The Definitive Travel Collection of the Seventeenth Century--Includes the Early Appearance of the Abel Tasman Diary
A handsome example of the 1696 final edition of Thevenot's Relation de Divers Voyages--the only edition to include extremely rare fragments of the never-completed fifth volume. A remarkable book, it represents the culmination of the great travel collections of De Bry, Purchas, and Hakluyt. It also has an incredible selection of maps, including the first map of Australia and New Zealand. This book is extraordinary for its inclusion of the immensely important four-page diary of the voyage of Abel Tasman, which the definitive bibliography of the book notes is "missing in totality in many examples."
It is no exaggeration to state that Thevenot's work is one of the most complete and lavishly produced travel collections, with its scope extending to Africa, the Far East, the East Indies, the Middle East, Oceania, and North and South America. The sheer collation of sources is impressive, with Thevenot using not only the Jesuit Relations, which were a popular and important source for relaying discoveries to Spain and France in the seventeeth century, but he also published the accounts of English, Spanish, Italian, and German seamen employed in trade and the service of their states. A number of the sources that appear in this text had never before been published, allowing this book to be the sole repository for some of the most detailed accounts of seventeenth-century travels.
The book's publication history (discussed further below) means that few examples are alike. This example includes an unusually extensive collation, including a number of fragments in its fifth part that are seldom found. Among these are the accounts of the winds between the Low Countries and the East Indies, and the extremely rare Spanish account of the Solomon Islands.
Melchisedech Thevenot was one of the most important seventeenth-century French men of letters, remarkable for the breadth of his work. Not only was he noteworthy for his travel writings and theses in medicine, astronomy, physics, and other sciences, but he is also known as the inventor of the spirit level and the author of The Art of Swimming, one of the first works on the subject. For this, he has been inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
The Tasman Diary
One of the rarities contained in this book is the extract from a suppressed diary of the voyage, which is the fourth appearance of a log of the journey in print and the second translation of the journal. Over four pages, the highlights of the diary are described, with the discovery of Van Diemen's Land, Tasman's descriptions of Aboriginal peoples, and the famous first European voyage to New Zealand all detailed.
While the cartographic dissemination of Tasman's discoveries is to some extent better understood, the lineage of the diary is less well understood. The first printed description of the voyage appears in Montanus's 1671 De Nieuwe en Onbekende Weereld, in which a narrative appears not in the form of a journal but rather as a not particularly descriptive, prosaic text supposedly based on the accounts of the ship's surgeon, Hendrik Haelbos. The first appearance of a journal comes in the 1674 edition of the "exceedingly rare" (Heeres; supported by the single example we have been able to locate as having traded on the market) Eenige Oefeningen. This work, by Dirk Rembrandtszoon van Nierop, includes a short extract of a Tasman journal. Precisely which diary was utilized for this is uncertain, as the work contains information that has not survived in manuscript form.
An extract of another voyage journal then appears in Nicolaas Witsen's 1692 Noord en Oost Tartarye (again, Heeres calls it "exceedingly rare"), which contains information that did not appear in van Nierop's publication. It has been suggested that Witsen had access to another journal, one which is also no longer extant. An English translation, most likely of van Nierop's work, was translated into English for the 1694 travel collection, An Account of Several Late Voyages and Discoveries toward the North and South. The next work to contain a Tasman journal is this 1696 edition of Thevenot, in which it appears as one of the fragments of the posthumous fifth volume.
"As to the Embellishments of Thevenot, the chief merit of them consists in the Maps, which are numerous and curious." (Dibdin)
The Divers Voyages abounds with maps, which Thevenot drew from the most accurate printed, manuscript, and written sources. These are remarkable for a number of reasons, as follows:
[Hollandiae Nova | Terre Australe] - The Cornerstone of Australian Cartography.
This is the first map of Australia and New Zealand produced, and the first published large-scale map of Australia. This is the third state of the map, showing Tasman's track. The only map to focus so minutely on Australia that precedes Thévenot's map is the little-known miniature map by Claes Visscher “T'Landt van Eendracht,” published in his 1649 Tabularum Geographarum. . . which survives is a single known example.
Thévenot's map holds a significant place in not only the charting of Tasman's voyages but also in the mapping of the Australian continent as a whole. It records a shape of Australia that would remain unchanged until the grand exploits of Captain Cook some one hundred and ten years later, and its geography would be copied by endless later maps.
The map primarily draws its geography from the Blaeu map Archipelagus Orientalis sive Asiaticus that first appeared in 1659, although Thevenot claims to have based his work off the map on the floor of the Amsterdam town hall. Thevenot's map is the first to make the distinction between Nova Hollandiae and the Terre Australe, which he divides with a Meridian line drawn at the western limit of Spain's claim to the South Pacific.
Joao Teixeira Cosmographo de sua Magestade
This chart of the west Indian Ocean is based on a 1649 portolan chart by the Royal Cosmographer of Portugal, Joao Teixeira (hence the title). This is the first edition of the chart to be printed, but the map would be a defining representation of the region and was reproduced by D'Anville even into the mid-eighteenth century.
The portolan style of the chart renders it of use for navigation. The chart also includes insets of the key trading posts and harbors at Mombasa, Mozambique, and Sofala, as well as a detailed chart of the island of Socotra, the primary Portuguese trading points after rounding the Cape of Good Hope en route to India.
[Southeast Asia and China]
Another chart based on a 1649 portolan by Joao Teixeira, shows fabulous detail from Japan to the west coast of India. In this later state of the map, Thevenot adds information not present in the portolan, including detailed inland information in China.
Vera Delineatio Civitatis Bassorae
A number of other important maps are included in the work (see collation below), but this very curious and unusual map deserves special attention. A detailed look at the Chaldean sect in the seventeenth-century, this map preserves important early detail on the so-called Christian sect of John the Baptist. Place names are in Arabic, reflecting Thevenot's ability to print and reproduce a number of languages in his plates and text.
This example bears the bookplate of the Biblioteca Lindesiana, as well as what appears to be its arms on the front cover. The personal library of the Lindsay family, its roots date to the sixteenth century and benefited especially from the systematic collecting of John Lind[e]say, Lord Menmuir, who served as Secretary of State to Queen Anne.
As one of the greatest private collections in Scotland, if not the world, the collection grew for centuries with occasional deaccessions during hard times or periods of neglect. It was finally broken up in the mid-twentieth century, with some parts donated to British libraries and others sold at Sotheby's sales.
History of publication
Brunet states the following regarding the Divers Voyages:
Interesting collection, of which it is difficult to find complete examples because each part is composed of separate pieces. The first part was published in 1663 (and again with a new title in 1666), the second and third were produced in 1666, and the fourth in 1672, at which point new title pages were produced for each of the prior volumes. The author was preparing a fifth part when death surprised him, and he left but only a diversity of detached pieces, of which some were not fully printed. In 1696, after having reprinted some sections that had run out, new title pages were added to the titles which remained and the pieces that were meant to compose the fifth part, as they were found at the author's; in addition, at the head of the first volume two sheets were added including an advertisement and a catalog.
The collation of the fragments of the fifth volume changes drastically from one example of the book to the next. This example is unusually complete, possessing a majority of both of the very rare fragments De Las Islas de Salomon and the Asganii Sassonii, as well as the rest of the text of the fifth volume that is called for. The only parts that are not included (which is still more complete than any other example we can find that has appeared on the market) are pages 48-64 and 77-88 of the Asganii Sassonnii, the unusual title page, Tabula genealonic trium familiarum, that is sometimes associated with a plate of geological tables, as well as the map of Japan.
Volume I - Part I
- Title, dated 1696, with the manuscript notation "Charles de Lorraine."
- , ai, aii, ; including a fallible index (although this is erroneous, and the Brunet collation is also used).
- Descriptions des Pyramides d'Egypte: Folding plate of the pyramids, XXV, [two-sheet plate].
- Relation des Cosaques. . .
Des Tartares. . . De La Mengreille. 52 including folding plan of Colchide.
- Informatione Della Giorgiaii: 1-25.
- La Navigation d'Anthoine Jenkinson en la Mer Caspienne: 17-28, complete, as called for in collation.
- Extrait du Voyage des Hollandois: 29; 26; 29; 30-31; 36-40; complete.
- Relation de la Cour du Mongol: 1-12, with folding map Description de la Partie des Indes Orientales qui est sous la domination du Grand Mogol.
- Memoires de Thomas Rhoe: 1-80.
- Voyage de Edouard Terri aux Indes Orientales: 30, with errors in pagination, pages 7 & 8 replaced by a second example of the above Grand Mogol map, this time in two-sheets. As explained by Brunet.
- [Cosmas's voyage to the East Indies, with a Greek extract and description of the flora and fauna seen]. 1-24, badly paginated but completely. With folding map: Vera Delineatio Civitatis Bassorae and two plates with inscriptions.
- Relation Des Royaumes de Golconda, Tannasery, Pegy, Arecan. 35 with single-page plate of a dodo on verso of pp. 35.
- Relation ou Journal du Voyage de Bontekoe aux Indes Orientales. 1-55 with errors in foliation; large folding map of Hollandiae Nova.
Volume I - Part II
- Title, dated 1672, i - iii, , including collation, privilege, and discussion on the present trade in the East Indies.
- Remontrance que Francois Pelsart . . .: 1-20
- Routier Pour la Navigation des Indes Orientales: 60, with appended 4 folding plates of the Indonesian and Madagascarian coastlines and the folding map Joao Teixeira Cosographo de sua Magestade.
- Memoire du voyage aux Indes Orientales, par Beaulieu: 128, with appended large folding map of Southeast Asia and folding plan including coastal profiles and maps of Indian Ocean islands.
- Relation des Isles Philippines Faite par L'Amirante Hieronimo de Banuellos y Carrillos: 1-40.
- Relation des Isles Philippines Fait un Religieux qui y a demeure 18 ans: 1-16.
- Relation de L'Empire Du Japon: 48, with 45 and 46 replaced by a plate showing Maniere de faire la justice au Japon, showing scenes of torture.
- Relation de la Decouverte de la Terre d'Eso: 1-4, lacking small map of Pegu and Japan called for in the index and in Brunet.
- Briefve Relation de la Chine: 30, including 5 plates showing the flora and fauna of China, of which three are folding.
Volume II - Part I
- Title, dated 1696, i, ii, [iii, iv]
- Voyage des Ambassadeurs de la Compagnie Hollondoise des Indes Orientales. . . 31-68 including four two-sheet plates and a folding map Route du Voyage de Canton a Peking. [Not mentioned in collation at the start of Volume I].
- Route du Voyage des Holandois A Pekin, Folding map Route du Voyage de Canton a Peking; 1-28.
- Description Geographique de L'Empire de la Chine par le Pere Martin Martinius. . . Large folding map Imperium Sinarum Nova Descriptio; 1-216 with numerous errors in foliation not mentioned by Brunet bringing the total to 221, complete.
- Rapport Que Les Directeurs de la Compagnie Hollandoise des Indes Orientales ont fait a leaurs Hautes Puissances. . . 1-12.
Volume II - Part II
- Title, dated 1672, .
- L'Indien ou Portrait Au Naturel des Indiens. . . Par D. Juan de Palafox; 1-14.
- Relation de Voyages du Sieur. . . .[sic] dans la riviere de la Plate & de la par terre au Perou; 1-24, with 32 replacing 23.
- Viaggio del P. Giovanni Grueber, tornando per terra da China in Europa. 1-23, with verso of page 23 containing a transliteration of the Chinese alphabet.
- Voyage a la Chine des PP. I. Grueber et D'Orville. 1-23, French translation of the Italian Grueber, although the collation at the front erroneously suggests the order should be reversed.
- -24 including Title Sinarum Scientia Politico Moralis Sive Scientiae Sinicae Liber inter Confucii Libros Secundus, dated 1672.
- Histoire de la Haute Ethiopie; Ecrite sur les Lieux par le R. P. Manoel D'Almeida Jesuite. 1-16
- Remarques sur les Relations d'Ethiopie des RR. PP. Ieronimo Lobo, & de Baltasar Tellez Jesuites. 1-4 with folding map Carte D'Ethiopie et de L'Empire des Abyssins, Autrement du Prestre-Jan and folding set of navigational plans Entrees de Quelques Ports de la Mer Rouge du Coste de L'Ethiopie appended.
- Relation du R. P. Ieronymo Lobo de L'Empire des Abyssinians. 1-16.
- Decouverte de Quelques Pays qui sont entre l"Empire des Abyssins & la coste de Melinde. 1-8.
- Relation du Voyage du Sayd ou de la Thebayde. 1-4.
- Title Histoire de L'Empire Mexicain. Dated 1696, Chez Thomas Moette. Some examples lack the date and mention Cramoisy, Palau has not recorded this variant. 1-58, with error on final pagination. 1-46 compose plates, with explications of the plates on 47-58.
- Relation du Mexique et de la Nouvelle Espagne par Thomas Gages. 1-40.
Volume II - Fragments of the Fifth Part. Lacking in Most Examples.
- Voyage d'Abel Tasman. 1-4.
- Instruction des Vents Qui se Rencontrent, & Regnent Plus Frequemment entre les Pais bas & L'Isle de Java. 1-12.
- L'Asie De Barros, Ou L'HIstoire des Conquestes des Portugais aux Indes Orientales. 1-16.
- Ambassade de S'Chahrok, Fils de Tamerlan, Et D'autres Princes ses Voisins, A L'Empereur du Khati. 1-16.
- L'Asie de Barros. 1-16.
- Synopsis Chronologica Monarchiae Sinicae. . . 1-76.
- Relation des Chrestiens de S. Jean. 1-18.
- Voyage de la Tercere de Chaste. 1-18.
- Elementa Lingua Tartaricae. 1, 4-34, complete.
- De Las Islas de Salomon. 5-16, incomplete (as always), not included in collation in Volume I, of the utmost rarity.
- Asganii Sassonii. 17-58, incomplete (as always), also not included in the collation and of the utmost rarity.