London: John Beale, 1617. Folio. [xiv], 295, ; 302, ; 292 pp. FIRST EDITION. Without the first and final blanks as in most copies. Recent calf in an antique style, spine tooled in gilt with a red morocco label, top edge gilt; interior in excellent condition. With a fascinating provenance (see below). Item #17418
First edition of one of the most famous and fascinating early modern travel accounts, one of the great seventeenth-century works of its kind. Moryson singles out all the “monuments in each place, worth the seeing.” A perceptive traveler, as an example he appreciated how war, in this case the French wars of religion, could exercise an inflationary effect on prices. He gives detailed accounts of his travel expenses, including the cost of inns, food, costumes, as well as the values of coins. And he eloquently boasts of his skill at outwitting thieves. The second part of the work is given over to the rebellion of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone. O’Neill (1550-1616) led the resistance against the English forces seeking to subdue Ireland during the Nine Years’ War. The final part points out the advantages of travel, offers useful precepts for travelers, defines national characteristics, etc. The sections of the book on Ireland have been closely read by an early owner. There is extensive underlining, a number of pointing fingers and important passages marked with short marginal annotations.
Moryson (1566-1630) traveled Continental Europe for the purpose of observing traditions, social and economic conditions, and local customs. The was the personal secretary to Lord Mountjoy, commander-in-chief of England’s army in Ireland.
Provenance: A presentation inscription on the title page reads: “Ex dono Caroli Pym Equitis Aurati” which is most likely Sir Charles Pym (1615-1671), the son of the Parliamentarian John Pym (1584-1643). The signature does not match the annotations so it is tempting to ascribe the annotations to Charles Pym’s father. John Pym would no doubt have been interested in Moryson’s rendering of the 1584 Tyrone rebellion in Ireland, as he was fervently anti-Catholic, believing that “Popery shouyld never be tolerated there” (in Ireland). The annotator here underlined many of the passages which deal with the danger posed by the Irish in the sixteenth century, perhaps looking for historical precedents to make a judgment on the present-day situation. Also the bookplate of Francis Money-Coutts (1852-1923), 5th Baron Latymer, a London solicitor, poet, librettist and wealthy heir to the fortune of the Coutts banking family.