Transcriptions of Key Portions of Douglass (1749-52)


Douglass’s own notes are indicated by “[note]” with their transcriptions. Explanatory notes are specified with asterisks, as in the rest of this web site. Short interpolations and explanations are given in bold text.

Vol. 1: pp. 361-62

This is a laborious Affair, being obliged to consult MSS Records; the many printed Accounts are, 1. Too credulous and superstitious. 2. Too trifling; must the insipid History of every Brute [note] (some Men as to Intellects do not exceed some Brutes) or Man Animal be transmitted to posterity? 3. The Accounts of every white Man and Indian mutually kill’d or otherways dead, would swell and lower History so much, as to render the Perusal of [1:362] such Histories (excepting with old Women and Children) impracticable. 4. The Succession of pious Pastors, Elders and Deacons, in the several Townships, Parishes or Congregations; I leave to Ecclesiastick Chronologers; Canonization or Sainting seems not consistent with our Protestant Principles. 5. The printed Accounts in all Respects are beyond all Excuse intolerably erroneous.[note]This is, perhaps, a pun on Brutus, who tradition—upheld by many historians and antiquarians—held to have settled in Britain after fleeing from Troy (Brutus was the British equivalent of Aeneas, who supposedly founded the Latin race after fleeing Troy).

Vol. 1: note running across pp. 362-64

. . . I find in general, that without using Judgement, they borrow from old credulous Writers, and relate Things obsolete for many Years past, as if in the present State of the Country. Dr. Cotton Mather’s Map of New-England, New York, Jersies and Pensylvania is composed from some old rough Draughts of the first Discoverers, with obsolete Names not known at this Time, and has scarce any Resemblance of the Country; it may be called a very erroneous antiquated Map. Capt. Cyprian Southack’s Land-Map of the Eastern North America, is worse; it is as rude as if done by an Indian, or as if done in those Ages when Men first began to delineate Countries; it gives no Information, but has no other bad Effect, than turning so much Paper to Waste: But his large Chart of the Coast of Nova Scotia and New England, being one continued Error, and a random Performance, may be of pernicious Consequence in Trade and Navigation; therefore it ought to be publickly advertised as such, and destroy’d wherever it is found amongst Sea Charts.* Oldmixon’s (he died Anno 1742) British Empire in America 2 Vol. 8vo Lond[on] 1708. [Oldmixon 1708] He generally writes as if copying from some ill-founded temporary News-Paper. Dr. C. Mather says, that Oldmixon in 56 pages has 87 Falsehoods. He prefixes Mather’s silly Map; and confesses that he borrowed many Things from Cotton Mather’s Magnalia; leaving out, the Puns, Anagrams, Miracles, Prodigies, Witches, Speeches and Epistles. [Douglass lists a series of example errors] [1:363n] An indefinite Number of more Errors, the Repetition of them would be Confutation Sufficient. Neal’s History of New-England 2 Vol. 8vo. London 1720. [Neal 1720] [Douglass lists a series of example errors] To enumerate the other Errors and Blunders of this Performance, would be copying of it; but it will not bear such a new Impression.** [1:364n] This Annotation is already too prolix for Amusement, we must defer to some other Occasion the Amusements from Cotton Mather’s Magnalia, or History of New England, from Salmon’s Modern History, from Atlas maritimus & commercialis, from Josselin, and from Hubbard.***

* Also, “Capt. Southack in a most false, therefore pernicious Sea-Chart of the Coast of Nova Scotia and New- England, delineates a Thorough-Fare from the grand Bay of Massachusetts to the Ocean in Eastham, near Sandy Point; no Person, himself excepted, ever imagin’d or dreamt of this Thorough-Fare, his Dream or Words are ‘the place where I came thro’ with a Whale-Boat April 26, 1717, to look after Bellams the Pirate.'” Douglass (1749-52, 1:402n).

** This general condemnation of Neal was picked up by later reviewers; e.g., New England Historical and Genealogical Register 19 (1865): 381. Douglass made no reference to the map found in that work: New Map of New England (1720).

*** Douglass (1749-52, 1:407) dealt with Salmon ~ a “Tory, or rather a Jacobite” ~ and the Atlas at the beginning of the chapter on the old colony (pre-1691) of Massachusetts Bay. After the list of example errors from Salmon’s Modern History, Douglass wrote: “His enlarging much upon trifling and fabulous Things, to multiply Sheets, and his many obvious Inconsistencies, shew him to be a Scribbler, and no accurate Historian—His Abstract of the Laws of New-England, are from an obsolete old Charter Law-Book.” As for the Atlas Maritimus et Commercialis (London, 1728; see Phillips 1909-20, 3: no.3298), Douglass simply gives a list of errors. He once again deferred any discussion of Josselin, Hubbard, and Cotton Mather (1:407n). Douglass (2:71n) did eventually dismiss Josselyn (1672), stating that the work “abounds with gross Mistakes,” but he never got around to commenting on either Hubbard (1677) or Mather (1702), except for numerous snipes directed at Mather and his fellow clergy.

Vol. 1: p. 392

Geography and Chronology, are two the most considerable Elements of History. The most essential and invariable Things in the Geography of a Country, are its general Position upon the Surface of the Earth as to Latitude and Longitude; the remarkable Mountains and great Hills; the Sea Coast; and the Runs of Rivers and Rivulets from the inland into the Sea.

Vol. 1: note on p. 404

I am afraid, that by being so particular in the Description of our Territories or Colonies, I may be found guilty of an Impropriety, in giving the Geography instead of the History; but we must consider, that these Countries, young and dependent, cannot afford many State Revolutions, therefore our History must chiefly consist of Delineations, and of some Accounts of their various Produce and Commerce. I shall not be very minute in the Inland Geography: In my Amusement Hours, I have composed the actual Surveys (as upon Record) of each Township and District in the four Colonies of New-England, into a Plan of about 3 and a half Feet square, by a Scale of 5 Miles to one Inch. This Plan of many Years collecting, and perfected at a considerable Charge, is a free Gift, for a publick Benefit to the Provinces of New-England, each Township or District is to have a Copy gratis, to be lodged in the Town Clerk’s Office.

Vol. 2: pp. 20-21

To render this History as compleat as may at present be expected, I have annexed some Maps of the several Colonies, not borrowed from borrowing erroneous hackney [2:21] Map Publishers, but Originals composed and lately Printed in the several Countries: For instance, with the Section [on] the Colony of Connecticut, the last of the four New-England Colonies, I annex a [note (below)] correct Map of the Dominions of New-England, extended from 40 d. 30 m. to 44 d. 30 m. N. Lat. and from 68 d. 50 m. to 74 d. 50 m. W. Longitude from London. To the Colony of Pensylvania is annexed a Map of New York, the Jersies, and Pensylvania [a note specified From 43 d. 30 m. to 38 d. 30 m. N. Lat. and from 73 d. 30 m. to 78 d. W. Long. From London], published 1749, by Mr. Evans in Pensylvania, much more accurate then any hitherto Published. To the Colony of North Carolina, is annexed a Map of North Carolina [a note specified, From 33 d. to 36 d. 30 m. N. Lat.] and some Part of South Carolina principally with regard to the Sea Coast and Lands adjoining; this inland Country is waste or vacant, and consequently delineated at Random by Col. Edward Mosely of North Carolina.

Vol. 2: note on p. 21

This Map is founded upon a chorographical Plan, composed from actual Surveys of the Lines or Boundaries with the neighbouring Colonies, and from the Plans of the several Townships and Districts copied from the Records, with the Writers Perambulations: when this Plan is printed, the Author as a Benefaction gives gratis to every Township and District, a Copper Plate Copy; as the Writer of the Summary had impartially narrated the Management of the late G——– which could not bear the Light; to check the Credit of the Author, the G——– endeavoured (as shall be accounted for) to divert, impede, or defeat this publick generous spirited Amusement, but in vain. The Writer in his Journeys upon account of his Chorography and other Occasions (formerly used to such Amusements in the Gardens of Paris and Leyden) has en passant, but with some Fatigue, made a Collection of some eleven hundred indigenous Plants, classically described and refer’d to Icons in Batanick [sic] Writers which have the nearest Semblance, as the Specifick Icons would not conveniently be cut here; this is an Amusement proper for Gentlemen of Estates and Leisure, it is not quite so ridiculous as our modern Virtuoso Amusements of Shells, Butterflies, &c. The Medical or Medicinal part of Botany is small and soon becomes familiar to People of the Profession; the same may be said of the other Branches of the Materia Medica from Animals, Minerals, and chymical [sic] Preparations of those; but to proceed further as a Naturalist, is only proper for Gentlemen of Fortune, Leisure, and Leifibabbers as the Dutch express it; or Otiosorum Hominum negotia.