2 BEVERLEY, R / History of Virginia 106


Description: French translation of 'the most vivid, comprehensive, instructive, entertaining picture of Virginia' written by a planter living there

[BEVERLEY, Robert].
Histoire de la Virginie, contenant I. L'histoire du premier etablissement dans la Virginie, & de son gouvernement jusques à present. II. Les productions naturelles & les commoditez du Païs, avant que (l)es Anglois y negociassent, & l'améliorassent. III. La religion, les loix, & les coutumes des Indiens naturels, tant dans la guerre, que dans la paix. IV. L'etat présent du Païs, tant à l'égard de la police, que de l'amelioration du Païs. Par un auteur natif & habitant du Païs. Traduite de l'Anglois.

Amsterdam, Thomas Lombrail, 1707. 12mo. Contemporary full mottled calf, ribbed spine with title lettered in gold, marbled endpapers. Full-page engraved frontispiece with the coat of arms of Virginia, title in red & black with woodcut vignette, 14 full-page engraved plates, 1 folding printed table, woodcut head- and endpieces, woodcut initials. (6), 432, (16) pp.

First edition of the translation into French of this important account on the colony of Virginia, translated from the first English edition which was published by R. Parker in London in 1705 with the title History and present state of Virginia. Vigorous, honest, and not without humor, his history was an immediate success. Reprinted a number of times (modern editions: 1947, 1968, ed. by L.B. Wright), it served to attract many immigrants to Virginia. A second edition of the translation appeared in Amsterdam in 1712, a third in 1718. A pirated edition in French, with 416 pages, was printed in Orléans, also in 1707 for P. Ribou in Paris.
The work, subdivided in four parts, tells of the history of the first settlement and the government to 1706 (I), the natural productions and conveniences of the land before the settlement of the English (II), the native Indians and their religion, laws and customs in war and peace (III) , and the present state of the country regarding the police and government as well as the improvements of the land.
In the original edition Beverley combined shrewd insights into the Virginia of his day, sharp comments about the colony's leaders, and vivid descriptions of the natural world, all written with an engaging enthusiasm for his native land. Though a section on Virginia's early history is cursory, the book as a whole remains important. Beverley drew on John Smith's General History of Virginia but sketched the colony's development to 1704, incorporating valuable observations of his own. The author's descriptive powers are best revealed in the section on the culture of Native Americans in Virginia. This sympathetic account presents the Native Americans 'in their simple state of nature, and in their enjoyment of plenty, without the curse of labour', an existence which Beverley himself appeared to envy.
'After John Smith, the first account of this colony, the first one penned by a native and the best contemporary record of its aboriginal tribes and of the life of its early settlers.' (Howes). 'Beverly is the best authority concerning the particular subject delineated in his quaint and agreeable pages; and his work afford the most vivid, comprehensive, instructive, entertaining picture of Virginia at the date of his writing that is to be found.' (Sabin).

Robert Beverley, Jr. (1673-1722) was an important historian of early colonial Virginia. He was born in Virginia and died in King and Queen County, Virginia. His father had emigrated from Yorkshire in ca. 1663. He was also a substantial planter as well as an official in the colonial government. His work is considered by many to be the most important and accurate history of early life in the Virginia colony. It is also a favourable account of the slave society that had developed in Virginia by the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Very good copy with contemp. ms. annotations in ink on first flyleaf.- (Gently age-browned).
Howes B 410; Bell B 211; Sabin 5116; JCB V, 707/18; Goldsmith' Kress libr. 04396; cf. Streeter II, 1098-9 (English
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