MARTYR, Peter (Pietro Martire d'ANGHIERA, 1457-1526), et al. The Decades of the newe worlde or west India, Conteyning the nauigations and conquestes of the Spanyardes, with the particular description of the moste ryche and large landes and Ilandes lately founde in the west Ocean perteynyng to the inheritance of the kinges of Spayne. Edited and translated into English by Richard Eden. London: [colophon: Imprynted... by Robert Toy for] William Powell, 1555.
4o (198 x 143 mm). Title within woodcut border [McKerrow & Ferguson 11], 3 full-page astronomical woodcut diagrams on 3K1 and 3Q3-4, woodcut initials (this copy without the inserted leaf 4I2 found in some). (Insignificant printing flaw on 3Z2 without loss of text, piece torn from blank margin of 4O4 just catching two glosses, O2 misbound.) Contemporary calf, small gilt ornament at center of each cover, later red and black morocco lettering pieces (repairs to spine, first gathering sprung).
Provenance: Edmund Jermin (contemporary inscription on last leaf of the errata); ROGER NORTH (ca 1588-1652), English navigator and colonizer (his signature on title and motto: "DURUM PATI"); William, Lord North engraved bookplate dated 1702; Boies Penrose (bookplate; his sale part I, Sotheby's London, 7 June 1971, lot 10, illustrated).
A VERY FINE, TALL COPY WITH A SUPERB PROVENANCE
FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF THE FIRST COLLECTION OF VOYAGES PRINTED IN ENGLISH, AND THE FIRST WORK TO CONTAIN NARRATIVES OF ENGLISH VOYAGES, STC's fourth variant with the "Toy" imprint. "This book is of great historical importance. Besides the first Three Decades of Peter Martyr it contains a translation of that author's writings of the recently discovered islands, De nuper sub D. Carolo repertis Insulis, first printed in 1521. It also contains the Bull of Pope Alexander, , in Latin and English, by which the world was divided between Spain and Portugal, as well as translations of the most important parts of the works of Oviedo, Maximilian of Transylvania, Vespuccius, Gomara, and others, pertaining to the maritime discovery of the New World" (Church). In the preface is advocated for the first time the colonization of North America by the English. "Moreover, for over a quarter of a century it proved to be the English source-book of geographical and navigational knowledge. As such it was to be of the utmost value to men like Hawkins and Drake." It contains "the first printed English treatise on the compass, and the first description of 'What degrees are', and 'A demonstration of the roundness of the Earth'... At the end of the book Eden added a section on metals, the first work of its kind printed in English, for the benefit of explorers and prospectors" (D.W. Waters, The Art of Navigation in England in Elizabethan and Early Stuart Times, New Haven 1958, p.87).
ROGER NORTH'S COPY. In 1617, North had sailed with the second voyage of Sir Walter Ralegh to Guiana. "He was a prime mover behind attempts to establish an English colony on the River Amazon and set sail in April 1620, contrary to the wishes of James I, with 120 English and Irish colonists..." (Howgego). Returning to England in 1621, North gave up his attempts to colonize the Amazon delta. The present copy bears his signature on the title as well as his motto, "DURUM PATI," presumably taken from Horace's Ode I, 24: "Durum, sed levius fit patientia..." Alden & Landis 555/13; Borba de Moraes II:532; Church 102; Howgego M65; JCB (3) I:187; Sabin 1561; STC 648.