China—Abbot Ilarione Sala | Series of 12 autograph letters signed, describing his journey to China. 1702-1703
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China—Abbot Ilarione Bonaventura Sala
Series of twelve autograph letters signed ("Ilarione Bonav.a Sala"; "Ilarione Sala"), in Italian, to his mother and brother, APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED
giving a long and detailed account of his journey from Italy to China via Brazil, where he remained for six months before continuing by the Cape to Canton
c.181 pages, various sizes, some address leaves with red wax seals and postal markings, Paris, Cadiz, San Salvador, Sumatra, Canton, 1702-1703, some slight paper loss due to oxidisation of the ink in one letter
FROM THE LIBRARIES OF FREDERICK NORTH, EARL OF GUILFORD, AND SIR THOMAS PHILLIPPS.
The longest letter of this remarkable series, despatched on his arrival in Canton and dated 24 September 1703, is devoted to a fascinating description of Brazil, where the missionary Sala (c.1661-1723) remained for six months before completing his journey to Canton. In this correspondence, written in diary-form on a daily basis, Sala gives a highly detailed account of his stay there, describing not only the various religious orders which are active in the country and the ships and sailors encountered, but also the crops in cultivation such as tobacco and tapioca. The following passage describes local watermelons and an Angolan slave working the land:
"A di p[rim]o novembre dissi messa in casa, il giorno fui a caminar ad un giardino che vi fui un'altra volta assagiai li cocomeri di questi paesi ma sono consimili a questi si vendono in Roma de gli ordinarii, mi dicono esserci degli migliori e particolarmente quelli che vengano da Pernambucco, e quando li haverò provati gli lo sapero dire contutto ciò me parve buono havendo mangiato un frutto delli nostri paesi; trovai in d[ett]o orto, o giardino, un moro che mi fece veder manegiare l'arco, et era veramente lesto nel manegiar lo facendo molti scanti di vita con l'arco alla mano, onde mi parve che l'adoprasse bene, egli era di Angola in Africa, e che si era trovato in piu battagli e nelle continue guerre che hanno fra loro quei mori, e che non era mai stato ferito e di tempo dice haver moglie, e figli al prete che sono gentili ma esso è Christiano schiavo della padrona dell'orto..."
Frederick North, 5th Earl of Guilford, sale, Evans, 8 December 1830, lot 536; purchased by Sir Thomas Phillipps (MS 6069); Philip Robinson; sale of his Chinese library, Sotheby's, London, 22 November 1988, lot 125
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