Latest find in Heiskell Darwin Collection

Posted on September 13, 2013 | in CRC | by
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Our Darwin cataloguing is producing some interesting finds.  The most fascinating this week is this volume, “A Manual of scientific enquiry prepared for the use of Her Majesty’s navy”, 1849, which has come to us via Cape Horn!  This was a training manual, aimed at junior naval officers, containing chapters on different topics.  Darwin’s contribution was ‘Geology’.
Our copy has the name “Henry S. Bradley 1849” on the title page, and the same handwriting has filled in a ship’s position and weather information, for dates in November 1849, on a sample blank table in the ‘Hydrography’ chapter.  The positions turn out to show a course of a ship sailing out into the Atlantic from New England.
Henry S. Bradley, we discovered, sailed in November 1849, from Boston, for San Francisco, to join the gold rush in California.  He kept a journal of the trip, the manuscript of which is now in the collection of the California Historical Society, and which has since been published.  We now know where he learnt to keep up a ship’s log!
This copy of the ‘Manual’ has a major error in the typesetting of Darwin’s chapter uncorrected.  This is quite rare: many copies came with the whole chapter reprinted and supplied in a pocket in the binding.  This makes us wonder whether the error was not discovered until after the copies for the American market had been hurried onto a ship and it was too late to do anything about it.

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