Richard Jobson (1623) The Golden Trade, pp. 146-166.
The discourse of land fowle.
AMONG such fowle and birds that remaine and live upon the land, in our travels up the River, and our daily walkes and travels upon the shore, our indraught being so many hundred miles, wee never saw any Estriches, neither did any of the cuntrey people, ever bring any of their feathers to barter, or sell unto us, so as it appeares plainly there is none of them in these parts; notwithstanding in the River of Senega, which is to the Northward, and likewise againe more Southerly, upon the Sea coast of Affrica great store: Therefore the greatest bird or fowle we see, is called a Stalker; who by reason of his long legs and neck, when he stands upright, is in height taller then a man, his body in substance is more then an indifferent lambe which wee doe feede upon, and finde it somewhat a dry meate, but well allowed for nourishment, and by the countrey people much esteemed of: The especiall desire we have to kill them, is in regard of some feathers he hath, which being taken in due time, and so preserved, are heere at home esteemed and worne.
The next in greatnesse, is called a Wake, in regard of the great noyse hee makes when hee flyeth, which resembleth what he is called by, and of these there is great abundance, who for the most part live upon their Rice grounds, and in those times do them great spoyles: they are very good to eate, and is a bird of a great stature, having the upper part of his head carrying a beautifull shew, with a pleasing tuft on his Crowne, which I have seene worne by great personages here at home.
There is an infinite store of another sort of excellent birds which we call Ginney Hennes, in bignesse much about our Phesants, and in beauty answerable; his feathers being all laid over him like unto eyes, in a pleasing fashion, they are all the countrey over, and in flockes of many hundreds together; their food is upon their corne grounds, keeping close together, insomuch as we have killed eight of them at one shoote, they are an excellent meate, and many of these are brought into England, and given as presents to those of note, and worthy persons who preserve and keepe them for their rarenesse, as birds of pleasure: And in the very like abundance they have Partridges, whose colour is not beautifull, so much as our Partridges here; but onely of a darke feather, and these are likewise all the countrey over, where it is planted, for the most remaining neare their houses, and in the middle of their dwellings, the great plenty of both which kinds, Gynney Hennes and Partridges, are some manifest tokens there are no Foxes at all in the countrey, who are in these our parts great enemies to both the kindes of Phesant and Partridge: and the cause the[y] keepe so neare the houses, is to preserve them from as subtill enemies, which are the Babownes, and Munkeys, who are no night walkers, and in the day time the recourse of people makes them keepe further off, whereas otherwayes they would not faile to be sharers. There are also great store of Quailes, who are in bignesse as great as a Woodcocke, and from whence it is derived I cannot avouch, onely it is saide, they are of those kind of Quailes as fell among the children of Israels tents: thus much I can affirme, they are a pleasing and delightfull meate, and in many places, where we have made abode, they have accustomed to fall about us: so as provided wherewithall to shoote them, mens dyets are mended, even in short warning: In all their townes and dwellings likewise store of Pidgeons, which feede upon the offall of their Corne, in the very doores, yet all are wilde, and of tame Pidgeons they have no knowledge: I have with my stone-bow or pellet-bow in two houres killed twenty Pidgeons, even among their houses, which manner of shooting they have had in wonderfull admiration: And these birds or fowle nominated, are such that are at all times, and in most places ever neare at hand, and alwayes ready for sustenance if men bee provided, and will take small paine to looke them.
There are likewise in the countrey Parats, but none good for ought, except the dun Parat with the red tayle, of which sort you have some few that come to speake well: but of Paraquetos there are very many, and beautifull birds, which are often brought home, and some few attaine to perfection. Also of smaller birds great varietie & sundry strange shapes, amongst which many are in colours, delightfull to the eye, and many in notes very pleasing to the eare: there is amongst the variety one smal bird, which for his strangnesse we observe, hee hath no legges, but two strings like the bird of Arabia, with which he hangs with his head downeward, and hath such resemblance to a dead leafe, as it hangs on the tree, being direct of that colour, whereby unlesse hee be seene too light, you can hardly discover him, and he doth seeme to take pleasure to deceive mens eye-sight, hanging wonderous steddy, without motion, whilest hee is lookt after, and very neare the touching: Likewise another strange bird there is, which flyeth with foure wings: we see him not all the day, but an houre before night; his two foremost wings are largest, the other are a pretty distance backward, and beares his body betweene foure palpably.
As I speake of these birds, it is very necessary I should set downe how nature teacheth these little creatures to provide for the safety of themselves, and the young they bring forth; I have shewed before, what troupes and multitudes of Babownes and Monkeys the countrey is stored withall, which are profest enemies to feathered fowle, and therefore in these little poore creatures, who can make no resistance, Nature hath directed them by Art to prevent cruelty: Amongst the great variety of strange trees, and woods, which the countrey affordeth, whereof there is not any, that I can know, or call by an English name, by saying, this tree doth grow in England: there is especially one, who doth exceed in prickles, both upon the body, branches, and armes: even to the outermost small sprigges, many of these grow distant from the water, and many of them grow upon the banke side, hanging their toppes over the water: we observe, that of this onely tree, the litle Bird makes choyse, and not content with his defence of prickles, makes use likewise of his growing over the water, and on that side which bends to the river on the very outside doe they winde their nestes with an owse,1 or neck, which is hollow, made of reeds and sedge, the whole neast hanging like a bottle, made fast by the necke, in some places so thicke together, that the same side of the tree, seemes as it were all covered with thatch; unto which, if notwithstanding the prickles, the Babown or Munky durst approach, the feare hee shall have, that the boughes will not beare him, and the fall hee is in daunger of, together with the fright of the water underneath him, is able to daunt him, by which natural care he preserves his increase, and speedes better then many times the Parrat doth, for he likewise is provident to make his neast on the outermost smallest twigge of a tree; but on the land winding it about the twigge, so neare, as it will not beare any of his unhappy enemies, who notwithstanding are vigilant for their owne ends, and by getting upon upper boughes, will overlooke his desired prey, and when hee sees they are growne to fill up the neast, will hazard charily as the bough may beare him, and sitting fast with his two hinder feete with his two hands take up the bough, and shake it in that manner, that either some or all forth of the next shal tumble, and being down, he gaines them for his labour. Another kind of art, nature hath taught the birds in the high banke, which is steepest over the River, whose steepenesse hinders the accesse of these devourers, they will make holes so artificially round like augor holes, and of that equall distance the one by the other, so thicke as the banke will beare, carrying them at least a yard within the ground, by which places they preserve themselves and their young.
But there are birds of defence such as hawkes, whereof there is one sort, as large as our Ierfauchon, and these as the people tell us, will of their owne accords, kill the wild deare by ceazing upon his head, and hanging fast, doth continue beating with his wings, untill the deare faintes, and then he preyes upon him.2 And likewise of other sorts that live upon prey, whose manner of breeding, is in the open trees, and by the continuall watching and attending the nest, they are ready to defend and save their young. There are no great Eagles but of a kind of small bastard Eagles infinite store, and likewise severall sorts of ravening Kites and Buzzards, whereof the skin of one sort smells wondrous sweet and strong, after the savour of the Crocodile:3 These sorts are easily to bee discerned: for if at any time, wee hapned to kill a beast in the woods, whereby any blood were discovered, although there were scarce any one of these ravening birds to be seene, almost instantly, you should have such troupes of all sors comee in, as were able to devoure the whole carkas, if wee were not present to affront them: And the onely meanes the people have to find out either Elephant, or any other beast, as they dye, or come to an untimely end, amongst the thicke woods, or high reedes, is by observing and keeping watch to looke out where these ravening birds gather together, which is easily discerned, the nature of them being to sore, and flye in the aire aloft over the place where their prey remaineth, to which place the people repaire, and many times are sharers in the booty: And to shut up this discourse, that it may appeare how likely it is, these birdes and fowles may well increase, wee doe not see that the people have any ingenious conceites, either by gins, or otherwise to kill or take of them: but upon any especiall time, when the King is determined to make a feast, they observe a course to take them, with the rehearsall whereof I will make an end. The greate command is sent, that all people come abroad, and being in the fields, are set, and placed severally, of an indifferent distance, the one unto the other, when the Patridge, and gynny hennes being sprung or put up, as their natures are to flye but an indifferent flight, so soone as he lights againe they are ready to runne in, and put them up, and in this manner still pursuing them, that they are wearyed out, and the people with their hands take them up, and bring them to the King, even to that number as may content him, with which their Princely pastime I heere conclude my story.
And for a finall end doe earnestly desire, that what is written may be taken into consideration, thereby to stirre up a more willing affection to prosecute and goe on in a timely proceeding upon this hopefull trade, which will crave expedition in regard of these reasons following: First there is, as it were, a certaine combination made betwixt the people above and us, never to faile them of a yearely trade, which they in their parts, (without all doubt) will carefully expect, and as they have faithfully promised, will accordingly provide for, and if in our parts, it should be neglected, may iustly cause them to take a great distrust of our fidelities, which in regard, we are now the first white people they have seene, and have from them received such faire approbation, may settle a distast for the present very preiudiciall, and among such a barbarous people, wee know not whether it may be easily remooved. Againe the course we run, is allowable by our Lawes, fitting and agreeing with the peacefull time we live in, opposite to no neighbourly love or amity, neither confronting any forraine Prince, by entring, or intermedling within any forbidden territories, neither is it done in any war-like, or hostile manner, but by the auncient and free Commerse, that uniteth nations, the course of marchandizing, a commodious exchange answering to either side, wherein an especiall animation is, the certaine knowledge we have gained in discovering the golden trade of the Moores in Barbary, which was the first incourager and beginning of this businesse, and for which the Adventures hitherto have beene laide, through the uncertainety whereof, those losses and mischances that have hapned, fell out, and therefore now should with a more setled resolution be followed to regaine, by knowledge, what ignorance miscarryed in. And I may ioyne with this, the familiar conversation, faire acceptance, and mutuall amitie, we finde the natives to embrace us withall, not onely clearing our owne doubts, which before knowledge must of necessity be, but likewise disprooving, and altogether confounding, the report and speeches of all those, who, to serve their owne ends, gave out, the people above to bee a bloody and dangerous nation.
Againe to advance the Adventurer, let the already knowne and certaine trade be remembred, which in my owne perfect knowledge I will make good, (against all Maligners, and secret opposers) that in our stable and principall commodities, it is not vented, but at tenne for one profite;4 and admitte the discovery should not proove; yet there will be found places of trade sufficient, and that within the limit of faire recourse, to vent and put of such a reasonable proportion as shall bring a returne of that advantage, as shall be able to beare the charge of a further search, and likewise answer the expectation here at home of any reasonable minded adventurer, provided they doe arme themselves by knowledge, of what those things are which are vendible, and likewise how to attaine unto those places, and order their occasions, where those returnes are to be made; whereunto is added that the expectation is not long, in respect of other voyages, when as the returne is such, that within the compasse of tenne moneths, the whole voyage is to be performed, both out and home, allowing the ship to bee set foorth from London, and to make her returne againe.
Moreover by the last discovery, so many hundred miles up the River, all which way is perfectly known, and from part to part observed, and every reach in order by me set downe, and carefully kept, which may not onely cleare any doubts and difficulties in that already knowne way, but likewise enable the iudgement for passing further, and especially order and give directions, what boates or vessels are most apt and proper to follow the discovery withall, as well for speedier passage, as also for the most advantage, to a more profitable returne.
And further we may take into consideration, how the times and seasons of the yeare, are unto us discovered, that the turbulent and infectious seasons may bee provided for, and men advised the better to beare them, and provide for themselves, whereby (as it shall please God to give a blessing) those inconveniences may bee avoyded, which formerly have beene fallen into, and things more necessary carryed along, which through ignorance heeretofore have beene neglected, together with diverse other abuses, that by experience, no doubt, may be amended.
And lastly, in taking leave of you the noble gentlemen Adventurers in this hopefull Discoverie, let mee (under correction) say unto you, Be not discouraged, let not the iangling dispositions of any, whom your owne wisedomes leades you to see aime onely to make up their owne ends, dishearten you. And if it please you examine the condition of what is past, which, if I mistake not, may bee thus set downe. The first adventure was lost, and miscarried through want of Care and Iudgement of those Sea-men and Merchants who had the managing, by over-much trust of supposed friends,5 who should at the very best have beene no otherwise thought and conceited of, then suspicious enimies, who have now discovered themselves, which will ever stand for a warning to avoyde the like, and trusting them any further: And that is all you have for that mony.
The second may some-wayes be laid uppon the Sea-men, whose understanding should have avoyded unseasonabale times, and especially Discretion should have led them to have shunned watering in the very height of unseasonablenesse; but it may be excused for want of experience, insomuch as there had never beene any triall made, so high in the River before to any effect, to discover the unholsomnesse, with the operation thereof, whereby so many of them lost their lives, and brought again another losse upon you, wherein the power of God was manifested, by whose onely hand they fell, and those few that returned, were sent to testifie, what they had felt and fallen into, whereby you have gained a perpetuall knowledge, for observing seasonable times, for your better proceeding hereafer, the valuation whereof being truly understood, may advance the imployment, which onely remaineth in that losse, to make you satisfaction.
And for this third and last, wherein mine eyes have beene a witnesse, how accounts are brought in, and perfected with you, I am ignorant, but I presume, as bad as it was, what with the returne that was made, and the remaynes brought home, of the Cargazon that was sent, you cannot (being iustly dealt withall) receive any losse; but for gaine, it was never intended towards you, the whole businesse being carried by those you gave credit, and countenance unto, with an absolute hand, to abate and discourage your desires, for wading further uppon these Adventures, as by the manner thereof appeareth, which I have already particularly acquainted you withall, and unnecessary to be remembred heere; Onely this remaines, to make good, what I in carefull duety desired to lay open unto you, from whence that first intent, of giving that blow of discouragement unto you, did arise: you have beene since subiect to divers other incounters, and all occasions are still earnest pursued, to imbrace that opportunitie, that will give leave or way to strike you; And whereas they seeke to discourage you, yet by all publique and secret meanes can be devised, they both have and doe still addresse themselves, to proceed and goe on in the same adventure, as you both know, and have had iust cause to except against. And apparent it is, that notwithstanding you in your generous dispositions have sate downe by the losse; yet there is that have gained. But allow (if it please you) all had beene lost, if you shall againe consider, what charges and expences have been layd foorth, and disbursed in Discoveries of this nature, nay in those of farre lesse expectation; with the recoveries and satisfaction, that afterwards they have made, even to this our native Countrey, whereof I forbeare examples, in regard they are not hidden from your true and ingenious knowledge: Only in regard of some great resemblance, that may be to this intended busines, I may commend to your considerations, the voiage into Muscovie, wherein the Marchants have that long passage of so many hundred leagues up a River; and by a customary trade, is brought to bee held as an ordinary passage, the Countrey, being fitted accordingly, by which use, it is now no other wayes unto them, then (as wee may terme it heere) our Westerne passages up the River of Thames; wherein were more probability for the attaining of this we ayme at, in regard our River is at all times open, and not subiect to cold, nor those extreame frosts, which to the Muscovy trade, are so great hinderers: So that if you would conclude amongest your selves, of a sufficient stocke, and be armed with a bancke, the ground of merchandizing, to follow resolutely your undertaken enterprize, For so much as to mee belongeth, I dare affirme, you are upon the most promisingest occasion, that ever in our little Iland was undertaken, most especiall considering by how smal a charge it maybe perfected wherein as experience hath made me the Writer, to acquaint you with each particular, So likewise I ofer my selfe up, both with my life and fortunes, and with my uttermost indevours, in your behalfes, (by Gods especiall blessing) to bring to perfection, what I have heere related, which is left with my selfe, to your worthy considerations.
1. Or ouse; a pipe or hose, ususally of leather.
2. Another illustration of the Austenian dictum, do not faint run mad as often as you wish, but do not faint. Ierfauchon = gyrfalcon, a retranslation into English of the Latinized version of the name; Vallow deare = fallow-deer, a European deer somewhat smaller than the common red deer, where "fallow" refers to the deer's coloring (although he is not always fallow).
3. The crocodile's disagreeably sweet odor is described by Jobson earlier, page 18.
4. Jobson, here as in previous discussions of profits, does not immediately count the cost of transportation. Hence his next statement: "say we have a 900% profit, and the trade is still not profitable [does not 'prove'], yet we may still find ..." etc.
5. "The vagrant Portingall" (margin). On their treachery, see pp. 5-7.
James Eason welcomes comments and corrections on this page.