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CHAP. industry and good order. “In detestation of idleness,"
the idler was “to be sold to a master for wages till he 1619. shewe apparent signes of amendment.” Laws were made
against playing of dice and cards, drunkenness, and other vices ; and to promote the "planting of corne," of vines, of mulberry trees, and the raising of flax and hemp. They made provision “towards the erecting of the University and College.” This was designed for the education of their own children, as well as for “the most towardly boyes in witt and graces” of the “natives' children.” The governor and council sat with the Assembly, and took part in its deliberations. It was granted that a “generall Assembly should be held yearly once," "to ordain whatsoever laws and orders would be thought good and profitable for our subsistence."
This right of the people to have a voice in making their own laws, was rigidly maintained until it found its full fruition in the institutions established one hundred and fifty years afterward by the Revolution. Emigration from England was greatly stimulated ; in a few years the population numbered nearly four thousand, while the inducements to industry and general prosperity increased in the same proportion. The company granted a written constitution, under which the people could have a legislative assembly of their own choosing. It was necessary that the laws passed by the colonial legislature should be sanctioned by the company in England. As a check to royal interference, no laws emanating from the court could be valid, unless ratified by the House of Burgesses. Thus it continued until the dissolution of the London company, when King James arbitrarily took away its charter.
Art. IX., Vol. III., Part I. Second Sories of Collections of the New York Historical Society. The “Reporte" of the proceedings of this “First Assembly of Virginia," was discovered among the papers of the British State Paper Office. All trace of it had been lost for perhaps more than two centuries ; at length a searcb, instituted by Bancroft the historian, was sue cessful.
COLONIZATION OF NEW ENGLAND.
First voyages to.—Plymouth Company.—Explorations of John Smith.—The
Church of England.—The Puritans.-Congregation of John Robinson.-
The usual route to America had been by the Canaries and CHAP the West Indies. Bartholomew Gosnold was the first navigator who attempted to find a shorter one, by sailing 1602. directly across the Atlantic. His effort was crowned with success : after a voyage of seven weeks, he came upon the coast in the vicinity of Nahant. Coasting along to the south, he landed upon a sandy point, which he named Cape Cod ; and passing round it he discovered Martha's Vineyard, and several other islands in the vicinity. While he explored the coast he also traded with the natives, and when he had obtained a cargo of sassafras root, which in that day was much valued for its medicinal qualities, he sailed for home. The voyage consumed but five weeks, thus demonstrating the superiority of the new route.
Gosnold, who saw the country in the months of May and June, was enraptured with its appearance—its forests blooming with shrubs and flowers; its springs of pure fresh water, and little lakes; its beautiful islands nestling among equally beautiful bays along the coast. His description,
CHAP. together with the shortness and safety of the voyage, leà
to many visits and minor discoveries by Martin Pring and 1607. others, all along the coast of New England.
The Plymouth Company, of which mention has been made, attempted to form a settlement at the mouth of the Kennebec in Maine. The rigors of a severe winter, and the death of their president, so discouraged the colonists, that they abandoned the enterprise, and returned to England.
A few years afterward, Smith, whose valuable services we have seen in Virginia, undertook to explore the country. He constructed a map of the eastern portion, and
noted the prominent features of the territory. The coun1614. try he named New England-a name confirmed by the
Prince of Wales, afterward Charles I. After Smith left for England, his associate, a captain named Hunt, treacherously enticed twenty-seven of the natives with their chief, Squanto, on board his ship, then set sail. He sold these victims of his avarice into slavery in Spain. A few of them were purchased by some friars, who kindly taught them, in order to send them back as missionaries to their countrymen. Among this number was Squanto.
In this age, we are unable to appreciate fully the trials and sufferings experienced by the explorers and first settlers of this continent. When we remember the frailty of the vessels in which their voyages were made, the perils of the unexplored ocean, the dangers of its unknown coasts, the hostility of the wily savage, the diseases of an untried climate, the labor of converting the primitive forests into cultivated fields, we may well be astonished that such difficulties were ever overcome.
We have now to narrate the causes which led to the settlement of New England. Previous to the time of Henry VII. the clergy and government of England had been in religious matters the implicit subjects of the church of Rome. While this may be said of the clergy it was different with great pumbers of the people. The spirit of
THE EXILES RETURN HOME,
religious truth was pervading their minds and moulding CHAP. their character. They read the Bible in their own lauguage, discussed freely its truths, and compared them with 1625. the doctrines and practices of the Romish church. The Pope claimed to be the temporal and spiritual head of the church, and by virtue of this claim to depose princes or absolve subjects from their allegiance. Henry wished to be divorced from his queen in order to marry another ; but the Pope, to whom he applied, as the highest authority, hesitated to dissolve the marriage. The angry king, when threatened with excommunication, repudiated the Pope and his authority, and declared the English church inde- 1534. pendent of that of Rome. Parliament afterward confirmed by law what the king in a fit of anger had done, and recognized him as the head of the church in his own dominions. Thus England, by the act of her own government, became Protestant. True reformation in religion does not apply so much to its external form, as to its effect upon the hearts and consciences of men. That portion of the English people who had learned this truth from the Word of God, recognized no human being as the head of his church; they received Christ alone as the Head of his own church, and they refused to acknowledge the pretensions of the king. For the maintenance of this belief they were 1558. persecuted through a series of years : during the reign of Henry for not admitting his authority in spiritual matters ; during the reign of his daughter Mary, still more fiercely, for denying the authority of the church of Rome. Many at the stake sealed their faith with their lives, and many fled to foreign lands.
After the death of Mary the persecuting fires were extinguished, and the accession of Elizabeth was the signal for the exiles to return home. They came back with more enlightened views of the rights of conscience and of free inquiry. Of these some were Presbyterians, some Congregationalists, and others members of the Established
CHAP. Church. They demanded a more pure and spiritual wor
ship than that of the church of England. For this they 1558. were in derision called PURITANS a name which they
soon made respected, even by their enemies. Elizabeth was a Protestant, but she was far from being a Puritan. She wished to have a church that should reconcile all parties, whose ceremonies should be a happy medium between the showy church of Rome and the simple form of worship asked for by the Puritans. She contended strenuously for her headship of the church, while the Puritan rejected the presumptuous doctrine. She demanded of her subjects implicit obedience to her in religious matters : the Puritan took the high ground that it was his right to worship God according to his own conscience.
Severe laws were passed from time to time, and they were enforced with unrelenting cruelty. All were enjoined to conform to certain ceremonies in worship. Those
who did not comply were banished ; if they returned with1603. out permission, the penalty was death. The person accused
was compelled to answer on oath all questions, whether pertaining to himself or to his fellow-worshippers. Ministers who would not comply with these laws were driven from their parishes; the members of their congregations were “beset and watched night and day;" if they were detected in listening to their deprived ministers, or were absent a certain length of time from the services of the Established Church, they were fined and imprisoned, and punished in various ways. To avoid the effects of such intolerable laws, many bade farewell to their native land, and Holland and Switzerland became the asylum of some of the noblest men and women of England.
Thus the contest had raged for nearly forty years, when, in the latter part of Queen Elizabeth's reign, the Puritans began to hope that the dark clouds of persecution which had so long overshadowed the land would be dispelled under her successor, James I., who was edu