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Soon after, Manteo, in obedience to Raleigh's directions was christened, and created Lord of Roanoke and Dasamonwepuk; while Mrs. Eleanor Dare, the wife of one of the assistants, having given birth to a daughter, the infant was named Virginia, being the first Christian born in that country,
White was now anxious to fulfil Sir Walter's instructions ; but disputes arose with renewed bitterness among the settlers. Though they were not in want of stores, many demanded permission to go home; others violently opposed this ; and at last, after stating a variety of projects, all joined in requesting the governor to sail for England, and return with a supply of everything requisite for the establishment of the colony. To this he reluctantly consented ; and departing from Roanoke on the twenty-seventh of August, 1587, where he left eight-nine men, seventeen women, and eleven children, he arrived in England on the fifth of November.
Our limits do not allow us to follow Sir Walter in his discovery of Guiana, and voyage up the Oronoko, and in his brave exploits against the fleets of Philip of Spain, nor in the vicissitudes which he experienced at the court of Elizabeth; at one time we find him enjoying her utmost confidence, exerting his influence in the cause of benevolence; and it is reported, that Elizabeth, somewhat irritated by his applications for the unfortunate, on his telling her one day he had a favor to ask, impatiently exclaimed : “ When, Sir Walter, will you cease to be a beggar ?" To which he made the noted answer, “ When your gracious majesty ceases to be a benefactor."
Soon after, he was committed to the tower for presuming to marry without the queen's consent; he, however, was again restored to favor, and continued to aid the state by his services and counsel, till the death of Elizabeth, in 1602.
On the accession of James to the throne, Sir Walter was not only treated with coolness and neglect, but became the victim of a conspiracy; was tried for treason against the crown, found guilty, and condemned to death. Having been warned to prepare for execution, he sent a manly and affecting letter to his wife, from which the following is an extract:
6 When I am gone, no doubt you shall be sought to by many, for the world thinks I was very rich. But take heed of the pretences of men, and their affections ; for they last not but in honest and worthy men, and no greater misery can befall you in this life than to become a prey, and afterward to be despised. I speak not this, God knows, to dissuade you from marriage ; for it will be best for you, both in respect of the world and of God. As for me, I am no more yours, nor you mine. Death has cut us asunder, and God hath divided me from the world, and you from me. Remember your poor child for his father's sake, who chose you and loved you in his happiest time. Get those letters, if it be possible, which I writ to the lords, wherein I sued for my life. God is my witness it was for you and yours that I desired life. But it is true that I disdain myself for begging it; for know it, dear wife, that your son is the son of a true man, and one who, in his own respect, despiseth death in all his misshapen and ugly forms. I can not write much. God he knoweth how hardly I steal this
ime while others sleep; and it is also high time that I should separate my thoughts from the world. Beg my dead body, which, living, was denied thee, and either leave it at Sherborne, if the land continue, or in Exeter church, by my father and mother. I can say no more, time and death call me away.
"The everlasting, powerful, infinite, and omnipotent God, who is goodness itself, the true life and true light, keep thee and thine, have mercy on me, and teach me to forgive my persecutors and accusers, and send us to meet in his glorious kingdom. My dear wife, farewell! Bless my poor boy ; pray for me, and let my good God hold you both in his arms! Written with the dying hand of some time thy husband, but now, alas! overthrown. Yours that was, bu now not my own,
Sir Walter, however, was reprieved at this time, but was confined in the tower for many years after, during which his History of the World was composed. On regaining his liberty, in 1615, a new expedition to Guiana was projected, of which Raleigh took command, but it was unsuccessful; and on his return to England, he was again arrested, imprisoned, and executed. His conduct, while on the scaffold, was extremely firm. The morning being sharp, the sheriff offered to bring him down off the scaffold to warm himself by the fire before he should say his prayers ; “ No, good Mr. Sheriff,” said he, "" let us despatch, for within this quarter of an hour my ague will come upon me, and if I be not dead before that, mine enemies will say I quake for fear.” He then, to use the words of a contemporary and eyewitness, made a most divine and admirable prayer ; after which, rising up, and clasping his hands together, he exclaimed, “Now I am going to God !” The scaffold was soon cleared ; and having thrown off his gown and doublet, he bid the executioner show him the axe, which not being done immediately, he was urgent in his request. “I prithee," said he, “let me see it. Dost thou think I am afraid of it?" Taking it in his hand, he kissed the blade, and passing his finger slightly along the edge, observed to the sheriff, 6. "Tis a sharp medicine, but a sound cure for all diseases." He then walked to the corner of the scaffold, and kneeling down, requested the people to pray for him, and for a considerable time remained on his knees engaged in silent devotion ; after which he rose, and carefully examined the block, laying himself down to fit it to his neck, and to choose the easiest and most decent attitude. In all this he would receive no assistance; and having satisfied himself, he rose and declared he was ready. The executioner now came forward, and kneeling, asked his forgiveness, upon which Raleigh laid his hand smilingly on his shoulder, and bade him be satisfied, for he most cheerfully forgave him, only entreating him not to strike till he himself gave the signal, and then to fear nothing, and strike home. Saying this, he lay down on the block, and on being directed to place himself so that his face should look to the east, he answered, “ It mat: tered little how the head lay, provided the heart was right." After a little while, during which it was observed, by the motion of his lips and hands, that he was occupied in prayer, he gave the signal; but whether from awkwardness or agitation, the executioner delayed; upon which, after waiting for a short time, he partially raised his head, and said aloud, " What dost thou fear ? strike, man !" The axe then descended, and at two strokes the head was severed from the body, which never shrunk or altered its position, while the extraordinary effusion of blood evinced an unusual strength and vigor of constitution, though when he suffered, Sir Walter was in his sixty-sixth year. The head, after being, as usual, held up to the view of the people on either side of the scaffold, was put into a red bag, over which his velvet night-gown was thrown, and the whole immediately carried to a mourning-coach which was waiting, and conveyed to Lady Raleigh. This faithful and affectionate woman, who never married again, though she survived him twenty-nine years, had it embalmed and preserved in a case, which she kept with pious solicitude till her death.
The body was buried privately near the high altar of St. Margaret's church in Westminster, but no stone marks the spot.
VIII. The series of voyages to which allusion has been made, conveyed to England a much higher idea than had yet been entertained of her transatlantic dominion. It was found to include a range of territory stretching over eleven degrees of latitude, all in the temperate climates, diversified with noble rivers and harbors, and, wherever visited, displaying a luxuriant fertility. This prospect rekindled all the enthusiasm of enterprise and hopes of wealth. An association was formed by Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Summers, Wingfield, Popham, with other men of rank, and eminent merchants, for the purpose of colo
nizing this vast region. James I., who was fond of such undertakings, and had employed them successfully for the improvement of some ruder parts of Scotland and Ireland, was ready to give every encouragement. The adventurers were divided into two companies; the one from London for the southern, the other from Bristol and the west for the northern parts of Virginia. The former were allowed to choose any spot between the thirty-fourth and forty-first degrees of latitude; the latter between the thirty-eighth and forty-fifth. Three degrees were thus common between both; but collision was prevented by enacting that wherever one had fixed its seat, the others should choose theirs at least 100 miles distant. From that first station each company was to possess fifty miles of coast on each side ; their territory was thence to stretch the same distance inland, and the same out to sea, including all islands within the range. The coast was not divided between the companies, nor had either an exclusive right to their own portions beyond the space of 100 miles square, which they were allowed to choose. This may serve to acquit successive princes of the repeated infractions of the charter with which they have been charged. Within this range the associations obtained full property in all the lands, natural resources, and objects of every kind, with only the usual exception of a fifth of the gold and a fifteenth of the copper. The revenue produced by fines and light importduties was to be enjoyed by them for twenty-one years, after which it was to be paid into the royal treasury. They were not, however, invested with those kingly attributes which had been lavished on Raleigh. James lodged the government in two councils, one resident in England, the other in the colony, and claimed the right of appointing both; but, having exercised it in regard to the first, he allowed them to nominate the Virginian members. He busied himself moreover in preparing a code of " orders and instructions," a proceeding, as Mr. Chalmers observes, decidedly unconstitutional, but controverted by no one. The colonists and their posterity were declared English subjects, yet were invested with no political rights, not even trial by jury, unless in capital charges; minor offences were punished arbitrarily by the council. The English church was exclusively established. Strict and laudable injunctions were given for the mild and equitable treatment of the natives.
The year 1606 was spent in collecting funds and adventurers, which last amounted then to one hundred and five, including persons of distinction, particularly George Percy, brother to the Earl of Northumberland. There were also Gosnold and Mr. Hunt a clergyman, while Captain Newport, an officer of skill and experience, undertook the naval command. But the individual destined to exercise the happiest influence on the new colony was Captain John Smith, who already, in the Turkish war, had displayed a firmness and intrepidity pecu. liarly fitting him for this arduous appointment. The fleet of three vessels, none exceeding one hundred tons, sailed from London on the nineteenth of December, taking again the circuitous route of the West Indies, rendered necessary perhaps through the lateness of the season. The arrangements, however, had been injudicious. James, by a ridiculous caprice, had caused the names and instructions of the council to be enclosed in a box, not to be opened till after the arrival in Virginia ; and thus the crew, in going out, knew not whom to obey. The energy of Smith, with his frank and manly bearing, soon led them to recognise him as their leader. This was envied by others higher in rank, who charged him with a design to set aside the council, to usurp the government, and to be. come king. On these unsupported charges he was arrested, and confined during the voyage, and for some time longer; so that his services, when most wanted, were lost to the colony.
The expedition did not reach the coast of America till April, 1607, and in making for Roanoke, a violent tempest drove them quite out of their reckoning.