More from Roger Williams

“Of Salutation”:

From these courteous Salutations Observe in generall: There is a favour of civility and courtesie even amongst these wild Americans, both amongst themselves and towards strangers.
More particular:
1. The Courteous Pagan shall condemne Uncourteous Englishmen,
Uncourteous Englishmen,
Who live like Foxes, Beares and Wolves,
Or Lyon in his Den.
2. Let none sing blessings to their soules,
For that they Courteous are:
The wild Barbarians with no more
Then Nature, goe so farre:
3. If Natures Sons both wild and tame,
Humane and Courteous be:
How ill becomes it Sonnes of God
To want Humanity?

Back to previously scheduled programming soon, I promise. Melville! The Essex! Captain Cook!

“Goe you by water?”

I think, though I could be mistaken, that many people do not know Roger Williams wrote A Key into the Language of America, published in 1643. It’s sort of a lexicon+ on the language and culture of the Narragansett Indians. Phrase lists and anthropological observations. I’ve known about the book for some time, but don’t have a copy. There’s an excerpt in American Sea Writing, though, and now I want it. It’s wonderful. At the end of the chapter, “Of the Sea,” he composes some verse:

Alone ‘mongst Indians in Canoes,
Sometimes o’re-turn’d, I have been
Halfe inch from death, in Ocean deepe
God’s wonders I have seene.

Plus, I learned how to say “Bring hither my paddle,” “Pull up, or row lustily,” and “We shall be drown’d.”