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The Otter or River-Dog is Amphibious too, he hunteth for his kind in the spring, and bringeth forth his whelps as the Beaver doth, they are generally black, and very numerous, they are hunted in England from Shrovetide untill Midsummer, but in New-England they take them when they can. The skin of an Otter is worth Ten Shillings, and the Gloves made thereof are the best fortification for the hands against wet weather that can be thought of, the furr is excellent for muffs, and is almost as dear as Beaver, the grease of an Otter will make fish turn up their bellies, and is of rare use for many things.

The Hare, I have no more to write of them than that they kindle in hollow Trees. What else concerns him, or any of the fore-mentioned Creatures you have in my New-Englands rarities, to which I refer you.

The Porcupine likewise I have treated of, only this I forgot to acquaint you with, that they lay Eggs, and are good meat. 

The last kind of Beasts are they that are begot by equivocal generation, as Mules and several others, that when the Beasts were brought by the Almighty Creator to Adam, who gave them names, were not then in rerum natura. Of these there are not many known in New-England. I know but of one, and that is the Indian dog begotten betwixt a Wolf and a Fox, or between a Fox and a Wolf, which they made use of, taming of them, and bringing of them up to hunt with, but since the English came amongst them they have gotten store of our dogs, which they bring up and keep in as much subjection as they do their webbs. 

Of birds there are not many more than 120 kinds as our Naturalists have conjectured, but I think they are deceived; they are divided into land-birds and water-birds, the land-birds again into birds of prey, birds for meat, singing-birds and others.

The Pilhannaw is the King of Birds of prey in New-England, some take him to be a kind of Eagle, others for the Indian-Ruck the biggest Bird that is, except the Ostrich. One Mr. Hilton living at Pascataway, had the hap to kill one of them: being by the Sea-side he perceived a great shadow over his head, the Sun shining out clear, casting up his eyes he saw a monstrous Bird soaring aloft in the air, and of a sudden all the Ducks and Geese, (there being then a great many) dived under water, nothing of them appearing but their heads. Mr. Hilton having made readie his piece, shot and brought her down to the ground, how he disposed of her I know not, but had he taken her alive & sent her over into England, neither Bartholomew nor Sturbridge-Fair could have produced such another fight. 

Hawkes there are of several kinds, as Goshawkes, Falcons, Laniers, Sparrow-hawkes, and a little black hawke highly prized by the Indians who wear them on their heads, and is accounted of worth sufficient to ransome a Sagamour: they are so strangely couragious and hardie, that nothing flyeth in the Air that they will not bind with. I have seen them tower so high, that they have been so small that scarcely could they be taken by the eye. Hawkes grease is very good for sore eyes.

The Osprey I have treated of. There is a small Ash-colour Bird that is shaped like a Hawke with talons and beak that falleth upon Crowes, mounting up into the Air after them, and will beat them till they make them cry. 

The Vulture or Geire, which is spoken of in Levit. 11. 14. and called a Gripe, their skins are good to line doublets with, and the bones of their head hung about the neck helpeth the head-ach. 

The Gripe; fee New Englands rarities, and for the Turkie-buzzard.

The Owl the most flagging Bird that is, of which there are three sorts, a great grey Owl with ears, a little grey Owl, and a white Owl, which is no bigger than a Thrush. Plinie writes that the brains of an Owl asswageth the pain & inflammation in the lap of the ear. And that Eggs of an Owl put into the liquour that a tospot useth to be drunk with, will make him loath drunkenness ever after. But now peradventure some will say, what doth this man mean to bring Owls to Athens? verily Sirs I presume to say, had I brought over of the little white Owls they would have been acceptable, they are good mousers, and pretty Birds to look upon; the Athenians, no question are better imployed than to take notice of my Owls, poor ragged Birds they are and want those glistering golden feathers that Draiton's Owl is adorned with, yet they are somewhat of that nature; if an Athenian chance in this season of divertisement to cast an eye upon them I shall be glad, but more glad if he vouchsafe to prune and correct their feathers, which I confess are discomposed for want of Art; plain Birds they are, and fit for none but plain men to manage. Sirs do not mistake me, there's no man living honours an Athenian more than I do, especially where I perceive great abilities concomiting with goodness of nature: A good nature (faith Mr. Perkins) is the Character of God, and God is the father of learning, knowledge, and every good gift, and hath condescended to become a School-master to us poor mortals, furnishing of us with Philosophy, Historie, Divinity by his holy Scriptures, which if we diligently learn and practise, we shall in time be brought into his Heavenly Academy, where we shall have fulness and perfection of knowledge eternally. But there are a Generation of men and women in this prophane age that despise Gods learning and his Ushers to the Athenians, choosing to wallow in the pleasures of sin for a season. I shall conclude this excursion, with that which a Poet writ sometime since, and then return to the trimming of my Owl.

Say thou pour'st them Wheat,
And they would Acorns eat;
Twere simple fury in thee still to wast.
Thy self , on them that have no tast;
No, give them draff their fill,
Husks, Grains and swill
They that love Lees and leave the lustie Wine,
Envy them. their palats with the Swine.


The Raven is here numerous and Crowes, but Rooks, Danes, Popinjaes, Megpies there be none. It is observed that the female of all Birds of prey and Ravin is ever bigger than the male, more venturous, hardy, and watchful: but such Birds as do not live by prey and Ravin, the male is more large than the female. So much for Birds of prey, the next are Birds for the dish, and the first of these is, The Turkie, which is in New-England a very large Bird, they breed twice or thrice in a year, if you would preserve the young Chickens alive, you must give them no water, for if they come to have their fill of water they will drop away strangely, and you will never be able to rear any of them: they are excellent meat, especially a Turkie-Capon beyond that, for which Eight shillings was given, their Eggs are very wholesome and restore decayed nature exceedingly. But the French say they breed the Leprosie; the Indeffes make Coats of Turkie-feathers woven for their Children. 

The Partridge is larger than ours, white flesht, but very dry, they are indeed a sort of Partridges called Grooses. 

The Pidgeon, of which there are millions of millions, I have seen a flight of Pidgeons in the spring, and at Michaelmas when they return back to the Southward for four or five miles, that to my thinking had neither beginning nor ending, length nor breadth, and so thick that I could see no Sun, they joyn Nest to Nest, and Tree to Tree by their Nests many miles together in Pine-Trees. But of late they are much diminished, the English taking them with Nets. I have bought at Boston a dozen of Pidgeons ready pull'd and garbidgd for three pence. Ring-Doves they say are there too, but I could never see any.

The Snow-Bird, is like a Chaf-Finch, go in flocks and are good meat.

The singing Birds are Thrushes with red breasts, which will be very fat and are good meat, so are the Thressels, Filladies are small singing Birds, Ninmurders little yellow Birds. New-England Nightingales painted with orient colours, black, white, blew, yellow, green and scarlet, and sing sweetly, Wood-larks, Wrens, Swallows, who will fit upon Trees, and Starlings black as Ravens with scarlet pinions; other sorts of Birds there are, as the Troculus, Wag-tail, or Dish-water, which is here of a brown colour, Titmouse two or three sorts, the Dunneck or hedge-Sparrow who is starke naked in his winter nest. The golden or yellow hammer, a Bird about the bigness of a Thrush that is all over as red as bloud, Wood-Peckers of two or three sorts, gloriously set out with variety of glittering colours. The Colibry, Viemalin, or rising or waking Bird, an Emblem of the Resurrection, and the wonder of little Birds. 

The water-fowl are these that follow. Hookers or wild-Swans, Cranes, Geese of three sorts, grey, white, and the brant Goose, the first and last are best meat, the white are lean and tough and live a long time; whereupon the proverb, Older than a white Goose; of the skins of the necks of grey Geese with their Bills the Indians makes Mantles and Coverlets sowing them together and they shew prettily. There be four sorts of Ducks, a black Duck, a brown Duck like our wild Ducks, a grey Duck, and a great black and white Duck, these frequent Rivers and Ponds; but of Ducks there be many more sorts, as Hounds, old Wives, Murres, Doies, Shell-drakes, Shoulers or Shoflers, Widgeons, Simps, Teal, Blew wing'd, and green wing'd, Divers or Didapers, or Dip-chicks, Fenduck, Duckers or Moorhens, Coots, Pochards, a water-fowl like a Duck, Plungeons, a kind of water-fowl with a long reddish Bill, Puets, Plovers, Smethes, Wilmotes, a kind of Teal, Godwits, Humilities, Knotes, Red-Shankes, Wobbles, Loones, Gulls, white Gulls, or Sea-Cobbs, Candemandies, Herons, grey Bitterns, Ox-eyes, Birds called Oxen and Keen, Petterels. Kings fishers, which breed in the spring in holes in the Sea-banks, being unapt to propagate in Summer, by reason of the driness of their bodies, which becomes more moist when their pores are closed by cold. Most of these Fowls and Birds are eatable. There are little Birds that frequent the Sea-shore in flocks called Sanderlins, they are about the bigness of a Sparrow, and in the fall of the leaf will be all fat; when I was first in the Countrie the English cut them into small pieces to put into their Puddings instead of suet, I have known twelve score and above kill'd at two shots. I have not done yet, we must not forget the Cormorant, Shape or Sharke; though I cannot commend them to our curious palats, the Indians will eat them when they are sley'd, they take them prettily, they roost in the night upon some Rock that lyes out in the Sea, thither the Indian goes in his Birch-Canow when the Moon shines clear, and when he is come almost to it, he lets his Canow drive on of it self, when he is come under the Rock he shoves his Boat along till he come just under the Cormorants watchman, the rest being asleep, and so foundly so steep that they will snore like so many Piggs; the Indian thrusts up his hand of a sudden, grasping the watchman so hard round about his neck that he cannot cry out; as soon as he hath him in his Canow he wrings off his head, and making his Canow fast, he clambreth to the top of the Rock, where walking softly he takes them up as he pleaseth, still wringing off their heads; when he hath slain as many as his Canow can carry, he gives a shout which awakens the surviving Cormorants, who are gone in an instant.

The next Creatures that you are to take notice of, are they that live in the Element of water. Pliny reckons them to be of 177 kinds, but certainly if it be true that there is no Beast upon Earth, which hath not his like in the Sea, and which (perhaps) is not in some part parallel'd in the plants of the Earth; we may by a diligent search find out many more: of the same opinion is the Poet, who faith that it is 

Affirm' d by some that what on Earth we find
The Sea can paralleI shape and kind.

Divine Dubertus goes further.

You Divine wits of elderdayes, from whom
The deep invention of rare works hath come,
Took you not pattern of our chiefest Tooles
Out of the lap of Thetis, Lakes, and Pools?
Which partly in the Waves, part on the edges
Of craggy Rocks, among their ragged sedges,
Bring forth abundance of Pins, Spincers, spokes.
Pikes, piercers, needles, mallets, pipes & yoaks.
Oars, sails & swords, saws, wedges, razors, rammers
Plumes, cornets, knives, wheels, vices, horns and hammers.



Psalm 104. 25, 26. In ipso mari magno & spatioso, illic reptilia sunt atque innumera animantia parva cum magnis. Illic navea ambulant; balaena quam forfmasti lndendo in eo.

And as the females amongst Beasts and Birds of prey for form and beautie surpass the males, so do they especially amongst fishes; and those I intend to treat of, I shall divide into fast-water fish, and fresh-water fish.

The Sea that Piscina mirabilis affords us the greatest number, of which I shall begin first with the Whale a regal fish, as all fishes of extraordinary size are accounted, of these there are (as I have said in another place) seven kinds, the Ambergreese-/Whale the chiefest. Anno Dom. 1668 the 17 of July there was one of them thrown up on the shore between Winter-harbour and Cape-porpus, about eight mile from the place where I lived, that was five and fifty foot long. They are Creatures of a vast magnitude and strength. The Royal Psalmist, in the 148 psalm, and the 7 verse, makes mention of them. Laudate Jehovam terrestria; Cete (Dracones as some translate it) & omnes abyssi. And Moses in his history of Job, Job 41. 1. An extrahas balaenam hamo, &c. Whereby the subtlety of the Devil is shewed, as also, the greatness and brutishness of the Devil by the Elephant, in the 10 verse of the foregoing Chapter. In the book of Jonas prophecies we read of a great fish, Jonah 1. 17. Pararat autem Jehova piscem magnum, qui obsorberet Jonam,. But whether this were a Whale or not is questioned by some. In the head (faith Mr. Parkinson the Herbalist) of one only sort of Whale-fish is found that which is called sperma Caeti, it lyes in a hole therein, as it were a Well, taken out and prest that the oyl may come out, the substance is that we use for sperma Caeti, and hath little or no smeII, the oyl smells strong. See the rarities of New-England.

The Sea-hare is as big as Grampus or Herrin-hog, and as white as a sheet; There hath been of them in Black-point-Harbour, & some way up the river, but we could never take any of them, several have shot sluggs at them, but lost their labour.

The Sturgeon is a Regal fish too, I have seen of them that have been sixteen foot in length: of their sounds they make Isinglass, which melted in the mouth is excellent to seal letters. 

Sharkes there are infinite store, who tear the Fishermens nets to their great loss and hinderance; they are of two sorts, one flat headed, the other long-snouted, the pretious stone in their heads (soveraign for the stone in a man) so much coveted by the travelling Chirurgeon is nought else but the brains of the flat-headed Sharke. With these we may joyn the Dog-fish or Thorn-hound, who hath two long sharp prickles on his back.

The Sea-horse or Morse is a kind of monster-fish numerous about the Isle of Sables, i. e. The sandy Isle. An Amphibious Creature kill'd for their Teeth and Oyl, never brings forth more than two at a birth; as also doth the Soil and Manate or Cow-fish which is supposed to be the Sea-monster spoken of by Jeremy, Lament. 4. 3. Etiam phocae prabent mammam, laclant catulos fuos; So the Latins render it, phoca a Sea-Calf or Soil.

The small Sword-fish is very good meat, the Sea-bat or Sea-owl a kind of flying fish.

Negroes or Sea-Devils a very ugly fish, having a black scale, there are three sorts of them, one a hideous fish, another about two foot long; of these I have seen store in Black-point Harbour in the water, but never attempted to take any of them. 

Squids a soft fish somewhat like a cudgel, their horns like a Snails, which sometimes are found to be of an incredible length, this fish is much used for bait to catch a Cod, Hacke, Polluck, and the like Sea-fish.

The Dolphin, Bonito, or Dozado, the ashes of their teeth mixed with honey, is good to asswage the pain of breeding teeth in Children.

The Sea-bream, Dorado, or Amber-fish, they follow ships as doth the Dolphin, and are good meat. 

The Mackarel, of which there is choicefull plenty all summer long, in the spring they are ordinarily 18 inches long, afterwards there is none taken but what are smaller.

The Liver-fish like a Whiting.

The Herrin which are numerous, they take of them all summer long. In Anno Dom. 1670. they were driven into Black-point Harbour by other great fish that prey upon them so near the shore, that they threw themselves (it being high water) upon dry land in such infinite numbers that we might have gone up half way the leg amongst them for near a quarter of a mile. We used to qualifie a pickled Herrin by boiling of him in milk.

The Alewife is like a. herrin, but has a bigger bellie therefore called an Alewife, they come in the end of April into fresh Rivers and Ponds; there hath been taken in two hours time by two men without any Weyre at all, saving a few stones to stop the passage of the River, above ten thousand. The Italian hath a proverb, that he that hath seen one miracle will easily believe another; but this relation far from a miracle will peranter meet, instead of a belief with an Adulterate construction from those that are somewhat akin to St. Peters mockers, such as deny the last judgement. I have known in England 9 score and 16 Pikes and Pickarel taken with three Angles between the hours of three and ten in the morning, in the River Owse in the Isle of Ely, three quarters of a yard long above half of them; they make red Alewives after the same manner as they do herrins and are as good. 

The Basse is a salt water fish too, but most an end taken in Rivers where they spawn, there hath been 3000 Basse taken at a set, one writes that the fat in the bone of a Basses head is his brains which is a lye. 

The Salmon likewise is a Sea-fish, but as the Basse comes into Rivers to spawn, a Salmon the first year is a Salmon-smelt; The second a Mort; The third a Spraid; The fourth a Soar; The fifth a Sorrel; The sixth a sorket tail; and the seventh year a Salmon. There are another sort of Salmon frequent in those parts called white Salmons.

Capeling is a small fish like a smelt. 

The Turtle or Tortoise is of two sorts Sea-Turtles and land-Turtles: of Sea-Turtles there are five sorts, of land-Turtles three sorts, one of which is a right land-turtle that seldom or never goes into the water, the other two being the River-Turtle, and the pond-Turtle: there are many of these in the brooke Chyson in the Holy land. The ashes of a Sea-Turtle mixt with oyl or Bears-grease causeth hair to grow: the shell of a land-Turtle burnt and the ashes dissolved in wine and oyl to an unguent healeth chaps and sores of the feet: the flesh burnt and the ashes mixt with wine and oyl healeth sore legs: the ashes of the burnt shell and the whites of eggs compounded together healeth chaps in womens nipples; and the head pulverized with it prevents the falling of the hair, and will heal the Hemorrhoids, first washing of them with white-wine, and then strewing on the powder.

Lobster, which some say is at first a whelk, I have seen a Lobster that weighed twenty pound, they cast their shell-coats in the spring, and so do Crabs; having underneath a thin red skin which growes thicker and hard in short time. The Indians feed much upon this fish, some they rost, and some they dry as they do Lampres and Oysters which are delicate breakfast meat so ordered, the Oysters are long shell'd, I have had of them nine inches long from the joynt to the toe, containing an Oyster like those the Latines called Tridacuan that were to be cut into three pieces before they could get them into their mouths, very fat and sweet.

The Muscle is of two sorts, Sea-muscles in which they find Pearl and river-muscles. Sea-muscles dryed and pulverized and laid upon the sores of the Piles and hemorrhoids with oyl will perfectly cure them.

The Whore is a shell-fish, the shells are called whores-eggs, being fine round white shells, in shape like a Mexico pompion, but no bigger than a good large Hens-egg; they are wrought down the sides with little knobs and holes very prettily, but are but thin and brittle. 

The Perriwig is a shell-fish that lyeth in the Sands flat and round as a shovel-board piece and very little thicker; these at a little hole in the middle of the shell thrust out a cap of hair, but upon the least motion of any danger it drawes it in again.

Trouts there be good store in every brook, ordinarily two and twenty inches long, their grease is good for the Piles and clifts. 

The Eal is of two sorts, salt-water Eals and fresh-water Eals; these again are distinguished into yellow bellied Eals and silver bellied Eals; I never eat better Eals in no part of the world that I have been in, than are here. They that have no mind or leasure to take them, may buy of an Indian half a dozen silver bellied Eals as big as those we usually give 8 pence or 12 pence a piece for at London, for three pence or a groat. There is several wayes of cooking them, some love them roasted, others baked, and many will have them fryed; but they please my palate best when they are boiled, a common way it is to boil them in half water, half wine with the bottom of a manchet, a fagot of Parsley, and a little winter savory, when they are boiled they take them out and break the bread in the broth, and put to it three or four spoonfuls of yest, and a piece of sweet butter, this they pour to their Eals laid upon sippets and so serve it up. I fancie my way better which is this, after the Eals are fley'd and washt I fill their bellies with Nutmeg grated and Cloves a little bruised, and sow them up with a needle and thred, then I stick a Clove here and there in their sides about an inch asunder, making holes for them with a bodkin, this done I wind them up in a wreath and put them into a kettle with half water and half white wine-vinegar, so much as will rise four fingers above the Eals, in midst of the Eals I put the bottom of a penny white loaf, and a fagot of these herbs following, Parsley one handful, a little sweet Marjoram, Peniroyal and Savory, a branch of Rosemary, bind them up with a thred, and when they are boiled enough take out the Eals and pull out the threds that their bellies were sowed up with, turn out the Nutmeg and Cloves, put the Eals in a dish with butter and vinegar upon a chafing-dish with coals to keep warm, then put into the broth three or four spoonfuls of good Ale-yeast with the juice of half a Lemmon; but before you put in your yeast beat it in a porringer with some of the broth, then break the crust of bread very small and mingle it well together with the broth, pour it into a deep dish and garnish it with the other half of the Lemmon, and so serve them up to the Table in two dishes.

The Frost-fish is little bigger than a Gudgeon and are taken in fresh brooks; when the waters are frozen they make a hole in the Ice about half a yard or yard wide, to which the fish repair in great numbers, where with small nets bound to a hoop about the bigness of a firkin-hoop with a staff fastned to it they lade them out of the hole. I have not done with the fish yet, being willing to let you know all of them that are to be seen and catch'd in the Sea and fresh waters in New-England, and because I will not tire your patience overmuch, having no occasion to enlarge my discourse, I shall only name them and so conclude.

AleportSeveral KindsPurple-fish
AlbicoreSea-FleaPorgee
BarrachaGrandpisseRemora
BarraconthaHakeSea-Raven
Blew-fishHaddockSail-fish
Bull-headHorse-footScallop
Bur-fishHallibutScate
Cat-fishHen-fishStingray
Cony-fishLampreSculpin
CuskLimpinShadd
ClamLumpeSpurlin
Rock-CodMaidSheath-fish
Sea-CodMonk-fishSmelt
diversSea-mulletShrimps
kinds ofNun-fishSprates
CrabsPerchStar-fish
Sea-CucumberPolluckSword-fish
CunnerPeriwincleThornback
Sea-DartsPikeTurbet
or IavelinsPilat-fishThe Ulatife
Flail-fishPlaiceor saw-fish
FlounderPorpisseSea-Urchin
or FlowkePrawneSea-Unichorn
Flying-fish


Source: Overview by Bryan Wright

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