Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/139

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Scientific Literature.


There is no form of literature that has been more affected by the modern scientific spirit than history. Readers who are familiar with the writings of our earlier historians, even to the time of Bancroft, have found that the stories of the Discovery of America, of the Beginnings of New England, and of the Revolutionary War, as told by Professor Fiske, were full of freshness and novelty, taking hold of one in a way not felt before. The countless details of these respective periods under Fiske's philosophic treatment are found to have acquired an absorbing human interest. In tracing effects to causes and showing the successive stages in the progress of events, new meanings are perceived and new emotions awakened, and the period we are studying becomes a part of "the solemn work of ages, which is slowly winning for humanity a richer and more perfect life."

While each of Fiske's histories deals with a period that can be studied by itself as an epoch in human experience, the several works constitute a carefully planned series, and Old Virginia and her Neighbors[1] falls at once into its place between the Discovery of America and the Beginnings of New England. The story of Old Virginia begins with Sir Walter Raleigh and the Rev. Richard Hackluyt, near the close of the sixteenth century, and ends in 1753 with the expedition of the "youthful George Washington to warn the approaching Frenchmen from any further encroachment upon English soil." On March 25, 1584, was sealed the document that empowered Raleigh to "hold by homage remote heathen lands not actually possessed by any Christian prince, nor inhabited by Christian people, which he might discover within the next six years." The wealthy Raleigh, without delay, sent out two ships, which reached what is now known as North Carolina on July 4, 1584, and after a run of a hundred miles northward their commanders landed at Roanoke Island. The next year Raleigh sent out a hundred men to make the beginnings of a settlement at this island, which Queen Elizabeth suggested should be called Virginia, in honor of herself. But Raleigh's Virginia extended from Florida (held by Spain) to Canada (in the hands of the French). The first charter, issued by James I in 1606, limited Virginia within the thirty-fourth and forty-fifth parallels of latitude, and from the seashore a hundred miles inland. Three years later-a second charter made the hundred miles inland reach "from sea to sea." In 1609 New England and New Netherlands were cut off from Virginia; in 1632 Maryland became a separate palatinate; in 1663 Carolina, and in 1732 Georgia, were also detached from the original tract.

The preliminary chapter is entitled the Sea Kings, and it closes with the destruction of Spain's naval power by the catastrophe of 1588, when England snatched from Spain the sovereignty of the seas, and determined to begin the work of settlement in America, hoping to find mines of wealth like those Mexico and Peru had supplied that power; Chapter II, A Discourse on Western Planting; III, The Land of the Powhatans; IV, The

  1. Old Virginia and her Neighbors. By John Fiske. In two volumes. Cambridge: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., The Riverside Press.