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ENGLAND TAKES POSSESSION OF THE UNITED STATES.
The attempts of the French to colonize Florida, though unprotected and unsuccessful, were not without an important influence on succeeding events. About the time of the return of de Gourgues, Walter
Raleigh,' a young Englishman, had abruptly left the 1569, university of Oxford to take part in the civil contests
between the Huguenots and the Catholics in France, and, with the prince of Navarre, afterwards Henry IV., was learning the art of war under the veteran Coligny. The protestant party was, at that time, strongly excited with indignation at the massacre, which de Gourgues had avenged; and Raleigh could not but gather from his associates and his commander intelligence respecting Florida and the navigation to those regions. Some of the miserable men, who escaped from the first expedition, had been conducted to Elizabeth, and had kindled in the public mind in England a desire for the possession of the southern coast of our republic; the reports of Hawkins, who had been the benefactor of the French on the river May, increased the national excitement; and
1 Oldys' Raleigh, p. 16, 17; Tytler's Raleigh, p. 19-23.
2 Hakluyt, v. iii. p. 384.
de Morgues,' the painter, who had sketched in Flori- CHAP. da the most remarkable appearances of nature, ultimately found the opportunity of finishing his designs, through the munificence of Raleigh.
The progress of English maritime enterprize had prepared the way for vigorous efforts at colonization. The second expedition of the Cabots was, as we 1498. have seen, connected with plans for settlements. Other commissions, for the same object, were issued by Henry VII. In the patent, which an American 1501. historian has recently published, the design of establishing emigrants in the New World is distinctly proposed, and encouraged by the concession of a limited monopoly of the colonial trade and of commercial privileges. It is probable, that at least one voyage was made under the authority of this commission; for in the year after it was granted, natives 1502. of North America, in their wild attire, were exhibited to the public wonder of England and the English court.
Yet if a voyage was actually made, its success was inconsiderable. A new patent,with larger conces- 1502. sions, was issued, in part to the same patentees; and there is reason to believe, that the king now favored by gratuities the expedition, which no longer appeared to promise any considerable returns. Where no profits followed adventure, navigation soon
1 Hakluyt, v. iii. p. 364. Com- try. His volume is a model of pare a marginal note to v. iii. p. fidelity in historic research. 425.
3 Stow's Annals, 1502, p. 483, 2 Memoir of S. Cabot, p. 306 484. 314. The author, Richard Biddle 4 Rymer's Fædera, v. xiii. p. of Pittsburgh, has done honor to 37–42; Bacon's Henry VII. himself, his subject and his coun- 5 Mem. of S. Cab. p. 226. Note.
chap. languished. Yet the connexion between England
and the New Found Land was never abandoned. Documentary evidence exists of voyages' favored by the English, till the time, when the Normans, the Biscayans and the Bretons, began to frequent the fisheries on the American coast. Is it probable, that English mariners ever wholly resigned to a rival
nation the benefits arising from their own discoveries? 1509, Nor was the reign of Henry VIII. unfavorable to
the mercantile interests of his kingdom; and that monarch, while his life was still unstained by profligacy, and his passions not yet hardened into the stubborn selfishness of despotism, considered the discovery of the north as his “charge and duty,” and made such experiments, as the favorable situation of
England appeared to demand. An account has 1517. already been given of the last voyage of discovery,
in which Sebastian Cabot was personally engaged for his native land. Is it not probable, that other expeditions were made, with the favor of king Hen
ry and of Wolsey, although no distinct account of 1527. them has been preserved? Of one such voyage for
the discovery of a northwest passage, there exists a relation," written by Rut, the commander of one of the ships, and forwarded from the haven of St. John in Newfoundland. This implies a direct and established intercourse between England and the Ameri
part of the country was explored ;
1 Note in Memoir of Sebastian 3 Purchas, v. iii. p. 809; HakCabot, p. 229, 230.
luyt, v. iii. p. 167, 168; Me2 Thorne's letter, in 1527, to moir of Sebastian Cabot, part ii. Henry VIII. in Hakluyt, v. i. p. 236. c. ix.
for the English never abandoned the hope of CHAP. planting a colony on the continent which Cabot had discovered.
The jealousy of the Spanish nation was excited, and already began to fear English rivalry in the New World. Henry VIII. was vigorous in his attempts to check piracy; and the navigation of his subjects was extended under the security of his protection. The banner of St. George was often displayed in the harbors of Northern Africa and in the Levant;? and when commerce, emancipated from the confinement of the inner seas, went boldly forth to make the ocean its chief highway, England became more emulous to engage in a competition, in which her position gave her a pledge of success.
When 1530. voyages for traffic were already made by English merchants between the coasts of Africa and Brazil, it may be safely believed, that the nearer shores of North America were not neglected.
An account exists of one expedition, which was “ assisted by the good countenance of Henry VIII.” But the incidents, as they were related to the inquisitive Hakluyt by “the only man then alive, that had been in the discovery,” are embellished with improbable aggravations of distress. Memory, at all periods of life, is easily deceived by the imagination ; and men, who relate marvellous tales of personal adventure, are the first to become the dupes of their own inventions. The old sailor, perhaps, believed his
1 Herrera, d. ji. I. v. c. ii. Compare Oviedo, l. xix. c. xiii.
in Ramusio, v. j. fol. 204.
2 Hill's Naval History, p. 267.
CHAP. story, in which frequent repetition may have gradually
deepened the shades of horror. Cannibalism is the 1536. crime of famine at sea; men do not often devour one
another on shore, least of all, on a coast, abounding in wild fowl and fish. The English may have suffered from want; and as a French ship, “well furnished with vittails,” approached Newfoundland, they obtained possession of it by a stroke of “ “policie," which, if dishonest, seems not to have been regarded as disgraceful, and set sail for England. The French followed in the English ship, and complained of the exchange. It shows the favor of Henry VIII. to maritime enterprize, that he pardoned his subjects the wrong, and of his own private purse
“made full and royal recompense to the French.” 1541.
The statute books of England soon gave proof, that the “new land” of America had engaged the attention of parliament;' and, after the accession of
Edward, the fisheries of Newfoundland obtained 1548. the protection of a special act. The preamble to
this latter statute, declares the navigation to have been burdened for years by exactions from the officers of the admiralty ; and its enactments forbid the continuance of the oppression. An active commerce must have long existed, since exactions, levied upon it, had almost become prescriptive.
But India was still esteemed the great region of wealth ; and England, then having no anticipation of one day becoming the sovereign of Hindostan, hoped
1 Hakluyt, v. iii. p. 168–170. 32 Edward VI., in Ruffhead,
2 33 Henry VIII., c. ii.; Ruff- v. ii. p. 412; Hakluyt, v. iii. p. 170; head, v. ii. p. 304.
Hazard, v. i. p. 22, 23.