further research for the passage into the Pacific
the queen, who had contributed nothing to the voyage of discovery, sent a large ship of her own to join the expedition, which was now to conduct to infinite opulence.
More men than could be employed volunteered their services; those who were discharged resigned their brilliant hopes with reluctance.
The mariners, having received the communion, embarked
for the arctic El Dorado
, ‘and with a merrie wind’ soon arrived at the Orkneys.
As they reached the
north-eastern coast of America
, the dangers of the polar seas became imminent; mountains of ice encompassed them on every side; but as the icebergs were brilliant in the high latitude with the light of an almost perpetual summer's day, the worst perils were avoided.
Yet the mariners were alternately agitated with fears of shipwreck and joy at escape.
At one moment they expected death; and at the next they looked for gold.
The fleet made no discoveries; it did not advance so far as Frobisher
alone had done.1
But it found large heaps of earth, which, even to the incredulous, seemed plainly to contain the coveted wealth; besides, spiders abounded; and ‘spiders were affirmed to be true signs of great store of gold.’2
In freighting the ships, the admiral himself toiled like a painful laborer.
How strange, in human affairs, is the mixture of sublime courage and ludicrous folly!
What bolder maritime enterprise, than, in that day, a voyage to lands lying north of Hudson's Straits!
What folly more egregious, than to have gone there for a lading of useless earth!
But credulity is apt to be self-willed.
What is there which the passion for gold will not prompt?