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VOYAGES IN THE REIGN OF HENRY VIII.
for the English never abandoned the hope of CHAP. planting a colony on the continent which Cabot had discovered.
1527. The jealousy of the Spanish nation was excited, and already began to fear English rivalry in the New World. Henry VIII. was vigorous in his attempts to check piracy; and the navigation of his subjects was extended under the security of his protection. The banner of St. George was often displayed in the harbors of Northern Africa and in the Levant;2 and when commerce, emancipated from the confinement of the inner seas, went boldly forth to make the ocean its chief highway, England became more emulous to engage in a competition, in which her position gave her a pledge of success.
When 1530. voyages for traffic were already made by English merchants between the coasts of Africa and Brazil, it
may be safely believed, that the nearer shores of North America were not neglected.
An account exists of one expedition, which was “ assisted by the good countenance of Henry VIII.” But the incidents, as they were related to the inquisitive Hakluyt by “ the only man then alive, that had been in the discovery,” are embellished with improbable aggravations of distress. Memory, at all periods of life, is easily deceived by the imagination; and men, who relate marvellous tales of personal adventure, are the first to become the dupes of their own inventions. The old sailor, perhaps, believed his
1 Herrera, d. ii. I. v. c. iii. Compare Oviedo, l. xix. c. xiii.
in Ramusio, v. iii. fol. 204. 2 Hill's Naval History, p. 267.
CHAP. story, in which frequent repetition may have gradually
deepened the shades of horror. Cannibalism is the 1536. crime of famine at sea; men do not often devour one
another on shore, least of all, on a coast, abounding in wild fowl and fish. The English may have suffered from want; and as a French ship, “well furnished with vittails,” approached Newfoundland, they obtained possession of it by a stroke of “policie,” which, if dishonest, seems not to have been regarded as disgraceful, and set sail for England. The French followed in the English ship, and complained of the exchange. It shows the favor of Henry VIII. to maritime enterprize, that he pardoned his subjects the wrong, and of his own private purse “made full and royal recompense to the French.”
The statute books of England soon gave proof, that the "new land” of America had engaged the attention of parliament;" and, after the accession of
Edward, the fisheries of Newfoundland obtained 1548. the protection of a special act. The preamble to
this latter statute, declares the navigation to have been burdened for years by exactions from the officers of the admiralty; and its enactments forbid the continuance of the oppression. An active commerce must have long existed, since exactions, levied upon it, had almost become prescriptive.
But India was still esteemed the great region of wealth ; and England, then having no anticipation of one day becoming the sovereign of Hindostan, hoped
1 Hakluyt, v. iii. p. 168–170. 3 2 Edward VI., in Ruffhead,
2 33 Henry VIII., c. ii.; Ruff- v. ii. p. 412; Hakluyt, v. iii. p. 170; head, v. ii. p. 304.
Hazard, v. i. p. 22, 23.
VOYAGE IN SEARCH OF A NORTHEAST PASSAGE.
for a peaceful intercourse only by the discovery of a CHAP. new and nearer passage to Southern Asia. Thrice at least, perhaps thrice by Cabot alone, the attempt at a northwestern passage had been made; and always in vain. A northeast passage was now pro- 1553. posed; the fleet of Willoughby and Chancellor was to reach the rich lands of Cathay by doubling the northern promontory of Lapland. The ships parted company. The fate of Willoughby was as tragical, as the issue of the voyage of Chancellor was successful. The admiral with one of the ships was driven, by the severity of the polar autumn, to seek shelter in a Lapland harbor, which afforded protection against storms, but not against the rigors of the
When search was made for him in the following spring, Willoughby himself was found dead in his cabin ; and his journal, detailing his suf- 1554. ferings from the polar winter, was complete probably to the day, when his senses were suspended by the intolerable cold. His ship's company lay dead in various parts of the vessel, some alone, some in groups. The other ship reached the harbor of Archangel. This was “the discovery of Russia,” and the commencement of maritime commerce with that empire. A Spanish writer calls the result of the voyage, “a discovery of new Indies." 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
1 Hakluyt, v. i. p. 251–284 ; -301; Purchas, v. iii. p. 462, Turner's England, v. iii. p. 298 463. VOL. I.
CHAP. 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 enterprize of uncertain result, by dividing the risks, and by nourishing a spirit of emulous zeal in behalf of an inviting scheme, was
applied to the purposes of navigation ; and a compa1555. ny of merchant adventurers was incorporated for the
discovery of unknown lands. 1553, For even the intolerance of Queen Mary could 1558. not check the passion for maritime adventure. The
sea 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 1553. and as yet an innocent commerce was carried on with 1554. Africa. The marriage of Mary with the king of July 25 Spain, tended to excite the emulation, which it was
designed to check. The enthusiasm, awakened by the brilliant pageantry, with which king Philip was introduced into London, excited Richard Eden' to
1 Hakluyt, v. i. p. 298–304. 3 Eden's Decades, first published
2 The Viage to Guinea in 1553, in in 1555. Eden and Willes, fol.336,337-353.
ELIZABETH FAVORS ENGLISH COMMERCE.
gather into a volume the history of the most memo- CHAP. rable 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.
The firmness of Elizabeth seconded the enterprize 1558. of her subjects. They were rendered the more proud and intractable for the short and unsuccessful effort to 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 animated the adventurers to Russia and to Africa by her special protection; and while her subjects were en- 1561, deavoring to penetrate into Persia by land, and 1568. 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
1 Eden and Willes. The voy- merchantes of London, &c. in ages of Persia, traveiled by the 1561, 1567, 1568, fol. 321, and ff.