So here were the three rivals overlapping again—the annexing Spaniards, the would-be colonizing French, and the persistently trading English. There were, however, no Spaniards about at that time. This was the second Huguenot colony in Florida. Rene de Laudonniere had founded it in 1564. The first one, founded two years earlier by Jean Ribaut, had failed and Ribaut's men had deserted the place. They had started for home in 1563, had suffered terrible hardships, had been picked up by an English vessel, and taken, some to France and some to England, where the court was all agog about the wealth of Florida. People said there were mines so bright with jewels that they had to be approached at night lest the flashing light should strike men blind. Florida became proverbial; and Elizabethan wits made endless fun of it. Stolida, or the land of fools, and Sordida, or the land of muck-worms, were some of their jeux d'esprit. Everyone was 'bound for Florida,' whether he meant to go there or not, despite Spanish spheres of influence, the native cannibals, and pirates by the way.
Hawkins, on the contrary, did not profess to be bound for Florida. Nevertheless he arrived there, and probably had intended to do so from the first, for he took with him a Frenchman who had been in Ribaut's colony two years before, and Sparke significantly says that 'the land is more than any [one] king Christian is able to inhabit.' However this may be, Hawkins found the second French colony as well as 'a French ship of fourscore ton, and two pinnaces of fifteen ton apiece by her ... and a fort, in which their captain Monsieur Laudonniere was, with certain soldiers therein.' The colony had not been a success. Nor is this to be wondered at when we remember that most of the 'certain soldiers' were ex-pirates, who wanted gold, and 'who would not take the pains so much as to fish in the river before their doors, but would have all things put in their mouths.' Eighty of the original two hundred 'went a-roving' to the West Indies, 'where they spoiled the Spaniards ... and were of such haughty stomachs that they thought their force to be such that no man durst meddle with them.... But God ... did indurate their hearts in such sort that they lingered so long that a [Spanish] ship and galliasse being made out of St. Domingo ... took twenty of them, whereof the most part were hanged ... and twenty-five escaped ... to Florida, where ... they were put into prison [by Laudonniere, against whom they had mutinied] and ... four of the chiefest being condemned, at the request of the soldiers did pass the arquebusers, and then were hanged upon a gibbet.' Sparke got the delightful expression 'at the request of the soldiers did pass the arquebusers' from a 'very polite' Frenchman. Could any one tell you more politely, in mistranslated language, how to stand up and be shot?
Sparke was greatly taken with the unknown art of smoking. 'The Floridians ... have an herb dried, who, with a cane and an earthen cup in the end, with fire and the dried herbs put together, do suck through the cane the smoke thereof, which smoke satisfieth their hunger, and therewith they live four or five days without meat or drink. And this all the Frenchmen used for this purpose; yet do they hold opinion withal that it causeth water and steam to void from their stomachs.' The other 'commodities of the land' were 'more than are yet known to any man.' But Hawkins was bent on trade, not colonizing. He sold the Tiger, a barque of fifty tons, to Laudonniere for seven hundred crowns and sailed north on the first voyage ever made along the coast of the United States by an all-English crew. Turning east off Newfoundland 'with a good large wind, the 20 September  we came to Padstow, in Cornwall, God be thanked! in safety, with the loss of twenty persons in all the voyage, and with great profit to the venturers, as also to the whole realm, in bringing home both gold, silver, pearls, and other jewels great store. His name, therefore, be praised for evermore. Amen.'
Hawkins was now a rich man, a favorite at court, and quite the rage in London. The Queen was very gracious and granted him the well-known coat of arms with the crest of 'a demi-Moor, bound and captive' in honor of the great new English slave trade. The Spanish ambassador met him at court and asked him to dinner, where, over the wine, Hawkins assured him that he was going out again next year. Meanwhile, however, the famous Captain-General of the Indian trade, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the best naval officer that Spain perhaps has ever had, swooped down on the French in Florida, killed them all, and built the fort of St. Augustine to guard the 'Mountains of Bright Stones' somewhere in the hinterland. News of this slaughter soon arrived at Madrid, whence orders presently went out to have an eye on Hawkins, whom Spanish officials thenceforth regarded as the leading interloper in New Spain.
Nevertheless Hawkins set out on his third and very 'troublesome' voyage in 1567, backed by all his old and many new supporters, and with a flotilla of six vessels, the Jesus, the Minion (which then meant darling), the William and John, the Judith, the Angel, and the Swallow. This was the voyage that began those twenty years of sea-dog fighting which rose to their zenith in the battle against the Armada; and with this voyage Drake himself steps on to the stage as captain of the Judith.
There had been a hitch in 1566, for the Spanish ambassador had reported Hawkins's after-dinner speech to his king. Philip had protested to Elizabeth, and Elizabeth had consulted with Cecil, afterwards 'the great Lord Burleigh,' ancestor of the Marquis of Salisbury, British Prime Minister during the Spanish-American War of 1898. The result was that orders went down to Plymouth stopping Hawkins and binding him over, in a bond of five hundred pounds, to keep the peace with Her Majesty's right good friend King Philip of Spain. But in 1567 times had changed again, and Hawkins sailed with colors flying, for Elizabeth was now as ready to hurt Philip as he was to hurt her, provided always that open war was carefully avoided.
But this time things went wrong from the first. A tremendous autumnal storm scattered the ships. Then the first negroes that Hawkins tried to 'snare' proved to be like that other kind of prey of which the sarcastic Frenchman wrote: 'This animal is very wicked; when you attack it, it defends itself.' The 'envenomed arrows' of the negroes worked the mischief. 'There hardly escaped any that had blood drawn of them, but died in strange sort, with their mouths shut some ten days before they died.' Hawkins himself was wounded, but, 'thanks be to God,' escaped the lockjaw. After this the English took sides in a native war and captured '250 persons, men, women, and children,' while their friend the King captured '600 prisoners, whereof we hoped to have had our choice. But the negro, in which nation is seldom or never found truth, that night removed his camp and prisoners, so that we were fain to content ourselves with those few we had gotten ourselves.'
However, with 'between 400 and 500 negroes,' Hawkins crossed over from Africa to the West Indies and 'coasted from place to place, making our traffic with the Spaniards as we might, somewhat hardly, because the King had straitly commanded all his governors by no means to suffer any trade to be made with us. Notwithstanding, we had reasonable trade, and courteous entertainment' for a good part of the way. In Rio de la Hacha the Spaniards received the English with a volley that killed a couple of men, whereupon the English smashed in the gates, while the Spaniards retired. But, after this little bit of punctilio, trade went on under cover of night so briskly that two hundred negroes were sold at good prices. From there to Cartagena 'the inhabitants were glad of us and traded willingly,' supply being short and demand extra high.
Then came a real rebuff from the governor of Cartagena, followed by a terrific storm 'which so beat the Jesus that we cut down all her higher buildings' (deck superstructures). Then the course was shaped for Florida. But a new storm drove the battered flotilla back to 'the port which serveth the city of Mexico, called St. John de Ulua,' the modern Vera Cruz. The historic Vera Cruz was fifteen miles north of this harbor. Here 'thinking us to be the fleet of Spain, the chief officers of the country came aboard us. Which, being deceived of their expectation, were greatly dismayed; but ... when they saw our demand was nothing but victuals, were recomforted. I [for it is Hawkins's own story] found in the same port 12 ships which had in them by report L200,000 in gold and silver, all which, being in my possession [i.e., at my mercy] with the King's Island ... I set at liberty.'
What was to be done? Hawkins had a hundred negroes still to sell. But it was four hundred miles to Mexico City and back again; and a new Spanish viceroy was aboard the big Spanish fleet that was daily expected to arrive in this very port. If a permit to sell came back from the capital in time, well and good. If no more than time to replenish stores was allowed, good enough, despite the loss of sales. But what if the Spanish fleet arrived? The 'King's Island' was a low little reef right in the mouth of the harbor, which it all but barred. Moreover, no vessel could live through a northerly gale inside the harbor—the only one on that coast—unless securely moored to the island itself. Consequently whoever held the island commanded the situation altogether.
There was not much time for consultation; for the very next morning 'we saw open of the haven 13 great ships, the fleet of Spain.' It was a terrible predicament. 'Now, said I, I am in two dangers, and forced to receive the one of them.... Either I must have kept out the fleet, which, with God's help, I was very well able to do, or else suffer them to enter with their accustomed treason.... If I had kept them out, then there had been present shipwreck of all that fleet, which amounted in value to six millions, which was in value of our money L1,800,000, which I considered I was not able to answer, fearing the Queen's Majesty's indignation.... Thus with myself revolving the doubts, I thought better to abide the jut of the uncertainty than of the certainty.' So, after conditions had been agreed upon and hostages exchanged, the thirteen Spanish ships sailed in. The little island remained in English hands; and the Spaniards were profuse in promises.
But, having secretly made their preparations, the Spaniards, who were in overwhelming numbers, suddenly set upon the English by land and sea. Every Englishman ashore was killed, except a few who got off in a boat to the Jesus. The Jesus and the Minion cut their headfasts, hauled clear by their sternfasts, drove back the boarding parties, and engaged the Spanish fleet at about a hundred yards. Within an hour the Spanish flagship and another were sunk, a third vessel was burning furiously, fore and aft, while every English deck was clear of enemies. But the Spaniards had swarmed on to the island from all sides and were firing into the English hulls at only a few feet from the cannon's mouth. Hawkins was cool as ever. Calling for a tankard of beer he drank to the health of the gunners, who accounted for most of the five hundred and forty men killed on the Spanish side. 'Stand by your ordnance lustily,' he cried, as he put the tankard down and a round shot sent it flying. 'God hath delivered me,' he added, 'and so will He deliver you from these traitors and villains.'
The masts of the Jesus went by the board and her old, strained timbers splintered, loosened up, and were stove in under the storm of cannon balls. Hawkins then gave the order to abandon ship after taking out what stores they could and changing her berth so that she would shield the little Minion. But while this desperate manoeuvre was being executed down came two fire-ships. Some of the Minion's crew then lost their heads and made sail so quickly that Hawkins himself was nearly left behind.
The only two English vessels that escaped were the Minion and the Judith. When nothing else was left to do, Hawkins shouted to Drake to lay the Judith aboard the Minion, take in all the men and stores he could, and put to sea. Drake, then only twenty-three, did this with consummate skill. Hawkins followed some time after and anchored just out of range. But Drake had already gained an offing that caused the two little vessels to part company in the night, during which a whole gale from the north sprang up, threatening to put the Judith on a lee shore. Drake therefore fought his way to windward; and, seeing no one when the gale abated, and having barely enough stores to make a friendly land, sailed straight home. Hawkins reported the Judith, without mentioning Drake's name, as 'forsaking' the Minion. But no other witness thought Drake to blame.
Hawkins himself rode out the gale under the lee of a little island, then beat about for two weeks of increasing misery, when 'hides were thought very good meat, and rats, cats, mice, and dogs, parrots and monkeys that were got at great price, none escaped.' The Minion was of three hundred tons; and so was insufferably overcrowded with three hundred men, two hundred English and one hundred negroes. Drake's little Judith, of only fifty tons, could have given no relief, as she was herself overfull. Hawkins asked all the men who preferred to take their chance on land to get round the foremast and all those who wanted to remain afloat to get round the mizzen. About a hundred chose one course and a hundred the other. The landing took place about a hundred and fifty miles south of the Rio Grande. The shore party nearly all died. But three lived to write of their adventures. David Ingram, following Indian trails all round the Gulf of Mexico and up the Atlantic seaboard, came out where St. John, New Brunswick, stands now, was picked up by a passing Frenchman, and so got safely home. Job Hortop and Miles Philips were caught by the Spaniards and sent back to Mexico. Philips escaped to England fourteen years later. But Hortop was sent to Spain, where he served twelve years as a galley-slave and ten as a servant before he contrived to get aboard an English vessel.
The ten Spanish hostages were found safe and sound aboard the Jesus; though, by all the rules of war, Hawkins would have been amply justified in killing them. The English hostages were kept fast prisoners. 'If all the miseries of this sorrowful voyage,' says Hawkins's report, 'should be perfectly written, there should need a painful man with his pen, and as great a time as he had that wrote the lives and deaths of martyrs.'
Thus, in complete disaster, ended that third voyage to New Spain on which so many hopes were set. And with this disastrous end began those twenty years of sea-dog rage which found their satisfaction against the Great Armada.
We must now turn back for a moment to 1545, the year in which the Old World, after the discovery of the mines of Potosi, first awoke to the illimitable riches of the New; the year in which King Henry assembled his epoch-making fleet; the year, too, in which the British National Anthem was, so to say, born at sea, when the parole throughout the waiting fleet was God save the King! and the answering countersign was Long to reign over us!
In the same year, at Crowndale by Tavistock in Devon, was born Francis Drake, greatest of sea-dogs and first of modern admirals. His father, Edmund Drake, was a skipper in modest circumstances. But from time immemorial there had been Drakes all round the countryside of Tavistock and the family name stood high. Francis was called after his godfather, Francis Russell, son and heir of Henry's right-hand reforming peer, Lord Russell, progenitor of the Dukes of Bedford down to the present day.
Though fortune thus seemed to smile upon Drake's cradle, his boyhood proved to be a very stormy one indeed. He was not yet five when the Protestant zeal of the Lord Protector Somerset stirred the Roman Catholics of the West Country into an insurrection that swept the anti-Papal minority before it like flotsam before a flood. Drake's father was a zealous Protestant, a 'hot gospeller,' much given to preaching; and when he was cast up by the storm on what is now Drake's Island, just off Plymouth, he was glad to take passage for Kent. His friends at court then made him a sort of naval chaplain to the men who took care of His Majesty's ships laid up in Gillingham Reach on the River Medway, just below where Chatham Dockyard stands to-day. Here, in a vessel too old for service, most of Drake's eleven brothers were born to a life as nearly amphibious as the life of any boy could be. The tide runs in with a rush from the sea at Sheerness, only ten miles away; and so, among the creeks and marshes, points and bends, through tortuous channels and hurrying waters lashed by the keen east wind of England, Drake reveled in the kind of playground that a sea-dog's son should have.
During the reign of Mary (1553-58) 'hot gospellers' like Drake's father were of course turned out of the Service. And so young Francis had to be apprenticed to 'the master of a bark, which he used to coast along the shore, and sometimes to carry merchandise into Zeeland and France.' It was hard work and a rough life for the little lad of ten. But Drake stuck to it, and 'so pleased the old man by his industry that, being a bachelor, at his death he bequeathed his bark unto him by will and testament.' Moreover, after Elizabeth's accession, Drake's father came into his own. He took orders in the Church of England, and in 1561, when Francis was sixteen, became vicar of Upchurch on the Medway, the same river on which his boys had learned to live amphibious lives.
No dreams of any Golden West had Drake as yet. To the boy in his teens Westward Ho! meant nothing more than the usual cry of London boatmen touting for fares up-stream. But, before he went out with Sir John Hawkins, on the 'troublesome' voyage which we have just followed, he must have had a foretaste of something like his future raiding of the Spanish Main; for the Channel swarmed with Protestant privateers, no gentler, when they caught a Spaniard, than Spaniards were when they caught them. He was twenty-two when he went out with Hawkins and would be in his twenty-fourth year when he returned to England in the little Judith after the murderous Spanish treachery at San Juan de Ulua.
Just as the winter night was closing in, on the 20th of January, 1569, the Judith sailed into Plymouth. Drake landed. William Hawkins, John's brother, wrote a petition to the Queen-in-Council for letters-of-marque in reprisal for Ulua, and Drake dashed off for London with the missive almost before the ink was dry. Now it happened that a Spanish treasure fleet, carrying money from Italy and bound for Antwerp, had been driven into Plymouth and neighboring ports by Huguenot privateers. This money was urgently needed by Alva, the very capable but ruthless governor of the Spanish Netherlands, who, having just drowned the rebellious Dutch in blood, was now erecting a colossal statue to himself for having 'extinguished sedition, chastised rebellion, restored religion, secured justice, and established peace.' The Spanish ambassador therefore obtained leave to bring it overland to Dover.
But no sooner had Elizabeth signed the order of safe conduct than in came Drake with the news of San Juan de Ulua. Elizabeth at once saw that all the English sea-dogs would be flaming for revenge. Everyone saw that the treasure would be safer now in England than aboard any Spanish vessel in the Channel. So, on the ground that the gold, though payable to Philip's representative in Antwerp, was still the property of the Italian bankers who advanced it, Elizabeth sent orders down post-haste to commandeer it. The enraged ambassador advised Alva to seize everything English in the Netherlands. Elizabeth in turn seized everything Spanish in England. Elizabeth now held the diplomatic trumps; for existing treaties provided that there should be no reprisals without a reasonable delay; and Alva had seized English property before giving Elizabeth the customary time to explain.
John Hawkins entered Plymouth five days later than Drake and started for London with four pack horses carrying all he had saved from the wreck. By the irony of fate he travelled up to town in the rear of the long procession that carried the commandeered Spanish gold.
The plot thickened fast; for England was now on the brink of war with France over the secret aid Englishmen had been giving to the Huguenots at La Rochelle. But suddenly Elizabeth was all smiles and affability for France. And when her two great merchant fleets put out to sea, one, the wine-fleet, bound for La Rochelle, went with only a small naval escort, just enough to keep the pirates off; while the other, the big wool-fleet, usually sent to Antwerp but now bound for Hamburg, went with a strong fighting escort of regular men-of-war.
Aboard this escort went Francis Drake as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Home in June, Drake ran down to Tavistock in Devon; wooed, won, and married pretty Mary Newman, all within a month. He was back on duty in July.
For the time being the war cloud passed away. Elizabeth's tortuous diplomacy had succeeded, owing to dissension among her enemies. In the following year (1570) the international situation was changed by the Pope, who issued a bull formally deposing Elizabeth and absolving her subjects from their allegiance to her. The French and Spanish monarchs refused to publish this order because they did not approve of deposition by the Pope. But, for all that, it worked against Elizabeth by making her the official standing enemy of Rome. At the same time it worked for her among the sea-dogs and all who thought with them. 'The case,' said Thomas Fuller, author of The Worthies of England, 'the case was clear in sea divinitie.' Religious zeal and commercial enterprise went hand in hand. The case was clear; and the English navy, now mobilized and ready for war, made it much clearer still.
Westward Ho! in chief command, at the age of twenty-five, with the tiny flotilla of the Dragon and the Swan, manned by as good a lot of daredevil experts as any privateer could wish to see! Out and back in 1570, and again in 1571, Drake took reprisals on New Spain, made money for all hands engaged, and gained a knowledge of the American coast that stood him in good stead for future expeditions.
* * * * *
It was 1572 when Drake, at the age of twenty-seven, sailed out of Plymouth on the Nombre de Dios expedition that brought him into fame. He led a Lilliputian fleet: the Pascha and the Swan, a hundred tons between them, with seventy-three men, all ranks and ratings, aboard of them. But both vessels were 'richly furnished with victuals and apparels for a whole year, and no less heedfully provided with all manner of ammunition, artillery [which then meant every kind of firearm as well as cannon], artificers' stuff and tools; but especially three dainty pinnaces made in Plymouth, taken asunder all in pieces,' and stowed aboard to be set up as occasion served.
Without once striking sail Drake made the channel between Dominica and Martinique in twenty-five days and arrived off a previously chosen secret harbor on the Spanish Main towards the end of July. To his intense surprise a column of smoke was rising from it, though there was no settlement within a hundred miles. On landing he found a leaden plate with this inscription: 'Captain Drake! If you fortune to come to this Port, make hast away! For the Spaniards which you had with you here, the last year, have bewrayed the place and taken away all that you left here. I depart hence, this present 7th of July, 1572. Your very loving friend, John Garrett.' That was fourteen days before. Drake, however, was determined to carry out his plan. So he built a fort and set up his pinnaces. But others had now found the secret harbor; for in came three sail under Ranse, an Englishman, who asked that he be taken into partnership, which was done.
Then the combined forces, not much over a hundred strong, stole out and along the coast to the Isle of Pines, where again Drake found himself forestalled. From the negro crews of two Spanish vessels he discovered that, only six weeks earlier, the Maroons had annihilated a Spanish force on the Isthmus and nearly taken Nombre de Dios itself. These Maroons were the descendants of escaped negro slaves intermarried with the most warlike of the Indians. They were regular desperadoes, always, and naturally, at war with the Spaniards, who treated them as vermin to be killed at sight. Drake put the captured negroes ashore to join the Maroons, with whom he always made friends. Then with seventy-three picked men he made his dash for Nombre de Dios, leaving the rest under Ranse to guard the base.
Nombre de Dios was the Atlantic terminus, as Panama was the Pacific terminus, of the treasure trail across the Isthmus of Darien. The Spaniards, knowing nothing of Cape Horn, and unable to face the appalling dangers of Magellan's straits, used to bring the Peruvian treasure ships to Panama, whence the treasure was taken across the isthmus to Nombre de Dios by recuas, that is, by mule trains under escort.
At evening Drake's vessel stood off the harbor of Nombre de Dios and stealthily approached unseen. It was planned to make the landing in the morning. A long and nerve-racking wait ensued. As the hours dragged on, Drake felt instinctively that his younger men were getting demoralized. They began to whisper about the size of the town—'as big as Plymouth'—with perhaps a whole battalion of the famous Spanish infantry, and so on. It wanted an hour of the first real streak of dawn. But just then the old moon sent a ray of light quivering in on the tide. Drake instantly announced the dawn, issued the orders: 'Shove off, out oars, give way!' Inside the bay a ship just arrived from sea was picking up her moorings. A boat left her side and pulled like mad for the wharf. But Drake's men raced the Spaniards, beat them, and made them sheer off to a landing some way beyond the town.
Springing eagerly ashore the Englishmen tumbled the Spanish guns off their platforms while the astonished sentry ran for dear life. In five minutes the church bells were pealing out their wild alarms, trumpet calls were sounding, drums were beating round the general parade, and the civilians of the place, expecting massacre at the hands of the Maroons, were rushing about in agonized confusion. Drake's men fell in—they were all well-drilled—and were quickly told off into three detachments. The largest under Drake, the next under Oxenham—the hero of Kingsley's Westward Ho!—and the third, of twelve men only, to guard the pinnaces. Having found that the new fort on the hill commanding the town was not yet occupied, Drake and Oxenham marched against the town at the head of their sixty men, Oxenham by a flank, Drake straight up the main street, each with a trumpet sounding, a drum rolling, fire-pikes blazing, swords flashing, and all ranks yelling like fiends. Drake was only of medium stature. But he had the strength of a giant, the pluck of a bulldog, the spring of a tiger, and the cut of a man that is born to command. Broad-browed, with steel-blue eyes and close-cropped auburn hair and beard, he was all kindliness of countenance to friends, but a very 'Dragon' to his Spanish foes.
As Drake's men reached the Plaza, his trumpeter blew one blast of defiance and then fell dead. Drake returned the Spanish volley and charged immediately, the drummer beating furiously, pikes levelled, and swords brandished. The Spaniards did not wait for him to close; for Oxenham's party, fire-pikes blazing, were taking them in flank. Out went the Spaniards through the Panama gate, with screaming townsfolk scurrying before them. Bang went the gate, now under English guard, as Drake made for the Governor's house. There lay a pile of silver bars such as his men had never dreamt of: in all, about four hundred tons of silver ready for the homeward fleet—enough not only to fill but sink the Pascha, Swan, and pinnaces. But silver was then no more to Drake than it was once to Solomon. What he wanted were the diamonds and pearls and gold, which were stored, he learned, in the King's Treasure House beside the bay.
A terrific storm now burst. The fire-pikes and arquebuses had to be taken under cover. The wall of the King's Treasure House defied all efforts to breach it. And the Spaniards who had been shut into the town, discovering how few the English were, reformed for attack. Some of Drake's men began to lose heart. But in a moment he stepped to the front and ordered Oxenham to go round and smash in the Treasure House gate while he held the Plaza himself. Just as the men stepped off, however, he reeled aside and fell. He had fainted from loss of blood caused by a wound he had managed to conceal. There was no holding the men now. They gave him a cordial, after which he bound up his leg, for he was a first-rate surgeon, and repeated his orders as before. But there were a good many wounded; and, with Drake no longer able to lead, the rest all begged to go back. So back to their boats they went, and over to the Bastimentos or Victualling Islands, which contained the gardens and poultry runs of the Nombre de Dios citizens.
Here they were visited, under a flag of truce, by the Spanish officer commanding the reinforcement just sent across from Panama. He was all politeness, airs, and graces, while trying to ferret out the secret of their real strength. Drake, however, was not to be outdone either in diplomacy or war; and a delightful little comedy of prying and veiling courtesies was played out, to the great amusement of the English sea-dogs. Finally, when the time agreed upon was up, the Spanish officer departed, pouring forth a stream of high-flown compliments, which Drake, who was a Spanish scholar, answered with the like. Waving each other a ceremonious adieu the two leaders were left no wiser than before.
Nombre de Dios, now strongly reinforced and on its guard, was not an easy nut to crack. But Panama? Panama meant a risky march inland and a still riskier return by the regular treasure trail. But with the help of the Maroons, who knew the furtive byways to a foot, the thing might yet be done. Ranse thought the game not worth the candle and retired from the partnership, much to Drake's delight.
A good preliminary stroke was made by raiding Cartagena. Here Drake found a frigate deserted by its crew, who had gone ashore to see fair play in a duel fought about a seaman's mistress. The old man left in charge confessed that a Seville ship was round the point. Drake cut her out at once, in spite of being fired at from the shore. Next, in came two more Spanish sail to warn Cartagena that 'Captain Drake has been at Nombre de Dios and taken it, and if a blest bullet hadn't hit him in the leg he would have sacked it too.'
Cartagena, however, was up in arms already; so Drake put all his prisoners ashore unhurt and retired to reconsider his position, leaving Diego, a negro fugitive from Nombre de Dios, to muster the Maroons for a raid overland to Panama. Then Drake, who sank the Swan and burnt his prizes because he had only men enough for the Pascha and the pinnaces, disappeared into a new secret harbor. But his troubles were only beginning; for word came that the Maroons said that nothing could be done inland till the rains were over, five months hence. This meant a long wait; however, what with making supply depots and picking up prizes here and there, the wet time might pass off well enough.
One day Oxenham's crew nearly mutinied over the shortness of provisions. 'Have ye not as much as I,' Drake called to them, 'and has God's Providence ever failed us yet?' Within an hour a Spanish vessel hove in sight, making such very heavy weather of it that boarding her was out of the question. But 'We spent not two hours in attendance till it pleased God to send us a reasonable calm, so that we might use our guns and approach her at pleasure. We found her laden with victuals, which we received as sent of God's great mercy.' Then 'Yellow Jack' broke out, and the men began to fall sick and die. The company consisted of seventy-three men; and twenty-eight of these perished of the fever, among them the surgeon himself and Drake's own brother.
But on the 3d of February, 1573, Drake was ready for the dash on Panama. Leaving behind about twenty-five men to guard the base, he began the overland march with a company of fifty, all told, of whom thirty-one were picked Maroons. The fourth day out Drake climbed a forest giant on the top of the Divide, saw the Atlantic behind him and the Pacific far in front, and vowed that if he lived he would sail an English ship over the great South Sea. Two days more and the party left the protecting forest for the rolling pampas where the risk of being seen increased at every step. Another day's march and Panama was sighted as they topped the crest of one of the bigger waves of ground. A clever Maroon went ahead to spy out the situation and returned to say that two recuas would leave at dusk, one coming from Venta Cruz, fifteen miles northwest of Panama, carrying silver and supplies, and the other from Panama, loaded with jewels and gold. Then a Spanish sentry was caught asleep by the advanced party of Maroons, who smelt him out by the match of his fire-lock. In his gratitude for being protected from the Maroons, this man confirmed the previous information.
The excitement now was most intense; for the crowning triumph of a two-years' great adventure was at last within striking distance of the English crew. Drake drew them up in proper order; and every man took off his shirt and put it on again outside his coat, so that each would recognize the others in the night attack. Then they lay listening for the mule-bells, till presently the warning tinkle let them know that recuas were approaching from both Venta Cruz and Panama. The first, or silver train from Venta Cruz, was to pass in silence; only the second, or gold train from Panama, was to be attacked. Unluckily one of the Englishmen had been secretly taking pulls at his flask and had just become pot-valiant when a stray Spanish gentleman came riding up from Venta Cruz. The Englishman sprang to his feet, swayed about, was tripped up by Maroons and promptly sat upon. But the Spaniard saw his shirt, reined up, whipped round, and galloped back to Panama. This took place so silently at the extreme flank in towards Panama that it was not observed by Drake or any other Englishman. Presently what appeared to be the gold train came within range. Drake blew his whistle; and all set on with glee, only to find that the Panama recua they were attacking was a decoy sent on to spring the trap and that the gold and jewels had been stopped.
The Spaniards were up in arms. But Drake slipped away through the engulfing forest and came out on the Atlantic side, where he found his rear-guard intact and eager for further exploits. He was met by Captain Tetu, a Huguenot just out from France, with seventy men. Tetu gave Drake news of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, and this drew the French and English Protestants together. They agreed to engage in further raiding of Spaniards, share and share alike by nationalities, though Drake had now only thirty-one men against Tetu's seventy. Nombre de Dios, they decided, was not vulnerable, as all the available Spanish forces were concentrated there for its defence, and so they planned to seize a Spanish train of gold and jewels just far enough inland to give them time to get away with the plunder before the garrison could reach them. Somewhere on the coast they established a base of operations and then marched overland to the Panama trail and lay in wait.
This time the marauders were successful. When the Spanish train of gold and jewels came opposite the ambush, Drake's whistle blew. The leading mules were stopped. The rest lay down, as mule-trains will. The guard was overpowered after killing a Maroon and wounding Captain Tetu. And when the garrison of Nombre de Dios arrived a few hours later the gold and jewels had all gone.
For a day and a night and another day Drake and his men pushed on, loaded with plunder, back to their rendezvous along the coast, leaving Tetu and two of his devoted Frenchmen to be rescued later. When they arrived, worn out, at the rendezvous, not a man was in sight. Drake built a raft out of unhewn tree trunks and, setting up a biscuit bag as a sail, pushed out with two Frenchmen and one Englishman till he found his boats. The plunder was then divided up between the French and the English, while Oxenham headed a rescue party to bring Tetu to the coast. One Frenchman was found. But Tetu and the other had been caught by Spaniards.
The Pascha was given to the accumulated Spanish prisoners to sail away in. The pinnaces were kept till a suitable, smart-sailing Spanish craft was found, boarded, and captured to replace them; whereupon they were broken up and their metal given to the Maroons. Then, in two frigates, with ballast of silver and cargo of jewels and gold, the thirty survivors of the adventure set sail for home. 'Within 23 days we passed from the Cape of Florida to the Isles of Scilly, and so arrived at Plymouth on Sunday about sermon time, August 9, 1573, at what time the news of our Captain's return, brought unto his friends, did so speedily pass over all the church, and surpass their minds with desire to see him, that very few or none remained with the preacher, all hastening to see the evidence of God's love and blessing towards our Gracious Queen and country, by the fruit of our Captain's labour and success. Soli Deo Gloria.'
DRAKE'S 'ENCOMPASSMENT OF ALL THE WORLDE'
When Drake left for Nombre de Dios in the spring of 1572, Spain and England were both ready to fly at each other's throats. When he Came back in the summer of 1573, they were all for making friends—hypocritically so, but friends. Drake's plunder stank in the nostrils of the haughty Dons. It was a very inconvenient factor in the diplomatic problem for Elizabeth. Therefore Drake disappeared and his plunder too. He went to Ireland on service in the navy. His plunder was divided up in secrecy among all the high and low contracting parties.
In 1574 the Anglo-Spanish scene had changed again. The Spaniards had been so harassed by the English sea-dogs between the Netherlands and Spain that Philip listened to his great admiral, Menendez, who, despairing of direct attack on England, proposed to seize the Scilly Isles and from that naval base clear out a way through all the pirates of the English Channel. War seemed certain. But a terrible epidemic broke out in the Spanish fleet. Menendez died. And Philip changed his policy again.
This same year John Oxenham, Drake's old second-in-command, sailed over to his death. The Spaniards caught him on the Isthmus of Darien and hanged him as a pirate at Lima in Peru.
In the autumn of 1575 Drake returned to England with a new friend, Thomas Doughty, a soldier-scholar of the Renaissance, clever and good company, but one of those 'Italianate' Englishmen who gave rise to the Italian proverb: Inglese italianato e diavolo incarnato—'an Italianized Englishman is the very Devil.' Doughty was patronized by the Earl of Essex, who had great influence at court.
The next year, 1576, is noted for the 'Spanish Fury.' Philip's sea power was so hampered by the Dutch and English privateers, and he was so impotent against the English navy, that he could get no ready money, either by loan or from America, to pay his troops in Antwerp. These men, reinforced by others, therefore mutinied and sacked the whole of Antwerp, killing all who opposed them and practically ruining the city from which Charles V used to draw such splendid subsidies. The result was a strengthening of Dutch resistance everywhere.
Elizabeth had been unusually tortuous in her policy about this time. But in 1577 she was ready for another shot at Spain, provided always that it entailed no open war. Don John of Austria, natural son of Charles V, had all the shining qualities that his legitimate half-brother Philip lacked. He was the hero of Lepanto and had offered to conquer the Moors in Tunis if Philip would let him rule as king. Philip, crafty, cold, and jealous, of course refused and sent him to the Netherlands instead. Here Don John formed the still more aspiring plan of pacifying the Dutch, marrying Mary Queen of Scots, deposing Elizabeth, and reigning over all the British Isles. The Pope had blessed both schemes. But the Dutch insisted on the immediate withdrawal of the Spanish troops. This demolished Don John's plan. But it pleased Philip, who could now ruin his brilliant brother by letting him wear himself out by trying to govern the Netherlands without an army. Then the Duke of Anjou, brother to the King of France, came into the fast-thickening plot at the head of the French rescuers of the Netherlands from Spain. But a victorious French army in the Netherlands was worse for England than even Spanish rule there. So Elizabeth tried to support the Dutch enough to annoy Philip and at the same time keep them independent of the French.
In her desire to support them against Philip indirectly she found it convenient to call Drake into consultation. Drake then presented to Sir Francis Walsingham his letter of commendation from the Earl of Essex, under whom he had served in Ireland; whereupon 'Secretary Walsingham [the first civilian who ever grasped the principle of modern sea power] declared that Her Majesty had received divers injuries of the King of Spain, for which she desired revenge. He showed me a plot [map] willing me to note down where he might be most annoyed. But I refused to set my hand to anything, affirming that Her Majesty was mortal, and that if it should please God to take Her Majesty away that some prince might reign that might be in league with the King of Spain, and then would my own hand be a witness against myself.' Elizabeth was forty-four. Mary Queen of Scots was watching for the throne. Plots and counter-plots were everywhere.
Shortly after this interview Drake was told late at night that he should have audience of Her Majesty next day. On seeing him, Elizabeth went straight to the point. 'Drake, I would gladly be revenged on the King of Spain for divers injuries that I have received.' 'And withal,' says Drake, 'craved my advice therein; who told Her Majesty the only way was to annoy him by the Indies.' On that he disclosed his whole daring scheme for raiding the Pacific. Elizabeth, who, like her father, 'loved a man' who was a man, fell in with this at once. Secrecy was of course essential. 'Her Majesty did swear by her Crown that if any within her realm did give the King of Spain to understand hereof they should lose their heads therefor.' At a subsequent audience 'Her Majesty gave me special commandment that of all men my Lord Treasurer should not know of it.' The cautious Lord Treasurer Burleigh was against what he considered dangerous forms of privateering and was for keeping on good terms with Spanish arms and trade as long as possible. Mendoza, lynx-eyed ambassador of Spain, was hoodwinked. But Doughty, the viper in Drake's bosom, was meditating mischief: not exactly treason with Spain, but at least a breach of confidence by telling Burleigh.
De Guaras, chief Spanish spy in England, was sorely puzzled. Drake's ostensible destination was Egypt, and his men were openly enlisted for Alexandria. The Spaniards, however, saw far enough through this to suppose that he was really going back to Nombre de Dios. It did not seem likely, though quite possible, that he was going in search of the Northwest Passage, for Martin Frobisher had gone out on that quest the year before and had returned with a lump of black stone from the arctic desolation of Baffin Island. No one seems to have divined the truth. Cape Horn was unknown. The Strait of Magellan was supposed to be the only opening between South America and a huge antarctic continent, and its reputation for disasters had grown so terrible, and rightly terrible, that it had been given up as the way into the Pacific. The Spanish way, as we have seen, was overland from Nombre de Dios to Panama, more or less along the line of the modern Panama Canal.
In the end Drake got away quietly enough, on the 15th of November, 1577. The court and country were in great excitement over the conspiracy between the Spaniards and Mary Queen of Scots, now a prisoner of nine years' standing.
'THE FAMOUS VOYAGE OF SIR FRANCIS DRAKE into the South Sea, and therehence about the whole Globe of the Earth, begun in the year of our Lord 1577' well deserves its great renown. Drake's flotilla seems absurdly small. But, for its own time, it was far from insignificant; and it was exceedingly well found. The Pelican, afterwards called the Golden Hind, though his flagship, was of only a hundred tons. The Elizabeth, the Swan, the Marigold, and the Benedict were of eighty, fifty, thirty, and fifteen. There were altogether less than three hundred tons and two hundred men. The crews numbered a hundred and fifty. The rest were gentlemen-adventurers, special artificers, two trained surveyors, musicians, boys, and Drake's own page, Jack Drake. There was great store of wild-fire, chain-shot, harquebusses, pistols, corslets, bows and other like weapons in great abundance. Neither had he omitted to make provision for ornament and delight, carrying with him expert musicians, rich furniture (all the vessels for his table, yea, many belonging even to the cook-room, being of pure silver), and divers shows of all sorts of curious workmanship whereby the civility and magnificence of his native country might amongst all nations withersoever he should come, be the more admired.'
[3: The little handbook issued by Pette and Jackman in 1580, for those whom we should now call commercial travellers, is full of 'tips' about 'Thinges to be carried with you, whereof more or lesse is to be carried for a shewe of our commodities to bee made.' For instance:—'Kersies of all orient couleurs, specially of stamel (fine worsted), brode cloth of orient couleurs also. Taffeta hats. Deepe cappes for mariners. Quilted Cappes of Levant Taffeta of divers coulours, for the night. Garters of Silke. Girdels of Buffe and all leathers, with gilt and ungilt Buckles, specially wast girdels. Wast girdels of velvet. Gloves of all sortes, knit and of leather. Gloves perfumed. Shooes of Spanish leather, of divers colours. Looking glasses for Women, great and fayre. Comes of Ivorie. Handkerchewes, with silk of divers colours, wrought. Glasen eyes to ride with against dust [so motor goggles are not so new, after all!]. Boxes with weightes of golde, and every kind of coyne of golde, to shewe that the people here use weight and measure, which is a certayne shewe of wisedome, and of a certayne government settled here.' There are also elaborate directions about what to take 'For banketing on shipborde of persons of credite' [and prospective customers]. 'First, the sweetest perfumes to set under hatches to make the place smell sweete against their coming aborde. Marmelade. Sucket [candies]. Figges barrelled. Raisins of the Sun. Comfets that shall not dissolve. Prunes damaske. Dried peres. Walnuttes. Almondes. Olives, to make them taste their wine. The Apple John that dureth two yeares, to make showe of our fruites. Hullocke [a sweet wine]. Sacke. Vials of good sweet waters, and casting-bottels of glass, to besprinckel the gests withal, after their coming aborde. The sweet oyle of Xante and excellent French vinegar and a fine kind of Bisket steeped in the same do make a banketting dishe. and a little Sugar cast in it cooleth and comforteth, and refresheth the spirittes of man. Synomomme Water and Imperiall Water is to be had with you to comfort your sicke in the voyage.'
No feature is neglected. 'Take with you the large mappe of London and let the river be drawn full of shippes to make the more showe of your great trade. The booke of the Attyre of All Nations carried with you and bestowed in gift would be much esteemed. Tinder boxes, with steel, flint, and matches. A painted Bellowes, for perhaps they have not the use of them. All manner of edge tools. Note specially what dyeing they use.' After many more items the authors end up with two bits of good advice. 'Take with you those things that bee in the Perfection of Goodnesse to make your commodities in credit in time to come.' 'Learn what the Country hath before you offer your commodities for sale; for if you bring thither what you yourself desire to lade yourself home with, you must not sell yours deare lest hereafter you purchase theirs not so cheape as you would.']
Sou'sou'west went Drake's flotilla and made its landfall 'towards the Pole Antartick' off the 'Land of Devils' in 31 deg. 40' south, northeast of Montevideo. Frightful storms had buffeted the little ships about for weary weeks together, and all hands thought they were the victims of some magician on board, perhaps the 'Italianate' Doughty, or else of native witchcraft from the shore. The experienced old pilot, who was a Portuguese, explained that the natives had sold themselves to Devils, who were kinder masters than the Spaniards, and that 'now when they see ships they cast sand into the air, whereof ariseth a most gross thick fogg and palpable darkness, and withal horrible, fearful, and intolerable winds, rains, and storms.'
But witchcraft was not Thomas Doughty's real offence. Even before leaving England, and after betraying Elizabeth and Drake to Burleigh, who wished to curry favor with the Spanish traders rather than provoke the Spanish power, Doughty was busy tampering with the men. A storekeeper had to be sent back for peculation designed to curtail Drake's range of action. Then Doughty tempted officers and men: talked up the terrors of Magellan's Strait, ran down his friend's authority, and finally tried to encourage downright desertion by underhand means. This was too much for Drake. Doughty was arrested, tied to the mast, and threatened with dire punishment if he did not mend his ways. But he would not mend his ways. He had a brother on board and a friend, a 'very craftie lawyer'; so stern measures were soon required. Drake held a sort of court-martial which condemned Doughty to death. Then Doughty, having played his last card and lost, determined to die 'like an officer and gentleman.'
Drake solemnly 'pronounced him the child of Death and persuaded him that he would by these means make him the servant of God.' Doughty fell in with the idea and the former friends took the Sacrament together, 'for which Master Doughty gave him hearty thanks, never otherwise terming him than "My good Captaine."' Chaplain Fletcher having ended with the absolution, Drake and Doughty sat down together 'as cheerfully as ever in their lives, each cheering up the other and taking their leave by drinking to each other, as if some journey had been in hand.' Then Drake and Doughty went aside for a private conversation of which no record has remained. After this Doughty walked to the place of execution, where, like King Charles I,
He nothing common did or mean Upon that memorable scene.
'And so bidding the whole company farewell he laid his head on the block.' 'Lo! this is the end of traitors!' said Drake as the executioner raised the head aloft.
Drake, like Magellan, decided to winter where he was, in Port St. Julian on the east coast of Patagonia. His troubles with the men were not yet over; for the soldiers resented being put on an equality with the sailors, and the 'very craftie lawyer' and Doughty's brother were anything but pleased with the turn events had taken. Then, again, the faint-hearts murmured in their storm-beaten tents against the horrors of the awful Straits. So Drake resolved to make things clear for good and all. Unfolding a document he began: 'My Masters, I am a very bad orator, for my bringing up hath not been in learning, but what I shall speak here let every man take good notice of and let him write it down; for I will speak nothing but I will answer it in England, yea, and before Her Majesty, and I have it here already set down.' Then, after reminding them of the great adventure before them and saying that mutiny and dissension must stop at once, he went on: 'For by the life of God it doth even take my wits from me to think of it. Here is such controversy between the gentlemen and sailors that it doth make me mad to hear it. I must have the gentleman to haul with the mariner and the mariner with the gentleman. I would know him that would refuse to set his hand to a rope! But I know there is not any such here.' To those whose hearts failed them he offered the Marigold. 'But let them go homeward; for if I find them in my way, I will surely sink them.' Not a man stepped forward. Then, turning to the officers, he discharged every one of them for re-appointment at his pleasure. Next, he made the worst offenders, the 'craftie lawyer' included, step to the front for reprimand. Finally, producing the Queen's commission, he ended by a ringing appeal to their united patriotism. 'We have set by the ears three mighty Princes [the sovereigns of England, Spain, and Portugal]; and if this voyage should not have success we should not only be a scorning unto our enemies but a blot on our country for ever. What triumph would it not be for Spain and Portugal! The like of this would never more be tried.' Then he gave back every man his rank again, explaining that he and they were all servants of Her Majesty together. With this the men marched off, loyal and obedient, to their tents.
Next week Drake sailed for the much dreaded Straits, before entering which he changed the Pelican's name to the Golden Hind, which was the crest of Sir Christopher Hatton, one of the chief promoters of the enterprise and also one of Doughty's patrons. Then every vessel struck her topsail to the bunt in honor of the Queen as well as to show that all discoveries and captures were to be made in her sole name. Seventeen days of appalling dangers saw them through the Straits, where icy squalls came rushing down from every quarter of the baffling channels. But the Pacific was still worse. For no less than fifty-two consecutive days a furious gale kept driving them about like so many bits of driftwood. 'The like of it no traveller hath felt, neither hath there ever been such a tempest since Noah's flood.' The little English vessels fought for their very lives in that devouring hell of waters, the loneliest and most stupendous in the world. The Marigold went down with all hands, and Parson Fletcher, who heard their dying call, thought it was a judgment. At last the gale abated near Cape Horn, where Drake landed with a compass, while Parson Fletcher set up a stone engraved with the Queen's name and the date of the discovery.
Deceived by the false trend of the coast shown on the Spanish charts Drake went a long way northwest from Cape Horn. Then he struck in northeast and picked up the Chilean Islands. It was December, 1578; but not a word of warning had reached the Spanish Pacific when Drake stood in to Valparaiso. Seeing a sail, the crew of the Grand Captain of the South got up a cask of wine and beat a welcome on their drums. In the twinkling of an eye gigantic Tom Moone was over the side at the head of a party of boarders who laid about them with a will and soon drove the Spaniards below. Half a million dollars' worth of gold and jewels was taken with this prize.
Drake then found a place in Salado Bay where he could clean the Golden Hind while the pinnace ranged south to look for the other ships that had parted company during the two months' storm. These were never found, the Elizabeth and the Swan having gone home after parting company in the storm that sank the Marigold. After a prolonged search the Golden Hind stood north again. Meanwhile the astounding news of her arrival was spreading dismay all over the coast, where the old Spanish governor's plans were totally upset. The Indians had just been defeated when this strange ship came sailing in from nowhere, to the utter confusion of their enemies. The governor died of vexation, and all the Spanish authorities were nearly worried to death. They had never dreamt of such an invasion. Their crews were small, their lumbering vessels very lightly armed, their towns unfortified.
But Drake went faster by sea than their news by land. Every vessel was overhauled, taken, searched, emptied of its treasure, and then sent back with its crew and passengers at liberty. One day a watering party chanced upon a Spaniard from Potosi fast asleep with thirteen bars of silver by him. The bars were lifted quietly and the Spaniard left sleeping peacefully. Another Spaniard suddenly came round a corner with half a ton of silver on eight llamas. The Indians came off to trade; and Drake, as usual, made friends with them at once. He had already been attacked by other Indians on both coasts. But this was because the unknown English had been mistaken for the hated Spaniards.
As he neared Lima, Drake quickened his pace lest the great annual treasure ship of 1579 should get wind of what was wrong. A minor treasure ship was found to have been cleared of all her silver just in time to balk him. So he set every stitch of canvas she possessed and left her driving out to sea with two other empty prizes. Then he stole into Lima after dark and came to anchor surrounded by Spanish vessels not one of which had set a watch. They were found nearly empty. But a ship from Panama looked promising; so the pinnace started after her, but was fired on and an Englishman was killed. Drake then followed her, after cutting every cable in the harbor, which soon became a pandemonium of vessels gone adrift. The Panama ship had nothing of great value except her news, which was that the great treasure ship Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion, 'the chiefest glory of the whole South Sea,' was on her way to Panama.
She had a very long start; and, as ill luck would have it, Drake got becalmed outside Callao, where the bells rang out in wild alarm. The news had spread inland and the Viceroy of Peru came hurrying down with all the troops that he could muster. Finding from some arrows that the strangers were Englishmen, he put four hundred soldiers into the only two vessels that had escaped the general wreck produced by Drake's cutting of the cables. When Drake saw the two pursuing craft, he took back his prize crew from the Panama vessel, into which he put his prisoners. Meanwhile a breeze sprang up and he soon drew far ahead. The Spanish soldiers overhauled the Panama prize and gladly gave up the pursuit. They had no guns of any size with which to; fight the Golden Hind, and most of them were so sea-sick from the heaving ground-swell that they couldn't have boarded her in any case.
Three more prizes were then taken by the swift Golden Hind. Each one had news which showed that Drake was closing on the chase. Another week passed with every stitch of canvas set. A fourth prize, taken off Cape San Francisco, said that the treasure ship was only one day ahead. But she was getting near to Panama; so every nerve was strained anew. Presently Jack Drake, the Captain's page, yelled out Sail-ho! and scrambled down the mainmast to get the golden chain that Drake had promised to the first lookout who saw the chase. It was ticklish work, so near to Panama; and local winds might ruin all. So Drake, in order not to frighten her, trailed a dozen big empty wine jars over the stern to moderate his pace. At eight o'clock the jars were cut adrift and the Golden Hind sprang forward with the evening breeze, her crew at battle quarters and her decks all cleared for action The chase was called the 'Spitfire' by the Spaniards because she was much better armed than any other vessel there. But, all the same, her armament was nothing for her tonnage. The Spaniards trusted to their remoteness for protection; and that was their undoing.
To every Englishman's amazement the chase was seen to go about and calmly come to hail the Golden Hind, which she mistook for a despatch vessel sent after her with some message from the Viceroy! Drake, asking nothing better, ran up alongside as Anton her captain hailed him with a Who are you? A ship of Chili! answered Drake. Anton looked down on the stranger's deck to see it full of armed men from whom a roar of triumph came. English! strike sail! Then Drake's whistle blew sharply and instant silence followed; on which he hailed Don Anton:—Strike sail! Senor Juan de Anton, or I must send you to the bottom!—Come aboard and do it yourself! bravely answered Anton. Drake's whistle blew one shrill long blast, which loosed a withering volley at less than point-blank range. Anton tried to bear away and shake off his assailant. But in vain. The English guns now opened on his masts and rigging. Down came the mizzen, while a hail of English shot and arrows prevented every attempt to clear away the wreckage. The dumbfounded Spanish crew ran below, Don Anton looked overside to port; and there was the English pinnace, from which forty English boarders were nimbly climbing up his own ship's side. Resistance was hopeless; so Anton struck and was taken aboard the Golden Hind. There he met Drake, who was already taking off his armor. 'Accept with patience the usage of war,' said Drake, laying his hand on Anton's shoulder.
For all that night, next day, and the next night following Drake sailed west with his fabulous prize so as to get well clear of the trade route along the coast. What the whole treasure was has never been revealed. But it certainly amounted to the equivalent of many millions at the present day. Among the official items were: 13 chests of pieces of eight, 80 lbs. of pure gold, jewels and plate, 26 ton weight of silver, and sundries unspecified. As the Spanish pilot's son looked over the rail at this astounding sight, the Englishmen called out to say that his father was no longer the pilot of the old Spit-fire but of the new Spit-silver.
The prisoners were no less gratified than surprised by Drake's kind treatment. He entertained Don Anton at a banquet, took him all over the Golden Hind, and entrusted him with a message to Don Martin, the traitor of San Juan de Ulua. This was to say that if Don Martin hanged any more Englishmen, as he had just hanged Oxenham, he should soon be given a present of two thousand Spanish heads. Then Drake gave every Spanish officer and man a personal gift proportioned to his rank, put all his accumulated prisoners aboard the emptied treasure ship, wished them a prosperous voyage and better luck next time, furnished the brave Don Anton with a letter of protection in case he should fall in with an English vessel, and, after many expressions of goodwill on both sides, sailed north, the voyage 'made'; while the poor 'spit-silver' treasure ship turned sadly east and steered for Panama.
Lima, Panama, and Nombre de Dios were in wild commotion at the news; and every sailor and soldier that the Spaniards had was going to and fro, uncertain whether to attack or to defend, and still more distracted as to the most elusive English whereabouts. One good Spanish captain, Don Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, was all for going north, his instinct telling him that Drake would not come back among the angry bees after stealing all the honey. But, by the time the Captain-General of New Spain had made up his mind to take one of the many wrong directions he had been thinking of, Drake was already far on his way north to found New Albion.
Drake's triumph over all difficulties had won the hearts of his men more than ever before, while the capture of the treasure ship had done nothing to loosen the bonds of discipline. Don Francisco de Zarate wrote a very intimate account of his experience as a prisoner on board the Golden Hind. 'The English captain is one of the greatest mariners at sea, alike from his skill and his powers of command. His ship is a very fast sailer and her men are all skilled hands of warlike age and so well trained that they might be old soldiers of the Italian tertias,' the crack corps of the age in Spanish eyes. 'He is served with much plate and has all possible kinds of delicacies and scents, many of which he says the Queen of England gave him. None of the gentlemen sit or cover in his presence without first being ordered to do so. They dine and sup to the music of violins. His galleon carries about thirty guns and a great deal of ammunition.' This was in marked contrast to the common Spanish practice, even on the Atlantic side. The greedy exploiters of New Spain grudged every ton of armament and every well-trained fighting sailor, both on account of the expense and because this form of protection took up room they wished to fill with merchandise. The result was, of course, that they lost more by capture than they gained by evading the regulation about the proper armament. 'His ship is not only of the very latest type but sheathed.' Before copper sheathing was invented some generations later, the Teredo worm used to honeycomb unprotected hulls in the most dangerous way. John Hawkins invented the sheathing used by Drake: a good thick tar-and-hair sheeting clamped on with elm.
Northwest to Coronado, then to Aguatulco, then fifteen hundred miles due west, brought Drake about that distance west-by-south of the modern San Francisco. Here he turned east-north-east and, giving the land a wide berth, went on to perhaps the latitude of Vancouver Island, always looking for the reverse way through America by the fabled Northwest Passage. Either there was the most extraordinary June ever known in California and Oregon, or else the narratives of those on board have all been hopelessly confused, for freezing rain is said to have fallen on the night of June the 3d in the latitude of 42 deg.. In 48 deg. 'there followed most vile, thick, and stinking fogs' with still more numbing cold. The meat froze when taken off the fire. The wet rigging turned to icicles. Six men could hardly do the work of three. Fresh from the tropics, the crews were unfit for going any farther. A tremendous nor'wester settled the question, anyway; and Drake ran south to 38 deg. 30', where, in what is now Drake's Bay, he came to anchor just north of San Francisco.
Not more than once, if ever at all, and that a generation earlier, had Europeans been in northern California. The Indians took the Englishmen for gods whom they knew not whether to love or fear. Drake with the essential kindliness of most, and the magnetic power of all, great born commanders, soon won the natives' confidence. But their admiration 'as men ravished in their minds' was rather overpowering; for, after 'a kind of most lamentable weeping and crying out,' they came forward with various offerings for the new-found gods, prostrating themselves in humble adoration and tearing their breasts and faces in a wild desire to show the spirit of self-sacrifice. Drake and his men, all Protestants, were horrified at being made what they considered idols. So kneeling down, they prayed aloud, raising hands and eyes to Heaven, hoping thereby to show the heathen where the true God lived. Drake then read the Bible and all the Englishmen sang Psalms, the Indians, 'observing the end of every pause, with one voice still cried Oh! greatly rejoicing in our exercises.' As this impromptu service ended the Indians gave back all the presents Drake had given them and retired in attitudes of adoration.
In three days more they returned, headed by a Medicine-man, whom the English called the 'mace-bearer.' With the slow and stately measure of a mystic dance this great high priest of heathen rites advanced chanting a sort of litany. Both litany and dance were gradually taken up by tens, by hundreds, and finally by all the thousands of the devotees, who addressed Drake with shouts of Hyoh! and invested him with a headdress of rare plumage and a necklace of quaint beads. It was, in fact, a native coronation without a soul to doubt the divine right of their new king. Drake's Protestant scruples were quieted by thinking 'to what good end God had brought this to pass, and what honour and profit it might bring to our country in time to come. So, in the name and to the use of her most excellent Majesty, he took the sceptre, crown, and dignity' and proclaimed an English protectorate over the land he called New Albion. He then set up a brass plate commemorating this proclamation, and put an English coin in the middle so that the Indians might see Elizabeth's portrait and armorial device.
The exaltation of the ecstatic devotees continued till the day he left. They crowded in to be cured by the touch of his hand—those were the times in which the sovereign was expected to cure the King's Evil by a touch. They also expected to be cured by inhaling the divine breath of any one among the English gods. The chief narrator adds that the gods who pleased the Indians most, braves and squaws included, 'were commonly the youngest of us,' which shows that the human was not quite forgotten in the all-divine. When the time for sailing came, the devotees were inconsolable. 'They not only in a sudden did lose all mirth, joy, glad countenance, pleasant speeches, agility of body, and all pleasure, but, with sighs and sorrowings, they poured out woefull complayntes and moans with bitter tears, and wringing of their hands, and tormenting of themselves.' The last the English saw of them was the whole devoted tribe assembled on the hill around a sacrificial fire, whence they implored their gods to bring their heaven back to earth.
From California Drake sailed to the Philippines; and then to the Moluccas, where the Portuguese had, if such a thing were possible, outdone even the Spaniards in their fiendish dealings with the natives. Lopez de Mosquito—viler than his pestilential name—had murdered the Sultan, who was then his guest, chopped up the body, and thrown it into the sea. Baber, the Sultan's son, had driven out the Portuguese from the island of Ternate and was preparing to do likewise from the island of Tidore, when Drake arrived. Baber then offered Drake, for Queen Elizabeth, the complete monopoly of the trade in spices if only Drake would use the Golden Hind as the flagship against the Portuguese. Drake's reception was full of Oriental state; and Sultan Baber was so entranced by Drake's musicians that he sat all afternoon among them in a boat towed by the Golden Hind. But it was too great a risk to take a hand in this new war with only fifty-six men left. So Drake traded for all the spices he could stow away and concluded a sort of understanding which formed the sheet anchor of English diplomacy in Eastern seas for another century to come. Elizabeth was so delighted with this result that she gave Drake a cup (still at the family seat of Nutwell Court in Devonshire) engraved with a picture of his reception by the Sultan Baber of Ternate.
Leaving Ternate, the Golden Hind beat to and fro among the tortuous and only half-known channels of the Archipelago till the 9th of January, 1580, when she bore away before a roaring trade wind with all sail set and, so far as Drake could tell, a good clear course for home. But suddenly, without a moment's warning, there was a most terrific shock. The gallant ship reared like a stricken charger, plunged forward, grinding her trembling hull against the rocks, and then lay pounding out her life upon a reef. Drake and his men at once took in half the straining sails; then knelt in prayer; then rose to see what could be done by earthly means. To their dismay there was no holding ground on which to get an anchor fast and warp the vessel off. The lead could find no bottom anywhere aft. All night long the Golden Hind remained fast caught in this insidious death-trap. At dawn Parson Fletcher preached a sermon and administered the Blessed Sacrament. Then Drake ordered ten tons overboard—cannon, cloves, and provisions. The tide was now low and she sewed seven feet, her draught being thirteen and the depth of water only six. Still she kept an even keel as the reef was to leeward and she had just sail enough to hold her up. But at high tide in the afternoon there was a lull and she began to heel over towards the unfathomable depths. Just then, however, a quiver ran through her from stem to stern; an extra sail that Drake had ordered up caught what little wind there was; and, with the last throb of the rising tide, she shook herself free and took the water as quietly as if her hull was being launched. There were perils enough to follow: dangers of navigation, the arrival of a Portuguese fleet that was only just eluded, and all the ordinary risks of travel in times when what might be called the official guide to voyagers opened with the ominous advice, First make thy Will. But the greatest had now been safely passed.
Meanwhile all sorts of rumors were rife in Spain, New Spain, and England. Drake had been hanged. That rumor came from the hanging of John Oxenham at Lima. The Golden Hind had foundered. That tale was what Winter, captain of the Elizabeth, was not altogether unwilling should be thought after his own failure to face another great antarctic storm. He had returned in 1578. News from Peru and Mexico came home in 1579; but no Drake. So, as 1580 wore on, his friends began to despair, the Spaniards and Portuguese rejoiced, while Burleigh, with all who found Drake an inconvenience in their diplomatic way, began to hope that perhaps the sea had smoothed things over. In August the London merchants were thrown into consternation by the report of Drake's incredible captures; for their own merchant fleet was just then off for Spain. They waited on the Council, who soothed them with the assurance that Drake's voyage was a purely private venture so far as prizes were concerned. With this diplomatic quibble they were forced to be content.
But worse was soon to follow. The king of Portugal died. Philip's army marched on Lisbon immediately, and all the Portuguese possessions were added to the already overgrown empire of Spain. Worse still, this annexation gave Philip what he wanted in the way of ships; for Portugal had more than Spain. The Great Armada was now expected to be formed against England, unless Elizabeth's miraculous diplomacy could once more get her clear of the fast-entangling coils. To add to the general confusion, this was also the year in which the Pope sent his picked Jesuits to England, and in which Elizabeth was carrying on her last great international flirtation with ugly, dissipated Francis of Anjou, brother to the king of France.
Into this imbroglio sailed the Golden Hind with ballast of silver and cargo of gold. 'Is Her Majesty alive and well?' said Drake to the first sail outside of Plymouth Sound. 'Ay, ay, she is, my Master,' answered the skipper of a fishing smack, 'but there's a deal o' sickness here in Plymouth'; on which Drake, ready for any excuse to stay afloat, came to anchor in the harbor. His wife, pretty Mary Newman from the banks of Tavy, took boat to see him, as did the Mayor, whose business was to warn him to keep quiet till his course was clear. So Drake wrote off to the Queen and all the Councillors who were on his side. The answer from the Councillors was not encouraging; so he warped out quietly and anchored again behind Drake's Island in the Sound. But presently the Queen's own message came, commanding him to an audience at which, she said, she would be pleased to view some of the curiosities he had brought from foreign parts. Straight on that hint he started up to town with spices, diamonds, pearls, and gold enough to win any woman's pardon and consent.
The audience lasted six hours. Meanwhile the Council sat without any of Drake's supporters and ordered all the treasure to be impounded in the Tower. But Leicester, Walsingham, and Hatton, all members of Drake's syndicate, refused to sign; while Elizabeth herself, the managing director, suspended the order till her further pleasure should be known. The Spanish ambassador 'did burn with passion against Drake.' The Council was distractingly divided. The London merchants trembled for their fleet. But Elizabeth was determined that the blow to Philip should hurt him as much as it could without producing an immediate war; while down among Drake's own West-Countrymen 'the case was clear in sea divinitie,' as similar cases had often been before. Tremayne, a Devonshire magistrate and friend of the syndicate, could hardly find words to express his contentment with Drake, whom he called 'a man of great government, and that by the rules of God and His Book.'
Elizabeth decided to stand by Drake. She claimed, what was true, that he had injured no actual place or person of the King of Spain's, nothing but property afloat, appropriate for reprisals. All England knew the story of Ulua and approved of reprisals in accordance with the spirit of the age. And the Queen had a special grievance about Ireland, where the Spaniards were entrenched in Smerwick, thus adding to the confusion of a rebellion that never quite died down at any time. Philip explained that the Smerwick Spaniards were there as private volunteers. Elizabeth answered that Drake was just the same. The English tide, at all events, was turning in his favor. The indefatigable Stowe, chronicler of London, records that 'the people generally applauded his wonderful long adventures and rich prizes. His name and fame became admirable in all places, the people swarming daily in the streets to behold him, vowing hatred to all that misliked him.'
The Golden Hind had been brought round to London, where she was the greatest attraction of the day. Finally, on the 4th of April, 1581, Elizabeth went on board in state, to a banquet 'finer than has ever been seen in England since King Henry VIII,' said the furious Spanish ambassador in his report to Philip. But this was not her chief offence in Spanish eyes. For here, surrounded by her court, and in the presence of an enormous multitude of her enthusiastic subjects, she openly defied the King of Spain. 'He hath demanded Drake's head of me,' she laughed aloud, 'and here I have a gilded sword to strike it off.' With that she bade Drake kneel. Then, handing the sword to Marchaumont, the special envoy of her French suitor, Francis of Anjou, she ordered him to give the accolade. This done, she pronounced the formula of immemorial fame: I bid thee rise, Sir Francis Drake!
DRAKE CLIPS THE WINGS OF SPAIN
For three years after Drake had been dubbed Sir Francis by the Queen he was the hero of every class of Englishmen but two: the extreme Roman Catholics, who wanted Mary Queen of Scots, and the merchants who were doing business with Portugal and Spain. The Marian opposition to the general policy of England persisted for a few years longer. But the merchants who were the inheritors of centuries of commercial intercourse with England's new enemies were soon to receive a shock that completely changed their minds. They were themselves one of the strongest factors that made for war in the knotty problem now to be solved at the cannon's mouth because English trade was seeking new outlets in every direction and was beating hard against every door that foreigners shut in its face. These merchants would not, however, support the war party till they were forced to, as they still hoped to gain by other means what only war could win.
The year that Drake came home (1580) Philip at last got hold of a sea-going fleet, the eleven big Portuguese galleons taken when Lisbon fell. With the Portuguese ships, sailors, and oversea possessions, with more galleons under construction at Santander in Spain, and with the galleons of the Indian Guard built by the great Menendez to protect New Spain: with all this performed or promised, Philip began to feel as if the hour was at hand when he could do to England what she had done to him.
In 1583 Santa Cruz, the best Spanish admiral since the death of Menendez, proposed to form the nucleus of the Great Armada out of the fleet with which he had just broken down the last vestige of Portuguese resistance in the Azores. From that day on, the idea was never dropped. At the same time Elizabeth discovered the Paris Plot between Mary and Philip and the Catholics of France, all of whom were bent on her destruction. England stood to arms. But false ideas of naval defence were uppermost in the Queen's Council. No attempt was made to strike a concentrated blow at the heart of the enemy's fleet in his own waters. Instead of this the English ships were carefully divided among the three squadrons meant to defend the approaches to England, Ireland, and Scotland, because, as the Queen-in-Council sagely remarked, who could be expected to know what the enemy's point of attack would be? The fact is that when wielding the forces of the fleet and army the Queen and most of her non-combatant councillors never quite reached that supreme point of view from which the greatest statesmen see exactly where civil control ends and civilian interference begins. Luckily for England, their mistakes were once more covered up by a turn of the international kaleidoscope.
No sooner had the immediate danger of a great combined attack on England passed away than Elizabeth returned to Drake's plan for a regular raid against New Spain, though it had to be one that was not designed to bring on war in Europe. Drake, who was a member of the Navy Board charged with the reorganization of the fleet, was to have command. The ships and men were ready. But the time had not yet come.
Next year (1584) Amadas and Barlow, Sir Walter Raleigh's two prospectors for the 'plantation' of Virginia, were being delighted with the summer lands and waters of what is now North Carolina. We shall soon hear more of Raleigh and his vision of the West. But at this time a good many important events were happening in Europe; and it is these that we must follow first.
William of Orange, the Washington of Holland, was assassinated at Philip's instigation, while plots to kill Elizabeth and place Mary on the throne began to multiply. The agents were executed, while a 'Bond of Association' was signed by all Elizabeth's chief supporters, binding them to hunt down and kill all who tried to kill her—a plain hint for Mary Queen of Scots to stop plotting or stand the consequences.
But the merchants trading with Spain and Portugal were more than ever for keeping on good terms with Philip because the failure of the Spanish harvest had induced him to offer them special protection and encouragement if they would supply his country's needs at once. Every available ton of shipping was accordingly taken up for Spain. The English merchant fleet went out, and big profits seemed assured. But presently the Primrose, 'a tall ship of London,' came flying home to say that Philip had suddenly seized the merchandise, imprisoned the men, and taken the ships and guns for use with the Great Armada. That was the last straw. The peaceful traders now saw that they were wrong and that the fighting ones were right; and for the first time both could rejoice over the clever trick by which John Hawkins had got his own again from Philip. In 1571, three years after Don Martin's treachery at San Juan de Ulna, Hawkins, while commanding the Scilly Island squadron, led the Spanish ambassador to believe that he would go over to the Spanish cause in Ireland if his claims for damages were only paid in full and all his surviving men in Mexico were sent home. The cold and crafty Philip swallowed this tempting bait; sent the men home with Spanish dollars in their pockets, and paid Hawkins forty thousand pounds, the worth of about two million dollars now. Then Hawkins used the information he had picked up behind the Spanish scenes to unravel the Ridolfi Plot for putting Mary on the throne in 1572, the year of St. Bartholomew. No wonder Philip hated sea-dogs!
Things new and old having reached this pass, the whole of England, bar the Marians, were eager for the great 'Indies Voyage' of 1585. Londoners crowded down to Woolwich 'with great jolitie' to see off their own contingent on its way to join Drake's flag at Plymouth. Very probably Shakespeare went down too, for that famous London merchantman, the Tiger, to which he twice alludes—once in Macbeth and once in Twelfth Night—was off with this contingent. Such a private fleet had never yet been seen: twenty-one ships, eight smart pinnaces, and twenty-three hundred men of every rank and rating. The Queen was principal shareholder and managing director. But, as usual in colonial attacks intended for disavowal if necessity arose, no prospectus or other document was published, nor were the shareholders of this joint-stock company known in any quite official way. It was the size of the fleet and the reputation of the officers that made it a national affair. Drake, now forty, was 'Admiral'; Frobisher, of North-West-Passage fame, was 'Vice'; Knollys, the Queen's own cousin, 'Rear.' Carleill, a famous general, commanded the troops and sailed in Shakespeare's Tiger. Drake's old crew from the Golden Hind came forward to a man, among them Wright, 'that excellent mathematician and ingineer,' and big Tom Moone, the lion of all boarding-parties, each in command of a ship.
But Elizabeth was just then weaving the threads of an unusually intricate diplomatic pattern; so doubts and delays, orders and counter-orders vexed Drake to the last. Sir Philip Sidney, too, came down as a volunteer; which was another sore vexation, since his European fame would have made him practically joint commander of the fleet, although he was not a naval officer at all. But he had the good sense to go back; whereupon Drake, fearing further interruptions from the court, ordered everything to be tumbled into the nearest ships and hurried off to sea under a press of sail.
The first port of call was Vigo in the northwestern corner of Spain, where Drake's envoy told the astonished governor that Elizabeth wanted to know what Philip intended doing about embargoes now. If the governor wanted peace, he must listen to Drake's arguments; if war—well, Drake was ready to begin at once. A three-days' storm interrupted the proceedings; after which the English intercepted the fugitive townsfolk whose flight showed that the governor meant to make a stand, though he had said the embargo had been lifted and that all the English prisoners were at liberty to go. Some English sailors, however, were still being held; so Drake sent in an armed party and brought them off, with a good pile of reprisal booty too. Then he put to sea and made for the Spanish Main by way of the Portuguese African islands.
The plan of campaign drawn up for Burleigh's information still exists. It shows that Drake, the consummate raider, was also an admiral of the highest kind. The items, showing how long each part should take and what loot each place should yield, are exact and interesting. But it is in the relation of every part to every other part and to the whole that the original genius of the born commander shines forth in all its glory. After taking San Domingo he was to sack Margarita, La Hacha, and Santa Marta, razing their fortifications as he left. Cartagena and Nombre de Dios came next. Then Carleill was to raid Panama, with the help of the Maroons, while Drake himself was to raid the coast of Honduras. Finally, with reunited forces, he would take Havana and, if possible, hold it by leaving a sufficient garrison behind. Thus he would paralyze New Spain by destroying all the points of junction along its lines of communication just when Philip stood most in need of its help for completing the Great Armada.
But, like a mettlesome steeplechaser, Drake took a leap in his stride during the preliminary canter before the great race. The wind being foul for the Canaries, he went on to the Cape Verde archipelago and captured Santiago, which had been abandoned in terror on the approach of the English 'Dragon,' that sinister hero of Lope de Vega's epic onslaught La Dragontea. As good luck would have it, Carleill marched in on the anniversary of the Queen's accession, the 17th of November. So there was a royal salute fired in Her Majesty's honor by land and sea. No treasure was found, French privateers had sacked the place three years before and had killed off everyone they caught; the Portuguese, therefore, were not going to wait to meet the English 'Dragon' too. The force that marched inland failed to unearth the governor. So San Domingo, Santiago, and Porto Pravda were all burnt to the ground before the fleet bore away for the West Indies.
San Domingo in Hispaniola (Hayti) was made in due course, but only after a virulent epidemic had seriously thinned the ranks. San Domingo was the oldest town in New Spain and was strongly garrisoned and fortified. But Carleill's soldiers carried all before them. Drake battered down the seaward walls. The Spaniards abandoned the citadel at night, and the English took the whole place as a New Year's gift for 1586. But again there was no treasure. The Spaniards had killed off the Caribs in war or in the mines, so that nothing was now dug out. Moreover the citizens were quite on their guard against adventurers and ready to hide what they had in the most inaccessible places. Drake then put the town up to ransom and sent out his own Maroon boy servant to bring in the message from the Spanish officer proposing terms. This Spaniard, hating all Maroons, ran his lance through the boy and cantered away. The boy came back with the last ounce of his strength and fell dead at Drake's feet. Drake sent to say he would hang two Spaniards every day if the murderer was not hanged by his own compatriots. As no one came he began with two friars. Then the Spaniards brought in the offender and hanged him in the presence of both armies.
That episode cleared the air; and an interchange of courtesies and hospitalities immediately followed. But no business was done. Drake therefore began to burn the town bit by bit till twenty-five thousand ducats were paid. It was very little for the capital. But the men picked up a good deal of loot in the process and vented their ultra-Protestant zeal on all the 'graven images' that were not worth keeping for sale. On the whole the English were well satisfied. They had taken all the Spanish ships and armament they wanted, destroyed the rest, liberated over a hundred brawny galley-slaves—some Turks among them—all anxious for revenge, and had struck a blow at Spanish prestige which echoed back to Europe. Spain never hid her light under a bushel; and here, in the Governor's Palace, was a huge escutcheon with a horse standing on the earth and pawing at the sky. The motto blazoned on it was to the effect that the earth itself was not enough for Spain—Non sufficit orbis. Drake's humor was greatly tickled, and he and his officers kept asking the Spaniards to translate the motto again and again.
Delays and tempestuous head winds induced Drake to let intermediate points alone and make straight for Cartagena on the South American mainland. Cartagena had been warned and was on the alert. It was strong by both nature and art. The garrison was good of its kind, though the Spaniards' custom of fighting in quilted jackets instead of armor put them at a disadvantage. This custom was due to the heat and to the fact that the jackets were proof against the native arrows.
There was an outer and an inner harbor, with such an intricate and well-defended passage that no one thought Drake would dare go in. But he did. Frobisher had failed to catch a pilot. But Drake did the trick without one, to the utter dismay of the Spaniards. After some more very clever manoeuvres, to distract the enemy's attention from the real point of attack, Carleill and the soldiers landed under cover of the dark and came upon the town where they were least expected, by wading waist-deep through the water just out of sight of the Spanish gunners. The entrenchments did not bar the way in this unexpected quarter. But wine casks full of rammed earth had been hurriedly piled there in case the mad English should make the attempt. Carleill gave the signal. Goring's musketeers sprang forward and fired into the Spaniards' faces. Then Sampson's pikemen charged through and a desperate hand-to-hand fight ensued. Finally the Spaniards broke after Carleill had killed their standard-bearer and Goring had wounded and taken their commander. The enemies ran pell-mell through the town together till the English reformed in the Plaza. Next day Drake moved in to attack the harbor fort; whereupon it was abandoned and the whole place fell.
But again there was a dearth of booty. The Spaniards were getting shy of keeping too many valuables where they could be taken. So negotiations, emphasized by piecemeal destruction, went on till sickness and the lateness of the season put the English in a sorry fix. The sack of the city had yielded much less than that of San Domingo; and the men, who were all volunteers, to be paid out of plunder, began to grumble at their ill-success. Many had been wounded, several killed—big, faithful Tom Moone among them. A hundred died. More were ill. Two councils of war were held, one naval, the other military. The military officers agreed to give up all their own shares to the men. But the naval officers, who were poorer and who were also responsible for the expenses of their vessels, could not concur. Finally 110,000 ducats (equivalent in purchasing power to nearly three millions of dollars) were accepted.
It was now impossible to complete the programme or even to take Havana, in view of the renewed sickness, the losses, and the advance of the season. A further disappointment was experienced when Drake just missed the treasure fleet by only half a day, though through no fault of his own. Then, with constantly diminishing numbers of effective men, the course was shaped for the Spanish 'plantation' of St. Augustine in Florida. This place was utterly destroyed and some guns and money were taken from it. Then the fleet stood north again till, on the 9th of June, it found Raleigh's colony of Roanoke.
Ralph Lane, the governor, was in his fort on the island ready to brave it out. Drake offered a free passage home to all the colonists. But Lane preferred staying and going on with his surveys and 'plantation.' Drake then filled up a store ship to leave behind with Lane. But a terrific three-day storm wrecked the store ship and damped the colonists' enthusiasm so much that they persuaded Lane to change his mind. The colonists embarked and the fleet then bore away for home. Though balked of much it had expected in the way of booty, reduced in strength by losses, and therefore unable to garrison any strategic point which would threaten the life of New Spain, its purely naval work was a true and glorious success. When he arrived at Plymouth, Drake wrote immediately to Burleigh: 'My very good Lord, there is now a very great gap opened, very little to the liking of the King of Spain.'
This 'very great gap' on the American side of the Atlantic was soon to be matched by the still greater gap Drake was to make on the European side by destroying the Spanish Armada and thus securing that mightiest of ocean highways through which the hosts of emigration afterwards poured into a land endowed with the goodly heritage of English liberty and the English tongue.
The year of Drake's return (1586) was no less troublous than its immediate predecessors. The discovery of the Babington Plot to assassinate Elizabeth and to place Mary on the throne, supported by Scotland, France, and Spain, proved Mary's complicity, produced an actual threat of war from France, and made the Pope and Philip gnash their teeth with rage. The Roman Catholic allied powers had no sufficient navy, and Philip's credit was at its lowest ebb after Drake's devastating raid. The English were exultant, east and west; for the True Report of a Worthie Fight performed in the voiage from Turkie by Five Shippes of London against 11 gallies and two frigats of the King of Spain at Pantalarea, within the Straits [of Gibraltar] Anno 1586 was going the rounds and running a close second to Drake's West India achievement. The ignorant and thoughtless, both then and since, mistook this fight, and another like it in 1590, to mean that English merchantmen could beat off Spanish men-of-war. Nothing of the kind: the English Levanters were heavily armed and admirably manned by well-trained fighting crews; and what these actions really proved, if proof was necessary, was that galleys were no match for broadsides from the proper kind of sailing ships.