On the great Pacific discovery expeditions of the "long eighteenth century", naturalists for the first time were commonly found aboard ships sailing forth from European ports. Lured by intoxicating opportunities to discover exotic and perhaps lucrative flora and fauna unknown at home, these men set out eagerly to collect and catalogue, study and document an uncharted natural world. This enthralling book is the first to describe the adventures and misadventures, discoveries and dangers of this devoted and sometimes eccentric band of explorer-scholars. Their individual experiences are uniquely their own, but together their stories offer a new perspective on the extraordinary era of Pacific exploration and the achievements of an audacious generation of naturalists. Historian Glyn Williams illuminates the naturalist's lot aboard ship, where danger alternated with boredom and quarrels with the ship's commander were the norm.
The 'rambling voyages' of William Dampier, self-taught naturalist 'Ten years of preparation; ten hours of exploration' : the Alaskan tribulations of Georg Wilhelm Steller 'My plants, my beloved plants, have consoled me for everything' : the fortunes and misfortunes of Philibert Commerson 'No people ever went to sea better fitted out for the purposes of natural history' : Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander 'A kind of Linnaean being' : the woes of Johann Reinhold Forster 'Curse scientists, and all science into the bargain' : Cook, Vancouver and 'experimental gentlemen' 'Devilish fellows who test patience to the very limit' : naturalists with La Pérouse and d'Entrecasteaux 'All our efforts will be focussed on natural history' : the scientific and political voyage of Alejandro Malaspina 'When a botanist first enters so remote a country he finds himself in a new world' : the Australian surveys of Nicolas Baudin and Matthew Flinders 'Like giving to a blind man eyes' : Charles Darwin on the Beagle.