GAGE, Thomas (ca 1596-1656). A New Survey of the West-India's: Or, The English-American His Travail By Sea and Land: Containing a Journal of Three Thousand and Three Hundred Miles Within the Main Land of America. London: E. Cotes for John Sweeting, 1655.

$ 6,500.00

Small folio (7 2/8 x 11 2/8 inches). [10], 220, [12] pp. Four engraved maps: North and South America; West-Indies; New Spain (central Mexico with Pacific Coast); and "Terra Firma et Novum Regnum Granatense et Popaian" (the southern half of Central America with northwest regions of South America). (Marginal dampstaining, slightly affecting West Indies map and occasionally affecting text block, occasional spotting, minor chipping to edges of first map and first few text leaves.) Modern speckled calf antique, covers decorated with double gilt fillet, spine gilt in compartments, with red and green morocco lettering-pieces.

Provenance: Contemporary ownership inscription on frontispiece map of John Kyrwood; a few contemporary English marginalia.

THE FIRST EDITION WITH THE MAPS, OF THE FIRST NON-SPANISH DESCRIPTION OF THE SPANISH DOMINIONS IN THE NEW WORLD.

As a child Gage had been sent by his father to Spain to study with the Jesuits. He joined the Dominican order instead, and in 1625 began his travels as a stowaway, smuggled in a biscuit barrel aboard a ship bound for the Philippines, in violation of the Spanish royal decree excluding foreigners from the new Spanish territories. Gage spent most of the next 12 years in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama, living among the Indians and occasionally serving as parish priest or professor of philosophy. Upon his return to England he converted to the Church of England and wrote his book, which caused an immediate sensation for its revelations of the wealth and defenselessness of the Spanish American colonies. The year before publication of this second edition Cromwell appointed Gage chaplain of the armed expedition sent to capture Jamaica; he died there in 1656. Gage's goal in writing the Survey, which contains a full account of Gage's travels and rich details of Central American geography and peoples, based entirely on his own observations, is set forth in the dedicatory letter to Lord Fairfax of Cameron. In it Gage deplores the cruelties of Spanish rule and exhorts the English crown to invade and seize the Spanish territories. Appended to the work is an abbreviated 8-page grammar of Poconchi or Pocoman, a native language of Guatemala and Honduras. An appealing copy, in a fine retrospective binding, of an important work of Central American travel literature. Wing G-113; Sabin 26299; JCB, II 448-449. Catalogued by Kate Hunter