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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."
tenuated his defects. He was no less than forty-eight years engaged in active service, and during nearly half that long period held the treasurership of the navy, for the regulation of which he established many excellent orders; and he was both the author, and the patron, of several useful improvements in the art of navigation. Lastly, in conjunction with his brother William, he contributed to the great increase of sailors by promoting commercial adventure; for they were owners of thirty sail, says Dr. Campbell, of goodly ships.
He likewise bred up his son Richard to the sea, and had the happiness, two years before he died, to see him knighted for his signal services. Sir Richard accompanied him in many of his expeditions, and invariably evinced that he inherited his valour. In the engagement with the Armada, he commanded the Swallow frigate, which suffered more than any other ship in the fleet. Two years afterward, under the command of his father and Sir Martin Frobisher, he signalised himself on the coasts of Spain; and in 1593, he fitted out two large vessels at his own expense, to annoy the Spaniards in South-America. He had, likewise, a farther design of sailing round the globe, that he might share the glory of Drake and Cavendish with this view, in 1594, he passed with only one ship the Streights of Magellan, and cruised along the coasts of Patagonia. In 48° S. lat. he discovered a fair country, situated in a very temperate climate, to particular places of which he gave different names; but the land collectively he called 'Hawkins' Maiden Land,' assigning as a reason, that he had discovered it at his own expense under the auspices of a maiden Queen. Having secured some valu
able prizes, and bravely disengaged himself in one instance from an attempt made by Don Bertrand de Castro to take him prisoner, under the influence of his father's foible (an inordinate love of money) he loitered in those seas with the hope of still more profitable conquests, till in the end he was captured, after a desperate engagement, in the course of which he received several dangerous wounds. He surrendered indeed upon a promise, that the whole crew should have a free passage to England as soon as possible: but the Spaniards, with their usual perfidy, retained him a prisoner in Spain till the fruitless negociation for peace in 1600; upon which he obtained his release, and passed the remainder of his days in retirement. He left an account of his voyage, up to the time of his capture, which was published after his decease in one volume folio, entitled, The Observations of Sir Richard Hawkins, in his Voyage to the South-Seas.'
EDMUND SPENSER was born about 1553, in London, and educated as a sizar at Pembroke-Hall, Cambridge, where he took the degree of B. A. in 1572, and of M. A. in 1576. The accounts of his birth and family* are extremely imperfect, and at his first setting out in life, his fortune and interest seem to have been very inconsiderable. After he had continued some time at college, and made great proficiency in learning, he offered himself as candidate for a fellowship, in which he was unsuccessful. This disappointment, joined with the narrowness of his circumstances, compelled him to quit the University; and we find him subsequently residing at the house of a friend in the North, where he fell in love with the 'Rosalind,' of whose cruelty he has composed such pathetic complaints. About this time, indeed, his genius probably began first to distinguish itself; for The Shepherd's Calendar,' which is so full of his unprosperous passion,
* That his family, however, was one of the most splendid in modern English history, was asserted by Gibbon, who observes, "the nobility of the Spensers has been illustrated and enriched by the trophies of Marlborough; but I exhort them to consider the 'Fairy Queen,' as the most precious jewel of their coronet."