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The Epistle Dedicatorie of sor Walter Ralegh to the right honourable the L. Charles Howard knight of the Garter &c. and sir Robert Cecil, Councellour &c.

To the right Honourable my singular good Lord and kinsman Charles Howard, Knight of the Garter, Baron and Counceller, and of the Admirals of England the most renowmed: and to the right Honourable Sir Robert Cecyll knight, Counceller in her Highnesse Privie Councels.
FOR your Honours many Honourable and friendly partes, I have hitherto onely returned promises, and now for answere of both your adventures, I have sent you a bundle of papers, which I have devided betwene your Lordship, and Sir Robert Cecyll in these two respects chiefly: First for that it is reason, that wastful factors, when they have consumed such stockes as they had in trust, doe yeeld some colour for the same in their account; secondly for that I am assured, that whatsoever shall bee done, or written by me, shall neede a double protection and defence. The triall that I had of both your loves, when I was left of all, but of malice and revenge, makes me still presume, that you wil be pleased (knowing what litle power I had to performe ought, and the great advantage of forewarned enemies) to answer that out of knowledge, which others shal but object out of malice. In my more happy times as I did especially Hon. you both, so I found that your loves sought mee out in the darkest shadow of adversitie, and the same affection which accompanied my better fortune, sored not away from me in my many miseries: al which though I can not requite, yet I shal ever acknowledge: & the great debt which I have no power to pay, I can do no more for a time but confesse to be due. It is true that as my errors were great, so they have yeelded very grievous effects, & if ought might have bene deserved in former times to have counterpoysed any part of offences, the fruit thereof (as it seemeth) was long before fallen from the tree, & the dead stocke onely remained. I did therefore even in the winter of my life, undertake these travels, fitter for bodies lesse blasted with mis-fortunes, for men of greater abilitie, and for mindes of better incouragement, that thereby, if it were possible, I might recover but the moderation of excesse, & the least tast of the greatest plenty formerly possessed. If I had knowen other way to win, if I had imagined how greater adventures might have regained, if I could conceive what farther meanes I might yet use, but even to appease so powreful displeasure, I would not doubt but for one yeere more to hold fast my soule in my teeth, till it were performed. Of that litle remaine I had, I have wasted in effect all herein. I have undergone many constructions. I have bene accompanyed with many sorrowes, with labour, hunger, heat, sickenes, & perill : It appeareth notwithstanding that I made no other bravado of going to the sea, then was ment, and that I was never hidden in Cornewall, or els where, as was supposed. They have grosly belied me, that forejudged, that I would rather become a servant to the Spanish king, then returne, and the rest were much mistaken, who would have perswaded, that I was too easefull and sensuall to undertake a journey of so great travell. But, if what I have done, receive the gracious construction of a painefull pilgrimage, and purchase the least remission, I shall thinke all too litle, & that there were wanting to the rest many miseries. But if both the times past, the present, and what may be in the future, doe all by one graine of gall continue in eternall distast; I doe not then know whether I should bewaile my selfe, either for my too much travell and expence, or condemne my selfe for doing lesse then that, which can deserve nothing. From my selfe I have deserved no thankes, for I am returned a beggar, and withered, but that I might have bettred my poore estate, it shall appeare by the following discourse, if I had not onely respected her Majesties future Honour, and riches. It became not the former fortune in which I once lived, to goe journeys of picory, it had sorted ill with the offices of Honour, which by her Majesties grace I hold this day in England , to run from Cape to Cape, and from place to place, for the pillage of ordinaries prizes. Many yeeres since, I had knowledge by relation, of that mighty, rich and beautifull Empier of Guiana , and of that great and golden Citie, which the Spaniards call El Dorado, and the naturals Manoa, which Citie was conquered, reedified, and inlarged by a yonger sonne of Guainacapa Emperour of Peru, at such time as Francisco Pizarro and others conquered the said Empire, from his two elder brethren, Guascar, and Atabalipa, both then contending for the same, the one being favoured by the Orejones of Cuzco, the other by the people of Caxamalca. I sent my servant Jacob Whiddon the yere before, to get knowledge of the passages, and I had some light from Captaine Parker, sometime my servant, and nowe attending on your Lordship, that such a place there was to the Southward of the great Bay of Charuas, or Guanipa: but I found that it was 600 miles farther off then they supposed, and many other impediments to them unknowen and unheard. After I had displanted Don Antonio de Berreo, who was upon the same enterprize, leaving my ships at Trinidad , at the Port called Curiapan, I wandred 400 miles into the said countrey by lande and river: the particulars I will leave to the following discourse. The countrey hath more quantity of gold by manifolde, then the best partes of the Indies, or Peru : All the most of the kings of the borders are already become her Majesties vassals: and seeme to desire nothing more then her Majesties protection and the returne of the English nation. It hath another ground and assurance of riches and glory, then the voyages of the West Indies, an easier way to invade the best parts thereof, then by the common course. The king of Spaine is not so impoverished, by taking three or foure Port townes in America , as wee suppose, neither are the riches of Peru , or Nueva Espanna so left by the sea side, as it can bee easily washt away with a great flood, or springtide, or left dry upon the sandes on a lowe ebbe. The Port townes are fewe and poore in respect of the rest within the lande, and are of litle defence, and are onely rich, when the Fleets are to receive the treasure for Spaine: and we might thinke the Spaniards very simple, having so many horses and slaves, if they could not upon two dayes warning cary all the golde they have into the land, and farre enough from the reach of our foote-men, especially the Indies being (as they are for the most part) so mountanous, so full of woodes, rivers, and marishes. In the Port townes of the Province of Venezuela, as Cumana , Coro and S. Iago (whereof Coro and S. Iago were taken by Captaine Preston, and Cumana and S. Josepho by us) we found not the value of one riall of plate in either: but the Cities of Barquasimeta, Valencia , S. Sebastian, Cororo, S. Lucia, Laguna , Maracaiba, and Truxillo, are not so easely invaded: neither doeth the burning of those on the coast impoverish the king of Spaine, any one ducat: and if we sacke the river of Hacha, S. Marta, and Cartagena , which are the Portes of Nuevo reyno, and Popayan ; there are besides within the land, which are indeed riche and populous, the townes and Cities of Merida, Lagrita, S. Christophoro, the great Cities of Pamplon S. Fe de Bogota, Tunxa and Mozo where the Esmeralds are found, the townes and Cities of Marequita, Velez, la Villa de Leva, Palma, Unda, Angustura, the great citie of Timana, Tocaima, S. Aguila, Pasto , Juago, the great Citie of Popaian it selfe, Los Remedios, and the rest. If we take the Ports and villages within the Bay of Uraba, in the kingdom or rivers of Dariene, and Caribana, the Cities and townes of S. Juan de Roydas, of Cassaris, of Antiocha, Caramanta, Cali , and Anserma have gold enough to pay the kings part, and are not easily invaded by the way of the Ocean: or if Nombre de Dios and Panama be taken in the Province of Castilla del oro, and the villages upon the rivers of Cenu & Chagre; Peru hath besides those & besides the magnificent cities of Quito & Lima so many ylands, ports, cities, and mines, as if I should name them with the rest, it would seem incredible to the reader: of all which, because I have written a particular treatise of the West Indies, I wil omit the repetition at this time, seeing that in the said treatise I have anatomized the rest of the seatownes aswel of Nicaragua , Iucatan, Nueva Espanna, & the ylands, as those of the Inland, & by what meanes they may be best invaded, as far as any meane judgement can comprehend. But I hope it shal appeare that there is a way found to answer every mans longing, a better Indies for her Majestie then the King of Spaine hath any: which if it shal please her highnes to undertake, I shal most willingly end the rest of my daies in folowing the same: if it be left to the spoile & sackage of common persons, if the love & service of so many nations be despised, so great riches, & so mighty an empire refused, I hope her majesty wil yet take my humble desire and my labor therin in gracious part, which, if it had not bin in respect of her highnes future honor & riches, could have laid hands on & ransomed many of the kings & Casiqui of the country, & have had a reasonable proportion of gold for their redemption: but I have chosen rather to beare the burden of poverty, then reproch, & rather to endure a second travel and the chances therof, then to have defaced an enterprise of so great assurance, untill I knew whether it pleased God to put a disposition in her princely & royal heart either to folow or foreslow the same: I wil therefore leave it to his ordinance that hath only power in all things, & do humbly pray that your honors wil excuse such errors, as without the defence of art, overrun in every part of the folowing discourse, in which I have neither studied phrase, forme nor fashion, that you will be pleased to esteeme mee as your owne (though over dearly bought) and I shall ever remaine ready to do you all honour and service.

W. R.

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