Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Eden in Virginia

The Garden of Eden

"SIR, seeing that the parte of the Worlde, which is betwene the FLORIDA and the Cap BRETON nowe nammed VIRGINIA, to the honneur of yours most souueraine Layde and Queene ELIZABETZ, hath ben descouuerd by yours meanes. And great chardges. And that your Collonye hath been theer established to your great honnor and prayse, and noe lesser proffit vnto the commonwelth: Yt ys good raison that euery man euertwe him selfe for to showe the benefit which they haue receue of yt.

Theerfore, for my parte I haue been aliwayes Desirous for to make yow knowe the good will that I haue to remayne still your most humble særuant. I haue thincke that I cold faynde noe better occasion to declare yt, then takinge the paines to cott in copper (the most diligentye and well that wear in my possible to doe) the Figures which doe leuelye represent the forme aud maner of the Inhabitants of the same countrye with theirs ceremonies, sollemne, feastes, and the manner and situation of their Townes, or Villages. Addinge vnto euery figure a brief declaration of the same, to that ende that euerye man cold the better vnderstand that which is in liuelye represented. Moreouer I haue thincke that the afore said figures wear of greater commendation, If somme Histoire which traitinge of the commodites and fertillitye of the said coutrye weare Ioyned with the same, therfore haue I serue mi selfe of the rapport which Thomas Hariot hath lattely sett foorth, and haue causse them booth togither to be printed for to dedicated vnto you, as a thiuge which by reigtte booth allreadye apparteyne vnto you.

Therfore doe I creaue that you will accept this little Booke, and take yt In goode partte. And desiringe that fauor that you will receue me in the nomber of one of your most humble seruantz, besechinge the lord to blese and further you in all yours good doinges and actions, and allso to preserue, and keepe you allwayes in good helthe. And soe I comitt you vnto the almyhttie, from Franckfort the first of Apprill 1590. Your most humble seruant,

THEODORVS de BRY [Engraver]"


The true picture of one Picte

The trvve picture of a vvomen

The Coniuerer

Their danses vvhich they vse att their hyghe feastes

{clicking on the images will give slightly larger versions}

If ever there was an enterprise that succeeded in bringing together a group of multitalented individuals, it was A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, first published in c. 1590. In an attempt to colonize the New World, Sir Walter Raleigh organized a number of voyages which included sending the Oxford mathematician Thomas Harriot and the new Governor and watercolorist, John White to Virginia.

Harriot wrote the text and White submitted his sketches that provided the basis for Theodore de Bry to make 38 copper plate engravings. It would be republished and translated several times over and was the first bona fide depiction of life in the New World and influenced european understanding of the coastal indian populations of North America.

[Apparently the text advocates for tobacco smoking and I wouldn't be surprised if this is the origin of the legend that has Raleigh being the person responsible for introuducing smoking to the west...but I've been wrong before.]

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