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- Thomas Hariot - 3/22 -


However, till these lost jewels are found let us appreciate what is still left to us. Hariot's 'True Report' is usually considered the first original authority in our language relating to that part of English North America now called the United States, and is indeed so full and trustworthy that almost everything of a primeval character that we know of 'Ould Virginia' may be traced back to it as to a first parent. It is an integral portion of English history, for England supplied the enterprise and the men. It is equally an integral portion of American history, for America supplied the scene and the material.

Without any preliminary flourish or subsequent reflections, the learned author simply and truthfully portrays in 1585-6 the land and the people of Virginia, the condition and commodities of the one, with the habits and character of the other, of that narrow strip of coast lying between Cape Fear and the Chesapeake, chiefly in the present State of North Carolina. This land, called by the natives Wingandacoa, was named in England in 1584 Virginia, in compliment to Queen Elizabeth. This name at first covered only a small district, but afterwards it possessed varying limits, extending at one time over North Virginia even to 45 degrees north.

Raleigh's Virginia soon faded, but her portrait to the life is to be found in Hariot's book, especially when taken with the pictures by Captain John White, so often referred to in the text. This precious little work is perhaps the most truthful, trustworthy, fresh, and important representation of primitive American human life, animals and vegetables for food, natural productions and commercial commodities that has come down to us. Though the 'first colonie' of Raleigh, like all his subsequent efforts in this direction, was a present failure, Hariot and White have left us some, if not ample, compensation in their picturesque account of the savage life and lavish nature of pre-Anglo-Virginia, the like of which we look for in vain elsewhere, either in Spanish, French, or English colonization.

Indeed, nearly all we know of the uncontaminated American aborigines, their mode of life and domestic economy, is derived from this book, and therefore its influence and results as an original authority cannot well be over-estimated. We have many Spanish and French books of a kindred character, but none so lively and lifelike as this by Hariot, especially as afterwards illustrated by De Bry's engravings from White's drawings described below.

The first breath of European enterprise in the New World, combined with its commercial Christianity, seems in all quarters, particularly the Spanish and English, to have at once taken off the bloom and freshness of the Indian. His natural simplicity and grandeur of character immediately quailed before the dictatorial owner of property and civilization. The Christian greed for gold and the civilized cruelty practised without scruple in plundering the unregenerate and unbaptized of their possessions of all kinds, soon taught the Indian cunning and the necessity of resorting to all manner of savage and untutored devices to enable him to cope with his relentless enemies for even restrained liberty and self-preservation; nay, even for very existence, and this too on his own soil that generously gave him bread and meat. All these by a self-asserted authority the coming European civilizer, with Bible in hand, taxed with tribute of gold, labour, liberty, life. This has been the common lot of the western races.

It is therefore refreshing to catch this mirrored glimpse of Virginia, her inhabitants, and her resources of primitive nature, before she was contaminated by the residence and monopoly of the white man. It may have been best in the long run that the European races should displace the aborigines of the New World, but it is a melancholy reflection upon ' go ye into all the world and preach the gospel unto every creature,' that no tribe of American Indians has yet been absorbed into the body politic. Many a white man has let himself down into savage life and habits, but no tribe of aborigines has yet come up to the requirements, the honours, and the delights of European civilization. Like the tall wild grass before the prairie-fire, the aboriginal races are gradually but surely being swept away by the progress of civilization. Now that they are gone or going the desire to gather real and visible memorials of them is increasing, but fate seems to have swept these also from the grasp of the greedy conqueror. Cortes gathered the golden art treasures of Montezuma and sent them to Charles the Fifth, but the spoiler was spoiled on the high seas, and not a drinking-cup or ringer-ring of that western barbaric monarch remains to tell us of his island splendour.

A historical word upon the events that led up to Raleigh's Virginia patent may not be out of place in a bibliographical Life of Hariot. The patent was no sudden freak of fortune but was the natural outgrowth of stirring events. Had it not been allotted to Raleigh it would doubtless soon after have fallen to some other promoter. But Raleigh was the Devonshire war-horse that first snuffed the breeze from afar. He fathered and took upon himself the burden of this newborn English enterprise of Western Planting.

Though unsuccessful himself, Raleigh lifted his country into success more than any other one man of his time. To this day he is honoured alike in the old country that gave him birth, and in the new country to which he gave new life. His energy, enterprise, and fame are now a part of England's history and pride, while his disgrace and death belong to his king. Thomas Hariot was for nearly forty years his confidential lieutenant throughout his varied career.

From his youth Raleigh had sympathized, like many intelligent Englishmen, with the Huguenot cause in France. As early as 1569, at the age of seventeen, he had been one of a hundred volunteers whom Elizabeth sent over to assist and countenance Coligni. He thus probably became better acquainted with the great but unsuccessful scheme of colonizing Florida. At all events the history of that disastrous French Huguenot colonization was first published under his auspices, and a chief survivor, Jacques Le Moyne, became attached to his service and interests. The story is in brief as follows.

Gaspar de Coligni, Admiral of France, often in our day called the French Raleigh, was a Protestant, and firm friend of England. One of his captains, Jean Ribault, of Dieppe, also a Protestant, had written an important paper on the policy of preserving peace with Protestant England. That paper, transmitted by the Admiral to England, is still preserved in the national archives. Ribault became the leader of Coligni's preliminary expedition in 1562 into Florida to seek out a suitable place, somewhere between 30° north latitude and Cape Breton, for the discomfited Huguenots to retire to and found a Protestant colony. The previous Brazilian project had already been abandoned as impracticable and unsuccessful.

Hitherto the Spanish Roman Catholic maritime doctrine had been that to see or sail by any undiscovered country gave possession. But the French Protestants, now firmly rejecting the Pope's gift, required occupation in addition to discovery to secure title. Hence Florida at that time, not being occupied by the Spanish, was considered open to the French. Ribault sailed from Havre the 18th of February 1562, taking a course across the Atlantic direct, and, as he thought, new, making his land fall on the 30th of April at 29½ degrees; but Verrazano had in 1524 sailed also direct for Florida, taking a similar course, with the difference that he started from Madeira. Thence coasting northward, seeking for a harbour, touching at the river of May, and proceeding up the coast to 32½ degrees, Ribault found a good harbour into which he entered on the 27th of May, and named it Port Royal. He was so well pleased with the country that, perhaps contrary to instructions, he left a colony of thirty volunteers, under Capt. Albert de la Pierria, and returned home with the news, arriving in France, after a quick voyage, on the 20th of July, 1562.

Ribault, on leaving Port Royal, intended to explore up the coast to 40°, that is, to the present site of New York, but gives various reasons for not doing so, one of which was 'the declaration made vnto vs of our pilots and some others that had before been at some of those places where we purposed to sayle and have been already found by some of the king's subjects.' This little colony of Port Royal, after nearly a year of danger and privation, built a ship and put to sea, hoping to reach France. After incredible sufferings, they were relieved by an English ship, which, after putting the feeble on shore, carried the rest to England, having on board a French sailor who had come home the previous year with Ribault. These surviving colonists were all presented to Queen Elizabeth, and attracted much attention and great sympathy in England. Some found their way back to France, while others entered the English service. Thus England became acquainted with the aim, object, success, and failure of the first Florida (now South Carolina) Protestant French colony. Thomas Hacket published in London the 30th of May 1563, Ribault's 'True and last Discouerie of Florida,' purporting to be a translation from the French; but no printed French original is now known to exist.

The year of bigotry, 1563, in France having passed, a second expedition of three vessels under Réné de Laudonnière, who had been an officer under Ribault in 1562, sailed for Florida from Havre, April 22, 1564, and arrived at the river of May the 25th of June. There were men of courage and consequence in this company of adventurers, among whom was Le Moyne, the painter and mathematician. The story of the sufferings of this second colony has often been told, and need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say that it was greatly relieved in July 1565, by Captain John Hawkins on his return voyage from his second famous slave expedition to Africa and the West Indies. Hawkins, after generously relieving the French with food, general supplies, and friendly counsel, returned to Devonshire, sailing up the coast to Newfoundland, and thence home, bringing stores of gold, silver, pearls, and the usual valuable merchandize of the Indies, but the store of information respecting Florida and our Protestant friends, and especially the geography of the American coast, was worth more to England than all his vast store of merchandize.

In 1565 a third French expedition was fitted out, again under Ribault, to supply, reinforce, and support Laudonnière. After many disappointing and vexatious delays, Ribault, late in the season, put to sea, but by stress of weather was forced into Portsmouth, where he remained a fortnight. This gave England still more information respecting the French Protestant projects of southern colonization, as well as of Florida, which at that time extended very far north of its present limits. At length on the 14th of June Ribault left the hospitable shores of England with a fair north east wind to waft his seven ships, freighted with above three hundred colonists including sailors and soldiers, and taking the new ' French route' north of the Azores and south of Bermuda, entered the river of May on the 27th of August, just one month after the departure of Hawkins, and just one day before the arrival of the Spaniards at the river of St John, a few miles south.

We find no hint of any opposition in England to these French colonizing schemes, but on the contrary they were looked upon as an advantageous barrier to Spanish greed of territorial extension northward under the vicegerent's gift. There are still existing hints of English projects of western voyages at this time, about the year 1565, to the American coast. Elizabeth, however, was friendly to the Huguenots, and evinced great sympathy with their Florida colonial scheme. England's claim to Newfoundland and Labrador, through discovery by the Cabots, had been allowed to lapse chiefly from the Protestant doctrine of non-occupation. The French occupation of Canada was not disputed. There was some doubt, however, about the intermediate country between the New France of Canada and the New France of Florida, and hence we find that private plans of English occupation were hatching at this early period, but they were not


Thomas Hariot - 3/22

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