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To the Right Honorable and worthy
Lords, Knights, and Gentlemen of his Majesty's Council for all the Plantations and Discoveries, especially of NewEngland.
EEING the deeds of the most just, and the writings of
the most wise, not only of men but of God himself, have been diversely traduced by variable judgments of the time's opinionists, what shall such an ignorant as I expect? Yet reposing myself on your favors, I present this rude discourse to the world's construction, though I am persuaded that few do think there may be had from New-England staple commodities well worth three or four hundred thousand pounds a year, with so small charge and such facility, as this discourse will acquaint you. But lest your Honors, that know me not, should think I go by hearsay and affection, I entreat your pardons to say thus much of myself. Near twice nine years, I have been taught by lamentable experience, as well in Europe and Asia, as Africk and America, such honest adventures as the chance of war doth cast upon poor soldiers. So that if I be not able to judge of what I have seen, contrived and done, it is not the fault either of my eyes or four quarters. And these nine years I have bent my endeavors to find a sure foundation to begin these ensuing projects; which though I never so plainly and seriously propound, yet it resteth in God and you still to dispose of, not doubting but your goodness will pardon my rudeness, and ponder errors in the balance of good will. No more but sacring all my best abilities to the good of my prince and country, and submitting myself to the exquisite judgments of your renowned virtue, I ever rest,
Your Honors, in all honest service,
To the Right Worshipful Adventurers
for the country of New-England, in the cities of London, Bristow, Exceter, Plimouth, Dartmouth, Bastable, Totneys, &c., and in all other cities and ports in the Kingdom of England.
F the little ant and the silly bee seek by their diligence the good of their commonwealth, much more ought man. If they punish the drones and sting them that steals their labor, then blame not man. Little honey hath that hive, where there are more drones than bees; and miserable is that land where more are idle than well employed. If the endeavors of those vermin be acceptable, I hope mine may be excusable; though I confess it were more proper for me to be doing what I say than writing what I know. Had I returned rich, I could not have erred; now having only such fish as came to my net, I must be taxed. But I would my taxers were as ready to adventure their purses, as I purse, life and all I have; or as diligent to furnish the charge, as I know they are vigilant to crop the fruits of my labors. Then would I not doubt (did God please I might safely arrive in New-England, and safely return) but to perform somewhat more than I have promised, and approve my words by deeds, according to proportion.
I am not the first hath been betrayed by pirates; and four men of war, provided as they were, had been sufficient to have taken Samson, Hercules, and Alexander the Great, no other way furnished than I was. furnished than I was. I know not what assurance any have do pass the seas, not to be subject to casualty as well as myself. But lest this disaster may hinder my proceedings, or ill will (by rumor) the behooffull work I pretend, I have writ this little; which I did think to have concealed from any public use, till I had made my returns speak as much as my pen now doth.
But, because I speak so much of fishing, if any take me for such a devout, fisher as I dream of naught else, they
To the Adventurers for New-England.
mistake me. I know a ring of gold from a grain of barley as well as a goldsmith; and nothing is there to be had which fishing doth hinder, but further us to obtain. Now for that I have made known unto you a fit place for plantation, limited within the bounds of your patent and commission; having also received means, power, and authority by your directions, to plant there a colony, and make further search and discovery in those parts there yet unknown; considering, withal, first those of his Majesty's Council, then those cities above-named, and divers others that have been moved to lend their assistance to so great a work, do expect (especially the adventurers) the true relation or event of my proceedings, which I hear are so abused; I am enforced, for all these respects, rather to expose my imbecility to contempt, by the testimony of these rude lines, than all should condemn me for so bad a factor as could neither give reason nor account of my actions and designs.
Yours to command,
A DESCRIPTION OF NEW-ENGLAND, BY CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH.
N the month of April, 1614, with two ships from London, of a few merchants, I chanced to arrive in NewEngland, a part of America, at the isle of Monahiggan, in forty-three and a half of northerly latitude. Our plot was there to take whales, and make trials of a mine of gold and copper. If those failed, fish and furs was then our refuge, to make ourselves savers howsoever. We found this whalefishing a costly conclusion. We saw many, We saw many, and spent much time in chasing them; but could not kill any, they being a kind of jubartes, and not the whale that yields fins and oil, as we expected. For our gold, it was rather the master's device to get a voyage that projected it than any knowledge he had at all of any such matter. Fish and furs was now our guard; and by our late arrival and long lingering about the whale, the prime of both those seasons were past ere we perceived it; we thinking that their seasons served at all times, but we found it otherwise; for, by the midst of June the fishing failed. Yet in July and August some was taken, but not sufficient to defray so great a charge as our stay required. Of dry fish we made about 40,000, of cor fish about 7000. Whilst the sailors fished, myself, with eight or nine others of them might best be spared, ranging the coast in a small boat, we got for trifles near 1100 beaver skins, 100 martens, and near as many otters; and the most of them within the distance of twenty leagues. We ranged the coast both east and west much further; but eastwards our commodities were not esteemed, they were so near the French who affords them better; and right against us in the main was a ship of Sir Francis Popham's, that had there
such acquaintance, having many years used only that port, that the most part there was had by him. And forty leagues westwards were two French ships, that had made there a great voyage by trade, during the time we tried those conclusions, not knowing the coast nor salvages' habitation. With these furs, the train and cor fish, I returned for England in the barque; where, within six months after our departure from the Downs, we safe arrived back. The best of this fish was sold for five pound the hundredth, the rest by ill usage betwixt three pound and fifty shillings. The other ship stayed to fit herself for Spain with the dry fish, which was sold, by the sailors' report that returned, at forty rials the quintal, each hundred weighing two quintals and a half.
New-England is that part of America in the Ocean Sea opposite to Nova Albion in the South Sea, discovered by the most memorable Sir Francis Drake in his voyage about the world. In regard whereto, this is styled New-England, being in the same latitude. New France, off it, is northward; southwards is Virginia, and all the adjoining continent, with New Granada, New Spain, New Andalusia, and the West Indies. Now because I have been so oft asked such strange questions of the goodness and greatness of those spacious tracts of land, how they can be thus long unknown or not possessed by the Spaniard, and many such like demands, I entreat your pardons if I chance to be too plain or tedious in relating my knowledge for plain men's satisfaction.
Florida is the next adjoining to the Indies, which unprosperously was attempted to be planted by the French; a country far bigger than England, Scotland, France and Ireland, yet little known to any Christian, but by the wonderful endeavors of Ferdinando de Soto, a valiant Spaniard, whose writings in this age is the best guide known to search those parts.
Virginia is no isle (as many do imagine) but part of the continent adjoining to Florida, whose bounds may be stretched to the magnitude thereof without offence to any Christian inhabitant. For from the degrees of thirty to forty-five, his Majesty hath granted his letters patent, the coast extending southwest and northeast about fifteen hundred miles; but to follow it aboard, the shore may well be two thousand