C. H. (Charles Harding) Firth.

An American garland, being a collection of ballads relating to America, 1563-1759; online

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Online LibraryC. H. (Charles Harding) FirthAn American garland, being a collection of ballads relating to America, 1563-1759; → online text (page 2 of 6)
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which is to be planted.

Who knowes not England once was like

A Wilderness and savage place,
Till government and use of men

That wildness did deface :
And so Virginia may in time,

Be made like England now ;
Where long-lov'd peace and plenty both

Sits smiling on her brow.

Thomas Hariot, in his ' Briefe and true Report of
the New found land of Virginia/ reinforced the
argument by adding pictures representing the ancient
Britons after those representing the Indians, and ex-
plained : ' The Painter of whom I have had the first
of the Inhabitants of Virginia, gave mee allso thees
5 Figures following, fownd as he did assure me in
a old English cronicle, the which I wold well sett to
the ende of thees first Figures, for to showe how that
the Inhabitants of the great Brettannie have bin in
times past as savage as those of Virginia.' 1 Just as
William Pitt, in his speech on the Slave Trade, in
1 Pp. 12, 17, 19.


1792, based on the barbarism and slavery of the
ancient Britons an argument for the freedom and
civilisation of the Africans, so the same contrast was
employed nearly two centuries earlier, and the ulti-
mate civilisation of the Indians was put forward as an
incentive to colonisation. In prose pamphlets their
conversion was often spoken of. The savages were
to be ' brought from falsehood to truth, from dark-
ness to light, from the highway of death to the path
of life, from superstitious idolatry to sincere Christi-
anity, from the devil to Christ.' 1 As we shall see, one
of the later ballads in the ' Garland ' illustrates this

It was, however, in a different way that religion
promoted the colonising of America. As Mr. Doyle
observes : * Of the religious movements which Eng-
land in the Seventeenth century brought forth, three
have left abiding traces in colonial history.' 2 The
Congregationalists, the Baptists, and the Quakers
each played their part in the task of colonisation, and
each in a different portion of the field.

There are five ballads relating to this aspect
of colonial history, and all are hostile to the Puri-
tans. Two deal with the great emigration to
New England between 1630 and 1640. That en-
titled ' The Zealous Puritan ' is probably wrongly
named. On March 2oth, 1637-8, Thomas Lambert

1 Doyle, The English in America, I, 17.

2 The English in America, The Middle Colonies, p. 363.


registered a ballad entitled ' A Friendly Invitation to
a New Plantation,' a title which precisely describes
the contents and character of the verses referred to
above. 1 The title was doubtless altered in 1662 to
make the ballad a better introduction to the general
collection of satirical verses against the Puritans in
which it survives. The ' Summons to New England '
belongs to much the same date : after 1638 the
troubles in Scotland absorbed public attention, and
New England was for a time forgotten. Both bal-
lads emphasise the desire of the emigrants to separate
themselves from the wicked and superstitious, and
build in a new country a purer Church.

In 1643, when the next ballad was written, the
Civil War was going against the Parliamentary
cause : during the summer the King's forces con-
quered most of the west and the north of England :
Hull and Gloucester were besieged, and though
neither fell, the possibility of the King's victory
spread alarm amongst timid Parliamentarians. Some
of them, according to the Royalist newspapers, began
to think of making their escape from the country
and to pack up their portable treasures for flight.
On October 8th, 1643, Mercurius Aulicus reported
that there was a great ship in the Downs, laden with
chests and money destined for New England. 'And
doubtless 'tis time the Brethren think of some other
England.' On November 6th the same newspaper,

1 Arber, Stationers' Register, IV, 387.


noticing the passage of the ordinance for the Govern-
ment of the Islands and Plantations, explained that
the great work the Commissioners named in the
ordinance were to take in hand was to provide a
secure and convenient place whither the members,
when the plot fails, may speedily retreat. These
were the reports which inspired the song announcing
that New England was preparing to entertain King
Pym, and bidding the Roundheads pack their plunder
and hoist sail for their voyage.

' The West Country Man's Voyage to New Eng-
land ' is from the ' Merry Drollery/ a song book first
printed in I66I 1 ; as Dorchester was one of the oldest
towns in Massachusetts, it may have been written
twenty years or more before the date of its publica-
tion. The fifth of these Anti-Puritan ballads' The
Quakers' Farewell to England ' was published in
J 675, when the settlement of the Jersies was begin-
ning, and the emigration which then commenced
continued for several years. The emigrants came
largely from Yorkshire and the North Midlands. On
July I7th, 1677, Sir John Reresby wrote to Lord
Danby saying, ' Many of these Quaquers and other
dissenters, inhabitants about Sheffield and the adjoin-
ing parts of Nottinghamshire and Darbyshire, have
lately gone, and are every day as yet going, by the
way of Hull to transport themselves to an Island in
America called West Jarsey, and are dayly followed

1 Reprinted by Mr. J. W. Ebsworth, Lincoln, 1875 (p. 275).


by others upon the same design.' In a second letter,
dated November 20th, he added : ' The principall of
them are sectaries, but the rest able servants and
labourers, engaged many of them by the undertakers
without their masters or parents consent.' 1

Another ballad, the * Valiant Soldier's Farewell to
his Love,' or 'The Voyage to Virginia,' although
one copy of it is dated 1685, probably refers to a
political event which happened nine years earlier.
The rebellion in Virginia, headed by Nathaniel
Bacon, broke out in 1676. In October, 1767, a
regiment was formed for service in Virginia, by
drafts from the Guards, the Admiral's and the Hol-
land regiment, and by taking some men from the
garrison companies. Captain Herbert Jeffrey, of
the Guards, was appointed its Colonel. The regi-
ment, or at least the companies taken from the
Guards, returned to England early in 1678. 2 There
is no evidence that English troops were sent to Vir-
ginia at any other date before 1685, and there was
no reason for sending any in 1685.

The ballad entitled 'The Maydens of London's
Brave Adventure ' is difficult to date with precision.
It probably belongs to the period of the Protectorate.
The reference to the possible interception of the
maidens by the Spaniards clearly shows that it was

1 See for the whole letters American Historical Review, II, 472.

2 Mackinnon, History of the Coldstream Guards, I, 156, 159;
Dalton, English Army Lists, I, 186.


written when England and Spain were at war, that
is, between 1655 and 1660. This emigration was
probably a forced rather than a voluntary enterprise.
The Puritan rulers of London had no hesitation in
deporting suspected evil livers, male or female, to
the colonies. In September, 1653, a ballad was pub-
lished entitled ' A total Rout, or a brief Discovery of
a Pack of Knaves and Drabs,' which anticipated the
arrest of all the thieves and gamblers about London.
Their female companions were to share their fate :

The Turnbull whores cry they are undone,
And must to Virginia pack one by one,
And in truth they'll enrich that beggarly nation,
For never such planters came to a plantation. 1

During 1655 an d 1659, after the Major-Generals
were instituted, activity against these classes of
offenders increased, 2 especially when Jamaica needed
servants as well as Virginia.

Two of the ballads illustrate the social and econo-
mic history of Virginia, and several other colonies,
too. In the seventeenth century emigration in the
case of the labouring classes was usually conducted
under a system of contract. The emigrant under-
took to work for a certain number of years on condi-
tions stated in an indenture. When this was drawn
previous to the departure of the servant from Eng-
land, it named, as the consideration for the right to
his labour, payment of the cost of transportation,

1 Wright, Political Ballads, p. 31.

2 Cf. Middlesex Records, III, 247, 292.


a sufficient quantity of drink, food, and clothing
during the continuation of the term, together with
lodgings and whatever else was thought to be essen-
tial to his livelihood. The development of this
system of ' indented servants ' is carefully traced in
Mr. P. A. Bruce's ' Economic History of Virginia
during the Seventeenth Century/ He points out the
abuses which were incidental to it in spite of all
legislative efforts to prevent them. These abuses
are the subject of the two ballads. ' The Trappan'd
Maiden ' complains not so much of the deceit by
which she was entrapped, as of the hardships she
suffered after she came to Virginia the insufficient
food and clothing, and the severity of the labour
exacted from her by her harsh mistress. The laws
of the colony provided some redress if the servant
was not allowed sufficient food, clothing, and shelter,
or was punished with undue harshness. In one case
a woman who had proved herself a cruel mistress was
forbidden to have servants in her employment in
future. 1 Nevertheless, friendless servants must have
found it difficult to secure redress, and it is clear that
there was some suffering and some oppression.

There was, however, one wrong for which there
was no adequate redress provided the case of the
servant who had been kidnapped or ' trepanned/ and
was shipped to Virginia against his will. There were

1 J. C. Ballagh, White Servitude in the Colony of Virginia
(Johns Hopkins University Studies), 1895, p. 41.


many such, of both sexes, and children were particu-
larly exposed to this form of wrong. The trade was
profitable, for ' a servant might be transported at a
cost of from 6 to 8 and sold for 40 or 60. '
Kidnapping was so frequent that on May Qth, 1645,
the Long Parliament passed an ordinance against
it, stating ' that divers lewd persons do go up and
down the city of London and elsewhere, and in a most
barbarous manner steal away many little children,'
and ordering that all such persons should be punished,
and that ships should be officially searched to re-
lease the victims. The kidnappers were known as
* spirits/ and the phrase to ' spirit away* a person
came into the English language to describe their
work. For a generation after the ordinance of 1645
to accuse a person of being ' a spirit ' was a certain
way to raise a riot in the poorer quarters of London.
As the practice was not effectively suppressed by the
ordinance referred to, a registry office was estab-
lished in 1665, where all persons transported as ser-
vants were to be registered under heavy fines, and
in 1670 death without benefit of clergy was made the
penalty for kidnappers. Probably these measures
put a stop to the practice of kidnapping on any con-
siderable scale, but there were certainly a number of
cases later, 1 and the memory of the practice lingered
in the minds of the people, inspired ballads such as
those printed here, and furnished incidents for popu-

i See Middlesex Records, III, ix, and IV, xli-xlvii.


lar romances. In Defoe's 'Colonel Jack,' published
in 1722, the hero and four other young men, deserters
from a regiment in Scotland, are inveigled on board
a vessel at Newcastle and shipped to serve in Vir-
ginia. In 'The Voyages of Captain Robert Boyle,'
published in 1728, and usually attributed to W. R.
Chetwood, the hero is sent by his wicked uncle with
a message to a ship captain at Gravesend and finds
himself on his way to Charleston as a slave. James
Annesley, whose case created so much popular excite-
ment in 1743, asserted that he had been kidnapped
in this way by his uncle, in order that the uncle might
enjoy his title and estates, and after a trial lasting
seventeen days, obtained a verdict in favour of his
claim. His story was made into a romance called
' Memoirs of an unfortunate young Nobleman re-
turned from a thirteen Years Slavery in America/ 1
The case of Peter Williamson is still more remark-
able; after being kidnapped at Aberdeen about 1740,
he returned to England and published in 1758 an
autobiography entitled ' French and Indian Cruelty
exemplified in the Life and Various Vicissitudes of
Peter Williamson . . . with a curious Discourse on
Kidnapping.' Charged with libelling the Corpora-
tion of Aberdeen, whom he accused of being con-
cerned in the trade, he obtained one verdict against
the Corporation, and another against the kidnappers. 2

1 i2mo, London, 1743. The scene of the young nobleman's
slavery is in this case Pennsylvania, not Virginia, pp. 56-139.

2 Williamson's narrative suggested R. L. Stevenson's Kidnapped.


A much larger class of involuntary emigrants con-
sisted of persons transported by order of the English
Government. Some of them were captives or poli-
tical offenders. A number of the Scottish prisoners
captured by Cromwell at Dunbar were transported to
New England, others, then and later, to the West
Indian Islands; Royalist prisoners, to the number of
seventy or eighty, taken after the rising in the West
of England in 1655, were sent to Barbados. In 1685
about eight hundred of Monmouth's followers were
sentenced to servitude for a term of ten years, some
like John Coad in Jamaica, others like Henry Pitman
in Barbados. Six or seven hundred of the Scots
taken prisoners at Preston in the Jacobite rising of
1715 were transported to the colonies, many, accord-
ing to Defoe's ' Colonel Jack/ to Virginia. 1 But it
is difficult to ascertain the numbers sent to any par-
ticular colony, first because the sentence condemning
a person to transportation frequently omits to define
the place, and secondly because Virginia was loosely
used to signify the American or West Indian colonies
in general. 2 Another class of persons transported

1 See English Historical Review, 1889, p. 335 ; and Bruce,
I, 608-12.

2 * The word " Virginia," used in the English records of this
age as representing the point of destination for shipments of
various kinds from England, was often intended to cover the West
Indies also ' Bruce, I, 610, referring to the period of the Protec-
torate. * Maryland is Virginia, speaking of them at a distance,'
says Defoe, Colonel Jack, p. 193. Phrases such as * Versus Vir-
giniae insulam ' occur in records, Middlesex Records, III, 337.


were religious offenders. By the Conventicle Act of
1664 a person arrested for attending a conventicle
might on the third offence be transported to any of
the King's colonies (Virginia and New England
excepted) for a term of seven years, and numbers of
men and women too poor to escape by paying a fine
were during the reign of Charles II sent to Jamaica
or Barbados. 1 Still more numerous were the ordinary
criminals whose sentences were commuted to trans-
portation, and the vagrants of whom magistrates
sought to relieve the community at the expense of
the colonies. The Government of Virginia protested
against being made a receptacle for such ' base and
lewd ' persons, passed an Act in 1670 against their
introduction, and succeeded in enforcing their exclu-
sion for nearly fifty years. But in 1717 the Govern-
ment of George I passed an Act for the transporta-
tion of criminals which over-rode the colonial law,
and between that date and the beginning of the
American Revolution 2 some thousands of felons must
have been transported.

The novelists and the dramatists of the eighteenth
century occasionally treat of the adventures of a
criminal transported to the colonies for instance,
Defoe in ' Moll Flanders ' (1721) and Gay in ' Polly '
(1729). Another story of the same kind is told in
' The Fortunate Transport; or the Secret History of

1 Middlesex Records, III, xxiii, 341 ; IV, Iviii.

2 Bruce, I, 605 ; Ballogh, p. 37.


the Life and Adventures of the celebrated Polly
Haycock/ This was also the subject of a carica-
ture, published about 1741, representing in various
stages the life of the heroine mentioned. 1 On the
other hand, the ballad writers, so far as it is possible
to generalise from the surviving examples of their
productions, took less interest in the fate of sufferers
of this kind than they had done in the seventeenth
century when the system of transportation began.
It had lost its novelty. Sometimes, however, a
situation arising from it might be utilised for the
sake of the sentimental value it possessed. ' The
Betray 'd Maiden/ for instance, which was printed
early in the nineteenth century, is an eighteenth cen-
tury ballad, modelled perhaps on some seventeenth
century one. ' The Lads of Virginia ' is another
eighteenth century ballad, though, as in the previous
case, a corrupt nineteenth century reprint seems to
be the only version in existence. The American
Revolution put an end to transporting criminals to
America. Botany Bay and Van Dieman's Land
filled their place, and English ballads and street
songs of the early nineteenth century are full of
lamentations over the sufferings of the country
poacher or the London prentices condemned by the
law to transportation for some comparatively trifling
misdemeanour or felony.

i British Museum Catalogue of Satirical Prints, Vol. Ill,
Number 2511.


Come all you gallant poachers that ramble void of

That walk out on a moonlight night with dog and
gun and snare,

The hare and lofty pheasant you have at your com-

Not thinking of your last career upon Van Die-
man's Land.

The first day that we landed upon that fatal shore,
The planters they came round us, there might be

twenty score,
They ranked us up like horses and sold us out of

They yoked us to their ploughs, my boys, to plough

Van Dieman's Land. 1

There are many others of the same kind which
illustrate the persistency of subject and form which
is one of the characteristics of ballad literature.

To return to the eighteenth century ballads re-
printed in this ' Garland/ There is one which illus-
trates incidentally both the political and religious
history of the American colonies, namely, ' The Four
Indian Kings/ It is connected with the conflict
between France and England in America. In that
conflict the Five Nations of the Iroquois were allies
whom English colonial governors were anxious to
gain, and eventually secured. Of these tribes, the
Mohawks were the nearest neighbours of the English
and their best friends. In Queen Anne's reign five

1 Van Dieman's Land. Printed and sold by John Gilbert, Royal
Arcade, Newcastle.


Mohawk chiefs were brought to England by Colonel
Schuyler of New York, ' in order/ says Parkman,
' to impress them with the might and majesty of the
Queen and so dispose them to hold fast to the British
cause/ One died on the way; the rest, on April
iQth, 1710, were presented to Queen Anne. A
narrative of their audience is given in a pamphlet
entitled ' The Four Kings of Canada, being a suc-
cinct account of the four Indian Princes lately
arrived from America/ 1 'They were introduced/
says the pamphlet, ' with the usual ceremonies due
to sovereign heads and their ambassadors/ and
prayed the Queen to protect them against the French
and to drive them out of Canada. According to
Parkman, ' Their presence, and the speech made in
their name before the court, seem to have had no
small effect in drawing attention towards the war in
America, and inclining the Government towards the
proposals ' for an attack on the French dominions
which were then before it. 2 The conquest of Port
Royal and the permanent addition of Acadia to the
British possessions were thus in a way the result of
their visit.

It left its traces in English literature, too. Steele
devoted part of a number of the Toiler to them, 3

1 Printed by John Baker, 1710; reprinted by J. E. Garratt and
Co., London, 1891.

2 Parkman, Half a Century of Conflict, I, 142, ed. 1892.
8 No. 171, May i3th, 1710.


Addison a whole number of the Spectator, 1 and the
suggestion for both papers came from Swift. ' The
Spectator/ Swift informed Stella, * is written by
Steele with Addison's help; 'tis often very pretty.
Yesterday it was made of a noble hint I gave him
long ago for his Tatlers, about an Indian supposed
to write his travels into England. I repent he ever
had it. I intended to have written a book on that
subject. I believe he has spent it all in one paper,
and all the under hints there are mine too.' 2

Addison for it was not Steele who was the author
of the number of the Spectator referred to pro-
fessed to have found a little bundle of papers left by
one of the Indian Kings in his lodgings in Covent
Garden containing ' abundance of very odd observa-
tions ' made by the four during their stay in Great
Britain. Under this mask he gently satirised Eng-
lish politics and manners. Addison's Indian Kings
admired the English ladies from a distance : they
were dazzled by their beauty, amazed by their hair
dressing, and puzzled by their patches. ' As for the
Women of the Country, not being able to talk with
them, we could only make our remarks upon them
at a distance. They let the Hair of their Heads grow
to a great Length : but as the Men make a great
Show with Heads of Hair that are none of their own,
the Women, who they say have very fine Heads of
Hair, tie it up in a Knot, and cover it from being

1 No. 50, April 27th, 1711. 2 Journal to Stella, 28th April, 1711.


seen. The Women look like Angels, and would be
more beautiful than the Sun, were it not for little
black Spots that are apt to break out in their Faces,
and sometimes rise in very odd Figures. I have ob-
served that those little Blemishes wear off very soon;
but when they disappear in one Part of the Face, they
are very apt to break out in another, insomuch that I
have seen a Spot upon the Forehead in the After-
noon, which was upon the Chin in the Morning/

In the ballad the youngest of the Kings is smitten
with love for an English lady, and finds no difficulty
in expressing his passion to her, with the assistance
of an interpreter. It is hinted that his suit would
have been favourably received but for a single
obstacle. The Kings, according to the contem-
porary pamphlet, were not uncomely, and were mag-
nificently dressed. ' As to the Persons of these
Princes, they are well form'd, being of a Stature
neither too high nor too low, but all within an Inch
or two of Six Foot : their Habits are robust, and
their Limbs muscular and well shap'd; they are of
brown Complexions, their Hair black and long, their
Visages are very awful and majestick, and their
Features regular enough, though something of the
austere and sullen; and the Marks with which they
disfigure their Faces, do not seem to carry so much
Terror as Regard with them. The Garments they
wear, are black Wastcoats, Breeches, and Stockings,
with yellow Slippers, and a loose scarlet mantle cast


over them, bound with a Gold Galloon; their hair ty'd
short up, and a Cap something of the Nature of a
Turbant upon their heads.'

The four Kings also showed a marked inclination
to adopt English manners. ' They are generally
affable to all that come to see them, and will not
refuse a Glass of Brandy or strong Liquors from any
hands that offer it ... They feed heartily, and love
our English Beef before all other Victuals that are
provided for 'em; of which they have Variety at the
Charge of the Publick, with the best of Wines; but
they seem to relish our fine pale Ales before the best
French Wines from Burgundy or Champagne/

The one obstacle was their religion, but even on
that point they were compliant, and held out hopes
of being converted. In their address to Queen Anne
they said : ' Since we have been in Alliance with our
Great Queen's Children, we have had some know-
ledge of the Saviour of the World, and have often
been importun'd by the French, both by the Insinua-
tions of their Priests, and by Presents, to come over
to their Interest; but have always esteem'd them
Men of Falsehood. But if our Great Queen will be
pleas'd to send over some Persons to instruct us,
they shall find a most hearty Welcome.' 1

For the young lady in the ballad, who after all was

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Online LibraryC. H. (Charles Harding) FirthAn American garland, being a collection of ballads relating to America, 1563-1759; → online text (page 2 of 6)