Economy, Ecology, and Utopia in Early Colonial Promotional Literature

Timothy Sweet

West Virginia University

We owe the first recorded moment of ecological insight in British North America to Stephen Parmenius, intended chronicler of Sir Humphrey Gilbert's ill-fated second voyage of 1583.1 Gilbert, originally hoping to establish acolony in what is now New England, stopped off for provisions at St. John's harbor, Newfoundland, where an international fishing fleet had made its base. According to the terms of his patent, Gilbert took possession of the territory on which the fisherman had established drying stations and let these lands back to them as his tenants. Anxious to search for ores and other resources that could support acolony there, Gilbert and company found it difficult toget inland. Parmenius reported, in a letter to the younger Richard Hakluyt, that the thick woods "so hynder the sighte of the Lande, and stoppe the way of those that seeke to travell, that they can goe no whither. 2To gain an unobstructed view and entry into the interior, Parmenius urged Gilberto burn the woods, but Gilbert refused,

for feare of great inconvenience that mighthereof insue: for it was reported and confirmed by verie credible persons, that when the like happened by chance in another Port, the fish never came to the place about it, for the space of 7. whole yeere after, by reason of the waters made bytter by the turpentyne, and rosen of the trees, which ranne into the ryvers upon the fyring of them.3

We can now infer that it was not pine sap but soil erosion from the burned-off shore that polluted the estuary for seven years, until new growth stabilized the banks.4 Gilbert and his crew, however, interpre this "verie credible" story of environmental interaction in a different way, seeing therein a relationship among the commodities of the New World. They imagine so much sap being released in a fire that it cannot burn off but instead renders enormous amounts of its primary distillate, "turpentyne," and a by-product of distillation, "rosen."5 The superfluity of these commodities courses down the banks, turning the water "bytter" and obstructing the harvest of another commodity, fish.

Reading Parmenius's letter from Newfoundland, we imagine what Gilbert imagined - a narrative of environmental interaction - but we understand its causal mechanism differently. This difference alerts us to Gilbert's interest in the economic dimension of environmental representation. Economy enters Gilbert's environmental understanding under the category of commodity, which to him means both a specific good or resource and, more generally, due measure, fitness, or convenience. As the younger Hakluyt would argue in the "Discourse of Western Planting" (1584), the "manifolde comodyties that are like to growe to this Realme of Englande by the Westerne discoveries lately attempted" included economic recovery, full employment, trade with indigenous Americans, discovery of a Northwest passage, geopolitical advantage relative to Spain and other European nations, the extension of Christendom, the glory of the Crown, and so on - as well as particular goods (0, 2:211). Promising new possibilities for commodity in the most general sense, the American environment invited the English to develop a new mode of political economy, one that theorized economics in terms of environmental cpacity in a way that the then-dominant mode, agrarianism, had not yet done. This economic theorizing was a primary concern of the promotional literature of the late sixteenth century (and beyond), significantly shaping its generic conventions and motivating its cultural work.6

Promotional literature's fundamental linkage of economics and the environment invites us to read the genre in terms of steady-state or sustainable economic theory. While recent years have seen the rise of both the "new economic criticism" and ecocriticism, literary critics have been slow to investigate in detail the interrelation of economy and ecology.7.

In the social and biological sciences, however, the interdisciplinary field of steady-state or sustainableconomics has emerged precisely to theorize this interrelation.8 Early promotional literature provides an occasion to bring to bear this field's insights and to open literary studies onto the nexus of economy and ecology.

Sustainable economics works in systemic terms, describing the economy as an open subsystem of the ecosystem: the economy "tak[es] in useful (low-entropy) raw material and energy" from the natural environment while "giving back waste (high-entropy) material and energy" for the natural environment to absorb and, to some extent, "reconstitute .. . into reusable raw materials."9 Sixteenth-century promoters of colonization addressed asimilar set of concerns about inputs, outputs, and boundaries. Participating in the consolidation of economics as a distinct field during the latter part of the sixteenth century, the promoters began to define the English nation as an economy and to understand it as a system.10 They argued that the well-being of the realm depended on opening this system to New World environments and, to some extent, closing it off from other Old World economic systems.11" Inspeculating on the expansion, boundaries, and limits of the economy, they redefined existing economic terms such as commodity, waste, and vent in relation to the capacities of this new environmental context.12 With respect to input, one of the primary concerns of sustainable economics, the early promoters argued that more commodities-more oil, more timber, more wine, more gold, and so on-had to be brought into the English economy, but from New World environments rather than European trading partners. As for output, the early promoters could not theorize the accumulation of antiproductive waste, since early modern technologies did not stress the environment's absorptive capacity in the way that today's technologies do.13 Even so, both in seeing the New World as an outlet for one kind of waste (people) and in speculating on the transformation of that waste into productive resources, the promoters pointed toward sustainable economics' understanding ofthe relation of output to environmental absorption and transformation.

Seen in this light, early promotional texts compel the attention of anyone interested in a general consideration of ecocritical and ecological issues, even though they are not what we would call "green" texts.14 They are not, for example, antigrowth.15 On the contrary, in a proto-Lockean recognition that wealth derives from the human transformation of the environment, the sixteenth-century promoters articulated, arguably for the firstime, the paradigm of growth that has since become naturalized in political and economic discourse.16 Since sustainable economics is primarily interested in determining the environmental limits on growth, it provides a useful theoretical apparatus for understanding the colonial promoters' theorization of growth and Americans' subsequent economic engagements with the environment. The early promoters describe the late-sixteenth-century English economy as increasingly entropic, requiring new capacities for input and output to achieve a steady state characterized by full employment and social stability; later promoters, from Edward Johnson to Thomas Jefferson ad beyond, retained this commitment to growth.17 Sustainable economics defines potential inputs and outputs as finite, arguing that the economy cannot continue to grow indefinitely but "may continue to develop qualitatively" without growing.18 While one critique of reading these early texts through sustainable economics is obvious -it is not clear that the early promoters recognized absolute environmental limits as such -this point should not prevent us from thinking through the promoters' originating insight. This insight, which became invisible to subsequent economists until sustainable economics brought it again into view, was to theorize the link between growth (and economic questions generally) and the natural environment.

Colonization Theory

Promotional texts written by the elder and younger Hakluyts, Sir George Peckham, Christopher Carleill, and others during the late sixteenth century shared a particular economic narrative regarding New World environments. According to this narrative, England was suffering from an unfavorable balance of trade caused largely by the decline of its textile industry. More raw wool and less finished cloth were being exported to uncertain and diminishing markets, while imports of other goods had remained steady or increased. Moreover, in the absence of disease and war, the population was increasing. The result was widespread unemployment and unrest, and the general impoverishment of the realm. Colonization would provide a solution to all these interlinked problems. America's indigenous population could be induced to trade for finished cloth and/or a large enough colony of English settlers would provide such a New World market. In return for cloth, the New World promised to supply all the commodities that England was at the time importing or hoping to import from enemies or doubtful friends (Spain, Portugal, France, the Levant, Russia) - and at cheaper rates. Some of the poor could be transported to the colonies, where they would find employment incommodity production, while those who remained in England would find employment in both a revitalized wool trade and new industries based on adding value to import commodities from New World environments.

Early modern England's first theoretical text on colonization, Sir Thomas More's Utopia (1510), found its inspiration in the Columbian discovery and located its ideal political economy in the New World, but it showed little interest in the material specificity of New World environments. In one respect anticipating the arguments of Thomas Jefferson and Frederick Jackson Turner, More develops an agrarian theory of the frontier as safety valve, describing colonization as the best solution to overpopulation and thus a means by which an ideal society could be maintained. When the population of Utopia exceeds a fixed quota, its citizens colonize the "nexte lande where the inhabitauntes haue muche waste and vnoccupied grounde" ("agri ... cultu uacat").19 The Utopian economic base (which resembles that of agrarian England in important respects) is replicated on this "waste" land. Such a view of colonization established an assumption that would become crucial in legitimating the appropriation ofindigenous Americans' land: the natives are assumed not to cultivate the land. They can either join with the Utopians, who will make the land abundantly productive, or resist colonization, in which case they will be driven off by war, for the Utopians consider it just to wage war to bring "voyde and vacaunt" ("inane ac uacuum") land into cultivation (U, 67; CW, 136). While it would be over a century before the English prosecuted such a war of conquest in America, More's passage on colonization registers the important characterization ofNew World land as "waste," even though inhabited, which was taken up by the late sixteenth-century promoters.

More's Utopians do not colonize to gain commodities for import or trade, since the realm produces abundant quantities of all goods, which are free for the taking in the marketplaces. Nevertheless, complications introduced by their import of iron, gold, and silver suggest a conflict between two ideologies of national wealth in sixteenth-century England, the dominant agrarianism and emerging mercantilism.20 Like the natives in More's source text, Vespucci's account of the New World, the Utopians are supposed to regard gold and silver as valueless within their own society (CW, 428). They use these metals to fashion chamber pots and chains for slaves, storing them in these forms in case they should have to pay tribute to avoid a war. Yet the paradox involved in their "ritual debasement" of these metals suggests, as numerous commentators have pointed out, the repression of a desire for their evidently innate value.21 Thus while More advances the Utopian theory of colonization in the name of agrarianism - an ideology of use value in which iron is valuable but gold and silver are not - the Utopians' import of precious metals hints at, if only by way of prohibition, an ideology in which trade is the primary source of wealth. Importing the iron necessary for agriculture and manufacturing seems less ideologically charged, but in one respect it is even more revealing; it indicates that their agrarian economy is fundamentally dependent on trade, though the Utopians do not fully realize this dependence.22 To pursue the analogues in England: colonization practice embodied agrarian theory during most of the sixteenth century in the effort to colonize Ireland, which the English represented as a waste region inhabited by an uncivilized people.23 At the same time, mercantilism was beginning to describe the English economy's dependence on trade, but it had not yet theorized colonialism as a means of securing a new source of inputs. The most important sixteenth-century mercantilist text, A Discourse of the Commonweal (written 1549, revised c. 1576, published 1581), identified a negative balance of trade in contemporary England. Yet even in the face of evidence that Spanish gold from the New World was a significant cause of the problem, this treatise proposed purely domestic means to correcthe imbalance, "first, by staying of wares wrought beyond the sea which might be wrought within us from coming to be sold; secondly, by staying of our woolens, tins, and fells, and other commodities from passing over unwrought," and thirdly by instilling good order among the laboring classes.24 Some commodities must always be imported, "since men will needs have silks, wine, and spice," but if England's manufactures were to be sufficiently developed, the overall balance of trade with other Old World nations would promote economic recovery.25

Input: Commodity

Beginning in the 1570s, promotional writers grafted this emergent mercantilist ideology onto the existing agrarian theory of colonization in order to articulate, in a new literary genre, a new practice that would account for the import of "silks, wine, and spice" that was troubling England's economy. Their first and most obvious step was to identify specific new sources of inputs, apoint of no concern to More's Utopians. Thus the memorandum that the elder Richard Hakluyt prepared in 1578 for Sir Humphrey Gilbert's first voyage - a text that, brief as it is, establishes certain conventions of the promotional tract genre, such as its georgic imagination of labor - advises prospective colonists to "discover al the naturall commodities" of the country and proceeds to discuss means of production (0, 1:118).26 If, for example, there are flats on the shore and the sun is hot enough to evaporate sea water, "then may you procure aman of skill" to make salt, "and so you have wonne one noble commoditie for the fishing, and for trade of marchandize." Or, "if the soyle and clymate bee such as may yeelde you the Grape as good as that" in Portugal, Spain, or the Canaries, "then there resteth but a woorkeman to put in execution to make wines, and to dresse Resigns of the sunne" (0, 1:118).

Unlike More's Utopians, the Hakluyts and their cohort see colonizable environments as both empty and full. The Utopians replicated their agrarian political economy by colonizing the "waste," "voyde and vacaunt" land held by less civilized peoples. The promoters similarly propose colonizing what they called the "waste Contries" of the New World (0, 2:319), but they emphasize not the vacancy but the fullness of these new environments. They regard the indigenous inhabitants less as people to be conquered than as prospective trading partners. They value the physical environment for what it produces naturally as well as for what it could be made to produce. Following the theory of climate advanced in Aristotle's Meterologica, the promoters assume that latitude predicts weather and other environmental factors (climata being the classical geographic term for latitudinal bands of the globe), so that Old World environments can simply be mapped laterally onto New.27 Surveying extant reports on these latitudes in his compendious "Discourse of Western Planting," the younger Hakluyt argues "that this westerne voyadge will yelde unto us all the commodities of Europe, Affrica, and Asia, as farr as we were wonte to travell" in previous trading (0, 2:222). He begins at 30 degrees, Florida, and continue systematically north to 63 degrees, Newfoundland, more or less correlating commodities to climate according to Old World patterns. The promoters were also interested in what was unique to the New World, but less so in the early stages. Hakluyt describes sassafras at length, for example, but does not yet mention tobacco. "As for Tobacco," Captain John Smith would later recall, "wee never then dreamt of it."28

Many of the desired commodities were derived from Mediterranean cultivars. Emphasizing this category in the summary of his climatic survey, Hakluyt asserts that the North American soil in general is "apte to beare olyves for oile, all kindes of frutes as oranges, almondes, filberdes, figges, plomes, mulberies, raspis, pomi appij, melons, all kindes of odoriferous trees and date trees, Cipresses, Cedars, bayes" (0, 2:232-33). If the first item on Hakluyt's list strikes contemporary readers as especially curious, in his time it was especially significant, serving as a synecdoche for the replacement of trade for Mediterranean commodities in general and reaching to the heart of England's most important industry, wool fabrication. The wool had to be cleaned with large quantities of soap made from sweet oil; soap made from animal products gave the finished cloth an unpleasant odor.29 Domestic experimentation with vegetable oils-for example, rapeseed-had not been successful; thus the elder Hakluyt noted in 1582 that oil was still the one thing that England could not supply to its own wool industry (0, 1:189-90). The Mediterranean was of course the greatest source of olive oil, but to trade with "Barbarye, Spayne, Portugale, [or] Italy" was, as Hakluyt remarked, to "inrytche our doubtfull frendes and infydelles as nowe by our ordynary trade we doe" (0, 2:341).

Colonial promoters were reluctant to give up their goal of replicating Old World commodity environments, even as they gained more experience of America. Thomas Hariot's A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1588) is a case in point. Having spent some time in Virginia, Hariot could attend more closely than the Hakluyts to the specificity of the environment. He seems quite interested in tobacco, for example, yet he does not treat it in the section on "Merchantable commodities"; instead, he describes it in the section on "victuall and sustenance of mans life, usually fed upon by the naturall inhabitants; asalso by us, during the time of our abode," along with beans, corn, pumpkins, and the like.30 On the lookout for familiar commodities, Hariot begins his account with "Silke of grasse, or Grasse silke. There is a kind of grasse in the country, upon the blades whereof there groweth very good silke in forme of a thin glittering skin to be stript off." This promise is confirmed by the fact that "the like groweth in Persia, which is in the selfe same climate as Virginia, of which very many of the Silke works that come from thence into Europe are made." He describes the environmental transformation necessary to fulfill this promise: although "there is great store thereof in many places of the countrey growing naturally and wild," yet "if it be planted and ordered as in Persia, it cannot in reason be otherwise, but that there will rise in short time great profit to the dealers therein.... And by the meanes of sowing and planting it in good ground, it will be farre greater, better, and more plentifull then it is" (68). Hariot's desire for Old World commodities leads to some mistakes; what he took for silk grass was probably yucca.31 Even so, his experience of Virginiand his skill as a naturalist temper his projections to some extent, uniquely among the early promoters. While he knows that a source of oil is especially important, he does not propose growing olives as other promoters do. Instead, he goes to great lengths to identify local substitutes, arguing that "a commodity ... may be raised" of "Oke-akornes" or "two sorts of Walnuts, both holding oile," and reclassifying the "fatnesse" of bears, which "because it is so liquid, may well be termed oile, and hath many speciall uses" (70). The most environmentally sensitive of all early promoters of American colonization, Hariot nevertheless maintains their Old World frame of reference while enlarging their fundamentally economic characterization New World environments.32

Output: Waste

While the hope of replacing Old World commodity sources defined the relation between economy and environment in terms of input, the question of output was more complex. This complexity is evident in the elder Hakluyt's innovative use of the term waste. In his "Inducements to the Liking of the Voyage intended towards Virginia, " written for Sir Walter Ralegh in 1584, Hakluyt advises that

since great waste Woods be there, of Oake, Cedar, Pine, Wall-nuts, and sundry other sorts, many of our waste people may be imployed in making of Ships, Hoies, Busses and Boats; and in making of Rozen, Pitch and Tarre, the trees naturall for the same, being certeinly knowen to be neere Cape Briton and the Bay of Menan, and in many other places there about. (0, 2:331, emphases added)

This passage encapsulates the English history of the term waste and participates in its conceptual transformation by applying it to both the potential of the land as commodity environment and the potential of people as labor power; the passage thus rethinks waste in terms of productive capacity. The discovery of economic inputs in America's waste woods reminds us of the discovery of the untapped agricultural capacity of England's waste lands, as commons, forests, and fens were enclosed, cut, or drained during the era of agrarian improvement, especially from the early seventeenth century on.33 More than domestic projectors, however, Hakluyt values the woods precisely in their waste state, for in that state they yield many of the commodities he seeks. The waste state of the American forests is not, as in England, merely astage on the way to agrarian land use.

Hakluyt's reference to "waste people" is more innovative still, for it engages the problem of output. Invited by the New World context, his usage in 1584 ante date similar usages in domestically oriented texts. The OED records the first application of waste to people as Thomas Nashe's pamphlet, Pierce Penilesse, published eight years later, in 1592. Like Hakluyt, Nashe is addressing an economic problem (albeit the much narrower one of providing better remuneration for professional authors like himself). He similarly identifies an excess of population in England, which leads to "a certaine waste of the people for whome there is no vse, but warre"; Nashe suggests staging more plays as "some light toyes to busie their heads withall" to prevent their becoming disruptive to the state.34 In the seventeenth century, agrarian improvers such as Gervase Markham (in The English Husbandman, 1613) began to refer to "waste persons" as a domestic source of labor.35 The management of this labor power-the transformation of the poor into the working class-became increasingly important ineconomic analysis over the course of the century.36

A conjunction of circumstances and attitudes compelled Hakluyt to conceptualize the poor as waste. It was a commonplace of the time that England was overpopulated. One explanation, given by Nashe and numerous others, was that there had been no wars of late. Thus in a prefatory poem commending Sir George Peckham's 1583 promotional tract, John Hawkins cites a classical to deal with this surplus population:37

The Romains when the number of their people grewe so great, As neither warres could waste, nor Rome suffice them for a seate. They led them forth by swarming troupes, to forraine lands amaine And foundedivers Colonies, unto the Romaine raigne.38.

Hakluyt's "waste people" were those who could be "wasted" by war, if necessary (a sense that continues in our vernacular use of waste as a synonym for kill). The sense of waste as economic loss or lack of gain also contributed to Hakluyt's labeling of the unemployed poor as excess, "waste people. " Christopher Carleill refers to "our poore sorte of people, whiche are verie many amongst us, livyng altogethere unprofitable, and often tymes to the great disquiet of the better sort," and similar formulations appear in all contemporary promotional tracts.39 The early promoters characterized this class of people as expendable, a waste, because they were consuming without producing. They proposed colonization as a means of expelling this waste from the English economy and transforming it into a productive resource.

Boundary: Vent

Some of the waste people might have found employment in England, the early promoters argued, but for the decline of England's primary industry, wool fabrication. It is telling that despite their assumption of the New World's potential to produce everything of the Old World, the promoters never suggest wool as a colonial product. Even Peckham, who (unlike most other promoters) hoped to found a colony devoted not only to trade but to extensive agrarian settlement as well, does not mention good pasturage among his inducements to colo- nization.40 True, the country was mostly wooded, but woods could sooner be converted to pasture than to olive groves, as Peckham and others repeatedly propose, or to fields of silk grass or woad, as the more moderate Hariot would suggest. However, the importance of wool production to the mercantile construction of England's national image determined its treatment in the promotional literature as a commodity in need of a New World vent, or market.

The crisis in the wool industry became an important locus for the question of economic boundaries not only by providing a motive for creating cheap sources of commodity input (such as oil and dyestuffs), but by impelling merchants to look for a new vent for the finished cloth. From the mid-fifteenth to the mid-sixteenth century, England's exports of wool cloth doubled, most of it sold through Antwerp. However, in the second half of the sixteenth century, financial and political crises resulting from Spanish control of the Netherlands made export difficult, and the cloth trade experienced a depression. Trade was developing with more distant markets, such as the Baltic region and Russia, but these were uncertain markets and involved distant or difficult routes.41 Thus all of the 1580s promotional tracts speculate strongly on a New World wool trade. Fourth among the elder Hakluyt's "Inducements" for Ralegh's Virginia project (rhetorically subordinate only to the glory of God, the increase of Christians, and the honor of the Queen) is a vision of

an ample vent in time to come of the Woollen clothes of England, especially those of the coursest sorts, to the maintenance of our poore, that els sterve or become burdensome to the realme: and vent also of sundry our commodities upon the tract of that firme land, and possibly in other regions from the Northerne side of that maine. (0, 2:327)

Hakluyt projects markets among both transplanted English laborers and indigenous peoples, but he remains rather vague about the nature and development of these markets. Peckham works out more closely the logistics of the projected wool trade. The indigenous Americans, he argues,

so soone as they shall begin but a little to taste of civillitie, will take mervailous delight in any garment be it never so simple.... The people in those partes, are easily reduced to civilitie bothe in manners and garments. Which beeing so, what vente for our English clothes will thereby ensue, and howe great benefito all such persons and Artificers whose names are coated in the margent [sidenote: "Clothiers. Wolmen. Carders. Spinners. Weavers. Fullers. Sheremen. Diers. Drapers. Clothiers. Cappers Hatters. etc. And many decayed townes repayred."], I doo leave to the judgement of such as are discrete.42

An English trading colony would thus mark the boundary between the English economy and its outsides, other as yet undeveloped economies whose source of inputs would be directly from New World nature. Input and output would be mediated through this boundary. Here it is significant that despite Hawkins's invocation of Roman precedent in the poem prefacing Peckham's tract, Peckham does not promote an imperial vision. Rather than encompassing the world, as the Roman economy had attempted to do, the English economy would develop within limits marked by trading outposts. This limitation marks a conflict within Peckham's text and beyond it, a conflict between ideas about the economics of colonization and the versions of nationalism implied in those ideas. For the merchants, colonization was a means of opening the economy, of creating permeable but distinct boundaries; for the agrarian gentry, colonization implied the extension of empire, the full subsumption of New World lands under English law and practice. Only in his address to the merchant class does Peckham concern himself with the logistics of the vent, for only there can he think in terms of a clearly defined inside and outside.

In late-sixteenth-century promotional literature generally, the term vent brings together etymologies of sale (vendere, vendare) and outlet (ventus). To pursue these etymologies fully through the Old French to their Latin origins - a pursuit complicated by the fact that it is "adventurers" (to come, to chance, venire) who speculate on the vent of commodities -could involve us in a Nabokovian game of word golf. It is enough here to identify the convergence of vendere and ventus, which indicates both a boundary pierced by an opening and sales seen from the point of view of the seller - a logic of supply and outflow rather than demand and inflow. The other frequent term in this literature for the export sale of commodities, uttering or utteraunce ("out"), carries similar connotations. Fully wrought commodities seem naturally to seek an outlet, an empty space into which they might be sent. In this respect, English goods wanting vent are like the English waste people whom the promoters identify as a colony's potential labor supply: both need an outlet, which can be provided by New World environments.

In this context, the elder Hakluyt uses the term to develop a conceptual link between excess people and commodities. In the 1584 "Inducements," he envisions a "large and ample vente not only of our wolleyn Clothes of Englande but also of the labor of our poore people at home by sale of Hattes, Cappes, and a thousande kynde of other wrought ware that in tyme may be brought in use amounge the people of those Countryes to the great relief of the multitude of our pore people, and to the wounderfull inrytchinge of this Realme," and he goes on to describe numerous other productive tasks, under more than twenty subheadings, for employing the poor in the New World (0, 2:343). He concludes with an appeal urging "not onlye the marchaunts and Clothiers but alsoe all other sortes and degrees of our nacion to seeke newe dyscovereyes of peopled regions for vente of our Idle people, otherwise in shourte tyme many mischeifs maye ensue" (0, 2:343, emphasis added). While this second use of "vente" refers explicitly to the transportation of the idle or waste poor to the colonies, it resonates with contemporary uses of the term to refer both to the commodities to be wrought by the poor at home and to the labor that, as an abstract quality, would be embodied in those commodities. English products, English labor, and even the English people themselves are all poised to take advantage of the vent offered by New World environments, simultaneously supplying the English economy with goods and ridding it of its excesses.

Entropy and Nostalgia

Where the elder Hakluyt wrote his promotional texts primarily for the merchant adventurers themselves, his younger cousin had the opportunity to reshape the genre for a larger audience. Commissioned by Ralegh to organize information North America and arguments for colonization into a form that would enlist the Crown's active support, the younger Hakluyt produced in 1584 "A Particuler Discourse concerninge the Greate Necessitie and Manifolde Comodyties That Are Like to Growe to this Realme of Englande by the Westerne Discoveries Lately Attempted," now generally known as the "Discourse of Western Planting." Perhaps it was the challenge of locating the merchant adventurers' concerns in relation to English national identity and policy that drew him, in a key moment, back to More's meditations on these issues. In the debate concerning England's social ills in Book 1 of Utopia, the company particularly address themselves to the increase in crime attendant on widespread unemployment and rising prices. They are drawn into this debate by the itinerant lawyer Raphael's recollection of a paradox of crime and punishment noted by one who, in a dinner conversation with the Archbishop,

began dyligently and busily to prayse that strayte and rygorous iustice, which at that tyme was there executed upon fellones, who, as he sayde, were for the moste part .xx. [20] hanged together vpon one gallowes. And, seyng so fewe escapyd punyshement, he sayd he coulde not chewse but greatly wonder and maruell, howe and by what euill luck it should so cum to passe, that theues neuertheles were in euery place so ryffe and ranke. (U, 11-12)

Raphael argues in reply the economic causes of crime, until the Archbishop rather tediously turns the conversation back to the more abstract question of justice. The company, however, are more interested than the Archbishop in political economy, and so they ask Raphael to describe Utopia.

Hakluyt's consideration of England's social ills moves similarly from the animating topic of crime and punishment to larger concerns of political economy. Incorporating an economic explanation of crime that Raphael would have approved into a scene of execution that alludes to More's text, Hakluyt points out that

wee are growen more populous than ever heretofore: . . . yea many thousandes of idle persons are wthin this Realme, wch havinge no way to be sett on worke be either mutinous and seeke alteration in the state, or at leaste very burdensome to the common wealthe, and often fall to pilfering and thevinge and other lewdnes, whereby all the prisons of the lande are daily pestered and stuffed full of them, where either they pitifully pyne awaye, or els at lengthe are miserably hanged, even xxti. at a clappe oute of some one Jayle. (0, 2:234)

Abundance of population and skill turn to excess, waste, and consumption of resources: "So that nowe there are of every arte and science so many, that they can hardly lyve one by another, nay rather they are readie to eate upp one another," as thievery becomes their only economic activity (0, 2:234). Hakluyt argues that there is not enough wealth in England's economy to support this unproductive, indeed subtractive activity. In such an entropic situation, state-imposed deaths, a score at a time on one gallows, seem to provide the only regulation for a system that cannot regulate itself. More's Raphael had identified domestic solutions to the problems of poverty and crime, such as legislation against enclosure, before transporting the reader to a New World society in which political economy is organized to prevent these problems. Just as More's Utopians establish colonies to draw off their surplus population, Hakluyt argues that "yf this voyadge were put in execution, these pety theves mighte be condempned for certen yeres in the westerne partes." The crucial difference is that this population would work not so much to support itself as to produce numerous and varied commodities for English import, and it would also serve as an export market for English goods (0, 2:234). Hakluythus reconfigures subtraction or consumption asoutlet and links it to input, elaborating the conceptual transformation of waste envisioned by his elder cousin.

Explicitly citing the legal and penal context invited by his engagement with More, Hakluyt presents the nation with two alternatives: England will continue to be a land of criminals, jails, and gallows, or it will become a land of full employment and increasing wealth. In addressing the Crown, however, he needs an argument that does more than balance law and economy. The argument he develops in the concluding section of the "Discourse" proposes a primarily economic-environmental understanding of English national identity. Here Hakluyt returns to another of More's topics, the importance of the wool industry for England's national well-being, giving it a quite different interpretation. In Book 1 of Utopia, Raphael describes the effects of enclosure, a practice necessary for the expansion of wool production: sheep have devoured the people and depopulated the countryside, turning formerly cultivated land into wilderness. As one shepherd replaced several plowmen on estate after estate, the resulting unemployment became a standard theme in the literature of agrarian complaint, of which More's passage is the most famous example.43 Historical evidence complicates this theme, however. Some of the population forced off the land by enclosure found work in the cloth-producing districts that began to grow up in the late fifteenth century, as the wool industry expanded and found export markets on the continent.44 Even so, the "nostalgic vision" of More's complaint - its implicit appeal to an idealized set of social relations disrupted by economic transformation -had great emotional power.45

It is therefore somewhat surprising that Hakluyt should represent the wool industry itself, the very emblem of negatively valued modernity in More's text, as an object of nostalgia in his concluding arguments. Yet this nostalgia is strategically located in a hypothetical future that England might avoid through colonization. In this way, Hakluyt taps the power of nostalgia while skirting any admission of loss. England, he says, "nowe for certen hundreth yeres last passed" had by virtue of wool production "raised it selfe from meaner state to greater wealthe and moche higher honor, mighte and power then before" (0, 2:313). However, with the increase of the Spanish wool trade in the West Indies,

the wolles of England and the clothe made of the same, will become base, and every day more base then other, wch prudently weyed, yt behoveth this Realme yf it meane not to returne to former olde meanes [meanness] and basenes, but to stande in present and late former honor glorye and force, and not negligently and sleepingly to slyde into beggery, to foresee and to plante at Norumbega or some like place, were it not for anything els but for the hope of the vent of our woll indraped, the principall and in effecte the onely enrichinge contynueinge naturall commoditie of this Realme. (0, 2:314)

Making the state of the wool industry a synecdoche for England's national identity, as other promoters had done, Hakluyt introduces temporal complications that enable multiple readings of that figure. He compares a"former olde" state to a preferable "late former" one, but he has already described the value of wool as "every day" becoming "more base then the other." These complications identify the present moment as a balance point, a critical juncture from which England might or might not "negligently and sleepingly ... slyde into beggery. "

The growth of the wool industry during the fifteenth century, which Hakluyt views nostalgically from the hypothetical perspective of an increasingly entropic future, had required an economic and environmental transformation of the sort that Hakluyt is now inspired to propose on a larger scale for the New World. In the early to mid-fifteenth century, large landholders, responding to agricultural depression, had expanded sheep production; as the wool industry developed, population declined in areas previously devoted to tillage but increased in new cloth-producing districts. That is, the growth of the wool trade transformed land use from subsistence to commodity production. A center-periphery organization emerged, in which the countryside supplied wool to be worked in the towns. For agrarians such as More, this reorganization was the target of nostalgic complaint. For Hakluyt it suggested a paradigm for revitalizing the "decayed townes" that were the objects of his own mercantile nostalgia (0, 2:235). If England was poised on the brink of irreversible, entropic decline, "ymmynent mischefe hanginge over our heades," the only hope of recovery was opening the English economy to the wastes of the New World, where the native inhabitants still produced at subsistence levels but where the environment's capacity for greater input and output held the promise of systemic balance for England's economy (0, 2:314).

Economy and Ecology

The early promoters' New World speculations took place in a critical historical moment, after which modern economic and environmental discourses gradually diverged, to reconverge again only recently. The larger pattern of this divergence was to some extent anticipated by local responses to economic recovery and subsequent depression in the early seventeenth century. Analysts of the period, in thinking about the economy, looked only to the Old World and thought only of money. After the stagnation of the cloth industry during the 1590s (which Hakluyt had predicted), treaties with Spain and France opened up Mediterranean vents for the cloth that Hakluyt would have directed toward the New World. (This is one reason why England was relatively slow to colonize the New World.) For these new markets, manufacturers began to produce lighter, less durable woolens, which provided greater employment than had the heavier, traditional goods because more labor was required per pound of wool. Soon, however, foreign competition in these manufactures increased, and the resulting decline of England's export trade ushered in the depression of the 1620s. In response, economic analysts formulated a monetarist approach, arguing that the readily observable outflow of the realm's treasure was caused by an unfavorable balance of trade, but failing to theorize the root causes of the imbalance. Concentrating instead on pricing and currency valuation, the economists of the 1620s ignored the environment, giving mercantilism its now-familiar monetarist character.46

Viewed in larger historical perspective, the divergence of economic and environmental discourse followed this general pattern. Agrarianism, as articulated in More's Utopia and elsewhere, had assumed a closed system in which wealth, understood as rights to land and its produce, was finite (and, as the sixteenth-century literature of agrarian complaint argued, unfairly distributed). The paradigm of growth suggested by the colonial promoters began to be realized in the 1630s and 1640s, as New World commodities such as Newfound- land fish and Chesapeake tobacco provided abasis for the economic recovery that would develop fully after 1660. This paradigm was formalized in the eighteenth-century classical economic models developed by Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and the Physiocrats, who criticized the seventeenth-century monetarists and described growth as requiring an increased input of environmental resources.47 Understanding resources primarily as agricultural land, the classical economists argued that resource-based growth would be subject to diminishing returns over greater inputs of labor and capital. Thus their followers soon turned their attention to manufacturing, which, since machines could be replicated and improved, promised constant or increasing growth. Neoclassical through Keynesian economic models, assuming the paradigm of growth, focused on exchange relations, analyzing the production-consumption cycle and surplus value in ways that closed off economic theory from any significant consideration of the environment.48 Postmodern theorists of exchange, such as Jean-Joseph Goux, have extended this logic to all aspects of the social, without, however, theorizing any relation between the social and what is outside it, in effect extending the neoclassical-Keynesian description of the economy as a closed system.49

Ironically, while economic theory increasingly excluded the physical environment from its domain of analysis, modern environmental science came to draw on economic models to work out eighteenth-century speculations that there might be an "economy" of nature itself, representing nature as an interrelated system of production, consumption, and exchange. But only with the full development of the concept of the ecosystem-the understanding of nature in terms of energy systems rather than traditional economic categories-could environmental science offer economics a significant paradigm in return.50 According to this paradigm, the economy is a subsystem of the ecosystem, conceptually separable but materially dependent on the ecosystem's capacities to provide low-entropy input and absorb high-entropy output. More recent ecological theories, which describe nature in terms of disequilibrium or chaos, have complicated the systems-theory model, making it more of sustainable inputs and outputs.51

The promotional writings of the Hakluyts and their cohort develop a suggestively similar position. That is, in certain respects they return us to our present crisis. They describe an economy threatened with entropic decay and see that the reversal of this trajectory must come from a direct engagement with the physical environment that involves considerations of input, output, and boundary, commodity, waste, and vent, even if those considerations are uncertain in theory. They propose that the health of the economy depends only on the limits of nature, even if they cannot fully conceptualize these limits. Since we feel we are much closer to nature's limits (and have more science) than they, it is easy to criticize them for a failure of insight in this regard. It is more interesting, as I hope I have demonstrated, to try to understand them on their own terms. We might go on, then, to consider some implications of that understanding for literary history and theory, environmental theory, and practical environmental problems.

Although I have charted the historical divergence of economic and environmental thought, these strands remain interwoven in the American georgic tradition. In the late eighteenth century, for example, Crevecoeur, Jefferson, Franklin, and less familiar writers such as Jared Eliot, Benjamin Rush, John Spurrier, John Filson, and John Lorain debated the effects of various farming methods and land use patterns on economic structure and sociopolitical stability, in the context of westward expansion.52 Mapping the relation between the political-economic-environmental analysis of the sixteenth-century promoters of American colonization and these later configurations could provide new insights into American literary history. We might, for example, develop a history of the category of waste from the Hakluyts' redefinition of the word in terms of productive resources and labor, through Leather-stocking's land ethic ("Use, but don't waste"),5 to Don DeLillo's multifaceted meditation on waste in Underworld; such a history would need to recover the Jared Eliots and Benjamin Rushes of its trajectory as well.

More broadly, attending to the promotional genre's georgic orientation and its interest in specific environmental capacities might help to reanimate the question of referentiality in literary theory. As Lawrence Buell argues, where "our training conditions us to stress the distinction between text and referent," ecocriticism values the "experiential or referential aspects" of literature.54 Yet in his brief reading of Wendell Berry's "On the Hill Late at Night," Buell demonstrates how even concrete imagery such as Berry's can lead a reader away from the physical world.55 The poem's roots in the pastoral -a mode historically devoted to rural leisure and contemplation-invite such distancing. By contrast, pursuing asimilar sense of distancing in a georgic (a mode concerned with labor rather than leisure) such as Berry's essay "A Good Scythe" would run counter to our experiences of both mode and topic -if, that is, we have such experiences to draw on.56 Since most modern Americans' experience of nature is pastoral rather than georgic, reading that reminds us of our economic relation to the environment could help to reorient our common understanding of both literature and nature.

We might also use the early promoters' (partial) insights as a point of departure in distinguishing among current modes of environmental understanding. For example, we might compare sustainable economics with deep-ecological or neopastoral approaches. From the latter perspectives, environmental analysis in terms of economics and energy systems does not seem to offer us a paradigm of communion with nature, "the arcadian dream of fellow-feeling" promised by a construct such as Gaia, our latest manifestation of Utopia.57 Yet beyond deep ecology's exhortation that we recognize anthropocentrism as the root cause of the environmental crisis and "'work' on [our]selves to cultivate an 'ecological consciousness,"' it is hard to imagine its tenets manifested in a practical program.58 Sustainable economics, in contrast, is fundamentally humanist and takes a more active approach, extending the theoretical work begun by the colonial promoters, Renaissance men who advised looking "with Argus eies" at the environment "to see what commoditie" - that is, what measure of usefulness-"by industrie of man you are able to make it to yeeld" (0, 2:333). Like Parmenius and Gilbert on the Newfoundland coast, sustainable economics assumes the authority to make managerial decisions regarding the environment and attempts to think through the outcomes of those decisions. Like Argus, it is ever vigilant. Like the colonial promoters, it is sometimes mistaken-yet by no means always. If Gilbert and Parmenius, learning what they could of New World ecological history from their "verie credible" sources, had decided to burn the woods and disturb the fish after all, they would have assumed that both the woods and the fish would restore themselves in seven years' time. That is, they would have imagined a human intervention into an ongoing cycle of consumption, waste, and renewal. On the other hand, if they chose simply to let nature alone in this instance, they could not do so in all instances.

From a humanist perspective, and following a provisional distinction between pastoral and georgic, we might map the interrelation of aesthetic and economic environmental arguments. To take what is for me a local example: Many West Virginians are appalled at mountaintop removal mining, in which coal operators blast off the top of a mountain to get at the coal seam below.59 Our objections may originate in aesthetic revulsion-mountaintop removal is ugly-but given the development of sophisticated reclamation techniques, coal operators can present their course of action as beautiful in the long run. In fact, Arch Coal Inc., the leading practitioner of mountaintop removal, has been running newspaper and television advertisements depicting reclaimed surface mines as perfect, pretechnological middle landscapes and describing these landscapes as prime wildlife habitats.60 This aesthetic propaganda, while worth combating on its own grounds, distracts from human and economic issues. Mountaintop removal generates relatively few jobs, and those only for the short term. It acidifies streams, destroys well-water sources, and causes flooding. It damages homes, forces some people to move out of valleys that will be filled with rubble, and reduces property values. It diminishes a local economy increasingly devoted to tourism and therefore dependent on environmental protection. Since mountaintop mines were exempted from the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, state and federal governments will end up funding environmental repair. None of this is to deny the basic importance of aesthetic arguments; it is only to remind us that economic arguments, which originated with the sixteenth-century promoters, also play a key role. I have not heard anyone quoting Thoreau, much less Gilbert or the Hakluyts, in these arguments, but their words resonate for those who can hear them.


1 Parmenius was a Hungarian scholar, educated at Oxford, whose connection to colonial ventures came by way of the younger Richard Hakluyt, with whom he shared rooms in Christ Church. Parmenius intended to write a full chronicle of the expedition but, like Gilbert, was killed in a shipwreck on the voyage home. See David B. Quinn and Neil M. Cheshire, The New Found Land of Stephen Parmenius: The Life and Writings of a Hungarian Poet, Drowned on a Voyage from Newfoundland, 1583 (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1972). For an account of Gilbert's ventures, see Kenneth R. Andrews, Trade, Plunder, and Settlement: Maritime Enterprise and the Genesis of the British Empire, 1480-1630 (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1984),183-99.

2 Quinn and Cheshire, New Found Land, 175. The translation is Hakluyt's and was first printed in the 1589 Principall Navigations.

3 Ibid., 175-76. Transcribing Parmenius's letter in the "Discourse of Western Planting," Hakluyt added a marginal note claiming that "afterwardes they sett the woodds on fire wch burnte three weekes together" (The Original Writings and Correspondence of the Two Richard Hakluyts, 2vols., ed. E. G. R. Taylor [London: Hakluyt Society, 1935], 2:231); hereafter this edition is cited parenthetically as 0. As far as I am aware, there is no other record of this act. Edward Hayes's account of Gilbert's voyage does not mention it; see Richard Hakluyt, The Principall Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques, {{ ARTICLE }} Discoveries of the English Nation, 10 vols. (London: J. M. Dent; New York: E. P. Dutton, 1927), 6:1-38.

4 Quinn and Cheshire, New Found Land, 183-84.

5 Hakluyt's translation expands Parmenius's noun, terebynthina, into these two commodities.

6 Whereas the related literary genre of the voyage (for example, Hakluyt's Principall Navigations) defined England as an economy related to other national economies, the promotional genre worked out the relation between the English economy and extra-economic space. On the voyage genre, see Richard Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1992), 151-91. Conventions of the early promotional genre include a utilitarian tone, an emphasis on labor, and a rhetorical structure characterized by figures of blockage or indirection when the text addresses Europe and figures of openness or expansive vision as it turns toward the New World. See Wayne Franklin, Discoverers, Explorers, Settlers: The Diligent Writers of Early America (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1979), 87-94; Jack P. Greene, The Intellectual Construction of America: Exceptionalism and Identity from 1492 to 1800 (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1993), 34-46. This figural structure originates in the systemic understanding of the English economy and its relation to the New World environment. Such figures persist, for example, in Thomas Jefferson's promotion of an agrarian-capitalist economy: whereas land in Europe is "locked up against the cultivator, " America has "an immensity of land courting the industry of the husbandman" (Notes on the State of Virginia, ed. Frank Shuffleton [New York: Penguin, 1999], 170). As late as the 1910s, promoters used such rhetoric-now largely detached from economic theorization-to lure prospective homesteaders to eastern Montana; see Jonathan Raban, Bad Land: An American Romance (New York: Vintage, 1997).

7 In general, ecocriticism is more aware of economics than vice versa, yet economic concerns often remain peripheral. One exception is Lawrence Buell's attention to the georgic dimension of Thoreau in The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1995), 129-30. For a sense of the range of each critical approach, see The New Economic Criticism: Studies at the Interface of Literature and Economics, ed. Martha Woodmansee and Mark Osteen (New York: Routledge, 1999); The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology, ed. Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm (Athens: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1996), especially William Howarth, "Some Principles of Ecocriticism," 69-91.

8 See Herman E. Daly, Steady-State Economics: The Economics of Biophysical Equilibrium and Moral Growth (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1977); and "Steady-State Economics: A New Paradigm, " New Literary History 24 (autumn 1993): 811-16; Herman E. Daly and John B. Cobb, For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future, 2d ed. (Boston: Beacon, 1994).

9 Daly, "Steady-State Economics," 811. The flow of solar energy into the ecosystem ultimately limits the flow of energy from the ecosystem into the economy. The ecosystem can absorb only a limited outflow of matter and energy-that is, waste-from the economy while sustaining human life; this limit is ultimately determined by the planet's capacity to transfer heat energy to space.

10 The economic definition of national identity offered by the voyage and promotional genres competed with other definitions projected by other cultural formations, such as the Crown, the landed gentry, the law, and the church; see Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood. On the systematization of European economic thought from the mid-sixteenth century onward, particularly in terms of the principle of the balance of trade, see The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, ed. E. E. Rich and C. H. Wilson, 7 vols. (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1941-1978), 4: 498-500.

11 See David B. Quinn, "Renaissance Influences in English Colonization," in Explorers and Colonies: America: 1500-1625 (London: Hambledon Press, 1990), 106-7. While this model of the economics of colonization would become dominant, it was not the only one available. Gilbert's first voyage intended to establish a colony only as a pretense for capturing Spanish, Portuguese, and French shipping; see Andrews, Trade, Plunder, and Settlement, 187. Although Sir Walter Ralegh's Roanoke project was primarily mercantile, his later report on Guiana disdains trade in favor of conquest in order to establish military bases against Spain and exact tribute from the natives, for "where there is store of gold, it is in effect needless to remember other commodities for trade" (Selected Writings, ed. Gerald Hammond [Manchester: Carcanet-Fyfield, 1984], 119).

12 This transformation is one aspect of the general linguistic encounter with the New World that William Spengemann posits as "the single most important event in the history of the language" (A New World of Words: Redefining Early American Literature [New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1994], 43).

13 One modern problem of output is the management of nuclear waste, which must be contained until it will release energy at a rate no greater than the ecosystem can safely absorb and transfer. According to the OED, the sense of waste as by-products of manufacturing processes did not develop until the eighteenth century.

14 Early texts such as these have seldom been discussed in ecocritical contexts. At an MLA session arranged by the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, Scott Slovic reported that PMLA had rejected a proposal for a special issue on ecocriticism partly because of a disciplinary perception of ecocriticism's narrow focus: "the [Editorial] Board feared . . . a flood of essays about Emerson, Thoreau, etc." and little else ("Ecocriticism: Trajectories in Theory and Practice," paper presented at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association, San Francisco, 29 December 1998). However, Slovic noted, recent projects such as Robert Torrance's Encompassing Nature: A Sourcebook (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1998) and Michael Branch's forthcoming anthology of pre-Thoreauvian environmental literature (Univ. of Georgia Press) indicate a broader scope.

15 To this we could add the charge of anthropocentrism; see Neil Evernden, "Beyond Ecology: Self, Place, and the Pathetic Fallacy," in Glotfelty and Fromm, Ecocriticism Reader, 92-104. Yet Buell describes just how difficult it is for even the most committed ecocentrist to decenter human subjectivity (Environmental Imagination, 143-79).

16 As Howard Horwitz points out, whereas the Aristotelian tradition viewed economics as a matter of "manag[ing] resources ready to hand, " Locke's Second Treatise "redefined value as the product of human labor modifying nature" (By the Law of Nature: Form and Value in Nineteenth-Century America [New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1991], 7). For examples of the naturalization of the "growth" paradigm, one need only note that Commerce Department reports of leading economic indicators are routinely analyzed for evidence of "growth."

17 In Wonder-Working Providence of Sions Savior in New England (1651), Edward Johnson narrates the growth of a stable market economy, hoping to encourage emigration and economic development, which had slowed with the success of the Puritan revolution in England. On Jefferson's commitment to the growth of an agrarian capitalist economy, see Joyce Appleby, "The 'Agrarian Myth' in the Early Republic," in Liberalism and Republicanism in the Historical Imagination (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1992), 253-76.

18 Daly, "Steady-State Economics," 814.

19 Thomas More, Sir Thomas More's Utopia, ed. J. Churton Collins (Oxford: Clarendon, 1949), 66-67, emphasis added; hereafter this edition is cited parenthetically as U; More, The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, 14 vols., ed. Edward Surtz and J. H. Hexter (Yale Univ. Press, 1963), 4:136. Volume 4 is hereafter cited parenthetically as CW. I have quoted from Ralph Robinson's 1551 translation (ed. Collins), in which More of course had no part, in order to present the topic in contemporary language.

20 Although the first official pronouncement on England's balance of trade came in 1381, the concept did not really catch on until the sixteenth century. Mercantilism was not fully recognized as an economic theory until it became an object of critique for the Physiocrats and Adam Smith; see Lars Magnusson, Mercantilism: The Shaping of an Economic Language (London: Routledge, 1994), 9. I am here using "mercantilism" in the very general sense of the promotion of a favorable balance of trade.

21 Richard Halpern, The Poetics of Primitive Accumulation: English Renaissance Culture and the Genealogy of Capital (Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell Univ. Press, 1991), 45.

22 More would have concluded from Vespucci that iron was not abundant in the New World. He probably also knew that the increasing demand for iron in England had to be met with imports (CW, 427).

23 See Quinn, "Renaissance Influences," 108-9. In translating More's "continente proximo" as "nexte lande," rather than nearby mainland or a similar phrase, Robinson seems to point mid-sixteenth-century English colonial thought directly toward Ireland (U, 66).

24 A Discourse of the Commonweal of This Realm of England, Attributed to Thomas Smith, ed. Mary Dewar (Charlottesville: Univ. Press of VirginiaFolger Shakespeare Library, 1969), 126.

25 Ibid.

26 In particular, the "pragmatic tone" of these notes "set a pattern for those tracts that followed"; see New American World: A Documentary History of North America to 1612, ed. David B. Quinn, 5 vols. (New York: Arno, 1979), 3:23.

27 See Alfred W. Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986), 108; Karen Ordahl Kupperman, "The Puzzle of the American Climate in the Early Colonial Period, " American Historical Review 87 (December 1982): 1265-68.

28 Travels and Works of Captain John Smith, 2 vols., ed. A. G. Bradley (Edinburgh: John Grant, 1910), 2:928.

29 Kupperman, "Puzzle of the American Climate," 1267.

30 Thomas Harriot, A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, in The English Literatures of America, 1500-1800, ed. Myra Jehlen and Michael Warner (New York: Routledge, 1997), 68, 72, hereafter cited parenthetically.

31 Jehlen and Warner, English Literatures, 68n.

32 Subsequent promotional texts, from Robert Johnson's Nova Britannia (1609) through John Smith's Generall Historie of Virginia (1624) and beyond, reiterated a particular desire for Mediterranean commodity environments. Even Jefferson tried, unsuccessfully, to introduce olive cultivation to America; see Charles A. Miller, Jefferson and Nature: An Interpretation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1988), 222.

33 See Andrew McRae, God Speed the Plough: The Representation ofAgrarian England, 1500-1660 (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996), 135-68.

34 Thomas Nashe, Pierce Penilesse, His Supplication to the Divell, ed. G. B. Harrison (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1924), 85-86.

35 McRae, God Speed the Plough, 168.

36 See Joyce Appleby, Economic Thought and Ideology in Seventeenth-Century England (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1978), 129-57.

37 Peckham had bought land rights in Newfoundland from Gilbert, the original patentee, and wrote the True Report of the Late Discoveries ... by ... Sir Humphrey Gilbert in 1583 to attract investors and settlers; see Quinn, New American World, 3:34.

38 Ibid., 3:36.

39 Christopher Carleill, A Breef and Sommarie Discourse upon the Entended Voyage to the Hethermoste Partes of America, in Quinn, New American World, 3:31.

40 See Peckham, True Reporte, in Quinn, New American World, 3:35-60. Edward Hayes's account of Gilbert's second voyage notes that the Newfoundland fishing fleet "have caried sheepe thither for fresh victuall and had them raised exceeding fat in lesse then three weekes," but Hayes does not mention their potential for wool production (Hakluyt, Principall Navigations, 6:22).

41 See B. E. Supple, Commercial Crisis and Change in England, 1600-1642: A Study in the Instability of a Mercantile Economy (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1959), 23; Andrews, Trade, Plunder, and Settlement, 6-9.

42 Peckham, True Reporte, in Quinn, New American World, 3:49-50.

43 See McRae, God Speed the Plough, 9-10, 23-24, 43-44.

44 See E. F. Jacob, The Fifteenth Century, 1399-1485 (Oxford, Eng.: Clarendon, 1961), 346-85.

45 William C. Carroll, "'The Nursery of Beggary': Enclosure, Vagrancy, and Sedition in the Tudor-Stuart Period," in Enclosure Acts: Sexuality, Property, and Culture in Early Modern England, ed. Richard Burt and John Michael Archer (Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell Univ. Press, 1994), 35.

46 See Supple, Commercial Crisis and Change, 135-62, 197-224.

47 See Paul P. Christensen, "Historical Roots for Ecological Economics- Biophysical versus Allocative Approaches, " Ecological Economics 1 (February 1989): 17-36. Christensen argues that in their attention to resource inputs, classical models provide an unrecognized starting point for a biophysical perspective on economics, but that these models must be extended to include both a recognition of solar energy as the primary input and a consideration of waste output.

48 Daly and Cobb argue that the neglect of the category of land or resources has been symptomatic of this ever-increasing assumption of systemic closure. As concern for the productive capacity of physical nature has become increasingly peripheral within the economic subdiscipline of land economics, land economics itself has become more peripheral to general economic analysis. Neoclassical models assume that "capital is a near perfect substitute for land and other natural resources" (For the Common Good, 97-117, 196).

49 Jean-Joseph Goux, Symbolic Economies: After Marx and Freud, trans. Jennifer Curtiss Gage (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ. Press, 1990).

50 Donald Worster, Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas, 2d ed. (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1994), 291-311.

51 Ibid., 388-420.

52 See Timothy Sweet, "American Pastoralism and the Marketplace: Eighteenth-Century Ideologies of Farming," Early American Literature 29 (spring 1994): 59-80. In retrospect, I would distinguish georgic from pastoral in this literature.

53 James Fenimore Cooper, The Pioneers (New York: Penguin, 1988), 248.

54 Buell, Environmental Imagination, 10, 36; see especially 83-114 for a much more nuanced treatment of the issue than I can give here.

55 Ibid., 10.

56 Wendell Berry, "A Good Scythe, " in The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1981), 171- 75. Buell notes Berry's insistence on referentialism in his poetry and argues for a recovery of the georgic dimension of Thoreauvian pastoral; see Environmental Imagination, 102-3, 129-30, 379-81, 391-94.

57 Worster, Nature's Economy, 315. Worster remains critical of economistic tendencies, arguing that "communalism must find another source of intellectual support than the New Ecology" (315). However, Daly and Cobb specify the primary concern of sustainable economics as "the long-term welfare of the whole community," defining the individual as a "person-in-community" "constituted by . .. relations to others"; they argue that "there are approximations to community participation that can and should characterize human involvement in the biosphere," even though nonhuman members of the biosphere do not possess the "level of subjectivity" required to define themselves as members of a community (For the Common Good, 159, 165, 202).

58 Jeffrey C. Ellis, "On the Search for a Root Cause: Essentialist Tendencies in Environmental Discourse," in Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, ed. William Cronon (New York: Norton, 1996), 266.

59 For summary background and photographs, see Penny Loeb, "Coal Activists Stir Up Dust in West Virginia," US. News and World Report, 13 October 1997, 8; Peter Galuszka, "Strip Mining on Steroids," Business Week, 17 November 1997, 70; Ken Ward Jr., "Coal Miners' Slaughter," Sierra, November/December 1998, 16-17.

60 On the American ideal of the "middle landscape," see Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (Oxford, Eng.: Oxford Univ. Press, 1964).

Sweet, Timothy. “Economy, Ecology, and Utopia in Early Colonial Literature." American Literature 71.3 (1999): 399–427. Article republished by permission of the publisher:

What do scholars of literature study?

Literary studies is the study of literature in English and other languages. In the past, the “literature” that was studied was generally limited to fiction, poetry, and essays, but that definition has broadened to include “texts” such as graphic novels, films, advertising, and popular culture. Formerly, only recognized “canonical” authors such as Shakespeare or T.S. Eliot might be studied, but over the past few decades, literary studies has become much more inclusive and diverse. Many literary critics would argue that the very idea of a “canon” (a list of the “best” works) is deeply problematic.

What are the characteristic methods used in the study of literature?

A key technique of literary studies is so-called “close reading.” Close reading means closely studying the actual text (or images, as the case may be), interpreting that text, and making broader arguments based on those interpretations. Depending on when the text that you are studying was created, close reading may involve learning what given words meant in a given historical period since word meanings change over time. It may also involve learning more about the historical period that a given work was created in so that you can better understand the larger context. In fact, many literary critics also draw on historical primary sources (texts such as newspapers or diaries produced in a given time period) to better interpret a given literary text.

How is the study of literature influenced by other fields and disciplines?

Literary critics often use theories, concepts, and ideas drawn from other disciplines to help them interpret literary texts. Some theoretical paradigms that have been influential among scholars of literature have been drawn from Linguistics, Anthropology, Sociology, Political Economy, History, and Continental Philosophy. Literary criticism has also been influenced by interdisciplinary engagements with the Gender and Sexuality Studies, Race and Ethnicity Studies, Cultural Studies, and others. These different perspectives allow literary critics to better understand literary works and their production.