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On the Spanish Main - Or, Some English forays on the Isthmus of Darien.
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TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:

Obvious printing errors were repaired; see the html version for details of these changes. Other variation in spelling and hyphenation is as in the original text.



ON THE SPANISH MAIN

OR, SOME ENGLISH FORAYS ON THE ISTHMUS OF DARIEN. WITH A DESCRIPTION OF THE BUCCANEERS AND A SHORT ACCOUNT OF OLD-TIME SHIPS AND SAILORS

BY

JOHN MASEFIELD

WITH TWENTY-TWO ILLUSTRATIONS AND A MAP

METHUEN & CO. 36 ESSEX STREET W.C. LONDON

First Published in 1906

THE RIVERSIDE PRESS LIMITED, EDINBURGH.



TO

JACK B. YEATS



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I PAGE DRAKE'S VOYAGE TO THE WEST INDIES 1 His quarrel with the Spaniards—His preliminary raids—His landfall—The secret harbour

CHAPTER II

THE ATTACK ON NOMBRE DE DIOS 15 The treasure of the Indies—The Bastimentos—A Spanish herald

CHAPTER III

THE CRUISE OFF THE MAIN 26 The secret haven—The cruise of the pinnaces—Cartagena—Death of John Drake

CHAPTER IV

THE ROAD TO PANAMA 55 The Maroons—The native city—The great tree—Panama—The silver train—The failure—Venta Cruz

CHAPTER V

BACK TO THE MAIN BODY 74 The treasure train—The spoil—Captain Tetu hurt

CHAPTER VI

THE ADVENTURE OF THE RAFT 88 Drake's voyage to the Catives—Homeward bound—The interrupted sermon

CHAPTER VII

JOHN OXENHAM 98 The voyage—His pinnace—Into the South Sea—Disaster—His unhappy end

CHAPTER VIII

THE SPANISH RULE IN HISPANIOLA 106 Rise of the Buccaneers—The hunters of the wild bulls—Tortuga—Buccaneer politics—Buccaneer customs

CHAPTER IX

BUCCANEER CUSTOMS 129 Mansvelt and Morgan—Morgan's raid on Cuba—Puerto del Principe

CHAPTER X

THE SACK OF PORTO BELLO 148 The Gulf of Maracaibo—Morgan's escape from the Spaniards

CHAPTER XI

MORGAN'S GREAT RAID 168 Chagres castle—Across the isthmus—Sufferings of the Buccaneers—Venta Cruz—Old Panama

CHAPTER XII

THE SACK OF PANAMA 197 The burning of the city—Buccaneer excesses—An abortive mutiny—Home—Morgan's defection

CHAPTER XIII

CAPTAIN DAMPIER 218 Campeachy—Logwood cutting—The march to Santa Maria

CHAPTER XIV

THE BATTLE OF PERICO 245 Arica—The South Sea cruise

CHAPTER XV

ACROSS THE ISTHMUS 276 The way home—Sufferings and adventures

CHAPTER XVI

SHIPS AND RIGS 291 Pavesses—Top-arming—Banners—Boats

CHAPTER XVII

GUNS AND GUNNERS 298 Breech-loaders—Cartridges—Powder—The gunner's art

CHAPTER XVIII

THE SHIP'S COMPANY 311 Captain—Master—Lieutenant—Warrant officers—Duties and privileges

CHAPTER XIX

THE CHOOSING OF WATCHES 322 The petty tally—Food—Work—Punishments

CHAPTER XX

IN ACTION 334

INDEX 341



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE CAPTAIN WILLIAM DAMPIER Frontispiece

NOMBRE DE DIOS 12

CARTAGENA 26

CARTAGENA IN 1586, SHOWING THE DOUBLE HARBOUR 40 The ship in the foreground may be Drake's flagship, the Bonaventure

AN ELIZABETHAN WARSHIP 49 A pinnace beyond, to the left

SHIP AND FLYING-FISH 95

A BUCCANEER'S SLAVE, WITH HIS MASTER'S GUN 114 A barbecue in right lower corner

OLD PORT ROYAL 132

PUERTO DEL PRINCIPE 142

PORTO BELLO, CIRCA 1740, SHOWING THE SITUATION AND DEFENCES OF THE CITY 150

THE FIRESHIP DESTROYING THE "SPANISH ADMIRAL" 164 Castle de la Barra in background

CHAGRES (CIRCA 1739) 173

THE ISTHMUS, SHOWING MORGAN'S LINE OF ADVANCE 180

NEW PANAMA 195

THE BATTLE OF PANAMA 200

SIR HENRY MORGAN 210

A DESCRIPTION OF ARICA 266

A DESCRIPTION OF HILO 274

AN ELIZABETHAN GALLEON 293

AN ELIZABETHAN GALLEON 297

A GALLIASSE 310

THE "SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS" 323

MAP OF THE BUCCANEER CRUISING GROUNDS 340



ON THE SPANISH MAIN



CHAPTER I

DRAKE'S VOYAGE TO THE WEST INDIES

His quarrel with the Spaniards—His preliminary raids—His landfall—The secret harbour

Francis Drake, the first Englishman to make himself "redoubtable to the Spaniards" on the Spanish Main, was born near Tavistock about the year 1545. He was sent to sea, as a lad, aboard a Channel coaster engaged in trade with the eastern counties, France and Zeeland. When he was eighteen years of age he joined his cousin, John Hawkins, then a great and wealthy merchant, engaged in the slave trade. Four years later he sailed with Hawkins on a memorable trading voyage to the Spanish Main. On this occasion he commanded a small vessel of fifty tons.

The voyage was unfortunate from the beginning, for the Spaniards had orders from their King to refuse to trade with any foreigners. Before the English could get rid of their freight the ships of their squadron were severely battered by a hurricane, so that they were forced to put into San Juan d'Ulloa, the port of Vera Cruz, to refit. While they lay there a Spanish fleet arrived, carrying a vast quantity of gold and silver for transhipment to Spain. It was not to Hawkins' advantage to allow this Spanish force to enter the haven, for he feared that they would treat him as a pirate if they had an opportunity to do so. However, the Spaniards came to terms with him, an agreement was signed by both parties, and the Spanish ships were allowed into the port. The next day the Spaniards treacherously attacked the English squadron, sank one of the ships at her moorings, killed many of the men, captured a number more, and drove the survivors to sea in Drake's ship the Judith, and a larger ship called the Minion. It was this treacherous attack (and, perhaps, some earlier treachery not recorded) which made Drake an implacable enemy of the Spaniards for the next twenty-eight years.

After the disaster at San Juan d'Ulloa, Drake endeavoured to obtain some recompense for the losses he had sustained. But "finding that no recompence could be recovered out of Spain by any of his own means, or by her Majesties letters; he used such helpes as he might by two severall Voyages into the West Indies." In the first of these two voyages, in 1570, he had two ships, the Dragon and the Swan. In the second, in 1571, he sailed in the Swan without company. The Swan was a small vessel of only five and twenty tons, but she was a "lucky" ship, and an incomparable sailer. We know little of these two voyages, though a Spanish letter (quoted by Mr Corbett) tells us of a Spanish ship he took; and Thomas Moone, Drake's coxswain, speaks of them as having been "rich and gainfull." Probably Drake employed a good deal of his time in preparing for a future raid, for when he ventured out in earnest in 1572 he showed himself singularly well acquainted with the town he attacked. The account from which we take our information expressly states that this is what he did. He went, it says, "to gaine such intelligences as might further him to get some amends for his losse. And having, in those two Voyages, gotten such certaine notice of the persons and places aymed at, as he thought requisite; and thereupon with good deliberation, resolved on a third Voyage, he accordingly prepared his Ships and Company ... as now followes further to be declared."

There can be little doubt that the two tentative voyages were highly profitable, for Drake was able to fit out his third expedition with a care and completeness almost unknown at that time. The ships were "richly furnished, with victuals and apparel for a whole year: and no lesse heedfully provided of all manner of Munition, Artillery, Artificers, stuffe and tooles, that were requisite for such a Man-of-war in such an attempt." He himself, as Admiral of the expedition, commanded the larger ship, the Pascha of Plymouth, of seventy tons. His younger brother, John Drake, sailed as captain of the Swan. In all there were seventy-three men and boys in the expedition; and we read that they were mostly young men—"the eldest ... fifty, all the rest under thirty." They were all volunteers—a fact that shows that Drake had gained a reputation for luck in these adventures. Forty-seven of the seventy-three sailed aboard the Pascha; while the Swan carried the remaining twenty-six, probably with some inconvenience. Carefully stowed away in the holds of the two vessels were "three dainty Pinnases, made in Plimouth, taken asunder all in pieces, to be set up as occasion served." This instance of Drake's forethought makes it very clear that the expedition had been planned with extreme care. The comfort of the men had been studied: witness the supply of "apparell." There was a doctor aboard, though he does not seem to have been "a great proficient" in his art; and the expedition was so unusually healthy that we feel convinced that Drake had some specific for the scurvy.

"On Whitsunday Eve, being the 24 of May, 1572," the two ships "set sayl from out of the Sound of Plimouth," with intent to land at Nombre de Dios (Name of God) a town on the northern coast of the Isthmus of Darien, at that time "the granary of the West Indies, wherein the golden harvest brought from Peru and Mexico to Panama was hoarded up till it could be conveyed into Spain." The wind was steady from the north-east the day they sailed, so that the watchers from the shore must soon have lost sight of them. No doubt the boats of all the ships in the Sound came off to give the adventurers a parting cheer, or, should they need it, a tow to sea. No doubt the two ships were very gay with colours and noisy with the firing of farewells. Then at last, as the sails began to draw, and the water began to bubble from the bows, the trumpeters sounded "A loath to depart," the anchor came to the cathead, and the boats splashed back to Plymouth, their crews jolly with the parting glasses.

The wind that swept the two ships out of port continued steady at north-east, "and gave us a very good passage," taking them within sight of Porto Santo, one of the Madeiras, within twelve days of their leaving Plymouth. The wind continued fair when they stood to the westward, after sighting the Canaries, so that neither ship so much as shortened sail "untill 25 dayes after," when the men in the painted tops descried the high land of Guadaloupe. They stood to the south of Guadaloupe, as though to pass between that island and Dominica, but seeing some Indians busily fishing off a rocky island to the south of Dominica they determined to recruit there before proceeding farther. This island was probably Marygalante, a pleasant island full of trees, a sort of summer fishing ground for the Dominican Indians. There is good anchorage off many parts of it; and Drake anchored to the south, sending the men ashore to live in tents for their refreshment. They also watered their ships while lying at anchor "out of one of those goodly rivers which fall down off the mountain." Running water was always looked upon as less wholesome than spring water; and, perhaps, they burnt a bag of biscuit on the beach, and put the charcoal in the casks to destroy any possible infection. They saw no Indians on the island, though they came across "certain poore cottages built with Palmito boughs and branches," in which they supposed the Indians lodged when engaged upon their fishery. Having filled the casks, and stowed them aboard again, the ships weighed anchor, and sailed away south towards the mainland. On the fifth day, keeping well to seaward, thirty miles from the shore, to avoid discovery, they made the high land of Santa Martha on "the Terra Firma." Having made the landfall they sailed westward into the Gulf of Darien, and in six days more (during two of which the ships were becalmed) they came to a secret anchorage which Drake had discovered in his former voyage. He had named it Port Pheasant, "by reason of the great store of those goodly fowls which he and his Company did then dayly kill and feed on in that place." "It was a fine round Bay, of very safe harbour for all winds, lying between two high points, not past half a cable's length (or a hundred yards) over at the mouth, but within eight or ten cables' length every way, having ten or twelve fadome water, more or lesse, full of good fish, the soile also very fruitfull." Drake had been there "within a year and few days before," and had left the shore clear of tangle, with alleys and paths by which men might walk in the woods, after goodly fowls or otherwise; but a year of that steaming climate had spoiled his handiwork. The tangle of many-blossomed creepers and succulent green grasses had spread across the paths "as that we doubted at first whether this were the same place or no." We do not know where this romantic harbour lies, for the Gulf of Darien is still unsurveyed. We know only that it is somewhere nearly equidistant from Santiago de Tolu (to the east) and Nombre de Dios (to the west). Roughly speaking, it was 120 miles from either place, so that "there dwelt no Spaniards within thirty-five leagues." Before the anchors were down, and the sails furled Drake ordered out the boat, intending to go ashore. As they neared the landing-place they spied a smoke in the woods—a smoke too big to come from an Indian's fire. Drake ordered another boat to be manned with musketeers and bowmen, suspecting that the Spaniards had found the place, and that the landing would be disputed. On beaching the boats they discovered "evident markes" that a Plymouth ship, under the command of one John Garret, had been there but a day or two before. He had left a plate of lead, of the sort supplied to ships to nail across shot-holes, "nailed fast to a mighty great tree," some thirty feet in girth. On the lead a letter had been cut:

CAPTAIN DRAKE,

if you fortune to come to this Port, make hast away; for the Spanyards which you had with you here the last year, have bewrayed this place, and taken away all that you left here. I departed from hence this present 7 of July, 1572.

Your very loving friend, JOHN GARRET.

The smoke was from a fire which Garret and his men had kindled in a great hollow tree, that was probably rotted into touchwood. It had smouldered for five days or more, sending up a thick smoke, to warn any coming to the harbour to proceed with caution.

The announcement that the place was known to the Spaniards did not weigh very heavily upon Drake; nor is it likely that he suffered much from the loss of his hidden stores, for nothing of any value could have been left in such a climate. He determined not to leave "before he had built his Pinnaces," and therefore, as soon as the ships were moored, he ordered the pieces to be brought ashore "for the Carpenters to set up." The rest of the company was set to the building of a fort upon the beach by the cutting down of trees, "and haling them together with great Pullies and halsers." The fort was built in the form of a pentagon, with a sort of sea-gate opening on the bay, for the easy launching of the pinnaces. This gate could be closed at night by the drawing of a log across the opening. They dug no trench, but cleared the ground instead, so that for twenty yards all round the stockhouse there was nothing to hinder a marksman or afford cover to an enemy. Beyond that twenty yards the forest closed in, with its wall of living greenery, with trees "of a marvellous height" tangled over with the brilliant blossoms of many creepers. The writer of the account seems to have been one of the building party that sweated the logs into position. "The wood of those trees," he writes, "is as heavie, or heavier, than Brasil or Lignum Vitae, and is in colour white."

The very next day an English barque came sailing into the anchorage, with two prizes, in her wake—"a Spanish Carvell of Sivell," which had despatches aboard her for the Governor of Nombre de Dios, and a shallop with oars, picked up off Cape Blanco to the eastward. She was the property of Sir Edward Horsey, at that time Governor of the Isle of Wight, a gallant gentleman, who received "sweetmeats and Canarie wine" from French pirates plying in the Channel. Her captain was one James Rawse, or Rause; and she carried thirty men, some of whom had been with Drake the year before. Captain Rause, on hearing Drake's intentions, was eager "to joyne in consort with him." We may well imagine that Drake cared little for his company; but conditions were agreed upon, an agreement signed, and the two crews set to work together. Within seven days the pinnaces had been set up, and launched, and stored with all things necessary. Then early one morning (the 20th of July) the ships got their anchors, and hoisted sail for Nombre de Dios, arriving three days later at the Isles of Pines, a group of little islands covered with fir-trees, not far to the west of the mouth of the Gulf of Darien. At the Pine Islands they found two frigates of Nombre de Dios, "lading plank and timber from thence," the soft fir wood being greatly in demand on the mainland, where the trees were harder, and difficult to work. The wood was being handled by negroes, who gave Drake some intelligence of the state of affairs at the little town he intended to attack. They said that the town was in a state of siege, expecting to be attacked at any moment by the armies of the Cimmeroons, who had "neere surprised it" only six weeks before. The Cimmeroons were "a black people, which about eighty yeares past, fledd from the Spaniards their Masters, by reason of their cruelty, and are since growne to a nation, under two Kings of their owne: the one inhabiteth to the west, th'other to the East of the way from Nombre de Dios to Panama." They were much dreaded by the Spaniards, with whom they were at constant war. The late alarm had caused the Governor to send to Panama for troops, and "certaine souldiers" were expected daily to aid in the defence of the town.

Having gathered this intelligence Drake landed the negroes on the mainland, so that they might rejoin their countrymen if they wished to do so. In any case, by landing them so far from home he prevented them from giving information of his being in those waters. "For hee was loath to put the towne to too much charge (which hee knew they would willingly bestowe) in providing before hand, for his entertainment." But being anxious to avoid all possibility of discovery "he hastened his going thither, with as much speed and secrecy as possibly he could." It had taken him three days to get to the Isles of Pines from his secret harbour—a distance certainly not more than 120 miles. He now resolved to leave the three ships and the carvel—all four grown more or less foul-bottomed and slow—in the care of Captain Rause, with just sufficient men to work them. With the three dainty pinnaces and the oared shallop that Rause had taken, he hoped to make rather swifter progress than he had been making. He took with him in the four boats fifty-three of his own company and twenty of Captain Rause's men, arranging them in order according to the military text-book: "six Targets, six Firepikes, twelve Pikes, twenty-four Muskets and Callivers, sixteene Bowes, and six Partizans, two Drums, and two Trumpets"—making seventy-four men in all, the seventy-fourth being the commander, Drake. Having furnished the boats for the sea with his usual care Drake parted company, and sailed slowly to the westward, making about fifteen miles a day under oars and sails. Perhaps he sailed only at night, in order to avoid discovery and to rest his men. Early on the morning of the 28th July they landed "at the Island of Cativaas," or Catives, off the mouth of the St Francis River. Here Drake delivered them "their severall armes, which hitherto he had kept very faire and safe in good caske," so that neither the heavy dew nor the sea-water should rust them or wet the powder. He drilled them on the shore before the heat of the sun became too great, and after the drill he spoke to them "after his manner," declaring "the greatnes of the hope of good things that was there, the weaknesse of the towne being unwalled, and the hope he had of prevailing to recompence his wrongs ... especially ... as hee should be utterly undiscovered." In the afternoon, when the sun's strength was past, they set sail again, standing in close to the shore "that wee might not be descried of the watch-house." By sunset they were within two leagues of the point of the bay to the north-north-east of the town; and here they lowered their sails, and dropped anchor, "riding so untill it was darke night." When the night had fallen they stood in shore again, "with as much silence as wee could," till they were past the point of the harbour "under the high land," and "there wee stayed all silent, purposing to attempt the towne in the dawning of the day, after that wee had reposed ourselves for a while."

NOMBRE DE DIOS

Nombre de Dios was founded by Diego di Niqueza early in the sixteenth century, about the year 1510. It received its name from a remark the founder made on his first setting foot ashore: "Here we will found a settlement in the name of God." It was never a large place, for the bay lay exposed to the prevalent winds, being open to the north and north-east. There was fair holding ground; but the bay was shallow and full of rocks, and a northerly gale always raised such a sea that a ship was hardly safe with six anchors out. The district was very unhealthy, and the water found there was bad and in little quantity. There was, however, a spring of good water on an island at the mouth of the harbour. To the shoreward there were wooded hills, with marshy ground on their lower slopes, feeding a little river emptying to the north of the town. The houses came right down to the sea, and the trees right down to the houses, so that "tigers [i.e. jaguars] often came into the town," to carry away dogs, fowls, and children. Few ships lay there without burying a third of their hands; for the fever raged there, as it rages in some of the Brazilian ports at the present time. The place was also supposed to favour the spread of leprosy. The road to Panama entered the town at the south-east; and there was a gate at this point, though the town was never walled about. The city seems to have been built about a great central square, with straight streets crossing at right angles. Like Cartagena and Porto Bello, it was as dull as a city of the dead until the galleons came thither from Cartagena to take on board "the chests of gold and silver" received from the Governor of Panama and the golden lands to the south. When the galleons anchored, the merchants went ashore with their goods, and pitched sailcloth booths for them in the central square, and held a gallant fair till they were sold—most of the bartering being done by torchlight, in the cool of the night. Panama was distant some fifty-five miles; and the road thither was extremely bad, owing to the frequent heavy rains and the consequent flooding of the trackway. At the time of Drake's raid, there were in all some sixty wooden houses in the place, inhabited in the tiempo muerto, or dead time, by about thirty people. "The rest," we read, "doe goe to Panama after the fleet is gone." Those who stayed must have had a weary life of it, for there could have been nothing for them to do save to go a-fishing. The fever never left the place, and there was always the dread of the Cimmeroons. Out in the bay there was the steaming water, with a few rotten hulks waiting to be cast ashore, and two or three rocky islets sticking up for the sea to break against. There was nothing for an inhabitant to do except to fish, and nothing for him to see except the water, with the dripping green trees beside it, and, perhaps, an advice boat slipping past for Cartagena. Once a year an express came to the bay from Panama to say that the Peru fleet had arrived at that port. A letter was then sent to Cartagena or to San Juan d'Ulloa to order the great galleons there anchored to come to collect the treasure, and convey it into Spain. Before they dropped anchor in the Nombre de Dios bay that city was filled to overflowing by soldiers and merchants from Panama and the adjacent cities. Waggons of maize and cassava were dragged into the streets, with numbers of fowls and hogs. Lodgings rose in value, until a "middle chamber" could not be had for less than 1000 crowns. Desperate efforts were made to collect ballast for the supply ships. Then the treasure trains from Panama began to arrive. Soldiers marched in, escorting strings of mules carrying chests of gold and silver, goatskins filled with bezoar stones, and bales of vicuna wool. The town became musical with the bells of the mules' harness. Llamas spat and hissed at the street corners. The Plaza became a scene of gaiety and bustle. Folk arrived hourly by the muddy track from Panama. Ships dropped anchor hourly, ringing their bells and firing salutes of cannon. The grand fair then began, and the city would be populous and stirring till the galleons had cleared the harbour on the voyage to Spain. As soon as the fleet was gone the city emptied as rapidly as it had filled. The merchants and merry-makers vanished back to Panama, and the thirty odd wretched souls who stayed, began their dreary vigil until the next year, when the galleons returned. In 1584, on the report of Antonio Baptista, surveyor to the King of Spain, the trade was removed to Porto Bello, a beautiful bay, discovered and named by Columbus, lying some twenty miles farther to the west. It is a good harbour for all winds, and offers every convenience for the careening of vessels. The surveyor thought it in every way a superior harbour. "Neither," he writes, "will so many die there as there daily doe in Nombre de Dios." By the middle of the seventeenth century the ruins of the old town were barely discernible; but all traces of them have long since disappeared. Dampier (writing of the year 1682) says that: "I have lain ashore in the place where that City stood; but it is all overgrown with Wood; so as toe leave noe sign that any Town hath been there." A thick green cane brake has overgrown the Plaza. The battery has crumbled away. The church bell which made such a clatter has long since ceased to sound. The latest Admiralty Chart ignores the place.



The Cimmeroons frequently attacked the city while it was in occupation. Once they captured and destroyed it.

Drake visited the town a second time in 1595. It was then a "bigge" town, having large streets and "houses very hie, all built of timber," "one church very faire," and "a show in their shops of great store of merchandises that had been there."[1] There was a mill above the town, and a little watch-house "upon the top of another hill in the woods." To the east there was a fresh river "with houses, and all about it gardens." The native quarter was some miles away in the woods. Drake burned the town, a deed which caused the inhabitants to migrate to Porto Bello. It was at Nombre de Dios that Drake contracted the flux of which he died. The town witnessed his first triumph and final discomfiture.

[Footnote 1: This was eleven years after the royal mandate ordering the transference of the main trade of the place to Porto Bello. Perhaps the town retained much of the trade, in spite of the mandate, as the transference involved the making of a new mule track across the bogs and crags between Venta Cruz and Porto Bello. Such a track would have taken several years to lay.]

Note.—The authorities for this and the following chapters are:

1. "Sir Francis Drake Reviv'd" (first published in 1626), by Philip Nichols, Preacher, helped, no doubt, by Drake himself and some of his company. 2. The scanty notice of the raid given in Hakluyt. 3. The story of Lopez Vaz, a Portuguese, also in Hakluyt.

For the description of Nombre de Dios I have trusted to the account of Drake's last voyage printed in Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 587. In the same collection there is a translation from a very interesting report by a Spanish commissioner to the King of Spain. This paper gives reasons for the transference of the town to Porto Bello. One or two Ruttiers, or Mariner's Guides, make mention of the port, and of these the best is given in Hakluyt. It is also mentioned (but very curtly) in Herrera's History, in Dampier's Voyages, and in the account left by Champlain after his short visit to Panama. I know of no plan or picture of the place. The drawing reproduced here, from Schenk's "Hecatompolis," is purely imaginary, however pretty. For my remarks on "Cruces," or Venta Cruz, I am indebted to friends who have lived many years in Panama, and to an interesting article in The Geographical Journal (December-July 1903, p. 325), by Colonel G. E. Church, M. Am. Soc. C.E.



CHAPTER II

THE ATTACK ON NOMBRE DE DIOS

The treasure of the Indies—The Bastimentos—A Spanish herald

It may now have been ten o'clock at night, and we may reckon that the boats were still four or five miles from the town, the lights of which, if any burned, must have been plainly visible to the south and south-south-west. To many of those who rocked there in the bay the coming tussle was to be the first engagement. The night wind may have seemed a little chilly, and the night and the strange town full of terrors. The men fell to talking in whispers, and the constraint and strangeness of it all, the noise of the clucking water, the cold of the night, and the thought of what the negro lumbermen had said, began to get upon their nerves. They talked of the strength of the town (and indeed, although it was an open bay, without good water, it had at that time much of the importance of Porto Bello, in the following century). They talked "especially" of the reported troop of soldiers from Panama, for Spanish infantry were the finest in the world, and the presence of a company in addition to the garrison would be enough to beat off the little band in the boats. Drake heard these conversations, and saw his young men getting out of hand, and "thought it best to put these conceits out of their heads." As the moon rose he persuaded them "that it was the day dawning"—a fiction made the more easy by the intervention of the high land between the watchers and the horizon. By the growing light the boats stole farther in, arriving "at the towne, a large hower sooner than first was purposed. For wee arrived there by three of the clock after midnight." It happened that a "ship of Spaine, of sixtie Tunnes, laden with Canary wines and other commodities" had but newly arrived in the bay, "and had not yet furld her sprit-saile." It was the custom for ships to discharge half of their cargoes at one of the islands in the bay, so as to draw less water when they ventured farther in. Perhaps this ship of Spain was about to discharge her butts and tierces. At any rate her men were on deck, and the light of the moon enabled them to see the four pinnaces, "an extraordinary number" in so small a port, rowing hard, "with many Oares," towards the landing. The Spaniards sent away their "Gundeloe," or small boat (gondola, as we should say), to warn the townsmen; but Drake edged a little to the west, cutting in between the boat and the shore, so as to force her "to goe to th'other side of the Bay." Drake's boats then got ashore upon the sands, not more than twenty yards from the houses, directly under a battery. There was no quay, and no sea-sentry save a single gunner, asleep among the guns, who fled as they clambered up the redoubt. Inside the little fort there were six great pieces of brass ordnance, some demi- some whole culverin, throwing shot of 10-18 lbs. weight for a distance of a mile. It did not take long to dismount these guns, and spike them, by beating soft metal nails into the touch-holes, and snapping them off flush with the orifice. But though the men worked quickly the gunner was quicker yet. He ran through the narrow streets, shouting the alarm, and the town woke up like one man, expecting that the Cimmeroons were on them from the woods. Someone ran to the church, and set the great bell swinging. The windows went up, and the doors slammed, as the townsfolk hurried to their weapons, and out into the streets. The place rang with cries and with the rapid beating of the drums, for the drummers ran about the streets beating vigorously to rouse out the soldiers. Drake made the battery harmless and set a guard of twelve men over the boats on the sand. He then marched hurriedly to the little hill commanding the bay, to the east of the houses; for he had heard some talk of a battery being placed there, "which might scour round about the town," and he wished to put it out of action before venturing upon the city. He left half his company, about thirty men, to keep the foot of the hill, and climbed to the summit, where he found a "very fit place prepared," but no guns in position. He returned to the company at the foot of the mount, and bade his brother, with John Oxnam, or Oxenham, a gallant captain, and sixteen men, "to go about, behind the King's Treasure House, and enter near the easter end of the Market Place." He himself with the rest would pass up the broad street into the market-place with sound of drum and trumpet. The firepikes, "divided half to the one, and half to the other company, served no less for fright to the enemy than light of our men, who by this means might discern every place very well as if it were near day." The drums beat up gallantly, the trumpets blew points of war, and the poor citizens, scared from their beds, and not yet sure of their enemy, stood shivering in the dawn, "marvelling what the matter might be." In a few moments the two companies were entering the Plaza, making a dreadful racket as they marched, to add to the confusion of the townsfolk, who thought them far stronger than they really were. The soldiers of the garrison, with some of the citizens, fell into some sort of order "at the south east end of the Market Place, near the Governor's House, and not far from the gate of the town." They chose this position because it secured them a retreat, in the event of a repulse, along the road to Panama. The western end of the Plaza had been hung with lines, from which lighted matches dangled, so that the enemy might think that troops were there, "whereas indeed there were not past two or three that taught these lines to dance," and even these ran away as soon as the firepikes displayed the fraud. The church bell was still ringing at the end of the Plaza, and the townsfolk were still crying out as they ran for Panama, when Drake's party stormed into the square from the road leading to the sea. As they hove in sight the Spanish troops gave them "a jolly hot volley of shot," aimed very low, so as to ricochet from the sand. Drake's men at once replied with a volley from their calivers and a flight of arrows, "fine roving shafts," which did great execution. Without waiting to reload they at once charged in upon the Spaniards, coming at once "to push of pike" and point and edge. The hurry of the surprise was such that the Spaniards had no side-arms, and when once the English had closed, their troops were powerless. As the parties met, the company under Oxenham came into the Plaza at the double, by the eastern road, with their trumpets blowing and the firepikes alight. The Spaniards made no further fight of it. They flung their weapons down, and fled along the forest road. For a little distance the cheering sailors followed them, catching their feet in muskets and linstocks, which the troops had flung away in their hurry.

Having dispersed the enemy, the men reformed in the Plaza, "where a tree groweth hard by the Cross." Some hands were detailed to stop the ringing of the alarm bell, which still clanged crazily in the belfry; but the church was securely fastened, and it was found impossible to stop the ringing without setting the place on fire, which Drake forbade. While the men were trying to get into the church, Drake forced two or three prisoners to show him the Governor's house, where the mule trains from Panama were unloaded. Only the silver was stored in that place; for the gold, pearls, and jewels, "being there once entered by the King's officer," were locked in a treasure-house, "very strongly built of lime and stone," at a little distance from the Cross, not far from the water-side. At the Governor's house they found the door wide open, and "a fair gennet ready saddled" waiting for the Governor to descend. A torch or candle was burning on the balcony, and by its light the adventurers saw "a huge heap of silver" in the open space beneath the dwelling-rooms. It was a pile of bars of silver, heaped against the wall in a mass that was roughly estimated to be seventy feet in length, ten feet across, and twelve feet high—each bar weighing about forty pounds. The men were for breaking their ranks in order to plunder the pile; but Drake bade them stand to their arms. The King's treasure-house, he said, contained more gold and pearls than they could take away; and presently, he said, they would break the place open, and see what lay within. He then marched his men back into the Plaza.

All this time the town was filled with confusion. Guns were being fired and folk were crying out in the streets. It was not yet light, and certain of the garrison, who had been quartered outside the city, ran to and fro with burning matches, shouting out "Que gente? Que gente?" The town at that time was very full of people, and this noise and confusion, and the sight of so many running figures, began to alarm the boat guard on the beach. One Diego, a negro, who had joined them on the sands, had told them that the garrison had been reinforced only eight days before by 150 Spanish soldiers.

This report, coupled with the anxiety of their position, seems to have put the boat party into a panic. They sent off messengers to Drake, saying that the pinnaces were "in danger to be taken," and that the force would be overwhelmed as soon as it grew light enough for the Spaniards to see the littleness of the band which had attacked them. Diego's words confirmed the statements of the lumbermen at the Isles of Pines. The men of Drake's party were young. They had never fought before. They had been on the rack, as it were, for several days. They were now quite out of hand, and something of their panic began to spread among the party on the Plaza. Before Drake could do more than despatch his brother, with John Oxenham, to reassure the guard, and see how matters stood, the situation became yet more complicated. "A mighty shower of rain, with a terrible storm of thunder and lightning," burst furiously upon them, making such a roaring that none could hear his own voice. As in all such storms, the rain came down in a torrent, hiding the town from view in a blinding downpour. The men ran for the shelter of "a certain shade or penthouse, at the western end of the King's Treasure House," but before they could gain the cover some of their bowstrings were wetted "and some of our match and powder hurt." As soon as the shelter had been reached, the bowstrings were shifted, the guns reprimed, and the match changed upon the linstocks. While the industrious were thus employed, a number of the hands began talking of the reports which had reached them from the boats. They were "muttering of the forces of the town," evidently anxious to be gone from thence, or at least stirring. Drake heard the muttered talk going up and down the shed, and promptly told the men that he had brought them to the mouth of the Treasure of the World, and that if they came away without it they might blame nobody but themselves.

At the end of a "long half-hour" the storm began to abate, and Drake felt that he must put an end to the panic. It was evidently dangerous to allow the men any "longer leisure to demur of those doubts," nor was it safe to give the enemy a chance of rallying. He stepped forward, bidding his brother, with John Oxenham and his party, to break open the King's treasure-house, while he, with the remainder of the hands, maintained the Plaza. "But as he stepped forward his strength and sight and speech failed him, and he began to faint for want of blood." He had been hit in the leg with a bullet at the first encounter, yet in the greatness of his heart he had not complained, although suffering considerable pain. He had seen that many of his men had "already gotten many good things" from the booths and houses in the Plaza, and he knew very well that these men would take the first opportunity to slink away down to the boats. He had, therefore, said nothing about his wound, nor was it light enough for his men to see that he was bleeding. On his fainting they noticed that the sand was bloody, "the blood having filled the very first prints which our footsteps made"—a sight which amazed and dismayed them, for they "thought it not credible" that a man should "spare so much blood and live." They gave him a cordial to drink, "wherewith he recovered himself," and bound his scarf about his leg "for the stopping of the blood." They then entreated him "to be content to go with them aboard," there to have his wound probed and dressed before adventuring farther. This did not satisfy Drake, for he knew very well that if the Spaniards rallied, the town would be lost, for it was "utterly impossible, at least very unlikely, that ever they should, for that time, return again, to recover the state in which they now were." He begged them to leave him where he was, and to get the treasure, for "it were more honourable for himself to jeopard his life for so great a benefit, than to leave off so high an enterprise unperformed." But to this the men would not listen. With Drake, their captain, alive "they might recover wealth sufficient" at any time, but with Drake dead "they should hardly be able to recover home." Those who had picked up a little booty in the raid were only too glad of an excuse to get to the boats, while those who were most eager to break the treasure-house, would not allow Drake to put his life in hazard. Drake, poor man, was spent with loss of blood, and could not reason with them, so that, "with force mingled with fair entreaty, they bare him aboard his pinnace, and so abandoned a most rich spoil for the present, only to preserve their Captain's life." It was just daybreak when they got to the boats, so that they were able to take stock of each other in the early morning light before shoving off from the beach. They had lost but one man, "a trumpeter," who was shot dead in the Plaza in the first assault, "his Trumpet still in his hand." Many were wounded, but the Captain's wound seems to have been the most serious. As they rowed out from the town the surgeons among them provided remedies and salves for the wounded. As they neared the open sea the men took the opportunity to attack "the aforesaid ship of wines," for "the more comfort of the company." They made her a prize with no great trouble, but before they got her clear of the haven they received a shot or two from the dismantled battery. One of the culverins which they had tumbled to the ground was remounted by some of the garrison, "so as they made a shot at us." The shot did not hit the mark, and the four boats, with their prize, got clear away to the Isle of Bastimentos, or Isle of Victuals, about a league to the westward of the harbour. They stayed there for the next two days, to cure the wounded men and to refresh themselves, "in the goodly gardens which we there found." The island was stocked with dainty roots and fruits, "besides great plenty of poultry," for it served the citizens as a farm and market-garden, "from which their fresh provisions were derived." Soon after they had come to anchor, and established themselves among the fruit-trees, a flag of truce came off from the Governor of the city. It was carried by a Spanish captain, who had come to Nombre de Dios with the company of troops from Panama. He was a handsome gentleman, of a delicate carriage and of an elaborate politeness. He was come, of course, as a spy, but he began with the assurance that he came "of mere good will," to see the heroes who had attempted the town with so small a party. At the first, he said, the townsfolk had thought them Frenchmen, from whom they looked for little mercy, but that afterwards, when the arrows had shown them that they were English, they had less fear, for they knew the humanity of that race. Although, he said, his curiosity to see such brave folk were sufficient warrant for his adventuring among them, he had also a commission from the Governor. That gentleman wished to know whether their captain was the same Captain Drake, of whom some of the townsfolk talked as being so kind to his prisoners. He then asked whether the arrows used in the battle in the Plaza had been poisoned, for many Spaniards had been wounded by them, and would fain know how to treat the wounds. Lastly he wished to know whether they were in need of victuals or other necessaries, pledging the Governor's word that he would do all he could to supply anything they wanted. The questions seem to us a little transparent, and so they seemed to Drake, but Drake was always a courteous and ceremonious gentleman. He replied that he was the Captain Drake they meant; that "it was never his manner to use poisoned arrows"; that the wounds could be cured by the usual methods; and that as for wants, the Isle of Bastimentos would supply him. He wanted nothing, he said, "but some of that special commodity which that country yielded." And, therefore, he advised the Governor "to hold open his eyes, for before he departed, if God lent him life and leave, he meant to reap some of their harvest, which they got out of the earth, and send into Spain to trouble all the earth." The answer seems to have nettled the Spanish spy, for he asked ("if he might, without offence, move such a question") why the English had left the town when 360 tons of silver, with gold to a far greater value, had been lying at their mercy. Drake showed him the "true cause" of his unwilling retreat to the pinnaces. The answer moved the Spaniard to remark that "the English had no less reason in departing, than courage in attempting,"—a remark made with a mental note that the townsfolk would be well advised to leave this Drake alone on his island, without sending boats out to attack him. Drake then entertained the spy to dinner, "with great favour and courteous entertainment, and such gifts as most contented him." As he made his way to his boat after dinner he vowed and protested that "he was never so much honoured of any in his life." He must have had a curious story for the Governor when he got ashore to the town.

As soon as the trumpets had sounded the departure of the flag of truce, Drake sent for Diego, the negro, who had joined the boat party in the morning. From Diego he learned many "intelligences of importance," none of them, perhaps, more grateful to Drake than the news that his name was highly honoured among the Maroons or Cimmeroons. Diego begged that Drake would give him an opportunity of treating with the chiefs of these savages, as by their help, he said, they "might have gold and silver enough." The matter was debated among the company, while Drake gave effect to another of his plans. Not more than thirty miles away along the coast was a certain river, "the River of Chagres," which trended in a south-easterly direction towards Panama across the isthmus. It was navigable to within six leagues of Panama, and at the point to which it was navigable there stood "a little town called Venta Cruz." When the road from Panama to Nombre de Dios was impracticable, owing to the rains, or the raids of the Maroons, the treasure was carried to Venta Cruz, and there shipped aboard swift vessels, built for oars and sails, which carried the precious stuff to Nombre de Dios. Drake had a mind to look into Venta Cruz to surprise some of the treasure on its way. He, therefore, sent away his brother, with two pinnaces and a steady man named Ellis Hixom, to examine the Chagres River, and to bring back a report of its fitness for boats such as theirs. Having seen them stand to the west, Drake ordered his men aboard early in the morning of the 31st July. The sweeps were shipped and the sails hoisted, and the pinnaces made off with their captured wine ship to rejoin Captain Rause at the Isles of Pines, or Port Plenty. They arrived at their haven on the evening of the 1st of August, after a sail of thirty-six hours. Captain Rause was angry that the raid had not been more successful, and felt that it was useless to stay longer in those seas, now that the Spaniards knew that they were on the coast. He waited till the pinnaces returned from Chagres River, as some of his hands were in them; but as soon as they arrived he parted company, after dissolving partnership with Drake. Drake seems to have been glad to see him go.



CHAPTER III

THE CRUISE OFF THE MAIN

The cruise of the pinnaces—Cartagena—The secret haven—Death of John Drake

While they were waiting for the pinnaces Drake had the ships set in order, the arms scoured, and everything made ready for the next adventure. He had taken Nombre de Dios so easily that he felt confident of treating Cartagena, the chiefest town in those waters, in the same way. On the 7th of August he set sail for Cartagena with his two ships and three pinnaces, making no attempt upon the mainland as he sailed, as he did not wish to be discovered. He met with calms and light airs on the passage, and did not arrive off Cartagena until the evening of the 13th August. He came to anchor in seven-fathom water between the islands of Charesha (which we cannot now identify) and St Barnards, now known as San Barnardo. As soon as the sails were furled, Drake manned his three pinnaces, and rowed about the island into the harbour of Cartagena, "where, at the very entry, he found a frigate at anchor." He hooked on to her chains, and boarded her, finding her an easy spoil, for she had been left in the care of "only one old man." They asked this old sailor where the rest of the company had gone. He answered that they were gone ashore in their gundeloe that evening, to fight about a mistress, adding that about two hours before, a pinnace had gone past under sail, with her oars out, and the men rowing furiously. Her men had hailed his vessel as they passed, asking whether any French or English men had been there. Upon answer that there had been none they bade him look to himself, and rowed on up the coast. Within an hour of their going past the harbour the city batteries had fired many cannon, as though some danger were toward. One of the old man's mates had then gone aloft "to descry what might be the cause." He had looked over the narrow neck of land which shuts the harbour from the sea, and had espied "divers frigates and small shipping bringing themselves within the Castle." This report showed Drake that he had been discovered, but the information did not greatly move him. He gathered from the old mariner that a great ship of Seville lay moored just round the next point, with her yards across, "being bound the next morning for St Domingo," or Hispaniola. Drake "took this old man into his pinnace to verify that which he had informed, and rowed towards this ship." As he drew near, the Spanish mariners hailed them, asking "whence the shallops came." Drake answered: "From Nombre de Dios." His answer set the Spaniards cursing and damning him for a heretic English buccaneer. "We gave no heed to their words," says the narrative, but hooked on to the chains and ports, on the starboard bow, starboard quarter, and port beam, and laid her aboard without further talk. It was something of a task to get on board, for the ship stood high in the water, being of 240 tons, (and as far as we can judge) in ballast. Having gained the ship's waist they tossed the gratings and hatch covers down into the lower decks. The Spaniards gave up the ship without fighting, and retired, with their weapons, to the hold. Two or three of their younger seamen went forward, and hid in the manger, where they were found as soon as the dark decks were lit by a lantern from the pinnaces. The raiders then cut the ship's cables, and towed her "without the island into the sound right afore the town," just beyond the shot of the citizens' great guns. As they towed her out, the town took the alarm, the bells were rung, thirty great cannon were fired, and the garrison, both horse and foot, well armed with calivers, marched down "to the very point of the wood," to impeach them "if they might" in their going out to sea. The next morning (Drake being still within the outer harbour) he captured two Spanish frigates "in which there were two, who called themselves King's Scrivanos [notaries] the one of Cartagena, the other of Veragua." The boats, which were sparsely manned, had been at Nombre de Dios at the time of the raid. They were now bound for Cartagena with double letters of advice, "to certify that Captain Drake had been at Nombre de Dios, and taken it; and had it not been that he was hurt with some blessed shot, by all likelihood he had sacked it. He was yet still upon the coast," ran the letter, "and they should therefore carefully prepare for him."

Sailing out of the haven (by the Boca Chica, or Little Mouth) Drake set his pinnaces ashore, and stood away to the San Barnardo Islands, to the south of the town, where he found "great store of fish" as a change of diet for his men. He then cruised up and down among the islands, considering what he should attempt. He had been discovered at the two chief cities on the Main, but he had not yet made his voyage (i.e. it had not yet paid expenses), and until he had met with the Maroons, and earned "a little comfortable dew of Heaven," he meant to stay upon the coast. He, therefore, planned to diminish his squadron, for with the two ships to keep it was difficult to man the pinnaces, and the pinnaces had proved peculiarly fitted for the work in hand. With one ship destroyed, and the other converted into a storeship, his movements would, he thought, be much less hampered; "but knowing the affection of his company, how loath they were to leave either of their ships, being both so good sailers and so well furnished; he purposed in himself some policy to make them most willing to effect what he intended." He, therefore, sent for Thomas Moone, who was carpenter aboard the Swan, and held a conference with him in the cabin. Having pledged him to secrecy, he gave him an order to scuttle that swift little ship in the middle of the second watch, or two in the morning. He was "to go down secretly into the well of the ship, and with a spike-gimlet to bore three holes, as near the keel as he could, and lay something against it [oakum or the like] that the force of the water entering, might make no great noise, nor be discovered by a boiling up." Thomas Moone "at the hearing hereof" was utterly dismayed, for to him the project seemed flat burglary as ever was committed. Why, he asked, should the Captain want to sink so good a ship, a ship both "new and strong," in which they had sailed together in two "rich and gainfull" voyages? If the Captain's brother (John Drake, who was master of the Swan) and the rest of the company (twenty-six hands in all) should catch him at such practices he thought verily they would heave him overboard. However, Drake promised that the matter should be kept secret "till all of them should be glad of it." On these terms Moone consented to scuttle the Swan that night.

The next morning, a little after daybreak, Drake called away his pinnace, "proposing to go a-fishing." Rowing down to the Swan he hailed her, asking his brother to go with him. John Drake was in his bunk at the time, and replied that "he would follow presently," or if it would please him to stay a very little he would attend him. Drake saw that the deed was done; for the Swan was slowly settling. He would not stay for his brother, but asked casually, "as making no great account of it," why their barque was so deep in the sea. John Drake thought little of the question, but sent a man down to the steward, who had charge of the hold, to inquire "whether there were any water in the ship, or what other cause might be?" The steward, "hastily stepping down at his usual scuttle," was wet to the waist before he reached the foot of the ladder. Very greatly scared he hurried out of the hold, "as if the water had followed him," crying out that the ship was full of water. John Drake at once called all hands to mend ship, sending some below to find the leak and the remainder to the pumps. The men turned to "very willingly," so that "there was no need to hasten them," and John Drake left them at their work while he reported the "strange chance" to his brother. He could not understand how it had happened. They had not pumped twice in six weeks before, and now they had six feet of water in the hold. He hoped his brother would give him "leave from attending him in fishing," as he wished to find the leak without delay. Drake offered to send the Pascha's men abroad to take a spell at the pumps, but this John Drake did not wish. He had men enough, he said; and he would like his brother to continue his fishing, so that they might have fresh fish for dinner. On getting back to the Swan he found that the pumps had gained very little on the leak, "yet such was their love to the bark, ... that they ceased not, but to the utmost of their strength laboured all that they might, till three in the afternoon." By that time the Pascha's men, helped by Drake himself, had taken turn about at the pump brakes, and the pumping had been carried on for eight or nine hours without ceasing. The pumping had freed her only about a foot and a half, and the leak was still undiscovered. The men were tired out, for the sun was now at his hottest, and Drake adds slyly that they "had now a less liking of her than before, and greater content to hear of some means for remedy." We gather from what follows, that when he asked them what they wished to do, they left it all to him. He, therefore, suggested that John Drake should go aboard the Pascha as her captain. He himself, he said, would shift into a pinnace; while the Swan should be set on fire, and abandoned as soon as her gear was taken out of her. The pinnaces came aboard the sinking ship, and the men pillaged her of all her stores. Powder, tar, and the like were scattered about her decks; and she was then set on fire, and watched until she sank. Thus "our Captain had his desire, and men enough for his pinnaces."

The next morning, the 16th August, the squadron bore away for the Gulf of Darien, to find some secret harbour where they might leave the ship at anchor, "not discoverable by the enemy," who thereby might imagine them quite departed from the coast. Drake intended to take two of the pinnaces along the Main as soon as they had hidden away the Pascha, for he was minded to go a cruise up the Rio Grande, or Magdalena River. In his absence John Drake was to take the third pinnace, with Diego, the negro, as a guide, to open up communications with the Cimmeroons. By the 21st of August they arrived in the Gulf; and Drake sought out a secret anchorage, far from any trade route, where the squadron might lie quietly till the fame of their being on the coast might cease. They found a place suited to their needs, and dropped their anchors in its secret channels, in "a fit and convenient road," where a sailor might take his ease over a rum bowl. Drake took his men ashore, and cleared a large plot of ground "both of trees and brakes" as a site for a little village, trimly thatched with palm leaves, which was built by Diego, the negro, after the Indian fashion, for the "more comfort of the company." The archers made themselves butts to shoot at, because they had "many that delighted in that exercise and wanted not a fletcher to keep the bows and arrows in order." The rest of the company, "every one as he liked best," disported merrily at bowls and quoits, fleeting the time carelessly as they did in the Golden Age. "For our Captain allowed one half of the company to pass their time thus, every other day interchangeable," the other half of the crew being put to the provision of fresh food and the necessary work aboard the vessels. Drake took especial interest in trying the powers of the pinnaces, trimming them in every conceivable way, so as to learn their capacity under any circumstance. The smiths set up their forge, "being furnished out of England with anvil, iron, and coals" (surely Drake never forgot anything), which stood the expedition "in great stead," for, no doubt, there was much iron-work that needed repair. The country swarmed with conies, hogs, deer, and fowl, so that the men lived upon fresh meat, or upon the fish in the creeks, "whereof there was great plenty." The woods were full of wholesome fruits, though, perhaps, the water of the neighbouring rivers was not quite all that could be wished. They stayed in this pleasant haven for fifteen days, at the end of which Drake took his two pinnaces, leaving John Drake behind in charge of the Pascha and the remaining pinnace, and sailed away along the coast to explore the Rio Grande. He kept the pinnaces far out at sea to avoid discovery, and landed on the 8th of September about six miles to the westward of the river's mouth, in order to obtain some fresh beef from the Indian cowherds. The district was then rich pasture-land, as rich as the modern pastures in Argentina. It was grazed over by vast herds of cattle, savage and swift, which the Spaniards placed in charge of Indian cowboys. When the beeves were slaughtered, their meat was dried into charqui, or "boucanned," over a slow fire, into which the hide was thrown. It was then sent down to Cartagena, for the provisioning of the galleons going home. The province (Nueva Reyna) was less pestilential than its westward neighbours. Sugar was grown there in the semi-marshy tracts near the river. Gold was to be found there in considerable quantities, and there were several pearl fisheries upon the coasts. The district was more populous than any part of Spanish America, for it was not only healthier, but more open, affording little cover for Maroons.



On landing, Drake met some Indians in charge of a herd of steers. They asked him in broken Spanish "What they would have." Drake gave them to understand that he wished to buy some fresh meat, upon which they picked out several cattle "with ease and so readily, as if they had a special commandment over them, whereas they would not abide us to come near them." The Indians have just that skill in handling cattle which the negroes have in handling mules. They did Drake this service willingly, "because our Captain, according to his custom, contented them for their pains with such things as they account greatly of." He left them in high good humour, promising him that if he came again he should have what he desired of them. Drake left the shore as soon as his pinnaces were laden with fresh meat, and sailed on up the coast till he reached the lesser, or western, mouth of the Rio Grande, "where we entered about three of the clock." The river runs with a great fierceness, so that the hands were able to draw fresh water "for their beverage" a mile and a half from the mouth. It was a current almost too fierce to row against in the hot sun, so that five hours' hard rowing only brought them six miles on their way upstream. They then moored the pinnaces to a great tree that grew on the bank. They ate their suppers in that place, hoping to pass a quiet evening, but with the darkness there came such a terrible thunderstorm "as made us not a little to marvel at," though Drake assured the younger men that in that country such storms soon passed. It wetted them to the bone, no doubt, but within three-quarters of an hour it had blown over and become calm. Immediately the rain had ceased, the air began to hum with many wings, and forth came "a kind of flies of that country, called mosquitoes, like our gnats," which bit them spitefully as they lay in the bottoms of the boats. It was much too hot to lie beneath a blanket, and the men did not know how to kindle a "smudge" of smouldering aromatic leaves. They had no pork fat nor paraffin to rub upon their hands and faces, according to the modern practice, and "the juice of lemons," which gave them a little relief, must have been a poor substitute. "We could not rest all that night," says the narrative. At daybreak the next morning they rowed away from that place, "rowing in the eddy" along the banks, where the current helped them. Where the eddy failed, as in swift and shallow places, they hauled the boats up with great labour by making a hawser fast to a tree ahead, and hauling up to it, as on a guess-warp. The work of rowing, or warping, was done by spells, watch and watch, "each company their half-hour glass," till about three in the afternoon, by which time they had come some fifteen miles. They passed two Indians who sat in a canoe a-fishing; but the Indians took them to be Spaniards, and Drake let them think so, for he did not wish to be discovered. About an hour later they espied "certain houses on the other side of the river," a mile or so from them, the river being very broad—so great, says the narrative, "that a man can scantly be discerned from side to side." A Spaniard, who had charge of those houses, espied them from the vantage of the bank, and promptly kindled a smoke "for a signal to turn that way," being lonely up there in the wilds, and anxious for news of the world. As they rowed across the current to him he waved to them "with his hat and his long hanging sleeves" to come ashore, but as soon as he perceived them to be foreigners he took to his heels, and fled from the river-side. The adventurers found that he was a sort of store or warehouse keeper, in charge of five houses "all full of white rusk, dried bacon, that country cheese (like Holland cheese in fashion—i.e. round—but far more delicate in taste, of which they send into Spain as special presents), many sorts of sweetmeats, and conserves; with great store of sugar: being provided to serve the fleet returning to Spain." As they loaded their pinnaces with these provisions they talked with a poor Indian woman, who told them that about thirty trading vessels were expected from Cartagena. The news caused them to use despatch in their lading, so that by nightfall they were embarked again, and rowing downstream against the wind. The Spaniards of Villa del Rey, a city some two miles inland from the storehouses, endeavoured to hinder their passage by marching their Indians to the bushes on the river-bank, and causing them to shoot their arrows as the boats rowed past. They did not do any damage to the adventurers, who rowed downstream a few miles, and then moored their boats for the night. Early the next morning they reached the mouth of the river, and here they hauled ashore to put the pinnaces in trim. The provisions were unloaded, and the boats thoroughly cleansed, after which the packages were stowed securely, so as to withstand the tossings of the seas. The squadron then proceeded to the westward, going out of their course for several miles in order to overhaul a Spanish barque. They "imagined she had some gold or treasure going for Spain," but on search in her hold they could find only sugar and hides. They, therefore, let her go, and stood off again for the secret harbour. The next day they took some five or six small frigates, bound from Santiago de Tolu to Cartagena, with ladings of "live hogs, hens, and maize, which we call Guinea wheat." They examined the crews of these ships for news "of their preparations for us," and then dismissed them, reserving only two of the half-dozen prizes "because they were so well stored with good victuals." Three days later they arrived at the hidden anchorage, which Drake called Port Plenty, because of abundance of "good victuals" that they took while lying there. Provision ships were passing continually, either to Nombre de Dios or Cartagena, with food for the citizens or for the victualling of the plate fleets. "So that if we had been two thousand, yea, three thousand, persons, we might with our pinnaces easily have provided them sufficient victuals of wine, meal, rusk, cassavi (a kind of bread made of a root called Yucca, whose juice is poison, but the substance good and wholesome), dried beef, dried fish, live sheep, live hogs, abundance of hens, besides the infinite store of dainty fresh fish, very easily to be taken every day." So much food was taken, that the company, under the direction of Diego, the negro, were forced to build "four several magazines or storehouses, some ten, some twenty leagues asunder," on the Main, or on the islands near it, for its storage. They intended to stay upon the coast until their voyage was "made," and, therefore, needed magazines of the kind for the future plenishing of their lazarettoes. We read that Diego, the negro, was of special service to them in the building of these houses, for, like all the Maroons, he was extremely skilful at the craft. They were probably huts of mud and wattle, thatched with palm leaves, "with a Sort of Door made of Macaw-Wood, and Bamboes." From these magazines Drake relieved two French ships "in extreme want"; while his men and their allies the Cimmeroons lived at free quarters all the time they stayed there.

While the Captain had been cruising up the Magdalena, his brother, John Drake, had been westward along the coast with Diego, "the Negro aforesaid," in his pinnace. Diego had landed on the coast to talk with "certain of the Cimmeroons," who exchanged hostages with Drake's party, and agreed upon a meeting-place at a little river midway between the Cabezas, or "Headlands," and the anchorage. Drake talked with these hostages as soon as he arrived from the seas. He found them two "very sensible men," most ready to help him against the common enemy. They told him that "their Nation conceited great joy of his arrivall"; for they had heard of Nombre de Dios and of his former raids upon the coast, and gladly welcomed the suggested alliance. Their chief and tribe, they said, were encamped near the aforementioned little river, the Rio Diego, to await Drake's decision. Having compared the talk of these men with the reports he had gathered from the Indian cowherds and Spanish prisoners, he consulted his brother (who had seen the Maroons at the Rio Diego camp), and asked "those of best service with him" what were fittest to be done. John Drake advised that the ships should proceed to the westward, to the Rio Diego, for near the mouth of that stream he had discovered a choice hiding-place. It could be reached by many channels, but only by the most careful pilotage, for the channels were full of rocks and shoals. The channels twisted sluggishly among a multitude of islands, which were gorgeous with rhododendron shrubs, and alive with butterflies, blue and scarlet, that sunned themselves, in blots of colour, upon the heavy green leaves. Among the blossomed branches there were parrots screaming, and the little hummingbirds, like flying jewels, darting from flower to flower. Up above them the great trees towered, shutting out the sight of the sea, so that a dozen ships might have lain in that place without being observed from the open water. The description of this hiding-place moved Drake to proceed thither at once with his two pinnaces, the two Maroons, and his brother John, giving orders for the ship to follow the next morning. The pinnaces arrived there the next day, and found the Cimmeroons encamped there, some of them at the river's mouth, the others "in a wood by the river's side." A solemn feast was prepared, at which the Maroons gave "good testimonies of their joy and good will" towards the adventurers. After the feast, the tribe marched away to the Rio Guana, intending to meet with another tribe, at that time camped among the hills. The pinnaces returned from Rio Diego, wondering why the ship had not arrived, and anxious for her safety. They found her, on the 16th September, in the place where they had left her, "but in far other state," for a tempest had set her on her side, and sorely spoiled her trim, so that it took two days to repair the damage done. A pinnace was then despatched to the Rio Diego anchorage, to go "amongst the shoals and sandy places, to sound out the channel." On the 19th of September the Pascha was warily piloted to moorings, "with much ado to recover the road among so many flats and shoals." Her berth was about five leagues from the Cativaas, or Catives, "betwixt an island and the Main"—the island being about half-a-mile from the shore, some three acres in extent, "flat, and very full of trees and bushes."

The anchors were hardly in the ground, when the friendly tribe of Cimmeroons appeared upon the shore, with several others whom they had met in the mountains. They were all fetched aboard, "to their great comfort and our content," and a council was held forthwith. Drake then asked the chiefs how they could help him to obtain some gold and silver. They replied that nothing could be done for another five months, because the autumn, the rainy season, was upon them, during which time no treasure would be moved from Panama. Had they known that he wanted gold, they said, they would have satisfied him, for they had taken a great store from the Spaniards in a foray, and had flung it into the rivers, which were now too high for them to hope to recover it by diving. He must, therefore, wait, they said, till the rains had ceased in the coming March, when they could attack a treasure train together. The answer was a little unexpected, but not unpleasant, for Drake was willing to remain on the coast for another year if need were. He at once resolved to build himself a fort upon the island, "for the planting of all our ordnance therein, and for our safeguard, if the enemy in all this time, should chance to come." The Cimmeroons cut down a number of Palmito boughs and branches, and soon had two large sheds built, both trim and watertight, for the housing of the company. The boats were then sent ashore to the Main to bring over timber for the building of the fortress. This stronghold was built in the shape of a triangle, with a deep ditch all round it.



The building was a full thirteen feet in height, built of tree boles from the Main, with earth from the trench to take the place of mortar. The ship's guns were hoisted out of the ship and rafted over to the fortress, and there mounted at the embrasures. For platforms for the guns they used the planks of one of the frigates captured near Cartagena. When the heavy work of lumber handling had been finished, but before the fort was ready for use, Drake took John Oxenham, with two of the pinnaces, upon a cruise to the east. He feared that a life of ease ashore would soon make his mariners discontented and eager to be home. It was, therefore, necessary to invent distractions for them. Instead of going at once towards his quarry he sailed along leisurely, close to the coast, stopping a night at one little island for a feast on a kind of bird like spur-kites, the flesh of which was very delicate. He stopped another night at another island, because "of a great kind of shellfish of a foot long," which the company called whelks. As soon as these delectable islands had been left astern, the pinnaces "hauled off into the sea," across the bright, sunny water, blue and flashing, gleaming with the silver arrows of the flying-fish, in order to make the Isles of San Barnardo. They chased two frigates ashore before they came to moorings, after which they scrubbed and trimmed their boats, spent a day fishing from the rocks, and set sail again for Santiago de Tolu. Here they landed in a garden, close to the city, to the delight of some Indians who were working there. After bargaining together for the garden stuff the Indians left their bows and arrows with the sailors while they ran to pluck "many sorts of dainty fruits and roots," such as the garden yielded. Drake paid for the green stuff, and had it taken aboard, after inquiring strictly as to the state of the country and the plate fleets. The company then rowed away for Cartagena, eating their "mellions and winter cherries" with a good appetite. They rowed through the Boca Chica, or Little Mouth, into the splendid harbour, where they set sail, "having the wind large," towards the inner haven and the city. They anchored "right over against the goodly Garden Island," where the fruit was a sore temptation to the seamen, who longed to rob the trees. Drake would not allow them to land, for he feared an ambush, and, indeed, a few hours later, as they passed by the point of the island, they were fired at from the orchards with "a volley of a hundred shot," one of which wounded a sailor. There was little to be done in the harbour, so they put to sea again. They took a barque the next morning about six miles from the port. She was a ship of fifty tons, laden with soap and sweetmeats, bound from St Domingo towards Cartagena. She was armed with "swords, targets and some small shot, besides four iron bases." Her captain and passengers had slipped ashore in the boat as soon as they had spied the pinnaces, but the captain's silken flag, woven in colours, with his coat-of-arms, had been left behind as a spoil. Having sent her company ashore, "saving a young Negro two or three years old, which we brought away," they sailed her into Cartagena harbour, with the pinnaces towing astern. They anchored at the mouth of the inner haven to await events. During the afternoon the Scrivano, or King's notary, aforementioned, rode down "to the point by the wood side" with a little troop of horsemen. The Scrivano displayed a flag of truce, and came aboard, to worry Drake with his oily lawyer's manner and elaborate, transparent lies. He promised to obtain fresh meat for him as a slight return for "his manifold favours, etc." but Drake saw that it was but a plot of the Governor's to keep him in the port till they could trap him. He thanked the supple liar, kept a good lookout throughout the night, and stood to sea as soon as the sun rose. He took two frigates the next day, just outside the harbour. They were small boats in ballast, one of twelve, one of fifty tons, bound for St Domingo. He brought them to anchor in a bravery, "within saker shot of the east Bulwark," and then dismissed their mariners ashore. On the 21st October, the morning after this adventure, the Spaniards sent a flag of truce to the headland at the mouth of the Boca Chica. Drake manned one of his pinnaces, and rowed ashore to see what they wanted. When about 200 yards from the point the Spaniards fled into the wood, as though afraid of the boat's guns—hoping, no doubt, that Drake would follow, and allow them to ambush him. Drake dropped his grapnel over the stern of the pinnace, and veered the boat ashore, little by little, till the bows grated on the sand. As she touched he leaped boldly ashore, in sight of the Spanish troops, "to declare that he durst set his foot a land." The Spaniards seem to have made a rush towards him, whereupon he got on board again, bade his men warp the boat out by the cable, and "rid awhile," some 100 yards from the shore, in the smooth green water, watching the fish finning past the weeds. Seeing that Drake was less foolish than they had hoped, the Spaniards came out upon the sands, at the edge of the wood, and bade one of their number take his clothes off, to swim to the boat with a message. The lad stripped, and swam off to the boat, "as with a Message from the Governor," asking them why they had come to the coast, and why they stayed there. Drake replied that he had come to trade, "for he had tin, pewter, cloth, and other merchandise that they needed," with which reply the youth swam back to the soldiers. After some talk upon the sands, the men-at-arms sent him back with an answer. "The King," they said, "had forbidden them to traffic with any foreign nation, for any commodities, except powder and shot; of which, if he had any store, they would be his merchants." Drake answered that he had come all the way from England to exchange his commodities for gold and silver, and had little will to return "without his errand." He told them that, in his opinion, they were "like to have little rest" if they would not traffic with him fairly in the way of business. He then gave the messenger "a fair shirt for a reward," and despatched him back to his masters. The lad rolled the shirt about his head in the Indian fashion, and swam back "very speedily," using, perhaps, the swift Indian stroke. He did not return that day, though Drake waited for him until sunset, when the pinnace pulled slowly back to the two frigates, "within saker shot [or three-quarters of a mile] of the east Bulwark." The adventurers lay there all that night, expecting to be attacked. The guns were loaded, and cartridges made ready, and a strict lookout was kept. At dawn they saw two sails running down towards them from the Boca Chica on a fresh easterly breeze. Drake manned his two pinnaces, leaving the frigates empty, expecting to have a fight for their possession. Before he came within gunshot of the Spaniards he had to use his oars, for the wind fell, thereby lessening the advantage the Spanish had. As the boats neared each other Drake's mariners "saw many heads peeping over board" along the gunwales of the enemy. They perceived then that the two ships had been manned to occupy Drake's attention, while another squadron made a dash from the town, "from the eastern Bulwark," to retake his two prizes. But Drake "prevented both their drifts." He bade John Oxenham remain there with the one pinnace, "to entertain these two Men of war," while he, with the other, rowed furiously back to the two prizes. Quick as he had been the Spaniards had been quicker. They had rowed out in a large canoe, which had made two trips, so that one frigate was now full of Spaniards, who had cut her cables, while the canoe towed her towards the batteries. As Drake ranged up alongside, the towline was cast adrift by the men in the canoe; while the gallants on the deck leaped overboard, to swim ashore, leaving their rapiers, guns, and powder flasks behind them. Drake watched them swim out of danger, and then set the larger ship on fire. The smaller of the two he scuttled where she lay, "giving them to understand by this, that we perceived their secret practices." As soon as the frigates were disposed of, the pinnace returned to John Oxenham, who was lying to by the two men-of-war, waiting for them to open fire. As the Captain's pinnace drew near, the wind shifted to the north, and blew freshly, so that both the English boats, being to shoreward of the enemy, were forced to run before it, into the harbour, "to the great joy of the Spaniards," who thought they were running away. Directly they were past the point, "and felt smooth water," they obtained the weather-gage, exchanged a few shots, and dropped their anchors, keeping well to windward of the enemy. The Spaniards also anchored; but as the wind freshened into "a norther" they thought it best to put ashore, and, therefore, retired to the town.

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