A Discourse of Western Planting, by Richard Hakluyt

Chap. XIV.

That this action will be for the greate increase, mayneteynaunce, and safetie of our navie, and especially of greate shippinge, which is the strengthe of our realme, and for the supportation of all those occupations that depende upon the same.

In the Statutes moste providently ordeyned for increase and maineteynaunce of our navigation in the Raignes of Kinge Richarde the Seconde, Kinge Henry the Seaventh, Kinge Henry the Eighth, and her Majestie that nowe ys, thoughe many and sundry rewardes were proposed to encourage our people unto the sea, yet still I fynde complaintes of decaye of the navye, notwithstanding so many goodly priviledges to mayneteine fisshermen, the ordeyninge of Wendisday to be a newe fishe day for the better utteraunce of their fishe that they shoulne take at sea, yea, albeit there hath bene graunted a certene proportionable allowaunce oute of the exchequer to suche as woulde builde any shippes of burden to serve the prince in tyme of warr, yet very little hath bene done in that behalfe. For, setting the Citie of London aparte, goe your waye into the west parte of England and Wales, and search howe many shippes of CC. tonnes and upwardes those partes can afforde, and you shall finde (God wotteth) no such nomber as at firste you did ymagine. At this day I am assured there are scarce twoo of CC. tones beloninge to the whole citie of Bristowe, and very fewe or none of the like burden alonge the channell of the Severne from Glocester to the Landes Ende on the one side, and Milforde Haven on the other. Nowe, remedie this greate and unknowen wante, no enterprise possibly can be devised more fitt to increase our great shippinge then this Westerne fortifienge and planting. For in this action wee are not to cut over the narrowe seas, in a day or a nighte, betwene Flaunders, Fraunce, or Ireland, in small barkes of xx. or xxx’ti. tonnes; but wee are to passe over the breste of the maine ocean, and to lye at sea a moneth or six weekes together, whereby wee shall be constrayned of our selves, withoute chardginge of the Prince, to builde greate shippes, as well to avoide the daunger of tempest as also for the commoditie of portage, whereunto the greater shippes in longe voyadges are moste conveniente, which the Portingales and Spaniardes have founde oute by longe experience, whoe for that cause builde shippes of v. vj. vij. viij. C. and a M. tonnes, to sende into their Easterne and Westerne Indies.

The like whereof wee shalbe the rather invited to doe, since by this voyadge wee shall have many thinges for little or nothinge, that are necessarie for the furniture of greate shippinge. For beinge possessed of Newfounde lande, which the last yere was seazed upon in her Majesties name, wee may have tarr, rosen, mastes, and cordage for the very workemanshippe of the same. All which comodities cannot choose but wonderfully invite our men to the buildinge of greate shippinge, especially havinge store of the best shipwrights of the worlde, whereof some, for wante of employmente at home, have bene driven to flye into forren partes, as into Demarke. Moreover, in the judgemente of those that are experte in sea causes, yt will breed more skillfull, connynge, and stowte pilott and maryners then other belonginge to this lande. For it is the longe voyadges (so they be not to excessive longe, nor throughe intemperate clymates, as those of the Portingales into their West Indies) that harden seamen, and open unto them the secretes of navigation; the nature of the windes; the currentes and settinge of the sea; the ebbinge and flowinge of the mayne ocean; the influence of the sonne, the moone, and of the rest of the celestiall planetts, and force which they have at sondry seasons upon that mightie body; whiche skill in sea causes the Emperour Charles the Fyfte, knowinge howe mooche yt did A lecture of the arte of navigation. ymporte his state, to the intent that it mighte better encrease amongest the Spaniardes, in great providence erected a lecture of the arte of navigation in Civill, and ordeyned that no man shoulde take chardge to the West Indies that had not hearde the Reader of the same for a certaine space, and, upon due examynation, were allowed as sufficient by him, and others adjoyded unto him as assistantes to examyn matters of experience; which order, if it had bene established in England, such grosse and insufficient felowes as he that caste away the Admirall of Sir Humfreyes company, with an C. persons in her, to the west of Newfounde lande, this tyme twelve moneths, had not bene admittted to take so greate a chardge.

But to returne to the increase and mayneteynaunce of our shippes and shippmen; I say that this is not as the voyadge to Muscovy, which is open not paste foure monethes, but may be passed and repassed at our pleasure at all tymes of the yere, and so our maryners may be sett on worke all the yere longe. Neither is the trade likely to prove so small as that of Muscovy, wherein not past tenne shippes at the moste are employed ones a yere. For here there is a greate hope, the contrie beinge as bigge as all Europe, and nothinge in frutefulnes inferior to yt, as I have proved before at large in the thirde chapiter, that wee shall have twoo fleetes as bigge as those of the Kinge of Spaine to his West Indies, imployed twise in the yere at the leaste, especially after our fortifienge in the contrie, the certene place of our factory beinge there established; whereby yt muste nedes come to passe that our navye shalbe mightely increased and mayneteyned, which will not onely be a chefe strengthe and suertie in tyme of warres, as well to offende as defende, but will also be the mayneteynaunce of many masters, maryners, and seamen, whereby they their wyves, and children, shall have their lyvinges, and many cities, townes, villages, havens, and creeks nere adjoyninge unto the sea coaste, and the Queenes subjectes, as brewers, bowchers, smithes, ropers, shipwrights, tailors, shoemakers, and other victuallers and handicraftes men, inhabitinge and dwellinge nere thereaboutes, shall also have by the same greate parte of their lyvinge. For proofe thereof wee nede not to seeke any further then unto oure neighbours of Spaine and Portingale; whoe, since the firste discoverie of their Indies, have not onely mightely inlarged their domynions, marvellously enriched themselves and Marques de la Cruz Admyrall of the Ocean. their subjectes, but have also by juste accompte trebled the nomber of their shippes, masters, and maryners — a matter of no small moment and importance; insomoche that nowe, of late Kinge Phillippe hath made the Marques de la Cruz, which laste yere wonne Tercera, Graunde Admirall of the Ocean Sea, and Prince d’Oria of Genoa, Admirall in the Levant. A taste of this increase wee have had in our owne selves, even by our trade of fisshinge in Newfoundelande; which, as yt is well knowen, hath bene occasion, that in sondry places of this realme divers tall shippes have bene builte and sett furthe even of late daies; and more would be if, whereas nowe havinge but twoo moneths or tenne weekes of fisshinge, by this newe plantinge they mighte be drawen more south-westerly, where the speciall fisshing places are, bothe for plentie and greateness of fishe; and beinge oute of daunger and ympedimente of yse, they mighte fishe there safely the greatest parte of the yere, and by their nereness unto our fortes there, builte aboute Cape Briton, they mighte yelde succour unto them, and likewise by their neighbourhoode be themselves in more securitie.

A meane to avoid the sodden arrests of our navy. Fynally, their shippes, their goodds, and their persons shoulde not be subjecte to soodden arrestes of straungers, as they are in all other trades of Christendome; but shoulde enjoye as greate freedome, libertie, and securitie as they usually doe in their native contrie; the havens, townes, and villages in those partes beinge occupied and possessed by their fellowe subjects; which freedome and liberty will greatly incourage them to contynewe constantly in this newe traficque.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:00