D’Urville proposed this second voyage to the South Seas but it was the French King who suggested that its first goal should be toward the South Pole as ice permitted. Through the Admiral Minister the King “approved everything I asked for.” This volume is taken from D’Urville’s journals of the second voyage with a great deal of connective commentary and paraphrases by the editor. It is her writing that appears in quotes below and his journals without quotes.
p. 325: I expressed the desire to make a trip to London to acquire various reference works and charts that were not to be found in Paris, and to get the most positive and authentic information concerning recent discoveries in the Antarctic regions. I was immediately authorized to make this trip [April 1837].
p. 333: Nov. 24, 1837: They were now approaching the southern tip of South America, and he decided to explore the Straits of Magellan first, suddenly realizing that he had time to do this after all and go to the Antarctic later, as on re-reading the accounts of other navigators who had preceded him in this direction, it became clear that January and February were the months of the greatest thaw in the polar ice.
p. 345, March 6, 1838: To forestall all misunderstanding and cut short any malicious objections or recriminations from persons ill-disposed towards our work, I myself openly confess that this first attempt was a complete failure as far as the main and particular goal assigned to it was concerned. [i.e., to go farther than Weddell and close to the South Pole.]
p. 353-54, August 3, 1938: D’Urville and other officers in Mangareva are critical of the Protestant and Catholic missionaries “who denigrated one another wherever they went.” According to D’Urville:
All the time they [natives] chant and recite the Latin prayers that the missionaries have had the barbarity to teach them by heart…they sing hymns while they work. So it was I heard a native singing at the top of his lungs the Pater Noster, distorted certainly, while he was wrapping dry pandanus leaves to strengthen or repair the exterior of his abode. Sometimes we sang along with them, then they would come running from everywhere, form a circle and join in the concert. A strange tableau indeed! A crowd of half-naked wild looking men singing among the trees in a world unknown until a short time ago, the prayers of the religion of civilized persons in a language of a people who disappeared from the globe so many years ago…!
p.450: visit it in Hobart with Sir John Franklin—very hospitable.
p. 465 Jan. 2, 1840: Everyone was aware that the part of the Antarctic circle that stretches directly south of Tasmania had not been explored by any navigator. By tracing on a chart the routes of the different voyagers who tried to penetrate into the ice, I had seen that the route taken by Cook was the only one to cross this space but the great English navigator still had not tried to go deep into those regions, he had remained below the 60° parallel…. There was one important discovery yet to be made; the position of the magnetic pole, the point it was so important to fix for the solution of the great problem of the laws of terrestrial magnetism.
p. 455-486: discusses his encounter with Wilkes and Wilkes’ paranoid interpretation of his maneuvers, and Wilkes secrecy about his work: I would have been happy to convey to our emulators the results of our research, in the hope that this information might have been of some use to them and enlarge the extent of our store of geographic knowledge. If I can believe what I heard in Hobart, it appears that the Americans do not share these ideas at all. Anywhere they landed they kept the utmost secrecy about their operations, and they have been very tight-lipped about giving us the slightest information about the work they have done.