| In the Days of Queen Elizabeth|
|by Eva March Tappan|
|Story of the life of Queen Elizabeth, the famous English sovereign who guided the ship of state with consummate skill through the troubled waters of the latter half of the sixteenth century. Includes stories of English voyages of exploration and the defeat of the Spanish armada. Ages 11-15 |
THE NEW WORLD
O most of the sailors of Elizabeth's time the chief
inducement to make a voyage to the westward lay in the
possibility of winning Spanish gold in one way or
another, but a few sailed with quite a different
object. A little more than a century before Drake's
famous voyage around the world, Columbus had crossed
the Atlantic, hoping to find a shorter passage to
India. In the days of Elizabeth it was well known that
a continent blocked the way to Asia, but mariners had
no idea that North America was nearly as broad as it
has proved to be, and they were ever hoping to find a
passage through it to the wonderful countries of
spices and gems and perfumes.
Interest in the New World was increasing. Every year
new maps, books of travel, and descriptions of various
parts of the earth, especially of America, were
published, some of the
descrip-  tions real and some almost wholly imaginative; but whatever
they were, they always found readers.
One man who watched eagerly for whatever came from the
press about the New World was a sea-captain named
Martin Frobisher. He read all these books, he studied
globes and charts, and at last he felt sure that he
knew the way to fame and wealth, but he was a poor man
and he could not carry out his plans alone. He sought
an audience with the queen.
"I've heard of you before, my gallant captain," said
Elizabeth graciously. "Didn't you care for the building
of one of my ships that were sent against the Irish
"I did, your Majesty, and if only that ship belonged to
me, I would put her to a noble use."
"And what might that be?" asked the queen.
"Your Majesty, men have sailed to the northeast, to the
south, and to the west, but no man has yet gone to the
north of the New World. There lies the way to India,
and to find that way is the only thing in all the world
that is yet left undone whereby a man may become both
rich and notable."
 "And so you plan to go to the northwest?" asked
"He who has little gold must have few plans, but it
might well be that as the southern land tapers to a
point, so the northern land narrows, and then with an
open sea and a short voyage to Cathay, what would the
wealth of the Spanish mines be to us? We could buy and
sell in every clime. Give us the riches of India, and
we could fit out a fleet that would drive King Philip
from the shores of the New World, from the waters of
the Atlantic, from——"
"Perchance from the face of the earth, my captain?"
interrupted Elizabeth. "I promise you that I will think
of this scheme of yours."
Elizabeth did think of it, but to her mind there was a
far greater charm in a wild voyage of buccaneering
than in the possibilities of slow gain by trading with
people across two oceans, and she gave Frobisher no
help. He won a friend, however, in the Earl of Warwick,
and the fleet of three daring little vessels set out
for the north. Elizabeth did not help to pay the costs
of the voyage, but she stood on the shore and waved
 royal hand to the commander as he dropped slowly down
Frobisher came home with great joy. He had entered the
strait that is called after him, and he had seen, as he
believed, America lying on his left hand and Asia on
his right. That was surely the way to India. It is no
wonder that crowds went to visit his tiny barque.
"Can you not give me a memento of the voyage?" asked a
"Next year I will bring you a memento from China,"
answered Frobisher. "Shall it be silks or jewels or
"Beggars should not be choosers," said the lady with a
smile, "but give me a bit of this strange black stone
as a pledge that you will not forget me next year when
you are even more famous than you are to-day."
"One of the sailors brought that aboard," said
Frobisher. "It looks like sea-coal, but it is as heavy
This little gift put Frobisher at the head of a fleet
of fifteen vessels, but he was no longer free to win
glory as an explorer. The bit of black stone was
dropped into the fire to see whether it
 would burn, and then vinegar was poured upon it. It
glittered, and an Italian chemist declared that it was
rich in gold. After this there was no difficulty in
raising funds for a voyage to the marvelous country of
the north where gold lay about on the surface of the
The ships sailed, but they met icebergs, fog, and
storm. Frobisher hesitated. He believed that he could
force his way to the Pacific, but his orders were to
make sure of the gold, and he loaded his ships with
what proved to be only worthless earth. In later years
he won honors and wealth, but his dream of finding the
Northwest Passage was never realized.
Thus far most people had thought of America as a place
where a man might be fortunate enough to find a gold
mine, but where he was quite as likely to be killed by
the Indians or captured by the Spaniards. Others looked
upon it as a troublesome mass of land that blocked the
way to the riches of commerce with India. To one young
courtier this strange New World was something more than
the home of possible gold mines, and in his mind it was
certainly not an obstacle to wealth and success. This
young man was named Walter
 Raleigh. He had shown his scholarship at Oxford and his
bravery in a campaign in Ireland. It came to pass that
he and the lord deputy of Ireland disagreed. "I wish
to defend myself before the royal council," said
Raleigh. This defence was managed so skilfully that the
queen listened with the closest attention.
"Bring that young Raleigh to me," she commanded when
the council dissolved.
Raleigh knelt before her and kissed her hand.
"Young man," said she, "you seem to have been in no way
worsted by those mighty councilors of mine."
"Your Majesty," answered Raleigh with the look of
admiration that was so dear to Elizabeth, "could one
fail to be aroused to the best that is in him when he
has the honor of speaking in the glorious presence of
"What can you do?" asked the queen bluntly, but most
graciously, for this kind of flattery was ever a
delight to her.
"Shall I bring from Ireland the bodies of those who
have dared to rebel against your Majesty's wise and
gentle rule?" asked Raleigh, "that they may testify of
 "You can fight. Can you do aught beside?"
"Truly, yes, I can count myself the happiest and most
favored of mortals in that upon me is turned the kindly
thought of her who surpasseth all other women as far as
the glowing sun doth surpass the beams of the farthing
Raleigh was wise enough to keep the favor that he had
won. Elizabeth could rebuke a maid of honor for wearing
too expensive a gown, but of her courtiers she demanded
the most handsome attire that their purses could
provide. This new favorite had only a shallow purse,
but he willingly spent every penny that he could raise
on brilliant apparel, and he neglected no opportunity
to make himself of use to the queen.
One morning the rain was falling fast, and one of the
ladies in waiting said:—
"Surely your Majesty will remain indoors to-day."
"My servants may dread the raindrops," answered
Elizabeth, "but a queen should fear nothing."
"With two thousand gowns she may well afford to spoil
one for every shower," said one lady to another. This
was before the days of
um-  brellas, but there was nothing to do save to hope for sunshine.
The hour for the walk came, and the queen went forth.
The sun had come out.
"Someone has been praying for clear skies," said she,
"and verily I wish he had broadened his prayer a bit
and prayed also for dry ground."
"It have been young Raleigh," said one of the ladies to
another a little pointedly. "He loves to dwell in the
sunshine as the moth loves the beam of the candle."
"There isn't another man in England who can tell just
what to do in any difficulty as well as he," declared
"Then I would that he were here now," whispered the
first. "The queen will go straight across that miry
place, and if she is ill, we shall have to bear the
"There he comes as if he had been sent for," said the
second, for Raleigh was approaching. He was decked out
in the bravest attire and was daintily picking his way
along the muddy road.
"It's but this day week that he had a new scarlet
cloak," said a lady in the train, "and see the
gorgeousness of the blue plush that he wears
 this morning! I'll warrant he put his last shilling
The queen hesitated a moment, but there was no
hesitation in Raleigh. Quick as thought, he slipped off
the shining blue plush mantle and spread it on the
ground before Elizabeth.
"She who is to her devoted people the glory of the
sunlight must never fail to see under her feet the
reflection of that clear sky which her shining has
bestowed upon her fortunate subjects." So said the
courtier, and he well knew that in the glance of
approval given him by Elizabeth lay the promise of
He rose rapidly in the queen's favor. She gave him
whatever he asked, and he did not hesitate to ask for
what he wanted. Elizabeth had a fashion of rewarding a
favorite by giving him a "monopoly," as it was called,
that is, the sole right to sell some one thing. One man
had the right to sell gunpowder, another salt, while
yet another was the only man in England who was allowed
to collect and export old shoes. To Raleigh she gave
the privilege of exporting woolen cloth, and at another
time the sole right to sell wine in the kingdom. He was
no longer a poor young
court-  ier, straining every resource to dress as handsomely as the
taste of the queen demanded. Now he wore silver armor
that sparkled with rubies and pearls and diamonds. Even
his shoes were so encrusted with jewels that they were
said to be worth more than six thousand gold pieces.
Money flowed freely into his coffers. Besides
Elizabeth's other gifts, he could ask for his
monopolies whatever price he chose, and whoever wished
to buy must pay it. There were rumors that this
brilliant young favorite had higher aspirations, even
to the hand of the queen herself. The story is told
that one day when Raleigh was standing by a window,
tracing idly scrolls and letters on the pane with a
diamond, he heard the queen coming up softly behind
him. He went on as if he did not know of her presence
and wrote on the glass:—
"Fain would I climb, but that I fear to fall."
Elizabeth drew a diamond ring from her finger and put
an ending to the couplet:—
"If thy heart fail thee, do not climb at all."
 With such encouragement, it is no wonder that Raleigh
felt sure of her interest in whatever he wished to
attempt. He had a great undertaking in mind, and
between his compliments to Elizabeth his thoughts
often turned to the westward, to the wonderful New
World. It was not hard to persuade the queen to give
him a grant of land in America, and he sent out two
barques to explore the coast north of Florida. When
the skippers returned, Raleigh brought them before the
"Is this new country so much better than our own old
England?" she asked.
"Nothing could be better than the land which has the
happiness to be ruled directly by your Majesty,"
answered Raleigh, "but, truly, the New World is a
"How does it differ from our land?" asked the queen of
one of the skippers, and he answered:—
"Your Majesty, as we drew near the shore, there was no
smell of wharfs or fishing, but a fragrance as if we
were in the midst of some delicate garden."
"We have perfumes in England," said the
 queen. "Did you discover anything better than pleasant
odors?" she asked of the second skipper.
"Yes, your Majesty, we found what is not in all
England, for when we landed, the low, sandy shore was
so overgrown with grapes that the very beating and
surge of the sea overflowed them; the vines ran over
hills and plains, they climbed every little shrub, and
they made their way to the tops of the cedars. I do
think that in all the world the like abundance is not
to be found."
"Perfumes and grapes," said the queen. "Raleigh, my
man, that is a good beginning. Send your skippers away,
and tell me what is your request, for I know you have
one. When will you ever cease begging, Walter?"
"When you cease to be so kind a benefactress," was the
courtier's shrewd and graceful reply.
The skippers were sent away, and the queen said:—
"Now tell me about this land of grapes. Fruit and
perfumes are well enough, but they do little to fill an
empty treasury. What else lies within your patent?"
"There are beasts of all kinds that roam the
 forests, there are birds and fish, there are the
highest and reddest cedars of the world, coral of red
and white, pearls, fruits, vegetables, natives that are
gentle and kindly and void of all guile and treason."
"What do you call this paradise of yours?"
"The natives call it Wingina."
"I'll give you a better name. It was visited while a
virgin queen was on the throne, so call it Virginia,
and I'll be its godmother."
"O, Madam," said Raleigh with enthusiasm, "never had a
sovereign such a chance to add to the glory of her
renown. America is not only a country in which one may
make a fortune, it is a fortune in itself. Why should
it not become a second home of the English nation?"
The queen's eyes kindled. "How could that be?" she
"Your Majesty," he answered, eagerly, "the soil of
Virginia is the richest in the world. The natives sow
their corn in May and they reap it in July; they sow it
again in June and July, and they reap it but two months
after the planting. Our men put peas into the ground,
and in ten
 days they were fourteen inches high. Beans and wheat
and oats may be had for the asking."
"And supposing my good friend Philip should fall upon
these amazingly fertile lands, he might put the
colonists to the sword even before their peas were
above the ground."
"Might we not also fancy a strong band of colonists
building vessels of the goodly trees of the Virginia
forests and sailing out boldly into the Atlantic to
capture the treasure ships of Spain? Might not the
colonists steer to the northward and free our
Newfoundland fishing grounds from the hateful presence
of the Spaniard?"
" 'Walter, thou reasonest well,' " laughed the queen,
"but one little thing you've mayhap forgot. Tell me,
Walter, my man, where shall we find these worthy
colonists who are to raise corn in two months and fight
King Philip while it is growing?"
"Your Majesty," answered the courtier gravely, "those
who are driven from England will be our colonists."
"Driven from England," repeated the queen, "what mean
you by that?"
"Our farmers have long been raising sheep
 instead of grain," said he. "One man can easily care
for many sheep. Those men that are driven from their
old farm work can find naught else to do. They must
starve or steal, and, Madam, it grieves me sorely to
see that twenty or even thirty are often hanged before
the hour of noon for stealing a shilling or perchance
but a morsel of bread."
"They who steal must be punished," said the queen, "but
it would please me well if there were some other remedy
"The corn of Virginia will be a remedy, my queen, and
there is yet another benefit that would come to England
from colonies across the Atlantic. We wish to spread
our commerce to foreign lands, but if we have a second
England on the other side of the sea, will not our own
countrymen of America buy and sell with us? Cannot laws
be made that they shall trade with no others, if,
indeed, they should be so disloyal as to think of such
a thing? Why need we care for trade with a nation
across the Pacific when we can trade with our own
people in Virginia?"
"Walter, you are wonderfully in earnest about this
scheme of yours. It would ill become me to
 question the fairness or worthiness of my godchild, and
I will think of what you say, I will think of it."
Elizabeth thought of the plan, indeed the air was so
full of talk about the proposed Virginian colony that
she could have hardly helped thinking about it. In
Virginia there was fertile soil, a good hope of finding
gems and gold, and little probability of trouble with
the Indians. Her councilors discussed the plan. Said
one to another:—
"Think you that the queen will aid young Raleigh?"
" 'Sir Walter' you must say now that he has become a
knight," rejoined the second. "Yes, I do believe that
she will. Has she not followed his every whim till
Leicester has fairly turned green with jealousy? She
has just given him the wine monopoly, and that is worth
thousands of pounds in a single year. If she gives him
that, would she withhold aid for the bringing up of
this 'godchild' of hers?"
"You're a shrewd man, I admit," said the first, "but
I've watched this queen of ours since she was no higher
than my table, and I've never yet
 seen her affection for any one get the better of her.
She's a woman, but she's also a queen, and she's more
queen than woman."
"I'm not the man to hold an opinion and fear to back it
up," rejoined the other. "I've a fair bit of land down
in Devon, and I'll wager it against that house of yours
in London that she'll help 'educate the godchild.' "
The land was lost, for Elizabeth could not bear to part
with her gold pieces unless she could be sure of a
generous return. Raleigh did not give up his plan,
however, and soon a company of colonists was sent to
Roanoke Island, off the coast of what is now North
Carolina. The colony failed because the new settlers
were too eager to search for gold to spend their time
planting corn and beans, or even peas that would grow
fourteen inches in ten days. "They are lazy and
homesick, and they talk too much," reported the
governor, and when a fleet of Drake's came to shore,
they all went aboard and sailed for home.
These homesick colonists carried tobacco with them to
England, and smoking soon became the fashionable
amusement. Sir Walter was enthusiastic in its praise.
 "One would think that this wonderful plant of yours was
your own child," said the queen to him as he sat
puffing out the smoke from his silver pipe, "you claim
for it so many virtues."
"You say well, Madam," declared Sir Walter. "It is
verily a wonderful plant."
"And I suppose you would even say that you could tell
the weight of that smoke of yours. There's no boundary
to your impudence."
"Indeed I can, your Majesty," returned Sir Walter
"I'll wager this pin against your buckle that you
cannot," retorted the queen.
"I'll take the wager," said he, "and with the more joy
since the experiment will secure me the delight of your
presence." He weighed some tobacco and put it into his
pipe. Then after he had smoked it he weighed the ashes.
"The difference is the weight of the smoke," said he,
and Elizabeth paid the bet. "Many a man have I known
who has turned his gold into smoke," she declared
merrily, "but you are surely the first who has turned
his smoke into gold. You're a marvelous man, Sir
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