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I have here attempted to set forth all that is most memorable in the careers of the great leaders of English navigation and English sea-fighting under the Tudors, so far as they had anything to do with naval affairs; but, instead of writing a number of short biographies, it seemed to me better to make the biographical details subordinate to the history of the famous enterprises to which they belong.
After a short introductory chapter, and three other chapters which, relating to the reigns of Henry VII., Henry VIII., and Edward VI., may also be looked upon as introductory to the fuller narrative of English sea-going under Elizabeth, I have therefore so arranged my materials as to present, in each of the following volumes, a separate historical episode. In the first is given, as concisely as seemed possible with due regard to the interest of the subject, the story of the efforts made by Elizabethan navigators to reach the Indies and acquire their wealth by arctic voyaging, and of the efforts issuing therefrom, by which were begun the English colonization of America, and the English mastery of India. In the second, the same memorable half-century has been traversed, chiefly.to show the way in which, while trading enterprise and bold love of adventure were being peaceably exercised by the arctic explorers and the founders of our colonial empire, another set of men, or the same men applying themselves to a different
object, went to sea with the determination of wresting the wealth of the Spanish Main and the Southern Seas from the nation which had learnt to think them exclusively her own. The outcome of these efforts was the Great Armada Fight, and the raval supremacy of England over all the nations of Europe.
The authorities for the statements made in the following pages have been carefully indicated in footnotes. Among recent works, I am especially indebted to the many publications of the Hakluyt Society, and to the excellent Calendars of State Papers prepared under the direction of the Master of the Rolls. But it is hardly necessary to state that my largest debts are due to Hakluyt's Voyages, and Purchas's Pilgrims, and to the journals and other illustrative documents, not included in those voluminous collections, which are preserved in the British Museum Library, the Record Office, and elsewhere. Having a wonderful gathering of personal narratives to work from, I have purposely made free use of the quaint and eloquent words and sentences of the original writers, generally sharers and often leaders in the several enterprises which they describe. My effort has been simply and concisely to relate the story of some great achievements by which the little island of Britain was helped to become a rich and powerful nation. To that end I Yave, as far as possible, abstained from interpolating the narrative with comments and criticisms of my own. History, I venture to think, is always best taught, and its lessons are always made most plain, by straightforward relating of facts; and interpretations and expositions would be especially out of place where the history is so eloquent and the lessons are so transparent as in the case of the heroic undertakings which are the theme of these volumes.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.