“the great prose epic of the Elizabethan period” with both the Wright-Molyneux world map and the rare suppressed ‘Voyage to Cadiz’
By HAKLUYT, Richard, and WRIGHT, Edward, 1599
The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, Made by Sea or Over-land to the remote and farthest distant quarters of the earth, at any time within the compasse of these 1600. yeres: divided into three severall volumes, according to the positions of the regions, whereunto they were directed. The first volume containeth the worthy discoveries, &c. of the English toward the North and Northeast Sea, as of Lapland, Scriksinia, Corelia, the Baie of S. Nicholas, the Isles of Colge… V…z, and Newa Zembla, toward the great rive ob, with the mightie Empire of B… the Caspian Sea, Georgia, Armenia, Media, Persia, Boghar in Battia, and divers Kingdomes of Tartaria: together with many notable monuments and testimonies of the… forren trades, and of the warrelike and other shipping of this Relame of England in former ages. Wherunto is annexed a briefe comentarie of the true state of Island, and of the Northren seas and lands situate that way: as also theme morable defeat of the Spanish huge Armada, Anno 1588. The second volume comprehendeth the principall navigations, voiages, traffiques, and difcoveries of the English. Nation, made by sea or over-land, to the south and south-east parts of the world, as well within as without the streight of Gibraltar, at any time within the compasse of their 1600 yeres : Divided into two severall parts, &c.
- Author: HAKLUYT, Richard, and WRIGHT, Edward
- Publication place: London
- Publisher: George Bishop, Ralph Newberies and Robert Barker
- Publication date: 1599–1600.
- Physical description: 3 works bound in 2 volumes, folio (286 by 181 mm), complete with the rare Wright-Molyneux world map on two sheets joined, map carefully trimmed to the neatline, with repaired closed tear and light restoration around folds, eighteenth-century bookplate of John Seale of Mount Boon, Devon, to front pastedown of second volume, vol. I sig. I6 with chip to fore edge just grazing shoulder note, a few leaves in same volume with very minor peripheral damp staining; vol. III sig. I5 with text misaligned with consequent slight shaving of shoulder note, contents generally very clean and fresh, mid-eighteenth century calf, recent red morocco labels to style, neat restoration at extremities, covers panelled in blind, light red speckled edges.
- Dimensions: Map dimensions: 630 by 430mm. (24.75 by 17 inches).
- Inventory reference: 18425
The Wright-Molyneux Map
Gerard Mercator (1512–1594) revolutionized cartography with his development of an isogonic cylindrical projection that mapped a sphere on to a flat plane. Mercator expected that his projection would be a valuable tool for navigators but he neglected to provide practical guidelines on how use it. Edward Wright (1558?-1615), a professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, modified Mercator’s system and published his results, ‘The Correction of Certain Errors in Navigation’, in 1599 and again in an improved edition entitled ‘Certaine errors in navigation, detected and corrected’ (London, 1610). Wright’s book contained new mathematical tables and instructions on plotting straight-line courses on maps based on the Mercator projection. The system developed by Wright contributed to the supremacy of the British Navy and is still in use today.
Wright published ‘A Chart of the World on Mercator’s Projection’ in 1599 based on his projection of a globe engraved by the English globe maker Emeric Molyneux in 1592. It was the first map to use Wright’s improvements on Mercator’s projection. It quickly became famous, even catching Shakespeare’s attention: in “Twelfth Night”, first performed in 1602, Maria says of Malvolio: “He does smile his face into more lines than is in the new map with the augmentation of the Indies” (Act III, Scene II).
Unlike many maps and charts of the era that represented the often fantastic speculations of their makers, Wright’s ‘Chart of the World’ offers a minimum of detail and even leaves areas blank wherever geographic information was lacking. These undefined areas are especially evident along Wright’s coastlines. For example, the coast of California above Cape Mendocino is blank.
Wright’s world map depicts a wider Pacific Ocean than other maps of its time. On the American continent, Wright labels upper California ‘Nova Albion’; other maps designated this area ‘Anian’ but Wright adopted the name given the region by Sir Francis Drake. ‘Quivira’ still appears on the West coast. Further to the east, the map also shows a ‘Lake of Tadouac’ reminiscent of the Sea of Verrazano. This lake is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by a river that appears to run south of the St. Lawrence River. It is also connected to a large body of water to the north. Lake Tadouac is apparently an early reference to either the Hudson Bay or to the Great Lakes, neither of which were “discovered” by Europeans until eleven or twelve years after Wright’s map was published. Wright’s map is also one of the earliest maps to use the name “Virginia”.
The present example is in the second state, also from 1599, with the cartouche with engraved text describing Drake’s discoveries in the Americas added to the lower left of the map.
Top left are the arms of Elizabeth I; top right a strapwork cartouche with a text about Francis Gaulle’s discoveries in the Pacific; and bottom centre another cartouche with a general description of the chart.
The Principall Navigations
Comprising 243 narratives of voyages and travels in the New World in some 1,700,000 words, ‘The Principall Navigations’ is the greatest assemblage of travel accounts and navigations to all parts of the world collected up to its time, and a vital source for early New World exploration. “It is difficult to over rate the importance and value of this extraordinary collection of voyages” (Sabin).
This second edition of Hakluyt’s voyages is, in fact, an entirely different book from the initial 1589 compilation and was greatly expanded from the single-volume original. Boies Penrose considered that “the first edition of the Principal Navigations transcended anything that had gone before, though it, in turn, was surpassed by the second edition”. Indeed, Hakluyt devoted his life to the work and “throughout the 1590s, therefore, this indefatigable editor set himself to the formidable task of expanding the collection and bringing it up to date … this was indeed Hakluyt’s monumental masterpiece, and the great prose epic of the Elizabethan period … Much that was new and important was included: the travels of Newbery and Fitch, Lancaster’s first voyage, the new achievements in the Spanish Main, and particularly Raleigh’s tropical adventures …The book must always remain a great work of history, and a great sourcebook of geography, while the accounts themselves constitute a body of narrative literature which is of the highest value in understanding the spirit and the tendencies of the Tudor age” (Penrose).
Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations was one of the major prestige publications of the Tudor state, seeking to do for English exploration what Holinshed’s Chronicles had done for the nation’s history, a key work in promoting overseas ventures. Hakluyt himself never travelled further afield than France, but he met or corresponded with many of the great explorers, navigators, and cartographers including Drake, Raleigh, Gilbert, Frobisher, Ortelius, and Mercator. In addition to long and significant descriptions of the Americas in volume 3, the work also contains accounts of Russia, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, Turkey, Middle East, Persia, India, south-east Asia, and Africa. Hakluyt owed a good deal to Sir Francis Walsingham’s support and probably gathered intelligence for him in Paris; the first edition was both dedicated to and licensed for publication by him. After Walsingham’s death in 1590, the patronage of Sir Robert Cecil was increasingly important to Hakluyt. Volume I of the second edition of the Principal Navigations was dedicated to the lord admiral, Lord Howard of Effingham, but the other two were dedicated to Cecil.
Here the first volume contains the original printing of the rare ‘Voyage to Cadiz’, which was suppressed by order of Queen Elizabeth after Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, incurred her wrath by returning to England from Ireland without leave in 1599 to marry Sir Philip Sidney’s widow, the daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham. This copy is the second issue of the second edition with volume I dated 1599. The first issue is dated 1598, and its title page makes reference to the Earl of Essex’s voyage to Cadiz, which was ordered to be suppressed because Elizabeth was angered by Essex’s status as a popular hero of the war against Spain. However, the printed leaves detailing the voyage to Cadiz, pp. 607–619, which ought also to have been suppressed, are here present in their original uncancelled state.
The third volume is devoted almost entirely to the Americas, the South Seas, and various circumnavigations of the world. It includes the accounts of Niza, Coronado, Ruiz, and Espejo relating to New Mexico; Ulloa, Drake, and others concerning California; and Raleigh’s account of Guiana. “Hakluyt was a vigorous propagandist and empire-builder; his purpose was to further British expansion overseas. He saw Britain’s greatest opportunity in the colonization of America, which he advocated chiefly for economic reasons, but also to spread Protestantism, and to oust Spain” (Hill).
Edward Wright’s world map was, according to Quinn’s 1974 census for ‘The Hakluyt Handbook’, only to be found in 19, of the 240, predominantly institutional, examples of the book surveyed. Quinn notes that this survival rate is, even allowing for the high mortality levels traditionally attached to decorative world maps in books, “sufficiently low to raise the possibility that not all copies were equipped with the map, either because it was made available after many sets had been sold, which would mean that its date might be later than 1599, or because it was an optional extra supplied at additional cost”. Quinn’s survey included all major booksellers’ catalogues and public auctions in the English speaking world.
Subsequent to this 1974 census, the only other copy we know to have appeared in commerce with the map in the past half-century is the Grenville–Crawford–Rosebery copy, bound in early nineteenth-century red morocco, which lacked the map until a supplied copy was inserted sometime between its sale at auction by Sotheby’s in 1933 and its reappearance in the Franklin Brooke-Hitching sale, Sotheby’s, 30 Sept. 2014, lot 579. Hakluyt’s use of this map in his publication was to show “so much of the world as hath beene hetherto discovered, and is comme to our knowledge”.
The historical importance of the work cannot be overstated. It is truly “an invaluable treasure of nautical information which has affixed to Hakluyt’s name a brilliancy of reputation which time can never efface or obscure” (Church). ‘The Principall Navigations’ “redounds as much to the glory of the English nation as any book that ever was published” (Bancroft).
Sir John Henry Seale, 1st Baronet (1780–1844) of Mount Boone in the parish of Townstal near Dartmouth in Devon, was a Whig Member of Parliament for Dartmouth in 1838. He was created a baronet on 31 July 1838. He owned substantial lands in Devon, mainly at Townstal and Mount Boone. Together with the Earl of Morley of Saltram House near Plymouth, he built several bridges in Dartmouth, most notably the Dart crossing.
- Borba De Moraes, pp. 391–92
- Moraes, R. (1983). Bibliographia brasiliana. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center Publications University of California.
- Church 322
- Cole, G. and Church, E. (1951). A catalogue of books relating to the discovery and early history of North and South America, forming a part of the library of E.D. Church. New York: Peter Smith.
- Quinn, p. 490
- Quinn, D. (1974). The Hakluyt Handbook. London: The Hakluyt Society. Reprint. 2 vols.
- ESTC S106753
- Grolier English 100, 14
- Hill 743
- JCB (3) I:360–61
- LOC European Americana 598/42
- Penrose, Boies, ‘Travel and Discovery in the Renaissance 1420–1620’, p. 318
- Pforzheimer 443
- Printing and the Mind of Man 105
- Sabin 29595–97-98
- STC 12626
- cf. Shirley 221.<br /><br />Known examples of the Wright-Molyneux map<br /><br />British Library, London (3 copies)
- Bodleian Library, Oxford
- Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
- Eton College Library, Windsor
- Huntington, San Marino (2 copies)
- Newberry Library, Chicago
- Lilly Library Bloomington
- Clements Library, Ann Arbor
- Princeton (2 copies)
- New York Public Library, New York
- Philadelphia Public Library, Philadelphia
- Naval War College, Newport
- JCB Library, Providence
- University of Virginia, Charlottesville
- Mitchell Library, Sydney.