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- Thomas Hariot - 1/22 -

Thomas Hariot -------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Redactor's note: Very little is known of Thomas Hariot; his only published works are the 'Briefe and true report' (PG#4247) and the posthumous 'Praxis', a handbook of algebra. He anticipated the law of refraction, corresponded with Kepler, observed comets, and may have been the first to recognize that the straight line paths of comets might be segments of elongated ellipses. The lost 'ephemera' referred to in the text have since been found (since 1876) and a conference was held in 1970 at the University of Delaware on the current state of Hariot research, the proceedings of which have been published by the Oxford University Press, where one may find a fairly current view of the historical record. Due to the large number of quotations and early english typography, the casual reader may find the 'html' version easier to follow than the text version.]



------------------------------------------------------------------------- PREMONITION

WHEN I YEARS AGO undertook among other enterprises to compile a sketch of the life of THOMAS HARIOT the first historian of the new found land of Virginia; and to trace the gradual geographical development of that country out of the unlimited 'Terra Florida' of Juan Ponce de Leon, through the French planting and the Spanish rooting out of the Huguenot colony down to the successful foothold of the English in Wingandacoa under Raleigh's patent, I little suspected either the extent of the research I was drifting into, or the success that awaited my investigations.

The results however are contained in this little volume, which has expanded day by day from the original limit of fifty to above two hundred pages. From a concise bibliographical essay the work has grown into a biography of a philosopher and man of science with extraordinary surroundings, wherein the patient reader may trace the gradual development of Virginia from the earliest time to 1585 ; I especially,' says Strachey, I that which hath bene published by that true lover of vertue and great learned professor of all arts and knowledges, Mr Hariots, who lyved there in the tyme of the first colony, spake the Indian language, searcht the country,' etc ; Hariot's nearly forty years' intimate connection with Sir Walter Raleigh; his long close companionship with Henry Percy ; his correspondence with Kepler; his participation in Raleigh's `History of the World;' his invention of the telescope and his consequent astronomical discoveries ; his scientific disciples ; his many friendships and no foeships ; his blameless life ; his beautiful epitaph in St Christopher's church, and his long slumber in the 'garden' of the Bank of England.

The little book is now submitted with considerable diffidence, for in endeavouring to extricate Hariot from the confusion of historical 'facts' into which he had fallen, and to place him in the position to which he is entitled by his great merits, it is desirable to be clear, explicit and logical. A decision of mankind of two centuries' standing, as expressed in many dictionaries and encyclopaedias, cannot be easily reversed without good contemporary evidence. This I have endeavoured to produce.

Referring to pages 191 and 192 the writer still craves the reader's indulgence for the apparently irrelevant matter introduced, as well as for the inartistic grouping of the many detached materials, for reasons there given.

It ought perhaps to be stated here that the book necessarily includes notices, more or less elaborate, of very many of Hariot's friends, associates and contemporaries, while others, for want of space, are mentioned little more than by name.

The lives of Raleigh, and Henry Percy of Northumberland, Prisoners in the Tower, seem to be inseparable from that of their Fidus Achates, but I have endeavoured to eliminate that of Hariot as far as possible without derogation to his patrons. All the new documents mentioned have their special value, but too much importance cannot be attached to the recovery of Hariot's Will, for it at once dispels a great deal of the inference and conjecture that have so long beclouded his memory. It throws the bright electric light of to-day over his eminently scholarly, scientific and philosophical Life. By this and the other authorities given it is hoped to add a new star to the joint constellation of the honored Worthies of England and America.


Vermont House, xiii Upper Avenue Road, London, N.W. April 10 1885

------------------------------------------------------------------------- THOMAS HARIOT AND HIS ASSOCIATES

' chusing always rather to doe some thinge worth nothing than nothing att all.' _Sir William Lower to Hariot_ July 19 1611 (see p. 99)

------------------------------------------------------------------------- To




Who Forty Years ago When we were young Students of History together Gave me a hand of his over the Sea NOW Give I him this right hand of mine with Ever grateful Tribute to our life-long



Custos juris reimprimendi Caveat homo trium literarum

[The touching Dedication on the opposite page was penned by my father a few months before his death on February 18, 1886. I have thought it best to leave it exactly as he had planned it, although now, alas! Mr. Parkman is no longer with us. Let us hope the old friends may have again joined hands beyond the unknown sea.-H. N. S.]

------------------------------------------------------------------------- EXPLANATORY

IN the year 1877 the late Mr. Henry Stevens of Vermont, under the pseudonym of ' Mr. Secretary Outis,' projected and initiated a literary Association entitled THE HERCULES CLUB. The following extracts from the original prospectus of that year explain this platform:

The objects of this Association are literary, social, antiquarian, festive and historical ; and its aims are thoroughly independent research into the materials of early Anglo-American history and literature. The Association is known as THE HERCULES CLUB, whose Eurystheus is Historic Truth and whose appointed labours are to clear this field for the historian of the future.

" Sinking the individual in the Association the Hercules Club proposes to scour the plain and endeavour to rid it of some of the many literary, historical, chronological, geographical and other monstrous errors, hydras and public nuisances that infest it . . . . Very many books, maps, manuscripts and other materials relating alike to England and to America are well known to exist in various public and private repositories on both sides of the Atlantic. Some unique are of the highest rarity, are of great historic value, while others are difficult of access, if not wholly inaccessible, to the general student. It ís one of the purposes therefore of the Hercules Club to ferret out these materials, collate, edit and reproduce them with extreme accuracy, but not in facsimile. The printing is to be in the best style of the Chiswick Press. The paper with the Club's monogram in each leaf is made expressly for the purpose".

The following ten works were selected as the first field of the Club's investigations, and to form the first series of its publications.

1. Waymouth (Capt. George) Voyage to North Virginia in 1605. By James Rosier. London, 1605, 4°

2. Sil. Jourdan's Description of Barmuda. London, 1610, 4°

3. Lochinvar. Encouragements for such as shall have intention to bee Vndertakers in the new plantation of Cape Breton, now New Galloway. Edinburgh, 1625, 4°

4. Voyage into New England in 1623-24.. By Christopher Levett. London, 1628, 4°

5. Capt. John Smith's True Relation of such occurrences of Noate as hath hapned in Virginia. London, 1608, 4°

6. Gosnold's Voyage to the North part of Virginia in 1602. By John Brereton. London, 1602, 4°

7. A Plain Description of the Barmudas, now called Sommer Islands. London, 1613, 4°

8. For the Colony in Virginia Brittania, Lavves Divine Morall and Martiall, &c. London, 1612, 4°

Thomas Hariot - 1/22

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