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Indies, but at first failed to find a market for his
living goods. Accordingly at Barbarata, Captain
Hawkins resolved upon stronger measures. He
landed a hundred of his men, well armed with
arquebuses, pikes and bows and arrows, and com-
pelled the Spanish inhabitants to buy his negroes
at his own price. From there he went to Cura^oa,
and thence to the mainland of South America,
intending to exchange a further batch of negroes
for hides and sugar at Rio de la Hacha.

Here, once more, since at first the citizens of
Rio de la Hacha only offered him about half the
siuii for his negroes that he demanded, he threat-
ened to land next morning and give them a
"breakfast" of arrows and javelins. The result
was that his own terms were agreed to, and, ap-
parently finding these methods successful, he
pursued them with characteristic, if indefensible
resolution, at various other ports. He returned
on September 20, 1565, to the little town of
Padstow on the north coast of Cornwall, *' with
the loss of about twenty persons in all the voyage
and with great profit to the venturer as also to the
whole realm, in bringing home both gold, silver,
pearls and other jewels in great store." Despite
his methods, he found himself in great favour with

54 The Sea Traders

the Queen and her surrounding courtiers, as well
as with the nation at large, and, " by way of
increase and augmentation of honour, a coat of
arms and crest were settled upon him and his

By now, however, his fame had reached the
Court of Spain, to the perturbation of Philip IV,
both on account of the trade which Hawkins was
doing and the fact that he was a Protestant heretic.
Orders were accordingly sent out to the Spanish
governors in America that they were to have
nothing to do with him, although the two coun-
tries, England and Spain, were nominally at peace.
Whether or not Hawkins knew of these orders is
perhaps doubtful. He may very probably have
suspected some such sequel. But his next expedi-
tion was arranged on far more elaborate lines.
This time he sailed from Plymouth with no less
than six vessels and 1,500 men, one of his ships,
the Judith, being under the command of a distant
relative of his, one Francis Drake, a shrewd and
valiant young merchant seaman then twenty-seven
years old. They obtained their slaves successfully
and, in spite of the Spanish Government's orders,
were able to dispose of them at great profit.
The slaves were badly needed, and the Spanish
merchants were not improbably willing to yield
without much difficulty to Plawkins' show of force.

Nor does Hawkins appear to have hesitated to
make use of somewhat stringent tactics. At Rio
de la Hacha, for instance, he landed and took

The Opening of the Golden Age 55

possession of the town, and, though the town of
Cartagena proved too strong for him, he succeeded
in amassing much treasure of precious stones and
metals. In the neighbourhood of Cuba, however,
his luck changed, and he fell in with a hurricane
that considerably damaged his vessel. The Jesus
of Luheck lost her rudder and was found to be
leaking badly, while none of the others escaped
intact. He was therefore obliged to put into San
Juan de Ulloa, a little port at the bottom of the
Gulf of Mexico, where, on the day after his
arrival, there appeared on the horizon, as ill-
fortune would have it, the fleet of the very
Spanish Admiral who had been sent out to look
for him.

This placed Hawkins in a dilemma. Weaker
in men and vessels though he was, he could yet
hold the entrance of the harbour, and by so doing,
owing to the bad weather, place the vessels of
the Spanish Admiral in a dangerous position.
But the two countries were still, as we have said,
nominally at peace ; and accordingly he deemed it
wiser to make a treaty. Under the terms of this
he was to be allowed to repair his vessels in peace,
on condition that he allowed the Spanish Admiral
to sail into the harbour. Once in, however, the
Spanish Admiral, realizing that this was the
Captain John Hawkins with whom he had had
such strict orders to deal, altered his mind and
attacked the Englishmen with immensely superior
forces. After a great fight, in which the Spanish

56 The Sea Traders

Admirars flagship was sunk, the Jesus of Lubeck
and two of the smaller vessels destroyed, and many
stout lives lost, Hawkins himself, and the survivors
from the lost ships, crowded on board the Judith
and Minion and succeeded in escaping.

It soon became clear, however, that these two
small vessels would be totally unable to carry the
whole party back to England, and accordingly
some hundred of the sailors volunteered to be put
ashore. What their fate was to be we shall
presently see, but the Judith, under Francis
Drake, reached England in safety after a com-
paratively uneventful voyage. Hawkins in the
Minion had much worse luck. Sickness broke
out on board, and he lost so many men that he
was left with scarcely enough to man the vessel.
He was therefore obliged, with the terror of the
then active Inquisition in front of him, to put into
a Spanish port. Happily for him, just outside
the harbour, he found some other English vessels,
with whose aid he was able to re-fit ; and he landed
at last at Plymouth, a month after Drake, to find
himself a national hero, with his name on every-
body's lips.

All the burning spirits, not only of Devonshire,
but of the whole of maritime England, were long-
ing to serve under him, and there was the deepest
anxiety to rescue or avenge those gallant volun-
teers who had remained behind. What this was
to involve, even Hawkins could not have foreseen,
but it was temporarily to transfer him, as we shall

The Opening of the Golden Age 57

see, out of the region of merchant seafaring into
the far more subtle and difficult world of inter-
national diplomacy. How considerable a change
this was can best be realized by once more recall-
ing that, although, thanks to the part he played
in what was already becoming a notable conflict
with Spain, it is rather as an admiral and
naval tactician that Hawkins is now popularly
received, he never in reality ceased to be first,
last, and fundamentally, a prosperous merchant

With his elder brother William, he owned at
one time a private merchant fleet of thirty-one
vessels, and these traded more or less continuously
with all the chief European ports. But, as Froude
has reminded us, there existed between all these
seamen — masters and men — a very close bond ; and
the fate of the hundred men that, as has been stated,
Hawkins had been obliged to leave behind him in
the New World, was constantly before him and
cast a deep shadow over his own personal success.
Some of these unfortunate men had, as a matter
of fact, afterwards fallen into the hands of the
holy Inquisition, by which they had been impris-
oned, tortured, and slain for their Protestant faith,
in various Spanish prisons on both sides of the
Atlantic. The burning desire, therefore, to rescue
the survivors, if there should be any, and to exact
expiation for the others now became the consum-
ing passion of this fearless and fierce-hearted
merchant shipowner.

58 The Sea Traders

Probably, in the person of his monarch, Queen
Elizabeth, he had at bottom an entirely sym-
pathetic mistress. But the Queen, a very shrewd
and practised diplomat, had for her country's sake
to move with the extremest caution. Let us com-
pare for a moment her relative position with that
of Philip IV of Spain, her potential opponent. In
spite of the fast-growing prowess of the English
seamen, and the commercial acumen of her mer-
chant subjects, Elizabeth's actual territory con-
sisted of but one little group of islands. The
total number of her subjects was about half that of
I^ondon and its suburbs to-day, and the whole of
the nation's yearly revenue amounted to a sum that
was less than one-tenth of that of its formidable
opponent. On the other hand, Spain was then one
of the greatest Empires that the world had ever
known. It held dominion over Portugal, most of
the Netherlands, and nearly the w^hole of Italy ; it
claimed the sovereignty in Africa, of Timis, Oran,
Cape Verde and the Canary Islands ; and in
America of Chili, Mexico, Peru and Cuba. Small
wonder, then, that Elizabeth had to feel her way
with the utmost care. Unofficially she might do
all in her power, as indeed she probably did, to
assist Hawkins and his numerous and enterpris-
ing colleagues. Officially she deemed it impera-
tive to preserve a complete ignorance of many of
their more violent doings.

Hawkins, therefore, determined to take matters
into his own hands, and to use diplomacy as his

The Opening of the Golden Age 59

weapon. In those ardent spirits who had flocked
to his hand, and the ships that they so daringly
handled, he had a valuable weapon, and he knew
it. Accordingly, laying his plans with great guile,
he persuaded the Spanish Ambassador that both
he and his men were discontented with Elizabeth's
lack of encouragement, and would therefore be
glad to offer their services to the ruler of Spain,
in exchange for the release of such English
sailors as were still held in Spanish prisons.
Nothing, perhaps, in the whole history of diplo-
matic intrigue is more astonishing than the
complete success with which this rough and
resolute and hard-bitten old merchant-adventurer
— for he was then over fifty — hoodwinked
the world's greatest potentate and the subtle
diplomatists numbered in his entourage. Not only
was Hawkins successful in obtaining the release of
all his sailor comrades, but he received for himself
a free pardon from Philip IV for his own high-
handed conduct in the waters of the New World,
and a large sum of money in order to procure
further English adherents to Spanish interests.

" I have sent," he wrote to Sir William Cecil,
Queen Elizabeth's staunch and far-sighted adviser,
" your lordship the copy of my pardon from the
King of Spain in the very order and manner I
had it. The Duke of Medina and the Duke of
Alva hath either of them one of the same pardons,
more amplified, to present unto me, that this be
large enough with my great titles and honours

6o The Sea Traders

from the King — from which God dehver me.
Their practices be very mischievous and they be
never idle, but God, I hope, will confound them
and turn their devices upon their own necks. I
will put my business in some order and give
attendance under Her Majesty, to do her that
service that by your lordship shall be thought
most convenient in this case."

Thus wrote Hawkins, and it is easy to imagine
the grim smile with which he penned these
words. He had gained, by daring and guile,
not only the object that he had so passionately
set his heart upon, but he had succeeded in
becoming privy to a plot then on foot, and of
which Elizabeth and her minister Cecil had then
only a vague suspicion, whereby, with Spanish
assistance, Elizabeth was to be deposed and the
Catholic Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, placed in
her stead upon the English throne.

On his return from Spain, therefore, Hawkins
foimd himself a figure of state, and in the year
1572 he was appointed Treasurer to the Navy,
effecting many most valuable reforms. He was
also actively interested in most of those overseas
enterprises with which the whole of maritime
England was now bubbling over. With Humphrey
Gilbert he was a Member of Parliament for
Plymouth, and with his younger relative,
Francis Drake, he founded a fund at Chatham,
consisting of voluntary contributions from
the more prosperous merchant seamen, to be

The Opening of the Golden Age 6i

applied, as required, on behalf of their less for-
tunate comrades. He also insisted upon the
utmost honesty on the part of individual ship
captains, holding them responsible for the accuracy
of their bills of lading and any proved deficit in
their accounts. Nor was he less strenuous and
exacting in his dealings with the Navy ; and,
foreseeing the crisis now inevitably developing in
the relations between Spain and England, he
employed the whole of his great experience and
prestige in strengthening the Navy. It was for-
tunate for England that he did so, and that by
his example and under his skilled command so
many of his younger contemporaries had fitted
themselves for the ordeal to come.

This is not the place with which to deal with
the epic fight in which the defeat of the great
Armada rang the knell of Spain, but it may be
added that most of the ships were merchantmen,
private vessels. In this, one of the world's
most critical actions, Hawkins bore his full share,
with the rank of rear-admiral ; and, when it was
over, he did not hesitate to incur a good deal of
obloquy for his insistence upon the full payment
of every man that had taken part in it. In
spite of the victory the covmtry was then almost
financially destitute, but Hawkins was inflexible,
and, as usual, got his way in the long run. To
the end, however, his career was destined to be
stormy, and his hatred of Spain only grew with
advancing years. He was now a knight; he had

62 The Sea Traders

all the money he wanted ; but the salt of the sea
was in his blood, and Spain was still a great Power
— far too great for his liking. Accordingly, in
May, 1590, when well over sixty, we find him at
sea once again, in command, with Frobisher, of
fourteen ships designed to harass the Spanish coast.
Only one prize, a rich East Indiaman, fell to this
particular expedition ; but in subsequent years he
and his agents were destined to obtain many more.

Other members of his family, of the new
generation, were now also growing into manhood
and following the sea, and it was the capture by
the Spaniards of his son Richard that led, in the
end, to the old man's death. In the false hope
of possibly being able to rescue his son and
inflict yet another blow on his lifelong enemies,
he set sail, with Sir Francis Drake, in 159.5, with
twenty-seven vessels and 2,500 men. Unhappily
by this time his temper, never of the sweetest, had
become on occasion almost unmanageable, and
the wills, of the two men, both of the strongest,
soon came into conflict. Quarrels between them
were frequent, and it was after an especially
violent one — or so it was currently supposed — that
Hawkins, then seventy years of age, became so
seriously ill that he ultimately died on board ship
off the island of Porto Rico on November 21,
1591, to be followed, less than three months later,
by his even more illustrious relative. Sir Francis

If it was not the death, it was at any rate the

The Opening of the Golden Age 63

setting that he would most probably have chosen ;
and in him there passed away not only a remarkable
figure of his peculiar age, but one of the greatest
servants of his country of which English history
holds any record. Utterly without fear, he was one
of those strange compounds of idealist, individualist
and man of business that the cause of human
liberty has always been able to enlist from among
the ranks of Anglo-Saxon seamen.



Francis Drake as a Young Merchant Captain — His Discovery
of tlie Pacific — Tlie Voyage Round tlie ^Vo^ld — Sons of
Devon — His Part in tlie Armada — His Death at Sea —
Early Days of Raleigh — His EfTorts at Colonization —
Pioneer Work in Virginia — His Troubles at Court and
Banishment — Explorations in Guiana — His Last Voyage
and Failure.

"VT 7" E have alread}^ seen Drake as a young kins-
^ ' man of Hawkins sailing to the New World
in the Judith, the first vessel to return from that
ill-fated expedition. Like Hawkins' own grand-
father, Francis Drake was born at Tavistock, in
Devon, and was the eldest of twelve children of a
poor country parson. Early in life he had been
apprenticed to a local merchant shipowner, and
had made many voyages along the coast and to
France and Flanders before joining Hawkins.
Popularly regarded, as he has always been, as a
fighting man, an admiral, and the circumnavigator
of the world, he was primarily and in reality a
sea-going merchant in as full a sense as was
Hawkins ; and he must be conceived, therefore,
on his return from America at the age of twenty-
nine, as a steady-going, determined young com-
mercial sea-captain upon whose horizon there had
suddenly dawned the dazzling possibilities of the


The Elizabethan Renaissance 65

New World. He was suffering, both as a
merchant, from the financial reverse that he and
Hawkins had sustained at St. Juan de Ulloa, and
as a man, from the loss of so many trusty com-
rades, in that disastrous action. To the glamour
of the West, therefore, there was added a bitter
hatred of Spain, and he soon began to make
preparations for a further expedition. On this
occasion he resolved to have no rival and to
travel as light as possible ; he found no difficulty in
persuading his friends to invest the necessary
capital. In the autumn of 1572 he accordingly
set sail in a little vessel, the Dragon, of only
seventy tons, accompanied by a yet smaller vessel,
the Swan, and with no more than a year's pro-
visions and seventy-three men and boys. As he
neared Nombre de Dios, in the Gulf of Mexico,
he fell in with another small English vessel. A
party landed near the town, into which Drake, in
disguise, went to make discreet inquiries. Here
he heard that a big train of mules was due with
Peruvian treasure that had been shipped up the
west coast of South America, and was thence
being transferred in this way, across the isthmus,
for re-shipment upon the Atlantic.

This convoy he resolved to ambush, and
successfully did so, burying a large amount of
the silver, but loading up his vessels with gold
and precious stones until they could hold no
more. With this wealth he reached Plymouth
again in safety, to the great satisfaction of his

66 The Sea Traders

fellow merchant-adventurers; but he had also
brought back .with him something that was
destined to be far more important. While wait-
ing for the mule train he had climbed some high
ground, and from thence there had burst upon his
vision the broad expanse of the Pacific Ocean,
into which no Englishman had yet sailed. The
gate to it lay through those far southern and
stormy seas beyond Cape Horn, first navigated by
Magellan not so long before ; and to take his own
vessel through them and into this new ocean
thenceforward dominated every other interest in
Drake's mind.

It was not for five years, however, owing to
the extreme caution of Queen Elizabeth, that he
was able to make a start ; and when he did so, in
the year 1577, it was with no more than five
vessels, of which the largest, the Pelican, was of
only 120 tons! On May 20, 1578, he reached
the Straits of Magellan, and here he beached his
vessels for repairs and reorganized the arrange-
ments of his expedition. He decided to reduce the
number of his vessels to three, the others being
considered too small and too unseaworthy for
further work ; and he then set sail again in August,
ivith the Pelican (later on to be re-christened
the Golden Hind), the Elizabeth, and the Mari-
gold. In spite of these new arrangements,
however, he .was destined to meet with disaster
on his first entrance into the Pacific, for in
a fierce storm the Marigold was lost and the

The Elizabethan Renaissance 67

Elizabeth driven out of sight. Compelled to put
back again into the Straits, she waited for three
weeks for news of Drake, and then, reluctantly
assuming him to have perished also, her captain
made his way back again to England.

But Drake had weathered the storm, and,
making the port of Valparaiso, found there a
Spanish galleon laden with treasure. So astounded
were those on board at finding an English vessel
alongside that Drake succeeded in making him-
self master of her within a few minutes and of
the whole town of Valparaiso very shortly after-
wards. In sheer panic, indeed, the inhabitants
had almost unanimously fled in the face of this
handful of English sailors.

Already now the voyage, from the com-
mercial standpoint, had achieved a triumph
beyond every expectation; and, with a hundred
thousand pounds' worth of treasure, Drake took
his little vessel up the coast to Lima, in Peru.
Here he learned that yet another great Spanish
galleon, the Cacafuega, had sailed for Europe only
two days earlier; and, cramming on all sail, the
Golden Hind made haste to overtake her. This
she succeeded in doing. The Spanish captain was
utterly taken by surprise, and Drake was quickly
master of the Cacafuega and her vast store of

But the alarm had now been given. Three
Spanish vessels from Lima were already in hot
pursuit of him, and there was little doubt in bis

68 The Sea Traders

mind but that others would be lying in wait for
him in the Straits of Magellan. Faced with this
problem, he thereupon decided — and it was,
perhaps, one of the most daring as it was certainly
one of the most critical decisions ever made by
an English merchant-captain — to return home,
not by the eastern, but by the western route, a
journey of some twenty thousand miles round the
coasts of India and South Africa. In those
uncharted seas, and considering the tonnage and
load of the little Golden Hind, the daring of this
breath-taking decision has not often been
paralleled. It amounted, in fact, to a circum-
navigation of the world; but Drake's good star
was aloft, and he carried his enterprise through

Nearly three years after he had sailed and long
after he had been given up for lost, he reappeared
before Plymouth on September 25, in the year
1580, safe and sound, and with nearly three
million pounds' worth of treasure weighing down
his vessel. He was knighted by Elizabeth, and
when the Spanish Ambassador protested against
his presence in the Pacific she replied that he was
to tell his royal master that " a title to the ocean
cannot belong to any people or private persons,
for as much as neither nature nor public use and
custom permitted any possession thereof."

From thence onwards it was less as the
merchant than as the daring privateer and naval
tactician that Drake was to play his dazzling part

The Elizabethan Renaissance 69

in Elizabethan history. Unjustifiable as many of
his actions were in the strictly legal sense of
to-day, yet there was a consciousness in him, as
in his comrades, that beneath all these superficial
neutralities the lists were already set for an inevit-
able conflict, not only for the freedom of the seas,
but of thought, religion and person also, and he
no doubt reflected that in such a fight the weaker
side must strike first or perish.

When the great Armada sailed from the ports
of Spain, and the fate of the world hung in the
balance as scarcely before in history, it was upon
the prestige of Sir Francis Drake, perhaps more
than upon that of any other single man, that the
result was to hinge. Where so many shone, he
was the brightest star, the man whose name was
to go down in legend, the son of the country
vicar, the merchant skipper, the navigator of
the world, and the typical servant of individual

Such, then, was Drake, who, as we have seen,
like his grim old relative, John Hawkins, must be
regarded primarily as a typical merchant ship-
owner and oversea trader of his time.

From no study of English merchant seamen
could the name of Sir Walter Raleigh be left out,
since no man combined to so great an extent in
his single person the various impulses that flowered
so magically in the Elizabethan Renaissance.

Scholar, courtier, soldier, sailor, statesman,
explorer, colonizer, trader, historian, Sir Walter

70 The Sea Traders

Raleigh in his thronged career excelled in all
these capacities as did no other man. There ,were,
it is true, greater navigators, wiser diplomats,
profounder scholars, more inspired poets, shrewder
men of commerce, but for sheer versatility Raleigh
stood alone, and perhaps remains alone to this day.
Two bequests of his to the common life of his
country are now so universal that few stop to
consider the man who was chiefly responsible for
them. But to Walter Raleigh, more than to any
other man, we owe the tobacco leaf and the

It was also Walter Raleigh who was most
prominently associated with the beginnings of that
new movement of the race, then just starting,
towards the formation overseas of definitely
English colonies, and no record of the founders
and foundations of Anglo-Saxon oversea com-

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