A flye which in the night semeth a flame of fyer


It can’t have been easy to observe wildlife from an Elizabethan sailing vessel. The wooden ships of the day were so cramped and frightening that the crew got huge beer rations to keep them drunk enough to endure it. But one man has given us an idea of what it must have been like.

Very little is known about the life of John White, whose unique art is about to go on show in a perspective-shifting exhibition at the British Museum, but one thing is clear – he must have been brave. Born in the 1540s, he eventually crossed the Atlantic, tried to live as a colonist on the edge of an unknown continent, even became governor of a doomed outpost. Whatever we think of the greed, racism, and violence of the beginning of the British Empire in the 16th century, it would be facile to deny the daring of those swashbuckling privateers who served Good Queen Bess by harrying the gold-laden galleons of Spain and persuaded the Queen, in the early 1580s, to rival the Spanish empire in South America by establishing a British colony in the New World.

more from The Guardian here.