Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

fold a moral lesson which the axe has consecrated with the honours of civil matrydom.

To prove the antiquity of his family, his name has been traced to villages, and even towns in the West of England, called Rale or Ralega. Whatever might have been its origin, the family was old enough to have lost its ancient riches;* for Walter, who was the youngest son of a third marriage, each of which had been fruitful, was born upon a leasehold farm in Devonshire, which appears to have been nearly all that was left to his father at that time, of the paternal inheritance. He was probably more indebted for his genius, to his mother than to his father; for she by a former marriage had produced the three Gilberts, distinguished like Raleigh, by hardy courage and maritime adventure. He was born in 1552, a year, according to the astrologers; remarkable in our chronicles for that

strange shoal of the largest sea fishes, which quitting their native waters for fresh and untasted streams wandered up 'the Thames, an event surprisingly analagous to the life of * this adventurous voyager, whose delight was in the hazardous * discovery of unfrequented coasts.'

At the university of Oxford he obtained some reputation, not only for letters but wit ; for Lord Bacon among his apothegms records that while Raleigh was a scholar at Oxford, there was a cowardly fellow who happened to be a good archer; but having been grossly abused by another he bemoaned himself to Raleigh and asked his advice, what he should do to repair the wrong that had been offered to him. Raleigh answered, why challenge him at a match of shooting.

His stay there must have been short, as be served in a company of volunteers sent to the aid of the Huguenots, when quite a youth. However young, he was not a heedless observer of characters and events; for in his History of the World,+ he often recurs to his juvenile campaigns. The superiority of wisdom to valour, even in military affairs did not escape him, and he says of the great Coligni, in contrasting him with the Prince of Condé, ibat so much did the valour of the latter 6 outreach the advisedness of the former, that whatever the · admiral intended to win by waiting the advantage, the Prince • adventured to lose by being over confident in his own courage.'

Courage, though indispensible to the military life, derives its virtue, in commanders, not so much from promoting action as by preserving the mind from fear, and thus leaving it undisturbed to mature its plans, and to take advantage of events.

Nobility-virtus et antiquæ divitiæ.--Ral. Hist. of the World. b. i. c. ix. $ 4. # See Oldy's Life of Raleigh, p, 7.

He also relates a stratagern in Languedoc, which he thus introduces in his History of the World. I saw in the third • civil war of France certain caves in Languedoc, which had but one entrance, and that very narrow, cut out in the midway of high rocks, which we knew not how to enter by any ladder or engine, till at last by certain bundles of straw let down by "an iron chain, and a weighty stone in the inidst, those that * defended it were so smothered, that they rendered themselves • with their plate, money, and other goods.'*

Afterwards in the Netherlands, he served under the Prince of Orange. It was in these schools, and chiefly in that of the Low Countries, that the English youth were trained to arms and manners. Their morals generally suffered from the license of a foreign camp ; but Raleigh happily passed through this ordeal unhurt; and returned to England with the fame of a soldier and the accomplishments of a gentleman.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert, his brother, had just obtained a patent from Queen Elizabeth to plant a colony in North-America, and Raleigh joined the adventurers; but the expedition failed, though not until a ship had ventured to sea, and a sea-fight had occurred, in which Raleigh tried his courage on a new element. This voyage, however unfortunate, probably gave his mind a direction towards the naval service, and first turned his attention to maritime discoveries and the settlement of colonies. From these he was for the present diverted, by the petty war which was then carried on in Ireland, where he next appears, with a Captain's commission. Lord Grey was then the deputy-who is said to have acted upon the maxiin, “that the Irish were like 'nettles, sure to make those smart who gently handled them; but must be crushed to prevent stinging.” Under such a master, Raleigh, it is to be foareil, was but too apt a pupil. What he considered rigour, the Irish thought cruelty. After several slight skirmishes, the Spanish fort, as it was called, was invested, and was compelled at length to surrender unconditionally, the deputy having refused all terms, when nearly the whole garrison was put to the sword. It was composed of adventurers chiefly Spanish, under the Pope's banner; who, (his holiness) if an author is

to be credited who had been in Spain, (savs Oldys) had pro• vided a chalice to drink the Queen of England's precious blood,

as soon as she should be made a sacrifice.”+ Raleigh was never taxed, we are told, with any cruelty on this account, more than the rest of the officers. He only obeyed instructions. It is too late when an officer is leading a storm, to listen to anything but

* History of the World, b. iv. c. 2. V 16.
# Life of Sir Walter Raleigh.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

his orders; the culpability lies in going upon the duty, or in continuing in a service, where cruelty and licentiousness aggravate the horrors of war; but it is by no means unlikely that Raleigh, however elevated by genius and cultivation, thought it rather a fair opportunity for weeding out these noxious papists. So much are all mankind slaves to the opinions of their party, and so completely does bigotry, more than any other passion, efface the sentiments of humanity! After this, Raleigh was engaged in several personal adventures, in which, the generosity of his pature being unrestricted by prejudice, had free scope. Returning from an unsuccessful pursuit of the Lord Barry, upon his approach to the ford of a river, rather ahead of his men, he was set upon by a party in ambush, but broke through them, and crossed the river; yet Mr. Moyle, his friend, being thrown by his horse in the stream, Raleigh, though alone, returned, and dragging him out of the mire, bore bim to the shore. Here with bis pike and pistol, he awaited the arrrival of his men, who were allowed, such an impression had Raleigh made upon the enemy, to pass unmolested. On another occasion, having attacked a party of rebels with six horse, under the expectation that the rest of his force would soon join him, his horse was killed, and he rescued with great peril by his servants, whom, however, he would not allow to remain with him, but at the hazard of his own life, despatched to the rescue of his friend Fitzgerald. Raleigh's company being disbanded, he returned to England, and was first introduced to the Queen by a gallant adventure. The Queen being interrupted in her walk by a muddy spot in the pathway, Raleigh gracefully threw off his new and rich cloak, and spread it before her Majesty's feet. When admitted to court, he endeavoured to attract her notice, but his person, wit and confidence procured him only some small employments. He attended the Duke of Anjou to the Netherlands, by the Queen's direction; and brought over a letter to her from the Prince of Orange. He was sufficiently noticed to excite envy, not to en

Finding that he must be the architect of his own fortune, and animated by an adventurous spirit, he united himself with Sir Humphrey Gilbert in his unfortunate expedition to Newfoundland. Though Raleigh's own ship was driven back, and Sir Humphrey lost at sea upon his return, Raleigh not at all disheartened, prepared for a more arduous enterprize. The histories of the Spanish discoverers and conquerors in the new world, had been the delight of Raleigh's youth, and had nourished his romantic genius. He had been engaged in two expeditions of Sir Humphrey Gilbert's to Newfoundland; but now he projected a more enlarged and splendid scheme, and may be

sure success.

said to have laid the foundation of the British settlements in America. From the English discoveries from North to South, and the course of the Spanish navigation, on the return to Europe through the Bhama Channel or Gulf of Florida, he was satisfied that there was a wide extent of unexplored coast, in a more temperate climate, stretching from Florida to the northward. He, therefore, obtained from the Queen a patent for making discoveries and settlements; and immediately afterwards despatched two barks to North-America. They made their voyage by the way of the West-Indies, and arrived on the coast in the month of July, and were greeted with fragrant gales from the shore. After passing by a flat region for many miles, they arrived at an inlet, through which they approached the land; along which, from stately cedars, hung bunches of grapes trailing almost into the sea. On exploring this inviting spot, the delighted navigators wandered through groves of fragrant trees, and under canopies of vines sustaining the luscious bunches. To this spectacle of nature in her luxuriance, so novel and enchanting to northern mariners after a tedious voyage, succeeded the marks of cultivation-fields of grain and domestic animalsthe evidences of an inhabited country. The first island which they visited, was Wocoken; and they found a succession of islands and an inland sea between them and the continent, sprinkled with islands.

An acquaintance with the natives was soon formed, and offices of kindness exchanged. A native prince came on board; a trade was opened, and he exchanged twenty furs for a tin dish, not selected by him as a shining bauble, but as a piece of armour to be hung on his neck as a gorget. A princess, with her attendants, afterwards visited the English. She was both beautiful and modest. She wore a mantle and apron of deer-skin, lined with white fur. Her long locks hung down on each side of her head, while her forehead was encircled by a band of white coral; and from her ears was suspended a chain of pearls as big as peas, (says the voyager) reaching to her waist. The English visited her in turn at Roanoke, and found in her that kindness to strangers which characterizes the sex in every stage of civilization. Such was the first intercourse between the simple savages of North-America and the English settlers. It was altogether an interchange of civility and kindness. Nothing occurred to interrupt the harmony of their intercourse. The king, though possessed of considerable territories, apprehended no invasion from his new visiters; nor does it appear that the English at that time intended anything beyond a traffic with the natives and peaceful settlements among them, for mutual adVOL. IV.-NO. 8.


vantage ; by which civilization, riches and religion, would be extended to the new world. The prince and people even desired the return of the strangers, as useful allies against the invasion of the powerful tribes of the interior: and two Indians embarked in the English ships.

Queen Elizabeth was so well pleased with the report “of this rich, beautiful and virgin country," that she herself, gave it the name of Virginia. This discovery, and the favourable notice of it by the Queen, if it excited the envy of the courtiers, strengthened Raleigh with the people; for at the next session of Parliament, he was elected a knight of the shire, for the county of Devon. But unfortunately for the parliamentary fame of Raleigh, 'there was then (says Oldys) a clerk of the Parliament, Fulk Ons• low by name, so very indolent, or otherwise indisposed, that the

transactions of the House were, at this time, very imperfectly cecorded.' At this Parliament, however, his patent was confirmed; and the Queen conferred on him the honour of knighthood; a title not then so cheap as it became in the days of her successor. Raleigh now fitted out a second expedition to Virginia, under the command of his gallant relative, Sir Richard Greenville, of seven ships; and sent out a governor for the colony, Mr. Ralph Lane. It was a prosperous and profitable voyage. The only mishap to the crews, was to be sadly stung by the musquitoes at Porto Rico; but it was off this island that two rich prizes were taken; one freighted with merchandize, the other with noble Spaniards. The prize-money and the ransoms more than repaid the expense of the outfit. Sir R. Greenville having landed the colonists, returned to England for supplies.

The Governor was kindly received by the natives, and made a settlement by their consent, with one hundred and seven colonists. He explored the country to the extent of two hundred miles on the coast, and one hundred and thirty miles in the interior, and wrote a discourse displaying "the particularities of the country of Virginia.” After the death of the reigning prince, his brother and successor, conspired against the English, but fell a sacrifice

to his policy ; and the next in succession submitted to them. v Sir Francis Drake, returning from his successful expedition

against the Spanish possessions, visited the colony, and generously proffered them a ship, with provisions for their maintenance, until the expected arrival of Sir R. Greenville; but a violent storm, after some of the colonists had gone on board the ship, having separated the fleet and driven her to sea, the rest, now disheartened with the diminution of their numbers, sailed with Drake for England. In the meantime, first a provision ship, and afterwards Sir Richard Greenville with three ships ar

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »