The Natural History of the Sperm Whale… to Which is Added a Sketch of a South-Sea Whaling Voyage.
John Van Voorst, ( 1839), London
12mo, 19.5 cm. vi-393 pp. b/w plates and illustrations in text.
First edition thus. In 1835 Beale published a 58-page pamphlet about the natural history of the sperm whale. This account is much more detailed and, as Hill observes, includes the narrative of his whaling voyage on the British whaler “Kent” in 1831 and 1832, which is published here for the first time. This is one of the two books (along with Bennet’s work – see below) that Herman Melville in “Moby Dick” lauds as giving an accurate description of sperm whales and their habitat. As Beale advertises, “its anatomy and physiology food spermaceti ambergris rise and progress of the fishery chase and capture ‘cutting in’ and ‘trying out’ description of the ships, boats, men, and instruments used in the attack; with an account of its favorite places of resort.” It is also the first account of the author’s two visits to Hawaii. In the course of their 2-year Pacific cruise, they visited “Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, Peru, Hawaii, and the Caroline, Mariana, and Society Islands. Herman Melville apparently acquired a copy of this book in 1850, and admired it for its eyewitness narrative as well as its research and accuracy.” – Hill 89. Forster 5. Jenkins, p. 79. This appears to be an unrecorded gift binding, of dark green blindstamped cloth with title in gold and all edges gilt. Fine condition.