« PreviousContinue »
concerned him very nearly to secure an estate somewhere else; and therefore this parade was not from any principle of vanity, but from justifiable prudence and good economy, especially under the full expectation, as we may suppose him to have then been, of settling a colony in that part of the country. The important public consequences, also, which are said by later writers to have flowed from his conduct herein, will effectually do away all ridicule attending it. This formal possession now taken, in consequence of the prior discovery by Cabot, has been considered by the English as the foundation of the right and title of the crown of England to the territory of Newfoundland, and to the fishery on its banks. It is perhaps unnecessary to add, that their powerful navy has enabled them to support this right, however flimsy and exceptionable it may appear.
Sir Humphrey remained at St. John's some time, Is lost on to collect a tax of provisions, granted to him by to Engevery ship which fished upon the coast adjoining, to land. repair his ships, and in the mean time to explore the island. They found no inhabitants in the southern part of the island, the natives having probably abandoned it on its being so much frequented by Europeans; but in the northern there were some savages who appeared to be harmless and inoffensive in their tempers and dispositions. He now resolved to proceed in his discoveries southward; and accordingly sailed, on the 20th of August, from the harbour of St. John's. Pursuing this route for some days, they found themselves on the 29th of the month in the midst of dangerous shoals, in latitude 44°, somewhere about Nova Scotia or Cape Breton. Here they lost one of their best ships, in which pe
SECT. rished near a hundred persons. Of this number
was Stephen Parmenius Budeius, a learned Hunga1536. rian, who had accompanied the adventurers to record their discoveries and exploits. After this loss, the men being generally discouraged and in want of necessaries, Sir Humphrey proposed returning to England, having, in his judgment, made discoveries sufficient to procure assistance enough for a new voyage, in the succeeding spring. His people, when he made this proposal, were at first reluctant in their assent to it; but upon hearing his reasons, they submitted; and, according to his advice, on the last of August, they altered their course and steered for England. When they left St. John's, Sir Humphrey had embarked himself on board of the smallest vessel he had with him, which was only of ten tons burthen, thinking her the fittest for observing and discovering the coast. In a few days after they had taken their departure from Cape Race, the most eastern promontory of Newfoundland, they met with violent storms, attended with heavy seas, which so small a vessel was unable to sustain. About midnight, on the 9th of September, the men in the larger ship, having watched the lights in the small vessel in which Sir Humphrey was, observed them to be suddenly extinguished. It was supposed, that she sunk that instant, for she was never afterwards heard of. Thus perished a man, whose spirit of adventure certainly contributed much, at least by example, to the early population of British America, and whose genius and talents entitled him to better fortune.*
* Harris's Voyages, Vol. 2, p. 199, 200, Holmes's Annals, Vol. 1, p. 113.
Sir Walter Raleigh-his rise and character-obtains a renewal of Sir
THE laudable schemes of Sir Humphrey Gil- SECT. bert, happily for mankind, did not expire with him. His half and younger brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, 1584. as he appeared to inherit his useful qualities, seemed Sir Wal also to become heir to his pursuits. He was at this leigh, his period of time in high favour with the queen. Some character. writers seem to insinuate, that most of Queen Elizabeth's favourites were remarkable for their personal attractions. All historians who speak of Sir Walter appear to agree that he was conspicuous in his time, not only for the symmetry of his form and the manliness of his deportment, but for his insinuating address with the ladies. Although most authors place the era of his rise at court about this time, yet they do not agree so exactly in assigning the cause of it. The military eclat which he had, a a year or two before, acquired in Ireland, where he commanded a company under Lord Grey, against the Spaniards and Irish rebels, was, according to some, the cause of his being known at court. Others would have the earl of Leicester to have been the chief agent in his rise, who, being in the decline of life himself, thought that he might still continue to govern the queen through the interme
SECT. diate agency of Sir Walter's youthful form and pleasing manners. Others again, attribute his introduction at court to the influence of Ratcliffe, earl of Sussex, in order to supersede his great enemy, the earl of Leicester, himself. But his biographer, in a small tract of his life, prefixed to his History of the World,* thinks it proper to lay some stress on a ridiculous incident, which as he supposes, might have been one cause of his aggrandizement. For the mention of this he apologizes, by remarking, that "little transactions are often the best inlets to truth and the mysteries of state ;" and thus relates it: "Our captain (Raleigh) coming over out of Ireland upon the aforementioned cause to court, in very good habit, (which it seems was the greatest part of his estate,) which is often found to be no mean introducer where deserts are not known, found the queen walking, till she was stopt by a plashy place, which she scrupled treading on; presently he spread his new plush coat on the ground, on which the queen gently trod, being not a little pleased, as well as surprised, with so unexpected a compliment. Thus, as one remarks upon this story, an advantageous admission into the first notices of a prince, is more than half a degree to preferment.† For he presently after found some gracious beams of favour reflecting on him, which he was resolved, and well knew how, to cherish and contract. Το
* This tract here cited, does not appear to be the one written by Oldys, but one prior to it, printed in 1687.
+ Fuller's Worthies.
put the queen in remembrance, he wrote in a window obvious to her eye,
"Fain would I climb, yet fear I to fall;
which her majesty either espying or being shown, under-wrote this answer,
* See note (F) at the end of the volume.
† It would seem, that at this time, considerable foreign trade was carried on in the west of England, particularly in Devonshire, by some merchants and others, resident in that part of the country. Indeed, as will be seen hereafter, in the course of this work, the settlements of Virginia and New England, were principally owing to them. Among these public-spirited persons, the Gilbert and Raleigh family of that county seems conspicuous. It was in the year 1584, (new style), February 6th, a little more than a month prior to the grant to Sir Walter, that letters patent were granted to Mr. Adrian Gilbert, "of Sandridge, in the county of Devon, gentleman;" (whom we may suppose to have been a full brother to Sir Humphrey, and half brother to Sir Walter Raleigh,) and others, for the search and discovery of a passage
"If thy heart fail thee, climb not at all." Whichever of the foregoing causes be adopted, and it is probable that they all might have combined in his promotion, it is very certain, that he STOOD
HIGH AT THIS TIME IN THE FAVOUR OF THE
tains a re
Sir Walter, thus placed in a familiar intercourse He obwith royal authority, would naturally be led to avail newal of himself of his situation, in carrying into effect the Sir Humphrey's honourable schemes of his brother Sir Humphrey letters paGilbert; especially when those schemes were not himself. only congenial to a young and ambitious mind, but were also the means of recommendation to the patroness of his fortunes.† Having maturely digested