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VIEIRA, Antonio

Cartas do P. . . . da Companhia de Jesu.  4 vols.


Lisbon, Na Officina da Congregaçaõ do Oratório, 1735 (Vols. I & II), Lisbon, Na Regia Officina Sylviana, e da Academia Real, 1746 (Vol. III).


Small 4to.  I: (12) ff., 468 pp.;  II: (6) ff., 479 pp. (Offerecido ao Eminentissimo Senhor Nuno da Cunha e Attaide),  III:  (12) ff., 451 pp. (Dedicado ao Eminentissimo, e Reverendissimo Senhor D. Thomás de Almeida, Cardeal da Santa Igreja de Roma . . . pelo Padre Francisco Antonio Monteiro).   Preliminary ff. (13-14) of Vol. I taken from another copy.   Tiny hole in Vol. II, p. 235/236 due to paper fault, lacking tip of top corner of p. 279/280.   A few signatures in Vol. IV discoloured.

Together with: (idem):  Cartas . . . a Duarte Ribeiro de Macedo.   Small 4to.  354 pp.   Lisbon, Na Impressão de Eugenio Augusto, 1827.   Vol. I & II contemporary calf, spines gilt (some traces of worming in front & back covers), III later calf, IV reusing old calf binding nearly identical to that of Vols. I & II, new label.  

First editions of all four volumes, which print more than 450 of Vieira’s letters and documents written by him, spanning the years 1644 to 1697.   “The works of this great writer and extraordinary man are an inexhaustible mine of pure and vigorous prose, at its best in his numerous Cartas” (Bell, Portuguese Literature, p. 269).   Diplomat, politician, social reformer and protector of the Indians, administrator and preacher, Father António Vieira, with his impetuous temperament, and pure, vivacious and energetic language, engaged in impassioned debate with his correspondents, and many consider him to be the greatest writer of Portuguese prose.   His correspondents included royalty, clergy, the nobility and diplomats, and the subjects ranged from the merits of indigenous clergy, to the enslavement of the Brazilian Indians, the founding of colonial commercial companies in Brazil and the Far East, the cultivation of Far-Eastern spices in Brazil, and the founding of a mint in the colony.   Unsurprisingly, through his outspokenness and his support for the New Christians, he fell foul of the Inquisition, who detained him for several years.   “. . Vieira was not merely a prolific letter-writer, but a highly intelligent and keenly critical observer who frequently wrote at white heat and without reserve . . . Vieira ranks as a great historical as well as a great literary figure, and he was certainly the most remarkable man in the seventeenth-century Luso-Brazilian world" (Boxer, A great Luso-Brazilian figure : Padre Antonio Vieira, S.J., 1608-1697, p. 4).   . . "Dom João IV . . fell under the spell of Vieira's self-assured and magnetic personality and within a very short time he came to regard the tall, lean, and dynamic Jesuit as 'o primeiro homem do mundo'.   Vieira repaid him with a passionate devotion which never wavered as long as the monarch lived . . .   The King never failed to consult Vieira about the most important matters of state so long as the Jesuit remained in Portugal . . .   It was particularly on Brazilian problems that the king deferred to the Jesuit's advice, for so impressed was Dom João by Vieira's knowledge of the colony that he assumed he was born there" (idem. p. 9).   ". . (T)he king decided to take Vieira's advice and to organize a great chartered company for the Brazil trade with the aid of Jewish capital . . to provide convoys for all shipping engaged in the Brazil trade in return for a monopoly of the chief colonial imports from the mother-country . . . he was triumphantly successful in his principal aim.   . . thanks to the co-operation of the Brazil Company's Armada, the patriots of Pernambuco were finally able to eject the Dutch from Northeast Brazil in January 1654" (idem, p. 17).   "He did not scruple to assert that Portuguese mistreatment of the Amerindians in Amazonia had resulted in the death of over two million of them in forty years, and his exaggerations in this respect recall those of Las Casas" (idem, p. 21).   "Vieira (argued) to the end of his days that the freedom of the Amerindians could best be secured by increasing the importation of Negro slaves from East Africa" (idem, p. 23).     

Innocêncio I, 291-292 (see).  Borba de Moraes (1983), II, 921.   De Backer-Sommervogel VIII, 669.   Azevedo-Samodães 3510.   Ameal 2485, “os exemplares são . . muito raros.“   Pinto de Matos 562, “o 3º volume é raro.”   Rodrigues 2520 (Vols. I, II & IV).   Palha 1566-1567, “recueil estimé.”   Monteverde 5552.   Serafim Leite, Hist. da Companhia de Jesus no Brasil, IX, 954-957 (& see IX, pp. 192-363) & gives pagination as No. 954 = Vol. I - (xxviii), 468 pp.  955 = Vol. II - (xii), 479 pp.  956 = Vol. III - (xxiv), 452 pp.   Gauz, Portuguese and Brazilian Books in the John Carter Brown Library 1537-1839, 735/4 (Vols. I & II).   Not in Bosch, Brasilien-Bibliothek.             


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