In 1651, in a typical seventeenth-century title page, wordy and convoluted, George Gardyner acknowledged that his tract A Description of the New World had been written from the comfort of his Peckham home. Nonetheless, Gardyner managed to convey all the motives an Englishman might have for promoting exploration and settlement in the New World during the first half of the seventeenth century. His subtitle stated that he would discuss:

Gardyner’s book, an attempt to boost interest in America at a time when events in England were distracting most people from opportunities abroad, is a clear example of the tendency of English authors to combine two themes in their writing on America: that of ‘place’, the landscape, climate, flora and fauna, and of ‘potential’, expansion of commerce and empire – the hope that England would one day be as great, as Gardyner put it, as the ‘Roman, Grecian, Assyrian or Persian nations’.2 Gardyner took up the theme of the ambitions of the English empire voiced by Richard Hakluyt and Samuel Purchas and re-framed them decades later for a nation in the turmoil and anguish of civil war. Since the start of the century many authors had published descriptions of the American landscape or written private letters to eager relatives. Gardyner, unlike some of these authors, made no attempt to describe America as it really was but used the discourse of discovery and settlement to inspire unquiet Englishmen who might seek promotion for themselves and their nation in those difficult times.3