SAVILE, Henry (1549-1622). A Libell of Spanish Lies. London: John Windet, 1596.
8° (186 x 134mm). Full-page woodcut illustration of a sphere on the verso of the title, woodcut illustration, initials, headbands and ornaments. Retaining blank A1. (Occasional light spotting and marking, first and last leaves lightly marked, paper flaw slightly affecting text on C1, a few leaves with short marginal tears causing minor losses.) Late 19th-/early 20th-century speckled calf gilt by Zaehnsdorf, boards with gilt-ruled borders, roll-tooled gilt board edges and turn-ins, spine decorated in gilt and with gilt morocco lettering-piece, gilt edges (extremities very lightly rubbed, minor scuffing on boards). Provenance: John Sotherne, 1597 (inscription on title).
FIRST EDITION. THE RARE FIRST PRINTED ACCOUNT OF SIR FRANCIS DRAKE'S LAST VOYAGE. In 1594 Drake was commanded by Queen Elizabeth I to lead an expedition against the Spanish interests in the West Indies, and he departed England in August 1595, with Sir John Hawkins as his vice-admiral and Sir Thomas Baskerville as his general at land. Following some unsuccessful attacks on the settlements in South America (including Nombre de Dios), Drake was fell sick with dysentery and subsequently died of the illness on 28 January 1596 on board The Defiance, off Porto Bello. The 'Libell' referred to in the title is a letter from Bernaldino Delgadillo de Avellaneda, who 'by his Printed letters published to the worlde divers untruthes, concerning our fleete and the Commaunders thereof' (A3r); the Spanish original is printed on A4v-B4r and an English translation follows on C1r-C4v. The principal 'untruthes' that Savile sought to refute were the claims that Drake 'dyed in Nombre de Dios, for verie griefe that hee had lost so many Barkes and men' (C1v) and that the English fleet had fled the Spanish in cowardly haste. Savile (the captain of one of Drake's ships, The Adventure), lists the accusations and his rebuttals of them under six headings on D1v-F3r, before concluding with his account 'The Meeting of our English Navie and the Spanish Fleete, and the Order of our Encounter' (F3v-G2v). This is followed by Sir Thomas Baskerville's 'Approbation', in which he testifies that Savile has 'set downe the order of the fight sincerely according to truth' (G3v), and further challenges Delgadillo de Avellaneda to a duel, should the Spaniard contest Savile's account. A Libell of Spanish Lies--identified by Collier as 'of great rarity' in 1865--is thus the first account of Drake's last voyage to be published. Only one copy is recorded at auction by ABPC since 1975. John Carter Brown I, p.342; Church 255; Collier The Rarest Books in the English Language I, p.53; Palau 303230; Sabin 77289; STC 6551.