Page:The Harvard Classics Vol. 51; Lectures.djvu/423
VOYAGES AND TRAVEL
pushed into the Mediterranean, sending expeditions to Tripoli and Morocco, and trading with the Greek Archipelago. Others cultivated intercourse with Egypt and the Levant, and, penetrating Arabia and Persia, carried their samples overland to India, while still others reached the same goal by way of the Persian Gulf or round the Cape of Good Hope. Here they came into competition with the Portuguese; and in 1600 was founded the East India Company, and with it the beginning of the British Empire in India.
THE SPANISH MAIN
But it was in the regions where they came into conflict with the Spaniards that those exploits occurred which most touched the imaginations of their contemporaries, and of which we have preserved the most picturesque accounts. The three voyages of Sir Francis Drake, Sir Humphrey Gilbert's "Voyage to Newfoundland," and Sir Walter Raleigh's "Discovery of Guiana," all printed in The Harvard Classics, are good representative records of the manner and results of these expeditions, partly scientific and religious, but more patriotic and piratical. Few narratives are more absorbing than these, with their pictures of courage against terrible odds, of endurance of the most frightful hardships on sea and land, of generosity and treachery, of kindliness and cruelty. Drake was still young when he first voyaged to the west, and in 1572 he made the expedition against Nombre de Dios in which they all but secured the contents of the great King's Treasure House. "By means of this light," says the narrator, "we saw a huge heap of silver in that nether room; being a pile of bars of silver of, as near as we could guess, seventy feet in length, of ten feet in breadth, and twelve feet in height; piled up against the wall, each bar was between thirty-five and forty pounds in weight"—altogether over 360 tons, as it turned out. This vast treasure, with as much more in gold, they left untouched, however, preferring to save the life of their wounded captain. How they plagued the Spaniards in spite of this abstinence may be judged from the summary statement at the close of the narrative: "There were, at this time, belonging to Cartagena, Nom-
- Harvard Classics, xxxiii, 129, 199, 229.
- H. C., xxxiii, 263.
- H. C., xxxiii, 311.
- H. C., xxxiii, 138, 140–141.