« PreviousContinue »
topher, a pinnace of 15 tons, Captain Moon. The whole number of hands embarked amounted only to one hundred and sixty-four able men.
With this inconsiderable armament in November, 1577, he set sail from Plymouth : and in the May ensuing entered the port of St. Julian, where having continued about two months in order to make the necessary preparations for passing the Streights with safety, he suddenly called a court-martial in a desert island lying in the bay, and opened his commission; by which the Queen granted him the power of life and death, delivered to him with this remarkable expression from her own mouth : “We do account that he, Drake, who strikes at thee, does strike at us.” He then eloquently explained the reason of his having assembled them (for, though his education had been slender, he was an excellent speaker) and proceeded to charge Mr. John Doughty, who had been second in command during the whole voyage, with having plotted first to murther him, and next to ruin the enterprise." I had,” said he, “the first notice of this gentleman's intentions before he left England; but I was in hopes, that my behaviour to him would have extinguished such dispositions, if there had been any truth in the information.” He next exposed his practices during the period, when he himself was behaving toward him with all the kindness and cordiality of a brother; and supported his charge by producing papers under his own hand, upon which the criminal made a full and free confession. After this, Drake quitted his place, telling the assembly, that · he expected from their mouths a verdict; as he would not be a judge in his own cause.'
Camden says, he was tried by a jury. The accounts affirm, that the whole forty persons, of which the court consisted, adjudged him to death, and gave their sentence in writing under their hands and seals, leaving the time and manner of it to the General. Upon this, Drake, having maturely weighed the whole affair, offered the convict his choice of three things: to be beheaded on the island, where they then were; to be set on shore on the main land; or to be sent home to abide the justice of his country. After being indulged with a day for deliberation, he made the first his choice; received the sacrament subsequently with the General, and having dined cheerfully with the officers, of whom he severally took leave as if he had been going a journey, walked very composedly to the place prepared for his execution, and submitted to his fate with the most philosophical fortitude, in July, 1578.*
* This is the most authentic account of his catastrophe; but as it was well known that Leicester bore a mortal hatred to Doughty, for having accused him of poisoning the Earl of Essex, it was credited by many at the time, and has been recorded by some historians, that Drake had secret orders to take him off, on some pretence or other; and that, jealous of his rising fame (as he was both a skilful mariner, and a man of great courage and conduct) he too readily consented to execute this bloody commission. This imputation, however, is not supported by any satisfactory evidence; and therefore it is but fair to try the accusation, as in every other case of the same kind, by the general character of the accused. On this equitable system, Drake must stand acquitted.
This island had been the scene of another tragedy of the same kind fifty-eight years before, when Magellan caused John de Carthagena, who was joined in commission with him by the King of Spain, to be hanged for the like offence; and hence it was called, the island of True Justice.'
After a difficult navigation through the Streights of Magellan, Drake found himself in September in the Great South-Sea. Here he met with such tempestuous weather for fifty-two days with little or no intermission, that he was forced back to the westward nearly a hundred leagues, and lost two of his vessels, the Marygold and the Elizabeth.*
He had now only his own ship, which he had newnamed the Hind. With this he arrived at Macao in November, 1578; and thence sailing along the coasts of Chili and Peru, he grievously annoyed the Spaniards, taking and destroying several ships (particularly in the harbour of Lima) and frequently landing to seize rich booties, till his crew were satiated with plunder: when he boldly attempted to find a passage by North-America, but there encountering, N. lat. 42', severe cold, and open shores covered with snow, he returned back to 38°, and in a harbour in the northern part of California was idolatrously † received by the Indian inhabitants, who in their enthusiasm offered to make him their king.
* The latter returned through the Streights, and arrived safe in England in June, 1579, being the first ship that ever made that passage homeward. Drake had, previously, turned the Swan and the Christopher adrift.
+ " Their cruel rites and mistaken honours,” says Johnson, were by no means agreeable to Drake, whose predominant sentiments were notions of piety: and therefore, not to make that criminal in himself by his concurrence, which perhaps ignorance might make guiltless in them, he ordered his whole company to fall upon their knees; and with their
lifted to heaven, that the savages might observe that their worship was addressed to a Being residing there, they all joined in praying that this harmless and deluded people might be brought to the knowledge of the true religion, and the doctrines of our Blessed Saviour.” VOL. II.
To this country Drake gave the name of “ New Albion;' and erecting a stone-pillar, he inscribed upon it the name, stile, and titles of Queen Elizabeth, denoting his having taken possession of the country for his Sovereign, to which he added his own name, and the date of this transaction. Some of the Queen's coins, likewise, were deposited under it's base; after which, having careened his ship, he set sail for the Molucca islands. By this passage he chose to return, rather than by the Streights of Magellan; partly from the fear of being attacked by the Spaniards, and partly from the lateness of the season, and the risk of hurricanes.
In 1579, Drake fell in with certain islands, inhabited by the most barbarous people he had met with throughout his whole voyage. On the fourth of November, he had sight of the Moluccas; and, casting anchor before Ternate, was well received by the king of the island. In making Celebes in December, his ship struck upon a rock, from which, after throwing overboard eight of her guns and some valuable merchandise, she was got off with the utmost difficulty. Then touching at Java, after many civilities from one of it's chieftains he continued his course to the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived safe at Plymouth about the close of the year 1580; having, to the great admiration of his contemporaries, circumnavigated the globe in less than three years.
* They found, to their surprise (being indifferent astrono, mers) that they had lost a day in their account of time, it being Sunday by their journals, and Monday by the general computation. Drake was the first commander-in-chief, who had achieved this enterprise ; as Magellan died during his voyage, and his ship was brought round by his successor Cano.
His success in this voyage, and the immense treasure which he brought home with him, became the general topic of conversation; some loudly commending, and others as loudly censuring him. In the following spring, however, her Majesty decisively sanctioned the opinion of the former, by going on board his ship at Deptford, and conferring upon him the honour of knighthood. She also gave directions for the preservation of the vessel, that it might remain a monument in honour of himself and his country.*
In 1585 Sir Francis, now Admiral, Drake was sent upon an expedition against the Spanish West-India settlements, with a fleet of twenty-one sail, having on board two thousand land-forces under the command of Christopher Carlisle. 'Making the Cape de Verd Islands in his way, he landed at St. Jago, and carried off a considerable booty. Thence he proceeded to Hispaniola, and took St. Domingo, Carthagena, and St. Augustine; by which he surpassed the most sanguine hopes of his warmest admirers. Yet the profits of this voyage were very inconsiderable, his instructions being rather to weaken the enemy, than to take prizes.
Two years afterward, he proceeded to Lisbon with a fleet of thirty sail; and receiving intelligence of a
* This celebrated vessel, after having been for many years viewed with wonder at Deptford, was at length through mere decay broken up,
chair made out of it's planks was presented to the University of Oxford, where it is still preserved. In the applause, bestowed upon this occasion by the Sovereign, the nation readily concurred. The fame of Drake became a favourite theme; and verses were written to celebrate the ship, which
“ Had match'd in race the chariot of the sun."