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[143] order or assent of the company, was chiefly a trans-
Chap IV.} 161
lation from the rules of war of the United Provinces. The Episcopal Church, coeval in Virginia with the settlement of Jamestown, was, like the infant commonwealth, subjected to military rule; and, though conformity was not strictly enforced, yet courts-martial had authority to punish indifference with stripes, and infidelity with death. The introduction of this arbitrary system added new sorrows to the wretchedness of the people, who pined and perished under despotic rule; but the adventurers in England regarded the Virginians as the garrison of a distant citadel, more than as citizens and freemen. The charter of the London company1 had invested the governor with full authority, in cases of rebellion and mutiny, to exercise martial law; and, in the condition of the settlement, this seemed a sufficient warrant for making it the law of the land.

The letters of Dale to the council confessed the small number and weakness of the colonists; but he kindled hope in the hearts of those constant adventurers, who, in the greatest disasters, had never fainted. ‘If any thing otherwise than well betide me,’ said he, ‘let me commend unto your carefulness the pursuit and dignity of this business, than which your purses and endeavors will never open nor travel in a more meritorious enterprise. Take four of the best kingdoms in Christendom, and put them all together, they may no way compare with this country, either for commodities or goodness of soil.’2 Lord Delaware and Sir Thomas Gates earnestly confirmed what Dale had written, and, without any delay, Gates,

1 See the charter, sec. XXIV. Compare Smith, II. 10,11; Stith, 122, 123, and 293; Purchas, IV. 1767.

2 New Life of Virginia, II. Mass. Hist. Coll. VIII. 207.

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