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The first Chapter, wherein the Argument of the Booke is contained.

IT was my fortune (good Reader) not many dayes past, to meete with a right honest and discreete Gentleman, who accompanied that valiant and worthy Knight Sir Humfrey Gilbert, in this last journey for the Westerne discoveries, and is owner and Captaine of the onely vessell which is as yet returned from thence.

By him I understand that Sir Humfrey departed the coast of England the eleventh of June last past, with five sayle of Shippes, from Caushen bay neere Plimmouth, whereof one of the best forsooke his company, the thirteenth day of the same moneth, and returned into England .

The other foure (through the assistance of Almighty God) did arrive at Saint Johns Haven, in Newfound land, the 3. of August last. Upon whose arrivall all the Masters and chiefe Mariners of the English Fleet, which were in the said Haven before, endevoring to fraight themselves with fish, repaired unto Sir Humfrey, whom he made acquainted with the effect of his Commission: which being done, he promised to intreat them and their goods well and honourably as did become her Majesties Lieutenant. They did all welcome him in the best sort that they could, and shewed him and his all such courtesies as the place could affoord or yeelde.

Then he went to view the Countrey, being well accompanied with most of his Captaines and souldiers. They found the same very temperate, but somewhat warmer then England at that season of the yeere, replenished with Beasts and great store of Foule of divers kinds: And Fish of sundry sortes, both in the salt water, and in the fresh, in so great plentie as might suffice to victuall an Armie, and they are very easily taken. What sundry other commodities for this Realme right necessarie, the same doeth yeelde, you shall understand in this treatise hereafter, in place more convenient.

On Munday being the fift of August, the Generall caused his tent to be set upon the side of an hill, in the viewe of all the Fleete of English men and strangers, which were in number betweene thirtie and fourtie sayle: then being accompanied with all his Captaines, Masters, Gentlemen and other souldiers, he caused all the Masters, and principall Officers of the ships, aswell Englishmen as Spanyards, Portugales, and of other nations, to repayre unto his tent: And then and there, in the presence of them all, he did cause his Commission under the great Seale of England to bee openly and solemnely read unto them, whereby were granted unto him, his heires, and assignes, by the Queenes most excellent Majestie, many great and large royalties, liberties, and priviledges. The effect whereof being signified unto the strangers by an Interpreter, hee tooke possession of the sayde land in the right of the Crowne of England by digging of a Turiffe and receiving the same with an Hasell wand, delivered unto him, after the maner of the law and custome of England .

Then he signified unto the company both strangers and others, that from thencefoorth, they were to live in that land, as the Territories appertayning to the Crowne of England, and to be governed by such Lawes as by good advise should be set downe, which in all points (so neere as might be) should be agreeable to the Lawes of England: And for to put the same in execution, presently he ordained and established three Lawes.

First, that Religion publiquely exercised, should be such, and none other, then is used in the Church of England.

The second, that if any person should bee lawfully convicted of any practise against her Majestie, her Crowne and dignitie, to be adjudged as traitors according to the Lawes of England.

The third, if any should speake dishonourably of her Majestie, the partie so offending, to loose his eares, his ship and goods, to be confiscate to the use of the Generall.

All men did very willingly submit themselves to these Lawes. Then he caused the Queenes Majesties Armes to be ingraved, set up, and erected with great solemnitie. After this, divers Englishmen made sute unto Sir Humfrey to have of him by inheritance, their accustomed stages, standings & drying places, in sundry places of that land for their fish, as a thing that they doe make great accompt of, which he granted unto them in fee farme. And by this meanes he hath possession maintained for him, in many parts of that Countrey. To be briefe, he did let, set, give and dispose of many things, as absolute Governor there, by vertue of her Majesties letters patents.

And after their ships were repaired, whereof one he was driven to leave behind, both for want of men sufficient to furnish her, as also to carrie home such sicke persons as were not able to proceede any further: He departed from thence the 200. of August, with the other three, namely, the Delight, wherein was appointed Captaine in M. William Winters place, (that thence returned immediatly for England ) M. Maurice Browne: the Golden Hinde, in which was Captaine and owner, M. Edward Hays : and the little Frigat where the Generall himselfe did goe, seeming to him most fit to discover and approch the shore.

The 21. day they came to Cape Race, toward the South partes whereof, lying a while becalmed, they tooke Cod in largenes and quantitie, exceeding the other parts of Newfound land, where any of them had bene. And from thence, trending the coast West, toward the Bay of Placentia, the Generall sent certaine men a shore, to view the Countrey, which to them as they sayled along, seemed pleasant. Whereof his men at their returne gave great commendation, liking so well of the place, as they would willingly have stayed and wintred there. But having the wind faire and good, they proceeded on their course towards the firme of America , which by reason of continuall fogs, at that time of the yeere especially, they could never see, till Cox Master of the Golden Hinde did discerne land, and presently lost sight thereof againe, at what time they were all upon a breach in a great and outragious storme, having under 3. fathome water. But God delivered the Frigat and the Golden Hind, from this great danger. And the Delight in the presence of them all was lost, to their unspeakable griefe, with all their chiefe victuall, munition, and other necessary provisions, and other things of value not fit here to be named. Whereupon, by reason also that Winter was come upon them, and foule weather increased with fogs and mists that so covered the land, as without danger of perishing they could not approch it: Sir Humfrey Gilbert and M. Hays were compelled much against their willes to retyre homewards: And being 300. leagues on their way, were after by tempestuous weather separated the one from the other, the ninth of September last, since which time M. Hays with his Barke is safely arrived, but of Sir Humfrey as yet they heare no certaine newes.

Upon this report (together with my former intent, to write some briefe discourse in the commendation of this so noble and worthy an enterprise) I did call to my remembrance, the Historie of Themystocles the Grecian, who (being a right noble and valiant Captaine) signified unto his Countreymen the Citizens of Athens, that he had invented a devise for their common wealth very profitable: but it was of such importance and secrecie, that it ought not to be revealed, before private conference had with some particular prudent person of their choyse.

The Athenians knowing Aristides the Philosopher, to be a man indued with singular wisedome and vertue, made choyse of him to have conference with Themystocles, and thereupon to yeelde his opinion to the Citizens concerning the sayd devise: which was, that they might set on fire the Navie of their enemies, with great facilitie, as he had layde the plot: Aristides made relation to the Citizens, that the stratageme devised by Themystocles was a profitable practise for the common wealth but it was dishonest. The Athenians (without further demaund what the same was) did by common consent reject and condemne it, preferring honesty and upright dealing before profite.

By occasion of this Historie, I drewe my selfe into a more deepe consideration of this late undertaken Voyage, whether it were as well pleasing to almightie God, as profitable to men: as lawfull, as it seemed honourable: as well gratefull to the Savages, as gainefull to the Christians. And upon mature deliberation I found the action to be honest and profitable, and therefore allowable by the opinion of Aristides if he were now alive: which being by me herein sufficiently prooved, (as by Gods grace I purpose to doe) I doubt not but that all good mindes will endevour themselves to be assistants to this so commendable an enterprise, by the valiant and worthy Gentlemen our Countrey men already attempted and undertaken.

Now whereas I doe understand that Sir Humfrey Gilbert his adherents, associates and friends doe meane with a convenient supply (with as much speede as may be) to maintaine, pursue and follow this intended voyage already in part perfourmed, and (by the assistance of almightie God) to plant themselves and their people in the continent of the hither part of America , betweene the degrees of 30. and 60. of septentrionall latitude: Within which degrees by computation Astronomicall and Cosmographicall are doubtlesse to bee found all things that be necessarie, profitable, or delectable for mans life: The clymate milde and temperate, neyther too hote nor too colde, so that under the cope of heaven there is not any where to be found a more convenient place to plant and inhabite in: which many notable Gentlemen, both of our owne nation and strangers, (who have bene travailers) can testifie: and that those Countries are at this day inhabited with Savages (who have no knowledge of God :) Is it not therefore (I say) to be lamented, that these poore Pagans, so long living in ignorance and idolatry, and in sort thirsting after Christianitie, (as may appeare by the relation of such as have travailed in those partes) that our hearts are so hardened, that fewe or none can be found which will put to their helping hands, and apply themselves to the relieving of the miserable and wretched estate of these sillie soules?

Whose Countrey doeth (as it were with armes ad vanced) above the climates both of Spaine and France, stretch out it selfe towards England only: In maner praying our ayde and helpe, as it is not onely set forth in Mercators generall Mappe, but it is also found to be true by the discoverie of our nation, and other strangers, who have oftentimes travailed upon the same coasts.

Christopher Columbus of famous memorie, the first instrument to manifest the great glory and mercie of Almightie God in planting the Christian faith, in those so long unknowen regions, having in purpose to acquaint (as he did) that renoumed Prince, the Queenes Majesties grandfather King Henry the seventh, with his intended voyage for the Westerne discoveries, was not onely derided and mocked generally, even here in England , but afterward became a laughing stocke to the Spaniards themselves, who at this day (of all other people) are most bounden to laude and prayse God, who first stirred up the man to that enterprise.

And while he was attending there to acquaint the King of Castile (that then was) with his intended purpose, by how many wayes and meanes was he derided? Some scorned the pildnesse of his garments, some tooke occasion to jest at his simple and silly lookes, others asked if this were he that lowts so lowe, which did take upon him to bring men into a Countrey that aboundeth with Golde, Pearle, and Precious stones? If hee were any such man (sayd they) he would cary another maner of countenance with him, and looke somewhat loftier. Thus some judged him by his garments, and others by his looke and countenance, but none entred into the consideration of the inward man.

In the ende, what successe his Voyage had, who list to reade the Decades, the Historie of the West Indies, the conquest of Hernando Cortes about Mexico , and those of Francisco Pizarro in Peru about Casamalcha and Cusco , may know more particularly. All which their discoveries, travailes and conquests are extant to be had in the English tongue. This devise was then accounted a fantasticall imagination, and a drowsie dreame.

But the sequele thereof hath since awaked out of dreames thousands of soules to knowe their Creator, being thereof before that time altogether ignorant: And hath since made sufficient proofe, neither to be fantasticke nor vainely imagined.

Withall, how mightily it hath inlarged the dominions of the Crowne of Spaine, and greatly inriched the subjects of the same, let all men consider. Besides, it is well knowen, that sithence the time of Columbus his first discoverie, through the planting, possessing, and inhabiting those partes, there hath bene transported and brought home into Europe greater store of Golde, Silver, Pearle, and Precious stones, then heretofore hath bene in all ages since the creation of the worlde.

I doe therefore heartily wish, that seeing it hath pleased almightie God of his infinite mercy, at the length to awake some of our worthy Countrey men out of that drowsie dreame, wherein we have so long slumbered:

That wee may now not suffer that to quaile for want of maintenance, which by these valiant Gentlemen our Countreymen is so nobly begun & enterprised. For which purpose, I have taken upon me to write this simple short Treatise, hoping that it shall be able to perswade such as have bene, and yet doe continue detractors and hinderers of this journey, (by reason perhaps that they have not deliberately and advisedly entred into the judgement of the matter) that yet now upon better consideration they will become favourable furtherers of the same. And that such as are already well affected thereunto, will continue their good disposition: And withall, I most humbly pray all such as are no nigards of their purses in buying of costly and rich apparel, and liberall Contributors in setting forth of games, pastimes, feastings and banquets, (whereof the charge being past, there is no hope of publique profite or commoditie) that henceforth they will bestowe and employ their liberality (heretofore that way expended) to the furtherance of these so commendable purposed proceedings.

And to this ende have I taken pen in hand, as in conscience thereunto mooved, desiring much rather, that of the great multitude which this Realme doeth nourish, farre better able to handle this matter then I my selfe am, it would have pleased some one of them to have undertaken the same. But seeing they are silent, and that it falleth to my lotte to put pen to the paper, I will endevour my selfe, and doe stand in good hope (though my skill and knowledge bee simple, yet through the assistance of almightie God) to proove that the Voyage lately enterprised for trade, traffique, and planting in America , is an action tending to the lawfull enlargement of her Majesties Dominions, commodious to the whole Realme in generall, profitable to the adventurers in particular, beneficiall to the Savages, and a matter to be atteined without any great danger or difficultie.

And lastly, (which is most of all) A thing likewise tending to the honour and glory of Almightie God. And for that the lawfulnesse to plant in those Countreyes in some mens judgements seemeth very doubtfull, I will beginne the proofe of the lawfulnesse of trade, traffique, and planting.

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