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understand—and this conclusion is borne out by some circumstances in his later history—that finding himself blamed both for things that were not blameworthy, and for matters in which others were quite as much at fault as he was, he, too, got angry, and showed his anger in undignified ways.

It is not necessary to follow this ugly quarrel through all its tedious details, or to describe the numerous ex. periments that were made upon the worthless stone that had been brought home before people were convinced that it would be utter waste of money, energy, and life to carry on the search for gold in Meta Incognita, or any of the districts visited by Frobisher. This hope of gold was altogether unfortunate. By it the Cathay Company and Frobisher himself were prevented from carrying on the search for a passage round the northern part of America during the expeditions of 1577 and 1578; and by it, the real nature of the ore being discovered, Frobisher was prevented from prosecuting the search and from following up the great discovery of the channel, afterwards known as Hudson's Straits, which he had made during his third voyage.

There was much talk, however, of a fourth voyage to be undertaken by Frobisher. The Cathay Company had fallen to pieces upon the failure of the efforts to extract gold from the mineral on which the hopes of its members had been chiefly set; and Michael Lock, its treasurer and chief promoter, concerning whom it is impossible to decide whether he really deserved all the blame that was heaped upon him for his management

1578.]

His Rivals and Enemies.

173

being thwarted on some point, “ he flung out of the doors, and swore, by God's wounds, that he would hip my masters the adventurers for it;" and it was alleged that all the mischances of the expedition had resulted from his wilful neglect of duty. Not having the wit to make discoveries for himself, “his vain-glorious mind would not suffer any discovery to be made without his own presence,” and therefore the whole enterprise had fallen to the ground. Coming home, and finding that he met with less favour than he expected, it was said, there were no bounds to his fury. On one occasion he had gone to a gold refiner on Tower Hill, and finding him “naked at his works and very sick, almost to death, of infection of the smoke of the minerals," he had in the course of a dispute drawn his dagger on him. At another time, when Edward Sellman was taking an inventory of the stores brought home, Frobisher was said to have beaten him, and nearly cloven his head with a dagger.*

There was plenty more of such libelling. If a tithe of the accusations brought against Frobisher are to be believed, he was man utterly contemptible, and quite unfit for the work confided to him. His skilful management of his business, his wise care of all the people under him, and his generous bearing towards the natives of the districts that he visited, are sufficient refutations of them. At the same time, we can easily

а

* RECORD OFFICE MSS., Domestic, vol. cxxvi., Nos. 20, 22, 34 ; vol. cxxvii., Nos. 8, 20; vol. cxxix., Nos. 9, 44; vol. cxxx., No. 17, &c.; BRITISH MUSEUM MSS., Lansdowne, C., No. 1.

made ready for the enterprise, and that other ships should be added if more money could be obtained.

Frobisher was in high glee, and waited anxiously for the instructions that were issued to him in February, 1582. There was one clause in these instructions, however, which seems to have taken him altogether by surprise. Some of the new partners in the project procured a complete change in its purpose.

« We will,” it was said, “ that this voyage shall be only for trade and not for discovery of the passage to Cathay, otherwise than if, without hindrance of your trade and within 40 degrees of latitude, you can get any knowledge touching that passage, whereof you shall do well to be inquisitive as occasion in this sort may serve."* With this order, quite at variance with the scheme which he had most at heart, Frobisher seems to have refused to comply. At any rate, his name was taken out of the instructions, and Edward Fenton's was put in its stead. The expedition which started in April was changed into an enterprise for trade or piracy in the South Seas, and accordingly all that needs to be said about it must be said in a later chapter. Frobisher had nothing more to do with it.

Of the way in which he occupied himself during the few years previous to and following this proposal for renewing the Cathayan search we know yery little. In or near the year 1580, he had received from the Crown a reversionary title to the office of Clerk of Her Majesty's 1578—1582.) The Troubles of Dame Isabel Frobisher.

* BRITISH MUSEUM MSS., Cotton, Otho viii., fols. 87–92.

177

.*

ships ;* but we are not told when, if ever, he really entered upon this work.f That he stood in need of some remunerative employment is tolerably clear. There is extant a curious letter, undated, but evidently written between 1576 and 1578, addressed by his wife, Dame Isabel Frobisher, “the most miserable poor woman in the world,” to Sir Francis Walsingham. In it, “ in her most lamentable manner,” she complained that, whereas her former husband, Thomas Riggat, a very wealthy man, had left her with ample portions for herself and all her children, her present husband—“whom God forgive !”—had spent everything, and “put them to the wide world to shift.” She and her children, she said, were starving in a poor room at Hampstead ; and therefore she begged Walsingham to help her in recovering a debt of 41. due to her husband, and so to keep them from famishing until Captain Frobisher's return.

It is to be feared that when Captain Frobisher returned he was not able to do very much towards restoring the money that he had borrowed from his wife.

* RECORD OFFICE MSS., Warrant Book, vol. i.,

† He was employed as captain of one of the Queen's ships, the Foresight, in preventing the Spaniards from giving all the assistance they desired to the Irish insurgents in Munster, under James Fitzmaurice, in 1580 ; but of this we have no useful details.- RECORD OFFICE MSS., Irish, vol. lxxxiii., No. 35; vol. lxxxiv., No. 56; vol. lxxxvi., Nos. 64, 71, 72.

# RECORD OFFICE MSS., Domestic, vol. cli., No. 17.

p. 118.

VOL. I.

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178

CHAPTER VII.

THE COLONIZING PROJECTS OF SIR HUMPHREY GILBERT.

[1574—1583.]

FROM active participation in the Cathayan enterprise, of which he was chief promoter, Sir Humphrey Gilbert was deterred, either by the jealousy of the men who superseded him in the work or by his own dissatisfaction at being thus superseded, or by both motives together. But he was at no loss for other and kindred ways in which to show his love of adventure and his anxiety to forward his country's welfare. While he was writing his · Discourse to prove a Passage to Cathay,' we find him, in conjunction with other gentlemen of the west parts of England, among whom Sir Richard Grenville, Sir George Peckham, and Christopher Carlile were the principal, planning an expedition for the discovery of “sundry rich and unknown lands” in the more southern districts of America. On the 22nd of March, 1574, he and his friends addressed a petition to Queen Elizabeth on the subject, urging that this discovery was “fatally reserved for England and for the honour of Her Majesty;" and on the same day they

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