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which this young princess encountered and successfully completed, was the glorious Reformation; an undertaking no less difficult than dangerous, but which she happily accomplished for the future peace of the realm.
The navy claimed her early attention, and the death of Lord Lincoln, the Lord High Admiral, left a vacancy, which Elizabeth conferred on Lord Charles Howard of Effingham, a man on whom she bestowed her highest confidence, and in whom she found an officer devoted to the service, and well disposed to take an active part in all the duties of this important office, both civil and military, which his predecessor had not been called upon to attend to.
It is to this most honourable, faithful, and excellent man, that the autograph letters, mentioned in the title-page, chiefly apply. Hitherto none of them have met the public eye. They were found bundled up in the State Paper Office, “that mine” (as some writer observes), “wherein much unfruitful soil requires to be removed, but by diligent digging and a practised eye a rich vein may perhaps be hit upon, to reward the labours of the search.”
It is a matter of some surprise, that so good and eminent a character has had so little recorded of his life and transactions. The old naval chronicles mention him as commanding against the Spanish Armada, and at the capture of Cadiz; but before and after these two events we hear little of him, except by his splendid embassy to Spain in the reign of James I. But, during the whole war, his letters display an unceasing degree of vigilance, anxiety, and great humanity. These letters have no pretension to fine or correct writing, or brilliant talent; their orthography is that of the time; their plain, honest, and homely style, alike to the Queen as to Secretary Walsingham, exhibits character in a remarkable degree: as Sir Harris Nicolas observes of Nelson's letters, so it may here be said of Howard's,—they have not been altered into “ a fitting epistolary shape, as if a hero could never think, write, nor speak naturally, but must always appear in a full dress.” Lord Charles Howard of Effingham shall speak, think, and write in his own homely dress, which, if none of the smartest, will convey at least the honest, undisguised sentiments of an ingenuous and upright man.
SIR MARTIN FROBISHER.
1576 to 1594.
FIRST VOYAGE, 1576.
The history of the British Navy, from a very early period down to the present day, affords more splendid examples of high moral and heroic courage, of unflinching fortitude and self-devotion, and its officers and seamen have performed more gallant deeds, than those of any other nation, at any period of its history, can boast of. At the same time, the narratives of these exploits and daring adventures, while they impart delight, are frequently calculated to fill the mind with melancholy reflections, that so many brave fellows should have sacrificed their lives in devotion to their country's service, whether in battle, or in the peaceful attainment of some cherished object of science or discovery,
for the common benefit of the human race. Among the first and foremost of the distinguished naval officers, and thorough-bred seamen, who flourished in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and under her auspices, was Sir Martin Frobisher. Brilliant as his services were, both in battle and discovery, it
is not a little remarkable that neither his parents nor his birth-place were ever clearly ascertained. In the history of Doncaster it is mentioned, that this town has a not improbable claim to the honour of giving birth to this celebrated naval commander. It states, that his supposed father resided some time at Finningley, about seven miles north-east of Doncaster, and four from Bawtry. It further states, that a Francis Frobisher was mayor of Doncaster in the year 1535, and was probably the father of Martin. Admitting this to be so, and the son to be then in his infancy, he must have been above forty years of age when, in 1576, he first undertook that perilous voyage to discover a north-west passage. This might be so, for he tells us, that the discovery of this passage had engaged his mind for fifteen years, before he could procure the means of undertaking it.
Fuller observes, that the learned Mr. Carpenter, in his Geography, recounts him among the famous men of Devonshire: but, says Fuller, “why should Devonshire, which hath a flock of worthies of her own, take a lamb from another county ?"* However obscure his birth and parentage may have been, his memory would also seem to have been buried with his corpse, for the only record of his death is, that it took place at Plymouth, in consequence of the wound he received before the Spanish fort near Brest; and all that can be found, on inquiry, is,
* Fuller's Worthies.
that, in the register of St. Andrew's parish (1594), the following entry is recorded:-“ 22nd November, Sir Martin Frobisher, knight, being wounded at the fort built against Brest by the Spaniards, deceased at Plymouth this day, whose entrails were here interred, but his corpse was carried hence to be buried in London.”
Neither does it appear at what age, with whom, and in what trade, he first went to sea; but it is said that he early displayed very eminent abilities as a navigator, and it appears that he was courted as such. The Irish Correspondence in the State Paper Office, for 1572, contains a “Declaration,” dated the 4th December in that year, signed by Martin Frobisher, in which he acquaints the government of a singular incident that occurred to him, during his residence at Lambeth. He states that about Bartholomew-tide, one Ralph Whalley called on him at his lodging there, and introduced himself to him as a follower of the Earl of Desmond, an Anglo-Irish nobleman, then imprisoned in the Tower. Under a promise of secrecy, Whalley opened a negotiation with the enterprising mariner, to aid the captive Earl in a meditated escape out of England. It was proposed that Desmond should be carried in an oyster-boat as far as Gravesend, where he was to embark on board a ship to be provided by Frobisher. The reward, held out by Whalley, was a share with im in a vessel of the value of 5001., and a gift