Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/317

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WILLIAM PATERSON.


Ill


constituted, on that continent, the most likely means for spreading the gospel among the natives, and as affording facilities for that purpose which could not in any other way be obtained. But it must also be admitted that the scheme, having become a national mania, was not left to work its way by its own in- trinsic merits. The scene of the intended operations became the subject of numberless pamphlets, wherein fancy was much more largely employed than fact. The soil was represented as rich, and teeming with the most luxuriant fertility ; the rivers as full of fish, and their sands sparkling with gold ; the woods smiling in perpetual verdure, at all times ringing with the melody of spring, and loading every breeze that swept over them with the most delightful odoura.

Having completed their preparations, and the public authorities having as- sured them of protection and encouragement, the colony, in presence of the whole city of Edinburgh, which poured out its inhabitants to witness the scene, embarked at Leith, from the roads of which they sailed on the 26th of July, 1698. The fleet consisted of five ships, purchased at Hamburg or Holland for they were refused even the trifling accommodation of a ship of war which was laid up at Burntisland and were named the Caledonia, St Andrew, Unicorn, Dolphin, and Endeavour ; the two last being yachts laden with provisions and military stores. The colony consisted of twelve hundred men ; three hundred of them being young men of the best Scottish families. Among them were also sixty officers who had been thrown out of employment by the peace which had just been concluded, and who carried along with them the troops they had commanded ; all of whom were men who had been raised on their own estates, or on those of their relations. Many soldiers and sailors, whose services had been refused for many more than could be employed had offered themselves- were found hid in the ships, and when ordered ashore, clung to the ropes, im- ploring to be allowed to go with their countrymen without fee or reward. The whole sailed amidst the praises, the prayers, and the tears of relations, friends, and countrymen ; " and neighbouring nations," says Dalrymple, " saw with a mixture of surprise and respect the poorest nation of Europe sending forth the most gallant colony which had ever gone from the old to the new world." The parliament of Scotland met in the same week that the expedition for Darien sailed, and on the 5th of August they presented a unanimous address to the king, requesting that he would be pleased to support the company. The lord president, Sir Hugh Dalrymple, and Sir James Stuart, lord advocate, also drew out memorials to the king in behalf of the company, in which they proved their rights to be irrefragable, on the principles both of constitutional and public law. All this, however, did not prevent orders being sent out by the English ministry to all the English governors in America and the West Indies, to with- hold all supplies from the Scottish colony at Darien, and to have no manner of communication with it, either in one shape or another. Meanwhile, the colony proceeded on its voyage without anything remarkable occurring, and on the 3d of November landed between Portobella and Carthagena, at a place called Acta, where there was an excellent harbour, about four miles from Golden Island. Having obtained the sanction of the natives to settle among them, they proceeded to cut through a peninsula, by which they obtained what they con- ceived to be a favourable site for a city, and they accordingly began to build one, under the name of New Edinburgh. They also constructed a fort in a commanding situation, for the protection of the town and the harbour, which