A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 07 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 785 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 07.

We now begin to draw towards India, the following being the first voyage we know of, that was performed to that country by any Englishman.  Though Stevens was only a passenger in the ship of another nation, yet the account he gave of the navigation was doubtless one of the motives that induced his countrymen to visit India a few years afterwards in their own bottoms.  Indeed the chief and more immediate causes seem to have been the rich caraks, taken in the cruizing voyages against the Spaniards and Portuguese about this time, which both gave the English some insight into the India trade, and inflamed their desire of participating in so rich a commerce.

[Footnote 396:  Hakluyt, II, 581.  Astley, I. 191.]

The account of this voyage is contained in the following letter from Thomas Stevens, to his father Thomas Stevens in London:  In this letter, preserved by Hakluyt, several very good remarks will be found respecting the navigation to India, as practised in those days; yet no mention is made in the letter, as to the profession of Stevens, or on what occasion he went to India.  By the letters of Newberry and Fitch[397], which will be found in their proper place, written from Goa in 1584, it appears that he was a priest or Jesuit, belonging to the college of St Paul at that place; whence it may be concluded that the design of his voyage was to propagate the Romish religion in India.  In a marginal note to one of these letters, Hakluyt intimates that Padre Thomas Stevens was born in Wiltshire, and was sometime of New College Oxford.  He was very serviceable to Newberry and Fitch, who acknowledge that they owed the recovery of their liberty and goods, if not their lives, to him and another Padre.  This is also mentioned by Pyrard de la Val, who was prisoner at Goa in 1608, at which time Stevens was rector of Morgan College in the island of Salcet[398].”—­Astley.

[Footnote 397:  In Hakluyts Collection, new edition, II. 376. et seq.]

[Footnote 398:  Purchas his Pilgrims, II. 1670.]

* * * * *

After most humble commendations to you and my mother, and craving your daily blessing, these are to certify you of my being alive, according to your will and my duty.  I wrote you that I had taken my journey from Italy to Portugal, which letter I think came to your hands, in which hope I have the less need to tell you the cause of my departing, which in one word I may express, by naming obedience.  I came to Lisbon towards the end of March, eight days before the departure of the ships, so late that, if they had not been detained about some important affairs, they had been gone before our arrival; insomuch that others were appointed to go in our stead, that the kings intention and ours might not be frustrated.  But on our sudden arrival, these others did not go, and we went as originally intended.

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