcover. Good. Four volumes in an early binding, complete with all 36 maps and profiles and 27 plates. Leather is darkened and brittle at the spines, with front boards of Volumes I and IV only just holding on, one map with old tide mark. Otherwise a very good, clean set. Each volume has the bookplate of Thomas Fowler of Pendeford on the front pastedown. A collected edition of Dampier's voyages, most previously published in separate volumes between 1697 and 1709. Also includes previously unpublished works by William Funnell (who served with Dampier) and Lionel Wafer, as well as a reprint of William Hacke’s A Collection of Original Voyages, originally printed in 1704, and containing accounts by William Ambrosia Cowley, Bartholomew Sharp (who had taken Dampier on his first privateering expedition), John Wood and Captain Roberts. Hill (422): "This collection of Dampier's works is considerd by many to be the best edition....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 Enlightenment, he was not interested in marvels, but in examination and description of natural phenomena. Through his writings, Dampier made known the profitable possibilities of the Pacific." Carl Thompson, in Speake (Literature of Travel and Exploration), writes that "it is hard to overestimate William Dampier's contribution to British travel writing," noting that it was he who brought travel literature into vogue among the general reading public. "His writings signal a new spirit among British travelers, marked by a new emphasis on accurate observation and detailed description. Seen in this light, Dampier inaugurates a tradition of scientific exploration that leads to James Cook in the late eighteenth century.Dampier also stimulated the literary as much as the scientific imagination in this period: the novel, in English especially, owes a huge debt to this seminal traveler."