Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/900

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
883
RAMUSIO

made that branch of knowledge through life his chief study and delight. He is said, with the assistance of friends touched by the same flame, to have opened a school for geography in his house at Venice. And it appears from a letter addressed to him by his friend Andrea Navagero, that as early as 1523 the preparation of material for his great work had already begun. The task had been suggested and encouraged, as Ramusio himself states in a dedicatory epistle to the famous Girolamo Fracastoro, by that scholar, his lifelong friend; an address to the same personage indeed introduced each of the three volumes, and in the first the writer speaks of his desire to bequeath to posterity, along with his labours, “ a testimony to the long and holy friendship that had existed between the two.” They were contemporaries in the strictest sense (Ramusio 1485-1557, Fracastorius 1483-1553). His correspondence, which was often devoted to the collection of new material for his work, was immense, and embraced many distinguished men. Among those Whose names have still an odour of celebrity were Fracastoro, just mentioned, Cardinal Pietro Bembo, Damiano de Goez, and Sebastian Cabot; among lesser lights, Vettor Fausto, Daniel Barbaro, Paolo Manuzio, Andrea Navagero, the cardinals Gasparo Contarini and Gregorio Cortese, and the printer Tommaso Giunti, editor after Ramusio's death of the Navigationi.

Two volumes only of the Navigationi e Viaggi were published during the life of Gian Battista, vol. i. in 1550, vol. iii. in 1556; vol. ii. did not appear till 1559, two years after his death, delayed, as his friend and printer T. Giunti explains, not only by that event but by a fire in the printing-office (November 1557), which destroyed a part of the material which had been prepared. It had been Ramusio's intention to publish a fourth volume, containing, as he mentions himself, documents relating to the Andes, and, as appears from one of the prefaces of Giunti, others relating to explorations towards the Antarctic.[1] Ramusio's collection was by no means the first of the kind, though it was, and we may say on the whole continues to be, the best. Even before the invention of the press such collections were known, of which that made by a certain Long John of Yprés, abbot of St Bertin, in the latter half of the 14th century was most meritorious, and afforded in its transcription a splendid held for embellishment by the miniaturists, which was not disregarded. The best of the printed collections before Ramusio's was the Novus Orbis, edited at Basel by Simon Grynaeus in 1532, and reissued in 1537 and 1555. This, however, can boast of no disquisitions nor of much editorial judgment. Ramusio's collection is in these respects far superior, as well as in the variety and fulness of its matter. He spared no pains in ransacking Italy and the Spanish peninsula for contributions, and in translating them when needful into the racy Italian of his day. Several of the pieces are very rare in any other shape than that exhibited in Ramusio's collection; several besides of importance-e.g. the invaluable travels of Barbosa and Pigafetta's account of Magellan's voyage-were not publicly known in any complete form till the present century. Of two important articles at least the originals have never been otherwise printed or discovered; onerof these is the Summary of all the Kingdoms, Cities, and Nations from the Red Sea to China, a work translated from the Portuguese, and dating apparently from about 1535; the other, the remarkable Ramusian redaction of Marco Polo (q.'v.). The Prefatione, Espositione and Dichiarazione, which precede this version of Marco Polo's book, are the best and amplest examples of Ramusio's own style as an editor. They are full of good sense and of interesting remarks derived from his large reading and experience, and few pictures in words were ever touched more delightfully than that in which he sketches the return of the Polo family to their native city, as he had received it in the tradition of the Venetian elders.

There were several editions of the Navigationi e Viaggi, and as additions continued to be made to the several volumes a good deal of bibliographical interest attaches to these various modifications.[2] The two volumes (i. and iii.) published in Ramusio's lifetime do not bear his name on the title-page, nor does it appear in the addresses to his friend Fracastorius with which these volumes begin (as does also the second and posthumous volume). The editions of vol. i. are as follows: 1550, 1554, 1563, 1588, 1606, 1613.[3] The edition of 1554 contains the following articles which are not in that of 1550: (1) copious index; (2) “ Narr. di un Compagno di Barbosa ”; (3) “ Informationi del Giapan ”; (4) “ Alli Lettori di Giov. de Barros ”; (5) “ Capitoli estratti da di Barros.” The edition of 1563 adds to these a preliminary leaf concerning Rarnusio, “ Tommaso Giunti alli Lettori.” After 1563 there is no change in the contents of this volume, only in the title-page. It should be added that in the edition of 1554 there are three double-page woodcut maps (Africa, India and India extra Gangem), which do not exist in the edition of 1 5 50, and which are replaced by copperplate maps in subsequent editions. These maps are often missing. The editions of vol. ii. are as follows: 1559, 1574, 1583, 1606. There are important additions in the 1574 copy, and still further additions in that of 1583. The additions made in 1574 were: (1) “ Herberstein, Della Moscovia e della Russia ”; (2) “ Viaggio in Persia di Caterino Zeno ”; (3) “ Scoprimento dell' Isola Frislanda, &c., per due fratelli Zeni ”; (4) “ Viaggi in Tartaria per alcuni frati Minori ”; (5) “ Viaggio del Beato Odorico ” (two versions). Further additions made in 1583 were: (1) “Navigatione di Seb. Cabota”; (2) at the end oo ff. with, fresh pagination, containing ten articles on “ Sarmatia, Polonia, Lithuania, Prussia, Livonia, Moscovia, and the Tartars by Aless. Guagnino and Matteo di Micheovo.” The two latest “editions” of vol. ii. are identical, i.e. from the same type, with a change of title-page only, and a reprint of the last leaf of the preface and of the last leaf of the book. But the last circumstance does not apply to all copies. In one, whilst the title bears 1606, the colophon bears “ Appresso i Giunti, 1583.” Vol. iii. editions are of 1556, 1565 and 1606.[4] There is no practical difference between the first two, but that of 1606 has forty-five pages of important new matter, which embraces the Travels of Cesare Fedrici or Federici in India, one of the most valuable narratives of the 16th century, and Three Voyages of the Holeanders and Zealanders to Nova Zembla and Groenland. Vol. iii. also contains (omitting maps and figures inserted in the text, or with type on the reverse) a two-page topographical view of Cuzco, a folding map of Terra Nova and Labrador, a two-page map of Brazil, a two-page map of Guinea, &c., a two-page map of Sumatra, a two-page pictorial plan of the town of Hochelaga in New France, and a general map of the New World in a hemisphere. Brunet's statement mentions issues of vol. ii. in 1564, and of vol. iii. in 1613; but these seem to have no existence. It would thus appear that a set of Ramusio, to be as complete as possible, should embrace—for vol. i., 1563 or any subsequent edition; for vol. ii., 1583 or 1606; for vol. iii., 1606.

Paolo (Girolamo Gaspare)[5] (1532-1600) was the only child of Gian Battista, and was born on the 4th of July 1532. Like his father, he maintained a large correspondence with many persons of learning and note. In 1541 Francesco Contarini, procurator of St Mark's, brought from Brussels a MS. of Villehardouin's History of the Conquest of Constantinople, which he presented to the Council of Ten. In 1556 they publicly ordered its translation into Latin, and gave the commission to Paolo Rannusio. His father also seems to have taken much interest in the work, for a MS. vernacular translation by him exists in the Marciana. Paolo's book was not completed

  1. See in vol. iii. the end of Ramusio's Discorso on the conquest of Peru, and Giunti's “ Alli Lettori " in the 3rd edition of the first volume.
  2. Brunet's statements on the subject are borrowed, and not quite accurate. The detail in Cigogna seems to be accurate, but it is vague as to the deficiencies of the earlier editions.
  3. All of these are in the British Museum.
  4. All at the British Museum.
  5. This person and his son affected the spelling Rannusio.