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The Goodliest Soile Under the Cope of Heaven

Ralph Lane, 1585

In the meane while you shall understand that since sir Richard Greenvils departure from us, as also before, we have discovered the maine (North Carolina "mainland") to be the goodliest soile under the cope of heaven, so abounding with sweete trees, that bring such sundry rich and most pleasant gummes, grapes of such greames, yet wild, as France, Spaine nor Italy hath no greater, so many

Sortes of Apothecarie drugs, such severall kindes of flaxe, and one kind like silk, the same gathered of a grass, as common there as grass is here. And now within these few days we have found here a Guinie wheat, whose care yeeldeth corn for bread, upon one eare, and the Cane maketh very good and perfect suger.... Besides that, it is the goodliest and most pleasing territory of the world (for the soil is of an huge unknown greatnesse, and very well peopled and towned, though savagely) and the climate so wholesome, that we have not had one sick, since we touched land here. To conclude, if Virginia had but Horses and Kine in some reasonable proportion, I dare assure my self being inhabited with English, no realme in Christendome were comparable to it. For this already we find, that what commodities so ever Spaine, France, Italy, or the East parts do yeld unto us in wines of all sorts, in oiles, in flaxe, in rosens, pitch, frankensence, currans, sugers, & such like, these parts do abound with the growth of them all, but being Savages that possesse the land, they know no use of the same. And sundry other rich commodities, that no parts of the world, be they West or East Indies, have, here we finde great abundance of. The people naturally most curteous, & very desirous to have clothes, but especially of course cloth rather than silke, course canvas they also like well of, but copper carieth the price of all, so it be made red. Thus good Master Hakluyt and master H. I have joyned you both in one letter of remembrance, as two that I love dearely well, and commending me most hartily to you both, I commit you to the tuition of the almighty. From the new Fort in Virginia, this 3. September

I585 AD.

David B. Quinn, ed., The Roanoke Voyages, 1584-159O, 2 vols. (London: Hakluyt Society, 1955), I:20710.


NOTE FROM GAH:  Some minor changes have made here for readabilty.








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