Initially, Habib concludes in Shakespeare and Race, the transported Africans existed initially as a miscellaneous assemblage of exotic, personally possessed decorative fetishes and human curiosities, and constituted a totally culturally unrecorded and hence silent and invisible community. That invisibility would gradually diminish, as blacks were gradually absorbed into society, given Christian names, acquired skills, and dispersed into roles as, usually, laborers, menial workers, servants, maids and, for the aristocracy, entertainers.
Yet because there was no official categorization for race, few other than diarists remarked on that distinction.
In the old age black was not counted fair, Or if it were it bore not beautys name; But now is black beautys successive heir, And beauty slandered with a bastard shame, For since each hand hath put on natures power, Fairing the foul with arts false borrowed face, Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower, But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress eyes are raven black, Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack, Slandering creation with a false esteem: Yet so they mourn, becoming of their woe, That every tongue says beauty should look so.
Under such conditions, it wouldnt be difficult to agree with the mid-17th century writings of philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who observed that human life is naturally nasty, brutish and short. There would be compensations, however: the beauty and quiet of the countryside, the easy camaraderie of the inn, the vivacity of your fellow travelers.