The Voyage of Sir Francis Drake Around the Whole Globe by Richard Hakluyt
Scholar, spy, diplomat and supreme propagandist for Elizabethan sea power, Richard Hakluyt's accounts of famed explorers mythologised a nation growing rapidly aware of the size and strangeness of the world - and determined to dominate it.
Simply, purely awful.
Hakluyt writes of voyages around the world in a factual, disconnected tone. Many of these visits to foreign lands spell trouble for the locals, who find themselves robbed and killed, mainly as a display of superiority than anything else. Neighbouring sailors meet the same fate. Hakluyt’s tone here never falters; dispassionate, dead, laying out the facts of the terrors as though they’re the same as tying a knot in a rope. No wonder the English were so hated back then, running around taking lives for a laugh and a couple of bags of leather.
There are no thoughts or feelings here, it reads similarly to the diary of my ten year old self – “Went to the shop. Got a lollipop. Came home and we watched Frasier.” It’s so bloody dry. My imagination was the only thing keeping me together – to think how huge and unknown the world was back then, to have none of the knowledge we have now of other cultures, lands, people. It must have been exciting, frightening, wonderful. None of that was given to us here.
I realise the words are a product of their time, but in some instances, words just aren’t worth the bother.