Page images
PDF
EPUB

ESSAY XXXIII. OP PLANTATIONS.1

PLANTATIONS are amongst ancient, primitive, and heroical works. When the world was young it begat more children, but now it is old, it begets fewer; for I may justly account new plantations to be the children of former kingdoms. I like a plantation in a pure soil, that is, where people are not displanted2 to the end to plant in others; for else it is rather an extirpation than a plantation. Planting of countries is like planting of woods; for you must make account to lose almost twenty years' profit, and expect your recompense in the end; for the principal thing that hath been the destruction of most plantations, hath been the base and hasty drawing of profit in the first years. It is true, speedy profit is not to be neglected, as far as it may stand8 with the good of the plantation, but no farther.

It is a shameful and unblessed thing to take the scum of people, and wicked condemned men, to be the people with whom you plant; and not only so, but it spoileth the plantation; for they will ever live like rogues, and not fall to work, but be lazy, and do mischief, and spend victuals, and be quickly weary, and then certify over to their country to the discredit of the plantation. The people wherewith you plant ought to be gardeners, ploughmen, labourers, smiths, carpenters, joiners, fishermen, fowlers, with some few apothecaries, surgeons, cooks, and bakers. In a country of plantation, first look about what kind of victual the country yields of itself to hand; as chestnuts, walnuts, pine-apples, olives, dates, plums, cherries, wild honey, and the like, and make use of them. Then consider what victual or esculent things there are, which grow speedily, and within the year; as parsneps, carrots, turnips, onions, radish, artichokes of Jerusalem,1 maize, and the like: for wheat, barley, and oats, they ask too much labour; but with peas and beans you may begin, both because they ask less labour, and because they serve for meat as well as for bread; and of rice likewise cometh a great increase, and it is a kind of meat Above all, there ought to be brought store of biscuit, oatmeal flour, meal,* and the like, in the beginning, till bread may be had. For beasts or birds, take chiefly such as are least subject to diseases, and multiply fastest: as swine, goats, cocks, hens, turkeys, geese, house-doves, and the like. The victual in plantations ought to be expended almost as in a besieged town, that is, with certain allowance; and let the main part of the ground employed to3 gardens or corn be to4 a common stock, and to be laid in, and stored up, and then delivered out in proportion; besides some spots of ground that any particular person will manure for his own private.5 Consider likewise, what commodities the soil where the plantation is doth naturally yield, that they may some way help to defray the charge of the plantation; so it be not, as was said, to the untimely prejudice of the main business, as it hath fared with tobacco in Virginia. AVood commonly aboundeth but too much, and therefore timber is fit to be one. If there be iron ore, and streams whereupon to set the mills, iron is a brave6 commodity where wood aboundeth. Making of bay salt, if the climate be proper for it, would be put in experience ;7 growing silk, likewise, if any be, is a likely commodity; pitch and tar, where store of firs and pines are, will not fail; so drugs and sweet woods, where they are, cannot but yield great profit; soap ashes likewise, and other things that may be thought of; but moil' not too much under ground, for the hope of mines is very uncertain, and useth to make the planters lazy in other things.

1 Plantations. Colonies. 'Towns here are few, either of the old or new plantations.'Heylin.

'Displant. 'Those French pirates that displanted us.'—Beaumont and Fletcher.

3 Stand. To be consistent with. 'His faithful people, whatsoever they rightly ask, they shall receive, as far as may stand with the glory of God and their own everlasting good.'—Hooker.

1 Artichokes of Jerusalem. A welLkuown culinary plant, originally of Brazilthe name Jerusalem being merely a corruption of the Italian Girawle—that is Sunflower, or Turn-solo.

2 'Flour' is still used in Suffolk to signify, exclusively, that which is finely sifted; and ' meal' that which comes from the mill.

J To. In. 'Still a greater difficulty upon translators rises from the peculiaritiet every language has to itself.'—Felton.

* To. For. See page 264. 'The proper business of the understanding u ax that which men always employ it to.'Locke.

5 Private. Particular use or benefit; private object.
'Nor must I be unmindful of my private,
For which I have called my brother and the tribunes.
My kinsfolk, and my clients to be near me.'—Ben Joimm.
"Bravo. Excellent; fine.

'A brave attendance.'—Shakcspere. 7 Experience. Experiment; trial. 'As curious experiencet did affirm.'—Jfciy1 Moil. To toil; to drudge.

For government, let it be in the hands of one, assisted with some counsel, and let them have commission to exercise martial laws, with some limitation. And, above all, let men make that profit of being in the wilderness, as2 they have God always, and his service before their eyes. Let not the government of the plantation depend upon too many counsellors and undertakers3 in the country that planteth, but upon a temperate number; and let those be rather noblemen and gentlemen, than merchants; for they look ever to the present gain. Let there be freedoms from custom, till the plantation be of strength, and not only freedom from custom, but freedom to carry their commodities where they may make their best of them, except4 there be some special cause of caution. Cram not in people, by sending too fast, company after company, but rather hearken1 how they waste, and send supplies proportionably; but so as the number may live well in the plantation, and not by surcharge be in penury. It hath been a great endangering to the health of some plantations, that they have built along the sea and rivers, in marish6 and unwholesome grounds; therefore, though you begin there, to avoid carriage and other like discommodities,7 yet build still rather upwards from the stream than along it. It concerneth likewise the health of the plantation that they have good store of salt with them, that they may use it in their victuals when it shall be necessary.

'Now he must moil and drudge for one he loathes.'—Dryden. J As. Thai. See page 26.

• Undertakers. Managers of affairs.

'Nay, if you be an undertaker, I am for you.'—Shakespere. —(Now confined to the managers of funerals.) 4 Kxcept. Unless. See page 302. 4 Hearken. Watch; observe.

'They do me too much injury

That ever said I hearkened for your death.'—Shakespere.
'I mount the terrace, thence the town survey,
And hearken what the fruitful sounds convey.'—Dryden.

• Marish. Marshy; swampy. 'The fen and quagmire, so marish by kind, aro to be drained.'—Tusser.

Discommodities. Inconveniences. 'We stund balancing the discommodities of two corrupt disciplines.'—Milton.

If you plant where savages are, do not only entertain them with trifles and gingles, but use them justly and graciously, with sufficient guard, nevertheless; and do not win their favour by helping them to invade their enemies, but for their defence, it is not amiss; and send oft1 of them over to the country that plants, that they may see a better condition than their own, and commend it when they return.

When the plantation grows to strength, then it is time to plant with women as well as with men, that the plantation may spread into generations, and not be ever pieced from without . It is the sinfullest thing in the world to forsake or destitute'a plantation once in forwardness; for, besides the dishonour, it is the guiltiness of blood of many com miserable3 persons.

ANNOTATIONS.

'Plantations are amongst ancient, primitive, and herokal
works'

Bp. Hinds remarks on the great success with which the ancient Greeks colonized: pursuing an opposite plan from that of all nations since, and, accordingly, with opposite results.

An ancient Greek colony was like what gardeners call a layer; a portion of the parent tree, with stem, twigs, and leaves, imbedded in fresh soil till it had taken root, and then severed. A modern colony is like handfuls of twigs and leaves pulled off at random, and thrown into the earth to take their chance.

1 Oft. Often (chiefly used in poetry).

'O/t she rejects, but never once offends.'—Pope.

3 Destitute. To leave destitute. 'Suppose God thus destitute us, yet overanxiety, or solicitude, or using of unlawful means, can never be able to secure us.' —Hammond.

3 Coramiserablo. Worthy of compassion. 'This commiserabU person, Edward.' —Bacon's llenry VII.

'It is a shameful and unblessed tiling to take the scum of people, and wicked condemned men, to be the people with whom you plant.'

Yet two-and-a-half centuries after Bacon's time, the English government, in opposition to the remonstrances of the enlightened and most emphatically experienced philanthropist— Howard,—established its penal colonies in Australia, and thus, in the language of Shakespere, 'began an impudent nation.'

It is now above a quarter of a century since I began pointing out to the public the manifold mischiefs of such a system; and with Bacon and Howard on my side, I persevered in braving all the obloquy and ridicule that were heaped on me. Hut successive ministries, of the most opposite political parties, agreed in supporting what the most eminent Political-economist of the present day had described as 'a system begun in defiance of all reason, and persevered in in defiance of all experience.'

'And not only so, but it spoileth the plantation.'

Bacon has not pointed out one particular disadvantage of this mode of colonization. The emancipists, as they are called— those who have come out as convicts,—are described, and that by some advocates of the system, as for the most part idle, unthrifty settlers; and the currency, those born in the colony, are represented as generally preferring a seafaring life; having the odious associations of crime and slavery connected with agricultural pursuits,—a feeling perfectly natural under such circumstances, but the very last one we would wish to find in a colony. One of the results—not, I apprehend, originally contemplated when penal colonies were established in New South Wales by the English government,—is that these 'wicked condemned men' have planted for themselves several volunteer colonies; escaping in small craft either to the South Sea Islands (in many of which, for a good while past, each native chief has for a prime-minister some choice graduate of the university of Newgate), or, more frequently, to some part of the coast of New Holland. Thus the land is certainly planted, but it is planted with the worst of weeds, according to the ingenious experiment suggested, in the Tempest, for Prospero's island:—

'Goma lo. Had I plantation of this isle, my lord .... Antonio. He'd sow it with nettle seed.'

« PreviousContinue »