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Produced by Dagny; John Bickers


By Philip Nichols

Editor: Philip Nichols


This text was originally prepared from a 1910 edition,
published by P F
Collier & Son Company, New York. It included this note:

Faithfully taken out of the report of Master Christopher Ceely,
Ellis Hixom, and others, who were in the same Voyage with him
By Philip Nichols, Preacher
Reviewed by Sir Francis Drake himself
Set forth by Sir Francis Drake, Baronet (his nephew)



Sir Francis Drake, the greatest of the naval adventurers of England of
the time of Elizabeth, was born in Devonshire about 1540. He went to
sea early, was sailing to the Spanish Main by 1565, and commanded a ship
under Hawkins in an expedition that was overwhelmed by the Spaniards
in 1567. In order to recompense himself for the loss suffered in this
disaster, he equipped the expedition against the Spanish treasure-house
at Nombre de Dios in 1572, the fortunes of which are described in the
first of the two following narratives. It was on this voyage that he was
led by native guides to "that goodly and great high tree" on the isthmus
of Darien, from which, first of Englishmen, he looked on the Pacific,
and "besought Almighty God of His goodness to give him life and leave to
sail once in an English ship in that sea."

The fulfilment of this prayer is described in the second of the voyages
here printed, in which it is told how, in 1578, Drake passed through the
Straits of Magellan into waters never before sailed by his countrymen,
and with a single ship rifled the Spanish settlements on the west
coast of South America and plundered the Spanish treasure-ships; how,
considering it unsafe to go back the way he came lest the enemy should
seek revenge, he went as far north as the Golden Gate, then passed
across the Pacific and round by the Cape of Good Hope, and so home, the
first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. Only Magellan's ship had
preceded him in the feat, and Magellan had died on the voyage. The Queen
visited the ship, "The Golden Hind," as she lay at Deptford and knighted
the commander on board.

Drake's further adventures were of almost equal interest. Returning
from a raid on the Spaniards in 1586, he brought home the despairing
Virginian colony, and is said at the same time to have introduced from
America tobacco and potatoes. Two years later he led the English fleet
in the decisive engagement with the Great Armada. In 1595 he set out on
another voyage to the Spanish Main; and in the January of the following
year died off Porto Bello and was buried in the waters where he had made
his name as the greatest seaman of his day and nation.

KING, all the blessings of this, and a better life.


That this brief Treatise is yours, both by right and by
succession, will appear by the Author's and Actor's ensuing
_Dedication_. To praise either the Mistress or the Servant, might
justly incur the censure of _Quis eos unquam sanus vituperavit_;
either's worth having sufficiently blazed their fame.

This Present loseth nothing, by glancing on former actions; and
the observation of passed adventures may probably advantage future
employments. Caesar wrote his own Commentaries; and this Doer was
partly the Indictor.

Neither is there wanting living testimony to confirm its truth.
For his sake, then, cherish what is good! and I shall willingly
entertain check for what is amiss. Your favourable acceptance may
encourage my collecting of more neglected notes! However, though
Virtue, as Lands, be not inheritable; yet hath he left of his
Name, one that resolves, and therein joys to approve himself.

Your most humble and loyal subject,


The Dedicatory Epistle, Intended To
Written By SIR FRANCIS DRAKE, Deceased.

To The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty,
my most dread Sovereign.


Seeing divers have diversely reported and written of these Voyages
and Actions which I have attempted and made, every one
endeavouring to bring to light whatsoever inklings or conjectures
they have had; whereby many untruths have been published, and the
certain truth concealed: as [so] I have thought it necessary
myself, as in a Card [chart] to prick the principal points of the
counsels taken, attempts made, and success had, during the whole
course of my employment in these services against the Spaniard.
Not as setting sail for maintaining my reputation in men's
judgment, but only as sitting at helm, if occasion shall be, for
conducting the like actions hereafter. So I have accounted it my
duty, to present this Discourse to Your Majesty, as of right;
either for itself being the first fruits of your Servant's pen, or
for the matter, being service done to Your Majesty by your poor
vassal, against your great Enemy: at times, in such places, and
after such sort as may seem strange to those that are not
acquainted with the whole carriage thereof; but will be a pleasing
remembrance to Your Highness, who take the apparent height of the
Almighty's favour towards you, by these events, as truest

Humbly submitting myself to Your gracious censure, both in writing
and presenting; that Posterity be not deprived of such help as may
happily be gained hereby, and our present Age, at least, may be
satisfied, in the rightfulness of these actions, which hitherto
have been silenced: and Your Servant's labour not seem altogether
lost, not only in travels by sea and land, but also in writing the
Report thereof (a work to him no less troublesome) yet made
pleasant and sweet, in that it hath been, is, and shall be for
Your Majesty's content; to whom I have devoted myself [and] live
or die.


January 1, 1592 [i.e., 1593].



Without apology, I desire thee, in this ensuing Discourse, to
observe, with me, the power and justice of the LORD of Hosts, Who
could enable so mean a person to right himself upon so mighty a
Prince; together with the goodness and providence of GOD very
observable in that it pleased Him to raise this man, not only from
a low condition, but even from the state of persecution. His
father suffered in it, being forced to fly from his house, near
South Tavistock in Devon, into Kent: and there to inhabit in the
hull of a ship, wherein many of his younger sons were born. He had
twelve in all: and as it pleased GOD to give most of them a being
upon the water, so the greatest part of them died at sea. The
youngest, who though he was [went] as far as any, yet died at
home; whose posterity inherits that, which by himself and this
noble Gentleman the eldest brother, was hardly, yet worthily

I could more largely acquaint thee, that this voyage was his Third
he made into the West Indies; after that [of] his excellent
service, both by sea and land, in Ireland, under WALTER, Earl of
ESSEX; his next, about the World; another, wherein he took St.
Jago, Cartagena, St. Domingo, St. Augustino; his doings at Cadiz;
besides the first Carrack taught by him to sail into England; his
stirrings in Eighty-seven; his remarkable actions in Eighty-eight;
his endeavours in the Portugal employment; his last enterprise,
determined by death; and his filling Plymouth with a plentiful
stream of fresh water: but I pass by all these. I had rather thou
shouldest inquire of others! then to seem myself a vainglorious

I intend not his praise! I strive only to set out the praise of
his and our good GOD! that guided him in his truth! and protected
him in his courses! My ends are to stir thee up to the worship of
GOD, and service of our King and Country, by his example! If
anything be worth thy consideration; conclude with me, that the
LORD only, can do great things!



Calling upon this dull or effeminate Age, to follow his noble steps for
gold and silver.

As there is a general Vengeance which secretly pursueth the doers of
wrong, and suffereth them not to prosper, albeit no man of purpose
empeach them: so is there a particular Indignation, engrafted in the
bosom of all that are wronged, which ceaseth not seeking, by all means
possible, to redress or remedy the wrong received. Insomuch as those
great and mighty men, in whom their prosperous estate hath bred such an
overweening of themselves, but they do not only wrong their inferiors,
but despise them being injured, seem to take a very unfit course for
their own safety, and far unfitter for their rest. For as ESOP teacheth,
even the fly hath her spleen, and the emmet [ant] is not without her
choler; and both together many times find means whereby, though the
eagle lays her eggs in JUPITER'S lap, yet by one way or other, she
escapeth not requital of her wrong done [to] the emmet.

Among the manifold examples hereof, which former Ages have committed to
memory, or our Time yielded to sight: I suppose, there hath not been any
more notable then this in hand; either in respect of the greatness of
the person in whom the first injury was offered, or the meanness of him
who righted himself. The one being, in his own conceit, the mightiest
Monarch of all the world! The other, an English Captain, a mean subject
of her Majesty's! Who (besides the wrongs received at Rio de [la]
Hacha with Captain JOHN LOVELL in the years 1565 and 1566) having been
grievously endamaged at San Juan de Ulua in the Bay of Mexico, with
captain JOHN HAWKINS, in the years 1567 and 1568, not only in the loss
of his goods of some value, but also of his kinsmen and friends, and
that by the falsehood of DON MARTIN HENRIQUEZ then the Viceroy of
Mexico; and finding that no recompense could be recovered out of Spain,
by any of his own means, or by Her Majesty's letters; he used such helps
as he might, by two several voyages into the West Indies (the first with
two ships, the one called the _Dragon_, the other the _Swan_, in the
year 1570: the other in the _Swan_ alone in the year 1571, to gain such
intelligences as might further him, to get some amends for his loss.

On Whitsunday Eve, being the 24th of May, in the year 1572, Captain
DRAKE in the _Pascha_ of Plymouth of 70 tons, his admiral [flag-ship];
with the _Swan_ of the same port, of 25 tons, his vice-admiral, in which
his brother JOHN DRAKE was Captain (having in both of them, of men and
boys seventy-three, all voluntarily assembled; of which the eldest was
fifty, all the rest under thirty: so divided that there were forty-seven
in the one ship, and twenty-six in the other. Both richly furnished with
victuals and apparel for a whole year; and no less heedfully provided
of all manner of munition, artillery, artificers, stuff and tools, that
were requisite for such a Man-of-war in such an attempt: but especially
having three dainty pinnaces made in Plymouth, taken asunder in all
pieces, and stowed aboard, to be set up as occasion served), set sail,
from out of the Sound of Plymouth, with intent to land at Nombre de

The wind continued prosperous and favourable at northeast, and gave us
a very good passage, without any alteration or change: so that albeit
we had sight (3rd June) of Porto Santo, one of the Madeiras, and of
the Canaries also within twelve days of our setting forth: yet we never
struck sail nor came to anchor, nor made any stay for any cause, neither
there nor elsewhere, until twenty-five days after; when (28th June)
we had sight of the island Guadaloupe, one of the islands of the West
Indies, goodly high land.

The next morning (29th June), we entered between Dominica and
Guadaloupe, where we descried two canoes coming from a rocky island,
three leagues off Dominica; which usually repair thither to fish, by
reason of the great plenty thereof, which is there continually to be

We landed on the south side of it, remaining there three days to refresh
our men; and to water our ships out of one of those goodly rivers, which
fall down off the mountain. There we saw certain poor cottages; built
with Palmito boughs and branches; but no inhabitants, at that time,
civil or savage: the cottages it may be (for we could know no certain
cause of the solitariness we found there) serving, not for continual
inhabitation, but only for their uses, that came to that place at
certain seasons to fish.

The third day after (1st July), about three in the afternoon, we set
sail from thence, toward the continent of _Terra firma_.

And the fifth day after (6th July), we had sight of the high land of
Santa Marta; but came not near the shore by ten leagues.

But thence directed our course, for a place called by us, Port Pheasant;
for that our Captain had so named it in his former voyage, by reason of
the great store of those goodly fowls, which he and his company did then
daily kill and feed on, in that place. In this course notwithstanding we
had two days calm, yet within six days after we arrived (12th July) at
Port Pheasant, which is a fine round bay, of very safe harbour for all
winds, lying between two high points, not past half a cable's length
over at the mouth, but within, eight or ten cables' length every way,
having ten or twelve fathoms of water more or less, full of good fish;
the soil also very fruitful, which may appear by this, that our Captain
having been in this place, within a year and few days before [i. e., in
July, 1571] and having rid the place with many alleys and paths made;
yet now all was so overgrown again, as that we doubted, at first,
whether this was the same place or not.

At our entrance into this bay, our Captain having given order to his
brother what to do, if any occasion should happen in his absence, was
on his way, with intent to have gone aland with some few only in his
company, because he knew there dwelt no Spaniards within thirty-five
leagues of that place. [Santiago de] Tolou being the nearest to the
eastwards, and Nombre de Dios to the westwards, where any of that nation

But as we were rowing ashore, we saw a smoke in the woods, even near the
place where our Captain had aforetime frequented; therefore thinking it
fit to take more strength with us, he caused his other boat also to be
manned, with certain muskets and other weapons, suspecting some enemy
had been ashore.

When we landed, we found by evident marks, that there had been lately
there, a certain Englishman of Plymouth, called JOHN GARRET, who had
been conducted thither by certain English mariners which had been there
with our Captain, in some of his former voyages. He had now left a plate
of lead, nailed fast to a mighty great tree (greater than any four men
joining hands could fathom about) on which were engraven these words,
directed to our Captain.


If you fortune to come to this Port, make haste away! For the Spaniards
which you had with you here, the last year, have bewrayed this place,
and taken away all that you left here.

I depart from hence, this present 7th of July, 1572.

Your very loving friend, John Garret.

The smoke which we saw, was occasioned by a fire, which the said Garret
and his company had made, before their departure, in a very great tree,
not far from this which had the lead nailed on it, which had continued
burning at least five days before our arrival.

This advertisement notwithstanding, our Captain meant not to depart
before he had built his pinnaces; which were yet aboard in pieces: for
which purpose he knew this port to be a most convenient place.

And therefore as soon as we had moored our ships, our Captain commanded
his pinnaces to be brought ashore for the carpenters to set up; himself
employing all his other company in fortifying a place (which he had
chosen out, as a most fit plot) of three-quarters of an acre of ground,
to make some strength or safety for the present, as sufficiently as
the means he had would afford. Which was performed by felling of
great trees; bowsing and hauling them together, with great pulleys and
hawsers, until they were enclosed to the water; and then letting others
fall upon them, until they had raised with trees and boughs thirty feet
in height round about, leaving only one gate to issue at, near the
water side; which every night, that we might sleep in more safety and
security, was shut up, with a great tree drawn athwart it.

The whole plot was built in pentagonal form, to wit, of five equal
sides and angles, of which angles two were toward the sea, and that side
between them was left open, for the easy launching of our pinnaces: the
other four equal sides were wholly, excepting the gate before mentioned,
firmly closed up.

Without, instead of a trench, the ground was rid [laid bare] for fifty
feet space, round about. The rest was very thick with trees, of which
many were of those kinds which are never without green leaves, till they
are dead at the root: excepting only one kind of tree amongst them,
much like to our Ash, which when the sun cometh right over them, causing
great rains, suddenly casteth all its leaves, viz., within three days,
and yet within six days after becomes all green again. The leaves of
the other trees do also in part fall away, but so as the trees continue
still green notwithstanding: being of a marvellous height, and supported
as it were with five or six natural buttresses growing out of their
bodies so far, that three men may so be hidden in each of them, that
they which shall stand in the very next buttress shall not be able to
see them. One of them specially was marked to have had seven of those
stays or buttresses, for the supporting of his greatness and height,
which being measured with a line close by the bark and near to the
ground, as it was indented or extant, was found to be above thirty-nine
yards about. The wood of those trees is as heavy or heavier than Brazil
or _Lignum vitae_; and is in colour white.

The next day after we had arrived (13th July), there came also into
that bay, an English bark of the Isle of Wight, of Sir EDWARD HORSEY'S;
wherein JAMES RANSE was Captain and JOHN OVERY, Master, with thirty men:
of which, some had been with our Captain in the same place, the year
before. They brought in with them a Spanish caravel of Seville, which
he had taken the day before, athwart of that place; being a Caravel of
_Adviso_ [Despatch boat] bound for Nombre de Dios; and also one
shallop with oars, which he had taken at Cape Blanc. This Captain RANSE
understanding our Captain's purpose, was desirous to join in consort
with him; and was received upon conditions agreed on between them.

Within seven days after his coming, having set up our pinnaces, and
despatched all our business, in providing all things necessary, out of
our ships into our pinnaces: we departed (20th July) from that harbour,
setting sail in the morning towards Nombre de Dios, continuing our
course till we came to the Isles of Pinos: where, being within three
days arrived, we found (22nd July) two frigates of Nombre de Dios lading
plank and timber from thence.

The Negroes which were in those frigates, gave us some particular
understanding of the present state of the town; and besides, told us
that they had heard a report, that certain soldiers should come thither
shortly, and were daily looked for, from the Governor of Panama, and the
country thereabout, to defend the town against the Cimaroons (a black
people, which about eighty years past [i.e., 1512] fled from the
Spaniards their masters, by reason of their cruelty, and are since grown
to a Nation, under two Kings of their own: the one inhabiteth to the
West, and the other to the East of the Way from Nombre de Dios to
Panama) which had nearly surprised it [i.e., Nombre de Dios], about six
weeks before [i.e., about 10th June, 1572].

Our Captain willing to use those Negroes well (not hurting himself) set
them ashore upon the Main, that they might perhaps join themselves to
their countrymen the Cimaroons, and gain their liberty, if they would;
or if they would not, yet by reason of the length and troublesomeness
of the way by land to Nombre de Dios, he might prevent any notice of his
coming, which they should be able to give. For he was loath to put the
town to too much charge (which he knew they would willingly bestow) in
providing beforehand for his entertainment; and therefore he hastened
his going thither, with as much speed and secrecy as possibly he could.

To this end, disposing of all his companies, according as they inclined
most; he left the three ships and the caravel with Captain RANSE; and
chose into his four pinnaces (Captain RANSE'S shallop made the fourth)
beside fifty-three of our men, twenty more of Captain RANSE'S company;
with which he seemed competently furnished, to achieve what he intended;
especially having proportioned, according to his own purpose, and our
men's disposition, their several arms, viz., six targets, six firepikes,
twelve pikes, twenty-four muskets and calivers, sixteen bows, and six
partisans, two drums, and two trumpets.

Thus having parted (23rd July) from our company: we arrived at the
island of Cativaas, being twenty-five leagues distant, about five days
afterward (28th July). There we landed all in the morning betimes: and
our Captain trained his men, delivering them their several weapons
and arms which hitherto he had kept very fair and safe in good caske
[casks]: and exhorting them after his manner, he declared "the greatness
of the hope of good things that was there! the weakness of the town,
being unwalled! and the hope he had of prevailing to recompense his
wrongs! especially now that he should come with such a crew, who were
like-minded with himself; and at such a time, as he should be utterly

Therefore, even that afternoon, he causeth us to set sail for Nombre de
Dios, so that before sunset we were as far as Rio Francisco. Thence, he
led us hard aboard the shore, that we might not be descried of the Watch
House, until that being come within two leagues of the point of the bay,
he caused us to strike a hull, and cast our grappers [grappling irons],
riding so until it was dark night.

Then we weighed again, and set sail, rowing hard aboard the shore, with
as much silence as we could, till we recovered the point of the harbour
under the high land. There, we stayed, all silent; purposing to attempt
the town in the dawning of the day: after that we had reposed ourselves,
for a while.

But our captain with some other of his best men, finding that our people
were talking of the greatness of the town, and what their strength might
be; especially by the report of the Negroes that we took at the Isle
of Pinos: thought it best to put these conceits out of their heads, and
therefore to take the opportunity of the rising of the moon that night,
persuading them that "it was the day dawning." By this occasion we were
at the town a large hour sooner than first was purposed. For we arrived
there by three of the clock after midnight. At that time it fortuned
that a ship of Spain, of 60 tons, laden with Canary wines and other
commodities, which had but lately come into the bay; and had not
yet furled her spirit-sail (espying our four pinnaces, being an
extraordinary number, and those rowing with many oars) sent away her
gundeloe [? gondola] towards the town, to give warning. But our Captain
perceiving it, cut betwixt her and the town, forcing her to go to the
other side of the bay: whereby we landed without impeachment, although
we found one gunner upon the Platform [battery] in the very place where
we landed; being a sandy place and no key [quay] at all, not past twenty
yards from the houses.

There we found six great pieces of brass ordinance, mounted upon their
carriages, some Demy, some Whole-Culvering.

We presently dismounted them. The gunner fled. The town took alarm
(being very ready thereto, by reason of their often disquieting by their

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Online LibraryUnknownSir Francis Drake Revived → online text (page 1 of 7)