Back to Homepage


Click Here to dialogue
with others about
these subjects.

 

    

NEW ENGLISH CANAAN, or

NEW CANAAN.

The Second Book.

      
Containing a Description of the Beauty of the
Country,

with Her Natural Endowments both in the Land and Sea,

with the Great Lake of Erocoise.

 

 

 

 

Continued from CHAPTER I-V

 

CHAPTER VI.

Of Stones and Minerals.

Now, for as much as I have in a brief abstract showed you the Creatures whose specifical natures do sympathize with the elements of fire and air, I will come to speak of the Creatures that participate of earth more than the other two, which is stones. [237]

Creatures "Created things" (inanimate minerals). For a general and readable geological history of the "Boston Basin" region, see W.O. Crosby, and Bain/Meyerhoff on Morton's immediate vicinity of the Neponset Valley, Nantasket and the Mass. Bay islands. For geological, ecological, and zoological time-frames, patterns and interconnections see Chamberlain and Freeman/Nasuti (Eastern)

And first of the Marble for building, whereof there is much in those parts, insomuch as there is one bay in the land that beareth the name of Marble Harbor because of the plenty of Marble there; and these are useful for building of sumptuous palaces. [238]

Marble AC 215: "not marble at all" but a "porphyry" in the "old sense of the term" for "any smooth-striped or spotted stones such as were found there." Higginson (6) also called this place "Marble harbour," and the "confusion" continues. Hitchcock (161) describes "Berkshire marble" as a fine "gray, clouded, snowy white" form; and "a mile or two west of Great Barrington" is a quarry of "the most beautiful clouded marble in the state." Photos of such a quarry (Westfield) in Bain/Meyerhoff 63; and, see Jorgensen 68-75, Freeman/Nasuti (Eastern 10) on New England’s general “geological layout”

And because no good building can be made permanent or durable without Lime, I will let you understand that there is good Limestone near to the river of Monatoquit at Uttaquatock, to my knowledge. And we hope other places too (that I have not taken so much notice of) may have the like, or better; and those stones are very convenient for building. [239]

Limestone 1883 Canaan editor C.F. Adams knew that various Puritan-built structures erected after Morton's American years (including Governor Winthrop's "building of stone at Mistick") had collapsed in the rain for lack of lime (WJH I: 69); and he went out of his way to make Morton appear wrong here. With Weymouth geologist William Bowman this editor has been to the site at Uttaquatock: it does "face the Weymouth Fore River," as Adams confesses after denigrating Morton's location of this stone; but that river at this point is not separable from the Monatoquit. Adams knew this about his "backyard." Original Canaan spelling: "Monatoquinte" (River).

       By Josselyn's Second Voyage c..1663-71 there was yet "great want" of lime in New England (34); although "The Boston Basin" of "small hills, bowls and vales, is run through by a great seam of white crystalline magnesian limestone (dolomite), creating the marble quarries from which [later] settlers obtained lime, or 'Stoneham Marble'" (Stoneham Historical Commission 5). This "seam" is clearly visible on Hitchcock's "Geological Map of Massachusetts”

Chalkstones there are near Squanto's Chapel, showed me by a Salvage. [240]

Chalkstones AC2I 6112: "There are no chalkstones at...Squantum, or anywhere else in this part of the world. Morton may possibly have mistaken pebbles of decayed feldspar for chalk." This editor has found Chalkstone(s) listed in no New England source. Morton may mean Soapstone, a "soft" rock much-used by Native New Englanders (Bain/Meyerhoff 129-131).

Squanto's Chapel The name not from the man Tisquantum/Squanto (Canaan Book III), but as a corrupt form of Squantum. Some sources locate this as a rock-formation among huge boulders along the southern shore of Moswetusett Hummock, a land-form next to Squantum Peninsula: others say it is "one and the same" formation as Squa Rock. See Meet Thomas Morton on this website.

There is abundance of excellent Slate in diverse places of the country; and the best that ever I beheld for covering of houses, and the inhabitants have made good use of these materials for building. [241]

Slate AC 216n4: "There is some slate in Quincy and Weymouth that might be used for roofing, and a quarry of it was long worked...for gravestones, etc., on Squantum Bay...but it is slate of a very poor sort." Despite these industries, Adams says "The nearest workable slate is in Vermont and Maine," as if he has corrected another inaccuracy. See Crosby "Contributions" 209-11: in Morton's own vicinity of Hough's Neck and Raccoon Island (for ex.) there are "homogenous, gray, sandy" varieties of slate also found "all along" the present-day Adams Street and Adams Creek

There is a very useful Stone in the land, and as yet there is found out but one place where they may be had in the whole country. Old Woodman (that was choked at Plimoth after he had played the unhappy marksman when he was pursued by a careless fellow that was new-come into the land) they say labored to get a patent of it to himself. He was beloved of many, and had many sons, that had a mind to engross that commodity. And I cannot espy any mention made of it in the woodden prospect. [242]

This “useful stone” is Whetstone, found most in the Smithfield RI area (Hitchcock 213). See below. Morton jibes again at William Wood's Prospect.

Old Woodman As told in Bradford's History (FBH2: 110-12), early Plimoth colonist John Billington was hanged in Sept. 1630 for killing one "John New-comin." He "had two sons, but...was by no means 'beloved,’ claims AC 217, for Bradford (for one) found him "a knave...and so [he] will live and die." Perhaps Morton dubs him "Old Woodman" as a joke on his outdoorsman's skills; which, at least at Plimoth, seemed impressive (he stumbled onto "Billington Pond" while famously lost in the backyard)

Therefore I begin to suspect his [243] aim; that it was for himself, and therefore will I not discover it. It is the Stone so much commended by Ovid, because love delighteth to make his habitation in a building of those materials; where, he advises, those that seek for love do it Duris in Cotibus ilium.

his Possibly Wood's, who scarcely mentions "Minerals" in his Chapter 5 despite its title; though he does list (118) the words Cos ("the nails") and Ketottug ("a whetstone")

Duris in Cotibus ilium Latin, from Virgil’s Eclogues 8, 43 (rather than from Ovid), meaning "'Mid the savage rocks," in his love-forlorn description of the "harsh" birthplace of "cruel" Eros

This Stone the Salvages do call Cos and of these (on the north end of Richmond Island) are store, and those are very excellent good for edged tools. I envy not his [244] happiness. I have been there, viewed the place, liked the commodity; but will not plant so northerly for that nor any other commodity that is there to be had.

Cos Connors (68): "Cos is the Latin word for any hard, flinty stone, especially the whetstone" (cites Cassell's Latin Dictionary).

his Likely another reference to former Ma-re Mount indentured servant Walter Bagnall, who found apparent "happiness" on Maine's Richmond Island after Morton's 1630 arrest; lived on this "Isle of Bacchus" (noted by Champlain for its natural riches, beauty and closeness to fishing-grounds: Duncan 112); and with one "John P---" was killed by Native braves in 1631 (WJH 1:69). Full study of him and other servants' fates in Thomas Morton (196-198). Morton's puns on Cos link together poetic phrases for erotic attraction (see Connors Morton 68, 144n27) and the hint that a "Whetstone of love" between a pair of lovers could make full-time life there, "'mid the savage rocks," more bearable, and so commercially viable

There are Loadstones also in the northern parts of the land; and those which were found are very good, and are a commodity worth the noting. [245]

Loadstones or “lodestones” are usually chunks of magnetically-charged iron oxide. AC 219: "None of these are known to me nearer than in the [westerly] Berkshire Hills...in Cumberland RI there is some iron of this nature”

Ironstones there are abundance; and several sorts of them known. [246]

Ironstones AC219: "No ironstones are known around Massachusetts Bay: the nearest deposits are in Rhode Island." Levett (1623) reported Ironstones (in Levermore 2: 630)

Lead ore is there likewise, and hath been found by the breaking of the earth, which the frost hath made mellow. [247]

Lead Ore AC 219: "Small quantities of galena ore have been found in Woburn and that vicinity....Near Newburyport...the savages [sic] may have found small quantities." Bain/Meyerhoff list "veins" in Hatfield, Leverett. Whately and Williamsburg (MA)

Black Lead I have likewise found very good, which the Salvages use paint their faces with. [248]

Black Lead Also known as Plumbago, or Graphite (Hitchcock 220). AC 219: "found in Wrentham and in Worcester, MA, as well as...Rhode Island." See Thomas Morton Chapter 5 on Native American ceremonial and other uses of "red ochre" since at least the Archaic periods; also Dickason and Tuck cited there. These substances Morton likely saw as interchangeable with his next three entries. In Mourt's Relation (27) the Pilgrims' first shore-party found a sailor's and child's grave on Cape Cod covered in "red powder...a kind of enbalment" which "yielded a strong but no offensive smell: it was as fine as any flour”

Red Lead is there likewise in great abundance. [249]

Red Lead an ochre used as above (Hitchcock 216)

There is very excellent Boll Armoniack. [250]

Boll Armoniack Major Diss. 202nl: a "reddish clay." AC 219n6: "the Bolus armeniaca of the old apothecaries, Bolus is the prefix to several old pharmaceutical names…come to be a given term for all lumpy substances. Here it means a sort of reddish clay...used for marking----a clayey ochre such as...from about Providence”

There is most excellent Vermilion. All these things the Salvages make some little use of, and do find them on the circumference of the Earth. [251]

Vermilion AC 219: "Vermilion oxide of mercury is not known to occur this side of the Rocky Mountains. It is likely that he mistook some brilliant ochre for true vermilion," Adams adds, though Morton may have seen "true vermilion" via trade networks that also carried copper etc. from Western and Great Lakes regions

Brimstone mines there are likewise. [252]

Brimstone AC 219: "Brimstone, or sulphur, does not exist in its metallic state this side of the Cordilleras. He may have seen some pyrite bearing schists, such as...in Maine, which in dumping give a sulphuric smell." This editor finds no references to such in New England

Mines of Tin are likewise known to be in those parts which will in short time be made use of; and this cannot be accompted a mean commodity. [253]

Tin AC 219: “does not occur in this region. Some localities are known in Maine and elsewhere in New England [sic], but they could hardly have been found by the Savages [sic], or known to Morton [sic]." Hitchcock 205-6: evidences found in the areas of Beverly and Chesterfield MA: "I am able to say with perfect confidence that this interesting metal exists in Massachusetts; but can add little more" than assorted minor evidences

Copper mines are there found likewise that will enrich the Inhabitants. But until their young Cattle be grown hardy laborers in the yoke, that the plough and the wheat may be seen more plentifully, it is a work must be forborne. [254]

Copper AC 219: "does not occur about Massachusetts Bay. A very little...in Cumberland RI, in the valley of the Blackstone River." Hitchcock (706) lists finds in Turner's Falls and Westhampton MA; and in Granby CT. Connecticut archaeologists David Wagner and David Ostrowski have unearthed (1998-9) many Native-copper artifacts: see the first “America” pages of this website.

They say there is a silver and a gold mine found by Captain Littleworth: if he get a patent of it to himself, he will surely change his name. [255]

Silver AC 219: "No silver, except when combined with lead and zinc ore, has ever been found in this district." Without having defined district Adams then reports silver found "from Woburn to Newburyport" (MA).
Gold AC 219: "The nearest localities for metallic gold are the streams of Vermont, New Hampshire, and western Maine, in which district [sic] placer gold occurs in considerable quantities, and some auriferous quartz veins."  Hitchcock offers a full geological treatment of the "Idle Search for Gold and Silver" in New England (207): there were small gold mines in Worcester, Sterling and Mendon (MA), but the Northeast never yielded the "cities of gold" rumored in the early name, Norumbega.
Captain Littleworth Captain John Endecott or Endicott, Puritan colonist of Salem (see Thomas Morton Chapters 8-10). Connors reports (66, 144n26, no citation) that a John Winthrop letter of 1648 says that Endicott found a copper mine "not at Salem but on the Ipswich River in Boxford and Topsfield": see also Mayo 195-6
  

    

CHAPTER VII.

Of the Fishes,

and What Commodity They Prove.

Among Fishes, first I will begin with the Cod, because it is the most commodious of all fish, as may appear by the use which is made of them in foreign parts. [256]

Cod Pauganaut-tamwock or the Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua). As with animals above, the reader is cautioned that English terms for American fishes may refer to creatures not in fact the same. McClane's Standard Fishing Encyclopedia offers detailed taxonomical, historical, literary, and practical "angling" information, including excerpts from Izaak Walton's 1653 Compleat Angler, whose well-read and philosophical narrator is much like Morton as an English "sportsman."
     On Native New England relations with all these creatures see for example Russell, Wilbur, and Speck/Dexter's "Utilization of Marine Life by the Wampanoag." The Native name of today's "Lake Manchaug" in Nipmuc territories near Webster was Lake Chargoggagoggmanchoggagogg, a site favored for intertribal gatherings among Nipmuc, Pequot, Narragansett, Mohegan and other peoples. Its name means "You fish on your side, I fish on my side, nobody fishes in the middle”

The Cod fishing is much used in America (whereof New England is a part), in so much as 300 sail of ships from diverse parts have used to be employed yearly in that trade, I have seen in one harbour next Richmond Island 15 sail of ships at one time, that have taken in them dried Cod for Spain and the Straits; and it has been found that the sailors have made 15, 18, 20, 22p. share for a common man.

The coast aboundeth with such multitudes of Cod that the inhabitants of New England do dung their grounds with Cod; and it is a commodity better than the golden mines of the Spanish Indies, for without dried Cod the Spaniard, Portingal and Italian would not be able to vittle of a ship for the sea. And I am sure at the Canaries it is the principal commodity, which place lyeth near New England very convenient for the vending of this commodity, one hundred of these being at the price of 300 of New found land Cod. Great store of train-oil is made of the livers of the Cod, and it is a commodity that without question will enrich the inhabitants of New England quickly; and is therefore a principal commodity. [257]

train-oil "Cod Liver Oil," though the name was also given to oil from whales. AC221: "perhaps the first mention in America of [it], now so much used in medicine.” John Smith’s 1616 Description of New England makes many similar points on Cod ("abundant" from March to "half June") and other fishing "well worth the labor" (Barbour 1: 330, 334)

The Bass is an excellent Fish, both fresh and salt: one hundred whereof salted (at a market) have yielded 5p. They are so large, the head of one will give a good eater a dinner, and for daintiness of diet they excel the marybones of beef. There are such multitudes that I have seen stopped into the river close adjoining to my house, with a stand at one tide, so many as will load a ship of 100 tons. [258]

marybones of beef possibly marrowbones: a 1634 source cited in OED reads, "What I knock out now is the very Maribone of mirth."

River...house likely the Neponset River

Other places have greater quantities, insomuch as wagers have been laid that one should not throw a stone in the water, but that he should hit a fish. [259]

Bass Missuckeke-kequock likely the Striped Bass (Roccus saxatilis), which spawns in quiet tidal areas of fresh or brackish water (McClane 896). Bass grow throughout life and at age 28 can reach 50-70 lbs. Wood (55): "one of the best" fish of the country, he "never tired" of it

I myself at the turning of the tide have seen such multitudes pass out of a pond, that it seemed to me that one might go over their backs drishod.

These follow the bait up the rivers, and sometimes are followed for bait and chased into the bays and shallow waters by the grand pise [260] ; and these may have also a prime place in the catalogue of commodities. The Mackerels are the bait for the Bass, and these have been chased into the shallow waters, where so many thousands have shot themselves ashore with the surf of the sea that whole hogsheads have been taken up on the sands; and for length they excel any of other parts. They have been measured 18 and 19 inches in length, and seven in breadth; and are taken with a drayle (as boats use to pass to and fro at sea on business) in very great quantities all along the Coast. [261]

presumably, the Striped Bass. AC222: "perhaps the Bluefish" (which also follows "bait" or smaller fish "up the rivers.")

grand pise (orig. spelling pife). Poss. the Northern Pike (Esox lucius) is meant, which also feeds "voraciously" in this way (McClane 625-6). AC223n1: "an expression...wholly passed out of use, or...a misprint." Adams surmises that Morton here "characteristically coined [an unspecified] word from the Latin, and here meant to refer to the various large fish in New England waters, such as the Horse Mackerel (Thymnus secundo dorsalis), the Mackerel Shark (Lamma punctata), and the common Dogfish (Acanthias americanus), all of which follow schools of mackerel, bass, and other fish into shoal waters and prey upon them." Also poss. the Grampus (Grampus griseus: Schwartz)

Mackerels Wawwhunnekesuog (Scomber scombrus) and/or Club Mackerel (Pneumatophorus colias): Quinn ENEV 164n53. Wood (56) reports a "great" 18-inch mackerel of the coast and a smaller one taken with drails, May-August.

drayle or drail, a long fishing-line weighted to be dragged along at a depth

The Fish is good salted for store against the winter as well as fresh, and to be accounted a good commodity.

This Sturgeon in England is regalis piscis. Every man in New England may catch what he will, there are multitudes of them. And they are much fatter than those that are brought into England from other parts, insomuch as by reason of their fatness they do not look white, but yellow, which made a cook presume they were not so good as them of Roushea. Silly fellow that could not understand that it is the nature of fish salted or pickled, the fatter the yellower being best to preserve. [262]

Sturgeon Kauposh-shauog likely the Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus), found from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico.

regalia piscis Latin, "fish for a king”

For the taste I have warrant of Ladies of worth, with choice palates for the commendations, who liked the taste so well that they esteemed it beyond the Sturgeon of other parts, and said they were deceived in the looks: therefore let the Sturgeon pass for a commodity.

Of Salmons there is great abundance; and these may be allowed for a commodity, and placed in the catalogue. [263]

Salmon Mishquammauquock Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar): Josselyn (TV 78) also saw "white" salmon. This is the same fish found in British streams (McClane 226), from the shores of West Country counties to the Scottish border: and the "Devon minnow" is a good fly-fishing bait for them. See also Carlson, "The (In)Significance of Atlantic Salmon in New England”

Of Herrings there is great store, fat, and fair; and (to my mind) as good as any I have seen, and these may be preserved and made a good commodity at the Canaries. [264]

Herring the Atlantic Herring (Clupea harengus harengus), found from Greenland to North Carolina. Major (Dias. 20501): "probably the same fish described by John Pory as 'herring, or old wives,' which, he says, 'come up...in infinite schools into a small river running under the town [Plimoth], the water...not above half a foot deep. Yea, when a heap of stones is reared up against them a foot high above the water, they leap and tumble over, and will not be beaten back with cudgels…. The inhabitants during the said two months take them up every day in hogsheads, and with those they eat not, they manure the ground, burying 2 or 3 in each hill of corn, and may...lade whole ships with them (citing Burrage, Pory's Lost Description of Plymouth 38)"

Of Eels there is abundance, both in the Salt-waters and in the fresh; and the freshwater Eel there (if I may take the judgment of a London fishmonger) is the best that he hath found in his lifetime. I have with jieele pots fed my household (being nine persons, besides dogs) with them, taking them every tide for 4 months space and preserving of them for winter store; and these may prove a good commodity. [265]

Eels (Anguilla rostrata)---see note at this chapter’s end for several varieties.

jieele possible misprint for "11 eelpots” (eel-traps): AC224's text reads "with 2 eele potts”

Of Smelts there is such abundance that the Salvages do take them up in the rivers with baskets, like sieves. [266]

Smelts various species of the Family Osmeridae, both salt and fresh water varieties found in the Arctic, Atlantic and rivers

There is a Fish by some called Shad, by some Alewives, that at the spring of the year pass up the rivers to spawn in the ponds; and are taken in such multitudes in every river that hath a pond at the end, that the Inhabitants dung their ground with them. You may see in one township a hundred acres together set with these fish, every acre taking 1000 of them; and an acre thus dressed will produce and yield so much corn as 3 acres without fish; and lest any Virginia man would infer hereupon that the ground of New England is barren, because they use no fish in setting their corn, I desire them to be remembered, the cause is plain in Virginia: they have it not to set. But this practice is only for the Indian Maize (which must be set by hands), not for English grain; and this is therefore a commodity there. [267]

Shad (Alosa sapidissima---Quinn ENEV 164n55), of the Family Clupeidae. Like Salmon, Shad ascend coastal rivers to spawn; and New England's Salmon and Connecticut Rivers north of Hartford are held "the meccas of shaddom" fishing (McClane 23).
Alewives (Alosa pseudoharengus) Though the archaeology of "Sandy's Point" in Yarmouth, Cape Cod (by UMASS-Boston) showed conclusively that Native Americans used fish as crop fertilizer before European contact, works by Ceci and Nanepashemet offer cultural and historical debate on the issue

There is a large-sized fish called Halibut, or Turbut: some are taken so big that two men have much ado to hale them into the boat, but there is such plenty, that the fishermen only eat the heads and fins, and throw away the bodies. Such in Paris would yield 5 or 6 crowns apiece; and this is no discommodity. [268]

Halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus)
Turbut America’s Scophthalmus maximus, “highly esteemed by continental epicures for its firm, delicate white flesh" (McClane 953)---other species from the Black Sea to the Baltic. Though Wood (55) makes the same comparison of fishes (both of them reaching "2 yards long, I yard wide, a foot thick"), Major says that they are "not really" the same---"the halibut is the larger fish and probably... meant here" (Diss. 206 n.1)

There are excellent Plaice and easily taken. They (at flowing water) do almost come ashore, so that one may step but half a foot deep and prick them up on the sands; and this may pass with some allowance. [269]

Plaice likely the Flounder: a well-known European and American flatfish of the Family Pleuronectidae

Hake is a dainty white fish, and excellent vittle fresh; and may pass with other commodities, because there are multitudes. [270]

Hake English term from the Norwegian "hookfish" so-named for its hooked under-jaw like a salmon's or trout's; of the genus Physic, many subspecies inhabit the Atlantic (OED)

There are great store of Pilchers: at Michelmas, in many places, I have seen the Cormorants in length 3 miles feeding upon the Sent. [271]

Pilchers AC226n3: "Morton probably means the Menhaden (Brevoortia). The European Pilchard, the adult of the Sardine, is not found on our coast." But the Western Atlantic's false Pilchard, Harengula clupeola, is, like many other "herrings" of the genus (McClane 680).

Michaelmas Anglican Church Feast of St. Michael (September 29).

Cormorants Kitsuog (Phalacrocorax carbo carbo) may also be the Double-crested Cormorant (P. auritus auritus)---Quinn ENEV 306n3. AC226n4 lists it as P. dilophus.
Sent Not listed in OED: possibly floating vegetation, in which small fish hide

Lobsters are there infinite in store in all the parts of the land, and very excellent. The most use that I made of them in 5 years after I came there was but to bait my hook for to catch Bass, I had been so cloyed with them the first day I went ashore. [272]

Lobsters (Homarus americanus---Quinn ENEV 307n9). Rev. Higginson (Force 1, 12, 9) also saw 16-25 lb. lobsters "great, and fat, and lussious"; but he too was soon "cloyed" with them

This being known, they shall pass for a commodity to the inhabitants; for the Salvages will meet 500 or 1000 at a place where Lobsters come in with the tide, to eat and save dried for store, abiding in that place feasting and sporting a month or 6 weeks together.

There are great store of Oysters in the entrance of all Rivers: they are not round as those of England, but excellent fat, and all good. I have seen an Oyster bank a mile at length. [273]

Oysters (Crassostrea virginica)

Mussles there are infinite store. I have often gone to Wessaguscus where were excellent Mussles to eat (for variety), the fish is so fat and large. [274]

Mussles modern sp. Mussels---of the Family Mytilidae of bivalve mollusks---possibly the Common Mussle (Mytilus edulis), or Elliptio complanata (a New World freshwater clam of the genus Unio). They must be cooked on the same day gathered from rocks at low tide

Clams is a shellfish which I have seen sold in Westminster for 1 p. the score. These our swine feed upon; and of them there is no want, every shore is full. It makes the swine prove exceedingly, they will not fail at low water to be with them. The Salvages are much taken with the delight of this fish; and are not cloyed (notwithstanding the plenty). For our swine we find it a good commodity. [275]

Clams Of many edible ones, the best-known are Mya arenaria, found from the Arctic to Cape Hatteras, and related to the Quahog or Hard-Shell Clam (Mercenaria mercenaria). See Wilbur (Handicrafts) on traditions and technologies of the great Native New England Clambake feast (Appanaug), including requisite foods and their best positions in the bake-pits

Razorfishes there are. [276]

Razorfishes A bivalve mollusk of the genus Solen or Family Solenidae, with a shell long and narrow like the handle of a straight-razor. Common on New England beaches

Freeles there are, Cockles, and Scallops, and diverse other sorts of Shellfish, very good food. [277]

Freeles The OED's single entry (no meaning) for this word is Morton's use of it here
Cockles likely clams---see Quinn ENEV's careful distinctions among shellfishes
Scallops Bay or Rough Scallops (Aequipectum irrandians) or the Deep Sea Scallop (Placopecten magellanicus---ENEV 165n65). On shellfish see also Wood (Ch. 9), Josselyn Rarities 157-67, and TV 79

Now that I have showed you what commodities are there to be had in the sea for a market, I will show what is in the land also, for the comfort of the inhabitants, wherein it doth abound. And because my task is an abstract, I will discover to them the commodity thereof.

There are in the rivers and ponds very excellent Trouts, Carps, Breams, Pikes, Roches, Perches, Tenches, Eels and other fishes, such as England doth afford, and as good for variety; yea many of them much better; and the Natives of the inland parts do buy hooks of us to catch them with, and I have known the time that a Trout's hook hath yielded a beaver skin, which hath been a good commodity to those that have bartered them away. [278]

Trouts possibly the American native Rainbow Trout (Salmo gairdneri); or Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush): the migratory species is the Steelhead Trout.
Carps (Cyprinus carpio), an “Old World Minnow” introduced: Morton may mean an English species, Carassius carassius
Breams slang for various species of Sunfish, pronounced "brim." In Europe the Bronze Bream (Abramis brama) is a "large gamefish of sluggish freshwaters"
Pikes of the Family Esocidae (like Northern Pike above): with its long jaws and body, its "malevolent eye," it is known as "Luce the waterwolf" (McClane 625)
Roches the Roach (Rutilus rutilus): sought by European anglers more than any other gamefish, its capture "requires some skill" (McClane 727)
Perches a common European/British Isles food-fish, Perca fluviatilis; possibly P. americana, the Yellow Perch
Tenches Tinca tinca, another favorite of European anglers, a "good fighter"
Eels species include the American or Silver Eel (Anguilla rostrata), the European A. vulgaris (of fresh water), and the Snake Eel (Family Ophichthidae, related to Morays, and often mistaken for the Sea Snake). Spotted Cusk Eels (30-odd species, Otophidium taylori) inhabit deep salt waters

These things I offer to your consideration (courteous Reader) and require you to show me the like in any part of the known world, if you can.

 

 


C
HAPTER VIII.

Of the Goodness

of the Country and the Waters.

Now since it is a country so infinitely blest with food, and fire to roast or boil our Flesh and Fish, why should any man fear for cold there, in a country warmer in the winter than some parts of France, and nearer the sun; unless he be one of those that Solomon bids go to the Ant and the Bee. [279]

In The Bible "Solomon" makes no such "bid," and it is unlikely that the Israelite king ever alluded to Greek Aesop's Ant and Bee (Lenaghan ed.); so Morton's meaning seems uncertain.
     AC229n1: In noting Morton's share of this period's "strong spirit of emulation" among the respective writers of early Virginia and New England, each boasting of "their" country's superior conditions, Adams points out that "It is needless to point out" that "staunch New Englander" Morton was led by that spirit into “ludicrously wild” statements in these chapters

There is no boggy ground known in all the country, from whence the sun may exhale unwholesome vapors. But there are diverse aromatical herbs and plants, as Sassafras, Musk Roses, Violets, Balm, Laurel, Honeysuckles and the like, that with their vapors perfume the air; and it has been a thing much observed that ships have come from Virginia where there have been scarce five men able to hale a rope, until they have come within 40 degrees of latitude, and smelt the sweet air of the shore, where they have suddenly recovered. [280]

vapors In Renaissance meteorology a “moisture subtly” which “the sun…draweth up” into the air (Wm. Caxton's 1481 Mirrour of the World: qtd. in Heninger 48). Following the form of medieval encyclopedias based in Aristotle's natural philosophy and organized around the "four elements," Book II includes meteorological considerations with its study of "mundane phenomena such as...plants and non-human animals" (Heninger 5)

And for the water, therein it excelleth Canaan by much; for the land is so apt for fountains, a man cannot dig amiss. Therefore if the Abrahams and Lots of our times come thither, there needs be no contention for wells. [281]

Morton's satire (mostly in Book III) begins to surface, this remark probably written c.1635-7, when he was back in England in court against leading Puritans. Here his likely targets were Thomas Hooker as Abraham and John Cotton as Lot (Thomas Morton Ch. 9), since the former was by now breaking away from Boston for Connecticut, while Cotton remained there amid "Antinomian" and other church and civil controversies, and exhorting Englishmen to "come out of Sodom" (as echoed below)

Besides there are waters of most excellent virtues, worthy admiration. [282]

marginal glosses to these pages: "Foode and Fire. Noe boggs. Perfum'd aire with sweet herbes. Of Waters. The cure of mellancolly at Ma-re Mount. The cure of Barrennesse. New England excels Canaan in fountaines. Milk and Honey supplied. A plain parallel to Canaan.”

At Ma-re Mount, there was a water (by me discovered) that is most excellent for the cure of Melancolly probatum. [283]

probatum Latin, "tested," "certified," "established." AC229n2: "There is no natural spring of any kind at Mount Wollaston, though water is easily obtained by digging." Higginson (9): "at Masathulets [sic] they digged Wels and found Water at three foote deepe in most places”

At Weenasemute is a water, the virtue whereof is to cure barrenness. The place taketh his name of that fountain which signifieth quick spring, or quickning spring probatum. [284]


Weenasemute or Winnisimmet AC229n3 (Trumbull) Ashim or asim is used once by Eliot (Indian Bible: Canticles 4:12) for "fountain" or "spring": "it denotes a place from which water (for drinking) is taken. Winn'ashim, or Winn'asini, means 'the good fountain,' or spring; and Winn’asim-rat (or -et) is ‘at the good spring.’” This water’s power, Trumbull adds, was possibly "embellishment" but "not unprobably an Indian belief”

Near Squanto's Chapel (a place so by us called) is a fountain that causeth a dead sleep for 48 hours to those that drink 24 ounces at a draught, and so proportionably. The Salvages that are Powahs at set times use it, and reveal strange things to the vulgar people by means of it. So that in the delicacy of waters, and the conveniency of them, Canaan came not near this Country. [285]

Squanto's Chapel Seaside boulder-formation near Boston's Squantum

As for the Milk and Honey which that Canaan flowed with, it is supplied by the plenty of birds, beasts and fish, whereof Canaan could not boast herself.

Yet nevertheless (since the Milk came by the industry of the first Inhabitants), let the cattle be cherished that are at this time in New England, and forborne but a little, I will ask no long time; no more but until the Brethren have converted one Salvage and made him a good Christian, and I may be bold to say, butter and cheese will be cheaper there than ever it was in Canaan. It is cheaper there than in old England at this present, for there are store of cows, considering the people: which (as my intelligence gives) is 12,000 persons. And in God's name let the people have their desire, who write to their friends to come out of Sodom to the land of Canaan, a land that flows with Milk and Honey. [286]

This wager appears specious, but the figure agrees with Captain John Mason's (Preston 307: Thomas Morton Ch. 9). AC230nl: "This is a gross exaggeration ....When the New Canaan was published, however, in 1637, the [English] population undoubtedly was as large as 12,000." Bragdon (People 25) estimates the same figure for Native peoples at approximately the same time

And I appeal to any man of judgment whether it be not a land that for her excellent endowments of nature may pass for a plain parallel to Canaan of Israel, being in a more temperate climate, this being in 40 degrees and that in 30. [287]

gloss: "The Request for the Nomination of New Canaan." See Note 308

 

 

CHAPTER IX.

A Perspective to View the Country by.

As for the Soil, I may be bold to commend the fertility thereof, and prefer it before the soil of England (our Native Country), arid I need not to produce more than one argument for proof thereof, because it is so infallible.

Hemp is a thing by husbandmen in general agreed upon to prosper best in the most fertile soil; and experience hath taught this rule, that Hempseed prospers so well in New England, that it shooteth up to be ten foot high and ten foot and a half, which is twice so high as the ground in old England produceth it, which argues New England the more fertile of the two. [288]

AC 187n2: “very questionable.” Wood (35): For the natural soil, I prefer it before the country of Surrey or Middlesex, which if they were not enriched with continual manurings would be less fertile than the meanest ground in New England." Higginson (6): "fertility" here is "scarce to be believed”

As for the Air, I will produce but one proof for the maintenance of the excellency thereof; which is so general, as I assure myself it will suffice.

No man living there was ever known to be troubled with a cold, a cough, or a murre, but many men coming sick out of Virginia to New Canaan have instantly recovered with the help of the purity of that air; no man ever surfeited himself either by eating or drinking. [289]

Brereton's 1602 Relation: "[Amid] the wholesomeness and temperature of this climate...we found our health and strength all the while we remained there so to renew and increase as, notwithstanding our diet and lodging was none of the best, yet not one of our company...felt the least grudging or inclination to any disease or sickness" (rpt. in Wright). As Kolodny points out (Land 67), early Mass. Bay's Rev. Higginson (his Plantation in Force 1) heartily agreed about these "airs," though he died next year (1630) of pneumonia. Most such claims had come down to earth by Josselyn's 1670s accounts of New England health (for examples, Lindholdt 127)

As for the plenty of that land, it is well-known that no part of Asia, Africa or Europe affordeth deer that do bring forth any more than one single fawn; and in New Canaan the deer are accustomed to bring forth 2 and 3 fawns at a time. Besides there are such infinite flocks of fowl, and multitudes of fish both in the fresh waters and also on the coast, that the like hath not elsewhere been discovered by any traveler.

The Winds there are not so violent as in England; which is proved by the trees that grow in the face of the wind by the seacoast, for there they do not lean from the wind as they do in England, as we have heard before.

The Rain is there more moderate than in England, which thing I have noted in all the time of my residence to be so.

The Coast is lowland, and not highland; and he is of a weak capacity that conceiveth otherwise of it, because it cannot be denied but that boats may come aground in all places along the coast, and especially within the compass of the Massachusetts patent, where the prospect is fixed. [290]

where the prospect is fixed This editor cannot clarify the phrase. AC 233n1 contradicts Morton with Wood's remark in New England's Prospect that "the approach to Boston Bay from Cape Anne" passes by "many white cliffs" of high coastland. In the same passage (26), Wood adds that the coast also abounds with "diverse" lowland places where streams empty, and that "many" offer good harbor.

marginal gloss: "The Nomination."

The Harbors are not to be bettered for safety, and goodness of ground for anchorage. And (which is worthy observation) shipping will not there be furred. Neither are they subject to worms, as in Virginia and other places.

Let the Situation also of the country be considered, together with the rest which is discovered in the front of this abstract, and then I hope no man will hold this land unworthy to he entitled by the name of the second Canaan.

And since the Separatists are desirous to have the denomination thereof, I am become an humble Suitor on their behalf for your consents (courteous Readers) to it, before I do show you what Revels they have kept in New Canaan.
     

  

 

 

CHAPTER X.

Of the Great Lake of Erocoise in New England,
and the Commodities Thereof.

Westwards from the Massachusetts Bay (which lyeth in 42 degrees and 30 minutes of northern latitude) is situated a very spacious lake called of the Natives the Lake of Erocoise, which is far more excellent than the Lake of Genezereth in the Country of Palestine, both in respect of the greatness and properties thereof, and likewise of the manifold commodities it yieldeth. [291]

“The Lake of the Iroquois” or Lake Champlain. Before the region’s next English explorer Henry Josselyn below, one Captain Walter Neal in 1630 apparently followed Morton (in service of Sir Ferdinando Gorges) thus inland, to "make available the 'lakes,' either Champlain or Winnepesaukee and the headwaters of...Merrimac, where beaver were abundant" (WJH1: 54). As Morton wrote Canaan, Neal was "governor of Piscataqua" (NH) and apparently worked with Puritan Mass. Bay against the Morton/Gardiner legal suit (Book III---see also WJH1: 64)

The circumference of which lake is reputed to be 240 miles at the least, and it is distant from the Massachusetts Bay 300 miles or thereabouts; wherein are very many fair islands, where innumerable flocks of several sorts of fowl do breed, swans, geese, ducks, widgens, teals, and other waterfowl. [292]

Lake Champlain occupies 435 square miles; is 110 miles long, and has a maximum width of 14 miles (1/2 mile wide at narrowest point)

There are also more abundance of beavers, deer, and turkeys bred about the parts of that lake than in any place in all the country of New England; and also such multitudes of fish (which is a great part of the food that the beavers live upon) that it is a thing to be admired at. So that about this lake is the principalst place for a plantation in all New Canaan, both for pleasure and profit. [293]

Winthrop (WJH1: 110): "This [Connecticut] river runs so far northward, that it comes within a day's journey of a part of Merrimack...and so runs thence N.W. so near the Great Lake. as [allows] the Indians to pass their canoes into it over land. From this lake, and the hideous swamps about it, come most of the beaver which is traded between Virginia and Canada, which runs forth of this lake; and Patomack River in Virginia comes likewise out of it, or very near, so as from this lake there comes yearly to the Dutch about ten thousand skins, which might easily be diverted by Merrimack, if a course of trade were settled above in that river." Editor Hosmer: this "geography, based on Indian reports imperfectly understood, is naturally confused”

Here may very many brave Towns and Cities he erected which may have intercourse one with another by water, very commodiously: and it is of many men of good judgment accounted the prime seat for the Metropolis of New Canaan. From this lake northwards is derived the famous River of Canada, so named of Monsier de Cane, a French Lord that first planted a colony of French in America, there called Nova Francia. From whence Captaine Kerke of late, by taking that plantation, brought home in one ship (as a seaman of his company reported in my hearing) 25,000 beaver-skins. [294]

River of Canada most likely, the St. Lawrence River.

deCane AC 234n2 cites Parkman's Pioneers of France (184, 391-5) that "The two brothers, William and Emery de Caen, became prominent" as "settlers" of Canada in 1621 "and remained so for a number of years"; but that neither founded a colony nor gave his name to this river. Josselyn's Rarities (5) agrees with Morton's derivation.
Kerke English forces (by a 1627 declaration of war) led by Louis Kerke held French Quebec from July 1629 to July 1632 (Major Diss. 214n1).
skins AC236n1; "The number of beaver-skins carried to England by Kirke was seven thousand" (citing Kirke's First English Conquest of Canada 85)

And from this lake southwards trends that goodly river called of the Natives Patomack, which dischargeth herself in the parts of Virginia, from whence it is navigable by shipping of great burden up to the falls (which lieth in 41 degrees and a half of north latitude); and from the lake down to the falls by a fair current. This river is navigable for vessels of good burden; and thus much hath often been related by the Natives, and is of late found to be certain. [295]

Patomack 'Though Adams says it is "unnecessary to say" that Morton here "confounds the Potomac with the Hudson," it is possible (especially since, further on, he does state facts correctly about the Hudson) that this "Indian name" was applied to many rivers in Eastern Algonquian linguistic territories. There is resemblance between the word for any river (potomac) and the general term in Greek, potamos (see Book I Chapter 1's other examples); another reason for Morton to recall it thus 8-10 years after these conversations.
falls AC 236n2: "probably those of Niagara. They had not then been discovered," Adams writes (citing Parkman Jesuits 142). "Although vague reports" had come from the Indians, and the falls "are plainly indicated on Champlain's map of 1629....It is more than likely that at the house of Gorges Morton saw [the map]....The little he knew [sic] had been obtained in England, after his return there in 1631; for the Massachusetts Indians can hardly have known much of the remote interior...."
     This after AC 219n7: "Many evidences of [their] wide...commerce could he adduced"; and despite the next paragraph's apparent description of buffalo, sometimes found in Eastern Woodland regions. Another more likely map-source treated below, Note 320

They have also made description of great herds of well-grown beasts that live about the parts of this lake, such as the Christian world (until this discovery) hath not been made acquainted with. These beasts are of the bigness of a cow, their flesh being very good food, their hides good leather, their fleeces very useful, being a kind of wool as fine almost as the wool of the Beaver, and the Salvages do make garments thereof.

It is ten years since first the relation of these things came to the ears of the English; at which time we were but slender proficients in the language of the Natives, and they which now have attained to more perfection of English could not then make us rightly apprehend their meaning. [296]

Ten years since… Morton may be harking back (as he writes c. 1635-37) to Samuel Purchas' 1625 collection of reports entitled Hakluytus Posthumus, or Purchas His Pilgrims

We supposed, when they spake of Beasts thereabouts as high as men, they had made report of men all over hairy like Beavers, insomuch as we questioned them, whether they ate of the Beavers. To which they replied, Matta (No), saying they were almost Beaver's Brothers. This relation at that time we concluded to be fruitless, which since, time hath made more apparent.

About the parts of the lake may be made a very great commodity by the trade of furs, to enrich those that shall plant there: a more complete discovery of those parts is (to my knowledge) undertaken by Henry Ioseline, Esquire, son of Sir Thomas Ioseline of Kent, Knight, by the approbation and appointment of that heroic and very good Commonwealth's man, Captain John Mason, Esquire, a true foster-father and lover of virtue; who at his own charge hath fitted Master Ioseline and employed him to that purpose, who no doubt will perform as much as is expected, if the Dutch (by getting into those parts before him) do not frustrate his so hopeful and laudable designs. [297]

Captain John Mason was a fellow-investor in New England colonial enterprises with Sir Ferdinando Gorges: Mason served as "governor" of a short-lived settlement among the "swarming fishermen" c. 1620-21 and continued to inspire others to attempt it till his death amid the Gorges/Morton/Gardiner legal suit against Mass. Bay (Thomas Morton Chs. 8-9). Sir Henry Josselyn, brother of New England writer John Josselyn, came to New England in 1634 and served as deputy governor at Black Point in Maine till his death in 1683

It is well-known they aim at that place, and have a possibility to attain unto the end of their desires therein, by means of the River of Mohegan, which of the English is named Hudson's River, where the Dutch have settled two well-fortified plantations already. If that river be derived from the lake as our countryman in his Prospect affirms it to be, and if they get and fortify this place also, they will glean away the best of the Beaver both from the French and English, who have hitherto lived wholly by it, and very many old planters have gained good estates out of small beginnings by means thereof. [298]

Wood Prospect (25): “The place whereon the English have built their colonies is judged by those who have best skill in discovery either to be an island, surrounded on the north side with the spacious River Canada and on the south with Hudson's River, or else a peninsula, these two rivers overlapping one another, as the Indians do certainly inform us”

And it is well-known to some of our nation that have lived in the Dutch plantation, that the Dutch have gained by Beaver 20,000 pound a year.

The Salvages make report of 3 great rivers that issue out of this lake, two of which are to us known, the one to be Patomack, the other Canada. And why may not the third be found there likewise which they describe to trend westward, which is conceived to discharge herself into the South Sea? The Salvages affirm that they have seen ships in this lake with 4 masts, which have taken from thence for their lading earth, that is conjectured to be some mineral stuff. [299]

See the map based on Adrian Block's New England voyages (in Thomas Morton Illustration 8), which was more available to Englishmen (given their ongoing war with France) than Champlain's, via Willem Janszoon Blaeu's 1635 cartographic milestone Novus Atlas, published in Latin, German, Dutch and French. It shows about 12 rivers reaching the Lake, though none appear to be "Patomac" or "Canada" there. AC 238: "In 1631 no less than 15,174 skins, the greater portion beaver, were exported from the New Netherlands, valued at about 12,000 English pounds" (citing O'Callaghan's New Netherland 139). On the recovery of New England ecosystems eventually almost emptied of their "commodities," see Leahy/Mitchell/Convel's The Nature of Massachusetts (1996)

There is probability enough for this, and it may well be thought that so great a conflux of waters as are there gathered together must be vented by some great rivers; and that if the third river (which they have made mention of) prove to be true as the other two have done, there is no doubt but that the passage to the East India may be obtained without any such dangerous and fruitless inquest by the Norwest, as hitherto hath been endeavored.

And there is no Traveler of any reasonable capacity but will grant that about this lake must be innumerable springs, and by that means many fruitful and pleasant pastures all about it. It hath been observed that the inland parts (witness Neepnet) are more pleasant and fertile than the borders of the seacoast. And the country about Erocoise is (not without good cause) compared to the Delta, the most fertile part in all Aegypt, that aboundeth with rivers and rivulets derived from Nilus' fruitful channel, like veins from the liver. So in each respect is this famous lake of Erocoise. [300]

Neepnet also known as territories of the Nipmuc peoples of central New England. See Canaan note 413 on their tribal locations and differences

   And therefore it would be adjudged an irreparable oversight to protract time, and suffer the Dutch (who are but intruders upon his Majesty’s most hopeful country of New England) to possess themselves of that so pleasant and commodious country of Erocoise before us; being (as appeareth) the principal part of all New Canaan for plantation, and not elsewhere to be paralleled in all the known world.

 

 

NEW CANAAN’S GENIUS.

EPILOGUS.

 

Thou that art by Fate’s decree

Or Providence, ordained to see

Nature’s wonder, her rich store

Ne’er discovered before,

The admired Lake of Erocoise

And fertile borders, now rejoice.

 

See what multitudes of fish

She presents to fit thy dish:

If rich furs thou dost adore,

And of Beaver Fleeces, store,

See the Lake where they abound,

And what pleasures else are found.

 

There chaste Leda, free from fire

Does enjoy her heart’s desire:

‘Mongst the flowery banks at ease

Live the sporting Naiades,

Big-limbed Druids, whose brows

Beautified are with green boughs. [301]

Leda…fire Possibly another evocation of New England's temperate climate. In Graves' bibliography of ancient/Classical sources on Leda (GM1: 206), she is most often the "object" of Zeus' "fire" or lust, and loses her "chaste" status. Perhaps Morton suggests that “respect” will prevent depredation in this (Leda’s) region
Naiades "nymphs" of the forest (vs. Dryads of the seas)
Druids likely the trees themselves, after pre-Christian England's famous religious and learned societies whose calendar(s) and customs were rooted in observant "lore" of trees

 

See the Nymphs, how they do make

Fine Meanders from the Lake,

Twining in and out as they

Through the pleasant groves make way,

Weaving by the shady trees

Curious Anastomases. [302]

Anastomases connected pathways. Also used in 1609's promotional pamphlet Nova Britannia for streams "like veins" (Force 1, 11). See Kolodny on this genre of New World writing

 

Where the harmless Turtles breed,

And such useful beasts do feed

As no Traveler can tell

Elsewhere how to parallel.

 

Colchis’ Golden Fleece reject:

This deserveth best respect.

In sweet Paeans let thy voice

Sing the praise of Erocoise,

Paeans to advance her name,

New Canaan’s everlasting fame. [303]

Colchis, Fleece Sir William Vaughan’s The Golden Fleece (London 1626) had used the Greek myth of Jason's quest in "Colchos" for the Golden Fleece as a metaphor for Northeast American wealth (esp. beaver "fleeces"); and "fleece” in the sense of larceny was not lost upon Vaughan or colleagues including Mason. For a detailed survey of such early poetry see America’s First Poet in English on this website.

   




***

 


  
Dialogue with others
about these subjects.
Back to Homepage On to America's First Poet in English
     

Jump ahead to
Time Line 4:  1630 Through the Pequot War