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Drake's reputation was now sufficiently advanced to incite detraction and opposition ; and it is easy to imagine that a man by nature superior to mean artifices, and bred, from his earliest years, to the labour and hardships of a sea life, was very little acquainted with policy and intrigue, very little versed in the methods of application to the powerful and great, and unable to obviate the practices of those whom his merit had made his enemies.
Nor are such the only opponents of great enterprises: there are some men, of narrow views and groveling conceptions, who, without the instigation of personal malice, treat every new attempt as wild and chimerical, and look upon every endeavour to depart from the beaten track as the rash effort of a warm imagination, or the glittering speculation of an exalted mind, that may please and dazzle for a time, but can produce no real or lasting advantage.
These men value themselves upon a perpetual scepticism, upon believing nothing but their own senses, upon calling for demonstration where it cannot possibly be obtained, and sometimes upon holding out against it when it is laid before them; upon inventing arguments against the success of any new undertaking, and, where arguments cannot be found, upon treating it with contempt and ridicule.
Such have been the most formidable enemies of the great benefactors to mankind, and to these we can hardly doubt but that much of the opposition which Drake met with is to be attributed; for their notions and discourse are so agreeable to the
lazy, the envious, and the timorous, that they seldom fail of becoming popular, and directing the opinions of mankind.
Whatsoever were his obstacles, and whatsoever the motives that produced them, it was not till the year 1577, that he was able to assemble a force proportioned to his design, and to obtain a commission from the queen, by which he was constituted captain general of a fleet consisting of five vessels, of which the Pelican, admiral, of an hundred tons, was commanded by himself; the Elizabeth, vice-admiral, of eighty tons, by John Winter; the Marigold, of thirty tons, by John Tho. mas; the Swan, fifty tons, by John Chester; the Christopher, of fifteen tons, by Thomas Moche, the same, as it seems, who was carpenter in the former voyage, and destroyed one of the ships by Drake's direction.
These ships, equipped partly by himself, and partly by other private adventurers, he manned with one hundred and sixty-four stout sailors, and furnished with such provisions as he judged ne. cessary for the long voyage in which he was engaged. Nor did he confine his concern to naval stores, or military preparations; but carried with him whatever he thought might contribute to raise in those nations, with which he should have any intercourse, the highest ideas of the politeness and magnificence of his native country. He therefore not only procured a complete service of silver for his own table, and furnished the cook-room with many
vessels of the same metal, but engaged several musicians to accompany him ; rightly judging that nothing would more excite the admiration of any savage and uncivilized people.
Having been driven back by a tempest in their first attempt, and obliged to return to Plymouth, to repair the damages which they had suffered, they set sail again from thence on the 13th of December, 1577, and on the 25th had sight of Cape Cantire in Barbary, from whence they coasted on southward to the island of Mogadore, which Drake had appointed for the first place of rendezvous, and on the 27th brought the whole fleet to anchor in a harbour on the main land.
They were soon after their arrival discovered by the Moors that inhabited those coasts, who sent two of the principal men amongst them on board Drake's ship, receiving at the same timetwo of his company as hostages. These men he not only treated in the most splendid manner, but presented with such things as they appeared most to admire; it being with him an established maxim, to endeavour to secure in every country a kind reception to such Englishmen as might come after him, by treating the inhabitants with kindness and generosity; a conduct at once just and politick, to the neglect of which may be attributed many of the injuries suffered by our sailors in distant countries, which are generally ascribed, rather to the effects of wickedness and folly of our own commanders, than the barbarity of the natives, who seldom fall upon any unless they have been first plundered or insulted; and, in revenging the ravages of one crew upon another of the same nation, are guilty of nothing but what is countenanced by the example of the Europeans themselves.
But this friendly intercourse was in appearance soon broken; for, on the next day observing the Moors making signals from the land, they sent out their boat, as before, to fetch them to the ship, and one John Fry leaped ashore, intending to become a hostage as on the former day, when immediately he was seized by the Moors; and the crew, observing great numbers to start up from behind the rock with weapons in their hands, found it madness to attempt his rescue, and therefore provided for their own security by returning to the ship.
Fry was immediately carried to the king, who, being then in continual expectation of an invasion from Portugal, suspected that these ships were sent only to observe the coast, and discover a proper harbour for the main fleet; but being informed who they were, and whither they were bound, not only dismissed his captive, but made large offers of friendship and assistance, which Drake, however, did not stay to receive, but being disgusted at this breach of the laws of commerce, and afraid of farther violence, after having spent some days in searching for his man, in which he met with no resistance, left the coast on December 31, some time before Fry's return, who, being obliged by this accident to somewhat a longer residence among the Moors, was afterwards sent home in a merchant's ship.
On January 16, they arrived at Cape Blanc, having in their passage taken several Spanish vessels. Here while Drake was employing his men in catching fish, of which this coast affords great plenty, and various kinds, the inhabitants came down to the sea-side with their alisorges, or leather-bottles, to traffick for water, which they were willing to purchase with ambergrise and other gums. But Drake, compassionating the misery of their condition, gave them water whenever they asked for it, and left them their commodities to traffick with, when they should be again reduced to the same distress, without finding the same generosity to relieve them.
Here having discharged some Spanish ships which they had taken, they set sail towards the isles of Cape Verd, and on January 28 came to anchor before Mayo, hoping to furnish themselves with fresh water ; but having landed, they found the town by the water's side entirely deserted, and, marching farther up the country, saw the valleys extremely fruitful, and abounding with ripe figs, cocoas, and plantains, but could by no means prevail upon the inhabitants to converse or traffick with them: however, they were suffered by them to range the country without molestation, but found no water, except at such a distance from the sea that the labour of conveying it to the ships was greater than it was at that time necessary for them to undergo. Salt, had they wanted it, might have been obtained with less trouble, being left by the sea upon the sand, and hardened by the sun during the ebb, in such quantities, that the chief traffick of their island is carried on with it.
January 31, they passed by St. Jago, an island at that time divided between the natives and the Portuguese, who, first entering these islands under the show of traffick, by degrees established them. selves, claimed a superiority over the original inhabitants, and harassed them with such cruelty, that they obliged them either to fly to the woods and mountains, and perish with hunger, or to take arms against their oppressors, and, under the insuperable disadvantages with which they con