Six Whole Ducks in the Belly of an Ounce I Killed

Eigene Texte (Proben)

The wise creator of the universal globe has placed a golden mean between two extremes, be­tween the cold and the hot. While Frigida Zona is good for nothing, and Torrida Zona may be good for grasshoppers, this golden mean, Zona Temperata, is good for the ant and the bee. Accordingly, New England is judged by all judicious men the principal part of America: For the sweetness of its air, the fertility of its soil, the variety of its beasts, birds and fish, and the small number of savages (which might seem a rub in the way of an effeminate mind), I call it Nature’s masterpiece.

The General Survey of the Country

New England is that part of America in the Ocean Sea opposite to Nova Albyon in the South Sea. New France is northward. Virginia, New Granada, New Spain, New Andalusia, and the West Indies are southward. The chief mountains are those of Pennobscot, the twinkling mountain of Aucocisco, the great mountain of Sasanou, and the high mountain of Massachu­setts. The bay of Massachusetts, which is the middle part of New England, is both safe, spa­cious, and deep: A harbor where 1,000 ships may safely ride. Mariners may behold the two capes thrust themselves out into the sea in the form of a half-moon, embracing their welcome ships in their arms. There is an island called Deer Island because of the deer that often swim there from the main land when they are chased by wolves. Some have killed sixteen deer in a day upon this island. There is an island called Long Island, so called from its longitude. There are other islands: Round Island, Slate Island, Governor’s Garden, Glass Island, Bird Island, &c. There is a brook with a great store of smelts, and therefore it is called Smelt Brook. There is a river called Stony River. There is another river called Aquamenticus. There is a good har­bor there, and there is good ground, much of which has already been cleared, as it had once been planted by the savages who are now all dead. There is good timber there.

A Perspective to View the Country by

In New England both men and women keep their natural complexion. If the sun tans them, winter’s cold restores them to their former complexion. Virginia, in contrast, having no winter to speak of but extremely hot summers, has dried up much English blood, and by pestiferous diseases swept away many lusty bodies, changing their complexion not to swarthiness, but into paleness, so that when they come for trading in our parts we know many of them by their faces. The common diseases of England are strangers to the English now in that strange land. Although I have traveled through heat and cold, wet and dry, by sea and land, in winter and summer, day by day, for four years, yet scarcely did I know what belonged to a day’s sick­ness. There are more double births than in England. And the woman usually have a more speedy recovery after their delivery than in England. It is also observed that every tenth year there is little or no winter. I never heard of any that utterly perished at land with cold: A cer­tain man, being somewhat distracted, broke away from his keeper and ran into the wood in the middle of winter. After four days he returned, appearing as well in body as when he had left, and much better in mind.

[…]

Of Pot-Herbs and Plants

Saxifarilla. Bay­berry. Brook-lime. Fuss-balls, very large. One-berry, or herb true-love. Honeysuckles. Tobacco. French mallows. Tree-primrose, taken by the ignorant for scabious. A plant like knaves’ mustard, called New England mustard. Winter savory. Summer savory. Yellow-bastard daffodil. Live-for-ever, a kind of cud-weed. Blue Flower-de-luce, excellent to provoke vomiting. Solomon’s seal. Herb Robert. Cinque-foil. Tormentile. Speedwell chick-weed. Upright pennyroyal. Squonterquashes. Avens, with the leaf of mountain-avens, but the flower and root of English avens. White hellebore (The powder of the root, put into a hollow tooth, is good for the toothache). Maiden-hair. Autumn bell-flower. Ground-ivy or ale-hoof. Arsmart, both kinds. White satin grows pretty well. So does lavender-cotton. But lavender is not for the climate. Coriander and dill and anis thrive exceedingly. Clary never lasts but one summer. Asparagus thrives exceedingly. So do garden-sorrel and sweet brier, or eglantine. Celandine grows but slowly. Muscat grows as well as in England. Dittan­der, or pepper-wort, flourishes notably, and so does tansy. Spurge thyme, very like to rupter-wort, and full of milk. Rupter-wort, with the white flower. Blood-wort. Jagged rose-penny-wort. Stich-wort, commonly taken here, by ignorant people, for eye-bright. Glass-wort, here called berrelia, growing abundantly in salt marshes. St. John’s wort. St. Peter’s wort. Cat’s tail. Featherfew. Dog-stone, a kind of satyrion, growing in salt marshes (I once took notice of a wanton woman compounding the solid roots of this plant with wine to make an amorous cup, which wrought the desired effect). Water-plantain, here called water-suck leaves. Sea-plantain, three kinds. Small-water archer. Goose-grass. Mouse-ear minor. Ad­der’s tongue. Water-cress. Sea-tears. Water-lily, with yellow flowers (The Indians eat the roots, which taste like the liver of a sheep). Dove’s-foot. Raven’s claw. Knobby crane’s bill. Parsnips, of a prodigious size. Pease of all sorts, and the best in the world. Indian beans, falsely called French beans. Wheat. Rye. Barley, which commonly degenerates into oats. Oats.

[…]

Of Fish and What Commodity They Prove

There is no country known that yields a larger variety of fish in winter and summer. I myself have seen such multitudes pass out of a pond that it seemed to me that one might go over their backs dry-shod:

Alewife (a kind of fish much like a herring, which in the latter end of April come up to the fresh rivers to spawn, in such multitudes as is almost incredible), aleport, albacore, bass (one of the best fish in the country; a delicate, fine, fat, fast fish, having a bone in his head which contains a saucerful of marrow sweet and good, which is pleasant to the palate and wholesome to the stomach), blue-fish or hound-fish, of which two kinds, as speckled hound-fish and blue hound-fish or horse-fish, bonito or dozada or Spanish dolphin, sea-bream, bullhead or Indian mussel, bur-fish, catfish, clam (the savages cannot get enough of this fish, despite the plenty; for our swine we find it a good commodity, for being once used to the places where clams abound they will repair there every ebb, as if they were driven to them by keepers), coal-fish, cod (there is a stone found in their bellies, which, being pulverized and drunk in white-wine posset or ale, is a remedy for the stone), rock-cod, sea-cod or sea-whiting, cony-fish, sea-cucumber, cunner or blue perch or sea-roach, crab, cusk, sea-dart or javelin, dog-fish (their skins are good to cover boxes and instrument-cases), dolphin, sea-emperor or sword-fish, eel, of which divers kinds, flail-fish, flounder, sea-flea, freel, grampus, greedygut, haddock, hake, horse-foot, herring, halibut or sea-pheasant, sea-hare, hen-fish, herring (very similar to those caught on the English coasts), hog or flying fish, lam­preys, limpin, sea-liver, lobster, lump, mackerel (richly clad with rainbow colors), maid, monk-fish, morse, mullet, mussel (some very fat and full of sea pearls, but inedible, for they made everyone sick who tried them), nun-fish, oyster (some so big that they must be divided before you can get them well into your mouth), perch, pollack, periwig or sea-snail or whelk (a kind of fish that lies in the ooze like a head of hair, which being touched conveys itself leaving nothing to be seen but a small round hole), pike or fresh-water wolf or river-wolf, which is in fact an overgrown pike, pilchard, pilot-fish, pinnacks, plaice or sea-sparrow, porpoise, prawn or crangone, purple-fish, porgee, remora or suck-stone or stop-ship, sea-raven, razor-fish, salmon, sail-fish, scallop or Venus-cockle, skate or ray or gristle-fish, of which divers kinds, as sharp-snouted ray, rock-ray &c., shad (bigger than the English shads, and fatter), spurling, sculpin, seal or soil or zeal (their skins, with the hair on, are good to make gloves for the winter), shark or bunch, of which several kinds (some as big as a horse; they have three rows of teeth in his mouth; they leap at a man’s hand if it is over board, and snap off a swimming man’s leg; they are good as fertilizer), sheath-fish, sturgeon, smelt, shrimp, sprat, squid, star-fish, sting-ray (their skin is good to cover boxes, and hafts of knives and rapier-sticks), sword-fish, thornback or Neptune’s beard (given to the dogs, being not counted worth the dressing in many places), turtle (much sought for by the Indian squaw), of which three kinds, as land-turtle, river-turtle, and lake-turtle (called a terrapin in Virginia), trout, turbot, ulatife or saw-fish, sea-urchin, sea-unicorn or sea-monoceros, and whale, of which many kinds.

We saw strange fish at sea, some with wings flying above the water, others with manes, ears and heads, and chasing one another with open mouths like stone horses in a park.

Full publication in Seneca Review #38.