The Troublesome Voyage of Captain Edward Fenton, 1582-1583: Narratives and Documents

The Troublesome Voyage of Captain Edward Fenton, 1582-1583: Narratives and Documents

The Troublesome Voyage of Captain Edward Fenton, 1582-1583: Narratives and Documents

The Troublesome Voyage of Captain Edward Fenton, 1582-1583: Narratives and Documents

Excerpt

The explosive entry of England into world affairs in the mid-years of the first Elizabeth has captured every imagination. That Drake sailed round the globe in 1577-80, that Lord Charles Howard defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588, and that in the following years Richard Hakluyt first published the sea-saga of the Principall Navigations, are among familiar matters upon which every Englishman prides himself. But not every sea-captain had the resolution--or the ruthlessness--of a Francis Drake. Not every commander under the Lord Admiral was of the first-rate calibre of a Hawkins. While, of Hakluyt's informants, there were many who held back facts as 'unfit to be told', and he himself considered that there was much which it would be indiscreet to make public. The story of Edward Fenton, who with his associates set out to emulate, even to outdo, the exploits of Drake, has never been told in full. For Fenton was one of the unsuccessful Elizabethans, his voyage a failure; and although he later helped to defeat the Spaniards in the Channel, Hakluyt considered him sufficiently remembered by the shortened narrative of his second-in-command. Yet the adverse circumstances which, equally with his character, made the voyage of 1582 abortive are well worth recording, for they too were typical of the times. While it is also important to remind ourselves that Hakluyt did not hesitate to use the editorial blue pencil.

The present volume contains all the surviving records of the voyage that can be discovered. These should be of special interest to the general reader, for they include two private diaries and a number of personal letters besides the somewhat austere Sea Journal of Edward Fenton himself. The latter (together with Fenton's Journal of his Arctic Voyage with Frobisher in 1578) has not apparently hitherto been noticed.

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