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these vast donations of territory, on the side where they were measurable, generally overlapped each other, and on the other side they ran off into shadows. When it is considered that these gifts of expanded territory not only transferred all their material contents and resources, but also included the sovereignty and mastership over their human inhabitants, we can somewhat appreciate the lavish liberality of those who gave away what did not belong to them, and recognize the vagueness in the terms of the gifts, which would inevitably bring about rivalry and conflicts attending claims to possession.
King Charles II of England was one of the most bountiful of these lavish donors. But with a single notable exception, in favor of William Penn, who received a province in discharge of a crown debt due to his father, the king's generosity was exercised exclusively towards members of his own family. He gave to his brother, the Duke of York, the rich expanses from Pemaquid to the St. Croix, and from the Connecticut to the Delaware. Another of his gifts furnishes the fruitful and engaging theme – for history, if not in the present treatment of it — of this chapter. To
* [Reproduced from S. Freeman's engraving of Sir Peter Lely's picture, as given in Eliot Warburton's Memoirs of Prince Rupert (London, 1849). — Ev.]
his cousin, Prince Rupert - covering with his name a few associates, the king gave over the icy confines and the rich interiors of what from that time onward' has been known as “Prince Rupert's Land." Under a charter dated May 2, 1670, by his own “especial grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion," without advice or confirmation by council or Parliament, Charles gave “to his beloved cousin, Prince Rupert,” the Duke of Albemarle, the Earl of Craven, Lord Arlington, Lord Ashley, several baronets, knights and citizens — less than twenty named in all — the territory which was henceforward to be the property of the Hudson Bay Company.
Passing notice may here be taken of the high rank as nobles and gentlemen of those associated with a prince of the royal blood in this mercantile company. This aristocratic character of the members, with its power and privileges, was perpetuated through the succession of the company in the admission of partners and the transfer of shares. The fact is recognized here, at the start, as doubtless having a vast influence subsequently, as we shall see, in protecting and sheltering the company, in enabling it to conceal its secrets and to parry the vigorous assaults made upon its monopoly and management in after years.
The motive assigned for the royal gift was the plea that the corporators " have at their own great cost and charges undertaken an expedition for Hudson's Bay, for the discovery of a new passage into the South Sea, and for the finding some trade for furs, minerals, and other considerable commodities, and by such, their undertaking, have already made such discoveries as do encourage them to proceed further in pursuance of their said design, by means whereof there may probably arise very great advantage to us and our kingdom.” It does not, however, appear what were “the discoveries already made” by these corporators or their agents, which furnished a reason for the generous grant.
The charter assured to the company “the-sole trade and commerce of all those seas, straits, bays, rivers, lakes, creeks, and sounds lying within the entrance of Hudson's Straits, with all the lands, countries, and territories upon the coasts and confines ” of the above seas, etc. It was stipulated that the territory thus granted should include only such as was not then “possessed by the subjects of any other christian prince or state." The parties named and such others as they shall admit to their society are incorporated as “The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay,” with a seal, etc. They are to choose a committee of seven of their number, any three of whom, with the governor or deputy-governor, may have the direction, management, and handling of all voyages, ships, merchandise, etc. Prince Rupert was to be the first governor ; the first seven were named for the committee; a general court was to be held in November of each year, to choose officers and the committee, who were to be removable for reasons. The territory was to be reputed as a British colony, and to be called “Rupert's Land.” All fisheries, mines, traffic and trade of every kind, were assured to the company, which was to pay annually as a royalty “two elks and two black beavers." The members of the company were absolute proprietors and lords.
It was empowered to make laws and ordinances, to impose penalties and punishments. No English subject was to visit, frequent, or haunt, or adventure, or trade in the territory without leave in writing under the company's seal, under penalty of forfeiture of all goods, of punishment, and of being seized and sent to England. Nor could the king grant any such privilege without leave of the company. Liberty is given to admit servants and factors into the company. Votes are to be according to stock. All the territory and its occupants are to be under the jurisdiction of the company, which shall either send all offenders to England or judge them according to its laws. The company may employ commanders and an armed force, and may erect castles, forts, garrisons, plantations, and towns. Such were the terms, rights, privileges, and immunities bestowed by royal grant and a piece of parchment. Two elks and two black beavers rendered annually to royalty, were the consideration for this lavish gift of territory, jurisdiction, and monopoly.
And what did King Charles know of the regions which he thus bestowed, to say nothing of his right of bestowal ? The compass and value of the gift were then as vaguely apprehended as the terms and assurance of it were positive and comprehensive. The flow of water in straits, bays, lakes, rivers, and streams was made to decide the reachings of unbounded spaces of land. Hudson's Bay extends from longitude 78° to 95° west, and from latitude 52° to 68° north. Its area is nearly 300,000 square miles, its length from north to south 1,000 miles, its breadth 800 miles. Of the land surface, whose various waters and drippings find their way into the bay, we hardly even now know the exact measurements, though a part of our national boundary line assumes such measurements.1
Before proceeding farther with the administration of the company under the patent, it may be well here, by anticipation, to fix attention upon some of the terms of the charter which furnished the grounds of the long-continued and embittered opposition to the company, and which were urged from time to time for two hundred years before the Colonial Office and in Parliament, till the monopoly rights of the company were extinguished by arbitration and purchase. These grounds of complaint will be more fully noted further on. They are here presented summarily in connection with what has been copied from the charter, and are as follows: 1. That the charter was granted by royal prerogative without ratification. 2. That it was illegal for the Crown to grant a monopoly of trade to a favored company of subjects. 3. That the obligations imposed by the professed objects of the company, to search for a passage to the South Sea, and also to explore for mineral wealth, had been wholly neglected by the company, which sternly discountenanced and withstood all such enterprises when prompted by others. 4. That a part, at least, of the territories claimed by the company was really exempted from the grant made to it which recognized a possible possession by the subjects of some other “Christian prince.” For at least a portion of the region had been patented in 1598, by Henry IV of France, to the Sieur de la Roche. It was on the ground of this claim, antedating Prince Rupert's charter, that in 1684 the Chevalier de Troyes had taken and destroyed the posts of the company on Hudson and James bays, on the plea that the territory belonged to his sovereign.
1 The limit of the grant by Charles II, as the for 1883, p. 6, on maps of the bounds of this tercompany claimed, is given by dotted lines on the ritory. map, in the parliamentary Accounts and Papers There is a noticeable map of Hudson's Bay (1850), xxxviii. Cf. Douglas Brymner's Report and the surrounding country in Sanson's Intro
duction à la Géographie (Amsterdam, 1696).
In the long and sharp contest which the opponents of the company made to its monopoly and its administration, it was also complained that the company had been utterly neglectful of its duty in having made no efforts to humanize, civilize, and advance religion and education among the native Indians. It was hastily and erroneously assumed that the charter had imposed this duty upon the company, while in fact no reference whatever is made to it in that instrument. It was abundantly proved, however, that the company had made no efforts of that character such as might have been reasonably expected of Christian people drawing enormous wealth from savages, who, on the contrary, had greatly deteriorated under the company. Most effective and pointed were the charges against it, that it had so greedily devoted itself to the traffic in furs as to keep the whole country in its wilderness condition as a preserve for peltry, making the natives wholly dependent upon the traffic with the company for their subsistence. This consuming interest made the company jealous of any intrusion upon its domains, and all inquiry into its management, while it resolutely resisted every attempt at exploration, civilized settlement, and even agriculture.
The connection of Prince Rupert with this vast enterprise was a very natural one. He was known to be a most earnest and generous patron of all promising adventures. There is evidence that a master mariner from Boston, in New England, had been concerned with a M. Groselliers, from Canada, in making a settlement at Port Nelson, at the mouth of the river, where a little stone fortress was erected by this captain, Zachary Gillam, and called Fort Charles. Rupert had given his countenance to this enterprise in connection with the work of discovery, and the “Nonsuch," one of the king's ships, was obtained for the venture.3
We are to trace for the full period of two centuries the fortunes, the mercantile operations, and the disputed rights and policy of this chartered company on the field of its activity and in the councils of government. One might naturally pause upon the almost grotesque disparity of proportions between the vast spaces of territory over which the privileges of the company extended and the smallness of its own representation. But another and a much more striking suggestion presents itself, which will be before us through the whole historical review of our subject. The territory which finally came under the jurisdiction of the company embraced substantially half of the continent of North America. During the period
1 (See Vol. IV. 56, 61, 136. – Ed.]
seph Button's journals are not extant (see Vol. 2 The name is variously spelled, as Grosseliez, III. p. 93. — Ed.], the first trustworthy account Des Grozeliers, De Grossiliers, De Groselie, etc. which we have of any vessel wintering in the bay
3 A contemporary reference is made to this is that of Captain James, in Charlton Island, in affair in a letter from Oldenburgh, the first sec- 1632. [See Vol. III. p. 96, for James's map. retary of the Royal Society, to Robert Boyle, En] The next is that of Capt. Gillam, in the Ellis's Hudson's Bay, p. 75. [See also Vol. IV. “Nonsuch," in 1668, though Jean Bourbon is p. 172, and the Hutchinson Papers, iii. 57, 59, 89, reputed to have trafficked there in 1656. 97, 103, III. – Ed.] As Hudson's and Sir Jo.
to be reviewed, we have set before us a contrast of events, uses, and experiences as happening upon the two respective halves of this continent, — that which is under the jurisdiction of the United States and that under the British crown,
a contrast which in sum and detail may well astound us. On the lower side of the boundary line the whole scene has been one of advance in enterprise, a steady, vigorous pushing forwards over mountains, plains, and valleys, of tilled fields, of thriving settlements, of sumptuous cities, and of millions of toiling, prosperous peoples. On the upper side a narrow, jealous, obstructive policy had shut out all intrusion upon a wilderness by any but stealthy trappers and the desolate wintering agents of a monopoly in the peltry traffic.
It may well be said that in addition to all the questions which might be
[Part of an engraving in La Potherie's Hist. de l'Amérique Septentrionale (1722), i. p. 105. The “Camp de Bourbon ” was along the shore to the right. The bomb-shells seen in the air are from its mortars. — Ed.]