Sir Francis Drake

MR. DRAKE was first apprenticed to the master of a small vessel trading to France and Zealand; at the age of eighteen he went purser of a ship to the Bay of Biscay, and at twenty made a voyage to the coast of Guinea. Having obtained Queen Elizabeth's permission for an expedition against the Spaniards, five ships were fitted out, having on board 164 able men and a large quantity of provisions. This fleet sailed out of Plymouth Sound on the 5th of November, 1577; but meeting with a violent storm, they were obliged to put back and refit. On the 13th of December they sailed again, and on the 25th passed Cape Cantin on the coast of Barbary. After visiting numerous islands and meeting with various adventures, having passed the line, they at length discovered the coast of Brazil on the 5th of April, it being fifty-four days since they saw land. As soon as the people on shore saw the ships, they made large fires in different parts, and performed ceremonies to prevail on the gods to sink the vessels, or at least to prevent their landing. Sailing southward, they anchored in fort St. Julian, where the admiral going on shore with six men, some of the natives slew the gunner, whose death was revenged by the commander, who killed the murderer with his own hand. At this place Magellan having executed one of his company who conspired against his life, Drake caused one of the crew named Doughty to be tried for the same offense against himself; and executed him on the same gibbet.

On the 20th of August, they fell in with the strait of Magellan, which they entered, but found so full of intricate windings, that the same wind which was sometimes in their favor, was at others against them. After several difficulties, they entered the South Sea on the 6th of September, and on the next day a violent storm drove them 200 leagues south of the strait, where they anchored among some islands, abounding in herbs and water. Being now arrived at the other mouth of the strait, they steered for the coast of Chili. On their course they met an Indian in a canoe, who informed them that at St. Jago there was a large ship laden for Peru. The admiral rewarded him for this information, whereupon he conducted them to the place where the ship lay at anchor. There were only eight Spaniards and three negroes on board, who mistaking them for friends, welcomed them, and invited them to drink Chili wine. Drake accepted the invitation, and going on board, put them under hatches; arriving on shore, he rifled the town and chapel, from which he took great quantities of silver and gold. Proceeding to sea, they arrived at the port of Tarapaxa, where some of them going on shore, found a Spaniard asleep, with eighteen bars of silver laying by his side, which they took without waking him.

Entering the port of Lima on the 13th of February, they found twelve sail of ships at anchor unguarded, the crews being all on shore. Examining these vessels they found much plate, together with rich silks and linens, which they took away; but having learned that a rich ship called the Cacafuego had lately sailed from that harbor for Taila, the admiral determined to follow her. Having come up with the chase, they gave her three shots, which brought away the mizzen-mast, whereupon they boarded her, and found thirteen chests full of rials of plate, eighty pounds-weight of gold, a quantity of jewels, and twenty-six tons of silver in bars.

They subsequently took several other rich prizes, and Drake having now revenged himself on the Spaniards, began to think of the best way of returning to England. To return by the straits of Magellan would be to throw himself into the hands of the Spaniards; he therefore determined to sail westward to the East Indies, and return by the Cape of Good Hope. But wanting wind, he sailed toward the north, and in 38 degrees N. latitude, discovered a country, which from its white cliffs he called New Albion, though it is now known by the name of California. Here they were received with much hospitality by the natives, and the king made Drake a solemn tender of his kingdom. Sailing hence, they saw the Ladrones on the 13th of October. The admiral held on his course without delay, and on the 4th of November, fell in with the Moluccas. Having arrived at a little island south of Celebes, they staid 26 days, in order to repair the ships. Setting sail hence, they ran among a number of small islands, and the wind shifting about suddenly, drove them upon a rock, on the evening of the 9th of January, 1579, where they stuck fast, till four in the after noon of the next day. In this extremity they lightened the vessel by taking out eight pieces of ordnance and three tons of cloves. On the 18th of June, they doubled the Cape of Good Hope, and on the 22d of July arrived at Sierra Leone, where they found a great number of elephants. They staid here two days, and holding on their course for Plymouth, arrived there on Monday, September 26, 1580; but according to their own reckoning, on Sunday the 25th, having gone round the world in two years, ten months, and a few days. The honor of knighthood was conferred on Drake, and a chair was made from his ship, which is still shown as a curiosity at Oxford.