Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v1.djvu/29

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New-found-land

owne wishes any of their accustomed dainties, with feather beds and downe pillowes, Tavernes and alehouses in every breathing place, neither such plenty of gold and silver and dissolute liberty as they expected, [they] had little or no care of any thing, but to pamper their bellies, to fly away with our Pinnaces, or procure their means to returne for England. For the Country was to them a miserie, a ruine, a death, a hell, and their reports here, and their owne actions there according.


Straightforwardness of narrative was characteristic of the period. This quality, and the absence of literary consciousness, distinguish the accounts written by these English seafarers from the productions of the rival French and Spanish voyagers. Each adapted his style to the public which he sought to influence. They were all alike trying to start or to accelerate the stream which was to transform the Western hemisphere into a part of the European world. Consequently the English tracts rarely possess qualities which separate them from the rest of the mass of seventeenth-century travel-books. Another result is that nearly all of them are more easily read, three centuries later, than the Continental output of the same period.

The comer of the New-found-land which retained this distinctive name exerted an especial attraction in the earlier days upon the adventurers who felt a longing to express themselves in literary form. Humphrey Gilbert was accompanied thither by the learned Stephen Parmenius of Buda, whose Latin verses "Ad Thamesin" are preserved on Hakluyt's pages. One of the first Englishmen to establish an American residence was William Vaughn, a Welshman and the composer of an amazing volume called The Golden FleeceTransported from Cambrioll Colchos, out of the Southermost Part of the Hand commonly called the Newfoundland, By Orpheus Junior, to London, where it was printed in 1626. This work has long been the butt of despairing historians, who have sought for the Ariadnean thread which should guide them through its 350 pages of puerile fancies, discursive theology, significant episodes, and rhymed prose. For the reader who skips casually from paragraph to paragraph, the volume yields an entertaining notion of what was talked about in the fishing shacks on the