From A Description of New England (1616)



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Who   can   desire   more   content,   that   hath   small  meanes;  or  but  only  his  merit  to  aduance  his  fortune,  then  to  tread,  and  plant  that  ground  hee  hath  purchased by the hazard of his life? If he haue but the taste of  virtue,  and  magnanimitie,  what  to  such  a  minde  can  bee  more  pleasant,  then  planting  and  building  a  foundation  for  his  Posteritie,  gotte  from  the rude  earth,  by  Gods  blessing  &  his  owne  industrie,  without  preiudice  to  any?  If  hee  haue  any  graine  of  faith  or  zeale  in  Religion,  what  can  hee  doe  lesse  hurtfull  to  any;  or  more agreeable to God, then to seeke to conuert those poore Saluages  to  know  Christ,  and  humanitie,  whose  labors  with  discretion  will  triple  requite  thy  charge  and paines? What so truely sutes with honour and honestie, as  the  discouering  things  vnknowne?  erecting  Townes, peopling  Countries,  informing  the  ignorant,  reforming things vniust, teaching virtue; & gaine to our Natiue mother-countrie  a  kingdom  to  attend  her;  finde imployment for those that are idle, because they know not what  to  doe:  so  farre  from  wronging  any,  as  to  cause  Posteritie to remember thee; and remembring thee, euer honour that remembrance with praise? Consider : What were  the  beginnings  and  endings  of  the  Monarkies  of  the Chaldeans, the Syrians, the Grecians, and Romanes, but this  one  rule;  What  was  it  they  would  not  doe,  for  the good of the commonwealth, or their Mother-citie? For example: Rome, What made her such a Monarchesse, but onely the aduentures of her youth, not in riots at home ; but  in  dangers  abroade?  and  the  iustice  and  iudgement out  of  their  experience,  when  they  grewe  aged.  What  was  their  ruine  and  hurt,  but  this;  The  excesse  of  idlenesse, the fondnesse of Parents, the want of experience in Magistrates, the admiration of their vndeserued honours,  the  contempt  of  true  merit,  their  vniust iealosies, their  politicke  incredulities,  their  hypocriticall  seeming goodnesse, and their deeds of secret lewdnesse? finally, in fine, growing onely formall temporists, all that their predecessors got in many years, they lost in few daies.  Those  by  their  pains  &  vertues  became  Lords  of the world; they by their ease and vices became slaues to their seruants. This is the difference betwixt the vse of Armes in the field, & on the monuments of stones; the golden  age  and  the  leaden  age,  prosperity  and  miserie,  iustice  and  corruption,  substance  and  shadowes,  words  and  deeds,  experience  and  imagination,  making  Commonwealths and marring Commonwealths, the fruits of vertue and the conclusions of vice.

Then, who would liue at home idly (or thinke in himselfe any worth to liue) onely to eate, drink, and sleepe, and so die? Or by consuming that carelesly, his friends got  worthily?  Or  by  vsing  that  miserably,  that  maintained vertue honestly? Or, for being descended nobly, pine with the vaine vaunt of great kindred, in penurie? Or (to maintaine a silly shewe of brauery) toyle out thy heart, soule, and time, basely, by shifts, tricks, cards, & dice?  Or by relating newes of others actions, sharke here or there for a dinner, or supper; deceiue thy friends, by faire  promises,  and  dissimulation,  in  borrowing  where  thou  neuer  intendest  to  pay;  offend  the  lawes,  surfeit  with  excesse,  burden  thy  Country,  abuse  thy  selfe,  despaire  in  want,  and  then  couzen  thy  kindred,  yea  euen  thine  owne  brother,  and  wish  thy  parents  death  (I  will  not  say  damnation)  to  haue  their  estates?  though  thou  seest what honours, and rewards, the world yet hath for them will seeke them and worthily deserue them.

I would be sory to offend, or that any should mistake my honest meaning: for I wish good to all, hurt to none. But rich men for the most part are growne to that dotage, through their pride in their wealth, as though there were  no  accident  could  end  it,  or  their  life.  And  what

hellish care do such take to make it their owne miserie, and their Countries spoile, especially when there is most  neede  of  their  imployment?  drawing  by  all  manner  of  inuentions,  from  the  Prince  and  his  honest  subiects,  euen  the  vitall  spirits  of  their  powers  and  estates:  as  if  their  Bagges,  or  Bragges,  were  so  powerfull  a  defence,  the  malicious  could  not  assault  them;  when  they  are the onely baite, to cause vs not to be onely assaulted;

but betrayed and murdered in our owne security, ere we well perceiue it.

May  not  the  miserable  ruine  of Constantinople,  their impregnable  walles,  riches,  and  pleasures  last  taken  by  the Turke  (which  are  but  a  bit,  in  comparison  of  their  now  mightines)  remember  vs,  of  the  effects  of  priuate  couetousness?  at  which  time  the  good

Emperour  held himselfe rich enough, to haue such rich subiects, so formall in all excesse of vanity, all kinde of delicacie, and prodigalitie. His pouertie when the Turke besieged, the citizens  (whose  marchandizing  thoughts  were  onely  to  get wealth, little conceiuing the desperate resolution of a valiant expert enemy) left the Emp. so long to his conclusions, hauing spent all he had to pay his young, raw, discontented Souldiers; that sodainly he, they, and their citie  were  all  a  prey  to  the  deuouring  Turke.  And  what they would not spare for the maintenance of them who aduentured  their  liues  to  defend  them,  did  serue  onely their enemies to torment them, their friends, and countrey, and all Christendome to this present day. Let this lamentable example remember you that are rich (seeing here are such great theeues in the world to robbe you) not grudge to lend some proportion, to breed them that haue little, yet willing to learne how to defend you: for, it is too late when the deede is a-doing. The Romanes  estate  hath  beene  worse  then  this:  for,  the  meere  couetousnesse  and  extortion  of  a  few  of  them,  so mooued the  rest,  that  not  hauing  any  imployment,  but  contemplation; their great iudgements grew to so great malice, as  themselues  were  sufficient  to  destroy  themselues  by  faction: Let this mooue you to embrace imployment, for those  whose  educations,  spirits,  and  iudgements,  want  but  your  purses;  not  onely  to  preuent  such  accustomed  dangers, but also to gaine more thereby then you haue.  And you fathers  that  are  either  so  foolishly  fond,  or  so  miserably couetous, or so willfully ignorant, or so negligently carelesse, as that you will rather maintaine your children  in  idle  wantonness,  till  they  growe  your  masters;  or  become  so  basely  vnkinde,  as  they  wish  nothing but your deaths; so that both sorts growe dissolute: and although you would wish them any where to escape the  gallowes,  and  ease  your  cares;  though  they  spend  you  here  one,  two,  or  three  hundred  pound  a  yeer;  you  would  grudge  to  giue  halfe  so  much  in  aduenture with  them,  to  obtaine  an  estate,  which  in  a  small  time but  with  a  little  assistance  of  your  prouidence,  might  bee better then your owne. But if an Angell should tell you,  that  any  place  yet  vnknowne  can  afford  such  fortunes; you would not beleeue him, no more then Columbus was beleeued there was any such Land as is now the well  knowne  abounding  America;  much  lesse  such  large  Regions  as  are  yet  vnknowne,  as  well  in  America,  as  in Affrica, and Asia, and Terra incognita; where were courses for gentlemen (and them that would be so reputed) more suiting  their  qualities,  then  begging  from  their  Princes generous  disposition,  the  labours  of  his  subiects,  and the very marrow of his maintenance.

I  haue  not  beene  so  ill  bred,  but  I  haue  tasted  of Plenty and Pleasure, as well as

Want and Miserie: nor doth necessity  yet,  or  occasion  of  discontent,  force  me  to  these  endeauors:  nor  am  I  ignorant  what  small  thanke I shall haue for my paines; or that many would haue the Worlde imagine them to be of great iudgement, that can but blemish these my designes, by their witty obiections and detractions: yet (I hope) my reasons with my deeds, will so preuaile with some, that I shall not want imployment  in  these  affaires,  to  make  the  most  blinde  see  his  owne  senselesnesse,  &  incredulity;  Hoping  that  gaine will  make  them  affect  that,  which  Religion,  Charity, and the Common good cannot. It were but a poore deuice in me, To deceiue my selfe; much more the King, &  State,  my  Friends,  and  Countrey,  with  these  inducements:  which,  seeing  his  Maiestie  hath  giuen  permission,  I  wish  all  sorts  of  worthie,  honest,  industrious  spirits, would vnderstand: and if they desire any further satisfaction,  I  will  doe  my  best  to  giue  it:  Not  to  perswade them to goe onely; but goe with them: Not leaue them  there;  but  liue  with  them  there.  I  will  not  say, but  by  ill  prouiding  and  vndue  managing,  such  courses  may  be  taken,  may  make  vs  miserable  enough:  But  if  I  may  haue  the  execution  of  what  I  haue  proiected;  if  they  want  to  eate,  let  them  eate  or  neuer  digest  Me.  If I performe  what  I  say,  I  desire  but  that  reward  out  of the  gaines  may  sute  my  paines,  quality,  and  condition.  And  if  I  abuse  you  with  my  tongue,  take  my  head  for  satisfaction.  If  any  dislike  at  the  yeares  end,  defraying  their  charge,  by  my  consent  they  should  freely  returne.  I  feare  not  want  of  companie  sufficient,  were  it but  knowne  what  I  know  of  those  Countries;  &  by  the proofe of that wealth I hope yearely to returne, if God please to blesse me from such accidents, as are beyond my  power  in  reason  to  preuent:  For,  I  am  not  so  simple, to thinke, that euer any other motiue then wealth, will  euer  erect  there  a  Commonweale;  or  draw  companie  from  their  ease  and  humours  at  home,  to  stay  in  New England to effect my purposes. And lest any should thinke  the  toile  might  be  insupportable,  though  these things may be had by labour, and diligence: I assure my selfe there are who delight extreamly in vaine pleasure, that take much more paines in England, to enioy it, then I should doe heere to gaine wealth sufficient: and yet I thinke  they  should  not  haue  halfe  such  sweet  content: for,  our  pleasure  here  is  still  gaines;  in England charges and losse. Heer nature and liberty affords vs that freely, which in England we want, or it costeth vs dearely. What pleasure  can  be  more,  then  (being  tired  with  any  occasion  a-shore)  in  planting  Vines,  Fruits,  or  Hearbs,  in contriuing their owne Grounds, to the pleasure of their owne  mindes,  their  Fields,  Gardens,  Orchards,  Buildings, Ships, and other works, &c. to recreate themselues before their owne doores, in their owne boates vpon the Sea,  where  man  woman  and  childe,  with  a  small  hooke and line, by angling, may take diuerse sorts of excellent fish, at their pleasures? And is it not pretty sport, to pull vp two pence, six pence, and twelue pence, as fast as you can  hale  and  veare  a  line?  He  is  a  very  bad  fisher,  cannot kill in one day with his hooke and line, one, two, or three  hundred  Cods:  which  dressed  and  dryed,  if  they be sould there for ten shillings the hundred, though in England they will giue more then twentie; may not both the  seruant,  the  master,  and  marchant,  be  well  content with this gaine ? If a man worke but three dayes in seauen,  he  may  get  more  then  hee  can  spend,  vnlesse he will be excessiue. Now that Carpenter, Mason, Gardiner, Taylor, Smith, Sailer, Forgers, or what other, may they not make this a pretty recreation though they fish but  an  houre  in  a  day,  to  take  more  then  they  eate  in a weeke?  or  if  they  will  not  eate  it,  because  there  is  so  much  better  choise;  yet  sell  it,  or  change  it,  with  the  fisher men, or marchants, for any thing they want. And what sport doth yeeld a more pleasing content, and lesse hurt or charge then angling with a hooke, and crossing the sweete ayre from Ile to Ile, ouer the silent streames of  a  calme  Sea?  wherein the  most  curious  may  finde  pleasure,  profit,  and  content.  Thus, though  all  men  be not fishers: yet all men, whatsoeuer, may in other matters doe as well. For necessity doth in these cases so rule a Commonwealth,  and  each  in  their  seuerall  functions, as  their  labours  in  their  qualities  may  be  as  profitable, because there is a necessary mutuall vse of all.

For Gentlemen, what exercise should more  delight them,  then  ranging  dayly  those  vnknowne  parts, vsing fowling  and  fishing,  for  hunting  and  hauking?  and yet  you  shall  see  the  wilde  haukes  giue  you  some  pleasure,  in  seeing  them  stoope  (six  or  seauen  after  one  another) an houre or two together, at the skuls of fish in the faire harbours,  as  those ashore  at  a  foule;  and  neuer  trouble  nor  torment  your  selues,  with  watching,  mewing,  feeding,  and  attending  them:  nor  kill  horse  and  man  with running & crying, See you not a hauk? For hunting also: the woods, lakes,  and  riuers,  affoord  not  onely  chase  sufficient, for any that delights in that kinde of toyle, or pleasure; but such beasts to hunt, that besides the delicacy of their bodies for food, their skins are so rich, as may well recompence thy dayly labour, with a Captains pay.

For labourers, if  those  that  sowe  hemp,  rape,  turnups,  parsnips,  carrats,  cabidge,  and  such  like;  giue  20,  30,  40,  50  shillings  yearely  for  an  acre  of  ground,  and  meat drinke and wages to vse it, and yet grow rich: when better, or at least as good ground, may be had and cost nothing  but  labour;  it  seemes  strange  to  me,  any  such  should there grow poore.

My  purpose  is  not  to  perswade  children  from  their  parents;  men  from  their  wiues;  nor  seruants  from  their masters: onely, such as with free consent may be spared: But  that  each  parish,  or  village,  in  Citie,  or  Countrey, that will but apparell their fatherlesse children, of thirteene or fourteen years of age, or young maried people, that haue small wealth to liue on; heere by their labour may liue exceeding well: prouided alwaies that first there bee a sufficient power to command them, houses to receiue them, meanes to defend them, and meet prouisions for them; for, any place may bee ouerlain: and it is most necessarie to haue a fortresse (ere this grow to practice) and  sufficient  masters  (as,  Carpenters,  Masons,  Fishers, Fowlers, Gardiners, Husbandmen, Sawyers, Smiths, Spinsters,  Taylors,  Weauers,  and  such  like)  to  take  ten,  twelue,  or  twentie,  or  as  ther  is  occasion,  for  Apprentises. The Masters by this may quicklie growe rich; these may learne their trades themselues, to doe the like; to a generall and an incredible benefit, for King, and Countrey, Master, and Seruant.



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