Famous Privateersmen AND ADVENTURERS OF THE SEA
Their rovings, cruises, escapades, and fierce battling upon the ocean for patriotism and for treasure
CHARLES H. L. JOHNSTON
Author of "Famous Cavalry Leaders," "Famous Indian Chiefs," "Famous Scouts," etc.
BOSTON THE PAGE COMPANY PUBLISHERS
FAMOUS LEADERS SERIES BY CHARLES H. L. JOHNSTON
Each one volume, large 12mo, illustrated, $1.50
FAMOUS CAVALRY LEADERS FAMOUS INDIAN CHIEFS FAMOUS SCOUTS FAMOUS PRIVATEERSMEN FAMOUS FRONTIERSMEN
THE PAGE COMPANY 53 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass.
Copyright, 1911, BY L. C. PAGE & COMPANY (INCORPORATED)
All rights reserved
First Impression, November, 1911 Second Impression, November, 1914
THE COLONIAL PRESS C. H. SIMONDS CO., BOSTON, U. S. A.
I DEDICATE THIS BOOK TO THE HAPPY MEMORY OF
George Alfred Henty
THE MOST STIMULATING AUTHOR OF BOOKS FOR BOYS THAT THE PAST HALF CENTURY HAS PRODUCED, AND A WRITER WHO HAS KEPT ALIVE THE SPIRIT OF MANLY SPORT AND ADVENTURE WHICH HAS MADE THE ANGLO-SAXON PEOPLE A RACE OF WORLD CONQUERORS. MAY THEY NEVER RETROGRADE!
Thanks are due the Librarian of Congress, and particularly to Mr. Roberts of the Department of Prints, for numerous courtesies extended to the author during the compilation of this volume.
MY DEAR BOYS:—The sea stretches away from the land,—a vast sheet of unknown possibilities. Now gray, now blue, now slate colored, whipped into a thousand windrows by the storm, churned into a seething mass of frothing spume and careening bubbles, it pleases, lulls, then terrorizes and dismays. Perpetually intervening as a barrier between peoples and their countries, the wild, sobbing ocean rises, falls and roars in agony. It is a stoppage to progress and contact between races of men and warring nations.
In the breasts of all souls slumbers the fire of adventure. To penetrate the unknown, to there find excitement, battle, treasure, so that one's future life can be one of ease and indolence—for this men have sacrificed the more stable occupations on land in order to push recklessly across the death-dealing billows. They have battled with the elements; they have suffered dread diseases; they have been tormented with thirst; with a torrid sun and with strange weather; they have sorrowed and they have sinned in order to gain fame, fortune, and renown. On the wide sweep of the ocean, even as on the rolling plateau of the once uninhabited prairie, many a harrowing tragedy has been enacted. These dramas have often had no chronicler,—the battle was fought out in the silence of the watery waste, and there has been no tongue to tell of the solitary conflict and the unseen strife.
Of sea fighters there have been many: the pirate, the fillibusterer, the man-of-warsman, and the privateer. The first was primarily a ruffian and, secondarily, a brute, although now and again there were pirates who shone by contrast only. The fillibusterer was also engaged in lawless fighting on the sea and to this service were attracted the more daring and adventurous souls who swarmed about the shipping ports in search of employment and pelf. The man-of-warsman was the legitimate defender of his country's interests and fought in the open, without fear of death or imprisonment from his own people. The privateersman—a combination of all three—was the harpy of the rolling ocean, a vulture preying upon the merchant marine of the enemy to his country, attacking only those weaker than himself, scudding off at the advent of men-of-warsmen, and hovering where the guileless merchantman passed by. The privateersman was a gentleman adventurer, a protected pirate, a social highwayman of the waters. He throve, grew lusty, and prospered,—a robber legitimized by the laws of his own people.
So these hardy men went out upon the water, sailed forth beneath the white spread of new-made canvas, and, midst the creaking of spars, the slapping of ropes, the scream of the hawser, the groan of the windlass, and the ruck and roar of wave-beaten wood, carved out their destinies. They fought. They bled. They conquered and were defeated. In the hot struggle and the desperate attack they played their parts even as the old Vikings of Norway and the sea rovers of the Mediterranean.
Hark to the stories of those wild sea robbers! Listen to the tales of the adventurous pillagers of the rolling ocean! And—as your blood is red and you, yourself, are fond of adventure—ponder upon these histories with satisfaction, for these stalwart seamen
"Fought and sailed and took a prize Even as it was their right, Drank a glass and kissed a maid Between the volleys of a fight. Don't begrudge their lives of danger, You are better off by far, But, if war again comes,—stranger, Hitch your wagon to their star."
CHARLES H. L. JOHNSTON.
The bugle calls to quarters, The roar of guns is clear, Now—ram your charges home, Lads! And cheer, Boys! Cheer!
PAGE PREFACE vii
CARLO ZENO: HERO OF THE VENETIAN REPUBLIC 1
SIR FRANCIS DRAKE: ROVER AND SEA RANGER 23
SIR WALTER RALEIGH: PERSECUTOR OF THE SPANIARDS 53
JEAN BART: THE SCOURGE OF THE DUTCH 83
DU GUAY-TROUIN: THE GREAT FRENCH "BLUE" 113
EDWARD ENGLAND: TERROR OF THE SOUTH SEAS 137
WOODES ROGERS: THE BRISTOL MARINER 153
FORTUNATUS WRIGHT: THE MOST HATED PRIVATEERSMAN OF THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA 173
GEORGE WALKER: WINNER OF THE GAMEST SEA FIGHT OF THE ENGLISH CHANNEL 199
JOHN PAUL JONES: THE FOUNDER OF THE AMERICAN NAVY 239
CAPTAIN SILAS TALBOT: STAUNCH PRIVATEERSMAN OF NEW ENGLAND 283
CAPTAIN "JOSH" BARNEY: THE IRREPRESSIBLE YANKEE 299
ROBERT SURCOUF: THE "SEA HOUND" FROM ST. MALO 319
LAFITTE: PRIVATEER, PIRATE, AND TERROR OF THE GULF OF MEXICO 341
RAPHAEL SEMMES: DESPOILER OF AMERICAN COMMERCE 373
EL CAPITAN 393
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
PAGE "AGAIN THE CANNON MADE THE SPLINTERS FLY" (See page 273) Frontispiece
ZENO'S FLEET 18
SIR FRANCIS DRAKE 28
DRAKE'S GREATEST VICTORY ON THE SPANISH MAIN 44
YOUNG RALEIGH AND A COMPANION LISTENING TO TALES OF THE SPANISH MAIN 55
SIR WALTER RALEIGH 60
JEAN BART 86
"JEAN BART LED HIS BOARDERS OVER THE SIDE OF THE DUTCH VESSEL" 108
COMBAT BETWEEN DU GUAY-TROUIN AND VAN WASSENAER 135
"'LEFT US ENGAGED WITH BARBAROUS AND INHUMAN ENEMIES'" 146
"THE BOARDERS WERE REPULSED WITH GREAT SLAUGHTER" 193
ACTION BETWEEN THE "GLORIOSO" AND THE "KING GEORGE" AND "PRINCE FREDERICK" UNDER GEORGE WALKER 231
AMERICAN PRIVATEER TAKING POSSESSION OF A PRIZE 239
"BEGAN TO HULL THE 'DRAKE' BELOW THE WATER-LINE" 261
"THEY SWARMED INTO THE FORECASTLE AMIDST FIERCE CHEERS" 277
"TALBOT, HIMSELF, AT THE HEAD OF HIS ENTIRE CREW, CAME LEAPING ACROSS THE SIDE" 289
AMERICAN PRIVATEER CAPTURING TWO ENGLISH SHIPS 298
"SURCOUF SCANNED HER CAREFULLY THROUGH HIS GLASS" 336
RAPHAEL SEMMES 376
"THE MEN WERE SHOUTING WILDLY, AS EACH PROJECTILE TOOK EFFECT" 386
HERO OF THE VENETIAN REPUBLIC
"Paradise is under the shadow of swords."—MAHOMET.
HERO OF THE VENETIAN REPUBLIC
Zeno, noble Zeno, with your curious canine name, You shall never lack for plaudits in the golden hall of fame, For you fought as well with galleys as you did with burly men, And your deeds of daring seamanship are writ by many a pen. From sodden, gray Chioggia the singing Gondoliers, Repeat in silvery cadence the story of your years, The valor of your comrades and the courage of your foe, When Venice strove with Genoa, full many a year ago.
The torches fluttered from the walls of a burial vault in ancient Venice. Two shrouded figures leaned over the body of a dead warrior, and, as they gazed upon the wax-like features, their eyes were filled with tears.
"See," said the taller fellow. "He has indeed led the stalwart life. Here are five and thirty wounds upon the body of our most renowned compatriot. He was a true hero."
"You speak correctly, O Knight," answered the other. "Carlo Zeno was the real warrior without fear and without reproach. He has fared badly at the hands of the Republic. But then,—is this not life? Those most worthy seem never to receive their just compensation during their living hours. It is only when they are dead that a tardy public gives them some recognition of the great deeds which they have done, the battles which they have fought, and the honor which they have brought to their native land. Alas! poor Zeno! He—the true patriot—has had but scant and petty praise."
So saying the two noble Venetians covered the prostrate form of the dead warrior—for they had lifted the brown robe which enshrouded him—and, with slow faltering steps, they left the gloomy chamber of death.
Who was this Venetian soldier, who, covered with the marks of battle, lay in his last sleep? Who—this hero of war's alarms? This patriotic leader of the rough-and-ready rovers of the sea?
It was Carlo Zeno,—a man of the best blood of Venice,—who, commanding fighting men and fighting ships, had battled strenuously and well for his native country.
The son of Pietro Zeno and Agnese Dandolo, this famous Venetian had been well bred to the shock of battle, for his father was for some time Governor of Padua, and had won a great struggle against the Turks, when the careening galleys of the Venetian Squadron grappled blindly with the aggressive men of the Ottoman Empire. There were ten children in the family and little Carlo was named after the Emperor Charles IV, who sent a retainer to the baptism of the future seaman, saying, "I wish the child well. He has a brave and noble father and I trust that his future will be auspicious."
Little Carlo was destined for the Church, and, with a Latin eulogium in his pocket (which his Venetian school-master had written out for him) was sent to the court of the Pope at Avignon. The sweet-faced boy was but seven years of age. He knelt before the prelate and his retainers, reciting the piece of prose with such precision, grace, and charm, that all were moved by his beauty, his memory, his spirit, and his liveliness of person.
"You are indeed a noble youth," cried the Pope. "You shall come into my household. There you shall receive an education and shall be a canon of the cathedral of Patras, with a rich benefice."
But little Carlo did not remain. Although dressed like a mimic priest and taught with great care, the hot blood of youth welled in his veins and made him long for a life more active and more dangerous. So he looked about for adventure so thoroughly that he was soon able to have his first narrow escape, and a part in one of those many brawls which were to come to him during his career of war and adventure.
Sent by his relations to the University of Padua, he was returning to Venice from the country, one day, when a man leaped upon him as he walked down a narrow road.
"Who are you?" cried Carlo fearfully.
But the fellow did not answer. Instead,—he struck him suddenly with a stout cudgel—knocked him senseless on the turf, took all the valuables which he had, and ran silently away into the gloom.
Little Carlo came to his senses after many hours, and, staggering forward with weakened steps, reached Mestre, where kind friends dressed his wounds.
"I shall catch this assailant," cried he, when he had revived. "He shall rue the day that he ever touched the person of Carlo Zeno." And forthwith he secured a number of bloodhounds with which to track the cowardly ruffian of the highway.
Luck was with the future commander of the galleons and fighting men. He ran the scurvy assailant to earth, like a fox. He captured him, bound him and handed him over to the justice of Padua,—where—for the heinousness of the offense—the man was executed. So ended the first conflict in which the renowned Carlo Zeno was engaged,—successfully—as did most of his later battles.
Not long afterwards young Zeno returned to his studies at the University, but here—as a lover of excitement—he fell into bad company. Alas! he took to gambling, and frittered away all of his ready money, so that he had to sell his books in order to play. The profit from these was soon gone. He was bankrupt at the early age of seventeen.
Ashamed to go home, the future sea rover disappeared from Padua and joined a fighting band of mercenaries (paid soldiers) who were in the employ of a wealthy Italian Prince. He was not heard of for full five years. Thus, his relatives gave him up for dead, and, when—one day—he suddenly stalked into the house of his parents, his brothers and sisters set up a great shout of wonder and amazement. "Hurrah!" cried they, "the dead has returned to his own. This is no ghost, for he speaks our own native tongue. Carlo Zeno, you shall be given the best that we have, for we believed that you had gone to another world."
Pleased and overwhelmed with affection, young Carlo stayed for a time with his family, and then—thinking that, as he had been trained for the priesthood, he had best take charge of his canonry of Patras—he went to Greece.
"Hah! my fine fellow," said the Governor, when he first saw him, "I hear that you are fond of fighting. It is well. The Turks are very troublesome, just now, and they need some stout Venetian blood to hold them in check. You must assist us."
"I'll do my best," cried Zeno with spirit, and, he had not been there a week before the Ottomans swooped down upon the city, bent upon its demolition. The young Venetian sallied forth—with numerous fighting men—to meet them, and, in the first clash of arms, received such a gaping wound that he was given up for dead. In fact, when carried to the city, he was considered to be without life, was stretched upon a long settee, was clothed in a white sheet, and prepared for interment. But in the early morning he suddenly opened his eyes, gazed wonderingly at the white shroud which covered him, and cried, with no ill humor,
"Not yet, my friends. Carlo Zeno will disappoint all your fondest hopes. Once more I am of the world."
And, so saying, he scrambled to his feet, much to the dismay of the sorrowing Venetians, who had been carefully spreading a number of flowers upon the prostrate form of the supposedly dead warrior.
But so weak was the youthful hero that he had to be taken to Venice in order to recover. When strong again he resumed his studies for the ministry and was sent to Patras, a city that was soon threatened by an army of twelve thousand Cypriotes and Frenchmen.
"Here, Zeno," cried the Bishop of Patras to the virile young stripling. "We have seven hundred riders in our city. With this mere handful, you must defend us against our enemies. The odds are fifteen to one against you. But you must struggle valiantly to save our beautiful capital."
"Aye! Sire!" cried the youthful student of church history. "I shall do my best to free your capital from these invaders. May the God of Hosts be with us! My men salute you."
So saying the valiant youth led his small and ill drilled company against the besiegers, and, so greatly did he harass his adversaries, that they abandoned the enterprise, at the end of six months; made peace; and retired.
"Hail to Zeno!" cried many of the soldiers. "He is a leader well worth our respect. Without him the great city would have surely fallen. Yea! Hail to young Zeno."
These words of praise reached the ears of a certain Greek Knight named Simon, and so roused his envy, that he audaciously accused Carlo of treachery, which was soon told to the hot-headed young warrior. He acted as one would well expect of him.
"I challenge you to single combat," cried he. "The duel shall be fought in Naples under the eye of Queen Johanna."
In vain Carlo's friends besought him to forgive the loose-tongued Simon—his patron, the Bishop, exhausted his eloquence in the endeavor to reconcile the two. The hot blood of youth would out. It was fight and no compromise. But before the trial, the bold and unyielding soldier threw up his position with the Church and married a rich and noble lady of Clarenta, whose fortune well supplanted the large income which he had forfeited by his resignation.
Now honor called for deeds. Almost immediately he was obliged to leave for Naples in order to meet the detractor of his valor, and, to his surprise, the Queen spoke lightly of the quarrel. "It is a question of law," said she. "An inquiry shall be had. There must be no bloodshed."
An inquiry was therefore in order, and it was a thorough one. "Simon is in the wrong," said the fellow acting as clerk for those sitting upon the case. "He must pay all the expenses to which Zeno has been put, and there shall be no duel."
"My honor has been cleared," cried Zeno. "I must return to Greece." There—strange as it might seem—he was at once named Governor of a province, though not yet twenty-three. Events were going well with him. But his wife died, he was cheated of his dowry by her relations, and so he turned once more to Venice,—saddened, older and nearly penniless. The wheel of fortune had turned badly for this leader of fighting men and future general of white-winged galleons of the sea.
But now there was a really good fight—such a fight as all true sailors love—a fight which tested the grit and courage of Zeno to the full. It was the first of those heroic deeds of arms which shed undying lustre on his name, and marked him as a seaman of the first rank,—a captain of true courage, resources and ambition.
The Genoese (or inhabitants of Genoa) and the Venetians, were continually at war in these days, and when—in patriotic zeal—Carlo Zeno seized the island of Tenedos, the Venetian Senate, fearing lest the Genoese would seek to recover the lost possession, sent a fleet of fifteen ships to guard it, under one Pietro Mocenigo. There were also two other vessels, one commanded by Carlo Zeno himself. The mass of galleys floated on to Constantinople, for the Greeks had allied themselves with the Genoese, had seized a Venetian man-of-war, which had been captured, and had then retired. Three lumbering hulks were left to protect the fair isle of Tenedos,—under Zeno, the war-like Venetian.
"Aha," said a Genoese seaman. "There are but three galleys left to save our isle of Tenedos. We shall soon take it with our superior force. Forward, O sailors! We'll have revenge for the attack of the wild men from Venice."
"On! on!" cried the Genoese seamen, and without further ado, twenty-two galleys careened forward, their white sails bellying in the wind, their hawsers groaning, spars creaking, and sailors chattering like magpies on a May morning.
Carlo Zeno had only three hundred regular soldiers and a few archers, but he occupied the suburbs of the town and waited for the attackers to land. This they did in goodly numbers, for the sea was calm and motionless, although it was the month of November.
"Men!" cried the intrepid Zeno, "you are few. The enemy are as numerous as blades of grass. Do your duty! Fight like Trojans, and, if you win, your grateful countrymen will treat you as heroes should be respected. Never say die, and let every arrow find an opening in the armor of the enemy."
The Genoese came on with shouts of expectancy, but they were met with a far warmer reception than they had anticipated. The air was filled with flying arrows, as, crouching low behind quickly constructed redoubts, the followers of the stout-souled Zeno busily stretched their bowstrings, and shot their feathered barbs into the mass of crowding seamen. Savage shouts and hoarse cries of anguish, rose from both attackers and attacked, while the voice of Zeno, shrilled high above the battle's din, crying: "Shoot carefully, my men, do not let them defeat us, for the eyes of Venice are upon you." So they struggled and bled, until the shadows began to fall, when—realizing that they were unable to take the courageous Venetians—the Genoese withdrew to their ships.
There was laughter and song around the camp fires of Zeno's little band, that night, but their leader spoke critically of the morrow.
"Sleep well, my men," said he, "for I know that our foes are well angered at the beating we have given them. Next morn we shall again be at war. Let us keep our courage and have as a battle cry, 'Venice! No retreat and no quarter!'"
When morning dawned the Genoese were seen to land engines of war, with the apparent intention of laying siege to the town. Their preparations showed that they meant to attack upon the side farthest from the castle, so Carlo Zeno—the quick-witted—placed a number of his men in ambush, among a collection of half-ruined and empty houses which stood in that quarter. "Stay here, my men," said he, "and when the enemy has advanced, charge them with fury. We must win to-day, or we will be disgraced."
Meanwhile the rest of the Venetians had retreated inland, and, crouching low behind a screen of brush, waited patiently for the Genoese to come up. "Be cautious," cried Zeno, "and when the enemy is within striking distance, charge with all the fury which you possess."
"Aye! Aye! Good master," cried the stubborn soldiers. "We mark well what you tell us."
Not long afterwards the attacking party came in view, and, without suspecting what lay in front, advanced with quick gait towards the supposedly defenseless town. But suddenly, with a wild yell, the followers of Zeno leaped from behind the screening bushes, and dashed towards them. At the same instant, the soldiers who had been placed in hiding, attacked suddenly from the rear. Arrows poured into the ranks of the Genoese, and they fell like wheat before the scythe of the reaper. Hoarse shouts, groans, and cries of victory and death, welled above the battle's din.
In the midst of this affair Carlo Zeno gave a cry of pain. An arrow (poisoned 'tis said) had entered his leg and struck him to the ground. But, nothing daunted, he rose to cry shrilly to his men, "On! On! Drive them to the ocean." And, so well did his soldiers follow these commands, that the Genoese fled in confusion and disorder to their ships. The day was won.
As was natural, Zeno paid no attention to his wound, and, when the enemy hurried to shore the next day for another attack, they were greeted with such a terrific discharge of artillery that they gave up their idea of capturing the island and sailed away amidst cries of derision from the delighted Venetians.
"Hurrah!" cried they. "Hurrah for Zeno!" But so exhausted was the intrepid leader by reason of his wound that he fell into a spasm as if about to die. His iron constitution pulled him through, however, and soon he and the faithful band returned to Venice, covered with glory, and full satisfied with their hard won victory.
The daring Zeno was well deserving of praise, for he had beaten a fleet and an army by sheer genius, with three ships and a handful of men. To Venice had been preserved the valuable island which guards the entrance to the Dardanelles, and to her it was to remain for years, although the Genoese tried many times and oft to wrest it from her grasp.
Now came another struggle—the war of Chioggia—a struggle in which Carlo Zeno played a great and noble part,—a part, in fact, that has made his name a byword among the grateful Venetians: a part in which he displayed a leadership quite equal to that of a Drake, or a Hawkins, and led his fighting galleons with all the courage of a lion. Hark, then, to the story of this unfortunate affair! Hark! and let your sympathy be stirred for Carlo Zeno, the indefatigable navigator of the clumsy shipping of the Italian peninsula!
For years the Republics of Genoa and Venice remained at peace, but, for years the merchants of the two countries had endeavored to outwit each other in trade; and, thus, when the Genoese seized several Venetian ships with rich cargoes, in 1350, and refused to give them up, war broke out between the rival Republics. In two engagements at sea, the Venetians were defeated; but in a third they were victorious, and forever sullied the banner of St. Mark, which flew from their Admiral's mast-head, by causing nearly five thousand prisoners of war to be drowned. Fired by a desire for immediate revenge upon their foe, the Genoese hurried a mighty fleet to sea, and ravaged the Italian coast up to the very doors of Venice itself. Several other engagements followed, in most of which the Venetians were defeated; and then there were twenty years of peace before another conflict.
Finally war broke out afresh. Angry and vindictive, the Genoese bore down upon the Venetian coast in numerous lumbering galleys, determined—this time—to reach Venice itself, and to sack this rich and populous city. With little difficulty they captured Chioggia, a seaport, a populous city and the key to the lagoons which led to the heart of the capital. They advanced to the very outskirts of Venice, and their cries of joyous vindictiveness sounded strangely near to the now terrified inhabitants, who, rallying around their old generals and city fathers, were determined to fight to the last ditch.
As winter came, the victoriously aggressive Genoese retreated to Chioggia, withdrawing their fleet into the safe harbor to await the spring; leaving only two or three galleys to cruise before the entrance, in case the now angered Venetians should attack. But they were to be rudely awakened from their fancied seclusion.
"Lead us on, O Pisani," the Venetians had cried in the broad market space of their beloved city. "We must and will drive these invaders into their own country. Never have we received before such insults. On! On! to Chioggia."
So, silent and vengeful, the Venetian fleet stole out to sea on the evening of December twenty-first. There were thirty-four galleys, sixty smaller armed vessels, and hundreds of flat-bottomed boats. Pisani was in the rear, towing two heavy, old hulks, laden with stones, to sink in the entrance of the harbor and bottle up the fleet, even as the Americans were to sink the Merrimac in the Harbor of Santiago, many years afterwards.
The Genoese were unready. The cruisers, on duty as sentinels, were not where they should have been, and so the gallant Pisani scuttled the hulks across the harbor entrance and caught the bold marauders like rats in a trap. The fleet of the enemy was paralyzed, particularly as another river's mouth, some two miles southward, was also blockaded. Smiles of satisfaction shone upon the faces of the outraged Venetians.
Carlo Zeno was hurrying up with a strong fleet manned by veteran seamen, but the now victorious followers of Pisani wished to return to Venice.
"It is the Christmas season," cried many. "We have fought like lions. We have shut up our enemy. We have averted the extreme danger. Let us return to our wives and our children!"
"You cannot go," said Pisani, sternly. "You are the entire male population of Venice. Without you the great expedition will come to naught, and all of our toil will have been thrown away. Only be calm. Carlo Zeno will soon be here, and we can then take Chioggia!"
Alas! Like Columbus, he saw himself upon the verge of losing the result of all his labor for lack of confidence in him upon the part of his men. He could not keep them by force, so wearily and anxiously he scanned the horizon for signs of an approaching sail.
The days went slowly by for the lion-hearted Pisani. Carlo Zeno did not come. Day after day the valiant leader fearfully looked for the white-winged canvas of a Venetian galleon, but none came to view. On the thirtieth day of December his men were very mutinous.
"We will seize the ships and return to-morrow to Venice," cried several. "We have had enough of war. Our wives and daughters cry to us to return."
Pisani was desperate.
"If Carlo Zeno does not come in forty-eight hours, the fleet may return to Lido," said he. "Meanwhile, keep your guns shooting at the enemy. We must make these Genoese feel that we shall soon attack in force."
But Pisani's heart was leaden. Where, yes, where was Zeno? New Year's Day came, and, by his promise, he must let the Venetians go. What did this mean for him? It meant the fall of Venice, the end of the Republic, the destruction of the population with all that they possessed. He—their idol, their leader for ten days—could no longer lead, for the Venetians could not bear a little cold and hardship for his sake. Sad—yes, sad, indeed—was the face of the stout seaman as he gave one last despairing glance at the horizon.
Ha! What was that? A thin, white mark against the distant blue! It grew larger and clearer. It was the sail of a galley. Another, and another, and another hove in sight,—eighteen in all, and driving along swiftly before a heavy wind. But, were they hostile, or friendly? That was the question. Was it Zeno, or were these more galleons of the Genoese? Then, joy shone in the keen eyes of Pisani, for the banner of St. Mark fluttered from the peak of the foremost ship, and floated fair upon the morning breeze. Hurrah! It was Carlo Zeno, the lion-hearted.
God speed brave Zeno! He had been twice wounded in fights along the coast, en route, but nothing could diminish his energy, or dampen his ardor. He had laid waste the Genoese coast; he had intercepted convoys of grain; he had harassed the enemy's commerce in the East, and he had captured a huge vessel of theirs with five hundred thousand pieces of gold. Marvellous Zeno! Brave, courageous Venetian sea-dog, you are just in the nick of time!
"Thanks be to Heaven that you have come," cried Pisani, tears welling to his eyes. "Now we will go in and take Chioggia. It means the end of the war for us. Again, I say, thanks be to Heaven."
With renewed hope and confidence the Venetians now pushed the siege. Seeing that their fleet could never escape, the Genoese started to dig a canal to the open sea, by which the boats could be brought off during the night. The work was begun, but Carlo Zeno discovered it in time. Volunteers were called for, a force was soon landed, and, under the leadership of Zeno, marched to intercept the diggers of this, the only means of escape.
"The Venetians are going towards 'Little Chioggia,'" cried many of the Genoese. "We must hasten there to stop them."
But Zeno had only made a feint in this direction. Throwing his main force in the rear of the Genoese, he soon began to cut them up badly. They were seized with a panic. They fled towards the bridge of Chioggia, trampling upon each other as they ran, pursued and slashed to ribbons by Zeno's men. The bridge broke beneath the weight of the fugitives and hundreds were drowned in the canal, while thousands perished near the head of this fateful causeway. It was a great and signal victory for Zeno; the intrepid sea-dog and campaigner on land.
This was a death blow. That night some of the garrison hastened to desert, and, as the siege progressed, the drinking water began to fail, the food gave out, and starvation stared the holders of Chioggia in the face. On the twenty-fourth of June the city surrendered; and four thousand one hundred and seventy Genoese, with two hundred Paduans—ghastly and emaciated—more like moving corpses than living beings—marched out to lay down their arms. Seventeen galleys, also, were handed over to the Venetians: the war-worn relics of the once powerful fleet which had menaced Venice itself.
As a feat of generalship, Pisani's blockade of the Genoese fleet is rivalled by Sampson's blockade of Cervera's squadron at Santiago in 1898, and the military operation by which Carlo Zeno tempted the garrison of Brondolo into the trap which he had set for them, and drove them, like a flock of sheep into Chioggia, by sunset, is surely a splendid feat of arms. All honor to this intrepid sea-dog of old Venice!
How fickle is Dame Fortune! Jealous of the reputation of this noble Venetian, the patricians, whose advice, during the war, he had consistently declined to follow; refused to make him a Doge of the City. It was thought that the election of the bravest captain of the day might be dangerous to the Republic. Instead of doing him honor, they imprisoned him; and was he not the noblest patriot of them all?
When over seventy years of age,—the greatest and truest Venetian—loaned a small sum of money to the Prince Carrara, once a power in Venetian politics. He had saved his country from destruction. He had served her with the most perfect integrity. Yet, he reaped the reward which fell to the share of nearly every distinguished Venetian; he was feared by the government; hated by the nobles whom he had out-stripped in honor, and was condemned to prison by men who were not worthy to loose the latchet of his shoes. Although he had often paid the mercenary soldiers to fight for Venice, in the War of Chioggia, from his own pocket, he was sent to jail for loaning money to an unfortunate political refugee.
When called before the Council of Ten on the night of the twentieth of January, 1406, the warrant for his examination authorized the use of torture. But even the Ten hesitated at this.
"He is a brave man," said one. "Pray allow him to go untouched."
The prisoner admitted that he had loaned the money. His explanation was both honorable and clear. But the Ten were obdurate that night.
"He shall go to the Pozzi prison for a year," said they. "Besides this, he shall suffer the perpetual loss of all offices which he has held."
Like a brave man, Carlo Zeno accepted the sentence without a murmur, and his sturdy frame did not suffer from the confinement. For twelve years longer he lived in perfect health; made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; commanded the troops of the Republic once again; defeated the Cypriotes, and died peacefully,—a warrior with a name of undiminished lustre, most foully tarnished by his own compatriots. His is a reputation of undying glory, that of his judges is that of eternal shame. All honor to Carlo Zeno, the valorous Venetian, who could fight a ship as well as a squadron of foot soldiers on land! Salve, Venetia!
"Dip the banner of St. Mark, Dip—and let the lions roar. Zeno's soul has gone above, Bow—a warrior's life is o'er."
Harkee, Boys! I'll tell you of the torrid, Spanish Main, Where the tarpons leap and tumble in the silvery ocean plain, Where the wheeling condors circle; where the long-nosed ant-bears sniff At the food the Jackie "caches" in the Aztec warrior's cliff.
Oh! Hurray for the deck of a galleon stout, Hurray for the life on the sea, Hurray! for the cutlass; the dirk; an' th' pike; Wild rovers we will be.
Harkee, Boys! I'll tell you of the men of Morgan's band, Of Drake and England—rascals—in the palm-tree, tropic land. I'll tell you of bold Hawkins, how he sailed around the Horn. And the Manatees went chuck! chuck! chuck! in the sun-baked, lazy morn.
Oh! Hurray for the deck of a galleon stout, Hurray for the life on the sea, Hurray! for the cutlass; the dirk; an' th' pike; Wild rovers we will be.
Harkee, Boys! You're English, and you come of roving blood, Now, when you're three years older, you must don a sea-man's hood, You must turn your good ship westward,—you must plough towards the land Where the mule-train bells go tink! tink! tink! and the bending cocoas stand.
Oh! You will be off on a galleon stout, Oh! You will be men of the sea, Hurray! for the cutlass; the dirk; an' th' pike; Wild rovers you will be.
SIR FRANCIS DRAKE
ROVER AND SEA RANGER
"The man who frets at worldly strife Grows sallow, sour, and thin; Give us the lad whose happy life Is one perpetual grin: He, Midas-like, turns all to gold,— He smiles, when others sigh, Enjoys alike the hot and cold, And laughs through wet and dry."
SIR FRANCIS DRAKE
ROVER AND SEA RANGER
Sing a song of stout dubloons, Of gold and jingling brass, A song of Spanish galleons, Foul-bottomed as they pass. Of roaring blades and stumbling mules, Of casks of malmsey wine, Of red, rip-roaring ruffians, In a thin, meandering line.
They're with Drake, Drake, Drake, He can make the sword hilt's shake, He's a rattling, battling Captain of the Main. You can see the Spaniards shiver, As he nears their shelt'ring river, While his eyelids never quiver At the slain.
So,— Here's to Drake, Drake, Drake, Come—make the welkin shake, And raise your frothing glasses up on high. If you love a man and devil, Who can treat you on the level, Then, clink your goblet's bevel, To Captain Drake.
"Take care, boy, you will fall overboard. Take care and do not play with your brother near the edge of our good ship, for the water here is deep, and I know that you can swim but ill."
The man who spoke was a rough, grizzled sea-dog, clad in an old jersey and tarpaulins. He stood upon the deck of an aged, dismantled warship, which—anchored in the shallow water near Chatham, England,—swung to and fro in the eddying currents. Around him, upon the unwashed deck, scampered a swarm of little children, twelve in all, and all of them his own.
"Very good, Father," spoke the curly-haired youngster. "I'll mind what you tell me. You're wrong, though, when you say that I cannot swim, for I can, even to yonder shore. Do you want to see me do it?"
"Nay, nay," chuckled the stout seaman. "You're a boy of courage, Francis. That I can well see. But do not try the water. It is cold and you will have a cramp and go under. Stick to the quarter-deck." And laughing softly to himself, he went below, where a strong smell of cooking showed that there was something upon the galley stove to feed his hungry crew of youthful Englishmen.
It was surely a strange house to bring up a troop of merry children in. The sound of wind and waves was familiar to them at night and they grew to be strong and fearless. But is not this the proper way to rear a sea-dog?
These little ducklings, descended from a Drake, must have early set their hearts upon adventure and a seafaring life. In fact, one of them, young Francis, was to be one of the best known seamen of the centuries and knighted for his services to the Crown. Reared in a ship, he, by nature, loved the sea as only a child of the ocean could have done. The brine ran in his blood.
Being the son of a poor man, he was apprenticed to a master of a small vessel which used to coast along the shore and carry merchandise to France and the Netherlands. He learned his business well. So well, indeed, that at the death of the master of the vessel it was bequeathed "to Francis Drake, because he was diligent and painstaking and pleased the old man, his master, by his industry." But the gallant, young sea-dog grew weary of the tiny barque.
"It only creeps along the shore," he said. "I want to get out upon the ocean and see the world. I will therefore enlist with my stout kinsmen, the Hawkins brothers, rich merchants both, who build and sail their own ships."
This he did, and thus began the roving life of Francis Drake: dare-devil and scourge of the West Indian waters.
About fifty years before this lusty mariner had been born, America was discovered by Christopher Columbus—an Italian sailor in the service of Spain—and this powerful country had seized a great part of the new found land. There was no love lost between the Spaniards and the men from the cold, northern British Isles and thus Francis Drake spent his entire career battling with the black-haired, rapacious, and avaricious adventurers who flew the banner of King Philip of Arragon. Sometimes he was defeated, more often he was successful. Hark, then, to the tale of his many desperate encounters upon the wide waters of the surging Atlantic.
Drake had said, "I'm going to sea with the Hawkins and view the world," and, as John Hawkins was just about to sail for the West Indies in six ships, the youthful and eager mariner was given an opportunity to command a vessel called the Judith. The fleet at first had good success. Slaves were captured upon the African coast and were sold in the West Indies, though with difficulty, because the Spaniards had been forbidden by their king to trade with the English. Laden with treasure and spices, the ships were about to start for home, when fearful storms beset them. Their beams were badly shattered.
"We must seek a haven," cried Hawkins. "Ready about and steer for Vera Cruz, the port of the City of Mexico! There we can buy food and repair our fleet!"
"'Tis well," cried his men, and, aiming for the sheltering harbor, they soon ploughed into the smooth water of the bay. But there was consternation among the Spaniards of the town.
"We have treasure here," they whispered to each other. "See, those English dogs have come to rob us! We must fight, brothers, and fight hard to keep the cruel Islanders away." And they oiled their pistols and sharpened their cutlasses upon their grindstones.
But luck was with the inhabitants of Vera Cruz. Next morning thirteen careening galleys swept into the quiet waters of the bay and joy shone in the black eyes of the Spaniards.
"It is a Mexican fleet," cried they. "It returns with a new Viceroy or Governor, from good King Philip of Spain." And they laughed derisively.
But in the breasts of Drake and Hawkins there was doubt and suspicion.
"They are sure to attack us," said Hawkins, moving among his men. "Let every fellow be upon his guard."
The Spanish were full of bowings and scrapings. They protested their deep friendship for the English and wished to be moored alongside.
"We are very glad to see you, English brothers," said one. "We welcome you to the traffic and trade of the far East." So they peacefully dropped anchor near the suspicious men of England, still smiling, singing, and cheerfully waving a welcome to the none-too-happy sailors.
"Avast," cried Francis Drake, "and sleep on your arms, my Hearties, for to-morrow there'll be trouble, or else my blood's not British." He was but a young man, yet he had guessed correctly.
As the first glimmer of day shone in the dim horizon, a shot awoke the stillness of the morn. Another and another followed in rapid succession. Then boom! a cannon roared, and a great iron ball buried itself in the decking of the Jesus; the flagship of gallant Hawkins.
"We're attacked," cried Drake. "Man the decks! Up sails and steer to sea! Fight as you never fought before! Strike and strike hard for dear old England!"
But his warning almost came too late, for two Spanish galleons ranged alongside and swung grappling irons into his rigging in order to close with the moving vessel. The Englishmen struck at them with oars and hand-spikes, knocking the tentacles of the on-coming octopus aside, and, with sails flying and shots rattling, the Judith bore towards the open sea.
The fight was now furious. Two of the English ships were sunk and the Jesus, Hawkins' own boat, was so badly damaged that she lay apparently helpless in the trough of the surging ocean.
"Back, my Hearties," cried Drake, "and we'll see what we can do to save our gallant captain."
So back they sailed, and, firing their little cannon with rapidity, soon held off the Spanish ship which threatened Hawkins himself with capture. Some of the English sailors jumped into their boats and rowed away, some gave in to the Spaniards, and some fought relentlessly. Thus raged the battle until the evening.
As night fell, Drake ordered the Judith to put to sea, Hawkins followed, and wandering about in these unknown parts, with little water and a scarcity of food, hunger forced the weary sailors to eat hides, cats, dogs, mice, rats, parrots and monkeys.
"It was the troublesome voyage," wrote Hawkins, and such, indeed, it had proved to be. Some of the sailors asked to be placed on land rather than risk shipwreck and starvation in the overcrowded boat. Some of them reached England after years of suffering and weary journeying to and fro. Some were captured by the Spaniards and were put to death as heretics. A few were sent to the galleys as slaves. Others, more fortunate, were rowed ashore to serve in monasteries, where the monks made kind and gentle masters.
And what of the youthful and danger-loving Drake? Five days before the wind-swept Jesus struggled into Plymouth harbor with Hawkins and a famine-driven crew, Drake and his own adventurous Englishmen steered the little Judith to the rocky headland which hides this sheltering refuge from the fury of the sea.
"I am indeed right glad to reach Merrie England again," said he, "for we have had a rough and dangerous voyage. The Spaniards are treacherous dogs. They betrayed us, and henceforth I, for one, shall show them no quarter."
So saying he journeyed to London to see the good Queen Elizabeth.
"It is impossible for me to wage war upon Philip of Spain," said the valiant Mistress of England's destinies, when she heard his story of loss of kinsmen, friends and goods of great value. "I have a poor country. The navy of my fathers has been ruined. I have no proper army with which to avenge the treachery of Spain, and I have trouble with both France and Scotland. If you would have revenge, take matters into your own hands."
"Philip is the mightiest monarch in the world to-day," answered the well-bronzed mariner, bowing low. "I am only a humble seafarer without either ships or money, but, most gracious Majesty, I am going to help myself in my quarrel with the King of Spain. From henceforth there will be war to the death between myself and the men of the south."
The good Queen smiled, for she truly loved a valiant man.
"May God be with you," said she.
It was not long before the danger-loving mariner was again headed for the West Indies and the Spanish Main, with a crew of seventy-three men and boys.
"We believe in our leader," said one. "He will take us on to fortune and to fame." And this was the sentiment of all, for who does not love a voyage after gold and treasure?
Ploughing relentlessly across the deep, the two ships which carried these roving blades, reached the palm-clad West Indies in twenty-five days. All were cheerful and gay, for before them was danger, excitement, battle, and Spanish gold. "Lead on, Captain Drake," cried one of the men. "We wish to land at Plymouth with our pockets stuffed with Spanish dubloons."
"I'll take you to the seaport of Nombre de Dios," said the bluff sea ranger. "There is gold and silver in this spot, and by the hogshead. Furthermore," he added chuckling, "most of it will be in the hold of our stout ships, the Pascha and the Swan, before another moon."
So the sailors were drilled in attack and sword play, while arms were distributed, which, up to now, had been kept "very fair and safe in good casks." All were in a cheerful mood, for the excitement of battle had begun to stir the hot blood in their veins.
Late in the afternoon, the pinnaces (which had been carried on deck) were launched, and climbing aboard, the men of Merrie England set sail for the Spanish town. They lay under the shore, out of sight, until dark. Then they rowed with muffled oars to the shadows of the precipitous cliffs which here jutted into the rolling ocean, and quietly awaited the dawn.
At three in the morning, while the silvery light of a half moon was just reddened with the first flush of dawn, the eager buccaneers landed upon the sandy beach. "Hark!" cried a youth, "We are already discovered."
As he spoke, the noise of bells, drums, and shouting, came to the startled ears of the invaders.
"Twelve men will remain behind to guard the pinnaces," cried Drake. "The rest must follow me and fight even to the last ditch. Forward!"
Splitting into two bands, the Englishmen rushed through the narrow streets with a wild cheer ringing in the silent air. Drake's brother—with a certain John Oxenham and sixteen others—hurried around behind the King's treasure-house, and entered the eastern side of the market-place; while Drake, himself, marched up the main street with bugles blowing, drums rolling, and balls of lighted tow blazing from the end of long pikes carried by his stout retainers. The townsfolk were terrified with the din and blaze of fire. "An army is upon us," cried many. "We must flee for our lives."
In spite of this, a goodly number rallied at the market-place, where there was a sharp fight. But nothing could withstand the onset of the men from the fog-swept island, and soon the Spaniards fled, leaving two behind who had been captured and held.
"You must show us the Governor's house," cried Drake. "All the treasure is there."
The two captives obeyed unwillingly, and great was the disappointment of the English when they found only bars of silver in the spacious mansion.
"On! To the King's treasure-house!" again shouted the bold mariner. "There, at least, must be gold and jewels."
In fact the English were furious with disappointment, for, as they reached the Governor's mansion (strongly built of lime and stone for the safe keeping of treasure) the eager pillagers rushed through the wide-open doorway. A candle stood lighted upon the top of the stairs. Before the threshold a horse stood champing his bit, as if recently saddled for the Governor, himself, while, by the flickering gleam of the taper, a huge glittering mass of silver bars was seen piled from floor to ceiling. That was all,—no caskets of gold or precious stones were to be seen.
"Stand to your weapons, men!" cried Drake. "The town is full of people. Move carefully to the King's treasure-house which is near the waterside. There are more gold and jewels in that spot than all our pinnaces can carry."
As the soldiers hurried where he led, a negro called Diego, rushed panting from the direction of the shore.
"Marse Drake! Marse Drake!" he wailed. "De boats am surrounded by de Spanish. Dey will sholy be captured if you do not hurry back. Fo' de Lohd's sake, Massa, come down to de sho'."
"My brother and John Oxenham will hasten to the shore," cried Drake. "Meanwhile, my Hearties, come batter down the doorway to this noble mansion. You are at the mouth of the greatest treasure-chest in the world."
As the valiant captain spoke these words, he stepped forward to deal a blow, himself, at the stout door which shut him from the glittering riches. But suddenly he reeled and almost fell. Blood flowed in great quantities upon the sand, from a wound in his leg which he had received in the furious struggle within the market-place.
"Come, Captain," cried one of his retainers, seizing him in his arms. "You must hasten to our pinnaces. What brooks this treasure to us when we lose you, for, if you live we can secure gold and silver enough at any time, but if you die we can find no more."
"I fear me that I am grievously hurt," sadly spake the Captain. "Give me but a drink and then I think that I can reach our boats."
A soldier stooped and bound his scarf about the wounded leg of the now weakened leader, and, bearing him aloft, the little band of adventurers turned toward the ocean side. They soon embarked, with many wounded besides the Captain, though none were slain save one trumpeter.
Although the surgeons were kept busy in providing remedies and salves for the hurts of the soldiers, their main care was for the bold Francis Drake,—leader of this desperate expedition in quest of treasure.
"If we lose you," cried a sailor, "we can scarce get home again. But while we enjoy your presence and have you in command of us, we can recover enough of wealth."
"Before we left the harbor we took, with little trouble, a ship of wine for the greater comfort of our company," writes one of the stout soldiers in this brave affair. "And though they shot at us from the town we carried our prize to the Isle of Victuals. Here we cured our wounded men and refreshed ourselves in the goodly gardens which we found there abounding with great store of dainty roots and fruit. There were also great plenty of poultry and other fowls, no less strange and delicate."
Although unsuccessful—as you see—the brave mariners were not daunted, and, after the wounded had recovered, a new expedition was determined upon, with the purpose of capturing one of the trains of mules which carried gold from Vera Cruz to Panama. Drake had been joined by numerous Maroons—negroes who had escaped from the Spaniards and had turned bandits—and these were quite willing and ready to aid him in the pursuit of treasure. But before the English marauders moved towards the interior, they attempted to attack Cartagena, the capital of the Spanish Main.
Sailing into the harbor in front of this prosperous town, one evening, they found that the townsfolk had been well warned of their coming; they rang their bells and fired their cannon, while all of the soldiers ranged themselves before the ramparts.
"Egad," cried Drake, with strange cheerfulness, in spite of his disappointment. "They're far too ready to receive us. We've got to withdraw."
So they prowled around the mouth of the harbor, captured two ships, outward bound, and roared with laughter as they read a letter, written to warn all nearby citizens of "that terrible marauder, pirate, and butcher, Captain Drake."
"The Spaniards carry no treasure by land during the rainy months," said one of the natives. "You must wait for five full moons, if you wish to catch a mule train."
"All right," said Captain Drake. "We'll fortify a place of refuge—explore—and await the propitious moment when we can hope for success."
Thus they tarried patiently until they heard from the Maroons (who ranged the country up and down) that a large fleet had arrived from Spain at Nombre de Dios. This was glad news. Drake smiled as he heard it, and prepared immediately to make a land journey to Panama with forty-eight followers, carrying provisions, arms, and many pairs of shoes, because they were to cross several rivers of stone and gravel.
The way lay between great palm trees and through cool and pleasant woods where the sturdy Englishmen were much encouraged when they heard that there stood a great tree, not far from where they were, from which one could see both the North Sea (Atlantic) from which they were journeying, and the South Sea (Pacific) towards which they were going. Finally—upon the fourth day—they came to a very steep hill, lying east and west like a ridge, and, at this point, Pedro—chief of the Maroons—took Drake by the hand, saying,
"Follow me, O Captain, and I will show you two seas at once, for you are in the very centre of this country. Behold you stand in the heart of this fertile land."
Looking before him, the lion-hearted adventurer saw a high tree in which had been cut many steps, so that one could climb to the top. Here was a convenient bower large enough for ten or twelve men to seat themselves. Then—without further ado—he and the chief Maroon clambered into the spreading branches and gazed across the nodding palm tops into the dim distance. It was a fair day, and, as the Maroons had felled certain trees so that the prospect might be more clear, upon the delighted vision of the Englishman burst the vista of the blue Atlantic and shimmering Pacific.
"I pray Almighty God in all his goodness," cried out the adventurous Drake in loud tones of appreciation, "that I may have life and leave to sail but once an English ship in this mighty ocean of the West!"
Then he called up the rest of the voyagers, and told them of his prayer and purpose.
"I will follow you by God's grace!" cried John Oxenham, "unless you do not wish my company."
Drake smiled good-humoredly, and, with a wave of his arm in the direction of the glistening waters, descended to the ground.
"On, my hearties!" cried he, "and we'll soon bag a mule train with its panniers filled with gold."
The men started forward, singing an old English ballad. As they walked through the high pampas grass, they began to get glimpses of Panama and the low-lying ships in the harbor. They kept silence and at length hid themselves in a grove near the high road from Panama to Nombre de Dios, while a negro was sent into the city as a spy.
In the afternoon the faithful henchman returned.
"A certain great man intends to go to Spain by the first ship," he said. "He is travelling towards Nombre de Dios this very night with his daughter and his family. He has fourteen mules, eight of which are laden with gold and one with jewelry. Two other trains of fifty mules each—burdened with food and little silver—will also come up this night."
The English smiled, and, without more ado, marched to within two miles of Vera Cruz, where half of them lay down upon one side of the road, and half upon the other. They were screened by the tall grass; so well, indeed, that no eye could see them, and in an hour's time, to their eager ears came the sound of mule trains passing to and fro near Vera Cruz, where trade was lively because of the presence of the Spanish fleet. All was propitious for a successful attack.
But misfortune seemed always to follow the bold and adventurous Drake. As mischance would have it, one of his men called Robert Pike, who had "drunk too much brandy without water," was lying close to the roadway by the side of a grinning Maroon, and, when a well-mounted cavalier from Vera Cruz rode by—with his page running at his stirrup—he rose up to peer at him, even though his companion pulled him down in the endeavor to hide his burly form.
"Sacre Nom de Dieu," cried the traveller. "It is a white man! An Englishman!" and, putting spurs to his horse, he rode away at a furious gallop in order to warn others of the highwayman's position.
The ground was hard and the night was still. As Captain Drake heard the gentleman's trot change into a gallop, he uttered a round British oath.
"Discovered," he muttered, "but by whose fault I know not. We'll await the other trains and mayhap we'll have some booty yet."
The gentleman, in fact, warned the Treasurer, who, fearing that Captain Drake had wandered to this hidden thicket, turned his train of mules aside and let the others—who were behind him—pass on. Thus, by recklessness of one of the company, a rich booty was lost, but—as an Englishman has well said, "We thought that God would not let it be taken, for likely it was well gotten by that Treasurer."
There was no use repining, for soon a tinkling of bells and tread of hoofs came to the eager ears of the adventurers, and, through the long pampas grass ambled the other two mule trains—their drivers snapping the whips with little thought of the lurking danger. In a moment they were between the English and hidden Maroons, who—with a wild cheer—dashed upon them, surrounded them, and easily held them in their power. Two horse loads of silver was the prize for all this trouble and hard travel.
"I never grieve over things past," cried Drake. "We must now march home by the shortest route. It is certainly provoking that we lost the mule train of gold, particularly as we were betrayed by one of our own men. Come, soldiers, turn about and retreat to our good ships."
Half satisfied but cheerful, the soldiers and Maroons turned towards the coast, and, as they neared Vera Cruz, the infantrymen of the town swarmed outside to attack the hated men of Merrie England, with cries of, "Surrender! Surrender!"
Drake looked at them scornfully, replying,
"An Englishman never surrenders!"
At this a volley rang out and one of the intrepid adventurers was "so powdered with hail-shot that he could not recover his life, although he continued all that day with Drake's men." But stout Francis blew his whistle—the signal for attack—and, with a wild cry, the Maroons and English rushed for the black-haired and sallow-skinned defenders of the town. "Yo Peho! Yo Peho!" wailed the half-crazed natives as they leaped high in the air, and encouraged by the presence of the English, they broke through the thickets at the town's end and forced the enemy to fly, while the now terrified Spanish scurried pell mell down the coast. Several of Drake's followers were wounded, and one Maroon was run through with a pike, but his courage was so great that he revenged his own death ere he died, by slaying a Spaniard who opposed him.
At sunrise the land pirates continued their journey, carrying some plunder from Vera Cruz. Some of the men fainted with weakness, but two Maroons would carry them along until they could again walk, and thus—struggling, cursing and singing—the party of weary and disappointed marauders neared the place where they had left their ship. A messenger was sent forward with a golden toothpick to those left behind upon the vessel and a request that the ship be brought into the narrow channel of a certain river. It was done, and when at last the weary plunderers reached the shore, they gave a mighty cheer as they saw the white, bellying sails of their staunch, English vessel. Their journey for pelf and jewels had been a failure.
This did not discourage the lion-hearted Drake, who declared, with a smile, "We'll yet catch a mule train, boys, and one in which the panniers are filled with sufficient gold to sink our good ship. Keep your hearts bright and I'll gain you enough of treasure to house you in peace and comfort in your old age. Remember—'Fortune favors the brave!'" He had spoken with truth.
Not long afterwards a French captain appeared, whose men were only too eager for a little journey ashore after golden mule trains and battle. So a party was made up of twenty Frenchmen, fifteen Englishmen, and some Maroons, who sailed with a frigate and two pinnaces, towards a river called Rio Francisco—to the west of Nombre de Dios. They landed, struck inland, and were soon near the high road from Panama to Nombre de Dios, where mule trains passed daily—some with food and merchandise—a few with golden ingots and bars of silver.
In silence they marched along and spent the night about a mile from the road, where they could plainly hear the carpenters working on their ships—which they did at night because of the fierce, torrid sun during the day. Next morning—the first of April, but not an April Fool's day by any means—they heard such a number of bells that the Maroons began to chuckle and say, "You will have much gold. Yo Peho! Yo Peho! This time we will all be rich!"
Suddenly three mule trains came to view, one of fifty long-eared beasts of burden; two of seventy each, with every animal carrying three hundred pounds weight of silver, amounting to nearly thirty tons. The sight seemed almost too good to be true. With a wild shout the ambuscaders leaped from their hiding places to rush frantically upon the startled drivers. In a few moments the train was in possession of Drake and his French and half-negro associates, who chuckled and grunted like peccaries.
The leading mules were taken by the heads and all the rest lay down, as they always do when stopped. The fifteen soldiers who guarded each train were routed, but not before they had wounded the French captain most severely and had slain one of the Maroons. Silver bars and gold ingots were there aplenty. They were seized and carried off, while, what was not transported, was buried in the earthen burrows made by the great land crabs under fallen trees, and in the sand and gravel of a shallow river.
"And now for home," cried a valorous sea farer, after a party had returned with a portion of the buried treasure, which was divided equally between the French and the English. Much of that left in the sand crab holes had been discovered by the Spaniards—but not all. Thirteen bars of silver and a few quoits of gold had rewarded the search of the expectant voyageurs.
"Yes," cried all. "Sails aloft for Merrie England!" So, spreading canvas, the bold adventurers were soon headed for the foggy and misty isle from which they had come. On Sunday, August ninth, 1573—just about sermon time—they dropped anchor in the peaceful harbor of Plymouth.
"And the news of the Captain's return brought unto his people, did so speedily pass over all the church, and fill the minds of the congregation with delight and desire to see him, that very few, or none, remained with the preacher. All hastened to see the evidence of God's love and blessing towards the gracious Queen and country, by the fruit of the gallant mariner's labor and success."
"To God alone," spake an humble citizen of Plymouth, "be the Glory."
And all echoed these pious sentiments, in spite of the fact that Drake was a robber, a pirate, and a buccaneer. But was he not their own countryman?
* * * * *
The scene now changes. It is a gray day at Plymouth and anxious faces peer into the street from the windows of the low, tiled houses. A crowd has collected upon the jutting cliffs and all gaze with eager eyes towards the ocean. Men speak in hushed and subdued voices, for there is trouble in the air.
Among the knots of keen-eyed English there is one small party which seems to be as joyous as a lot of school-boys. Five men are playing at bowls, and one of them is stout, and well knit, and swarthy visaged with long exposure to the elements. He is laughing uproariously, when a lean fellow comes running from the very edge of those beetling cliffs which jut far out into the gray, green Atlantic.
"Hark'ee, Captain Drake!" he cries. "Ships are in the offing, and many of them too! It must be the fleet of Philip of Spain come to ravage our beauteous country!"
"Ah, indeed," answers the staunch-figured captain, without looking up. "Then let me have one last shot, I pray thee, before I go to meet them."
And so saying, he calmly tosses another ball upon the greensward, knocks aside the wooden pins, then smiling, turns and strides towards the waterside.
Thus Drake—the lion-hearted—goes out to battle with the great Armada of Philip of Spain, with a smile upon his lips, and full confidence in his ability to defeat the Spaniards at home as well as on the Spanish Main. Let us see how he fared?
Smarting with keen anger at Drake and his successful attacks upon his western possessions, Philip—the powerful monarch of Spain—determined to gather a great fleet together and to invade England with a mighty army.
"That rascally pirate has beaten me at Cadiz, at Cartagena, and at Lisbon," the irate king had roared, with no show of composure. "Now I will sail against him and crush this buccaneer, so that he and his kind can never rise again."
A mighty fleet of heavy ships—the Armada—was not ready to sail until July, 1588, and the months before this had been well spent by the English in preparation for defense, for they knew of the full intention of their southern enemy. Shipwrights worked day and night. The clamoring dockyards hummed with excitement, while Good Queen Bess and her Ministers of State wrote defiant letters to the missives from the Spanish crown. The cold blood of the English—always quite lukewarm in their misty, moisty isle—had begun to boil with vigor. The Britons would fight valiantly.
As the lumbering galleons neared the English coast, a heavy mist which hid them, blew away, and the men of England saw the glimmering water fairly black with the wooden vultures of old Spain. The Spaniards had come ready to fight in the way in which they had won many a brilliant victory; with a horde of towering hulks, of double-deckers and store-ships manned by slaves and yellow-skinned retainers, who despised big guns and loved a close encounter with hand thrusts and push of pike. Like a huge, wooden octopus this arrogant fleet of Arragon moved its tentacles around the saucy, new-made pinnaces of the tight little isle.
"The boats of the English were very nimble and of good steerage," writes a Spaniard, "so that the English did with them as they desired. And our ships being very heavy compared with the lightness of those of the enemy, it was impossible to come to hand-stroke with them."
This tells the whole story. With a light wind astern—the war ships of the English bore down easily upon the heavy-bottomed Spanish galleons and fired their guns at the hulls of the enemy.
"Don't waste your balls upon the rigging," cried Drake through a trumpet. "Sight low and sink 'em if you can. But keep away from the grappling hooks so's not to let 'em get hold of you. If they once do—you're lost!"
Now was the sound of splitting of boards, as the solid shot pumped great holes in the sides of the high rocking galleons. Dense clouds of vapor hung over the struggling combatants—partly from a sea fog which the July sun had not thoroughly burned away, and partly from the spitting mouths of the cannon. Fire burst from the decks, the roar of the guns was intermingled with the shrill wails of the slaves, the guttural cries of the seamen, the screams of the wounded and the derisive howls of those maddened by battle. The decks were crimson with blood; sails split and tore as the chain-shot hummed through the rigging, and the sharp twang of the arquebusques was mingled with the crash of long-barrelled muskets.
No men can fight like those who are defending their own homes. At Gettysburg, the Army of the Potomac—twice beaten in an attack upon the South in the enemy's country—struggled as it had never done before,—and won. It had nowhere battled as when the foe was pushing it back upon its own soil and cities.
So here—no fighters ever bled as did the English when the greedy hands of Spain were clutching at their shores. The light ships hung near the Spaniards at a distance and did not board until spars were down and the great rakish hulls were part helpless. Then—with a wild cheer—the little galleons—often two at a time—would grapple with the enemy and board—cutlasses swinging, pistols spitting, and hand-spikes hewing a way through the struggling, yellow-faced ruffians of Philip of Arragon.
While the awful battle raged, fire ships were prepared on shore and sent down upon the Spanish fleet, burning fiercely and painting the skyline with red. Some of the large vessels had anchored, and, as these terrors approached, they slipped their cables in order to escape. Confusion beset the ranks of the boastful foe and cheered on the British bull-dogs to renewed exertions.
At six in the evening a mighty cry welled from the British boats. "They fly! They fly!" sounded above the ruck and roar of battle.
Yes—it was the truth. Beaten and dismayed, the Spanish fleet bore away to the North, while the English—in spite of the fact that their powder was wet, and nearly all spent—"gave them chase as if they lacked nothing, until they had cleared their own coast and some part of Scotland of them." The Armada—split, part helpless—drifted away from Plymouth, and wild cheers of joy came from the deck of the vessel which carried bold Sir Francis Drake. The great battle had been won.
So crippled were many of the Spanish hulks that they were wrecked in stormy weather, off the coast of Scotland and Ireland. Not half of those who put to sea ever reached Spain again. Many sailors were drowned, or perished miserably by the hands of the natives of the coast, and some who escaped were put to death by the Queen's orders. Fever and sickness broke out in the English ships and the followers of bold Drake died by hundreds, "sickening one day and perishing the next."
The English vessels, themselves, were in a bad way—they had to be disinfected and the men put ashore—where the report of the many wrecks and the massacre of Spanish soldiers, eased the anxiety of the once terrified inhabitants of the tight little isle, and made it certain that the Armada would never return. Drake and his bold seamen had saved the people of Merrie England. Again hats off to this pirate of the Spanish Main!
Safely settled in Buckland Abbey, knighted, honored, respected—the hero of the defense of England—one would think that Drake would have remained peacefully at home to die "with his boots on." But not so. The spirit of adventure called to him with irresistible force, and again he set out for the Spanish Main. He had sailed around the world before his grapple with the Armada; he had harassed the Spaniard in an expedition to Lisbon; he was the idol of the English. He had done enough—you say. Yes, he had done enough—but—like all men who love the game of life he wished to have just one more expedition in search of gold and adventure, for—by nature he was a gambler, and he was throwing the dice with Fate.
So a goodly crew sailed with him again, hoping for another raid upon mule trains and cities of treasure. But alas! There was to be a different story from the others. All the towns and hamlets of the Spanish Main had been warned to "be careful and look well to themselves, for that Drake and Hawkins were making ready in England to come upon them." And when the English arrived they found stout defense and valiant men, nor was a sail seen "worth giving chase unto." Hawkins died, many grew ill of fever, and finally Drake, himself, succumbed to the malarial atmosphere of Panama. He was to remain where gold and adventure had first lured him.
On January the twenty-eighth, 1596, the great captain yielded up his spirit "like a Christian, quietly in his cabin." And a league from the shore of Porto Rico, the mighty rover of the seas was placed in a weighted hammock and tossed into the sobbing ocean. The spume frothed above the eddying current, sucked downward by the emaciated form of the famous mariner, and a solitary gull shrieked cruelly above the bubbles, below which—upon beads of coral and clean sand—rested the body of Sir Francis Drake, rover, rogue, and rattling sea ranger. It was his last journey.
"Weep for this soul, who, in fathoms of azure, Lies where the wild tarpon breaks through the foam, Where the sea otter mews to its brood in the ripples, As the pelican wings near the palm-forest gloom. Ghosts of the buccaneers flit through the branches, Dusky and dim in the shadows of eve, While shrill screams the parrot,—the lord of Potanches, 'Drake, Captain Drake, you've had your last leave.'"
One day I saw a ship upon the sands Careened upon beam ends, her tilted deck Swept clear of rubbish of her long-past wreck; Her colors struck, but not by human hands; Her masts the driftwood of what distant strands! Her frowning ports, where, at the Admiral's beck, Grim-visaged cannon held the foe in check, Gaped for the frolic of the minnow bands. The seaweed banners in her fo'ks'le waved, A turtle basked upon her capstan head; Her cabin's pomp the clownish sculpin braved, And, on her prow, where the lost figure-head Once turned the brine, a name forgot was graved, It was "The Irresistible" I read.
SIR WALTER RALEIGH
PERSECUTOR OF THE SPANIARDS
"All great men have lived by hope."—JAMES FREEMAN CLARKE.
SIR WALTER RALEIGH
PERSECUTOR OF THE SPANIARDS
"When the sobbing sea is squally, Then,—look out for Walter Raleigh! He's the fellow whom Queen Bess is said to love. He's a reckless, handsome sailor, With a 'Vandyke' like a tailor, He can coo fond words of loving like a dove. Faith! I like this gallant rover, Who has ploughed the wild seas over, Who has passed the grim and wild equator's ring. And I cheer, whene'er I view him, For—my Boy—off Spain I knew him When he trimmed the Spanish cruisers, like a King."
—Chant of the Plymouth Dock-Hand.
Boys! You have all heard about the Square Deal. Well—Here is the story of a man who didn't get one.
Walter Raleigh was a brave man; he was an able seafarer; his younger manhood was spent in the midst of the most brilliant Royal Court which England has known. He proved his courage and military prowess in more than one bitterly contested battle-field and naval conflict. His love of his own land and his hatred of his enemies was ardent.
He was also a fellow of wit, and, as an author, took rank with the great literary lights of the Elizabethan Age. He was an adventurer, and, in middle life, as well as in old age, braved the great deep and perils of savage lands in the magnificent attempt to make discoveries and to settle English colonies in the New World. Chivalrous in actions and feeling; of handsome person; graceful manners and courtly address; it is no wonder that he had a host of enemies: those fellows who couldn't do anything worth while themselves, and wanted to "pull the other fellow down." There are plenty of them around, to-day, doing the same thing in the same, old way.
As an Englishman he loved England to such an extent, that—upon the return from one of his numerous voyages—he dropped upon one knee and kissed the sand.
"My men," said he to his followers, "I love this land as nothing else on earth!"
The hostility of his rivals subjected him to harsh ill treatment. It did not dampen his love for England.
The silly caprices of Queen Elizabeth, who—like most women—was swayed, not by her reason, but by her sentiments, made him suffer imprisonment. Yet, it did not dampen his love for England.
The terrible and bitter dislike of King James—who succeeded the Virgin Queen—finally led to his trial for treason; his execution; and his death.
Yet, it did not dampen his love for England.
If England can produce men of such a mold, nowadays, she will continue to be a mighty world power.
Do you think that you could be as patriotic as Sir Walter Raleigh? Particularly if you were treated as he was treated? Think it over!
* * * * *
One day, the ancient palace of Greenwich, which stood on the banks of the Thames—a few miles below London—presented a lively and brilliant scene. Courtiers, arrayed in gorgeous colors and glittering ornaments, walked about, chattering gaily,—like a flock of sparrows. Fine, young cavaliers were there, attired in rich velvets, sparkling with gems, armed with gold-hilted swords. Grave statesmen wandered around,—with beards as white as their ruffles. Stately dames, with heavy and gaily trimmed trains, peered at the beautiful belles, and said:
"My, isn't she a fright!" or
"Goodness, what dreadful manners the Duchess so-and-so has!"
Just as they do to-day. Times do not change.
Trumpets blared a fan-fa-rade and lines of soldiers gave forth inspiriting sounds, with many musical instruments. There was a stir and flutter in the crowd; and some one called out:
"She's coming! Hats off to the Queen!"
So all the men took off their hats,—for they were courtiers, and it was their business to do so, whenever Her Royal Highness came around. Many of them didn't like to do it but if they hadn't done so, some spy would have cried out "Treason!" And they would have been hustled off to the Tower. You just bet they took off their hats!
Descending the broad flight of steps, with proud and majestic mien, the tall and slender figure of Elizabeth—the maiden Queen of England—was seen approaching.
She was then in the mature ripeness of middle age, but she still preserved not a few remnants of the beauty of her youth. Her form was straight and well proportioned. Her large, blue eyes were yet bright and expressive; her complexion was still wonderfully fair and smooth. Her well arranged hair was luxuriant and was of a light red. A large, fan-like collar of richest lace rose from her slender neck, above her head behind; and her tresses were combed high from her forehead. Jewels blazed from her dress. Her attire was far more splendid than that of any of the ladies of her court.
As it happened, a heavy shower had just passed over, and little puddles of water stood all around upon the gravelled paths. Bursting through the fast-vanishing clouds, the sun cast its rays upon the trees still dripping with glittering drops; and upon the smiling Queen, who—surrounded by a gay group of courtiers—set forth upon a promenade through the park. She chatted affably with all. They tried to make themselves as agreeable as possible, for he who was most agreeable received the best plums from the Royal Tree. Politics haven't changed any since that day.
The Queen walked on, playing with a beautiful, white greyhound, and, pretty soon she came to a muddy spot in the path.
"Zounds!" said she (or it may have been something stronger, for historians say that she could "swear valiantly"). "Zounds! Now I will spoil my pretty shoes!"
"And also your pretty feet," interjected a courtier. He received a smile for this compliment and the Queen mentally made a note of it,—for future use in the distribution of Court Favors.
She hesitated, looked around aimlessly, and stood still.
At this instant a young noble—six feet tall and elegantly attired—stepped forward; and, throwing aside his richly embroidered cloak, spread it over the muddy pool.
"Prithee, pass onward!" said he, bowing low.
Elizabeth was delighted.
"Good Walter Raleigh," said she, smiling. "You are truly a gallant knight!" And she tripped gaily across the embroidered mantlet. "I will reward you right well for this!"
But the courtiers, the Ladies, and the Statesmen glanced with undisguised envy at the young gallant who had so readily pleased their Mistress; and they scowled at him as Elizabeth kept him at her side during the rest of her promenade. "The Beggar's outdone us all!" said one. "Down with him!"
But they could not down Sir Walter just then. After awhile they had "their innings."
Rough, vain, whimsical Queen Bess was fond of handsome, and especially of witty and eloquent young men. She grew more attached to Sir Walter Raleigh every day. He rapidly rose in power and influence, and, as a poet, became well known. His verses were read in the luxurious halls of the palace with exclamations of delight, while the tales of his military exploits were eagerly repeated from mouth to mouth; for Raleigh had fought valiantly in France and had helped to suppress an insurrection in Ireland.
And still the jealous courtiers murmured among themselves.
Raleigh was appointed "Warden of the Stanneries," or mines, in Cornwall and Devonshire, from which he derived, each year, a large income. He was made Captain of the Queen's Guard. He was created Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall and Vice-Admiral of Devon. He received vast estates in Ireland and many privileges and licenses, so that he was fast becoming a rich man. He was splendid and extravagant in his dress. He grew arrogant. He had, in fact, "too much Ego in his Cosmos."
So, the jealous courtiers continued to murmur among themselves.
Elizabeth was fickle as well as sentimental. Her fancy passed lightly from one gallant to another. For some time Leicester (who had once been her sole favorite, and who desired to regain his position) had been growing jealous of Raleigh's ascendency; and he had been delighted to see that Queen Bess had taken a violent fancy to the impetuous Earl of Essex. A quarrel took place between Raleigh and the Ruler of England. He was affronted before the whole court and retired to his chambers, overwhelmed with grief.
And all the jealous courtiers punched each other beneath the ribs, and laughed "Ha! Ha! Ha! What did we tell you?"
It took the "Ego" out of Raleigh's "Cosmos."
But the gallant courtier had a half-brother—Sir Humphrey Gilbert—who had just returned from a voyage around the world in the good ship Golden Hind.
"Let's fit out a small fleet," said he to Raleigh, "and establish an English colony in Newfoundland."
"I'm with you," cried Sir Walter. "We'll found another England in far distant America! On with it!"
Thus, an expedition of five ships sailed from Plymouth, in the early summer of 1583. Sir Humphrey boarded the Squirrel, and bade his kinsman an affectionate adieu.
"You must remain behind," said he, "and regain our position at court!"
"That I will endeavor to do," answered Raleigh. "Good luck and God speed."
The expedition was a failure from the start. Scarcely had the shallops gone to sea, than one of them—the Raleigh—deserted its companions and put back. The rest reached Newfoundland, but the men were lawless and insubordinate.
"This is the Deuce of a cold place for a colony," they said. "Home to Merrie England!"
Gilbert was forced to yield to their angry demands, and re-embarked.
"Don't sail in that rattle-trap of a Squirrel," said his officers to him. "She'll founder!"
But Sir Humphrey had that obstinacy which characterized General Braddock.
"No: I will not forsake the little company, going homeward," said he. "I'll stick to my ship."
He stuck—and—when they hailed him one stormy night, he said:
"Be of good cheer, my friends: we are as near to Heaven by sea as by land!"
That night the Squirrel was sailing a little in advance of the other ships, and, as those on board the Golden Hind watched the frail barque, they saw her lurch, heave, and then sink from view. Thus the soul of brave Raleigh's kinsman found a watery grave. He had paid for his obstinacy with his life.
Raleigh was overwhelmed with grief when he learned of the death of his heroic half-brother.
"I'll yet found my Colony," said he. "And I'll go myself."
This pleased the jealous courtiers more than ever, for they would now have him out of the way for all time.
With his ample wealth, the indefatigable adventurer found no difficulty in fitting out an expedition, and, in the year after the death of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, he sent forth two vessels to explore the coast of the Carolinas.
"I'm going to stay at home and face my enemies!" said the gay blade. "Again good luck and God Speed!"
They had a fortunate voyage, and, when they returned, the Captains told of the beautiful harbors, fine rivers, magnificent forests and abundance of game. The Queen was delighted, and at once named the fair country for herself, with characteristic egotism. That men might know that this fruitful land was explored in the time of the Virgin Queen, it was called "Virginia." Raleigh was wild with delight.
And the jealous courtiers looked dejected and sad.
A fleet of seven vessels—with one hundred colonists—was now sent to Virginia, under the command of one Grenville, who was eager to become suddenly rich: a disease as common now as in those venturous days. No sooner had the people landed, than they began to treat the savages with such harshness and rapacity—that they had to gain their own food, as the natives would have nothing to do with them. Dissensions tore the little community into shreds. So they were only too glad to return with the gallant old sea-dog, Sir Francis Drake, when he happened that way, with a large amount of booty which he had just taken from the Spaniards in the southern seas.
Another expedition was sent over by Raleigh; and yet another. They were failures. But there was one, single thing which was not a failure. This was the discovery of a herb called "Yppowoc," or tobacco, the leaves of which—when dried—were smoked by the natives in long pipes.
Curious Sir Walter had a jeweller in London make him a silver pipe, after the fashion of those used by the native Virginians. In this he began to smoke the tobacco, and soon grew to like it very much; so much, indeed, that he was scarcely ever without this comforter, when enjoying the quiet of his home.
One day he was sitting cosily by his fire with his Long Nine in his mouth, and the smoke was curling gracefully over his head. Just as he was puffing out a particularly thick cloud, one of his servants happened to enter the room with a tankard of ale, for the luncheon table.
"Ye Gods!" cried he. "My Master's on fire!"
Over Sir Walter's head went the ale, and the frightened lackey dashed down the steps.
"H-e-l-p! H-e-l-p!" cried he. "My Master is burning up! H-e-l-p!"
But Sir Walter did not burn up this time. Instead he near split his gallant sides with laughing.
Now, Boys, don't smile! 'Tis said that good old Queen Bess tried, herself, to smoke a Long Nine. But—hush—"she became so dizzy and ill from the effects that she never ventured upon the experiment again!" (Keep this quiet! Very quiet! Will you!)
On one occasion she was watching Sir Walter blowing circles of smoke over his head, and said to him—
"Zounds! (or something stronger) Sir Walter! You are a witty man; but I will wager that you cannot tell me the weight of the smoke which comes from your pipe!"
"I can, indeed," was the confident reply of the gallant courtier. "Watch me closely!"
At once he took as much tobacco as would fill his pipe and exactly weighed it. Having then smoked it up, he—in like manner—weighed the ashes.
"Now, Your Majesty," said he, smiling. "The difference between these two weights is the weight of the smoke."
And again Queen Bess remarked "Zounds!" (or Eftsoons!). At any rate, she paid the wager, for—with all her frailties—she was a Good Loser.
Raleigh, in fact, shortly became reinstated in Royal favor, and, when he aided Drake and Hawkins—soon afterwards—in dispersing the Invincible Armada, he was again in the good graces of his sovereign.
There was, however, a pretty, young Maid-of-Honor at court, called Elizabeth Throgmorton, and no sooner had the bright eyes of Sir Walter fallen upon her, than he fell in love. In paying court to this amiable lady he was compelled to use great caution and secrecy, for jealous Queen Bess watched him narrowly, and with suspicion. In spite of her preference for Essex, Elizabeth was quite unwilling that Raleigh—her less favored lover—should transfer his affections to another. So, in making love to Elizabeth Throgmorton, the gay courtier was compelled to use the utmost care.
But Murder (or Love) will out!
It chanced one day, that the Queen discovered what was going on between her Maid-of-Honor and the cavalier. Her rage knew no bounds. She berated Raleigh before her ladies, and forbade him to come to court. She fiercely commanded the Maid-of-Honor to remain a prisoner in her room, and, on no account to see Raleigh again. So the venturous Knight turned his attention once more to wild roving upon the sea.
Now the jealous courtiers fairly chuckled with glee. "Ha! Ha! Ha!" laughed they. "Ho! Ho! Ho! He! He! He!"
But Sir Walter engaged very actively in fitting out some squadrons to attack the Spanish ships.
"Egad! I hate a Spaniard!" he said. "They are my country's special enemies and I intend to do them all the harm that I can!"
The Queen was glad enough to separate him from his lady love and not only consented to his project, but promised to aid him in it. Ere long fifteen vessels were anchored in the Thames—all ready to sail—but, before he set out, the gallant commander made up his mind that he would marry his beloved Maid-of-Honor. It was not difficult to find a clergyman who would splice him tighter than he ever spliced a rope aboard ship. The deed was done. He set sail. All was going propitiously.
"I'll attack the Spanish ships in the harbor of Seville," said Raleigh. "Then—off to the Spanish Main and sack the town of Panama." He laughed,—but what was that?
Rapidly approaching from the coast of England came a swift pinnace. It gained upon the squadron in spite of the fact that all sail was hoisted, and, at last came near enough to give Raleigh a signal to "Heave to." In a few moments her commander climbed aboard.
"The Queen has changed her mind about your expedition," said he. "She has sent me—Sir Martin Frobisher—to tell you to come home."
Raleigh said things which made the air as blue as the sea, but he put back—for he could not disobey the Royal command. He was soon at court.
The Queen was furious with anger.
"You have disobeyed my commands," said she. "I find you have secretly married my Maid-of-Honor. To the Tower with you! To the dungeons of the Tower!"
And all the jealous courtiers were so happy that they danced a can-can in the ante chamber.
What do you think of this? Thrown into prison because he loved a Maid and married her! Nowadays "all the World loves a Lover." In those times all the world might have "loved a Lover" except Queen Bess,—and a number of courtiers hanging around within easy call: They kicked a Lover. And then they all got together and said:
"Fine! Fine! Now we've got him where he ought to be. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ho! Ho! Ho!"
But women relent; that is one of their chief characteristics. Queen Bess softened, grew lukewarm, finally became molten.
"Sir Walter Raleigh can go free," said she.
The gallant courtier returned to his country estate, where—with his wife and children he enjoyed the luxuries and comforts of country life. And the jealous courtiers began to look strangely sober.
Still the sea called. The sea sang its old song, and, fired with the spirit of adventure, Sir Walter decided upon another expedition: this time to the coast of Guiana, in South America, where, it was said, "billets of gold lay about in heaps, as if they were logs of wood marked out to burn." With a large fleet at his command he soon started upon this expedition for plunder and for fame. This time no Sir Martin Frobisher sailed after him to bring him back to a dungeon in the Tower and he was able to reach his destination.
The expedition was a howling success. Whenever and wherever Sir Walter could inflict injury on the Spaniards, whom he so bitterly detested, he did so with eagerness. A Spanish ship was soon seen, chased, and—after a brief, hot fight—surrendered and was boarded.
"Egad!" cried Raleigh. "Here's luck, for the cargo's of fire arms. I'll stow them away in my own vessel and let the captive go!"
Proceeding on his voyage, he not long afterwards encountered and captured another prize; a Flemish ship sailing homeward with a cargo of fine wine. Twenty hogsheads were transferred to the hold of Raleigh's ship and the captured craft was allowed to sail on,—empty.
Things continued to go well. The Island of Trinidad (off Venezuela) was reached at last. The natives were friendly and told of vast deposits of gold far up the river Orinoco. "But would Raleigh not please besiege the Spanish town of St. Joseph?" said they, "and rescue some of their chiefs whom the Spaniards held prisoners—in chains."
"I always strike a Spaniard when I can," said Raleigh. "On, men, we'll sack this proud city!"
St. Joseph speedily fell into his hands. The chiefs were released. They were so gratified, that they paddled him far up the river, where they found glittering gold, which they tore out of rocks with their daggers. The Englishmen were delighted, and, collecting a mass of nuggets to show to those at home, they put back to the ships, set sail, and were soon in England again.
The people were astonished at this exploit, but the jealous courtiers did all they could to deprive Raleigh of the renown which was justly his due.
"What this fellow has told is a lie," whispered they into the ears of good Queen Bess. "There is no such place as Guiana. Raleigh has been down upon the coast of Spain and hidden himself. He has not crossed the Atlantic at all."
Which proves that no one can ever do anything adventurous without stirring up the hammers of the Envious: the Little Men. Is it not so to-day? Look around! You can hear the carping critic at any time that you may wish! Do something big, sometime. Then put your ear to the ground and listen!
But the sea called for the fifth time. A vast English fleet was hurled against the Spanish at Cadiz,—a great English fleet, accompanied by an army. England was bound to get even with the Spaniards for daring to launch the supposedly invincible Armada against them—and Sir Walter eagerly sailed for the coast of Spain.
The harbor of Cadiz was seen to be fairly jammed full of stately galleons and men-of-war. Arranged in compact rows, close to shore, just below the towering and frowning castle of Cadiz; they were protected, on either side, by fortresses, whence heavy guns peeped forth to defend them. There were nearly sixty large vessels in all, four of which were galleons, and twenty of which were galleys: well-manned and well-armed with small cannon. There were many more ships than in the attacking fleet.
It was the evening of June the 20th, 1596. The British vessels rapidly sailed into the harbor, Raleigh leading, in the flagship, the Water Sprite; behind him the Mary Rose, commanded by his cousin, Sir George Carew; and the Rainbow under Sir Francis Vere. All were eager for the fray, and it was not long before their approach was observed by the Spanish fleet. Instantly a huge galleon, the Saint Philip—the largest in the Spanish Navy—swung out of her position, followed by the Saint Andrew, second only to her in size.
"They're coming to meet me!" cried Raleigh—joyously.
Instead of that, the galleons sailed for a narrow strait in the harbor—followed by the rest of the Spanish fleet—and cast anchor just under the stout fortress of Puntal. They arranged themselves in close array and awaited the attack of the English.
The English fleet anchored, but at daybreak, the impetuous Raleigh bore down upon the formidable mass of hulking galleons. The sun rays streamed over the old, Spanish town, gilding the pinnaces and spires of the churches, shining brightly upon the flapping pennons of Britisher and Don. The white sails flapped, spars creaked and groaned, the sailors cheered, and—in a moment—the cannon began to bark, like wolf hounds. The fight had begun.