Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Shelf: New England's Prospect

The first edition of this slender book by William Wood was published in London in 1634, followed by a second edition the next year and a third five years later.

The author made his purpose clear in his preface:
"I  have laid down the nature of the country, without any partial respect unto it, as being my dwelling place and intend, God willing, to return shortly again. But my conscience is to me a thousand witnesses that what I speak is the very truth, and this will inform thee almost as fully concerning it as if thou wentest over to see it."
Wood begins with a description of the land and its climate, comparing it with what his English readers were familiar with, then passes on to the soil and the plants, animals, birds and fish to be found there. He adds a brief description of several communities(which he calls plantations) already established there, includes "Such Things as Are Hurtful" and finishes with a consideration of what the voyager should take,
'And because the way to New England is over sea, it will not be amiss to give you directions what is necessary to be carried. Many, I suppose, know as well or better than myself, yet all do not; to those my directions tend."
The Second Half of the book concerns itself with a description of the native peoples. The subtitle of that part gives an idea of the scope of matters Wood touches on, even including a.short vocabulary of native words.

Wood was not writing a religious tract but as the title page indicates, his purpose was:

After discovering New England's Prospect while writing about an early immigrant ancestor who might have been influenced by books like it, I decided to get my own copy which I found at Amazon. It's also available as a kindle book and, of course, you can read it online at the Open Library. (The edition I got has an informative introduction and has been slightly edited to make the spelling in the original easier for the modern reader to follow.)

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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