Jules Sebastien Cesar Dumont d'Urville - Encyclopedia

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JULES SEBASTIEN CESAR DUMONT D'URVILLE (1790-1842), French navigator, was born at Conde-sur-Noireau, in Normandy, on the 23rd of May 1790. The death of his father, who before the revolution had held a judicial post in Conde, devolved the care of his education on his mother and his maternal uncle, the Abbe de Croizilles. Failing to pass the entrance examination for the Ecole Polytechnique, he went to sea in 1807 as a novice on board the "Aquilon." During the next twelve years he gradually rose in the service, and added a knowledge of botany, entomology, English, German, Spanish, Italian and even Hebrew and Greek to the professional branches of his studies. In 1820, while engaged in a hydrographic survey of the Mediterranean, he was fortunate enough to recognize the Venus of Milo (Melos) in a Greek statue recently unearthed, and to secure its preservation by the report he presented to the French ambassador at Constantinople. A wider field for his energies was furnished in 1822 by the circumnavigating expedition of the "Coquille" under the command of his friend Duperrey; and on its return in 1825 his services were rewarded by promotion to the rank of capitaine de fregate, and he was entrusted with the control of a similar enterprise, with the especial purpose of discovering traces of the lost explorer La Perouse, in which he was successful. The "Astrolabe," as he renamed the "Coquille," left Toulon on the 25th of April 1826, and returned to Marseilles on the 25th of March 1829, having traversed the South Atlantic, coasted the Australian continent from King George's Sound to Port Jackson, charted various parts of New Zealand, and visited the Fiji Islands, the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Amboyna, Van Diemen's Land, the Caroline Islands, Celebes and Mauritius. Promotion to the rank of capitaine de vaisseau was bestowed on the commander in August 1829; and in August of the following year he was charged with thedelicate task of conveying the exiled king Charles X. to England. His proposal to undertake a voyage of discovery to the south polar regions was discouraged by Arago and others, who criticized the work of the previous expedition in no measured terms; but at last, in 1837, all difficulties were surmounted, and on the 7th of September he set sail from Toulon with the "Astrolabe" and its convoy "La Zelee." On the 15th of January 1838 they sighted the Antarctic ice, and soon after their progress southward was blocked by a continuous bank, which they vainly coasted for 300 m. to the east. Returning westward they visited the South Orkney Islands and part of the New Shetlands, and discovered Joinville Island and Louis Philippe Land, but were compelled by scurvy to seek succour at Talcahuano in Chile. Thence they proceeded across the Pacific and through the Asiatic archipelago, visiting among others the Fiji and the Pelew Islands, coasting New Guinea, and circumnavigating Borneo. In 1840, leaving their sick at Hobart Town, Tasmania, they returned to the Antarctic region, and on the 21st of the month were rewarded by the discovery of Adelie Land, which D'Urville named after his wife, in E. The 6th of November found them at Toulon. D'Urville was at once appointed contre-amiral, and in 1841 he received the gold medal of the Societe de Geographic. On the 8th of May 1842 he was killed, with his wife and son, in a railway accident. near Meudon.

His principal works are - Enumeratio plantarum quas in insulis Archipelagi aut littoribus Ponti Euxini, &c. (1822); Voyage de la corvette "l'Astrolabe," 1826-1829 (Paris, 1830-1835), and Voyage au pole sud et Bans l'Oceanie, 1837-1840 (Paris, 1842-1854), in each of which his scientific colleagues had a share; Voyages autour du monde; resume general des voyages de Magellan, &c. (Paris, 1833 and 1844). An island (also called Kairu) off the north coast of New Guinea, and a cape on the same coast, bear the name of D'Urville.

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