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She Wanted Heroes All to Herself

Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618), The Discovery of Guiana
Vol. 33, pp. 311-320 of The Harvard Classics

The famous gallant who spread his gorgeous cloak so the dainty slipper of his queen would be unspotted, soon lost the high favor this action won for him. In spite of his glorious voyages, Raleigh condemned himself when he fell in love with another woman.
(Sir WaIter Raleigh imprisoned July 19, 1603.)

ON 1 2 Thursday, the sixth of February, in the year 1595, we departed England, and the Sunday following had sight of the north cape of Spain, the wind for the most part continuing prosperous; we passed in sight of the Burlings, and the Rock, and so onwards for the Canaries, and fell with Fuerteventura the 17. of the same month, where we spent two or three days, and relieved our companies with some fresh meat. From thence we coasted by theGrand Canaria, and so to Teneriffe, and stayed there for the Lion’s Whelp, your Lordship’s ship, and for Captain Amyas Preston and the rest. But when after seven or eight days we found them not, we departed and directed our course for Trinidad, with mine own ship, and a small barque of Captain Cross’s only; for we had before lost sight of a small galego on the coast of Spain, which came with us from Plymouth. We arrived at Trinidad the 22. of March, casting anchor at Point Curiapan, which the Spaniards call Punta de Gallo, which is situate in eight degrees or thereabouts. We abode there four or five days, and in all that time we came not to the speech of any Indian or Spaniard. On the coast we saw a fire, as we sailed from the Point Carao towards Curiapan, but for fear of the Spaniards none durst come to speak with us. I myself coasted it in my barge close aboard the shore and landed in every cove, the better to know the island, while the ships kept the channel. From Curiapan after a few days we turned up north-east to recover that place which the Spaniards call Puérto de los Españoles, 3and the inhabitants Conquerabia; and as before, revictualling my barge, I left the ships and kept by the shore, the better to come to speech with some of the inhabitants, and also to understand the rivers, watering-places, and ports of the island, which, as it is rudely done, my purpose is to send your Lordship after a few days. From Curiapan I came to a port and seat of Indians called Parico, where we found a fresh water river, but saw no people. From thence I rowed to another port, called by the naturals Piche, and by the Spaniards Tierra de Brea. In the way between both were divers little brooks of fresh water, and one salt river that had store of oysters upon the branches of ehe trees, and were very salt and well tasted. All their oysters grow upon those boughs and sprays, and not on the ground; the like is commonly seen in other places of the West Indies, and elsewhere. This tree is described by Andrew Thevet, in hisFrance Antarctique, and the form figured in the book as a plant very strange; and by Pliny in his twelfth book of his Natural History. But in this island, as also in Guiana, there are very many of them.

  At this point, called Tierra de Brea or Piche, there is that abundance of stone pitch that all the ships of the world may be therewith laden from thence; and we made trial of it in trimming our ships to be most excellent good, and melteth not with the sun as the pitch of Norway, and therefore for ships trading the south parts very profitable. From thence we went to the mountain foot called Annaperima, and so passing the river Carone, on which the Spanish city was seated, we met with our ships at Puérto de los Españoles or Conquerabia.

  This island of Trinidad hath the form of a sheephook, and is but narrow; the north part is very mountainous; the soil is very excellent, and will bear sugar, ginger, or any other commodity that the Indies yield. It hath store of deer, wild porks, fruit, fish, and fowl; it hath also for bread sufficient maize, cassavi, and of those roots and fruits which are common everywhere in theWest Indies. It hath divers beasts which the Indies have not; the Spaniards confessed that they found grains of gold in some of the rivers; but they having a purpose to enter Guiana, the magazine of all rich metals, cared not to spend time in the search thereof any further. This island is called by the people thereof Cairi, and in it are divers nations. Those about Parico are calledJajo, those at Punta de Carao are of the Arwacas 4 and between Carao and Curiapan they are called Salvajos. Between Carao and Punta de Galera are the Nepojos, and those about the Spanish city term themselves Carinepagotes. 5 Of the rest of the nations, and of other ports and rivers, I leave to speak here, being impertinent to my purpose, and mean to describe them as they are situate in the particular plot and description of the island, three parts whereof I coasted with my barge, that I might the better describe it.

  Meeting with the ships at Puérto de los Españoles, we found at the landing-place a company of Spaniards who kept a guard at the descent; and they offering a sign of peace, I sent Captain Whiddon to speak with them, whom afterwards to my great grief I left buried in the said island after my return from Guiana, being a man most honest and valiant. The Spaniards seemed to be desirous to trade with us, and to enter into terms of peace, more for doubt of their own strength than for aught else; and in the end, upon pledge, some of them came aboard. The same evening there stale also aboard us in a small canoa two Indians, the one of them being acacique or lord of the people, called Cantyman, who had the year before been with Captain Whiddon, and was of his acquaintance. By this Cantyman we understood what strength the Spaniards had, how far it was to their city, and of Don Antonio de Berreo, the governor, who was said to be slain in his second attempt of Guiana, but was not.

  While we remained at Puérto de los Españoles some Spaniards came aboard us to buy linen of the company, and such other things as they wanted, and also to view our ships and company, all which I entertained kindly and feasted after our manner. By means whereof I learned of one and another as much of the estate of Guiana as I could, or as they knew; for those poor soldiers having been many years without wine, a few draughts made them merry, in which mood they vaunted of Guiana and the riches thereof, and all what they knew of the ways and passages; myself seeming to purpose nothing less than the entrance or discovery thereof, but bred in them an opinion that I was bound only for the relief of those English which I had planted in Virginia, whereof the bruit was come among them; which I had performed in my return, if extremity of weather had not forced me from the said coast.

  I found occasions of staying in this place for two causes. The one was to be revenged of Berreo, who the year before, 1594, had betrayed eight of Captain Whiddon’s men, and took them while he departed from them to seek the Edward Bonaventure, which arrived atTrinidad the day before from the East Indies: in whose absence Berreo sent a canoa aboard the pinnace only with Indians and dogs inviting the company to go with them into the woods to kill a deer. Who like wise men, in the absence of their captain followed the Indians, but were no sooner one arquebus shot from the shore, but Berreo’s soldiers lying in ambush had them all, notwithstanding that he had given his word to Captain Whiddon that they should take water and wood safely. The other cause of my stay was, for that by discourse with the Spaniards I daily learned more and more of Guiana, of the rivers and passages, and of the enterprise of Berreo, by what means or fault he failed, and how he meant to prosecute the same.

  While we thus spent the time I was assured by another cacique of the north side of the island, that Berreo had sent to Margarita and Cumaná for soldiers, meaning to have given me acassado 6 at parting, if it had been possible. For although he had given order through all the island that no Indian should come aboard to trade with me upon pain of hanging and quartering (having executed two of them for the same, which I afterwards found), yet every night there came some with most lamentable complaints of his cruelty: how he had divided the island and given to every soldier a part; that he made the ancient caciques, which were lords of the country, to be their slaves; that he kept them in chains, and dropped their naked bodies with burning bacon, and such other torments, which I found afterwards to be true. For in the city, after I entered the same, there were five of the lords or little kings, which they call caciques in the West Indies, in one chain, almost dead of famine, and wasted with torments. These are called in their own language acarewana, and now of late since English, French, and Spanish, are come among them, they call themselves captains, because they perceive that the chiefest of every ship is called by that name. Those five captains in the chain were called Wannawanare, Carroaori, Maquarima, Tarroopanama, and Aterima. So as both to be revenged of the former wrong, as also considering that to enter Guiana by small boats, to depart 400 or 500 miles from my ships, and to leave a garrison in my back interested in the same enterprise, who also daily expected supplies out of Spain, I should have savoured very much of the ass; and therefore taking a time of most advantage, I set upon the Corps du garde in the evening, and having put them to the sword, sent Captain Caulfield onwards with sixty soldiers, and myself followed with forty more, and so took their new city, which they called St. Joseph, by break of day. They abode not any fight after a few shot, and all being dismissed, but only Berreo and his companion, 7 I brought them with me aboard, and at the instance of the Indians I set their new city of St. Joseph on fire. The same day arrived Captain George Gifford with your lordship’s ship, and Captain Keymis, whom I lost on the coast of Spain, with the galego, and in them divers gentlemen and others, which to our little army was a great comfort and supply.

  We then hasted away towards our purposed discovery, and first I called all the captains of the island together that were enemies to the Spaniards; for there were some which Berreo had brought out of other countries, and planted there to eat out and waste those that were natural of the place. And by my Indian interpreter, which I carried out of England, I made them understand that I was the servant of a queen who was the great cacique of the north, and a virgin, and had more caciqui under her than there were trees in that island; that she was an enemy to the Castellani in respect of their tyranny and oppression, and that she delivered all such nations about her, as were by them oppressed; and having freed all the coast of the northern world from their servitude, had sent me to free them also, and withal to defend the country of Guiana from their invasion and conquest. I shewed them her Majesty’s picture, which they so admired and honoured, as it had been easy to have brought them idolatrous thereof. The like and a more large discourse I made to the rest of the nations, both in my passing to Guiana and to those of the borders, so as in that part of the world her Majesty is very famous and admirable; whom they now call EZRABETA CASSIPUNA AQUEREWANA, which is as much as ‘Elizabeth, the Great Princess, or Greatest Commander.’ This done, we leftPuérto de los Españoles, and returned to Curiapan, and having Berreo my prisoner, I gathered from him as much of Guiana as he knew. This Berreo is a gentleman well descended, and had long served the Spanish king in Milan, Naples, the Low Countries, and elsewhere, very valiant and liberal, and a gentleman of great assuredness, and of a great heart. I used him according to his estate and worth in all things I could, according to the small means I had.

  I sent Captain Whiddon the year before to get what knowledge he could of Guiana: and the end of my journey at this time was to discover and enter the same. But my intelligence was far from truth, for the country is situate about 600 English miles further from the sea than I was made believe it had been. Which afterwards understanding to be true by Berreo, I kept it from the knowledge of my company, who else would never have been brought to attempt the same. Of which 600 miles I passed 400, leaving my ships so far from me at anchor in the sea, which was more of desire to perform that discovery than of reason, especially having such poor and weak vessels to transport ourselves in. For in the bottom of an old galego which I caused to be fashioned like a galley, and in one barge, two wherries, and a ship-boat of the Lion’s Whelp,we carried 100 persons and their victuals for a month in the same, being all driven to lie in the rain and weather in the open air, in the burning sun, and upon the hard boards, and to dress our meat, and to carry all manner of furniture in them. Wherewith they were so pestered and unsavoury, that what with victuals being most fish, with the wet clothes of so many men thrust together, and the heat of the sun, I will undertake there was never any prison in England that could be found more unsavoury and loathsome, especially to myself, who had for many years before been dieted and cared for in a sort far more differing.

  If Captain Preston had not been persuaded that he should have come too late to Trinidad to have found us there (for the month was expired which I promised to tarry for him there ere he could recover the coast of Spain) but that it had pleased God he might have joined with us, and that we had entered the country but some ten days sooner ere the rivers were overflown, we had adventured either to have gone to the great city of Manoa, or at least taken so many of the other cities and towns nearer at hand, as would have made a royal return. But it pleased not God so much to favour me at this time. If it shall be my lot to prosecute the same, I shall willingly spend my life therein. And if any else shall be enabled thereunto, and conquer the same, I assure him thus much; he shall perform more than ever was done in Mexico by Cortes,or in Peru by Pizarro, whereof the one conquered the empire of Mutezuma, the other ofGuascar and Atabalipa. And whatsoever prince shall possess it, that prince shall be lord of more gold, and of a more beautiful empire, and of more cities and people, than either the king of Spain or the Great Turk.

  But because there may arise many doubts, and how this empire of Guiana is become so populous, and adorned with so many great cities, towns, temples, and treasures, I thought good to make it known, that the emperor now reigning is descended from those magnificent princes of Peru, of whose large territories, of whose policies, conquests, edifices, and riches, Pedro de Cieza, Francisco Lopez, and others have written large discourses. For when Francisco Pizarro, Diego Almagro and others conquered the said empire of Peru, and had put to death Atabalipa, son to Guayna Capac, which Atabalipa had formerly caused his eldest brother Guascar to be slain, one of the younger sons of Guayna Capac fled out of Peru, and took with him many thousands of those soldiers of the empire called orejones, 8 and with those and many others which followed him, he vanquished all that tract and valley of America which is situate between the great river of Amazons and Baraquan, otherwise called Orenoque and Marañon. 9

  The empire of Guiana is directly east from Peru towards the sea, and lieth under the equinoctial line; and it hath more abundance of gold than any part of Peru, and as many or moe 10 great cities than ever Peru had when it flourished most. It is governed by the same laws, and the emperor and people observe the same religion, and the same form and policies in government as were used in Peru, not differing in any part. And I have been assured by such of the Spaniards as have seen Manoa, the imperial city of Guiana, which the Spaniards call El Dorado, that for the greatness, for the riches, and for the excellent seat, it far exceedeth any of the world, at least of so much of the world as is known to the Spanish nation. It is founded upon a lake of salt water of 200 leagues long, like unto Mare Caspium. And if we compare it to that of Peru, and but read the report of Francisco Lopez and others, it will seem more than credible; and because we may judge of the one by the other, I thought good to insert part of the 120. chapter of Lopez in his General History of the Indies, wherein he describeth the court and magnificence of Guayna Capac, ancestor to the emperor of Guiana, whose very words are these:—

  ‘Todo el servicio de su casa, mesa, y cocina era de oro y de plata, y cuando menos de plata y cobre, por mas recio. Tenia en su recamara estatuas huecas de oro, que parescian gigantes, y las figuras al propio y tamaño de cuantos animales, aves, arboles, y yerbas produce la tierra, y de cuantos peces cria la mar y agua de sus reynos. Tenia asimesmo sogas, costales, cestas, y troxes de oro y plata; rimeros de palos de oro, que pareciesen leña rajada para quemar. En fin no habia cosa en su tierra, que no la tuviese de oro contrahecha; y aun dizen, que tenian los Ingas un verjel en una isla cerca de la Puna, donde se iban a holgar, cuando querian mar, que tenia la hortaliza, las flores, y arboles de oro y plata; invencion y grandeza hasta entonces nunca vista. Allende de todo esto, tenia infinitisima cantidad de plata y oro por labrar en el Cuzco, que se perdio por la muerte de Guascar; ca los Indios lo escondieron, viendo que los Españoles se lo tomaban, y enviaban a España.’ That is, ‘All the vessels of his house, table, and kitchen, were of gold and silver, and the meanest of silver and copper for strength and hardness of metal. He had in his wardrobe hollow statues of gold which seemed giants, and the figures in proportion and bigness of all the beasts, birds, trees, and herbs, that the earth bringeth forth; and of all the fishes that the sea or waters of his kingdom breedeth. He had also ropes, budgets, chests, and troughs of gold and silver, heaps of billets of gold, that seemed wood marked out 11 to burn. Finally, there was nothing in his country whereof he had not the counterfeit in gold. Yea, and they say, the Ingas had a garden of pleasure in an island near Puna, where they went to recreate themselves, when they would take the air of the sea, which had all kinds of garden-herbs, flowers, and trees of gold and silver; an invention and magnificence till then never seen. Besides all this, he had an infinite quantity of silver and gold unwrought in Cuzco, which was lost by the death of Guascar, for the Indians hid it, seeing that the Spaniards took it, and sent it into Spain.’

  And in the 117. chapter; Francisco Pizarro caused the gold and silver of Atabalipa to be weighed after he had taken it, which Lopez setteth down in these words following:—‘Hallaron cincuenta y dos mil marcos de buena plata, y un millon y trecientos y veinte y seis mil y quinientos pesos de oro.’ Which is, ‘They found 52,000 marks of good silver, and 1,326,500pesos of gold.’ Now, although these reports may seem strange, yet if we consider the many millions which are daily brought out of Peru into Spain, we may easily believe the same. For we find that by the abundant treasure of that country the Spanish king vexes all the princes of Europe, and is become, in a few years, from a poor king of Castile, the greatest monarch of this part of the world, and likely every day to increase if other princes forslow the good occasions offered, and suffer him to add this empire to the rest, which by far exceedeth all the rest. If his gold now endanger us, he will then be unresistible. Such of the Spaniards as afterwards endeavoured the conquest thereof, whereof there have been many, as shall be declared hereafter, thought that this Inga, of whom this emperor now living is descended, took his way by the river of Amazons, by that branch which is called Papamene. 12 For by that way followed Orellana, by the commandment of Gonzalo Pizarro, in the year 1542, whose name the river also beareth this day. Which is also by others called Marañon, although Andrew Thevet doth affirm that between Marañon and Amazons there are 120 leagues; but sure it is that those rivers have one head and beginning, and the Marañon, which Thevet describeth, is but a branch of Amazons or Orellana, of which I will speak more in another place. It was attempted by Ordas; but it is now little less than 70 years since that Diego Ordas,a Knight of the Order of Santiago, attempted the same; and it was in the year 1542 that Orellana discovered the river of Amazons; but the first that ever saw Manoa was Juan Martinez, master of the munition to Ordas. At a port called Morequito, 13 in Guiana, there lieth at this day a great anchor of Ordas his ship. And this port is some 300 miles within the land, upon the great river of Orenoque. I rested at this port four days, twenty days after I left the ships at Curiapan.

  The relation of this Martinez, who was the first that discovered Manoa, his success, and end, is to be seen in the Chancery of St. Juan de Puerto Rico, where of Berreo had a copy, which appeared to be the greatest encouragement as well to Berreo as to others that formerly attempted the discovery and conquest. Orellana, after he failed of the discovery of Guiana by the said river of Amazons, passed into Spain, and there obtained a patent of the king for the invasion and conquest, but died by sea about the islands; and his fleet being severed by tempest, the action for that time proceeded not. Diego Ordas followed the enterprise, and departed Spain with 600 soldiers and thirty horse. Who, arriving on the coast of Guiana, was slain in a mutiny, with the most part of such as favoured him, as also of the rebellious part, insomuch as his ships perished and few or none returned; neither was it certainly known what became of the said Ordas until Berreo found the anchor of his ship in the river of Orenoque;but it was supposed, and so it is written by Lopez, that he perished on the seas, and of other writers diversely conceived and reported. And hereof it came that Martinez entered so far within the land, and arrived at that city of Inga the emperor; for it chanced that while Ordas with his army rested at the port of Morequito (who was either the first or second that attempted Guiana), by some negligence the whole store of powder provided for the service was set on fire, and Martinez, having the chief charge, was condemned by the General Ordasto be executed forthwith. Martinez, being much favoured by the soldiers, had all the means possible procured for his life; but it could not be obtained in other sort than this, that he should be set into a canoa alone, without any victual, only with his arms, and so turned loose into the great river. But it pleased God that the canoa was carried down the stream, and certain of the Guianians met it the same evening; and, having not at any time seen any Christian nor any man of that colour, they carried Martinez into the land to be wondered at, and so from town to town, until he came to the great city of Manoa, the seat and residence of Inga the emperor. The emperor, after he had beheld him, knew him to be a Christian, for it was not long before that his brethren Guascar and Atabalipa were vanquished by the Spaniards in Peru: and caused him to be lodged in his palace, and well entertained. He lived seven months in Manoa,but was not suffered to wander into the country anywhere. He was also brought thither all the way blindfold, led by the Indians, until he came to the entrance of Manoa itself, and was fourteen or fifteen days in the passage. He avowed at his death that he entered the city at noon, and then they uncovered his face; and that he travelled all that day till night thorough the city, and the next day from sun rising to sun setting, yere 14 he came to the palace of Inga. After that Martinez had lived seven months in Manoa, and began to understand the language of the country, Inga asked him whether he desired to return into his own country, or would willingly abide with him. But Martinez, not desirous to stay, obtained the favour of Inga to depart; with whom he sent divers Guianians to conduct him to the river of Orenoque, all loaden with as much gold as they could carry, which he gave to Martinez at his departure. But when he was arrived near the river’s side, the borderers which are called Orenoqueponi 15 robbed him and his Guianians of all the treasure (the borderers being at that time at wars, which Inga had not conquered) save only of two great bottles of gourds, which were filled with beads of gold curiously wrought, which those Orenoqueponi thought had been no other thing than his drink or meat, or grain for food, with which Martinez had liberty to pass. And so in canoas he fell down from the river of Orenoque to Trinidad, and from thence to Margarita, and so to St. Juan del Puerto Rico; where, remaining a long time for passage into Spain, he died. In the time of his extreme sickness, and when he was without hope of life, receiving the sacrament at the hands of his confessor, he delivered these things, with the relation of his travels, and also called for his calabazas or gourds of the gold beads, which he gave to the church and friars, to be prayed for.

Note 1. Exploration. 
Note 2. The name is derived from the Guayano Indians, on the Orinoco. 
Note 3. Now Port of Spain. 
Note 4. Arawaks. 
Note 5. Carib-people. 
Note 6. Cachado (cachada)=a blow. 
Note 7. The Portuguese captain Alvaro Jorge (see p. 356). 
Note 8. Orejones=‘having large ears,’ the name given by the Spaniards to the Peruvian warriors, who wore ear-pendants. 
Note 9. Baraquan is the alternative name to Orenoque, Marañon to Amazons. 
Note 10. More. 
Note 11. Rather, ‘split into logs.’ 
Note 12. The Papamene is a tributary not of the Amazon river but of the Meta, one of the principal tributaries of the Orinoco. 
Note 13. Probably San Miguel. 
Note 14. Ere. 
Note 15. ‘On the Orinoco.’ Poni is a Carib postposition meaning ‘on.’ 


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