A complete bibliography concerned with the first century of Anglo-American affairs (1496-1596) would more than fill the present volume. But really infor-matory books about the sea-dogs proper are very few indeed, while good books of any kind are none too common.
Taking this first century as a whole, the general reader cannot do better than look up the third volume of Justin Winsor's Narrative and Critical History of America (1884) and the first volume of Avery's History of the United States and its People (1904). Both give elaborate references to documents and books, but neither professes to be at all expert in naval or nautical matters, and a good deal has been written since.
Cabot literature is full of conjecture and controversy. G. P. Winship's Cabot Bibliography (1900) is a good guide to all but recent works. Nicholls' Remarkable Life of Sebastian Cabot (1869) shows more zeal than discretion. Harrisse's John Cabot and his son Sebastian (1896) arranges the documents in scholarly order but draws conclusions betraying a wonderful ignorance of the coast. On the whole, Dr. S. E. Dawson's very careful monographs in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada (1894, 1896, 1897) axe the happiest blend of scholarship and local knowledge.
Neither the Cabots nor their crews appear to have written a word about their adventures and discoveries. Consequently the shifting threads of hearsay evidence soon became inextricably tangled. Biggar's Precursors of Cartier is an able and accurate work.
Turning to the patriot queen who had to steer England through so many storms and tortuous channels, we could find no better short guide to her political career than Beesley's volume about her in 'Twelve English Statesmen.' But the best all-round biography is Queen Elizabeth by Mandell Creighton, who also wrote an excellent epitome, called The Age of Elizabeth, for the 'Epochs of Modern History.' Shakespeare's England, published in 1916 by the Oxford University Press, is quite encyclopaedic in its range.
The general evolution of wooden sailing craft may be traced out in Part I of Sir George Holmes's convenient little treatise on Ancient and Modern Ships. There is no nautical dictionary devoted to Elizabethan times. But a good deal can be picked up from the two handy modern glossaries of Dana and Admiral Smyth, the first being an American author, the second a British one. Smyth's Sailor's Word Book has no alternative title. But Dana's Seaman's Friend is known in England under the name of The Seaman's Manual. Technicalities change so much more slowly afloat than ashore that even the ultra-modern editions of Paasch's magnificent polyglot dictionary, From Keel to Truck, still contain many nautical terms which will help the reader out of some of his difficulties.
The life of the sea-dogs, gentlemen-adventurers, and merchant-adventurers should be studied in Hakluyt's collection of Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques, and Discoveries; though many of his original authors were landsmen while a few were civilians as well. This Elizabethan Odyssey, the great prose epic of the English race, was first published in a single solemn folio the year after the Armada —1589. In the nineteenth century the Hakluyt Society reprinted and edited these Navigations and many similar works, though not without employing some editors who had no knowledge of the Navy or the sea. In 1893 E. J. Payne brought out a much handier edition of the Voyages of the Elizabethan Seamen to America which gives the very parts of Hakluyt we want for our present purpose, and gives them with a running accompaniment of pithy introductions and apposite footnotes. Nearly all historians are both landsmen and civilians whose sins of omission and commission are generally at their worst in naval and nautical affairs. But James Anthony Froude, whatever his other faults may be, did know something of life afloat, and his English Seamen in the Sixteenth Century, despite its ultra-Protestant tone, is well worth reading.
The Hawkins Voyages, published by the Hakluyt Society, give the best collection of original accounts. They deal with three generations of this famous family and are prefaced by a good introduction. A Sea-Dog of Devon, by R. A. J. Walling (1907) is the best recent biography of Sir John Hawkins.
Politics, policy, trade, and colonization were all dependent on sea power; and just as the English Navy was by far the most important factor in solving the momentous New-World problems of that awakening age, so Drake was by far the most important factor in the English Navy. The Worlde Encompassed by Sir Francis Drake and Sir Francis Drake his Voyage, 1595, are two of the volumes edited by the Hakluyt Society. But these contemporary accounts of his famous fights and voyages do not bring out the supreme significance of his influence as an admiral, more especially in connection with the Spanish Armada. It must always be a matter of keen, though unavailing, regret that Admiral Mahan, the great American expositor of sea power, began with the seventeenth, not the sixteenth, century. But what Mahan left undone was afterwards done to admiration by Julian Corbett, Lecturer in History to the (British) Naval War College, whose Drake and the Tudor Navy (1912) is absolutely indispensable to any one who wishes to understand how England won her footing in America despite all that Spain could do to stop her. Corbett's Drake (1890) in the 'English Men of Action' series is an excellent epitome. But the larger book is very much the better. Many illuminative documents on The Defeat of the Spanish Armada were edited in 1894 by Corbett's predecessor, Sir John Laughton. The only other work that need be consulted is the first volume of The Royal Navy: a History, edited by Sir William Laird Clowes (1897). This is not so good an authority as Corbett; but it contains many details which help to round the story out, besides a wealth of illustration.
Gilbert, Cavendish, Raleigh, and the other gentlemen-adventurers, were soldiers, not sailors; and if they had gone afloat two centuries later they would have fought at the head of marines, not of bluejackets; so their lives belong to a different kind of biography from that concerned with Hawkins, Frobisher, and Drake. Edwards's Life of Sir Walter Raleigh (1868) contains all the most interesting letters and is a competent work of its own kind. Oldys' edition of Raleigh's Works still holds the field though its eight volumes were published so long ago as 1829. Raleigh's Discovery of Guiana is the favorite for reprinting. The Hakluyt Society has produced an elaborate edition (1847) while a very cheap and handy one has been published in Cassell's National Library. W. G. Gosling's Life of Sir Humphry Gilbert (1911) is the best recent work of its kind.
The likeliest of all the Hakluyt Society's volumes, so far as its title is concerned, is one which has hardly any direct bearing on the subject of our book. Yet the reader who is disappointed by the text of Divers Voyages to America because it is not devoted to Elizabethan sea-dogs will be richly rewarded by the notes on pages 116-141. These quaint bits of information and advice were intended for quite another purpose. But their transcriber's faith in their wider applicability is fully justified. Here is the exact original heading under which they first appeared: Notes in Writing besides More Privie by Mouth that were given by a Gentleman, Anno 1580, to M. Arthure Pette and to M. Charles Jackman, sent by the Marchants of the Muscovie Com-panie for the discouerie of the northeast strayte, not all-together vnfit for some other enterprises of discouerie, hereafter to bee taken in hande.
See also in The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Ed., the articles on Henry VIII, Elizabeth, Drake, Raleigh, etc.