H T M L   T R A N S C R I P T   O F

A Passage Describing
the Indigenous Inhabitants
of the Province of Carolina


excerpted from
the 1st edition of America
(London, 1670–1)

by   J O H N   O G I L B Y   (1600–1676)
publisher and geographer, who
produced a series of atlases — Africa (1670),
Atlas Japannensis (1670), America (1670–1),
Atlas Chinensis (1671), and Asia (1673) — funded
through lotteries, subscription plans,
and advertisements


Ogilby’s America has been called “an impudent plagiarism” — text and plates — from De Nieuwe en onbekende Weereld: of Beschryving van America en’t Zuid-Land, by Arnoldus Montanus (1625?–1683), a work which was granted copyright privileges in July 1670, and published at Amsterdam in 1671. Since Ogilby had a business relationship with the Dutch publisher and engraver of Nieuwe en onbekende Weereld, Jacob van Meurs, the charge of plagiarism is unfounded. Van Meurs willingly supplied Ogilby with the leaves of plates, printed at his shop, for Ogilby’s 1670–1 English edn. of America, and even lent Ogilby the small copper plates used to print the volume’s 66 text illustrations.
   Moreover, Ogilby made many changes and additions to Montanus’ text, especially to the sections on British America, adding 3 new maps (for Maryland, Jamaica and Barbados), re-engraving the frontispiece, and re-engraving the opening map giving an overview of the Americas, to which Ogilby made substantial modifications.
   The following “character” of Carolina Algonquian life during the 1660s–1670s, after the province of Carolina was granted to 8 Lords Proprietors by Charles II on 24 March 1663, is not found in Montanus’ Dutch original, and is a new section (“Sect. V. Carolina”) added by Ogilby to Chapter 2 (“New England”) of Book 2 (“A Description of Northern America”).
   Ogilby’s account of south-eastern tribal life, published almost a century after Thomas Hariot’s Virginia (1588–9), reinscribes Hariot-White-de Bry’s presentation of regional Native Americans as festive and “merry” partners in trade and commerce. It also adds British detail and depth to the stereotype of the “noble savage,” central to the humanist ethnographic tradition popularized by the essayist, Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592).


Opening quotation markNature, Constitutions, and Manners of the Inhabitants.

 To this happy Climate the native Inhabitants are very well suited, a strong, lusty, and well shap’d People, who to their well knit and active Bodies, want not stout and vigorous Minds; they are a People of a good Understanding, well Humor’d, and generally so just and Honest, that they may seem to have no notice of, as their Language hath no word for, Dishonesty and Cheating; and the worst Name they have for ill Men is, that they are not good. They are a stout and Valiant People, which appears in the constant Wars they are engag’d in, not out of covetousness, and a desire of usurping others Possessions, or to enrich themselves by the Spoils of their Neighbors, but upon a pitch of Honor, and for the glory of Victory, which is their greatest joy, there being no parts of their Lives wherein they enjoy so much satisfaction, and give themselves so wholly to Jollity, as in their Triumphs after Victory. Valor therefore is the Vertue they most esteem and reward, and he which hath behav’d himself well in the Wars, is suffer’d to wear the Badges of Honor, and is advanc’d beyond others with some Marks of his Courage; which amongst some is blacking the Skin below his Eyes with black Lead, in fashion something of an Half-Moon; which Mark of Courage is not suffer’d to be worn by any, but those who by some brave Action, as killing the Enemy’s Leader, &c. hath signaliz’d himself in their Encounters. They are faithful to their Promises, fair and candid in their Dealings, and so far from Dishonesty, that they want even the Seeds of it, viz. Forecast and Covetousness; and he will be very little apt to deceive you to Day, who troubles not himself much about to Morrow, and trusts for the Provisions of the Day to the Day it self; which proceeds not in them for want of Wit, but desire of Content and Quiet, or by the help of their natural Reason they enjoy that Happiness which the Philosophers could not by their Study and Reading attain to, whilest these Men cut off those Desires which Learning could never help the other to Govern, and which if once permitted to run out beyond the present, are capable of no Rest nor Bounds. In their Conversation they are courteous and civil, and in their Visits make Presents to one another; when they meet, their way of Salutation is stroaking on the Shoulders, and sucking in their Breath; and If he be a great Man whom they Salute, they stroak his Thighs too; as civil an Address, as those Patterns of good Breeding, the Hero’s, us’d to their Princes, who in their greatest Courtships, we are told, embrac’d their Knees: After their Salutation they sit down; and it is usual with them to sit still almost a quarter of an hour before they speak, which is not an effect of stupidity or fullenness, but the accustom’d Gravity of their Countrey; for they are in their Tempers a merry, frollick, gay People, and so given to Jollity, that they will Dance whole Nights together, the Women sitting by and Singing, whilest the Men Dance to their Ayrs, which though not like ours, are not harsh or unpleasing, but are something like the Tunes of the Irish: So that if we will not let our selves too fondly admire onely the Customs we have been bred up in, nor think Men are to be valu’d for making Legs after our Mode, or the Clothes they wear, which, the finer and gayer they are, always the more to be suspected of Luxury and Effeminateness; if we will allow but these Men to follow the Garbs of their own Countrey, and think them fine enough in a shape onely to hide their Nakedness before, or a Deer-skin hanging loosely on their Shoulders, and their Women not ill Dress’d in Garments of Moss, and Necklaces of Beads, whilest the Fashion of their Courts require no other Ornaments; if, I fay, a long and pleasant Life, without Distemper or Care, be to be valu’d, without the incumbrance of unnecessary Trinkets; if Men are to be esteem’d for Valor, Honesty, Friendship, Humanity and good Nature, though Strangers to the ceremonious Troubles we are accustom’d to, the Natives of Carolina will as little, or perhaps less, deserve the Name of Miserable or Salvage [savage], as those that give it them. ’Tis true, the French and Spaniards who have Planted amongst them, or with little Armies travell’d their Countrey, have been ill handled by them; but yet the Indians never did them any harm, or treated them otherwise than Friends, till those Europeans by their breach of Faith and several Outrages, had provok’d their just Revenge; and they did nothing but what most vertuous and generous sort of Men are apt to do, to revenge those Affronts, which did not agree with their Tempers tamely to endure. That this did not proceed from treachery and inconstancy in their Natures, is apparent in the contrary Correspondence they have had with the English Setled amongst them, to whom they have been all along very kind, as they were at first very covetous of their Company; for after that some of their King’s Relation had been at Barbados, and had seen and admir’d the Temper, Fashions, and Strength of the English there, and had been very civilly Treated in that Island, they were so well satisfi’d with them, that at the coming of the English to Settle there, the several little Kingdoms strove with all the Arts and Arguments they could use, each of them to draw the English to Plant in their Dominions, by commending the richness of their Soil, conveniency of their Rivers, the healthiness of their Countrey, the disparagement of their Neighbors, and whatever else they judg’d might allure the English to their Neighborhood. Nor was this onely the first heat of Men fond of Novelties, and as soon weary of them again, but ever since the English first Planted at Albermarle Point, on Ashley River, they have continu’d to do them all manner of friendly Offices, ready on all occasions to supply them with any thing they have observ’d them to want, not making use of our Mens Necessities, as an opportunity to enhance the Price of their Commodities, a sort of fair Dealing we could scarce have promis’d them amongst civiliz’d, well bred, and religious Inhabitants of any part of Europe; and though they are much frighted with our Guns, both small and great, yet like innocent and well-meaning People, they do not at all distrust our Power, but freely, without suspicion, trust themselves, both Men and Women, even their Kings themselves, in our Town, Lodging and Dancing there frequently whole Nights together, upon no other Pledges but the bare confidence of our mutual Friendship; nor do our Men use any greater caution in Conversing with them, stragling up and down, and travelling singly and unarm’d through their Woods for many Miles about, and are so far from receiving any injury or ill treatment from them, that on the contrary they are kindly us’d and Entertain’d, and guided by them in their Way whenever they desire it; and when any of our Men meet them in their Walks, the Indians all stand still till they are gone by, civilly Saluting them as they pass. Nor doth this Assurance of theirs bound it self within their own Homes, they of their own accords venturing themselves aboard our Ships, have gone voluntarily with our Men to Virginia and Barbados. Nor have the English been wanting on their parts in any thing that may preserve this Amity, being very cautious of doing them any injury, bartering with them for those things they receive of them, and buying of them even the waste Land they make no use of.

 Besides the Simplicity of the Indians Diet, it is very remarkable, that they have a general aversion to those two things which are most acceptable to our Palates, and without which few of us either eat or drink with any delight; for in their Meats they cannot endure the least mixture or rellish of Salt; and for their Drink, they utterly abominate all manner of strong Liquor; to the latter whereof, their large Growth and constant Health, is perhaps not a little owing.

 Their Manner of Government.

 Every little Town is a distinct Principality, Govern’d by an Hereditary King, who in some places is not Son, but Sisters Son to the precedent King, the Succession of the Blood-Royal being continu’d by the safer side. The great Business of those Princes is to lead their Men out against their Enemies in War, or against the Beasts in Hunting; for unless it be to appoint them where to Hunt, or else to Consult about making some Attempt upon their Enemy, he hath but small trouble in the Government of his Subjects, who either through their own Honesty, or the few occasions they have for Controversies in their extempore way of Living, need few Laws, and little Severity to keep them in order; but yet they Govern their People without Contract, and fail not of a ready Obedience to their Commands; so that when some of them have bought things of such of the English, who by the Orders made amongst our selves were not to Traffick with the Indians, they have, upon Complaint made to their Casiques, been restor’d again, though in strict Rules of Law they were neither bound by, nor oblig’d to take notice of the Rules which were made onely to Govern our own People, and had at just Prices bought what they carry’d away; such is the Honesty of Men, whose Principles not being corrupted with Learning and Distinction, are contented to follow the Dictates of right Reason, which Nature has sufficiently taught all Men for the well ordering of their Actions, and enjoyment and preservation of humane Society, who do not give themselves up to be amus’d and deceived by insignificant Terms, and minding what is just and right, seek not Evasions in the Niceties and Fallacies of Words.Closing quotation mark

SOURCE:  Ogilby, John. America: being an accurate description of the new world; containing the original of the inhabitants; the remarkable voyages thither: the conquest of the vast empires of Mexico and Peru, their ancient and later wars. With their several plantations, many, and rich islands; their cities, fortresses, towns, temples, mountains, and rivers: their habits, customs, manners, and religions; their peculiar plants, beasts, birds, and serpents. Collected and translated from most authentick authors, and augmented with later observations; illustrated with notes, and adorn’d with peculiar maps, and proper sculptures, by John Ogilby esq; master of His Majesties revels in the kingdom of Ireland. London: printed by Tho. Johnson for the author, and are to be had at this House in White Fryers, M.DC.LXX [1670]. 208–211.