Paris, Antoine de Sommaville, 1654.
8vo [159 x 100 mm] of (8) pp., 200, and 2 full-page engraved plates. 2 inverted ll. without loss, the map is missing as usual. Red morocco, gilt fillets on the covers with bird fleurons in the corners, spine identically decorated, inner gilt border, gilt edges. (Lortic).
Extremely rare first edition of this account of which only few copies are known, containing the report of the unfortunate expedition of Royville to the “Cape of North in French America” achieved in 1652 in order to “make our God known to the savage and infidel people”, and to colonize them. The map is missing as usual. Brunet, III, 20; Ternaux-Compans, 740; Church, 533; Sabin, 38951; Graesse, Trésor de livres rares et précieux, III, 103.
It is after learning in France the disasters and the tragedy of the despotic Charles Poncet de Bretigny, who died in 1645 slaughtered with his companions by the natives that Royville decided to found a new company in order to colonize these lands, after having worked beforehand so the king would withdraw his privilege to the one of Rouen. In association with the abbot de la Boulaie, general quartermaster of the navy under the duke of Vendome, and to the abbot de l’Isle Marivaut and to ten other associates, the “company of the Twelve lords” appointed Royville general of the expedition and those left in France would be in charge of conveying provisions and munitions. Made up of unfit men, the murder of Royville during the journey, the dangers of the expedition as well as the internal quarrels put an end to the adventure. Paul Boyet and Jean de Laon, chroniclers of the two unfortunate attempts of colonization of Guiana: the one of Brétigny in 1643, and the one of Royville in 1652, both of them published in Paris in 1654, call “Cape of North” Guiana, like Portuguese and Spanish historians. These two chronicles are the two most precious accounts of French colonization in Central America.
The volume starts with a dedication “A Madame la duchesse d’Esguillon ” and the text describes in detail the expedition, the manners and habits of the natives, the nature and geography of the country roamed.
“This is an account of an expedition sent out under De Roiville, in 1651. The greater part of the colonists, seven hundred or eight hundred in number, perished in the space of fifteen months, from hunger and the fury of the Indians”. (Sabin).
The illustration, which is generally missing, is composed of 2 beautiful engraved copper plates and a map: 1/ Representation of a naked native holding a bow in front of page 88, present here. 2/ Representation of the same native holding a beetle in front of page 89, present here. 3/ A map of the island of Cayenne, missing in this copy.
A precious copy, very well bound by Lortic in red morocco, of this first edition even rarer than the ones of Champlain or Lescarbot. Church, in his bibliography dedicated to the discovery of the American continent, only mentions two copies: British Museum and Lenox Libraries.
This copy comes from the collections of the Count of Toulouse and of the king Louis Philippe with his stamp on the title-page.