It is the opinion of many men, that the blackness of the Negroes proceeded from the curse upon Cham’s posterity, others again will have it to be the property of the climate where they live. I pass by other Philosophical reasons and skill, only render you my experimental knowledge: having a Barbarie-moor under cure, whose finger (prickt with the bone of a fish) was Impostumated, after I had lanc'd it and let out the Corruption the skin began to rise with proud flesh under it; this I wore away, and having made a sound bottom I incarnated it, and then laid on my skinning plaister, then I perceived that the Moor had one skin more than Englishmen; the skin that is basted to the flesh is bloudy and of the same Azure colour with the veins, but deeper than the colour of our Europeans veins. Over this is an other skin of a tawny colour, and upon that Epidermis or Cuticula, the flower of the skin (which is that Snakes cast) and this is tawny also, the colour of the blew skin mingling with the tawny makes them appear black. I do not peremptorily affirm this to be the cause, but submit to better judgment. More rarities of this nature I could make known unto you, but I hasten to an end; only a word or two of our English Creatures and then to Sea again.

I have given you an Account of such plants as prosper there, and of such as do not; but so briefly, that I conceive it necessary to afford you some what more of them. Plantain I told you sprang up in the Countrey after the English came, but it is but one sort, and that is broad-leaved plantain.

Gilliflowers thrive exceedingly there and are very large, the Collibuy or humming - Bird is much pleased with them. Our English dames make Syrup of them without fire, they steep them in Wine till it be of a deep colour, and then they put to it spirit of Vitriol, it will keep as Iong as the other.

Eglantine or sweet Bryer is best sowen with Juniper-berries, two or three to one Eglantine-berry put into a hole made with a stick, the next year separate and remove them to your banks, in three years time they will make a hedge as high as a man, which you may keep thick and handsome with cutting.

Our English Clover-grass sowen thrives very well.

Radishes I have seen there as big as a man's Arm.

Flax and Hemp floursh gallantly.

Our Wheat i. e. summer Wheat many times changeth into Rye, and is subject to be blasted, some say with a vapour breaking out of the earth, others, with a wind North-east or North-west, at such time as it flowereth, others again say it is with lightning. I have observed, that when a land of Wheat hath been smitten with a blast at one Corner, it hath infected the rest in a weeks time, it begins at the stem (which will be spotted and goes upwards to the ear making it fruitless): in 1669 the pond that lyeth between Water-town and Cambridge, cast its fish dead upon the shore, forc't by a mineral vapour as was conjectured.

Our fruit-Trees prosper abundantly. Apple-trees, Pear-trees, Quince-trees, Cherry-trees, Plum-trees, Barberry-trees. I have observed with admiration, that the Kernels sown or the Succors planted produce as fair & good fruit, without grafting, as the Tree from whence they were taken: the Countrey is replenished with fair and large Orchards. It was affirmed by one Mr. Woolcut (a magistrate in Connecticut Colony) at the Captains Messe (of which I was) aboard the Ship I came home in, that he made Five hundred Hogsheads of Syder out of his own Orchard in one year. Syder is very plentiful in the Countrey, ordinarily sold for Ten shillings a Hogshead. At the Taphoufes in Boston I have had an Ale-quart spic'd and sweetned with Sugar for a groat, but I shall insert a more delicate mixture of it. Take of Maligo-Raisons, stamp them and put milk to them, and put them in an Hippocras bag and let it drain out of it self, put a quantity of this with a spoonful or two of Syrup of Clove-Gilliflowers into every bottle, when you bottle your Syder, and your Planter will have a liquor that exceeds passada, the Nectar of the Countrey.

The Quinces, Cherries, Damsons, set the Dames a work, Marmalad and preserved Damsons is to be met with in every house. It was not long before I left the Countrey that I made Cherry wine, and so may others, for there are good store of them both red and black.

Their fruit-trees are subject to two diseases, the Measles which is when they are burned and scorched with the Sun, and lowsiness, when the wood-peckers job holes in their bark: the way to cure them when they are lowsie is to bore a hole into the main root with an Augur, and pour in a quantity of Brandie or Rhum, and then stop it up with a pin made of the same Tree.

The first Neat carried thither was to New-Plimouth Anno 1624 these thrive and increase exceedingly, but grow less in body than those they are bred of yearly.

Horses there are numerous, and here and there a good one, they let them run all the year abroad, and in the winter seldom provide any fother for them, (except it be Magistrates, great Masters and Troopers Horses) which brings them very low in flesh till the spring, and so crest fallen, that their crests never rise again. Here I first met with that excrescence called Hippomanes, which by some is said to grow on the forehead of a foal new cast, and that the Mare bites it off as soon as foaled; but this is but a fable. A neighbour at Black-point having a Mare with foal, tyed her up in his Barn, the next day she foaled, and the man standing by spied a thing like a foals tongue to drop out of the foals mouth, which he took up and presented me with it, telling me withall, that he had heard many wonderful things reported of it, and that it was rank poyson. I accepted of it gladly and brought it home with me, when it was dry, it lookt like Glew, but of a dark brown colour; to omit all other uses for it, this I can assure you that a piece of it soakt in warm water or cold, will take spots out of wollen Clothes being rub'd thereon.

Goats were the first small Cattle they had in the Countrey, he was counted no body that had not a Trip or Flock of Goats: a hee-Goat gelt at Michaelmas and turn'd out to feed will be fat in a moneths time, & is as good meat as a weather. I was taught by a Barbary Negro a medicine which before I proceed any further I will impart unto you, and that was for a swelling under the throat. Take Goats hair and clay and boil them in fair water to a poultis, and apply it very warm.

Sheep now they have good store, these and Goats bring forth two, sometimes three Lambs and Kids at a time.

Hoggs are here innumerable, every planter hath a Heard, when they feed upon shell-fish and the like, as they do that are kept near the Sea and by the fishers flages, they tast fifshie and rank; but fed with white Oak-Acorns, or Indian-Corn and Pease there is not better Pork in the whole world: besides they sometimes have the Meazels, which is known when their hinder legs are shorter than ordinary.

Catts and Dogs are as common as in England, but our Dogs in time degenerate; yet they have gallant Dogs both for fowl & wild Beasts all over the Countrey: the Indians store themselves with them, being much better for their turns, than their breed of wild dogs, which are (as I conceive) like to the Tasso-canes or mountain dogs in Italy.

Of English Poultry too there is good store, they have commonly three broods in a year; the hens by that time they are three years old have spurs like the Cock, but not altogether so big, but as long, they use to crow often, which is so rare a thing in other Countries, that they have a proverb Gallina recinit a Hen crowes. And in England it is accounted ominous; therefore our Farmers wives as soon as they hear a Hen crow wring off her neck, and so they serve their spur'd Hens, because they should not break their Eggs with their spurs when they fit. In the year 1637 which was when I went my first Voyage to New-England a good woman brought aboard with her a lusty Cock and Hen that had horns like spurs growing out on each side of their Combs, but she spoiled the breed, killing of them at Sea, to feed upon, for the loved a fresh bit.

In Anno 1647/8. Certain Indians coming to our house clad in Deere-skin coats, desired leave to lodge all night in our kitchin, it being a very rainie seafon, some of them lay down in the middle of the Room, and others under the Table, in the morning they went away before any of the people were up; the poultry had their breakfast usually in cold weather in the kitchin, and because they should not hinder the passing of the people too and again, it was thrown under the Table; in the afternoon they began to hang the wing, in the night the sickest dropt dead from the perch, and the next day most of them dyed; we could not of a sudden ghess at the cause, but thought the Indians had either bewitched, or poysoned them; it came at last into my head, seeing their Crops very full, or rather much swell'd, to open them, where I found as much Deers hair as Corn, they that pickt up none of the hair lived and did well.

Source: Overview by Bryan Wright

Related Links:

John Josselyn

Comments (0)Don't be shy, tell us what you think!   
Colonial Sense is an advocate for global consumer privacy rights, protection and security.
All material on this website © copyright 2009-24 by Colonial Sense, except where otherwise indicated.