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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 [grap-
pling 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 then first
was purposed. For we arrived there by three of the clock
after midnight. At what time it fortuned that a ship of
Spain, of 60 tons, laden with Canary wines and other com-
modities, which had but lately come into the bay ; and had
not yet furled her sprit-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 ordnance,
mounted upon their carriages, some Demy, some YVhole-

We presently dismounted them. The gunner fled. The
town took alarm (being very ready thereto, by reason of
their often disquieting by their near neighbours the Cima-
roons) ; as we perceived, not only by the noise and cries of
the people, but by the bell ringing out, and drums running
up and down the town.

Our Captain, according to the directions which he had


given over night, to such as he had made choice of for the
purpose, left twelve to keep the pinnaces ; that we might be
sure of a safe retreat, if the worst befell. And having
made sure work of the Platform before he would enter
the town, he thought best, first to view the Mount on the
east side of the town : where he was informed, by sundry
intelligences the year before, they had an intent to plant
ordnance, which might scour round about the town.

Therefore, leaving one half of his company to make a
stand at the foot of the Mount, he marched up presently
unto the top of it, with all speed to try the truth of the
report, for the more safety. There we found no piece of
ordnance, but only a very fit place prepared for such use,
and therefore we left it without any of our men, and with
all celerity returned now down the Mount.

Then our Captain appointed his brother, with John
Oxnam [or OxenhamJ and sixteen other of his men, to go
about, behind the King's Treasure House, and enter near
the easter[n] end of the Market Place: himself with the
rest, would pass up the broad street into the Market
Place, with sound of drum and trumpet. The Firepikes,
divided half to the one, and half to the other company,
served no less for fright to the enemy than light of our
men, who by his means might discern every place very
well, as if it were near day : whereas the inhabitants stood
amazed at so strange a sight, marvelling what the matter
might be, and imagining, by reason of our drums and trum-
pets sounding in so sundry places, that we had been a far
greater number then we were.

Yet, by means of the soldiers of which were in the town,
and by reason of the time which we spent in marching up
and down the Mount, the soldiers and inhabitants had put
themselves in arms, and brought their companies in some
order, at the south-east end of the Market Place, near the
Governor's House, and not far from the gate of the town,
which is the only one, leading towards Panama: having
(as it seems) gathered themselves thither, either that in
the Governor's sight they might shew their valour, if it
might prevail ; or else, that by the gate they might best
take their Vale, and escape readiest.


And to make a shew of far greater numbers of shot,
or else of a custom they had, by the like device to terrify
the Cimaroons ; they had hung lines with matches lighted,
overthwart the wester [n] end of the Market Place, between
the Church and the Cross; as though there had been in a
readiness some company of shot, whereas indeed there
were not past two or three that taught these lines to dance,
till they themselves ran away, as soon as they perceived
they were discovered.

But the soldiers and such as were joined with them,
presented us with a jolly hot volley of shot, beating full
upon the full egress of that street, in which we marched;
and levelling very low, so as their bullets ofttimes grazed
on the sand.

We stood not to answer them in like terms : but having
discharged our first volley of shot, and feathered them
with our arrows (which our Captain had caused to be made
of purpose in England ; not great sheaf arrows, but fine
roving shafts, very carefully reserved for the service)
we came to the push of pike, so that our firepikes being well
armed and made of purpose, did us very great service.

For our men with their pikes and short weapons, in
short time took such order among these gallants (some
using the butt-end of their pieces instead of other weapons),
that partly by reason of our arrows which did us there
notable service, partly by occasion of this strange and
sudden closing with them in this manner unlooked for,
and the rather for that at the very instant, our Captain's
brother, with the other company, with their firepikes, entered
the Market Place by the easter[n] street: they casting
down their weapons, fled all out of the town by the gate
aforesaid, which had been built for a bar to keep out of
the town the Cimaroons, who had often assailed it ; but now
served for a gap for the Spaniards to fly at.

In following, and returning; divers of our men were hurt
with the weapons which the enemy had let fall as he fled;
somewhat, for that we marched with such speed, but more
for that they lay so thick and cross one on the other.

Being returned, we made our stand near the midst of the
Market Place, where a tree groweth hard by the Cross;


whence our Captain sent some of our men to stay the ring-
ing of the alarm bell, which had continued all this while:
but the church being very strongly built and fast shut,
they could not without firing (which our Captain forbade)
get into the steeple where the bell rung.

In the meantime, our Captain having taken two or three
Spaniards in their flight, commanded them to shew him
the Governor's House, where he understood was the ordi-
nary place of unlading the moiles [mules'] of all the
treasure which came from Panama by the King's appoint-
ment. Although the silver only was kept there; the gold,
pearl, and jewels (being there once entered by the King's
officer) was carried from thence to the King's Treasure
House not far off, being a house very strongly built of lime
and stone, for the safe keeping thereof.

At our coming to the Governor's House, we found the
great door where the mules do usually unlade, even then
opened, a candle lighted upon the top of the stairs; and
a fair gennet ready saddled, either for the Governor him-
self, or some other of his household to carry it after him.
By means of this light we saw a huge heap of silver in that
nether [lower'] room; being a pile of bars of silver of, as
near as we could guess, seventy feet in length, of ten feet
in breadth, and twelve feet in height, piled up against the
wall, each bar was between thirty-five and forty pounds
in weight.

At sight hereof, our Captain commanded straightly that
none of us should touch a bar of silver; but stand upon
our weapons, because the town was full of people, and
there was in the King's Treasure House near the water side,
more gold and jewels than all our four pinnaces could carry:
which we would presently set some in hand to break open,
notwithstanding the Spaniards report the strength of it.

We were no sooner returned to our strength, but there
was a report brought by some of our men that our pin-
naces were in danger to be taken ; and that if we ourselves
got not aboard before day, we should be oppressed with
multitude both of soldiers and towns-people. This report had
his ground from one Diego a Negro, who, in the time of the
first conflict, came and called to our pinnaces, to know


" whether they were Captain Drake's ? " And upon
answer received, continued entreating to be taken aboard,
though he had first three or four shot made at him, until at
length they fetched him ; and learned by him, that, not past
eight days before our arrival, the King had sent thither
some 150 soldiers to guard the town against the Cimaroons,
and the town at this time was full of people beside: which
all the rather believed, because it agreed with the report
of the Negroes, which we took before at the Isle of Pinos.
And therefore our Captain sent his brother and John
Oxnam to understand the truth thereof.

They found our men which we left in our pinnaces much
frightened, by reason that they saw great troops and com-
panies running up and down, with matches lighted, some
with other weapons, crying Que gentef que gente? which
not having been at the first conflict, but coming from the
utter ends of the town (being at least as big as Plymouth),
came many times near us ; and understanding that we were
English, discharged their pieces and ran away.

Presently after this, a mighty shower of rain, with a
terrible storm of thunder and lightning, fell, which poured
down so vehemently (as it usually doth in those countries)
that before we could recover the shelter of a certain shade
or penthouse at the western end of the King's Treasure
House, (which seemeth to have been built there of pur-
pose to avoid sun and rain) some of our bow-strings were
wet, and some of our match and powder hurt ! which while
we were careful of, to refurnish and supply; divers of
our men harping on the reports lately brought us, were
muttering of the forces of the town, which our Captain
perceiving, told them, that " He had brought them to the
mouth of the Treasure of the World, if they would want
it, they might henceforth blame nobody but themselves ! "

And therefore as soon as the storm began to assuage of
his fury (which was a long half hour) willing to give his
men no longer leisure to demur of those doubts, nor yet
allow the enemy farther respite to gather themselves to-
gether, he stept forward commanding his brother, with
John Oxnam and the company appointed them, to break
the King's Treasure House: the rest to follow him to keep


the strength of the Market Place, till they had despatched
the business for which they came.

But as he stepped forward, his strength and sight and
speech failed him, and he began to faint for want of blood,
which, as then we perceived, had, in great quantity, issued
upon the sand, out of a wound received in his leg in the
first encounter, whereby though he felt some pain, yet
(for that he perceived divers of the company, having al-
ready gotten many good things, to be very ready to take
all occasions, of winding themselves out of that conceited
danger) would he not have it known to any, till this his
fainting, against his will, bewrayed it : the blood having
first filled the very prints which our footsteps made, to
the greater dismay of all our company, who thought it
not credible that one man should be able to spare so much
blood and live.

And therefore even they, which were willing to have
adventured the most for so fair a booty, would in no case
hazard their Captain's life; but (having given him some-
what to drink wherewith he recovered himself, and having
bound his scarf about his leg, for the stopping of the blood)
entreated him to be content to go with them aboard, there
to have his wound searched and dressed, and then to return
on shore again if he thought good.

This when they could not persuade him unto (as who
knew it to be utterly impossible, at least very unlikely,
that ever they should, for that time, return again, to re-
cover the state in which they now were: and was of opinion,
that it were more honourable for himself, to jeopard his
life for so great a benefit, than to leave off so high an enter-
prise unperformed), they joined altogether and with force
mingled with fair entreaty, they bare him aboard his pin-
nace, and so abandoned a most rich spoil for the present,
only to preserve their Captain's life: and being resolved
of him, that while they enjoyed his presence, and had him
to command them, they might recover wealth sufficient; but
if once they lost him, they should hardly be able to recover
home. No, not with that which they had gotten already.

Thus we embarked by break of the day (29th July),
having besides our Captain, many of our men wounded,


though none slain but one Trumpeter: whereupon though
our surgeons were busily employed, in providing remedies
and salves for their wounds: yet the main care of our
Captain was respected by all the rest; so that before we
departed out of the harbour for the more comfort of our
company, we took the aforesaid ship of wines without great

But before we had her free of the haven, they of the
town had made means to bring one of their culverins, which
we had dismounted, so as they made a shot at us, but
hindered us not from carrying forth the prize to the Isle
of Bastimentos, or the Isle of Victuals : which is an island
that lieth without the bay to the westward, about a league
off the town, where we stayed the two next days, to cure
our wounded men, and refresh ourselves, in the goodly
gardens which we there found abounding with great store
of all dainty roots and fruits; besides great plenty of
poultry and other fowls, no less strange then delicate.

Shortly upon our first arrival in this island* the Governor
and the rest of his Assistants in the town, as we afterwards
understood, sent unto our Captain, a proper gentleman, of
mean stature, good complexion, and a fair spoken, a princi-
pal soldier of the late sent garrison, to view in what state
we were. At his coming he protested " He came to us, of
mere good will, for that we had attempted so great and
incredible a matter with so few men : and that, at the first,
they feared that we had been French, at whose hands they
knew they should find no mercy : but after they perceived
by our arrows, that we were Englishmen, their fears were
the less, for that they knew, that though we took the
treasure of the place, yet we would not use cruelty toward
their persons. But albeit this his affection gave him cause
enough, to come aboard such, whose virtue he so honoured :
yet the Governor also had not only consented to his coming,
but directly sent him, upon occasion that divers of the
town affirmed, said he, ' that they knew our Captain, who
the last two years had been often on our coast, and had
always used their persons very well.' And therefore
desired to know, first, Whether our Captain was the same
Captain Drake or not? and next, Because many of their


men were wounded with our arrows, whether they were
poisoned or not? and how their wounds might best be cured?
lastly, What victuals we wanted, or other necessaries? of
which the Governor promised by him to supply and furnish
us, as largely as he durst."

Our Captain, although he thought this soldier but a spy:
yet used him very courteously, and answered him to his
Governor's demands : that " He was the same Drake whom
they meant ! It was never his manner to poison his arrows !
They might cure their wounded by ordinary surgery ! As
for wants, he knew the Island of Bastimentos had sufficient,
and could furnish him if he listed ! but he wanted nothing
but some of that special commodity which that country
yielded, to content himself and his company." And there-
fore he advised the Governor " to hold open his eyes ! for
before he departed, if GOD lent him life and leave, he
meant to reap some of their harvest, which they get out of
the earth, and send into Spain to trouble all the earth ! "

To this answer unlooked for, this gentleman replied, " If
he might, without offence, move such a question, what
should then be the cause of our departing from that town
at this time, where was above 360 tons of silver ready for
the Fleet, and much more gold in value, resting in iron
chests in the King's Treasure House?''

But when our Captain had shewed him the true cause of
his unwilling retreat aboard, he acknowledged that " we
had no less reason in departing, than courage in attempt-
ing " : and no doubt did easily see, that it was not for the
town to seek revenge of us, by manning forth such frigates
or other vessels as they had; but better to content them-
selves and provide for their own defence.

Thus, with great favour and courteous entertainment,
besides such gifts from our Captain as most contented him,
after dinner, he was in such sort dismissed, to make report
of that he had seen, that he protested, " he was never so
much honoured of any in his life."

After his departure, the Negro formentioned, being ex-
amined more fully, confirmed this report of the gold and the
silver; with many other intelligences of importance: espe-
cially how we might have gold and silver enough, if we


would, by means of the Cimaroons, whom though he had
betrayed divers times (being used thereto by his Masters)
so that he knew they would kill him, if they got him: yet
if our Captain would undertake his protection, he durst
adventure his life, because he knew our Captain's name was
most precious and highly honoured by them.

This report ministered occasion to further consultation :
for which, because this place seemed not the safest; as
being neither the healthiest nor quietest; the next day, in
the morning, we all set our course for the Isle of Pinos or
Port Plenty, where we had left our ships, continuing all
that day, and the next till towards night, before we re-
covered it.

We were the longer in this course, for that our Captain
sent away his brother and Ellis Hixom to the westward,
to search the River of Chagres, where himself had been
the year before, and yet was careful to gain more notice of;
it being a river which trendeth to the southward, within
six leagues of Panama, where is a little town called Venta
Cruz [Vcnta de Cruzes], whence all the treasure, that was
usually brought thither from Panama by mules, was em-
barked in frigates [sailing] down that river into the North
sea, and so to Nombre de Dios.

It ebbeth and floweth not far into the land, and therefore
it asketh three days' rowing with a fine pinnace to pass
[up] from the mouth to Venta Cruz ; but one day and a
night serveth to return down the river.

At our return to our ships (ist August), in our consulta-
tion, Captain Raxse (forecasting divers doubts of our safe
continuance upon that coast, being now discovered) was
willing to depart ; and our Captain no less willing to dis-
miss him: and therefore as soon as our pinnaces returned
from Chagres (7th August) with such advertisement as
they were sent for, about eight days before; Captain Raxse
took his leave, leaving us at the isle aforesaid, where we
had remained five or six days.

In which meantime, having put all things in a readiness,
our Captain resolved, with his two ships and three pinnaces
to go to Cartagena; whither in sailing, we spent some six
days by reason of the calms which came often upon us:


but all this time we attempted nothing that we might have
done by the way, neither at [Santiago de] Tolou nor other-
where, because we would not be discovered.

We came to anchor with our two ships in the evening
[13th August], in seven fathom water, between the island
of Charesha [the island of Cartagena, p. 161] and St.
Barnards [San Bernardo'].

Our Captain led the three pinnaces about the island, into
the harbour of Cartagena; where at the very entry, he
found a frigate at anchor, aboard which was only one old
man ; who being demanded, " Where the rest of his com-
pany was ? " answered, " That they were gone ashore in
their gundeloe[? gondola or ship's boat], that evening, to
fight about a mistress": and voluntarily related to our
Captain that, "two hours before night, there past by them
a pinnace, with sail and oars, as fast as ever they could row,
calling to him ' Whether there had not been any English
or Frenchmen there lately ? ' and upon answer that, ' There
had been none ! ' they bid them ( look to themselves ! ' That,
within an hour that this pinnace was come to the utterside
[outside] of Cartagena, there were many great pieces shot off,
whereupon one going to top, to descry what might be the
cause? espied, over the land, divers frigates and small
shipping bringing themselves within the Castle."

This report our Captain credited, the rather for that
himself had heard the report of the ordnance at sea; and
perceived sufficiently, that he was now descried. Notwith-
standing in farther examination of this old mariner, having
understood, that there was, within the next point, a great
ship of Seville, which had here discharged her loading, and
rid now with her yards across, being bound the next morn-
ing for Santo Domingo : our Captain took this old man
into his pinnace to verify that which he had informed, and
rowed towards this ship, which as we came near it, hailed
us, asking, " Whence our shallops were? "

We answered, " From Nombre de Dios ! "

Straightway they railed ! and reviled ! We gave no heed
to their words, but every pinnace, according to our Captain's
order, one on the starboard bow, the other on the star-
board quarter, and the Captain in the midship on the lar-


board side, forthwith boarded her; though we had some
difficulty to enter by reason of her height, being of 240 tons.
But as soon as we entered upon the decks, we threw down
the grates and spardecks, to prevent the Spaniards from
annoying us with their close fights : who then perceiving
that we were possessed of their ship, stowed themselves
all in hold with their weapons, except two or three yonkers,
which were found afore the beetes: when having light
out of our pinnaces, we found no danger of the enemy
remaining, we cut their cables at halse, and with our three
pinnaces, towed her without the island into the sound right
afore the town, without [beyond the] danger of their great

Meanwhile, the town having intelligence hereof, or by
their watch, took the alarm, rang out their bells, shot off
about thirty pieces of great ordnance, put all their men in
a readiness, horse and foot, came down to the very point
of the wood, and discharged their calivers, to impeach us
if they might, in going forth.

The next morning (14th August) our ships took two
frigates, in which there were two, who called themselves
King's Scrivanos, the one of Cartagena, the other of
Veragua, with seven mariners and two Negroes : who had
been at Nombre de Dios and were now bound for Carta-
gena with double [? duplicate] letters of advice, to certify
them that Captain Drake had been at Nombre de Dios,
had taken it ; and had it not been that he was hurt with

Online LibraryHerodotusVoyages and travels; ancient and modern → online text (page 13 of 35)