Some time must necessarily be spent before the last blow could be struck; and, if that time were not negligently lost, it might be possible for some of them to reach the ships before the enemy, and direct them to change their station.

They were animated with this discourse, by which they discovered that their leader was not without hope ; but when they came to look more nearly into their situation, they were unable to conceive upon what it was founded. To pass by land was impossible, as the way lay over high mountains, through thick woods and deep rivers; and they had not a single boat in their power, so that a passage by water seemed equally impracticable. But Drake, whose penetration immediately discovered all the circumstances and inconveniences of every scheme, soon determined upon the only means of success which their condition afforded them; and ordering his men to make a raft out of the trees that were then floating on the river, offered himself to put off to sea upon it, and cheerfully asked who would accompany him. John Owen, John Smith, and two Frenchmen, who were willing to share his fortune, embarked with him on the raft, which was fitted out with a sail made of a bisket-sack, and an oar to direct its course instead of a rudder.

Then having comforted the rest with assurances of his regard for them, and resolution to leave nothing unattempted for their deliverance, he put off, and after having, with much difficulty, sailed three leagues, descried two pinnaces hasting towards him, which, upon a nearer approach, he discovered to be his own, and perceiving that they anchored behind

da se jut into the sea, he put to shore, - ins Wine avd on foot, was received by his

como biti satistaetion which is only known inswoi Pave been acquainted with dangers and

wille might they rowed to Rio Francisco,

ney cous in the rest, with what treasure they As we to carry with them through the woods ;

na www.big back with the utmost expedition, they Die wond in their frigate, and soon after to their ship, Tin Thane divided the gold and silver equally beword. Freuch and the English.

Itt hey spent about fourteen days in fitting in ingate more completely, and then dismiss

Vaniards with their ship, lay a few days and Cabezas ; while twelve English and six

U Hrons travelled once more into the country, hente in recover the French captain, whom they hwi wounded, as to bring away the treasure Yibinty had hid in the sands. Drake, whom his Wow.pryly mould not suffer to hazard his person in and isnd expedition, went with them to Rio Franpojeva where he found one of the Frenchmen who hadi sayrd to attend their captain, and was informed by him, upon his enquiries after his fortune, that, helt an hour after their separation, the Spaniards came upon them, and easily seized upon the wounded captain; but that his companion might have escaped with him, had he not preferred money to life ; for, seeing him throw down a box of jewels that retarded him, he could not forbear taking it up, and with that, and the gold which he had already, was so loaded that he could not escape. With regard to the bars

of gold and silver, which they had concealed in the ground, he informed them that two thousand men had been employed in digging for them.

The men, however, either mistrusting the informer's veracity, or confident that what they had hidden could not be found, pursued their journey ; but upon their arrival at the place, found the ground turned up for two miles round, and were able to recover no more than thirteen bars of silver, and a small quantity of gold. They discovered afterwards that the Frenchman who was left in the woods, fall. ing afterwards into the hands of the Spaniards, was tortured by them till he confessed where Drake had concealed his plunder. So fatal to Drake's expedition was the drunkenness of his followers.

Then dismissing the French, they passed by Carthagena with their colours flying, and soon after took a frigate laden with provisions and honey, which they valued as a great restorative, and then sailed away to the Cabezas.

Here they stayed about a week to clean their vessels, and fit them for a long voyage, determining to set sail for England; and, that the faithful Symerons might not go away unrewarded, broke up their pinnaces, and gave them the iron, the most valuable present in the world to a nation whose only employments were war and hunting, and amongst whom show and luxury had no place.

Pedro, their captain, being desired by Drake to go through the ship, and to choose what he most desired, fixed his eye upon a scymeter set with diamonds, which the French captain had presented to Drake; and being unwilling to ask for so valuable a present,

[blocks in formation]

offered for it four large quoits, or thick plates of gold, which he had hitherto concealed; but Drake, desirous to shew him that fidelity is seldom without a recompence, gave it him with the highest professions of satisfaction and esteem. Pedro, receiving it with the utmost gratitude, informed him, that by bestowing it he had conferred greatness and honour upon him; for by presenting it to his king, he doubted not of obtaining the highest rank amongst the Symerons. He then persisted in his resolution of leaving the gold, which was generously thrown by Drake into the common stock; for he said, that those, at whose expences he had been sent out, ought to share in all the gain of the expedition, whatever pretence cavil and chicanery might supply for the appropriation of any part of it. Thus was Drake's character consistent with itself; he was equally superior to avarice and fear, and through whatever danger he might go in quest of gold, he thought it not valuable enough to be obtained by artifice or dishonesty.

They now forsook the coast of America, which for many months they had kept in perpetual alarms, baving taken more than two hundred ships of all sizes between Carthagena and Nombre de Dios, of which they never destroyed any, unless they were fitted out against them, nor ever detained the prisoners longer than was necessary for their own security or concealment, providing for them in the same manner as for themselves, and protecting them from the malice of the Symerons; a behaviour, which humanity dictates, and which, perhaps, even policy cannot disapprove. He must certainly meet with obstinate opposition, who makes it equally dangerous to yield

as to resist, and who leaves his enemies no hopes but from victory

What riches they acquired is not particularly related; but it is not to be doubted, that the plunder of so many vessels, together with the silver which they seized at Nombre de Dios, must amount to a very large sum, though the part that was allotted to Drake was not sufficient to lull him in effemin acy, or to repress his natural inclination to adventures.

They arrived at Plymouth on the 9th of August, 1573, on Sunday in the afternoon; and so much were the people delighted with the news of their arrival, that they left the preacher, and ran in crowds to the quay

with shouts and congratulations. Drake having, in his former expedition, had a view of the South Sea, and formed a resolution to sail upon it, did not suffer himself to be diverted from his design by the prospect of any difficulties that might obstruct the attempt, nor any dangers that might attend the execution ; obstacles which brave men often find it much more easy to overcome, than secret envy and domestick treachery.

Drake's reputation was now sufficiently advanced to incite detraction and opposition; and it is easy to imagine that a man by nature superior to mean artifices, and bred, from his earliest years, to the labour and hardships of a sea life, was very little acquainted with policy and intrigue, very little versed in the methods of application to the powerful and great, and unable to obviate the practices of those whom his merit had made bis enemies.

Nor are such the only opponents of great enterprises : there are some men, of narrow views and

« ElőzőTovább »