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gave time to the Spaniards to reinforce the garrison.
Sir Francis DRAKE TO Sir F. WALSINGHAM.
1589, June 2d.
Most Honourable, The best I cane write is, that I perfettly beleve the enemy will not truble Yngland sodenly, for first we haue destroyed very mych of his provysions at Groyre, and so haue we donne at Lysbone, and what we ourselves could not well dystroy, that hath the enemy burnt hymselfe,-as corne, wyne, roske, oyll, fleshe, and fyshe, with many other provisions which the Kyng had cawsed to be provyded for som new armey. The takyng of this thre skore and od saylles of hulks flyboots and hoies laden with corne and other provysyons, wilbe a great hendrance to his porposses. Ther is a great want of corne generally among the people, yeat had the Kyng great stoure of all provysyons in his stoure howses.
Yf we had not ben comanded to the contrary, but had fyrst Landed at Lysbone, all had bene as we could have desyred it, but God thowght it not mette.
I assure your honor our Sicknes is very mych bothe of our Soldyers and maryners. God metagatt it accordyng to his good will and pleasure.
We ar not yeat throwghly resolved what Servis we shall next take in hand, and for that ther is as yeat no suplyes com out of Yngland it causeth our men to drowpe, and desyre mych to go for Yngland, but yf God will bless us with som lettell comfortable dewe of heaven, som crownes, or som reasonable bootys for our soldyers and maryners, all will take good hart agayne, althowghe they were halfe dead. To want meat, monycyon, and lybertty, is too heavy a burden for a souldyer to beare, specyally when they most comand ther people being ffare from ther owne contry. Thus humbly takyng my Leave, desyring pardon for my playnes of your honor, praying unto God we may haue all power to leve in his ffear. written this second of June, 1589. Your honour humbly to be comanded,
FRA : DRAKE.*
The last and fatal expedition of the two commanders, Drake and Hawkins, was by express desire of the Queen, who gave them six of her ships to proceed on a voyage to the West Indies to intercept the Spanish Plate ships, and annoy their colonies. On this expedition Sir Thomas Baskerville was appointed to command the land forces. They left Plymouth on the 28th of August, 1595. In proceeding for Puerto Rico Sir John Hawkins became extremely sick ; and at the eastern end of that harbour he breathed his last. The casualties of this unfortunate voyage did not end here: a heavy fire was poured into the ships from the forts, and a large cannon-shot passed through the side of Drake's ship into the cabin, where the officers were at supper, killed Sir Nicholas Clifford, wounded Mr. Brute Browne mortally, and Captain Stratford severely, and struck the stool from under Sir Francis Drake.
The expedition then proceeded to Nombre de Dios, where a party of soldiers were selected to cross the Isthmus to Panama, under the orders of Sir Thomas Baskerville. They got about half- way, very much annoyed by the shot from parties in
* MS., State Paper Office. | Hakluyt-Monson.
ambush, and from forts commanding the defiles, and soon returned heartily sick of the journey.
From hence they proceeded, on the 15th January, towards Puerto Bello, where Sir Francis Drake was so unwell with a flux as to keep his cabin, which Camden thinks the vexation of disappointment may have assisted in bringing on. He continued getting worse, and on the 28th, in great tranquillity and resignation, “Our general, Sir Francis Drake, departed this life, having been extremely sick of a fluxe, which began the night before to stop on
“ With the usual solemnity of the funeral service at sea were the remains of this noble specimen of a British seaman consigned to the deep. He received a sailor's funeral very near to the place where his great reputation was first established, or, as Camden says, where he had borrowed so large a reputation. His body was committed to the deep in a leaden coffin, with the solemn service of the church of England; rendered more solemn by the volleys of musketry and the firing of guns in all the ships of the fleet.”
Sir William Monson, who never served under or with Drake, and who only knew his character to misrepresent it, could not record his death without an insinuation as unfounded as it is uncharitable. « Sir Francis Drake,” he says, “ who was wont to rule fortune, now finding his error, and the difference in the present state of the Indies and what it was when he first knew it, grew melancholy upon this disappointment, and suddenly, and, I do hope, naturally, died at Puerto Bello.” *
There is an answer to this unjustifiable, not to call it malignant, insinuation. Captain Henry Saville, who was his shipmate and friend, and was present at his death, says, “ Sir Francis Drake died of the fluxe, which had grown upon him eight days before his death, and yielded up his spirit like a Christian to his Creator quietly in his cabin.”+
Sir Francis Drake was a thorough seaman, and possessed the love and confidence of his officers and men; of a sober turn of mind, but lively, quick, and resolute; affable and easy of access to all.
. On service he was generally strict, and sometimes, when necessity required it, severe. He had a true sense of religion, and was a staunch friend to the reformed Church.
Elizabeth had a high regard for him, and had full confidence in his loyalty, integrity, and valour.
In his person he was low of stature, but well set; had a broad open chest, a round head, his hair of a clear brown, his beard full and comely, his eyes large and clear, of a fair complexion, with a fresh, cheerful, and very engaging countenance. There is an excellent full-length portrait of him in Buckland Abbey. I
† Hakluyt. I Stow-Fuller.
If Drake had achieved nothing more than his enterprising voyage round the world, never before attempted by any English navigator, this bold exploit would remain in the annals of his country to the latest posterity that Great Britain and her navy shall be destined to survive—an incontestable proof of the courage, capacity, patience, quick-sightedness, and public spirit of this extraordinary man.
Yet this naval worthy, the first of the age in which he flourished, has no monument, not even a simple stone, inscribed to his memory.
Drake made two wills; one on leaving Plymouth this last voyage, the other at sea, the day before his death. By the last, his brother Thomas was appointed sole executor; and by both residuary devisee and legatee of real and personal estate. Dame Elizabeth, Drake's relict, brought a suit against the executor in the Prerogative Court, which gave sentence in favour of the latter, and pronounced for the validity of both wills.* His widow, daughter and sole heiress of Sir George Sydenham, married William Courtenay; Esq., of Powderham Castle.
* Doctors' Commons.