"Newes from Virginia" was written by an English soldier who sailed with Somers's fleet from England to Virginia in 1609, & participated in the near-abandonment of the Virginia colony in 1610. Rich tells of a baby boy & a baby girl being born there and baptised. He tells of the rich natural fruits & vegetables, hogs, birds, & turtles abounding in Virginia. He celebrates the deliverance of Sir Thomas Gates from the hurricane and the saving of the Virginia colony from near failure.
"Newes from Virginia" By Richard Rich
By R. Rich, “one of the Voyage” to Virginia, 1608. News from Virginia. The Lost Flocke Triumphant. 1610.
READER,—how to stile thee I knowe not, perhaps learned, perhaps unlearned; happily captious, happily envious; indeed, what or how to tearme thee I knowe not, only as I began I will proceede.
Reader, thou dost peradventure imagine that I am mercenarie in this busines, and write for money (as your moderne Poets use) hired by some of those ever to be admired adventurers to flatter the world. No, I disclaime it. I have knowne the voyage, past the danger, seene that honorable work of Virginia, and I thanke God am arrived here to tell thee what I have seene, done and past. If thou wilt believe me, so; if not, so too; for I cannot force thee but to thy owne liking. I am a soldier, blunt and plaine, and so is the phrase of my newes; and I protest it is true. If thou ask why I put it in verse, I prethee knowe it was only to feede mine owne humour. I must confesse that, had I not debard myselfe of that large scope which to the writing of prose is allowed, I should have much easd myselfe, and given thee better content. But I intreat thee to take this as it is, and before many daies expire, I will promise thee the same worke more at large.
I did feare prevention by some of your writers, if they should have gotten but some part of the newes by the tayle, and therefore, though it be rude, let it passe with thy liking, and in so doing I shall like well of thee; but, how ever, I have not long to stay. If thou wilt be unnatural to thy countryman, thou maist,—I must not loose my patrymonie, I am for Virginia againe, and so I will bid thee hartily farewell with an honest verse,—
As I came hether to see my native land,
To waft me backe lend me thy gentle hand.
Thy loving Country-man, R. R.
Newes From Virginia
of the happy arrivall of that famous and worthy knight Sir Thomas Gates and well reputed and valiante Captaine Newport into England.
IT is no idle fabulous tale, nor is it fayned newes:
For Truth herself is heere arriv’d, because you should not muse.
With her both Gates and Newport come, to tell Report doth lye,
Which did devulge unto the world, that they at sea did dye.
Tis true that eleaven monthes and more, these gallant worthy wights
Was in the shippe Sea-venture nam’d depriv’d Virginia’s sight.
And bravely did they glyde the maine, till Neptune gan to frowne,
As if a courser prowdly backt would throwe his ryder downe.
The seas did rage, the windes did blowe, distressed were they then;
Their ship did leake, her tacklings breake, in daunger were her men.
But heaven was pylotte in this storme, and to an iland nere,
Bermoothawes call’d, conducted then, which did abate their feare.
But yet these worthies forced were, opprest with weather againe,
To runne their ship betweene two rockes, where she doth still remaine.
And then on shoare the iland came, inhabited by hogges,
Some foule and tortoyses there were, they only had one dogge.
To kill these swyne, to yeild them foode that little had to eate,
Their store was spent, and all things scant, alas! they wanted meate.
A thousand hogges that dogge did kill, their hunger to sustaine,
And with such foode did in that ile two and forty weekes remaine.
And there two gallant pynases did build of seader-tree;
The brave Deliverance one was call’d, of seaventy tonne was shee.
The other Patience had to name, her burthen thirty tonne;
Two only of their men which there pale death did overcome.
And for the losse of these two soules, which were accounted deere,
A sonne and daughter then was borne, and were baptized there.
The two and forty weekes being past, they hoyst sayle and away;
Their ships with hogs well freighted were, their harts with mickle joy.
And so unto Virginia came, where these brave soldiers finde
The English-men opprest with greife and discontent in minde.
They seem’d distracted and forlorne, for those two worthyes losse,
Yet at their home returne they joyd, among’st them some were crosse.
And in the mid’st of discontent came noble Delaware;
He heard the greifes on either part, and sett them free from care.
He comforts them and cheeres their hearts, that they abound with joy;
He feedes them full and feedes their soules with Gods word every day.
A discreet counsell he creates of men of worthy fame,
That noble Gates leiftenant was the admirall had to name.
The worthy Sir George Somers knight, and others of commaund;
Maister Georg Pearcy, which is brother unto Northumberland.
Sir Fardinando Wayneman knight, and others of good fame,
That noble lord his company, which to Virginia came,
And landed there; his number was one hundred seaventy; then
Ad to the rest, and they make full foure hundred able men.
Where they unto their labour fall, as men that meane to thrive;
Let’s pray that heaven may blesse them all, and keep them long alive.
Those men that vagrants liv’d with us, have there deserved well;
Their governour writes in their praise, as divers letters tel.
And to th’ adventurers thus he writes be not dismayd at all,
For scandall cannot doe us wrong, God will not let us fall.
Let England knowe our willingnesse, for that our worke is goode;
Wee hope to plant a nation, where none before hath stood.
To glorifie the lord tis done, and to no other end;
He that would crosse so good a worke, to God can be no friend.
There is no feare of hunger here for corne much store here growes,
Much fish the gallant rivers yeild, tis truth without suppose.
Great store of fowle, of venison, of grapes and mulberries,
Of chestnuts, walnuts, and such like, of fruits and strawberries,
There is indeed no want at all, but some, condiciond ill,
That wish the worke should not goe on with words doe seeme to kill.
And for an instance of their store, the noble Delaware
Hath for the present hither sent, to testifie his care
In mannaging so good a worke, to gallant ships, by name
The Blessing and the Hercules, well fraught, and in the same
Two ships, are these commodities, furres, sturgeon, caviare,
Blacke walnut-tree, and some deale boords, with such they laden are;
Some pearle, some wainscot and clapbords, with some sassafras wood,
And iron promist, for tis true their mynes are very good.
Then, maugre scandall, false report, or any opposition,
Th’ adventurers doe thus devulge to men of good condition,
That he that wants shall have reliefe, be he of honest minde,
Apparel, coyne, or any thing, to such they will be kinde.
To such as to Virginia do purpose to repaire;
And when that they shall thither come, each man shall have his share.
Day wages for the laborer, and for his more content,
A house and garden plot shall have; besides, tis further ment
That every man shall have a part, and not thereof denaid,
Of generall profit, as if that he twelve pounds ten shillings paid;
And he that in Virginia shall copper coyne receive,
For hyer or commodities, and will the country leave
Upon delivery of such coyne unto the Governour,
Shall by exchange at his returne be by their treasurer
Paid him in London at first sight, no man shall cause to grieve,
For tis their generall will and wish that every man should live.
The number of adventurers, that are for this plantation,
Are full eight hundred worthy men, some noble, all of fashion.
Good, discreete, their worke is good, and as they have begun,
May Heaven assist them in their worke, and thus our newes is done.