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Drake's tiny _Judith_, of only fifty tons, went straight to England,
with every inch of space crowded by her own crew and those she had
rescued from the other vessels. Hawkins was so overcrowded in the
_Minion_ (which then meant "darling") that he asked all who would try
their luck ashore to go forward, while all who would stand by the
_Minion_ stayed aft. A hundred went forward, were landed south of the
Rio Grande, and died to a man, except three. One of these walked all
round the Gulf of Mexico and up the Atlantic sea-board, till he reached
the mouth of the St. John in New Brunswick, when a Frenchman took him
home. The other two were caught by the Spaniards and worked as slaves,
one in Mexico, the other as a galley-slave in Europe. Both escaped in
the end, one after fourteen, the other after twenty-two, years. The
Spaniards found their own hostages all safe and sound aboard the
flagship that Hawkins had abandoned at the King's Island. This
surprised them very much; for they had kept all the English hostages
Hawkins had sent them in exchange for theirs when they had made the
agreement never to attack him, and they knew that by the laws of war he
had the right to kill all the Spaniards who were in his power when the
other Spaniards broke their word.

The treason of Ulua took place in 1568, just twenty years before the
Great Armada. During those fateful twenty years the storm of English
hatred against the Spanish tyrants grew and grew until it burst in fury
on their heads.

Nothing daunted, Drake and his dare-devils went, three years running,
to the Spanish Main. The third year, 1572, brought him into fame. He
had only two tiny vessels, the _Pasha_ and the _Swan_, with
seventy-three men, all told. But with these faithful few he sailed
into a secret harbour, intending to seize the whole year's treasure
chest of Spain. To his surprise the found this letter from a scout on
the coast: "Captain Drake! If you fortune to come to this port, make
haste away! For the Spaniards have betrayed the place and taken away
all that you left here." The date was fourteen days before. He soon
saw that others knew his secret harbour; for in came Rance, an
Englishman, who then joined forces. Stealing quietly along the coast,
the hundred and twenty English lay in wait off Nombre de Dios, the
place on the Atlantic coast of the Isthmus of Panama where the treasure
was put aboard for Spain. An hour before dawn Drake passed the word
along the waiting line: "Shove off!" Bounding into the bay he saw a
Spanish rowboat, which at once saw him and pulled hard-all for the
shore. The English won the desperate race, making the Spaniards sheer
off to a landing some way beyond the town. Then they landed and
tumbled the Spanish guns off their mountings on the wharf, to the
amazement of the sleepy Spanish sentry, who ran for dear life.

No time was to be lost now; for the news spread like wildfire, and the
alarm bells were ringing from every steeple in the town. So Drake made
straight for the Governor's palace, while his lieutenant, Oxenham, (the
hero of _Westward Ho_!), went by a side street to take the enemy in
flank. The Spaniards fired a volley which killed Drake's trumpeter,
who had just sounded the _Charge_! On went the English, swords
flashing, fire-pikes blazing, and all ranks cheering like mad. When
their two parties met each other the Spaniards were in full flight
through the Treasure Gate of Panama, which Drake banged to with a will.
The door of the Governor's Palace was then burst open, and there, in
solid gleaming bars, lay four hundred tons of purest silver, enough to
sink the _Pasha_ and the _Swan_ and all Drake's boats besides. But
Drake would not touch a single bar. It was only diamonds, pearls, and
gold that he had room for now; so he made for the King's great Treasure
House itself. But a deluge of rain came on. The fire-pikes and
arquebusses had to be taken under cover. The immensely strong Treasure
House defied every effort to break it in. The Spaniards, finding how
very few the English were, came on to the attack. Drake was wounded,
so that he had to be carried off the field. And the whole attack ended
in failure, and dead loss.

The game seemed up. Rance and his men withdrew, and Drake was left
with less than fifty. But he was determined to be revenged on Spain
for the treachery to Hawkins at Ulua (the modern Vera Cruz); and
equally determined to get some Spanish treasure. So, keeping out of
sight for the next five months, till the rainy season was over and the
next treasure train was ready, he went wide of Nombre de Dios and made
for Panama (the Pacific end of the trail across the Isthmus). He had
nineteen picked Englishmen and thirty-one Maroons, who, being the
offspring of Negro slaves and Indians, hated Spaniards like poison and
knew the country to a foot.

On the 7th of February, 1573, from the top of a gigantic tree that
stood on the Divide, Drake first saw the Pacific. Vowing to sail an
English ship across the great South Sea he pushed on eagerly. Three
days later his fifty men were lying in wait for the mule train bringing
gold from Panama. All had their shirts on over their coats, so as to
know one another in the night attack. Presently the tinkle of mule
bells told of the Spanish approach. When the whole line of mules had
walked into his trap Drake's whistle blew one long shrill blast and his
men set on with glee. Their two years of toil and failure seemed to
have come to an end: for they easily mastered the train. But then, to
their intense disgust, they found that the Spaniards had fooled them by
sending the silver train this way and the gold one somewhere else.

Without losing a moment Drake marched back to the Atlantic, where he
met Têtu, a very gallant Frenchman, who, with his own seventy men,
gladly joined company; for Spain hated to see the French there quite as
much as she hated to see the English. The new friends then struck
inland to a lonely spot which another Spanish train of gold and jewels
had to pass on its way to Nombre de Dios. This time there was no
mistake. When Drake's whistle blew, and the leading mules were
stopped, the others lay down, as mule trains will. Then the guard was
quickly killed or put to flight, and all the gold and jewels were
safely seized and carried to the coast. Here again disaster stared
Drake in the face; for all his boats were gone, and not one of the men
left with them was in sight. But once more Drake got through, this
time by setting up an empty biscuit bag as a sail on a raft he quickly
put together. With one other Englishman and two Frenchmen he soon
found his boats, divided the treasure with the French, put the English
share on board ship, and, after giving many presents to the friendly
Maroons, sailed for home. "And so," says one of his men, "we arrived
at Plymouth on Sunday, the 9th of August, 1573, at what time the news
of our Captain's return did so speedily pass over all the church that
very few remained with the preacher, all hastening to see the evidence
of God's love towards our Gracious Queen and Country."

The plot kept thickening fast and faster after this. New Spain, of
course, was Spanish by right of discovery, conquest, and a certain kind
of settling. But the Spaniards wanted to keep everyone else away, not
only from all they had but from all they wished to have. Their
Governor-General plainly showed this by putting up in his palace the
figure of a gigantic war-horse pawing at the sky, and by carving
underneath, "_The Earth itself is not enough for Us_." Nor was this
the worst. No whites, not even the Germans, have ever been so
fiendishly cruel to any natives as the Spaniards were to those they had
in their power. They murdered, tortured, burnt alive, and condemned to
a living death as slaves every native race they met. There were brutal
Belgians in the Congo not so very long ago. American settlers and
politicians have done many a dark deed to the Indians. And the British
record in the old days of Newfoundland is quite as black. But, for
out-and-out cruelty, "the devildoms of Spain" beat everything bad
elsewhere. Moreover, while English, French, and Spaniards all wanted
gold when they could get it, there was this marked difference between
the two chief opponents, that while Spain cared mostly for tribute
England cared mostly for trade. Now, tribute simply means squeezing as
much blood-money as possible out of an enslaved country, no matter at
what cost of life and liberty to the people there; while trade, though
often full of cheating, really means an exchange of goods and some
give-and-take all round. When we consider this great difference, and
remember how cruel the Spaniards were to all whom they had made their
enemies, we can understand why the Spanish Empire died and why the
British lives.

One day Queen Elizabeth sent for Drake and spoke her mind straight out.
"Drake, I would gladly be revenged on the King of Spain for divers
injuries"; and, said Drake, "she craved my advice; and I told Her
Majesty the only way was to annoy him by the Indies." Then he told her
his great plan for raiding the Pacific, where no outsider had ever
been, and where the Spaniards were working their will without a thought
of danger. Elizabeth at once fell in with Drake's idea and "did swear
by her Crown that if any within her Realm did give the King of Spain to
understand hereof they should lose their heads therefor." The secret
had to be very well kept, even from Burleigh, who was then more or less
like what a Prime Minister is now. Burleigh was a very cautious man,
afraid of bringing on an open war with Spain. Elizabeth herself did
not want open war; but she was ready to go all lengths just short of
that. In those days, and for the next two centuries, a good deal of
fighting could go on at sea and round about oversea possessions without
bringing on a regular war in Europe. But for Elizabeth to have shown
her hand now would have put Philip at least on his guard and perhaps
spoilt Drake's game altogether. So the secret was carefully hidden
from every one likely to tell Mendoza, the lynx-eyed ambassador of
Spain. That Elizabeth was right in all she did is more than we can
say. But with enemies like Philip of Spain and Mary Queen of Scots
(both ready to have her murdered, if that could be safely done) she had
to hit back as best she could.

"The Famous Voyage of Sir Francis Drake into the South Sea, and
therehence about the whole Globe of the Earth, begun in the Yeare of
our Lord 1577" is the greatest raid in history. His fleet was small
enough, compared with what we know of fleets today. But it did
wonderful work for all that. The flagship _Golden Hind_ was of only a
hundred tons. The four others were smaller still. There were less
than two hundred men, all told. Yet with these Drake sailed off to
raid the whole Pacific seaboard of New Spain. He took "great store of
wildfire, chain-shot, harquebusses, pistols, corslets, bows, and other
weapons. Neither had he omitted to make provision for ornament and
delight, carrying with him expert musicians, rich furniture, and divers
shows of curious workmanship, whereby the magnificence of his native
country might amongst all nations be the more admired."

Sou'sou'west went Drake until he reached the "Land of Devils" in South
America, northeast of Montevideo. Terrific storms raised tremendous
seas through which the five little vessels buffeted their toilsome way.
The old Portuguese pilot, whom Drake had taken for his knowledge of
that wild coast, said the native savages had "sold themselves to the
Devil, because he was so much kinder than the Spaniards; and the Devil
helped them to keep off Spanish vessels by raising these awful storms."
The frightful Straits of Magellan (through which the British ship
_Ortega_ led the Germans such a dance of death) took Drake seventeen
squally days to clear. But he was out of the frying-pan into the fire
when he reached the Pacific, where he struck a storm fifty-two days
long. One of his vessels sank. Two others lost him and went home.
But the _Golden Hind_ and the little pinnace _Benedict_ remained safe
together off Cape Horn, which Drake was now the first man to discover.

Carried too far south of his course, and then too far west by trusting
the bad Spanish maps, Drake only reached Valparaiso in the north of
Chili at the end of 1578. Thinking he must be a Spaniard, as no one
else had ever sailed that sea, the crew of the _Grand Captain of the
South_ opened a cask of wine and beat a welcome on their drums. Before
the Spaniards knew what was happening gigantic Tom Moone had led the
English boarders over the side and driven the crew below. Half a
million was the sum of this first prize. The news spread quickly,
scaring the old Governor to death, heartening the Indians, who had just
been defeated, and putting all Spanish plans at sixes and sevens.
Messengers were sent post-haste to warn the coast. But Drake of course
went faster by sea than the Spaniards could by land; so he overhauled
and took every vessel he met. Very few showed fight, as they never
expected enemies at sea and were foolish enough not to be ready for
those that were sure to come sooner or later. Even ashore there was
little resistance, often, it is true, because the surprise was
complete. One day some Spaniards, with half a ton of silver loaded on
eight llamas, came round a corner straight into Drake's arms. Another
day his men found a Spaniard fast asleep near thirteen solid bars from
the mines of Potosi. The bars were lifted quietly and the Spaniard
left peacefully sleeping.

Sailing into Lima Drake cut every single Spanish ship adrift and then
sailed out again, leaving the harbour a perfect pandemonium of wrecks.
Overhauling a ship from Panama he found that the King's great treasure
ship, _Nuestra Señora de la Concepcion_, the "chiefest glory of the
whole South Sea," had such a long start of him that she might unload at
Panama before he could come up with her. The Spaniards, a lubberly
lot, brave soldiers but never handy sailors, were afraid of the Straits
of Magellan and knew nothing of Cape Horn; so they always sent their
treasure across the Isthmus of Panama.

Drake set every stitch of canvas the _Golden Hind_ could carry, taking
four more prizes by the way and learning that he was gaining on the
treasure ship. After clearing the prizes he sent them back with no one
on board hurt, plenty to eat and drink, and presents for all ranks and
ratings - very much to the amazement of the Spaniards. "Only a day
ahead," was the news the last prize gave him. But they were nearing
Panama; so Drake strained every nerve anew, promising a chain of solid
gold to the first look-out who saw the chase. Next midday his cousin,
young Jack Drake, yelled out "Sail-ho!" and climbed down on deck to get
the golden chain.

Panama was now so close that Drake was afraid of scaring the treasure
ship into making a run for it; so he trailed twelve empty wine casks
over the stern to slacken the speed of the _Golden Hind_ and make her
look more like a lubberly Spaniard. As the evening breeze came up and
reached him first he cut the casks adrift, set every sail, and
presently ran alongside. "Who are you?" asked the Spanish captain. "A
ship of Chili!" answered Drake. But when Don Anton looked down on the
_Golden Hind_ he saw her decks crowded with armed men from whom a
thundering shout of triumph came - "English! English! Strike sail!"
Then Drake blew his whistle, at which there was perfect silence while
he called, "Strike sail, Señor Anton! or I must send you to the
bottom!" Anton, however, was a very brave man, and he stoutly replied,
"Strike sail? Come and do it yourself!" At once the English guns cut
down his masts and rigging, while a perfect hail of arrows prevented
the Spaniards from clearing the wreckage away. Don Anton's crew began
running below, and when, in despair of making sail, he looked overside,
there was gigantic Tom Moone, at the head of the boarders, climbing out
of the pinnace. Then Anton struck his flag, was taken aboard the
_Golden Hind_, and, with all his crew, given a splendid banquet by his
English foes. After this the millions and millions of treasure were
loaded aboard the _Golden Hind_, and the Spaniards were given handsome
presents to soften their hard luck. Then they and their empty treasure
ship were allowed to sail for Panama.

Throwing the Spaniards off the scent by steering crooked courses Drake
at last landed at what is now Drake's Bay, near the modern San
Francisco, where the Indians, who had never even heard of any craft
bigger than canoes, were lost in wonder at the _Golden Hind_ and none
the less at the big fair-haired strangers, whom they took for gods.
Drake, as always, was very kind to them, gave them rich presents,
promised them the protection of his Queen, whose coins he showed them,
and, pointing to the sky while his men were praying, tried to make them
understand that the one true God was there and not on earth. They then
crowned him with a head-dress of eagle's feathers, while he made them a
speech, saying that he would call their country New Albion. California
thus became the counterpart of Cape Breton, over which John Cabot had
raised St. George's Cross eighty-two years before.

Leaving the Indians in tears at his departure Drake crossed the Pacific
to the Moluccas, where a vile Portuguese, with the suitable name of
Lopez de Mosquito, had just killed the Sultan, who was then his guest,
chopped up the body, and thrown the pieces into the sea, to show his
contempt for the natives. Drake would have gladly helped the Sultan's
son, Baber, if he had only had a few more men. But having no more than
fifty-six left he could not risk war with the Portuguese among their
own possessions. He did, however, make a treaty with Baber which was
the foundation of all the English Far-Eastern trade. And here, as
everywhere, he won the hearty good-will of the natives.

After a narrow escape from being wrecked on an unknown reef, and other
escapes from dangers which alone would fill a story book, the gallant
_Golden Hind_ sailed into Plymouth Sound with ballast of silver and
cargo of gold. "Is Her Majesty alive and well?" asked Drake of a
fishing smack. "Ay, ay, that she is, my Master." So Drake wrote off
to her at once and came to anchor beside what is now Drake's Island.
He wished to know how things were going at Court before he went to
London. The Queen wrote back to say she wished to see him, and that
she would "view" some of the wonderful things he had brought back from
foreign parts. Straight on this hint he went to town with jewels
enough to soften any woman's heart. The Spanish ambassador was beside
himself with rage; but in London "the people were swarming daily in the
streets to behold their Captain Drake and vowing hatred to all that
misliked him."

To crown everything, the _Golden Hind_ came round to London, where she
was the wonder of the day, and when the Queen herself went aboard to a
state banquet at which she knighted the hero of the sea: "I bid thee
rise, Sir Francis Drake!"




CHAPTER X

THE SPANISH ARMADA

(1588)

By 1580, the year of Drake's return, Spain and England were fast moving
toward the war that had been bound to come ever since the Old World had
found the riches of the New.

The battle grounds of rival sea-powers had been shifting farther and
farther west since history began. Now the last step was to come. We
have seen already that the centre of the world's sea trade had moved
for thousands of years from south-eastern Asia toward north-western
Europe, and that in the fifteenth century it was pretty well divided
between Venice and the Hansa Towns. This was only natural, because
Venice was in the middle of southern Europe and the Hansa Towns were in
the middle of northern Europe. The two were therefore well placed to
receive, store, and distribute the bulk of the oversea trade. In a
word, Venice (on the Adriatic) and the Hansa Towns (mostly on what is
now the German coast) were the great European central junctions of
oversea trade; while the Atlantic states of Spain and Portugal, France
and England were only terminal points, that is, they were at the end of
the line; for the Atlantic ended the world to the west.

The discovery of a rich New World changed all that. Venice and the
Hansa Towns became only stations by the way; while the new grand
central junction of the world was bound to be somewhere among the
Atlantic states of England, France, Portugal, and Spain. When these
four countries became rivals for this junction England won, partly
because she had the advantage of being an island, and thus safe from
invasion by land, but mostly because her men were of the fighting
kindred of the sea. Yet she had to fight hard to win; she had to fight
hard to keep what she won; and we all know how hard she has just had to
fight again for the real "Freedom of the Seas."

Her first great rival, Spain, was stronger than ever in 1580, because
it was then that Philip II added Portugal, as well as all the oversea
possessions of Portugal to his own enormous empire. He felt that if he
could only conquer England, then the dream of his father, Charles V,
would certainly come true, and he would be the master of the world.
France also stood in his way, but only by land; and if he had England
and England's sea-power he could make short work of France. His having
Portugal gave him much that he needed for his "Invincible Armada":
plenty of ships, sailors at least as good as his own, new ports and new
islands, like the Azores, and the "wealth of All the Indies" - for he
now had the Portuguese trade with the Indies as well as his own with
the West.

Luckily for England, Philip was a landsman, no soldier, and very slow.
So England struck first, but at New Spain, not, Old, because Elizabeth
would not have open war if she could help it. She had enemies in
Scotland, enemies in France, a few at home, and millions in Spain.
Besides, she was cleverer at playing off one against the other than in
managing a big war; and, like most people everywhere, even in our own
sea-girt Empire now, she never quite understood how to make war at sea.

In 1585 London was all agog about Sir Francis Drake again; for he was
to command the "Indies Voyage" against New Spain, with Frobisher, of
North-West-Passage fame, as his Vice-Admiral, and Knollys, the Queen's
own cousin, as Rear-Admiral. There were twenty-one ships and
twenty-three hundred men; with Carleill, a first-class general, to
command the soldiers ashore. Drake's crew of the _Golden Hind_ came
forward to a man, among them gigantic Tom Moone, the lion of the
boarding parties. It is quite likely that Shakespeare went down with
the crowds of Londoners who saw the fleet set sail from Woolwich; for
the famous London vessel, _Tiger_, which he mentions both in _Macbeth_
and in _Twelfth Night_, was one of Drake's fleet.

Drake's written plan proves that he was not only a daring raider but a
very great admiral as well. It marked down for attack all the places
in New Spain the taking of which would knock the sea trade there to
pieces, because they were the same by sea as railway junctions are by
land. More than this, he planned to hold Havana, so that the junctions
he destroyed could not be made to work again, as from there he could
pounce on working parties anywhere else.

Drake first swooped down on San Domingo in Hayti, battering the walls
from the sea while Carleill attacked them by land. The Spaniards had
been on their guard, so no treasure was found. Drake therefore put the
town to ransom and sent his Maroon servant to bring back the Spanish
answer. But the Spanish messenger ran his lance into the Maroon and
cantered away. The Maroon dragged himself back and fell dead at
Drake's feet. Drake sent word to say he would hang two Spaniards a day
till the one who had killed his Maroon was hanged himself. No answer
having come in next morning, two Spanish friars were strung up. Then
the offender was brought in and hanged by the Spaniards in front of
both armies. After this Drake burnt a fresh bit of the town each day
till the Spaniards paid the ransom.

The next dash was for Cartagena on the mainland of South America. The
Spaniards felt safe from a naval attack here, as the harbour was very
hard to enter, even with the best of Spanish pilots. But Drake did
this trick quite easily without any pilot at all; and, after puzzling


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Online LibraryWilliam Charles Henry WoodFlag and Fleet → online text (page 6 of 19)