The Literature of JustificationHistory on Trial Main Page

AboutPapacyNew SpainRoanokeNewfoundlandJamestownPennsylvaniaSupreme Court

Jamestown - Essays >> Essay: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

"They inuite vs, and vse vs well": William Crashaw's Arguments for Conversion and Colonization in Virginia in A Sermon Preached in London

by Elizabeth Wiggins

with comments by Edward J. Gallagher, Christina M. Hoffmann, Kate Lehnes, Karen B. Manahan, and Elizabeth Vogtsberger

(1) William Crashaw's A Sermon Preached in London before the Right Honorable Lord La Warre, Lord Gouenour and Captaine Generall of Virginea, and others of his Maiesties Counsell for that Kingdome, and the rest of the Aduenturers in that Plantation given for the Virginia Company on February 21, 1610, is one of the most compelling pieces of rhetoric in support of the English colonization effort in Jamestown. While the Virginia Company itself was a joint-stock commercial enterprise, during the 1609/1610 promotional appeals to gain both support and adventurers for the colony, the company itself used a series of interested (and, at times, both monetarily and spiritually invested) preachers to help reach potential supporters of the settlement in Virginia. Crashaw's sermon was preached in the wake of various mishaps related to the Jamestown settlement, including the shipwreck of the fleet of ships that were to carry Thomas Gates and others in possession of the second Jamestown charter to the colony. Crashaw's sermon was intended to maintain support for the colony as well as garner support for the journey of Lord de la Warre that would bring new settlers and government to the colony (Parker 263). The sermon was first preached before Lord de la Warre, who would go on to be the "Generale of Virginea," but who would also return to London ill after a seemingly brief stay in the Jamestown settlement [comment1].

(2) The historical facts of Lord de la Warre's Jamestown experience aside, Crashaw's sermon is a capstone of the arguments for investments, monetary, spiritual, and physical in the Jamestown settlement and the Virginia Company. Louis B. Wright observes that the arguments of other preachers working for the Virginia Company, especially Symonds, are echoed in A Sermon Preached in London (100) [comment2]. The print version, which appeared later in 1610, bears the endorsement of an "L.D." who may be Lord De La Warre himself or another party, whom H.C. Porter suggests could be a man named Leonard Digges and who commissioned the printing without Crashaw's endorsement (Porter 362). In either case, Lord De La Warre's presence at the sermon's delivery and (possible) endorsement of the text provide the audience with the necessary authentication of English endeavors abroad. Crashaw uses his authoritative (and authorized) voice to lead his audience through an argument about the religious duty and purpose of the Jamestown settlement (i.e. converting the Indians, dispelling the devil, spreading God's kingdom) that matures into an argument about the necessity of expanding the personal glory of the English people and nation into the international and historical spheres. Throughout, the discourses of religion and the fulfillment of the English people's spiritual and national destinies are interwoven with the language of exchange, colonization, and expansion.

(3) Crashaw's logic in the sermon is nearly air-tight and the organization of the sermon leads his audience through the various arguments for colonization and expansion of England in the New World. Regardless of his rhetoric, the counter-arguments or objections he addresses, or the enemies to the project that Crashaw lists, one of the most important elements of his sermon is that the discourse always circles back to the justification of the colonial project and the good that can come of English expansion abroad. By studying Crashaw's language throughout the sermon, one may assume that his audience was largely composed of members of English society with the means to support the Virginia Company financially or with man-power. Thomas Scanlan notes that Crashaw's sermon was probably delivered to an audience of aristocrats, as the vices Crashaw condemns in his sermon, such as greed and laziness, and the terms in which he discusses them are not those of the lower classes. Scanlan also observes that many of the arguments Crashaw makes "promote colonialism as a vehicle for introducing discipline to the privileged classes" and allowing them to recapture and replicate the lost glory of their "forefathers" (115). By this logic it seems that one must have the basic starter means (i.e. money and the willingness to invest it in a wholesome, Protestant, colonial venture) in order to attain this later status. It seems that the members of his audience would also have been those concerned with their spiritual (or publicly spiritual) status in the community and would have liked to have a favorable position both in the English church and God's grace. By framing his arguments within the languages of investment and religion, Crashaw's pleas for support relate to the tangible and intangible backings the English people can provide the Virginia Company.

(4) Crashaw's argument follows the basic logic that the colonization of Jamestown (and beyond) is the mandate of God as well as the destiny of the people of England. Scanlan argues that all of the colonial sermons reveal "these divines contend that the English lack both a coherent sense of national identity and an explicit commitment to Protestantism"; the arguments Crashaw advances help both he and other preachers for the Virginia Company "discover a means by which the English can re-imagine themselves as a Protestant nation. In this sense, colonialism becomes not only a vehicle for carrying Englishness and Protestantism to the new world [...], but also the very means by which the English can re-affirm their identity as Protestants and a nation" (94). This identification with Protestant identity also becomes identification with the continuation of Protestant history. As Scanlan notes, "Ultimately, for Crashaw, the colonization of Virginia represents a chance for England as a nation to continue the work of the Protestant reformation" (116). By combining religious, national, and historical rhetoric, Crashaw is able to unite his audience under a common sense of religious and national identity, place them in a larger historical context, and tailor his arguments to support both the identification project and the colonial enterprise.

Tending to "thy brethren"

(5) Crashaw must lay the groundwork for his arguments by appealing to his audience with a story that places the English within a larger Biblical historical tradition. To create a common religious legacy for the English that supports the expansion into Virginia, the first part of A Sermon Preached in London deals expressly with the fulfillment of God's will by His English followers on Earth. Crashaw uses the story of Peter's salvation to foreground his arguments: as God saved Peter from sin, so did He save the English people from spiritual corruption [comment3]. Crashaw equates the English population with Peter before he was bestowed with God's grace; the English have the same religious and spiritual potential as the apostle. Spiritual endowments, however, come with obligations to the all-powerful and merciful God that saved Peter and the English from the devil. Crashaw uses the story of Peter to remind the English of their duty to bring Christianity and God's mercy to territories, like Virginia, where un-Christianized Indians dwell. Crashaw reminds his audience that when God was merciful to Peter the two parties made a spiritual compact:

But I who redeemed thee will not leaue to love thee: But I will therefore by the power of my intercession, purchase thee such grace, as shall uphold thee and raise thee vp againe, and will so make thee a comfortable example to all my elect: Thou therefore in remembrance of what I haue done for thee, when thou feelest the sweetnesse of this my mercy to thy selfe, teach others by thy example, and endeauour seriously the conuersion and confirmation of thy brethren (A3).

God has converted Peter and the English to serve as examples for the rest of the world who are not yet members of God's elect but who have the potential to enter a condition of grace. Crashaw takes care not to position the Indians as "enemies" or as "others" in relation the English, but rather as unconverted "brethren," using softer language to encourage senses of Christian fellow-feeling, humanity, and charity [comment4].

(6) To allay the fears of the colonists who wish to spread God's word to the heathen brethren in the New World but who fear the natives based on previous Jamestown reports, Crashaw assures his audience of God's support and protection in the dangerous tasks that His will demands. Crashaw reminds the audience that God offered his presence, attention, and His protection from harm to Peter as long as Peter showed others mercy and worked to spread Christianity. Crashaw argues that the English should fear no harm as long as they accept the gospel and preach God's word:

It may yeeld vs much satisfaction who are ingaged in this present action, to consider that though Satan seeke to make vs desist, and because he cannot, therefore will hurt vs, by all his power; (as who can maruel seeing we thought his freehold so neere?) yet we haue Chrst Iesus on our side, whose kingdome we goe to inlarge: whose loue to his children is such, that euen then when Satan sifts them most narrowly, he with his praiers is most neere them for their assistance: And therefore we doubt not, but that seeing Satan is now so busie to sift vs all discouragements, and by slanders, false reports, backwardnesse of some, basenesse of others, by raising obiections and deuising doubts, endeauors to dant vs, and so betray the businesse that God himselfe hath put into our hands... (A4).

Crashaw argues that the work of the Virginia Company is the execution of God's will by the English people and all impediments and objections are the work of Satan. The audience is urged not to fear the works of Satan or pay heed to those who would discourage the fulfillment of God's will in the New World. Crashaw's opening argument sets the pace for the rest of the sermon, which urges the English to stand up to Satan and throw him out of the New World and to confidently support the religious work and settlement of Virginia.

(7) The conversion rhetoric reappears amidst Crashaw's arguments for more than spiritual support for the colony. He reminds the audience that they are obligated to convert the "savages" and bring Christianity and civilization to Virginia: "But besides this necessity of duty: another necessity in nature and reason lie vpon vs; for the time was when wee were sauage and vnciuill, and worshipped the diuell, as now they do, then God sent some to make vs ciuell, others to make vs christians" (D1). Crashaw argues that civilization is a necessary and good project for the English: "In what casé had we beene if God had not sent some to ciuilize and conuert vs! And shall we now labour to procure the same good to others?" (D1). This thanks and question prompts the audience to see that it is English duty at this moment in history to continue the "good" work that was done to them [comment5]. Crashaw has begun his rhetoric of "assistance" to the cause of the Virginia Company in the midst of this argument to make the case for continuing the work resound with his audience.

On the brink of a more Protestant world

(8) Crashaw must, of course, convince the audience that the investment in conversion of the Indians, the spread of God's kingdom, and settlement in Virginia is worthwhile. To prove this point throughout the sermon, Crashaw uses the language of the Bible to show that the Indians are ripe for conversion, just as the English and Peter before them. He argues that an un-Christianized state is merely a starting point for spreading God's work or for having God's work spread to a people. As John Parker states, "Virginia, as Crashaw sees it, calls Englishmen first to be converted themselves and then labour for the conversion of the Virginians who in God's sight were the equal of all men, only awaiting their more fortunate brethren who have the knowledge of Christ" (265). The Indians are at the same point in religious history that Peter and the English were once, and they must understand that it is divine intervention that has displayed the savages to the English and allowed for the two parties to meet: "When thou are conuerted, &c. wee learne, that a man is not borne in the state of grace, and fauor of God, but there is a certaine appointed time of euery mans conuersion" (C1). It is the English's responsibility to carry out the conversion of the Indians and bring them into both the Christian and English communities with the words of the Gospel.

(9) What is interesting about Crashaw's rhetorical move here is that by claiming the Indians are ripe for the English to act upon them as agents of conversion, he is building up the sense of religious superiority among his audience. The "savage" or "heathen" religions have been completely discredited, as the devil's influence, worship counter to God's will, and a site for correction by the English. Crashaw argues to his audience that Christianity is the best and most correct religion, which is why it needs to be brought to the "savages" abroad. This sense of superiority, when added to the previous discussion of religious duty commands the audience to spread this knowledge when the time is correct for others to learn it and anywhere they settle. Since the preachers of England are advancing their own as the "true" religion above all other Christian religions in the world (most especially the Catholic religion), it is necessary to spread this version of the word of God to the uncivilized to create the most socially, culturally, and religiously aware people possible.

"Ciuilitie for their bodies, Christianity for their soules:" the language of conversion and exchange

(10) Couched within the argument of doing good to the English's "savage brethren" by bringing Christianity to them, Crashaw weaves in the idea of economic and social interdependence between the natives and the colonizers. This is both realistic and the perfect vehicle for a metaphor: Crashaw knows the colonists need native help, but he can also spin this claim to state that the English can bring the natives something they "need" as well. In laying the groundwork for this claim, Crashaw takes especial care to address the objection of "the doubt of lawfulness of the action" in settling on the Indians' lands and admits that the actions of the English cannot be good or beneficial unless they are lawful and follow the principles of justice (D3). Crashaw counters the objection by claiming that

A Christian may take nothing from a Heathen against his will, but in faire and lawfull bargaine" and that "it is most lawfull to exchange with other Nations, for that which they may spare, and it is lawfull for a Christian to haue commerce in ciuell things euen with the heathen, vnlesse they bee such of whom God hath giuen a plaine and personall charge to the contrarie (D3-D4).

Crashaw and the members of the Virginia Company have deemed that the people who currently inhabit Virginia are not the sort that God has made a mandate against and are thus available for the exchange of Christianity and other English wares. This is the big change in the second part of Crashaw's sermon – the economic angles of the relationship with the "heathen" are added and the language of secular exchange begins to enter the sermon.

(11) Crashaw's argument about the expansion of territories is complicated by the fact that the lands on which the English must expand God's kingdom are already inhabited by the "brethren" who have not yet been brought the Gospel (or, more correctly, brought the Gospel correctly). While the failure to convert the natives is in part, as many other preachers would argue, the fault and weakness of Catholicism, Crashaw argues that the English and their Protestant conversion methods will bring all people of the world to God and deliver them correctly. Scanlan observes that Crashaw is the first of the Virginia Company preachers to discuss the English-native/converted-unconverted relationship in terms of the marketplace and exchange: "In stark contrast to the Spanish [...] who took goods, lands, and libertie from the native people by power, pillage, and craft, the English will take nothing from the natives without simultaneously giving something [presumably of equal value] in return" (112). What the English can provide the Indians is left unclear by Crashaw; he was most likely well aware from reports from the settlement that the colonists were much more dependent upon native goods than the Indians were interested in purchasing English commodities.

(12) For the purposes of both English pride and rhetorical success with his audience, Crashaw cannot leave this system of exchange one-sided, with the English dependent on the Indians for all the goods necessary to survive. While he can offer English technology and unspecified goods, this argument runs thin without specifics. Crashaw leaves the tangible goods the English can offer vague but makes sure he places "civilization" and "Christianity" on the level of commodities. Scanlan calls this moment the "rhetorical climax of Crashaw's sermon" and calls Crashaw's offer of English conversion in exchange for New World necessities a "dazzling display of verbal virtuousity" (113). Crashaw is well aware that the English cannot offer definite tangible goods, but the intangible spiritual redemption may be even more valuable: "These things they haue, these they may spare, these we neede, these we will take of them. But what will we giue them? first, we will giue them such things as they greatly desire, and doe holde a sufficient recompence for any of the foresaide commodities we take of them" (D4). Of course, this system of exchange does not determine a value system in which things can be assessed and repaid for their proper worth:

we will giue them more, namely such things as they want and neede, and are infinitely more excellent then all wee take from them: and that is 1. Ciuilitie for their bodies, 2. Chistianity for their soules: The first to make them men: the secund happy men; the first to couer their bodies from the shame of the world: the secund, to couer their soules from the wrath of God: the lesse of these two (being that for the bodie) will make them richer then we finde them (D4).

This frees the English settlers and the members of the Virginia Company from actually remunerating the Indians for the goods that will enable the colonists to survive by stating that the price of salvation and civilization cannot be measured in man's terms.

(13) While it is tempting to see this relationship that Crashaw seems to suggest with a healthy dose of cynicism, and one may argue that it seems to leave a culture of antagonism and theft available to the settlement, there is a chance that Crashaw's audience fully believed that conversion would be sufficient pay for commodities. Fred M. Kimmey argues, however, that it is entirely possible that at this point in history and amidst the colonial rhetoric of the day, the English would not have associated money with religion, and he claims "[However,] it is apparent most Englishmen were, by this time, convinced the Lord had chosen their nation for the task of converting the natives of North America and that by their conversion (always at the "great charge and expense" of the English) they were paid in full for loss of land" (53). If this is true, then, the work of the preachers for the Virginia Company was taking effect, and the marketplace that included the exchange of Christianity for goods was firmly in place.

Immoral and selfish investors need not apply

(14) Crashaw foregrounds the objectives of the Virginia Company and Jamestown in the language of religion and waits until later in the sermon to discuss the reality of Jamestown as a commercial venture. To discuss the Jamestown settlement in a manner that describes the settlement as part of God's larger plan's fulfillment follows the prevailing rhetoric about colonization, religion, and right to territories abroad. In the previous section, the rhetoric is not focused on expanding the territories of England for the glory of England, but to expand God's territories that are populated by English people. The rhetoric used displaces the association of greed to the spread of a country's empire across oceans and frames it in terms of goodness and religious obligation, as Scanlan would argue, re-focusing and giving a new language to their desires. As Scanlan states, "By giving a shape to the desires of the nation in a way that no other undertaking can, the colonial project itself becomes a way that the nation can express its desires. Ironically, however, the deepest desires of the colonial undertaking itself – the desire for profit and power – must never be articulated openly" (95). Crashaw is keenly aware of this in his sermon, and his mentions of profits are merely used as tools to suppress his audience's further mentions of the topic and direct their focus to the larger religious work at hand. Crashaw often argues that profits are logical and to be expected, but they are not (or should not be) the primary reasons for the English settlements in Virginia. While the Virginia Company may some day make a profit and presently requires support from the audience, the funds and secular amenities are supplemental and enable the spiritual project mandated by God, sustained by the prayers of the English, and determined to expand God's kingdom, not the English king's. A savvy businessman, an investor in the 1609 charter, and later coordinator of the Company's publicity, Crashaw knows how to keep his audience focused away from the physical and monetary realities of Virginia and moving the direction of achieving English "greatness" (Wright 100).

(15) Moral and good-intentioned men (and women) who seek to spread God's word are not in pursuit of profit; however, if profit develops, it is the result of patience and personal investment. Crashaw argues that part of the reason why Virginia and the native Virginians remain un-Christianized is because the majority of men are not up to the moral caliber of the audience:

More particularly, wee here see the cause why no more come in to assist this present purpose of plantation in Virginea, euen because the greater part of men and vnconuerted & vnsanctified men, and seeke meerely the world and themselves, and no further. They make many excuses, and deuise obiections; but the fountaine of it all is, because they may not have present profit (C2).

In this rhetorical moment in the sermon, Crashaw addresses several topics: the waning support of the Virginia Company, the need for "good" Christians to support the Jamestown plantation, and the need for settlers to have non-profit desires in Virginia. Crashaw acknowledges that the colony has had difficulty becoming established and spreading Christianity to the Indians, but he blames this mostly on the wrong kind of people doing injustice to the colony. God's will would best be carried out by those colonists who do not seek to profit from their journey abroad.

(16) Crashaw's mention of profits and the discouragements of seeking to gain rapidly from settlement in the New World are both savvy and informative. As Parker states,

Of all the discouragements none was so base in Crashaw's eyes as the uncertainty of profit, which he saw in no way attuned to the first motives of the undertaking....This was not to deny the profit motive or its ultimate reward, but only to affirm that profits would come as a blessing from God if the first motive was faithfully acted upon (267).

Crashaw's sermon is arguably one of the most honest sermons commissioned by the Virginia Company – it acknowledges the dangers and mismanagements of the colonial project – but it is also one of the most optimistic and stubbornly committed to colonization. Crashaw's argument is also stubbornly committed to what he sees as the primary goals of colonization: the spreading of the Gospel, conversion, and the expansion of God's territory.

(17) Crashaw's commitments to Virginia and the Virginia Company would extend outside the professional realm of preaching; his job as director of publicity for the Virginia Company shows his personal commitment as does his preparation and dedication of the print edition of Whitaker's Good News From Virginia. Sent To The Counsell and Company of Virginia, resident of England...Perused and published by direction from that Counsell (Wright 104-5). While Crashaw notes that the settlement of Jamestown is not going exactly as advertised, he blames this on a secular settler population. He uses this blame, paired with his overarching faith in the project, to spur his sermon forward. By acknowledging this to his audience, he is making the claim that they are so moral and good that they could not fall into this trap were they to invest in the Virginia Company [1]. This is savvy in two ways: first, he elevates and inflates his audience, making them more receptive to his argument; and, secondly, he discourages the idea of profit, especially when the reality is that monetary returns on the colony would most likely be slim and long-coming for potential investors.

"Let vs haue thy praiers also": Universal support and responsibility for Virginia

(18) While Crashaw is frank about the discomfort the colonists will face and the low returns for investors in the Jamestown plantation, the rhetoric of the argument is strongly committed to completing the project in the New World. His first tactic for demonstrating his (and the Virginia Company's and the English people's) commitment to Virginia is in the way he creates both senses of responsibility and participation among the members of his audience. As Andrew Fitzmaurice argues, "The political priority of the promoters...was participation," relating to both the fear of faction in the colonies and the persuasion of the audience of potential investors and adventurers to see the colonial project as a cooperative effort (Fitzmaurice 84-85). The English are fully and uniformly responsible for the success and sustenance of the Jamestown colony. Universal participation is encouraged:

Thou therefore that canst doe nothing else, yet pray for vs: thou that canst doe more, yet pray besides: for thou shouldeft venture thy person, and ingage thy money, yet let vs haue thy praiers also: which (if thou bee as thou oughtest) will doe more good then all the rest. Remember the end of this voyage is the destruction of the diuels kingdome, and propagation of the Gospell. Are not these ends worthy of thy praiers? Remember thy brethren who haue ingaged their persons, and aduentured their liues to lay the first foundation, and doe now lieu in want of many comforts and pleasures, which thou at home enioiest (B4).

All who receive the sermon are encouraged to give what they can and contribute to the Virginia Company; however, the rhetoric always insists on a spiritual investment by all participants. No matter what else can be given, prayers are always requested. While the talk grows exceedingly towards monetary and physical support for the colony, Crashaw maintains the rhetoric of spirituality and invoking God's support for the colony. It seems that everyone must do his or her part to make sure all the forces and support systems are aligned correctly for the venture. Granted, the mission is about Christianity and conversion, but it is also about completing the work that the English are obligated to do because they are both blessed and compelled by God.

(19) To bring the sermon back to the audience and their objections based on reports of the mismanagement of the colony, Crashaw argues that these are not valid reasons to stop the exploration and settlement of the New World. While he does not blame any parties in particular, Crashaw makes it clear that the early problems in Jamestown were based on "the want of gouernment, and absence of our Gouerners, which was caused by the hand of God, and force of tempest, which neither humane wit could forsee, not strength withstand" (G2). Basically, the problems were larger than the people who were subject to them, and persistence in the matter will be the execution of God's will in the New World. Of course, these ends cannot be carried out simply by faith in God and God's will alone. The problems with the government of Virginia have been fixed, and things are on track, as can be noted by the scheduling of Lord de la Warre's departure, the occasion of the sermon, and the presence of de la Warre at the preaching. Now it is up to the investors, prayers, and adventurers to carry out the work of Jamestown.

(20) Crashaw makes it clear that the Virginia Company and the English people will not stop supporting, supplying, and encouraging the colony. It falls on the shoulders of the investors and adventurers to supply the means to do so. As Crashaw bluntly states, "I make my conclusion, that the assistance of this businesse is a dutie that lies on all men: and that whosoeuer is of abilitie, and knowes the true grounds and ends of this voyage, if hee assist it not, discouers himselfe to be an vnsanctified, vnmortified, and vnconuerted man, negligent of his owne and others mens salutations" (D2). Those who maintain an interest in the Virginia Company must be the right sort of Englishmen (and women) for the project; those seeking wealth, comfort, and other material gain in Virginia need not apply or invest. Aware that the Virginia Company will not promise quick and wealthy returns for its adventurers and investors, Crashaw argues that the colonial project will enrich and correct the morally corrupt souls of England and increase the nation's spiritual stock. Crashaw is aware that several personal objections of the English come from the simple dislike of hard work of some of the English. He states that "our nation is degenerate" and that "if any occasion fall out that men should be put to any hardnes, in cold or heate, by land or sea, for diet or lodging, not one of 100, is found that can endure it" (G). He remarks that this is England's chance for salvation from sinful laziness; "Thus they with labour wonne, what we with idleness haue lost," and this redemption will be the proper honor to their forefathers who did the hard work for England that allowed it to be such a comfortable country.

At the threshold of national history

(21) Interestingly, Crashaw pulls several strings in his audience when he makes the argument for support from investors and potential adventurers. For those who go abroad, he discourages them from thinking that the journey will be easy and the settlement comfortable: "I answere, first, doe we purpose to attempt and atchieue, to begin and perfect any noble exploite, in such fashion of life as wee liue in England? Let us not deciue ourselues" (F4). With this statement, he allows the audience to see that he is being honest of his assessment of the living conditions as well as does the work of weeding out those who expect more than Jamestown has to offer. In fact, Crashaw goes further to say that no civilization is founded without hardship: "What was there euer excellent in the world that was not difficult?" (F4). Again, this argument could be seen in the same terms that Scanlan has discussed in which Crashaw calls upon his aristocratic audience to reform themselves and regain the greatness of the past generations. Of course, Crashaw also seems to be hinting here that the improvement of the character of his audience to a model that resembles their forefathers' wealth will eventually turn into similar profits for the investors (115). Those who wish to create a great extension of England abroad cannot be concerned with the unpleasant present condition but must be aware of the legacy that their efforts will provide them with God, their ancestors, and in religious and national history.

(22) After moving progressively from the pure rhetoric of religion and conversion in his sermon, Crashaw's idea of the religious destiny of the people of England is coupled with an argument about the fulfillment of the next stage of the history of the English people in the colonization of the New World. The seeds for this history were sewn early in the conversion argument of the first part of the sermon: history has been traced to the English people's Christian civilization, the creation and flowering of modern England, and now the settlement of territories abroad in order to realize England's greatness in other lands. This tracing of the timeline of the English people to Jamestown makes the colonial project seem nearly inevitable – this moment has always been lingering in the background of history for the English people to realize, and 1609 is that historical moment. Crashaw's rhetoric is extremely appealing in this moment; the English people are placed at a critical and memorable moment in national and human history. The pressures to do the right thing and to carve out one's legacy loom large and seem both appealing and frightening. For those who fear the "savages," he argues "The sauages? Nay they inuite vs, and vse vs well" allay fears of opposition to the destiny of the English (H1). For those looking to make a new start, Crashaw promises greatness and a clean slate in Virginia, as the colonization is "a most lawfull, an honorable, and a holy action" (I1). Neither the best nor the worst of English civilization are encouraged to invest or adventure; England should be accurately represented with all people (with the exceptions of "Papists, Players, and the Diuell") and all settlers have the equal opportunities to obtain goodness and greatness in Virginia (H1) [comment6]

Investments of all sorts welcome

(23) Of course, as the people of England are uniformly responsible for the success or failure of the project, so are they also able to take a part in the greatness of the success of the colony. The interesting twist in Crashaw's logic, however, is that it is not simply adventuring abroad that will bring greatness or recognition to the Englishman, but it is also the other ways in which one can participate in the Virginia Company that have the potential to make one great. Investors and other types of supporters will share in the greatness of the Virginia Company's success and fame; this fame will not be lessened by their lack of physical or personal contribution to the endeavor. In fact, actually going to Virginia in Crashaw's sermon seems to be going the extra mile – the great extra mile – it is almost above and beyond his basic encouragement to participate.

(24) To suggest that the greatness of the English people can be increased merely through indirect participation in the colonial venture seems to elevate the entire project to a status that exceeds the actual scope of the project. This no longer becomes about the simple acquisition of land and maintenance of a settlement; this is almost on the same level as making religious contributions to increase one's status in the eyes of the church and the state (as at this time the Church of England and the King of England function in relatively similar capacities). It is also a highly appealing argument for those who do not want to change their living conditions or who may have heard about the unpleasant conditions that exist in the Jamestown settlement. Greatness through monetary association allows those who do not wish to leave their comfortable lifestyles or risk their lives in Jamestown, or those who simply do not want to exert the physical effort necessary to get the colony up and running, are able to still include themselves in the project. To remembered for simple contribution with the patient return of profit several years in the making helps to both attract support and money to the Virginia Company instead of making the project seem too big, complex, dangerous, or require too much of a commitment to get people really involved.

(25) Employing the rhetoric of religion, government, and glory, Crashaw makes a strong case for involvement in the Virginia project on several levels but most importantly plays up the religious and nationalistic angles for his audience; good Christians and English are invested with their prayers and support in the Jamestown settlement, not only for the good of England, but to spread the word of God, to throw the devil out of the New World, and to secure the spiritual destinies of people all over the world. As Crashaw says in his conclusion to his sermon:

Therefore let all Nations see, to their amazement, the diuels to their terror, the Angels to their ioy, and especially our God to his glorie and the honor of his truth, that the English Christians will not vndertake a publike action which they will not prosecute to perfection. Let vs then beleeue no tales, regard no slanders (raised or spread by Papists or Epicures) feare no shadowes, care for no oppositions, respect no losses that may befall, nor be daunted with any discouragements whatsoeuer; but goe forward to assist this noble action with countenance and counsell, with men and money, and with continuall supplies, till wee haue made our plantation and colonie able to subsist of it selfe, and till there be a Church of God established in Virginea, euen there where Satans throne is. Thus shall we honour our God, our religion, our nation, and leaue that honour on our names, which shall make them flourish till the worlds end, and (which is all in all,) lay vp that comfort to our soules which shall stand by vs at our deaths & speake for vs to the great Iudge at the last and great day (K4).

In these lines, it is clear to see that Crashaw has been using the rhetoric of the entire sermon to lead up to the argument that the English are to be the example-setters for the world, as well as God's redeeming missionaries abroad. The dispelling of the devil in Virginia will increase the greatness of the English people, as well as please God, and secure all involved a place in God's kingdom. Also, a good execution of God's will will make England a much better place and fulfill the destiny of the English to have territories abroad. Crashaw's sermon focuses on the idea that the responsible, patriotic English citizen should and must have a part of England's inevitable spread to the New World, beginning with the Jamestown plantation; it is both the political and spiritual destiny of England and the English people.

Works Cited

Crashaw, William. A sermon preached in London before the right honorable the Lord Lavvarre, Lord Gouernour and Captaine Generall of Virginea, and others of his Maiesties Counsell for that kingdome, and the rest of the aduenturers in that plantation At the said Lord Generall his leaue taking of England his natiue countrey, and departure for Virginea, Febr. 21. 1609. By W. Crashaw Bachelar of Diuinitie, and preacher at the Temple. Wherein both the lawfulnesse of that action is maintained, and the necessity thereof is also demonstrated, not so much out of the grounds of policie, as of humanity, equity, and Christianity. Taken from his mouth, and published by direction. London : Printed [by W. Hall] for William Welby, and are to be sold in Pauls Church-yard at the signe of the Swan, 1610. 2003. Early English Books Online Archive. 1 February 2006. <http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&rft_id=xri:eebo:image:9559>.

Kimmey, Fred M. "Christianity and Indian Lands." Ethnohistory 7.1 (1960): 44-60.

Parker, John. "Religion and the Virginia Colony 1609-1610." The Westward Enterprise: English Activities in Ireland, the Atlantic, and America 1480-1650. Ed. K.R. Andrews, N.P Canny, and P.E.H. Hair. Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 1978. 245-270.

Porter, H.C.  The Inconstant Savage: England and the North American Indian 1500-1660.  London: Duckworth, 1979.

Scanlan, Thomas. Colonial Writing and the New World 1583-1671: Allegories of Desire. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999.

Wright, Louis B. Religion and Empire: The Alliance Between Piety and Commerce in English Expansion 1558-1625. Chapel Hill: The U of North Carolina P, 1943.

Related Works

Crashaw, William. "The Epistle Dedicatorie." Good nevves from Virginia Sent to the Counsell and Company of Virginia, resident in England. From Alexander Whitaker, the minister of Henrico in Virginia. Wherein also is a narration of the present state of that countrey, and our colonies there. Perused and published by direction from that Counsell. And a preface prefixed of some matters touching that plantation, very requisite to be made knowne. Alexander Whitaker. At London : Imprinted by Felix Kyngston for William Welby, and are to be sold at his shop in Pauls Church-yard at the signe of the Swanne, 1613. 2003. Early English Books Online Archive. 1 February 2006. <http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&rft_id=xri:eebo:image:22749>.

Fisher, R M. "Predicament of William Crashawe, preacher at the Temple, 1605-1613." Journal of Ecclesiastical History 25.3 (1974): 267-276.

Fitzmaurice, Andrew. Humanism and America: An Intellectual History of English Colonisation, 1500-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003.

Horn, James.  A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America.  New York : Basic Books, 2005.

Lefler, Hugh. T. "Promotional Literature of the Southern Colonies."  Journal of Southern History 33 (1967): 3-25.

Miller, Perry.  "Religion and Society in the Early Literature of Virginia."  Errand into the Wilderness.  New York: Harper, 1964.  99-140. [originally published in the William and Mary Quarterly 5 (1948): 492-522 and 6 (1949): 24-41]

Pennington, Loren E.  "The Amerindian in English Promotional Literature 1575- 1625."  The Westward Enterprise: English Activities in Ireland, the Atlantic and America 1480-1650.  Eds. K.R. Andrews, Nicholas P. Canny and P.E.H. Hair.  Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1979.    175-94.

Ruge, Enno. "Preaching and Playing at Paul's: The Puritans, the Puritaine, and the Closure of Paul's Playhouse." Censorship and Cultural Regulation in the Modern Age. Ed. Beate. Müller Rodopi. Amsterdam, Netherlands Publication: 2004.

Wallis, Peter John. William Crashawe, the Sheffield Puritan. 1963.


[1] I use "invest" here since the sermon asks for monetary contributions, prayers, and volunteers to go abroad. There seem to be multiple levels on which the English can participate in the Virginia Company, but they all require an investment in some manner from all the participants.


[comment1] What a crucial ceremonial occasion Crashaw was entrusted with, no? A sermon before the Big Boss and other brass on the eve of departure. Wow! And his consciousness of his audience is quite obvious in his concluding peroration (beginning K3), in which he goes section by section directly addressing different subsets: the Council, those going, de la Warre himself. But look who else is there and summoned forth to be addressed -- Virginia herself! The sermon ends with a "Salutation of Virginia" (L1.r.). Crashaw's piece is at the end of the line of the first cluster of promotion sermons begun with Johnson in 1609, and, as if in fitting climax, Virginia is anthropomorphized. All of a sudden Virginia is alive! "Thou Virginea . . . . O Virginea." I find this section very intriguing and worthy of some further thought. Does this signal a kind of new consciousness about Virginia or the attempt to create one? The Indians -- those to be converted -- are not addressed but "Virginia" instead. Is there something tricky in that substitution? I have a feeling that there is. (Edward J. Gallagher)

[comment2] Like Wright, I see many parallels between the sermons of Symonds and Crashaw: both use one main biblical allegory as a way to frame their central argument; both focus on the belief that the second charter is a commandment from God that must be fulfilled by "good" Christians; and both provide little description of those to be converted: the Native Americans.  Symonds was the first preacher to sermonize on the Virginia Company's second charter and Crashaw was the last.  Both preachers focus more than any of the others on the idea that the second charter is a direct commandment from God.  Thus, it seems completely understandable that Crashaw sees his project as completing the rhetorical circle of spiritual obligation begun by Symonds, highlighting the religious duty aspect of continuing the settlement.  However, unlike Symonds, Crashaw highlights monetary opportunities in Virginia.  This would make sense since, as Elizabeth points out, Crashaw was authorized directly by a future General of Virginia, while Symonds' relationship to the Virginia Company was less well-defined at the time of his sermon. (Kate Lehnes)

[comment3] What is so striking about these later sermons is that they directly invoke Biblical stories in a new relationship to settlement of the New World.  It is as if a Third Testament is being written as these preachers speak.  Apostleship, for both Crashaw and Daniel Price, is the utmost duty and the greatest gift to bestow upon the non-Christians of Virginia.. Both Crashaw and Price then move away from direct Biblical connections in their sermons. Price extends his address to the present and more general Christian public by suggesting that "God has called this land," England, to an "Apostleship" (F3).  Price places those in England as duty bound to see the settlement through, and as either apostles or traducers, with no room for middle ground.  A bit earlier in his sermon, Price speaks of "mercy and judgment together" (B2) and unites both in one place, "action" (B2). For Price, these points together tighten the connections between the larger Biblical tradition and the New one, as they do for Crashaw. As a result of these rhetorical twists and Biblical allusions, the preachers continue to strengthen the apparent "equality" between obtaining commodities and saving souls thereby further justifying the colonization of Virginia and the taking of land without compensation.  (Christina M. Hoffmann)

[comment4] Crashaw argues that the Native Americans are merely "unconverted brethren" which is a bit of a departure from Gray, who conceived of them as both possible converts as well as "idolaters" and devil worshippers. For Gray, if all else failed, it was perfectly within their right to "destroy willful idolaters." Despite Crashaw's honesty at the difficulties that the colonists/the English will encounter it seems that in terms of the Native Americans, Gray's argument reflects a more accurate reading of those who went to the New World. While Gray does at one point suggest that the Native Americans are accepting of the colonists and are willing to sell land he does not, as Crashaw does, portray them as "welcoming" or "inviting." (Karen B. Manahan)

[comment5] In an earlier sermon, Nova Britannia, Robert Johnson also uses this "we were savage once, too" discourse to convince his audience of the need for and even nobility of conversion: "To which purpose, wee may verily beleeve, that God hath reserved in this last age of the world, an infinite number of those lost and scattered sheepe, to be won and recovered by our meanes, [...] [and ] by comparing our present happinesse with our former ancient miseries, wherein wee had continued brutish, poore and naked Britanes to this day, if Julius Cæsar with his Romane Legions (or some other) had not laid the ground to make us tame and civill" (14).  This rhetoric is extremely effective for two reasons.  First, Johnson's argument helps the British see themselves as living proof of the benefits of conquest, and more importantly (to me), Johnson's move likens Britain and its colonizing ventures to the Roman Empire.  Thus, the British have to look no further than their own civilization to see that colonization works, and in pursuing the same ends as Julius Caesar, the British gain a link to glorious antiquity.  Pretty savvy! (Elizabeth Vogtsberger)

[comment6] The inclusion of "players" on Crashaw's enemies list that Elizabeth mentions here really surprized me, and it calls attention to, for me, the most disappointing lacunae in studying these justification documents. We have a decent number of pro-plantation works, and a decent number of those works are very specific about objections others raise to planting. But we have no anti-planting documents themselves. Instead, there is what Robert Blair St. George calls in "Possible Pasts" (58) a "ghost discourse." We only know it by references to it by the pro-planters. The fact that the players must be so vocal an opposition that they rate equal billing with papists and the devil as bad guys is sooo intriguing. What was going on? The anti-Virginia section in "Eastward Ho!" gets cited all the time -- but there had to be a lot more than that one instance of a popular play badmouthing Virginia! Was there an artsy anti-imperialistic cadre operating at the popular level to satirize and maybe sabotage colonization efforts by the mainly aristocratic audience of Crashaw's sermon, as Elizabeth points out? Was there something analogous to John Stewart's current tv show, always poking fun at the rationalizations and justifications of those in power? Were the players like the contemporary news media, criticized for only reporting the bad things about the Iraq war? Emily Rose of Cambridge University wrote me that the publicists of the Virginia Company worked in the theater district and therefore some of the criticism might well have been in "conversation." Sooo interesting! Interesting as well what Crashaw says about the reason the players are enemies (H4) -- because they are an idle lot for whom there is no place in Virginia and who would not be able to work hard enough to survive there anyway. Again, it's a shame that we don't have direct evidence of what appears to have been a lively verbal brawling. (Edward J. Gallagher)