Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

(

to the west, had been the discovery of a new passage to the East Indies. The passion for gold next became the prevailing motive. Then the islands and countries near the equator were made the tropical gardens of the Europeans. At last, the higher design was matured: to plant permanent Christian colonies; to establish for the oppressed and the enterprising places of refuge and abode; to found states in a temperate clime, with all the elements of independent existence.

In the imperfect condition of industry, a redundant population had existed in England even before the peace with Spain, which threw out of employment the gallant men who had served under Elizabeth by sea and land, and left them no option but to engage as mercenaries in the quarrels of strangers, or incur the hazards of seeking a New World.” The minds of many persons of intelligence and rank were directed to Virginia. The brave and ingenious Gosnold, who had himself witnessed the fertility of the western soil, long solicited the concurrence of his friends for the establishment of a colony, and at last prevailed with Edward Maria Wingfield, a merchant of the west of England, Robert Hunt, a clergyman of fortitude and modest worth, and John Smith, an adventurer of rarest qualities, to risk their lives and hopes of fortune in an expedition. For more than a year this little company revolved the project of a plantation. At the same time Sir Ferdinando Gorges was gathering information of the native Americans, whom he had received from Waymouth, and whose descriptions of the country, joined to the favorable views which he had already imbibed, filled him with the strongest desire of becoming a proprietary of domains beyond the Atlantic. Gorges was a man of wealth, rank and influence; he readily persuaded Sir John Popham, Lord Chief Justice of England, to share his intentions. Nor had the assigns of Raleigh become indifferent to "western planting”; which the most distinguished of them all, “industrious Hakluyt,” the historian of maritime enterprise, still promoted by his personal exertions, his weight of character, and his invincible zeal. Possessed of whatever information could be derived from foreign sources and a correspondence with eminent navigators of his times, and anxiously watching the progress of Englishmen in the West, his extensive knowledge made him a counselor in every colonial enterprise.

The King of England, too timid to be active, yet too vain to be indifferent, favored the design of enlarging his dominions.

(

[ocr errors]

He had attempted in Scotland the introduction of the arts of life among the Highlanders and the Western Isles, by the establishment of colonies; and the Scottish plantations which he founded in the northern counties of Ireland contributed to the affluence and the security of that island. When, therefore, a company of men of business and men of rank, formed by the experience of Gosnold, the enthusiasm of Smith, the perseverance of Hakluyt, the influence of Popham and Gorges, applied to James I. for leave “to deduce a colony into Virginia,” the monarch, on the tenth of April, 1606, readily set his seal to an ample patent.

The first colonial charter, under which the English were planted in America, deserves careful consideration.

Copyrighted by D. Appleton and Company, New York.

MEN AND GOVERNMENT IN EARLY MASSACHUSETTS

From History of the United States )

[ocr errors]

HESE better auspices, and the invitations of Winthrop, won

new emigrants from Europe. During the long summer

voyage of the two hundred passengers who freighted the Griffin, three sermons a day beguiled their weariness. Among them was Haynes, a man of very large estate, and larger affec. tions; of a heavenly mind, and a spotless life; of rare sagacity, and accurate but unassuming judgment; by nature tolerant, ever a friend to freedom, ever conciliating peace; an able legislator; dear to the people by his benevolent virtues and his disinterested conduct. Then also came the most revered spiritual teachers of two commonwealths: the acute and subtle Cotton, the son of a Puritan lawyer; eminent in Cambridge as a scholar; quick in the nice perception of distinctions, and pliant in dialects; in manner persuasive rather than commanding; skilled in the fathers and the schoolmen, but finding all their wisdom compactly stored in Calvin; deeply devout by nature as well as habit from childhood; hating heresy and still precipitately eager to prevent evil actions by suppressing ill opinions, yet verging toward a progress in truth and in religious freedom; an avowed enemy to democracy, which he feared as the blind despotism of animal instincts in the multitude, yet opposing hereditary power in all its forms; desiring a government of moral opinion, according to the laws of universal equity, and claiming the ultimate resolution for the

(

whole body of the people: ” and Hooker, of vast endowments, a strong will and an energetic mind; ingenuous in his temper, and open in his professions; trained to benevolence by the discipline of affliction; versed in tolerance by his refuge in Holland; choleric, yet gentle in his affections; firm in his faith, yet readily yielding to the power of reason; the peer of the reformers, without their harshness; the devoted apostle to the humble and the poor, severe toward the proud, mild in his soothings of a wounded spirit, glowing with the raptures of devotion, and kindling with the messages of redeeming love; his eye, voice, gesture, and whole frame animate with the living vigor of heart-felt religion; publicspirited and lavishly charitable; and, “though persecutions and banishments had awaited him as one wave follows another,” ever serenely blessed with "a glorious peace of soul ”; fixed in his trust in Providence, and in his adhesion to that cause of advancing civilization, which he cherished always, even while it remained to him a mystery. This was he whom, for his abilities and services, his contemporaries placed in the first rank of men; praising him as “the one rich pearl, with which Europe more than repaid America for the treasures from her coast." The people to whom Hooker ministered had preceded him; as he landed they crowded about him with their welcome. “Now I live,” exclaimed he, as with open arms he embraced them, “now I live if ye stand fast in the Lord.”

Thus recruited, the little band in Massachusetts grew more jealous of its liberties. The prophets in exile see the true forms of the house." By a common impulse, the freemen of the towns chose deputies to consider in advance the duties of the general court. The charter plainly gave legislative power to the whole body of the freemen; if it allowed representatives, thought Winthrop, it was only by inference; and, as the whole people could not always assemble, the chief power, it was argued, lay necessarily with the assistants.

Far different was the reasoning of the people. To check the democratic tendency, Cotton, on the election day, preached to the assembled freemen against rotation in office. The right of an honest magistrate to his place was like that of a proprietor to his freehold. But the electors, now between three and four hundred in number, were bent on exercising their absolute power,” and, reversing the decision of the pulpit, chose a new governor and deputy. The mode of taking the votes was at the

(

same time reformed; and, instead of the erection of hands, the ballot-box was introduced. Thus the people established a reformation of such things as they judged to be amiss in the government. »

It was further decreed that the whole body of the freemen should be convened only for the election of the magistrates: to these, with deputies to be chosen by the several towns, the powers of legislation and appointment were henceforward intrusted. The trading corporation was unconsciously become a representative democracy.

The law against arbitrary taxation followed. None but the immediate representatives of the people might dispose of lands or raise money. Thus early did Massachusetts echo the voice of Virginia, like deep calling unto deep. The state was filled with the hum of village politicians; "the freemen of every town in the Bay were busy in inquiring into their liberties and privileges.” With the exception of the principle of universal suffrage, now so happily established, the representative democracy was as perfect two centuries ago as it is to-day. Even the magistrates, who acted as judges, held their office by the annual popular choice. «Elections cannot be safe there long,” said the lawyer Lechford. The same prediction has been made these two hundred years. The public mind, ever in perpetual agitation, is still easily shaken, even by slight and transient impulses; but, after all vibrations, it follows the laws of the moral world, and safely recovers its balance.

Copyrighted by D. Appleton and Company, New York.

»

.

KING PHILIP'S WAR

From History of the United States )

TH

HUS was Philip hurried into “his rebellion ”; and he is reported

to have wept as he heard that a white man's blood had been

shed. He had kept his men about him in arms, and had welcomed every stranger; and yet, against his judgment and his will, he was involved in war. For what prospect had he of suc. cess ? The English were united; the Indians had no alliance: the English made a common cause; half the Indians were allies of the English, or were quiet spectators of the fight: the English had guns enough; but few of the Indians were well armed, and they could get no new supplies: the English had towns for their shelter and safe retreat; the miserable wigwams of the natives were defenseless: the English had sure supplies of food; the Indians might easily lose their precarious stores. Frenzy prompted their rising. They rose without hope, and they fought without mercy. For them as a nation, there was no to-morrow.

The minds of the English were appalled by the horrors of the impending conflict, and superstition indulged in its wild inventions. At the time of the eclipse of the moon, you might have seen the figure of an Indian scalp imprinted on the centre of its disk. The perfect form of an Indian bow appeared in the sky. The sighing of the wind was like the whistling of bullets. Some heard invisible troops of horses gallop through the air, while others found the prophecy of calamities in the howling of the wolves.

At the very beginning of danger the colonists exerted their wonted energy. Volunteers from Massachusetts joined the troops from Plymouth; and, within a week from the commencement of hostilities, the insulated Pokanokets were driven from Mount Hope, and in less than a month Philip was a fugitive among the Nipmucks, the interior tribes of Massachusetts.

The little army of the colonists then entered the territory of the Narragansetts, and from the reluctant tribe extorted a treaty of neutrality, with a promise to deliver up every hostile Indian. Victory seemed promptly assured. But it was only the commencement of horrors. Canonchet, the chief sachem of the Narragansetts, was the son of Miantonomoh; and could he forget his father's wrongs ? Desolation extended along the whole frontier. Banished from his patri. mony, where the pilgrims found a friend, and from his cabin, which had sheltered the exiles, Philip, with his warriors, spread through the country, awakening their brethren to a warfare of extermination.

The war, on the part of the Indians, was one of ambuscades and surprises. They never once met the English in open field; but always, even if eightfold in numbers, fled timorously before infantry. They were secret as beasts of prey, skillful marksmen, and in part provided with firearms, fleet of foot, conversant with all the paths of the forest, patient of fatigue, and mad with a passion for rapine, vengeance, and destruction, retreating into swamps for their fastnesses, or hiding in the greenwood thickets, where the leaves muffled the eyes of the pursuer. By the rapidity of their descent, they seemed omnipresent among the scattered

« AnteriorContinuar »