Abstract

In his prose Essay upon Plantership (1750), Samuel Martin talks around the point when advising planters to plant yams, plantains, and potatoes to “fructify the soil” and improve sugar yields. This article examines the nature of his circumlocution and the content of his counsel, which implicitly understood slave excrement as excellent fertilizer. While confusing to modern interpreters, Martin’s stylistic flourish realized Addison’s poetic ideal of discussing dung “with an air of gracefulness.” It reflected Martin’s classical education, his awareness that West Indian agriculture seemed primitive to outsiders, and his modulated adherence to plainspoken norms of the New Science.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-315X
Print ISSN
0013-2586
Pages
pp. 475-506
Launched on MUSE
2016-07-28
Open Access
No
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