the period of success in planting colonies in Vir-
ginia had arrived; yet not till changes had occurred, affecting the character of European
politics and society, and moulding the forms of colonization.
The reformation had interrupted the harmony 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 institutions which had been reared in the middle ages, were already undermined by the current of time and events, and, swaying from their base, threatened to fall.
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 produced corresponding results in the institutions which were to rise in America