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some English ships. From them they received full supplies, and in January, 1570, reached their native shore; Hawkins having suffered greatly in his fortune by the loss of his merchandise, and his compamions having saved nothing but their lives.
To indemnify him for his fatigues, Elizabeth promoted him to an office at home, admirably suited to his capacity: he was in 1573 made Treasurer of the Navy. In virtue of this post, which gave him the chief direction of the royal docks, he exerted himself to keep the marine upon a respectable footing; more ships being built and repaired during his exercise of the function, than had ever been known in England within the same period. It was, likewise, part of his duty to take the command of squadrons fitted out for the purpose of clearing the narrow seas of pirates: and this he discharged so effectually, that the merchants returned him their formal thanks for the protection afforded to commercial navigation, in 1575.
From this time to the year 1588, nothing memorable is recorded concerning him, except an accident, which occurred as he was walking in the Strand. A lunatic, mistaking him for Sir Christopher Hatton, suddenly stabbed him in the back. He recovered, however, to bear a glorious part in the memorable engagement with the Armada; in which, as RearAdmiral, he chased the flying Spaniards with such success, that the Queen publicly applauded his con
*This desperate wretch was committed to the Tower, where he killed his keeper with a billet brought to him for firing; and being tried and condemned for the murther, he was executed in the Strand near the place where he had wounded Captain Haw→ kins.
duct, and conferred upon him the honour of knighthood.
The war continuing, a grand expedition was meditated to annoy the coasts of Spain, and at the same time to defray the expenses and reward the valour of the enterprise by intercepting the Plate-fleet. An armament of ten ships of the line was fitted out for these purposes, and divided into two squadrons of five sail each, with instructions to act in concert, though each squadron had a separate commander. Upon this occasion, Sir Martin Frobisher was joined in commission with Sir John Hawkins.
Sir Martin Frobisher, a native of Yorkshire, had been put apprentice by his parents (who were of low degree) to the master of a coasting-vessel, and was distinguished early in life as an able seaman. He subsequently obtained recommendations to Ambrosé Dudley, Earl of Warwick, who with other persons of rank and fortune patronised an enterprise, which Frobisher had long meditated, of discovering a north-west passage to the EastIndies. Being provided with three small vessels at the expense of his patrons, he sailed from Deptford in 1576, and in 61° N. lat. discovered high points of land covered with snow; but he was not able to approach the shore on account of the quantity of ice, and the impossibility of casting anchor from the depth of the water. He gave the title of Queen Elizabeth's Foreland,' however, to the eastern promontory of the coast.
In the month of August, he entered the Straits lying to the northward of Cape Farewell and West-Greenland, in 63° N. lat.; these he named Frobisher's Straits,' and so they still continue to be called. But his endeavours to open an intercourse with the natives on the coast proved unsuccessful, the Indians seizing his men and his boats; and having either by storms or hostilities lost two of his vessels, he returned to England in the October following. Though the chief object of his voyage however remained unaccomplished, the discovery of the situation of these places proved highly beneficial to later navigators.
Frobisher in two subsequent voyages (in 1577, and 1578) with great perseverance attempted to approach nearer to the North
The King of Spain, gaining early intelligence of the strength and destination of this armament, at first proposed to oppose it with a more formidable fleet; but his council judiciously concluding that Elizabeth, with her powerful navy, would speedily reinforce her two admirals if she found it requisite, advised the sending of expresses overland to India, to order the Plate-fleet to remain in port. Thus circumstanced, the English commanders cruized off the Azores for seven months without taking a single ship. At
Pole; but being the first adventurer, his observations (as it frequently happens) served rather for instructions to his successors, than as monuments of his own reputation. His unpolished manners, indeed, might probably intercept the good fortune, which he had promised himself in these enterprises; for he was extremely rigid in his discipline, and more dreaded than beloved by his followers. With this cast of temper, his success was more signal in military conflicts, than in attempts to traffic, or to establish a friendly communication with the nations he visited. Accordingly, he distinguished himself against the Spanish Armada, and was knighted on the recommendation of the Lord Admiral in 1588...
In 1592, he commanded a squadron of three ships, fitted out at the expense of Sir Walter Ralegh and his friends, with instructions to watch the arrival of the Plate-fleet on the coast of Spain; upon which occasion he burned one galleon richly laden, and brought home another.
Two years afterward the Queen sent him to assist Henry IV. of France against his rebellious subjects the Leaguers and the Spaniards, who had gained possession of part of Bretagne, and had strongly fortified themselves at Croyzon near Brest. Frobisher with four ships of the line blocked up the port, while Sir John Norris with 3,000 infantry attacked the place by land; which, however, would not have been carried, unless the Admiral had landed his sailors to aid in the assault. In this struggle, Frobisher received a musket-ball in his side, and by the mismanagement of the surgeon the wound proving mortal, he died a few days after his arrival at Plymouth.
last, determined to attempt some signal action, they attacked the island of Fayal: but the governor being well provided with every necessary, they were obliged to retire with some loss, both of men and of reputation; in consequence of which, on their return home, they were only coolly received by a people, who are seldom struck except with brilliant achievements. The intentions of the court however being in a great measure answered by confining the hostile squadrons to their harbours, and preventing the arrival of the Platefleet in Spain, which occasioned bankruptcies among her merchants, they underwent no diminution in the esteem of their Sovereign.
The most arduous enterprise, in which Sir John Hawkins was engaged, proved fatal to him. An armament, under the joint command of himself and Drake, was fitted out in the year 1595 to attack the Spanish settlements in the West-Indies; and, contrary to his advice, much time was lost in an unsuccessful attack upon the chief of the Canary Islands.* Being the oldest commander, he was not a little chagrined at finding his judgement over-ruled; and his resentment against his collegues was increased, when it was discovered, that in consequence of this fruitless attempt, the Spaniards had been enabled to put their chief fortresses in a proper state of defence. At Dominica, likewise, the seamen and the troops wasted a considerable time in taking in provisions, and preparing pinnaces to sail close to the harbour of Porto Rico. In this interval, the Spaniards sent five large frigates well manned to bring off the galleon: these, on their way, fell in with the rear of the divi
* See the Life of Drake.
sion under Sir John Hawkins, took one of his barks, and having tortured some of it's crew into a confession that the whole English force was bent against Porto Rico, crowded all sail without attempting an engagement, and thus saved the place, Hawkins foreseeing the inevitable consequences of these repeated delays, died of a fever occasioned by chagrin November 21, 1595.
He was one of the ablest and most experienced seamen of his time; and had improved his parts, naturally strong, by constant application. He was apt in council to differ from other men's opinions, and yet was reserved in discovering his own.* Slow, jealous, and somewhat irresolute in deliberation; in action he was merciful, apt to forgive, and a strict observer of his word. As he had passed a considerable part of his life at sea, he had too vehement a dislike of landsoldiers. When occasion required it, he could dissemble, though he was naturally of a blunt disposition. With great personal courage, and presence of mind, he is said to have been much beloved by his seamen for his affability. He was twice elected burgess for Plymouth, and sat a third time in parliament for some other borough. To him, likewise, was owing the foundation of an hospital at Chatham for poor and diseased sailors.
His character, however, it is to be lamented, was tarnished by the mean passion of avarice; which apparently, upon several occasions, exercised a pernicious influence over his public conduct. But his abilities in the naval department, both at land and at sea, ex
Mr. Pitt, it is said, complained of his great collegue, Lord Chancellor Thurlow, that "he opposed every thing, and proposed nothing."