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The Voyage towards Home.
he preferred, both because it seemed the fittest for close following of the coast-line, and because its crew, deeming it hardly seaworthy, were afraid to be left alone. During three days the ships were sorely beaten about by storms, vainly attempting to enter the harbour, and barely saved 'from shipwreck amid the mountainous waves and among the treacherous rocks and sandbanks. On the last day of August, Gilbert resolved to try no longer. Summoning the chief officers of the Golden Hind on board the Squirrel, and hearing from them complaints similar to those made by his own small crew, he gave orders for immediate return to England. “Be content,” he said; have run enough, and take no care of expenses past. I will set you forth royally next spring, if God send us safe home. Let us no longer strive here, where we fight against the elements."
Fierce winds and angry seas perplexed them still. On the 2nd of September Sir Humphrey Gilbert went on board the Golden Hind, and bade its people “ to make merry.” He could not be merry. himself. “He was out of measure grieved,” says Captain Hayes, who very unjustly supposed that his chief cause of grief was the loss, in the Delight, of some mineral which he had collected, and which he thought to be rich silver
Hayes could not see that there was ground enough for grief in the loss of three-quarters of his followers and the failure of his second effort at colonization. Gilbert resolved that it should only be a temporary failure, and that he would do his very utmost to retrieve his misfortunes, and that upon the scene of the disasters. “Whereas he never before had good conceit of these northern parts," we are told, “now his mind was wholly fixed upon the Newfoundland. Laying down his determination for the voyage to be reattempted in the spring following, he assigned the captain and master of the Golden Hind unto the south discovery, and reserved unto himself the north, affirming that this voyage had won his heart from the south, and that he was now become a northern man altogether.”
Over and over again the crew of the Golden Hind urged him to stay with them, instead of trusting his precious life to the ill-furnished and unsafe Squirrel. This he steadily refused to do. “I will not forsake my little company going homeward,” he said, “ with whom
, I have passed so many storms and perils.”
With them he passed through another week of storms and perils, and then all was over. Throughout that week the voyagers battled with waves and winds so terrible that men who had been all their lives at sea declared they had never seen the like before. On the 9th of September the storm was at its highest. All day long the mariners of the Golden Hind, itself a mere waif upon the surging ocean, saw the little Squirrel tossing up and down, seeming to be engulfed by every wave as it covered the puny boat from stem to stern. But all day long Sir Humphrey Gilbert was at its helm, and, as often as the two ships came within earshot, the men of the Golden Hind heard him uttering brave words of cheer and comfort.
“ Courage, my
The Death of Sir Humphrey Gilbert.
friends,” he shouted; “ we are as near to heaven by sea as on the land !”
The noble words were ringing in their ears when, at midnight, they saw the Squirrel burst asunder, in a moment to be swallowed up by the waters.
The Golden Hind reached Falmouth on the 22nd of September, and when the dismal story of Sir Humphrey Gilbert's misfortunes and the heroic ending of them was told, Englishmen forgave him for any rashness and indiscretion that he had been guilty of, and, treasuring up his dying speech, entered with new zest upon the grand work of American colonization which he had been the first systematically to attempt.
SIR WALTER RALEIGH's VIRGINIA.
SIR HUMPHREY GILBERT's successor in the effort establish in North America an English colonial empire which should rival the possessions of Spain in the central and southern parts of the continent, was his stepbrother, Walter Raleigh. To him, on the 25th of March, 1584, Queen Elizabeth issued letters patent authorizing him, in terms similar to those employed in Gilbert's charter, to discover and take possession of any district not yet appropriated by Europeans, and assigning to him and his heirs perpetual governorship of any colony that he might found within the next six years.
Raleigh lost no time in making use of the privileges thus conferred upon him. Keeping the business in his own hands, spending his own money, and giving his own directions, he fitted out two small vessels, which left Plymouth on the 27th of April. Their captains were Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlow.
Their instructions were to explore the eastern shores of America from Florida upwards, to note especially the
* HAKLUYT, vol. iii., pp. 243—245.
The First Expedition to Virginia.
fitness of each part of the coast for colonization, and then without delay to bring home a report of their observations. All this was done very successfully. The voyagers reached the Canaries on the 10th of May. Thence they proceeded slowly to the Bahamas, and spent twelve days on one of the islands, renewing their stores of fresh water and provisions. On the 4th of July, after sailing due north for a few days, they sighted the coast of what is now the State of North Carolina. They traversed its length for about a hundred and twenty miles, and then, entering Pamlico Sound, they landed upon one of the islands, and took possession in Queen Elizabeth's name. With this and the adjoining islands they were so charmed that they spent more than a month in exploring them and the neighbouring mainland. Their rich fruitage and the brilliance and sweetness of their flowers delighted them while they were on shipboard, and their later investigation convinced them that this was the best place for Raleigh to plant his colony in. They found it filled with oaks, cedars, cypresses, and mastics, with cinnamon trees and many others “ of excellent smell and quality,” and well stored with “ melons, walnuts, cucumbers, gourds, peas, and divers roots, and fruits very excellent good, and corn very white, fair, and well tasted, also wheat and oats, and beans very fair, of divers colours and wonderful plenty.” Everywhere the soil seemed to them to be marvellously fertile, and of the natives they formed a very favourable opinion.
Concerning these natives and their ways, Captain