by Richard Hakluyt April 2nd, 2023
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Three years later Drake had begun his preparations for his crowning exploit in the voyage round the globe. In the interim he had served voluntarily in Ireland (1573) under the Earl of Essex, furnishing at his own expense three frigates, with their equipment of munitions and men. This service brought him a strong friend and ultimate patron in Sir Christopher Hatton, then vice-chamberlain. And by Hatton he had been favourably presented to the queen, who received him most flatteringly, and is said to have encouraged him to follow up his attacks upon the colonies of Spain, her bitterest enemy, though yet nominally at peace with her.
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The Boy's Hakluyt: English Voyages of Adventure and Discovery by Richard Hakluyt is part of the HackerNoon Books Series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here. ON THE PACIFIC COAST


Three years later Drake had begun his preparations for his crowning exploit in the voyage round the globe. In the interim he had served voluntarily in Ireland (1573) under the Earl of Essex, furnishing at his own expense three frigates, with their equipment of munitions and men. This service brought him a strong friend and ultimate patron in Sir Christopher Hatton, then vice-chamberlain. And by Hatton he had been favourably presented to the queen, who received him most flatteringly, and is said to have encouraged him to follow up his attacks upon the colonies of Spain, her bitterest enemy, though yet nominally at peace with her.

This voyage was planned with the utmost secrecy and its real object was carefully concealed. Even when the fleet had actually set sail the company on board were not aware of their true destination; and the mystery enveloping the enterprise most fascinated the bold and daring spirits enlisted in it. The statement had been given out that Constantinople was the goal of the voyage, but it was pretty generally felt that sooner or later the Spanish American possessions would be reached. Spain, which at length had been apprised by her envoy of Drake’s movements, shrewdly suspected that his aim, as before, was the Spanish Main; and it was the Spaniards’ belief that he particularly contemplated a fresh attack upon Nombre de Dios and the “Treasure of the World.” To prey upon Spanish ships and loot Spanish possessions was indeed an uppermost purpose with him, but his scheme involved a far greater sweep of operations than the Spaniards imagined. He meant, above all, to accomplish his ardent desire expressed on that tree top on the Isthmus of Panama, to sail an English ship into and to explore the Pacific, and incidentally to harass the Spanish colonies on the Pacific Coast, which from Patagonia to California was then under Spanish rule. The encompassing of the globe, however, was an afterthought growing out of the circumstances in which he found himself on the western North American coast.

The fleet assembled for this voyage were five small ships, the largest of only one hundred tons, the smallest of fifteen, and the average of the whole lot fifty-five tons. They comprised: the “Pelican,” the flag-ship, and the largest, with Drake in command; the “Elizabeth,” eighty tons, Captain John Winter; the “Marigold,” thirty tons, Captain John Thomas; the “Swan,” a flyboat, fifty tons, Captain John Chester; the “Christopher,” a pinnace, fifteen tons, Captain Thomas Moon. And in the holds of the larger ships were stored four pinnaces in parts, to be set up when needed. The vessels were stocked and provisioned for a year or more. Some of them, at least Drake’s ship, were luxuriously furnished. We are told of his rich tableware embellished with silver, presumably some of it prizes taken on his previous voyage; of silver pots and kettles in the cook-room; and of other sumptuous fittings. “Neither,” says the historian, “had he omitted to make provision also for ornament and delight, carrying to this purpose with him expert musicians,” a band of fiddlers to play for him at dinners; “and divers shews of all sorts of curious workmanship whereby the civility and magnificence of his native country might amongst all nations whithersoever he should come, be the most admired.” The company comprised, according to the account which Hakluyt gives, one hundred and forty-six men, gentlemen and sailors; another puts the number at one hundred and sixty-three “stout and able seamen.”

They sailed out of Plymouth on the fifteenth of November, 1577. But this proved to be a false start. The wind falling contrary they were forced the next morning to put into Falmouth, where a furious tempest struck them and nearly wrecked the whole fleet. So they were obliged to return to Plymouth for repairs. The second start was made successfully, on the thirteenth of December. Twelve days later they were off the coast of Barbary, and on the second day they called at Magador, where they tarried long enough to put together one of their pinnaces. While at this work they entertained some of the natives, who promised to bring them choice provisions in return for gifts of linen cloth, shoes, and a javelin. But the next day an unlucky incident changed the aspect of affairs. A group supposed to have come with the provisions appeared at the water side and a shipboat was sent out to meet them. As the boat touched the shore a sailor sprang from it with outstretched hand to give a hearty sailor’s welcome. He was instantly seized, flung across a horse’s back and galloped away. It was afterward learned that this violent act was committed only to ascertain to whom the ships belonged. It was feared that they might be Portuguese ships, and these Moors were then at war with the Portuguese. The captured sailor was brought before a chief, and when this chief found out that the ships were English, the sailor was hurried back with apologies and loaded with presents. But the fleet was then gone. The sailor was returned to England at the first opportunity, none the worse for his experience.

From Magador the fleet coasted the shore and put next into port at Cape Blanco. On the way down their first captures were made. These included three Spanish fisher boats, “canters,”—or canteras, they were termed—and three Portuguese caravels, the latter bound to the Cape Verde Islands for salt. At Cape Blanco a ship was found riding at anchor with only two “simple mariners” aboard her. She was promptly taken and her cargo added to their spoil. In this harbour the fleet remained four days, during which time Drake mustered his men on land and trained them “in warlike manner to make them fit for all occasions.” Before departing he had shifted such things as he desired from the captured canters and returned them to their owners save one, for which he gave in exchange one of his little barks, called the “Benedict,” or the “Christopher,” which name the canter afterward bore. Only one also of the captured Portuguese caravels was retained. Next the Cape Verde Islands were reached, and a landing made at Mayo (Maio), where luscious fruits were added to their stock of provisions. Drake sent out a company of his men to view this island, and they feasted on “very ripe and sweet grapes,” and cocoa which was new to them. Next the fleet sailed by St. Jago [San Thiago], but far enough off to escape danger from the inhabitants whom they mistrusted: and properly, for the latter discharged three pieces at them as they passed by, the shot falling short of them. Off this island they took their richest prize thus far. She was one of two Portuguese ships to which they gave chase. They boarded her, when overhauled with a shipboat, without resistance. She yielded them with other valuable articles a good store of wine. Her pilot, one Nuno da Silva, was retained for service, which proved to be excellent, through a considerable part of the voyage, while the rest of her crew and her passengers, of whom there were several, were sent off in the newly set-up pinnace, graciously provided by her captors with a butt of wine out of their booty and some victuals. She was added to the fleet, with the name of “Mary” bestowed upon her, and put under 258the charge of Master Doughty, a volunteer and perhaps investor in the expedition, and a personal friend of Drake. Doughty was not a seafaring man, and he seems to have got into difficulty with his crew soon after taking command of the prize. Within a few days complaints of his conduct of her coming to Drake, he was called to the “Pelican,” and the captain’s own brother Thomas Drake (another younger brother) appointed to his place, the captain accompanying Thomas Drake on the prize. In the “Pelican” Doughty had no better luck, for complaints of abuse of his authority here soon arose. Accordingly he was deposed and sent to the “Swan” in no post of command. Farther along on the voyage he came to a tragic end, the central figure of a dramatic scene, as will appear later in this narrative. Next after San Thiago, Fuego (Fogo), the “burning island,” then throwing out volcanic flames, and lastly “Brava,” found in contrast a “most pleasant and sweet” isle, were passed.

Then they “drew towards the line,” where they were becalmed for three weeks, but yet “subject to divers great stormes, terrible lightnings, and much thunder.” Along with this “miserie,” however, they enjoyed an abundance of fish, as “Dolphins, Bonitos, Flying fishes,” some of the latter falling into their ships. It was now known to the company that their next destination was America, at Brazil.

From the moment of leaving the Cape Verde Islands, they sailed fifty-four days without sight of land. On the fifth of April the Brazilian coast presented itself to view. In the distance they saw fires on the coast. These they afterward learned were set by the natives when their ships were sighted, as a sacrifice to “the devils about which they use conjurations.” The custom of these natives, it seemed, whenever a strange ship approached the coast was to perform weird ceremonies to conjure the gathering of shoals and the outbreak of tempests by which the ship would be cast away. Two days afterward there actually came upon them a “mightie great storme both of lightning, rayne, and thunder,” during which they lost the “Christopher,” their captured canter. While sailing southward, however, they found her a few days later, and the place where she was met Drake called the “Cape of Joy.” Landing, they found no people, but the footprints they saw in the clay ground led them to believe that the inhabitants were “men of great statute,” if not giants. On or about the twenty-seventh of April they were at the great river La Plata. They merely entered it, and finding no good harbour bore to sea again. In bearing out the “Swan” was missed. They next made harbour in a fair bay where were a number of islands, on one of which were seen many “sea wolves” (seals). In early June they were anchored in another harbour, farther south, which they called “Seal Bay” because of the abundance of seal here. They killed from two hundred to three hundred of them, the chronicler averred, within an hour’s time. Again the “Swan” was found, and having become unseaworthy, she was stripped of her furnishings and burned. A few days later the “Christopher” was also discharged for the same reason. On the twentieth of June the fleet came to anchor at Port St. Julien, Patagonia, above the Strait of Magellan, giving entrance to the Pacific.

St. Julien was the original winter port of Magelhaens, so named and established by him, and whence he sailed to his discovery of the mysterious strait. Drake similarly made it his port for recuperation and preparation before attempting his passage of this strait to the goal of his ambition. Here two months were spent, while the ships were put in thorough condition,—three only, now, the “Mary,” the Portuguese prize, having been broken up on her arrival because leaky,—and the company disciplined for the better conduct of the adventures before them. The stay was most dramatically and painfully marked, however, by the trial, conviction, and beheading of Drake’s friend, the unfortunate Master Doughty, on the charge of inciting a mutiny in the fleet. The sight of a gibbet set up, as was supposed, seventy years before by Magelhaens for the execution of certain mutineers in his company, may have suggested this inexplicable proceeding, which has been the subject of much speculation by historians and of condemnation by Drake’s harsher critics. The affair is thus vividly reported, with careful particularity, by Hakluyt’s chronicler:

“The Generall began to inquire diligently of the actions of M. Thomas Doughtie and found them not to be such as he looked for, but tending rather to contention or mutinie, or some other disorder, whereby (without redresse) the successe of the voyage might greatly have been hazarded: whereupon the company was called together and made acquainted with the particulars of the cause, which were found partly by master Doughtie’s owne confession, and partly by the evidence of the fact, to be true: which when our Generall saw, although his private affection of M. Doughtie (as hee then in the presence of us all sacredly protested) was great, yet the care he had of the state of the voyage, of the expectation of her Majestie, and of the honour of his countrey did more touch him (as indeede it ought) then [than] the private respect of one man: so that the cause being thoroughly heard, and all things done in good order as neere as might be to the course of our lawes in England, it was concluded that M. Doughtie should receive punishment according to the qualitie of the offence: and he seeing no remedie but patience for himselfe, desired before his death to receive the Communion, which he did at the hands of M. Fletcher our Minister, and our Generall himselfe accompanied him in that holy action: which being done, and the place of execution made ready, hee having embraced our Generall and taken his leave of all the companie, with prayers for the Queenes majestie and our realme, in quiet sort laid his head to the blocke, where he ended his life.”

Whether he were guilty or not, Doughty’s fine courage and manly bearing throughout his ordeal calls only for admiration.

The execution over, Drake made a speech to the assembled company, persuading them to “unitie, obedience, love, and regard of” their voyage: and “for the better confirmation thereof” he “willed every man the next Sunday following to prepare himselfe to receive the Communion as Christian brethren and friends ought to doe.” This, the chronicler concludes, was done “in very reverent sort, and so with good contentment every man went about his businesse.”

St. Julien was left on the seventeenth of August, and on the twentieth the mouth of the Strait of Magellan was reached. At the entrance, Drake, as another chronicler recorded, caused the fleet, in homage to the queen of England, to “strike their topsails upon the bunt as a token of his willing and glad mind to shew his dutiful obedience to her highness, whom he acknowledged to have full interest and right” in his discoveries; and he formally changed the name of his own ship from the “Pelican” to the “Golden Hind,” in remembrance of his “honourable friend and favourer,” Sir Christopher Hatton, whose crest bore this design. Then the chaplain delivered a sermon and the ceremonies closed.

The passage of the strait was successfully made in the remarkable time of sixteen days, and on the sixth of September the little fleet emerged in the sea of their desire on the “backside” of America.

Instead, however, of the tranquil ocean that Magelhaens had named the Pacific, because of its serenity when he first saw it, they encountered a rough and turbulent water; and no sooner had they cleared the strait than a great storm arose by which they were driven some two hundred leagues westward, and separated. The “Golden Hind” was struggling against the almost continuous tempest for full fifty-three days. From the west she was carried south as far as fifty-seven degrees, and Drake was enabled to see the union of the Atlantic and the Pacific, and by chance to discover Cape Horn. He sighted numerous islands, and gave the name of the “Elizabethides” to the whole group of Tierra del Fuego. While beating about west and south the fleet came together again, but only soon to be parted forever. In the middle of September a harbour was temporarily made in a bay which Drake called the “Bay of Severing Friends.” Working northward again they stood in a bay near the strait. The next day the cable of the “Golden Hind” parted and she drove out to sea. Thus she lost sight of the “Elizabeth,” and never saw her more. It was supposed that she had been put by the storm into the strait again, and that she would ultimately be met somewhere above. The first part of this supposition was correct. She had recovered the strait. But instead of returning to the Pacific course Captain Winter made the passage back to the Atlantic, and so continued his voyage homeward, reaching England on the first of November. Captain Winter prepared an account of his companionship with Drake from the start, and of his experiences after parting with him, which Hakluyt reproduced. On the second of October the “Marigold,” in trying to regain lost ground, fell away from the “Golden Hind” and 264afterward (though Drake was not aware of her fate) foundered with all on board.

Now the “Golden Hind” was left alone with a single pinnace. Subsequently the pinnace with eight men in her separated from him and was seen no more. Her crew, as was some years after related by the single survivor, had marvellous adventures, which included the return passage through the strait; a voyage to the River La Plata; fights with Indians in woods on the shore; escape of those left alive to a lone island, where the pinnace was dashed to pieces on the rocks; two months on this island by the survivors, now only two, who subsisted on crabs, eels, and fruits with no water to drink; and final escape to the mainland by means of a raft of plank, where one of the two died from over-indulgence in the sweet water of a rivulet.

At length after her wanderings southward the “Golden Hind” with a favourable wind got fairly off on a northwestern course. Again coming to the height of the strait she coasted upward, Drake always hoping to meet or hear of his missing consorts. Through the inaccuracy of his charts he was carried more to the westward than he intended, and on the twenty-ninth of November fell in with an island called la Mocha. Here he came to anchor in the hope of obtaining water and fresh provisions, and of recuperating. Taking ten of his men he rowed ashore. The inhabitants were found to be Patagonians, who had been compelled by the “cruell and extreme dealings of the Spaniards” to flee from the mainland and fortify themselves on this island. They thronged down to the water side with “shew of great courtesie,” and offered potatoes, roots, and two fat sheep, Drake in return giving them trinkets. A supply of water was also promised by them. But the next day when the same party rowed to the shore and two men were put on land with barrels to be filled, the people, mistaking these men for Spaniards, seized and slew them. Another account says that in attempting to rescue their comrades the party were assailed, and Drake was wounded in the face by arrows. The ship then at once weighed anchor and got off.

Drawing toward the coast again, the next day anchor was dropped in a bay called St. Philip. Here an Indian came out in a canoe, and taking the “Golden Hind” to be Spanish, told of a great Spanish ship at a place called “S. Iogo” (Valparaiso), laden from Peru. For this exhilarating news Drake rewarded the canoeist with divers trifles, and under his pilotage straightway put off for Valparaiso to seize the prize if there. True enough, she was found in that harbour riding quietly at anchor, with only eight Spaniards and three Negroes on board. They also supposing the new comer to be Spanish, welcomed her with beat of drum and made ready a “Bottija [a Spanish pot] of wine of Chili to drink” to her men. So soon, however, as the craft was come up to, one of Drake’s impatient men began to lay about him, and striking one of the Spaniards cried “Abaxo Perro, that is in English Goe downe dogge!” This, in modern parlance, gave the “Golden Hind” away. But not a moment was lost in parley. “To be short,” says the chronicler, “wee stowed them away under hatches all save one Spaniard, who suddenly and desperately leapt over board into the sea, and swamme ashore to the towne ... to give them warning of our arrival.” There were then in Valparaiso “not above nine households,” and it was instantly abandoned. Drake proceeded to rifle the place. A lot of Chili wine was taken from a warehouse, and from a chapel a silver chalice, two cruets, and an altar cloth were carried off. All of the pious spoil was generously given by Drake to his chaplain, Master Fletcher. This business done, all of the prisoners were freed with one exception, John Griego, a Greek, whom Drake held to serve him as pilot to the haven of Lima, and the “Golden Hind” set sail again with the Spanish prize in tow. She was rifled leisurely when at sea, and produced “good store of the wine of Chili, 25,000 pezoes of very pure and fine gold of Baldivia, amounting in value to 37,000 ducats of Spanish money or above.” This was reckoned a pretty fine haul for the first one on the Pacific coast, but greater were to follow.

The voyagers still kept in with the coast and next arrived at “a place called Coquinobo” (perhaps Copiapo). Here Drake sent fourteen of his men to land for fresh water. They were espied and a body of horsemen and footmen dashed upon and killed one of them. Then the attacking force quickly disappeared. The Englishmen went ashore again and buried their comrade. Meanwhile the Spaniards reappeared with a flag of truce. But they were not trusted, and as soon as his men had returned Drake again put to sea. He now had a new pinnace, having at this place set up another of the three brought out ready framed. The next place at which a landing was made was Tarapaca. On the shore a Spaniard was found lying asleep with thirteen bars of silver beside him. Drake’s party took the silver and left the man. Not far from this place a boat’s load going ashore for water met a Spaniard with an Indian boy driving eight “llamas,” sheep of Peru, as “big as asses,” each carrying on its back two leather bags, together containing one hundred pounds’ weight of silver. They took the sheep with their burdens, and let the man and boy go. Still coasting along the buccaneering voyagers came next to the port of Arica. In this haven lay three barks well freighted with silver. They were instantly boarded and relieved of their cargoes. From one alone were taken fifty-seven wedges of silver, each of “the bigness of a brickbat,” and of about twenty pounds’ weight. They were unprotected, their crews having fled to the town at the approach of the Englishmen. Drake would have ransacked the town had his company been larger. As it was, the spoil of the barks so easily taken contented him. Now he was bound for Lima. Along the way he fell in with a bark which, being boarded and rifled, produced a good store of linen cloth. When as much of this stuff as was desired had been taken the bark was cast off.

Callao, the port of Lima, was reached on the thirteenth of February, and entered without resistance. A dozen or more ships were met in this haven, lying at anchor, all without their sails, these having been taken ashore, for the masters and merchants here felt perfectly secure, never having been assaulted by enemies and fearing the approach of none such as Drake’s company were. All were held up and rifled. In one were found fifteen hundred bars of silver; in another a chest of coined money, and stocks of silks and linen cloth. Drake questioned the crews as to any knowledge they might have of his lost consorts, for which he had kept up a continual lookout; but he could learn nothing from them. He learned something else, however, which hastened his departure. This was that a very rich Spanish ship, laden with treasure, had sailed out of this port just before his arrival, bound for Panama. She was the “glory of the South Sea,” named the “Cacafuego,” in English equivalent the “Spitfire.” Drake was soon in full chase of her, and to prevent himself being followed from Callao he cut all the cables of the twelve ships, letting them drive as they would, to sea or ashore.


On this run he paused long enough to overhaul and loot a brigantine, taking out of her eighty pounds’ weight of gold, a gold crucifix studded with emeralds, and some cordage which would come in handy on his ship. Drake promised his men that whichever should first sight the “Cacafuego” should be rewarded with the gold chain he wore. It fortuned that his brother John, “going up into the top,” spied her at three o’clock one afternoon, and so won the chain. By six she was reached and ordered to stand. Three pieces of ordnance were shot off at her and struck down her mizzen. She was then boarded and easily possessed. Her treasure comprised jewels, precious stones, eighty pounds of gold, and twenty-six tons of silver. Among some plate were two gilded silver bowls which belonged to her pilot, Francisco by name. These particularly took Drake’s fancy. So with suavity he observed to their owner, “Senor Pilot, you have here two silver cups, but I must have one of them.” The “Senor Pilot” responded as affably, and, “because he could not otherwise chuse,” handed over one to the general and bestowed the other upon the steward of the “Golden Hind.” As he departed his boy, a lad with a clever wit, spoke up to Drake, "Captain, our ship shall be called no more the ‘Cacafuego’ but the ‘Cacaplata,’ and your ship shall be called the ‘Cacafuego.’" “Which prettie speech of the Pilot’s boy,” the chronicler records, “ministered matter of laughter to us, both then and long after.”

The point where this prize was taken is given as some one hundred and fifty leagues below Panama. She was sailed out into the sea beyond the sight of land, and there rifled. When this was done Drake cast her off and continued on his course up the coast, standing out to the westward to avoid Panama, where he was too well known. On an early April day, another fine ship was met with. She was taken without resistance. She was a merchant ship from Acapulco, in Mexico, rich laden with linen cloth, China silks, and porcelain ware. Her owner was on board, a Spanish gentleman, Don Francisco de Carate. Drake treated him with great courtesy, and evidently won his admiration, for we read that he gave his captor a handsomely wrought falcon of gold with a great emerald set in the breast. Drake in return gave him a hanger and silver brazier. He released the merchant after three days when, having finished his business with the captured ship, he suffered her to continue on her voyage. The pilot, however, was retained for his service. Afterward Carate gave a careful account of his experience with Drake in a letter to the viceroy of New Spain, and to this letter we are indebted for an engaging description of Drake’s outfit, his characteristics, and his person.

This intelligent and gracious witness pictures the general as “about thirty-five, of small size, and reddish beard,” and characterises him as “one of the greatest sailors that exist both for his skill and for his power of commanding.” His men were “all in the prime of life and as well trained for war as if they were old soldiers of Italy.” He treated them “with affection, and they him with respect.” Among them were “nine or ten gentlemen, younger sons of leading men in England,” who formed his council. But he was not bound by their advice, though he might be guided by it. These young gentlemen all dined with him at his table. The service was of silver “richly gilt and engraved with his arms.” He dined and supped to the music of violins. He had “all possible luxuries, even to perfumes.” He had two draughtsmen, who portrayed the coast “in its own colours.” His ship carried thirty large guns, and a great quantity of ammunition, as well as artificers who could execute necessary repairs.

Carate’s retained pilot directed Drake up to and along the coast of North America, and about the middle of April had brought him to the Mexican haven of “Guatulco” (Acapulco). He landed with a few of his men and went presently to the town, where, in the Town-House, a trial of three Negroes charged with conspiring to burn the place was proceeding. Judge, officers, and prisoners were all seized and brought to the ship. The judge was required to write a letter commanding the townspeople to “avoid” that the ship might water here. This done, and the captives released, Drake’s men ransacked the town. In one house they found a pot of the size of a bushel full of reals of plate. A flying Spanish gentleman was overtaken and a gold chain and jewels were filched from him. At this port Nuna da Silva, the Portuguese pilot retained all along from the time of his capture in the Cape Verde Islands, was discharged and put aboard a Spanish ship in the harbour. He subsequently made a written report to the viceroy of New Spain, comprising a circumstantial account of the voyage as far as he was compelled to make it. This account passed from that official to the viceroy of the Portugal-Indies, and some years afterward got to England, when Hakluyt published it. It follows the narrative of the chronicler of Drake’s company in the Principal Navigations, and well supplements that.

Now, at Acapulco, or at an island below this port which the chronicler calls “Canno,” while his “Golden Hind” was undergoing a complete refitting, Drake was pondering his future course. His ship was rich in treasure, and his company were thinking of home. He now felt himself “both in respect of his private injuries received from the Spaniards, as also of the contempts and indignities offered” to his country, “sufficiently satisfied and revenged”; and he believed that the queen would be contented with this service. Accordingly he decided no longer to continue on the coast of New Spain. But whither should he turn? It was unwise to go back as he had come. It was not well to make return by the Strait of Magellan for two reasons: “the one, lest the Spaniards should there waite and attend for him in great number and strength whose hands, hee being left but one ship, could not possibly escape.” And it happened that a fleet was actually making ready for this purpose. The other was the dangerous situation of the Pacific mouth of the strait with “continuall stormes reigning and blustering, as he had found by experience, besides the shoalds and sands upon the coast.” Finally, after consultation with his “council,” he resolved to strike boldly out into the great sea and make for the Moluccas, the Spice Islands, of the East Indian Archipelago. He may have been influenced toward this decision through his capture while at Canno of a prize with two pilots and a Spanish governor on board bound for the Philippines; or by an earlier taking from the Spaniards, according to Silva’s account, of some charts of seas hitherto unknown 273to the English. At the same time it is believed that he had serious thoughts of trying for an “upper north” passage to the Atlantic from the “backside” of America, as Frobisher had sought the Northwest passage from the east side three and more years before.

The start on the western course, directly into the Pacific, was made about the middle of April. But almost immediately, in order to get a wind, it was necessary to steer somewhat northerly instead of due west. And thus northward the ship continued to sail, “six hundred leagues at the least,” for some fifty days, or till the third of June, when she had come, as the chronicler recorded, “in 43 degrees towards the pole Arctike.” The air had now grown so cold that the voyagers, coming from a torrid climate, were “grievously pinched” by it. On the fifth of June, because of the increasing cold, and of contrary winds, they thought it best to seek the shore.

The coast they first sighted was “not mountainous but low plaine land.” It was the lower part of the present great American state of Oregon. Hakluyt’s chronicler made no mention of a stop here, but a later one (Drake’s chaplain, Fletcher) told of their dropping anchor in a “bad bay” in which there was “no abiding” for any length of time. To go farther north, under all the circumstances, was out of the question, and if Drake really had thought seriously of seeking a northern strait between the oceans, that scheme was now abandoned. Again under sail, with the wind straight from the north, they were carried southward till they had come “within 38 degrees toward the line.” And now “it pleased God” to send them “into a faire good Baye with a good winde to enter the same.” This was on the coast of our present California. Here they came comfortably to anchor, and looking about them, saw little huts close by the waterside and strange natives pressing to the shore with welcoming gestures.

So Drake discovered for the English the coast of Oregon and California. He was the first European to see the coast of Oregon and to anchor on its shores. Earlier discovery of the Californian coast was claimed for Portuguese ships in 1520 and 1542–1543; and for the Spaniards in 1542. The Spaniards first applied the name of California to an indefinite territory up the coast above Mexico. Drake named the region which he visited, “New Albion,” because of the “white bankes and cliffes” lying toward the sea, which he saw as he approached the place of his anchorage, and in remembrance of the ancient name of Britain. The situation of his “faire good Baye” was a mooted question with historical authorities till near the close of the nineteenth century. The weight of evidence appeared to point to San Francisco Bay till the exact identification of Point Reyes Head, a little north of San Francisco Bay, as Drake’s landfall. This was made in full accordance with the chroniclers’ descriptions, by Prof. George Davidson, of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, who definitely fixed the disputed port under the eastern promontory of Point Reyes Head, the haven now called Drake’s Harbor. The “bad harbor” above, on the Oregon coast, Professor Davidson identifies in an open roadstead off the mouth of the Chetko River, protected in part by Cape Ferrelo.

Drake and his companions stayed in this port for thirty-six days and had wonderful intercourse with the natives. These people greatly marvelled at the things they brought and the presents they bestowed and thought their visitors to be gods. The Englishmen pitched their tents and built a temporary fort about them near the waterside at the foot of a hill, while from its summit groups of natives gazed, wide-eyed, down upon their work. Then followed a succession of stately ceremonies.

First, the people, assembled on the hill-top, put forth one of their number as spokesman, who “wearied himself” with a long oration directed at the Englishmen mustered below. This over, the men, leaving their bows and arrows behind them, came down the hill bearing presents to the Englishmen, feathers and bags of “tobac,” assumed to have been tobacco. Meanwhile the women, remaining on the hill-top, “tormented themselves lamentably, tearing their flesh from their cheekes,” which was understood to be a sacrifice, a pagan performance that distressed the Englishmen, who expressed their disapproval of it by gestures and endeavoring to offset it with a service of prayer and scripture reading. Then the presents were delivered and this ceremony ended. Next the native king, accompanied by his chief men and a throng of his people, formally welcomed the newcomers with a great demonstration. Of this spectacle the chronicler furnished a minute description, warranted by the novelty of it and the surprising climax:

"The people that inhabited round about came downe and amongst them the King himselfe, a man of a goodly stature & comely personage, with many other tall and warlike men: before whose comming were sent two Ambassadors to our Generall to signifie that their King was comming, in doing of which message their speach was continued about halfe an houre. This ended, they by signes requested our Generall to send some thing by their hand to their King as a token that his comming might be in peace: wherein our Generall having satisfied them, they returned with glad tidings to their King, who marched to us with a princely majestie, the people crying continually after their manner, and as they drew neere unto us, so did they strive to behave themselves in their actions with comelinesse. In the forefront was a man of a goodly personage who bare a scepter or mace before the King, whereupon hanged two crownes, a lesse and a bigger, with three chaines of a marveilous length: the crownes were made of knit worke wrought artificially with fethers of divers colours; the chaines were made of a bonie substance, and few be the persons among them that are admitted to weare them: and of that number also the persons are stinted, as some ten, some twelve &c. Next unto him which bare the scepter, was the King himselfe with his Guard about his person, clad with Conie skins, & other skins; after them followed the naked common sort of people, every one having his face painted, some with white, some with blacke, and other colours, & having in their hands one thing or another for a present, not so much as their children, but they also brought their presents.

"In the meane time our Generall gathered his men together, and marched within his fenced place, making against their approaching a very warre-like shew. They being trooped together in their order, and a generall salutation being made, there was presently a generall silence. Then he that bare the scepter before the King being informed by another, whom they assigned to that office, with a manly and loftie voyce proclaymed that which the other spake to him in secrete, continuing halfe an houre: which ended and a generall Amen as it were given, the King with the whole number of men and women (the children excepted) came downe without any weapon, who descending to the foote of the hill set themselves in order. In comming towards our bulwarks and tents, the scepter-bearer began a song, observing his measures in a daunce, and that with a stately countenance, whom the King with his Guarde, and every degree of persons following, did in like manner sing and daunce, saving onely the women, who daunced and kept silence.

“The Generall permitted them to enter within our bulwarke, where they continued their song and daunce a reasonable time. When they had satisfied themselves they made signes to our Generall to sit downe, to whom the King and divers others made several orations, or rather supplications, that hee would take their province and kingdome into his own hand and become their King, making signes that they would resigne unto him their right and title of the whole land and become his subjects. In which to perswade us the better the King and the rest with one consent and with great reverence, singing a song, did set the crowne upon his head, inriched his necke with all their chains and offered unto him many other things, honouring him by the name of Hioh, adding thereunto as it seemed, a signe of triumph: which thing our Generall thought not meete to reject, because he knew not what honour and profit it might be to our Countrey. Wherefore in the name, and to the use of her Majestie he took the scepter, crowne, and dignitie of the said Countrey into his hands, wishing that the riches & treasure thereof might so conveniently be transported to the inriching of her kingdom at home, as it aboundeth in ye same.”

After these ceremonies the general and his company marched up into the country and visited the villages of the natives. They found the land fair and abounding particularly in deer, of which great herds, a thousand in a herd, they reckoned, were seen. The houses in the villages were circular in form. They were “digged about with earth,” and had “from the uttermost brimmes of the circle clefts of wood set upon their joyning close together at the top like a spire steeple.” The beds herein were of rushes strewn upon the ground. The men were almost entirely without apparel, while the women wore a single garment woven of bulrushes with a deer-skin on their shoulders.

Of the resources of the region scant report was given beyond this significant statement, which was left to be verified for nearly three centuries: “There is no part of earth heere to bee taken up wherein there is not some probable shew of gold or silver.”

Just before his departure Drake nailed upon a “faire great poste” a plate “whereupon were engraven her Majesties name, the day, and yeere of our arrivall there, with the free giving up of the province and people into her Majesties hands, together with her highnesses picture and armes, in a peace of sixe pence of current English money under [beneath] the plate, whereunder was also written the name of our Generall.” And to this record the chronicler adds, to clinch the English claim, “It seemeth that the Spaniards hitherto had never bene in this part of the Countrey, neither did ever discover the land by many degrees to the Southwards of this place.”

While in the “New Albion” port the “Golden Hind” was careened and refitted, so that she finally sailed on the next stage of her voyage in excellent condition. The port was left on the twenty-third of July, the kind natives, who parted with the Englishmen most reluctantly, keeping up fires on the hills as the ship ploughed her way, now westward, perforce with a northwest wind, into the trackless sea.

The next day the Farallones, directly west of San Francisco Bay, were passed, Drake calling them the “Islands of St. James.” After these islands were lost to view they sailed without sight of land for more than two months, or sixty-eight days, when they fell in with “certain islands 8 degrees Northward of the line,” supposed to have been the Pellew Islands. Only a brief stay was made here, and the natives were found so untrustworthy that Drake disgustedly named the group the “Islands of Thieves.” In October they were among the Philippines, and watered off Mindanao. Thence pursuing their way southward, in November they had come to the “Spice Islands.”

At Tenate, where they first anchored, they spent three weeks, the while receiving flattering attentions from the native king, with great show of barbaric splendour. Drake began the exchange of courtesies the morning after his arrival by sending a messenger to the king bearing a velvet cloak as a present to him and also as a token that the Englishmen were here in peace, requiring nothing but traffic. The king responded graciously, and sending Drake a signet, he offered himself and his kingdom to the service of the queen of England. Afterward he made a formal call at the ship. Preceding him there came four great canoes bringing out his men of state and their retinues. The dignitaries were all attired in “white lawne of cloth of Calicut,” and sat in the order of their rank beneath an awning of thin perfumed mats on a frame of reeds. With those in each canoe were “divers young and comely men,” also dressed in white. Guarding them were lines of soldiers, standing, on either side. Without the soldiers were the rowers, sitting in galleries, four score in each gallery, of which there were three rising one above the other and extending out from the canoe’s sides three or four yards. All of the canoes were armed, and most of their passengers carried their weapons, the dignitaries or their young attendants each with sword, target, and dagger, the soldiers bearing lances, calivers, darts, and bows and arrows. Reaching the ship the canoes were rowed around her in order one after another, while the dignitaries “did their homage with great solemnity.” The king followed, accompanied by six “grave and ancient persons,” all of whom “did their obeisance with marveilous humilitie.” The king seemed most delighted with the music of the ship’s band.

The next day a deputation composed of several of the gentlemen in the ship’s company, the vice-king being retained aboard as hostage, received a great entertainment ashore. They were conducted with great honour to the “castle,” where, the chronicler avers, were at least a thousand persons assembled. Sixty “grave personages,” said to be the king’s council, sat in seats of honour. Presently the king entered, walking beneath a rich canopy and guarded by twelve “launces.” He was sumptuously attired in a garment of cloth of gold depending from his waist to the ground. His legs were bare, but on his feet were shoes of cordovan skin. His head was topped with finely wreathed hooped rings of gold. About his neck was a gold chain in great links. On his fingers were six jewels. He took his chair of state, and a page standing at his right began “breathing and gathering the ayre” with a gorgeous fan, “in length two foote, and in breadth one foote, set with 8 saphyres, richly imbroidered, and knit to a staffe 3 foote in length.” At the conclusion of their entertainment Drake’s men were escorted back to their ship by one of the king’s council.

From Ternate, with an abundance of cloves added to their rich cargo, they sailed to the southward of Celebes, and anchored off a small uninhabited island, where they remained twenty-six days refreshing themselves, and meanwhile graving the ship (cleaning the ship’s bottom). Again underway, after sighting Celebes, by contrary winds they became entangled among islands and barely escaped wreck on a rock. They escaped only by lighting the ship of three tons of their precious cloves and several pieces of ordnance, and the sudden coming of a “happy gale” which blew them off. In February they fell in with the fruitful island of “Barateve” (Batjan), where they rested three days enjoying the hospitality of the friendly people and repairing the ship. Thence their course was set for Java major. Here they arrived in March, and also met much courtesy from the natives, with “honourable entertainment” by the rajahs then governing the island. From Java they steered for the Cape of Good Hope. This they passed in June. They found it not at all the dangerous cape that the Portuguese had reported, but a “most stately thing,” and the finest cape they had seen in all their travels. A month later they were at Sierra Leone. Here they stopped long enough to take in fresh provisions. Then setting sail for the last time, they finally arrived at their home port in England on the third of November, 1580, after an absence of three years.

Their arrival with their astonishing freight of riches in gold, silver, pearls, precious stones, silks, spices, and with their amazing tales of adventure, was a momentous event. All England was stirred by the story of the marvellous voyage. At first men of affairs were chary and avoided a recognition of Drake’s achievements, knowing that they must lead to complications with Spain. The queen withheld her approbation while an official inquiry into his conduct was proceeding. In the meantime some critics in high places raised a clamour against him, and termed him the “Master Thief of the Unknown World.” But, with the increasing tension in the relations between the two nations, sentiment changed. On the fourth of April, 1581, five months after his return, the queen visited him in state on the “Golden Hind,” now at Deptford, and at the close of a banquet on the deck of the famous ship, she formally knighted him for his services, and conferred upon him a coat of arms and a crest. At the same time she gave directions for the preservation of the “Golden Hind,” as a monument to his own and England’s glory. So this ship remained for more than a century. Then, having fallen into decay, she was broken up, and from remnants of her frame a chair was made which found a permanent place in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

Drake made no more voyages of discovery. His subsequent exploits on the sea were all for the harassment of Spain. In 1585 he was admiral, with Martin Frobisher vice-admiral, as we have seen, of a fleet sent to intercept the Spanish galleons from the West Indies, and to “revenge the wrongs” offered England by Spain. In 1587 he sailed a fleet to Lisbon and there burned many ships, which he termed “singeing the King of Spain’s beard.” In 1588 he was the resourceful vice-admiral of the great fleet against the Spanish Armada. In 1589 he commanded the fleet sent to restore Dom Antonio to the throne of Portugal. Lastly, he was with his old leader, Sir John Hawkins, again in the West Indies and on the Spanish Main.

And here, in 1595, he died, on board his own ship, near Nombre de Dios, the object of his first assault in his first voyage of reprisal, a quarter of a century before.

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