« ZurückWeiter »
Of the First Seisin, Possession, and Name of Virginia.
THAT Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and Sir Richard Grenville, and many others, noble spirits of our nation, attempted to settle a plantation in the parts of America, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, is sufficiently published in the painful Collections of Mr. Hakluyt, together with the variable successes of those undertakers; of whose labor and charge there remained no other fruit than the primor seisin and royal possession taken thereof, as of right belonging to the crown of England, giving it the name of Virginia, in the memory and honor of that virgin queen, the wonder of her sex, by whose authority those attempts took their first life, and died not till the actors ended their days, and their chief supporters and advancers tried with so many fruitless attempts and endless charge without hope of profit to follow for many ages to come; so that that attempt had its end, as many others since that of greater hopes and better grounded. But what shall we say 1 As nothing is done but according to the time fore-decreed by God's sacred providence, so doth he provide wherewith to accomplish the same in the fulness of it. But the mirror of queens being summoned to the possession of a more glorious reign, left her terrestrial crown to her successor James, the Sixth of Scotland, to whom of right it did belong.
The reasons and means of renewing the undertakings of Plantations in America. '.
This great monarch gloriously ascending his throne,  being born to greatness above his ancestors, to whom all submitted as to another Solomon for wisdom and justice, as well as for that he brought with him another crown, whereby those kingdoms that had so long contended for rights and liberties, perhaps oft-times pretended rather to satisfy their present purposes, than that justice required it. But such is the frailty of human nature as not to be content with what we possess, but strives by all means to inthrall the weaker that is necessitated to prevent the worst, though by such means sometimes to their greater ruin. With this union there was also a general peace concluded between the State and the King of Spain, the then only enemy of our nation and religion, whereby our men of war by sea and land were left destitute of all hope of employment under their own prince ; and therefore there was liberty given to them (for preventing other evils) to be entertained as mercenaries under what prince or state they pleased,—a liberty granted upon show of reason, yet of a dangerous consequence, when our friends and allies, that had long travailed with us in one and the same quarrel, should now find our swords sharpened as well against as for them. Howsoever reason of state approved thereof, the world forebore not to censure it, as their affections led them. Others grew jealous what might be the issue, especially when it was found that by such liberty the sword was put into their hands, the law had prohibited them the use. Some there were, not liking to be servants to foreign states, thought it better became them to put in practice the reviving resolution of those free spirits, that rather chose to spend themselves in seeking a new world, than servilely to be hired but as slaugh•terers in the quarrels of strangers. This resolution being stronger than their means to put it into execution, they were forced to let it rest as a dream, till God should give the means to stir up the inclination of such a power able to bring it to life.
And so it pleased our great God, that there happened to come into the harbor of Plymouth [July, 1605], (where I then commanded) one Captain Weymouth, that had been employed by the Lord Arundell of Wardour for the discovery of the North-west passage; but falling short of his course, happened into a river on the coast of America, called Pemmaquid [the Penobscot], from whence he brought five of the natives, three of whose names were Manida, Skettwarroes, andTasquantum, whom I seized upon. They were all of one nation, but of several parts and several families. This accident must be acknowledged the means under God of putting on foot and giving life to all our plantations, as by the ensuing discourse will manifestly appear.
Of the use I made of the Natives.
After I had those people some time in my custody, I observed in them an inclination to follow the example of the better sort, and in all their carriages manifest shows of great civility, far from the rudeness of our common people. And the longer I conversed with them, the better hope they gave me of those parts where they did inhabit, as proper for our uses; especially when I found what goodly rivers, stately islands and safe harbors those parts abounded with, being the special marks I levelled at, as the only want our nation met with in all their navigations along that coast. And having kept them full three years, I made them able to set me down what great rivers ran up into the land, what men of note were seated on them, what power they were of, how allied, what enemies they had, and the like; of which in his proper place.
Captain Henry Challoung sent to make his residence in the country till supplies came.
Those credible informations the natives had given me of the condition and state of their country, made me [August, 1606] send away a ship furnished with men and all necessaries, provisions convenient for the service intended, under the command of Captain Henry Challoung, a gentleman of a good family, industrious, and of fair condition; to whom I gave such directions and instructions for his better direction as I knew proper for his use^and my satisfaction, being grounded upon the information I had of the natives, sending two of them with him to aver the same; binding both the captain, his master and company strictly to follow it, or to expect the miscarriage of the voyage to be laid unto their charge; commanding them by all means to keep the northerly gage, as high as Cape Britton, till they had discovered the main, and then to beat it up to the southward, as the coast tended, till they found by the natives they were near the place they were assigned unto. Though this werg^a direction contrary to the opinion of our best seamen of these times, yet I knew many reasons persuading me thereunto, as well as for that I understood the natives themselves to be exact pilots for that coast, having been accustomed to frequent the same, both as fishermen, and in passing along the shore to seek their enemies, that dwelt to the northward of them. But it is not in the wit of man to prevent the providence of the Most High.
For this captain being some hundred leagues of the island of Canary, fell sick of a fever, and the winds being westerly, his company shaped their course for the Indies, and coming to St. John de Porto Rico, the captain himself went ashore for the recovery of his health, whiles the company took in water, and such other provision as they had present use of, expending some time there, hunting aft§r such things as best pleased themselves. That ended, they set their course to fall with their own height they were directed unto; by which means they met the Spanish fleet that came from Havana, by whom they were taken and carried into Spain, where their ship and goods were confiscate, themselves made prisoners, the voyage overthrown, and both my natives lost. This the gain of their breach of order, which, afterwards observed, brought all our ships to their desired ports. The affliction of the captain and his company put the Lord Chief Justice Popham to charge, and myself to trouble in procuring their liberties, which was not suddenly obtained.
The Lord Chief Justice despatching Captain Prinfrom Bristol for the supply of Captain Challoung.
Shortly upon my sending away of Captain Challoung, it pleased the Lord Chief Justice, according to his promise, to despatch Captain Prin from Bristol, with hope to have found Captain Challoung where by his instructions he was assigned; who observing the same, happily arrived there, but not hearing by any means what became of him, after he had made a perfect discovery of all those rivers and harbors he was informed of by his instructions, (the season of the year requiring his return) brings with him the most exact discovery of that coast that ever came to my hands since; and indeed he was the best able to perform it of any I met withal to this present; which, with his relation of the country, wrought such an impression in the Lord Chief Justice and us all that were his associates, that (notwithstanding our first disaster) we set up our resolutions to follow it with effect, and that upon better grounds, for as yet our authority was but in motion. x
Of his Lordship's care in procuring His Majesty's authority for settling two Colonies.
In this interim his Lordship failed not to interest many of the lords and others to be petitioners to his Majesty for his royal authority, for settling two Plantations upon the coasts of America, by the names of the First and Second Colony; the first to be undertaken by certain noblemen, knights, gentlemen, and merchants in and about the city of London; the second by certain knights, gentlemen, and merchants in the Western parts. This being obtained , theirs of London made a very hopeful entrance into their design, sending away [June 2, 1609], under the command of Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Summers, and many other gentlemen of quality, a very great and hopeful Plantation to