Some Excerpts of Writing Contemporary to The Man in the Moone




The Tempest – William Shakespeare  (1610)

…. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits, and

Are melted into air, into thin air;

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on; and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep….


Song – John Donne (possibly 1610s)

Go, and catch a falling star,

Get with child a mandrake root,

Tell me, where all past years are,

Or who cleft the Devil’s foot,

Teach me to hear mermaids singing,

Or to keep off envy’s stinging,

And find,

What wind,

Serves to advance an honest mind.


If thou be’est born to strange sights,

Things invisible to see,

Ride ten thousand days and nights,

Till age snow white hairs on thee,

Thou, when thou return’st, wilt tell me

All strange wonders that befell thee,

And swear

No where

Lives a woman true, and fair


If thou find’st one, let me know,

Such a pilgrimage were sweet,

Yet do not, I would not go,

Though at next door we might meet,

Though she were true, when you met her,

At last, till you write your letter,

Yet she,

Will be

False, ere I come, to two, or three.


Arcadia – Sir Philip Sidney (1590) Excerpt – the aftermath of a shipwreck

They hearing him speake in Greek (which was their naturall language) became the more tender hearted towards him; and considering by his calling and looking, that the losse of some deare friend was great cause of his sorow, told hime they were poore men that were bound by course of humanitie to preuent so great a mischiefe, and that they wisht him, if opinion of some bodies perishing bred such desperate anguish in him, that he should be comforted by his owne proofe, who had lately escaped as aparant danger as any might be. No, no (said hee) it is not for me to attend so high a  blissefulnesse: but since you take care of mee, I pray you finde meanes that some Barke may be prouided, that will goe out of the hauen, that if it be possible we may finde the body farre farre too precious a foode for fishes: and for the hire (said he) I haue within this casket, sufficient to content them.


Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes, 1612 (English Translation)

In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen that keep a lance in the lance-rack, an old buckler, a lean hack, and a greyhound for coursing. An olla of rather more beef than mutton, a salad on most nights, scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays, and a pigeon or so extra on Sundays, made away with three-quarters of his income. The rest of it went in a doublet of fine cloth and velvet breeches and shoes to match for holidays, while on week-days he made a brave figure in his best homespun. He had in his house a housekeeper past forty, a niece under twenty, and a lad for the field and market-place, who used to saddle the hack as well as handle the bill-hook. The age of this gentleman of ours was bordering on fifty; he was of a hardy habit, spare, gaunt-featured, a very early riser and a great sportsman. They will have it his surname was Quixada or Quesada (for here there is some difference of opinion among the authors who write on the subject), although from reasonable conjectures it seems plain that he was called Quexana. This, however, is of but little importance to our tale; it will be enough not to stray a hair’s breadth from the truth in the telling of it.


New Atlantis – Francis Bacon (1627)

We sailed from Peru, (where we had continued for the space of one whole year) for China and Japan, by the South Sea; taking with us victuals for twelve months; and had good winds from the east, though soft and weak, for five months space, and more. But the wind came about, and settled in the west for many days, so as we could make little or no way, and were sometime in purpose to turn back. But then again there arose strong and great winds from the south, with a point east, which carried us up (for all that we could do) towards the north; by which time our victuals failed us, though we had made good spare of them. So that finding ourselves, in the midst of the greatest wilderness of waters in the world, without victuals, we gave ourselves for lost men and prepared for death. Yet we did lift up our hearts and voices to God above, who showeth his wonders in the deep, beseeching him of his mercy, that as in the beginning he discovered the face of the deep, and brought forth dry land, so he would not discover land to us, that we might not perish. And it came to pass that the next day about evening we saw within a kenning before us, towards the north, as it were thick clouds, which did put us in some hope of land; knowing how that part of the South Sea was utterly unknown; and might have islands, or continents, that hitherto were not come to light. Wherefore we bent our course thither, where we saw the appearance of land, all that night; and in the dawning of the next day, we might plainly discern that it was a land; flat to our sight, and full of boscage; which made it show the more dark. And after an hour and a half’s sailing, we entered into a good haven, being the port of a fair city; not great indeed, but well built, and that gave a pleasant view from the sea: and we thinking every minute long, till we were on land, came close to the shore, and offered to land.


Voyagers’ Tales – Richard Hakluyt (?1589)

Afterward about the 8th day of November we made sail forthward, and by force of weather we were driven back again into Portsmouth, where we refreshed our victuals and other necessaries, and then the wind came fair. About the 29th day then next following we departed thence, and the 1st day of December, by means of a contrary wind, we were driven to Plymouth. The 18th day then next following we made forthward again, and by force of weather we were driven to Falmouth, where we remained until the 1st day of January, at which time the wind coming fair we departed thence, and about the 20th day of the said month we arrived safely at S. Lucas. And about the 9th day of March next following we made sail from thence, and about the 18th day of the same month we came to Tripolis in Barbary, where we were very well entertained by the king of that country and also of the commons. The commodities of that place are sweet oils; the king there is a merchant, and the rather (willing to prefer himself before his commons) requested our said factors to traffic with him, and promised them that if they would take his oils at his own price they should pay no manner of custom, and they took of him certain tons of oil; and afterward perceiving that they might have far better cheap, notwithstanding the custom free, they desired the king to license them to take the oils at the pleasure of his commons, for that his price did exceed theirs; whereunto the king would not agree, but was rather contented to abate his price, insomuch that the factors bought all their oils of the king’s custom free, and so laded the same aboard.


Liz Kershaw

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