Friday, April 1, 2016

Writing "Alsoomse and Wanchese" -- English Intentions
 
This novel is almost entirely an imaginary account of the lives of certain Algonquian natives (some of whom existed) at and near Roanoke Island from the fall of 1583 to August 1584.  I will end it with two natives being taken to England by an English exploratory party to be taught English and to be returned the following year.  To prepare the reader for the party’s sudden appearance, I have included several scenes that indicate English intentions of establishing an Atlantic coastline settlement.  Here are some excerpts of these scenes.
 
Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s Failure to Establish a Settlement South of Newfoundland
 
Humphrey Gilbert and his crew sensed how close to Sable Island’s rocks the Squirrel, riding the crests of turbulent waves, had come. If he dared to put out to sea, how many days or weeks would it be before he would be able to return? On this island roamed wild pigs and cattle, set ashore decades ago by Portuguese explorers. He had to replenish his food supply! The alternative was to return to the Queen disgraced! The Newfoundland fishermen had warned him about Sable Island, about how in bad weather too many ships had been destroyed on its rocks. “Approach it in the best of conditions. And lead with your smallest ship.” Well, in both instances he had done the opposite.
And he had also spurned the advice of the Delight’s master, Richard Clarke.
“If you must, utilize a south-west-south course.”
Clarke had contradicted his west-north-west direction. “That will take you to disaster, Admiral. The wind is at south and night is at hand. Unknown sands lay a great way off the land.” He had had to threaten to bring down Elizabeth’s wrath to force the master to comply. 
Slanting rain pelted him. He turned his face away from its force. Minutes passed. Sailors were staring at him, turning their faces when he attempted to make eye contact. He would wait a bit longer!
If the fog lifted, he could then be certain. If not, … The waiting was interminable! He stared, at drifting, amorphous shapes.
A ferocious blast of wind caused him to slip and then fall on the rain-drenched deck. He careened down the deck’s slope, his right leg striking stanchions. Adjusting to the roll of the ship, gripping a foremast spar, painfully, he stood. The boards beneath his feet trembled. Fear constricted his throat.
“Admiral! Here!”
Gilbert hesitated, then followed the beckoning sailor to a cluster of four seamen just aft of broadside. There! The fog had opened. Gilbert's lead ship, the Delight, his largest, was coming apart on dark rocks. And in the water . . . the ship's crew: heads, flailing arms. Miraculously, a boat in the water, just beyond, in one eye-blink, capsized. Churning bodies, disappearing. Gone!
 
Walter Raleigh Seeks to Obtain Humphrey Gilbert’s Patent to Colonize
 
Thinking about Hatton, Raleigh laughed. Hatton played the courtly game of unrequited lover -- which Elizabeth loved so much -- but he, Raleigh, was much better at it. Two months ago using his diamond ring he had carved on a lattice window in the Queen’s Presence Room the message: “Fain would I climb, yet I fear to fall.” Taking his ring from him the next day, she had inscribed: “If thy heart fails thee, climb not at all.”
To Elizabeth, he was “Water.” He was her Shepherd of the Ocean. She “died of thirst” whenever he left her presence. In his poems he called her Cynthia, goddess of the moon and symbol of chastity. He had penned the past two days two stanzas that, if he were quick about it, he might complete before her inevitable summons. He walked to his desk, bent over its surface, and read them.
 
Those eyes which set my fancy on a fire,
Those crisped hairs which hold my heart in chains,
Those dainty hands which conquered my desire,
That wit which on my thought does hold the reins!
 
Those eyes for clearness do the stars surpass,
Those hairs obscure the brightness of the sun,
Those hands more bright than every ivory was,
That wit even to the skies hath glory won.
 
 He thought that one more stanza might suffice. He would sit at his desk this very afternoon to write it if he were not summoned. If not this day, then he would tomorrow. She would read it; he would gain greater favor;he would press more aggressively his request to acquire Gilbert’s patent.
He had not been summoned. Riding the newly paved road to the palace the following morning, Raleigh thought about his goal. He had competition. Because of what Humphrey had experienced, he believed he knew his competitor’s identity.
            Francis Walsingham, the Queen’s primary secretary.  Humphrey had communicated his frustration during the final days before he had left England for Newfoundland.
Gilbert had learned that Walsingham, his stepson Christopher Carleill, and Sir George Peckham had interviewed the English seaman David Ingram about his purported journey by foot past the Chesapeake Bay all the way to Cape Breton. “Why their particular interest, Walter? Why their interest?” Humphrey had asked him sarcastically.
Captain Edward Hayes and the Golden Hind had returned to England September 22. The news: Raleigh’s half brother and good friend and his ship the Squirrel and crew had been swallowed in a violent storm.
Raleigh had quickly set in motion plans to outfit his own expedition. He had gathered together already at Durham House diverse people to ensure that his expedition would be thoughtfully organized and well equipped. Sometime in April of 1584 he expected to send two or more ships to North America, perhaps somewhat south of Gilbert’s intended settlement, to locate a practical place to found a settlement and base for privateers to attack King Philip’s treasure ships. He believed he could convince Elizabeth to award him Humphrey’s patent. But he had to be watchful! Walsingham, and Carleill, would not be standing still.
 
Introduction of Thomas Harriot, an Important Member of the 1584 English Voyage
 
It was raining. Walter Raleigh heard the steady drumming on the roof and the course of water in the rain gutter above Haritt’s room on the second floor of the Durham House. His employee was instructing another class of sea captains in the use of navigational instruments and his tables of corrections of mathematical findings that the instruments provided.
Dressed in black – Raleigh had never seen him wear clothing of any other color – Harriot, but 23 years old, was holding before his four students a quadrant. “Latitude, gentleman.” The young man held the quarter circle-shaped instrument eye-level tilted upward. “Any sea venture you attempt requires that you must know frequently your latitude.  This instrument, as two of you well know, is one of the simplest ways of determining that.” He lowered the quadrant, smiled, extended his left hand as if to convey an apology. “Captains Harris and Sturges, you could demonstrate the employment of this instrument as easily as I. To our distinguished gentlemen also attending, my demonstration, I believe, is essential to their basic understanding.”
Appreciating his employee’s mathematical aptitude, attention to detail, and insatiable curiosity, Raleigh had encouraged Harriot to attack the sea captain’s seemingly insurmountable difficulty of determining by celestial observation his location where there was no land to guide him. He had sent Harriot to the London and Plymouth docks to interview grizzled seamen, preferably captains, over pints of ale in bawdy taverns, to learn everything he could about sailing ships, life at sea, and the ways captains navigated. Among various titles of inquiry an astronomer, Harriot had researched what the ancients, and later the Arabs, had discovered about the constellations and the measurement of time. He had read as well two modern publications about this vital subject: John Dee’s translation into English in 1570 of Martin Cortes’s Arte de navigation and, printed in 1574, William Bourne’s A Regiment for the Sea, a corrected and expanded version of Cortes’s work.  In short, Raleigh believed that Harriot knew more about the reading of the sun and stars, the instruments used, and the imperfections of those readings and how they could be partially corrected than any English seaman alive.
 
Queen Elizabeth and Walsingham Talk about Colonization
 
The food-tasting for poison was essential. Guarded in her residence day and night, never left alone, she was less likely to be assassinated directly. Poisoning – indirect assassination --was subtle, more achievable.
There had been ample reason for concern. For her entire reign she had had to confront the ramifications of her renunciation of Catholicism. Only by threatening to marry the heir to the French throne had she been able to forestall Philip of Spain from authorizing military action to depose her. This tactic had not stopped Catholics in England and Europe from scheming to remove her and reestablish Catholic rule in the person of Mary Stuart, Elizabeth’s cousin, former queen consort of France, former Queen of Scotland, forced to abdicate her Scottish throne by Protestant lord.,Tthe past fifteen years per Elizabeth’s orders, Mary had been  confined at Sheffield Castle closely watched by Sir Francis Walsingham’s numerous spies.
The interview had concluded. Yet he tarried.
“God’s love, rise!” It occurred to her that he had more to say.  “Yes?”
He rose, with reluctance towered over her.
“A matter of collateral urgency.” His dark eyes connected.
“How so?”
“The expedition to the New World. We must found a colony north of Florida but south of where Gilbert had planned to colonize so as to seize in the Caribbean and south of the Azores Spanish gold, and, simultaneously, discover comparable riches!”
“We have spoken about thi!. You know the treasury lacks the funds to finance this venture! You must show me a plan that involves private investment! I wait to see such a plan!”
“I am close to showing you a plan.”
“You do know that you have competition.”
She saw in his eyes a flash of temper, despite his skill of suppressing emotion.
“You speak for my issuance of a patent, similar to that I gave Gilbert. Authorization to sell vast acreage to wealthy investors.”
“How else am I to raise sufficient capital?”
“Agreed. And who is to hold this patent, and grandly profit from it? Your step- son, Christopher Carleill?”
“He would be the captain.”
“But who would hold the patent? You?”
His eyes did not deviate. “Who but I have the connections to make such a risky, complicated venture successful?”
“Again, agreed. I will look at your plan.”
Walsingham having left, she was not of the mood to translate or nap. Her ire was up. Walsingham wanted his due. He expected it! Early during her reign, advisors had thought they could intimidate her, because she was a woman. There were times when Walsingham tried. She had allowed no man to control her nor had she any advisor to become too powerful.
 
Queen Elizabeth and Walsingham II
 
Grunting, Walsingham shifted his weight onto his left knee. He sought silently permission to rise.
Instead, “Speak.”
“The plot involves the Pope, the Guise family, and the Jesuits. It is part of King Philip’s planned enterprise. Mary Stuart and Ambassador Mendoza are fully informed. We are to be invaded at four locations.”
“Where?’
Scotland, Ireland, Sussex, and Norfolk. All coordinated by Catholic activists foreign and national.”
“Your recommendation?”
“The executioner’s blade.”
“Always.”  She frowned. “Throckmorton, yes. I agree. They will know that we will not countenance them!”
“The Scottish whore?” Walsingham’s dark brow furrowed all the more.
“You question God’s divine right to anoint kings?”
They responded rapidly.
“She commits treason!”
“The punishment will be continued isolation, confinement.”
“The Council will demand execution! As will Parliament!”
“I will not call Parliament into session! The Council advises, does not overrule my decisions! Have you again forgotten yourself?”
His anger reached dangerously across the intervening space.
No, this would not answer. It remained for her to defuse the friction. “You, Sir Francis, serve me best, I believe, of any man of this realm. Keep your spies active. You and they keep your sovereign and her people safe! Know that I value your opinions highly, but know that I do not submit to them! Continue, therefore, to presume to declare them, even if you must smolder privately because of their rejection. Know as well that you shall be rewarded personally for your zealous service. I am not an ungenerous queen.”
 
Raleigh’s Preparations
 
Raleigh looked directly at Arthur Barlowe, who was staring at him from across the table. “You, Arthur. I know you well from our recent Ireland days. Your seamanship in the Mediterranean precedes you. You have been involved in this planning from the beginning. I trust your judgment. I want you in command. You are not so old at 34 – Is that correct? – that you cannot withstand the rigors of an Atlantic crossing? What say you?!”
“I would be honored,” Barlowe responded.
“And I would like to bestow upon my adventurous relative, at the tender age of 19 -- here among us -- the opportunity to distinguish himself similarly!” Harriot and those closest to him looked at Philip Amadas, vain, in Harriot’s opinion given to impulsive behavior. Amadas had ingratiated himself by releasing to Raleigh his estate in the manors of Trethake, Penkelewe, and had taken permanent lodging at Durham House. Barlowe and Amadas had also been Harriot’s students. They were to sail to the New World!  Would he?
“The esteemed Doctor Dee three years ago declared that the problems of navigation are best solved by a mathematician. We have an excellent mathematician seated at this table.” Harriot felt his faceflush. “Depend on it, the expert of the astrolabe, quadrant, and back-staff some of you here can attest!” Raleigh extended his right arm in Harriot’s direction. “Thomas, I want you on board to test your calculations, to locate as precisely as you are able the exact location of our future fortified harbor. Additionally, being the observant servant that you are, I want to hear afterward your observations of the land and its savages.”
“We would also have an artist. A few paintings together with a persuasive report need to find the hands of doubtful investors. Why not the artist that Frobisher had with him on one of his voyages, the cove that painted the Baffin Island native woman and her baby. Does anybody here know him? Is he available?
“John White.” Henry Greene half raised his right hand. “I heard talk about him at Cambridge. I conjecture he might be a member of the Painter-Stainer’s Company. I should question the French painter LeMoyne.”
“A pilot! No, I do not have a pilot! Who knows those waters that we would have available? One man! Secretary Walsingham’s man!
“Fernandez,” Arthur Barlowe said.
“The pirate,” Grenville said.
“Just so! The imprisoned but never convicted pirate!” Raleigh concluded.
“He now calls himself Ferdinando,” Grenville offered, looking thoughtfully at his hands.
“Gentlemen, he will be Christopher Carleill’s pilot! If Walsingham has his way!” He studied fiercely each of the faces opposite him. “I take comfort that I witness discernment! I admit that Carleill is a formidable rival. Exemplary in his military conduct. A hero to William of Orange. Secretary Walsingham will use him to impress Elizabeth our Queen and gain entrance to pursue his ends. I will see that does not happen! We proceed with these assumptions: that we, not Carleill, will search the waters of Bahia de Santa Maria, that because Queen Elizabeth has chosen us, Walsingham will insist that we take Simon Fernandez/Ferdinando, and that Fernandez will be Walsingham’s spy.”