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over, that the King had ordered twenty sail of his ships to proceed to sea, under the command of Don Alonzo de Bassano, with instructions to afford protection and security to their homeward-bound India ships. They also understood that Don Alonzo had actually been at sea, and had returned, not liking, it was supposed, to hazard an engagement with his twenty ships against ten of ours; but there might have been another reason. An order, it seems, had been despatched to the Indies, directing the Plate fleet to winter there, rather than to hazard their returning to Spain that summer.*
Our commanders were in ignorance of these orders till long after they were acted upon; and the little fleet, therefore, was condemned to spend seven months in looking for the appearance of Don Alonzo, and for the return carracks, in the line of the track they usually pursued. This voyage may, therefore, be considered as a failure, except in so far as it caused great distress among the Spanish merchants, by being kept out of their returns for twelvemonths, and was not less inconvenient to the King of Spain. But the disappointment was so annoying to Hawkins, that he thought it due to write an apologetical letter to the Queen, reminding Her Majesty of that passage of Scripture which says, “ Paul planteth and Apollos watereth, but God giveth the increase.” This allusion to Scripture either ruffled or amused
* Monson’s Tracts.
Her Majesty so that, on reading it, she burst forth in a mauner not unusual with her—“God's death! this fool went out a soldier, and is come home a divine!”
Sir John was now doomed once again to resume his obnoxious labours, after a voyage which, from the following deplorable letter, would not appear to have afforded him any mitigation of his troubles:Sir John HAWKINS TO THE LORD TREASURER.
July 8th, 1592. My bownden dewty in Humble manner Remembryd unto your good Lordship. When the Swyftsure was lanched at deptford, the shyp syttynge very hard, we were forcyd to use great violence upon the takells, wherof one gave way and brake, so as one end of a cable rann by my leggs, and hurt me in 6 places, wherby I have not byne able to attend upon your Lordship my sellfe.
The spookes that are usyde in a whelle, as your Lordship sayd, do not stond styll, so yt fallethe out, for as sone as your Lordship hathe gyven order for one demaund to be sattysfyed in this office, ther rysethe tow more, and hathe no end. I accompt my sellf most unhappye that yt ys my lott to follow so unpleasant a service, as ys the callynge uppon soche excessyve payments as do daylye grow, for yf yt had pleasyd God to have appoynted me to have servyd Her Majestie in any other callynge, I ame sure I shold have made my service very acceptable to Her Majestie, and ever have stode in your Lordshipes good lykynge and good opynyon.
But this endlesse and unsavery occupacion in callyng for mony ys allwayes unpleasant. I protest unto your Lordship, before God, in whose presence I stond with a clere concyence, that nothynge dothe more myslyke me then when any service ys comaundyd; the necessytye ys souche that I must be the instrewment to make the demaunds for mony 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 ine, 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
* MS., State Paper Office. † Life of Drake.
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 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,