A Discourse of Western Planting, by Richard Hakluyt

Chap. XV.

That spedie plantinge in divers fitt places is moste necessarie upon these laste luckye westerne discoveries, for feare of the danger of beinge prevented by other nations which have the like intention, with the order thereof, and other reasons therewithall alleaged.

Havinge by Gods goodd guidinge and mercifull direction atchieved happily this presente westerne discoverye, after the seekinge the advauncemente of the kingedome of Christe, the seconde chefe and principall ende of the same is traficque, which consisteth in the vent of the masse of our clothes and other comodities of England, and in receaving backe of the nedeful comodities that wee nowe receave from all other places of the worlde. But forasmoche as this is a matter of greate ymportaunce, and a thinge of so greate gaine as forren princes will stomacke at, this one thinge is to be don, withoute which it were in vaine to goe aboute this; and that is, the matter of plantinge and fortificacion, withoute due consideration whereof in vaine were it to thinck of the former. And therefore upon the firste said viewe taken by the shippes that are to be sente thither, wee are to plante upon the mouthes of the greate navigable rivers which are there, by stronge order of fortification, and there to plante our colonies. And so beinge firste setled in strengthe with men, armour, and munition, and havinge our navy within our bayes, havens, and roades, wee shall be able to lett the entraunce of all subjectes of forren princes, and so with our freshe powers to encounter their shippes at the sea, and to renewe the same with freshe men, as the soodden feightes shall require; and by our fortes shalbe able to holde faste our firste footinge, and readily to annoye suche weary power of any other that shall seke to arryve; and shalbe able with our navye to sende advertisemente into England upon every soodden whatsoever shall happen. And these fortifications shall kepe the naturall people of the contrye in obedience and goodd order. And these fortes at the mowthes of those greate portable and navigable ryvers may at all tymes sende upp their shippes, barkes, barges, and boates into the inland with all the comodities of England, and returne unto the said fortes all the comodities of the inlandes that wee shall receave in exchange, and thence at pleasure convey the same into England. And thus settled in those fortes, yf the nexte neighboures shall attempte any annoye to our people, wee are kepte safe by our fortes; and wee may, upon violence and wronge offred by them, ronne upon the rivers with our shippes, pynnesses, barkes, and boates, and enter into league with the petite princes, their neigbboures, that have alwayes lightly warres one with an other, and so entringe league nowe with the one, and then with the other, wee shall purchase our owne safetie, and make ourselves lordes of the whole.

Contrarywise, withoute this plantinge in due tyme, wee shall never be able to have full knowledge of the language, manners, and customes of the people of those regions, neither shall wee be able thoroughly to knowe the riches and comodities of the inlandes, with many other secretes whereof as yet wee have but a small taste. And althoughe by other meanes wee mighte attaine to the knowledge thereof, yet beinge not there fortified and strongly seated, the French that swarme with multitude of people, or other nations, mighte secretly fortifie themselves before us, hearinge of the benefite that is to be reaped of that voyadge; and so wee shoulde beate the bushe and other men take the birdes; wee shoulde be at the chardge and travell, and other men reape the gaine.

To make this plaine by example, in the sixte leafe of the Italian edition of the Historie of Fernando Cortes, written by Franciscus Lopez de Gomera, is lively described the folly of John Grijalua for his not inhabitinge that goodd and riche contrie of Iucaton; which ymmediatly after he had neglected, the same Fernando Cortes tooke in hande and perfourmed, and gott all the honour and comoditie from him, leaving greate wealthe and honour to his posteritie, and to himself an everlastinge name. The story is thus: Giouan di Grigalua se n’ando a Yucatan, combattete con quelli Indiani di Ciapoton, et se ne ritorne ferito; entro nel fiume di Tauasco, che per questo si chiama ora Grijalua, nel qual riscatto o cambio per cose di poca valuta molto oro, robbe di cottone, et bellissime cose di penne; stette in San Giouanni di Vilhua, piglio possessione di quel paese per il Re, in nome del Gouernatore, Diego Velasquez: et cambio la sua merciaria per pezzi di oro, coperte di cottone et penne; et si hauesse conosciuto la uentura sua, haueria fatto populatione in paese cosi ricco, come lo pregauano li suoi compagni et lui saria stato quello che dipoi il Cortes. Ma tanta uentura non era riseruata per chi non la conosceua ancora che si scusaua che lui non andaua per populare, se non per riscattare o permutare le cose che leuaua del Gouernatore; et discoprire se quella terra di Yucatan era isola o terra ferma. And if any man liste to knowe what intertainment he had of his uncle at his returne for not inhabitinge upon the present occasion, yt followeth in the ende of the same chapiter in these wordes: Et quando arriuo non lo uolse uedere il Gouernatore suo zio, che li fece quello che lui meritaua.

The like story wee have, fol. 298. of Franciscus Lopez de Gomera his Generall Historie of the West Indies, of Vasques de Coronado, which, after excedinge greate chardges bestowed for royall furnishinge furthe upon his voyadge to Ceuola and Quiuira, for wante of courage and for other priuate respectes, neglected plantinge there, had as colde welcome, at his dastardly and unconsiderate returne, of Don Antonio de Mendoza, viceroy of Mexico, as Grijalua had of his uncle above mentioned. It is written thus of him after his returne from Quiuira:—

Cascò del cauallo in Tiguez Francisco Vasquez, e con il colpo usci di ceruello et disuariaua; questo caso alcuni credettero che fusse finto, altri n’hebbero grandissimo dolore; quelli che l’intendeuano a mala parte stauano male con lui per che non si metteua a popolare. And a little afterwarde: molto dispiacque a Don Antonio di Mendoza che fusero ritornati, per che haueua speso piu di sessanta milla pesi d’oro in quella impresa . . . molti uolsero restare là, ma Francesco Vasquez di Coronado, che ricco era et nuouamente maritato con vna bellissima donna, non volse, dicendo che non si poteriano sustentarsi ne difendere in cosi povero paesa et tanto lontani del soccorso; caminarono presso a tre milla miglia di longo in questa giornata.

Notwithstandinge these colourable excuses and dispraisinges of the contrie, yt is described by relation of his owne companions in this manner in the same leafe: à Quiuira in quaranta gradi à paesa temperato, di bonissime acque, di molto herbatico, purgne, more, noci, et melloni, et vue che maturano benissimo; non c’à cottone, et vestono pelle di vacche e caprioli.

The greate inconvenience of the delaye and neglecte of plantinge with spede of goodd contries newe discoured, beinge well weyed and foreseene by John Ribault, made him to plante and fortefie at his firste voyadge, thoughe it were with but thirtie men; which, that you may the better understande, together with the wise course and choice of place which oughte to be had in plantinge and seatinge at the firste, I will alleage his owne wordes which are in the laste leafe of his firste printed voyadge: Wherefore (my lorde), saith he, I truste you will not thincke it amisse (consideringe the comodities that may be broughte thence) yf we leave a nomber of men there, which may fortifie and provide themselves of thinges necessiarie; for in all newe discoveries it is the chefest thinge that may be don, at the begynnynge to fortifie and people the contrie. I had not so soone set furthe this to our companie, but many of them offred to tary there; yea, with suche a goodd will and jolly courage, that suche a nomber did offer themselves as wee had moche to doe to stay their opportunitie; and namely, of our shippe masters and pilotts, and suche as wee woulde not spare. Howebeit, wee lefte there but to the nomber of 30 men in all, gentlemen, souldiers, and maryners, and that at their owne sute and prayer, and of their owne free willes, and by the advice and deliberation of the gentlemen sent on the behalfe of the Prince and yours. And I have lefte unto them for heade and ruler, followinge therein your pleasure, Capitaine Albert de la Pierria, a souldier of longe experience, and the firste that from the begynnynge offred to tary; and further, by their advise, choice, and will, inscaled and fortified them in an iland on the northe side thereof, a place of stronge scituation and commodious, upon a river which wee named Chenonceau, and the habitation and fortres, Charles Forte. After wee had instructed and duly admonished them of what they should doe (as well for their manner of procedinge, as for the goode and lovinge behaviour of them), the xj’th. day of the moneth of June last paste wee departed from Porte Royall, &c.

The cause why these discoveries went not forward in King Henry the Seavenths tyme. Nowe, to leave the Spaniardes and Frenche and to come to ourselves; seinge it hath pleased Almightie God at this instant to reveale unto her Majestie and the realme that once againe afreshe which was in part discovered by Sebastian Gabote and other this lande to her moste famous grandfather, Kinge Henry the Seaventh, was then lefte of and caste aside and not sufficiently regarded by occasion of the warres of Scotland, as Sebastian himself writes, and so hath bene intermitted for the space of aboute foure score and sixe yeares — if nowe the Queene, her Counsell, and other subjectes, shall never so little delaye the throughe managinge of the cause and enteringe effectually into the action, let them assure themselves that they will come to late, and a day after the faire; ffor as the wise man saieth, Post est occasio calva. (a symbol of a finger pointing) For, to speake nothinge of the laste yeres preparation of the Marques de la Roche to inhabite and plante in those partes nowe discovered by oure men, which preparation was luckely overthrowne in respecte of us, by reason that his greatest shippe was cast away upon the trauers of Burwage, the men of St. John de Luze sente the laste yere to solicite the Frenche Kinge and his Counsell to plante there. And nowe our neighboures, the men of St Maloe in Brytaine, in the begynnynge of Auguste laste paste of this yere 1584. are come home with five shippes from Canada and the contries upp the Bay of St. Lawrence, and have brought twoo of the people of the contrie home, and have founde suche swete in that newe trade that they are preparinge tenne shippes to returne thither in January nexte, as one John de la Marche and Mr. Pryhouse of Garnesey affirme; which Mr. Pryhouse, beinge yet in London, was at St. Malowe within these weekes, and sawe the twoo savages, the five shippes, and the riche comodities, and understoode of the greate preparation, and lieth nowe at London, in Philpott lane, at the stone house there.

And that it may be knowen that not onely the Frenche affecte this enterprise, but even the Duche longe since thoughte of yt, I can assure you that Abraham Ortelius, the great geographer, told me, at his laste beinge in England, 1577. that if the warres of Flaunders had not bene, they of the Lowe Contries had meant to have discovered those partes of America, and the north west straite, before this tyme. And yt semed that the chefe cause of his comynge to England was to no other ende, but to prye and looke into the secretes of Ffrobishers voyadge; for yt was even then, when Ffrobisher was preparinge for his first returne into the north west.

To conclude: yf wee doe procrastinate the plantinge (and where our men have nowe presently discovered, and founde it to be the best parte of America that is lefte, and in truthe more agreable to our natures, and more nere unto us, than Nova Hispania), the Frenche, the Normans, the Brytons, or the Duche, or some other nation, will not onely prevente us of the mightie Baye of St. Lawrence, where they have gotten the starte of us already, thoughe wee had the same revealed to us by bookes published and printed in Englishe before them,77 but also will depriue us of that goodd lande which nowe wee have discovered. Which if they doe (as God defende they shoulde), then it falleth oute that wee shall have our enemyes or doubtfull frendes rounde aboute us, and shall not onely loose a singular comoditie and inestymable benefite, but also incurr greate daunger and inconvenience in sufferinge Papistes, by plantinge rounde aboute us, to take from us all succours, and to lett them enriche themselves under our noses, to be better able to supplant or overronne us.

77 This is not the case.

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