some Rochelle men-of-war, they came back to England. When, in 1589, a tardy relief was sent, the colonists had disappeared, nor was any trace of them ever recovered; and Ralegh, having spent upwards of 40,000l. in the attempt to found the colony, was compelled to abandon the project for the time. In after years he sent out other expeditions to Virginia, the latest in 1603. On his downfall in that year his patent reverted to the crown.
It is by his long, costly, and persistent effort to establish this first of English colonies that Ralegh's name is most favourably known; and, though the effort ended in failure, to Ralegh belongs the credit of having, first of Englishmen, pointed out the way to the formation of a greater England beyond the seas. But he had no personal share in the actual expeditions, and he was never in his whole life near the coast of Virginia. Among the more immediate results of his endeavours is popularly reckoned the introduction, about 1586, into England of potatoes and tobacco. The assertion is in part substantiated. His ‘servant’ Harriot, whom he sent out to America, gives in his ‘Brief and True Report of Virginia’ (1588) a detailed account of the potato and tobacco, and describes the uses to which the natives put them; he himself made the experiment of smoking tobacco. The potato and tobacco were in 1596 growing as rare plants in Lord Burghley's garden in the Strand (Gerard, Catalogus, 1596). In his ‘Herbal’ (1597, pp. 286–8, 781) Gerard gives an illustration and description of each. Although potatoes had at a far earlier period been brought to Europe by the Spaniards, Harriot's specimens were doubtless the earliest to be planted in this kingdom. Some of them Ralegh planted in his garden at Youghal, and on that ground he may be regarded as one of Ireland's chief benefactors. This claim is supported by the statement made to the Royal Society in 1693 by Sir Robert Southwell [q. v.], then president, to the effect that his grandfather first cultivated the potato in Ireland from specimens given him by Ralegh (G. W. Johnson, Gardener, 1849, i. 8). The cultivation spread rapidly in Ireland, but was uncommon in England until the eighteenth century. The assertion that Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake introduced the potato long before Ralegh initiated colonial enterprise appears to be erroneous. It seems that they brought over in 1565 some specimens of the sweet potato (convolvolus battata), which only distantly resembles the common potato (Alphonse de Candolle, Origin of Cultivated Plants, 1884; Clos, ‘Quelques documents sur l'histoire de la pomme de terre,’ in Journal Agric. du midi de la France, 1874, 8vo). With regard to tobacco, the plant was cultivated in Portugal before 1560, and Lobel, in his ‘Stirpium Adversaria Nova’ (pp. 251–2), declares that it was known in England before 1576. Drake and Hawkins seem to have first brought the leaf to England from America; but Ralegh (doubtless under the tuition of Harriot) was the first Englishman of rank to smoke it; he soon became confirmed in the habit, and taught his fellow-courtiers to follow his example, presenting to them pipes with bowls of silver. The practice spread with amazing rapidity among all classes of the nation (Camden, Annals, s.a. 1586; Tiedemann, Geschichte des Tabaks, 1854, pp. 148 sq.; Fairholt, Tobacco, 1859, pp. 50–1; cf. Gerard, Herbal, 1597, p. 289).
In March 1588, when the Spanish invasion appeared imminent, Ralegh was appointed one of a commission under the presidency of Sir Francis Knollys, with Lord Grey, Sir John Norris, and others—all land officers, with the exception of Sir Francis Drake—to draw up a plan for the defence of the country (Western Antiquary, vii. 276). The statement that it was by Ralegh's advice that the queen determined to fit out the fleet is unsupported by evidence (Stebbing, p. 65). The report of the commission seems to trust the defence of the country entirely to the land forces, possibly because its instruction referred only to their disposition. It nowhere appears that Ralegh had any voice as to the naval preparations. As the year advanced, he was sent into different parts of the country to hurry on the levies (Gosse, p. 38), especially in the west, where, as warden of the stannaries and lord lieutenant of Cornwall, it was his duty to embody the militia.
It is stated in every ‘Life’ of Ralegh that when the contending fleets were coming up Channel, Ralegh was one of the volunteers who joined the lord admiral and took a more or less prominent part in the subsequent fighting. Of this there is no mention in the English state papers or in the authentic correspondence of the time. Nor can any reliance be placed on the report that Ralegh took part in the naval operations mentioned in the ‘Copie of a Letter sent out of England to Don Bernardin Mendoza’ (1588, and often reprinted) (cf. A Pack of Spanish Lies). This doubtful authority also credits Robert Cecil with having joined the fleet—a manifest misstatement (Defeat of the Spanish Armada, i. 342).
In the early part of September Ralegh