An Expedition to the Strait of Magellan

AMERICANA. Froger, François (b. 1676)

A Relation of a Voyage made in the Years 1695, 1696, 1697 on the Coasts of Africa, Streights of Magellan, Brasil, Cayenna, and the Antilles, by a Squadron of French Men of War, under the Command of M. de Gennes, By the Sieur Froger, voluntier-engineer on board the English Falcon. Illustrated with divers strange figures, drawn to the life

London: printed for M. Gillyflower in Westminster-Hall; W. Freeman, M. Wotton in Fleet-street; J. Walthoe in the Temple; and R. Parker in Cornhill, 1698


Octavo: 19 x 12 cm. [12], 91, 96-173, [3] p., engraved t.p., [15] leaves of plates (2 folded). Collation: π2, A4, B-F8, G4, *H2, H-M8


Illustrated with an engraved title page and 15 plates and maps (2 folding.) Bound in contemporary sprinkled calf, small defects. A very fine copy with broad margins and only some spotting and soiling to the final leaves.

A translation of "Relation d’un voyage fait en 1695, 1696, et 1697, aux côtes d’Afrique, détroit de Magellan, Brezil, Cayenne, et Isles Antilles" by the French hydrographer, engineer, and explorer François Froger.

In 1695, at the age of nineteen, Froger set sail from La Rochelle on the English Falcon as part of an expedition to reach the Pacific by way of the Strait of Magellan. The voyage was inspired by a group of buccaneers (who also formed part of the expedition) who had previously sailed the route in a successful quest for riches.

Froger's narrative, which documents the adventures of the expedition as they battle the English, illness, and the weather, also includes a wealth of detailed information on the flora, fauna, and people of West Africa, Brazil, Patagonia, and the Strait of Magellan, including an account of the slave trade. The book is illustrated with careful engravings of birds, various plants, fish, and the well-known, charming image of a capybara sitting and enjoying a banana in the shade of a banana tree. Scenes of ethnographic interest include a depiction of "how monkeys carry (human) infants up trees", the native inhabitants of Gambia and the Strait of Magellan, with their huts, boats, and other items of manufacture; and a gruesome image of a Portuguese whipping a slave whom he has suspended from a tree by his neck. The maps include Rio de Janeiro the and mouth of the Rio Plata, the River Gambia, Tierra del Fuego and the Strait of Magellan, the river De Gennes (Rio del Valle Grande of Sarmiento) and the land of the Patagonians.

"At the beginning of July the explorers stopped near the island of Gorée, where Froger describes the “Negro” inhabitants and draws a map of the island. They reached the Gambia River at the end of the month and, before setting sail again, they destroy the English Fort Saint-Jacques. At the end of the month of August, Froger relates that, due to illness spreading among the crewmen, they needed to stop at Cape Verde, where the air was healthier. Finally, during the first days of October, they head towards Brazil and arrive in Rio de Janeiro on 28 November 1695.

"In January 1696, the fleet sails to the Strait of Magellan. During the journey, they meet the Patagonians, whose culture Froger describes. The fleet at last enters the Straits of Magellan at the end of February 1696. But while the fleet attempts several times to go through the Strait during March and April, the winds are unfavorable. Because of a lack of food (and hope), they decide to go back to Brazil in order to search for wealth elsewhere.

"In early June, they arrive on the island of Saint-Anne, but the Portuguese threat impedes them from stopping at Rio de Janeiro. In July, they arrive at All Saints' Bay and the city of San Salvador. In September, they stop in Cayenne. When Dutch vessels prevent them from going to Surinam, they opt for a cruise in the Caribbean. In November 1696, they arrive at Martinique, where they unload and clean their ships. In December, they go to Saint-Lucie, then to Saint Vincent and finally come back to Martinique in January 1697. They stay there for one month in order to gather goods and then move to Guadeloupe in early February. Finally, they pass through the Acores Islands in March before returning to La Rochelle on 21 April 1697."

Sabin 26004; ESTC R38897; Wing F2233