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of Drake, John de Fuca, a mariner from the isle of CHAP. Greece, then in the employ of the viceroy of Mexico, sailed into the bay, which is now known as the gulf 1593. of Georgia, and, having for twenty days steered through its intricate windings and numerous islands, returned with a belief, that the entrance to the long desired passage into the Atlantic had been found.
The lustre of the name of Drake is borrowed 1578. from his success. In itself, this part of his career was but a splendid piracy against a nation, with which his sovereign and his country professed to be at peace. Oxenham, a subordinate officer, who had ventured to imitate his master, was taken by the Spaniards and hanged; nor was his punishment either unexpected or censured in England as severe. The exploits of Drake, except so far as they nourished a love for maritime affairs, were injurious to commerce; the minds of the sailors were debauched by a passion for sudden acquisitions ; and to receive regular wages seemed base and unmanly, when at the easy peril of life, there was hope of boundless plunder. Commerce and colonization rest on regular industry; the humble labor of the English fishermen, who now frequented the Grand Bank, bred mariners for the navy of their country, and prepared the way for its settlements in the New World. Already four hundred vessels came annually from the harbors of Portugal and Spain, of France and England, to the shores of Newfoundland. The English
1 Purchas, v. iv. p. 849—852. iv. Belknap's American BiograForster is sceptical; b. iii. c. iv. 8. phy, v. i. p. 224—230.
CHAP. were not there in such numbers as other nations, for
they still frequented the fisheries of Iceland; but yet they “were commonly lords in the harbors,” and, in the arrogance of naval supremacy, exacted payment for protection. It is an incident, honorable to the humanity of the early voyagers, that, on one of the American islands, not far from the fishing stations, hogs and horned cattle were purposely left, that they might multiply and become a resource to some future generation of colonists.?
While the queen and her adventurers were dazzled by the glittering prospects of mines of gold in the frozen regions of the remote north, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, with a sounder judgment and a better knowledge, watched the progress of the fisheries and formed healthy plans for colonization. He had been a soldier and a member of parliament. He was a judicious writer on navigation ;' and though censured for his ignorance of the principles of liberty,' he was esteemed for the sincerity of his piety. He was one of those, who alike despise fickleness and fear; danger never turned him aside from the pursuit of honor or the service of his sovereign; for he knew that death is inevitable and the fame of
virtue immortal. It was not difficult for Gilbert to June obtain a liberal patent, formed according to the
tenor of a previous precedent; and to be of perpet
1 See the letter of Ant. Park- 4 D'Ewes' Journal, p. 168 and hurst, who had himself been for 175. four years engaged in the New- 5 Gilbert, in Hakluyt, v. iii. p. 47. foundland trade, in Hakluyt, v. iii. 6 The patent may be found in p. 170—174.
Hakluyt, v. iii. p. 174–176; 2 Hakluyt, v. iii. p. 197.
Stith's Virginia, p. 4, 5, 6; Haz3 Ibid, v. iii. p. 32—47.
ard, v. i. p. 24–28.
ual efficacy, if a plantation should be established CHAP. within six years. To the people, who might belong to his colony, the rights of Englishmen were promised; to Gilbert, the possession for himself or his assigns of the soil which he might discover; and the sole jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, of the territory within two hundred leagues of his settlement, with supreme executive and legislative authority. Thus the attempts at colonization, in which Cabot and Frobisher had failed, were renewed under a patent which conferred every immunity on the leader of the enterprize, and abandoned the colonists themselves to the mercy of an absolute proprietary.
Under this patent, Gilbert began to collect a company of volunteer adventurers, contributing largely from his own fortune to the preparation. Jarrings and divisions ensued, before the voyage was begun; many abandoned what they had inconsiderately undertaken; the general and a few of his assured friends, among them, perhaps, his step-brother, Walter Raleigh, put to sea; one of his ships was lost; 1579. and misfortune compelled the remainder to return. The vagueness of the accounts of this expedition is ascribed to a conflict with a Spanish fleet, of which the issue was unfavorable to the little squadron of emigrants.2 Gilbert attempted to keep his patent alive by making grants of lands. None of his assigns succeeded in establishing a colony; and he was himself too much impoverished to renew his efforts.
1 Hayes' Report, in Hakluyt, v. 28, 29, edition of 1829.; Tytler's üi. p. 186.
Life of Raleigh, p. 26, 27. 2 Oldys' Life of Raleigh, p.
But the pupil of Coligny was possessed of an active genius, which delighted in hazardous adventure. To prosecute discoveries in the New World, lay the foundation of states, and acquire immense domains, appeared to the daring enterprize of Raleigh as easy designs, which would not interfere with the pursuit of favor and the career of glory in England.
Before the limit of the charter had expired, Gilbert, 1583. assisted by his brother, equipped a new squadron.
The fleet embarked under happy omens; the commander, on the eve of his departure, received from Elizabeth a golden anchor guided by a lady, a token of the queen's regard; a man of letters from Hungary accompanied the expedition ; and some part of the United States would have then been colonized, had not the unhappy projector of the design been
overwhelmed by a succession of disasters. Two June days after leaving Plymouth, the largest ship in the
fleet, which had been furnished by Raleigh, who himself remained in England, deserted under a pretence of infectious disease, and returned into harbor.
Gilbert was incensed, but not intimidated. He Aug. sailed for Newfoundland ; and, entering St. Johns,
he summoned the Spaniards and Portuguese, and other strangers, to witness the feudal ceremonies, by which he took possession of the country for his sovereign. A pillar, on which the arms of England were infixed, was raised as a monument; and lands were granted to the fishermen in fee, on condition of the payment of a quit-rent. The “ mineral-man” of the expedition, an honest and religious Saxon,
was especially diligent; it was generally agreed, CHAP. that “the mountains made a show of mineral substance;" the Saxon protested on his life that silver 1583. ore abounded; he was charged to keep the discovery a profound secret; and, as there were so many foreign vessels in the vicinity, the precious ore was carried on board the larger ship with such mystery, that the dull Portuguese and Spaniards suspected nothing of the matter.
It was not easy for Gilbert to preserve order in the little fleet. Many of the mariners, infected with the vices, which at that time degraded their profession, were no better than pirates; and were perpetually bent upon pillaging whatever ships fell in their way. At length, having abandoned one of their barks, the English, now in three vessels only, sailed on further discoveries, intending to visit the coast of the United States. But they had not proceeded farther to the south, than the latitude of Wiscasset, when the largest ship, from the carelessness of the crew, struck and was wrecked. Nearly a hundred Aug. men perished; the “mineral-man” and the ore were all lost; nor was it possible to rescue Parmenius, the Hungarian scholar, who should have been the historian of the expedition.
It now seemed necessary to hasten to England; Gilbert had sailed in the Squirrel, a bark of ten tuns only; and therefore convenient for entering barbors and approaching the coast. On the homeward voyage, the brave admiral would not forsake his little company, with whom he had passed so many storms