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fidelity, that his master dying unmarried left him his little vessel in reward of his services; a circumstance that deserves to be remembered, not only as it may illustrate the private character of this brave man, but as it may bint, to all those who may
hereafter propose his conduct for their imi. tation, That virtue is the surest foundation both of reputation and fortune, and that the first step to greatness is to be honest.
If it were not improper to dwell longer on an incident at the first view so inconsiderable, it might be added, That it deserves the reflection of those, who, when they are engaged in affairs not adequate to their abilities, pass them over with a contemptuous neglect, and while they amuse themselves with chimerical schemes, and plans of future undertakings, suffer every opportunity of smaller advantage to slip away as unworthy their regard. They may learn from the example of Drake, that diligence in employments of less consequence is the most successful introduction to greater enterprises.
After having followed for some time his master's profession, he grew weary of so narrow a province, and, having sold his little vessel, ventured his effects in the new trade to the West Indies, which, having not been long discovered, and very little frequented by the English till that time, were conceived so much to abound in wealth, that no voyage thither could fail of being recompensed by great advantages. Nothing was talked of among the mercantile or adventurous part of mankind, but the beauty and riches of this new world. Fresh discoveries were frequently made, new countries and nations never heard of before were daily de
scribed, and it may easily be concluded that the relaters did not diminish the merit of their attempts, by suppressing or diminishing any circumstance that might produce wonder, or excite curiosity. Nor was their vanity only engaged in raising admirers, but their interest likewise in procuring adventurers, who were indeed easily gained by the hopes which naturally arise from new prospects, though through ignorance of the American seas, and by the malice of the Spaniards, who from the first discovery of those countries considered every other nation that attempted to follow them as invaders of their rights, the best concerted designs often miscarried.
Among those who suffered most from the Spanish injustice, was Capt. John Hawkins, who, having been admitted by the viceroy to traffick in the bay of Mexico, was, contrary to the stipulation then made between them, and in violation of the
peace between Spain and England, attacked without any declaration of hostilities, and obliged, after an obstinate resistance, to retire with the loss of four ships, and a great number of his men, who were either destroyed, or carried into slavery.
In this voyage Drake had adventured almost all his fortune, which he in vain endeavoured to recover, both by his own private interest, and by obtaining letters from Queen Elizabeth ; for the Spaniards, deaf to all remonstrances, either vindicated the injustice of the viceroy, or at least forbore to redress it.
Drake, thus oppressed and impoverished, retained at least his courage and his industry, that
ardent spirit that prompted him to adventures, and that indefatigable patience that enabled him to surmount difficulties. He did not sit down idly to lament misfortunes which heaven had put it in his power to remedy, or to repine at poverty while the wealth of his enemies was to be gained. But having made two voyages to America for the sake of gaining intelligence of the state of the Spanish settlements, and acquainted himself with the seas and coasts, he determined on a third expedition of more importance, by which the Spaniards should find how imprudently they always act who injure and insult a brave man.
On the 24th of May, 1572, Francis Drake set sail from Plymouth in the Pascha of seventy tons, accompanied by the Swan of twenty-five tons, commanded by his brother John Drake, having in both the vessels seventy-three men and boys, with a year's provision, and such artillery and ammunition as was necessary for his undertaking, which, however incredible it may appear to such as consider rather his force than his fortitude, was no less than to make reprisals upon the most powerful nation in the world.
The wind continuing favourable, they entered, June 29, between Guadalupe and Dominica, and on July 6th saw the island of Santa Martha ; then continuing their course, after having been becalmed for some time, they arrived at Port Pheasant, so named by Drake in a former voyage, to the east of Nombre de Dios. Here he proposed to build his pinnaces, which he had brought in pieces ready framed from Plymouth, and was going ashore with a few men unarmed, but, discovering
a smoke at a distance, ordered the other boat to follow him with a greater force.
Then marching towards the fire, which was in the top of a high tree, he found a plate of lead nailed to another tree, with an inscription engraved upon it by one Garret, an Englishman, who had left that place but five days before, and had taken this method of informing him that the Spaniards had been advertised of his intention to anchor at that place, and that it therefore would be prudent to make a very short stay there.
But Drake knowing how convenient this place was for his designs, and considering that the hazard and waste of time which could not be avoided in seeking another station, was equivalent to any other danger which was to be apprehended from the Spaniards, determined to follow his first resolution ; only, for his greater security, he ordered a kind of palisade, or fortification, to be made, by felling large trees, and laying the trunks and branches one upon another by the side of the river.
On July 20, having built their pinnaces, and being joined by one Capt. Rause, who happened to touch at the same place with a bark of fifty men, they set sail towards Nombre de Dios, and, taking two frigates at the island of Pines, were informed by the Negroes which they found in them, that the inhabitants of that place were in expectation of some soldiers, which the governor of Panama had promised, to defend them from the Symerons, or fugitive Negroes, who, having escaped from the tyranny of their masters in great numbers, had settled themselves under two kings, or leaders, on each side of the way between Nombre de Dios and Panama, and not only asserted their natural right to liberty and independence, but endeavoured to revenge the cruelties they had suffered, and had lately put the inhabitants of Nombre de Dios into the utmost consternation.
Those Negroes the captain set on shore on the main land, so that they might, by joining the Symerons, recover their liberty, or at least might not have it in their power to give the people of Nombre de Dios any speedy information of his intention to invade them.
Then selecting fifty-three men from his own company, and twenty from the crew of his new associate captain Rause, he embarked with them in his pinnaces, and set sail for Nombre de Dios.
On July the 28th, at night, he approached the town undiscovered, and dropt his anchors under the shore, intending, after his men were refreshed, to begin the attack; but finding that they were terrifying each other with formidable accounts of the strength of the place, and the multitude of the inhabitants, he determined to hinder the panick from spreading farther, by leading them immediately to action; and therefore ordering them to their oars, he landed without any opposition, there being only one gunner upon the bay, though it was secured with six brass cannons of the largest size ready mounted. But the gunner, while they were throwing the cannons from their carriages, alarmed the town, as they soon discovered by the bell, the drums, and the noise of the people.
Drake, leaving twelve inen to guard the pinnaces, marched round the town with no great op