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INTRODUCTION

IT
T is not always the men who have done most

round whom the most interest gathers. There are some men whose individual character has had such force, that the impression which they produced on those amongst whom they lived has been handed down to the generations that have come after, and they have been remembered more for what they were than for what they did. The secret of the fame gained by such men lies in the fact that they have summed up in themselves some phase of human thought, or the tendencies of an age full of varied enterprise, or perchance have given the impulse which first directed human activity into a new channel. It is amongst such men that we must rank Sir Walter Ralegh. He is one of those who were great rather for what they were than for what they did. And this is not because he did nothing. On the contrary, he did so many things that we should find it hard to say in which part of his career he showed the greatest

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eminence. But the interest attaching to him will always lie in this, that he exhibits the tendencies of a great age, of an age when men were stirred to new vigour by a sudden burst of intellectual life.

The men who gathered round Elizabeth were great in many ways, great as statesmen, soldiers, sailors, explorers, poets, and scholars. There was plenty of work for them all to do, and Elizabeth knew how to incite them to do it. She could put the right man in the right place, and make him do his best there. She made herself one with her people, and the secret of her strength lay in the fact that they felt she had made their interests hers. The people gathered round their Queen; and in the dangers which threatened Queen and people from without, they learnt a new sense of national unity. To study Ralegh's character is to study the tendencies of his age. There was no field of activity then open to men into which he did not enter; there was no work undertaken in which he did not share. In an age remarkable for its varied forms of intellectual vigour, he represents with wonderful many-sidedness the different interests which then absorbed men's minds. Moreover, whilst sharing so busily in the present, he looked on to the future, and discerned the way in which his country could grow in wealth and power beyond what any one at that time dreamed of as possible.

INTRODUCTION.

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Ralegh's mind delighted in far-reaching schemes. Envious of the wealth gained by Spain from her colonies, he wished to see his own country benefited in the same way. He realized the advantages that England would gain by planting offshoots of her power in the new countries, with seemingly infinite resources, which were being opened up to commerce. He saw that the position of England and the character of her people eminently fitted her for the work of extending her power into distant lands. He never ceased to

this upon his countrymen; he spent all his own possessions and his own health and strength in doing what he could to help the first beginnings of colonization. He gave the first impulse to the work which was afterwards carried out by others, and which has helped so much to make the England of to-day,

urge

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