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CHAP. vessel of but twenty-five tuns; two of those of Co
lumbus were without a deck; and so perilous were
COLONIZATION OF VIRGINIA.
The period of success in planting colonies in CHAP. Virginia had arrived; yet not till changes had occurred, affecting the character of European pol- 1606. itics and society, and moulding the forms of colonization. The reformation had interrupted the uniformity of religious opinion in the west of Europe; and differences in the church began to constitute the basis of political parties. Commercial intercourse equally sustained a revolution. It had been conducted on the narrow seas and by land; it now launched out upon the broadest waters; and, after the East Indies had been reached by doubling the southern promontory of Africa, the great commerce of the world was performed upon the ocean. The art of printing had become known; and the press diffused intelligence and multiplied the facilities of instruction. The feudal forms of society, which had been preserved from the middle ages, began to yield. Productive industry had, on the one side, built up the fortunes and extended the influence of the active classes; while habits of indolence and of expense had impaired the estates and diminished the power of the nobility. These changes also
CHAP. produced corresponding results in the institutions,
which were to rise in America. 1606.
A revolution had equally occurred in the purposes for which voyages were undertaken. The hope of Columbus, as he sailed to the west, had been the discovery of a new passage to the East Indies. The passion for rapidly amassing gold soon became the prevailing motive. Next, the islands and countries near the equator were made the tropical gardens of the Europeans for the culture of such luxuries, as the warmest regions only can produce. At last, the higher design was matured, not to plunder, nor to destroy, nor to enslave; but to found states, to plant permanent Christian colonies, to establish for the oppressed and the enterprizing, places of refuge and abode, with all the elements of independent national existence.
The condition of England favored adventure in America. A redundant population had existed even before the
peace with Spain;' and the timid character of King James, throwing out of employment the gallant men, who had served under Elizabeth by sea and land, left to them no option, but to engage as mercenaries in the quarrels of strangers, or to incur the hazards of emigration to a new world. The minds of many persons of intelligence, rank and enterprize, were directed to Virginia. Gosnold, a brave soldier and very ingenious man, who had himself witnessed the fertility of the western soil, long
i Lord Bacon on Queen Elizabeth.
2 Gorges' Brief Narration, c. ii.
ENGLISHMEN RESOLVE TO COLONIZE VIRGINIA.
solicited the concurrence of his friends for the estab- CHAP. lishment of a colony ;' and at last prevailed with Wingfield, a merchant of the west of England, 1606. Hunt, a clergyman, and Smith, the adventurer of rare genius and undying fame, to consent to risk their own lives and their hope of fortune in an expedition. For more than a year, this little company revolved the project of a plantation. At the same time, Sir Ferdinand Gorges was gathering information of the native Americans, whom he had received from Weymouth, and whose descriptions of the country, joined to the favorable views, which he had already imbibed, filled him with the strongest desire
, to become a proprietary of domains beyond the Atlantic. Gorges was a man of wealth, of rank, and of influence; he readily persuaded Sir John Popham, lord chief justice of England, to share his intentions. Nor had the assigns of Raleigh become indifferent to "western planting ;" the most distinguished of them all, Richard Hakluyt, the historian of maritime enterprize, still favored the establishment of a colony by his personal exertions and the firm enthusiasm of his character. Possessed of whatever information could be derived from foreign sources and a correspondence with the eminent navigators of his times, and anxiously watching the progress of the attempts of Englishmen in the west, his extensive knowledge made him a counsellor in
1 Edmund Howes' Continuation 2 Smith, v. i. p. 149, or Purchas, of Stowe, p. 1018. A prime au- v. iv. p. 1705; Stith, p. 35. Comthority on Virginia. See Stith, pare Belknap, v. i. p. 239 and 252.
3 Gorges, c. ii.-v.
CHAP. the enterprizes which were attempted, and sustained a in him and his associates the confidence, which 1606. repeated disappointments did not exhaust. Thus
the cause of colonization obtained in England zealous and able defenders, who, independent of any party in religion or politics, believed that a prosperous state could be established by Englishmen in the temperate regions of North America.
The king of England, too timid to be active, yet too vain to be indifferent, favored the design of enlarging his dominions. He had attempted in Scotland the introduction of the arts of life among the Highlanders and the western isles, by the establishment of colonies ;2 and the English plantations, which he formed in the northern counties of Ireland, are said to have contributed to the affluence and the security of that island. When, therefore, a company of men of business and men of rank, formed by the experience of Gosnold, the enthusiasm of Smith, the perseverance of Hakluyt, the hopes of profit and the extensive influence of Popham and
Gorges,' applied to James I. for leave “to deduce a April colony into Virginia,” the monarch promoted the
noble work, by readily issuing an ample patent.
The first colonial charter," under which the English
1 Hakluyt, v. iii. passim; v. v. 4 Gorges, c. v. and vi. Dedication of Virginia Valued. 5 See the Charter, in Hazard, v. The first Virginia charter contains i. p. 51–58; Stith's Appendix, p. his name.
1-8; Hening's Statutes of Vir2 Robertson's Scotland, b. viii. ginia at large, v. i. p. 57—66. In
3 Leland's History of Ireland, referring to this collection, I canv. ii. p. 204—213; Lord Bacon's not but add, that no other state in speech as Chancellor to the Speak- the Union possesses so excellent er, Works, v. iii. p. 405.
a work on its legislative history.