A few months ago ( may 1, http://wp.me/p3kzOR-F2) I wrote a post about the New Englands Prospect. A true, lively, and experimentall description of that part of America commonly called New England the 1764 edition.
Today I have the great pleasure of having a 1635 second Edition to offer.
London: Thomas Cotes for John Bellamie, 1635.
This second edition is reprinted from the first edition of 1634 with errata corrected and the date changed on the map. Wood resided in New England, probably Lynn, from 1629-1633. His prose style is unusually fresh and engaging for a book of this type. He offers details of the “hurtful things” to be found in New England, chiefly rattlesnakes and mosquitoes.The topographical descriptions of the Massachusetts towns, in tandem with the map, offer the first detailed picture of the area. Many of the towns shown here are not present on the John Smith map and Cape Cod appears for the first time on a large scale. The second part describes the native tribes and contains a 5-page vocabulary (pre-dating John Eliot) He may have returned to New England afterward. The General Court of Massachusetts Bay voted thanks to him on the appearance of New England’s Prospect. The exceptional charm and vivacity of Wood’s writing, including flights of verse, is widely acknowledged. Part II is devoted to a detailed narrative of the Indians of New England.
In the compilation of this vocabulary Wood may have been assisted by Roger Williams, who before he lived at Salem had made considerable progress in the Indian language. It is possible that he may also have had the coöperation of John Eliot, who came to New England in 1631, the same year as Roger Williams.
The following reference on page 92 doubtless refers to Eliot:
“One of the EnglishPreachers in a speciall good intent of doing good to their soules, had spent much time in attaining to their Language, wherein he is so good a proficient, that he can speak to their understanding, and they to his; much loving and respecting him for his love and counsell. It is hoped that he may be an instrument of good amongst them.”
nb In 1999 the Siebert copy which had some faults, sold for $51,750
This is a very large and nice copy of the important map. This map, one of the most important early New England maps (and often lacking from the book) is here in a crisp, clean, large example. It is the second state of the map, the same as appeared in the 1634 first edition, but with a reset heading, changing the date to 1635. It shows most of the New England coast north of Narragansett Bay.
Philip Burden states: “An extremely influential and very rare map, the most detailed of the emerging settlements in New England to date.Although simply made, this map is of greater accuracy than any before it. Covering the area from the Pascataque River, in present day New Hampshire, to Narragansett Bay, it is, however, the Massachusetts Bay area that is shown with the most detail.Wood’s map was not improved upon until the John Foster [map] in 1677.” It is the first map of the region made by a resident, William Wood, and the first to name Boston and some thirty other English or Indian settlements. The delineation of the coast is very well done, and it influenced John Smith, whose 1635 map includes a three- line inscription referring to Wood’s map as the source for new information, and also shows new towns depicted on Wood’s map.
According to Vail, Wood’s Prospect includes the earliest topographical description of the Massachusetts colony. It is also the first detailed account of the animals and plants of New England, as well as the Indian tribes of the region. Of particular note is a chapter describing the customs and work of Indian women. Part One is divided into twelve chapters and is devoted to the climate, landscape, and early settlements, and describes in some detail the native trees, plants, fish, game, and mineral ores, as well as including advice to those thinking of crossing the Atlantic. The early settlements described include Boston, Medford, Marblehead, Dorchester, Roxbury, Medford, Watertown, and New and Old Plymouth. These chapters also include four charming verses which are essentially a series of lists naming the native trees (twenty lines, starting “Trees both in hills and plaines, in plenty be, / The long liv’d Oake, and mournfull Cyprus tree / .”); the animals (twelve lines, starting “The kingly Lyon, and the strong arm’d Beare, / The large lim’d Mooses, with the tripping Deare, / .”); the birds (twenty-eight lines, starting “The Princely Eagle, and the soaring Hawke, / Whom in their unknowne wayes there’s none can chawke: / The Humberd for some Queenes rich Cage more fit, / Than in the vacant Wildernesse to sit, / .”); and the inhabitants of the seas and rivers (twenty- eight lines, starting “The king of waters, the Sea shouldering Whale, / .”). The chapter on the birds also includes what are clearly eye-witness descriptions of a number of birds including the Hummingbird and the Passenger Pigeon. Part Two is devoted to the native inhabitants and is divided into twenty chapters. The tribes described are the “Mohawks,” “Connectecuts,” “Pequants and Narragansetts.” Again Wood goes into some detail describing the clothing, sports, wars, games, methods of hunting and fishing, their arts, and ending with their language: the work ends with a five-page vocabulary of Indian words, one of the earliest published for New England
Church 433; European Americana 635/134; JCB II:258; Pilling, Algonquian, 535; Sabin 105075; Schwartz & Ehrenberg, p 100 (1634 map); STC 25958; Vail 89; Burden 239 (map).
Leave a Reply