Thursday, June 23, 2011

‘So learned and Poly-daedalous a Narration’: Daniel Lakin and the Prussian Knife Swallower

This chap, fortunate to be alive (and perhaps rather gentrified in his moment of celebrity) was the Prussian knife swallower, and that’s the sharp knife he accidentally swallowed shown down the right of the woodcut: it “was just in length ten fingers breadth”.

He was “a rusticke young man by name Andrew Grunheide” and on the morning of May 29th 1635, having perhaps overdone the beer the night before, and apparently accustomed to doing this, he decided he’d be better off if he vomited. His clumsy efforts ended in the knife going down rather than his stomach contents coming up:

“as it was his wont, endeavouring to procure it himself, with the haft of his knife provoked the Gorge, and vomit not presently following did thrust in his knife a little deeper, which partly by the violence, and partly by its own weight so let down and comprehended within the jaws, escaped the extremities of his singers, and by little and little tends to the ventricle.”

Understandably alarmed at what he had just done to himself, he tried a few contortions to reverse the trick: “although the Swallow-knife being somewhat terrified, did by bowing his body downwards, assay the regress of the knife, yet was it all in vain”.

So off he went, and found himself referred on to “the renowned and famous Dan. Swaben, a Chyurgion Physitian, cutter of Ruptures, and an Oculist”. Swaben was among the retinue of “the most Soveraign King of Poland, Vladislaus the 4th “because of an excellent and singular skill in his liberal Art”.

A numbers of doctors gathered to discuss this interesting case. Their decisions, and the operation they performed (successfully) on Grunheide were written up in a German pamphlet, which was translated into English by a sometime ship’s surgeon, Daniel Lakin (with some help from his brother, he says). Grunheide’s situation made him a case that the doctors could both perhaps treat, and learn from.

In the first place, good sense was shown: the lengthy pamphlet, which uses all occasions for medically informative digression, shows that the doctors were well aware of a ‘melancholy’ which might cause someone to claim to have ingested something preposterous. They know, also, about pica, compulsive ingestion of unusual things. Along with these medical cases, demoniacs who vomit up stones, rings, hair and the like transmitted into their body by witchcraft are discussed.

But the decision was that Grunheide had no signs of melancholy (beyond apprehension about the ordeal ahead of him), and that he had swallowed his knife as he claimed.

Grunheide is plied with oils to cleanse his stomach. They decide they must operate while he is still in his strength of health, but first assay the use of a magnetic plaster. This involves pulverizing a magnet, and mixing the filings up in an ointment. Gilbert’s opinion (a real scientific observation, of course) that this destroys all polarity and force in the magnet is known to them, but they are strongly possessed by the hope that such a preparation will attract the metal object towards the point of incision they have decided upon. So the magnetic plasters are applied, and even though after section they have to fish about with a bent needle through the incision to locate the knife, they believe that the usefulness of a magnetic dressing has been confirmed. They interpret the evidence according to their preconception, and what it comes down to in the end was, as ever, authority trumping observation: magnetic ‘emplasters’ work because people you trust say they work: “Ninthly, because in vain had the most famous and expert Physitians framed the Magnetical Emplasters, and from the Load-stone assigned them the denomination, if no faculty of Attraction were thence further to be expected”. I like that very 17th century ‘ninthly’: a former colleague teaching Milton’s prose once suddenly perceived that his class had all since long fallen fainting by the wayside as he reached Milton’s ninth cogent argument for something.

Anyway, here’s how the pamphlet describes the big operation – the prayers beforehand, the patient strapped down, the spectators applauding. I especially like Grunheide confirming to the triumphant operating team that, yes, that’s the very knife he had swallowed - as though by some other means others items from the canteen might have found their way inside him. I rather doubt, on various evidence, that Grunheide was all that bright. Brave and robust, though:

“When all things therefore were ready at hand as well external and internal Cordials, as other Chyrurgicalls, the Divine Assistance and Benediction being first invoked, the Rustic who with an undaunted courage waited the Section, was bound to a wooden Table, and the place being marked out with a Coal, the incision was made towards the left side of the Hypochondrium some two fingers breadth under the short Ribs, according to the direction, and first the skin and that fleshy pannicle (there was no fat seen) and then the subjected Muscles, as also the Peritonaeum was cut and opened. And although the Ventricle did somewhat sink down, and evading our fingers ends did not so presently admit of apprehension, and a little staid the Operator and standers by, yet at length attracted and contracted with a small needle crooked, it showed that the knife was there, which being laid hold on, and the point brought upwards, the Ventricle above the same was a little incised, and the knife successfully extracted, which was viewed by all that were standing by, and greatly applauded both by them and the Patient himself, who professed that this was the very knife he some few days before had swallowed, but the wound it self when the knife was drawn forth was quickly allayed.”

The aftercare of the patient recalls Gloucester in King Lear: “The Knife being successfully brought forth, and the Patient eased of his bands, the wound was in that manner as was fitting cleansed, and the Abdomen that was incised, closed up with 5. Sutures, but by their interstices the Balsam was infused warm, and Tents impregnated with Balsam laid thereon, and then a Cataplasm of Bole, the white of an egg, and Alum to avert all inflammation laid upon that.” Egg whites seem bacterially hazardous, but the albumen would have had some coagulant effect.

Over the next days, Grunheide is carefully observed, with the usual emphasis on urine and stools. The original pamphlet is keen to report one of their important deductions:

“Position 8 … the excretion of clotted blood by Urine is to be reckoned for a benefit of a provident nature.” Most important of all, is the deduction that the operation - opening the body and then cutting into the stomach - is worth trying, rather than simply deciding that the patient is going to die: “wounds that pierce the substance of the Ventricle, the Chyrurgeon shall not let them alone as deplorable and remediless, yea nor spare labour nor industry in the sedulous Curation of them, for a doubtful hope is better then a certain desperation.”

“And so by the grace and clemency of the Omnipotent Jehovah, and supreme Director, and with the singular industry and dexterity of the Physitians and Chyrurgion, our Rustic Swallow-knife was restored to very good health, who now complains not any thing of any dolours of the Ventricle, but being returned to his accustomed diet and ordinary calling, with us gives thanks to the immortal God. To him therefore bee the glory, praise, and honour for ever and ever, Amen.

The English translator of all this, Daniel Lakin, had an eventful life. In 1632 he was apparently a ship’s surgeon on a warship called the Hector, and he tells of his own cure of Richard Partridge, quartermaster on the ship, who was wounded by a dagger thrust through the stomach wall during a fight on board.

Partridge “lived about a year and a half after, till he perished under the burthen of a sorrowful Captivity, wherein I did partake with many other…” The ship and his crew were captured by Turks, and Lakin’s own survival was probably down to his useful skills as surgeon. He was in captivity in Constantinople, until the English ambassador there, Peter Witch, either ransomed him, or protected him once Lakin had fled to his embassy. Lakin had a spell he describes as his “time of my service to the Emperor of Morocco”. He was present at a defeat of the Emperor in the Atlas mountains “many Moors there dangerously hurt, and with myself by flight escaping visited me, at my house in the City of the Jews (where all Christians have residence) imploring Cure, I receiving some that I judged curable though not profitable, into my care.”

Lakin had all too much opportunity to study the effect of dangerous wounds, and his translation advertises this: “In my Travailes, by observation, experience, & conversation with both Jewish, Arabian, Italian, Spanish, and Greeke Physitians, I have attained unto many worthy secrets.” He condemns other less experienced practitioners such as “tooth-drawers, Mathematical Fortune-tellers, and that rabble of women, which strut up and down with their skill in their pockets, which they purchased from the Chirurgions boy for some Garment trifle.” He was sceptical about magnetic dressings, and many other aspects of the Prussian doctors. No doubt his translation won him some extra clients.

[From A miraculous cure of the Prusian swallow-knife being dissected out of his stomack by the physitians of Regimonto, the chief city in Prusia (1642).]

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wench and witch at Greenwich, 1650

The strange witch at Greenwich by the pseudonymous Hieronymus Magomastix (1650) is one of those strange performances that only the mid 17th century could produce. It was written by an elderly clergyman, who does reveal that he was incumbent at St Brides in Fleet Street. It ought to be possible to find out his identity, which would have scarcely been hidden when the pamphlet came out. He preferred, though, to appear in print veiled as a ‘Magomastix’, a scourge for the wizards.

The pamphlet is cast as a dialogue between ‘Scepticus’, and ‘Veridicus’, the author figure and, as his name implies, a veridical speaker of truth. ‘Scepticus’ is misnamed, he’s a sceptic as far as the 17th century tolerated them: so eager to be instructed in matters of which he confesses ignorance that he kicks off the dialogue with effusive flattery of his interlocutor, confessing that “I was tossed and troubled in unsettled fluctuations” until he “lighted my darke torch at your bright flame” and asks for more, “knowing you are as willing to improve your able parts for publick and private good to the inlivening and inlightening of such weak tenuities as mine, as a full dugd Mother or Nurse to communicate her milke to a hungry childe…” In justice to the self-tickling author, this is all meant to be ‘jocoserious’, and the author uses the term twice so that we understand his tone throughout.

This ‘Scepticus’, so eager to be spiritually enlightened, has a question: ‘that you would be pleased to informe mee both in the quid, quale & quomodo, of the Reports in every mans tongue … of a strange witch or Ghost now at Greenwich haunting the house of one Meriday, and playing strange prankes by throwing stones at the glasse windowes, making the stooles, chaires, and other utensils daunce Sellengers round … throwing also Bookes, yea the Testament into the fire, as though it cared as little for it, as a new Enthusiast, Papist, or an Atheist, peerking the ladle out of the Wives boyling pot below, as high as into the Husbands bed above…” (This is a sample of the ‘jocoserious’ style employed.)

So, here’s our situation: poltergeist activity in a house in Greenwich in 1650. The full title of the pamphlet fills us in on what set it all off:

The strange vvitch at Greenvvich, (ghost, spirit, or hobgoblin) haunting a wench, late servant to a miser, suspected a murtherer of his late vvife: with curious discussions of walking spirits and spectars of dead men departed, for rare and mysticall knowledge and discourse, / by Hieronymus Magomastix. April 24. 1650.

After the death of her mistress, a 14 year old ‘wench’ (who I deduce was living back at the house of a relative by marriage named Meriday) embarked on confecting the ‘supernatural’ occurrences which would suggest that the recent death had not been natural, that her mistress’ unquiet spirit haunted the house, having something to impart. She did this with such success that numbers of people spent time in the house, to experience for themselves the phenomena (and, so suggestible are people in such matters, they inevitably did). The dead woman’s body was exhumed, probably because the girl’s clever and determined campaign suggested that something had to be amiss, and be worth investigation (though one rather doubts that 17th century forensics would determine much). The girl’s motive may have been indignant loyalty to her deceased mistress, but money may also have played a part if the widower had been miserly in paying her off.

The clergyman writing the pamphlet had established the basic facts of what was going on. The girl had not proved easy to break down, but he finally elicited a confession (of sorts) from her:

(Scepticus) “Proceed in your plaine story of this house haunted by Witches: I have heard of most of these pageants you have related were onely done by the wily Wench, who was servant to the woman taken out of her grave, upon suspicion of her unnatural death: and that she hath troubled and blundered the Waters, and made all this poother, to call her late master in question about the death of his Wife.

(Veridicus) It’s very true, that a bold faced brazen brow’d wench hath had a great finger in the Pye, and hath been a great stickler [i.e., instigator] in these Pageants; for I have had her in serious examination, and have with much adoe wrested from her thus much…”

You’d think this was enough, but while ‘Magomastix’ may be keen to scourge spurious wizards, like the demonologists in Walter Stephens’ Demon Lovers, he cannot bring himself to rationalize away completely such gratifying local evidence of the supernatural. Magomastix’s whole pamphlet is a carefully Protestant picking-and-choosing of what you must, and must not believe.

The manifestations were too important to him (he had his own experiences of them while round at the ‘haunted’ house), and he has the testimonies of other “solid witnesses” as well, who were utterly convinced by aspects of what they had seen in the house. His own chief experience (naturally enough) had happened just when his back was turned. The girl obviously was willing to go to extremes with a clergyman whose investigations were proving awkward:

“I my selfe being one night with much company in the house, as wee went out a round stone was throwne at my daughters heeles; another time as I was in the house with the old Wife and two children, as I went into the garden a knife was throwne after me, which I tooke up, and with vehemency threw it back againe to the very place from whence it came, daring the Witch or Spirit to throw it at mee againe, and conjuring it in the name of that Jesus which is terrible to Divells to speake unto mee, and to reveale the reason why it haunted the house and to return to it own place; but I had no reply.”

The decision he has reached is that while the girl may have confessed to imposture, she cannot have perpetrated all the poltergeist activities. Did she have an accomplice?

Scepticus puts some of the local guesswork to his instructor: “Some have great jealousie of the old Wife her Mother in Law” (he means, they suspected that she had) “a great hand … in these witchly or spiritly postures, as though by some explicite or implicite compact with Sathan, shee should delude the world by these fascinations … What think you of her?” But Veridicus exonerates the older woman: “I have no windows into her heart, and for her outward carriage it is so candid, square and faire, that I see no cause either in reason or Religion to suspect her”. The older woman was, he found, “So strong in faith, so frequent and fervent in prayer, so zealous in her devotions.”

So Scepticus draws the obvious conclusion: “Its probable the Wench acts all her self.” But here Veridicus sticks: “Something shee doth, but not all”. His position is nicely poised (and maybe the ‘jocoserious’ nature of his pamphlet indicates a certain anxiety to manage the flow of more genuinely sceptical derision). He is nevertheless, like the Protestant thinkers in Greenblatt’s Hamlet and Purgatory, determined to refute the idea that ghosts can walk:

“I assure you, what ever the Pontificans [he means the Catholics] doate or faigne, or our Vulgars dreame of the Ghosts or Spirits of this man, or that man walking after their deaths in this or that shape, is a very lye, an assured lye; take this from me, yea, from Scripture, Fathers, Reason, and Experience assuredly…that these walking, or talking spectars in humane shapes, are such men and women really as have been dead and buried; this is not only a fixion unprobable, but impossible, for these reasons …”

He goes on to explain that the souls of the dead saints are in the hands of God, they departed in peace and so cannot be perturbed in such hauntings, they are in paradise with the good thief, while “the wicked are closed in Hell … out of which there is no jayle delivery”. His view can be summed up when he says that the departed godly would not return to earth, the wicked cannot.

Denying that ‘apparitions’ are the souls of the dead, Veridicus does not deny all visions, and a lengthy list of them follows, including mention of those that afflicted Richard III, “which instances doe not onely confute and confound the ancient Saduces” but they also “muzzle the mouth of Atheisticall Politicians” who “hold that there be no reall or substantial Divells, but onely the Furies and Erinnis of wicked consciences”.

Veridicus may have eliminated ghosts, but he is determined to preserve and evidence the ‘substantial’ devil. Though at one point of his pamphlet, in scoffing at Catholic exorcisms, Veridicus asserts that “Even Sathan himselfe, is chained as a Mastiffe, and grated as a Lyon, In all his powers subordinate unto God”, he is unable to resist the notion of a ‘reall’ Satan busily prompting people in this world. Here again, in those exorcisms, one senses another reassuring evidence for the existence of the spirit world that Protestants were having to do without, obliging them to adhere more stubbornly to a belief in witchcraft, the witches as Satan’s visible agents testifying to his existence. The ‘wench’ had admitted to this tale of how “Satan entered into her as into Judas and Ananias”:

“that being one day in her mothers garden, some three weeks after her Dames death, that a stone was throwne at her, and hit her on the back, none being near her, nor within her sight; at which she much marveling from whence it should come, she tooke up the stone, looked seriously upon it, carried it up and downe the garden, with as much pride and complacency, as admiration: upon which Satan vehemently tempted her to throw it against her mothers window, which this obedient vassal did accordingly. Upon which she setting the devil a worke, as he her, as she broke the ice, an ill spirit hath waded and thrown forty stones since (as forty can testify) at the same windows, no visible hand being since.

Without much wresting and sponging shee hath freely and penitentially acknowledged both to my selfe and others, that since that stone throwne in the Garden, shee her selfe in a paltry pride to aggravate the Report of spirit haunting behind peoples backs, when she thought shee was free from being seene, hath often in acting and counterfeiting the spirit, throwne stooles, cushions, candlesticks, dishes, and kept the like Revill Rush [?]; and indeed so long goes the Pitcher to the Well, that at last it comes home broake. Sathan catcht her in her owne snare, being by a yong man taken tripping in the very act, as shee cast a great chip out of a chamber downe the staires into the house where many people were.”

Here we see a danger beyond the ignominy of simple exposure in what the girl was doing: while the pamphlet can talk quite jovially a mixture of “ingenious folly and serpentine knavery” in her actions, Magomastix cannot quite let go of the devil, who was “Baiting his hooke with many delusive promises, that if shee would go on as shee had begun, what shee did should never bee knowne, and that hee would never forsake her. I see give the Divell an inch, and hee will take an ell, sup of his broth, and eate of his roast-meate.” Her situation was that of a witch, promised things by the devil, assisted in certain acts: even her involuntary self-exposure could be read as Satan betraying her!

Satan had to be involved: the manifestations in the house were beyond her powers, too well witnessed. ‘Magomastix’ produces this rather astonishing comment, in which a whole gamut of metaphysical experiences are linked as inexplicable but true perceptions: “Stooles, sticks in the fire, laundry irons … have moved of themselves … they looking on, and seeing nothing move them more than they see, a voice, a sound, a wind, a noise, a soule in man, or their owne hearts, which they perceive really, though they see nothing visibly.”

The conclusion both parties in the dialogue are drawn to is that witchcraft has to be involved, that there must be a witch, whose familiar spirit is invisibly assisting:

Scepticus: “I have strong jealousie that this Impe hath a laire-father or laire-mother (besides Sathan the father of all impostures) some hee or shee witch, who traines her (besides these legerdemains) even in Witchcraft it selfe.”

Veridicus shares this suspicion:
“Yea, I have dealt by all ways and meanes with the Wench both faire and foule, menaces, threatening, and promises to reveale her magicall Tutresse; but shee is a subtile as a yong serpent, I can get no more out of her then water out of a stone.”

The ‘wench’ might be getting the assistance of a witch, and then the next possibility, as mentioned, was that the ‘wench’ might herself be a witch. Some tricks she could pull off by her own dexterity, the other more confounding ones through a spirit she commanded. Veridicus first produces ominous Bible examples of “yong things” and their “strong soone budding corruptions” (citing Matthew 27 and Herodias). Then he jumps to the more recent past: “Many yong wily Wenches in our Times, some discovered by Doctour Harsnet, some by Deakon and Walker, in their printed Dialoguizings, and some by deepe and judicious King James, to have playd strange reakes [the word means pranks] by the tutoring and impostures of Fryars and Jesuits, and by the trainings of some old Witches and Wizzards both black and white; and indeed I thinke an English rack, or Spanish strappado would no more get it out of her… unlesse we could discover her, as now the Scotch Witches by water Ordeall.”

Torturing her to get at the truth isn’t exactly unthinkable to him, though he pushes the thought off into Scotland.

Towards the end of the pamphlet, Veridicus, who clearly thinks very well of himself, apparently forgets what he has argued earlier, when he boastfully suggests that most of the things reported of the great conjurers he could do himself, if he took on the art of ‘meer natural magick’. Indeed, he further boasts, he could do these things, and then impart the capacity to a six year old, whose innocence would be a testimony to just how undiabolical such magic was (while the common people would think he was a great conjurer). The man who was, just pages before, half willing to put the 14 year old ‘wench’ to the question about the sources of her witchcraft, asserts that he could produce all kinds of magical phenomena legitimately if he set his capacious mind to the art; the man who condemned Jesuits and Friars for tutoring ‘young wily wenches’ imagines doing just that himself:

“I perswade my self I could do such things my self … by this meer naturall magick , or in plain tearmes, the producing of Art and nature into practice; such rare and exquisite things have been done, or may be done, especially by such instruments … That the common people .. would take me for as great a conjurer as ever Cornelius Agrippa, or Doctor Faustus, or for as great a witch as Circes, or Medea; at least as great a Juggler as once my neighbour John a Ley, or Hocus Pocus, or some cunning wise man, such as Mr Lilly is divulged, as though he were a second Merlin; when for all this, I could make a child of six years old do the like things presently and give as good a reason of what I do (as I perswade my self Mr Booker, and Mr Lilly can give of their artificiall undiabolized Predictions) as I can give a Reason why I am hot or warm, when I am in the Sun, or at the fire without any more confederacy with any Witch, or spirit.”

The Strange Witch at Greenwich involves what is ultimately an uneasy consideration of things that look like something else. An apparition is not a dead person, but a devil (inevitably, the two discuss the case of the Bible’s Witch of Endor, Veridicus asserting that what she produced was “a deluding Malignant spirit in the shape of Samuel”). Supernatural soliciting may be misleading: Veridicus tells a story that “a counterfeit voice” told “the late Mr Crashaw of the Temple, or old Muncy Duncy of St Johns in Cambridge, that they should goe to Geneva to preach the Gospell”. He disapproves, of course, as they must have left the Church of England to become Calvinists. But after we have worked through a learned list of early modern celebrity look-alikes, we hear something else about the deluded Mr Crashaw: our writer was often mistaken for him: “I have been often in the streets tooke for Mr Crashaw, when he was preacher at the Temple, and I at Saint Brides in Fleet Street.”

When he had the knife thrown at him by the diabolic spirit operating at Meriday’s house, did Veridicus attempt no exorcism (asks Scepticus)? No, says Veridicus firmly, exorcism is one of the ‘disorderly Orders’ of the Catholic church. But he admits that he did ‘adjure’ the spirit when it threw a knife at him, but “my act was so far discrepant from the practice of the Popish Priests”.

As we have heard, if he chose to take up natural magic, “the common people ... would take me for as great a conjurer as ever Cornelius Agrippa, or Doctor Faustus”. In a way, the ‘strange witch at Greenwich’ was Hieronimus Magomastix. His inflated pseudonym anticipates his final boast of how he could become a conjurer: if you set aside its etymology, it’s a conjurer’s name. He is trying to rule what must and what can’t be believed in (devils but not at any price ghosts, who are all devils), but as he tries to impose his opinions, his own unsettled nature is revealed. He is jocose, he is serious. He produces a list of pretenders, including Martin Guerre “long admitted for a husband though a counterfeit knave”; he could, like a Jesuit exorcist, instruct a wily six year old; his own lookalike became a Calvinist; we see that while he is Veridicus, he is also latently Scepticus, the real sceptic for whom “a sound, a wind, a noise, a soule in man” are all the same, clinging on to the ‘substantial’ devil in the absence of exorcisms and ghosts, while asserting, like Balthasar Bekker would do, that the devil is imprisoned in hell.

Around him swirls a chaos of inappropriate beliefs: (that) “it is the Ghost or Spirit of the dead woman her late Dame which walkes, as I assure you many in the Towne, and most in the Countrey ere she was tooke out of her Grave, did believe as their Creed verily and assuredly” (and I do like the smart distinction of town and country there.) He invents people asking him what to believe, who are notably ready to believe in him, yet his pamphlet ends with what seems to be an elaborate trailer for a long and systematic account of Satan’s true powers, but while boasting that he could deliver it, he says it’s too large a burden for his “aged shoulders”. He will set Scepticus to rights in the afternoon, for now, his stomach is summoning him off to his midday meal. And off he shuffles, offering no useful final advice on what to do about the ‘wench’, his present ‘rare and mysticall’ discourse about Satan and witchcraft merely ‘jocoserious’, stretched to a fraction of the length that any self-respecting 17th century clergyman writer would run to on such a subject (though promising more after lunch).

In the final assessment, he just blogged about it, didn’t he?

Saturday, June 04, 2011

A reading edition of William Morrell's 'New England', 1625

In September I will start teaching a new course I have devised called ‘Paradise in Early Modern English Literature’. So I will on this blog occasionally look at texts that use the Garden of Eden as an idea or point of reference.

I intended to set off with an informal essay on William Morrell’s New-England. Or A briefe enarration of the ayre, earth, water, fish and fowles of that country (1625) but repeatedly found that I was stumbling over the sense of the text. No doubt a scholarly edition will have been produced by someone, but I had no access to such, nor will my students have one, so I here present a reading edition of the poem.

I have modernized spelling, made amendments as best I could where the printed text makes no obvious sense, and added some notes.

Morrell’s English version is an expansive version of his original Latin. I did spend a deal of time trying to compare the two texts, especially when trying to make sense of his English version (which sometimes or often has the stilted manner of a translation). I found this hard to do; I would need a Latinist to help me.

Things to look out for in this work are Morrell’s close attention to the native Indians (though, in his interested sympathy, he projects a lot of incipiently Christian belief onto them). His ethnographical account culminates with his description of the appearance, art, agriculture and personal politics of the Indian women. Morrell reports the Indian men mocking the Europeans for letting their women lead such leisured lives. New England (Morrell’s use of the term is actually an OED antedating) really emerges as a potential Eden. He tries to stress its natural abundance, but is too truthful to conceal either its extremes of weather or the potential danger of the native population. He represents New England as a sound business opportunity with resources which will repay “their Merchants debt and interest”.

New-England. Or A briefe enarration of the ayre, earth, water, fish and fowles of that country.[i]

Feare not poore Muse, 'cause first to sing her fame,
That’s yet scarce known, unless by Map or name;
A Grand-childe to earth’s Paradise is borne,
Well limb’d, well nerv’d, faire, rich, sweet, yet forlorn.
Thou blest director so direct my Verse,
That it may win her people, friends commerce;
Whilst her sweet air, rich soil, blest Seas, my pen
Shall blaze, and tell the natures of her men.[ii]

New-England, happy in her new true stile,
Weary of her cause she’s to sad exile
Expos’d by heirs[iii] unworthy of her Land,
Entreats with tears Great Britain to command
Her Empire, and to make her know the time,
Whose act and knowledge only makes divine.
A Royal work well worthy England’s King,
These Natives to true truth and grace to bring.
A Noble work for all these Noble Peers
Which guide this State in their superior spheres.[iv]
You holy Aarons[v] let your Censers ne’er
Cease burning, till these men Jehovah fear.
Westward a thousand leagues a spacious land,
Is made unknown to them that it command.
Of fruitful mould, and no less fruitless main[vi]
Enrich’d with springs and prey, high land and plain.

The light, well temp’red, humid air, whose breath
Fills full all concaves betwixt heaven and earth,
So that the Region of the air is blest
With what Earths mortals wish to be possest.
Great Titan darts on her his heavenly rays,
Whereby extremes he quells, and oversways.
Blest is this air with what the air can bless;
Yet frequent gusts do much this place distress
Here unseen gusts do instant onset give,
As heaven and earth they would together drive.
An instant power doth surprise their rage,
In their vast prison, and their force assuage.[vii]
Thus in exchange a day or two is spent,
In smiles and frowns: in great yet no content.

The earth grand-parent to all things on earth,
Cold, dry, and heavy, and the next beneath
The air by Natures arm with low descents,
Is as it were entrencht; again ascents
Mount up to heaven by Jove’s omnipotence,
Whose looming greenness joys the Seaman’s sense.
Invites him to a land if he can see,
Worthy the Thrones of stately sovereignty.[viii]
The fruitful and well watered earth doth glad
All hearts; when Flora with her spangles clad,
And yields an hundred fold for one,
To feed the Bee and to invite the drone.[ix]

O happy Planter[x] if you knew the height
Of Planter’s honours where there’s such delight;
There Nature’s bounties though not planted are,[xi]
Great store and sorts of berries great and faire:
The Filbert, Cherry, and the fruitful Vine,
Which cheers the heart and makes it more divine.
Earths spangled beauties pleasing smell and sight;
Objects for gallant choice and chief delight.

A ground-Nut there runs on a grassy thread,
Along the shallow earth, as in a bed,
Yellow without, thin, film’d, sweet, lily white,
Of strength to feed and cheer the appetite. [xii]
From these our natures may have great content,
And good subsistence when our means is spent.
With these the Natives do their strength maintain
The Winter season, which time they retain
Their pleasant virtue, but if once the Spring
Return, they are not worth the gathering.[xiii]

All ore that Maine the Vernant[xiv] trees abound,
Where Cedar, Cypress, Spruce, and Beech are found.
Ash, Oak, and Walnut, Pines and Juniper;
The Hazel, Palm, and hundred more are there.
There’s grass and herbs contenting man and beast,
On which both Dear, and Bears, and Wolves do feast.
Foxes both gray and black, (though black I never
Beheld,[xv]) with Muscats[xvi], Lynxs, Otter, Beaver;
With many other which I here omit,
Fit for to warm us, and to feed us fit.

The Fowls that in those Bays and Harbours breed,
Though in their seasons they do else-where breed,
Are Swans and Geese, Herne, Pheasants, Duck & Crane,
Culvers and Divers all along the Maine:
The Turtle, Eagle, Partridge, and the Quail,
Knot, Plover, Pigeons, which do never fail,
Till Summer’s heat commands them to retire,
And Winter’s cold begets their old desire.[xvii]
With these sweet dainties man is sweetly fed,
With these rich feathers Ladies plume their head;
Here’s flesh and feathers both for use and ease,
To feed, adorn, and rest thee if thou please.[xviii]

The treasures got, on earth, by Titan’s beams,
They best may search that have best art and means.[xix]

The air and earth if good, are blessings rare,
But when with these the waters blessed are,
The place is complete, here each pleasant spring,
Is like those fountains where the Muses sing.
The easy channels gliding to the East,
Unless oreflowed, then post to be releas’d,
The Ponds and places where the waters stay,
Content the Fowler with all pleasant prey.
Thus air and earth and water give content,
And highly honour this rich Continent.

As Nature hath this Soil blest, so each port
Abounds with bliss, abounding all report.
The careful Naucleare[xx] may a-far descry
The land by smell, as’t looms below the sky.

The prudent Master there his Ship may moor,
Past wind and weather, then his God adore,
Man forth each Shallop with three men to Sea,
Which oft return with wondrous store of prey;
As Oysters, Crayfish, Crab, and Lobsters great,
In great abundance when the Seas retreat:
Tortoise[xxi], and Herring, Turbot, Hake and Bass,
With other small fish, and fresh bleeding Plaice;
The mighty Whale doth in these Harbours lye,
Whose Oil the careful Merchant dear will buy.
Besides all these and others in this Maine:
The costly Cod doth march with his rich train:
With which the Sea-man fraughts his merry Ship:
With which the Merchant doth much riches get:
With which Plantations richly may subsist,
And pay their Merchants debt and interest.

Thus air and earth, both land and Sea yields store
Of Nature’s dainties both to rich and poor;
To whom if heavens a holy Viceroy give,
The state and people may most richly live:[xxii]
And there erect a Pyramy of estate,
Which only sin and Heaven can ruinate.[xxiii]
Let deep discretion this great work attend,
What’s well begun for’th’most part well doth end:
So may our people peace and plenty find,
And kill the Dragon that would kill mankind.[xxiv]

Those well seen Natives in grave Nature’s hests,
All close designs conceal in their deep breasts:
What strange attempts so ere they do intend,
Are fairly usher’d in, till their last end.[xxv]
Their well advised talk evenly conveys
Their acts to their intents, and ne’er displays
Their secret projects, by high words or light,[xxvi]
Till they conclude their end by fraud or might.
No former friendship they in mind retain,
If you offend once, or your love detain:[xxvii]
They’re wondrous cruel, strangely base and vile,
Quickly displeas’d, and hardly reconcil’d;
Stately and great, as read in Rules of state:
Incens’d, not caring what they perpetrate.
Whose hair is cut with greeces[xxviii], yet a lock
Is left; the left side bound up in a knot:

Their males small labour but great pleasure know,
Who nimbly and expertly draw the bow;[xxix]
Train’d up to suffer cruel heat and cold,
Or what attempt so ere may make them bold;
Of body straight, tall, strong, mantled in skin
Of Deer or Beaver, with the hair-side in:
An Otter skin their right arms doth keep warm,
To keep them fit for use, and free from harm·
A Girdle set with forms of birds or beasts,
Begirts their waste, which gently gives them ease.
Each one doth modestly bind up his shame,
And Deer-skin Start-ups reach up to the same;[xxx]
A kind of Pinsen[xxxi] keeps their feet from cold,
Which after travels they put off, up-fold,
Themselves they warm, their ungirt limbs they rest
In straw, and houses, like to sties: distressed
With Winter’s cruel blasts, a hotter clime
They quickly march to, when that extreme time
Is over, then contented they retire
To their old homes, burning up all with fire.
Thus they their ground from all things quickly clear,
And make it apt great store of Corn to bear.

Each people[xxxii] hath his[xxxiii] orders, state, and head,
By which they’re rul’d, taught, ordered, and lead.
The first is by descent their Lord and King,
Pleas’d in his name likewise and governing:
The consort of his bed must be of blood
Coequal, when an off-spring comes as good,
And highly bred in all high parts of state,
As their Commanders of whom they’re prognate[xxxiv].
If they unequal loves at Hymen’s hand
Should take, that vulgar seed would ne’er command
In such high dread, great state and deep decrees
Their Kingdoms, as their Kings of high degrees:
Their Kings give laws, rewards to those they give,
That in good order, and high service live.
The aged Widow and the Orphans all,
Their Kings maintain, and strangers when they call,
They entertain with kind salute for which,
In homage, they have part of what's most rich.[xxxv]
These heads are guarded with their stoutest men,
By whose advice and skill, how, where, and when,
They enterprise all acts of consequence,
Whether offensive or for safe defence.
These Potents do invite all once a year,
To give a kind of tribute to their peer.[xxxvi]

And here observe thou how each childe[xxxvii] is train’d,
To make him fit for Arms he is constrain’d
To drink a potion made of herbs most bitter,
Till turn’d to blood with casting, whence he’s fitter,
Enduring that to undergo the worst
Of hard attempts, or what may hurt him most.[xxxviii]
The next in order are their well seen men
In herbs and roots, and plants, for medicine,
With which by touch, with clamors, tears, and sweat,
With their curst Magic, as themselves they beat,
They quickly ease: but when they cannot save,
But are by death surpris’d, then with the grave
The devil tells them he could not dispence;
For God hath kill’d them for some great offence.[xxxix]

The lowest people are as servants are,
Which do themselves for each command prepare:
They may not marry nor Tobacco use,
Till certain years, least they themselves abuse.
At which years to each one is granted leave,
A wife, or two, or more, for to receive; [xl]

By having many wives, two things they have,
First, children, which before all things to save
They covet, 'cause by them their Kingdoms fill’d,
When as by fate or Arms their lives are spill’d.
Whose death as all that die they sore lament,
And fill the skies with cries: impatient
Of nothing more then pale and fearful death,
Which old and young bereaves of vital breath;
Their dead wrapt up in Mats to th’grave they give,
Upright from th’knees, with goods whilst they did live,
Which they best lov’d: their eyes turn’d to the East,
To which after much time, to be releas’t
They all must March, where all shall all things have
That heart can wish, or they themselves can crave.[xli]
A second profit which by many wives
They have, is Corn, the staff of all their lives.
All are great eaters, he’s most rich whose bed
Affords him children, profit, pleasure, bread.
But if fierce Mars, begins his bow to bend,
Each King stands on his guard, seeks to defend
Himself, and his, and therefore hides his grain
In earth’s close concaves, to be fetch’d again
If he survives: thus saving of himself,
He acts much mischief, and retains his wealth.
By this deep wile, the Irish long withstood
The English power, whilst they kept their food,[xlii]
Their strength of life their Corn; that lost, they long
Could not withstand this Nation, wise, stout, strong.
By this one Art, these Natives oft survive
Their great’st opponents, and in honour thrive.

Besides, their women, which for th’most part are
Of comely forms, not black, nor very fair:
Whose beauty is a beauteous black laid on
Their paler cheek, which they most dote upon.[xliii]
For they by Nature are both fair and white,
Enricht with graceful presence, and delight;
Deriding laughter, and all prattling, and
Of sober aspect, graced with grave command:
Of man-like courage, stature tall and straight,
Well nerv’d, with hands and fingers small and right.
Their slender fingers of a grassie twine,
Make well form’d Baskets wrought with art and line;
A kind of Arras, or Straw-hangings, wrought
With divers forms, and colours, all about.
These gentle pleasures, their fine fingers fit,
Which Nature seem’d to frame rather to sit.
Rare Stories, Princes, people, Kingdoms, Towers,
In curious finger-work, or Parchment flowers:
Yet are these hands to labours all intent,
And what so ere without doors, give content.
These hands do dig the earth, and in it lay
Their faire choice Corn, and take the weeds away
As they do grow, raising with earth each hill,
As Ceres prospers to support it still.
Thus all work women do, whilst men in play,
In hunting, Arms, and pleasures, end the day.
The Indians whilst our Englishmen they see
In all things servile exercis’d to be:
And all our women freed, from labour all
Unless what’s easy: us much fools they call,
'Cause men do all things; but our women live
In that content which God to man did give:[xliv]
Each female likewise long retains deep wrath,
And’s ne’er appeas’d till wrongs reveng’d she hath:
For they when foreign Princes Arms up take
Against their Liege, quickly themselves betake
To th’adverse Army, where they’re entertain’d
With kind salutes, and presently are dain’d
Worthy faire Hymen’s favours: thus offence
Obtains by them an equal recompense.[xlv]

Lastly, though they no lines, nor Altars know,
Yet to an unknown God these people bow;[xlvi]
All fear some God, some God they worship all,
On whom in trouble and distress they call;
To whom of all things they give sacrifice,
Filling the air with their shrill shrieks and cries.
The knowledge of this God they say they have
From their forefathers, wondrous wise and grave;
Who told them of one God, which did create
All things at first, himself though increate:
He our first parents made, yet made but two,
One man one woman, from which stock did grow
Royal mankind,[xlvii] of whom they also came
And took beginning, being, form and frame:
Who gave them holy laws, for aye to last,
Which each must teach his childe till time be past:
Their gross fed bodies yet no Letters know,
No bonds nor bills they value, but their vow.
Thus without Art’s bright lamp, by Nature’s eye,
They keep just promise, and love equity.
But if once discord his fierce ensign wear,
Expect no promise unless’t be for fear:
And, though these men no Letters know, yet their
Pan’s harsher numbers we may somewhere hear:
And vocal odes which us affect with grief;
Though to their minds perchance they give relief.
Besides these rude insights in Nature’s breast,[xlviii]
Each man by some means is with sense possess’t
Of heaven’s great lights, bright stars and influence,
But chiefly those of great experience:
Yet they no feasts (that I can learn) observe,
Besides their Ceres, which doth them preserve.[xlix]
No days by them discern’d from other days,
For holy certain service kept always.[l]

Yet they when extreme heat doth kill their Corn,
Afflict themselves some days, as men forlorn.
Their times they count not by the year as we,
But by the Moon their times distinguish’t be.
Not by bright Phoebus, or his glorious light,
But by his Phoebe and her shadowed night.[li]
They now accustom’d are two Gods to serve,
One good, which gives all good, and doth preserve;
This they for love adore: the other bad,
Which hurts and wounds, yet they for fear are glad
To worship him:[lii] see here a people who
Are full of knowledge, yet do nothing know
Of God aright; yet say his Laws are good
All, except one, whereby their will’s withstood.
In having many wives, if they but one
Must have, what must they do when they have none.
O how far short comes Nature of true grace,[liii]
Grace sees God here; hereafter face to face:
But Nature quite enerv’d[liv] of all such right,
Retains not one poor sparkle of true light.
And now what soul dissolves not into tears,
That hell must have ten thousand thousand heirs,
Which have no true light of that truth divine,
Or sacred wisdome of th’Eternal Trine.[lv]

O blessed England far beyond all sense,
That knows and loves this Trine’s omnipotence.

In brief survey here water, earth, and air,
A people proud, and what their orders are.
The fragrant flowers, and the Vernant Groves,
The merry Shores, and Storm-affronting Coves.
In brief, a brief of what may make man blest,
If man’s content abroad can be possessed.[lvi]

If these poor lines may win this Country love,
Or kind compassion in the English move;
Persuade our mighty and renowned State,
This poor-blind people to commiserate;
Or painful men to this good Land invite,
Whose holy works these Natives may inlight:[lvii]
If Heavens grant these, to see here built I trust;
An English Kingdome from this Indian dust.


Excuse this Postscript, perchance more profitable than the Prescript. It may be a necessary Caveat for many who too familiarly do SerĂ² sapere[lviii]. The discreet artificer is not only happy to understand what may fairly and infallibly further his duly considered designs and determinations: but to discover and remove what obstacle soever may oppose his well-advised purposes, and probable conclusions. I therefore, desiring that every man may be a Promethius, not an Epimethius, have here underwritten such impediments as I have observed wonderfully offensive to all Plantations[lix]; Quae prodesse quant & delectare legentem.[lx]

First therefore I conceive that far distance of plantations produce many inconveniences and disabilities of planters, when as several Colonies consist but of twenty, or thirty, or about that number, which in a vast uncommanded Continent, makes them liable to many and miserable exigents[lxi], which weakens all union, and leaves them difficultly to be assisted against a potent or daily enemy, and dangerously to be commanded; when as some one Bay well fortified would maintain and enrich some thousands of persons, if it be planted with men, able, ingenious, and laborious, being well furnished with all provisions and necessaries for plantations. Besides, if one Bay be well peopled, it’s easily defended, surveyed, disciplined, and commanded, be the seasons never so unseasonable, and all their Forces in few hours ready in Arms, either offensively to pursue, or defensively to subsist convenient numbers ever at sea, and sufficient ever at home for all service, intelligence and discovery.

Secondly, Ignorance of seasons, servants, situation, want of people, provisions, supplies, with resolution, courage and patience, in and against all opposition, distress, and affliction. Vincit patientia durum[lxii]. Fishermen, manual artificers, engineers, and good fowlers are excellent servants, and only fit for plantations. Let not Gentlemen or Citizens once imagine that I prejudize their reputations, for I speak no word beyond truth, for they are too high, or not patient of such service: though they may be very necessary for Martial discipline, or excellent, (if pious) for example to the seditious and inconsiderate multitude.[lxiii]

Boats with all their furniture, as sails, hooks, and lines, and other appendences, afford the paineful planter both variety of comfort, and a sufficient competent, and an happy estate. Good mastiffs are singular defences to plantations, in the terrifying or pursuing of the light-footed Natives.[lxiv] Hogs and Goats are easy, present, and abundant profit, living and feeding on the Islands almost without any care or cost.

Plantations cannot possibly, profitably subsist without chattels and boats, which are the only means for surveying and conveying both our persons and provisions to the well advised situation. Without these, plantations may with much patience, and well fortified resolution endure but difficultly, though with much time flourish and contentedly subsist. For when men are landed upon an unknown shore, per adventure weak in number and natural powers, for want of boats and carriages, are compelled to stay where they are first landed, having no means to remove themselves or their goods, be the place never so fruitless or inconvenient for planting, building houses, boats, or stages, or the harbours never so unfit for fishing, fowling, or mooring their boats[lxv]. Of all which, and many other things necessary for plantation, I purpose to inform thee hereafter.[lxvi] Wishing thee in the interim all furtherance, all fortunateness.


[i] This is 1625: OED does not record ‘New England’ before 1638. See line 2, which implies a wider circulation of the term. ‘Enarration’, used in English between 1570 and the early 19th century meant ‘A description, detailed story or narrative’ (OED).

[ii] Morrell will praise the land first, then simply ‘tell’ ‘the natures of her men’.

[iii] ‘heirs’ - ‘her’s’ in the 1625 text may be a misprint. New England, personified, begs Great Britain to take charge of governing her empire because ‘heirs’ unworthy of her are making her exile sad (?). This would seem to apply to the native peoples, as King James is then asked to undertake the worthy royal work of bringing the ‘natives’ ‘to true truth and grace’ – Christianity.

[iv] The Privy Council

[v] Aarons: churchmen

[vi] Via a contorted double negative, Morrell says that the ‘maine’, the sea, is there as fruitful as the ‘mould’, the soil.

[vii] Morrell starts on the air of New England, a typical early modern priority about the healthiness of a place. The air is good, but prone to sudden violent gusts of wind. But these sudden tempests are just as quickly stilled by an ‘instant power’ (Morrell implies a heavenly providence), which re-imprisons the air in its heavenly vault, and so any bad weather is over in a day or two. An alternation between great ‘content’ and unsatisfactory absence of ‘content’ seems to be intended.

[viii] Morrell now turns to the earth which, by nature’s power lies beneath the air, low as if entrenched. But then again, hills, ‘ascents’ reach up towards heaven; and the sea-farer sees these first.

[ix] The fruitful soil has many ‘spangles’ (flowers), and yields 100 grains for one seed grain planted. Morrell is thinking about corn.

[x] ‘Planter’ meant one who cultivated the soil, and then from 1587 onwards, a colonist.

[xi] Morrell says that New England has the Edenic quality of displaying nature’s bounty without crops having to be sowed.

[xii] Morrell’s use of ‘ground nut’ antedates the OED’s first recorded usage, which is from 1636. His reference is not to the peanut, but Apios Americana:

“When European explorers first visited the New World they found the naives eating the seeds and tubers of Apios Americana.

[xiii] See prior footnote - “The succulent vine is killed by freezing temperatures and will deteriorate during the winter.”

[xiv] Morrell’s Latin uses the same word, meaning ‘flourishing’, but ‘vernant’ itself was used in English c1440-1660.

[xv] Morrell’s Latin does not seem to specify two types of foxes, nor include the reservation that he didn’t himself witness a black fox. They would probably have been the same animals viewed from different angles. A black fox is also called a ‘silver’ fox because of white-tipped hairs on the rump. See

in North America, black foxes are relatively common”.

[xvi] ‘muscat’ means the musk cat or civet (which secretes musk).

[xvii] Morrell notes seasonal changes in the bird population. ‘Hernes’ are herons, ‘culvers’ doves or pigeons.

[xviii] i.e., feathers for feather beds.

[xix] Morrell refers to veins of gold, which was believed to be produced by the influence of the sun. He lets one infer that none have been found, but that a search by experienced prospectors has yet to be made.

[xx] Not in the OED, the word may relate to an ancient Greek word meaning ‘shipowner’. The detail of it being possible to smell the land before it comes into view (from a ship) does not seem to be in the Latin version.

[xxi] A large and heavy-shelled shell fish. The OED cites R. Eden, 1555, Decades of New World, “In Cuba, are founde great Tortoyses (which are certeyne shell fysshes) of such byggenesse that tenne or fyfteene men are scarsely able to lyfte one of them owt of the water.”

[xxii] New England requires only an appointed Viceroy to govern it.

[xxiii] And with a viceroy set in charge, New England will become a state as long lasting as the pyramids. Aware of the fragility of the North American colonies, Morrell says that it can last unless brought to ruin by sin or heaven (i.e., the latter punishing the former).

[xxiv] i.e., may the settlers enjoy an Eden, but here destroy Satan.

[xxv] Morrell has just reflected that such a fair beginning promises a good outcome for the colony. He now turns to the native Americans, who also seem promising, ‘well seen’ as he puts it, in appearance. But they conceal motives that end in fraud or violence.

[xxvi] The natives will appear neither angry (with ‘high’ words spoken) or merry (speaking ‘light’ words)

[xxvii] The native people will turn on you if you detain your former love from them, or offend them.

[xxviii] Morrell seems to be saying that their hair is cut in steps, ‘greeces’, apart from the longer lock on the left side.

[xxix] Morrell will pointedly contrast the way that in native cultures, the women do all the hard work, with the ease enjoyed by European women, in which culture men do all the physical labour. Perhaps because hunting was seen as a sport, Morrell does not credit the hunting carried out by male natives as work.

[xxx] ‘start-ups’ here seems to mean gaiters, leg bindings.

[xxxi] A ‘pinsen’ was a shoe without a heel or pump: Morrell is of course describing moccasins.

[xxxii] Morrell recognises different tribes.

[xxxiii] We would say, each tribe has its upper ranks.

[xxxiv] The text reads ‘they’rs prognate’. ‘Prognate’ (cited from here in the OED) means offspring, descendents. The offspring of a marriage between two high status individuals are accepted as leaders in their turn.

[xxxv] The kings, in return for entertaining visitors from other nations, receive gifts from them.

[xxxvi] Morrell notes annual ceremonies of homage.

[xxxvii] I have not modernized to ‘child’: Morrell seems to mean, ‘youth approaching manhood’, so I have retained the spelling with a final e, latterly used to distinguish from ‘child’.

[xxxviii] An initiation rite at which emetic herbs are drunk. From this ordeal, the brave emerges better able to face the hardships of battle, etc.

[xxxix] Medicine: their doctors are ‘well seen’ in arts that blend from knowledge of herbs 
into devil-inspired magic. When cures fail, the devil informs the patient 
(via the shamanic doctor) that he or she must die for some sin they have 
committed. There is possibly a faint memory here of Cornelius speaking to 
Faustus at the start of Marlowe’s play: “The miracles that magic will perform 
/ Will make thee vow to study nothing else. / He that is grounded in astrology, 
Enrich'd with tongues, well seen in minerals, / Hath all the principles magic doth require.”

[xl] Morrell asserts the willingness of the lowest orders to be given their orders. He seems to say that such people (and only such) may not marry till they have reached a certain age, nor may they smoke tobacco. Morrell may be reporting facts, but he may also be thinking of truculent English lower classes, apprentices who could not marry till they were out of their apprenticeships, and King James’s attempts to restrict tobacco taking.

[xli] Burial rites, and belief in a paradisal afterlife located in the East. Again, Morrell’s report of the native peoples may be tinged by Christian beliefs in a heavenly Jerusalem, etc.

[xlii] Morrell jumps from native American to native Irish practices of hoarding grain underground in times of war.

[xliii] So Morrell comes to the native Eve’s of this Eden. He tries to express the beauty of darker eyebrows and eye lashes against a skin of pale brown coloration. He is impressed by the taciturnity they share with their menfolk, and by their ‘well nerved’ (muscular) bodies. Their artistic basketwork comes next. I read ‘of a grassy twine’, the 1625 text reads ‘on a grassie twyne’. The wall hangings are both decorative and draft-excluding, like the European ‘arras’ (tapestries). Finally, their agriculture, growing corn, and tending the crop as it grows. He observes again that they do all the work, while the men merely hunt and fight.

[xliv] An interesting passage: there were not many women in the first American colonies, and it is hard to imagine that they enjoyed much leisure. The native men mock the European men for doing so much work; European women are seen as still enjoying the paradise of leisure God first gave to Adam.

[xlv] The women as politically independent: a wrong done to them and (perhaps) not dealt with adequately by their king will cause women to switch sides when war comes.

[xlvi] ‘Lines’ (‘lynes’ in the 1625 text) perhaps means any written sacred text. “Yet to an unknown God these people bow” – Morrell’s Latin text does not correspond to this. He probably puts ‘an unknown God’ as object of their devotion to bring to his reader’s mind St Paul in Acts 17:23: ‘For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.’

[xlvii] Morrell (in his English text) insinuates a creation story of a male creator God (himself uncreated), who brought to life an Adam and an Eve, parents of all humankind; a God who gave laws that must be followed. In the case of the native Americans, these beliefs are orally transmitted. Like More’s Utopians, they are represented as incipient Christians, lacking a revealed gospel, but by the light of nature alone, deriving basic religious truths.

[xlviii] Their ‘insights’ in (‘into’) Nature’s secrets. They are aware of what a 17th century astrologer would have called the ‘greater luminaries’, particularly their most experienced observers.

[xlix] They observe no regular feast days apart from a ‘Cerealia’ (as the Latin version has it), a feast in honour of the harvest, Ceres being the goddess of the harvest.

[l] They observe no Sabbath day.

[li] Their calendar is lunar, not solar.

[lii] Here, the native Americans are represented as dualists, with two Gods, one good, one evil: susceptible to the basic Christian heresy.

[liii] Morrell seems to imply that the native people are quite receptive to initial conversion attempts, but that they cannot contemplate an end to polygamy. Again, the native Americans may be accurately described, but there is also a hint of More’s Utopia, where the Utopians, acting by human reason alone, allow divorce and remarriage.

[liv] The text has either ‘encru’d’ or ‘eneru’d’. I have emended to ‘enerved’, to suggest ‘deprived of the strength of revelation’.

[lv] Morrell laments that all these people will go to hell, being unaware of such things as the knowledge of the Holy Trinity, a truth loved in England, though it is in itself ‘far beyond all sense’.

[lvi] Morrell starts his peroration with a summary.

[lvii] He hopes his verses may move ‘painful’ (painstaking) men to sail to America and enlighten the native people. Like Samuel Sewall would be after him (see Richard Francis’ excellent Judge Sewall’s Apology (2005), Morrell is an optimistic promoter of the possibility of mass conversion. Sewall was ready to believe that the Indians were descended from the lost tribes of Israel, that they ‘fear God, and are true believers’. Francis explains how the ‘praying Indians’ would be few in number, and be quite cynically neglected as the colony developed.

[lviii] ‘too late come to be wise’

[lix] Morrell will use his proscript to pass on what he observes colonies use, so that each colonist may be a ‘Prometheus’, a benign giver of fire to the benefit of mankind, rather than an ‘Epimetheus’, an opener of a Pandora’s box of evils.

[lx] ‘to profit and please the readers’

[lxi] exigencies, hardships, bad circumstances.

[lxii] ‘patience conquers adversities’

[lxiii] As ever with the English colonies, the need is for people accustomed to hard work, with useful skills, not people accustomed to leisure. Morrell specifies.

[lxiv] Morrell, so interested and indeed sympathetic to the native people in his poem suggests the utility of mastiffs to let loose upon them.

[lxv] Counter to ever suggestion made in his poem of what a Paradise New England (almost) is, Morrell here observes the utility to colonists of wagons and small boats for mobility, for shifting to better sites.

[lxvi] No such further work by Morrell has survived (if it was ever carried out).