Voyages and travels; ancient and modern online

. (page 17 of 35)
Online LibraryHerodotusVoyages and travels; ancient and modern → online text (page 17 of 35)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of the King of Spain, his Master, that we should yield our-
selves; promising in the word and faith of a Gentleman
Soldier, that if we would so do, he would use us with all
courtesy." Our Captain drawing somewhat near him said:
" That for the honour of the Queen of England, his Mistress,


he must have passage that way," and therewithal discharged
his pistol towards him.

Upon this, they presently shot off their whole volley;
which, though it lightly wounded our Captain, and divers
of our men, yet it caused death to one only of our company
called John Harris, who was so powdered with hail-shot,
(which they all used for the most part as it seemed, or else
" quartered," for that our men were hurt with that kind)
that we could not recover his life, though he continued all
that day afterwards with us.

Presently as our Captain perceived their shot to come
slacking, as the latter drops of a great shower of rain, with
his whistle he gave us his usual signal, to answer them with
our shot and arrows, and so march onwards upon the
enemy, with intent to come to handy-strokes, and to have
joined with them; whom when we found retired as to a
place of some better strength, he increased his pace to pre-
vent them if he might. Which the Cimaroons perceiving,
although by terror of the shot continuing, they were for the
time stept aside ; yet as soon as they discerned by hearing
that we marched onward, they all rushed forward one after
another, traversing the way, with their arrows ready in
their bows, and their manner of country dance or leap, very
singing Yd peho! Yd pelw and so got before us, where
they continued their leap and song, after the manner of
their own country wars, till they and we overtook some of
the enemy, who near the town's end, had conveyed them-
selves within the woods, to have taken their stand at us, as

But our Cimaroons now thoroughly encouraged, when
they saw our resolution, brake in through the thickets, on
both sides of them, forcing them to fly, Friars and all!:
although divers of our men were wounded, and one Cima-
roon especially was run through with one of their pikes,
whose courage and mind served him so well notwithstand-
ing, that he revenged his own death ere he died, by killing
him that had given him that deadly wound.

We, with all speed, following this chase, entered the town
of Venta Cruz, being of about forty or fifty houses, which
had both a Governor and other officers and some fair


houses, with many storehouses large and strong for the
wares, which brought thither from Nombre de Dios, by the
river of Chagres, so to be transported by mules to Panama :
beside the Monastery, where we found above a thousand
bulls and pardons, newly sent from Rome.

In those houses we found three gentlewomen, which had
lately been delivered of children there, though their dwell-
ings were in Nombre de Dios; because it hath been ob-
served of long time, as they reported to us, that no Span-
iard or white woman could ever be delivered in Nombre
de Dios with safety of their children but that within two
or three days they died ; notwithstanding that being born
and brought up in this Venta Cruz or Panama five or six
years, and then brought to Nombre de Dios, if they es-
caped sickness the first or second month, they commonly
lived in it as healthily as in any other place : although no
stranger (as they say) can endure there any long time,
without great danger of death or extreme sickness.

Though at our first coming into the town with arms so
suddenly, these ladies were in great fear, yet because our
Captain had given straight charge to all the Cimaroons
(that while they were in his company, they should never
hurt any woman nor man that had not a weapon in his
hand to do them hurt ; which they earnestly promised, and
no less faithfully performed) they had no wrong offered
them, nor any thing taken from them, to the worth of a
garter ; wherein, albeit they had indeed sufficient safety
and security, by those of his company, which our Captain
sent unto them, of purpose to comfort them: yet they never
ceased most earnestly entreating, that our Captain would
vouchsafe to come to them himself for their more safety;
which when he did, in their presence reporting the charge
he had first given, and the assurance of his men, they were

While the guards which we had, not without great need,
set, as well on the bridge which we had to pass over, as at
the town's end where we entered (they have no other en-
trance into the town by land: but from the water's side
there is one other to carry up and down their merchandi'se
from their frigates) gained us liberty and quiet to stay in


this town some hour and half: we had not only refreshed
ourselves, but our company and Cimaroons had gotten
some good pillage, which our Captain allowed and gave
them (being not the thing he looked for) so that it were
not too cumbersome or heavy in respect of our travel, or
defence of ourselves.

A little before we departed, some ten or twelve horse-
men came from Panama; by all likelihood, supposing that
we were gone out of this town, for that all was so still
and quiet, came to enter the town confidently: but finding
their entertainment such as it was ; they that could, rode
faster back again for fear than they had ridden forward
for hope.

Thus we having ended our business in this town, and the
day beginning to spring, we marched over the bridge, ob-
serving the same order that we did before. There we were
all safe in our opinion, as if we had been environed with
wall and trench, for that no Spaniard without his extreme
danger could follow us. The rather now, for that our
Cimaroons were grown very valiant. But our Captain con-
sidering that he had a long way to pass, and that he had
been now well near a fortnight from his ship, where he had
left his company but weak by reason of their sickness,
hastened his journeys as much as he might, refusing to visit
the other Cimaroon towns (which they earnestly desired
him) and encouraging his own company with such example
and speech, that the way seemed much shorter. For he
marched most cheerfully, and assured us that he doubted
not but ere he left that coast, we should all be bountifully
paid and recompensed for all those pains taken : but by
reason of this our Captain's haste, and leaving of their
towns, we marched many days with hungry stomachs, much
against the will of our Cimaroons: who if we would have
stayed any day from this continual journeying, would'
have killed for us victuals sufficient.

In our absence, the rest of the Cimaroons had built a little
town within three leagues off the port where our ship lay.
There our Captain was contented, upon their great and ear-
nest entreaties to make some stay ; for that they alleged, it
was only built for his sake. And indeed he consented the


rather, that the want of shoes might be supplied by means
of the Cimaroons, who were a great help unto us : all our
men complaining of the tenderness of their feet, whom our
Captain would himself accompany in their complaint, some
times without cause, but some times with cause indeed;
which made the rest to bear the burden the more easily.

These Cimaroons, during all the time that we were with
burden, did us continually very good service, and in par-
ticular in this journey, being unto us instead of intelligent
cers, to advertise us; of guides in our way to direct us;
of purveyors, to provide victuals for us ; of house-wrights to
build our lodgings; and had indeed able and strong bodies
carrying all our necessaries : yea, many times when some
of our company fainted with sickness of weariness, two
Cimaroons would carry him with ease between them, two
miles together, and at other times, when need was, they
would shew themselves no less valiant than industrious,
and of good judgment.

From this town, at our first entrance in the evening, on
Saturday (22nd February), our Captain despatched a Cim-
aroon with a token and certain order to the Master: who
had, these three weeks, kept good watch against the enemy,
and shifted in the woods for fresh victual, for the relief
and recovery of our men left aboard.

As soon as this messenger was come to the shore, calling
to our ship, as bringing some news, he was quickly fet[ched]
aboard by those which longed to hear of our Captain's speed-
ing: but when he showed the toothpike of gold, which he
said our Captain had sent for a token to Ellis Hixom,
with charge to meet him at such a river though the Mas-
ter knew well the Captain's toothpike: yet by reason of
his admonition and caveat [warning} given him at part-
ing, he (though he bewrayed no sign of distrusting the
Cimaroon) yet stood as amazed, least something had be-
fallen our Captain otherwise than well. The Cimaroon
perceiving this, told him, that it was night when he was
sent away, so that Qur Captain could not send any letter,
but yet with the point of his knife, he wrote something
upon the toothpick, " which," he said, " should be sufficient
to gain credit to the messenger."


Thereupon, the Master looked upon it, and saw written,
By me, Francis Drake: wherefore he believed, and ac-
cording to the message, prepared what provision he could,
and repaired to the mouth of the river of Tortugos, as the
Cimaroons that went with him then named it.

That afternoon towards three a clock, we were come down
to that river, not past half-an-hour before we saw our pin-
nace ready come to receive us: which was unto us all a
double rejoicing: first that we saw them, and next, so soon.
Our Captain with all our company praised GOD most
heartily, for that we saw our pinnace and fellows again.

We all seemed to these, who had lived at rest and plenty
all this while aboard, as men strangely changed (our Cap-
tain yet not much changed) in countenance and plight: and
indeed our long fasting and sore travail might somewhat
forepine and waste us ; but the grief we drew inwardly, for
that we returned without that gold and treasure we hoped
for did no doubt show her print and footsteps in our faces.

The rest of our men which were then missed, could not
travel so well as our Captain, and therefore were left at the
Indian new town: and the next day (23rd February) we
rowed to another river in the bottom of the bay and took
them all aboard. Thus being returned from Panama, to the
great rejoicing of our company, who were thoroughly re-
vived with the report we brought from thence : especially
understanding our Captain's purpose, that he meant not to
leave off thus, but would once again attempt the same
journey, whereof they also might be partakers.

Our Captain would not, in the meantime, suffer this edge
and forwardness of his men to be dulled or rebated, by lying
still idly unemployed, as knowing right well by continual
experience, that no sickness was more noisome to impeach
any enterprise than delay and idleness.

Therefore considering deeply the intelligences of other
places of importance thereabouts, which he had gotten the
former years; and particularly of Veragua, a rich town lying
to the Westward, between Nombre de Dios and Nicaragua,
where is the richest mine of fine gold that is on this North
side: he consulted with his company touching their opinions,


what was to be done in this meantime, and how they stood
affected ?

Some thought, that " It was most necessary to seek supply
of victuals, that we might the better be able to keep our men
close and in health till our time came : and this was easy to
be compassed, because the frigates with victuals went with-
out great defence, whereas the frigate and barks with
treasure, for the most part were wafted with great ships
and store of soldiers."

Others yet judged, " We might better bestow our time in
intercepting the frigates of treasure; first, for that our
magazines and storehouses of victuals were reasonably fur-
nished, and the country itself was so plentiful, that every
man might provide for himself if the worst befell : and
victuals might hereafter be provided abundantly as well as
now: whereas the treasure never floateth upon the sea, so
ordinarily as at this time of the Fleets being there, which
time in no wise may be neglected."

The Cimaroons being demanded also their opinion (for
that they were experienced in the particularities of all the
towns thereabouts, as in which some or other of them had
served), declared that "by Veragua, Signior Pezoro (some
time their master from whom they fled) dwelt; not in the
town for fear of some surprise, but yet not far off from the
town, for his better relief; in a very strong house of stone,
where he had dwelt nineteen years at least, never travelling
from home ; unless happily once a year to Cartagena, or
Nombre de Dios when the Fleets were there. He keepeth a
hundred slaves at least in the mines, each slave being bound
to bring in daily, clear gain (all charges deducted) three Pesos
of Gold for himself and two for his women (8s. 3d. the Peso),
amounting in the whole, to above 200 sterling [=1,600
now] each day : so that he hath heaped a mighty mass of
treasure together, which he keepeth in certain great chests,
of two feet deep, three broad, and four long: being (not-
withstanding all his wealth) bad and cruel not only to his
slaves, but unto all men, and therefore never going abroad
but with a guard of five or six men to defend his person
from danger, which he feareth extraordinarily from all


" And as touching means of compassing this purpose, they
would conduct him safely through the woods, by the same
ways by which they fled, that he should not need to enter
their havens with danger, but might come upon their backs
altogether unlooked for. And though his house were of
stone, so that it could not be burnt; yet if our Captain would
undertake the attempt, they would undermine and overthrow,
or otherwise break it open, in such sort, as we might have
easy access to his greatest treasure."

Our Captain having heard all their opinions, concluded so
that by dividing his company, the two first different sen-
tences were both reconciled, both to be practised and put
in use.

John Oxnam appointed in the Bear, to be sent Eastward
towards Tolou, to see what store of victuals would come
athwart his half; and himself would to the Westward in the
Minion, lie off and on the Cabczas, where was the greatest
trade and most ordinary passage of those which transported
treasure from Veragua and Nicaragua to the Fleet ; so that
no time might be lost, nor opportunity let slip either for vict-
uals or treasure. As for the attempt of Veragua, or Signior
Pezoro's house by land, by marching through the woods ; he
liked not of, lest it might overweary his men by continual
labour ; whom he studied to refresh and strengthen for his
next service forenamed.

Therefore using our Cimaroons most courteously, dismiss-
ing those that were desirous to their wives, with such gifts
and favours as were most pleasing, and entertaining those
still aboard his ship, which were contented to abide with the
company remaining; the pinnaces departed as we deter-
mined : the Minion to the West, the Bear to trie East.

The Minion about the Cabegas, met with a frigate of
Nicaragua, in which was some gold, and a Genoese Pilot (of
which Nation there are many in those coasts), which had
been at Veragua not past eight days before. He being very
well entreated, certified our Captain of the state of the town,
and of the harbour, and of a frigate that was there ready
to come forth within few days, aboard which there was above
a million of gold, offering to conduct him to it, if we would
do him his right: for that he knew the channel very


perfectly, so that he could enter by night safely without
danger of the sands and shallows, though there be but little
water, and utterly undescried; for that the town is five
leagues within the harbour, and the way by land is so far
about and difficult through the woods, that though we should
by any casualty be discovered, about the point of the har-
bour, yet we might despatch our business and depart, before
the town could have notice of our coming.

At his being there, he perceived they had heard of Drake's
being on the coast, which had put them in great fear, as in
all other places (Pezoro purposing to remove himself to the
South Sea ! ) : but there was nothing done to prevent him,
their fear being so great, that, as it is accustomed in such
cases, it excluded counsel and bred despair.

Our Captain, conferring with his own knowledge and
former intelligences, was purposed to have returned to his
ship, to have taken some of those Cimaroons which had
dwelt with Signior Pezoro, to be the more confirmed in this

But when the Genoese Pilot was very earnest, to have the
time gained, and warranted our Captain of good speed, if we
delayed not ; he dismissed the frigate, somewhat lighter to
hasten her journey! and with this Pilot's advice, laboured
with sail and oars to get this harbour and to enter it by
night accordingly: considering that this frigate might now
be gained, and Pezoro's house attempted hereafter notwith-

But when we were come to the mouth of the harbour, we
heard the report of two Chambers, and farther off about a
league within the bay, two other as it were answering them :
whereby the Genoese Pilot conjectured that we were dis-
covered: for he assured us, that this order had been taken
since his last being there, by reason of the advertisement
and charge, which the Governor of Panama had sent to all
the Coasts ; which even in their beds lay in great and con-
tinual fear of our Captain, and therefore by all likelihood,
maintained this kind of watch, at the charge of the rich
Gnuffe Pezoro for their security.

Thus being defeated of this expectation, we found it was
not GOD'S will that we should enter at that time : the rather


for that the wind, which had all this time been Easterly,
came up to the Westward, and invited us to return again to
our ship; where, on Sheere Thursday (19th March), we met,
according to appointment, with our Bear, and found that
she had bestowed her time to more profit than we had done.

For she had taken a frigate in which there were ten men
(whom they set ashore) great store of maize, twenty-eight
fat hogs, and two hundred hens. Our Captain discharged
(20th March) this frigate of her lading; and because she
was new, strong, and of a good mould, the next day (21st
March) he tallowed her to make her a Man-of-war: dispos-
ing all our ordnance and provisions that were fit for such
use, in her. For we had heard by the Spaniards last taken,
that there were two little galleys built in Nombre de Dios, to
waft the Chagres Fleet to and fro, but were not yet both
launched: wherefore he purposed now to adventure for that

And to hearten his company he feasted them that Easter-
Day (22nd March) with great cheer and cheerfulness, set-
ting up his rest upon that attempt.

The next day (23rd March) with the new tallowed frigate
of Tolou [not of 20 tons, p. 203; one of the two frigates in
which the Expedition returned t England], and his Bear,
we set sail towards the Cativaas, where, about two days after
we landed, and stayed till noon ; at what time seeing a sail
to the westward, as we deemed making to the island : we
set sail and plied towards him, who descrying us, bare with
us, till he perceived by our confidence, that we were no
Spaniards, and conjectured we were those Englishmen, of
whom he had heard long before. And being in great want,
and desirous to be relieved by us: he bare up under our
lee, and in token of amity, shot off his lee ordnance, which
was not unanswered.

We understood that he was Tett>, a French Captain of
Newhaven [Havre] a Man-of-war as we were, desirous to
be relieved by us. For at our first meeting, the French Cap-
tain cast abroad his hands, and prayed our Captain to help
him to some water, for that he had nothing but wine and
cider aboard him, which had brought his men into great
sickness. He had sought us ever since he first heard of our


being upon the coast, about this five weeks. Our Captain
sent one aboard him with some relief for the present, willing
him to follow us to the next port, where he should have both
water and victuals.

At our coming to anchor, he sent our Captain a case of
pistols, and a fair gilt scimitar (which had been the late
King's of France [Henry II.], whom Monsieur Montgomery
hurt in the eye, and was given him by Monsieur Strozze).
Our Captain requited him with a chain of gold, and a tablet
which he wore.

This Captain reported unto us the first news of the
Massacre of Paris, at the King of Navarre's marriage on
Saint Bartholomew's Day last, [24 August, 1572] ; of the
Admiral of France slain in his chamber, and divers other
murders : so that he " thought those Frenchmen the happiest
which were farthest from France, now no longer France
but Frensy, even as if all Gaul were turned into worm-
wood and gall : Italian practices having over-mastered the
French simplicity." He showed what famous and often
reports he had heard of our great riches. He desired to
know of our Captain which way he might " compass " his
voyage also.

Though we had seen him in some jealousy and distrust,
for all his pretence ; because we considered more the strength
he had than the good-will he might bear us : yet upon con-
sultation among ourselves, " Whether it were fit to receive
him or not?" we resolved to take him and twenty of his
men, to serve with our Captain for halves. In such sort as
we needed not doubt of their forces, being but twenty; nor
be hurt by their portions, being no greater than ours : and
yet gratify them in their earnest suit, and serve our own
purpose, which without more help we could very hardly
have achieved. Indeed, he had 70 men, and we now but 31 ;
his ship was above 80 tons, and our frigate not 20, or pinnace
nothing near 10 tons. Yet our Captain thought this pro-
portionable, in consideration that not numbers of men, but
quality of their judgements and knowledge, were to be the
principal actors herein : and the French ship could do no
service, nor stand in any stead to this enterprise which we
intended, and had agreed upon before, both touching the



time when it should take beginning, and the place where we
should meet, namely, at Rio Francisco.

Having thus agreed with Captain TetO, we sent for the
Cimaroons as before was decreed. Two of them were
brought aboard our ships, to give the French assurance of
this agreement.

And as soon as we could furnish ourselves and refresh
the French company, which was within five or six days
(by bringing them to the magazines which were the nearest,
where they were supplied by us in such sort, as they pro-
tested they were beholding to us for all their lives) taking
twenty of the French and fifteen of ours with our Cimaroons,
leaving both our ships in safe road, we manned our frigate
and two pinnaces (we had formerly sunk our Lion, shortly
after our return from Panama, because we had not men suf-
ficient to man her), and went towards Rio Francisco: which
because it had not water enough for our frigate, caused us
to leave her at the Cabeqas, manned with English and
French, in the charge of Robert Doble, to stay there without
attempting any chase, until the return of our pinnaces.

And then bore to Rio Francisco, where both Captains
landed (31st March) with such force as aforesaid [i.e., 20
French, 15 English, and the Cimaroons], and charged them
that had the charge of the pinnaces to be there the fourth
day next following without any fail. And thus knowing
that the carriages [mule loads] went now daily from Pan-
ama to Nombre de Dios ; we proceeded in covert through
the woods, towards the highway that leadeth between them.

It is five leagues accounted by sea, between Rio Francisco
and Nombre de Dios ; but that way which we march by land,
we found it above seven leagues. We marched as in our
former journey to Panama, both for order and silence; to
the great wonder of the French Captain and company, who
protested they knew not by any means how to recover the
pinnaces, if the Cimaroons (to whom what our Captain
commanded was a law; though they little regarded the
French, as having no trust in them) should leave us: our

Online LibraryHerodotusVoyages and travels; ancient and modern → online text (page 17 of 35)