VAUGHAN, Rowland

VAUGHAN, Rowland Most Approved and Long experienced Water-Workes

London, George Eld., 1610


FIRST EDITION 4to. ff. [70] (A2, B-S4), (one recorded copy has a folding plate). Roman and Italic letter, side-notes, head- and tail-pieces, woodcut initials. T.p. and last a little dusty and slightly foxed, minor wormhole and dampstain to upper and lower corners of first 30 ll. light age browning, with occasional oil splashes and light water stain to final gatherings, generally good and well-margined copy C19 English calf gilt, some wear to joints, Modern bookplate on front pastedown, a.e.g.

FIRST AND ONLY EDITION of the FIRST ENGLISH WORK ON CROP IRRIGATION, prefaced by ten entertaining poems in honour of the author comprising the first 22 pp. of the volume, written by i.a. the lawyer and MP Thomas Rant, a “John Strangwage”, and Robert Corbet thought to be Richard Corbet, bishop of Oxford and Norwich famed for very merrily locking himself in his own wine-cellar. The first and longest “Panegyricke” compares Vaughan to King David, King Arthur, and places him among the pantheon of pagan gods. It was written by the “very voluminous and somewhat tedious” (DNB) John Davies of Hereford, poet and writing-master who taught many pupils from noble families and courted the patronage of Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, her brother the Earl, Robert Sidney, and Lucy, Countess of Bedford. Davies was best known for his “Scourge of Folly”, a collection of epigrams satirising popular writers of the day including Shakespeare, Jonson, and Nashe. Also included is a poem by Davies’ son, Sylvanus.

The author’s introduction to the Earl of Pembroke takes up almost half of the volume. Before describing the workings of his system, Vaughan’s introduction presents a vision for a better society, centered on his successful waterworks: where one “famous preacher shall be maintaind”, one master will command each industry with as many apprentices as he needs, and a very large dinner table will be stocked with a never-ending feast for all. Vaughan’s aim is to invigorate the local economy and put some 500 of his neighbours back to work by using the profits from his surplus crops, and the crops themselves, to create jobs for farmers, millers, brewers, bakers, scythe and sickle-makers, mechanics, shepherds, swineherds, butchers, wool-makers and dyers – his reckoning in total includes no less than (“hold breath” he writes as the list escalates) 42 occupations to choose from.

In “The Manner of My Drownings” Vaughan describes first how he once noticed the greener grass on the one side of his property, well-watered because it was below a molehill that channeled rainwater its way, and then how he spent 20 years perfecting a method of irrigation from the observation. He instructs as to the the season and length of time to “drowne the Grounds”, the type of trenches to be dug depending on the terrain, and other useful advice, including how to keep moles out of the waterworks. Perhaps connecting the practical advice with his ideal society, the work concludes with a promissory note – “Be it knowne vnto all men by these presents, that I Rowland Vaughan of New-court in the County of Hereford Esquire, do acknowledge my selfe to owe and stand duly indebted vnto…” – with blank space for the name, location, and sum of money given. Although there is no specific mention in the introduction, Vaughan does spend several pages asking the Earl of Pembroke and other local aristocracy for money, arguing against the immorality of usury and interest rates.

STC 24603, only copies at the Folger and Library of Congress include promissory note. Lowndes VII p. 2757 "folding print generally wanting". Goldsmith’s Library 394 (lacking plate). All 4 copies in the BL lack the plate, the only recorded copy with it is the Huntington. Not in Kress.

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