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The description of the West Indies in generall, but chiefly and particularly of Florida .

THAT part of the earth which at this day we call the fourth part of the world, or America , or rather the West India, was unknowen unto our ancestours by reason of the great distance thereof. In like maner all the Westerne Islands and fortunate Isles were not discovered but by those of our age. Howbeit there have bin some which have said that they were discoverd in the time of Augustus Caesar, and that Virgil hath made mention thereof in the sixt booke of his Æneidos, when he saith, There is a land beyond the starres, and the course of the yeere and of the Sunne, where Atlas the Porter of heaven sustaineth the pole upon his shoulders: neverthelesse it is easie to judge that hee meaneth not to speake of this land, whereof no man is found to have written before his time, neither yet above a thousand yeeres after. Christopher Colon did first light upon this land in the yeere 1592. And five yeeres after Americus went thither by the commandement of the king of Castile , and gave unto it his own name, whereupon afterward it was called America . This man was very well scene in the Arte of Navigation and in Astronomie: whereby hee discovered in his time many lands unknowen unto the ancient Geographers. This Countrey is named by some, the land of Bresill, and the lande of Parots. It stretcheth it selfe, according unto Postell, from the one Pole to the other, saving at the streight of Magelan, whereunto it reacheth 53. degrees beyond the Equator. I will divide it for the better understanding into three principall parts. That which is toward the Pole Arcticke on the North is called new France, because that in the yeere 1524. John Verrazzano a Florentine was sent by King Francis the first, and by Madam the Regent his mother unto these newe Regions, where he went on land, and discovered all the coast which is from the Tropicke of Cancer, to wit, from the eight and twentieth unto the fiftieth degree, and father unto the North. Hee planted in this Countrey the Ensignes and Armes of the king of France: so that the Spaniardes themselves which were there afterwarde, have named this Countrey Terra Francesca. The same then extendeth itselfe in Latitude from the 25. degree unto the 54. toward the North: and in Longitude from 210. unto 330. The Easterne part thereof is called by the late writers The land of Norumbega, which beginneth at the Bay of Gama, which separateth it from the Isle of Canada, whither Jaques Carthier sayled the yeere 1535. About the which there are many Ilands, among which is that which is named Terra de Labrador stretching towarde Groenland . In the Westerne part there are many knowen Countreys, as the Regions of Quivira, Civola, Astatlan, and Terlichichimici. The Southerne part is called Florida , because it was discovered on Palme-sunday, which the Spaniardes call Pascha Florida. The Northerne part is altogether unknowen.

The second part of all America is called newe Spaine. It extendeth from the Tropicke of Cancer in twentie three degrees and a halfe, unto the ninth degree. In the same is situated the Citie of Themistitan, and it hath many Regions, and many Ilandes adjoyned unto it, which are called the Antilles , whereof the most famous and renoumed are Hispaniola and Isabella, with an infinite number of others. All this land, together with the Bay of Mexico, and all the Ilands aforesayd, have not in Longitude past seventie degrees, to wit, from the two hundreth and fortie, unto three hundreth and ten: it is also long and narrowe as Italic. The third part of America is called Peru , it is very great, and extendeth it selfe in Latitude from the tenth degree unto the three and fiftieth beyond the Equator, to wit, as I have sayde before, unto the streight of Magelan. It is made in fashion like to an egge, and is very well knowen upon all sides. The part where it is largest hath threescore degrees, and from thence it waxeth narrower and narrower toward both the endes. In one part of this lande Villegagnon planted right under the Tropicke of Capricorne, and he called it France Antarctick, because it draweth toward the pole Antarctick, as our France doeth toward the Arctick.

New France is almost as great as all our Europe . Howbeit the most knowen and inhabited part thereof is Florida , whither many Frenchmen have made divers voyages at sundry times, insomuch that nowe it is the best knowen Countrey which is in all this part of newe France. The Cape thereof is as it were a long head of lande stretching out into the Sea an hundred leagues, and runneth directly towarde the South: it hath right over against it five and twentie leagues distant the Isle of Cuba otherwise called Isabella, toward the East the Isles of Bahama and Lucaya, and toward the West the Bay of Mexico. The Countrey is flat, and divided with divers rivers, and therefore moyst, and is sandie towards the Sea shore. There groweth in those partes great quantitie of Pinetrees, which have no kernels in the apples which they beare. Their woods are full of Oakes, Walnuttrees, blacke Cherrietrees, Mulberry trees, Lentiskes, and Chestnut trees, which are more wilde then those in France. There is great store of Cedars, Cypresses, Bayes, Palme trees, Hollies, and wilde Vines, which climbe up along the trees and beare good Grapes. There is there a kinde of Medlers, the fruite whereof is better then that of France, and bigger. There are also Plumtrees, which beare very faire fruite, but such as is not very good. There are Raspasses, and a little berrie which we call among us Blues, which are very good to eate. There growe in that Countrey a kinde of Rootes which they call in their language Hasez, whereof in necessitie they make bread. There is also there the tree called Esquine, which is very good against the Pockes and other contagious diseases. The Beastes best knowen in this Countrey are Stagges, Hindes, Goates, Deere, Leopards, Ounces, Luserns, divers sortes of Wolves, wilde Dogs, Hares, Cunnies, and a certaine kinde of beast that differeth little from the Lyon of Africa. The foules are Turkeycocks, Partridges, Parrots, Pigions, Ringdoves, Turtles, Blackbirdes, Crowes, Tarcels, Faulcons, Laynerds, Herons, Cranes, Storkes, wilde Geese, Malards, Cormorants Hernshawes, white, red, blacke and gray, and an infinite sort of all wilde foule. There is such abundance of Crocodiles, that oftentimes in swimming men are assayled by them; of Serpents there are many sorts. There is found among the Savages good quantitie of Gold and Silver, which is gotten out of the shippes that are lost upon the coast, as I have understood by the Savages themselves. They use traffique thereof one with another. And that which maketh me the rather beleeve it, is, that on the coast towarde the Cape, where commonly the shippes are cast away, there is more store of Silver then toward the North. Neverthelesse they say, that in the Mountaines of Appalatcy there are Mines of Copper, which I thinke to be Golde. There is also in this Countrey great store of graynes and herbes, whereof might be made excellent good dyes and paintings of all kind of colours. And in trueth the Indians which take pleasure in painting of their skins, know very well how to use the same. The men are of an Olive colour, of great stature, faire, without any deformitie, and well proportioned. They cover their privities with the skinne of a Stagge well dressed. The most part of them have their bodies, armes, and thighes painted with very faire devises: the painting whereof can never bee taken away, becase the same is pricked into their flesh. Their haire is very blacke and reacheth even downe to their hips, howbeit they trusse it up after a fashion that becommeth them very well. They are great dissemblers and traitours, valiant of their persons & fight very well. They have none other weapons but their bowes and arrowes. They make the string of their bow of a gut of a Stag, or of a Stags skin, which they know how to dresse as well as any man in France, and with as different sorts of colours. They head their arrowes with the teeth of fishes and stone, which they worke very finely and handsomly. They exercise their yong men to runne well, and they make a game among themselves, which he winneth that hath the longest breath. They also exercise themselves much in shooting. They play at the ball in this maner: they set up a tree in the middest of a place which is eight or nine fathom high, in the top whereof there is set a square mat made of reedes or Bulrushes, which whosoever hitteth in playing thereat, winneth the game. They take great pleasure in hunting and fishing. The kings of the Countrey make great warre one against the other, which is not executed but by surprise, and they kill all the men they can take: afterward they cut of their heads to have their haire, which returning home they carry away, to make thereof their triumph when they come to their houses. They save the women and children and nourish them and keepe them alwayes with them. Being returned home from the warre, they assemble all their subjects, and for joy three days and three nights they make good cheare, they daunce & sing, likewise they make the most ancient women of the Countrey to dance, holding the haires of their enemies in their hands: and in dauncing they sing praises to the Sunne, ascribing unto him the honour of the victory. They have no knowledge of God, nor of any religion, saving of that which they see, as the Sunne and the Moone. They have their Priests to whom they give great credit, because they are great magicians, great soothsayers, and callers upon divels. These Priests serve them in stead of Physitions and Chirurgions. They carry alwayes about them a bag full of herbes and drugs to cure the sicke diseased which for the most part are sick of the pocks, for they love women & maidens exceedingly, which they call the daughters of the Sunne : and some of them are Sodomites. They marry, and every one hath his wife, and it is lawfull for the King to have two or three: yet none but the first is honoured and acknowledged for Queene: and none but the children of the first wife inherite the goods and authoritie of the father. The women doe all the businesse at home. They keepe not house with them after they know they be with child. And they eate not of that which they touch as long as they have their flowers. There are in all this Countrey many Hermaphrodites, which take all the greatest paine, and beare the victuals when they goe to warre. They paint their faces much, and sticke their haire full of feathers or downe, that they may seeme more terrible. The victuals which they carry with them, are of bread, of hony, and of meale made of Maiz parched in the fire, which they keepe without being marred a long while. They carry also sometimes fish, which they cause to be dressed in the smoke. In necessitie they eat a thousand rifraffes, even to the swallowing downe of coales, and putting sand into the pottage that they make with this meale. When they goe to warre, their King marcheth first, with a clubbe in the one hand, and his bowe in the other, with his quiver full of arrowes. All his men follow him, which have likewise their bowes and arrowes. While they fight, they make great cries and exclamations. They take no enterprise in hand, but first they assemble oftentimes their Councell together, and they take very good advisement before they growe to a resolution. They meete together every morning in a great common house, whither their King repaireth, and setteth him downe upon a seate which is higher then the seates of the other: where all of them one after another come and salute him: and the most ancient begin their salutations, lifting up both their handes twise as high as their face, saying, ha, he, ya, and the rest answer ha, ha. Assoone as they have done their salutation, every man sitteth him downe upon the seates which are round about in the house. If there be any thing to intreate of, the King calleth the Jawas, that is to say, their Priestes, and the most ancient men, and asketh them their advise. Afterward he commaundeth Cassine to be brewed, which is a drinke made of the leaves of a certaine tree: They drinke this Cassine very hotte: he drinketh first, then he causeth to be given thereof to all of them one after another in the same boule, which holdeth well a quart measure of Paris . They make so great account of this drinke, that no man may taste thereof in this assembly, unlesse hee hath made proofe of his valure in the warre. Moreover this drinke hath such a vertue, that assoone as they have drunke it, they become all in a sweate, which sweate being past, it taketh away hunger and thirst for foure and twenty houres after. When a King dyeth, they burie him very solemnly, and upon his grave they set the cuppe wherein he was woont to drinke: and round about the sayde grave they sticke many arrowes, and weepe and fast three dayes together without ceassing. All the kings which were his friends make the like mourning: and in token of the love which they bare him, they cut of more then the one halfe of their haire, as well men as women. During the space of sixe Moones (so they reckon their moneths) there are certaine women appoynted which bewaile the death of this King, crying with a loude voyce thrise a day, to wit, in the Morning, at Noone, and at Evening. All the goods of this King are put into his house, and afterward they set it on fire, so that nothing is ever more after to be seene. The like is done with the goods of the Priestes, and besides they burie the bodies of the Priests in their houses, and then they set them on fire. They sowe their Maiz twise a yere, to wit, in March and in June, and all in one and the same soyle. The sayd Maiz from the time that it is sowed untill the time that it be ready to be gathered, is but three moneths on the ground. The other 6. moneths they let the earth rest. They have also faire Pumpions, & very good Beanes. They never dung their land, onely when they would sowe, they set the weedes on fire, which grewe up the 6. moneths, and burne them all. They dig their ground with an instrument of wood which is fashioned like a broad mattocke, wherewith they digge their Vines in France, they put two graines; of Maiz together. When the land is to be sowed, the King commaundeth one of his men to assemble his subjects every day to labour, during which labour the King causeth store of that drinke to be made for them, whereof we have spoken. At the time when the Maiz is gathered, it is all carried into a common house, where it is distributed to every man according to his qualitie. They sowe no more but that which they thinke will serve their turnes for sixe moneths, & that very scarcely. For during the Winter they retire themselves for three or foure moneths in the yeere into the woods, where they make little cotages of Palme boughes for their retraite, and live there of Maste, of Fish which they take, of Oisters, of Stagges, of Turkeycockes, and other beasts which they take. They eate all their meate broyled on the coales, and dressed in the smoake, which in their language they call Boucaned. They eate willingly the flesh of the Crocodile: and in deede it is faire and white: and were it not that it savoureth too much like Muske we would oftentimes have eaten thereof. They have a custome among them, that when they finde themselves sicke, where they feele the paine, whereas we cause ourselves to be let blood, their Physitions sucke them untill they make the blood follow.

The women are likewise of good proportion and tall, and of the same colour that the men be of, painted as the men be: Howbeit when they are borne, they be not so much of an Olive colour, and are farre whiter. For the chiefe cause that maketh them to be of this colour proceedes of annointings of oyle which they use among them: and they doe it for a certaine ceremonie which I could not learne, and because of the Sunne which shineth hote upon their bodies. The agilitie of the women is so great, that they can swimme over the great Rivers bearing their children upon one of their armes. They climbe up also very nimbly upon the highest trees in the Countrey.

Beholde in briefe the description of the Countrey, with the nature and customes of the Inhabitants: which I was very willing to write, before I entred any further into the discourse of my historic, to the end that the Readers might be the better prepared to understand that, which I meane hereafter to entreate of.

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