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mon stock, saying 'he thought it but just, that such as bore the charge of so uncertain a voyage upon his credit, should share all the advantages which that voyage produced.' Equally superior to avarice and to fear, through whatever danger he might go in quest of gold, he thought it not valuable enough to be obtained by artifice or dishonesty. Then embarking his men, with a very considerable booty, he bore away for England, and arrived at Plymouth in August, 1573. His success in this expedition, combined with his generous behaviour to his owners, gained him signal reputation.
In 1575, disliking an inactive life, he fitted out three frigates at his own expense, and sailed with them to Ireland; where, as volunteer under Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, he conducted himself so highly to that nobleman's approbation, that he recommended him to Sir Christopher Hatton, in a letter written but a short time before his death. This introduced him in 1576 to her Majesty, who thenceforward took him under her own immediate protection. Thus countenanced at court, he was enabled to undertake the expedition, which has consigned his name to immortality.
The first thing which he proposed was a voyage into the South-Seas, hitherto unattempted by any Englishman, through the Streights of Magellan. The small fleet, with which he sailed on this extraordinary enterprise, consisted of the following ships: the Pelican, of 100 tons, commanded by himself; the Elizabeth, vice-admiral, of 80 tons, Captain Winter; the Marygold, a bark of 50 tons, Captain Thomas; the Swan, a fly-boat of 30 tons, Captain Chester; and the Chris
topher, a pinnace of 15 tons, Captain Moon. The whole number of hands embarked amounted only to one hundred and sixty-four able men.
With this inconsiderable armament in November, 1577, he set sail from Plymouth: and in the May ensuing entered the port of St. Julian, where having continued about two months in order to make the necessary preparations for passing the Streights with safety, he suddenly called a court-martial in a desert island lying in the bay, and opened his commission; by which the Queen granted him the power of life and death, delivered to him with this remarkable expression from her own mouth: "We do account that he, Drake, who strikes at thee, does strike at us." He then eloquently explained the reason of his having assembled them (for, though his education had been slender, he was an excellent speaker) and proceeded to charge Mr. John Doughty, who had been second in command during the whole voyage, with having plotted first to murther him, and next to ruin the enterprise. "I had," said he, "the first notice of this gentleman's intentions, before he left England; but I was in hopes, that my behaviour to him would have extinguished such dispositions, if there had been any truth in the information." He next exposed his practices during the period, when he himself was behaving toward him with all the kindness and cordiality of a brother; and supported his charge by producing papers under his own hand, upon which the criminal made a full and free confession. After this, Drake quitted his place, telling the assembly, that he expected from their mouths a verdict; as he would not be a judge in his own
Camden says, he was tried by a jury. The accounts affirm, that the whole forty persons, of which the court consisted, adjudged him to death, and gave their sentence in writing under their hands and seals, leaving the time and manner of it to the General. Upon this, Drake, having maturely weighed the whole affair, offered the convict his choice of three things: to be beheaded on the island, where they then were; to be set on shore on the main land; or to be sent home to abide the justice of his country. After being indulged with a day for deliberation, he made the first his choice; received the sacrament subsequently with the General, and having dined cheerfully with the officers, of whom he severally took leave as if he had been going a journey, walked very composedly to the place prepared for his execution, and submitted to his fate with the most philosophical fortitude, in July, 1578.*
*This is the most authentic account of his catastrophe; but as it was well known that Leicester bore a mortal hatred to Doughty, for having accused him of poisoning the Earl of Essex, it was credited by many at the time, and has been recorded by some historians, that Drake had secret orders to take him off, on some pretence or other; and that, jealous of his rising fame (as he was both a skilful mariner, and a man of great courage and conduct) he too readily consented to execute this bloody commission. This imputation, however, is not supported by any satisfactory evidence; and therefore it is but fair to try the accusation, as in every other case of the same kind, by the general character of the accused. On this equitable system, Drake must stand acquitted.
This island had been the scene of another tragedy of the same kind fifty-eight years before, when Magellan caused John de Carthagena, who was joined in commission with him by the King of Spain, to be hanged for the like offence; and hence it was called, the island of True Justice.'
After a difficult navigation through the Streights of Magellan, Drake found himself in September in the Great South-Sea. Here he met with such tempestuous weather for fifty-two days with little or no intermission, that he was forced back to the westward nearly a hundred leagues, and lost two of his vessels, the Marygold and the Elizabeth.*
He had now only his own ship, which he had newnamed the Hind.' With this he arrived at Macao in November, 1578; and thence sailing along the coasts of Chili and Peru, he grievously annoyed the Spaniards, taking and destroying several ships (particularly in the harbour of Lima) and frequently landing to seize rich booties, till his crew were satiated with plunder: when he boldly attempted to find a passage by North-America, but there encountering, N. lat. 42°, severe cold, and open shores covered with snow, he returned back to 38°, and in a harbour in the northern part of California was idolatrously † received by the Indian inhabitants, who in their enthusiasm offered to make him their king.
The latter returned through the Streights, and arrived safe in England in June, 1579, being the first ship that ever made that passage homeward. Drake had, previously, turned the Swan and the Christopher adrift.
"Their cruel rites and mistaken honours," says Johnson, "were by no means agreeable to Drake, whose predominant sentiments were notions of piety: and therefore, not to make that criminal in himself by his concurrence, which perhaps ignorance might make guiltless in them, he ordered his whole. company to fall upon their knees; and with their eyes lifted up to heaven, that the savages might observe that their worship was addressed to a Being residing there, they all joined in pray. ing that this harmless and deluded people might be brought to the knowledge of the true religion, and the doctrines of our Blessed Saviour."
To this country Drake gave the name of New Albion;' and erecting a stone-pillar, he inscribed upon it the name, stile, and titles of Queen Elizabeth, denoting his having taken possession of the country for his Sovereign, to which he added his own name, and the date of this transaction. Some of the Queen's coins, likewise, were deposited under it's base; after which, having careened his ship, he set sail for the Molucca islands. By this passage he chose to return, rather than by the Streights of Magellan; partly from the fear of being attacked by the Spaniards, and partly from the lateness of the season, and the risk of hurricanes.
In 1579, Drake fell in with certain islands, inhabited by the most barbarous people he had met with throughout his whole voyage. On the fourth of November, he had sight of the Moluccas; and, casting anchor before Ternate, was well received by the king of the island. In making Celebes in December, his ship struck upon a rock, from which, after throwing overboard eight of her guns and some valuable merchandise, she was got off with the utmost difficulty. Then touching at Java, after many civilities from one of it's chieftains he continued his course to the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived safe at Plymouth about the close of the year 1580; having, to the great admiration of his contemporaries, circumnavigated the globe in less than three years.
They found, to their surprise (being indifferent astronomers) that they had lost a day in their account of time, it being Sunday by their journals, and Monday by the general computation. Drake was the first commander-in-chief, who had achieved this enterprise; as Magellan died during his voyage, and his ship was brought round by his successor Cano.