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[115] springs and copious rivulets, compelled the experienced
Chap III.} 1605
mariner to admire the noble river, which is just now beginning to have upon its banks and in its ports the flourishing settlements and active commerce that it is by nature so well adapted to sustain. Five natives were decoyed on board the ship, and Weymouth, returning to England, gave three of them to Sir Ferdinand Gorges, a friend of Raleigh, and governor of Plymouth.1

Such were the voyages which led the way to the colonization of the United States. The daring and skill of these earliest adventurers upon the ocean deserve the highest admiration. The difficulties of crossing the Atlantic were new, and it required the greater courage to encounter hazards which ignorance exaggerated. The character of the prevalent winds and currents was unknown. The possibility of making a direct passage was but gradually discovered. The imagined dangers were infinite; the real dangers, exceedingly great. The ships at first employed for discovery were generally of less than one hundred tons burthen; Frobisher sailed in a vessel of but twenty-five tons; two of those of Columbus were without a deck; and so perilous were the voyages deemed, that the sailors were accustomed, before embarking, to perform solemn acts of devotion, as if to prepare for eternity. The anticipation of disasters was not visionary; Columbus was shipwrecked twice, and once remained for eight months on an island, without any communication with the civilized world;

1 Rosier's Virginian Voyage, &c. in Purchas, IV. 1659—1667. Gorges, Brief Narration, c. II. Compare Belknap's Am. Biog. II. 134—150; Williamson's Maine, i. 191—195. Strange with what reckless confidence Oldmixon, i. 219, 220, can blunder!

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