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Elizabethan Sea Dogs by William Wood

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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

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

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

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

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



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

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.

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]

[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

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

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!_



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

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

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.

Turkey came into the problems of 1586 in more than name, for there was a
vast diplomatic scheme on foot to unite the Turks with such Portuguese
as would support Antonio, the pretender to the throne of Portugal, and
the rebellious Dutch against Spain, Catholic France, and Mary Stuart's
Scotland. Leicester was in the Netherlands with an English army,
fighting indecisively, losing Sir Philip Sidney and angering Elizabeth
by accepting the governor-generalship without her leave and against her
diplomacy, which, now as ever, was opposed to any definite avowal that
could possibly be helped.

Meanwhile the Great Armada was working up its strength, and Drake was
commissioned to weaken it as much as possible. But, on the 8th of
February, 1587, before he could sail, Mary was at last beheaded, and
Elizabeth was once more entering on a tricky course of tortuous
diplomacy too long by half to follow here. As the great crisis
approached, it had become clearer and clearer that it was a case of kill
or be killed between Elizabeth and Mary, and that England could not
afford to leave Marian enemies in the rear when there might be a vast
Catholic alliance in the front. But, as a sovereign, Elizabeth disliked
the execution of any crowned head; as a wily woman she wanted to make
the most of both sides; and as a diplomatist she would not have open war
and direct operations going down to the root of the evil if devious ways
would do.

So the peace party of the Council prevailed again, and Drake's orders
were changed. He had been going as a lion. The peace party now tried to
send him as a fox. But he stretched his instructions to their utmost
limits and even defied the custom of the service by holding no council
of war when deciding to swoop on Cadiz.

As they entered the harbor, the English saw sixty ships engaged in
preparations for the Great Armada. Many had no sails--to keep the crews
from deserting. Others were waiting for their guns to come from Italy.
Ten galleys rowed out to protect them. The weather and surroundings were
perfect for these galleys. But as they came end-on in line-abreast Drake
crossed their T in line-ahead with the shattering broadsides of four
Queen's ships which soon sent them flying. Each galley was the upright
of the T, each English sailing ship the corresponding crosspiece. Then
Drake attacked the shipping and wrecked it right and left. Next morning
he led the pinnaces and boats into the inner harbor, where they cut out
the big galleon belonging to Santa Cruz himself, the Spanish
commander-in-chief. Then the galleys got their chance again--an
absolutely perfect chance, because Drake's fleet was becalmed at the
very worst possible place for sailing ships and the very best possible
place for the well-oared galleys. But even under these extraordinary
circumstances the ships smashed the galleys up with broadside fire and
sent them back to cover. Then the Spaniards towed some fire-ships out.
But the English rowed for them, threw grappling irons into them, and
gave them a turn that took them clear. Then, for the last time, the
galleys came on, as bravely but as uselessly as ever. When Drake sailed
away he left the shipping of Cadiz completely out of action for months
to come, though fifteen sail escaped destruction in the inner harbor.
His own losses were quite insignificant.

The next objective was Cape St. Vincent, so famous through centuries of
naval history because it is the great strategic salient thrust out into
the Atlantic from the southwest corner of Europe, and thus commands the
flank approaches to and from the Mediterranean, to and from the coast of
Africa, and, in those days, the route to and from New Spain by way of
the Azores. Here Drake had trouble with Borough, his second-in-command,
a friend of cautious Burleigh and a man hide-bound in the warfare of the
past--a sort of English Don. Borough objected to Drake's taking decisive
action without the vote of a council of war. Remembering the terrors of
Italian textbooks, he had continued to regard the galleys with much
respect in the harbor of Cadiz even after Drake had broken them with
ease. Finally, still clinging to the old ways of mere raids and
reprisals, he stood aghast at the idea of seizing Cape St. Vincent and
making it a base of operations. Drake promptly put him under arrest.

Sagres Castle, commanding the roadstead of Cape St. Vincent, was
extraordinarily strong. The cliffs, on which it occupied about a
hundred acres, rose sheer two hundred feet all round except at a narrow
and well defended neck only two hundred yards across. Drake led the
stormers himself. While half his eight hundred men kept up a continuous
fire against every Spaniard on the wall the other half rushed piles of
faggots in against the oak and iron gate. Drake was foremost in this
work, carrying faggots himself and applying the first match. For two
hours the fight went on; when suddenly the Spaniards sounded a parley.
Their commanding officer had been killed and the woodwork of the gate
had taken fire. In those days a garrison that would not surrender was
put to the sword when captured; so these Spaniards may well be excused.
Drake willingly granted them the honors of war; and so, even to his own
surprise, the castle fell without another blow. The minor forts near by
at once surrendered and were destroyed, while the guns of Sagres were
thrown over the cliffs and picked up by the men below. The whole
neighboring coast was then swept clear of the fishing fleet which was
the main source of supply used for the Great Armada.

The next objective was Lisbon, the headquarters of the Great Armada, one
of the finest harbors in the world, and then the best fortified of all.
Taking it was, of course, out of the question without a much larger
fleet accompanied by an overwhelming army. But Drake reconnoitred to
good effect, learnt wrinkles that saved him from disaster two years
later, and retired after assuring himself that an Armada which could not
fight him then could never get to England during the same season.

Ship fevers and all the other epidemics that dogged the old sailing
fleets and scourged them like the plague never waited long. Drake was
soon short-handed. To add to his troubles, Borough sailed away for home;
whereupon Drake tried him and his officers by court-martial and
condemned them all to death. This penalty was never carried out, for
reasons we shall soon understand. Since no reinforcements came from
home, Cape St. Vincent could not be held any longer. There was, however,
one more stroke to make. The great East-India Spanish treasure ship was
coming home; and Drake made up his mind to have her.

Off the Azores he met her coming towards him and dipping her colors
again and again to ask him who he was. 'But we would put out no flag
till we were within shot of her, when we hanged out flags, streamers,
and pendants. Which done, we hailed her with cannon-shot; and having
shot her through divers times, she shot at us. Then we began to ply her
hotly, our fly boat [lightly armed supply vessel of comparatively small
size] and one of our pinnaces lying athwart her hawse [across her bows]
at whom she shot and threw fire-works [incendiary missiles] but did them
no hurt, in that her ordnance lay so high over them. Then she, seeing us
ready to lay her aboard [range up alongside], all of our ships plying
her so hotly, and resolutely determined to make short work of her, they
yielded to us.' The Spaniards fought bravely, as they generally did. But
they were only naval amateurs compared with the trained professional

The voyage was now 'made' in the old sense of that term; for this prize
was 'the greatest ship in all Portugal, richly laden, to our Happy Joy.'
The relative values, then and now, are impossible to fix, because not
only was one dollar the equivalent in most ways of ten dollars now but,
in view of the smaller material scale on which men's lives were lived,
these ten dollars might themselves be multiplied by ten, or more,
without producing the same effect as the multiplied sum would now
produce on international affairs. Suffice it to say that the ship was
worth nearly five million dollars of actual cash, and ten, twenty,
thirty, or many more millions if present sums of money are to be
considered relatively to the national incomes of those poorer days.

But better than spices, jewels, and gold were the secret documents which
revealed the dazzling profits of the new East-India trade by sea. From
that time on for the next twelve years the London merchants and their
friends at court worked steadily for official sanction in this most
promising direction. At last, on the 31st of December, 1600, the
documents captured by Drake produced their result, and the East-India
Company, by far the greatest corporation of its kind the world has ever
seen, was granted a royal charter for exclusive trade. Drake may
therefore be said not only to have set the course for the United States
but to have actually discovered the route leading to the Empire of
India, now peopled by three hundred million subjects of the British

So ended the famous campaign of 1587, popularly known as the singeing of
King Philip's beard. Beyond a doubt it was the most consummate work of
naval strategy which, up to that time, all history records.



With 1588 the final crisis came. Philip--haughty, gloomy, and ambitious
Philip, unskilled in arms, but persistent in his plans--sat in his
palace at Madrid like a spider forever spinning webs that enemies tore
down. Drake and the English had thrown the whole scheme of the Armada's
mobilization completely out of gear. Philip's well-intentioned orders
and counter-orders had made confusion worse confounded; and though the
Spanish empire held half the riches of the world it felt the lack of
ready money because English sea power had made it all parts and no whole
for several months together. Then, when mobilization was resumed, Philip
found himself distracted by expert advice from Santa Cruz, his admiral,
and from Parma, Alva's successor in the Netherlands.

The general idea was to send the Invincible Armada up the English
Channel as far as the Netherlands, where Parma would be ready with a
magnificent Spanish army waiting aboard troopships for safe conduct into
England. The Spanish regulars could then hold London up to ransom or
burn it to the ground. So far, so good. But Philip, to whom amphibious
warfare remained an unsolved mystery, thought that the Armada and the
Spanish army could conquer England without actually destroying the
English fleet. He could not see where raids must end and conquest must
begin. Most Spaniards agreed with him. Parma and Santa Cruz did not.
Parma, as a very able general, wanted to know how his oversea
communications could be made quite safe. Santa Cruz, as a very able
admiral, knew that no such sea road could possibly be safe while the
ubiquitous English navy was undefeated and at large. Some time or other
a naval battle must be won, or Parma's troops, cut off from their base
of supplies and surrounded like an island by an angry sea of enemies,
must surely perish. Win first at sea and then on land, said the expert
warriors, Santa Cruz and Parma. Get into hated England with the least
possible fighting, risk, or loss, said the mere politician, Philip, and
then crush Drake if he annoys you.

Early and late persistent Philip slaved away upon this 'Enterprize of
England.' With incredible toil he spun his web anew. The ships were
collected into squadrons; the squadrons at last began to wear the
semblance of a fleet. But semblance only. There were far too many
soldiers and not nearly enough sailors. Instead of sending the fighting
fleet to try to clear the way for the troopships coming later on, Philip
mixed army and navy together. The men-of-war were not bad of their kind;
but the kind was bad. They were floating castles, high out of the water,
crammed with soldiers, some other landsmen, and stores, and with only
light ordnance, badly distributed so as to fire at rigging and
superstructures only, not at the hulls as the English did. Yet this was
not the worst. The worst was that the fighting fleet was cumbered with
troopships which might have been useful in boarding, but which were
perfectly useless in fighting of any other kind--and the English
men-of-war were much too handy to be laid aboard by the lubberly Spanish
troopships. Santa Cruz worked himself to death. In one of his last
dispatches he begged for more and better guns. All Philip could do was
to authorize the purchase of whatever guns the foreign merchantmen in
Lisbon harbor could be induced to sell. Sixty second-rate pieces were
obtained in this way.

Then, worn out by work and worry, Santa Cruz died, and Philip forced the
command on a most reluctant landlubber, the Duke of Medina Sidonia, a
very great grandee of Spain, but wholly unfitted to lead a fleet. The
death of Santa Cruz, in whom the fleet and army had great confidence,
nearly upset the whole 'Enterprize of England.' The captains were as
unwilling to serve under bandylegged, sea-sick Sidonia as he was
unwilling to command them. Volunteering ceased. Compulsion failed to
bring in the skilled ratings urgently required. The sailors were now not
only fewer than ever--sickness and desertion had been thinning their
ranks--but many of these few were unfit for the higher kinds of
seamanship, while only the merest handful of them were qualified as
seamen gunners. Philip, however, was determined; and so the doomed
Armada struggled on, fitting its imperfect parts together into a still
more imperfect whole until, in June, it was as ready as it ever could be

Meanwhile the English had their troubles too. These were also political.
But the English navy was of such overwhelming strength that it could
stand them with impunity. The Queen, after thirty years of wonderful, if
tortuous, diplomacy, was still disinclined to drop the art in which she
was supreme for that in which she counted for so much less and by which
she was obliged to spend so very much more. There was still a little
peace party also bent on diplomacy instead of war. Negotiations were
opened with Parma at Flushing and diplomatic 'feelers' went out towards
Philip, who sent back some of his own. But the time had come for war.
The stream was now too strong for either Elizabeth or Philip to stem or
even divert into minor channels.

Lord Howard of Effingham, as Lord High Admiral of England, was charged
with the defence at sea. It was impossible in those days to have any
great force without some great nobleman in charge of it, because the
people still looked on such men as their natural viceroys and
commanders. But just as Sir John Norreys, the most expert professional
soldier in England, was made Chief of the Staff to the Earl of Leicester
ashore, so Drake was made Chief of the Staff to Howard afloat, which
meant that he was the brain of the fleet.

A directing brain was sadly needed--not that brains were lacking, but
that some one man of original and creative genius was required to bring
the modern naval system into triumphant being. Like all political heads,
Elizabeth was sensitive to public opinion; and public opinion was
ignorant enough to clamor for protection by something that a man could
see; besides which there were all those weaklings who have been
described as the old women of both sexes and all ages, and who have
always been the nuisance they are still. Adding together the old views
of warfare, which nearly everybody held, and the human weaknesses we
have always with us, there was a most dangerously strong public opinion
in favor of dividing up the navy so as to let enough different places
actually see that they had some visible means of divided defence.

The 30th of March, 1588, is the day of days to be remembered in the
history of sea power because it was then that Drake, writing from
Plymouth to the Queen-in-Council, first formulated the true doctrine of
modern naval warfare, especially the cardinal principle that the best of
all defence is to attack your enemy's main fleet as it issues from its
ports. This marked the birth of the system perfected by Nelson and
thence passed on, with many new developments, to the British Grand
Fleet in the Great War of to-day. The first step was by far the hardest,
for Drake had to convert the Queen and Howard to his own revolutionary
views. He at last succeeded; and on the 7th of July sailed for Corunna,
where the Armada had rendezvoused after being dispersed by a storm.

Every man afloat knew that the hour had come. Yet Elizabeth, partly on
the score of expense, partly not to let Drake snap her apron-strings
completely, had kept the supply of food and even of ammunition very
short; so much so that Drake knew he would have to starve or else
replenish from the Spanish fleet itself. As he drew near Corunna on the
8th, the Spaniards were again reorganizing. Hundreds of perfectly
useless landlubbers, shipped at Lisbon to complete the absurdly
undermanned ships, were being dismissed at Corunna. On the 9th, when
Sidonia assembled a council of war to decide whether to put to sea or
not, the English van was almost in sight of the coast. But then the
north wind flawed, failed, and at last chopped round. A roaring
sou'wester came on; and the great strategic move was over.

On the 12th the fleet was back in Plymouth replenishing as hard as it
could. Howard behaved to perfection. Drake worked the strategy and
tactics. But Howard had to set the tone, afloat and ashore, to all who
came within his sphere of influence; and right well he set it. His
dispatches at this juncture are models of what such documents should be;
and their undaunted confidence is in marked contrast to what the doomed
Spanish officers were writing at the selfsame time.

The southwest wind that turned Drake back brought the Armada out and
gave it an advantage which would have been fatal to England had the
fleets been really equal, or the Spaniards in superior strength, for a
week was a very short time in which to replenish the stores that
Elizabeth had purposely kept so low. Drake and Howard, so the story
goes, were playing a game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe on Friday afternoon
the 19th of July when Captain Fleming of the _Golden Hind_ rushed up to
say the Spanish fleet was off the Lizard, only sixty miles away! All
eyes turned to Drake. Divining the right way to calm the people, he
whispered an order and then said out loud: 'There's time to end our game
and beat the Spaniards too.' The shortness of food and ammunition that
had compelled him to come back instead of waiting to blockade now
threatened to get him nicely caught in the very trap he had wished to
catch the Great Armada in himself; for the Spaniards, coming up with the
wind, might catch him struggling out against the wind and crush his long
emerging column, bit by bit, precisely as he had intended crushing their
own column as it issued from the Tagus or Corunna.

But it was only the van that Fleming had sighted. Many a Spanish
straggler was still hull-down astern; and Sidonia had to wait for all to
close and form up properly.

Meanwhile Drake and Howard were straining every nerve to get out of
Plymouth. It was not their fault, but the Queen's-in-Council, that
Sidonia had unwittingly stolen this march on them. It was their glory
that they won the lost advantage back again. All afternoon and evening,
all through that summer night, the sea-dog crews were warping out of
harbor. Torches, flares, and cressets threw their fitful light on
toiling lines of men hauling on ropes that moved the ships apparently
like snails. But once in Plymouth Sound the whinnying sheaves and long
_yo-hoes_! told that all the sail the ships could carry was being made
for a life-or-death effort to win the weather gage. Thus beat the heart
of naval England that momentous night in Plymouth Sound, while beacons
blazed from height to height ashore, horsemen spurred off post-haste
with orders and dispatches, and every able-bodied landsman stood to

Next morning Drake was in the Channel, near the Eddystone, with
fifty-four sail, when he sighted a dim blur to windward through the
thickening mist and drizzling rain. This was the Great Armada. Rain came
on and killed the wind. All sail was taken in aboard the English fleet,
which lay under bare poles, invisible to the Spaniards, who still
announced their presence with some show of canvas.

In actual size and numbers the Spaniards were superior at first. But as
the week-long running fight progressed the English evened up with
reinforcements. Spanish vessels looked bigger than their tonnage, being
high built; and Spanish official reports likewise exaggerated the size
because their system of measurement made their three tons equal to an
English four. In armament and seamen-gunners the English were perhaps
five times as strong as the Armada--and seamen-gunners won the day. The
English seamen greatly outnumbered the Spanish seamen, utterly surpassed
them in seamanship, and enjoyed the further advantage of having far
handier vessels to work. The Spanish grand total, for all ranks and
ratings was thirty thousand men; the English, only fifteen. But the
Spaniards were six thousand short on arrival; and their actual seamen,
many of whom were only half-trained, then numbered a bare seven
thousand. The seventeen thousand soldiers only made the ships so many
death-traps; for they were of no use afloat except as boarding
parties--and no boarding whatever took place. The English fifteen
thousand, on the other hand, were three-quarters seamen and one-quarter
soldiers who were mostly trained as marines, and this total was actually
present. On the whole, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that the
Armada was mostly composed of armed transports while all the English
vessels that counted in the fighting were real men-of-war.

In every one of the Armada's hundred and twenty-eight vessels, says an
officer of the Spanish flagship, 'our people kneeled down and offered a
prayer, beseeching our Lord to give us victory against the enemies of
His holy faith.' The crews of the hundred and ninety-seven English
vessels which, at one time or another, were present in some capacity on
the scene of action also prayed for victory to the Lord of Hosts, but
took the proper naval means to win it. 'Trust in the Lord--and keep your
powder dry,' said Oliver Cromwell when about to ford a river in the
presence of the enemy. And so, in other words, said Drake.

All day long, on that fateful 20th of July, the visible Armada with its
swinging canvas was lying-to fifteen miles west of the invisible,
bare-masted English fleet. Sidonia held a council of war, which,
landsman-like, believed that the English were divided, one-half watching
Parma, the other the Armada. The trained soldiers and sailors were for
the sound plan of attacking Plymouth first. Some admirals even proposed
the only perfect plan of crushing Drake in detail as he issued from the
Sound. All were in blissful ignorance of the astounding feat of English
seamanship which had already robbed them of the only chance they ever
had. But Philip, also landsman-like, had done his best to thwart his own
Armada; for Sidonia produced the royal orders forbidding any attack on
England till he and Parma had joined hands. Drake, however, might be
crushed piecemeal in the offing when still with his aftermost ships in
the Sound. So, with this true idea, unworkable because based on false
information, the generals and admirals dispersed to their vessels and
waited. But then, just as night was closing in, the weather lifted
enough to reveal Drake's astonishing position. Immediately pinnaces went
scurrying to Sidonia for orders. But he had none to give. At one in the
morning he learnt some more dumbfounding news: that the English had
nearly caught him at Corunna, that Drake and Howard had joined forces,
and that both were now before him.

Nor was even this the worst. For while the distracted Sidonia was
getting his fleet into the 'eagle formation,' so suitable for galleys
whose only fighting men were soldiers, the English fleet was stealing
the weather gage, his one remaining natural advantage. An English
squadron of eight sail manoeuvred coast-wise on the Armada's inner
flank, while, unperceived by the Spanish lookout, Drake stole away to
sea, beat round its outer flank, and then, making the most of a westerly
slant in the shifting breeze, edged in to starboard. The Spaniards saw
nothing till it was too late, Drake having given them a berth just wide
enough to keep them quiet. But when the sun rose, there, only a few
miles off to windward, was the whole main body of the English fleet,
coming on in faultless line-ahead, heeling nicely over on the port tack
before the freshening breeze, and, far from waiting for the Great
Armada, boldly bearing down to the attack. With this consummate move the
victory was won.

The rest was slaughter, borne by the Spaniards with a resolution that
nothing could surpass. With dauntless tenacity they kept their 'eagle
formation,' so useful at Lepanto, through seven dire days of most
one-sided fighting. Whenever occasion seemed to offer, the Spaniards did
their best to close, to grapple, and to board, as had their heroes at
Lepanto. But the English merely laughed, ran in, just out of reach,
poured in a shattering broadside between wind and water, stood off to
reload, fired again, with equal advantage, at longer range, caught the
slow galleons end-on, raked them from stem to stern, passed to and fro
in one, long, deadly line-ahead, concentrating at will on any given
target; and did all this with well-nigh perfect safety to themselves. In
quite a different way close-to, but to the same effect at either
distance, long or short, the English 'had the range of them,' as sailors
say to-day. Close-to, the little Spanish guns fired much too high to
hull the English vessels, lying low and trim upon the water, with whose
changing humors their lines fell in so much more happily than those of
any lumbering Spaniards could. Far-off, the little Spanish guns did
correspondingly small damage, even when they managed to hit; while the
heavy metal of the English, handled by real seamen-gunners, inflicted
crushing damage in return.

But even more important than the Englishmen's superiority in rig, hull,
armament, and expert seamanship was their tactical use of the thoroughly
modern line-ahead. Any one who will take the letter T as an illustration
can easily understand the advantage of 'crossing his T.' The upright
represents an enemy caught when in column-ahead, as he would be, for
instance, when issuing from a narrow-necked port. In this formation he
can only use bow fire, and that only in succession, on a very narrow
front. But the fleet represented by the crosspiece, moving across the
point of the upright, is in the deadly line-ahead, with all its near
broadsides turned in one long converging line of fire against the
helplessly narrow-fronted enemy. If the enemy, sticking to medieval
tactics, had room to broaden his front by forming column-abreast, as
galleys always did, that is, with several uprights side by side, he
would still be at the same sort of disadvantage; for this would only
mean a series of T's with each nearest broadside crossing each opposing
upright as before.

The herded soldiers and non-combatants aboard the Great Armada stood by
their useless duties to the last. Thousands fell killed or wounded.
Several times the Spanish scuppers actually ran a horrid red, as if the
very ships were bleeding. The priests behaved as bravely as the Jesuits
of New France--and who could be braver than those undaunted missionaries
were? Soldiers and sailors were alike. 'What shall we do now?' asked
Sidonia after the slaughter had gone on for a week. 'Order up more
powder,' said Oquendo, as dauntless as before. Even then the eagle
formation was still kept up. The van ships were the head. The biggest
galleons formed the body. Lighter vessels formed the wings. A reserve
formed the tail.

As the unflinching Armada stood slowly up the Channel a sail or two
would drop out by the way, dead-beat. One night several strange sail
passed suddenly by Drake. What should he do? To go about and follow them
with all astern of him doing the same in succession was not to be
thought of, as his aftermost vessels were merchantmen, wholly untrained
to the exact combined manoeuvres required in a fighting fleet, though
first-rate individually. There was then no night signal equivalent to
the modern 'Disregard the flagship's movements.' So Drake dowsed his
stern light, went about, overhauled the strangers, and found they were
bewildered German merchantmen. He had just gone about once more to
resume his own station when suddenly a Spanish flagship loomed up beside
his own flagship the _Revenge_. Drake immediately had his pinnace
lowered away to demand instant surrender. But the Spanish admiral was
Don Pedro de Valdes, a very gallant commander and a very proud grandee,
who demanded terms; and, though his flagship (which had been in
collision with a run-amuck) seemed likely to sink, he was quite ready to
go down fighting. Yet the moment he heard that his summoner was Drake he
surrendered at discretion, feeling it a personal honor, according to the
ideas of the age, to yield his sword to the greatest seaman in the
world. With forty officers he saluted Drake, complimenting him on
'valour and felicity so great that Mars and Neptune seemed to attend
him, as also on his generosity towards the fallen foe, a quality often
experienced by the Spaniards; whereupon,' adds this eyewitness, 'Sir
Francis Drake, requiting his Spanish compliments with honest English
courtesies, placed him at his own table and lodged him in his own
cabin.' Drake's enemies at home accused him of having deserted his fleet
to capture a treasure ship--for there was a good deal of gold with
Valdes. But the charge was quite unfounded.

A very different charge against Howard had more foundation. The Armada
had anchored at Calais to get its breath before running the gauntlet for
the last time and joining Parma in the Netherlands. But in the dead of
night, when the flood was making and a strong west wind was blowing in
the same direction as the swirling tidal stream, nine English fire-ships
suddenly burst into flame and made for the Spanish anchorage. There were
no boats ready to grapple the fire-ships and tow them clear. There was
no time to weigh; for every vessel had two anchors down. Sidonia,
enraged that the boats were not out on patrol, gave the order for the
whole fleet to cut their cables and make off for their lives. As the
great lumbering hulls, which had of course been riding head to wind,
swung round in the dark and confusion, several crashing collisions
occurred. Next morning the Armada was strung along the Flemish coast in
disorderly flight. Seeing the impossibility of bringing the leewardly
vessels back against the wind in time to form up, Sidonia ran down with
the windward ones and formed farther off. Howard then led in pursuit.
But seeing the _capitana_ of the renowned Italian galleasses in distress
near Calais, he became a medieval knight again, left his fleet, and took
the galleasse. For the moment that one feather in his cap seemed better
worth having than a general victory.

Drake forged ahead and led the pursuit in turn. The Spaniards fought
with desperate courage, still suffering ghastly losses. But, do what
they could to bear up against the English and the wind, they were forced
to leeward of Dunkirk, and so out of touch with Parma. This was the
result of the Battle of Gravelines, fought on Monday the 29th of July,
1588, just ten days after Captain Fleming had rushed on to the bowling
green of Plymouth Hoe where Drake and Howard, their shore work done,
were playing a game before embarking. In those ten days the gallant
Armada had lost all chance of winning the overlordship of the sea and
shaking the sea-dog grip off both Americas. A rising gale now forced it
to choose between getting pounded to death on the shoals of Dunkirk or
running north, through that North Sea in which the British Grand Fleet
of the twentieth century fought against the fourth attempt in modern
times to win a world-dominion.

North, and still north, round by the surf-lashed Orkneys, then down the
wild west coasts of the Hebrides and Ireland, went the forlorn Armada,
losing ships and men at every stage, until at last the remnant straggled
into Spanish ports like the mere wreckage of a storm.



The next year, 1589, is famous for the unsuccessful Lisbon Expedition.
Drake had the usual troubles with Elizabeth, who wanted him to go about
picking leaves and breaking branches before laying the axe to the root
of the tree. Though there were in the Narrow Seas defensive squadrons
strong enough to ward off any possible blow, yet the nervous landsmen
wanted Corunna and other ports attacked and their shipping destroyed,
for fear England should be invaded before Drake could strike his blow at
Lisbon. Then there were troubles about stores and ammunition. The
English fleet had been reduced to the last pound of powder twice during
the ten-days' battle with the Armada. Yet Elizabeth was again alarmed at
the expense of munitions. She never quite rose to the idea of one
supreme and finishing blow, no matter what the cost might be.

This was a joint expedition, the first in which a really modern English
fleet and army had ever taken part, with Sir John Norreys in command of
the army. There was no trouble about recruits, for all men of spirit
flocked in to follow Drake and Norreys. The fleet was perfectly
organized into appropriate squadrons and flotillas, such as then
corresponded with the battleships, cruisers, and mosquito craft of
modern navies. The army was organized into battalions and brigades, with
a regular staff and all the proper branches of the service.

The fleet made for Corunna, where Norreys won a brilliant victory. A
curious little incident of exact punctilio is worth recording. After the
battle, and when the fleet was waiting for a fair wind to get out of the
harbor, the ships were much annoyed by a battery on the heights. Norreys
undertook to storm the works and sent in the usual summons by a
_parlementaire_ accompanied by a drummer. An angry Spaniard fired from
the walls and the drummer fell dead. The English had hostages on whom to
take reprisals. But the Spaniards were too quick for them. Within ten
minutes the guilty man was tried inside the fort by drum-head
court-martial, condemned to death, and swung out neatly from the walls,
while a polite Spanish officer came over to assure the English troops
that such a breach of discipline should not occur again.

Lisbon was a failure. The troops landed and marched over the ground
north of Lisbon where Wellington in a later day made works whose fame
has caused their memory to become an allusion in English literature for
any impregnable base--the Lines of Torres Vedras. The fleet and the army
now lost touch with each other; and that was the ruin of them all.
Norreys was persuaded by Don Antonio, pretender to the throne of
Portugal which Philip had seized, to march farther inland, where
Portuguese patriots were said to be ready to rise _en masse_. This
Antonio was a great talker and a first-rate fighter with his tongue. But
his Portuguese followers, also great talkers, wanted to see a victory
won by arms before they rose.

Before leaving Lisbon Drake had one stroke of good luck. A Spanish
convoy brought in a Hanseatic Dutch and German fleet of merchantmen
loaded down with contraband of war destined for Philip's new Armada.
Drake swooped on it immediately and took sixty well-found ships. Then
he went west to the Azores, looking for what he called 'some comfortable
little dew of Heaven,' that is, of course, more prizes of a richer kind.
But sickness broke out. The men died off like flies. Storms completed
the discomfiture. And the expedition got home with a great deal less
than half its strength in men and not enough in value to pay for its
expenses. It was held to have failed; and Drake lost favor.

* * * * *

With the sun of Drake's glory in eclipse at court and with Spain and
England resting from warfare on the grander scale, there were no more
big battles the following year. But the year after that, 1591, is
rendered famous in the annals of the sea by Sir Richard Grenville's
fight in Drake's old flagship, the _Revenge_. This is the immortal
battle of 'the one and the fifty-three' from which Raleigh's prose and
Tennyson's verse have made a glory of the pen fit to match the glory of
the sword.

Grenville had sat, with Drake and Sir Philip Sidney, on the
Parliamentary committee which recommended the royal charter granted to
Sir Walter Raleigh for the founding of the first English colony in what
is now the United States. Grenville's grandfather, Marshal of Calais to
Henry VIII, had the faculty of rhyme, and, in a set of verses very
popular in their own day, showed what the Grenville family ambitions

Who seeks the way to win renown,
Or flies with wings to high desire,
Who seeks to wear the laurel crown,
Or hath the mind that would aspire--
Let him his native soil eschew,
Let him go range and seek a new.

Grenville himself was a wild and roving blade, no great commander, but
an adventurer of the most daring kind by land or sea. He rather enjoyed
the consternation he caused by aping the airs of a pirate king. He had a
rough way with him at all times; and Ralph Lane was much set against his
being the commander of the 'Virginia Voyage' of which Lane himself was
the governor on land. But in action he always was, beyond a doubt, the
very _beau ideal_ of a 'first-class fighting man.' A striking instance
of his methods was afforded on his return from Virginia, when he found
an armed Spanish treasure ship ahead of him at sea. He had no boat to
board her with. But he knocked some sort of one together out of the
ship's chests and sprang up the Spaniard's side with his boarding party
just as this makeshift boat was sinking under them.

The last fight of the _Revenge_ is almost incredible from the odds
engaged--fifty-three vessels to one. But it is true; and neither
Raleigh's glowing prose nor Tennyson's glowing verse exaggerates it.
Lord Thomas Howard, 'almost famished for want of prey,' had been
cruising in search of treasure ships when Captain Middleton, one of the
gentlemen-adventurers who followed the gallant Earl of Cumberland, came
in to warn him that Don Alonzo de Bazan was following with fifty-three
sail. The English crews were partly ashore at the Azores; and Howard had
barely time to bring them off, cut his cables, and work to windward of
the overwhelming Spaniards.

Grenville's men were last. The _Revenge_ had only 'her hundred fighters
on deck and her ninety sick below' when the Spanish fleet closed round
him. Yet, just as he had sworn to cut down the first man who touched a
sail when the master thought there was still a chance to slip through,
so now he refused to surrender on any terms at all. Then, running down
close-hauled on the starboard tack, decks cleared for action and crew at
battle quarters, he steered right between two divisions of the Spanish
fleet till 'the mountain-like _San Felipe_, of fifteen hundred tons,'
ranging up on his weather side, blanketed his canvas and left him almost
becalmed. Immediately the vessels which the _Revenge_ had weathered
hauled their wind and came up on her from to-leeward. Then, at three
o'clock in the afternoon of the 1st of September, 1591, that immortal
fight began.

The first broadside from the _Revenge_ took the _San Felipe_ on the
water-line and forced her to give way and stop her leaks. Then two
Spaniards ranged up in her place, while two more kept station on the
other side. And so the desperate fight went on all through that
afternoon and evening and far on into the night. Meanwhile Howard, still
keeping the weather gage, attacked the Spaniards from the rear and
thought of trying to cut through them. But his sailing master swore it
would be the end of all Her Majesty's ships engaged, as it probably
would; so he bore away, wisely or not as critics may judge for
themselves. One vessel, the little _George Noble_ of London, a
victualler, stood by the _Revenge_, offering help before the fight
began. But Grenville, thanking her gallant skipper, ordered him to save
his vessel by following Howard.

With never less than one enemy on each side of her, the _Revenge_ fought
furiously on. _Boarders away!_ shouted the Spanish colonels as the
vessels closed. _Repel boarders!_ shouted Grenville in reply. And they
did repel them, time and again, till the English pikes dripped red with
Spanish blood. A few Spaniards gained the deck, only to be shot,
stabbed, or slashed to death. Towards midnight Grenville was hit in the
body by a musket-shot fired from the tops--the same sort of shot that
killed Nelson. The surgeon was killed while dressing the wound, and
Grenville was hit in the head. But still the fight went on. The
_Revenge_ had already sunk two Spaniards, a third sank afterwards, and a
fourth was beached to save her. But Grenville would not hear of
surrender. When day broke not ten unwounded Englishmen remained. The
pikes were broken. The powder was spent. The whole deck was a wild
entanglement of masts, spars, sails, and rigging. The undaunted
survivors stood dumb as their silent cannon. But every Spanish hull in
the whole encircling ring of death bore marks of the _Revenge's_ rage.
Four hundred Spaniards, by their own admission, had been killed, and
quite six hundred wounded. One hundred Englishmen had thus accounted for
a thousand Spaniards besides all those that sank!

Grenville now gave his last order: 'Sink me the ship, Master-Gunner!'
But the sailing master and flag-captain, both wounded, protesting that
all lives should be saved to avenge the dead, manned the only remaining
boat and made good terms with the Spanish admiral. Then Grenville was
taken very carefully aboard Don Bazan's flagship, where he was received
with every possible mark of admiration and respect. Don Bazan gave him
his own cabin. The staff surgeon dressed his many wounds. The Spanish
captains and military officers stood hat in hand, 'wondering at his
courage and stout heart, for that he showed not any signs of faintness
nor changing of his colour.' Grenville spoke Spanish very well and
handsomely acknowledged the compliments they paid him. Then, gathering
his ebbing strength for one last effort, he addressed them in words they
have religiously recorded: '"Here die I, Richard Grenville, with a
joyful and quiet mind; for that I have ended my life as a true soldier
ought to do, that hath fought for his country, queen, religion, and
honour. Wherefore my soul most joyfully departeth out of this body." ...
And when he had said these and other suchlike words he gave up the ghost

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