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The Worthy Enterprise Of John Fox


Richard Hakluyt was born at Eyton in Herefordshire in 1553, and was
educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he
graduated B.A. in 1574, and M.A. in 1577, and lectured publicly upon
geography, showing "both the old imperfectly composed, and the new
lately reformed maps, globes, spheres, and other instruments of this

In 1582 Hakluyt published his "Divers Voyages touching the Discovery of
America and the Lands adjacent unto the same, made first of all by our
Englishmen, and afterwards by the Frenchmen and Bretons; and certain
Notes of Advertisements for Observations, necessary for such as shall
hereafter make the like attempt." In 1583, having taken orders, he went
to Paris as chaplain to the English ambassador, Sir Edward Stafford,
returning to England for a short time in 1584, when he laid before the
queen a paper entitled "A particular Discourse concerning Western
Discoveries, written in the year 1584 by Richard Hakluyt, of Oxford, at
the request and direction of the right worshipful Mr. Walter Raleigh,
before the coming home of his two barks."

In 1587 he translated and published in London "A Notable History
containing Four Voyages made by certain French Captains into Florida."
In 1589 he published "The Principal Navigations, Voyages and
Discoveries of the English Nation"--a work developed into three volumes
folio, published in the years 1598, 1599, and 1600 as "The Principal
Navigations, Voyages, Traffics, and Discoveries of the English Nation."
Hakluyt became Archdeacon of Westminster in 1603, and died in 1616. He
was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Four stories from Hakluyt's voyages appear in this book. "The
Troublesome Voyage of the Jesus," which is included with "The Story of
Sir John Hawkins," p. 43; "The Voyage made to Tripolis in Barbary," p.
79; "A True Report of a Worthy Fight," p. 91; and "The Worthy Enterprise
of John Fox" which here follows.

"Among our merchants here in England, it is a common voyage to traffic
to Spain; whereunto a ship called the Three Half Moons, manned with
eight and thirty men, well fenced with munitions, the better to
encounter their enemies withal, and having wind and tide, set from
Portsmouth 1563, and bended her journey towards Seville, a city in
Spain, intending there to traffic with them. And falling near the
Straits, they perceived themselves to be beset round about with eight
galleys of the Turks, in such wise that there was no way for them to fly
or escape away, but that either they must yield or else be sunk, which
the owner perceiving, manfully encouraged his company, exhorting them
valiantly to show their manhood, showing them that God was their God,
and not their enemies', requesting them also not to faint in seeing such
a heap of their enemies ready to devour them; putting them in mind also,
that if it were God's pleasure to give them into their enemies' hands,
it was not they that ought to show one displeasant look or countenance
there against; but to take it patiently, and not to prescribe a day and
time for their deliverance, as the citizens of Bethulia did, but to put
themselves under His mercy. And again, if it were His mind and good will
to show His mighty power by them, if their enemies were ten times so
many, they were not able to stand in their hands; putting them,
likewise, in mind of the old and ancient worthiness of their countrymen,
who in the hardest extremities have always most prevailed, and gone
away conquerors; yea, and where it hath been almost impossible. 'Such,'
quoth he, 'hath been the valiantness of our countrymen, and such hath
been the mighty power of our God.'

"With such other like encouragements, exhorting them to behave
themselves manfully, they fell all on their knees, making their prayers
briefly unto God; who, being all risen up again, perceived their
enemies, by their signs and defiances, bent to the spoil, whose mercy
was nothing else but cruelty; whereupon every man took him to his

"Then stood up one Grove, the master, being a comely man, with his sword
and target, holding them up in defiance against his enemies. So likewise
stood up the owner, the master's mate, boatswain, purser, and every man
well appointed. Now likewise sounded up the drums, trumpets and flutes,
which would have encouraged any man, had he never so little heart or
courage in him.

"Then taketh him to his charge John Fox, the gunner, in the disposing of
his pieces, in order to the best effect, and, sending his bullets
towards the Turks, who likewise bestowed their pieces thrice as fast
towards the Christians. But shortly they drew near, so that the bowman
fell to their charge in sending forth their arrows so thick amongst the
galleys, and also in doubling their shot so sore upon the galleys, that
there were twice as many of the Turks slain as the number of the
Christians were in all. But the Turks discharged twice as fast against
the Christians, and so long, that the ship was very sore stricken and
bruised under water; which the Turks, perceiving, made the more haste to
come aboard the ship: which, ere they could do, many a Turk bought it
dearly with the loss of their lives. Yet was all in vain, boarded they
were, where they found so hot a skirmish, that it had been better they
had not meddled with the feast; for the Englishmen showed themselves men
indeed in working manfully with their brown bills and halberds, where
the owner, master, boatswain and their company stood to it so lustily,
that the Turks were half dismayed. But chiefly the boatswain showed
himself valiant above the rest, for he fared amongst the Turks like a
wood lion; for there was none of them that either could or durst stand
in his face, till at last there came a shot from the Turks which brake
his whistle asunder, and smote him on the breast, so that he fell down,
bidding them farewell, and to be of good comfort, encouraging them,
likewise, to win praise by death, rather than to live captives in misery
and shame, which they, hearing, indeed, intended to have done, as it
appeared by their skirmish; but the press and store of the Turks were so
great, that they were not long able to endure, but were so overpressed
that they could not wield their weapons, by reason whereof they must
needs be taken, which none of them intended to have been, but rather to
have died, except only the master's mate, who shrunk from the skirmish,
like a notable coward, esteeming neither the value of his name, nor
accounting of the present example of his fellows, nor having respect to
the miseries whereunto he should be put. But in fine, so it was, that
the Turks were victors, whereof they had no great cause to rejoice or
triumph. Then would it have grieved any hard heart to see these infidels
so violently entreating the Christians, not having any respect of their
manhood, which they had tasted of, nor yet respecting their own state,
how they might have met with such a booty as might have given them the
overthrow; but no remorse hereof, or anything else doth bridle their
fierce and tyrannous dealing, but the Christians must needs to the
galleys, to serve in new officer; and they were no sooner in them, but
their garments were pulled over their ears and torn from their backs,
and they set to the oars.

"I will make no mention of their miseries, being now under their
enemies' raging stripes. I think there is no man will judge their fare
good, or their bodies unloaden of stripes, and not pestered with too
much heat, and also with too much cold; but I will go to my purpose,
which is to show the end of those being in mere misery, which
continually do call on God with a steadfast hope that He will deliver
them, and with a sure faith that He can do it.

"Nigh to the city of Alexandria, being a haven town, and under the
dominion of the Turks, there is a road, being made very fencible with
strong walls, whereinto the Turks do customably bring their galleys on
shore every year, in the winter season, and there do trim them, and lay
them up against the spring-time; in which road there is a prison,
wherein the captives and such prisoners as serve in the galleys are put
for all that time, until the seas be calm and passable for the galleys;
every prisoner being most grievously laden with irons on their legs, to
their great pain and sore disabling of them to any labour; into which
prison were these Christians put and fast warded all the winter season.
But ere it was long, the master and the owner, by means of friends, were
redeemed, the rest abiding still in the misery, while that they were
all, through reason of their ill-usage and worse fare, miserably
starved, saving one John Fox, who (as some men can abide harder and more
misery than other some can, so can some likewise make more shift, and
work more duties to help their state and living, than other some can do)
being somewhat skilful in the craft of a barber, by reason thereof made
great shift in helping his fare now and then with a good meal. Insomuch,
till at the last God sent him favour in the sight of the keeper of the
prison, so that he had leave to go in and out to the road at his
pleasure, paying a certain stipend unto the keeper, and wearing a lock
about his leg, which liberty likewise five more had upon like
sufferance, who, by reason of their long imprisonment, not being feared
or suspected to start aside, or that they would work the Turks any
mischief, had liberty to go in and out at the said road, in such manner
as this John Fox did, with irons on their legs, and to return again at

"In the year of our Lord 1577, in the winter season, the galleys happily
coming to their accustomed harbourage, and being discharged of all their
masts, sails, and other such furnitures as unto galleys do appertain,
and all the masters and mariners of them being then nested in their own
homes, there remained in the prison of the said road two hundred three
score and eight Christian prisoners who had been taken by the Turks'
force, and were of fifteen sundry nations. Among which there were three
Englishmen, whereof one was named John Fox, of Woodbridge, in Suffolk,
the other William Wickney, of Portsmouth, in the county of Southampton,
and the third Robert Moore, of Harwich, in the county of Essex; which
John Fox, having been thirteen or fourteen years under their gentle
entreatance, and being too weary thereof, minding his escape, weighed
with himself by what means it might be brought to pass, and continually
pondering with himself thereof, took a good heart unto him, in the hope
that God would not be always scourging His children, and never ceasing
to pray Him to further His intended enterprise, if that it should
redound to His glory.

"Not far from the road, and somewhat from thence, at one side of the
city, there was a certain victualling house, which one Peter Vuticaro
had hired, paying also a certain fee unto the keeper of the road. This
Peter Vuticaro was a Spaniard born, and a Christian, and had been
prisoner above thirty years, and never practised any means to escape,
but kept himself quiet without touch or suspect of any conspiracy, until
that now this John Fox using much thither, they brake one to another
their minds, concerning the restraint of their liberty and imprisonment.
So that this John Fox, at length opening unto this Vuticaro the device
which he would fain put in practice, made privy one more to this their
intent; which three debated of this matter at such times as they could
compass to meet together; insomuch that, at seven weeks' end they had
sufficiently concluded how the matter should be, if it pleased God to
further them thereto; who, making five more privy to this their device,
whom they thought that they might safely trust, determined in three
nights after to accomplish their deliberate purpose. Whereupon the same
John Fox and Peter Vuticaro, and the other five appointed to meet all
together in the prison the next day, being the last day of December,
where this John Fox certified the rest of the prisoners what their
intent and device was, and how and when they minded to bring that
purpose to pass, who thereunto persuaded them without much ado to
further their device; which, the same John Fox seeing, delivered unto
them a sort of files, which he had gathered together for this purpose by
the means of Peter Vuticaro, charging them that every man should be
ready, discharged of his irons, by eight of the clock on the next day at

"On the next day at night, the said John Fox, and his five other
companions, being all come to the house of Peter Vuticaro, passing the
time away in mirth for fear of suspect till the night came on, so that
it was time for them to put in practice their device, sent Peter
Vuticaro to the master of the road, in the name of one of the masters of
the city, with whom this keeper was acquainted, and at whose request he
also would come at the first; who desired him to take the pains to meet
him there, promising him that he would bring him back again. The keeper
agreed to go with him, asking the warders not to bar the gate, saying
that he would not stay long, but would come again with all speed.

"In the mean-season, the other seven had provided them of such weapons
as they could get in that house, and John Fox took him to an old rusty
sword-blade without either hilt or pommel, which he made to serve his
turn in bending the hand end of the sword instead of a pommel; and the
other had got such spits and glaves as they found in the house.

"The keeper being now come unto the house, and perceiving no light nor
hearing any noise, straightway suspected the matter; and returning
backward, John Fox, standing behind the corner of the house, stepped
forth unto him; who, perceiving it to be John Fox, said, 'O Fox, what
have I deserved of thee that thou shouldest seek my death?' 'Thou,
villain,' quoth Fox, 'hast been a bloodsucker of many a Christian's
blood, and now thou shalt know what thou hast deserved at my hands,'
wherewith he lift up his bright shining sword of ten years' rust, and
stroke him so main a blow, as therewithal his head clave asunder so that
he fell stark dead to the ground. Whereupon Peter Vuticaro went in and
certified the rest how the case stood with the keeper, and they came
presently forth, and some with their spits ran him through, and the
other with their glaves hewed him in sunder, cut off his head, and
mangled him so that no man should discern what he was.

"Then marched they toward the road, whereinto they entered softly, where
were five warders, whom one of them asked, saying, who was there? Quoth
Fox and his company, 'All friends.' Which when they were all within
proved contrary; for, quoth Fox, 'My masters, here is not to every man a
man, wherefore look you, play your parts.' Who so behaved themselves
indeed, that they had despatched these five quickly. Then John Fox,
intending not to be barren of his enterprise, and minding to work surely
in that which he went about, barred the gate surely, and planted a
cannon against it.

"Then entered they into the gaoler's lodge, where they found the keys of
the fortress and prison by his bedside, and there got they all better
weapons. In this chamber was a chest wherein was a rich treasure, and
all in ducats, which this Peter Vuticaro and two more opening, stuffed
themselves so full as they could between their shirts and their skin;
which John Fox would not once touch, and said, 'that it was his and
their liberty which he fought for, to the honour of his God, and not to
make a mart of the wicked treasure of the infidels.' Yet did these words
sink nothing unto their stomachs; they did it for a good intent. So did
Saul save the fattest oxen to offer unto the Lord, and they to serve
their own turn. But neither did Saul escape the wrath of God therefore,
neither had these that thing which they desired so, and did thirst
after. Such is God's justice. He that they put their trust in to deliver
them from the tyrannous hands of their enemies, he, I say, could supply
their want of necessaries.

"Now these eight, being armed with such weapons as they thought well of,
thinking themselves sufficient champions to encounter a stronger enemy,
and coming unto the prison, Fox opened the gates and doors thereof, and
called forth all the prisoners, whom he set, some to ramming up the
gate, some to the dressing up of a certain galley which was the best in
all the road, and was called The Captain of Alexandria, whereinto some
carried masts, sails, oars, and other such furniture as doth belong unto
a galley.

"At the prison were certain warders whom John Fox and his company slew,
in the killing of whom there were eight more of the Turks which
perceived them, and got them to the top of the prison, unto whom John
Fox and his company were fain to come by ladders, where they found a hot
skirmish, for some of them were there slain, some wounded, and some but
scarred and not hurt. As John Fox was thrice shot through his apparel,
and not hurt, Peter Vuticaro and the other two, that had armed them with
the ducats, were slain, as not able to wield themselves, being so
pestered with the weight and uneasy carrying of the wicked and profane
treasure; and also divers Christians were as well hurt about that
skirmish as Turks slain.

"Amongst the Turks was one thrust through, who (let us not say that it
was ill-fortune) fell off from the top of the prison wall, and made such
a groaning that the inhabitants thereabout (as here and there stood a
house or two) came and questioned him, so that they understood the case,
how that the prisoners were paying their ransoms; wherewith they raised
both Alexandria, which lay on the west side of the road, and a castle
which was at the city's end next to the road, and also another fortress
which lay on the north side of the road, so that now they had no way to
escape but one, which by man's reason (the two holds lying so upon the
mouth of the road) might seem impossible to be a way for them. So was
the Red Sea impossible for the Israelites to pass through, the hills and
rocks lay so on the one side, and their enemies compassed them on the
other. So was it impossible that the walls of Jericho should fall down,
being neither undermined nor yet rammed at with engines, nor yet any
man's wisdom, policy, or help, set or put thereunto. Such
impossibilities can our God make possible. He that held the lion's jaws
from rending Daniel asunder, yea, or yet from once touching him to his
hurt, cannot He hold the roaring cannons of this hellish force? He that
kept the fire's rage in the hot burning oven from the three children
that praised His name, cannot He keep the fire's flaming blasts from
among His elect?

"Now is the road fraught with lusty soldiers, labourers, and mariners,
who are fain to stand to their tackling, in setting to every man his
hand, some to the carrying in of victuals, some munitions, some oars,
and some one thing some another, but most are keeping their enemy from
the wall of the road. But to be short, there was no time mis-spent, no
man idle, nor any man's labour ill-bestowed or in vain. So that in short
time this galley was ready trimmed up. Whereinto every man leaped in all
haste, hoisting up the sails lustily, yielding themselves to His mercy
and grace, in Whose hands is both wind and weather.

"Now is this galley afloat, and out of the shelter of the road; now have
the two castles full power upon the galley; now is there no remedy but
to sink. How can it be avoided? The cannons let fly from both sides, and
the galley is even in the middest and between them both. What man can
devise to save it? There is no man but would think it must needs be

"There was not one of them that feared the shot which went thundering
round about their ears, nor yet were once scarred or touched with five
and forty shot which came from the castles. Here did God hold forth His
buckler, He shieldeth now this galley, and hath tried their faith to the
uttermost. Now cometh His special help; yea, even when man thinks them
past all help, then cometh He Himself down from Heaven with His mighty
power, then is His present remedy most ready. For they sail away, being
not once touched by the glance of a shot, and are quickly out of the
Turkish cannons' reach. Then might they see them coming down by heaps to
the water's side, in companies like unto swarms of bees, making show to
come after them with galleys, bustling themselves to dress up the
galleys, which would be a swift piece of work for them to do, for that
they had neither oars, masts, sails, nor anything else ready in any
galley. But yet they are carrying into them, some into one galley, and
some into another, so that, being such a confusion amongst them, without
any certain guide, it were a thing impossible to overtake the
Christians; beside that, there was no man that would take charge of a
galley, the weather was so rough, and there was such an amazedness
amongst them. And verily, I think their god was amazed thereat; it could
not be but that he must blush for shame, he can speak never a word for
dulness, much less can he help them in such an extremity. Well,
howsoever it is, he is very much to blame to suffer them to receive such
a gibe. But howsoever their god behaved himself, our God showed Himself
a God indeed, and that He was the only living God; for the seas were
swift under His faithful, which made the enemies aghast to behold them;
a skilfuller pilot leads them, and their mariners bestir them lustily;
but the Turks had neither mariners, pilot, nor any skilful master, that
was in readiness at this pinch.

"When the Christians were safe out of the enemy's coast, John Fox called
to them all, telling them to be thankful unto Almighty God for their
delivery, and most humbly to fall down upon their knees, beseeching Him
to aid them to their friends' land, and not to bring them into another
danger, since He had most mightily delivered them from so great a
thraldom and bondage.

"Thus when every man had made his petition, they fell straightway to
their labour with the oars, in helping one another when they were
wearied, and with great labour striving to come to some Christian land,
as near as they could guess by the stars. But the winds were so
contrary, one while driving them this way, another while that way, so
that they were now in a new maze, thinking that God had forsaken them
and left them to a greater danger. And forasmuch as there were no
victuals now left in the galley, it might have been a cause to them (if
they had been the Israelites) to have murmured against their God; but
they knew how that their God, who had delivered Egypt, was such a loving
and merciful God, as that He would not suffer them to be confounded in
whom He had wrought so great a wonder, but what calamity soever they
sustained, they knew it was but for their further trial, and also (in
putting them in mind of their further misery) to cause them not to
triumph and glory in themselves therefor. Having, I say, no victuals in
the galley, it might seem one misery continually to fall upon another's
neck; but to be brief the famine grew to be so great that in
twenty-eight days, wherein they were on the sea, there died eight
persons, to the astonishment of all the rest.

"So it fell out that upon the twenty-ninth day after they set from
Alexandria, they fell on the Isle of Candia, and landed at Gallipoli,
where they were made much of by the abbot and monks there, who caused
them to stay there while they were well refreshed and eased. They kept
there the sword wherewith John Fox had killed the keeper, esteeming it
as a most precious relic, and hung it up for a monument.

"When they thought good, having leave to depart from thence, they sailed
along the coast till they arrived at Tarento, where they sold their
galley, and divided it, every man having a part thereof. And then they
came afoot to Naples, where they departed asunder, every man taking him
to his next way home. From whence John Fox took his journey unto Rome,
where he was well entertained by an Englishman who presented his worthy
deed unto the pope, who rewarded him liberally, and gave him letters
unto the King of Spain, where he was very well entertained of him there,
who for this his most worthy enterprise gave him in fee twenty pence a
day. From whence, being desirous to come into his own country, he came
thither at such time as he conveniently could, which was in the year of
our Lord God 1579; who being come into England went unto the court, and
showed all his travel unto the council, who considering of the state of
this man, in that he had spent and lost a great part of his youth in
thraldom and bondage, extended to him their liberality to help to
maintain him now in age, to their right honour and to the encouragement
of all true-hearted Christians."

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