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ENGLAND BECOMES EMULOUS OF SPAIN.
of Archangel. This was the discovery of Russia," CHAP. and the commencement of maritime commerce with an that empire. A Spanish writer calls the result of the 1554 voyage “a discovery of new Indies.”1 The Russian nation, one of the oldest and least mixed in Europe, now awakening from a long lethargy, emerged into political distinction. We have seen that, about eleven years from this time, the first town in the United States' territory was permanently built. So rapid are the changes on the theatre of nations! One of the leading powers of the age, but about two and a half centuries ago became known to Western Europe; another had not then one white man within its limits.
The principle of joint stock companies, so favorable to every enterprise of uncertain result, by dividing the risks, and by nourishing a spirit of emulous zeal in behalt of an inviting scheme, was applied to the purposes of navigation; and a company of merchant adventurers 1555 was incorporated for the discovery of unknown lands.2
For even the intolerance of Queen Mary could not 1553 check the passion for maritime adventure. The sea 1558 was becoming the element on which English valor was to display its greatest boldness; English sailors neither feared the sultry heats and consuming fevers of the tropics, nor the intense severity of northern cold.
The trade to Russia, now that the port of Archangel had been discovered, gradually increased and became very lucrative; and a regular and as yet an innocent 1553 commerce was carried on with Africa. The marriage 1554 of Mary with the king of Spain tended to excite they emulation which it was designed to check. The en
i Hakluyt, i. 251–284. Turner's 3 The Viage to Guinea in 1553, England, iii. 298–301. Purchas, in Eden and Willes, fol. 336, 337iii. 462, 463.
353. 2 Hakluyt, i. 298–304.
chlap. thusiasm awakened by the brilliant pageantry with
which King Philip was introduced into London, excited Richard Eden? to gather into a volume the history of the most memorable maritime expeditions. Religious restraints, the thirst for rapid wealth, the desire of strange adventure, had driven the boldest spirits of Spain to the New World ; their deeds had been commemorated by the copious and accurate details of the Spanish historians; and the English, through the alliance of their sovereign made familiar with the Spanish language and literature, became emulous of Spanish
success beyond the ocean. 1558. The firmness of Elizabeth seconded the enterprise
of her subjects. They were rendered the more proud and intractable for the short and unsuccessful effort 10 make England an appendage to Spain; and the triumph of Protestantism, quickening the spirit of nationality, gave a new impulse to the people. England, no longer the ally, but the antagonist of Philip, claimed the glory of being the mistress of the northern seas, and prepared to extend its commerce to every clime. The queen strengthened her navy, filled her arsenals, and encouraged the building of ships in England: she ani
mated the adventurers to Russia and to Africa by her 1561 special protection ; and while her subjects were en1568. deavoring to penetrate into Persia by land, and enlarge
their commerce with the East? by combining the use of ships and caravans, the harbors of Spanish America were at the same time visited by their privateers in
pursuit of the rich galleons of Spain, and at least from 574-8 thirty to fifty English ships came annually to the bays
and banks of Newfoundland.3
1 Eden's Decades, published in 1555.
2 Eden and Willes. The Voyages of Persia, traveiled by the Mer
chantes of London, &c. in 1561 1567, 1568, fol. 321, and ff.
3 Parkhurst, in Hakluyt, ii. 171
The possibility of effecting a north-west passage had CHAP. ever been maintained by Cabot. The study of geography had now become an interesting pursuit; the press teemed with books of travels, maps and descriptions of the earth ; and Sir Humphrey Gilbert, reposing from the toils of war, engaged deeply in the science of cosmography. A judicious and well-written argument? in favor of the possibility of a north-western passage was the fruit of his literary industry.
The same views were entertained by one of the 1576 boldest men who ever ventured upon the ocean. For fifteen years, Martin Frobisher, an Englishman, well versed in various navigation, had revolved the design of accomplishing the discovery of the north-western passage; esteeming it “the only thing of the world, that was yet left undone, by which a notable minde might be made famous and fortunate."2 Too poor himself to provide a ship, it was in vain that he conferred with friends; in vain he offered his services to merchants. After years of desire, his representations found a hearing at court; and Dudley, earl of Warwick, liberally promoted his design. Two small barks of twenty-five and of twenty tons', with a pinnace of ten tons' burden, composed the whole fleet, which was to enter gulfs that none but Cabot had visited. As they June dropped down the Thames, Queen Elizabeth waved 8 her hand in token of favor, and, by an honorable message, transmitted her approbation of an adventure which her own treasures had not contributed to advance. During a storm on the voyage, the pinnace was swallowed up by the sea; the mariners in the Michael became terrified, and turned their prow home
1 Hakluyt, iii. 32–47.
er's voyage, in Eden and Willes, 2 Best, in Hakluyt, iii. 86.
fol. 230, and ff.; in Hakluyt, ülla 3 Willes's Essay for M. Frobish- 47–52.
CHAP. wards; but Frobisher, in a vessel not much surpassing
an in tonnage the barge of a man-of-war, made his way, 1576. fearless and unattended, to the shores of Labrador.
and to a passage or inlet north of the entrance of Hudson's Bay. A strange perversion has transferred the scene of his discoveries to the eastern coast og Greenland ;1 it was among a group of American islands, in the latitude of sixty-three degrees and eight minutes, that he entered what seemed to be a strait. Hope suggested that his object was obtained ; that the land on the south was America ; on the north was the continent of Asia; and that the strait opened into the immense Pacific. Great praise is due to Frobisher. even though he penetrated less deeply than Cabot into the bays and among the islands of this Meta Incognita, this unknown goal of discovery. Yet his voyage was a failure. To land upon an island, and, perhaps, on the main ; to gather up stones and rubbish, in token of having taken possession of the country for Elizabeth: to seize one of the natives of the north for exhibition to the gaze of Europe ;—these were all the results
which he accomplished. 1577. What followed marks the insane passions of the age.
America and mines were always thought of together. A stone, which had been brought from the frozen regions, was pronounced by the refiners of London to contain gold. The news excited the wakeful avarice of the city: there were not wanting those who endeavored to purchase of Elizabeth a lease of the new lands, of which the loose minerals were so full of the precious metal. A fleet was immediately fitted out, to procure more of the gold, rather than to make any
1 Forster's Northern Voyages, 274–284; Hist. des Voyages, t. xv 94-100.
further research for the passage into the Pacific; and CHAP. the queen, who had contributed nothing to the voyage are of discovery, sent a large ship of her own to join the 1577 expedition, which was now to conduct to infinite opulence. More men than could be employed volunteered their services; those who were discharged resigned their brilliant hopes with reluctance. The mariners, having received the communion, embarked Ma for the arctic El Dorado, “and with a merrie wind” ? soon arrived at the Orkneys. As they reached the June north-eastern coast of America, the dangers of the polar seas became imminent; mountains of ice encompassed them on every side; but as the icebergs were brilliant in the high latitude with the light of an almost perpetual summer's day, the worst perils were avoided. Yet the mariners were alternately agitated with fears of shipwreck and joy at escape. At one moment they expected death; and at the next they looked for gold. The fleet made no discoveries; it did not advance so far as Frobisher alone had done. But it found large heaps of earth, which, even to the incredulous, seemed plainly to contain the coveted wealth ; besides, spiders abounded; and “spiders were" affirmed to be true signs of great store of gold.” In freighting the ships, the admiral himself toiled like a painful laborer. How strange, in human affairs, is the mixture of sublime courage and ludicrous folly! What bolder maritime enterprise, than, in that day, a voyage to lands lying north of Hudson's Straits! What folly more egregious, than to have gone there for a lading of useless earth!
But credulity is apt to be self-willed. What is there which the passion for gold will not prompt? It defies
1 Best, in Hakluyt, iii. 95. How rich, then, the alcoves of a
Settle, in Hakluyt, iii. 63. library!