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[266]

Chapter 8:

The Pilgrims.

The settlement of New England was a result of
Chap VIII.}
the Reformation;1 not of the contest between the new opinions and the authority of Rome, but of implacable differences between Protestant dissenters and the established Anglican church.

Who will venture to measure the consequences of actions by the apparent humility or the remoteness of their origin? The mysterious influence of that Power which enchains the destinies of states, overruling the decisions of sovereigns and the forethought of statesmen, often deduces the greatest events from the least commanding causes. A Genoese adventurer, discovering America, changed the commerce of the world; an obscure German, inventing the printing-press, rendered possible the universal diffusion of increased intelligence; an Augustine monk, denouncing indulgences, introduced a schism in religion, and changed the foundations of European politics; a young French refugee, skilled alike in theology and civil law, in the duties of magistrates and the dialectics of religious controversy, entering the republic of Geneva, and conforming its ecclesiastical discipline to the principles of republican simplicity, established a party, of which Englishmen became members, and New England the [267] asylum. The enfranchisement of the mind from re-

Chap. VIII.}
ligious despotism led directly to inquiries into the nature of civil government; and the doctrines of popular liberty, which sheltered their infancy in the wildernesses of the newly-discovered continent, within the short space of two centuries, have infused themselves into the life-blood of every rising state from Labrador to Chili, have erected outposts on the Oregon and in Liberia, and, making a proselyte of enlightened France. have disturbed all the ancient governments of Europe, by awakening the public mind to resistless action, from the shores of Portugal to the palaces of the czars.

The trading company of the west of England, in-

1606
corporated in the same patent with Virginia, possessed too narrow resources or too little enterprise for success in establishing colonies. The Spaniards, affecting an exclusive right of navigation in the seas of the new hemisphere, captured and confiscated a vessel2 which
Nov 10
Popham, the chief justice of England, and Gorges, the governor of Plymouth, had, with some others, equipped for discovery. But a second and almost simultaneous expedition from Bristol encountered no disasters; and the voyagers, on their return, increased public confidence, by renewing the favorable reports of the country which they had visited.3 The spirit of adventure was not suffered to slumber; the lord chief justice displayed persevering vigor, for his honor was interested in the success of the company which his influence had contributed to establish; Gorges,4 the companion and friend of Raleigh, was still reluctant to surrender his [268] sanguine hopes of fortune and domains in America,
Chap VIII.} 1607.
and, in the next year, two ships were despatched to Northern Virginia, commanded by Raleigh Gilbert, and bearing emigrants for a plantation under the presidency of George Popham.5 After a tedious voyage, the adventurers reached the coast of America near the
Aug. 8.
mouth of the Kennebec, and, offering public thanks to God for their safety, began their settlement under the auspices of religion, with a government framed as if for a permanent colony. Rude cabins, a storehouse, and some slight fortifications, were rapidly prepared, and the ships sailed for England, leaving forty-five
Dec. 5.
emigrants in the plantation, which was named St. George. But the winter was intensely cold; the natives, at first friendly, became restless; the storehouse caught fire, and part of the provisions was consumed; the emigrants grew weary of their solitude; they lost Popham, their president, “the only one6 of the company that died there; ‘the ships which revisited the settlement with supplies, brought news of
1608.
the death of the chief justice, the most vigorous friend of the settlement in England; and Gilbert, the sole in command at St. George, had, by the decease of his brother, become heir to an estate which invited his presence. So the plantation was abandoned; and the colonists, returning to England,’ did coyne many excuses,” and sought to conceal their own deficiency of spirit by spreading exaggerated accounts of the rugged poverty of the soil, and the inhospitable severity [269] of the climate.7 But the Plymouth company was
Chap VIII.}
dissatisfied with their pusillanimity; Gorges esteemed it a weakness to be frightened at a blast. The idea of a settlement in these northern latitudes was no longer terrific. The American fisheries also constituted a prosperous and well-established business. Three years had elapsed since the French had been settled in their huts at Port Royal; and the ships which carried the English from the Kennebec were on the ocean at the same time with the little squadron of the French, who succeeded in building Quebec, the very summer in which Maine was deserted.

The fisheries and the fur-trade were not relinquished; vessels were annually employed in traffic with the Indians; and once,8 at least, perhaps oftener, a part of a ship's company remained during a winter on the American coast. But new hopes were awakened,

1614 April
when Smith,—who had already obtained distinction in Virginia, and who had, with rare sagacity, discovered, and, with unceasing firmness, asserted, that colonization was the true policy of England,—with two ships, set sail for the coast north of the lands granted by the Virginia patent. The expedition was a private9 adventure of ‘four merchants of London and himself,’ and was very successful. The freights were profitable; the health of the mariners did not suffer; and the whole voyage was accomplished in less than seven months. While the sailors were busy with their hooks and lines, Smith examined the shores from the Penobscot to Cape Cod, prepared a map of the coast,10 [270] and named the country New England,—a title which
Chap. VIII}
Prince Charles confirmed. The French could boast, with truth, that New France had been colonized before New England obtained a name; Port Royal was older than Plymouth, Quebec than Boston. Yet the voyage was not free from crime. After Smith had departed for England, Thomas Hunt, the master of the second ship, kidnapped a large party of Indians, anti, sailing for Spain, sold ‘the poor innocents’ into slavery. It is singular how good is educed from evil: one of the number, escaping from captivity, made his way to London, and, in 1619, was restored to his own country, where he subsequently became an interpreted for English emigrants.11

Encouraged by commercial success, Smith next

1615.
endeavored, in the employment of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, and of friends in London, members of the Plymouth company, to establish a colony. Sixteen men12 were all whom the adventurers destined for the occupation of New England. The attempt was unsuccessful. Smith was forced by extreme tempests to return. Again renewing his enterprise, he suffered from the treachery of his companions, and was, at last, intercepted by French pirates. His ship was taken away; he himself escaped alone, in an open boat, from the harbor of Rochelle.13 The severest privations in a new settlement would have been less wearisome, than the labors which his enthusiasm now prompted him to undertake. Having published a map and a [271] description of New England, he spent many months14
Chap VIII.} 1617

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