[Señor.] El Capitan Symon… Dize, que la plata y riquezas del Piru viene a España conduzidas por tierra a Arica… De Arica van embarcadas mas de 200 leguas a Lima, de donde en la armadilla vienen á Panamá…. Simao Estacio SILVEIRA.
[Señor.] El Capitan Symon… Dize, que la plata y riquezas del Piru viene a España conduzidas por tierra a Arica… De Arica van embarcadas mas de 200 leguas a Lima, de donde en la armadilla vienen á Panamá…
A New Trade Route Through the Marañon
The Third Known Copy?
[Colophon:] Madrid, 15th June 1626.

[Señor.] El Capitan Symon… Dize, que la plata y riquezas del Piru viene a España conduzidas por tierra a Arica… De Arica van embarcadas mas de 200 leguas a Lima, de donde en la armadilla vienen á Panamá….

Folio [27.5 cm x 19.4 cm]. (3) pp. Disbound, minor puncture into text of first leaf affecting a couple letters; blank margin of second leaf with another puncture; minor contemporary annotation in lower blank margin of p. 1; overall slightly toned.

Only early edition. 

Borba de Moraes has an extensive description of this extremely rare work:  “Only two copies are known of this printed document. One is bound up in a British Museum codex (Ad. Mss. No. 13,977), and the other belongs to Mr. Jose Mindlin of Sao Paulo. It is dated ‘En Madrid a 15. de Iunio de 1626.’ The rarity of the document is explained by the fact that it is a petition addressed to the King of Spain through the Council of the Indies; very few copies of such petitions were printed, for distribution only to the members of the Council and not to be put on sale….

“In this petition Simao Estacio da Silveira offers his services, under certain conditions, to open up a new route for transporting silver from Peru to Spain down one of the rivers of the Maranhao. He writes of the dangers of the route then in use, from Africa to Lima and Panama, especially at that time, since the enemy [Dutch] had become very skillful in passing through the Straits of Saint Vincent (Cape Horn) to the Pacific. He stresses the advantages of the route through the Maranhao (Amazon) not only because it is safer and shorter, being a four month journey from Peru to Spain, but also because it crosses a very rich country, with gold, silver, pearls, and all kinds of hardwoods for shipbuilding. He states that the ‘captan Mayor del gran Para Benito Maciel Pariente’ had set out to find them and also ‘el Maestre de Campo Juan Recio de Leon’ had begun to prospect for these riches from the Peruvian coast. He emphasizes the importance of His Majesty conquering the region as soon as possible because ‘the enemies from the North’ had already built fortifications at the mouth of the river of Para and were trading with the Indian ‘Guarjoos’”.

“He explains his plan for opening up the route, for building towns, villages, fortifications, and populating the region with people brought over from the Azores.  He requests that he be granted the privilege of cutting brazilwood to the amount of twenty-four ‘contos de reis,’ the same amount accorded to the last ‘arrendador,’ Manoel Alves Pinho, and makes other conditions concerning the administration of the country.” (Borba, p. 814)

“The Marañon,” writes Silveira, “ is… highly populated by natives… [in] this population there is more silver, gold, pearls, and precious stones, than anything else so far discovered in the New World…” but warns that the Dutch have also begun to colonize the area, and thus it is of the foremost importance for the Spanish to take the upper hand. His main concern with the existing route was, of course, piracy. Singling out the “British corsair” Francis Drake as particularly successful in this regard, Silveira complains frequently of the raids which Spanish ships are subject to in the Caribbean. The present bold proposal sought to do away with the Panama – Spain route altogether, instead utilizing the relative safety of the coast of north-eastern Brazil and its proximity to Europe to safely transport silver brought from the mines of Peru. His first step, he says, will be to arm 500 men to drive out the Dutch from the Marañon coast; this will be accomplished with the help of the “friendly natives”, the Marañon and the Para, as well as twenty cannon and two ships. Following this Silveira promises to set up a viable, populous colony, adding some 200 men and 100 cattle each year. He reckons that the trip from Peru will take just 30 or 40 days, and predicts that his new settlement will become a thriving port – “very good and cheap vessels can be made there, because the timber supply is endless and well-suited to this purpose: Angelines, Perobas, Cahobanas, Genipapos, Bacorys and many others, which are extremely durable…”

The work is unrecorded in OCLC. Palau records a similar-sounding MS title on the spine of a volume in the Bibliotheca Nacional in Madrid, but did not actually see the item.

* Borba de Moraes, 814. cf Palau 313856 (not seen).

Price: $18,500.00

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