Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

210

PEACE AND PROSPERITY OF VIRGINIA.

[ocr errors]

C'Hap. dian against foreign oppression, rather than its ruler,

* the colonists enjoyed all the prosperity which a virgin 1646. soil, equal laws, and general uniformity of condition

and industry, could bestow. Their numbers increased; the cottages were filled with children, as the ports were with ships and emigrants. At Christmas, 1648, there were trading in Virginia, ten ships from London, two from Bristol, twelve Hollanders, and seven from New England. The number of the colonists was already twenty thousand; and they, who had sustained no griefs, were not tempted to engage in the feuds by which the mother country was divided. They were attached to the cause of Charles, not because they loved monarchy, but because they cherished

the liberties of which he had left them in the undis1649 turbed possession; and, after his execution, though

there were not wanting some who, from ignorance, as the royalists affirmed, favored republicanism, the government recognized his son? without dispute. The disasters of the Cavaliers in England strengthened the party in the New World. Men of consideration “ among the nobility, gentry, and clergy,” struck “ with horror and despair” at the execution of Charles I., and desiring no reconciliation with the unrelenting - rebels,” made their way to the shores of the Chesapeake, where every house was for them a 5 hostelry,” and every planter a friend. The mansion and the purse of Berkeley were open to all; and at the hospitable dwellings that were scattered along the rivers and among the wilds of Virginia, the Cavaliers, exiles like their monarch, met in frequent groups to recount their toils, to sigh over defeats, and to nourish

1 New Description of Virginia, 15, in ü. Mass. Hist. Coll. ix. 118. 2 Hening, i. 359, 360, Act 1.

PARLIAMENT ASSERTS ITS SUPREMACY.

211

VI.

loyalty and hope. The faithfulness of the Virginians CHAP did not escape the attention of the royal exile ; from bis retreat in Breda he transmitted to Berkeley a new 1650. commission ;? he still controlled the distribution of offices, and, amidst his defeats in Scotland, still remembered with favor the faithful Cavaliers in the western world. Charles the Second, a fugitive from England, was still the sovereign of Virginia. - Virginia was whole for monarchy, and the last country, belonging to England, that submitted to obedience of the commonwealth.”4

But the parliament did not long permit its authority to be denied. Having, by the vigorous energy and fearless enthusiasm of republicanism, triumphed over all its enemies in Europe, it turned its attention to the colonies; and a memorable ordinances at once em- 3 powered the council of state to reduce the rebellious colonies to obedience, and, at the same time, established it as a law, that foreign ships should not trade at any of the ports “in Barbadoes, Antigua, Bermudas, and Virginia.” Maryland, which was not expressly included in the ordinance, had taken care to acknowledge the new order of things ; 6 and Massachusetts, alike unwilling to encounter the hostility of parliament, and jealous of the rights of independent, legislation, by its own enactment, prohibited all in- May tercourse with Virginia, till the supremacy of the commonwealth should be established ; although the order, when it was found to be injurious to commerce, was

U

[ocr errors]

1 Norwood, in Churchill, vi. 160 5 Hazard, i. 637, 638. Par. ---186. Hammond's Leah and Ra- liamentary History, iii. 1357. chel, 16.

The commentary of Chalmers, 2 Chalmers, 122.

p. 123, is that of a partisan law3 Norwood, in Ch., vi. 186. yer.

4 Hammond's Leah and Rachel, 6 Langford's Refutation, 6, 7 20; Ed. 1656.

212

ORIGIN OF THE NAVIGATION ACT.

VI.

IS were

CHAP. promptly repealed, even whilst royalty still triumphed

a at Jamestown. But would Virginia resist the fleet 1651. of the republic? Were its royalist principles so firm, Oct. 14. that they would animate the colony to a desperate

war with England ? The lovers of monarchy indulged the hope, that the victories of their friends in the Chesapeake would redeem the disgrace, that had elsewhere fallen on the royal arms; many partisans of Charles had come over as to a place of safety; and the honest Governor Berkeley, than whom “no man meant better," was so confirmed in his confidence, that he wrote to the king, almost inviting him to America.? The approach of the day of trial was watched with the deepest interest.

But while the preparations were yet making for the reduction of the colonies, which still preserved an appearance of loyalty, the commercial policy of England underwent an important revision, and the new system, as it was based upon the permanent interests of English merchants and ship-builders, obtained a consistency and durability which could never have been gained by the feeble selfishness of the Stuarts.

It is the ancient fate of colonies to be planted by the daring of the poor and the hardy; to struggle into being through the severest trials; to be neglected by the parent country during the season of poverty and weakness; to thrive by the unrestricted application of their powers and enterprise ; and by their consequent prosperity to tempt oppression. The Greek colonies early attained opulence and strength, because they were always free; the new people at its birth was independent, and remained so; the emigrants were dismissed, not as servants, but as equals. They were ORIGIN OF THE NAVIGATION ACT.

1 Hazard, i. 553 and 558.

2 Clarendon, b. xiii. iii. 466.

213

VI

In

the natural, not the necessary, allies of the mother CHAP country. They spoke the same dialect, revered the same gods, cherished the same customs and laws; but they were politically independent. Freedom, stimulating exertion, invited them to stretch their settlements from the shores of the Euxine to the Western Mediterranean, and urged them forward to wealth and prosperity, commensurate with their boldness and the vast extent of their domains. The colonies of Carthage, on the contrary, had no sooner attained sufficient consideration to merit attention, than the mother state insisted upon a monopoly of their commerce. The colonial system is as old as colonies and the spirit of commercial gain and political oppression.'

No sooner had Spain and Portugal entered on maritime discovery, and found their way round the Cape of Good Hope and to America, than a monopoly of the traffic of the world was desired. Greedily covetous of the whole, they could with difficulty agree upon a division, not of a conquered province, the banks of a river, a neighboring territory, but of the oceans, and the commerce of every people and empire along the wide margin of their waters. They claimed that, on the larger seas, the winds should blow only to fill their sails; that the islands and continents of Asia, of Africa, and the New World, should be fertile only to freight the ships of their merchants; and, having denounced the severest penalties against any who should infringe the rights which they claimed, they obtained the sanction of religion to adjust their differences, and to bar the ocean against the intrusion of competitors.?

i Brougham's Colonial Policy, i. 2 Bull of Alexander VI., May 4, 21–23. Dionysius Halicarnassus, 1493. Sub excommunicationis 1. ii. But of all on the subject, late sententiæ pæna,” &c. Heeren, xiii. 96—98.

214

ORIGIN OF THE NAVIGATION ACT

VI.

CHAP. The effects of this severity are pregnant with in

struction. Direct commerce with the Spanish settle-,
ments was punished by the Spaniards with confiscation
and the threat of eternal wo. The moral sense of
mariners revolted at the extravagance: since forfeit-
ure, imprisonment, and excommunication, were to fol-
low the attempt at the fair exchanges of trade; since
the freebooter and the pirate could not suffer more
than was menaced against the merchant who should
disregard the maritime monopoly,—the seas became
infested by reckless bucaniers, the natural offspring
of colonial restrictions. Rich Spanish settlements in
America were pillaged; fleets attacked and captured ;
predatory invasions were even made on land to inter-
cept the loads of gold, as they came from the mines;
and men, who might have acquired honor and wealth
in commerce, if commerce had been permitted, now
displayed a sagacity of contrivance, coolness of execu-
tion, and capacity for enduring hardships, which won
them the admiration of their contemporaries, and, in
a better cause, would have won them the perpetual
praises of the world.

In Europe, the freedom of the sea was vindicated against the claims of Spain and Portugal by a nation, hardly yet recognized as an independent state, occupying a soil, of which much had been redeemed by industry, and driven by the stern necessity of a dense population to seek for resources upon the sea. The most gifted of her sons, who first gave expression to the idea, that “free ships make free goods," defended the liberty of commerce, and appealed to the judgment of all free governments and nations against the

i Grotius, Epist. ccvii.; " aliorum bella obstare commerciorum libertati non debere."

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »