(London: Printed by John Beale, 1617). 324 x 216 mm. (12 3/4 x 8 1/2"). 7 p.l., 295, , 301, , 292 pp. Missing first leaf (blank except for signature mark) and last leaf (blank), as is often the case; first leaf of table of contents bound in backwards, so the second page appears before the first. Three parts in one volume. FIRST EDITION.
Very fine mottled calf, gilt, by Courtland Benson, gilt-decorated raised bands, spine with prominent tangent semicircles dividing the elaborately gilt compartments into quadrants containing many botanical tools and fleurons, red morocco label, later (but not jarring) endpapers. With decorative woodcut head- and tailpieces, historiated initials, and eight woodcuts in the text, seven of them maps of Venice, Naples, Rome, Genoa, Paris, Jerusalem, and Constantinople, and one a plan of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Title pages with ink ownership inscriptions of William Lascoe, Gyles Killingworth, and John Harrison (all 17th century) and James White (dated 1779); front pastedown with modern bookplate of Athol H. Lewis; occasional ink or pencilled marginalia. STC 18205; ESTC S115249. Title opening a bit soiled and darkened (perhaps because of protracted exposure to light while being exhibited?), the leaf on the left expertly backed, the one on the right probably washed, first half of the text with light dampstain across half the lower margin (usually very faint and small, but sometimes reaching up through six or eight lines of text), final 50 leaves with minor worming at inner margin (not touching text), one leaf with corner restored (no text affected), a number of other minor defects (slight soiling, small burn holes, smudging here and there), but still a surprisingly fresh and mostly rather bright copy of a work usually found in deplorable condition, and in an extremely appealing unworn sympathetic binding.
This is the first edition of an early English-language combination of travelogue (Part I), military history (Part II), and guide for tourists (Part III), written by someone who had by his own admission longed from his childhood to see the world. After matriculating at Cambridge and becoming a fellow of the college, Moryson (1565/6-1630) received permission to suspend his fellowship while he travelled abroad through the Low Countries, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, the Eastern Mediterranean, Jerusalem, Tripoli, Antioch, and Constantinople. According to the DNB, "he was fluent in German, Italian, Dutch, and French, and his linguistic ability served him well in regions where an Englishman might expect to meet hostility: he generally posed as German or Dutch in the more dangerous states in Italy, adopting a second cover as a Frenchman when visiting Cardinal Bellarmine at the Jesuit college in Rome" and so on; his disguises also included Bohemian and Polish attire. The first part of this book is a detailed account of those travels, reporting on the routes he travelled, evaluating the accommodations available, enumerating the amounts of time and money expended, and critiquing the "must-see" sights of the various locales. In the second part, Moryson deals with the years 1599-1602, which he spent in Ireland. There, he acted as secretary to Lord Mountjoy, commander of the English troops fighting the uprising of Irish chieftains known as the Nine Years' War or Tyrone's Rebellion. The final, and perhaps most entertaining, portion of the work is a sort of 16th century "Lonely Planet Guide" in which our author describes the customs, dress, diet, economies, and politics of European countries, with an eye toward helping the contemporary traveller avoid pitfalls and faux pas. As the DNB observes, these sometimes humorous accounts of "hard-drinking German artisans and their sober wives, Italian gentlemen and courtesans, . . . entrepreneurial Dutchwomen and their downtrodden husbands, impoverished Scots, and spendthrift Polish noblemen" are quite valuable for the modern reader as a window into the daily life of 16th century Europe. (CTS1005)
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PJP Catalog: 76.163