Page images

must be the instrewment to make the demaunds for


to accomplyshe them, although I may boldlye say that none of those demaunds do advayle or benefytt me, neyther wyll I ever durynge my lyffe seeke or practyce any way to deceave Her Majestie in any thynge, for all the proffyt or comodytye that can grow unto me, for I thanke God I do dyspyse and abhorre any gayne

that shall any way grow unto me, that shall not be obtayned with a clere concyence in the presence of God, from whose syght no mortall man can hyde his thoughts. And as I ame thorowghly perswadyd my sellf to dele symplye and trewly in Her Majesties service, so wyll I indevour to cawse others to do the lyke, but in the service of prynces the smaller nomber do serve as they ought to do, but seeke to serve ther owne tornes. I wold to God the abyllytye of my body and strength were sooche as I cold therby promyse better, but as yt ys I wyll not fayle to do the best I can.

With me I do confesse yt ys at the best, for I ame not able to performe that which I desyre to do. Therfore I do most humbly pray your good Lordship to be a meane to Her Majestie that some dyscret and able 'man may be thought uppon to supply my place, which to instroocke I wyll abyde souche a convenyent tyme as shall seeme good unto your Lordship, and wyll neverthelesse ever duryng my lyffe attend Her Majesties service any other way that I shal be appoyntyd, wherin my experyence, or skyll, wyll serve, for which good favour of Her Majesties and your Lordshipes I shall ever accknowlege my sellfe more bownden, then yf I had reseavyd in gyfft great treasure.

I do send your Lordship herewith fowre demaunds which ys convenyent your Lordship shold see before Her Majestie depart from hence.

The first ys for the 10001., which ys to pay upon the Privy Seale of the 22 of Marche, 1591, for the provydynge of cables, &c., the 10001. which ys payd upon that warrant ys expendyd in cables, hemp, tarre, workmanship and soche lyke, to very good porpose, so as your Lordship shall see cordyge farre better, and better chepe then ever yt hath byne in my tyme; and now the hemp ys to be had at a low pryse, which ys now to be taken for Her Majesties benefytt.

The second ys a pay to be made to the shypes that have and do serve in the narrow sees, to end the 23 of June last past. Ther ys allso a note wherby your Lordship may see the shipes that are now in charge.

The third ys the monthes ordynary for June last.

The fourth ys th’endynge of the charge of the Drednought and the Swyftsure expendyd in June laste, for all which I do send your Lordship sertyfycathes, referryng yt to your Lordship’s honorable consyderacion, and so Humbly take my leve from deptford the 8th of July, 1592. Your Lordship's ever Humbly bownden,


At the dissolution of Parliament in 1592, her Majesty gave notice that it was her intention to place a fleet under the command of Sir Francis Drake, in the following year; who, accordingly, having been appointed, lost no time in making his arrangements, in which he did not forget his old friend and early patron, Sir John Hawkins. “This expedition must be considered as something remarkable in its origin, unfortunate in its progress,

and fatal in its termination.”+

It is unaccountable that Sir John Hawkins, at his advanced age, between seventy-five and eighty, should have been prevailed on to undertake a voyage to the West Indies and the Spanish Main. He had obtained the rank of a flag-officer, the honour of knighthood, and was actually holding the appointment of Treasurer of the Navy, a situation of great grievance to him, but one in which he had continued twenty-two years. In a service of fortyeight years, chiefly at sea, and in the most favoured period for amassing wealth, it could hardly, therefore, be an object with him to embark, at his time of life, on a voyage to one of the most sickly climates then known. To a gallant old officer like Hawkins the opportunity of being associated once more with his favourite friend and pupil had no doubt its influence in the decision. But there was another object, and one probably nearest to his heart—the hope of being enabled to purchase, at whatever cost, the redemption from imprisonment of a beloved son out of the hands of the Spaniards, into which he had fallen, when on his voyage through the Strait of Magelhaens into the South Seas; in the narrative of which is displayed great intelligence, good sense, and gallant conduct, as will

* MS., State Paper Office. † Life of Drake.

appear by the short account of it, to be found in its proper place.

For the present unfortunate expedition six of her Majesty's ships were appropriated; Drake and Hawkins were appointed joint admirals, and Sir Thomas Baskerville to command the land forces. The first intention was to land at Nombre de Dios,

from thence to march across the isthmus to Panama, and to seize the treasure which was supposed to be there; but before they left Plymouth, her Majesty, having received advices from Spain that the India fleet had already arrived, but that one of them being dismasted, had taken refuge in Puerto Rico, orders were therefore sent to the admirals to hasten thither, in the first instance, to take possession of the treasure in the disabled ship, and then to proceed to Nombre de Dios.

Unfortunately, however, they lost a considerable time in attempting to take possession of the Grand Canary island, in which they failed. Hawkins, it is said, was against the attempt on account of the delay; but Drake and Baskerville, particularly the latter, urged the measure, undertaking to carry it in four days. Hence they proceeded on their voyage, halted at Dominica, trafficking with the natives for tobacco, and building some pinnaces. While here, five Spanish ships, sent out to watch the English, and, at the same time, to convoy the treasure from Puerto Rico, fell in with and captured the Francis, a little pinnace that had straggled from the fleet, and having, by the application of torture, made the master and mariners confess that Puerto Rico was the destination of the English fleet, the Spaniards made all haste thither to give intelligence, and to bury all the treasure that might be at that place.

The English followed, and had no sooner come to anchor at Puerto Rico than the enemy plied them with their great guns from the forts, and the ships that had already arrived there. But before the English ships could make ready to engage, Sir Nicholas Clifford, and Brute Brown, the friend of Drake, were so severely wounded, while sitting at supper, that they survived only two days.* Before they anchored, Sir John Hawkins, who had been ill nearly a month, also departed this life, some say from grief at the loss occasioned by the delay, others that the intelligence extorted by the Spaniards from the captured Francis had dwelt upon his mind; but the real cause appears to have been the effects of the climate on an aged and shattered constitution. His younger colleague and pupil soon afterwards followed him, and shared the same watery grave.

“Sir John Hawkins, as to his person, was esteemed graceful in his youth, and of a very grave and reverend aspect when advanced in years. He was well versed in mathematical learning for those times, and understood every branch of maritime affairs thoroughly, and to the botcom. He was a man of as much personal courage as that age produced, and had a presence of mind that set him above fear, and which enabled him frequently to deliver himself and others out of the reach even of the most imminent dangers.”+ “He was extremely affable,” says Camden, “to his seamen, and remarkably beloved by * Camden.

+ Prince's Worthies.

« EelmineJätka »