Recueil de divers voyages faits en Afrique et en l'Amerique,
qui n'ont point este' encore publiez; contenant l'origine, les moeurs, les coûtumes & le commerce des habitans de ces deux parties du monde. Avec des traitez curieux touchant la haute Ethyopie, le débordement du Nil, la mer Rouge, et le Prete-Jean.Paris: Louïs Billaine, 1674 Stock Code: 125351
NotesFirst edition of this important collection of voyages, assembled by the Huguenot Henri Justel, a "promoter, through hospitality and correspondence, in circles in Paris and London, of the optimistic spirit of enquiry which would be a feature of the European Enlightenment" (ODNB); this is a most attractive copy with a fine provenance. Included here is the first appearance of the Relation de l'origine, moeurs, coustumes, religion, guerres et voyages, des caraibes, sauvages des isles Antilles de l'Amerique, a significant text concerning the Caribs of the Lesser Antilles, written by the Jesuit Père La Borde. "The important relation of La Borde, an assistant to the Jesuit mission at St. Vincent who could thus boast of firsthand knowledge, is ambivalent but most often negative about Carib culture. He praises their virtues of simplicity, honesty, and hospitality, but he more frequently dwells upon their 'beastly life.' La Borde denies that the sauvages practice chastity, 'as many have claimed,' and he asserts that they still eat Arawaks and occasionally Englishmen" (Philip P. Boucher, Cannibal Encounters: Europeans and Island Caribs, 1492-1763, Johns Hopkins UP, 2008).
"Henri Justel (1620-1693), in conjunction with Louis Billiane, then one of the most renowned booksellers of Paris, were the volume's editors. Henri Justel was an erudite Huguenot who had inherited from his father the office of secretary to Louis XIV, as well as one of Paris's most extensive collections of books and manuscripts. By means of an extensive correspondence throughout the whole of Europs and the organization of weekly meetings of scholars in his home, he had established himself as 'a clearinghouse for the thinkers of Europe and as their medium for the exchange and discussion of their various ideas and theories' W. E. Doe, "The Justel-Compton Correspondence", 1948. The volume published in 1674 reflects Justel's commitment as a facilitator of sciences, committed to putting at the disposal of French scholars and 'honnêtes hommes' a set of out-of-print and unpublished geographical documents originally written in a variety of foreign languages (mostly English). Justel was mostly interested in knowledge grounded in direct observation and experience: all the texts gathered in the edited volume were written by people who had a direct knowledge of the part of the world they were describing. For instance, Justel made sure a series of new engravings he had ordered to illustrate De la Borde's Relation de l'origine, moeurs, coustumes, religion, guerres et voyages des Caraibes, sauvages des isles Antilles de l'Amerique, were made under the auspices of someone who had lived among the Caribs and spoke their language" (Gérard Chouin, "Minor Sources? Two Accounts of a 1670-1671 French Voyage to Guinea: Description, Authorship and Context" in History in Africa, Vol. 31 (2004), pp. 133-155).
The John Carter Brown Library notes that the "order of parts differs in various copies". Our copy collates as: viii prelims; viii + 1-204 (Ligon); 205-252 (Lobo); ii: half-title to Teles with full-page map on verso, 253-262; 1-49 (Laborde); ii misbound half-title to Description de l'isle de la Jamaique; 1-35 (Prester John); 1-28 (Blome); 29-81 (Relation de l'isle des Barbades); 1-23 (Relation du voyage fait sur les costs d'Afrique). Ligon's account of Barbados is illustrated with a large folding map, plates of indigenous flora (palm, plantain, pineapple), scenes of native life (including a Carib woven basket, lodge, hammock and canoe with sails), pottery, and three plates pertinent to sugar and rum manufacture (two of a grinding mill and another of a refinery). The Prester John includes the very large folding map in three parts (940 x 800 mm when conjoined) entitled Imperii Abassini Tabula Geographica by the Italian Jesuit mathematicus Francesco Eschinardi, showing the source of the Blue Nile at Lake Tana, Ethiopia, and part of the coast of the Red Sea (with vignettes of the "Fontes Nili", sources of the Nile, and "Thabat Mariam", the mountain stronghold of Amba Mariam, formerly known as Magdala). Blome's Jamaica includes the folding map of the island with inset map of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean (re-engraved by Michault, the cartouche in French) and a map of the coasts of Virginia, Maryland and New England (with inset map of Newfoundland).
The volume comprises:
LIGON, Richard. Histoire de l'isle des Barbades. First edition in French of Ligon's A True and Exact Historie of the Island of Barbadoes (London 1657).
LOBO, Jerónimo. Relation de la riviere du Nil. First edition in French of Lobo's important account of his travels in the Nile region, Abyssinia and Ethiopia, based on Sir Peter Wyche's English translation, A short relation of the river Nile (London 1669, from the Portuguese)
TELES, Baltasar. Extrait de l'histoire d'Ethiopie, ecrite en Portugais. First edition in French, an extract from the Portuguese Jesuit's História Geral de Etiópi-a-Alta do Preste João (General History of High Ethiopia of Prester John).
PÈRE LA BORDE. Relation de l'origine, moeurs, coustumes, religion, guerres et voyages, des caraibes, sauvages des isles Antilles de l'Amerique (includes Relation de la Guiane, et de ce qu'on y peut faire). First edition.
PRESTER JOHN. Description de l'empire du Prete-Jean.
BLOME, Richard. Relation de l'etat present de l'isle de la Jamaique. First French edition of Blome's A Description of the Island of Jamaica (Lonfon 1672).
RELATION de l'isle des Barbades.
RELATION du voyage fait sur les costs d'Afrique, aux mois de Novembre & Decembre de l'année 1670. Janvier & Fevrier 1671 commençant au Cap Verd.
Library Hub cites copies at six British and Irish institutional libraries (BL, Oxford, Cambridge, Scotland, Leeds, King's College London); WorldCat adding some 30 in international holdings, yet this is certainly elusive in commerce.
5 parts (containing eight discrete accounts) bound in one volume, small quarto (232 x 172 mm). Late 18th-century French mottled calf by Bozerian jeune (lettered at foot of spine "Rel[iure]. P[ar]. Bozerian jeune"), head and tail of spine and corners professionally refurbished, smooth spine gilt banded with a Greek key roll, gilt centre tool of a 12-petalled flower, sides with pretty gilt roll tool border (trailing flowers around a single fillet), gilt edge roll, gilt Greek key roll tool to turn-ins, speckled edges, marbled endpapers. Housed in a dark brown flat-back cloth box by the Chelsea Bindery.
19 engraved plates and maps, woodcut head- and tailpieces.
Contemporary ownership inscription of "Langley" on verso of front free endpaper; early 19th-century engraved armorial bookplate of "Mr. A. G-du Plessis", Pierre-Alexandre Gratet-Duplessis (1792-1853), member of the Société des bibliophiles français and described by the great French bibliographer Joseph-Marie Quérard as "l'un de nos bibliophiles les plus distingués" ("one of our most distinguished bibliophiles", see Les supercheries littéraires dévoilées, Paris 1869). Some sections lightly browned, a few old repairs to verso of folding maps. A very good copy in an appealing binding.
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