1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. If Not Britain, Whither Next? The Genesis of Berkeley's Bermuda Scheme
  4. Berkeley's Proposal and Native Americans: Religion and Civilisation
  5. Berkeley's “America” and the Translatio Tradition
  6. Success of the Proposal, 1725–26: Enthusiasm Peaking

Following the aftermath of the South Sea bubble, George Berkeley grew disenchanted with British morality and turned his attention to a new project: a missionary college in Bermuda. Not only did he personally lobby friends and government officials, but he also worked tirelessly to persuade the public of his scheme's value. To this end, he published his plan under the title A Proposal for the Better Supplying of Churches in Our Foreign Plantations (1724) and at the height of this enthusiasm wrote his only (existent) poem “America, or the Muse's Refuge” (1725/26). These verses were premised upon a classical commonplace, the notion of a translatio imperii and translatio religionis: the belief in the constant westward migration of empire and religion that provided the foundation of his plan. Through a contextual reading of these two pieces, this paper examines Berkeley's contributions to early eighteent-century missionary activity in the Atlantic world.

Upon his arrival in London in 1720 from a series of continental tours, the Irish philosopher George Berkeley was horrified to witness the crises associated with the South Sea Bubble, the first great stock market crash in British history. Berkeley's response to this debacle, An Essay towards Preventing the Ruin of Great Britain (1721), indicted the character of Britain and suggested that the nation was standing on the edge of a moral precipice. Citing the lack of individual ethics, the breakdown of religion, and the prevalence of luxury, Berkeley argued that ethical corruption was sapping the nation's strength and was evidence that the British were the first people “who have been wicked upon principle.”1 Although the trials of those involved with the South Sea bubble continued for some time, in Berkeley's eyes the failure of any noticeable reform indicated that there was little popular interest in curbing the culture of excess that fostered this problem in the first place. Fearing that this corruption could not be dislodged simply through words, Berkeley soon turned his attention to a new project: the formation of a missionary college in Bermuda.2

As early as 1722, Berkeley determined that the most appealing prospects for future development lay in the New World. In a letter to his close friend Lord Percival, he confessed that it “is now about ten months since I have determined with myself to spend the residue of my days in the Island of Bermuda, where I trust in Providence I may be the mean instrument of doing good to mankind.”3 At the heart of Berkeley's missionary venture was the desire to use his college, to be named St Paul's, to teach clergymen strategies designed for “propagating Christianity among the Savages.” Even more ambitiously, Berkeley imagined that this institution would provide religious training to Native Americans, thus making them “the ablest and properest Missionaries for spreading the Gospel among their Countrymen.”4 Through this method of propagating Anglicanism, Berkeley hoped to instil a firm foundation of Christian values in all aspects of colonial life. The next ten years of Berkeley's life, 1722–32, were primarily devoted to planning, organising and implementing this Atlantic enterprise.

In pursuing his Bermuda venture, Berkeley not only lobbied friends and government officials but also worked tirelessly to persuade the public of his scheme's value. To this end, in 1724 he published his plan under the title A Proposal for the Better Supplying of Churches in Our Foreign Plantations.5 This short piece both outlined the practical aspects of Berkeley's design and sought to persuade readers of its necessity. As popular excitement grew, Berkeley's vision moved towards actuality: financial subscriptions were taken and volunteers began to appear. Among Berkeley scholars, his involvement in this plan is seen as evidence of his piety, as evinced by Luce's claim that “he was clearly something of a saint”; however, most studies of his work brush this aspect of his life aside in favour of close readings of his philosophical texts.6 While Berkeley's contributions to philosophy are certainly important and deserve careful examination, stressing this aspect of his life elides his lifelong commitment to fostering virtue in Britain, Ireland and the Atlantic world.7 Berkeley's plan to construct a missionary college in Bermuda provides an important window into this dimension of his career, belying the common perception of him as an abstract thinker disconnected with the practical world and illustrating his abiding belief that national virtue determined the fate of nations.

Berkeley's concern for virtue, and its fleeting nature, may be seen in “America, or the Muse's Refuge,” written at the height of his enthusiasm for Bermuda. In this important piece, Berkeley pointed to the “decay” of Europe and the “rise of Empire and of Arts” in the “west.”8 These verses were premised upon a classical commonplace, the notion of a translatio imperii or studii: the belief in the constant westward migration of empire or learning. During the early eighteenth century, the translatio tradition was revived and used in a number of different ways, leading the belief in the transfer not just of empire and the arts but also of religion (religionis) and liberty (libertatis).9 Furthermore, in these pieces the direction of this providential movement was re-evaluated, as the discovery of “unexplored” territory across the Atlantic forced European thinkers, particularly in Britain, to question whether the “final” migration would be to America. Berkeley's poem is perhaps the clearest enunciation of the translatio tradition during the first half of the eighteenth century because it evokes three layers of this movement (empire, the arts and religion) and in many ways may be seen to encapsulate the broader ideals guiding his Bermuda venture.10

Despite popular British interest in evangelical missions during this time, Berkeley's task ran aground upon political controversy and was eventually discarded.11 Still, his unflagging diligence in pursuing this venture raises a number of questions. On a practical level, what was the nature of the training to be offered at St Paul's and where would he obtain students? On a more personal level, what motivated Berkeley to focus his evangelical zeal upon America and how did his goals fit into his larger view of history? Although these are diverse issues, hints of an explanation may be discerned through an examination of the historical context of early eighteenth-century missionary thought and of Berkeley's understanding of historical development within the Atlantic world.

This paper will examine the origins of Berkeley's plan for St Paul's and the specific proposals he set forth for this college, locating Berkeley's justifications for the conversion of Native Americans within the context of contemporary visions of evangelical missions and the possibility of Bermuda as a site for “utopian” renewal. Additionally, while the Proposal provides an important insight into Berkeley's evangelical motives, his poem suggests that his actions harboured a deeper level of meaning, which may be seen by considering his influential “America” in light of the translatio tradition. Taken together, this study of Berkeley's Proposal and “America” will highlight an early missionary plan in the Atlantic world, as well as help nuance our understanding of Berkeley's activities outside the philosophic arena.

If Not Britain, Whither Next? The Genesis of Berkeley's Bermuda Scheme

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. If Not Britain, Whither Next? The Genesis of Berkeley's Bermuda Scheme
  4. Berkeley's Proposal and Native Americans: Religion and Civilisation
  5. Berkeley's “America” and the Translatio Tradition
  6. Success of the Proposal, 1725–26: Enthusiasm Peaking

The first indication of Berkeley's interest in Bermuda was a letter to his close friend Lord Percival dated 4 March 1722/23. He observed, “the reformation of manners among the English in our western plantations, and the propagation of the Gospel among the American savages, are two points of high moment.” He proposed to build a college in the West Indies for the purpose of training both English youths and “young American Savages”; the former were to help supply the colonial churches with clergy, while the latter would (after obtaining a master of arts degree) serve as the “fittest missionaries . . . among their countrymen.” Berkeley had apparently been considering this scheme for some time, as he continued by noting that he had gathered “about a dozen English men of quality and gentlemen,” who intended to retire to Bermuda, a land where men could find “whatsoever the most poetical imagination can figure to itself in the golden age, or the Elysian fields.”12

Berkeley's Proposal was printed in London in 1724 and announced his missionary intentions to British society at large. Aimed at a popular audience, Berkeley sought to persuade his readers that there was an urgent need for additional clergymen in the American colonies. He suggested that the missionaries who had been sent to minister to the colonists were generally under-qualified, while their scarce numbers meant that “the Gospel hath hitherto made but a very inconsiderable Progress among the neighbouring [Native] Americans, who still continue in much the same Ignorance and Barbarism, in which we found them above a hundred Years ago.” With vacant churches and degenerating manners failing to protect the spiritual health of the colonists and natives alike, Berkeley argued that the creation of a missionary college could serve a twofold purpose. Not only would it ensure a “constant Supply of worthy Clergymen for the English Churches in those parts,” but it would also provide a steady “Supply of zealous Missionaries, well fitted for propagating Christianity among the Savages.”13

Considering the first of these goals, Berkeley claimed that his college would prepare the brightest British youths in the plantations for the demands of the ministry. From Berkeley's point of view, the morals of the Old World had degenerated and there was a need for a renewal of virtue in the New World. A key point of Berkeley's argument was the belief that up to this point, the “clergy sent over to America have proved, too many of them, very meanly qualified both in Learning and Morals for the Discharge of their Office.” In effect, the colonial churches were a “Drain for the very Dregs and Refuse of ours.” If the New World were to fulfil its potential, it was essential to build upon an unblemished base of religious (Anglican) piety. Berkeley hoped that through his college, a new generation of ministers would be trained to guide the colonists in the “uncorrupt Doctrine of the Gospel.”14

In order to make his piece more persuasive, Berkeley painted a dark picture of American spirituality, but Berkeley's stress on the weaknesses of colonial ministers put him at odds with an institution that would otherwise have been numbered among his staunchest supporters: the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG). Originally founded by Thomas Bray in 1701, the SPG used philanthropic donations to extend “protestant religion” throughout the world.15 As such, the SPG was one of the primary instructors of the very ministers castigated as inept by Berkeley. Bray himself had travelled to the New World over thirty years earlier, as the Anglican commissary to Maryland.16 Before, during, and after his visit, Bray was deeply involved in questions concerning colonial missions and published a series of tracts near the turn of the century that outlined the state of religion in the colonies. Faced with Berkeley's attack on colonial spirituality, Bray could not remain silent.

Moved by the rising enthusiasm for Berkeley's project, Bray responded in 1727 with a collection of missionary pieces, Missionalia, that attacked Berkeley's Proposal. In this tract, Bray lambasted Berkeley's knowledge of the practicalities of colonial life and his impressions of the local ministers. Bray testified from his own experience that the Maryland missionaries were sincerely devoted to the discharge of their burdens. Stressing their dedication, in contrast to a certain Irish Dean of Derry currently living in London, Bray noted that they had not yet “Learnt that Black Art of turning large Parishes having Care of Souls, into Sine-Cures, or as some call them, Non-Cures, or utterly leaving [their] own Cures to live elsewhere, to no purpose of [their] Ministry, but like Lay-Gentlemen, on the Rents thereof.”17 In Bray's eyes, Berkeley's Proposal seemed steeped in sheer ignorance of local conditions and slanderous accusations. Even worse was the financial threat posed by Berkeley's plan. Bray claimed that if this scheme were accepted, the SPG could lose some (if not all) royal aid.18 Despite these objections, Bray left the door open for compromise. He suggested that if Berkeley's plan could be “set upon a Practicable Method,” then “perhaps none could, or would be more ready and Capable to Assist him therein than our Religious Societies.”19 As Gaustad notes, Bray's primary complaint against Berkeley was the fact that he did not consult with him before the publication of the Proposal.20 As Berkeley's subsequent relationship with the SPG was characterised by friendship, it seems evident that he did not intend to provoke animosity from this quarter.21

Nonetheless, in 1725 these critiques lay in the future. Of more immediate concern to the programme outlined in the Proposal was the question of location. Early on, Berkeley focused his attention on Bermuda, and his conviction in this choice did not waver. Berkeley claimed that the determination of the college's location stemmed directly from his understanding of American geography and economy, but there may have been deeper reasons for this choice.22 Given the difficulties of land-based communication, Berkeley concluded that there were no particular benefits to be had from settling on the continent. He did briefly consider Barbados but claimed that a place of “so high Trade, so much Wealth and Luxury, and such dissolute Morals . . . must at first sight seem a very improper Situation for a general Seminary intended for the forming Missionaries, and educating Youth in Religion and Sobriety of Manners.”23 As Bermuda seemed to be located conveniently close to both colonists and Britain, it appeared to be the ideal location for Berkeley's college.

Illustrating the accuracy of Bray's attack on Berkeley's grasp of colonial geography, the chief reasons enumerated by the Proposal for choosing Bermuda included the belief that the island was equidistant from the other islands and the mainland and that it lay on a direct line from Great Britain to America.24 Still, while these were important factors in his determination of the location of the college, Berkeley's true concern was the area's ability to encourage virtue, and in this respect Bermuda seemed ideal because of the absence of moral temptations and other possible distractions.

While Berkeley argued that there were practical reasons for building St Paul's on Bermuda, three related intellectual traditions reinforced the choice of an island as the home for his school. The first stems from European notions of utopia and the common identification of it as an isolated island, often located within the New World.25 European thinkers commonly posited the existence of an earthly paradise, found on remote “happy islands,” as a canvas upon which they could draw their ideal visions of society.26 An important characteristic of many utopian accounts that may have further endeared this tradition to Berkeley was their emphasis on education.27 From Plato's Republic to More's Utopia, education played a crucial role in constructing an ideal society by inculcating virtue among its citizens, and Berkeley's plan for the New World shared a similar strategy.

Additionally, despite widespread knowledge concerning the hazardous founding of Bermuda, the island itself was often cited as a potential site of virtue within the New World. The tale of Admiral Somers's miraculous survival and deliverance after his shipwreck on the island in 1609 served as a powerful symbol for a number of English writers. In a variety of popular texts ranging from Shakespeare's Tempest to Marvell's “Bermudas,” Bermuda was the scene of possible regeneration within the New World.28 In the Proposal, Berkeley cites one of these texts, Edmund Waller's The Battle of Summer-Islands, as a source for his description of the island and to stress Bermuda's idyllic nature.29

Finally, Berkeley's choice of Bermuda may be placed within the context of his growing identification of this project with the unfolding of providential history.30 A clue to Berkeley's thoughts on this matter may be found in the fact that throughout the Proposal he only directly mentions three other texts: Waller's epic poem, Samuel Purchas's Pilgrims, and George Stanhope's 1714 SPG sermon.31 Immediately after Berkeley's first trip to London, Stanhope gave the annual SPG sermon, in which he took Isaiah 60 : 9 as his point of departure and discussed the special role of “islands” in the process of spreading the gospel.32 The key for Stanhope was the notion that islands are particularly well suited for the demands of missionary activity: they are easily defended and are closely linked to commerce.33 Given that one of Berkeley's few direct citations in the Proposal pointed to Stanhope's meditations on the religious significance of islands, it seems likely that this image of “evangelical islands” may have influenced his insistence on settling his college upon Bermuda and his early successes in rallying support could have confirmed his belief that this venture had received divine approval.

Berkeley's Proposal and Native Americans: Religion and Civilisation

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. If Not Britain, Whither Next? The Genesis of Berkeley's Bermuda Scheme
  4. Berkeley's Proposal and Native Americans: Religion and Civilisation
  5. Berkeley's “America” and the Translatio Tradition
  6. Success of the Proposal, 1725–26: Enthusiasm Peaking

In addition to training the children of the English settlers, Berkeley's Proposal also contained the ambitious goal of training Native American children.34 At the heart of this plan was a belief that by co-opting Native American youths and raising them as “civilised” Europeans, they would later be able to serve as ideal emissaries to their original peoples. Berkeley suggested that the “children of savage Americans, brought up in such a Seminary, and well instructed in Religion and Learning, might make the ablest and properest Missionaries for spreading the Gospel among their Countrymen.”35 Underlying Berkeley's plans for these children was a belief in the innocence of “primitive” people: they were a blank slate upon which Anglican doctrine could be etched.36 Countering an anticipated objection to his plan, Berkeley noted that “whereas the savage Americans, if they are in a State purely natural, and unimproved by Education, they are also unincumbred [sic] with all that Rubbish of Superstition and Prejudice, which is the Effect of a wrong one.”37 He continued by stressing that not only must the college seek to “plant Religion among the Americans,” but it must also strive to civilise these students at the same time.38 In the end, Berkeley clung to the notion that if young Native Americans were taught religion and manners at the right time and in the proper manner, these lessons would produce the “civilised” individuals needed to spread the gospel among the native people.39

Berkeley's plan for civilising and Christianizing Native Americans was embodied in his proposed curriculum. As explained in the Proposal, all students at St Paul's would experience a programme closely modelled on an ideal version of the English educational system. Students would receive courses heavy in religion and morality, as well as “a good Tincture of other Learning; particularly of Eloquence, history, and practical Mathematicks; to which it may not be improper to add some Skill in Physic.”40 Eventually, Berkeley hoped between ten and twelve students would graduate per year, each of whom he believed would be extremely useful for spreading religion among the Amerindians. In preparation for a hard missionary life in the wilderness, all students — English and “natives” alike — were expected to earn a master of arts degree in the traditional liberal arts in Bermuda and then travel to England to take Holy Orders.41 Again, while this may seem somewhat unpractical, it did bear a close resemblance to the model used in New England.42 Thomas Bray took issue with the formal aspect of the Proposal, acknowledging that while colleges could help in the education of Amerindians, “even a Charity School, or Schools, taught tho' by old Women, would answer the Ends better than by Professors of Sciences. And the Mechanicks would be more usefull taught among such than the Liberal Arts.”43

Nonetheless, for Berkeley a firm foundation in the traditional liberal arts was essential to the success of his plan. He was more concerned with inculcating virtue within his prospective charges than with ensuring their skill in practical matters. Recalling the proscriptions of his 1721 Essay, Berkeley argued that “during the whole Course of their Education, an Eye should be had to their Mission . . . they should not only be incited by the common Topics of Religion and Nature, but farther animated and inflamed by the great Examples in past Ages, of public Spirit and Virtue, to rescue their Countrymen from their savage Manners, to a Life of Civility and Religion.”44 Berkeley continued this argument by stressing that the relative pauperism of Bermuda cultivated the virtue of its inhabitants, making it easier for them to live moral lives. He observed that “if they have less Wealth, they have less Vice and expensive Folly than their Neighbours.”45 The rocks upon which St Paul's would be built, as sketched by Berkeley, were Christian morality and virtue, not the sun-dappled sands of indolence, luxury, and Caribbean leisure.

If the conversion of Native Americans was to be an important part of the Proposal, there still remained the question of where these individuals would be found because Bermuda was an island with few inhabitants. Berkeley's solution was to suggest that the “young Americans necessary for this Purpose, may in the Beginning be procured, either by peaceable Methods from those savage Nations, which border on our Colonies, and are in Friendship with us, or by taking captive the Children of our Enemies.” He took care to suggest that only the youngest children be taken, those who “are under ten years of Age, before evil Habits have taken a deep root; and yet not so early as to prevent retaining their Mother Tongue.”46 Modern readers may find it difficult to view kidnapping and forced conversion as anything other than “chilling,” but some colonists even suggested (with questionable sincerity) that his plans be expanded through the use of large-scale military exercises to procure future converts.47

Scholars seeking the motive for Berkeley's indefatigable commitment to his Bermuda project have suggested a number of possible reasons. Both Harry Bracken and Costica Bradatan detect a providential dimension to Berkeley's plan. Bracken suggests that the key to understanding this aspect of the Proposal is the fact that “Berkeley accepts the [then] popular view that the American Indians are the Lost Tribes of Israel. As Jews, their conversion is especially dear to God.”48 According to this reading, the motivation for the plan stemmed from a millenary interpretation of Romans 11, in which Paul called for Jewish conversion in order to facilitate the Second Coming. If the Indians were the Lost Tribes, any efforts aimed at bringing them into the fold of Christianity were of the utmost importance. Following Bracken's argument, Bradatan claims that “in Berkeley's mind” these tasks “would have had a highly spiritual value as they would have been at the same time preparation for, and a sign of, the approaching Second Coming.”49 The only problem with this hypothesis is the fact that Berkeley never mentioned the Jewish-Indian thesis. Bracken claims that this omission may be overlooked because no other reason explains why Berkeley would have been willing to commit himself personally to this risky venture, but this argument places too much emphasis on conjecture. Millenary notions may well have influenced Berkeley, but this argument does not have to rely solely on the identification of the Indians as the Lost Tribes; rather, the providential facet of Berkeley's thought is evident in his own writings within the translatio tradition.

Berkeley's “America” and the Translatio Tradition

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. If Not Britain, Whither Next? The Genesis of Berkeley's Bermuda Scheme
  4. Berkeley's Proposal and Native Americans: Religion and Civilisation
  5. Berkeley's “America” and the Translatio Tradition
  6. Success of the Proposal, 1725–26: Enthusiasm Peaking

It is important to note that Berkeley's plans for religious renewal, devised in the shadow of excess and corruption associated with the South Sea Bubble, focused on America. In the Proposal, he hinted that the Old World was in danger of falling into complete corruption. He observed that “in Europe, the Protestant Religion hath of late Years considerably lost ground, and America seems the likeliest Place, wherein to make up for what hath been lost in Europe.”50 Taking the complaints of his Ruin essay to a pessimistic conclusion, by 1724 Berkeley seems to have determined that Britain was dangerously close to facing its final destruction. Nonetheless, he held out some hope, claiming that “notwithstanding our present Corruptions . . . there are to be found in no Country under the Sun Men of better Inclinations, or greater Abilities for doing Good, than in England.”51 Unfortunately, these “inclinations” had not been guided by sound strategies and thus had failed to blossom. Faced with this dilemma, Berkeley sought to turn his readers towards the rejuvenation of virtue, preferably in the form of subscriptions to his plan. In this manner, Berkeley hoped to fulfil the goal of facilitating the transfer of learning and religious values to the New World.

In 1725, at the peak of his lobbying for his Bermuda scheme, Berkeley wrote one of his shortest yet most influential works, the poem “America, or the Muse's Refuge.” In this piece, Berkeley drew upon a contemporary revival of interest in the medieval notion of a translatio imperii or studii. This belief was premised upon the double notion that the seat of world “empire” and “learning” was always carried forward by a single dominant nation and that the direction of this movement was from east to west. Over time, this model of the movement of empire and the arts gained a religious dimension (a translatio religionis) as well, particularly among Protestants looking to the New World.52

During the early eighteenth century, this notion of the westward transfer of empire, learning and religion enjoyed a resurgence of popularity, as writers throughout the emerging British Empire used this literary convention to explain and justify the expansion of British imperial power; however, those who focused upon the Atlantic world tended to stress the possibility of America acting as the eventual home for empire and the arts. For instance, the religious variant of this argument was commonly evoked in the annual sermons to the SPG.53 In 1729, Zarchary Pearce's sermon explicitly outlined the “route and road” taken by Christianity, suggesting that it might eventually come to rest in the New World.54 The next year, John Denne's sermon went even further, claiming that the spread of Christianity in America could serve two purposes. Not only was it important to proselytise in the name of God, but it would also be wise to “plant the Gospel in the new-discovered Continent of America, that we may have some Place to flee into, an Asylum from persecuting Infidels, if God in just Judgment should permit it to be lost in Europe, as he did heretofore in Asia and Africa.”55 In a similar manner, Richard Smallbroke suggested in the 1733 sermon that through the society's efforts “the pure Christian Religion may have some Retreat prepared for it in America.”56 In each of these cases the language used by these authors — Berkeley's “refuge,” Denne's “asylum,” and Smallbroke's “retreat”— indicates that Christianity may eventually need a safe haven outside of Europe, and it was this version of the translatio tradition that provides the greatest insight into Berkeley's motives concerning Bermuda.

During the first half of the eighteenth century, Berkeley's poem was one of the clearest applications of the translatio process to the Atlantic colonies. By this point, the notion of the translatio process existed as a composite concept with at least three levels: religious, political, and cultural. Berkeley's poem is unique in that it manages to include all three of these discursive layers while also suggesting a justification for his Bermuda venture grounded in a vision of historical development. Furthermore, the failure to recognise the presence of these historical languages in Berkeley's work and that of his contemporaries has resulted in a general nescience concerning the broader appeal of the translatio tradition within the early eighteenth-century Atlantic world.57

In “America,” Berkeley explicitly linked the rise and fall of empire and the arts with a general westward movement of culture, specifically modelling his work on the historical scheme associated with the translatio tradition. Berkeley began with an evocation of an image of European decline and colonial potential, claiming that “The Muse, disgusted at an Age and Clime,/ Barren of every glorious Theme,/ In distant Lands now waits a better Time.”58 After extolling the virtues of the New World, Berkeley contended that “There shall be sung another golden age,/ The rise of Empire and of arts/ . . . Not such as Europe breeds in her decay.”59 Envisioning the transfer of empire and learning to the New World, Berkeley stressed the potential greatness of the American colonies as the future repository of European political and cultural values, in sharp contrast to the “decay” of the Old World.

Failing to recognise the religious component of the translatio process during the early eighteenth century, modern scholars have too readily accepted the proposition that Berkeley's work should be understood in the light of millenarian thought. While there may be an eschatological dimension to “America,” this more likely stems from a reliance on a broad sense of the translatio concept rather than an anticipation of the end of time.

Berkeley's closing stanza combined a belief in the “westward course of empire” with an optimistic vision of universal history. After describing the nature of the “golden age” to come, the final stanza proclaims, “Westward the Course of Empire takes its Way;/ The four first Acts already past,/ A fifth shall close the Drama with the Day;/ Time's noblest Offspring is the last.”60 While David Berman has stressed the religious dimension of the translatio process embedded within “America,” Ernest Tuveson and J.G.A. Pocock question the easy equation of this poem with eschatological concerns.61 Although Tuveson detects an “echo of apocalyptic commentators,” he is not convinced that this stanza can be read as belonging to any of the eschatological categories he has identified. Instead, he argues that Berkeley has grafted the “ancient idea of translatio imperii to the prophetic ‘image’ in Daniel, and the Book of Revelation has no place whatever in his poem.”62 Pocock, like Tuveson, seeks to ground “America” within the translatio imperii tradition but believes that it can also be read as a type of apocalyptic discourse. Rather than seeing Berkeley's reference to “four acts” of empire followed by a fifth as elegiac, Pocock claims that this passage represents an appeal to millennarian beliefs.63 While the “four plus one” scheme of empire had origins in the Book of Daniel, by the eighteenth century its incorporation into the translatio process had effectively overshadowed its millennial origins. Thus, this mechanism did not require an “apocalyptic context” in order to function as a persuasive discourse. Consequently, Berkeley's reference to the “four plus one” sequence of empires may have been inspired by a religious variant of the translatio process that optimistically looked for the creation of a human utopia on earth, guided by providence, rather than any hidden apocalyptic leanings.

Berman, Tuveson, and Pocock all link Berkeley's poem to religious and political notions of transference, illustrating the close association of these layers of meaning during this time. While Pocock does mention in passing that Berkeley prophesised the spread of learning, this notion is much more central in Rexmond Cochrane's identification of Berkeley's verses as belonging to the translatio studii tradition. Focusing on the 1752 version of the “Verses,” Cochrane suggests that this poem “represents a turning point in the development of this long-lived literary convention.” Cochrane argues that while the central image of the poem, the “westward progress of civilization,” had been used before, Berkeley's explanation “appears in no other expression of the commonplace.” Berkeley's main innovation, according to Cochrane, stemmed from his belief that the “coming period of earthy perfection” would be located in America.64

Taken in conjunction, these analyses of “America” suggest that this poem contained the seeds of a complex vision of historical development predicated upon the westward movement of religion, empire, and learning. Berkeley, like many others during the early eighteenth century, increasingly began to doubt virtue's future viability in England. Faced with images of widespread corruption and immorality, the logic of this translatio process began to look increasingly appealing to colonial and English thinkers alike. Seeking to preserve the cultural legacy of Europe, the creation of a refuge or asylum for virtue in the New World held particular appeal. As such, the creation of a missionary college in Bermuda seemed a worthy vehicle to foster the spread of spirituality and learning in the colonies, and Berkeley's venture shows that the power of this argument was not limited to rhetoric but could also mobilise individuals to pursue large-scale undertakings.

Success of the Proposal, 1725–26: Enthusiasm Peaking

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. If Not Britain, Whither Next? The Genesis of Berkeley's Bermuda Scheme
  4. Berkeley's Proposal and Native Americans: Religion and Civilisation
  5. Berkeley's “America” and the Translatio Tradition
  6. Success of the Proposal, 1725–26: Enthusiasm Peaking

On a practical level, Berkeley's plans were grandiose and accordingly needed widespread support. Berkeley's fund-raising strategy appealed to both private and public charity. If the dream of St Paul's remained limited to Berkeley, there was surely no chance of success. His enthusiasm, persuasiveness and energy were seemingly unlimited, driving Berkeley to arrange support from across the spectrum of British society. Within two years of making his mission public, this crusade became the talk of London.65 In light of the early financial success of the Bermuda scheme, it is easy to understand the optimism that pervaded Berkeley's letters during this time. As shown by his Proposal, he believed that St Paul's was destined to play an important part in a providential plan for the New World, an idea supported by the backing of highly placed religious and political figures and grounded in a philosophy of history that privileged the New World's potential for virtue.

Shortly after the publication of the Proposal, Berkeley began to lobby the government. On 16 February, 1724/25, Berkeley officially submitted a petition for a royal charter for the proposed college. Countersigned by three fellows of Trinity College (Dublin), Berkeley's Petition followed the substance of the Proposal and provided specific details concerning the rights and duties of the potential college.66 Berkeley's efforts quickly bore fruit and the Report of the Law Officers recommended approval of the Petition on 15 March 1725. At this point Berkeley's plan began to move from a dream to actuality: the practicality of the scheme was legitimised by the fact that the government's legal minds could not find fault with the idea of St Paul's.

By April 1725, Berkeley had begun to assemble favourable recommendations from other sources, and his hopes for the royal charter rose.67 Marshalling these forces seemed to be enough, as Berkeley could report to Thomas Prior that the “Charter [had] passed the Privy Seal” on 2 June 1725.68 Just over a week later, the Charter had passed all the seals and was in Berkeley's hands.69 With this sign of royal favour, he resumed his fund-raising in earnest.

Although Berkeley was able to raise significant sums from private subscriptions —£3,400 by the end of the year — he became convinced that this would not be enough.70 By a stroke of fortune, Berkeley became aware of a potential windfall for the proposed college in the fall of 1725. The source of this prospective endowment was the sale of lands in the island of St Christopher (St Kitts), in the West Indies. The funds resulting from the sale of land ceded by France to Britain (under the Treaty of Utrecht) had been earmarked for public use, and St Paul's was deemed a suitable recipient of a portion of this money.71 While this windfall represented a fantastic opportunity for Berkeley's plans, throughout the spring of 1726 it remained only a possibility.

Delays plagued the approval of the royal grant, stemming from the king's extended stay abroad. Although Berkeley was prepared to introduce his “affair to St. Christopher” to the House of Commons in mid-February, it was not until April that the Commons began to debate the issue.72 Despite opposition from “several quarters,” the Commons approved Berkeley's proposal on 12 May 1726. Berkeley happily informed Percival that the grant of money from St Christopher's was “carried in a full house with but two negatives.”73 It seemed as though Berkeley could begin making plans for his departure, which had been delayed during his lobbying of the government.

Unfortunately, the approval of the Commons and the assent of the king were not enough. Opposition continued in the Cabinet and complications delayed the government's sale of the St Christopher's lands. Finally, in December 1726, it seemed as though the matter was going to be settled. Walpole's government agreed to pay £20,000 towards the endowment of St Paul's, although the date of payment was not specified.74 This last factor proved to be a much larger problem than Berkeley could have imagined at the time.

Berkeley spent the next two years preparing for his departure to the New World. Much of this time was spent futilely trying to obtain the money promised to St Paul's and gathering recruits for the mission. Until the money was in hand, few people were willing to commit themselves to travelling to Bermuda. At the same time, the fact that he was constantly delaying his departure began to fuel doubts concerning his sincerity. Faced with this dilemma, Berkeley decided to set sail for Rhode Island on 6 September 1728, believing that it would serve as a base for the eventual supplying of Bermuda and that the only way to prove his sincere devotion to the plan was to set forth.

Despite Berkeley's best efforts and an auspicious beginning, his Bermuda plan eventually failed. For a year after his arrival in Rhode Island, his correspondence continued to display optimism about his plan. In a letter to Henry Newman, Berkeley affirmed that his experiences in the New World had reinforced his belief that Europe had entered a period of decline and also confided his increasing concern for the materialisation of the promised funds, a problem that would soon occupy the majority of his time.75 Berkeley's growing apprehension was evident in letters to his close friend Prior. Shortly after his letter to Newman, he noted that his associates in London were already seeking to discover the cause of the delay.76

Unfortunately, Berkeley's plans for a missionary college ran aground upon contemporary political problems, primarily Walpole's failure to honour his £20,000 pledge.77 Still, his efforts were substantial and need to be considered for both their practical and theoretical aspects. For instance, Berkeley's missionary goals helped inspire a number of other efforts aimed at ameliorating the spiritual health of American colonists and natives alike. Even more importantly, his clear and forceful articulation of the translatio process, and its application to the New World, provided an important template for later thinkers concerned with the possibility of transplanting European virtue to the New World. As such, these short works display an importance that should not be underestimated in considerations of the early eighteenth-century Atlantic world.

  1. 1. George Berkeley, An Essay towards Preventing the Ruin of Great Britain (London: J. Roberts, 1721), 26.

  2. 2. Berkeley's interest in missionary colleges in general may have been sparked by a sermon given by his patron St George Ashe (Bishop of Clogher) just before his European tour. See St George Ashe, A Sermon Preach'd before the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (London: J. Downing, 1715), 16–7.

  3. 3. George Berkeley to Percival, 4 March 1722/23, in George Berkeley, The Works of George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, Vol. 8, edited by A.A. Luce and T.E. Jessop (Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson, 1956), 127.

  4. 4. George Berkeley, A Proposal for the Better Supplying of Churches in our Foreign Plantations and for Converting the Savage Americans to Christianity (London: H. Woodfall, 1725), 4, 6.

  5. 5. Berkeley published two editions of his Proposal, with slight textual changes between the 1724 edition and that of 1725. In addition to adding a subtitle, the 1725 edition also addressed the need to convert slaves within the colonies (4–5), claimed that his plan “hath never been tried” before (17), argued that Native American students learn practical skills in addition to more “academic” pursuits (18), and included a postscript noting that he had obtained a royal charter, along with a list of subscribers to the venture (21–4). The only section of the 1724 edition that was removed unfavourably compared colonial colleges with Jesuit institutions in Italy. George Berkeley, A Proposal for the Better Supplying of Churches in our Foreign Plantations (London: H. Woodfall, 1724), 16.

  6. 6. Arthur Aston Luce, The Life of George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne (New York: Thomas Nelson, 1949), 225.

  7. 7. There are a number of worthwhile studies of Berkeley's philosophy, but many of them focus exclusively on his work while at Trinity College (Dublin) between 1709–13, during which time he wrote his Principles of Human Knowledge (1710) and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (1713). For examples of this tendency, see Ian Tipton, Berkeley: The Philosophy of Immaterialism (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1994 (1974)), 10; George Pappas, Berkeley's Thought (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000), 1; and John Russell Roberts, A Metaphysics for the Mob: The Philosophy of George Berkeley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), xv.

  8. 8. This was the original title of the poem when it was sent to Percival as “wrote by a friend of mine with a view to the scheme.” When later published in Berkeley's Miscellany (London, 1752), it was entitled “Verses by the Author on the Prospect of Planting Arts and Learning in America.” Although quite similar, Berkeley's second version is less emphatic about the colonies' potential. See Berkeley to Percival, 10 February 1725/26, in Works, 8, 151–3.

  9. 9. On the notion of a translatio religionis, see Laurence Dickey, “Translatio Imperii and Translatio Religionis: The ‘Geography of Salvation’ in Russian and American Messianic Thinking,” in The Cultural Gradient: The Transmission of Ideas in Europe, 1789–1991, edited by Catherine Evtuhov and Stephen Kotkin (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), 19–23. For a discussion of the translatio libertatis, see David S. Shields, Oracles of Empire: Poetry, Politics, and Commerce in British America, 1690–1750 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 16.

  10. 10. Edwin Gaustad suggests “neither his immaterialism nor his aestheticism, however, brought Berkeley to America. That feat was accomplished by his philosophy of history.” Edwin Gaustad, George Berkeley in America (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1979), 73. Also, see Rexmond C. Cochrane, “Bishop Berkeley and the Progress of the Arts and Learning: Notes on a Literary Convention,” Huntington Library Quarterly 17 (1954): 22949.

  11. 11. For an overview of the growth of missionary during the early eighteenth century, see Andrew Porter, Religion versus Empire? British Protestant Missionaries and Overseas Expansion, 1700–1714 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004); and Andrew Walls, “The Eighteenth-Century Protestant Missionary Awakening in its European Context,” in Christian Missions and the Enlightenment, edited by Brian Stanley (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2001), 22–44.

  12. 12. Berkeley to Percival, 4 March 1722/23, in Works, 8, 127–9. See Mircea Eliade, “Paradise and Utopia: Mythical Geography and Eschatology,” in Utopias and Utopian Thought, edited by Frank Manuel (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966), 263.

  13. 13. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 4.

  14. 14. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 4–5.

  15. 15. See Bernard C. Steiner, ed., Rev. Thomas Bray: His Life and Selected Works (New York: Arno Press, 1972 (1901)); Samuel C. McCulloch, “The Foundation and Early Work of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts,” Huntington Library Quarterly 8 (194445): 24158; and Verner W. Crane, “Dr. Thomas Bray and the Charitable Colony Project, 1730,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series 19 (1962): 4963.

  16. 16. For more information on Bray's involvement with the debate over the establishment of the Anglican Church in Maryland, see Samuel Clyde McCulloch, “Dr. Thomas Bray's Trip to Maryland: A Study in Militant Anglican Humanitarianism,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series 2 (1945): 1532.

  17. 17. Thomas Bray, Missionalia: Or, A Collection of Missionary Pieces Relating to the Conversion of the Heathen; Both the African Negroes and the American Indians (London: W. Roberts, 1727), 64. For a detailed comparison between Berkeley's plan and Bray's thought, see Bernard C. Steiner, “Two Eighteenth Century Missionary Plans,” Sewanee Review 11 (1902): 289305.

  18. 18. Bray, Missionalia, 105.

  19. 19. Bray, Missionalia, 98.

  20. 20. Gaustad, George Berkeley in America, 47.

  21. 21. When Berkeley returned from Rhode Island, he gave the 1732 annual sermon for the SPG. See George Berkeley, A Sermon Preached before the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (London: J. Downing, 1732).

  22. 22. According to Costica Bradatan, the choice of an island was central to Berkeley's plan because he was moved by “a certain nostalgia for an earthly paradise,” whose “symbolic geography” could be placed within the context of “educational utopias.” Costica Bradatan, The Other Bishop Berkeley: An Exercise in Reenchantment (New York: Fordham University Press, 2006), 151–2.

  23. 23. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 8.

  24. 24. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 9.

  25. 25. Eliade, “Paradise and Utopia,” 262. Also see Jack Greene, The Intellectual Construction of America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993), 26; and Charles Withers, “Geography, Enlightenment, and the Paradise Question,” in Geography and Enlightenment, edited by David Livingstone and Charles Withers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), 70.

  26. 26. Jean Delumeau, History of Paradise: The Garden of Eden in Myth and Tradition, trans. Matthew O'Connell (Carbondale: University of Illinois Press, 2000 (1992)), 97–9.

  27. 27. Northrop Frye, “Varieties of Literary Utopias,” in Utopias and Utopian Thought, edited by Frank Manuel (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966), 37.

  28. 28. Carole Fabricant, “George Berkeley the Islander,” in The Global Eighteenth Century, edited by Felicity Nussbaum (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), 268; and Greene, The Intellectual Construction of America, 42–54.

  29. 29. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 11.

  30. 30. During the seventeenth century, “providence” was often cited to justify colonial projects; see Peter Harrison, “ ‘ Fill the Earth and Subdue it’: Biblical Warrants for Colonization in Seventeenth Century England,” Journal of Religious History 29 (2005): 57.

  31. 31. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 18, 9. Purchas's Pilgrims is mentioned with regards to the use of royal charters to encourage the spread of the gospel in American colonies.

  32. 32. For information concerning the sermons of the SPG within an imperial context, see Frank Klingberg, Anglican Humanitarianism in Colonial New York (New York: Church Historical Society, 1940), 11–27; and Rowan Strong, “A Vision of an Anglican Imperialism: The Annual Sermons of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts 1701–1714,” Journal of Religious History 30 (2006): 175.

  33. 33. George Stanhope, The Early Conversion of Islanders a Wise Expedient for Propagating Christianity. A Sermon Preached before the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts . . . 1713–14 (London: J. Downing, 1714), 7–8.

  34. 34. Berkeley's strategy of using Native American language to help facilitate the process of on conversion echoed Bray's earlier efforts. In 1700, Bray stressed that it was “of the highest consequence to the Preservation of our Plantations, to have those Indians, which border upon us, brought over to our Religion, in order to hold them in a stricter Alliance with us.” This goal was so important that Bray hoped to “obtain from the Publick such a Fund, as may maintain . . . such persons, as will learn their Language, live with them, and preach the Gospel amongst them.” Thomas Bray, A Memorial Representing the Present State of Religion, on the Continent of North America (London: William Downing, 1700), 7.

  35. 35. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 6.

  36. 36. For information concerning “primitivism,” see Anthony Pagden, European Encounters with the New World (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993); David Spadafora, The Idea of Progress in Eighteenth-Century Britain (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990); and Lois Whitney's Primitivism and the Idea of Progress in English Popular Literature of the Eighteenth Century (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1934).

  37. 37. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 16.

  38. 38. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 17.

  39. 39. On this point, Berkeley's plan bears a close resemblance to the strategies used by French colonists during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. See James Axtell, The Invasion Within: The Contest of Cultures in Colonial North America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985). Early in his career, Bray had suggested similar techniques when comparing English missionary efforts with those of the French but repudiated this position in his response to Berkeley. Compare Bray, Memorial, 7 and Bray, Missionalia, 57–65.

  40. 40. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 6.

  41. 41. Berkeley mentioned in passing that these students would take their orders in England “until such Time as Episcopacy be established in those Parts.” Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 6. See Gaustad, George Berkeley in America, 194–5; Arthur Cross, The Anglican Episcopate and the American Colonies (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1964 (1902)), 52–87; and Carl Bridenbaugh, Mitre and Sceptre: Transatlantic Faiths, Ideas, Personalities, and Politics 1689–1775 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962), 27–30.

  42. 42. See Axtell, The Invasion Within, 271–329.

  43. 43. Bray, Missionalia, 96–7. Despite Bray's complaints about Berkeley's characterisation of the work of the SPG, Laura Stevens has observed that among “British groups who attempted to convert Indians during the colonial period,” the SPG was “the least successful.” Laura Stevens, The Poor Indians: British Missionaries, Native Americans, and Colonial Sensibility (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 111.

  44. 44. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 7. Also, see Berkeley, Ruin of Great Britain, 17–8.

  45. 45. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 12.

  46. 46. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 6. The suggestion of kidnapping Native American children outraged Bray, who could “only pray to God, not to deliver us to such an Infatuation, as to use the most Unchristian, or rather the most Anti-Christian Method to propagate the Gospel.” Bray, Missionalia, 73.

  47. 47. See W. Byrd to Percival, 10 June 1729, in Benjamin Rand, Berkeley and Percival (Cambridge: 1914), 243. Also, see David Berman, George Berkeley: Idealism and the Man (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 133.

  48. 48. The Jewish-Indian hypothesis had been advanced as early as 1650 by figures such as John Eliot and Thomas Thorowgood in an effort to reconcile the presence of people in the New World with the Bible. See Harry Bracken, “Bishop Berkeley's Messianism,” in Millenarianism and Messianism in English Literature and Thought, 1650–1800, edited by R.H. Popkin (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1988), 73; J.F. Maclear, “New England and the Fifth Monarchy: The Quest for the Millennium in Early American Puritanism,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series 32 (1975), 2438.

  49. 49. Bradatan, The Other Bishop Berkeley, 165.

  50. 50. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 14.

  51. 51. Berkeley, Proposal (1725), 18.

  52. 52. Sacvan Bercovitch, The Puritan Origins of the American Self (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1975), 145–6.

  53. 53. Dickey, “Translatio Religionis,” 19–23.

  54. 54. Zachary Pearce, A Sermon Preached before the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts . . . 1729 (London: J. Downing, 1730), 26.

  55. 55. John Denne, A Sermon Preached before the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts . . . 1730 (London: J. Downing, 1730), 62.

  56. 56. Richard Smallbroke, A Sermon Preached before the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts . . . 1732 (London: J. Downing, 1733), 44.

  57. 57. This is not to say that Berkeley's poem caused this line of thought in America, but rather that it may be seen as the “most graceful expression” of this belief. See Joseph J. Ellis, After the Revolution (New York: Norton, 1979), 7.

  58. 58. Berkeley, “America,” in George Berkeley, The Works of George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, Vol. 7, edited by A.A. Luce and T.E. Jessop (Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson, 1955), 373 (ln. 1–3).

  59. 59. Berkeley, “America,” in Works, 7, 373 (ln. 13–14, 17).

  60. 60. Berkeley, “America,” in Works, 7, 373 (ln. 21–24).

  61. 61. Berman, George Berkeley, 118.

  62. 62. Ernest Lee Tuveson, Redeemer Nation: The Idea of America's Millennial Role (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), 94.

  63. 63. J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975), 511.

  64. 64. Cochrane also claims that Berkeley's “reference to the westward course of empire (in the sense of political dominion) . . . [was] seldom if even encountered in the convention, except by implication, before his Verses.” Cochrane does note that the idea of a translatio imperii existed prior to the eighteenth century but claims that the significance of this idea had failed to reach England until after Berkeley's poem. As argued above, these contentions underestimate the strength and prevalence of the translatio process in England following the discovery of the New World. Cochrane, “Bishop Berkeley,” 230, 232–3 (fn. 9).

  65. 65. For an account of Berkeley's enthusiastic reception by the Scriblerus Club, see Joseph Warton, An Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope, Vol. 2 (London: J. Dodsley, 1782), 204.

  66. 66. Berkeley, Berkeley's Petition, in Works, 7, 363.

  67. 67. In a letter to Thomas Prior, Berkeley noted that he had “obtained reports from the Bishop of London, the Board of Trade and Plantations, and the Attorney and Solicitor General in favour of the Bermuda scheme.” Berkeley to Prior, 20 April 1725, in Works, 8, 137.

  68. 68. Berkeley to Prior, 3 June 1725, in Works, 8, 137.

  69. 69. Berkeley to Prior, 12 June 1725, in Works, 8, 138.

  70. 70. Berkeley to Percival, 28 December 1725, in Works, 8, 144.

  71. 71. Luce, The Life of George Berkeley, 108.

  72. 72. Berkeley to Percival, 10 February 1725/26, in Works, 8, 151.

  73. 73. Berkeley to Percival, 17 May 1726, in Works, 8, 156.

  74. 74. Berkeley to Prior, 1 December 1726, in Works, 8, 175.

  75. 75. Berkeley to Newman, 29 March 1730, in Works, 8, 206–7. Newman had written that “some good Men are apprehensive that the time is coming when the Gospel that has left the Eastern parts of the world to reside in the Western parts of it for some Centuries past is now, by the just judgment of God, taking leave of us to be receiv'd in America.” Henry Newman to Berkeley, 17 September 1729, quoted in Gaustad, George Berkeley in America, 77.

  76. 76. Berkeley confided that “Now, as to my own affair, I must tell you that I have no intention of continuing in these parts but in order to settle the College his Majesty hath been pleased to found at Bermuda.” Berkeley to Prior, 7 May 1730, in Works, 8, 209.

  77. 77. Walpole's failure to fund Berkeley's plan may have stemmed from a number of reasons. The extended delay in moving forward, coupled with Berkeley's absence from London, resulted in a cooling of enthusiasm. Additionally, half of the £20,000 may have been “appropriated as a marriage portion of the Princess Ann, on her nuptials with the Prince of Orange.” The remaining £10,000 was granted to Berkeley's long-time friend James Oglethorpe to fund the colonisation of Georgia. Luce, The Life of George Berkeley, 143 and Thaddeus Harris, Biographical Memorials of James Oglethorpe, Founder of the Colony of Georgia (Boston: Freeman and Bolles, 1841), 336.