After three voyages as a subordinate officer Frederick Beechey was appointed commander of HMS Blossom in 1825 and assigned to the Bering Straits to await the arrival of John Franklin on his second overland expedition to the Mackenzie River Delta and on to the Alaska coast. Although Franklin never arrived (they missed each other by only 200 miles), Beechey and his men employed the time in scientific observation, especially of specimens of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks, some from the South Seas but many from the Arctic waters of Kamchatka and Alaska.
The result is this beautifully illustrated zoological catalogue of the voyage which took Beechey over ten years to publish. His Introduction candidly describes the problem:
I wish I could with sincerity have included with the above-mentioned names that of Mr. J. Gray, who undertook to describe the shells, but the publication has suffered so much by delay in consequence of his having been connected with it, that it is a matter of the greatest regret to me that I ever acceded to his offer to engage in it. The delay has…been occasioned entirely by Mr. Gray’s failing to finish his part in spite of every intercession from myself and others: promising his MS. from time to time, and thereby keeping the department in his own hands, yet always disappointing the printer, until at length, from other causes, the publisher (Mr. Richter) fell into difficulties, and all the plates and letterpress were sold by the assignees and lost to the government.
I found nothing about books or reading in this volume, though one would have assumed the technical nature of the work would have required some scientific support.