A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1588)

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A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1588) Thomas Hariot∗ Paul Royster , editor†

∗ † University of Nebraska-Lincoln, proyster@unl.edu This paper is posted at DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln.

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/etas/20

T H O M A S H A R IO T A
B R I E F E A N D T RU E R E P ORT OF T H E N E W F O U N D L A N D OF

A note on the orthography: In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, English printers and typesetters used the “u” and “v” interchangeably to represent either sound (thus, “euer” for “ever,” “vse” for “use,” etc.), and the “i” was used both for “i” and “j”. Vowels were occasionally printed with either a macron (¯) or a tilde (˜) to indicate a following (implied) nasal “n” or “m” (thus “coutry” for “country” or “the ” ¯ ˜ for “them”). These features of Thomas Hariot’s original edition are preserved in this electronic text.

V I RG I N I A

(158 8)
This is an online electronic text edition of the first book published by an English colonist in America. Its author, Thomas Hariot or Harriot, was a cartographer, mathematician, astronomer, linguist, and philosopher, who was a participant in Sir Walter Ralegh’s first attempt to establish a colony in “Virginia,” on Roanoke Island in modern-day North Carolina, from June 1585 until June 1586. Hariot had learned the rudiments of the Algonkian language from two natives brought back to England from an earlier exploratory voyage, and he served as interpreter and liaison with the native peoples of the surrounding region. His Brief and True Report focuses largely upon the native inhabitants, giving much valuable information on their food sources, agricultural methods, living arrangements, political organization, and religion. Published in 1588, with Ralegh’s support, to help incite both investment and settlement, Hariot’s 13,000-word account also gives many details of the “merchantable commodities,” plants, animals, and economic opportunities to be found there. Written by an ethnographer and natural scientist who was an integral part of the first English attempt at American colonization, the Brief and True Report is by far the most important early English account of North America. This online edition contains some essential annotations, a textual note, and links to other important online materials relating to the Roanoke colony.

K A briefe and true rethe commodities there found and to be ray¢ed, as well mar-

port of the new found land of Virginia: of
chantable, as others for viªuall, building and other nece¼arie v¢es for tho¢e that are and ¢halbe the planters there; and of the nature and manners of the naturall inhabitants : Di¢couered by the Engli¢h Colony there ¢eated by Sir Richard Greinuile Knight in the yeere 1585. which remained vnder the gouernement of Rafe Lane E¢quier, one of her Maie¢ties Equieres, during the ¢pace of twelue monethes : at the ¢peciall charge and direªion of the Honourable S I R WA LT E R R A L E I G H Knight, Lord Warden of the ¢tanneries ; who therein hath beene fauoured and authori¢ed by her Maie¢tie and her letters patents:

Direªed to the Aduenturers, Fauourers,
and Welwillers of the aªion, for the inhabiting and planting there: By Thomas Hariot; ¢eruant to the abouenamed Sir Walter, a member of the Colony, and there imployed in di¢couering.

Imprinted at London 1588.

A Rafe Lane one of her Maiesties
Equieres and Gouernour of the Colony in Virginia aboue mentioned for the time there resident. To the gentle Reader, wisheth all happines in the Lord.

Lbeit (Gentle Reader) the credite of the reports in this treatise contained, can little be furthered by the testimonie of one as my selfe, through affection iudged partiall, though without desert: Neuerthelesse forsomuch as I haue beene requested by some my particular friends, who...
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