SMITH, John, Capt. (1580-1631). The Generall History of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: with the names of the Adventurers, Planters, and Governours from their first beginning An°. 1584 to this present 1626. London: by J[ohn] D[awson] and
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SMITH, John, Capt. (1580-1631). The Generall History of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: with the names of the Adventurers, Planters, and Governours from their first beginning An°. 1584 to this present 1626. London: by J[ohn] D[awson] and

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SMITH, John, Capt. (1580-1631). The Generall History of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: with the names of the Adventurers, Planters, and Governours from their first beginning An°. 1584 to this present 1626. London: by J[ohn] D[awson] and
J[ohn] H[aviland] for Edward Blackmore, 1632.

Small 2° (277 x 183mm). Engraved title by John Barra in 5th state with King Charles looking slightly to the left, engraved portrait of Frances Duchess of Richmond by Wilhelm de Passe, 4 folding engraved maps comprising ‘Ould Virginia’ (fourth state with addition of Adam Sounds above C. Henry), ‘Virginia’ (tenth state with page number 1691), ‘The Summer Ils’ (third state with James Reeve), ‘New England’ (eighth state with the Council Arms but without school of fish and reference to ‘New England’s Prospect’), woodcut ornamental initials, type ornaments. Extra illustrated with engraved portrait of Prince Lodovick, Duke of Lenox, Earle of Richmond by Simon van de Passe; also bound between E3 & E4 is an additional folding plate depicting two Indians hollowing out a canoe with fire signed T.B. (Washed, title re-margined at foot, ‘Ould Virginia’ with closed 60mm tear to lower left hand compartment and short tear at one fold, the three other maps with closed tears of approx. 100mm, 60mm. and 90mm. into bottom left of engraved area, Bb3r soiled, occasional light stains, several small marginal repairs.) Late 19th-century green gilt-panelled morocco by F. Bedford, gilt edges (new endpapers). Provenance: George Shakerley (signature on title) -- Sir Henry Hope Edwardes (1829-1900; bookplate, loosely inserted note recording 'Smith's Virginia sold at Sotheby's without the portrait of Matoaka plate for £204').

FIRST EDITION, final variant, of a book which PMM calls 'the foundation of England's knowledge of America during the early period of colonization.' It was divided between two printers, to each of whom Smith gave half the text. Their miscalculation of text length created a break in pagination -- there are no pages 97-104. There was only one printing of the text, although after its first appearance in 1624 Smith adapted the title-page to later issues. He altered also the copper plates of the four maps, adding names or changing details as knowledge increased. This copy is without the errata that an be found pasted at the foot of the final page. It includes the portrait of Frances Duchess of Richmond but not that of Matoaka or Pocahontas. The two portraits were issued separately and only inserted in some copies.

As Church notes, the work is a compilation containing 'substantially all of Smith's previous works on America, together with abstracts from other writers.' The first of its six books (1-20) describes the first settlement of Virginia, and the subsequent voyages there to 1605. Book 2 (21-40) forms a description of the country and its Indian inhabitants; book 3 (41-96) relates the occurrences of Smith's voyage, the settlement of Jamestown from December 1606 to 1609, and 'how Pocahontas saved his life'; book 4 (105-168) continues the Virginia history from the planting of Point Comfort in 1609 up to 1623; book 5 (169-202) comprises the history of the Bermudas (or Summer Isles) from 1593 to 1624; and book 6 (203-248) contains the history of New England from 1614 to 1624. Tyler, in his History of American Literature (I, 37-38), praises Smith's narrative for 'clearness, force, vividness, picturesque and dramatic energy, a diction racy and crisp,' taking the view that American literature owes much to his writing: 'during the first two decades of the seventeenth century he did more than any other Englishman to make an American nation and an American literature possible.' The most famous episode in Smith's narrative occurs after he has set out to discover the source of the River Chickahominey and been captured by indians; he is only saved from execution by the intervention of Pocahontas, 'the king's dearest daughter, [who] when no intreaty could prevaile, got his head in her armes, and laid her owne upon his face to save him from death.' Burden, The Mapping of North America 164, 187, 212, 213; Church 402 (1st issue); Howgego S120; PMM 124; Sabin 82829 (also see 82823 for states of the engravings); STC 22790d.
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