# 42335

Cabral, Francisco (1529-1609); Fonseca, Louis; Portillo, Jerónimo Ruiz del

Lettres du Iappon, Peru, et Brasil, envoyees au R.P. general de la Societé de Iesus,

USD $24,000

par ceux de ladicte Societé qui s’employent en ces Regions, à la conversion des gentils. Desdiees à Monsieur Chartier seigneur d’Alein-ville. A Paris : Chez Thomas Brumen, demeurant au clos Bruneau, à l’enseigne de l’Olivier, 1578. Small octavo (160 x 100 mm), modern gilt-ruled brown morocco, spine in compartments with gilt lettering and ornament; inner dentelles, marbled endpapers; all edges gilt; 110, [2] pp.; title-page browned and with light staining at the margins, the woodcut device in facsimile, laid in; occasional light foxing.

Exceedingly rare first edition of this collection of Jesuit missionary letters, all translated into French from the original Portuguese or Spanish.

The authors of the letters are Francisco Cabral, writing from Japan in September, 1575; Jerónimo Ruiz del Portillo, from Peru in February, 1575; and Louis Fonseca, from Brazil, in 1577.

It appears the Cabral letter was also published in Italian in the same year as part of Lettere del Giapone de gli anni 74, 75, & 76 (Rome, 1578). Francisco Cabral (1529-1609) served as Mission Superior of Japan for twelve years. He was later rector of the College of San Pablo of Goa and Visitor to India, before his removal to Macau on account of stance against Japanese being admitted to the order.

Fonseca’s lengthy letter has great significance as one of the most extensive and detailed accounts of Brazil to have been published in French up to that time.

Cordier, Japonica, cols. 70-71; Streit, v. IV, p. 423.

Rare Book Hub records the last copy offered for sale was the Harmsworth copy in 1951, described as ‘VERY RARE. No copy has been sold at auction in this country during the past 30 years’. Prior to that, Rosenbach offered a copy in 1938 for USD $150 ‘An extremely rare collection of letters of the greatest importance, being among the earliest authentic accounts of travels by Europeans in Brazil, Peru and Japan’.

Christie’s (2015) noted that the Lyon second edition of 1580 was ‘very likely the earliest acquirable’.