Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 4


Drake--Cavendish--De Noort--Walter Raleigh.

A very poor cottage at Tavistock in Devonshire was the birthplace in 1540, of Francis Drake, who was destined to gain millions by his indomitable courage, which however, he lost with as much facility as he had obtained them. Edmund Drake his father, was one of those clergy who devote themselves to the education of the people. His poverty was only equalled by the respect which was felt for his character. Burdened with a family as he was, the father of Francis Drake found himself obliged from necessity to allow his son to embrace the maritime profession, for which he had an ardent longing, and to serve as cabin-boy on board a coasting vessel which traded with Holland. Industrious, active, self-reliant, and saving, the young Francis Drake had soon acquired all the theoretical knowledge needed for the direction of a vessel. When he had realized a small sum, which was increased by the sale of a vessel bequeathed to him by his first master, he made more extended voyages; he visited the Bay of Biscay and the Gulf of Guinea, and laid out all his capital in purchasing a cargo which he hoped to sell in the West Indies. But no sooner had he arrived at Rio de la Hacha, than both ship and cargo were confiscated, we know not under what frivolous pretext. All the remonstrances of Drake, who thus saw himself ruined, were useless. He vowed to avenge himself for such a piece of injustice, and he kept his word.

In 1567, two years after this adventure, a small fleet of six vessels, of which the largest was of 700 tons' burden, left Plymouth with the sanction of the Queen, to make an expedition to the Coasts of Mexico. Drake was in command of a ship of fifty tons. At first starting they captured some negroes on the Cape de Verd Islands, a sort of rehearsal of what was destined to take place in Mexico. Then they besieged La Mina, where some more negroes were taken, which they sold at the Antilles. Hawkins, doubtless by the advice of Drake, captured the town of Rio de la Hacha; after which he reached St. Jean d'Ulloa, having encountered a fearful storm. But the harbour contained a numerous fleet, and was defended by formidable artillery. The English fleet was defeated, and Drake had much difficulty in regaining the English coast in January, 1568.

Drake afterwards made two expeditions to the West Indies for the purpose of studying the country. When he considered himself to have acquired the necessary information, he fitted out two vessels at his own expense: the Swan, of twenty-five tons, commanded by his brother John, and the Pasha of Plymouth, of seventy tons. The two vessels had as crew seventy-three jack-tars, who could be thoroughly depended on. From July, 1572, to August, 1573, sometimes alone, sometimes in concert with a certain Captain Rawse, Drake made a lucrative cruise upon the coasts of the Gulf of Darien, attacked the towns of Vera Cruz and of Nombre de Dios, and obtained considerable spoil. Unfortunately these enterprises were not carried out without much cruelty and many acts of violence which would make men of the present day blush. But we will not dwell upon the scenes of piracy and barbarity which are only too frequently met with in the sixteenth century.

After assisting in the suppression of the rebellion in Ireland, Drake, whose name was beginning to be well known, was presented to Queen Elizabeth. He laid before her his project of going to ravage the western coasts of South America, by passing through the Strait of Magellan, and he obtained, with the title of admiral, a fleet of six vessels, on board of which were 160 picked sailors.

Francis Drake started from Plymouth on the 15th November, 1577. He had some intercourse with the Moors of Mogador, of which he had no reason to boast, made some captures of small importance before arriving at the Cape de Verd Islands, where he took in fresh provisions, and then was fifty-six days in crossing the Atlantic and reaching the coast of Brazil, which he followed as far as the estuary of La Plata, where he laid in a supply of water. He afterwards arrived at Seal Bay in Patagonia, where he traded with the natives, and killed a great number of penguins and sea-wolves for the nourishment of his crew. "Some of the Patagonians who were seen on the 13th May a little below Seal Bay," says the original narrative, "wore on the head a kind of horn, and nearly all had many beautiful birds' feathers by way of hats. They also had the face painted and diversified by several kinds of colours, and they each held a bow in the hand, from which every-time they drew it, they discharged two arrows. They were very agile, and as far as we could see, well instructed in the art of making war, for they kept good order in marching and advancing, and for so few men as they were, they made themselves appear a large number." M. Charton, in his Voyageurs Anciens et Modernes, notices that Drake does not mention the extraordinary stature which Magellan had attributed to the Patagonians. For this there is more than one good reason. There exists in Patagonia more than one tribe, and the description here given by Drake of the savages whom he met, does not at all resemble that given by Pigafetta of the Patagonians of Port St. Julian. If there exist, as seems now to be proved, a race of men of great stature, their habitat appears fixed upon the shores of the Strait at the southern extremity of Patagonia, and not at fifteen days' sail from Port Desire, at which Drake arrived on the 2nd June. On the following day he reached the harbour of St. Julian, where he found a gibbet erected of yore by Magellan for the punishment of some rebellious members of his crew. Drake in his turn, chose this spot to rid himself of one of his captains, named Doughty, who had been long accused of treason and underhand dealing, and who on several occasions had separated himself from the fleet. Some sailors having confessed that he had solicited them to join with him in frustrating the voyage, Doughty was convicted of the crimes of rebellion, and of tampering with the sailors, and according to the laws of England, he was condemned by a court martial to be beheaded. This sentence was immediately executed, although Doughty until the last moment vehemently declared his innocence. Was his guilt thoroughly proved? If Drake were accused upon his return to England--in spite of the moderation which he always evinced towards his men,--of having taken advantage of the opportunity to get rid of a rival whom he dreaded, it is difficult to conceive that the forty judges who pronounced the sentence should have concerted together to further the secret designs of their admiral and condemn an innocent man.

On the 20th of August, the fleet, now reduced to three vessels--two of the ships having been so much damaged that they were at once destroyed by the admiral--entered the strait, which had not been traversed since the time of Magellan. Although he met with fine harbours, Drake found that it was difficult to anchor in them, on account both of the depth of the water close to the shore, and of the violence of the wind, which, blowing as it did in sudden squalls, rendered navigation dangerous. During a storm which was encountered at the point where the strait opens into the Pacific, Drake beheld one of his ships founder, while his last companion was separated from him a few days afterwards, nor did he see her again until the end of the campaign. Driven by the currents to the south of the strait as far as 55 degrees 40 minutes, Drake had now only his own vessel; but by the injury which he did to the Spaniards, he showed what ravages he would have committed if he had had still under his command the fleet with which he left England. During a descent upon the island of Mocha, the English had two men killed and several wounded, while Drake himself, hit by two arrows on the head, found himself utterly unable to punish the Indians for their perfidy. In the harbour of Valparaiso he captured a vessel richly laden with the wines of Chili, and with ingots of gold valued at 37,000 ducats; afterwards he pillaged the town, which had been precipitately abandoned by its inhabitants. At Coquimbo, the people were forewarned of his approach, so that he found there a strong force, which obliged him to re-embark. At Arica he plundered three small vessels, in one of which he found fifty-seven bars of silver valued at 2006l. In the harbour of Lima, where were moored twelve ships or barks, the booty was considerable. But what most rejoiced the heart of Drake was to learn that a galleon named the Cagafuego, very richly laden, was sailing towards Paraca. He immediately went in pursuit, capturing on the way a bark carrying 80 lbs. of gold, which would be worth 14,080 French crowns, and in the latitude of San Francisco he seized without any difficulty the Cagafuego, in which he found 80 lbs. weight of gold. This caused the Spanish pilot to say, laughing, "Captain, our ship ought no longer to be called Cagafuego (spit-fire), but rather Caga-Plata (spit money), it is yours which should be named Caga-Fuego." After making some other captures more or less valuable, upon the Peruvian coast, Drake, learning that a considerable fleet was being prepared to oppose him, thought it time to return to England. For this, there were three different routes open to him: he might again pass the Strait of Magellan, or he might cross the Southern Sea, and doubling the Cape of Good Hope might so return to the Atlantic Ocean, or he could sail up the coast of China and return by the Frozen Sea and the North Cape. It was this last alternative, as being the safest of the three, which was adopted by Drake. He therefore put out to sea, reached the 38 degrees of north latitude, and landed on the shore of the Bay of San Francisco, which had been discovered three years previously by Bodega. It was now the month of June, the temperature was very low, and the ground covered with snow. The details given by Drake of his reception by the natives, are curious enough: "When we arrived, the savages manifested great admiration at the sight of us, and thinking that we were gods, they received us with great humanity and reverence."

"As long as we remained, they continued to come and visit us, sometimes bringing us beautiful plumes made of feathers of divers colours, and sometimes petun (tobacco) which is a herb in general use among the Indians. But before presenting these things to us, they stopped at a little distance, in a spot where we had pitched our tents. Then they made a long discourse after the manner of a harangue, and when they had finished, they laid aside their bows and arrows in that place, and approached us to offer their presents."

"The first time they came their women remained in the same place, and scratched and tore the skin and flesh of their cheeks, lamenting themselves in a wonderful manner, whereat we were much astonished. But we have since learnt that it was a kind of sacrifice which they offered to us."

The facts given by Drake with regard to the Indians of California are almost the only ones which he furnishes upon the manners and customs of the nations which he visited. We would draw the reader's attention here, to that custom of long harangues which the traveller especially remarks, just as Cartier had observed upon it forty years earlier, and which is so noticeable amongst the Canadian Indians at the present day. Drake did not advance farther north and gave up his project of returning by the Frozen Sea. When he again set sail, it was to descend towards the Line, to reach the Moluccas, and to return to England by the Cape of Good Hope. As this part of the voyage deals with countries already known, and as the observations made by Drake are neither numerous nor novel, our narrative here shall be brief.

On the 13th of October, 1579, Drake arrived in latitude 8 degrees north, at a group of islands of which the inhabitants had their ears much lengthened by the weight of the ornaments suspended to them; their nails were allowed to grow, and appeared to serve as defensive weapons, while their teeth, "black as ship's pitch," contracted this colour from the use of the betel-nut. After resting for a time, Drake passed by the Philippines, and on the 14th of November arrived at Ternate. The king of this island came alongside, with four canoes bearing his principal officers dressed in their state costumes. After an interchange of civilities and presents, the English received some rice, sugar-canes, fowls, figo, cloves, and sago. On the morrow, some of the sailors who had landed, were present at a council. "When the king arrived, a rich umbrella or parasol all embroidered in gold was borne before him. He was dressed after the fashion of his country, but with extreme magnificence, for he was enveloped from the shoulders with a long cloak of cloth of gold reaching to the ground. He wore as an ornament upon the head, a kind of turban made of the same stuff, all worked in fine gold and enriched with jewels and tufts. On his neck there hung a fine gold chain many times doubled, and formed of broad links. On his fingers, he had six rings of very valuable stones, and his feet were encased in shoes of morocco leather."

After remaining some time in the country to refresh his crew, Drake again put to sea, but his ship on the 9th of January, 1580, struck on a rock, and to float her off it was necessary to throw overboard eight pieces of ordnance and a large quantity of provisions. A month later, Drake arrived at Baratena Island where he repaired his ship. This island afforded much silver, gold, copper, sulphur, spices, lemons, cucumbers, cocoa-nuts, and other delicious fruits. "We loaded our vessels abundantly with these, being able to certify that since our departure from England we have not visited any place where we have found more comforts in the way of food and fresh provisions than in this island and that of Ternate."

After quitting this richly endowed island, Drake landed at Greater Java, where he was very warmly welcomed by the five kings amongst whom the island was partitioned, and by the inhabitants. "These people are of a fine degree of corpulence, they are great connoisseurs in arms, with which they are well provided, such as swords, daggers, and bucklers, and all these arms are made with much art." Drake had been some little time at Java when he learnt that not far distant there was a powerful fleet at anchor, which he suspected must belong to Spain; to avoid it he put to sea in all haste. He doubled the Cape of Good Hope during the first days of June, and after stopping at Sierra Leone to take in water, he entered Plymouth harbour on the 3rd November, 1580, after an absence of three years all but a few days.

The reception which awaited him in England was at first extremely cold. His having fallen by surprise both upon Spanish towns and ships, at a time when the two nations were at peace, rightly caused him to be regarded by a portion of society as a pirate, who tramples under foot the rights of nations. For five months the Queen herself, under the pressure of diplomatic proprieties, pretended to be ignorant of his return. But at the end of that time, either because circumstances had altered, or because she did not wish to show herself any longer severe towards the skilful sailor, she repaired to Deptford where Drake's ship was moored, went on board, and conferred the honour of knighthood upon the navigator.

From this period Drake's part as a discoverer is ended, and his after-life as a warrior and as the implacable enemy of the Spaniards does not concern us. Loaded with honours, and invested with important commands, Drake died at sea on the 28th January, 1596, during an expedition against the Spaniards.

To him pertains the honour of having been the second to pass through the Strait of Magellan, and to have visited Tierra del Fuego as far as the parts about Cape Horn. He also ascended the coast of North America to a point higher than any his predecessors had attained, and he discovered several islands and archipelagos. Being a very clever navigator, he made the transit through the Strait of Magellan with great rapidity. If there are but very few discoveries due to him, this is probably either because he neglected to record them in his journal, or because he often mentions them in so inaccurate a manner that it is scarcely possible to recognize the places. It was he who inaugurated that privateering warfare by which the English, and later on the Dutch, were destined to inflict much injury upon the Spaniards. And the large profits accruing to him from it, encouraged his contemporaries, and gave birth in their minds to the love for long and hazardous voyages.

Among all those who took example by Drake, the most illustrious was undoubtedly Thomas Cavendish or Candish. Cavendish joined the English marine service at a very early age; and passed a most stormy youth, during which he rapidly dissipated his modest fortune. That which play had robbed him of, he resolved to recover from the Spaniards. Having in 1585 obtained letters of mark, he made a cruise to the East Indies and returned with considerable booty. Encouraged by his easy success as a highwayman on the great maritime roads, he thought that if he could acquire some honour and glory while engaged in making his fortune, so much the better would it be for him. With this idea he bought three ships, the Desire, of twenty tons, the Content, of sixty tons, and the Hugh Gallant, of forty tons, upon which he embarked one hundred and twenty-three soldiers and sailors. Setting sail on the 22nd July, 1586, he passed by the Canaries, and landed at Sierra Leone, which town he attacked and plundered; then, sailing again, he crossed the Atlantic, sighted Cape Sebastian in Brazil, sailed along the coast of Patagonia, and arrived on the 27th November at Port Desire. He found there an immense quantity of dog-fish, very large, and so strong that four men could with difficulty kill them, and numbers of birds, which, having no wings, could not fly, and which fed upon fish. They are classed under the general names of auks and penguins. In this very secure harbour, the ships were drawn up on shore to be repaired. During his stay at this place Cavendish had some skirmishes with the Patagonians,--"men of gigantic size, and having feet eighteen inches long"--who wounded two of the sailors with arrows tipped with sharpened flints.

On the 7th January, 1587, Cavendish entered the Strait of Magellan, and in the narrowest part of it received on board his ships one-and-twenty Spaniards and two women, the sole survivors of the colony founded three years previously, under the name of Philippeville, by Captain Sarmiento. This town, which had been built to bar the passage through the strait, had possessed no fewer than four forts as well as several churches. Cavendish could discern the fortress, then deserted and already falling into ruins. Its inhabitants, who had been completely prevented by the continual attacks of the savages from gathering in their harvests, had died of hunger, or had perished in endeavouring to reach the Spanish settlements in Chili. The Admiral, upon hearing this lamentable tale, changed the name of Philippeville into that of Port Famine, under which appellation the place is known at the present day. On the 21st the ships entered a beautiful bay, which received the name of Elizabeth, and in which was buried the carpenter of the Hugh Gallant. Not far from thence a fine river fell into the sea, on the banks of which dwelt the anthropophagi who had fought so fiercely with the Spaniards, and who endeavoured, but in vain, to entice the Englishmen into the interior of the country.

On the 24th February, as the little squadron came forth from the strait, it encountered a violent storm, which dispersed it. The Hugh Gallant, left alone, and letting in water in all directions, was only kept afloat with the greatest trouble. Rejoined on the 15th by his consorts, Cavendish tried in vain to land on Mocha Island, where Drake had been so maltreated by the Araucanians. This country, rich in gold and silver, had hitherto successfully resisted all Spanish attempts to subjugate it, and its inhabitants, fully determined to maintain their liberty, repulsed by force of arms every attempt to land. It was necessary therefore to go to the island of St. Maria, where the Indians, who took the Englishmen for Spaniards, furnished them with abundance of maize, fowls, sweet potatoes, pigs, and other provisions.

On the 30th March, Cavendish dropped anchor in 32 degrees 50 minutes in the Bay of Quintero. A party of thirty musketeers advanced into the country and met with oxen, cows, wild horses, hares, and partridges in abundance. The little troop was attacked by the Spaniards, and Cavendish was obliged to return to his ships after losing twelve of his men. He afterwards ravaged, plundered, or burnt the towns of Paraca, Cincha, Pisca, and Païta, and devastated the island of Puna, where he obtained a booty in coined money of the value of 25,760l. After having scuttled the Hugh Gallant, which was totally unfit any longer to keep the water, Cavendish continued his profitable cruising, burnt, in the latitude of New Spain, a ship of 120 tons, plundered and burnt Aguatulio, and captured, after six hours of fighting, a vessel of 708 tons, laden with rich stuffs, and with 122,000 gold pesos. Then, "victorious and contented," Cavendish wished to secure the great spoils which he was conveying against any chance of danger. He touched at the Ladrones, the Philippines, and Greater Java, doubled the Cape of Good Hope, recruited himself at St. Helena, and on the 9th September, 1588, anchored at Plymouth, after two years of sailing, privateering, and fighting. At the end of two years after his return, of all the great fortune which he had brought back with him, there remained only a sum sufficient for the fitting out of a third, and as it proved, a last expedition.

Cavendish started on the 6th August, 1591, with five vessels, but a storm on the coast of Patagonia scattered the flotilla, which could not be collected again until the arrival at Port Desire. Assailed by fearful hurricanes in the Strait of Magellan, Cavendish was obliged to go back, after having seen himself deserted by three of his ships. The want of fresh provisions, the cold, and the privations of all kinds which he underwent, and which had decimated his crew, forced him to return northwards along the coast of Brazil, where the Portuguese opposed every attempt at landing. He was therefore obliged to put to sea again without having been able to revictual. Cavendish died, from grief perhaps as much as from hardships, before he reached the English coast.

One year after the return of the companions of Barentz, two ships, the Mauritius and the Hendrik Fredrik, with two yachts, the Eendracht and Espérance, having on board a crew of 248 men, quitted Amsterdam on the 2nd July, 1598. The commander-in-chief of this squadron was Oliver de Noort, a man at that time about thirty or thereabouts, and well known as having made several long cruising voyages. His second in command and vice-admiral was Jacob Claaz d'Ulpenda, and as pilot there was a certain Melis, a skilful sailor of English origin. This expedition, fitted out by the merchants of Amsterdam with the concurrence and aid of the States-General of Holland, had a double purpose; at once commercial and military. Formerly the Dutch had contented themselves with fetching from Portugal the merchandise which they distributed by means of their coasting vessels throughout Europe; but now they were reduced to the necessity of going to seek the commodities in the scene of their production. For this object, De Noort was to show his countrymen the route inaugurated by Magellan, and on the way to inflict as much injury as he could upon the Spaniards and Portuguese. At this period Philip II., whose yoke the Dutch had shaken off, and who had just added Portugal to his possessions, had forbidden his subjects to have any commercial intercourse with the rebels of the Low Countries. It was thus a necessity for Holland if she did not wish to be ruined, and as a consequence, to fall anew under Spanish rule, to open up for herself a road to the Spice Islands. The route which was the least frequented by the enemy's ships was that by the Strait of Magellan, and this was the one which De Noort was ordered to follow.

After touching at Goree, the Dutch anchored in the Gulf of Guinea, at the Island do Principe. Here the Portuguese pretended to give a friendly welcome to the men who went on shore, but they took advantage of a favourable opportunity, to fall upon and massacre them without mercy. Among the dead were Cornille de Noort, brother of the admiral, Melis, Daniel Goerrits, and John de Bremen--the captain, Peter Esias, being the only man who escaped. It was a sorrowful commencement for a campaign, a sad presage which was destined not to remain unfulfilled. De Noort, who was furious over this foul play, landed from his ships 120 men; but he found the Portuguese so well entrenched, that after a brisk skirmish in which seventeen more of his men were either killed or wounded, he was obliged to weigh anchor without having been able to avenge the wicked and cowardly perfidy to which his brother and twelve of his companions had fallen victims. On the 25th December, one of the pilots named Jan Volkers, was abandoned on the African coast as a punishment for his disloyal intrigues, for endeavouring to foment a spirit of despondency amongst the crews, and for his well-proved rebellion. On the 5th January, the island of Annobon, situated in the Gulf of Guinea, a little below the Line, was sighted, and the course of the ships was changed for crossing the Atlantic. De Noort had scarcely cast anchor in the Bay of Rio Janeiro before he sent some sailors on shore to obtain water and buy provisions from the natives; but the Portuguese opposed the landing, and killed eleven men. Afterwards, repulsed from the coast of Brazil by the Portuguese and the natives, driven back by contrary winds, having made vain efforts to reach the island of St. Helena, where they had hoped to obtain the provisions of which they were in the most pressing want, the Dutchmen, deprived of their pilot, toss at random upon the ocean. They land upon the desert islands of Martin Vaz, again reach the coast of Brazil at Rio Doce, which they mistake for Ascension Island, and are finally obliged to winter in the desert island of Santa Clara. The putting into port at this place was marked by several disagreeable events. The flag-ship struck upon a rock with so much violence that had the sea been a little rougher, she must have been lost. There were also some bloody and barbarous executions of mutinous sailors, notably that of a poor man, who having wounded a pilot with a knife thrust, was condemned to have his hand nailed to the mainmast. The invalids, of whom there were many on board the fleet, were brought on shore, and nearly all were cured by the end of a fortnight. From the 2nd to the 21st of June, De Noort remained in this island, which was not more than three miles from the mainland. But before putting to sea he was obliged to burn the Eendracht, as he had not sufficient men to work her. It was not until the 20th December, after having been tried by many storms, that he was able to cast anchor in Port Desire, where the crew killed in a few days a quantity of dog-fish and sea-lions, as well as more than five thousand penguins. "The general landed," says the French translation of De Noort's narrative, published by De Bry, "with a party of armed men, but they saw nobody, only some graves placed on high situations among the rocks, in which the people bury their dead, putting upon the grave a great quantity of stones, all painted red, having besides adorned the graves with darts, plumes of feathers, and other singular articles which they use as arms."

The Dutch saw also, but at too great a distance to shoot them, buffalos, stags, and ostriches, and from a single nest they obtained ten ostrich eggs. Captain Jacob Jansz Huy de Cooper, died during the stay at this place, and was interred at Port Desire. On the 23rd November, the fleet entered the Strait of Magellan. During a visit to the shore three Dutchmen were killed by some Patagonians, and their death was avenged by the massacre of a whole tribe of Enoos. The long navigation through the narrows and the lakes of the Strait of Magellan was signalized by the meeting with two Dutch ships, under the command of Sebald de Weerdt, who had wintered not far from the Bay of Mauritius, and by the abandoning of Vice-admiral Claaz, who, as it would appear, had been several times guilty of insubordination. Are not these acts, which we see so frequently committed by English, Dutch, and Spanish navigators, a true sign of the times? A deed which we should regard now-a-days as one of terrible barbarity seemed, doubtless, a relatively mild punishment in the eyes of men so accustomed to set but little value upon human life. Nevertheless, could anything be more cruel than to abandon a man in a desert country, without arms and without provisions, to put him on shore in a country peopled by ferocious cannibals, prepared to make a repast on his flesh; what was it but condemning him to a horrible death?

On the 29th of February, 1600, De Noort, after having been ninety-nine days in passing through the strait, came out on to the Pacific Ocean. A fortnight later, a storm separated him from the Hendrik Fredrik, which was never again heard of. As for De Noort, who had now with him only one yacht besides his own vessel, he cast anchor at the island of Mocha, and, unlike the experience of his predecessors, he was very well received by the natives. Afterwards he sailed along the coast of Chili, where he was able to obtain provisions in abundance in exchange for Nuremberg knives, hatchets, shirts, hats, and other articles of no great value. After ravaging, plundering, and burning several towns on the Peruvian coast, after sinking all the vessels that he met with, and amassing a considerable booty, De Noort, hearing that a squadron commanded by the brother of the viceroy, Don Luis de Velasco, had been sent in pursuit of him, judged it time to make for the Ladrone Islands, where he anchored on the 16th of September. "The inhabitants came around our ship with more than 200 canoes, there being three, four, or five men in each canoe, crying out all together: 'Hierro, hierro' (iron, iron), which is greatly in request amongst them. They are as much at home in the water as upon land, and are very clever divers, as we perceived when we threw five pieces of iron into the sea, which a single man went to search for." De Noort could testify unfortunately, that these islands well deserved their name. The islanders tried even to drag the nails out of the ship, and carried off everything upon which they could lay their hands. One of them, having succeeded in climbing along a part of the rigging, had the audacity to enter a cabin and seize upon a sword, with which he threw himself into the sea.

On the 14th October following, De Noort traversed the Philippine Archipelago, where he made several descents, and burnt, plundered, or sunk a number of Spanish or Portuguese vessels, and some Chinese junks. While cruising in the Strait of Manilla he was attacked by two large Spanish vessels, and in the battle which followed the Dutch had five men killed, and twenty-five wounded and lost their brigantine, which was captured with her crew of twenty-five men. The Spaniards lost more than 200 men, for their flag-ship caught fire and sank. Far from picking up the wounded and the able-bodied men, who were trying to save themselves by swimming, the Dutch, "making way with sails set on the foremast, across the heads which were to be seen in the water, pierced some with lances, and also discharged their cannon over them." After this bloody and fruitless victory, De Noort went to recruit at Borneo, captured a rich cargo of spices at Java, and having doubled the Cape of Good Hope, landed at Rotterdam on the 26th of August, having only one ship and forty-eight men remaining. If the merchants who had defrayed the expenses of the expedition approved of the conduct of De Noort, who brought back a cargo which more than reimbursed them for their expenditure, and who had taught his countrymen the way to the Indies, it behoves us, while extolling his qualities as a sailor, to take great exception to the manner in which he exercised the command, and to mete out severe blame for the barbarity which has left a stain of blood upon the first Dutch voyage of circumnavigation.

We have now to speak of a man who, endowed with eminent qualities and with at least equal defects, carried on his life's work in divers, sometimes even in opposing directions, and who after having reached the highest summit of honour to which a gentleman could aspire, at last laid his head upon a scaffold, accused of treason and felony. This man is Sir Walter Raleigh. If he have any claim to a place in this portrait gallery of great sailors, it is neither as founder of any English colony nor as a sailor; it is as a discoverer, and what we have to say of him is not to his credit. Walter Raleigh passed five years in France fighting against the League, in the midst of all those Gascons who formed the basis of the armies of Henry of Navarre, and in such society he perfected the habits of boasting and falsehood which belonged to his character. In 1577, after a campaign in the Low Countries against the Spaniards, he returns to England and takes a deep interest in the questions so passionately debated among his three brothers by the mother's side, John, Humphrey, and Adrian Gilbert. At this period England was passing through a very grave economic crisis. The practice of agriculture was undergoing a transformation; in all directions grazing was being substituted for tillage, and the number of agricultural labourers was greatly reduced by the change. From thence arose general distress, and also such a surplussage of population as was fast becoming a matter of anxious concern. At the same time, to long wars succeeds a peace, destined to endure throughout the reign of Elizabeth, so that a great number of adventurers know not how to find indulgence for their love of violent emotions. At this moment, therefore, arises the necessity for such an emigration as may relieve the country of its population, may permit all the miserable people dying of hunger to provide for their own wants in a new country, and by that means may increase the influence and prosperity of the mother country. All the more thoughtful minds in England, who follow the course of public opinion--Hakluyt, Thomas Hariot, Carlyle, Peckham, and the brothers Gilbert--are struck with this need. But it is to the last named that belongs the credit of indicating the locality suitable for the establishing of colonies. Raleigh only joined with his brothers in the scheme, following their lead, but he neither conceived nor began the carrying into execution--as he has been too often credited with doing--of this fruitful project, the colonization of the American shores of the Atlantic. If Raleigh, all-powerful with Queen Elizabeth, fickle and nevertheless jealous in her affections as she was, encourage his brothers; if he expend himself 40,000l. sterling in his attempts at colonization, he still takes good care not to quit England, for the life of patience and self-devotion of the founder of a colony would have no attractions for him. He gives up and sells his patent as soon as he perceives the inutility of his efforts, while he does not forget to reserve for himself the fifth part of any profit arising eventually from the colony.

At the same time Raleigh fits out some vessels against the Spanish possessions; and himself soon takes part in the strife and the battles which saved England from the Invincible Armada, afterwards proceeding to support the claims of the Prior de Crato, to the throne of Portugal. It is a short time after his return to England that he falls into disgrace with his royal mistress, and after his release from prison, while he is confined to his princely mansion of Sherborne, he conceives the project of his voyage to Guiana. To his mind, this is a gigantic enterprise of which the marvellous results are destined to draw upon him the attention of the whole world, and to restore to him the favour of his sovereign. Would not the discovery and conquest of El Dorado, of the country in which according to Orellana, the temples are roofed with plates of gold, where all the tools, even those for the meanest purposes, are made of gold, where one walks upon precious stones, "procure for him greater glory," these are the very words which Raleigh employs in his account, "than Cortès had gained in Mexico, or Pizarro in Peru. He will have under him more golden towns and nations than the King of Spain, the Sultan of the Turks, and no matter what Emperor!" We have already spoken of the fables which Orellana had invented in 1539, and which had been the fruitful source of more than one legend. Humboldt discloses what had given them birth when he describes to us the nature of the soil and the rocks which surround Lake Parima, between the Essequibo and the Branco. "They are," says this great traveller, "rocks of micaceous slate, and of sparkling talc, which are resplendent in the midst of a sheet of water, which acts as a reflector beneath the burning tropical sun." So are explained those massive domes of gold, those obelisks of silver, and all those marvels of which the boastful and enthusiastic minds of the Spaniards afforded them a glimpse. Did Raleigh believe really in the existence of this city of gold, for the conquest of which he was about to sacrifice so many lives? Was he thoroughly convinced himself, or did he not yield to the illusions of a mind eager for glory? It is impossible to say, but this at least is indisputable, that, to borrow the just expressions of M. Philarète Chasles, "at the moment even of his embarkation men did not believe in his promises, they were suspicious of his exaggerations, and dreaded the results of an expedition directed by a man so fool-hardy, and of a morality so equivocal."

Nevertheless, it seemed that Raleigh had foreseen everything needful for this undertaking, and that he had made the necessary studies. Not only did he speak of the nature of the soil of Guiana, of its productions, and its inhabitants with imperturbable assurance, but he had taken care to send, at his own expense, a ship commanded by Captain Whiddon, to prepare the way for the fleet which he intended to conduct in person to the banks of the Orinoco. What he took good care, however, not to confide to the public, was that all the information he received from his emissary was unfavourable to the enterprise. Raleigh himself started from Plymouth on the 9th February, 1595, with a small fleet of five vessels, and 100 soldiers, without reckoning marines, officers, and volunteers. After stopping four days at Fortaventura, one of the Canaries, to take in wood and water there, he reached Teneriffe, where Captain Brereton ought to have rejoined him. Having waited for him in vain for eighty days, Raleigh sailed for Trinidad, where he met Whiddon. The island of Trinidad was at that time governed by Don Antonio de Berreo, who, it is said, had obtained accurate information concerning Guiana. The arrival of the English did not please him, and he immediately despatched emissaries to Cumana and to Margarita, with orders to gather together the troops to attack the Englishmen, while at the same time he forbade any Indians or Spaniards to hold intercourse with them under pain of death. Raleigh, forewarned, determined to be beforehand with him. At nightfall he landed in secret with 100 men, captured the town of St. Joseph, to which the Indians set fire, without a blow, and carried off Berreo and the principal personages to the ships. At the same time arrived Captains Gifford and Knynin, from whom he had been separated upon the Spanish Coasts. Raleigh at once sailed for the Orinoco, entered Capuri Bay with a large galley and three boats carrying 100 sailors and soldiers, became entangled in the inextricable labyrinth of islands and canals which form the mouth of the river, and ascended the Orinoco for a distance of 330 miles. The account which Raleigh gives of his campaign is so fabulous, with the coolness of a Gascon transported to the banks of the Thames, he so heaps one falsehood upon the top of another, that one is almost tempted to class his narrative amongst the number of imaginary voyages. He says that some Spaniards who had seen the town of Manoa, called El Dorado, told him that this town exceeds in size and wealth all the towns in the world, and everything which the "conquistadores" had seen in America. "There is no winter there," he says; "a soil dry and fertile, with game, and birds of every species in great abundance, who filled the air with hitherto unknown notes; it was a real concert for us. My captain, sent to search for mines, perceived veins both of gold and silver; but as he had no tool but his sword, he was unable to detach these metals to examine them in detail; however, he carried away several bits of them which he reserved for future examination. A Spaniard of Caracas called this mine Madre del Oro (mother of gold)." Then, as Raleigh well knows that the public is on its guard against his exaggerations, he adds, "It will be thought perchance, that I am the sport of a false and cheating delusion, but why should I have undertaken a voyage thus laborious, if I had not entertained the conviction that there is not a country upon earth which is richer in gold than Guiana? Whiddon and Milechappe, our surgeon, brought back several stones which resembled sapphires. I showed these stones to several inhabitants of Orinoco, who have assured me that there exists an entire mountain of them." An old cacique of the age of 110, who nevertheless could still walk ten miles without fatigue, came to see Raleigh, boasted to him of the formidable power of the Emperor of Manoa, and proved to him that his forces were insufficient. He depicted these people as much civilized, as wearing clothes, and possessing great riches, especially in plates of gold; finally, he spoke to him of a mountain of pure gold. Raleigh relates that he wished to approach this mountain, but, sad mischance, it was at that moment half submerged. "It had the form of a tower, and appeared to me rather white than yellow. A torrent which precipitated itself from the mountain, swollen by the rains, made a tremendous noise, which could be heard at the distance of many miles, and which deafened our people. I recollected the description which Berreo had given of the brilliancy of the diamonds and of the other precious stones scattered over the various parts of the country. I had, however, some doubt as to the value of these stones; their extraordinary whiteness, nevertheless surprised me. After a short time of repose on the banks of the Vinicapara, and a visit to the village of the cacique, the latter promised to conduct me to the foot of the mountain by a circuitous route; but at the sight of the numerous difficulties which presented themselves, I preferred to return to the mouth of the Cumana, where the caciques of the neighbourhood came to bring various presents, consisting of the rare productions of the country." We will spare the reader the description of people three times taller than ordinary men, of cyclops, of natives who had their eyes upon the shoulders, their mouth in the chest, and the hair growing from the middle of the back--all affirmations seriously related, but which give to Raleigh's narrative a singular resemblance to a fairy tale. One fancies while reading it that it must be a page taken out of the Thousand and one Nights.

If we put on one side all these figments of an imagination run mad, what gain has been derived for geography? There was certainly no pains spared in announcing with much noise, and very great puffing, this fantastic expedition, and we may well say with the fable-writer,--

"In fancy free I an author see, Who says, 'The awful war I'll sing Of Titans with the Thunder-King:' Of this grand promise the result, we find, Is often wind."

Jules Verne

Sorry, no summary available yet.