HAMOND Walter A Paradox. Prooving, that the inhabitants of the isle called Madagascar, or St. Laurence, …are the happiest people in the world

London, for Nathaniell Butter, 1640


FIRST EDITON. 4to. Two parts in one. pp. [xxxviii]. A (-A1) B D-F . Roman letter. small woodcut ornament on second title, floriated woodcut initials, typographical headpieces and ornaments, woodcut tail-piece. Light age yellowing, cut close in upper margin, trimming the odd headline, other margins good, paper flaw in lower blank margin of Leaf B. A good, unsophisticated copy, stab bound, in limp vellum, recased.

First edition of Hamond’s fascinating account of the island of Madagascar; sent by the East India Company to assess the feasibility of colonising the island, Hamond produced these two reports. The first comprises a description of the island, its climate and indigenous people while the second relays the benefits it would have to offer as an outpost for servicing the company’s ships en route for the Persian Gulf and the Far East. “Hamond, author and explorer, published a translation of Ambroise Paré’s ‘Methode de traicter les Playes faictes par Harquebuses et aultres batons a feu,’ 1617, 4to. He was in the service of the East India Company, and was employed by them to explore Madagascar and report on the advisability of annexing the island, of which he gave a glowing description.” DNB Hamond spent four months on the island, as a surgeon. However his treatise portrays an exaggerated prospect of it, stating that “for wealth and riches, no Island in the world can be preferred before it. As for gold, silver, pearle and precious jems, questionlesse the Island is plentifully stored with them… great quantities of Aloes… the first fruits of a most plentifull harvest, which is better than the gleanings of America”. “Early descriptions of Madagascar and it’s vegetation illustrate the kind of attractions that tempted colonisers and traders to undertake arduous voyages to the island in pursuit of advancement. Walter Hammond, .. spent some time on Madagascar in 1630, (and) published a pamphlet in 1640 entitled ‘A paradox….’… He drew attention to its strategic use as a useful port of call to and from the East Indies, and to the fertility of its soil. By this time, Hammond had resigned his post in the company and was clearly writing tracks to encourage rivals to challenge his monopoly. His next attempt, ‘Madagascar the richest and most fruitful island in the world’ (1643), also makes a strong case for colonisation.” Margarette Lincoln. British Pirates and Society, 1680-1730

“In his desire to present Madagascar and its allegedly primitive peoples as a semblance of the Garden of Eden, Hamond’s writing can be seen as a precursor of the eighteenth-century salute to the noble savage” (ODNB).

A very good copy of this fascinating pamphlet one of the earliest descriptions of Madagascar.

STC 12735. ESTC S103773.
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