H. D. (Henry Duff) Traill.

Social England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) online

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commerce, and did so much damage that the Queen, fearing to
be involved in open war, issued a proclamation in which she


forbade, not so much the depredations as the purchase by her
subjects of the proceeds of them.

Drake's operations against Spain were dictated in the first Drake,
instance by personal considerations only. He had lost his
fortune in Hawkins' third voyage, and, aware of the impossibility,


(From a painting on panel at Trinity House, by permission of the Elil.fr Bnthren.)

and perhaps of the unreasonableness, of any peaceful arrange-
ment whereby he might obtain compensation, he made the work
of securing satisfaction by force the business of his life for many
years. He did not take the trouble to pretend that his pro-
ceedings were legal. On the other hand, he discreetly kept his
projects secret. But he was no worse than many other adven-
turers of his day. The first craft he met with after his arrival





in American waters in 1572 was the pirate bark of James Rawse,
who had just captured a Spanish caravel and sloop, and who
was glad to join his forces with those of the expedition. It is
impossible to defend Drake's descent on Nombre de Dios, his
innumerable captures on land and sea, and his various high-
handed proceedings : but it is equally impossible not to admire
his undaunted boldness and never-failing resource.

While Drake was preparing for a new expedition, Jo] in

Oxenham borrowed the great freebooter's mantle, and in 1575

. '

lying near the Pearl Islands, took two rich plate ships. He

might have got away with his prizes, but his own indiscretions
led to his capture, and it is not surprising that he and all those
of his associates who were taken, except some boys, were con-
demned as pirates. Andrew Barker was another of those who,
while Drake was making ready for more serious operations,
harried Spain. He captured several valuable prizes, and would
have returned with his gains had not his followers mutinied and
allowed him to fall into Spanish hands.

William Cox succeeded to the command, and took the town
of Truxillo ; but he lost one of his ships in bad weather, and
when he returned to England he was not much better off than
he had been at his departure. Drake, in his voyage of circum-
navigation, was more tyrannical than he had ever been before.
He seized Portuguese as well as Spanish vessels, he sacked
towns, he robbed private individuals, he despoiled churches.
He made himself master of more gold and silver than sufficed
to ballast his ship, and when he reached England he was
favoured by the Queen. But there were not a few personages
of consequence who, regarding Drake as little better than a
common cut-throat, declined to countenance him : and even the
Queen was constrained to make some kind of reparation when
Drake's enormities were formally brought to her notice by the
Spanish Ambassador, although in her public language she
defended him.

Edward Fenton, in 15<S2-83, headed another expedition which
was essentially piratical. Drake's expedition of 1585-86 was less
so, for although he went mainly for his own profit, and although
there was as yet no war between England and Spain, the great
seaman carried with him regular letters of reprisals. George,
Duke of Cumberland, and Raleigh, in 1580, were, however, as


frank pirates at heart as had ever set sail from English harbours,
and of all these worthies it may be said that with them personal
gain and love of excitement provided stronger promptings than
patriotism or a sense of right. But, while we condemn their
motives and many of their actions, we must not forget that they
trained a splendid set of fighting seamen for the country, and
established traditions of steadfast courage which have ever since
inspired the British Navy. Nor were their exploits often tainted
with deliberate cruelty.

The naval resources of the kingdom became the subject of England's


two very interesting inquiries in the years immediately pro- Resource?,
ceding the attempt of the Armada. One, made in 1583, was,
in effect, a census of the seafaring population of England,
exclusive of Wales. It showed that there were then I,4s4
masters, 11,515 mariners, 2, 299 fishermen, and 957 Thames wherry-
men, or in all 16,255 persons who were, in some sort, accustomed
to the sea. The other, made in 1587-88, was a computation
compiled, by means of certificates, of the number of ships in
England. It showed that there were 182 vessels of 100 tons
and upwards, 180 of 80 but less than 100 tons, and 1,392 of less
than 80 tons, or in all 1.755. London, with 129, headed the list
of towns; Norfolk, with 241, the list of counties. The Cinque
Ports, it is carious to note, were returned as possessing 220
vessels, not one of which, however, was of 80 tons or upwards.

The charges of the navy at this most critical period of its Naval
history were, even if full allowance be made for the then Cliarses -
relatively high purchasing power of money, astonishingly small.
Jn the year of the Armada the total payments were only
90,837 2s. 2^d. in the eleven years ending with 1588 they
were no more than 248,996 14s. 9d., and at the end of the
period the treasurer had a balance in hand of above 4,600.

The classitication of men-of-war into " rates," or their special Proposed

NfJ V3 1

adaptation for particular duties, was not attempted in Elizabeth's R 3 forms.
reign ; but in the closing years of the sixteenth century Sir
Robert Dudley, commonly called Duke of Northumberland, put
forward a plan for the reconstruction of the fleet upon principles
the general outlines of which were long after his death adopted.
He proposed the building of vessels of seven types, of which
the first was the galleon, of two complete gun decks, carrying 80
guns; the second, the rambargo, with one complete covered gun



deck, carrying 58 guns ; the third, the galizabra, carrying 48
guns : the fourth, the frigate, carrying o(i guns ; the fifth, the galley,
to be propelled by sweeps, and to carry only a few heavy guns ;
the sixth, the galerata ; and the seventh, the passa-volante. His
first four classes became, roughly speaking, the first four classes
of the ships of the Royal Navy of the Commonwealth period.
Sir Robert caused to be built for himself a small specimen of
his proposed galleon, and made a satisfactory voyage to India, in
her in 1594; but he did not carry his projected reforms further,
and most of his ideas remained in a purely theoretical condition
at the day of his death. They no doubt inspired some of the
great constructors who followed him, and although it may be
admitted that many of his plans were mistaken, it must be con-
fessed that many were also singularly in advance of his age,
and that all were well reasoned out and solidly based upon such
rude general principles of marine architecture as were then
known. To him certainly belongs the merit of having first
publicly advocated the building of war-ships suited for the
various services for which experience had already begun to show
that war-ships were required. He first grasped the ideas which
to-day give us vessels with the characteristic qualities of battle-
ships, cruisers, gun-vessels, and despatch-vessels.







ENGLISH exploration in the age of Elizabeth is one of the main
lines of national progress. It is no longer a by-path of our
history; it is more and more plainly connected with that
essential development of English life on which our empire
depended and depends. For it was in the latter half of the
sixteenth century that the New World in East and West, by sea
and land, was fully revealed to our countrymen, as it had
been disclosed to Italians and Portuguese, to Frenchmen and
Spaniards in the earlier years of the same century; the excite-
ment, the hopes and fears, the boundless expectations, the
astonishing achievements which had gone to inspire the heroic
age of the countrymen of Columbus and Cortez, of Da Gama
and Magellan, were all realised over again by the islanders of
the Protestant North. Under Elizabeth our forefathers entered
into the fulness of the national Renaissance for which they had
been slowly educated since the Tudor dynasty began.


To follow Hakluyt's own divisions as we have followed them
before, we have to look at the expansion of England in three
directions to S. and S.E., to N. and N.$., and to W On all
these sides the advance made under Elizabeth is so great as to
dwarf all earlier efforts, though it is on the American or
Western side that the development is most striking, novel, and
suggestive. Yet we cannot forget that results hardly less
tremendous were involved in the Eastern ventures of the reign :
if between 1578 and 1585 the first steps were taken towards the
settlement of those English colonies which at last became the
United States of America, the charter of 1000 granted to the
East India Company is no less clearly the beginning of the
English empire in India.

The first English voyages round the globe, the discovery of
the North Cape of Europe, of the White Sea, and of the empire
of Muscovy or of Russia, the opening of Persia, Tartary, and
Malabar to English trade, the immense extension of English
commerce and enterprise on the Mediterranean and African
coasts, in the Newfoundland fisheries, and in the Guinea slave-
market, the partial successes and daring achievements in the
Arctic seas, in the enterprises of a N.E. or N.W. passage to
Cathay, are of only less importance than the beginnings of the
American colonies and the Indian dominion ; and, taken together
with these, they explain perhaps better than anything else,
except our literature, why the age of Elizabeth means more to
England than any other epoch. The victory over Spain and the
Catholic Reaction, the glory of the Armada year, is itself the
outcome of the nation's development upon and over sea, as
much as of a healthy, a supremely active life at home. It
was at this time that England first saw what it could do first
laid hold ot imperial ambition.

I. First, of voyages to S. and S.E., we have that of Robert Africa.
Baker to Guinea in October, 15(52, described in form of a
rhyming chronicle, 1 which tells the story of the negro robberies

1 Which shows the novelty even then of this coast and its negroes to English
sailors :

" And rowing long, at last But all as black as coals.

A river we espy . . . Their captain came to me

And, entering in, we see As naked as my nail,

A number of lilack souls, Not having wit or honesty

Whose likeness seemed men to be To cover once his tail."


of the white men's merchandise, and the desperate fight that
ensued in some unnamed river of the Guinea coast. In his
second voyage Xov., 1503) Baker reached La Mina, and heaid
the natives talk Portuguese; but he was separated from his
ships, and passed some time in miserable captivity among the

negroes. 1

Public interest in the profitable gold and blacks of Guinea
was not allowed to slacken. On July 11, 1504, there was a
meeting at Sir William Gerard's home " for the setting-forth
of a voyage " to that coast, " the success of which," we are told,
"in part appeareth by certain relations extracted out of the
second voyage of Sir John Hawkins" in 15G4. The "success,"
however, was not without a check, one of the vessels being
blown up, and the flagship, the Min'nnt, beaten off' with loss by
the " Portugals."

Passing by the voyages of Femier and others, 2 our next
memorial, the letter of Thomas Stevens from Goa (1579),
mentions English pirates cruising off Madeira and the Canaries,
who attacked the Portuguese ship in which Stevens was sailing ;
describes the great rolling seas off the Cape of Tempests or
Good Hope, " the point so famous and feared of all men " ;
and distinguishes two routes to India from Natal, one by the
channel of Mozambique " where ships refresh themselves," the
other outside Madagascar (St. Lawrence Island) when the season
is too advanced for the other course.
The In the Mediterranean the Turkey trade was steadily pressed

toward under Elizabeth, as under Henry VIII. In June, 1580,
the Charter of Liberties to English merchants in Turkey is
formally issued ; a year later, certain disorders committed by

1 Already, in ].">('>]. the veteran seaman John Lok had been ordered by the
"Worshipful Company of Merchant Adventurers to Guinea" to " procure to
understand what rivers and harbours there be there, and to make a plan thereof,
and to learn what commodities belong to the places touched at." -But this voyage
was put off.

The worthy enterprise of John Fox, in delivering 2l><! Christians out of
the captivity of the Turks at Alexandria (Jan. 3, l.")77), can only be mentioned
here, though it is. as a story, one of the most stirring and brilliant of this
time: and in the same way the interesting " Emfyissage of Edmund Hugan
to Morocco" (1^>77) is only to be noticed for the evidence it gives of Spanish
intrigues to prevent any such new openings of English enterprise, and of
previous English broils with the Barbary Corsairs and the Emperor of



English freebooters in the Levant are to he redressed ; at the
same time occurs the voyage of Lawrence Aldersey to Jerusalem
and Tripolis.

Further evidence for this Mediterranean enterprise is given
us by Hakluyt's " Notes on the Trade of Algiers and Alex-
andria." In Algiers, we are told, the surest lodging for a
Christian is in a Jew's house : " for if he have any hurt, the

Jew shall make it good

so he taketh great care of the



Once more, the journeys of Mr.
John Newberie tell a story of Eng-
lish intercourse, not only with the
Levant, but with lands as far distant
as Bengal. Newberie started from
Falmouth, March llth, 1583, and
reached Syria in May. His chief
purpose was trade, arid for this he
found Aleppo an excellent centre, as
he sends word by George Gill, purser
of the Tiger. But at Babylon he
becomes more despondent as to com-
mercial prospects. Beyond Babylon
his route lay through Bassora to
Ormuz, where he writes "from out
of prison, for that, as they say, I
brought letters from Don Antonio,"
the Pretender to the Portuguese
Cro^n, just annexed by Philip II.
Sent on to Goa to answer, before
the Viceroy, the various charges
brcvight against him, Newberie met Thomas Stevens, now a
professed Jesuit, who procured his release through the media-
tion of the Archbishop, and enabled him to start a nourishing
trade in Malabar. With Newberie was also discharged the
famous Ralph Fitch, who tells us the whole story of their
persecution at the hands of Italian rivals ; " for the Italians,"
he adds, "are our great enemies for this trade."

Fitch reappears later : for the present we must return to
the Levant voyages, recorded under the year 1580, of Evesham
and Aldersey, whose accounts of the wonders of Egypt are

& "^tur**-


(./. mite's water-colour drawings.)

658 Till-: KXJ'A \XION UF ENGLAM>.

especially interesting. Alexandria Evesham found "an old
lliing decayed and ruinated, all vaulted underneath for pro-
vision of fresh water, which cometh once a year out of one
of the four rivers of Paradise, called Nilus." The Court of
Pharaoh's Castle reminds him of Greshain's New Exchange in
London : the Pyramids are one of the nine wonders of the
world, " built, as it were, like a pointed diamond, four square,
and the height of them, to our judgment, doth surmount twice
the height of Paul's steeple " ; in Cairo itself is " great store
of merchandise out of the East India." Aldersey, after giving
us his measurements for Pharaoh's needle, and " Pompey his
pillar," discourses pleasantly of "Joseph's House, a sump-
tuous thing yet standing, having a place to walk in of fifty-six
mighty pillars, all gilt with gold," and describes with the
accuracy of the witness-box the breadth and height of the
Pyramids : " Every of the squares as long as a man may shoot
a roving arrow, and as high as a ckwn-li."

But the English merchants had to fight for their position
in the Mediterranean ; as the pirate warfare of Spanish and
English mariners deepened in the open and legitimate struggle
of two nations, the passage through the Straits of Gibraltar
became more and more hazardous. 1

Eidred's r fhe voyage of John Eldred to Babylon and Bassora brings

Eabyion. us back to the story of John Newberie and Ralph Eitch.
Starting from London in their company upon " Shrove Monday,"
he separated from them in Syria, May 1st, 1583, and traded
some time in Tripolis, a city " about the bigness of Bristol,"
where all Englishmen had to " abide in one house with their
Consul, as is the use of all other Christians of several nations."
From Tripolis, Eldred went (May 21st, 1583) with a caravan
over Lebanon to Aleppo, and then embarked (May 31st) upon
the Euphrates at Birrah. After a month's journey he " tock
land " again and crossed a short desert to New Babylon. The
voyage had to be made in flat-bottomed boats for the shallow-
ness of the water. In the desert, our traveller saw the ruins

1 Thus, in l.~>8(! we have a "true report of a worthy fight lasting five
hours, performed in the voyage from Turkey by five ships of London against
eleven "-alleys and two frigates of Spain, at Pantaleria, within the Straits/
The English vessels, though " intending only a merchant's voyage." are now-
armed to the teeth ; and their success in the Xearer was now leading to mor e
frequent ventures in the Further East.


of the ancient city, with the " Old Tower of Babel, almost as
high as the stonework of Paul's steeple in London." New
Babylon on the Tigris he found to be a " place of great traffic
and a thoroughfare from the East Indies to Aleppo, furnished
with victuals from Mosul, called Nineveh in old time, which are
brought on rafts borne upon bladders of goats' skins." In 1584
Eldred was in Bassora, " built of sun-dried bricks and having
a good port, where come monthly ships from Ormuz, with
Indian merchandise, which ships are sewn together with cord
made of the bark of date-trees, having no kind of iron-work,
save only their anchors." Here he heard of Newberie's arrest,
and after finishing his business in Bassora, struggled up the
river for forty-four days to Babylon, and thence made his way
back to Aleppo overland, with a caravan of four thousand
camels, noticing on his way the " Springs of Tar " or bitumen,
near the Euphrates." l

He returned to England early in the Armada year, but Fitch in
Ralph Fitch, who had left London with him in 1583, did not
reappear at home till 1591. Accompanying Newberie from
Aleppo to Ormuz, and from Ormuz to Goa, the follower went
far beyond his leader, and was one of the first Englishmen
who visited for trade or any other object, Bengal, Malacca,
and " all the coast of the East India." His account, of no
small value in connection with the great exploring movement
of his countrymen at this time, and containing some of the
earliest English first-hand notices of the further East, is not
without some of the spice of quick and humorous observation. 2

Reaching Ormuz, " down the Gulf of Persia in a ship made
of boards sewed together with thread of the husk of cocoas,"

1 After this, his first return from the Persian Gulf. Eldred not only made
two more journeys to Babylon on business, but. " as one desirous to see the
country," travelled to Antioch, Joppa. Jerusalem, and the Sea of Sodom. " of
which places, because others have published large discourses, I surcease to

2 Against the Arab thieves of the Euphrates he tells us, " A gun is good,
for they do fear it much." He heartily despised the Brahmins of India,
a kind of crafty people worse than the Jews.'' and their images, "some like
beasts, some like men. and some like the Devil " ; still more the Fakirs
"prating and dissembling hypocrites" to whom India was much given. One
such he saw " sitting upon a horse in the market-place," who ' made as
though he slept ; " the people " took him for a great man, but sure he
was a lazy lubber."


Fitch tdls us about tlie great Portuguese emporium " the
dryrst island in the world, with nothing growing in it Imr
only salt."

On the way to Goa he notices Din, near the modern Bombay,
then " the strongest town that the Portugals have in these
parts," and passing by Chaul, still on the same journey, he
relates in a half-bewildered manner the strange customs of the
natives: the veneration of the cow, the horror of killing any
living thing, the practice of suttee, the burning of the dead.

At Goa, " the most principal city that the Portugals have
in India," Fitch found things, in spite of the kind offices of
Father Stephens, so dangerous that he " determined presently
to seek liberty rather than for ever to be a slave," and so, on
the 5th April, 1585, plunged into the heart of the Deccan, and
made his way by Golconda, " where be the Diamonds of the
Old Water," to Agra and the Court of the Great Mogul at
Futtehpur. Both these cities he thought " much greater than
London " ; they inflamed his desire to see more ; and while
Newberie started for Lahore, " determining thence to go for
Persia," he gladly obeyed his superior's order to visit Bengal
and Pegu, and sailed down the Jumna and the Ganges to the
mouth of the Hoogly. Merchants from China and Tartary.
Fitch tells us, were to be seen in numbers down in the bay
of Bengal, the latter " apparelled with woollen clothes and
hats, white hosen and boots of Muscovy or Tartaria."

In Pegu we hear of the lake dwellings, the palanquins, the
houses built on piles, the boat-huts, and the white elephants
of the natives and their king. Travelling inland, Fitch met
another concourse of Chinese merchants ; but though now so
near, he did not go on to the Celestial empire. Turning south
to Malacca, he saw there the famous fort built by Albuquerque
in 1512-13, and noticed with some surprise the immense energy
and vast expenditure of the Portuguese in maintaining their
East Indian trade and empire.

On March 29th, 1588, Fitch turned back from Malacca, his
furthest point, and slowly made his way first to Pegn and
Bengal, then to Ceylon, where he seems to have seen the
Portuguese fort at Colombo, and to Malabar, where he tells us
" how pepper groweth," and how the Nairs, or fighting caste
of Calicut, " have always wars with the Portugals." Thence



-* - . ,. '




the Cape
to the

he retraced his stops to Ormux. the Euphrates, and Aleppo,
making a special journey to visit Mosul, "near to Nineveh, all
ruinated and destroyed," and arriving .-i^-ain in England on
April ^9th, 1591, after eight years of absence.

The last of these voyages to S. and S. K. 1 \vhieh need he
noticed here is that of Raymond and Lancaster round the
(.'ape of Good Hope in 1591; and we may add a mention of
the naval expeditions to the West African coast, and to the
"South quarters of the world outside the Straits," especially
in 15S9, 1590, and 1591, which gave England the heroic episode
of the last fight of Richard Grenville in the Rereriyc.

Ralph Fitch had won a name chiefly by overland travel :
Raymond and Lancaster's venture was entirely maritime.
Leaving Plymouth on April 10th, 1591, they made, like Cabral
in 1500, a wide sweep westward to Brazil to avoid the currents
of the African coast, doubled the Cape with some difficulty
after a meeting with "certain black savages, very brutish, who
would not stay," and were then nearly wrecked upon the
shoals of Madagascar, but just saved by a bright moonlight

After touching at some of the Moorish settlements along
the East African coast, the English crew found rest and shelter
at Zanzibar, in spite of the treachery, the "false and spiteful
dealing of the Portugals," and thence " set forward for the
East India," steering for Cape Comorin, " the headland of the
Main of Malabar," meaning there to lie off and on for ships
from Ceylon, Bengal, Malacca, China, and Japan," which ships
are of exceeding wealth." In May, 1592. they reached the
( 'ape ; by June 1 they were close upon Sumatra, when winter

Online LibraryH. D. (Henry Duff) TraillSocial England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) → online text (page 55 of 68)