The Promise and The Terror of a Tropical Environment

  • Philip D. Curtin

Abstract

For eighteenth-century Europe, the world between the tropics was much more a “New World” than North America had ever been. In its newness it held out both promise and terror—the promise of tropical wealth and the terror of the unknown. Even though Englishmen had been sailing southern seas since the reign of Elizabeth I and had settled on Barbados in the reign of Charles I, the tropical environment was still alien and forbidding and barely understood. But the most crucial fact was known: Europeans died there with considerably greater frequency than they did in Europe. Whatever else it held out, a visit to the tropics meant running the gauntlet of disease and death.

Keywords

Europe Arsenic Manure Smoke Alkaloid 

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Footnotes

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  • Philip D. Curtin

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