A Discourse of Western Planting, by Richard Hakluyt

Chap. IV.

That this enterprise will be for the manifolde ymployment of nombers of idle men, and for bredinge of many sufficient, and for utteraunce of the greate quantitie of the comodities of our realme.

It is well worthe the observation to see and consider what the like voyadges of discoverye and planting in the Easte and Weste Indies hath wroughte in the kingdomes of Portingale and Spayne; bothe which realmes, beinge of themselves poore and barren and hardly able to susteine their inhabitaunts, by their discoveries have founde suche occasion of employmente, that these many yeres we have not herde scarcely of any pirate of those twoo nations; whereas wee and the Frenche are moste infamous for our outeragious, common, and daily piracies. Againe, when hearde wee almoste of one theefe amongest them? The reason is, that by these, their new discoveries, they have so many honest wayes to set them on worke, as they rather wante men than meanes to ymploy them. But wee, for all the statutes that hitherto can be devised, and the sharpe execution of the same in poonishinge idle lazye persons, for wante of sufficient occasion of honest employmente cannot deliver our commonwealthe from the multitudes of loyterers and idle vagabondes. Idle persons mutynous and desire alteration in the state. Truthe it is, that throughe our longe peace and seldome sicknes (twoo singuler blessinges of Almightie God) wee are growen more populous than ever heretofore; so that nowe there are of every arte and science so many, that they can hardly lyve one by another, nay rather they are readie to eate upp one another; yea many thousandths of idle persons are within this realme, which, havinge no way to be sett on worke, be either mutinous and seeke alteration in the state, or at leaste very burdensome to the commonwealthe, and often fall to pilferinge and thevinge and other lewdnes, whereby all the prisons of the lande are daily pestred and stuffed full of them, where either they pitifully pyne awaye, or els at lengthe are miserably hanged, even xx’ti. at a clappe oute of some one jayle. Whereas yf this voyadge were put in execution, these pety theves mighte be condempned for certen yeres in the westerne partes, especially in Newfounde lande, in sawinge and fellinge of tymber for mastes shippes, and deale boordes; in burninge of the firres and pine trees to make pitche, tarr, rosen, and sope ashes; in beatinge and workinge of hempe for cordage; and, in the more southerne partes, in settinge them to worke in mynes of golde, silver, copper, leade, and yron; in dragginge for perles and currall; in plantinge of suger canes, as the Portingales have done in Madera; in mayneteynaunce and increasinge of silke wormes for silke, and in dressinge the same; in gatheringe of cotten whereof there is plentie; in tillinge of the soile there for graine; in dressinge of vines whereof there is greate aboundaunce for wyne; olyves, whereof the soile is capable, for oyle; trees for oranges, lymons, almondes, figges, and other frutes, all which are founde to growe there already; in sowinge of woade and madder for diers, as the Portingales have don in the Azores; in dressinge of raw hides of divers kindes of beastes; in makinge and gatheringe of salte, as in Rochel and Bayon, which may serve for the newe lande fisshinge; in killinge the whale, seale, porpose, and whirlepoole for trayne oile; in fisshinge, saltinge, and dryenge of linge, codde, salmon, herringe; in makinge and gatheringe of hony, wax, turpentine; in hewinge and shapinge of stone, as marble, jeate, christall, freestone, which will be goodd balaste for our shippes homewardes, and after serve for noble buildinges; in makinge of caske, oares, and all other manner of staves; in buildinge of fortes, townes, churches; in powderinge and barrelling of fishe, fowles, and fleshe, which will be notable provision for sea and lande; in dryinge, sortinge and packinge of fethers, whereof may be had there marvelous greate quantitie.

Besides this, such as by any kinde of infirmitie cannot passe the seas thither, and now are chardgeable to the realme at home, by this voyadge shal be made profitable members, by employinge them in England in makinge of a thousande triflinge thinges, which will be very goodd marchandize for those contries where wee shall have moste ample vente thereof.

And seinge the savages of the Graunde Baye, and all alonge the mightie ryver that ronneth upp to Canada and Hochelaga, are greately delighted with any cappe or garment made of course wollen clothe, their contrie beinge colde and sharpe in the winter, this is manifeste wee shall finde greate utteraunce of our clothes, especially of our coursest and basest northerne doosens, and our Irishe and Welshe frizes and rugges; whereby all occupations belonginge to clothinge and knittinge shalbe freshly sett on worke, as cappers, knitters, clothiers, wollmen, carders, spyners, weavers, fullers, sheremen, dyers, drapers, hatters and such like, whereby many decayed townes may be repaired.

In somme, this enterprice will mynister matter for all sortes and states for men to worke upon; namely, all severall kindes of artificer: husbandmen, seamen, marchauntes, souldiers, capitaines, phisitions, lawyers, devines, cosmographers, hidrographers, astronomers, historiographers; yea olde folkes, lame persons, women, and younge children, by many meanes which hereby shall still be mynistred unto them, shalbe kepte from idlenes and be made able by their owne honest and easie labour to finde themselves, withoute surchardginge others. For proofe of the last part of my allegation I will use but onely this one example followinge.

In the yere of our Lorde 1564. at what tyme the Flemishe nation were growen, as they were, to the fulnes of their wealthe and to the heighte of their pride, and not remembringe what wonderfull gaine they had yerely by the wolles, clothes, and comodities of England, beganne to contempne our nation and to rejecte our clothes and comodities, a subjecte of the then twoo Erles of Emden, a man of greate observation, wrote a notable discourse to the younge erles, to take occasion of that present tyme by offer of large priviledges in Emden to the Englishe men.1 In which discourse, the said subjecte, for the better inducemente of the said twoo younge erles, dothe write of his owne knowledge, as he in his discourse affirmeth, and as also by his reporte appereth in the 22d booke of Sleydans Comentaries,2 that, anno 1550. Charles the Fifte, then Emperour, would have had the Spanishe Inquisition broughte into Andwerpe and into the Netherlandes; whereaboute there was moche adoe, and that neither the sute of the towne of Andwerpe, nor the requeste of their frendes, could perswade the Emperour from it, till at the laste they tolde him playnely, that if the Inquisition came into Andwerpe and the Netherlandes that the Englishe marchantes woulde departe oute of the towne and out of his contries; and upon declaration of this suggestion, searche was made what profile there came and comoditie grewe by the haunte of the Englishe marchantes. Then was it founde by searche and enquirie, that within the towne of Andwerpe alone, there were fourtene thousande persons fedde and mayneteyned onely by the workinge of Englishe commodities, besides the gaines that marchantes and shippers with other in the sayd towne did gett, which was the greatest parte of their lyvinge, which were thoughte to be in nombre half as many more; and in all other places of his Netherlandes by the indrapinge of Englishe woll into clothe, and by the workinge of other Englishe comodities, there were thirtie thousande persons more mayneteyned and fedd; which in all amounteth to the nomber of lj.M. persons. And this was the reporte that was geven to this mightie Emperour, whereby the towne of Andwerpe and the Netherlandes were saved from the Inquisition. And in the ende of the 45th article of the same discourse, also, he setteth down by particuler accompte howe the subjectes of the same Emperour in the Netherlandes dyd gaine yerely onely by the woll and wollen clothe that came eche yere oute of England, almoste vi.C.M. Six hundred thousand pounde gayned yerely by Englishe wolles. I say almoste sixe hundreth thousande poundes sterling, besides the gaines they had for sondry other thinges, that were of marvelous somes.

Nowe if her Majestie take these westerne discoveries in hande, and plante there, yt is like that in shorte time wee shall vente as greate a masse of clothe yn those partes as ever wee did in the Netherlandes, and in tyme moche more; which was the opinion of that excellent man, Mr Roberte Thorne, extante in printe in the laste leafe savinge one of his discourse to Doctor Lea,3 ambassador for King Henry the Eighte, in Spaine, with Charles the Emperour, whose wordes are these: And althoughe (saieth he) wee wente not into the said ilandes of spicerye, for that they are the Emperours or Kinges of Portingale, wee shoulde by the way, and comynge once to the lyne equinoctiall, finde landes no lesse riche of golde and spicerie, as all other landes are under the said lyne equinoctiall; and also shoulde, yf wee may passe under the northe, enjoye the navigation of all Tartarye, which should be no lesse profitable to our comodities of clothe, then those spiceries to the Emperour and Kinge of Portingale.

This beinge soe, yt commeth to passe, that whatsoever clothe wee shall vente on the tracte of that firme, or in the ilandes of the same, or in other landes, ilandes, and territories beyonde, be they within the circle articke or withoute, all these clothes, I say, are to passe oute of this realme full wroughte by our naturall subjectes in all degrees of labour. And if it come aboute in tyme that wee shall vente that masse there that wee vented in the Base Countries, which is hoped by greate reason, then shall alt that clothe passe oute of this realme in all degrees of labour full wroughte by the poore natural subjectes of this realme, like as the quantitie of our clothe dothe passe that goeth hence to Russia, Barbarie, Turkye, Persia, &c. And then consequently it followeth, that the like nomber of people alleaged to the Emperour shal be sett on worke in England of our poore sujectes more then hath bene; and so her Majestie shall not be troubled with the pitefull outecryes of cappers, knytters, spynners, &c.

And on the other side wee are to note, that all the comodities wee shall bringe thence wee shall not bringe them wroughte, as wee bringe now the comodities of Fraunce and Flaunders, &c. but shall receave them all substaunces unwroughte, to the ymploymente of a wonderfull multitude of the poore subjectes of this realme in returne. And so to conclude, what in the nomber of thinges to goe oute wroughte, and to come in unwroughte, there nede not one poore creature to steale, to starve, or to begge as they doe.

Objection. Aunswer. And to answer objections; where fooles for the swarminge of beggars alleage that the realme is too populous, Solomon saieth, that the honour and strengthe of a prince consisteth in the multitude of the people. And if this come aboute, that worke may be had for the multitude, where the realme hath nowe one thousande for the defence thereof, the same may have fyve thousande. For when people knowe howe to live, and howe to maynetayne and feede their wyves and children, they will not abstaine from mariage as nowe they doe. And the soile thus aboundinge with come, fleshe, mylke, butter, cheese, herbes, rootes, and frutes, &c., and the seas that envyron the same so infynitely aboundinge in fishe, I dare truly affirme, that if the nomber in this realme were as greate as all Spaine and Ffraunce have, the people beinge industrious, I say, there shoulde be founde victualls ynoughe at the full in all bounty to suffice them all. And takinge order to cary hence thither our clothes made in hose, coates, clokes, whoodes, &c., and to returne thither hides of their owne beastes, tanned and turned into shoes and bootes, and other skynnes of goates, whereof they have store, into gloves, &c., no doubte but wee shall sett on worke in this realme, besides sailers and suche as shalbe seated there in those westerne discovered contries, at the leaste C.M. subjectes, to the greate abatinge of the goodd estate of subjectes of forreine princes, enemies, or doubtfull friends, and this absque injuria, as the lawyers say, albeit not sine damno. And having a vente of lynnen, as the Spaniardes have in the rest of that firme, wee may sett our people, in making the same, infinitely on worke, and in many other thinges besides; which time will bringe aboute, thoughe nowe, for wante of knowledge and full experience of this trade, wee cannot enter into juste accompte of all particulers.

1 This is a lost book. Emden was the capital of East Friseland. With reference to the removal of the English merchants at Antwerp to Emden, consult Strype’s Life of Grindall, Oxford, cap, ix.

2 No less than seven editions of Sleidan’s De quatuor monarchiis were printed by the Elzeviers alone, a proof of the popularity of the work. An English translation by John Daus was published in London in 1560.

3 Reprinted in Hakluyt’s “Divers Voyages,” 1582.


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