Home  »  library  »  prose  »  Expectations of America

C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Expectations of America

By Richard Hakluyt (c. 1553–1616)

  • A particuler discourse concerning the greate necessitie and manifolde commodyties that are like to growe to this Realme of Englande by the Westerne discoueries lately attempted, written in the yere 1584, by Richarde Hackluyt of Oxforde, at the requeste and direction of the righte wershipfull Mr. Walter Rayhly, nowe Knight, before the comynge home of his twoo barkes….

  • SEINGE that the people of that parte of America from 30. degrees in Florida northewarde unto 63. degrees (which ys yet in no Christian princes actuall possession) are idolaters; and that those which Stephen Gomes broughte from the coaste of NORUMBEGA in the yere 1524. worshipped the sonne, the moone, and the starres, and used other idolatrie,… it remayneth to be thoroughly weyed and considered by what meanes and by whome this moste godly and Christian work may be perfourmed of inlarginge the glorious gospell of Christe…. Nowe the Kinges and Queenes of England have the name of Defendours of the Faithe. By which title I thinke they are not onely chardged to mayneteyne and patronize the faithe of Christe, but also to inlarge and advaunce the same. Neither oughte this to be their laste worke, but rather the principall and chefe of all others, accordinge to the commaundemente of our Saviour, Christe, Mathewe 6, Ffirste seeke the kingdome of God and the righteousnes thereof, and all other thinges shalbe mynistred unto you.

    Nowe the meanes to sende suche as shall labour effectually in this busines ys, by plantinge one or twoo colonies of our nation upon that fyrme, where they shall remaine in safetie, and firste learne the language of the people nere adjoyninge (the gifte of tongues being nowe taken awaye) and by little and little acquainte themselves with their manner, and so with discretion and myldenes distill into their purged myndes the swete and lively liquor of the gospel…. Now therefore I truste the time ys at hande when by her Majesties forwardnes in this enterprise, not only this objection and such like shalbe aunswered by our frutefull labor in Godds harvest among the infidells, but also many inconveniences and strifes amongest ourselves at home, in matters of ceremonies, shalbe ended. For those of the clergye which by reason of idlenes here at home are nowe alwayes coyninge of newe opynions, havinge by this voyadge to set themselves on worke in reducinge the savages to the chefe principles of our faith, will become lesse contentious, and be contented with the truthe in relligion alreadie established by authoritie. So they that shall beare the name of Christians shall shewe themselves worthye of their vocation….

    The nexte thinge ys that nowe I declare unto you the comodities of this newe westerne discoverie, and what marchandize are there to be had, and from thence to be expected; wherein firste you are to have regarde unto the scituation of the places which are left for us to be possessed. The contries therefore of AMERICA whereunto we have just title, as beinge firste discovered by Sebastian Gabote, at the coste of that prudente prince Kinge Henry the Seaventh, from Florida northewarde to 67. degrees (and not yet in any Chrestian princes actuall possession), beinge aunswerable in clymate to Barbary, Egipt, Siria, Persia, Turky, Greece, all the islandes of the Levant sea, Italie, Spaine, Portingale, Fraunce, Flaunders, Highe Almayne, Denmarke, Estland, Poland, and Muscovye, may presently or within a shorte space afforde unto us, for little or nothinge, and with moche more safetie, eyther all or a greate parte of the comodities which the aforesaid contries do yelde us at a very dere hande and with manifolde daungers.

    Firste, therefore, to begyn at the southe from 30. degrees, and to quote unto you the leafe and page of the printed voyadges of those which personally have with diligence searched and viewed these contries. John Ribault writeth thus, in the first leafe of his discourse, extant in printe bothe in Frenche and Englishe: Wee entred (saithe he) and viewed the contrie, which is the fairest, frutefullest, and pleasauntest of all the worlde, aboundinge in honye, waxe, venison, wild fowle, fforestes, woodds of all sorts, palme trees, cipresses, cedars, bayes, the highest and greatest, with also the fairest vines in all the worlde, with grapes accordinge, which naturally withoute arte or mans helpe or trymmynge will growe to toppes of oakes and other trees that be of wonderfull greatness and heighte. And the sighte of the faire meadowes is a pleasure not able to be expressed with tongue, full of herons, curlues, bitters, mallardes, egriphts, woodcocks, and all other kinde of small birdes, with hartes, hinds, bucks, wild swyne, and all other kynd of wilde beastes, as wee perceaved well bothe by their footinge there, and also afterwardes in other places by their crye and roaringe in the nighte. Also there be conies and hares, silkewormes in marvelous nomber, a great deale fairer and better than be our silkewormes. Againe, in the sixte leafe and seconde page: They shewed unto us by signes that they had in the lande golde and silver and copper, whereof wee have broughte some home. Also leade like unto ours, which wee shewed them. Also turqueses and greate aboundance of perles, which as they declared unto us they tooke oute of oysters, whereof there is taken ever alonge the rivers side and amongest the reedes and in the marishes, in so marvelous aboundaunce as it is scante credible. And wee have perceaved that there be as many and as greate perles founde there as in any contrie in the worlde. In the seaventh leafe it followeth thus: The scituation is under 30. degrees, a good clymate, healthfull, and of goodd temperature, marvelous pleasaunt, the people goodd and of a gentle and amyable nature, which willingly will obey, yea be contented to serve those that shall with gentlenes and humanitie goe aboute to allure them, as yt is necessarie for those that be sente thither hereafter so to doe. In the eighth leafe: It is a place wonderfull fertile and of strong scituation, the grounde fatt, so that it is like that it would bringe forthe wheate and all other corne twise a yere.

    Verarsana, fallinge in the latitude of 34. degrees, describeth the scituation and commodities in this manner: Beyonde this we sawe the open contrie risinge in heighte above the sandie shoare, with many faire feeldes and plaines full of mightie greate wooddes, some very thicke and some very thynne, replenished with divers sortes of trees, and pleasaunt and delectable to beholde as ys possible to ymagine. And youre Majestie may not thinke that these are like the wooddes of Hyrcinia, or the wilde desertes of Tartaria, and the northerne coastes, full of fruteles trees; but full of palme, date-trees, bayes, and highe cypresses, and many other sortes of trees to us unknowen in Europe, which yelde moste swete savours farr from the shoare; neyther doe wee thincke that they, partakinge of the easte worlde rounde aboute them, are altogether voyde of drugs and spicerye, and other riches of golde, seinge the colour of the lande dothe altogether argue yt. And the lande is full of many beastes, as redd dere, fallowe dere, and hares, and likewise of lakes and pooles of freshe water, with greate plentie of fowles convenient for all pleasaunt game. This lande is in latitude 34. degrees with goodd and holesome ayre, temperate betwene hote and colde; no vehement windes doe blowe in these regions, &c. Againe, in the fourthe leafe as it is in Englishe, speakinge of the nexte contrie, he saithe: Wee sawe in this contrie many vines growinge naturally, which springinge upp tooke holde of the trees as they doe in Lombardye, which, if by husbandmen they were dressed in goodd order, withoute all doubte they woulde yelde excellent wynes; for havinge oftentymes seene the frute thereof dryed, which was swete and pleasaunte and not differinge from oures, wee thinke they doe esteme of the same, because that in every place where they growe they take away the under braunches growinge rounde aboute, that the frute thereof may ripen the better. Wee founde also roses, violetts, lyllies, and many sortes of herbes and swete and odoriferous flowers. And after, in the sixte leafe, he saithe: Wee were oftentimes within the lande V. or VI. leagues, which wee founde as pleasaunte as is possible to declare, apte for any kinde of husbandrye of corne, wine, and oile. For therein there are plaines 25. or 30. leagues broade, open and withoute any impedymente of trees, of suche frutefulnes that any seede beinge sowen therein will bringe furthe moste excellente frute. Wee entred afterwardes into the woodds, which wee founde so greate and thicke that an armye (were it never so greate) mighte have hydd it selfe therein, the trees whereof were oakes, cypresses, and other sortes unknowen in Europe. Wee founde pomi appij. plomes, and nuttes, and many other sortes of frutes to us unknowen. There are beastes in greate aboundaunce, as redd dere and fallowe dere, leopardes and other kindes, which they take with their bowes and arrowes, which are their chefeste weapons. This land is scituate in the parallele of Rome in 41. degrees and 2. terces. And towardes the ende he saithe: Wee sawe many of the people weare earinges of copper hanginge at their eares. Thus farr oute of the relation of Verarsana….

    This coaste, from Cape Briton C. C. [200] leagues to the south west, was again discovered at the chardges of the cardinall of Burbon by my frende Stephen Bellinger of Roan, the laste yere, 1583. who founde a towne of fourscore houses, covered with the barkes of trees, upon a rivers side, about C. leagues from the aforesaid Cape Briton. He reporteth that the contrie is of the temperature of the coaste of Cascoigne and Guyañ. He broughte home a kinde of mynerall matter supposed to holde silver, whereof he gave me some: a kynde of muske called castor; divers beastes skynnes, as bevers, otters, marternes, lucernes, seales, buffs, dere skynnes, all dressed, and painted on the innerside with divers excellent colours, as redd, tawnye, yellowe, and vermillyon,—all which thinges I sawe; and divers other marchandize he hath which I saw not. But he tolde me that he had CCCC. and xl. crownes for that in Roan, which, in trifles bestowed upon the savages, stoode him not in fortie crownes….

    The nature and qualitie of thother parte of America from Cape Briton, beinge in 46 degrees unto the latitude of 52. for iij C. leagues within the lande even to Hochelaga, is notably described in the twoo voyadges of Iacques Cartier. In the fifte chapiter of his second relation thus he writeth: From the 19. till the 28. of September wee sailed upp the ryver, never loosinge one houre of tyme, all which space wee sawe as goodly a contrie as possibly coulde be wisshed for, full of all sortes of goodly trees; that is to say, oakes, elmes, walnut-trees, cedars, fyrres, asshes, boxe, willoughes, and greate store of vynes, all as full of grapes as coulde be, that if any of our fellowes wente on shoare, they came home laden with them. There were likewise many cranes, swannes, geese, mallardes, fesauntes, partridges, thrusshes, black birdes, turtles, finches, reddbreastes, nightingales, sparrowes, with other sortes of birdes even as in Fraunce, and greate plentie and store. Againe in the xlth chapiter of the said relation there ys mention of silver and golde to be upon a ryver that is three monethes’ saylinge, navigable southwarde from Hoghelaga; and that redd copper is yn Saguynay. All that contrie is full of sondrie sortes of woodde and many vines. There is great store of stagges, redd dere, fallowe dere, beares, and other suche like sorts of beastes, as conies, hares, marterns, foxes, otters, bevers, squirrells, badgers, and rattes exceedinge greate, and divers other sortes of beastes for huntinge. There are also many sortes of fowles as cranes, swannes, outardes, wilde geese white and graye, duckes, thrusshes, black birdes, turtles, wild pigeons, lynnetts, finches, redd breastes, stares, nightingales, sparrowes, and other birdes even as in Fraunce. Also, as wee have said before, the said ryver is the plentifullest of fyshe that ever hath bene seene or hearde of, because that from the heade to the mouthe of yt you shall finde all kinde of freshe and salte water fyshe accordinge to their season. There are also many whales, porposes, sea horses, and adhothuis, which is a kinde of fishe which wee have never seene nor hearde of before. And in the xllth chapiter thus: Wee understoode of Donaconna and others that … there are people cladd with clothe as wee are, very honest, and many inhabited townes, and that they had greate store of golde and redd copper; and that within the land beyonde the said firste ryver unto Hochelaga and Saguynay, ys an iland envyroned rounde aboute with that and other ryvers, and that there is a sea of freshe water founde, and as they have hearde say of those of Saguynay, there was never man hearde of that founde out the begynnynge and ende thereof. Finally, in the postcripte of the seconde relation, wee reade these wordes: They of Canada saye, that it is a moones sailinge to goe to a lande where cynamonde and cloves are gathered….

    Thus having alleaged many printed testymonies of these credible persons, which were personally betwene 30. and 63. degrees in America, as well on the coaste as within the lande, which affirmed unto the princes and kinges which sett them oute that they found there,… I may well and truly conclude with reason and authoritie, that all the comodities of all our olde decayed and daungerous trades in all Europe, Africa, and Asia haunted by us, may in shorte space for little or nothinge, and many for the very workmanshippe, in a manner be had in that part of America which lieth between 30. and 60. degrees of northerly latitude, if by our slacknes we suffer not the Frenche or others to prevente us.

  • CHAP. IV.That this enterprize will be for the manifolde ymployment of nombers of idle men, and for bredinge of many sufficient, and for utteraunce of the great quantitie of the comodities of our realme.

  • IT is well worthe the observation to see and consider what the like voyadges of discoverye and plantinge 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 newe discoveries, they have so many honest wayes to set them on worke, as they rather wante men than meanes to ymploye 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 multitudes of loyterers and idle vagabondes. 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 uppe one another; yea many thousandes of idle persons are within this realme, which, havinge no way to be sett on worke, be either mutinous or seeke alteration in the State, or at leaste very burdensome to the commonwealth, 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 length are miserably hanged, even xxti at a clappe oute of some one jayle. Whereas yf this voyadge were put in execution, these pety theves mighte be condempned for certein yeres in the westerne partes, especially in Newefounde lande, in sawinge and fellinge of tymber for mastes of 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 up 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 ys 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, waxe, turpentine; in hewinge and shapinge of stone, as marble, jeate, christall, freestone, which will be goodd ballaste for our shippes homewardes, and after serve for noble buildinges; in makinge of caskes, oares, and all other manner of staves; in buildinge of fortes, townes, churches: in powdringe and barrellinge of fishe, fowles, and fleshe, which will be notable provision for sea and land; in dryenge, sortinge, and packinge of fethers, whereof may be had there marvelous greate quantitie.

    Besides this, such as by any kinde of infirmitie can not passe the seas thither, and nowe are chardgeable to the realme at home, by this voyadge shalbe 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 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, yt 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, spynners, 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 of men to worke upon; namely, all severall kindes of artificers, husbandmen, seamen, merchaunts, 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….

    Whatsoever clothe wee shall vente on the tracte of that firme, or in the ilands 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 Contries, which is hoped by greate reason, then shall all that clothe passe oute of this realme in all degrees of labour full wroughte by the poore naturall 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 subjectes 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, we 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.

    And to answer objections: where fooles for the swarminge of beggars alleage that the realme is too populous, Salomon 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 mayneteyne and feede their wyves and children, they will not abstaine from mariage as nowe they doe. And the soile thus aboundinge with corne, 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 industrous, 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 frends, and this absque injuria, as the lawyers say, albeit not sine damno….

  • 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 God’s goodd guidinge and mercifull direction atchieved happily this presente westerne discoverye, after the seekinge the advauncement of the kingedome of Christe, the seconde chefe and principall ende of the same is traficque, which consisteth in the vente of the masse of our clothes and other comodities of England, and in receaving backe of the nedefull 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 consideracion whereof in vaine were it to think 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, 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 sooden feightes shall require; and by our fortes shalbe able to hold faste our firste footinge, and readily to annoye such weary power of any other that shall seke to arryve; and shalbe able with out navye to sende advertisemente into England upon every sooden whatsoever shall happen. And these fortifications shall kepe the naturall people of the contrye in obedience and goodd order. And these fortes at the mouthes 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 neighboures, 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 our selves lordes of the whole.

    Contrarywise, withoute this plantinge in due time, 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 we might attaine to the knowedge thereof, yet beinge not there fortified and strongly seated, the French that swarme with multitude of people, or other nations, mighte secretly fortifie and settle 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…. Yf wee doe procrastinate the plantinge (and where our men have nowe presently discovered, and founde it to be the beste parte of America that is lefte, and in truthe more agreeable 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, but also will depriue us of that goodd lande which nowe wee have discovered….

    God, which doth all thinges in his due time, and hath in his hande the hertes of all Princes, stirr upp the mynde of her Majestie at lengthe to assiste her moste willinge and forwarde subjectes to the perfourmaunce of this moste godly and profitable action; which was begonne at the chardges of Kinge Henry the viith her grandfather, followed by Kinge Henry the Eighte, her father, and lefte as it semeth to be accomplished by her (as the three yeres golden voyadge to Ophir was by Salomon), to the makinge of her realme and subjectes moste happy, and her selfe moste famous to all posteritie. Amen.