Слике страница
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

husband Vertamnus in bis winter-quarters and old age.'* He does not admit that the tree of knowledge was the Ficus Indica. • For this Indian fig-tree is not so rare a plant as Becanus con'ceiveth, who, because he found it no where else, would needs 'draw the garden of Paradise to the tree, and set it by the river * Acesines. But many parts of the world have them; and I myself have seen twenty thousand of them in one valley, not 'far from Pana in America. They grow in moist grounds, and ‘in this manner : After they are first shot up some twenty or 'thirty foot in length, they spread a very large top, having no 'bough or twig in the trunk or stem; for from the utmost ends

of the head branches, there issueth out a gummy juice, which hangeth downward like a cord or sinew, and within a few months 'reacheth the ground, which it no sooner toucheth, but it taketh

root, and then being filled both from the top boughs and from 'bis own proper roots, this cord maketh itself a tree exceeding . hastily From the utmost boughs of these young trees, there 'fall again the like cords, which in one year and less (in that

world of a perpetual spring) become also trees of the bigness • of the nether part of a lance, and as straight as art or nature

can make anything, casting such a shade and maķing such a kind of grove as no other tree in the world can do.

Now one of these trees, considered with all his young ones, may, indeed, shroud four hundred or four thousand horsemen if they please, ' for they cover whole vallies of ground where these trees grow

near the sea-bank, as they do by thousands, in the inner part of ''Trinidad. The cords which fall down over the banks into the 'sea, shooting always downwards to find root under water, are in those seas of the Indies where oysters breed, entangled in * their beds, so as by pulling up one of these cords out of the 6

sea, I have seen five hundred oysters hanging in a heap there'on; whereof the report came that oysters grew on trees in · India.'t

Tbese lively digressions, however out of place in a regular history, in which he relates from his personal observation, constitute the charm of the work; they give it a freshness and originality, and bring into lively contrast ancient and modern story, and thus reflect their mutual lights. But it is not only in these obscurer parts of history in which imagination has so much scope, and where the poets and rabbins are the best authority, that Sir Walter excels. He appears to have mastered the authentic parts of the Grecian and Roman history, and is Hot a mere compiler from ancient anpals, but brings his good

* History of the World, b. i. e. 3. V 8.

Ibid. h. i. c. 4. 5 2.

sense and experience to our aid in his reflections on the characters of men, the manners of nations, and the causes and consequences of events.

One would not have expected from Raleigh what he says of courage, in speaking of Alexander the Great. For his per

son it is very apparent that he was as valiant as any man, a disposition, taken by itself, not much to be admired; for I am • confident that he had ten thousand men in his army as daring 'as himself. Surely, if adventurous natures were to be com*mended simply, we should confound that virtue with the hardi

ness of thieves, ruffians and mastiff dogs. For certainly it is noways praiseworthy but in doing good things and in the per• formance of those lawful enterprizes in which we are employed • for the service of our kings and commonweals.'

It is, perhaps, among the most learned books in the English language, there being scarcely anything relating to human nature, upon which he has not touched. Though he has been called a free-thinker, and was once charged by his enemies with atheism, he appears to have been familiar with the sacred scriptures. As a specimen of his skill as a cominentator, a passage may be referred to on a much controverted subject of late.

I find not in scripture (says he) any warrant to oppress men with bondage, unless the lawfulness thereof be sufficiently in*timated, where it is said that a man shall not be punished for

the death of a servant whom he hath slain by correction, if the * servant live a day or two, because he is his money, (Exod. 21. 21) or else by captivity of the Midianitish girls, (Num. 31.9) which were made bond slaves, and the sanctuary had a part of them for the Lord's tribute. Doubtless, the custom hath been very 'ancient; for Noah (Gen. 9. 25) laid this curse upon Canaan, , that he should be a servant of servants, and Abraham had of • Pharaoh, among other gists, men servants and maid servants, • (Gen. 12. 16) which were none other than slaves. The Chris

tian religion is said to have abrogated this old kind of servility, .but surely they are deceived that think so. St. Paul desired the liberty of Onesimus, whom he had won unto Christ; yet • wrote he for this unto Philemon by way of request, craving it as a benefit, not urging it as a duty. Agreeable hereto, is the

direction which the same St. Paul giveth unto servants. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called;

art thou called, being a servant,* care not for it, but if thou mayst be made free, chuse it rather. (1 Cor. 7. 20. 21.) In

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

AOTAOX a slave.--See Parkhurst's Greek Lexicon.

• England we had many hond servants, until the time of her last civil wars; and I think that the laws concerning villainage are still in force, of which the latest are the sharpest. And now * since slaves were made free, which were of great use and ser'vice, there are grown up a rabble of rogues, cut purses and other *the like trades ; slaves in nature, though not in law.'*

Warburton commends the conclusion of the history for the grandeur of its sentiments and expression. The whole would be too long for insertion, especially after so many extracts; but it closes with this burst. O eloquent, just and mighty death! whoin none could advişe, thou hast persuaded; what none

bath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world and despised: 'thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the 'pride, cruelty and ambition of man, and covered it all over with • these two narrow words-Hic jacet.'

It does not appear, that the publication of his history directly contributed to his release from prison. Though the King was himself an author, he might not have favoured the work. Royal authors are as subject to jealousy as others. It has been said tbat some of his courtiers led him to believe, that it was 'a secret history, and that Scotch faces were to be seen in it struck upon old Jewish, Babylonian or Assyrian shoulders.'

His long imprisonment had softened the minds of his enenies; his great work had excited the feelings of the nation in his behalf; the Queen befriended him; Cecil was now dead; Somerset in prison; and the friends of Villiers, the new favourite, had received a bribe. These causes conspired to his discharge. He also proposed to renew bis old project, and to go in quest of a gold mine in Guiana, a country which he had explored, in which King James had by a charter authorized settlements, and with which Raleigh bad kept up an intercourse while in prison. Raleigh, when released from prison, raised ten thousand pounds sterling, and assisted by other adventurers, fitted out a fleet to proceed to Guiana, under the King's commission ; which was granted, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the Spanish Ainbassador, who denounced the voyage as piratical and hostile.

By the commission, he was authorized to fit out a fleet, and appointed sole governor and commander of all persons under him, with power over them 'in cases capital and criminal as • well as civil;' and with authority in case of rebellion or mutiny by sea or land, to exercise martial law. Various difficul

6

* History of the World, b. v. c. ii. p. 585.

ties and delays impeded the voyage: he touched at several Spanish ports on the way, observing towards them the most guarded and peaceful deportment. Not long after the arrival of the fleet at Trinidad, Raleigh was seized with a fever, which brought him near to the last extremity; while slowly recovering, as the seasop was far advanced, he was obliged to plan the expedition which he could no longer lead. They had been received by the Indians with the greatest cordiality; who recognized Raleigh as an ancient visiter. To Keymnis, who professed a knowledge of the site of the mine, was committed the command of the boats that were to ascend the river, with strict instructions to pursue steadily the discovery, and to act against any Spaniards who might oppose them, only on the defensive. Raleigh remained with the fleet to meet any attack which the Spaniards might make on it by sea, and secure an asylum to the boats on their return. Raleigh's son, who had all the intrepid courage and romantic ardour of his father, went with the Keymis. They proceeded up the river in pursuit of the mine; but being attacked by the Spaniards, they not only defended themselves, but were led in the heat of the action to pursue the flying enemy, towards an inconsiderable town called St. Thomas, where young Raleigh being killed, they stormed the town and set it on fire. This death completely disconcerted Keymis; and though he afterwards ascended the river towards the mine, yet when he found himself impeded by the shallows in the river, the depth of the thickets, and by frequent attacks from the Spaniards, who had made some attempts at opening the mine, he abandoned the enterprize. Keymis upon his return to the fleet, being reproached by Raleigh for the death of his son, the burning of the town, and the relinquishment of the search, in a fit of despair committed violence on himself.* Among the papers brought from St. Thomas', was

* This single fact is, we think. a sufficient answer to Hume's long vindication of James 1. Raleigh was a soldier, and had been, as we have seen, not only a gallant but a rash one. He would never have reproached Keymis for the death of his son, if his life has been lost in gallantly assailing a post which he had been ordered or coun. selled to attack. If the capture of St. Thomé was, on the other hand, a rash and unauthorized measure of Keymis, the reproaches of Sir Walter Raleigh would be most keenly felt. Again, if the whole expedition had been, as Hume supposed, intended and prepared for plunder, on what ground could Keymis have been at all reproached for doing that which he had been appointed to perform, for capturing the only post the Spaniards then held on the Oronoque:-or why censured for not exploring the mountainous districts of Guiana, if the capture and plunder of cities had been his immediate object: or why, in short, should Raleigh have continued idle during the expedition of Keymis, and have quit the coast immediately on his return, if, as Hume suggests, his real object was to have acquired by piracy the means of purchasing a pardon at home. On the contrary, Raleigh appears to have been deeply chagrined. The mines, the mountains, at least, to which Keymis on two precediug voyages had, by his own accounts, approached within a few miles, were not

the very letter in which Raleigh had communicated in confidence to the King his whole plan. This satisfied Raleigh, that the Spaniards had been too well prepared for him to authorize his making a second attempt at the present time; and dreading the fleet, which they might send to intercept bis now disheartened crew, he determined to withdraw for the present, purposing at first, to refit in Virginia or Newfoundland. His crew having, however, become disorderly, and even risen into mutiny and imprisoned him for a time, he determined after quelling them, to return to England. As soon as it was known in Europe that a Spanish town had been burnt, and several Spaniards killed, the Spanish Ambassador broke into the roval presence, exclaiming with insolent familiarity, Pirates, • Pirates, Pirates.'

Now, though the English title to Guiana, according to the laws of discovery, authorized the expedition to it; though the King well knew that Raleigh's voyage was to that country; though it had been allowed to proceed, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the crown of Spain, and after Raleigh had furnished a sketch of his project; though it was notorious that he had sailed with a considerable force; though he was authorized by his commission to defend himself; though it seems to have been understood among the European States, as a kind of law of nations for the Spanish settlements in the new world, that all differences were to be settled there by the parties on the spot, and that arms were to decide everything: yet, as the King in the mean time, was aiming at a Spanish match which bade fair to yield more honour and treasure than the mines of Guiana; and as the artful Gondomar bad deluded the King with the fear, that Raleigh's outrage might defeat his favourite policy, it was determined, upon reasons of state, to sacrifice him to Spain.

Though Raleigh, weighed down by sickness and age, and the death of his heroic son, returned to England with a heavy heart, it does not appear that he had the remotest idea, that he had forfeited his life by the unhappy termination of his enterprize. He was, therefore, proceeding with all despatch for London, after having landed at Portsmouth, when it was deemed prudent at court, before he took the alarm, to despatch a visited, the party had turned aside, and young Raleigh killed in a military enterprize, which made no part of the real object of the expedition, and the commander must have felt that while every object of this voyage had been defeated, he would probably incur the censure and displeasure of his own government. Hence the bitterness of his reproaches to Keymis, reproaches which caused that gallant officer to put an end to his life. VOL. IV.-NO 8.

59

« ПретходнаНастави »