Sotweed Dedivivus, Or the Planters Looking-Glass

An Electronic Edition · Ebenezer Cooke (ca. 1667-ca. 1732)

Original Source: Early Maryland poetry; the works of Ebenezer Cook, gent: laureat of Maryland, with an appendix containing the Mousetrap. Ed. Bernard C. Steiner. Baltimore: John Murphy Company, 1900.

Copyright 2002. Thist text is freely available provided the text is distributed with the header information provided

Full Colophon Information

Sotweed Dedivivus, Or the Planters Looking-Glass

The Preface to the Reader

MAY I be canoniz’d for a Saint, if I know what Apology to make for this dull Piece of Household stuff, any more than he that first invented the Horn-Book; all that can be said in its Defense, is, the Muses hath taken as much Pains in framing their brittle Ware, as Bruin does in licking her Cubs into Shape: And should that carping Cur, Momus, but breath on it, (vah! miseris,) we are quite undone; since one Blast from the Critick’s Mouth, wou’d raise more Flaws in this Looking-Glass, than there be Circles in the Sphere; and when all is said and done, the Reader will judge just as he pleases. Well, if it be the Fate of these Sheets, to supply the Use of Waste Paper, the Author has done his Part, and is determined to write on, as often as his Inclination or Interest shall prompt him.1.



To the Generous Subscriber, & c.

THE Author finding all Attempts prove vain,  
Those glittering Smiles from Fortune to obtain: 
That purblind Goddess on the Fool bestows;  
His tow’ring Grandeur to her Bounty owes;  
Rather than on base Terms, the Point dispute, 5.
To the Pierian Songsters makes his Suit, 
In gingling Rhimes, to guide his gouty Feet,  
The ancient Path of Pegasus to beat.  
When mounted on old Roan, with Guide before;  
The Spurious Off-spring of some Tawny-Moor, 10.
To Battle-Town, the Author took his way,  
That thro’ thick Woods and fenny Marshes lay,  
And mangled Oaks, laid blended on the Plains, 
Cut down for Fuel by unthinking Swains.  


At Ax and Hoe, like Negroe Asses tug,  
To glut the Market with a poisonous Drug:  
Destroy sound Timber, and lay waste–their Lands,  
To head a Troop of Aethiopian Hands, 5.
Worse Villains are, than Forward’s * Newgate Bands:  
Will by their Heirs be curst for these Mistakes,  
E’er Saturn thrice his Revolution makes;  
Whose thriftless State, this Looking-Glass is meant, 
By way of Metaphor, to represent: 10.
Wherein the Planter may his Fate behold,  
By sad Experience, has been often told, 
It’s Industry, and not a nauseous Weed,  
Must cloath the Naked, and the Hungry feed.  
Correct those Errors length of Time have made, 15.
Since the first Scheme of Government was laid  
In Maryland, for propagating Trade,  
Will never flourish, till we learn to sound  
Great-Britain’s Channel, and in Cash abound:  

The only best Expedient that remains,  
To make the Profit equal to the Pains,  
And set us on the Par with neighbouring Swains.  

This thread-bare Theme the Author’s Muse here sings,  
Did never drink of the Castalian Springs,  
Or bath’d her Limbs in Heliconian Streams, 
Where fiery Pheobus cools his thirsty Beams 

Such lofty Numbers and heroic Strains 
Of sprightly Wit, as Virgil’s Lays contains,  
When elevated with Phoebian Fire,  
On Tyber’s Banks, he struck the warbling Lyre, 
Are too sublime for her, that ne’er could fly 5.
Above the Pitch of Grub-street Elegy,  
Or the flat Sound of Doggerel Poetry:  
So hopes Subscribers will be pleas’d to pass  
A candid Thought on this, his Looking-Glass. 

Such kind Encouragement to Poesy give, 
The Sotweed Factor by his Muse may live: 
This Province wisheth well, and should be glad, 5.
To see young Girls in Home-spun Vestments clad,  
Plain as this Dress, wherein his Muse appears;  
And tho’ distasteful to their blooming Years,  
Yet the Hibernian Lasses, we are told,  
Such modest Garments wore in Days of old. 10.
Nor was the best bred Nymph allow’d to wed,  
And taste the Pleasures of a Nuptial Bed,  
‘Till she, before some Magistrate did go,  
Equipp’d in Home-spun Weeds, from Head to Toe,  
Swore solemnly on the Evangelist, 15.
Each Flaxen Thread, her tender Hands did twist. 
And were such Laws and Customs here in Force,  
Maidens would soon industrious grow of course.  
To Minstrel Sounds, prefer the Weaver’s Loom,  
As did Arachne, ’till she had her Doom; 20.

Improve each Minute at the Flaxen Wheel,  
That now think Scorn, to exercise the Reel.  

But as young Cloe may think it too hard,  
Her matrimonial Geer, to spin and card, 
Before she dare, by Strephon be embrac’d,  
By Bride-maids, on her Wedding Night, unlac’d:  
So if it were ordain’d, to end the Strife, 5.
No Swain should be allow’d to have a Wife,  
On any Terms, ’till he Three Thousand Weight  
Of Merchantable Hemp, and fit for Freight, 
Or Flax had made, I dare be bold to say,  
Strephon would have no Time at Cards to play, 10.
On Horse-Racing, his Substance throw away, ‘ 
Till he the Gordian-Knot with Cloe ty’d,  
By Industry, obtain’d her for his Bride. 


[Canto I]: The Looking-Glass

Bound up to Port Annapolis,  
The famous Beau Metropolis 
Of Maryland, of small Renown,  
When Anna * first wore England‘s Crown, 
Is now grown rich and opulent; 5.
The awful Seat of Government.  
Well mounted on my aged Pacer,  
In youthful Days, had been a Racer,  
For Severn Banks, my Course I steer’d;  
And spurring Jack, no Danger fear’d; 10.
Within the City Walls appear’d,  
As Aethon, Courser of the Sun, 
Had half his Race exactly run; 
There having first secur’d my Prancer,  
To Stable nimbly did advance, Sir.15.
I pass’d Aestrea‘s Temple Gates,  
Where the High Court of Delegates *  
Assembled were, with Resolution,  
To fortify their Constitution,  
By Laws, that should, to say no more, 20.
The Common-Weal to Health restore;  
Consumptive is, and sickly grown;  
As shall in proper Place be shewn;  
Reduc’d to Penury indeed,  
By feeding on this Indian Weed.25.

For Remedy, both Houses joyn,  
To settle here a Current Coin, *  
Without Exception, such as may,  
Our Publick Dues and Clergy pay.  
Grown Worldly wise, unwilling are, 5.
To be put off with Neighbours Fare;  
Hold Predial Tythes, * secure in Bags,  
Better than Paper made of Rags:  
The Scribeslikewise, and Pharisees,  
Infected with the same Disease, 10.
On Paper Moneylook a squint, 
Care not to be made Fools in Print.  
Thus what is meant for Publick Good, 
I find to be misunderstood,  
And taken in the worser Sense,15.
By those, care not for Paper Pence.  
And tho’ this Scheme should prove in vain,  
The Case to me seems very plain;  
Said I to Planter standing by,  
And was for Paper Currency: 20.
It’s Money, be it what it will,  
In Tan-Pit coin’d, or Paper-Mill,  
That must the hungry Belly fill,  
When summon’d to attend the Court,  
Held at the Magisterial Port. * 25.

So far, said he, with you I joyn;  
Am glad to find your Thoughts suit mine:  
And with Submission to the State,  
I have a Project in my Pate,  
May prove the Making of this Land, 5.
If executed out of Hand;  
Which is to give my Fancy vent,  
Within my PericraniumPent.  
The levelling a standing Coin,  
It matters not what Sort of Mine 10.
It issues from, since ev’ry Thing  
Is worth no more than it will bring.  

Suppose a Statute Law was made,  
For the Encouragement of Trade;  
And Men of various Occupations,  
Within his Majesty’s Plantations,  
That Copper Money, Tin, or Brass, 5.
Throughout America should pass:  
Which Coin shou’d the King’s Image bear;  
In equal Worth be ev’ry where:  
Not subject to be clipt by Shears, 
Like Yellow-Boys, * have lost their Ears; 10.
But as a Free-born Subject range,  
Of different Size, for ready Change.  

This Dialogue was scarce begun,  
As on the Walks we took a turn,  
When sudden Noise alarm’d our Ears, 
Filling the Town with Hopes and Fears,  
That seem’d to Eccho from the Hive;
Whereat I grew inquisitive,  
To know the Meaning of such Clamour;  
Says One, in Drink, that made him stammer,  
The Reason’s this, if you must know it,  
The House divided is, old Poet,10.
In voting for the Money Bill;  
Which, tho’ compos’d with wondrous Skill,  
Will never pass, I dare be bold,  
A Pipe of Wine on it to hold.  

This said, revolv’d on t’other Dose, *  
To Tavern steer’d an Oblique Course:  
Which standing almost within Hollow, *  
I did his drunken Worship follow;  
Seem’d by his reeling thro’ the Street, 5.
To be much founder’d in his Feet.  
So reach’d the BacchanalianMansion, 
Before the Host had gave him Sanction.  
And meeting with young Politicians,  
Dull antiquated State Physicians; 10.
Replenishing their thirsty Souls  
With Lemon Punch, in flowing Bowls.  
Not waiting long for Invitation;  
At Fire Side took up my Station;  
As others did; were grown profuse, 15.
Inspir’d by the potent Juice,  
On the Proceedings of that Day,  
Whilst some at Dice, pass’d Time away:  
When one dubb’d Esqr; by Mistake,  
His wise Remarks began to make, 20.
On the new Plan for raising Pence,  
Protesting, tho’ it was the Sense  
Of some, that sat in the wise * Mote,  
He cou’d not safely give his Vote,  
For such an odd contriv’d Intention, 25.
As e’er was laid before Convention:  
Alledging, Planters, when in drink,  
Wou’d light their Pipes with Paper Chink; *  
And knowing not to read, might be 
Impos’d on, by such Currency. 30.

These Reasons, Laughter did create;  
The Subject was of our Debate; 
‘Till Midnight, in her Sable Vest, 
Persuaded Godsand Mento Rest; 
And with a pleasing kind Surprize,5.
Indulg’d soft Slumber to my Eyes.  
I call’d the drowsy Passive Slave, 
To light me to my downy Grave:  
Where instantly I was convey’d,  
By one that pass’d for Chamber-Maid, 10.
Close by the Side of Planterlaid.  
Curious to know from whence he came,  
I boldly crav’d his Worship’s Name.  
And tho’ the Donat first seem’d sly,  
At length he made this smart Reply. 15.

I am, says he, that Cocherouse,  
Once entertain’d you at his House,  
When aged Roan, not us’d to falter,  
If you remember, slipt his Halter;  
Left Sotweed Factorin the Lurch, 5.
As Presbyterians leave the Church:  
However, since we here are met, 
Let’s, by Consent, take t’other  
Whet Before we sleep; Content, said I;  
Here, Gipsy, to the Cellar fly, 10.
And bring us up a Flask of Clarret;  
Since we are quarter’d in this Garret. 
I think a Bottle has more Charms,  
Than can be found in MorpheusArms:  
But finding the Mullatto fled, 15.
To Chimney Nook, her native Bed;  
And Night far spent, we thought it best,  
To let the Aethiopianrest:  
So gravely fell to Argument;  
On the late Act of Parliament; * 20.
The Growth of Sotweedto prevent, 
And give our Staple freer Vent.  
And thus the Planterfirst began,  
This Matter seriously to scan; 
As in next Cantoyou will find, 25.
Exactly copy’d from his Mind.  



WHEN Charlesthe First, long since came hither,  
In stormy and tempestuous Weather,  
With Royal Grant, to settle here,
A Province, worthy of his Care;  
Leaving behind, to raise up Seed, 5.
And tend a stinking Indian Weed,  Scotch, English, and Hybernians wild,  
From Sloth and Idleness exil’d.  Tobacco, then, no Duty paid; 
But Time has almost sunk the Trade, 10.
And Imposts on our Staple laid.  
From scorching Africa‘s burnt Shore,  
Brought Aethiopian Slaves great Store. 
More Weedsturn out, to Heat inur’d,  
Than by the Populaceare cur’d,15.
Makes it a Drug, as Merchants feel,  
Whose Chance it is in Trash * to deal;  
Fit only to manure the Earth,  
InPhysickGardens, finds good Birth.  
But had old Galenknown the Pains, 20. Plantersare at, for little Gains,
He would have curst it long ago; 
In Quarters here so fast doth grow.   Plebiansby it scarce can live,
To naked Brats Subsistance give. 25.

These petty Charges not a few, 
With Subsidies both old and new,  
As Factors tell us, run so high,  
They swallow up our Industry. 
In whose undoubted Word and Honour, 5.
(That Female Idol,) Pox upon her, 
Planters oblig’d are to confide,  
Or learn to plow the Oceanwide;  
Had better trust to Home-spun Sails;  
Go sell their Labour at the Scales, 10.
Than be, by Bills of Saleundone;  
Glad to Cape Fair, at last to run.  
And other Frauds us’d in the Trade,  
Has almost Beggars of some made;  
Had rather by Shop Notes * be bit, 15. Hundred per Centpay for their
When Pride ambitious is to shine,  
In gaudy Feathers rich and fine,  
Than in coarse Goods lay out their Tubs, *  
With Merchants here, unless ’tis Scrubs: 20.
Has put them on their Guard, for why?  
It’s better deal for Currency,  
Than be impos’d on at that Rate,   Mundungus * take, unfit for Freight.  

Thus, we go on, but do not see 
What may the Issue of it be.  
Take care the Poor may live and thrive,  
Against the Stream are left to strive;  
Wou’d be industrious, had we Pence, 5.
Their Industry to recompence:  
But to be paid with Indian Weed,  
In Parcels, will not answer Need. 
It’s true, we may this Thread of Life  
Spin out, in Penury and Strife; 10.
Like Aesop‘s Swain, did Jove desire 
To help his Cart out of the Mire;  
To Jupiterat last apply,  
For Help in our Extremity.  
But Joveno Ear will lend to those,15.
That are their own unhappy Foes. 
Then let us seriously reflect  
Upon the worst we may expect,  
Which is, with idle Drones to starve;  
A Doom we justly do deserve: 20.
Whilst blest with all Things here below,  
That Godand Naturecan bestow,  
To make us happy, would we be  
Industrious as the frugal Bee, 
That visits each mellifluous Flower, 25.
To load with Tyme, her wooden Bower. *  
And tho a rich and fertile Soil,  
As e’re was water’d by the Nile,  
Has luckily fell to our Share:  
Yet maugre all our seeming Care: 30.
We Strangers to the Goddess are.  
Bright Ceres, whom the Poetsfeign, 
To till the Ground, instructs the Swain, 
By Industry t’improve his Lands,  
Without the help of Savage Hands. 35.

This is our Case, and will, I fear,  
Grow worse and worse, the Course we steer.  
Are grown too populous to thrive,  
Upon a nauseous Vegetive. *  
And tho’ the Law remains in Force, 5.
The Market keeps its ebbing Course;  
And will, unless, we settle here, 
A Jubilee * once in Five Year.  
But as that may not take Perchance, 
I will another Schemeadvance, 10.
Will do, says the projecting Don:  
And thus in serious Tone went on.  

All Taxables * work in the Ground,  
Both Maleand Femalethat are sound,  
Should be allow’d Six Hundred Weight,  
Of Sotweedgood, and fit for Freight,  
To plant; and he that dares tend more, 5.
Shou’d wear the Broad R * on his Door:  
Remain in Misericordia, *  
‘Till he the Fine in Specie pay.   Merchantslikewise, our Staple buy,
Shou’d be oblig’d in Currency,10.
Or Bills, for the Sixth Part, to pay 
Upon the Nail, * without Delay: 
The rest in Goods, at common Sale,  
Or be committed, without Bail.  
And that we may the better thrive; 15.
Which is the Business of the Hive,  
We ought conveniently to dwell  
In Townsand Cities, * buy and sell  
Our Merchandize at publick Scales.  
And as it often rains and hails, 20. Warehousesshould in common be
Erected; where, for a small Fee, 
Our Staplewould be convey’d thither,  
Securely screen’d from stormy Weather. 
There, free from anxious needless Care, 25.
We may, at Leisure, vend our Ware;  
Barter for Goods, as hath been said:  
And ready Cash, that must be paid,  
Our publick Duties to defray,  
And old Arrears of Quit-Rents * pay. 30.
A Tax equivalent has laid  
Upon Tobacco, must be paid,  
By Merchants, that the same Export,  
In Bills, before it quits the Port.  
But what is worst for Patent * Lands, 35.

By others held, it Debtor stands.  
I must confess, ’tis just and true,  
That Caesar should be paid his Due:  
But one Man to monopolize  
More Land, than yet he occupies, 5.
And Foreigners the Quit-Rentspay, 
In SterlingCoin, is not fair Play:  
A Grievance ought to be suppress’d,  
By Ways and Means, Caesar knows best.  
Thus, has our Stapleof small Worth, 10.
To many Evils given Birth:  
That like Ill Weeds, unhappy Case,  
As says the Proverb, grows a-pace;  
Which, to prevent, Physicianssay,  
Our Laws chalk out a wholesome Way: 15.
But what is so, to speak the Truth,  
Does not agree with every Tooth;  
Nor will the strictest penal Laws,  
Contriv’d by Statesmen, strike the Cause.  

The only Way I know to heal  
The ling’ring State of Common-weal,  
Is to ordain all Taxes be, 
As well the Priest, as Lawyer‘s Fee,  
Hereafter paid in Currency; 5.
Or with the Produce of our Grounds, 
In Stinkebus * too much abounds;  
Else, ’tis in vain for us to hope, 
With our Misfortunes long to cope.  
More wou’d loquatious Donhave said, 10.
Had Morpheusnot come to my Aid,  
The God of Sleep, with Leaden Charms,  
Lock’d up the Planter in his Arms:  
Where silent as the Night he lay,  
Till Phosphor usher’d in the Day. 15.



SCARCE had the Goddessof the Night, 
Resign’d her Throne to Phoebusbright;  
When calling for a Quart Decanter  
Of Sack,I thus harangu’d the Planter:  
Rise, Oroonoko, rise, said I, 5.
And let us drink Prosperity  
To Maryland, before we part;  
Starting, says he, with all my Heart.  
I wish my Country very well:  
And tho’ the Press * with Schemes does swell,
To make us thrive at Home the better,  
As P. P. tells us in his Letter, 
IfPlanters wou’d be rul’d by me,  
I will their best Physician be:  
Prescribe the Means, wou’d, I am sure, 15.
If rightly apply’d, work a Cure.  

First, let them Swampsand Marshesdrain,  
Fit to receive all Sorts of Grain,
  Hemp, Flax, Rice; and let Cotton * here, 
In all its AutumnDress appear:  
One Bale of each, more Pence will yield5.
In Europe, than the richest Field  
Of Oroonoko, I am sure,  
If nicely handled in the Cure.  

Next, may their Industry be seen,  
In Pastures fat, and Meadowsgreen;  
Where Sheepand Cattle manure Ground,  
In mighty Numbers shou’d abound. 
The Hideswill for their Grazing pay, 5.
And WoolMisfortunes keep in Play,  
Of those, must either work or starve, 
Oblig’d for Wife and Bearns to carve:   Mechanicksthen of
ev’ry Sort,  
And Marinerswou’d here resort, 10.
When they hear Moneycirculates,  
Within our Towns and City Gates. 

But as this Land, like Albion‘s Isle, 
Is compos’d of a different Soil,  
So some shou’d plant, some drive the Plow;  
And such as Hempand Flaxknow how  
To dress, shou’d exercise the Brake; * 5.
But not permitted be to make  
More Grain, or other Merchandize,  
Than may their Hands and Stocks suffice:  
Nor shou’d Crop Merchants correspond,  
On t’other Side the Herring-Pond, * 10.
Their pick’d and cull’d Tobacco send,  
In weighty Cask, to some sly Friend,  
Unless in Vessels of their own,  
And Ships here built, as shall be shewn.  

But then, perhaps, it will be said,  
By those (to venture) are afraid, 
How shall these floating Castles be  
Equipp’d, and fitted for the Sea?  
A Doubt not difficult to solve, 5.
Wou’d such (in Pence abound) resolve, 
As the Phoeniciansdid of old,  
To plow the Seas in Vessels bold;  
Which Draft-men * best know how to mould.  
Materials here, of every kind, 10.
May soon be found, were Youth inclin’d,  
To practice the ingenious Art  
Of Sailing, by Mercator‘s Chart.  
The Woods with Timber Trees abound;  
Near North-East, * Ironmay be found, 15.
The best that ever yet was made,  
As Vulcans say, on Anvil laid.  
From Hemp and Flax, may Canvas Sails 
And Ropes be drawn, that seldom fails,  
In stormy Winds, to act their Part, 20.
If twisted well by human Art.  

Nothing is wanting to compleat,  
Fit for the Sea, a trading Fleet,  
But Industry and Resolution,  
Wou’d quickly heal our Constitution,  
Were we unanimously bent, 5.
Impending Evils to prevent.  
Can ne’er think to grow Rich and Great,  
But by an Independant State;  
Or hope to thrive, unless we try,  
With Canvas Wings abroad to fly. 10.
We then about the World might roam;  
See how our Staplesells at Home;  
Barbadoesand Jamaicadrain;  
Bring hither, from the Mines of Spain,   Moidores, Pistoles,and Cobbs * , full Weight;15.
The very best of Spanish Plate. *  

But whether, with us they wou’d stay,  
Is a hard Task for me to say;  
Since Current Coin, in ev’ry State, 
Invented was, to circulate:  
And to restrain it, is as hard, 5.
As Luna‘s Motion to retard, 
Unless, by Act of Limitation,  
We cou’d make Marylandits Station:  
Oblige it like the constant Sun,  
Beyond its Tropicks not to run,10.
River, (that’s to say)  
And Delaware‘s exuberant Bay.  
But Copper-Coin, like vagrant Cain,  
Wou’d never wander into Spain,  
Or long in Misers Bags remain. 15.
This said, the Glass he upwards threw,  
And bending backwards, strongly drew.  
I pledg’d his Worship in a Brimmer; 
And thus retorted on the Sinner.  

These Sentiments, I must confess,  
Much Zeal for publick Good express:  
But when all’s done, as hath been said,  
It’s Industry must force a Trade:  
Upon Mercatorturn
the Tables, 5.
And cut those Interlopers Cables.  
In Neighbouring Barks, export your Grain  
To Islands in the Western Main.  

That’s very true, the Don reply’d;  
But they a Law have on their Side, 
For Six Months Space, * our Hands has ty’d,  
Whereby they may this Provincerifle,  
And drain our Coffers for a Trifle. 5.

Your Laws said I, in Time may see  
And feel their Insufficiency.  

At this Reply, the Don sat mute,  
And willing to conclude Dispute, 
I, in few Lines, the Case sum’d up,  
As Cockerouse drank off his Cup:  
Then by the Poet be advis’d, 5.
Said I to him, seem’d much disguis’d;  
His Counsel’s not to be despis’d.  
Begin, be bold, old Horacecries,  
And bravely venture to be wise. 
In vain, he on the Brook Side stands, 10.
With Shoes and Stockings in his Hands;  
Waiting ’till all the Stream be past and gone,  
That runs, (alas!) and ever will run on.  


Full Colophon Information

Genre: Poetry
Subjects: Colonial Society and Life, Frontier and Pioneer Life, Tobacco, Travel
Period: 1700-1750
Location: Chesapeake
Format: verse

The text of this document of originally published in Annapolis, MD, in 1730.

The text of the present edition was prepared from and proofed against Early Maryland poetry; the works of Ebenezer Cook, gent: laureat of Maryland, with an appendix containing the Mousetrap. Ed. Bernard C. Steiner (Baltimore: John Murphy Company, 1900). All preliminaries and notes have been omitted except those for which the author is responsible. All editorial notes have been omitted except those that indicate significant textual variations. Line and paragraph numbers contained in the source text have been retained. In cases where the source text displays no numbers, numbers are automatically generated. In the header, personal names have been regularized according to the Library of Congress authority files as "Last Name, First Name" for the REG attribute and "First Name Last Name" for the element value. Names have not been regularized in the body of the text.