Walter Alexander Raleigh.

The Discovery of Guiana online

. (page 1 of 8)
Online LibraryWalter Alexander RaleighThe Discovery of Guiana → online text (page 1 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Produced by Dagny; and John Bickers


By Sir Walter Raleigh


Sir Walter Raleigh may be taken as the great typical figure of the age
of Elizabeth. Courtier and statesman, soldier and sailor, scientist
and man of letters, he engaged in almost all the main lines of public
activity in his time, and was distinguished in them all.

His father was a Devonshire gentleman of property, connected with many
of the distinguished families of the south of England. Walter was born
about 1552 and was educated at Oxford. He first saw military service
in the Huguenot army in France in 1569, and in 1578 engaged, with his
half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, in the first of his expeditions
against the Spaniards. After some service in Ireland, he attracted the
attention of the Queen, and rapidly rose to the perilous position of her
chief favorite. With her approval, he fitted out two expeditions for the
colonization of Virginia, neither of which did his royal mistress permit
him to lead in person, and neither of which succeeded in establishing a
permanent settlement.

After about six years of high favor, Raleigh found his position at
court endangered by the rivalry of Essex, and in 1592, on returning
from convoying a squadron he had fitted out against the Spanish, he was
thrown into the Tower by the orders of the Queen, who had discovered an
intrigue between him and one of her ladies whom he subsequently married.
He was ultimately released, engaged in various naval exploits, and in
1594 sailed for South America on the voyage described in the following

On the death of Elizabeth, Raleigh's misfortunes increased. He was
accused of treason against James I, condemned, reprieved, and imprisoned
for twelve years, during which he wrote his "History of the World,"
and engaged in scientific researches. In 1616 he was liberated, to make
another attempt to find the gold mine in Venezuela; but the expedition
was disastrous, and, on his return, Raleigh was executed on the old
charge in 1618. In his vices as in his virtues, Raleigh is a thorough
representative of the great adventurers who laid the foundations of the
British Empire.


The Discovery of the large, rich, and beautiful EMPIRE Of GUIANA; with a
Relation of the great and golden CITY of MANOA, which the Spaniards
Countries, with their rivers, adjoining. Performed in the year 1595 by
Sir WALTER RALEIGH, KNIGHT, CAPTAIN of her Majesty's GUARD, Lord Warden
of the STANNARIES, and her Highness' LIEUTENANT-GENERAL of the COUNTY of

To the Right Honourable my singular good Lord and kinsman CHARLES
HOWARD, Knight of the Garter, Baron, and Councillor, and of the Admirals
of England the most renowned; and to the Right Honourable SIR ROBERT
CECIL, KNIGHT, Councillor in her Highness' Privy Councils.

For your Honours' many honourable and friendly parts, I have hitherto
only returned promises; and now, for answer of both your adventures,
I have sent you a bundle of papers, which I have divided between your
Lordship and Sir Robert Cecil, in these two respects chiefly; first, for
that it is reason that wasteful factors, when they have consumed such
stocks as they had in trust, do yield some colour for the same in their
account; secondly, for that I am assured that whatsoever shall be done,
or written, by me, shall need a double protection and defence. The trial
that I had of both your loves, when I was left of all, but of malice and
revenge, makes me still presume that you will be pleased (knowing
what little power I had to perform aught, and the great advantage of
forewarned enemies) to answer that out of knowledge, which others shall
but object out of malice. In my more happy times as I did especially
honour you both, so I found that your loves sought me out in the darkest
shadow of adversity, and the same affection which accompanied my better
fortune soared not away from me in my many miseries; all which though I
cannot requite, yet I shall ever acknowledge; and the great debt which I
have no power to pay, I can do no more for a time but confess to be
due. It is true that as my errors were great, so they have yielded very
grievous effects; and if aught might have been deserved in former times,
to have counterpoised any part of offences, the fruit thereof, as it
seemeth, was long before fallen from the tree, and the dead stock only
remained. I did therefore, even in the winter of my life, undertake
these travails, fitter for bodies less blasted with misfortunes, for men
of greater ability, and for minds of better encouragement, that thereby,
if it were possible, I might recover but the moderation of excess, and
the least taste of the greatest plenty formerly possessed. If I had
known other way to win, if I had imagined how greater adventures might
have regained, if I could conceive what farther means I might yet use
but even to appease so powerful displeasure, I would not doubt but for
one year more to hold fast my soul in my teeth till it were performed.
Of that little remain I had, I have wasted in effect all herein. I have
undergone many constructions; I have been accompanied with many
sorrows, with labour, hunger, heat, sickness, and peril; it appeareth,
notwithstanding, that I made no other bravado of going to the sea, than
was meant, and that I was never hidden in Cornwall, or elsewhere, as
was supposed. They have grossly belied me that forejudged that I would
rather become a servant to the Spanish king than return; and the rest
were much mistaken, who would have persuaded that I was too easeful and
sensual to undertake a journey of so great travail. But if what I have
done receive the gracious construction of a painful pilgrimage, and
purchase the least remission, I shall think all too little, and that
there were wanting to the rest many miseries. But if both the times
past, the present, and what may be in the future, do all by one grain of
gall continue in eternal distaste, I do not then know whether I should
bewail myself, either for my too much travail and expense, or condemn
myself for doing less than that which can deserve nothing. From myself
I have deserved no thanks, for I am returned a beggar, and withered;
but that I might have bettered my poor estate, it shall appear from the
following discourse, if I had not only respected her Majesty's future
honour and riches.

It became not the former fortune, in which I once lived, to go journeys
of picory (marauding); it had sorted ill with the offices of honour,
which by her Majesty's grace I hold this day in England, to run from
cape to cape and from place to place, for the pillage of ordinary
prizes. Many years since I had knowledge, by relation, of that mighty,
rich, and beautiful empire of Guiana, and of that great and golden city,
which the Spaniards call El Dorado, and the naturals Manoa, which
city was conquered, re-edified, and enlarged by a younger son of
Guayna-capac, Emperor of Peru, at such time as Francisco Pizarro and
others conquered the said empire from his two elder brethren, Guascar
and Atabalipa, both then contending for the same, the one being favoured
by the orejones of Cuzco, the other by the people of Caxamalca. I sent
my servant Jacob Whiddon, the year before, to get knowledge of the
passages, and I had some light from Captain Parker, sometime my servant,
and now attending on your Lordship, that such a place there was to the
southward of the great bay of Charuas, or Guanipa: but I found that it
was 600 miles farther off than they supposed, and many impediments to
them unknown and unheard. After I had displanted Don Antonio de Berreo,
who was upon the same enterprise, leaving my ships at Trinidad, at the
port called Curiapan, I wandered 400 miles into the said country by land
and river; the particulars I will leave to the following discourse.

The country hath more quantity of gold, by manifold, than the best parts
of the Indies, or Peru. All the most of the kings of the borders are
already become her Majesty's vassals, and seem to desire nothing more
than her Majesty's protection and the return of the English nation. It
hath another ground and assurance of riches and glory than the voyages
of the West Indies; an easier way to invade the best parts thereof than
by the common course. The king of Spain is not so impoverished by taking
three or four port towns in America as we suppose; neither are the
riches of Peru or Nueva Espana so left by the sea side as it can be
easily washed away with a great flood, or spring tide, or left dry upon
the sands on a low ebb. The port towns are few and poor in respect of
the rest within the land, and are of little defence, and are only rich
when the fleets are to receive the treasure for Spain; and we might
think the Spaniards very simple, having so many horses and slaves, if
they could not upon two days' warning carry all the gold they have into
the land, and far enough from the reach of our footmen, especially the
Indies being, as they are for the most part, so mountainous, full
of woods, rivers, and marishes. In the port towns of the province of
Venezuela, as Cumana, Coro, and St. Iago (whereof Coro and St. Iago were
taken by Captain Preston, and Cumana and St. Josepho by us) we found
not the value of one real of plate in either. But the cities of
Barquasimeta, Valencia, St. Sebastian, Cororo, St. Lucia, Laguna,
Maracaiba, and Truxillo, are not so easily invaded. Neither doth the
burning of those on the coast impoverish the king of Spain any one
ducat; and if we sack the River of Hacha, St. Martha, and Carthagena,
which are the ports of Nuevo Reyno and Popayan, there are besides within
the land, which are indeed rich and prosperous, the towns and cities of
Merida, Lagrita, St. Christophoro, the great cities of Pamplona, Santa
Fe de Bogota, Tunxa, and Mozo, where the emeralds are found, the
towns and cities of Marequita, Velez, la Villa de Leiva, Palma, Honda,
Angostura, the great city of Timana, Tocaima, St. Aguila, Pasto, [St.]
Iago, the great city of Popayan itself, Los Remedios, and the rest. If
we take the ports and villages within the bay of Uraba in the kingdom
or rivers of Darien and Caribana, the cities and towns of St. Juan de
Rodas, of Cassaris, of Antiochia, Caramanta, Cali, and Anserma have gold
enough to pay the king's part, and are not easily invaded by way of
the ocean. Or if Nombre de Dios and Panama be taken, in the province of
Castilla del Oro, and the villages upon the rivers of Cenu and Chagre;
Peru hath, besides those, and besides the magnificent cities of Quito
and Lima, so many islands, ports, cities, and mines as if I should name
them with the rest it would seem incredible to the reader. Of all which,
because I have written a particular treatise of the West Indies, I will
omit the repetition at this time, seeing that in the said treatise I
have anatomized the rest of the sea towns as well of Nicaragua, Yucatan,
Nueva Espana, and the islands, as those of the inland, and by what means
they may be best invaded, as far as any mean judgment may comprehend.

But I hope it shall appear that there is a way found to answer every
man's longing; a better Indies for her Majesty than the king of Spain
hath any; which if it shall please her Highness to undertake, I shall
most willingly end the rest of my days in following the same. If it be
left to the spoil and sackage of common persons, if the love and service
of so many nations be despised, so great riches and so mighty an empire
refused; I hope her Majesty will yet take my humble desire and my labour
therein in gracious part, which, if it had not been in respect of
her Highness' future honour and riches, could have laid hands on and
ransomed many of the kings and caciqui of the country, and have had a
reasonable proportion of gold for their redemption. But I have chosen
rather to bear the burden of poverty than reproach; and rather to endure
a second travail, and the chances thereof, than to have defaced an
enterprise of so great assurance, until I knew whether it pleased God
to put a disposition in her princely and royal heart either to follow
or forslow (neglect, decline, lose through sloth) the same. I will
therefore leave it to His ordinance that hath only power in all things;
and do humbly pray that your honours will excuse such errors as, without
the defence of art, overrun in every part the following discourse, in
which I have neither studied phrase, form, nor fashion; that you will be
pleased to esteem me as your own, though over dearly bought, and I shall
ever remain ready to do you all honour and service.


Because there have been divers opinions conceived of the gold ore
brought from Guiana, and for that an alderman of London and an officer
of her Majesty's mint hath given out that the same is of no price, I
have thought good by the addition of these lines to give answer as well
to the said malicious slander as to other objections. It is true that
while we abode at the island of Trinidad I was informed by an Indian
that not far from the port where we anchored there were found certain
mineral stones which they esteemed to be gold, and were thereunto
persuaded the rather for that they had seen both English and Frenchmen
gather and embark some quantities thereof. Upon this likelihood I sent
forty men, and gave order that each one should bring a stone of that
mine, to make trial of the goodness; which being performed, I assured
them at their return that the same was marcasite, and of no riches or
value. Notwithstanding, divers, trusting more to their own sense than to
my opinion, kept of the said marcasite, and have tried thereof since my
return, in divers places. In Guiana itself I never saw marcasite; but
all the rocks, mountains, all stones in the plains, woods, and by the
rivers' sides, are in effect thorough-shining, and appear marvellous
rich; which, being tried to be no marcasite, are the true signs of rich
minerals, but are no other than El madre del oro, as the Spaniards term
them, which is the mother of gold, or, as it is said by others, the scum
of gold. Of divers sorts of these many of my company brought also
into England, every one taking the fairest for the best, which is not
general. For mine own part, I did not countermand any man's desire or
opinion, and I could have afforded them little if I should have denied
them the pleasing of their own fancies therein; but I was resolved that
gold must be found either in grains, separate from the stone, as it is
in most of the rivers in Guiana, or else in a kind of hard stone, which
we call the white spar, of which I saw divers hills, and in sundry
places, but had neither time nor men, nor instruments fit for labour.
Near unto one of the rivers I found of the said white spar or flint a
very great ledge or bank, which I endeavoured to break by all the means
I could, because there appeared on the outside some small grains of
gold; but finding no mean to work the same upon the upper part, seeking
the sides and circuit of the said rock, I found a clift in the same,
from whence with daggers, and with the head of an axe, we got out some
small quantity thereof; of which kind of white stone, wherein gold
is engendered, we saw divers hills and rocks in every part of Guiana
wherein we travelled. Of this there have been made many trials; and in
London it was first assayed by Master Westwood, a refiner dwelling in
Wood Street, and it held after the rate of twelve or thirteen thousand
pounds a ton. Another sort was afterward tried by Master Bulmar, and
Master Dimock, assay-master; and it held after the rate of three and
twenty thousand pounds a ton. There was some of it again tried by Master
Palmer, Comptroller of the Mint, and Master Dimock in Goldsmith's Hall,
and it held after six and twenty thousand and nine hundred pounds a ton.
There was also at the same time, and by the same persons, a trial made
of the dust of the said mine; which held eight pounds and six ounces
weight of gold in the hundred. There was likewise at the same time a
trial of an image of copper made in Guiana, which held a third part
of gold, besides divers trials made in the country, and by others in
London. But because there came ill with the good, and belike the said
alderman was not presented with the best, it hath pleased him therefore
to scandal all the rest, and to deface the enterprise as much as in him
lieth. It hath also been concluded by divers that if there had been any
such ore in Guiana, and the same discovered, that I would have brought
home a greater quantity thereof. First, I was not bound to satisfy any
man of the quantity, but only such as adventured, if any store had been
returned thereof; but it is very true that had all their mountains been
of massy gold it was impossible for us to have made any longer stay to
have wrought the same; and whosoever hath seen with what strength of
stone the best gold ore is environed, he will not think it easy to
be had out in heaps, and especially by us, who had neither men,
instruments, nor time, as it is said before, to perform the same.

There were on this discovery no less than an hundred persons, who can
all witness that when we passed any branch of the river to view the land
within, and stayed from our boats but six hours, we were driven to
wade to the eyes at our return; and if we attempted the same the day
following, it was impossible either to ford it, or to swim it, both by
reason of the swiftness, and also for that the borders were so pestered
with fast woods, as neither boat nor man could find place either to land
or to embark; for in June, July, August, and September it is impossible
to navigate any of those rivers; for such is the fury of the current,
and there are so many trees and woods overflown, as if any boat but
touch upon any tree or stake it is impossible to save any one person
therein. And ere we departed the land it ran with such swiftness as we
drave down, most commonly against the wind, little less than an hundred
miles a day. Besides, our vessels were no other than wherries, one
little barge, a small cock-boat, and a bad galiota which we framed in
haste for that purpose at Trinidad; and those little boats had nine or
ten men apiece, with all their victuals and arms. It is further true
that we were about four hundred miles from our ships, and had been a
month from them, which also we left weakly manned in an open road, and
had promised our return in fifteen days.

Others have devised that the same ore was had from Barbary, and that we
carried it with us into Guiana. Surely the singularity of that device I
do not well comprehend. For mine own part, I am not so much in love with
these long voyages as to devise thereby to cozen myself, to lie hard, to
fare worse, to be subjected to perils, to diseases, to ill savours, to
be parched and withered, and withal to sustain the care and labour of
such an enterprise, except the same had more comfort than the fetching
of marcasite in Guiana, or buying of gold ore in Barbary. But I hope the
better sort will judge me by themselves, and that the way of deceit is
not the way of honour or good opinion. I have herein consumed much time,
and many crowns; and I had no other respect or desire than to serve her
Majesty and my country thereby. If the Spanish nation had been of like
belief to these detractors we should little have feared or doubted their
attempts, wherewith we now are daily threatened. But if we now consider
of the actions both of Charles the Fifth, who had the maidenhead of Peru
and the abundant treasures of Atabalipa, together with the affairs of
the Spanish king now living, what territories he hath purchased, what
he hath added to the acts of his predecessors, how many kingdoms he hath
endangered, how many armies, garrisons, and navies he hath, and doth
maintain, the great losses which he hath repaired, as in Eighty-eight
above an hundred sail of great ships with their artillery, and that no
year is less infortunate, but that many vessels, treasures, and people
are devoured, and yet notwithstanding he beginneth again like a storm
to threaten shipwrack to us all; we shall find that these abilities rise
not from the trades of sacks and Seville oranges, nor from aught else
that either Spain, Portugal, or any of his other provinces produce; it
is his Indian gold that endangereth and disturbeth all the nations of
Europe; it purchaseth intelligence, creepeth into counsels, and setteth
bound loyalty at liberty in the greatest monarchies of Europe. If
the Spanish king can keep us from foreign enterprises, and from the
impeachment of his trades, either by offer of invasion, or by besieging
us in Britain, Ireland, or elsewhere, he hath then brought the work of
our peril in great forwardness.

Those princes that abound in treasure have great advantages over the
rest, if they once constrain them to a defensive war, where they are
driven once a year or oftener to cast lots for their own garments; and
from all such shall all trades and intercourse be taken away, to
the general loss and impoverishment of the kingdom and commonweal so
reduced. Besides, when our men are constrained to fight, it hath not the
like hope as when they are pressed and encouraged by the desire of
spoil and riches. Farther, it is to be doubted how those that in time
of victory seem to affect their neighbour nations will remain after
the first view of misfortunes or ill success; to trust, also, to the
doubtfulness of a battle is but a fearful and uncertain adventure,
seeing therein fortune is as likely to prevail as virtue. It shall not
be necessary to allege all that might be said, and therefore I will thus
conclude; that whatsoever kingdom shall be enforced to defend itself may
be compared to a body dangerously diseased, which for a season may be
preserved with vulgar medicines, but in a short time, and by little and
little, the same must needs fall to the ground and be dissolved. I have
therefore laboured all my life, both according to my small power and
persuasion, to advance all those attempts that might either promise
return of profit to ourselves, or at least be a let and impeachment to
the quiet course and plentiful trades of the Spanish nation; who, in my
weak judgement, by such a war were as easily endangered and brought from
his powerfulness as any prince in Europe, if it be considered from how
many kingdoms and nations his revenues are gathered, and those so weak
in their own beings and so far severed from mutual succour. But because
such a preparation and resolution is not to be hoped for in haste,
and that the time which our enemies embrace cannot be had again to
advantage, I will hope that these provinces, and that empire now by me
discovered, shall suffice to enable her Majesty and the whole kingdom
with no less quantities of treasure than the king of Spain hath in all
the Indies, East and West, which he possesseth; which if the same be
considered and followed, ere the Spaniards enforce the same, and if her
Majesty will undertake it, I will be contented to lose her Highness'
favour and good opinion for ever, and my life withal, if the same be
not found rather to exceed than to equal whatsoever is in this discourse
promised and declared. I will now refer the reader to the following
discourse, with the hope that the perilous and chargeable labours and
endeavours of such as thereby seek the profit and honour of her Majesty,
and the English nation, shall by men of quality and virtue receive such
construction and good acceptance as themselves would like to be rewarded
withal in the like.


[*] Exploration

[+] The name is derived from the Guayano Indians, on the

On Thursday, the sixth of February, in the year 1595, we departed
England, and the Sunday following had sight of the north cape of Spain,
the wind for the most part continuing prosperous; we passed in sight of
the Burlings, and the Rock, and so onwards for the Canaries, and fell
with Fuerteventura the 17. of the same month, where we spent two or
three days, and relieved our companies with some fresh meat. From thence
we coasted by the Grand Canaria, and so to Teneriffe, and stayed there
for the Lion's Whelp, your Lordship's ship, and for Captain Amyas
Preston and the rest. But when after seven or eight days we found them
not, we departed and directed our course for Trinidad, with mine own
ship, and a small barque of Captain Cross's only; for we had before lost

1 3 4 5 6 7 8

Online LibraryWalter Alexander RaleighThe Discovery of Guiana → online text (page 1 of 8)