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His success in this voyage, and the immense treasure which he brought home with him, became the general topic of conversation; some loudly commend. ing, and others as loudly censuring him. In the following spring, however, her Majesty decisively sanctioned the opinion of the former, by going on board his ship at Deptford, and conferring upon him the honour of knighthood. She also gave directions for the preservation of the vessel, that it might remain a monument in honour of himself and his country.*
In 1585 Sir Francis, now Admiral, Drake was sent upon an expedition against the Spanish West-India settlements, with a fleet of twenty-one sail, having on board two thousand land-forces under the command of Christopher Carlisle. Making the Cape de Verd Islands in his way, he landed at St. Jago, and carried off a considerable booty. Thence he proceeded to Hispaniola, and took St. Domingo, Carthagena, and St. Augustine; by which he surpassed the most sanguine hopes of his warmest admirers. Yet the profits of this voyage were very inconsiderable, his instructions being rather to weaken the enemy, than to take prizes.
Two years afterward, he proceeded to Lisbon with a fleet of thirty sail; and receiving intelligence of a
This celebrated vessel, after having been for many years viewed with wonder at Deptford, was at length through mere decay broken up, and a chair made out of it's planks was presented to the University of Oxford, where it is still preserved. In the applause, bestowed upon this occasion by the Sovereign, the nation readily concurred. The fame of Drake became a favourite theme; and verses were written to celebrate the ship, which
"Had match'd in race the chariot of the sun."
large equipment in the bay of Cadiz destined to form part of the Spanish Armada, bravely entered that port, and burned upward of ten thousand tons of shipping. He next sailed to Tercera, having advice of a rich Caracca vessel expected at that island from the East-Indies; and, though his men were in great want of provisions, he prevailed upon them to endure their hardships for a few days, within which period the announced ship arriving, he carried her home in triumph. Upon this occasion he boasted, in seaman-like language, that he had burnt the King of Spain's beard.' The capture, indeed, was of singular importance; for, beside the value of the treasure on board (estimated at 200,000 crowns) it gave the English merchants the first idea of the wealth of the East, and was the occasion of establishing the original East-India Company.
The general applause bestowed upon him on his return was heightened into grateful admiration, when his countrymen observed the laudable use which he made of the plunder thus acquired from the enemies of his country. In 1588, he undertook to convey water to the town of Plymouth, for want of which it had previously been much distressed: and he performed it by conducting thither a stream from springs at a direct distance of eight, or as measured in the actual position of the pipes, of twenty miles.
This year, also, he was appointed Vice-Admiral under Lord Howard of Effingham, High Admiral of England (thus affording a proof, that no obscurity of birth, or meanness of fortune, is insurmountable to bravery and diligence) and signalised himself in the engagements with the Spanish Armada.
In one of these, he took a large galleon commanded by Don Pedro de Valdez, who at the bare mention of the name of Drake surrendered himself without striking a blow; and, after remaining above two years a prisoner in England, paid his captor for himself and his two inferior officers a ransom of 3,5007. In his ship were found upward of 50,000 ducats, which the English hero generously distributed among his sailors and soldiers. It must be owned, however, that through an oversight of his, Lord Howard incurred a great hazard of being taken by the enemy: for Drake, who had been appointed to carry lights in his ship for the direction of the English, in his pursuit of some hulks belonging to the Hans Towns, neglected it. This betraying the Admiral into following the Spanish lights, in the morning he found himself in the centre of the enemy's fleet.* But by his succeeding services he sufficiently atoned for this error.
In 1589, Drake was appointed Admiral of the fleet sent to restore Don Antonio, King of Portugal, and the command of the land-forces was given to Sir John Norris. But they were scarcely at sea, before the commanders disagreed, as to the point where they should effect a landing; and their dissension occasioned the miscarriage of the whole enterprise.
The war with Spain still continuing in 1595, and it being evident that nothing distressed the enemy so much as the losses which they suffered in the WestIndies, an offer was made to the Queen by Hawkins
*Of this boasted Armada, and it's defeat, a more copious account will be found in the Life of the Lord High Admiral Howard.
and Drake to set on foot a more effectual expedition to those parts than had hitherto been attempted: at the same time, they agreed to bear a considerable part of the expense, and to engage their friends to assist them in the equipment. Elizabeth readily listened to this proposal, and furnished a strong armament, consisting of twenty-seven ships and barks, with a land-force of 2,500 men under the command of General Baskerville. This fleet was detained for some time from it's object by the arts of the Spaniards, who, upon receiving intelligence of it's strength and destination, announced that they were themselves about to invade England; and, to render this the more probable, actually sent four galleys to make a descent on the coast of Cornwall. And when at last it set sail, a second difference of opinion took place among the commanders; Drake and Baskerville determining, against the judgement of Hawkins, to attack the chief of the Canary islands, instead of proceeding direct to Porto Rico, where the richest of the galleons lay at anchor. The failure proved that Hawkins was right; but his chagrin at their misconduct cost him his life.
The day after his death Sir Francis, in pursuance of a resolution taken by a council of war, made a desperate assault on the shipping in the harbour of Porto Rico; but, meeting with a stronger resistance than had been expected, he was obliged to sheer off.
Other disappointments and disasters having occurred in the course of the expedition, Drake fell into a deep melancholy, when a bloody flux, the natural disease of the country, in 1596 put a period to his life. His body was thrown into the sea in a leaden coffin, with
all the pomp of naval obsequies, very near the place where he first laid the foundation of his fame and fortune. His death, lamented by the whole nation, was more especially bewailed by his fellow-townsmen, who justly loved him from the circumstances of his private life. He had been elected burgess for Bossiney in Cornwall, in the parliament held 27 Elizabeth, and subsequently for Plymouth, in the thirtyfifth of the same reign.
In his stature he was low, but well-set, with a broad open chest, a very round head, hair of a fine brown, beard full and comely, eyes large and clear, a fair complexion, and a fresh, cheerful, and engaging countenance. As navigation had been his whole study, he was a perfect master of every branch of it, especially of astronomy, and it's application to the nautical art. His enemies alleged that he was vain, confident, and loquacious. But it is acknowledged, that he spoke with much gracefulness, propriety, and eloquence: he appears always to have encouraged, and preferred, merit wherever he found it: and his voyage round the world will remain an incontestable proof of his capacity and public spirit. And if he amassed a large fortune by continually exposing himself to labours and perils, which hardly any other person would have undergone for the sake even of the greatest expectations, he was obviously far from being governed by a narrow and selfish feeling. On the contrary, his notions were free and noble, and the nation is indebted to him for many advantages which she at present enjoys in arms, navigation, and com
He is represented, also, as having been choleric in his temper, and too accessible to flattery: but to