Front Page Titles (by Subject) A MANIFESTO OF THE LORD PROTECTOR OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, IRELAND, &c. - The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2
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A MANIFESTO OF THE LORD PROTECTOR OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, IRELAND, &c. - John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2 
The Prose Works of John Milton, With a Biographical Introduction by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In Two Volumes (Philadelphia: John W. Moore, 1847). Vol. 2.
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A MANIFESTO OF THE LORD PROTECTOR OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, IRELAND, &c.
PUBLISHED BY CONSENT AND ADVICE OF HIS COUNCIL.
WHEREIN IS SHOWN THE REASONABLENESS OF THE CAUSE OF THIS REPUBLIC AGAINST THE DEPREDATIONS OF THE SPANIARDS.
[written in latin by john milton, and first printed in 1655: translated into english in 1738.]
That the motives whereby we have been lately induced to make an attack upon certain islands in the West Indies, which have been now for some time in the hands of the Spaniards, are exceeding just and reasonable, every one will easily see, who considers in what a hostile manner that king and his subjects have all along, in those parts of America, treated the English nation; which behaviour of theirs as it was very unjust at the beginning, so ever since with the same injustice they have persevered in it, in a direct contrariety to the common law of nations, and to particular articles of alliance made betwixt the two kingdoms.
It must indeed be acknowledged, the English for some years past have either patiently borne with these injuries, or only defended themselves; which may possibly give occasion to some to look upon that late expedition of our fleet to the West Indies, as a war voluntarily begun by us, instead of considering that this war was first begun and raised by the Spaniards themselves, as in reality it will be found to be, and (though this republic have done all that lay in their power to establish peace and commerce in those parts) hitherto kept up and carried on by them with the greatest eagerness.
That the Spaniards themselves are the occasion of this war, will evidently appear to every one who considers how, as oft as they find opportunity, without any just cause, and without being provoked to it by any injury received, they are continually murdering, and sometimes even in cold blood butchering, any of our countrymen in America they think fit; while in the mean time they seize upon their goods and fortunes, demolish their houses and plantations, take any of their ships they happen to meet with in those seas, and treat the sailors as enemies, nay, even as pirates. For they give that opprobious name to all, except those of their own nation, who venture to sail in those seas. Nor do they pretend any other or better right for so doing, than a certain ridiculous gift of the pope on which they rely, and because they were the first discoverers of some parts of that western region: by virtue of which name and title, which they arrogate to themselves, they maintain that the whole power and government of that western world is lodged only in their hands. Of which very absurd title we shall have occasion to speak more fully, when we come to consider the causes assigned by the Spaniards for their thinking themselves at liberty to exercise all sorts of hostilities against our countrymen in America, to such a degree, that whoever are driven upon those coasts by stress of weather or shipwreck, or any other accident, are not only clapt in chains by them as prisoners, but are even made slaves; while they, notwithstanding all this, are so unreasonable as to think, that the peace is broken, and very much violated by the English; and that even in Europe, if they attempt any thing against them in those parts, with a view to make reprisals, and to demand restitution of their goods.
But though the king of Spain’s embassadors in our country, depending on a Spanish faction which had always a very considerable influence in the last king’s council, as well as his father’s, did not scruple to make a great many unreasonable complaints and ridiculous demands upon the most trivial accounts, whenever the English did any thing of this kind; yet those princes, though too much attached to the Spaniards, would by no means have the hands of their subjects bound up, when the Spaniards thought they should have the free use of theirs. On the contrary, they allowed their subjects to repel force by force, and to consider such of the Spaniards, as could not be brought at any rate to keep the peace in those parts, as enemies. So that about the year 1640, when this affair was debated in the last king’s council, and when the Spanish embassador desired that some ships bound for America, lying in the mouth of the river, and just ready to weigh anchor, should be stopt, as being capable of doing mischief to the Spaniards in that part of the world; and when at the same time he refused the English, who asked it of him by some members of the council appointed for that purpose, the privilege of trading to the West Indies, it was nevertheless resolved upon, that these ships should pursue their intended voyage, which accordingly they did.
Thus far the aforesaid princes were not wanting to their subjects, when they made war in those places privately for their own interest, though, by reason of the power of the above-mentioned Spanish faction, they would not espouse their cause publicly, in the way they ought to have done, and in a manner suitable to the ancient glory of the English nation. And certainly, it would have been the most unbecoming and disgraceful thing in the world for us, who by the kind providence of God had in our possession so many ships equipped and furnished with every thing requisite to a war by sea, to have suffered these ships rather to have grown worm-eaten and rot at home for want of use, than to have been employed in avenging the blood of the English, as well as that of the poor Indians, which in those places has been so unjustly, so cruelly, and so often shed by the hands of the Spaniards: since God has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, having determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation. And surely God will one time or other take vengeance on the Spaniards, who have shed so much innocent blood, who have made such terrible havoc among the poor Indians, slain so many thousands of them with the utmost barbarity, done them so many injuries, and harassed and persecuted them in such a miserable manner, whatever time that may happen, and by whose hand soever it may be executed.
But in order to justify our conduct, there is no need of having recourse to the common relation that men have to one another, which is no other than that of brethren, whereby all great and extraordinary wrongs done to particular persons ought to be considered as in a manner done to all the rest of the human race; since their having so often robbed and murdered our own countrymen was cause sufficient of itself, for our having undertaken that late expedition, and has given us abundant reason to avenge ourselves on that people; to pass by at present a great many other reasons, and to take into consideration our own safety for the future, and likewise that of our allies, especially those among them who are of the orthodox religion; and to omit several other causes, whereby we were prompted to this expedition, of which we have no need at present to give a particular enumeration, since our principal design at this time is to declare and show to the world the justice and equity of the thing itself, and not to reckon up all the particular causes of it. And that we may do this with the greater perspicuity, and explain generals by particulars, we must cast our eyes back a little upon things that are past, and strictly examine all the transactions betwixt the English and Spaniards, consider what has been the state of affairs on both sides, so far as may respect the mutual relation of the two kingdoms, both since the first discovery of America, and since the reformation: which two great events, as they happened much about the same time, so they produced every where vast changes and revolutions, especially among the English and Spaniards, who since that time have conducted and managed their affairs in a very different, if not quite contrary, way to what they did formerly. For though the last king and his father, against the will of almost all their subjects, patched up any way two leagues with the Spaniards; yet the different turns of the two nations, proceeding from the difference of their religious principles, and the perpetual dissensions that were in the West Indies, together with the jealousies and suspicions which the Spaniards had all along of the English, (being always mightily afraid of losing their treasures in America,) have not only frustrated all the late attempts made by this commonwealth to obtain a peace upon reasonable and honourable terms, but were likewise the principal reasons why Philip II., in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, broke that ancient league, that had subsisted so long, without any violation, betwixt this nation and his ancestors of the house of Burgundy and Castile; and having made war upon that queen, proposed to subdue this whole nation: which very thing in the year 1588 he attempted with all his might, while in the mean time he was treating about the establishment of a peace; which certainly cannot but be still deeply rooted in the minds of the English, and will not easily be extirpated. And though after that there was some kind of peace and commerce in Europe, (and it was of such sort that no Englishman durst profess his own religion within any part of the Spanish dominions, or have the Holy Bible in his house, or even aboard a ship,) yet in the West Indies the Spaniard from that time has never allowed them either to enjoy peace, or to have the privilege of trading; contrary to what was expressly stipulated concerning both these things in that league of the year 1542, concluded between Henry VIII. king of England, and the emperor Charles V., in which peace and free commerce were expressly established between these two princes and their people, through every part of their respective dominions, through all their ports and territories, without any exception of the West Indies, which was then subject to that emperor.
But as to that article, of a peace to be maintained on the part of both nations through all the countries of the world; this is indeed plainly contained in all the treaties of peace that were ever betwixt them, nor is there any exception relating to commerce in any of these treaties, till that which was made in the year 1604, with which that in the year 1630 does perfectly agree. In which two last treaties it was resolved upon, that both nations should have a privilege of trading in every part of one another’s dominions, in all those places, where, before the war between Philip II. king of Spain, and Elizabeth queen of England, there was any commerce, according to what was usual and customary in ancient alliances and treaties made before that time. These are the very individual words of those treaties, which do plainly leave the matter dubious and uncertain, and so King James was satisfied to make peace with Spain any how, since he only renewed the very same treaty which had been concluded a little before the death of Queen Elizabeth, who charged her deputies when it was in agitation, among other things, to insist warmly on having a privilege of trading to the West Indies.
But King James, who was mightily desirous of making peace with the Spaniards, was content to leave that clause so expressed, as both parties might explain it their own way, and as they judged would be most for their own advantage; though these words, “According to what is usual and customary in ancient alliances and treaties,” are so to be understood as it is reasonable they should, according to what in justice ought to be done, and not according to what has been done on the part of the Spaniards, to their manifest violation, (which has afforded perpetual matter of complaint to the English, and has been an occasion of continual quarrels betwixt the two nations,) it is most evident from the express words of ancient treaties, that the English had a privilege both of peace and commerce, through all the Spanish dominions.
Moreover, if the way of observing ancient treaties and agreements is to be taken from their manifest violation, the Spaniards have some pretence for explaining that clause, in the last treaties, as debarring the English from all manner of commerce in these parts. And for all that, during one half the time that intervened betwixt the foresaid treaty in the year 1542, and the beginning of the war betwixt Philip II, and Elizabeth, so far as we can judge from the manner in which things were carried on, it would appear that trading in these places was as much allowed as prohibited. But when the Spaniards would permit no commerce at all, they and the English came from the exchange of goods to that of blows and wounds; and this not only before the war broke out betwixt Philip and Elizabeth, but likewise after a peace was made in the year 1604 by King James, and another by his son in 1630, and yet so as not to stop the course of trade through Europe. However, the king of Spain, after this late interruption of our trade, has now judged that the contests in America may be extended to Europe itself.
But we neither insist on the interpretation of treaties, nor the right of commerce by virtue of these treaties, or on any other account, as if this contest of ours with Spain were necessarily to be founded on these. This is built on the clearest and most evident reasons in the world, as will presently appear. Nevertheless, there are some things of such a nature, that though it be not so necessary to found a war upon them, yet they may very justly be obstacles to the establishing of a peace, or at least to the renewing of an alliance, in which these things are not granted, which have either been granted in former pactions, or may reasonably be requested. And this may serve as an answer to that question; Why, since we have renewed the ancient treaties we had formerly made with all other nations, we have not done the same with Spain? And may serve to convince the world, that in the articles of alliance we have not, as is objected, demanded his right eye, far less both eyes, by our refusing to be liable to the cruel and bloody inquisition in those places where we have been allowed to traffic, but have only insisted upon having such a privilege of carrying on trade, as we were not to be deprived of, either by ancient treaties, or the law of nature. For though the king of Spain has assumed to himself a power of prescribing us the laws and bounds of commerce, by authority of a law made by the pope, whereby he discharges all traffic with Turks, Jews, and other infidels:* and though under this pretence, even in time of peace, his ships of war, in other places besides the West Indies, have taken and plundered our ships; and though by the same authority of the pope, and under pretence of a certain gift he has from him, he claims the Indians for his subjects, as if forsooth they also were subject unto him, who are neither under his authority nor protection: yet we maintain, that neither the pope nor the king of Spain is invested with any such power, as either to rob them of their liberty, or us of the privilege of conversing and trading with them, which we have by the law of nature and nations, but especially with those who, as we formerly observed, are not under the power and government of the king of Spain.
Another obstacle to our renewing an alliance with Spain is sufficiently manifest, and at the same time very remarkable; which is this, that any of our embassadors and public ministers who are sent into that kingdom, either for the sake of cultivating a good understanding, or about any other business, betwixt the two commonwealths, are altogether uncertain of their lives, the king being tied down to such opinions, as hinder him from providing for their safety against murderers, so as they may not be always in the most imminent danger; whose privileges, in order to keep up and preserve friendship between princes and commonwealths, have by the law of nations been always considered as inviolable, and as a thing much more sacred than those altars of refuge, whose privileges, built on the authority of the pope and the church of Rome, have been hitherto applied to elude the force of laws and justice, which we demanded should be put in execution against the murderers of Mr. Anthony Ascham, who was sent by this republic into Spain, to procure and establish friendship betwixt the two nations. For which barbarous murder there has never yet been any satisfaction made, nor punishment inflicted on the authors of it, nor could this ever be obtained, though it was demanded by the parliament;† and in their name several times urged with the greatest warmth by the council of state. And this has been hitherto one continued obstacle, and a very just one too, to the renewing of an alliance betwixt the two nations; nay, if we consider how other nations have frequently acted in like cases, it may be considered as a very just cause for a war.
But as to the disputes that have arisen in the West Indies, though we, both in the continent itself, and in the islands, have plantations as well as they, and have as good, nay, a better right to possess them, than the Spaniards have to possess theirs, and though we have a right to trade in those seas, equally good with theirs; yet without any reason, or any damage sustained, and that when there was not the least dispute about commerce, they have been continually invading our colonies in a hostile way, killing our men, taking our ships, robbing us of our goods, laying waste our houses and fields, imprisoning and enslaving our people: this they have been doing all along till these present times, wherein they have of late engaged in an expedition against them.
For which reason, contrary to what used to be done formerly in the like case, they have detained our ships and merchants, and confiscated their goods almost every where through the Spanish dominions: so that whether we turn our eyes to America or Europe, they alone are undoubtedly to be considered as the authors of the war, and the cause of all the inconveniences and all the bloodshed with which it may possibly be attended.
There are a great many instances of the most cruel and barbarous treatment, the English have perpetually met with from the Spaniards in the West Indies; and that even in time of peace, both since the year 1604, when the peace was patched up by King James, till the time that the war broke out again, and since that last peace, which was concluded in the year 1630, to this very day. We shall only mention a few of them.*
After a peace was concluded in the year 1605, a ship called the Mary, Ambrose Birch commander, was trading on the north coast of Hispaniola: the master being allured with promises of a safe and free commerce, by one father John and six of his accomplices, to go ashore to see some goods, twelve Spaniards in the mean time while going aboard to see the English goods, while the English suspecting no frauds were showing them their wares, the priest giving a signal from the shore, the Spaniards every man drew his dagger, and stabbed all the English that were in the ship, except two who leaped into the sea, and the rest ashore were put to death with an unparalleled cruelty; the master himself stript of his clothes, and fastened to a tree, was exposed naked to be bit by the flies and vermin. And after he had continued in this miserable case for the space of twenty hours, a negro hearing his groans came to the place, and as he was just on the point of expiring, stabbed him with a spear. This ship with her goods was valued at £5400.
Another ship called the Archer was taken at St. Domingo, and all the sailors put to death. She was reckoned worth £1300.
Another ship, called the Friendship of London, with her loading, was taken by Lodowic Fajard, admiral of the Spanish fleet, all her goods confiscated, and the merchants and mariners thrown into the sea, except one boy who was reserved for a slave. This ship with her loading was estimated at £1500.
The sailors going ashore out of another ship, called the Scorn, (the Spaniards having solemnly sworn they would do them no prejudice,) were all nevertheless bound to trees, and strangled. The ship with all her goods was seized, and the merchants, to whom she belonged, lost at this time £1500.
In the year 1606, a ship called the Neptune, was taken at Tortuga, by the Spanish guarda costas, valued at £4300.*
The same year, another ship, called the Lark, was taken by Lodowic Fajard, and confiscated with all her loading, valued at £4570.
Another, called the Castor and Pollux, was taken by the Spaniards at Florida, by whom she was confiscated, and all her sailors either killed or made slaves; for they were never heard of afterwards. This vessel with her loading was valued at £15000.†
In the year 1608, a Plymouth ship called the Richard, commanded by Henry Challins, fitted out at the expense of Lord Popham, lord chief justice of England, Ferdinand Gorges knight, and others, to go to Virginia, happening to be driven by stress of weather upon the southern part of the Canary islands, in her way from thence to the coast of Virginia, she chanced to fall in with eleven Spanish ships returning from St. Domingo, who seized her; and though the captain, to rescue himself out of their hands, produced a royal passport, yet the ship with all her goods was confiscated, the captain himself barbarously used by them and sent to the galleys. This was a damage of more than £2500.
A ship, called the Aid, was served much the same way by Lodowic Fajard, having been taken under pretence of friendship; she too with her goods was confiscated, and all the sailors sent to the galleys, where some were cudgelled to death for refusing to ply the oars. Which vessel with her goods, by the Spaniards’ own estimation, was worth £7000.
The same year another ship, called the Gallant Anne, William Curry commander, as she was trading at Hispaniola, was likewise confiscated with all her goods, and all the sailors hanged; each of them, by way of ridicule, having a piece of paper sewed to his coat, which had these words written upon it, “Why came ye hither?” This ship with her burden was valued at £8000. These instances do sufficiently show what kind of peace the Spaniards maintained with us during the reign of King James, who was always very much afraid of breaking the peace with them. And we may also plainly discover the same acts of hostility and barbarous treatment ever since the last peace, which was made in the year 1630, to this very day. For this end we will first speak a little of those colonies, that were planted by some noblemen of this nation, in the isle of Catelina, which they call the isle of Providence, and the island of Tortuga, by them called the island of Association. These islands about the year 1629, being then quite uninhabited, having neither men nor cattle in them, were seized by the English, who at that time were at war with the Spaniards. The year following, when peace was established betwixt the two nations, the Spaniards having made no exception about these islands, King Charles, in a charter under the great seal of England, declared himself master of the isle of Providence and some other islands adjacent to it, which he thought no way inconsistent with his peace, and gave them in possession to some noblemen and their heirs, and next year he extended this grant to the isle of Tortuga.
And though the above-mentioned planters had got possession of these islands by the king’s grant, and though this grant was exceeding well founded, first on the law of nature, since neither the Spaniards, nor any other people whatever, were in possession of these places when they seized them; and secondly, on the right of war, since they were taken possession of in time of war, and were not excepted in the articles of peace, whence it follows from the second article of the last treaty, that the title of the Spaniards to these islands (even supposing they had had one) was made null by their own consent: and though likewise, neither the aforesaid company of planters in general, nor any one of them in particular by any action of theirs, had given any just cause of offence, either to the king of Spain or to any of his subjects, till they had first in a violent manner attacked our ships and colonies, and had slain several of the English, and set fire to their houses: yet the Spaniards, being firmly resolved to break the peace in these places, about the twenty-second of January 1632, without any the least provocation, betwixt the isle of Tortuga and the cape of Florida, in a hostile manner fell upon a certain ship belonging to the company, called the Sea-Flower, on her return from the isle of Providence, in which engagement they slew some of the men aboard that ship, and wounded others.
After this, about the year 1634, the isle of Tortuga was attacked by four ships belonging to the Spaniards, without any injury done on the part of the English, in which attack upwards of sixty were slain, many wounded and taken prisoners, their houses burnt down and quite demolished, their most valuable goods carried off by the Spaniards, and the English almost wholly driven out of that island; of whom some were hanged, others carried to the Havanna, and detained in the most abject slavery. One Grymes, who had been a gunner in Tortuga, was distinguished from the rest, by a death remarkably cruel. Some of them flying for refuge to a certain desert island called Santa Cruz, were again set upon by the Spaniards, who even pursued them thither with three galleys in the month of March 1636, of whom forty were killed, and the rest taken prisoners, and used with the utmost barbarity.
In the year 1635, July 24th, the Spaniards, with two great ships and one galley, made likewise an attack upon the isle of Providence, and they fought for several hours, but at that time they were repulsed and forced to give over their enterprise. However, they attempted the same thing a second time, about the year 1640, with twelve ships, some large, and some of a lesser size, whereof the admiral’s ship was called the Armadillo of Carthagena, one of the greater galleys of the royal plate-fleet, and having sent a great number of soldiers ashore, they were confident of making themselves masters of the whole island; but yet were repulsed with a great deal of damage, and forced to retreat. Nevertheless, having equipped another fleet, they returned a little after, when the planters, at variance among themselves, did not so much employ their thoughts about what method they should take to defend themselves, as about the terms upon which they might most advantageously surrender; which terms, upon their giving up the island, they found no difficulty to obtain. But the island was by this means wrested out of the hands both of the planters and the commonwealth, of whom the former sustained the loss of more than £80,000, and the latter, besides the loss of the island, hereby received a very open and public affront. After the Spaniards had thus made themselves masters of the isle of Providence, a ship bringing some passengers hither, who wanted to transport themselves to this place from New-England, the Spaniards by stratagem having found means to get her brought within gun-shot, (the people in the ship knowing nothing of their late conquest of that island,) she was in great danger of being taken, and with very much difficulty rescued herself; the master of the ship, a very honest and worthy man, was killed by a bullet-shot from the island.
Nor were the Spaniards content to confine the acts of hostility, which they have exercised upon the people of that colony, within the boundaries of America, but have also treated them in the same hostile manner in Europe. For in the year 1638, December 25th, a ship belonging to that same company, called the Providence, Thomas Newman commander, two leagues from Dungeness on the very coast of England, was assaulted and taken by Sprengfeld, captain of a privateer belonging to Dunkirk, to which place this ship was brought, and her cargo detained, which even by the computation of many persons in that place, was reckoned to amount to the sum of £30,000. As for the sailors, some were slain, some wounded, and the rest, after having been treated with the greatest inhumanity in their own ship, were hurried away to Dunkirk, where they met with much the same usage, till they found some way to make their escape; and though the owners demanded satisfaction in the most earnest manner, and the last king by his resident Mr. Balthaser Gerber, and both by letters written with his own hand, and the hand of secretary Coke, asked reparation on their behalf; yet they could neither procure the restitution of their goods, nor the least compensation for these losses.
But there are other examples of the Spanish cruelty, which are of a later date, and still more shocking; such as that of their coming from Porto-Rico and attacking Santa Cruz about the year 1651, an island that was not formerly inhabited, but at that time possessed by an English colony governed by Nicol. Philips, who with about an hundred more of the colony was barbarously murdered by the hands of the Spaniards, who besides this attacked the ships in the harbour, plundered their houses and razed them from the very foundation; and when they could find no more to sacrifice to their fury, (the rest of the inhabitants having fled to the woods,) returning to Porto-Rico, they gave the miserable remnant, who were well nigh famished, time to remove from Santa Cruz, and to betake themselves to some other neighbouring islands. But a little time thereafter, they returned in quest and pursuit of those who skulked in the woods; but they had the good fortune to find a way of making their escape, and stealing away privately to other islands.
In the same year 1631, a ship belonging to John Turner being driven into the harbour of Cumanagola by tempestuous winds, was seized by the governor of that place, and confiscated with all her lading.
The same was done to captain Cranley’s ship and her goods.*
And in the year 1650, a certain vessel pertaining to Samuel Wilson, loaden with horses, was taken on the high seas in her way to Barbadoes, and carried to the Havanna. Both the ship and her goods were confiscated, most of the sailors imprisoned, and like slaves obliged to work at the fortifications.
The same hardships were endured by the sailors aboard a certain ship of Barnstable about two years since, which in her return from some of our plantations in the Carribee islands, springing a leak hard by Hispaniola, the sailors to save themselves, being obliged to get into the long boat, got ashore, where they were all made slaves, and obliged to work at the fortications.
By these, and many more examples of the same kind too long to be reckoned up, it is abundantly evident, the king of Spain and his subjects think they are no way bound by any condition of peace to be performed to us on their part in these places, since they have habitually exercised all sorts of hostilities against us, nay have even done such things as are more insufferable, and more grievous, than open acts of hostility; and since that cruelty, with which they usually treat the English in America, is so contrary to the articles of peace, that it does not so much as seem suitable to the laws of the most bloody war: however, in that embargo of the king of Spain, by which he orders our merchant ships and their goods to be seized and confiscated, the whole blame is laid upon the English, whom he brands with the odious names of treaty-breakers and violators of the most sacred peace, and likewise of free commerce, which he pretends to have so religiously maintained on his part, and gives out that we have violated the laws of peace and commerce with such strange and professed hostility, that we attempted to besiege the town of St. Domingo in the isle of Hispaniola. Which is the only cause he offers, why the goods of the English are confiscated in Spain, and the trading people confined; though this is likewise aggravated by his boasted humanity; for he maintains that he in the most friendly way received our fleets into his harbours,† where it could be of any advantage for them to enter, and that his ministers did not at all require of us a strict observance of the articles of peace, that were agreed to by the two crowns, which forbid both parties to enter a harbour with more than six or eight ships of war.
But as he, by talking in this strain, acquits our fleets of all trespasses and violations of treaty in these harbours, since if any such thing as is objected has been done and passed over, it has been done by the allowance of himself and his ministers; and as it is exceeding manifest, that he has not been so favourable for nought, if he will but reflect with himself what vast profits he has received from our fleets, so on the other hand, that the king and his ministers have not at all in fact observed the agreements he speaks of, in the twenty-third article of which, the following provision is made in the most express terms; “That if any differences should happen to arise betwixt the two commonwealths, the subjects on both sides should be advertised, that they should have six months from the time of the advertisement to transport their effects, during which time there should be no arrest, interrupting, or damaging, of any man’s person or goods.” In which affair, the king truly has shown but very little regard to those contracts, which he charges us with having broken, as appears from that late confiscation of our goods. But what he declares in that edict concerning the acts of hostility committed in the West Indies, their being to be considered as a violation of peace and free commerce in these parts, is a new and quite different explanation from what has ever been propounded hitherto by either of the two republics, though both parties have frequently had occasions to declare their judgment about this matter.
But seeing the king of Spain has declared both by word and deed, that the articles of peace ought to be thus understood, it follows, that by so many acts of hostility committed against the English in these parts, and which first began on his side, and have been continued from the very time of the last concluded treaty, as was formerly observed, to this very day; hence I say it follows, that he seems to be convinced, that the sacred bonds of friendship have been first broken on his side. Which thing is so clear and manifest, that our adversaries themselves in this controversy are ashamed to deny the fact, and choose rather to dispute with us concerning the right of possession; which must be in the following manner: as the king of Spain, among his other titles, has assumed that of king of the Indies, so they affirm, that the whole Indies and Indian sea, both south and north, belong to him, and that they are all enemies and pirates, who approach these places without his commission. Which if it were true, both we and all other nations ought to leave and restore to him all our possessions there, and having brought back whatever colonies we have sent thither, should beg his pardon for the injury we have done him; but if we consider a little more narrowly the truth and reasonableness of this title, we shall find that it is built upon a very slender and weak foundation, to have such a vast pile of war and contentions erected upon it, as the present is likely to be. They pretend to have a double title, one founded upon the pope’s gift, and another upon their having first discovered those places. As to the first, we know the pope has been always very liberal in his gifts of kingdoms and countries, but in the mean time we cannot but think, that in so doing, he acts in a very different manner from him, whose vicar he professes himself, who would not so much as allow himself to be appointed a judge in the dividing of inheritances, far less give any one whole kingdoms at his pleasure, like the pope, who has thought fit to make a present of England, Ireland, and some other kingdoms.
But we deny his being invested with any such authority, nor do we think there is any nation so void of understanding, as to think that so great power is lodged in him, or that the Spaniards would believe this or acquiesce in it, if he should require them to yield up as much as he has bestowed. But if the French and others, who acknowledge the pope’s authority in ecclesiastical matters, have no regard to this title of the Spaniards, it cannot be expected we should think of it any other wise. And so we leave this point, as not deserving a fuller answer.
Nor is the other title of any greater weight, as if the Spaniards in consequence of their having first discovered some few parts of America, and given names to some islands, rivers, and promontories, had for this reason lawfully acquired the government and dominion of that new world. But such an imaginary title founded on such a silly pretence, without being in possession, cannot possibly create any true and lawful right. The best right of possession in America is that which is founded on one’s having planted colonies there, and settled in such places as had either no inhabitants, or by the consent of the inhabitants, if there were any; or at least, in some of the wild and uncultivated places of their country, which they were not numerous enough to replenish and improve; since God has created this earth for the use of men, and ordered them to replenish it throughout.
If this be true, as the Spaniards will be found to hold their possessions there very unjustly, having purchased all of them against the will of the inhabitants, and as it were plucked them out of their very bowels, having laid the foundations of their empire in that place, in the blood of the poor natives, and rendered several large islands and countries, that were in a tolerable case when they found them, so many barren desarts, and rooted out all the inhabitants there; so the English hold their possessions there by the best right imaginable, especially those islands where the Spaniards have fallen upon their colonies, and quite demolished them; which islands had no other inhabitants at all, or if they had, they were all slain by the Spaniards who had likewise deserted these places, and left them without any to improve or cultivate them: so that by the law of nature and nations they belong to any who think fit to take possession of them, according to that common and well-known maxim in law, “Such things as belong to none, and such as are abandoned by their former possessors, become his property who first seizes them.” Although, granting that we had beat the Spaniards out of those places where we have planted our colonies, out of which they had at first expelled the inhabitants, we should have possessed them with better right, as the avengers of the murder of that people, and of the injuries sustained by them, than the Spaniards their oppressors and murderers. But since we have settled our colonies in such places as were neither possessed by the natives nor the Spaniards, they having left behind them neither houses nor cattle, nor any thing that could by any means keep up the right of possession, the justness of our title to these places was so much the more evident, and the injuries done us by the Spaniards so much the more manifest, especially our right to those places that were seized while the two nations were at war with each other, such as the isles of Providence and Tortuga, which if the Spaniards could have shown to be theirs by any former title which they have not yet produced, yet since they have not done it in the last treaty of peace, by the second article of this treaty, they have for the future cut themselves off from all such pretence, and if they had any right, have now lost it. It is unnecessary to talk any further upon this argument.
There is no intelligent person but will easily see how empty and weak those reasons are, that the Spaniard has for claiming to himself alone an empire of such a vast and prodigious extent. But we have said this much, in order to show the weakness of those pretences, whereby the Spaniards endeavour to justify themselves for having treated us with so much cruelty and barbarity in the West Indies, for having enslaved, hanged, drowned, tortured, and put to death our countrymen, robbed them of their ships and goods, and demolished our colonies, even in the time of profound peace, and that without any injury received on their part: which cruel usage and havoc, made among our people, and such as were of the same orthodox faith with them, as oft as the English call to remembrance, they cannot miss to think that their former glory is quite gone, and their ships of war become entirely useless, if they suffer themselves to be any longer treated in such a disgraceful manner: and moreover, to be not only excluded from all free commerce in so great and opulent a part of the world, but likewise to be looked upon as pirates and robbers, and punished in the same manner as they, if they presume to sail those seas, or so much as look that way: or, in fine, have any intercourse or dealing even with their own colonies that are settled there.
Concerning the bloody Spanish inquisition we shall say nothing, this being a controversy common to all protestants, nor shall we speak of the many seminaries of English priests and Jesuits nestling under the protection of the Spaniards, which is a perpetual cause of stumbling, and very great danger to the commonwealth; since what we principally propose is, to show the grounds and reasons of the controversies in the West Indies, and we are confident we have made it plain to all, who weigh things fairly and impartially, that necessity, honour, and justice, have prompted us to undertake this late expedition. First, we have been prompted to it by necessity; it being absolutely necessary to go to war with the Spaniards, since they will not allow us to be at peace with them: and then honour, and justice, seeing we cannot pretend to either of these, if we sit still and suffer such unsufferable injuries to be done our countrymen, as those we have shown to have been done them in the West Indies.
And truly they see but a very little way, who form their notion of the designs and intentions of the Spaniards, according to that friendly aspect, with which the present declension of their affairs has obliged them to look upon us in these parts of the world, (that face which they have put on being only a false one,) for it is certain they have the same mind, and the very same desires, which they had in the year 1588, when they endeavoured to subdue this whole island; nay, it is certain their hatred is more inflamed, and their jealousies and suspicions more increased by this change of the state of our affairs, and of the form of our republic. But if we omit this opportunity, which by reason of some things that have lately happened, may perhaps give us an occasion to fall upon some way, whereby through the assistance of God we may provide for our safety, against this old and implacable enemy of our religion and country; it may happen, he will recover such a degree of strength, as will render him as formidable and hard to be endured as before. One thing is certain, he always will and cannot but have the greatest indignation against us. Meanwhile, if we suffer such grievous injuries to be done our countrymen in the West Indies, without any satisfaction or revenge; if we suffer ourselves to be wholly excluded from that so considerable a part of the world; if we suffer our malicious and inveterate enemy (especially now, after he has made peace with the Dutch) to carry off without molestation, from the West Indies, those prodigious treasures, whereby he may repair his present damages, and again bring his affairs to such a prosperous and happy condition, as to deliberate with himself a second time, what he was thinking upon in the year 1588; namely, whether it would be more adviseable to begin with subduing England, in order to recover the United Provinces, or with them, in order to reduce England under his subjection: without doubt he will not find fewer, but more, causes why he should begin with England. And if God should at any time permit those intentions of his to have their desired effect, we have good ground to expect, that the residue of that cruel havoc, he made among our brethren at the foot of the Alps, will be first exercised upon us, and after that upon all protestants; which, if we may give credit to the complaints that were made by those poor orthodox Christians, was first designed and contrived in the court of Spain, by those friars whom they call missionaries.
All these things being considered, we hope the time will come, when all, but especially true Englishmen, will rather lay aside their private animosities among themselves, and renounce their own proper advantages, than through an excessive desire of that small profit to be made by trading to Spain, (which cannot be obtained but upon such conditions as are dishonourable and in some sort unlawful, and which may likewise be got some other way,) expose, as they now do, to the utmost danger, the souls of many young traders, by those terms upon which they now live and trade there, and suffer the lives and fortunes of many Christian brethren in America, and in fine, the honour of this whole nation, to be exposed, and, what of all is the most momentous and important, let slip out of their hands the most notable opportunities of promoting the glory of God, and enlarging the bounds of Christ’s kingdom: which, we do not doubt, will appear to be the chief end of our late expedition into the West Indies against the Spaniards, to all who are free of those prejudices which hinder people from clearly discerning the truth.
[* ]William Stephens of Bristol and some other London merchants, in the years 1606 and 1607, trading with those people who live on the coast of Morocco, with three vessels, some ships belonging to the king of Spain that were pirating along these coasts, having come upon them in the bay of Saffia and the harbour of Santa Cruz, while they were lying at anchor, plundered them, without giving any other reason for their doing it, than this, that the king their master would not allow of any commerce with infidels: and the loss these merchants sustained at that time was computed at more than £2000.
[† ]This is evident from the parliament’s letter, signed by the hand of the Speaker, to the King of Spain, in the month of January, 1650, the words whereof are as follow—“We demand of your majesty, and insist upon it, that public justice be at length satisfied for the barbarous murder of Anthony Ascham our resident at your court, and the rather, that after we have seen condign punishment inflicted on the authors of such a detestable crime, we may be in no fear hereafter to send our embassador to your royal court, to lay before you such things as may be equally advantageous to your majesty and our commonwealth. On the contrary, if we should suffer that blood, the shedding whereof was a thing in many respects so remarkably horrible, to pass unrevenged, we must of necessity be partakers in that detestable crime in the sight of God, our only deliverer and the eternal fountain of our mercies, and in the eye of the whole English nation; especially if ever we should send any other of our countrymen into that kingdom, where murder is allowed to go quite unpunished. But we have so great an opinion of your majesty, that we will not easily be brought to believe that your royal authority is subjected to any other power superior to it within your own dominions.”
[* ]As a ship called the Ulysses was trading along the coast of Guiana, the merchants and sailors happened to go ashore, by the persuasion of Berry, governor of that place, who had promised, nay, even sworn that they should receive no hurt; nevertheless there were thirty of them taken and committed to prison. Upon which the governor writes a letter to the merchant, acquainting him, that he had indeed taken thirty of his men, and that because some foreigners, who had come there to trade with them, had defrauded him of 20,000 ducats, which, if he would send him, he swore he would restore all his men, and allow him the liberty of commerce. The merchant sent him the sum he demanded, part in ready money, part in goods, which after the governor had received, he ordered all the thirty men to be fastened to trees and strangled, except the chirurgeon, who was reserved, to cure the governor of a certain disease. This ransom, together with other damages sustained there, was computed at £7000.
[* ]John Davis lost two ships with all their goods, and the Spaniards slew all the men that were aboard of them, to the entire loss of that voyage, and this was computed at £3500.
[† ]Another ship belonging to some London merchants, John Lock commander, was taken by the Spanish fleet, at the isle of Tortuga, because she had been trading there, and had felled some trees; for this she was confiscated, most of the sailors put to death and the rest condemned to the galleys. This was esteemed a loss of £5300.
[* ]And also to one belonging to John Bland, commanded by Nichol. Philips, in the very same harbour.
[† ]But Swanley, our admiral, was not so civilly treated in Sicily, in the harbour of Drepano, when in the year 1653, about the month of June, his ship called the Henry Bonaventure, together with a large and very rich Dutch ship called the Peter, which he had taken, was by the treachery of the Spanish governor in that place, taken by seven Dutch ships, under the command of the younger Trump in the very harbour, no further than a small gun’s shot from the bulwarks, whereby the merchants, to whom that ship belonged, lost more than £63,000.