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[65] of the natives was exhausted; they had welcomed
Chap. II.} 1564
powerful guests, who promised to become their benefactors, and who now robbed their humble granaries.

But the worst evil in the new settlement was the character of the emigrants. Though patriotism and religious enthusiasm had prompted the expedition, the inferior class of the colonists was a motley group of dissolute men. Mutinies were frequent. The men were mad with the passion for sudden wealth; and a party, under the pretence of desiring to escape from famine, compelled Laudonniere to sign an order, permitting their embarkation for New Spain. No sooner

1564. Dec. 8.
were they possessed of this apparent sanction of the chief, than they equipped two vessels, and began a career of piracy against the Spaniards. Thus the French were the aggressors in the first act of hostility in the New World; an act of crime and temerity which was soon avenged. The pirate vessel was taken, and most of the men disposed of as prisoners or slaves. A few escaped in a boat; these could find no shelter but at Fort Carolina, where Laudonniere sentenced the ringleaders to death.

Meantime, the scarcity became extreme; and the

friendship of the natives was entirely forfeited by unprofitable severity. March was gone, and there were no supplies from France; April passed away, and the expected recruits had not arrived; May came, but it brought nothing to sustain the hopes of the exiles. It was resolved to return to Europe in such miserable brigantines as despair could construct. Just then, Sir John Hawkins,1 the slave-merchant, arrived from the
Aug 3
West Indies. He came fresh from the sale of a cargo of Africans, whom he had kidnapped with signal ruthlessness;

1 Hawkins, in Hakluyt, III. 615, 616.

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