Remembering Sir Francis Drake: travel, commemoration and national identity in the work of Henry Robarts.
What led Robarts to write celebratory pamphlets ? In his address to Drake in A Most Friendly Farewell, Robarts claims that he has put pen to paper in response to the lack of published accounts of Drake's achievements. Drake was in disgrace since 1589, and Hakluyt planned to omit the account of Drake's circumnavigation of 1577-80 from the 1589 edition of his Principal Navigations, only subsequently adding ' The Famous Voyage of Sir Francis Drake' to his anthology. (9) Indeed, Robarts' claim that he has been forced to write because others have not conforms to the reason Hakluyt would later give in the dedicatory letter to the first volume of The Principal Navigations of 1599 for compiling records of voyages that 'might commend our nation': 'seeing no man to step forth to undertake the recording of so many memorable actions, but every man to folow his private affaires: the ardent love of my countrey devoured all difficulties, and as it were with a sharpe goad provoked me and thrust me forward into this most troublesome and painfull action' (*2r). Robarts, like Hakluyt, makes his work speak to the strength of his allegiance to Queen and country, partly by trading on the proclaimed 'rudeness' or simplicity of his writing. (10) The incapacity Robarts repeatedly professes adequately to express the extent of Drake's achievements is also a heightening device to express his subject's worthiness, and an invitation to others to supply gaps in his narrative, for Robarts sees himself as providing the first draft of a narrative record that will be completed by those better equipped, through experience or scholarly ability, to record Drake's achievements. In the prefatory address to A Most Friendly Farewell, he expresses a wish that 'my simple writing [...] may encourage others to write that can doe farre better' (A3v-Bir), a comment that shows that although he presents himself as merely filling a temporary breach in the commemoration of England's worthies he also imagines an important role for his writing in inspiring better literary efforts that will further enhance England's national glory. He may have taken his cue here from Barnabe Rich, who, in his Allarme to England (1578) assures the reader that 'I have not taken in hand to write, for any vayne glory or presumption in my selfe, but rather to incite some one amongst you, that is more able & sufficient, to performe a greater enterprise [in pointing up the need for martial discipline], to a much better perfection' and likens himself to a labouring man and his imagined successor to a 'master workeman'. (11)
Robarts' writing combines two features that Willy Maley identifies as key aspects of early modern national self-identification: the establishing of 'classical precedent' and the adoption of an 'anti-European perspective' (24). He attempts to inspire valorous acts, and to give rise to further celebratory texts, by distinguishing England's maritime missions from those of contemporary Spain, and by invoking the example of classical Rome, in particular by upbraiding England's failure to follow the ancient Roman practice of memorialising their heroes. (12) In Fames Trumpet Soundinge (1589), a eulogy to Sir Walter Mildmay (a member of Queen Elizabeth's privy council and Chancellor of the Exchequer) and Sir Martin Calthrop (a former Lord Mayor of London), Robarts claims that the lack of a printed record of Mildmay and Calthrop's achievements sees England refusing to follow the excellent example set by ancient Rome and Greece of 'fram[ing] eloque[n]t Oracions in the deceaseds just co[m]mendation'. (13) And in the address to the soldier and merchant James Lancaster in Lancaster his Allarums (1595), Robarts identifies as an example worthy of imitation the 'publicke honor' shown by ancient Rome to the deserving, which included the granting of 'titles of nobilitie' as well as 'all signes and showes of joy to welcome home such Adventurers that their Countreys honor and Princes benefit had any way adventured'. (14) This is presumably the kind of welcome outlined in the Chorus to Act Five of Shakespeare's Henry V (1600) where 'The Mayor and all his brethren in best sort; /Like to the senators of th'antique Rome/With the plebeians swarming at their heels, /Go forth and fetch their conquering Caesar in'. (15) Both in Lancaster his Allarums and in A True Relation of a Most Worthy and Notable Fight (1616), which recalls English ships' successful encounter with Turkish gallies in the Straits of Gibraltar in 1615, Robarts notes that Romans and Grecians 'so honoured their Nation' that they rewarded the worthy irrespective of birth, which worked as a stimulus for future achievement and ought to serve as a model for contemporary England. (16) The Romans, he writes,
caus[ed] them [the valiant] in tryu[m]phs, to ride throughout their Citties erecting Trophies, in memorie of their actions. Thorough which, they encouraged the noble minded, and moved the most basest groome to adventure. Yf such were the manners and conditions, of our minded countrymen how flourishing an estate might we boast of: But we, forgetting virtue, esteeme wealth, not vallor, (not men) before money, but money farre before men. (Lancaster his Allarums Bv)
For Robarts, the refusal to grant the deserving their due equates to a dishonourable privileging of money over valour and exists as the anti-type of the ideal national temper he elsewhere claims for England as distinct from Spain (namely, disinterested valour): 'If Roome [sic] the abject of the earth now for her vice' once 'paid tribute to valour' then 'Why should not our thrise famous Cittie of London the only wounder [sic] of the earth for beautie, government and welth, holde their honor in like account?' (Lancaster his Allarums Br). Though contemporary England is thought to surpass contemporary Rome in its present moral condition and political and financial security, it is seen as failing to capitalise on these advantages by neglecting to provide, or deliberately withholding, praise from those who deserve it. Robarts takes this refusal or neglect as evidence of near-sightedness. He castigates
our ungratefull Cuntreymen which holde Honours Champions in account [no] longer then the present occasion of use serveth for them. Which maketh us so common a by woord amongst other Nations for our ungratefulness: If wee could aswell imitate in good actions such noble Straungers as have lived in elder time as follow, their vanities and manners in all vicieus exercises, wee might well be noted for the moste only people of the whole earth: Then might that most excellent Histories which now declare the noble and bountifull minds of the Romaines bee shut up, and our Histories fill the eares of all Nations with reportes of our now living and brave minded adventures, but those times be past, such men live not to recompence their worthines nor those of learning to give them their due. ('The Most Honorable Attempts and Fortunate Successe of our Woorthy Citizen and Braue Minded Generall James Lancaster, and his Associates', Lancaster his Allarums Br)
For Robarts, this lack of due recognition for the deserving means that we are guilty of choosing to imitate the worst, rather than the best, features of classical civilisation. England should follow the example of ancient Rome in being mindful of its posterity through preserving in memory present activities. This, of course, is what Robarts is doing not only in his pamphlets on Drake but also in such texts as Fames Trumpet Soundinge, which similarly work as a form of public recognition of recent achievements designed to bring about the future performance of worthy deeds.
The passage above from Lancaster his Allarums attempts to sting national pride by offering a covert reminder that England's current actions do not stack up against those of certain of their present-day European competitors. Hakluyt, too, acknowledges 'that our successe hath not bene correspondent' to that of the Spanish and Portuguese:
Sithens therefore these two worthy Nations had those bright lampes of learning (I meane the most ancient and best Philosophers, Historiographers and Geographers) to shewe them light; and the loadstarre of experience (to wit those great exploits and voyages layed vp in store and recorded) whereby to shape their course: what great attempt might they not presume to vndertake? But alas our English nation, at the first setting foorth for their Northeasterne discovery, were either altogether destitute of such cleare lights and inducements, or if they had any inkling at all, it was as misty as they found the Northren seas, and so obscure and ambiguous, that it was meet rather to deterre them, then to give them encouragement. ('A Preface to the Reader as Touching the Principall Voyages and Discourses in this First Part, Principal Navigations (1599) [*4v]).
The Spanish and Portuguese have, at present, an advantage over the English in their access to textual records of earlier voyages: a claim that works to promote Hakluyt's project of gathering evidence of a history of English maritime achievement that later ages might be similarly benefitted. Robarts' desire to secure the enabling condition for future heroic actions speaks to a wish to strengthen England's self-identification as a maritime nation in ways that will enable it to compete with its European neighbours in the acquisition of overseas wealth, the establishing of overseas colonies, and the funding of further long-distance voyages. If we alter our ways, our very mode of thinking, Robarts argues, we can replace a cultural indebtedness to antiquity with a self-reliance on contemporary actions (both textual and experiential), seen as worthy successors to past glories.
In imagining a necessary link between the lack of due regard given to recent actions and the failure--the lack of will--to perform similar acts in the future, Robarts encourages us to view praise as simultaneously the due deserts of the traveller and an impetus to future achievement. This puts him in line with Sir Philip Sidney's central premise in An Apologie for Poetrie (1595) that poetry ought to inspire acts of virtue; (17) it also creates an important role for writing in the formation of the national character. (18) In A True Relation of a Most Worthy and Notable Fight, Robarts assures the reader that because brave 'actions for saveguard [...] of Shippe and good' are not rewarded and are barely acknowledged at the crew's return this is 'often the cause of much losse to owners and Marchants' for only if the crew are given 'either good word, or good deed' will they and those who come after them be inclined to risk their lives in defence of the ship and her goods (A3v-A4r). Public recognition is imagined alongside financial renumeration as a whetstone to honour. Robarts' call, in the dedication to this text, for 'Owners and Merchantes' to reward their factors in order to give rise to similar acts of valour serves a national agenda as a way to make 'this Kingdome be more better replenished with able and sufficient men to fight in their defence, if occasion should bee' (B3v). Here Robarts sees mercantile travel as serving national interests, not only by enriching the country but also by tightening national security. Robarts goes further still in other of his writings by establishing links between commerce and honour: a not-uncommon gesture in late sixteenth-century writing when, as Richard Helgerson has shown, merchants were discussed in inappropriately courtly and heroic terms in order to redeem them from earlier accusations of greed or venality and to lend support to commercial expansion facilitated by trade. (19) (Indeed, Helgerson notes that it is only by means of appeals to the nation that the rapprochement between such distinct and potentially antithetical categories as honour and profit could be effected.) In Robarts' prose romance, Honours Conquest (1598), the negative associations of trade are offloaded onto Spain, enabling Robarts to share in Hakluyt's attempts to claim honourable mercantile motives as the chief distinguishing feature of England's overseas missions. (20)
Returning to the way in which Robarts aims through his writing to inspire noble actions, one notes that Drake is held up by Robarts and others as a model Englishman for his ability to encourage his crew, and to obtain their good will and loyalty through fair treatment. (21) In A Most Friendly Farewell, Robarts addresses Drake as 'a mirror for our countrymen to looke into, by your example to move others to the attempting the like enterprises' (A3r). This, then, is an instance of the perception found so often in early modern literature that examples constitute the best kind of teaching. (22) In the final section of the text, headed 'Robarts his farewell to the saylers and souldiours appointed for this exploite', Robarts reminds the sailors
... how he [Drake] hath enrich[ed] the land, and stored it with gold. And how he did reward his men, my pen can scarse unfold: And honored them in al their deeds, because they did take pain, And friendship ever at his hands their duetie did them gaine. (B3v)
Robarts is here conflating the discourse of friendship with that of (implicitly financial) reward in suggesting that the crew's loyalty to Drake will be amply, even doubly, repaid: (23) a clear attempt to forestall the kind of dissension that Hakluyt's narratives show to have been a fairly common feature of long-distance travel. Robarts may have been reminded of this possibility by reading Hakluyt's 'The Famous Voyage of Sir Francis Drake', where the narrator notes that Thomas Doughtie's mutiny against Drake's authority, if unchecked, might have resulted in the failure of the mission, and where he attributes to Drake's awareness of this possibility his willingness to override his strong personal affection for Doughtie in agreeing to his trial and execution. This incident is elaborated on in Drake's The World Encompassed (1628), where Doughtie's treachery serves as an example illustrating the point that internal dissension presents a greater threat to a mission than those encountered from other nations.
Robarts aims in his writing to gain assent and minimise the threat of dissent, and to this end he creates the impression of a collective goodwill amongst sailors. In A Most Friendly Farewell, for example, Robarts contradicts his earlier claim, made in a different context, that enmity and envy wish to deprive Drake of his right of being honoured and remembered, when he notes that Drake 'the love of all hath gaind from best unto the worst' (Biir). This emphasis on unity links Robarts' pamphlets praising Drake to his records of civic entertainments and romances which, in describing harmonious relations between host and guest, model the good-natured reciprocity he hopes will be maintained in the context of voyages of exploration between governor and crew (in order to avoid mutiny) and crew and natives (in order to establish trade relations). Robarts' texts include numerous reports of obstacles overcome, tensions dissipated through deft management, and crises averted. A Most Friendly Farewell ends with an exhortation to the crew to loyalty and obedience to their governor, Drake, and beyond him to Queen and country and ultimately to God. It thereby links to a number of contemporary texts designed to act as a prophylactic against military disorder, such as Lawes and Orders of Warre (1638), a government publication that reminds subjects of the need for discipline and compliance with authority, and warns them to avoid any words or actions 'tending to Mutinie'. (24) In attempting to guarantee the loyalty of Drake's crew Robarts turns their attention outwards, to Spain, as an alternative focus for potential hostilities. The crew are encouraged to be courageous and to land 'english blows' on the national enemy, every one of them told to 'slay of Spaniards ten' (A Most Friendly Farewell [Cir], Biiiv):
Therefore agree in unitie, and love one with the other, [An]d joine your selves in amitie, as brother with his brother. [...] in this cause you are as one, though many soules you be, Then fellowe mates looke to your selves, and never disagree. ([Cir])
Robarts' second text on Drake, The Trumpet of Fame, is not only laudatory: its ancillary purpose is to remind the reader or auditor that the shared enterprise is endangered by factionalism and discontent. It exhorts men involved in the forthcoming voyage to civil obedience--thereby inadvertently showing that this is by no means assured--by requiring them to 'Learne by his [Drake's] worth, in actions he hath past' (3); the forthcoming journey provides an opportunity to reflect on, and perpetuate the knowledge of, former instances of good conduct. Robarts is thus involved in writing, albeit in a small way, a history, and a narrative, of English maritime achievement. As the title, A Most Friendly Farewell given by a Welwiller to the Right Worshipful Sir Frauncis Drake Knight [...]. Wherin is Briefely Touched his Perils Passed in his Last Daungerous Voyage, with an Incouragement to all his Saylers and Souldiers, to be Forward in this Honourable Exploite, indicates, this text is poised between journeys: looking back to past actions and forward to future ones that might be determined by the lessons provided by recent history, and that are pointed out, for the crew and reader, by Robarts. In referring to those who in Drake's last voyage 'by demeanor ill, hath brought them selves to careful woe' (Biir) Robarts shows the consequences of disloyalty as an object lesson for future journeys, and this didactic function is an important aspect of his texts.
In his pamphlets on Drake, Robarts attempts to procure the crew's good behaviour by reminding them of the risk they would otherwise take not only with regard to their physical wellbeing but also, more pressingly, to their reputation ('Now is your bravery to be shew[n], there must you al take pain, /Else look for lasting ignominie when you returne againe' ('Robartes his Farewel to the Right Worshipful Syr Frances Drake Knight, and to his Gentlemen Followers ...', A Most Friendly FarewellBiiv). Although I have found no evidence that Robarts' verses were pronounced as a farewell for Drake's crew before being printed, the lines 'My loving friends and countrymen, let these my words availe, /And thinke upon these simple lines, when ship is under saile' ('Robarts his Farewell to the Saylers and Souldiours Appointed for this Exploite', A Most Friendly Farewell Cir) suggest that the crew are given a record of Robarts' exhortation to take with them on their journey at a time prior to publication. Lines like 'At your returne, then shall you honour have, /As your deserts by venturing farre shall crave' from The Trumpet of Fame (5) give the impression that these words are voiced in real time as part of an act of public farewell in order more effectively to suggest that good favour is conditional on the crew's behaviour (and, of course, Drake's achievements) on the journey, and to imply that Robarts will be instrumental in its bestowal. Robarts' recommendation of the mission to the favourable attention of the reader is itself a type of reward, and therefore serves as a means for him to align himself with Drake as a kind of maritime benefactor. The Trumpet of Fame is subtitled, Sir Fraunces Drakes and Sir John Hawkins F[are]well with an Encouragement to all Saile[rs] and Souldiers that are Minded to go in this Worthie Enterprise; this 'encouragement' is clearly a textual one that depends in part on Robarts recalling the reader to that offered by Drake to his crew. Drake is not the only one capable of incentivising sailors and merchants to behave honourably by boosting their morale or stinging their national pride, for Robarts implicitly claims some of this ground for himself.
Robarts' pamphlets exist as part of a sub-genre of texts offering a farewell to those about to travel (or a welcome home for returning travellers) that hold out the promise of good reputation and fame to the crew as a reward for their obedience. One thinks here, for example, of Thomas Churchyard's The Fortunate Farewel to the most Forward and Noble Earle of Essex (1599) presented to the Earl of Essex when about to sail for Ireland to quell the Tyrone rebellion, which aims
to stirre up a threefold manly courage to the [me]rcenarie multitude of soliders, that follow this Marshall like Generall, and especially to move all degrees in generall loyalty to serve our [Goo]d Queene Elizabeth, and valiantly to go through with good reso[lut]ion the acceptable service they take in hand. Which true service shall double their renowne, and enrol their names in the memorial booke [of] fame for ever. (25)
Another of Churchyard's texts, A Discourse of the Queenes Majesties Entertainement in Suffolk andNorffolk [...]. Whereunto is Adjoyneda Commendation of Sir Humfrey Gilberts Ventrous [sic] Journey (1578), links to Robarts' pamphlets on Drake in a number of ways. (26) For instance, it notes that Humphrey Gilbert and his crew 'with one mind, and one consent /do hope to hitte one marke' (H3v), emphasising unity in order to bring it about, and it promises Gilbert and his crew 'a greater prayse' at their return than that offered at their departure: 'A Booke that to the loftie Skyes, /your rare renowne shall rayse' ('A Matter touching the Journey of Sir Humfrey Gilbarte [sic] Knight' K2v, K3r). In an addendum to the text entitled 'A welcome home to Master Martin Frobisher' Churchyard acknowledges that those who accompanied Frobisher on his journeys deserve to share in his fame not only as a recompense for their labours but also 'to the encouraging of others to the like adventure' ([L4r]); if only he knew their names he would 'willingly [...] put [them] in a Register of good reporte' ([L4r])!
Robarts sets out specifically to redress a critical imbalance whereby those deserving of fame are relatively neglected in the popular imagination. In A Most Friendly Farewell, he objects that those who 'hath not undertaken the one halfe of your [Drake's] troubles [are] registred in the minds of all men for ever, by their meanes which hath by wryting given them their desartes' (A2v)--a comment pointing to the power of writing to influence and even alter public perception and one gesturing to a possible gap between maritime achievement and its record, which is a source of national concern and even shame. This is a gap that Robarts advertises himself as helping to fill. In this text, he cautiously upbraids those who might have written in praise of Drake but did not:
All this our Poets might have wrote if they his fame did te[n]der, Besides the wealth that he home brought a good cause to reme[m]ber You might have taken this small paines the same by pen to shew, To make his name with fame resound & cause the world to know. When many a thousand lived at home and slept with quiet ease. Great paines abroad our Knight endured with perils on the seas. (Biir)
Robarts represents travel in utterly conventional terms for the period; Churchyard, for example, in his panegyric to Gilbert, provides an extended opposition between travellers and stay-at-homes along just these lines: by allying it to a related opposition between labour and ease. Robarts' lines imply that to record Drake's exploits is the least one can do given the 'Great paines' taken by Drake. That is, Drake's achievements bestow a moral obligation on the countrymen whom they have benefited to celebrate his actions. If Drake, Lancaster, Calthrop, Mildmay and others have earned their fame, then pamphlets such as Robarts' simply give the deserving their due. Robarts establishes a sort of parity between himself and Drake through the duplication of the word 'paines', Robarts having himself taken the 'small paines' of writing of Drake's achievements as a fitting response to and recompense for the 'Great paines' taken by Drake on his travels. In a further gesture of affinity, those who have 'slept with quiet ease' are the opposite not only of Drake but also of Robarts himself who, in writing, has undergone a different but compatible form of labour. One is reminded here of the etymological link between 'travel' and 'travail' frequently asserted in early modern texts. (27) Hakluyt, too, imagines the extent of his reading in compiling a record of England's maritime achievements as commensurate with the physical demands of long-distance voyaging, recounting, in 'A Preface to the Reader' of the first volume of the Principal Navigations (28)
what restlesse nights, what painefull dayes, what heat, what cold I haue indured; how many long & chargeable iourneys I haue traueiled; how many famous libraries I haue searched into; what varietie of ancient and modern writers I have perused; what a number of old records, patents, priuileges, letters, &c. I haue redeemed from obscuritie and perishing [...]. Howbeit (as I told thee at the first) the honour and benefit of this Common weale wherein I liue and breathe, hath made all difficulties seeme easie, all paines and industrie pleasant, and all expenses of light value and moment vnto me. ((1599) [*4r])
The writing of travel, like travel itself, is a heroic feat: a taking of 'paines' for the benefit of the country.
Robarts assumes for his pamphlets a more important role in the maintenance of his subjects' fame than might at first be apparent. In A Most Friendly Farewell, he initially appears to have no further ambition than to follow the custom (which he claims as typically English) of 'representing] unto our betters whome we honour some simple gift as a farewell in writing whereby their names might be remembred in their absence' (Address 'To the Right Worshipful and Thrise Renowmed Gentleman of our time Syr Frauncis Drake' A2v). However, the accompanying comment 'would my abilitie were answerable to my wil, then should thy honourable name live eternally amongst us men on the earth' ([A3r]), though couched in a typical gesture of deminutio, imagines a commensurability between the quality of his report and the longevity of Drake's fame, asserting real, if only potential, agency for his writing. Robarts goes on: 'Would God my skill were such thy praise so for to paint, /That forren foes to heare thereof with danted feare should faint' ('Robartes his Farewel to the Right Worshipful Syr Frances Drake Knight, and to his Gentlemen Followers ...', A Most Friendly Farewell, Biiv). He aims, then, to participate in outfacing the national enemy--and thereby to share in Drake's own achievement--through writing. An indication that Robarts is more confident and self-assertive than first appears can also be found in Lancaster his Allarums where he moves within the one sentence from expecting that 'some of good learning for honor of our Land, will register their names to eternall honor [ie. those who have successfully raided Spanish and Portuguese ships]' to saying that 'I have set downe [their] proceedings in this action, that our brave minded youths in tyme to come seeing what hath bene done, by men of our time, [and] endevoring to deserve like [them], [may] honor [their] co[u]ntry, & remaine a terror to all enymies' (Bv). This is Robarts silently stepping into the shoes of the learned man whose lack he purports to lament.
That aside, Robarts does not go as far as he might in claiming a privileged place for writing, for he neglects certain opportunities to point up the role played by the written record in the promulgation of his subjects' fame. The Most Royall and Honourable Entertainement, of the Famous and Renowmed King, Christiern [sic] the Fourth, King of Denmarke (1606), for example, notes that the hospitality afforded Christian IV by James I on his visit to England 'shall never be rased out of memory': (29) this is a compliment which, referring as it does to the living memory of the spectators, does not acknowledge the dependence of the perpetuation of this memory on texts like his own which provide an afterlife for entertainments that are in themselves ephemeral. Strangely, for works lamenting the relative lack of written accounts of notable achievements, the fame of those Robarts celebrates often seems to exist independently of any literary means to promulgate it. In the case of Drake, this is likely to be a nod to the fact that Robarts was offering the public memorials of already-famous exploits (and thereby using Drake's name and fame in order to sell his pamphlets). Drake's fame and popularity was not by the 1590s dependent on any literary report. Though his journey had symbolic significance as the pinnacle of English maritime achievement it received only cursory treatment in Hakluyt's Principal Navigations, where it appears as something of an afterthought, as mentioned earlier. As Mary C. Fuller notes, 'here was an event that in a sense did not need Hakluyt to be remembered. [...] For the very largest reputations and national events, print was not the only guarantor of memory and fame'. (30) In Robarts' pamphlets on Drake, as in his contemporary Nicholas Breton's A Discourse in Commendation of the Valiant as Vertuous Minded Gentleman, Master Frauncis Drake, with a Rejoysing of his Happy Adventures (1581), Drake's fame is imagined as, at turns, already secured and as contingent on the act of commemoration. (31) (Breton notes of Drake that 'Fame, tells his wonders, his wonderful prowess, his worthy praise: & his worthines hath wu[n] him Fame most wonderfull' (Aiiiiv). Fame, in this conception, is not only a natural corollary of honourable actions, but also a strangely self-sustaining means to perpetuate them. And yet, Breton also exhorts well-wishers to join in 'due prayse of the wonderfull parts of such worthy persons, that their deedes recorded, their Fame may be sounded' (Aiiiir), a comment that imagines fame as consequent on written recommendation.) In A Most Friendly Farewell, Robarts promises to pen the crew a panegyric verse as a recompense for their toil, but, seemingly, only after they have acquired fame or good name as an inevitable reward for their efforts:
Then valiant harts that seeke for fame, be sure the same to gain For with her trumpe of glitring gold she wil requite your pain. And at your home returne againe, such praise for you ile write, Shall do you good to heare the same your travel to requite. ('Robarts his Farewell to the Saylers and Souldiours Appointed for this Exploite' [Cir])
Robarts here treats fame and publication as semi-autonomous entities, which suggests that his subjects' fame is both dependent on, and independent of, written records like his own. And yet, because the fact that his subjects are already famous brings into question the need for Robarts' commendations, he has to imagine some role for his pamphlets in the constitution of that fame. This sometimes involves him in paradoxes. In Haigh for Devonshire (1600), for example, he sets out to report the activities of 'these famous men', without which they would 'lye/In darke oblivion' (Bv). Such comments, in which Robarts represents himself as responsible for securing a fame that has already been won, speak to mutually incompatible impulses: the attempt to establish the incontrovertible and inevitable fact of his subject's fame, and the wish to carve out a position for himself in the maintenance of that fame. Robarts may also be negotiating here between verbal and written means of conferring 'fame'; A Most Friendly Farewell, for example, imagines writing as merely consolidating a fame that is spread verbally.
Though Robarts may have read Hakluyt's influential 'The Famous Voyage of Sir Francis Drake' before writing The Trumpet of Fame, he can also rely to an extent on other, extra-literary sources of information on Drake to flesh out details in his account. In touching on the honour Drake gained in his circumnavigation of the globe he notes: 'I do referre, /To stories large, where registred they are' (The Trumpet of Fame 3). In the absence of a reference to a specific text or texts this reads as an appeal to the record of this voyage found in the collective consciousness of the nation, the popular imagination. Robarts' praise of men who have already won 'immortall fame' (The Trumpet of Fame 3), means that there are certain things that do not need to be said, meaning that Robarts can leave gaps in his narrative confident that they will be filled by the public knowledge of these men's achievements. Indeed, the blanks are a way of reminding the reader of what they already know. In The Trumpet of Fame, Robarts notes that it is 'needless here at large for to set downe' (8) the gains made by one of the ships involved in the enterprise. And in Fames Trumpet Soundinge, he lauds Mildmay's 'zeale to learning', evidenced in his founding of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, which 'The world doth know if I forget to tell' (A4v)--a conceit that works against his own justification for writing expressed in his opening address. This is not to say that Robarts does not also see himself as adding to the stock of knowledge, providing the contemporary reader with information that he or she may not have known: Mildmay's charity work, for example, 'merits to be told' and 'Deserves by fame to be engraven in Gold' (Bir). The title 'The Trumpet of Fame', which Robarts may have borrowed from Breton, would seem to claim for his writing the ability to heighten the fame of his subjects.
Robarts, as a former seaman and, as Wright terms it, 'laureate of sailors', (32) is both writer and traveller, though, unlike Drake, he does not seem to have written up his own experiences. Neither did he take part in the voyages he celebrates, nor is there anything in his texts of Breton's preoccupation with the implications of this lack of experience for the nature and status of the written record. (33) Robarts' material is culled from the same store of national wisdom to which it contributes, rather than being based on any privileged knowledge. What is lost in the uniqueness or individuality of Robarts' reports is gained in their representativeness, and this ought, if one takes Robarts at his word, to make the opinions recorded in his text of interest to posterity as a fairly reliable guide to contemporary responses to, and opinions on, Drake. In The Trumpet of Fame he ends his roll-call of ships involved in past glorious actions with the lines, 'What other ships of forraine soyle there go, /I do omit, because I do not know' (9), an almost comically blunt instance of Robarts' lack of self-consciousness in acknowledging his own limitations. This gives his texts a provisional feel, for whilst Robarts does not know the particulars of Drake's voyages there are those who do (including, of course, Drake himself) and who might therefore supply gaps in his narrative. (Such comments may also serve as a covert request for inclusion in a future mission, that his experiences might inform his 'roming quill' (The Trumpet of Fame 4). Given that this phrase hints at a possibly subversive lack of verisimilitude or veracity, Robarts may be holding out employment on a subsequent journey as a way of obviating the need for literary invention.) Robarts is, he says, merely helping to plug a gap between the extent of Drake's fame and the relative paucity of written accounts of his voyages. And yet, this is no humble position, for Robarts' texts not only present certain actions as worthy of public remembrance (and theorise that presentation) but are also imagined to have real efficacy by inspiring the reader to imitate the worthy: indeed, they set out an imitative pattern imagined as shaping England's national identity. Remembering Drake is not only a service to Drake, it is also a means of winning further honour, prestige, and power for England and the English, as well as a means for Robarts to achieve a modest and short-lived literary fame through his association with Drake. Robarts aims not only to inspire readers to duplicate the acts of heroism he records, partly by polarising slothful stay-at-homes and valiant adventurers abroad, (34) but also to encourage further acts of writing-as-remembering, which will in turn act as guides to future conduct. This and other aspects of Robarts' writing show that, though he is a marginal and neglected figure, his work offers perspectives on the ways in which long-distance travel was imagined and written, and on how such acts of commemoration bear on incipient forms of nationalism.
University of West of England
Address for Correspondence
Dr Melanie Ord, Department of Arts, St. Matthias Campus, University of the West of England, Bristol BS16 2JP
(1) For a succinct precis of the debate over when to date the concept of nation, see Philip Schwyzer, Literature, Nationalism and Memory in Early Modern England and Wales. Cambridge, 2004, 8-9.
(2) See, for example, Mary Baine Campbell, The Witness and the Other World: Exotic European Travel Writing, 400-1600 (Ithaca, NY, 1988); Mary C. Fuller, Voyages in Print: English Travel to America, 1576-1624 (Cambridge, 1995); Stephen Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World (Oxford, 1992); Andrew Hadfield, Literature, Travel and Colonial Writing in the English Renaissance, 1545-1625 (Oxford, 1998); and Jeffrey Knapp, An Empire Nowhere: England, America, and Literature from "Utopia" to "The Tempest" (Berkeley and Oxford, 1992). Other studies have focussed on the relationship between travel experience and travel writing in the context of wider cultural perceptions and understandings of travel and its purposes; see, for example, Melanie Ord, Travel and Experience in Early Modern English Literature (New York and London, 2008).
(3) See in particular Andrew Hadfield, Literature, Politics and National Identity: Reformation to Renaissance (Cambridge, 1994); Schwyzer, Literature, Nationalism and Memory; and Willy Maley, Nation, State and Empire in English Renaissance Literature: Shakespeare to Milton (Basingstoke and New York, 2003). All subsequent quotations from this latter text are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in brackets.
(4) Henry Robarts, A Most Friendly Farewell given by a Welwiller to the Right Worshipful Sir Frauncis Drake Knight, Generall of her Majesties Navy, which he Appointed for this his Honorable Voyage, and the rest of the Fleete bound to the Southward, and to all the Gentlemen his Followers, and Captaines in this Exploite, who Set Sale from Wolwich the xv. day of July, 1585. Wherin is Briefely Touched his Perils Passed in his Last Daungerous Voyage, with an Incouragement to all his Saylers and Souldiers, to be Forward in this Honourable Exploite (London, 1585), STC 21084. All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in brackets. Henry Robarts, The Trumpet of Fame: or Sir Fraunces Drakes and Sir John Hawkins F[are]well with an Encouragement to all Saile[rs] and Souldiers that are Minded to go in this Worthie Enterprise. With the Names of Many Ships, and What They H[ave] Done Against our Foes (London, 1595), STC 21088. All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in brackets.
Both texts are available on the online database Early English Books Online (EEBO). According to the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), A Most Friendly Farewell survives in only two copies, one at Lincoln Cathedral Library and one at the Huntington Library in California. There is only one copy of The Trumpet of Fame, at the Huntington Library; this lacks a preface and dedication. The ESTC records give the format of A Most Friendly Farewell and The Trumpet of Fame as quarto and octavo respectively. A Most Friendly Farewell was republished in 1924 by Harvard University Press, with an introduction by E.M. Blackie. The Trumpet of Fame was subsequently edited by Thomas Park and published in 1818 by the Lee Priory Press in Kent; this edition supplies words missing from the original.
(5) Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation made by Sea or Over-Land, to the Remote and Farthest Distant Quarters of the Earth, at any time within the Compasse of these 1600. Yeres: Devided into Three Severall Volumes, According to the Positions of the Regions, Whereunto they were Directed. The First Volume Containeth the Worthy Discoveries, &c. of the English ... The second volume Comprehendeth the Principall Navigations... to the South and South-East Parts of the World. (London, 1599), STC 12626a. 'The Voyage and Ambassage of Master Henry Roberts to Mully Hamet Emperour of Marocco, Anno 1585, item 16 of 'A briefe Catalogue of the principall English Voyages made without the Straight of Gibraltar to the South and Southeast quarters of the world, contayned in the second part of this second volume, p. 117'. All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in brackets.
Robarts refers in his dedicatory letter to John Jolles in Englands Farewell to Christian the fourth to 'those imployments I had for the Irish affayres' (Englands Farewell to Christian the Fourth, Famous King of Denmarke: With a Relation of Such Shewes & Severall Pastimes Presented to his Majestie, as well at Court the Fifi[h] Day of August last past, as in other places since his Honorable Passage Thorow the Citie of London. The most Honorable Entertainement of his Highnesse, Aboord his Majesties Ships in the roade of Gyllingame, neere the Citie of Rochester in Kent. With the Kings Entertainement Aboord the Denmarke ships, at Gravesend: as also their Honorable Leave-taking and Farewell, Setting Sayle from Gravesend on Munday night, the Eleventh of August 1606 (London, 1606), STC 21079. A3r. In Lancaster his Allarums, he is particularly keen to 'bend my devotion, unto such skilfull adventures at sea, for that my profession is such' (Lancaster his Allarums, Honorable Assaultes, and Supprising of the Block-houses and Store-houses belonging to Fernand Bucke in Brasill. With his Brave Attempt in Landing in the Mouth of the Ordinaunce there, which were Cannons Culvering [...], with other Sundry his Most Resolute and Brave Attempts in that country. From Whence he Laded of their Spoyles and Rich Commodities he there Found Fifieene Good Ships, which was Sinemon, Sugar, Pepper, Cloves, Mace, Calloco-cloth andBrassel-wood with other Commodities. With the Names of Such Men of Worth Having Charge within this Most Honorable Attempt Lost their Lives. Publishedfor theirEternallHonor by a Welwiller (London, 1595), STC 21083. [A3r]). All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in brackets. See the DNB entry on Robarts for other biographical information to be gleaned from his works.
(6) Louis B. Wright, 'Henry Robarts: Patriotic Propagandist and Novelist', Studies in Philology, 29 (1932), 176-199.
(7) See Steve Mentz, Romance for Sale in Early Modern England: The Rise of Prose Fiction (Aldershot, 2006), p. 34; Kevin Rask, The Emergence of the English Author: Scripting the Life of the Poet in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 1996), p. 74; and Louise Schleiner, 'Ladies and Gentlemen in Two Genres of Elizabethan Fiction.' Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, 29:1 (1989), 1-20. See also John Simons, 'Open and Closed Books: a Semiotic Approach to the History of Elizabethan and Jacobean Popular Romance' in Clive Bloom and Mary Shakeshaft (eds), Jacobean Poetry and Prose: Rhetoric, Representation and the Popular Imagination (Basingstoke, 1988).
(8) For the role played by memory more generally in national self-identification, see, in particular, Schwyzer, Literature, Nationalism, and Memory; Garrett A. Sullivan, Memory and Forgetting in English Renaissance Drama: Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster (Cambridge, 2005); and Andrew Hiscock, Reading Memory in Early Modern Literature (Cambridge, 2011).
(9) Richard Hakluyt, The Principall Navigations, Voyages and Discoveries of the English Nation, made by Sea or over Land, to the most Remote and Farthest Distant Quarters of the Earth at any time within the Compasse of these 1500. Yeeres: Devided into three Severall Parts, According to the Positions of the Regions wherunto they were directed. [...] Whereunto is Added the Last Most Renowmed English Navigation, round about the Whole Globe of the Earth (London, 1589), STC 12625. See David B. Quinn, 'Early Accounts of the Famous Voyage, in Norman J.W. Thrower (ed.), Sir Francis Drake and the Famous Voyage, 1577-1580: Essays Commemorating the Quadricentennial of Drake's Circumnavigation of the Earth (Berkeley, 1984), pp.35-6. And Mary C. Fuller, 'Writing the long-distance voyage: Hakluyt's circumnavigators', Huntington Library Quarterly, 70:1 (2007), 37-62.
(10) Robarts describes A Most Friendly Farewell as his 'rude labours' which nevertheless shows his 'zeale' for Drake and to 'all such as venture for the common weale' (A2r, Bir); Hakluyt describes his work as having a 'homely and rough-hewen shape' ([*4r]).
(11) Barnabe Riche, Allarme to England Foreshewing what Perilles are Procured, where the People Live Without Regarde of Martiall Lawe. With a Short Discourse Conteyning the Decay of Warlike Discipline, Convenient to be Perused by Gentlemen, such as are Desirous by Service, to Seeke their owne Deserued Prayse, and the Preservation of their Countrey. (London, 1578), STC 20979. 'To the Valiant Captaynes and Renowmed Souldiours of Englande' *iiiir.
(12) Sullivan notes that through its close links to imitation, memory 'manifests a relationship not only with the past but with the present and the future (indeed, [it] aims to prescribe a future)' (Memory and Forgetting in English Renaissance Drama, p. 21).
(13) Henry Robarts, Fames Trumpet Soundinge. Or Commemorations of the Famous Lives and Deaths, of the Two Right Honourable Knights of England: the Right Honourable Sir Walter Mildmay, and Sir Martin Calthrop, Lord Mayor of this Honorable Citty of London, who Deceased this Yeere 1589. Not Onely Necessary to bee Seene, but also to be Followed of Every Worthy Personage in their Callings (London,1589), STC 21080. Address 'To the Right Worshipfull, and Most Vertuous Minded Gentleman, Ma[ster] Anthony Mildmay' [A2r]. All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in brackets.
(14) Lancaster served against the Spanish Armada and became a director of the East India Company.
(15) William Shakespeare, King Henry V, ed. T. W. Craik (London, 1995), V.0.25-8.
(16) Henry Robarts, A True Relation of a Most Worthy and Notable Fight, Performed the Nineteenth Day of June Now Last Past, by Two Small Shippes of the Citie of London, the Vineyard of a Hundred and Twentie Tunnes, and the Unicorne of a Hundred and Fourtie Tunnes, Against Sixe Great Gallies of Tunes, having in them a Thousand and Eight Hundred Men, of the Ile of Way-yorcke in the Straights our Shippes Having in all, Mariners, Merchants, and Passengers Fifty Sixe men (London, 1616), STC 21087.7. A3v. All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in brackets.
(17) Sir Philip Sidney, An Apologie for Poetrie (London, 1595), STC 22534.
(18) See Hadfield, Literature, Politics and National Identity for a study of how Sidney forges a role for poetry in the formation of the nation.
(19) Robarts' texts feature a number of what Richard Helgerson calls 'merchant heroes' (Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England [Chicago, 1992], p. 170). See The Trumpet of Fame, A True Relation, and, in particular, Haigh for Devonshire. A Pleasant Discourse of Sixe Gallant March ants of Devonshire. Their Lives, Adventures and Travailes: with Sundrie their Rare Showes and Pastimes Shewed before the King in Exeter. Besides Many Pretie Mery Jeasts by them Performed: as well in Forraine Countries, as in their Owne. Very Delightfullfor the Reader (London, 1600), STC 21081. All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in brackets. Robarts' prose romance, Pheander, the Mayden Knight, offers an interesting commentary on the link between mercantile travel and honour by having a prince maintain the disguise of a merchant during his sojourn overseas. Of course, as Helgerson also notes, the impulse of romance, with its aristocratic ethos, is more commonly to oppose merchants and knights. Henry Robarts, Pheander, the Mayden Knight; Describing his Honourable Travailes and Hautie Attempts in Armes, with his Successe in Love. Enterlaced with Many Pleasant Discourses, wherein the Graver may take Delight, and the Valiant Youthfull, be Encouraged by Honourable and Worthie Adventuring, to GaineFame (London, 1595), STC21086.
(20) Henry Robarts, Honours Conquest Wherein is Conteined the Famous Hystorie of Edward of Lancaster Recounting his Honourable Travailes to Jerusalem, his Heroic Adventures and Honours, in Sundrie Countries Gained: his Resolutions, and Attempts in Armes. With the Famous Victories Performed by the Knight, of the Unconquered Castel, a Gallant English Knight, his Admirable Forces, and Sundrie Conquests Obtained, with his Passions and Sucesse in Love: Full of Pleasant Discourses, and Much Varietie (London, 1598), STC 21082.
(21) For other literary representations of the inspiring example set by Drake, see Sir Francis Drake [and Robert Vaughan and Francis Fletcher], The World Encompassed by Sir Francis Drake being his Next Voyage to that to Nombre de Dios Formerly Imprinted; Carefully Collected out of the Notes of Master Francis Fletcher Preacher in this Imployment, and Divers others his Followers in the Same: Offered Now at Last to Publique View, Both for the Honour of the Actor, but Especially for the Stirring Up of Hero[i]ck Spirits, to Benefit their Countrie, and Eternize their Names by Like Noble Attempts (London, 1628), STC 7161; and Philip Nichols, Sir Francis Drake Revived: Calling upon this Dull or Effeminate Age, to Folowe his Noble Steps for Golde & Silver, by this Memorable Relation, of the Rare Occurrances (Never Yet Declared to the World) in a Third Voyage, made by him into the West-Indies, in the Yeares 72 & 73 when Nombre de Dios was by him and 52 others only in his company, Surprised. Faithfully taken out of the Reporte of M. Christofer Ceely, Ellis Hixon, and others, who were in the Same Voyage with Him. By Philip Nicholas, Preacher. Reviewed also by Sr. Francis Drake Himselfe before his Death, & Much Holpen and Enlarged, by Divers Notes, with his Owne Hand here and there Inserted. Set forth by Sr Francis Drake Baronet (his nephew) now Living (London,1626), STC 18544. See Quinn, 'Early Accounts of the Famous Voyage', pp.36-8, for Drake's involvement in compiling The World Encompassed.
(22) This has a more local application when Robarts notes that Sir Humphrey Gilbert deserves some 'reme[m]brance whereby his children hereafter might reape the rewarde of their fathers fame, and by his good actions be encouraged to imitate his wayes' (A Most Friendly Farewell [A3v]). Modelling themselves on their father assures that their future actions will redound to Gilbert's honour, providing an alternative means for his fame to be perpetuated.
(23) See Alison V. Scott, Selfish Gifts: The Politics of Exchange and English Courtly Literature, 1580-1628 (Madison, Teaneck, 2006) for a study of instances in which 'the rhetoric of [...] friendship [might be] employed in order to instigate and maintain increasingly instrumental relationships' (p.20).
(24) England and Wales Army, Lawes and Orders of Warre; Establishedfor the Good Conduct of the Service of Ireland. Whereunto are added Instructions for the better Discipline of the Army (Dublin, 1638), STC 14132. Br.
(25) Thomas Churchyard, The Fortunate Farewel to the Most Forward and Noble Earle of Essex, one of the Honorable Privie Counsel, Earle High Marshal of England, Master of the Horse, Master of the Ordinance, Knight of the Garter, & Lord Lieutenant General of all the Queenes Majesties Forces in Ireland (London, 1599), STC 5234. Av.
(26) Thomas Churchyard, A Discourse of the Queenes Majesties Entertainement in Suffolk and Norffolk with a Description of Many Things then Presently Seene. Devised by Thomas Churchyarde, Gent. with Divers Shewes of his Own Invention Sette out at Norwich: and some Rehearsal of Hir Highnesse Retourne from Progresse. Whereunto is Adjoyneda Commendation of SirHumfrey Gilberts Ventrous Journey (London, 1578), STC 5226. All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in brackets.
(27) For a succinct account of the relationship between these two words see Elizabeth Heale, 'Travailing Abroad: the Poet as Adventurer' in Mike Pincombe (ed.), Travels and Translations in the Sixteenth Century: Selected Papers from the Second International Conference of the Tudor Symposium. Studies in European Cultural Transition, 20, (Aldershot, 2004), p. 3.
(28) Drake ends his dedicatory letter to Queen Elizabeth in Sir Francis Drake Revived with a comparable equation between travelling and writing, recalling his 'labour [...] not onely in Travell by Sea and Land, but also in writing the Report thereof, a worke to him [ie. me] no lesse troublesome' (pp. 249-50), a comment that suggests that the effort of writing matches that of travelling.
(29) Henry Robarts, The Most Royall and Honourable Entertainement, of the Famous and Renowmed King, Christiern [sic] the Fourth, King of Denmarke, &c. who with a Fleete of Gallant Ships, Arrived on Thursday the 16Day of July 1606in Tylbery-Hope, Neere Gravesend with a Relation of his Meeting, by our Royall King, the Prince and Nobles of our Realme: the Pleasures Sundry Times Shewed, for his Gracious Welcome, and Most Famous and Admirable Entertainment at Theobalds. With the Royall Passage on Thursday the 31 of July, thorough the Citty of London, and Honorable Shewes there Presented them, andManer of their Passing (London, 1606), STC 21085. [B4v].
(30) Fuller, 'Writing the Long-Distance Voyage', 5.
(31) Nicholas Breton, A Discourse in Commendation of the Valiant as Vertuous Minded Gentleman, Master Frauncis Drake, with a Rejoysing of his Happy Adventures (London, 1581). All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in brackets.
(32) Wright, 'Henry Robarts: Patriotic Propagandist and Novelist', 182.
(33) Breton takes as his topic the challenge of writing a commendatory text from the point of view of one who has merely heard of, and maybe also read about, overseas missions, rather than being able to communicate to the reader any fresh observations derived at first hand, and his text gives a sense of literature straining to make up for this experiential lack. In these respects it serves as an instructive contrast to Robarts' pamphlets on Drake.
(34) These stay-at-homes are the kind of men who, as Sullivan points out, are likely to ignore the calls to remember Drake; 'the forgetful body' is 'an idle and unregulated one [...] defined in contrast to the body that remembers, which is constituted by discipline and regimented labor' (Memory and Forgetting in English Renaissance Drama, p. 22).
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|Date:||Sep 22, 2014|
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