Изображения страниц
[ocr errors][merged small]




CHAP. of Florida. The harbor of Port Royal, rendered gloomy

by recollections of misery, was avoided; and after 1564 searching the coast, and discovering places which were

so full of amenity, that melancholy itself could not but change its humor, as it gazed, the followers of Calvin planted themselves on the banks of the River May. They sung a psalm of thanksgiving, and gathered courage from acts of devotion. The fort now erected was also named Carolina. The result of this attempt to procure for France immense dominions at the south of our republic, through the agency of a Huguenot colony, has been very frequently narrated : ' in the history of human nature it forms a dark picture of vindictive bigotry.

The French were hospitably welcomed by the natives; a monument, bearing the arms of France, was crowned with laurels, and its base encircled with baskets of corn. What need is there of minutely relating the simple manners of the red men; the dissensions of rival tribes; the largesses offered to the strangers to secure their protection or their alliance; the improvident prodigality with which careless soldiers wasted the supplies of food ; the certain approach of scarcity; the gifts and the tribute levied from the Indians by entreaty, menace, or force ? By degrees the confidence

1 There are four original ac- and apologist of Melendez, in Encounts by eye-witnesses : Laudon- sayo Cronologico, 85-90. On Soniere, in Hakluyt, iii. 384-419: lis, compare Crisis del Ensayo, 22, Le Moyne, in De Bry, part ii., to- 23. I have drawn my narrative from gether with the Epistola Supplica- a comparison of these four accounts; toria, from the widows and orphans consulting also the admirable De of the sufferers, to Charles IX.; also Thou, a genuine worshipper at the in De Bry, part ii: Challus, or shrine of truth, l. xliv.; the diffuse Challusius, of Dieppe, whose ac- Barcia's Ensayo Cronologico, 42— count I have found annexed to 91; the elaborate and circumstantial Calveto's Nov. Nov. Orb. Hist. narrative of Charlevoix, N. Fr. i. 24 under the title De Gallorum Ex- - 106; and the account of L’Escarpeditione in Floridam, 4334469: bot, i. 62–129. The accounts do and the Spanish account by Solis not essentially vary. Voltaire and de las Meras, the brother-in-law many others have repeated the tale. i Hawkins, in Hakluyt, iii. 615, 616. VOL. 1.

[merged small][ocr errors]

of the natives was exhausted; they had welcomed Chap powerful guests, who promised to become their bene- an factors, and who now robbed their humble granaries. 1564

But the worst evil in the new settlement was the character of the emigrants. Though patriotism and religious enthusiasm had prompted the expedition, the inferior class of the colonists was a motley group of dissolute men. Mutinies were frequent. The men were mad with the passion for sudden wealth ; and a party, under the pretence of desiring to escape from famine, compelled Laudonniere to sign an order, permitting their embarkation for New Spain. No sooner 1564. were they possessed of this apparent sanction of the to chief, than they equipped two vessels, and began a career of piracy against the Spaniards. Thus the French were the aggressors in the first act of hostility in the New World; an act of crime and temerity which was soon avenged. The pirate vessel was taken, and most of the men disposed of as prisoners or slaves. A few escaped in a boat; these could find no shelter but at Fort Carolina, where Laudonniere sentenced the ringleaders to death.

Meantime, the scarcity became extreme; and the 1565. friendship of the natives was entirely forfeited by unprofitable severity. March was gone, and there were no supplies from France; April passed away, and the expected recruits had not arrived; May came, but it brought nothing to sustain the hopes of the exiles. It was resolved to return to Europe in such miserable brigantines as despair could construct. Just then, Sir John Hawkins, the slave-merchant, arrived from the Aug. West Indies. He came fresh from the sale of a cargo of Africans, whom he had kidnapped with signal ruth

[ocr errors][merged small]


CHAP. lessness; and he now displayed the most generous

a sympathy, not only furnishing a liberal supply of pro1565 visions, but relinquishing a vessel from his own fleet.

Preparations were continued; the colony was on the point of embarking, when sails were descried. Ribault had arrived to assume the command; bringing with him supplies of every kind, emigrants with their families, garden seeds, implements of husbandry, and the various kinds of domestic animals. The French, now wild with joy, seemed about to acquire a home, and Calvinism to become fixed in the inviting regions of Florida.

But Spain had never relinquished her claim to that territory; where, if she had not planted colonies, she had buried many hundreds of her bravest sons. Should the proud Philip II. abandon a part of his dominions to France ? Should he suffer his commercial monopoly to be endangered by a rival settlement in the vicinity of the West Indies ? Should the bigoted Romanist permit the heresy of Calvinism to be planted in the neighborhood of his Catholic provinces ? There had appeared at the Spanish court a bold commander, well fitted for acts of reckless hostility.. Pedro Melendez de Avilès had, in a long career of military service, become accustomed to scenes of blood ; and his natural ferocity had been confirmed by his course of life. Often, as a naval officer, encountering pirates, he had become inured to acts of prompt and unsparing vengeance. He had acquired wealth in Spanish America, which was no school of benevolence; and his conduct there had provoked an inquiry, which, after a long arrest, ended in his conviction. The nature of his offences is not apparent; the justice of

[merged small][ocr errors]




the sentence is confirmed, for the king, who knew him Chap. well, esteemed his bravery, and received him again into his service, remitted only a moiety of his fine. The 1565 heir of Melendez had been shipwrecked among the Bermudas; the father desired to return and search among the islands for tidings of his only son. Philip II. suggested the conquest and colonization of Flor

Mar ida ; and a compact was soon framed and confirmed, 20. by which Melendez, who desired an opportunity to retrieve his honor, was constituted the hereditary governor of a territory of almost unlimited extent.

The terms of the compact? are curious. Melendez, on his part, promised, at his own cost, in the following May, to invade Florida with at least five hundred men; to complete its conquest within three years; to explore its currents and channels, the dangers of its coasts, and the depth of its havens ; to establish a colony of at least five hundred persons, of whom one hundred should be married men ; to introduce at least twelve ecclesiastics, besides four Jesuits. It was further stipulated, that he should transport to his province all kinds of domestic animals. The bigoted Philip II. had no scruples respecting slavery; Melendez contracted to import into Florida five hundred negro slaves. The sugar-cane was to become a staple of the country.

The king, in return, promised the adventurer various commercial immunities; the office of governor for life, with the right of naming his son-in-law as his successor; an estate of twenty-five square leagues in the immediate vicinity of the settlement; a salary of two thousand ducats, chargeable on the revenues of the province; and a fifteenth part of all royal perquisites.

1 Ensayo Cronolog. 57-65. 2 Ibid. 60.

[ocr errors][merged small]



CHAP. Meantime, news arrived, as the French writers assert,

a through the treachery of the court of France, that the 1565. Huguenots had made a plantation in Florida, and that

Ribault was preparing to set sail with reinforcements. The cry was raised, that the heretics must be extirpated; the enthusiasm of fanaticism was kindled, and Melendez readily obtained all the forces which he required. More than twenty-five hundred personssoldiers, sailors, priests, Jesuits, married men with their families, laborers, and mechanics, and, with the exception of three hundred soldiers, all at the cost of Melen

dez-engaged in the invasion. After delays occasioned July. by a storm, the expedition set sail ; and the trade

winds soon bore them rapidly across the Atlantic. A tempest scattered the fleet on its passage; it was with

only one third part of his forces, that Melendez arrived Aug at the harbor of St. John in Porto Rico. But he es

teemed celerity the secret of success; and, refusing to await the arrival of the rest of his squadron, he sailed for Florida. It had ever been his design to explore the coast; to select a favorable site for a fort or a settle

ment; and, after the construction of fortifications, to Aug. attack the French. It was on the day which the cus

toms of Rome have consecrated to the memory of one of the most eloquent sons of Africa, and one of the most venerated of the fathers of the church, that he came in sight of Florida. For four days, he sailed along the coast, uncertain where the French were established; on the fifth day, he landed, and gathered from the Indians accounts of the Huguenots. At the same time, he discovered a fine haven and beautiful river; and, remembering the saint, on whose day he came upon the coast, he gave to the harbor and to the



1 Ensayo Cronolog. 68—70.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »