A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America, giving an account of the author's abode there, the form and make of the country… With Remarkable Occurrences in the South Sea, and elsewhere…. Lionel WAFER.
A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America, giving an account of the author's abode there, the form and make of the country… With Remarkable Occurrences in the South Sea, and elsewhere…
A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America, giving an account of the author's abode there, the form and make of the country… With Remarkable Occurrences in the South Sea, and elsewhere…
A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America, giving an account of the author's abode there, the form and make of the country… With Remarkable Occurrences in the South Sea, and elsewhere…

A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America, giving an account of the author's abode there…
A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America, giving an account of the author's abode there, the form and make of the country… With Remarkable Occurrences in the South Sea, and elsewhere…

London: James Knapton, 1699.

Octavo, with a map and three folding engraved plates; with the 2 pp Knapton advertisements at the end; a good copy in contemporary calf; skillfully respined preserving earlier manuscript label.

Here's our doctor!

First edition: one of the series of rarities relating to the buccaneers and William Dampier. It was published by Dampier's publisher Knapton. Wafer, surgeon on a trading vessel, had deserted in the West Indies in 1679, and joined the loose band of buccaneers which included Lynch and Cook, and eventually brought him into contact with Dampier. After the quarrel which divided the buccaneers, Wafer was part of the faction which attempted to cross the Isthmus at Panama. Badly burned in an accident, the surgeon was left behind among the Darien Indians until he recovered. Even the often ill-tempered Dampier was worried about his loss, writing 'we allowed him a Slave to carry his things, being all of us the more concern'd at the Accident, because liable our selves every Moment to Misfortune, and none to look after us but him'.

First edition: one of the series of rarities relating to the buccaneers and William Dampier. It was published by Dampier's publisher Knapton. Wafer, surgeon on a trading vessel, had deserted in the West Indies in 1679, and joined the loose band of buccaneers which included Lynch and Cook, and eventually brought him into contact with Dampier. After the quarrel which divided the buccaneers, Wafer was part of the faction which attempted to cross the Isthmus at Panama. Badly burned in an accident, the surgeon was left behind among the Darien Indians until he recovered. Even the often ill-tempered Dampier was worried about his loss, writing 'we allowed him a Slave to carry his things, being all of us the more concern'd at the Accident, because liable our selves every Moment to Misfortune, and none to look after us but him'.

However, Wafer's accident did have the unforeseen effect of producing one of the most important English works on the region. He gained the confidence of the Indians and was able to record much first-hand information about them and about the area. He temporarily adopted their distinctive dress, and when he returned to his shipmates sat amongst them unrecognised for almost an hour, until one suddenly exclaimed 'Here's our doctor!'.

Wafer stresses the advantages to be gained from an English settlement on the Isthmus: 'a free passage by land, from the Atlantic to the South Sea, might easily be effected, which would be of the greatest consequence to the East India trade…'. Dampier, although writing his own brief record of Panama, notes that 'I shall leave this Province to Mr. Wafer, who… is better able to do it than any Man that I know, and is now preparing a particular Description of this Country for the Press'. Wafer published a revised second edition in 1704, which is the version later included in the four-volume Dampier of 1729.

Provenance: With ms. ownership inscription from the year of publication "Liber Samuelis Nicoll pret. 3 sh. 1699"; Frederick E. Ellis (with his Shaw Island bookplate); private collection (Sydney).

Hill, 1796; NMM, Piracy & Privateering, 551; Sabin, 100940; Wing, W193.

Price (AUD): $5,850.00  other currencies Ref: #4505117

Condition Report