MARKHAM, Gervase


MARKHAM, Gervase Hungers preuention: or, The whole arte of fovvling by vvater and land… Also, exceeding necessary and profitable for all such as trauell by sea, and come into vninhabited places: especially, all those that haue any thing to doe with new plantations

London, A[ugustine] Math[ewes] for Anne Helme and Thomas Langley, 1621


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. [xvi], 285, [iii]. (woodcuts). Signatures: A-T . Roman letter, some Italic. Title within single rule border, [shaved in lower margin] full page woodcut of bird traps as frontispiece, many full page and text woodcuts, woodcut initials and head-pieces, typographical ornaments, bookplate of the Fox Pointe library on paste-down. Age yellowing, light waterstain to first third of work, occasional marginal thumb mark or spot, blank recto of frontispiece dusty. A very good copy in handsome C19th calf, covers bordered with a gilt scrolled rule, diced in blind, spine with gilt ruled raised bands green morocco label gilt lettered, edges gilt ruled, a.e.g.

First edition of this very rare practical work, on hunting and falconry, by Gervase Markham, profusely illustrated with charming woodcuts; it is the earliest English treatise wholly concerned with bird-catching, and an important seventeenth-century work of Falconry. Apart from his ‘Countrey Contentments’ (1615), this was Markham’s only book solely devoted to country sports. Dealing with every aspect of fowling, it was entirely original and intended to benefit, not only those at home, but colonists in ‘the blessed plantation of Virginia’. In this work Markham discusses the use of decoys and shows plans for very elaborate waterfowl traps, he also writes about hunting dogs and falconry, including descriptions of the use of the various accoutrements required; nets, springs, dogs and guns amongst many others. Chapter twelve is entirely devoted to Hawking of all kinds, including two very charming woodcuts of a Haggard Falcon and a Goshawk. His work was intended for use in the British Isles but is most interesting, as a work devoted to self-sufficiency, for being addressed to those going to the newly established colonies in the Americas.

“Gervase Markham, a prolific author who specialised in books on husbandry, gardening, horsemanship and housewife-skills, offers an extremely detailed account of the art of fowling in the delightfully titled ‘Hungers preuention: or, The whole arte of fovvling by vvater and land.’ Markham dedicates the book to the Virginia Company, and offers it to the readers as both a practical guide to the various methods of fowling and a salutary example of self-sufficiency. Markhams detailed practical guide not only details ways to catch birds of all kinds, but he so empathises with his prey that he is able to offer a vivid picture of the birds he discusses and their societies, noting, for example, how water fowl are ‘the subtillest and wisest of birds’ with a social system rather like a human camp complete with soldiers and scouts. Similar imaginative identification lies behind his instructions on how to train a dog to fetch game birds. Markham also possesses a charming didactic style, which always has in mind ‘the industrious and diligent reader’ who is made to feel wholly competent by the time the book ends.” P. Salzman.’Literary Culture in Jacobean England: Reading 1621’

Markham (?1568-1637), who at one time served in the army, was a prolific writer on hunting, hawking, husbandry, gardening, housewifery and the military arts but also produced works of drama and poetry. This is one of the earliest comprehensive works in English on hunting and falconry and long remained a standard and most influential work. It must have been of particular value in the harsh conditions of the early American Colonies.

ESTC S112097. STC (2nd ed.), 17362. Schwerdt II, p.12. “The first edition, scarce.” Poynter 25.1. Alden II 621/64. Includes ref. to Virginia the glorious state of example in the South. Not in Sabin.

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