London: Felix Kyngston, 1609, Small quarto (185 x 135 mm). Title-page and text printed within double-rule border. Some almost invisible restoration to front free endpaper and a few leaves, Contemporary limp vellum; blue half morocco folding case.
The First and only edition of this very rare and important work concerned with the search for the North-West Passage.
Rare English navigational work, with a discussion of Drake and Cavendish, as well as other early voyagers to America and the Pacific. Linton’s work is an early example of the practical study of navigation and the measurement of longitude, and is one of the earliest English books dealing with navigation in the Pacific Ocean.
The work also includes an eccentric but early discussion of the Northwest Passage and the prospects of trade with China. Linton was chaplain to Charles, Lord Howard of Effingham, who served as High Admiral from 1585 to 1618, and he pays special attention to the travels of English explorers, singling out Drake and Cavendish: ‘by Navigation, the huge convexitie of the whole world, within little more than these 30 years last past, hath been by our English nation twice sailed about. Once, by the worthie Sir Francis Drake Knight, and the second time by the worthie Thomas Candish Esquire, both passing thorow the Straits of Magellan, into the South Sea, and so coasting from thence the Westerne shore of the New World, unto California, passed from thence unto the Moluccan Ilands, and from thence by Iava, and by the Cape, De Bona Esperanza, and returned again alive into this Realme of England, with riches and reknowne.’ Linton himself had just returned from a voyage to the north of Asia, and notes that he has added ‘50 or 60 degrees of good discoverie, unto the alreadie known longitude, comprehended between the Westerne coast of America… on the one side, and the Vaygatz, or Ile van Oranges, upon the North of Nova Zemla.’
This homage to the glorious art of “Navigation” includes historical notice of the earliest phase of English voyages of discovery, but also practical advice: ‘the great part of the book is taken up with instructions how to find the longitude of any place “without the help of any Eclipse” ‘ (Church). Of some interest are the numerous references to works with which Linton was evidently familiar, including an evidently careful reading of the second edition of Hakluyt and William Bourne’s influential Regiment for the Sea, but also comments on the explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert, the mathematician Thomas Digges, the cartographer Edward Wright and the mapmaker Jodocus Hondius. There is also an important discussion of “our desired Cataia” (Cathay) and the Straits of Anian, the channel thought to be the key to the Northwest Passage, and of such importance that Linton announces that ‘if Archimedes in his daies had gotten it [the secret], he would have runne once againe out of his bathing tubbe, with his ioyful crie, I have found, I have found.’
(D.W. Waters, The Art of Navigation in England in Elizabethan and Early Stuart Times, p.274).Church 343; JCB II, 63; Sabin 41385 (never having seen a copy).