Early Modern Futures

C.T., Advice how to plant tobacco in England

Even on its title page, this text frames its contents as forward looking. The planting of tobacco seems to be an undertaking which orients optimism or caution around national affiliation and perspective. For England, it is an agricultural activity with considerable promise, if some risk of harm that stems from its possible confusion or equation in quality with Spanish (and Indian) tobacco. Even as John Rolfe worked to improve the Virginia Company’s tobacco agriculture in the New World, this text re-frames planting as a nationalist project by bringing it into the literal soil of England. Following the guidance of C.T. promises to “bring the same to strength and perfection: yea to strength exceeding all that is brought from the Indies” (B1v).  The comparison with the Indies is simultaneously a gesture of dismissal toward European competitors like Spain and the Low Countries, both of which imported, rather than grew, the tobacco they traded.

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