WAFER, Lionel (1640-1705). A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America, Giving an Account of the Author's Abode there. London: James Knapton, 1699.
8vo., (7 4/8 x 4 4/8 inches). 2-page publisher's advertisement at the end. Fine folding engraved map of the Isthmus of Darien, and three folding plates (small tear on map not affecting image, some spotting). 19th-century half tan calf, gilt, with marbled end boards, five compartments with four raised bands, red morocco lettering piece in gilt “WAFER’S/VOYAGE”, red-speckled edges (extremities rubbed).
First edition. After a life of high adventure in the South Seas where he joined buccaneers Sharpe and Dampier in their raids on the Spanish at Panama 1680 and 1681, Wafer escaped marriage to a local Cuna Indian woman and returned to England where he "... established himself as the foremost authority on the Darien isthmus. Dampier deferred to Wafer for descriptions of Darien, claiming he 'is better able to do it than any man that I know' (Dampier, 24). On 2 July 1697, following Dampier's recommendation, Wafer was interviewed by John Locke and the other commissioners of the council of trade and plantation concerning Darien and the projected Scots' colony. Wafer's knowledge of Darien was also sought by the directors of the Darien Company, and the advice he gave them almost certainly influenced the siting of the disastrous Scots' colony in 1698. Wafer was invited to visit the company's directors in Edinburgh in the spring of 1698. He travelled to Scotland as Mr Brown of London, and stayed with Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun where he met the directors before removing to a secret garret in Edinburgh. Having been engaged by the company, Wafer ordered his affairs in preparation for a voyage to Darien, but a mysterious breach dissolved these plans. In the same year he provided the duke of Leeds with a report on the key ports along America's Pacific rim which might be seized from Spain if they remained shut to foreign traders. His analysis of the strategic and commercial advantages of securing the Chilean ports of Coquimbo and Valdivia, for English vessels rounding the Horn, bears striking resemblance to a scheme Daniel Defoe was to lay before Robert Harley in July 1711" (DNB). Sabin 100940. Location note: AMERICANA 15C. For inquiries please contact Greg McMurray, MLS, Director, Rare Books.