the mouth of the Cayenne. There he was welcomed by friendly natives whose affection he had won twenty years before. ‘To tell you,’ he wrote to his wife on 14 Nov., ‘that I might be king of the Indians were but vanity. … They feed me with fresh meat and all that the country yields’ (Edwards, ii. 347). When the men were somewhat refreshed, and recovered from sickness, he moved to the Isle de Salut, and there prepared for the farther adventure. Five of the ships were small enough to cross the bar and go up the river, and in these he put four hundred men. He himself was too feeble from the effects of the fever to accompany them, and it was the general wish that he should remain behind. It was expected that a hostile Spanish fleet would arrive, with which Ralegh could best deal. ‘You shall find me,’ he told the expeditionary force, ‘at Punto Gallo, dead or alive; and if you find not my ships there, yet you shall find their ashes. For I will fire with the galleons if it come to extremity, but run away I will never’ (Gardiner, iii. 121).
The chief command of the expedition up the river he entrusted to Kemys; his nephew, George Ralegh, was to command the soldiers, among whom was his son Walter. Ralegh gave orders that they should land at a point agreed on, and march to the mine, said to be three miles distant. If they were attacked by the Spaniards in moderate force they were to repel them; but ‘if without manifest peril of my son,’ he said to Kemys, ‘yourself, and other captains, you cannot pass toward the mine, then be well advised how you land. For I know, a few gentlemen excepted, what a scum of men you have, and I would not for all the world receive a blow from the Spaniard to the dishonour of our nation’ (ib. p. 120). The expedition started on 10 Dec., but the settlement of San Tomás had been moved several miles lower down the river, and it was impossible to pass it without being seen, or to march to the mine without the danger of falling into an ambuscade. Kemys decided to attack the town, which was stormed and burnt, though with the loss of young Walter, Ralegh's son. The Spaniards took to the woods, and, in face of their opposition, Kemys judged it impossible to reach the mine. He accordingly returned, and rejoined Ralegh at Punto Gallo, only to kill himself in despair at the bitter reproach to which Ralegh gave vent. He had brought fresh evidence of the existence and wealth of the mine, and Ralegh wished to lead his men back for another attempt. But they shrank from the venture; he could neither persuade nor compel them; they were thoroughly disheartened. He proposed to them to look out for the Mexican fleet; they refused, the captains equally with the men. ‘What shall we be the better?’ they said; ‘for when we come home the king shall have what we have gotten, and we shall be hanged’ (ib. p. 127). Several of the ships parted company. Some of them went to Newfoundland, and thence, with a cargo of fish on their own account, to the Mediterranean. After touching at St. Kitts, whence he sent letters to England, Ralegh also went to Newfoundland. He had now only four ships with him, and though with these he would fain have kept the sea in hopes of capturing some rich prize, his men refused to follow him. He realised the danger that awaited him in England, and, as a penniless outcast, he would be scarcely more welcome in France. With much hesitation he went to meet his fate in England, and arrived at Plymouth about the middle of June 1618.
Already the news of the attack at San Tomás and of the failure of the expedition had reached the king, and the Spanish minister, now Conde de Gondomar, demanded satisfaction in accordance with James's promise that ‘if Ralegh returned loaded with gold acquired by an attack on the subjects of the king of Spain, he would surrender it all, and would give up the authors of the crime to be hanged in the public square of Madrid.’ James assured him that he would be as good as his word (ib. iii. 132). The council resented Gondomar's language to the king; but James, supported by Buckingham, convinced it that Ralegh ought to be punished. On 22 June James assured Gondomar that justice should be done, and Gondomar replied with a sneer ‘that Ralegh and his followers were in England, and had not been hanged.’ James, although stung to fury, agreed to propose to the council to send Ralegh and some dozen of his followers to Spain. Three days later he promised Gondomar that Ralegh should be surrendered, unless Philip expressly asked that he should be hanged in England (cf. ‘Documents relating to Ralegh's last voyages’ by S. R. Gardiner in Camd. Soc. Miscellany, 1864, vol. v.).
Shortly after his arrival at Plymouth Ralegh set out for London; but at Ashburton he was arrested by his cousin, Sir Lewis Stucley or Stukeley [q. v.], who took him back to Plymouth, where he was left much to himself. The opportunity suggested the advisability of escaping to France, but while he was still hesitating orders came for him to be taken to London. There also he was left at large, but, attempting to escape to a French ship at Gravesend, he was arrested,