Page images
PDF
EPUB

killing and preserving them for the cabinets of naturalists in different parts of Europe. The torpedo, or electrical eel, is found in the rivers of Guiana. But the immense number and variety of snakes in this country form one of its chief inconveniencies. It is said that several years ago one was killed which measured 33 feet in length, and in the largest part three feet in circumference. The lauba is a peculiar amphibious animal of small size, about the size of a pig four months old, covered with fine short hair ; its flesh is preferred to all other kinds of meat. The quassia, the castor-oil nut, the cassia, the palm-oil, the cowhage, the balsam of capivi, and ipecacuanha, are all natives here. An herbaceous plant called troolies grows here, whose leaves are the largest of any yet known: they lie on the ground, and have sometimes attained the almost incredible length of thirty feet, by three feet in width. So admirable a material for covering has not been bestowed on this country in vain; most of the houses are thatched with it, and it will last for years without repair. Gum cagutchouc is produced from a large tree in Guiana, and is used for vessels of various kinds and for torches. A small tree called caruna yields a farinaceous nut, from which the Indians prepare a slow poison, the instrument of jealousy or revenge. Still more certain is the Ticuna poison, which is prepared from the roots of the nibbees, that inhabit the entangled forests of these immeasurable swamps, and are a shelter to the panthers, the serpents, and all those monstrous and abominable reptiles that generate in this pestilential atmosphere.

CHAP.

CHAP. VIII.

Henry VII. authorizes Calot to make Discoveries.

Cabot takes possession of a great Part of North America. Patent granted to Sir Wulter Raleigh. London and Plymouth Companies. Puritans persecuted, and go to America. Their Character and Sufferings. Maryland an Asylum for the Roman Catholics. Liberal Policy of England to her Settlements. Importance of the American Colonies. Wars with France. Washington's Expeditions. Hopes conceived of his future Celebrity. General Peace. American Commerce limited by Great-Britain. Stamp Act. Opposition to it. Repealed. Declaratory Act. Plan for taxing Glass, Tea, &c. American Opposition, in which Boston takes the lead. Quarrels between the Military and Inhabitants. Three of the latter killed.

Letters from Governor Hutchinson intercepted ly Dr. Franklin. Dr. Frunklin dismissed from his Office.

this volume the subject of the Spanish and Portuguese

discoveries and settlements on the continent of America, we now proceed to those that were made under the auspices of our own country, which will lead us to take a connecied view of the History of the United States to the present times; in the course of which we shall, as far as our limits will allow, exhibit a distinct historical, poli

tical, and geographical view of the northern continent of America*.

Henry VII. of England, by the exertion of an authority similar to that of pope Alexander +, granted to John Cabot, a Venetian pilot, and his three sons, who were subjects and natives of England, a commission “to navigate all parts of the ocean for the purpose of discovering islands, countries, regions, or provinces, either of Gentiles or Infidels, which have been hitherto unknown to all Christian people, with power to set up his standard, and to take possession of the same as vassals of the crown of England.” By virtue of this commission Sebastian Cabot, one of the sons,

A. D. explored and took possession of a great part

1498. of the North American continent, in the name and on behalf of the king of England. This discovery was made in consequence of an attempt to find a north-west passage to China ; an enterprise in which he failed, but which led to more important consequences.

For the space of more than half a century after the discovery, the English neither navigated the coast nor attempted to establish colonies. The first English patent which was granted for

A. D. making settlements in the country, was

1578. issued by queen Elizabeth to sir Humphrey Gilbert. Shortly after she licensed Mr. Walter, afterwards sir Walter, Raleigh “to

A. D. search for Heathen lands not inhabited

1584. by Christian people ;” and granted to him, in fee, all the soil within 200 leagues of the places

See the Table at the end of the volume.

† See page 24 of this volume. VOL. XXIY,

T

where

where his people should make their dwellings. Under his auspices an inconsiderable colony took possession of that part of the American coast which now forms North Carolina. In honour of the virgin queen, his sovereign, he gave to the whole country the name of Virginia. These first settlers, and others who followed them, were either destroyed by the natives, removed by succeeding navigators, or died without leaving any behind to tell their melancholy story No permanent settlement was effected till the reign of James the First. He granted letters patent to Thomas Gates and his

associates, by which he conferred on them A. D. « all those territories in America which 1606.

were not then possessed by other Christian princes,” and which lay between the 34th and 45th degree of north latitude. They were divided into two companies. The one, consisting of adventurers of the city of London, was called the London company; the other, consisting of merchants of Plymouth and some other western towns, was called the Plymouth company. The adventurers were empowered to transport thither as many English subjects as should willingly accompany them; and it was declared, " that the colonists and their children should enjoy the same liberties as if they had remained or were born within the realm." The month of April is the epoch of the first

permanent settlement on the coast of Virginia, 1607.

the name then given to all that extent of country which now forms the original Thirteen States. The emigrants took possession of a peninsula on the northern side of James River, and erected a town in honour of their sovereign, which they called James-Town. In a few months diseases swept away one half of their númber ; which greatly distressed

and

A. D.

nor

and alarmed the others. Nevertheless, within twenty years from the first foundation of JamesTown, upwards of 9000 English subjects had, at different times, migrated thither, of whom at this period only 1800 remained alive.

Thirteen years clapsed after James-Town began to be built, before any permanent settlement was effected in the northern colony. Various attempts for that purpose had failed,

was the arduous business accomplished till it was undertaken by men who were influenced by higher motives than the mere extens sion of agriculture or commerce,

These were denominated in England Puritans, from a desire of farther reformation in the established church, and particularly for their aversion from certain popish habits and ceremonies which they contended led to idolatry, So violent was the zeal of the majority for uniformity in matters of religion, that popular preachers among the Puritans were suspended, imprisoned, and ruined, for not using garments or ceremonies which their adversaries acknowledged to be indifferent. And towards the end of queen Elizabeth's reign an act was passed for punishing those who refused to come to church, or were present at any conventicle or meeting. The punishment in certain cases was perpetual banishment; and upon those who should return without license, death was to be inflicted. This cruel law increased the number of Puritans. Some suffered death, others were banished; and not a few, to avoid these evils, voluntarily exiled themselves from their native country. Of this number was a congregation under the pastoral care of Mr. John Robinson, who, to elude their persecutors, removed to Holland. There they con

tinued

I 2

« PreviousContinue »