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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Setting-forth of Discommodities

By Francis Higginson (1587–1630)

[From New England’s Plantation. 1630.]

NOW I will tell you of some discommodities, that are here to be found.

First, in the summer season, for these three months, June, July, and August, we are troubled much with little flies called mosquitoes, being the same they are troubled with in Lincolnshire and the fens; and they are nothing but gnats, which, except they be smoked out of their houses, are troublesome in the night season.

Secondly, in the winter season, for two months’ space, the earth is commonly covered with snow, which is accompanied with sharp biting frosts, something more sharp than is in Old England, and therefore are forced to make great fires.

Thirdly, this country being very full of woods and wildernesses, doth also much abound with snakes and serpents, of strange colors and huge greatness. Yea, there are some serpents, called rattlesnakes, that have rattles in their tails, that will not fly from a man as others will, but will fly upon him and sting him so mortally that he will die within a quarter of an hour after, except the party stinged have about him some of the root of an herb called snake-weed to bite on, and then he shall receive no harm. But yet seldom falls it out that any hurt is done by these. About three years since an Indian was stung to death by one of them; but we heard of none since that time.

Fourthly and lastly, here wants as yet the good company of honest Christians, to bring with them horses, kine and sheep, to make use of this fruitful land. Great pity it is to see so much good ground for corn and for grass as any is under the heavens, to lie altogether unoccupied, when so many honest men and their families in Old England, through the populousness thereof, do make very hard shift to live one by the other.