“THIS IS OUR COLCHOS, WHERE THE GOLDEN FLEECE FLOURISHED AT THE BACKES OF NEPTUNES SHEEPE, CONTINUALLY TO BE SHORN. THIS IS GREAT BRITAINES INDIES, NEVER TO BE EXHAUSTED DRY”: VAUGHAN’S GOLDEN FLEECE, 1626, AMONG “THE EARLIEST ENGLISH LITERATURE ON NORTH AMERICA”
VAUGHAN, William. The Golden Fleece Divided into Three Parts, under which are discovered the Errours of Religion, the Vices and Decayes of the Kingdome, and lastly the Wayes to get Wealth, and to restore Trading so much complayned of. Transported from Cambrioll Colchos, out of the southermost Part of the Iland [sic], commonly called the Newfoundland, by Orpheus Junior, for the generall and perpetuall Good of Great Britaine. London, Francis Williams, 1626. Square octavo, contemporary limp vellum recased, hand-lettered spine title, later endpapers. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $16,500.
Scarce first edition of this early allegorical promotion of settlements in Newfoundland, "one of the earliest contributions to English literature from America” (Baer).
"Deeply concerned about the poor economic conditions prevailing in Wales," William Vaughan "became interested in overseas colonization as a means for improving the lot of his countrymen. As a result he decided to try to plant a colony in Newfoundland, largely because it was easily accessible, and also because it possessed an established fishery. In 1616 he purchased from the Newfoundland Company the part of the Avalon Peninsula to the south of a line from Caplin Bay across to Placentia Bay, and decided to name the colony 'New Cambriol.' In the following year, Vaughan set out a few ill-prepared colonists to the harbour of Aquaforte, where they spent the winter huddled in cabins built by migratory fishermen for summer use. In 1618, Vaughan hired Richard Whitbourne to bring colonists and provisions to the settlement, and appointed him governor…moving it to a better location at Renews… but in the end only six colonists spent the winter of 1619 at Renews, and the settlement was abandoned in the following year… Vaughan did his best to promote Newfoundland settlement by publication of his somewhat fanciful book The Golden Fleece" (Howgego). "The work is one of the earliest contributions to English literature from America, and was intended to advertise Vaughan's colony. It is a queer fantasy in prose and verse, in which a succession of historical characters present complaints against the evils of the age in the court of Apollo, and finally find the Golden Fleece in Newfoundland" (Baer). "Vaughan's treatise was divided into three parts, the first concerned with religion, the second with the 'Vices and Decayes of the Kingdome,' and the third with 'wayes to get wealth, and to restore Trading. The third part focused on colonization… he created a unique text by bringing into this dialogue the central figures of contemporary Jacobean and Elizabethan colonization, including John Guy, Captain John Mason, Richard Whitbourne, Francis Drake and Martin Frobisher" (McDiarmid & Collinson). The Golden Fleece is an extraordinary work, in vivid contrast to the more prosaic and practical propagandist tracts on Newfoundland which Whitbourne and Mason had written. Its purpose was simple enough: Vaughan was anxious to promote the island as a place for settlement. Success, he believed, would relieve overpopulation at home, treble England's present income from the fishery which he estimated to be 20,000 pounds, and generally increase trade…Vaughan provided us with some of the earliest English literature on North America" (Gillian Cell). Lacking the extraordinarily rare map by John Mason, which "is very rarely found with the book" (Church). STC 2460. Sabin 98693. Church 409. Howgego V18.
Interior generally fine, blank leaves between parts (V4, Oo2) and blanks at both front and rear excised. Scarce.