A CHRONICLE OF BRITISH LAND DISCOVERIES AND VOYAGES UP TO THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
The principall navigations, voiages and discoveries of the English nation, made by Sea or over Land.
London, George Bishop and Ralph Newberie, 1589.
FIRST EDITION. Folio, pp (xvi) plus folding map, 1-501 (1), 506-643 (xii), Drake’s voyage 644-825 (x). Black letter, some Roman and Italic. Large engraved folding world map after Abraham Ortelius in very good impression, mounted on guard, small repairs to inner border, upper outer corner slightly shaved rounding clouds, very minor repair to verso of one fold. Large, attractive woodcut initials and headpieces. Upper blank margin of title page restored, that and next neatly repaired at gutter, also blank margins of last two leaves of table. A good, clean, crisp copy in handsome calf antique, gilt ornaments to spine and corners, all edges gilt.
First edition, of ‘the most complete collection of voyages and discoveries, by land as well as by sea, and of the nautical achievements of the Elizabethans’ (PMM 105 of the second edition) with the very frequently missing world map and the rare account of Sir Francis Drake’s Circumnavigation (1577-80), as well as Sir Jerome Bowes’ voyage to Muscovy in the cancel setting (corrected state). Hakluyt, although not an explorer himself, produced the most significant compilation of voyages of his day: “it is not only an epic of English prose but a unique source of reference to the great discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries” (National Maritime Museum Catalogue). The work was remarkable in that it not only inspired many of the mercantile and exploratory voyages of later Elizabethan and Jacobean England but was actually used by those venturers in planning and executing their attempts, especially to North America, Russia, and the Far East.
‘The arrangement is both chronological and regional, with personal reports by explorers and navigators, merchants and diplomats, the reproduction of documents, sailing direction etc. Book I covers the voyages to North and North-East, Book II South and South-East, and Book III America.’ (PMM p.63). Hakluyt was a gifted geographer and linguist, “one of the leading spirits in the Elizabethan maritime expansion” (PMM) and had met the foremost explorers of the age such as Drake, Raleigh, Gilbert and Frobisher, and corresponded with Ortelius and Mercator. With remarkable foresight, he saw America and India as key territories for the extension of British colonies and pleaded for an expansion of English interests there. He was a consultant to the East India Company and a patentee of that for Virginia.
The present work includes a number of important voyages to the Americas, among them Verazzano’s to Florida, Ulloa’s and Alarcon’s to California, Tomson’s to New Mexico, Drake’s to the West Indies, the Virginia Settlement Voyages of 1585 and later, as well as voyages to Russia and Africa (including the first voyage to Benin). The account of Drake’s Circumnavigation was first published here, and includes his explorations around the Californian coast. Hakluyt initially suppressed it, privately printing the six-page account and inserting it (without pagination, as here) into some copies of the first edition.
“Hakluyt had indeed begun to prepare such an account [of Drake’s Circumnavigation] but withdrew it so as not to prejudice a collection of Drake’s voyages which was in preparation. Permission now came to insert it, not improbably from Drake himself” (Hakluyt Handbook, p. 475). He placed a high premium on the accuracy of his work, and the first setting of the Bowes voyage to Muscovy was suppressed on account of its errors. It is only in some copies (as here) that it is replaced. The impressive folding map, which Hakluyt tells us is “one of the best general mappes of the world” is based on several Ortelius maps, the central oval taken from his third World Map of 1587 (Hinde I, p. 179).
STC 12625; National Maritime Museum Catalogue (2nd edition) I, p.5; Sabin 29593 “It is scarcely necessary to suggest that the addition of the original version of…Drake’s Voyages add greatly to the value of any copy of the work in which they happen to be”; James Ford Bell Library, H9; Alden 589/31; Lowndes III p. 971; “The most complete collection of voyages and discoveries, by land as well as by sea, and of the nautical achievements of the Elizabethans,” Printing and the Mind of Man, 105 (second edition); cf. D. B. Quinn (ed.). The Hakluyt Handbook, The Hakluyt Society: 1974.