Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

some respects he cannot stand as a true specimen of English naval character-he was both crafty and avaricious.

Sir Francis Drake.

BORN A. D. 1545.-DIED A. D. 1596.

FRANCIS DRAKE, one of the most brilliant names in the naval his. tory of England, was born of obscure parentage, at Tavistock, in Devonshire, in 1545. He was the eldest of twelve sons, all of whom, with few exceptions, went to sea. Francis was early apprenticed to the master of a small vessel that traded to France and the Low Countries, who, dying unmarried, left him his ship in reward of his faithful ser. vices. At this time the West Indies had not been long discovered, and little was talked of amongst merchant-seamen but the riches of this new country and the wealth to be got by trading with it.

Drake too was dazzled by the prospect of an adventure to the West Indies, and having sold the vessel of which he had so lately become possessed, embarked the proceeds in what was then called the Guinea-trade, and sailed from England in the squadron of Captain John Hawkins. The regular course of this trade was to repair first to the Guinea coast, and, by force, fraud, and other means, procure a cargo of slaves, and then to proceed to the Spanish islands and colonies, where the Africans were exchanged for such commodities as were most marketable at home. Hawkins's squadron having completed their cargo of slaves sailed for Spanish America, and entered the port of St Juan de Ulloa, in the gulf of Mexico, where they were treacherously attacked by the Spanish heet, as related in a preceding notice, and four of their vessels destroyed. The Minion, with Iławkins himself on board, and the Judith, commanded by Drake, were the only English ships that escaped on this occasion.

Drake lost his whole property in this unfortunate adventure, but, though oppressed and impoverished, he retained at least bis courage and his industry; and, with that ardent spirit which prompted him to, and bore him through, so many adventures, he instantly projected and executed a new voyage to America, with the view of gaining accurate intelligence of the state of the Spanish settlements in that quarter, preparatory to a grand expedition against them. This first experimental voyage took place in 1570 ; but Drake's first attempt at reprisal upon a large scale was made in 1572. On the 24th of May, that year, he sailed from Plymouth in the Pasha, of 70 tons, accompanied by the Swan, of 25 tons; the latter vessel being placed under the command of his brother John. The whole force with which Drake set out on this occasion, to make reprisals upon the most powerful nation in the world, consisted of these two light vessels, slightly armed, and supplied with a year's provisions, and 73 men and boys. He, probably, however, increased his force during the cruise, and we know that he was joined before his attack on Nombre de Dios, by one Captain Rause, whose ship was manned by about 50 men. His attack on Nombre de Dios failed, but, shortly after, he had the good fortune to capture a string of treasure-mules, on the rout from Panama to that port. It

[ocr errors][graphic]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »