LESUEUR, Charles Alexandre
Voyage de découvertes aux Terres Australes exécuté par ordre de sa Majesté, l'Empereur et Roi, sur les corvettes le Géographe, le Naturaliste, et la goëllette le Casuarina pendant les années 1800, 1801, 1802, 1803 et 1804 ...rédigé par Péron et continue par M. L. de Freycinet. (Atlas par MM. Lesueur et Petit.) Historique. 3 vols & Atlas, containing 38 plates, 15 maps.Paris: l'Imprimerie Impériale, 1807 – 1817.
Vol. 1. Historique, by François Péron. 1807
Vol. 2. Historique [by Francois Péron, completed by L. de Freycinet] 1816.
Vol. 3. Navigation et géographie, [by L. Freycinet.] 1815.
Atlas historique [by C. A. Leseur & N. Petit] 1817.
[The following summary of the complex authorship and history of this voyage is a conflation of selections from various articles from the Wikipedia, accessed 3-2020:]
In October 1800 Napoleon selected the French explorer, cartographer, naturalist and hydrographer Nicolas Baudin (1754-1803) to lead what became known as the Baudin expedition to map the coast of Australia (New Holland). To make the voyage and conduct research Baudin had two ships, Géographe and Naturaliste captained by Hamelin, and a suite of nine zoologists and botanists, including Jean Baptiste Leschenault de la Tour. Baudin left Le Havre on 19 October 1800, stopped off in St. Croix, Tenerife, then sailed straight to the Ile de France arriving on 15 March 1801, 145 days later. The voyage, overlong with early rationing left sailors and scientists feeling discouraged, but the colony was happy to build up the crews in case of conflict and to make use of the new skills they brought with them. Baudin reached Australia in May 1801, and would explore and map the western coast and a part of the little-known southern coast of the continent. The scientific expedition proved a great success, with more than 2500 new species discovered. The French also met Aboriginal peoples and treated them with great respect.
In April 1802 Baudin met Matthew Flinders, also engaged in charting the coastline, in Encounter Bay in present-day South Australia. Baudin then stopped at the British colony at Sydney for supplies, and from there he sent home the Naturaliste, carrying all of the specimens that had been collected by both ships up to that time. Realizing that the Géographe could not venture into some of the shallow waters along the Australian coast that he was intending to survey, he bought a new ship — Casuarina — named after the wood it was made from, and placed it under the command of Louis de Freycinet, who would 15 years later make his own circumnavigation in the corvette l'Uranie. Baudin then headed back to Tasmania, before continuing along the southern and western coasts of Australia to Timor, mapping as he went. In very poor health, Baudin then turned for home, stopping at Mauritius, where he died.
During the voyage, which charted significant stretches of the Australian coast between 1801 and 1803, the naturalist François Péron clashed repeatedly with Baudin. When Stanislas Levillain and René Maugé died, Péron rose to prominence as the sole remaining zoologist. (Baudin had already lost numerous officers, sailors, savants and artists who deserted in Mauritius.) With the aid of the artist Charles Alexandre Lesueur, Péron was largely responsible for gathering some 100,000 zoological specimens—the most comprehensive Australian natural history collection to date. Although he died before he could fully study his specimens, Péron made a major contribution to the foundations of the natural sciences in Australia and was a prescient ecological thinker. He was also a pioneer oceanographer who conducted important experiments on sea water temperatures at depth.
Baudin died before he could return to France, and it was Péron who began writing the official account of the expedition: Voyage de découvertes aux Terres Australes. In doing so, he committed a great injustice to his former commander's memory by magnifying his faults and frequently distorting the historical record. In the wake of the resumed fighting between France and Britain, Péron also drafted a secret Mémoire sur les établissements anglais à la Nouvelle Hollande, which advocated a French conquest of Port Jackson with the aid of rebellious Irish convicts.
Péron died of tuberculosis in his hometown of Cérilly in 1810. He was just thirty-five years old. The task of completing the official account of the expedition fell to Louis de Freycinet.
Digital facsimile from Biodiversity Heritage Library at this link.
Subjects: NATURAL HISTORY, VOYAGES & Travels by Physicians, Surgeons & Scientists