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into Plymouth harbour in the Golden Hind. He had been away three years, and men had begun to despair of his return. When he came back every one was filled with excitement at the story of his wondrous voyage; for he had sailed all round the world, and returned laden with treasure which he had won from Spanish ships in Spanish waters. As England was then at peace with Spain, these doings were no better than piracy. But in spite of the complaints of the Spanish Ambassador, Elizabeth took no steps to punish Drake. On the contrary, when he brought the Golden Hind to Deptford, she allowed him to entertain her on board at a splendid banquet, and on that occasion knighted him for his great prowess. It is said, that of the treasure brought home by Drake, he was allowed to keep £10,000 for himself, whilst £60,000 in jewels and money was safely lodged in the Tower. It is not strange that the wrath of the Spanish king, Philip II., was great at the loss of this treasure, and at the insult offered to his power. Elizabeth affected to restrain, but in truth connived at, the piratical expeditions of her subjects in the Spanish seas. English vessels sailed into Spanish ports in South America, plundered and burnt the ships lying in the harbours, and intercepted Spanish vessels bringing home treasure from the colonies. In all this the English ran terrible risks. If they failed, they were treated as pirates, as their Queen was at peace with the Spanish king. They were killed without mercy,
ENGLAND AND SPAIN.
or subjected to lingering tortures by the Spanish Inquisition. Still the gain was great enough to make men willing to face the risk; and hatred to Spain was increased by the tales of the horrible sufferings inflicted upon English seamen by the Spaniards. Elizabeth had difficulty in keeping the animosity of her subjects within bounds. She always hoped to prevent an open rupture with Spain, or at least to put it off as long as possible, that in the meanwhile she might gain strength and increase her resources. Her policy was to play off France against Spain, and to give enough help to the revolted Netherlanders to enable them to go on with their struggle, so that Spain might be kept busy by them. In the meanwhile she allowed her subjects to help to fill her treasuries with Spanish gold, so that she might have the means to prepare for the struggle if it should come.
We have seen how some of the English seamen were animated by a desire to discover a northwestern passage to Cathay, others by hatred of the Spaniards and love of Spanish treasure; others again, though as yet only a small body, by a desire to found English colonies in America, and so to open up a new trade which might be as profitable to England as the trade with New Spain was to the Spaniards. In 1583, Sir Humphry Gilbert made a second attempt to plant a colony in Newfoundland. He was not rich enough to undertake the expedition solely at his own expense, and so got others to share with him the risks and possible
profits of the expedition. Ralegh contributed a vessel, the barque Ralegh, and Gilbert sailed from Plymouth harbour on the 11th June, 1583, with a little fleet of five vessels. Before leaving, Gilbert received a letter from Ralegh, who sent him a token from the Queen, an anchor, guided by a lady, and conveyed to him her wishes for his welfare, adding that she desired him to leave his portrait for her.
Gilbert had hardly left Plymouth when he was deserted by the barque Ralegh, on the plea of illhealth amongst the crew, which seems to have been only an excuse.
The rest of the little fleet proceeded on their way. At first Gilbert seemed to meet with success, but his colony failed for the same reasons that so many other schemes of colonization failed in those days. The men were for the most part lawless adventurers, some of them pirates and robbers. They wanted to make their fortunes at once. They lacked the perseverance, the industry, the patient endurance of hardships, which alone can surmount the difficulties which beset the first planting of a colony. Everything went wrong, and at last the men clamoured to be taken home. Gilbert was forced to consent, and to abandon, at least for a time, his cherished scheme. He hoped to do a little in the way of exploring the coast on his way home, and left one ship to carry the sick direct to England. Another of the ships struck on a rock, and was lost with more than a hundred men. Then the
DEATH OF GILBERT.
rest of the men grew still more discontented, and insisted on being taken home at once. Gilbert was in the smaller of the two ships left, a little vessel called the Squirrel, of only ten tons burden. It was not thought to be seaworthy; still he would not listen to any persuasions to leave it, but answered, “I will not forsake my little company going homeward, with whom I have passed so many storms and perils.” They met with very foul weather, but Gilbert kept up his spirits; and when the other vessel, the Golden Hind, drew near the Squirrel, he cried out to its crew,“We are as near to heaven by sea as by land." That night the Squirrel was on ahead, when suddenly the crew of the Golden Hind saw her lights disappear, and nothing more was ever seen or heard of Sir Humphry Gilbert. The Golden Hind reached Falmouth on the 22nd September, some three months after the starting of the expedition.
It was left to Sir Walter Ralegh to pursue his schemes of colonization alone. In March, 1584, Elizabeth gave him a charter, authorizing him and his heirs to discover and take possession of any lands not actually possessed of any Christian prince. He and his heirs were to have the right of governing in perpetuity any colony founded within the next six years. Ralegh did not turn his attention to the cold districts where Gilbert had tried to found his colony; he wished to explore more southern regions. He fitted out and despatched two barks, under Captains Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe, with orders to explore the coast north of Florida. The fertility of this district had been discovered some time before by the French. They had called it Carolina in honour of Charles IX.; and some French Huguenots had tried to plant a colony there, which had been destroyed by the Spaniards, who massacred 200 men, women, and children.
It was probably when engaged in the civil wars in France that Ralegh heard tell of the wondrous fertility of these lands; and when he matured his schemes of founding a colony, it was to this coast that he turned his attention. Amadas and Barlowe had a very successful voyage, of which they have left a narrative. As they drew near the coast they smelt “so sweet and so strong a smell as if they had been in the midst of some delicate garden.” For 130 miles they sailed along the coast before they found an entrance; then they landed on the Island of Wocoken, the southernmost of a group of islands in Pamlico Sound, and took possession of it in Queen Elizabeth's name.
This island was so full of grapes “that the very beating and surge of the sea overflowed them." The vines covered the ground everywhere, and climbed towards the tops of high cedars. The island had also “ many goodly woodes, full of deer and hares; the trees were chiefly cedars, and all manner of spice-bearing trees.” After three days some of the natives appeared, and one came on board the ship willingly and without any fear. The next day many more