Reign of Elizabeth - from A.D. 1558 to A.D. 1603.
Among other expeditions was one intended for the South Seas, under the command of the Earl of Cumberland, who, at his own charge, fitted out three ships and a pinnace—namely, the Red Dragon, of 160 tons and 130 men; the Clifford, of 30 tons and 70 men; and the Rose and theDorothy. Having touched on the African coast, they crossed over to South America, where they took two Portuguese ships, one of which had forty-five negroes on board, while the only riches in the other, besides slaves and friars, were beads and other spiritual trinkets, and the furniture designed for a new monastery. Several other prizes were made, when, without attempting to reach the Pacific, they returned to England. While numerous English vessels were cruising on the coasts of Old Spain, and destroying its trade and navigation, Thomas Cavendish was despatched with a small squadron to do the like on the coast of New Spain. He carried out his instructions, crossing the South Seas to the Philippines, and afterwards visiting China, having taken on his way many of the ships of the enemy.
To Sir John Hawkins the navy is indebted for the institution of that noble fund the Chest at Chatham, to which, also, Sir Francis Drake contributed considerably. Elizabeth, determined to retaliate on the Spaniards, fitted out a fleet in the following spring of 146 sail, which destroyed Corunna and Vigo, as well as the Castle of Cascacs at the mouth of the Tagus, and captured sixty large ships. In 1590 the queen allotted 8790 pounds a-year for the repairs of the Royal Navy; a sum which would go but a short way at the present day in building a single ship.
About this time the telescope was invented by Janssen, a spectacle-maker of Middleburgh, in Zealand. Hearing of it, Galileo immediately constructed his first very imperfect instrument, which magnified only three times. Further experiments enabled him to construct another with a power of eight, and ultimately, sparing neither labour nor expense, he formed one which bore a magnifying power of more than thirty times. With this instrument, he commenced that survey of the heavenly bodies which rendered his name famous as the first of astronomers. In the reign of Charles the Second, in 1671, Sir Isaac Newton constructed his first reflecting telescope, a small ill-made instrument, nine inches only in length—valuable as it was, a pigmy in power compared to Lord Rosse’s six-feet reflector of sixty feet in length. Torricelli, the pupil of Galileo, invented the barometer.
In 1591 the first voyage to the East Indies was undertaken by Captain Lancaster, in three ships. One was sent back with invalids, another was lost with all on board, and the crew of the captain’s ship mutinied while he was on shore on an uninhabited island, and ran off with her, leaving him and his companions for three years, till they were rescued.