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[84] danger, and laughs at obstacles; it resists loss, and anti-
Chap. III.}
cipates treasures; unrelenting in its pursuit, it is deaf to the voice of mercy, and blind to the cautions of judgment; it can penetrate the prairies of Arkansas, and covet the moss-grown barrens of the Esquimaux. I have now to relate the first attempt of the English,
1578.
under the patronage of Elizabeth, to plant an establishment in America.1

It was believed that the rich mines of the polar regions would countervail the charges of a costly adventure; the hope of a passage to Cathay increased, and for the security of the newly-discovered lands, soldiers and discreet men were selected to become their inhabitants. A magnificent fleet of fifteen sail was assembled, in part at the expense of Elizabeth; the sons of the English gentry embarked as volunteers; one hundred persons were chosen to form the colony, which was to secure to England a country more desirable than Peru, a country too inhospitable to produce a tree or a shrub, yet where gold lay, not charily concealed in mines, but glistening in heaps upon the surface. Twelve vessels were to return immediately with cargoes of the ore; three were ordered to remain and aid the settlement. The north-west passage was now become of less consideration; Asia itself could not vie with the riches of this hyperborean archipelago

But the entrance to these wealthy islands was ren-

1578. May 31, to Sept. 28.
dered difficult by frost; and the fleet of Frobisher, as it now approached the American coast, was bewildered among, immense icebergs, which were so vast, that, as they melted, torrents poured from them in sparkling water falls. One vessel was crushed and sunk, though the men on board were saved. In the dangerous

1 Hakluyt, III. 71—73.

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