Anguis niger, maculis rubris & luteis eleganter varius: The Bead
These Snakes are usually about the Size of the Figure,some less,
and some I have seen three or four Times as big. The ground Colour
of them is black, deeper on the Back and fainter under the Belly:
The upper Part of the Body is adorned with large Spots of a bright
red Colour, between which, at regular Distances are yellow Spots.
They live mostly under Ground, and are seldom seen above, but are
frequently found and dug up with Potatoes, at the Time those Roots
are taken out of the Ground, which is in September and October.
They have nothing of a Viper, either in Form or Quality, but are
Convolvulus Radice tuberoso esculento: The Virginian Potato.
This excellent Root seems to merit the Preferrence of all others,
not only in Regard to the Wholsomness and Delicacy of its Food;
but for its more general use to Mankind than any other Root, it
being one great Part, if not the principal Subsistance of the greater
Part of Africa, and is likewise in great Use, both in America
and in the Southern Parts of Asia. They being of so easy
Culture, so quick of Growth, and of so vast an Increase, that the
propagating it, seems more agreeable to the Indolence of the Barbarians,
than cultivating Grains, which require a longer Time with more Labour
and Uncertainty: In all our Colonies of America as well Islands,
as Continent, these Roots are in great Esteem and Use. The common
white People as well as the Negro Slaves subsisting much
upon them, nor are they thought unworthy a Place at principal Tables.
In Virginia and to the North thereof, they are Annuals, and
produce no Flowers. They plant them in March, and dig them
up in October, and to prevent their rotting, keep them in
Holes under Ground near their Fires: In Carolina, where the
Winters are more moderate, they are not necessited to keep them
so warm: And in the Bahama Islands, and other Places between
the Tropicks, they are perennial and produce Flowers, yet
are annually planted. The most Kinds, and best Potatoes, that I
observed, were in Virginia, and because the Names, they are
called by in different Colonies, are so various, I shall call them
by those Names only by which they are known there.
I have observed only five Kinds of Potatoes specifically different
from one another, the Common, the Bermudas, the Brimstone,
the Carrot, and the Claret Potatoes.
The Common Potato is of a muddy red Colour on the outside,
but being cut appears white with a reddish Cast, they commonly weigh
from half a Pound, to four, five or six Pounds, usually are long,
irregularly shaped and pointed at both Ends; this, is an excellent
Kind, and is most planted.
The Bermudas Potato is larger and rounder than the Common,
very white within, and covered with a white Skin, this is a tender
find, requiring more Warmth in keeping, and a different Culture
from the rest, this is the most delicate Sort, but not so much planted
as the Common Potato, because of its not keeping so well.
This Potato only produces a white Flower, the Flowers of
the other Kinds being purple.
The Brimstone Potato grows to a large Size, and is shaped
like the Common, the Colour of it both given its Name, and
in Goodness it is esteemed next to the Common.
The Carrot Potato is named so, from its Colour both without
and within, being like that of a Carrot, these grow to a very large
Size, and are of great Increase, tho' of little Esteem, being the
The Claret Potato seems to be propagated more as a Curiosity
than for any peculiar Excellence it hath. The Colour of it without
and within is that of Claret.