« AnteriorContinuar »
-by the autumn of 1623. they built a loopholed and There he fell in with a London bastioned fort after the method merchant named Ralph Merri- they had practised on the field, and persuaded him to Amazon-an earthen rampart invest the money necessary encircled by a ditch and surfor beginning a modest planta- mounted by a wooden palisade. tion. Sailing again about the By so doing they kindled the beginning of December, Warner first feelings of distrust in the landed with seventeen English- minds of their Carib hosts ; men upon the island on 28th but Warner was a prudent January 1624. On that day, man, whose experience had therefore, was founded the col- taught him to leave nothing ony of St Christopher. The to chance. Then, whilst workoccasion has been generally ing upon their tobacco-fields, antedated by a year, even in an they lived on the fish, fruit, official matter like the celebra- and fowls supplied by the tion of the tercentenary ; but Indians. the explanation is simple. The Dependence of white men only contemporary authority upon savages leads inevitably who specifies the date is Cap- to disaster for one party or tain John Smith, the hero of the other : it was the common Virginia, who in his 'True tragedy of the early settlements. Travels,' published in 1629, After the first novelty had worn states that the landing took off the Caribs grew tired of place on 28th January 1623. supplying the wants of the Smith copied a journal kept colonists. An old woman who by one of the planters, and his hung about the fort gave warninformation was doubtless ac- ing that the chief and his curate. But the English calen- warriors were engaged in the dar of the seventeenth cen- drinking - bout which was to tury differed from ours : its nerve them to an assault. new year began, not on 1st Warner had learned the art of January, but on 25th March; colonisation in a rough school. consequently when Smith spoke He attempted no parley, but of January 1623, he meant smote the Caribs before they what we call January 1624. were ready to smite him. He A parallel instance is afforded fell upon the village whilst the by the well-known death-war- orgy was still in progress. rant of Charles I. He, accord- Togreman was stabbed as he ing to our modern chronology, lay drunk in his hammock, was executed in January 1649 ; and his followers were masbut the document itself is dated sacred without pity. Those January 1648.
who escaped made off in their Warner and his party settled canoes, to return for vengeance at a spot in the centre of the at a later date. The story is not leeward coast, where the anchor- a pretty one, but in some form age was good. For security it was bound to happen, for
the Caribs of the Antilles were took up quarters ashore, buildincurably warlike, and untam- ing a fort of their own near able to the standard of con- the south-eastern end. Not duct which the white man of long afterwards the expected the old colonial days demanded Carib invasion took place. The from his coloured neighbours. savages landed in force, killed
For a time there was peace a number of the Frenchmen, in St Christopher. New men and beset their fort. An Engarrived from England, well sup- lish boy who was there offered plied with necessaries by the to go for assistance. Armed merchants who were financing with a pair of pistols he made the colony. The tobacco-fields his way through the besiegers extended, and ship after ship and carried the news to the appeared to take home their English quarter. His countryproduce. Yet the English were men hastened to the rescue, still only a handful, and there and after a terrific fight the was ever the menace of a Caribs were driven back to their return of the Caribs. They canoes. were a roving race, often on Another strange ship apthe move from island to island peared in the first part of 1625, in great fleets of canoes, fight- bringing tidings which had a ing one another, raiding the great influence upon the formain of South America, and tunes of English colonisation in devouring their prisoners in the Antilles. She belonged to the cannibal banquets which Sir William Courteen, a London Defoe has so vividly described. merchant prince of Flemish Nothing was more certain than extraction, whose father had that the storm would one day come to England as a refugee burst upon the little colony. from Alva's atrocities in the In these circumstances Warner previous century. This ship was ready to welcome recruits was commanded by Captain from any quarter, and in 1625 John Powell, and was homehe obtained some in an unex- ward bound from a trading pected manner.
voyage to Brazil. On her way A ship came one day to the she sighted Barbados, hitherto anchorage, a French priva- a little-known island and used teersman which had suffered only for victualling purposes heavy damage in an action by infrequent visitors. Powell with a Spaniard. Her com- landed, found the place unmander was a Norman gentle- tenanted, and at once recogman named Pierre Belain d'Es- nised its value as a site for the nambuc. Warner proposed that new industry of tobacco-planthe should leave roving and ing. Its soil and water were settle to planting on the island, good, and it was free from where there was plenty of land Caribs, for its position, eighty still unoccupied. D'Egnambuc miles to windward of the main consented, and he and his men chain, rendered it inaccessible VOL. CCXV.-NO. MCCXCIX.
to their canoes. Powell at the next available ship with a once proclaimed annexation, party to seize the empty island. setting up a cross with the But he saw that this would not inscription : “James, King of do. Sir William Courteen was England and this Island ”- a man of power in London, a not knowing that King James creditor of the Crown and a was then on his deathbed at consorter with the great. He home. He intended to report would crush the unknown Sufthe find to Sir William Cour- folk squire with a lift of his teen, whose immense wealth finger. The obvious course was always ready for promising would fail : the occasion deinvestments of this nature. But manded something more subtle. unhappily for himself and his Apart from Barbados, other employer, Powell touched at circumstances required that St Christopher on his way to Warner should go to England. England. There, if he did not He had as yet no commission talk unwisely, his men did ; or authority of any kind for and Thomas Warner was ap- his proceedings, and the French prised of the discovery.1 interest might at any time
Warner possessed foresight develop into some high-handed and lacked scruple. His visions French annexation of the whole of the future were not re- property. He must make himstricted to a mere sharing of self known to his Government St Christopher with the French. and enlist the power of the What he looked for was a Crown in his support. He dominion covering all the Carib- sailed therefore for England bees, every fair island peopled in the summer of 1625, with with English planters, pouring a scheme maturing in his mind its riches into the English to fit all contingencies. It commonwealth, employing hun- turned upon the existing vaguedreds of merchantmen and thou- ness of geographical knowledge sands of English mariners. It of the Caribbees, and the fact was a dream to be realised step that another island of the Leeby step; and the next and ward group bore the name of easiest stage was the planting Barbuda — a barren unlikely of Barbados, whose profits place, which no man who had would finance the more diffi- seen it felt any desire to cult schemes of the future. colonise. He himself had seen The obvious course was to send it before settling at St Chris
1 Students of West Indian history will recognise that the account given here of this and other transactions throws upon them a different complexion from that given in works hitherto published. The statements made in this paper are the fruit of my own research among original documents, some of which have not been used by previous investigators. I hope shortly to publish a monograph upon the subject, and in the meantime shall be happy to indicate the sources of my information to any who may be doubtful on any given point. The collation and criticism of the evidence is too involved a process to be suitable for a short article intended for the general reader.
topher, and had decided against claiming four islands together it on account of its deficiency in a group, almost within sight of water. Barbuda and Bar- of one another, and they seem bados were not standardised to have had no suspicion that spellings as they are to-day. his eye was fixed upon their They were interchangeable, and own discovery three hundred had a dozen alternative forms miles to the southward. War-Barbada, Barbida, Barbudos, ner allowed that supposition and the rest,-affording oppor- to stand, for his time was not tunity for a joyous mystifica- yet ripe; nevertheless he was tion in the hands of the men careful to explain in private, to of law who drew patents in witnesses who would keep their Chancery Lane. Warner deter- mouths shut until called upon mined to play his game with to speak, that the fourth island these aliases; and with them of his commission was the true in the end he won it.
Barbados in 13° N., and not In September 1625, his new the worthless Barbuda in 17o. majesty, Charles I., then at Warner was now the lawful Southampton, granted a com- ruler of his colony, but the mission under the Great Seal office, like any other of its to Thomas Warner. The docu- kind, was terminable at the ment recites that Warner, hav- King's pleasure. And in the ing discovered St Christopher matter of Barbados his pretty and begun a plantation there scheme would collapse like a by the good liking of the cobweb before the pressure natives, and having likewise which Courteen could bring discovered three other islands to bear against it.
It was -Nevis, Montserrat, and Bar- therefore necessary to seek a bados, -his majesty, for the en- patron more powerful than Sir largement of his kingdom and William himself. For this purthe extension of the Christian pose Warner and Merrifield religion, takes the said Warner approached two noblemen of and the said islands into his the Court, the Earl of Marlprotection, and appoints War- borough and the Earl of Carner to be his lieutenant for lisle. They induced these two their government according to jointly to seek from the King the laws of England.
proprietary letters patent for So far all was well The the whole of the Caribbee name of Barbados, so spelt, had Islands. Before, however, the been slipped into the commis- business had gone very far, sion without, so far as we know, Marlborough withdrew from exciting any protest from Sir active participation, leaving the William Courteen or his ser- whole thing to Carlisle on convant John Powell, who had dition of receiving an annual probably by that time reached pension out of the profits. England. They would natu- James Hay, first Earl of Carrally suppose that Warner was lisle, became accordingly Lord
Proprietor of the Caribbee Is- filling up, and a definite parlands, his patent for that end tition was necessary. In the passing the seals on 2nd July summer of 1627, after d'Es1627. He was one of the nambuc had returned from Scottish courtiers introduced France with a commission as and ennobled by James I., Governor, he and Warner with whose son he continued framed a treaty to regulate in high favour. Of genial their frontiers. The English manners, richly endowed with took the central portion of the lands and sinecures, he was a main oval, a broad strip exbright star in the social firma- tending from the windward to ment of his time, and his ex- the leeward coast across the penditure exceeded even the central mountain range. The wealth of Sir William Courteen. French took the two ends of For this reason he was chronic- the oval, their property being ally in debt, and was deeply thus divided into two parts committed to push the fortunes with the English between them. of a certain group of London The salt-ponds in the island's merchants who had lent him tail were agreed to be neutral money. To forward their aims for the common use of both he had taken up the West parties. This division held good Indian proprietorship. He had, in the main until the wars of of course, no intention of going the early eighteenth century, out to govern his possessions when the whole island fell to in person. That was to be the the English by conquest. part of Warner and the mer The progress of colonisation chants.
was rapid. John Smith, whose Long before the passing of True Travels' of 1629 we the patent Warner had gone have already cited, says that back to St Christopher, leaving by that date there were 3000 the London business in the English settlers. Ere long the hands of Merrifield and his leeward side of the English partners. D’Esnambuc had quarter was all taken up, and gone to France to seek recogni- in 1627 one Anthony Hilton, tion, and had likewise been a Durham man, broke new taken into the protection of ground on the windward coast. his sovereign. Cardinal Riche- A Carib raid, however, ruined lieu, then at the beginning of his plantation, and after achis long term of office, was quiring another on the leeward anxious to promote colonial shore he returned to England, enterprise, and ere long he raised money from a merchant founded the Company of the named Thomas Littleton, and Isles of America to exploit the led out a new party of pioneers Caribbees. Hitherto the Eng- to begin the colonisation of lish and French had found Nevis. This venture began in plenty of room in St Chris- 1628, and soon showed signs topher, but now the island was of prosperity. English colonists