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Book Title: Voyages & Discoveries: Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques & Discoveries of the English Nation|
The author of the book: Richard Hakluyt
ISBN 13: 9781101492239
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 559 KB
Edition: Penguin Group (USA)
Date of issue: July 30th 1972
Read full description of the books Voyages & Discoveries: Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques & Discoveries of the English Nation:This volume is a selection of about ten percent of the material originally published by Richard Hakluyt, an Anglican priest whose literary career took place during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James the VI & I. It is not clear if this short version was achieved just by selecting the shorter accounts of voyages, discoveries and acts of villainy & piracy or if some of them have been edited down to a congenial length.
Hakluyt was connected to various leading figures in English political life, collecting and publishing accounts of voyages to foreign and far off lands as a way of promoting trade and in particular the colonisation of Virginia. The divers materials gathered herein are of three types. Firstly voyages in which the ship's company do boldly set upon ships flying the flag of the King of Spain, pillage the harbours and towns belonging to said King, gain much treasure in gold, silver and tradable goods from the Indies, China or the New World but at the cost of ships and many men before returning to England. Secondly traffic to the utmost lands of the Earth undertaken for the purpose of trade in which the products of the Kingdom of England are to be exchanged for those of other lands to the enrichment of both, in these adventures the merchants are often defrauded, robbed, lost, run aground and starve before returning to England. Finally there are lists of equipment and goods necessary for a ship's company seeking to undertake a whaling voyage or to trade with Brazil or the like.
There's a naivety about many of the accounts that leaves you wondering how the English ever managed to get established as a seafaring nation at all. For instance on one voyage to the East Indies the crew are already running short of food by the time they reach Cape Verde (so say 1/5 or 1/6 of the way there), but luckily they are able to rob a passing Portuguese ship of their food and wine. Then there is hardly an account in which a group of ships sets out without one or more lost - sometimes just blown away in a storm and never seen again, other ships are ravaged by storms, run aground or occasionally are shot up when attempted piracy goes wrong. Surprisingly groups of men appear happy to be abandoned on hostile shores on the vague promise of the Captain that he'll sail back and collect them in a years time - in one case it takes a man 18 years to get back. It's enough to leave you wanting to leave international seafaring to the Dutch.
Everything takes a long time. A reasonably straight forward voyage to the East Indies and back or to Persia via Archangelsk and across Russia might take three years.
It's also striking that it hardly seems worth while. Apart from the long plundering voyages of Sir Francis Drake or Sir Walter Raleigh in which they essentially travel around stealing what ever seems valuable (people, silver, spices) the amounts of goods actually traded can hardly offset the considerable costs (particularly considering the loss of ships).
On the upside everything is there to be eaten. Puffins, penguins and seals are all evaluated as foodstuffs (they all seem to taste like mutton and not like chicken). This is good because running out of food in the middle of nowhere is a common theme to many of these stories.
The downside of this collection, in which every account could be expanded to make an implausible novel, is that the accounts of distant lands are brief and sketchy though occasionally intriguing. Landing on Newfoundland, to make friends with the locals the English reasonably enough give them iron knives but also play instruments and then bizarrely engage in leaping competitions.
Fittingly the second-hand copy I have has a recipe for Soda-bread written out in pencil on the inside of the back cover. Just the thing for hungry seafarers weary of the taste of salted penguin.
Read information about the authorRichard Hakluyt (c. 1552 or 1553 – 23 November 1616) was an English writer. He is principally remembered for his efforts in promoting and supporting the settlement of North America by the English through his works, notably Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America (1582) and The Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English Nation (1589–1600).
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