Page:Early English adventurers in the East (1917).djvu/35

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31
THE DAWN OF THE EMPIRE

ceeded to Aleppo and thence by caravan to a town on the Euphrates. They travelled down the Euphrates to the head of the Persian Gulf, where Eldred left the party.

Fitch, with his three companions, afterwards went to Ormuz, where the Portuguese, who wanted no poachers on their preserves, promptly clapped the party in prison. Eventually they were shipped off to Goa to be dealt with by the Viceroy, whose seat of authority was at the Western India port. They continued in captivity until the end of the year when Story, having appealed to the local authorities in a tender place by turning monk, secured the release of the entire party. Two sureties had to be found for the good behaviour of the wanderers, and these were forthcoming in the persons of two Jesuits, one of whom, it is interesting to note, was Thomas Stevens, of New College, Oxford, who arrived in Goa by way of the Cape in 1579, and consequently was probably the first Englishman who ever visited India.

Newberry settled down in Goa, but Fitch and Leedes, finding the life of the Portuguese city irksome, contrived to escape into native territory. After various vicissitudes Leedes took service under the Great Mogul and disappears from history at the court of that monarch. Fitch continued his travels, visiting in turn Ceylon, Bengal, Pegu, Siam, Malacca and other parts of Malaya. He returned home overland in April, 1591, after an odyssey which had brought him into contact with many of the centres of Eastern life from the Mediterranean to the China Sea.

An account written by Fitch of his prolonged wanderings is to be found in the useful pages of Hakluyt. It is a matter-of-fact narrative in which the utilitarian rather than the romantic side of the tour is presented. As a