The History of the Dividing Line By William Byrd

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The History of the Dividing Line

By William Byrd

Study Guide

Words to Know

Match the vocabulary word the definition provide.

___1. Sundry a. good-for- nothing

___ 2. treacherous b. article of trade

___ 3. commodity c. publicized

___ 4. frugal d. well-known

___ 5. Eminent e. a variety of

___ 6. reprobate f. contempt

___ 7. disdain g. divine intervention

___ 8. propagate h. deceitful

___ 9. Perpetual i. prudent

___ 10. providence j. long-lasting

The History of the Dividing Line Vocabulary Antonyms





















without goods for trade or sale


a limited amount of










Literary Elements

For this piece of literature we will look at one particular literary element and that is SATIRE. The entire work is a satirical piece to gain the attention of those in England and around the world as to how industrious and difficult the taming of this new land has been.

Satire -- the use of humor and wit with a critical attitude, irony, sarcasm, or ridicule for exposing or denouncing the frailties and faults of mankind’s activities and institutions, such as folly, stupidity, or vice. This usually involves both moral judgment and a desire to help improve a custom, belief, or tradition. The term is from the Latin satura, meaning “full” or “sated” and was derived from satis, meaning “enough” or “sufficient.” Satire began with the early Greek poets when they were supposed to tax weaknesses and correct vice. As a distinct literary form, satire was the creation of the Romans and was subsequently present in many forms of medieval literature. In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer used this technique for “The Miller’s Tale” and “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale.” During the Renaissance, satire was more often prose rather than poetry. The Golden Age of Satire in England was the early Eighteenth Century when Henry Fielding, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay and others dominated British letters. In the Twentieth Century, satire includes George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 which satirized political situations and the status quo, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World which satirized utopian dreams.

Examples of Satire:

Paul Newman said, “It's always darkest before it turns absolutely pitch black.”

Steven Bishop remarked, “It's a catastrophic success” and “I feel so miserable without you, it's almost like having you here.”

Oscar Wilde wrote, “I am not young enough to know everything.”

Grouch Marx used many satirical one-liners in his comedy. Here are a few:

  • “Marriage is the chief cause of divorce.”

  • “I didn't like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions - the curtain was up.”

  • “I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.”

Choose two of the satirical statement above and tell me what is being satirized?

What is it the persons want us to consider?

How would you characterize the satires?

Much of what we call satire is used in to make a point about something and is done no more successfully than in cartoons.


. 2.




. 6.



For each of the above a) tell me what is being satirized and b) how does the artist want us to feel about what is being satirized.

  1. a:


  1. a:


  1. a:


  1. a:


  1. a:


  1. a:


  1. a:


Now, you try your had at it. Think of something that you feel strongly about that is being ignored and satirize it in some way. But, make it brief and to the point.

Understanding the Text

Choose the answer which best completes the statement or answers the question.

___ 1. Byrd claims that at one time all of America was known as

a) Massachusetts b) the colonies c) the Americas d) Virginia

____ 2. Where does Byrd claim the first colony in America was established?

a) At Roanoke b) Virginia c) Plymouth d) Caribbean

____ 3. When Raleigh presents the Queen with tobacco many believe that he is trying to -?- her.

a) win her favor b) get more funding c) poison her d) get her come to America

____ 4. What happens to the Raleigh settlement?

a) they all disappear b) they move to Jamestown c) they are brought back home

___ 5. Entreated by the Earl of South Hampton a second company sends a second colony that arrives at

a) Roanoke b) Jamestown c) the mouth of the Chesapeake d) Nova Scotia

____ 6. Byrd says the colonist looked upon labor as a

a) God’s will b) a curse c) enlightening d) family job

____ 7. The Indians don’t trust the settlers because they

  1. hold the Indians responsible for their fortune

  2. hold the Indians responsible for their misfortune

  3. hold the Indians in contempt

  4. See the Indians as competitors for the crops they plant

____ 8. Byrd believes that the settlers should have spent there time trying to -?- the Indians.

a) subdue b) make friends c­ ) convert d) pacify

____ 9. Bearskin explained that his people believed in

a ) one supreme god b) several gods c) no gods d) one supreme god and several lesser ones

____ 10. In Bearskin’s faith there is -?- for the bad.

a) rewards b) reincarnation c) punishment d) nothing

____ 11. In Bearskin’s faith God rewards

a) labor b) good people c) brave deeds d) the warriors

____ 12. Which of the following is not a article of natural religion?

  1. the belief of a God b) the moral distinction betwixt good and evil

c) the expectation of rewards and punishments d) an afterlife that includes reincarnation

____ 13. Byrd discusses the providence that they receive as being

a) a good hunt b) the rain c) the saving of the bread d) the tents holding out the rain

____ 14. The eating habits of the colonist might be described as

a) frugal b) famine c) feast and famine d) more than enough to survive

Interpreting the Text

For each of the following answer in complete sentences and make the connections indicated in by the questions in light of the quotation from the literature.

15. In the following text what is being satirized and why do you suppose Byrd brings this to the attention of the people back in England and the colonist. Is his observation and satire true today.

“These found the first adventurers in a very starving condition, but relieved their wants with the fresh supply they brought with them. From Kiquotan they extended themselves as far as James-town, where, like true Englishmen, they built a church that cost no more than fifty pounds, and a tavern that cost five hundred.”

16. From the following text: What is the proposal of Byrd’s to take care of the Indian problem? How is Byrd’s suggestion satirical? What is he really trying to draw attention to?

“Add to this, that they are healthy and strong, with constitutions untainted by lewdness, and not enfeebled by luxury. Besides, morals and all considered, I cannot think the Indians were much greater heathens than the first adventurers, who, had they been good Christians, would have had the charity to take this only method of converting the natives to Christianity. For, after all that can be said, a sprightly lover is the most prevailing missionary that can be sent amongst these, or any other infidels. Besides, the poor Indians would have had less reason to complain that the English took away their land, if they had received it by way of portion with their daughters. Had such affinities been contracted in the beginning, how much bloodshed had been prevented, and how populous would the country have been, and, consequently, how considerable? Nor would the shade of the skin have been any reproach at this day; for if a Moor may be washed white in three generations, surely an Indian might have been blanched in two.”

17. Byrd makes last satirical statement about the eating habits of the Indian compared to the colonist. What is he satirizing? What is Byrd’s attitude towards the colonist? What is his attitude towards the Indians?

“In such a glut of provisions, a true woodsman, when he has nothing else to do, like our honest countrymen the Indians, keeps eating on, to avoid the imputation of idleness; though, in a scarcity, the Indian will fast with a much better grace than they. They can subsist several days upon a little rockahominy, which is parched Indian corn reduced to powder. This they moisten in the hollow of their hands with a little water, and it is hardly credible how small a quantity of it will support them. It is true they grow a little lank upon it, but to make themselves feel full, they gird up their loins very tight with a belt, taking up a hole every day. With this slender subsistence they are able to travel very long journeys; but then, to make themselves amends, when they do meet with better cheer, they eat without ceasing, till they have ravened themselves into another famine.”

Making Connections

In “The History of the Dividing Line” Byrd discuss the three articles of natural religion, which are as follows:

. It contained, however, the three great articles of natural religion: the belief of a God; the moral distinction betwixt good and evil; and the expectation of rewards and punishments in another world.

Take apart the explanation of Bearskins faith and place it into the articles of natural religion and then, discuss the differences between natural religion and the articles of faith of the Puritans.

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