Chapter 1


Fortune, my foe, why dost thou frown on me?

And will my favours never greater be?

Wilt thou, I say, forever breed me pain?

And wilt thou ne’er restore my joys again?

Sir Walter Raleigh: “Fortune my foe”

Happy he who is of the size of his dreams. Happier he who conceives them so

exorbitant that one life would not suffice to exhaust them. To simultaneously

pretend to reach from the gentry to the highest of positions, to be the lover and

suitor of a magnificent Queen, to conquer the world’s treasure of treasures in the mythical kingdom of El Dorado, seem plans that would saturate more than one single existence. To simultaneously exact from himself sweeping elegance, be a great poet in the era of great poets, write a Universal History from memory, put together treatises on political philosophy, pursue the alchemical secrets of the transmutation of metals and an elixir against all

poisons, found colonies in the New World, promote vices that would captivate

millions and be the cause of as much damage as delight, win battles by means

of equally undisciplined and impetuous assaults, exercise the profession of

arms with a ferocity that equals his intelligence, leave to the world such

memorable gestures as are to be remembered as long as the occupation of

seducing persists, would seemingly be projects to occupy well over one

hundred lives. No matter that some of these plans are chimeras: The mere fact

of conceiving them is already a triumph; and an inconceivable victory, that of

culminating the better part of them.

Chapter 1
Sir Walter Raleigh