HAWKINS, Sir Richard.
The Observations of Sir Richard Hawkins Knight, in his Voyage into the South Sea.London, John Iaggard, 1622
FIRST EDITION. Folio. Pp. (viii) 170 (vi), original first blank. Roman letter. Woodcut printer’s device to tp, floriated and ornamental initials, head and tail pieces. Minor purple spotting and slight discolouration to washed lower margins, a very good tall copy in handsome contemporary calf with gilt arms of Robert Glascock (1600-1657) on covers, ruled gilt, gilt tools at each corner, rebacked with gilt floral tools and title, later eps, light water stain to foot of upper cover, aer.
Attractively bound first edition of this hugely popular Elizabethan account of seafaring and adventure by the English explorer, pirate and privateer Sir Richard Hawkins (1562-1622). Hawkins embarked on a number of trips to the New World in the late 16th century including one with his uncle William Hawkins to the West Indies, captaining a galleon in Sir Francis Drake’s 1585 expedition to the Spanish Main, later commanding a ship as part of the English resistance to the Spanish Armada. His most renowned adventure was in 1593 when he purchased a galleon named Dainty and sailed for the West Indies, the Spanish Main and the South Seas with the aim of undermining the dominance of Spain in the area, although Hawkins emphasises a more innocent purpose of geographical discovery.
A charming excerpt describes new land being spotted. After visiting the coast of Brazil, the Dainty encountered a storm off the mouth of the Magellan Strait and was blown eastward. On February 2nd, 1594, Hawkins saw land “… about nine of the clocke in the morning, wee descried land, which bare South-West of us, which we looked not for so timely and coming neerer and neerer unto it, by the lying, wee could not conjecture what land it could be…. It hath great Rivers of fresh waters; for the out-shoot of them colours the Sea … The Land, for that it was discovered in the Reigne of Queene Elizabeth, my Sovereigne Lady and Mistris, and a Mayden Queene, and at my cost and adventure, in a perpetual memory of her chastitie, and remembrance of my endevours, I gave it the name of Hawkins Maiden land … the Westernmost part lyeth some threescore leagues from the neerest Land of America.” This land is now known as the Falkland Islands.
The work is also important in describing new and noteworthy wildlife. Following more travels around South America, the Dainty was attacked by two Spanish ships near Ecuador and Hawkins and his crew were forced to surrender. Hawkins was sent to Spain and imprisoned at Seville and Madrid. He was released in 1602 and knighted upon his return to England in 1603. Hawkins does not deny the ill fated nature of the voyage; he states “…you shall here find an expert seaman, in his owne dialect deliver a true relation of an unfortunate voyage: which however it proved lamentable fatall to the actors, may yet prove pleasing to the Readers.” This work became the most famous adventure story of the era.
The work provides a stimulating insight into many aspects of colonial South, North and Central America, including Hawkins’ description of the taste of dolphins, sharks, artichokes and exotic cherries as well as the polygamy of native tribes, African slaves being sold at market, oranges being used to prevent scurvy and the distilling of salt water for drinking. Hawkins was involved in the seventeenth century hunt for ambergris, a solid waxy substance produced by sperm wales and popular in cosmetics and medicines at the time (Dannenfeldt, Karl H. Ambergris: The Search for its Origin, 1982). The work is peppered with references to Drake and his voyages.
This work was bound for Robert Glascock, the third, but second surviving son of Richard Glascock of Down Hall, Hatfield in Essex. He migrated to Ireland before 1614 and obtained a lease of the lands of Tullyorge and Ballintreal in Queen’s County from Thomas Ridgeway, Earl of Londonderry.ESTC S119816; Sabin 30657; Alden p. 209; J. F. Bell H82; Borba De Moraes p. 395.