In the month of June, . . . 1622, it was my chance to arrive in the parts of New England with 30 servants and provisions of all sorts fit for a plantation; and while our houses were building, I did endeavor to take a survey of the country. The more I looked, the more I liked it.
And when I had more seriously considered of the beauty of the place, withall [as in original] her fair endowments, I did not think that in all the known world is could be paralleled for goodly grove of trees, dainty fine round rising hillocks, delicate fair large plains, sweet crystal fountains, and clear running streams that twine in fine meanders through the meads [meadows], making so sweet a murmuring noise to hear as would even lull the senses in delightful asleep, so pleasantly do they glide over the pebble stones, jetting most jocundly where they meet, and hand in hand run down to Neptune’s Court, to pay the yearly tribute they owe him as sovereign lord of all the springs. Contained within the volume of the land, [are] fowl in abundance, [and] fish in multitude. And I discovered, besides, millions of turtledoves on the green boughs, which sat pecking of the full ripe pleasant grapes that were supported by the lusty trees, whose fruitful loads did Cause the arms to bend: [among] which here and there dispersed, you might see lilies . . . and the Daphnean--tree which made the land seem to me Paradise. For in mine eye t’was Neptune’s masterpiece, her chiefest magazine of which lives her store. If this land be not rich, then is the whole world poor.1
Thomas Morton (ca. 1579--ca. 1647)
Morton was born in Devon, England. In the late 1590s Morton studied law at London’s Clifford's Inn where he made many influential ContaCts He was also exposed to Shakespeare, and it is most likely here that he met Ben Jonson, who would be a lifelong friend. Though an ardent royalist, Morton became a proponent of the Common law against the direct legal powers of the Crown. He made his first trip to New England in 1622. After suffering personal and business reverses baCk home, he returned to Rhode Island, naming the community he dominated Merry Mount. He did a brisk business trading guns and liquor for beaver furs. He was tried for this in London, but acquitted. He returned to New England, but was again arrested for selling weapons to the Indians. New England Canaan, a denunciation of the Puritan government in the colonies and their policy of land enclosure and near genocide of the Native population, was written during this period.
Thomas Merton, New English Canaan, in The Literature of Colonial American: An Anthology, ed. Susan Castillo and Ivy Schweitzer (Malden: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2002), 240. 2002), xx. 20202002 , 2001), 240.