« PreviousContinue »
ART, AND VICINITY:
DELIVERED APRIL, 1834,
BY JONATHAN D. WESTON, Esq.
COUNSELLOR AT LAW.
WITH the view of rescuing from oblivion, some of the facts and circumstances relative to, and connected with the early history of this town and vicinity, together with the hope of gratifying a laudable curiosity on the subject, in those who have been but little acquainted with its history, I have been induced to collect such as have come within my own observation, as well as those I could learn from others. Such is the nature of the subject, that very little aid can be derived from books and written evidence, and resources are very scanty. -Unless, indeed, they are soon collected in a more permanent and tangible form, our early history and the events connected with it, will soon be lost, or known only by tradition. I have made careful inquiries, and have had recourse to all the documentary evidence within my reach; still, I am by no means certain of fixing your attention, or interesting you in the details I am about to give, for they are little susceptible of polish. The dry detail of dates and references, of facts and statistics, are, necessarily, less attractive, than a well written essay, abounding with illustration, or than biography, history, poetry, or treatises on the sciences, where harmony of period, melody of style, and the graces and beauties of composition add to the pleasure derived from the subject itself, which is treated of.
Connected with this subject, it may not be irrelevant to advert to the history of this section of the country, and that of
its boundaries, previous to its actual settlement; and this I propose to do, as concisely as practicable, consistently with a full and distinct understanding of the subject.
At the close of the 16th century, the northern coast of the American continent had become generally known to the nations of Europe, several parts having been frequently visited for the purposes of discovery, fishing and traffic. But all knowledge of the interior country, its geography and resources, was extremely limited, and all acquaintance with its shores, rivers, bays and inlets was quite imperfect.
In the several voyages to this continent, we find no account of any one who visited the waters or shores of Maine, earlier than 1602, when Bartholomew Gosnold, an English navigator, is supposed to have fallen in with some part of the coast of Maine. But in the following year, Martin Pring, in the Speedwell, a vessel of fifty tons, with a crew of thirty men and boys, accompanied by another vessel, the Discoverer, of twenty-six tons, with thirteen men and a boy, sailed from Milford-Haven, and, on the seventh of June, fell in with the coast, in the waters since called Penobscot Bay, but by the French called 'Pentagoet.' Thence he sailed along the coast to Piscataqua; thence farther southward, and for home in August. Pring also made a second voyage in 1606.-The subsequent voyages of others, added still more to the stock of knowledge of the country, and to the thirst of gain expected to be derived from it.
The French, as well as the English, were repeating t visits to this northern country every year, and making it, at home, a favorite topic of conversation and inquiry. Purchass, an early writer, states that one Savelet, an old mariner, had, before 1609, made no less than forty-two voyages to these parts. Both nations were highly elated with ideas of extensive foreign dominions, and the prospect of an abundant commerce; but the means and measures best fitted for their attainment, were unknown, as well to the sage as the speculator.
It was a great misfortune to those nations, and no less to this country, that they both coveted the same territories, using all practicable means to establish, in themselves severally, the most plausible title to their claims. Twenty years before, Humphrey Gilbert had taken formal possession of Newfoundland, and the region two hundred leagues about it, in behalf of Queen Elizabeth; and the Marquis de la Roche was commissioned by the king of France, to conquer and colonize all the regions bordering on the St. Lawrence, and unlimited in extent. The people of both nations were resolved in their purposes; and, with such objects in view, and with the rival feelings of each towards the other, it might easily be foreseen that these counter-possessory claims would produce the severest excitements, if not actual war.
By a royal patent of November 8th, 1603, King Henry IV., of France, granted to Pierre de Gast, Sieure de Monts, all the American territory between the fortieth and forty-sixth degrees of north latitude, and appointed him Lieutenant General of this extensive region, with authority to colonize and rule it according to his discretion, and to subdue and christianize its native inhabitants. The name given in the patent was
Acadia,' or Acadie.' This charter or patent, having no other boundaries or confines than the degrees of latitude mentioned, was found to embrace the American coast, between the island of Cape Breton and the shores below the moud of Manhattan, now the Hudson or North river. De Ms, during the winter, procured and equipped two vessels, and sailed for America March 7th, 1604, and arrived the 6th of May following, at Cape de la Heve, near Liverpool, on the southerly side of the peninsula of Nova Scotia. He was accompanied by his friends, M. de Potrincourt, and Samuel Champlain, who was his pilot. Leaving la Heve, they sailed northerly round Cape Sable, and eastwardly along the northern shore of Nova Scotia, entered a spacious basin, and anchored in a good harbor. Potrincourt was charmed with