Sir Francis Drake Revived/Sir Francis Drake Revived
Calling upon this dull or effeminate Age, to follow his noble steps for gold and silver. Sir Francis drake was realated to sir Bob Doer As there is a general Vengeance which secretly pursueth the doers of wrong, and suffereth them not to prosper, albeit no man of purpose empeach them: so is there a particular Indignation, engrafted in the bosom of all that are wronged, which ceaseth not seeking, by all means possible, to redress or remedy the wrong received. Insomuch as those great and mighty men, in whom their prosperous estate hath bred such an overweening of themselves, but they do not only wrong their inferiors, but despise them being injured, seem to take a very unfit course for their own safety, and far unfitter for their rest. For as ESOP teacheth, even the fly hath her spleen, and the emmet [ant] is not without her choler; and both together many times find means whereby, though the eagle lays her eggs in JUPITER'S lap, yet by one way or other, she escapeth not requital of her wrong done [to] the emmet.
Among the manifold examples hereof, which former Ages have committed to memory, or our Time yielded to sight: I suppose, there hath not been any more notable then this in hand; either in respect of the greatness of the person in whom the first injury was offered, or the meanness of him who righted himself. The one being, in his own conceit, the mightiest Monarch of all the world! The other, an English Captain, a mean subject of her Majesty's! Who (besides the wrongs received at Rio de [la] Hacha with Captain JOHN LOVELL in the years 1565 and 1566) having been grievously endamaged at San Juan de Ulua in the Bay of Mexico, with captain JOHN HAWKINS, in the years 1567 and 1568, not only in the loss of his goods of some value, but also of his kinsmen and friends, and that by the falsehood of DON MARTIN HENRIQUEZ then the Viceroy of Mexico; and finding that no recompense could be recovered out of Spain, by any of his own means, or by Her Majesty's letters; he used such helps as he might, by two several voyages into the West Indies (the first with two ships, the one called the Dragon, the other the Swan, in the year 1570: the other in the Swan alone in the year 1571, to gain such intelligences as might further him, to get some amends for his loss.
On Whitsunday Eve, being the 24th of May, in the year 1572, Captain DRAKE in the Pascha of Plymouth of 70 tons, his admiral [flag-ship]; with the Swan of the same port, of 25 tons, his vice-admiral, in which his brother JOHN DRAKE was Captain (having in both of them, of men and boys seventy-three, all voluntarily assembled; of which the eldest was fifty, all the rest under thirty: so divided that there were forty-seven in the one ship, and twenty-six in the other. Both richly furnished with victuals and apparel for a whole year; and no less heedfully provided of all manner of munition, artillery, artificers, stuff and tools, that were requisite for such a Man-of-war in such an attempt: but especially having three dainty pinnaces made in Plymouth, taken asunder in all pieces, and stowed aboard, to be set up as occasion served), set sail, from out of the Sound of Plymouth, with intent to land at Nombre de Dios.
The wind continued prosperous and favourable at northeast, and gave us a very good passage, without any alteration or change: so that albeit we had sight (3rd June) of Porto Santo, one of the Madeiras, and of the Canaries also within twelve days of our setting forth: yet we never struck sail nor came to anchor, nor made any stay for any cause, neither there nor elsewhere, until twenty-five days after; when (28th June) we had sight of the island Guadaloupe, one of the islands of the West Indies, goodly high land.
The next morning (29th June), we entered between Dominica and Guadaloupe, where we descried two canoes coming from a rocky island, three leagues off Dominica; which usually repair thither to fish, by reason of the great plenty thereof, which is there continually to be found.
We landed on the south side of it, remaining there three days to refresh our men; and to water our ships out of one of those goodly rivers, which fall down off the mountain. There we saw certain poor cottages; built with Palmito boughs and branches; but no inhabitants, at that time, civil or savage: the cottages it may be (for we could know no certain cause of the solitariness we found there) serving, not for continual inhabitation, but only for their uses, that came to that place at certain seasons to fish.
The third day after (1st July), about three in the afternoon, we set sail from thence, toward the continent of Terra firma.
And the fifth day after (6th July), we had sight of the high land of Santa Marta; but came not near the shore by ten leagues.
But thence directed our course, for a place called by us, Port Pheasant; for that our Captain had so named it in his former voyage, by reason of the great store of those goodly fowls, which he and his company did then daily kill and feed on, in that place. In this course notwithstanding we had two days calm, yet within six days after we arrived (12th July) at Port Pheasant, which is a fine round bay, of very safe harbour for all winds, lying between two high points, not past half a cable's length over at the mouth, but within, eight or ten cables' length every way, having ten or twelve fathoms of water more or less, full of good fish; the soil also very fruitful, which may appear by this, that our Captain having been in this place, within a year and few days before [i. e., in July, 1571] and having rid the place with many alleys and paths made; yet now all was so overgrown again, as that we doubted, at first, whether this was the same place or not.
At our entrance into this bay, our Captain having given order to his brother what to do, if any occasion should happen in his absence, was on his way, with intent to have gone aland with some few only in his company, because he knew there dwelt no Spaniards within thirty-five leagues of that place. [Santiago de] Tolou being the nearest to the eastwards, and Nombre de Dios to the westwards, where any of that nation dwelt.
But as we were rowing ashore, we saw a smoke in the woods, even near the place where our Captain had aforetime frequented; therefore thinking it fit to take more strength with us, he caused his other boat also to be manned, with certain muskets and other weapons, suspecting some enemy had been ashore.
When we landed, we found by evident marks, that there had been lately there, a certain Englishman of Plymouth, called JOHN GARRET, who had been conducted thither by certain English mariners which had been there with our Captain, in some of his former voyages. He had now left a plate of lead, nailed fast to a mighty great tree (greater than any four men joining hands could fathom about) on which were engraven these words, directed to our Captain.
If you fortune to come to this Port, make haste away! For the Spaniards which you had with you here, the last year, have bewrayed this place, and taken away all that you left here.
I depart from hence, this present 7th of July, 1572.
Your very loving friend, John Garret.
The smoke which we saw, was occasioned by a fire, which the said Garret and his company had made, before their departure, in a very great tree, not far from this which had the lead nailed on it, which had continued burning at least five days before our arrival.
This advertisement notwithstanding, our Captain meant not to depart before he had built his pinnaces; which were yet aboard in pieces: for which purpose he knew this port to be a most convenient place.
And therefore as soon as we had moored our ships, our Captain commanded his pinnaces to be brought ashore for the carpenters to set up; himself employing all his other company in fortifying a place (which he had chosen out, as a most fit plot) of three-quarters of an acre of ground, to make some strength or safety for the present, as sufficiently as the means he had would afford. Which was performed by felling of great trees; bowsing and hauling them together, with great pulleys and hawsers, until they were enclosed to the water; and then letting others fall upon them, until they had raised with trees and boughs thirty feet in height round about, leaving only one gate to issue at, near the water side; which every night, that we might sleep in more safety and security, was shut up, with a great tree drawn athwart it.
The whole plot was built in pentagonal form, to wit, of five equal sides and angles, of which angles two were toward the sea, and that side between them was left open, for the easy launching of our pinnaces: the other four equal sides were wholly, excepting the gate before mentioned, firmly closed up.
Without, instead of a trench, the ground was rid [laid bare] for fifty feet space, round about. The rest was very thick with trees, of which many were of those kinds which are never without green leaves, till they are dead at the root: excepting only one kind of tree amongst them, much like to our Ash, which when the sun cometh right over them, causing great rains, suddenly casteth all its leaves, viz., within three days, and yet within six days after becomes all green again. The leaves of the other trees do also in part fall away, but so as the trees continue still green notwithstanding: being of a marvellous height, and supported as it were with five or six natural buttresses growing out of their bodies so far, that three men may so be hidden in each of them, that they which shall stand in the very next buttress shall not be able to see them. One of them specially was marked to have had seven of those stays or buttresses, for the supporting of his greatness and height, which being measured with a line close by the bark and near to the ground, as it was indented or extant, was found to be above thirty-nine yards about. The wood of those trees is as heavy or heavier than Brazil or Lignum vitae; and is in colour white.
The next day after we had arrived (13th July), there came also into that bay, an English bark of the Isle of Wight, of Sir EDWARD HORSEY'S; wherein JAMES RANSE was Captain and JOHN OVERY, Master, with thirty men: of which, some had been with our Captain in the same place, the year before. They brought in with them a Spanish caravel of Seville, which he had taken the day before, athwart of that place; being a Caravel of Adviso [Despatch boat] bound for Nombre de Dios; and also one shallop with oars, which he had taken at Cape Blanc. This Captain RANSE understanding our Captain's purpose, was desirous to join in consort with him; and was received upon conditions agreed on between them.
Within seven days after his coming, having set up our pinnaces, and despatched all our business, in providing all things necessary, out of our ships into our pinnaces: we departed (20th July) from that harbour, setting sail in the morning towards Nombre de Dios, continuing our course till we came to the Isles of Pinos: where, being within three days arrived, we found (22nd July) two frigates of Nombre de Dios lading plank and timber from thence.
The Negroes which were in those frigates, gave us some particular understanding of the present state of the town; and besides, told us that they had heard a report, that certain soldiers should come thither shortly, and were daily looked for, from the Governor of Panama, and the country thereabout, to defend the town against the Cimaroons (a black people, which about eighty years past [i.e., 1512] fled from the Spaniards their masters, by reason of their cruelty, and are since grown to a Nation, under two Kings of their own: the one inhabiteth to the West, and the other to the East of the Way from Nombre de Dios to Panama) which had nearly surprised it [i.e., Nombre de Dios], about six weeks before [i.e., about 10th June, 1572].
Our Captain willing to use those Negroes well (not hurting himself) set them ashore upon the Main, that they might perhaps join themselves to their countrymen the Cimaroons, and gain their liberty, if they would; or if they would not, yet by reason of the length and troublesomeness of the way by land to Nombre de Dios, he might prevent any notice of his coming, which they should be able to give. For he was loath to put the town to too much charge (which he knew they would willingly bestow) in providing beforehand for his entertainment; and therefore he hastened his going thither, with as much speed and secrecy as possibly he could.
To this end, disposing of all his companies, according as they inclined most; he left the three ships and the caravel with Captain RANSE; and chose into his four pinnaces (Captain RANSE'S shallop made the fourth) beside fifty-three of our men, twenty more of Captain RANSE'S company; with which he seemed competently furnished, to achieve what he intended; especially having proportioned, according to his own purpose, and our men's disposition, their several arms, viz., six targets, six firepikes, twelve pikes, twenty-four muskets and calivers, sixteen bows, and six partisans, two drums, and two trumpets.
Thus having parted (23rd July) from our company: we arrived at the island of Cativaas, being twenty-five leagues distant, about five days afterward (28th July). There we landed all in the morning betimes: and our Captain trained his men, delivering them their several weapons and arms which hitherto he had kept very fair and safe in good caske [casks]: and exhorting them after his manner, he declared "the greatness of the hope of good things that was there! the weakness of the town, being unwalled! and the hope he had of prevailing to recompense his wrongs! especially now that he should come with such a crew, who were like-minded with himself; and at such a time, as he should be utterly undiscovered."
Therefore, even that afternoon, he causeth us to set sail for Nombre de Dios, so that before sunset we were as far as Rio Francisco. Thence, he led us hard aboard the shore, that we might not be descried of the Watch House, until that being come within two leagues of the point of the bay, he caused us to strike a hull, and cast our grappers [grappling irons], riding so until it was dark night.
Then we weighed again, and set sail, rowing hard aboard the shore, with as much silence as we could, till we recovered the point of the harbour under the high land. There, we stayed, all silent; purposing to attempt the town in the dawning of the day: after that we had reposed ourselves, for a while.
But our captain with some other of his best men, finding that our people were talking of the greatness of the town, and what their strength might be; especially by the report of the Negroes that we took at the Isle of Pinos: thought it best to put these conceits out of their heads, and therefore to take the opportunity of the rising of the moon that night, persuading them that "it was the day dawning." By this occasion we were at the town a large hour sooner than first was purposed. For we arrived there by three of the clock after midnight. At that time it fortuned that a ship of Spain, of 60 tons, laden with Canary wines and other commodities, which had but lately come into the bay; and had not yet furled her spirit-sail (espying our four pinnaces, being an extraordinary number, and those rowing with many oars) sent away her gundeloe [? gondola] towards the town, to give warning. But our Captain perceiving it, cut betwixt her and the town, forcing her to go to the other side of the bay: whereby we landed without impeachment, although we found one gunner upon the Platform [battery] in the very place where we landed; being a sandy place and no key [quay] at all, not past twenty yards from the houses.
There we found six great pieces of brass ordinance, mounted upon their carriages, some Demy, some Whole-Culvering.
We presently dismounted them. The gunner fled. The town took alarm (being very ready thereto, by reason of their often disquieting by their near neighbours the Cimaroons); as we perceived, not only by the noise and cries of the people, but by the bell ringing out, and drums running up and down the town.
Our captain, according to the directions which he had given over night, to such as he had made choice of for the purpose, left twelve to keep the pinnaces; that we might be sure of a safe retreat, if the worst befell. And having made sure work of the Platform before he would enter the town, he thought best, first to view the Mount on the east side of the town: where he was informed, by sundry intelligences the year before, they had an intent to plant ordnance, which might scour round about the town.
Therefore, leaving one half of his company to make a stand at the foot of the Mount, he marched up presently unto the top of it, with all speed to try the truth of the report, for the more safety. There we found no piece of ordnance, but only a very fit place prepared for such use, and therefore we left it without any of our men, and with all celerity returned now down the Mount.
Then our Captain appointed his brother, with JOHN OXNAM [or OXENHAM] and sixteen other of his men, to go about, behind the King's Treasure House, and enter near the eastern end of the Market Place: 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: whereas the inhabitants stood amazed at so strange a sight, marvelling what the matter might be, and imagining, by reason of our drums and trumpets sounding in so sundry places, that we had been a far greater number then we were.
Yet, by means of the soldiers of which were in the town, and by reason of the time which we spent in marching up and down the Mount, the soldiers and inhabitants had put themselves in arms, and brought their companies in some order, at the south-east end of the Market Place, near the Governor's House, and not far from the gate of the town, which is the only one, leading towards Panama: having (as it seems) gathered themselves thither, either that in the Governor's sight they might shew their valour, if it might prevail; or else, that by the gate they might best take their Vale, and escape readiest.
And to make a shew of far greater numbers of shot, or else of a custom they had, by the like device to terrify the Cimaroons; they had hung lines with matches lighted, overthwart the western end of the Market Place, between the Church and the Cross; as though there had been in a readiness some company of shot, whereas indeed there were not past two or three that taught these lines to dance, till they themselves ran away, as soon as they perceived they were discovered.
But the soldiers and such as were joined with them, presented us with a jolly hot volley of shot, beating full upon the full egress of that street, in which we marched; and levelling very low, so as their bullets ofttimes grazed on the sand.
We stood not to answer them in like terms; but having discharged our first volley of shot, and feathered them with our arrows (which our Captain had caused to be made of purpose in England; not great sheaf arrows, but fine roving shafts, very carefully reserved for the service) we came to the push of pike, so that our firepikes being well armed and made of purpose, did us very great service.
For our men with their pikes and short weapons, in short time took such order among these gallants (some using the butt-end of their pieces instead of other weapons), that partly by reason of our arrows which did us there notable service, partly by occasion of this strange and sudden closing with them in this manner unlooked for, and the rather for that at the very instant, our Captain's brother, with the other company, with their firepikes, entered the Market Place by the eastern street: they casting down their weapons, fled all out of the town by the gate aforesaid, which had been built for a bar to keep out of the town the Cimaroons, who had often assailed it; but now served for a gap for the Spaniards to fly at.
In following, and returning; divers of our men were hurt with the weapons which the enemy had let fall as he fled; somewhat, for that we marched with such speed, but more for that they lay so thick and cross one on the other.
Being returned, we made our stand near the midst of the Market Place, where a tree groweth hard by the Cross; whence our Captain sent some of our men to stay the ringing of the alarm bell, which had continued all this while: but the church being very strongly built and fast shut, they could not without firing (which our Captain forbade) get into the steeple where the bell rung.
In the meantime, our Captain having taken two or three Spaniards in their flight, commanded them to shew him the Governor's House, where he understood was the ordinary place of unlading the moiles [mules] of all the treasure which came from Panama by the King's appointment. Although the silver only was kept there; the gold, pearl, and jewels (being there once entered by the King's officer) was carried from thence to the King's Treasure House not far off, being a house very strongly built of lime and alone, for the safe keeping thereof.
At our coming to the Governor's House we found the great door where the mules do usually unlade, even then opened, a candle lighted upon the top of the stairs; and a fair gennet ready saddled, either for the Governor himself, or some other of his household to carry it after him. By means of this light we saw a huge heap of silver in that nether [lower] room; being a pile of bars of silver of, as near as we could guess, seventy feet in length, of ten feet in breadth, and twelve feet in height, piled up against the wall, each bar was between thirty-five and forty pounds in weight.
At sight hereof, our Captain commanded straightly that none of us should touch a bar of silver; but stand upon our weapons, because the town was full of people, and there was in the King's Treasure House near the water side, more gold and jewels than all our four pinnaces could carry: which we should presently set some in hand to break open, notwithstanding the Spaniards report the strength of it.
We were no sooner returned to our strength, but there was a report brought by some of our men that our pinnaces were in danger to be taken; and that if we ourselves got not aboard before day, we should be oppressed with multitude both of soldiers and towns-people. This report had his ground from one DIEGO a Negro, who, in the time of the first conflict, came and called to our pinnaces, to know "whether they were Captain DRAKE'S?" And upon answer received, continued entreating to be taken aboard, though he had first three or four shot made at him, until at length they fetched him; and learned by him, that, not past eight days before our arrival, the King had sent thither some 150 soldiers to guard the town against the Cimaroons, and the town at this time was full of people beside: which all the rather believed, because it agreed with the report of the Negroes, which we took before at the Isle of Pinos. And therefore our Captain sent his brother and JOHN OXNAM to understand the truth thereof.
They found our men which we left in our pinnaces much frightened, by reason that they saw great troops and companies running up and down, with matches lighted, some with other weapons, crying Que gente? Que gente? which not having been at the first conflict, but coming from the utter ends of the town (being at least as big as Plymouth), came many times near us; and understanding that we were English, discharged their pieces and ran away.
Presently after this, a mighty shower of rain, with a terrible storm of thunder and lightning, fell, which poured down so vehemently (as it usually doth in those countries) that before we could recover the shelter of a certain shade or penthouse at the western end of the King's Treasure House, (which seemeth to have been built there of purpose to avoid sun and rain) some of our bow-strings were wet, and some of our match and powder hurt! Which while we were careful of, to refurnish and supply; divers of our men harping on the reports lately brought us, were muttering of the forces of the town, which our Captain perceiving, told them, that "He had brought them to the mouth of the Treasure of the World, if they would want it, they might henceforth blame nobody but themselves!"
And therefore as soon as the storm began to assuage of his fury (which was a long half hour) willing to give his men no longer leisure to demur of those doubts, nor yet allow the enemy farther respite to gather themselves together, he stept forward commanding his brother, with JOHN OXNAM and the company appointed them, to break the King's Treasure House: the rest to follow him to keep the strength of the Market Place, till they had despatched the business for which they came.
But as he stepped forward, his strength and sight and speech failed him, and he began to faint for want of blood, which, as then we perceived, had, in great quantity, issued upon the sand, out of a wound received in his leg in the first encounter, whereby though he felt some pain, yet (for that he perceived divers of the company, having already gotten many good things, to be very ready to take all occasions, of winding themselves out of that conceited danger) would he not have it known to any, till this his fainting, against his will, bewrayed it: the blood having first filled the very prints which our footsteps made, to the great dismay of all our company, who thought it not credible that one man should be able to spare so much blood and live.
And therefore even they, which were willing to have ventured the most for so fair a booty, would in no case hazard their Captain's life; but (having given him somewhat to drink wherewith he recovered himself, and having bound his scarf about his leg, for the stopping of the blood) entreated him to be content to go with them aboard, there to have his wound searched and dressed, and then to return on shore again if he thought good.
This when they could not persuade him unto (as who knew it to be utterly impossible, at least very unlikely, that ever they should, for that time, return again, to recover the state in which they now were: and was of opinion, that it were more honourable for himself, to jeopard his life for so great a benefit, than to leave off so high an enterprise unperformed), they joined altogether and 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: and being resolved of him, that while they enjoyed his presence, and had him to command them, they might recover wealth sufficient; but if once they lost him, they should hardly be able to recover home. No, not with that which they had gotten already.
Thus we embarked by break of day (29th July), having besides our Captain, many of our men wounded, though none slain but one Trumpeter: whereupon though our surgeons were busily employed, in providing remedies and salves for their wounds: yet the main care of our Captain was respected by all the rest; so that before we departed out of the harbour for the more comfort of our company, we took the aforesaid ship of wines without great resistance.
But before we had her free of the haven, they of the town had made means to bring one of their culverins, which we had dismounted, so as they made a shot at us, but hindered us not from carrying forth the prize to the Isle of Bastimentos, or the Isle of Victuals: which is an island that lieth without the bay to the westward, about a league off the town, where we stayed the two next days, to cure our wounded men, and refresh ourselves, in the goodly gardens which we there found abounding with great store of all dainty roots and fruits; besides great plenty of poultry and other fowls, no less strange then delicate.
Shortly upon our first arrival in this island, the Governor and the rest of his Assistants in the town, as we afterwards understood, sent unto our Captain, a proper gentleman, of mean stature, good complexion, and a fair spoken, a principal soldier of the late sent garrison, to view in what state we were. At his coming he protested "He came to us, of mere good will, for that we had attempted so great and incredible a matter with so few men: and that, at the first, they feared that we had been French, at whose hands they knew they should find no mercy: but after they perceived by our arrows, that we were Englishmen, their fears were the less, for that they knew, that though we took the treasure of the place, yet we would not use cruelty toward their persons. But albeit this his affection gave him cause enough, to come aboard such, whose virtue he so honoured: yet the Governor also had not only consented to his coming, but directly sent him, upon occasion that divers of the town affirmed, said he, 'that they knew our Captain, who the last two years had been often on our coast, and had always used their persons very well.' And therefore desired to know, first, Whether our Captain was the same Captain DRAKE or not? and next, Because many of their men were wounded with our arrows, whether they were poisoned or not? and how their wounds might best be cured? lastly, What victuals we wanted, or other necessaries? of which the Governor promised by him to supply and furnish us, as largely as he durst."
Our Captain, although he thought this soldier but a spy: yet used him very courteously, and answered him to his Governor's demands: that "He was the same DRAKE whom they meant! It was never his manner to poison his arrows! They might cure their wounded by ordinary surgery! As for wants, he knew the Island of Bastimentos has sufficient, and could furnish him if he listed! But he wanted nothing but some of that special commodity which that country yielded, to content himself and his company." 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 get out of the earth, and sent into Spain to trouble all the earth!"
To this answer unlooked for, this gentleman replied, "If he might, without offence, move such a question, what should then be the cause of our departing from that town at this time, where was above 360 tons of silver ready for the Fleet, and much more gold in value, resting in iron chests in the King's Treasure House?"
But when our Captain had shewed him the true cause of his unwilling retreat aboard, he acknowledged that "we had no less reason in departing, than courage in attempting:" and no doubt did easily see, that it was not for the town to seek revenge of us, by manning forth such frigates or other vessels as they had; but better to content themselves and provide for their own defence.
Thus, with great favour and courteous entertainment, besides such gifts from our Captain as most contented him, after dinner, he was in such sort dismissed, to make report of what he had seen, that he protested, "he was never so much honoured of any in his life."
After his departure, the Negro formentioned, being examined more fully, confirmed this report of the gold and the silver; with many other intelligences of importance: especially how we might have gold and silver enough, if we would by means of the Cimaroons, whom though he had betrayed divers times (being used thereto by his Masters) so that he knew they would kill him, if they got him: yet if our Captain would undertake his protection, he durst adventure his life, because he knew our Captain's name was most precious and highly honoured by them.
This report ministered occasion to further consultation: for which, because this place seemed not the safest; as being neither the healthiest nor quietest; the next day, in the morning, we all set our course for the Isle of Pinos or Port Plenty, where we had left our ships, continuing all that day, and the next till towards night, before we recovered it.
We were the longer in this course, for that our Captain sent away his brother and ELLIS HIXOM to the westward, in search of the River of Chagres, where himself had been the year before, and yet was careful to gain more notice of; it being a river which trendeth to the southward, within six leagues of Panama, where is a little town called Venta Cruz [Venta de Cruzes], whence all the treasure, that was usually brought thither from Panama by mules, was embarked in frigates [sailing] down that river into the North sea, and so to Nombre de Dios.
It ebbeth and floweth not far into the land, and therefore it asketh three days' rowing with a fine pinnace to pass [up] from the mouth to Venta Cruz; but one day and a night serveth to return down the river.
At our return to our ships (1st August), in our consultation, Captain RANSE (forecasting divers doubts of our safe continuance upon that coast, being now discovered) was willing to depart; and our Captain no less willing to dismiss him: and therefore as soon as our pinnaces returned from Chagres (7th August) with such advertisement as they were sent for, about eight days before; Captain RANSE took his leave, leaving us at the isle aforesaid, where we had remained five or six days.
In which meantime, having put all things in a readiness, our captain resolved, with his two ships and three pinnaces to go to Cartagena; whither in sailing, we spent some six days by reason of the calms which came often upon us: but all this time we attempted nothing that we might have done by the way, neither at [Santiago de] Tolou nor otherwhere, because we would not be discovered.
We came to anchor with our two ships in the evening [13th August], in seven fathom water, between the island of Charesha and St. Bernards [San Bernardo].
Our Captain led the three pinnaces about the island, into the harbour of Cartagena; where at the very entry, he found a frigate at anchor, aboard which was only one old man; who being demanded, "Where the rest of his company was?" answered, "That they were gone ashore in their gundeloe [? gondola or ship's boat], that evening, to fight about a mistress:" and voluntarily related to our Captain that, "two hours before night, there past by them a pinnace, with sail and oars, as fast as ever they could row, calling to him 'Whether there had not been any English or Frenchmen there lately?' and upon answer that, 'There had been none!' they bid them 'look to themselves!' That, within an hour that this pinnace was come to the utterside [outside] of Cartagena, there were many great pieces shot off, whereupon one going to top, to descry what might be the cause? espied, over the land, divers frigates and small shipping bringing themselves within the Castle."
This report our Captain credited, the rather for that himself had heard the report of the ordnance at sea; and perceived sufficiently, that he was now descried. Notwithstanding in farther examination of this old mariner, having understood, that there was, within the next point, a great ship of Seville, which had here discharged her loading, and rid now with her yards across, being bound the next morning for Santo Domingo: our Captain took this old man into his pinnace to verify that which he had informed, and rowed towards this ship, which as we came near it, hailed us, asking, "Whence our shallops were?"
We answered, "From Nombre de Dios!"
Straightway they railed and reviled! We gave no heed to their words, but every pinnace, according to our Captain's order, one on the starboard bow, the other on the starboard quarter, and the Captain in the midship on the larboard side, forthwith boarded her; though we had some difficulty to enter by reason of her height, being of 240 tons. But as soon as we entered upon the decks, we threw down the grates and spardecks, to prevent the Spaniards form annoying us with their close fights: who then perceiving that we were possessed of their ship, stowed themselves all in hold with their weapons, except two or three yonkers, which were found afore the beetes: when having light out of our pinnaces, we found no danger of the enemy remaining, we cut their cables at halse, and with our three pinnaces, towed her without the island into the sound right afore the down, without [beyond the] danger of their great shot.
Meanwhile, the town, having intelligence hereof, or by their watch, took the alarm, rang out their bells, shot off about thirty pieces of great ordnance, put all their men in a readiness, horse and foot, came down to the very point of the wood, and discharged their calivers, to impeach us if they might, in going forth.
The next morning (14th August) our ships took two frigates, in which there were two, who called themselves King's Scrivanos, the one of Cartagena, the other of Veragua, with seven mariners and two Negroes; who had been at Nombre de Dios and were now bound for Cartagena with double [? duplicate] letters of advice, to certify them that Captain DRAKE had been at Nombre de Dios, had 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; they should therefore carefully prepare for him!
After that our Captain had brought out all his fleet together, at the Scrivanos' entreaties, he was content to do them all favour, in setting them and all their companies on shore; and so bare thence with the islands of St. Bernards, about three leagues of the town: where we found great store of fish for our refreshing.
Here, our Captain considering that he was now discovered upon the chieftest places of all the coast, and yet not meaning to leave it till he had found the Cimaroons, and "made" his voyage, as he had conceived; which would require some length of time, and sure manning of his pinnaces: he determined with himself, to burn one of the ships, and make the other a Storehouse; that his pinnaces (which could not otherwise) might be thoroughly manned, and so he might be able to abide any time.
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 by some policy, to make them most willing to effect that he intended. And therefore sent for one THOMAS MOONE, who was Carpenter in the Swan, and asking him into his cabin, chargeth him to conceal for a time, a piece of service, which he must in any case consent to do aboard his own ship: that was, in the middle of the second watch, 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, 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, being utterly dismayed, desired to know "What cause there might be, to move him to sink so good a bark of his own, new and strong; and that, by his means, who had been in two so rich and gainful voyages in her with himself heretofore: If his brother, the Master, and the rest of the company [numbering 26] should know of such his fact, he thought verily they would kill him."
But when our Captain had imparted to him his cause, and had persuaded him with promise that it should not be known, till all of them should be glad of it: he understood it, and did it accordingly.
The next morning [15th August] our Captain took his pinnace very early, purposing to go a fishing, for that there is very great store on the coast; and falling aboard the Swan, calleth for his brother to go with him, who rising suddenly, answereth that "He would follow presently, or if it would please him to stay a very little, he would attend him."
Our Captain perceiving the feat wrought, would not hasten him; but in rowing away, demanded of them, "Why their bark was so deep?" as making no great account of it. But, by occasion of this demand, his brother sent one down to the Steward, to know "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 up to his waist, and shifting with more haste to come up again as if the water had followed him, cried out that "The ship was full of water!" There was no need to hasten the company, some to the pump, others to search for the leak, which the Captain of the bark seeing they did, on all hands, very willingly; he followed his brother, and certified him of "the strange chance befallen them that night; that whereas they had not pumped twice in six weeks before, now they had six feet of water in hold: and therefore he desireth leave from attending him in fishing, to intend the search and remedy of the leak." And when our Captain with his company preferred [offered] to go to help them; he answered, "They had men enough aboard, and prayed him to continue his fishing, that they might have some part of it for their dinner." Thus returning, he found his company had taken great pain, but had freed the water very little: yet such was their love to the bark, as our Captain well knew, that they ceased not, but to the utmost of their strength, laboured all that they might till three in the afternoon; by which time, the company perceiving, that (though they had been relieved by our Captain himself and many of his company) yet they were not able to free above a foot and a half of water, and could have no likelihood of finding the leak, had now a less liking of her than before, and greater content to hear of some means for remedy.
Whereupon our Captain (consulting them what they thought best to be done) found that they had more desire to have all as he thought fit, than judgement to conceive any means of remedy. And therefore he propounded, that himself would go in the pinnace, till he could provide him some handsome frigate; and that his brother should be Captain in the admiral [flag-ship] and the Master should also be there placed with him, instead of this: which seeing they could not save, he would have fired that the enemy might never recover her: but first all the pinnaces should be brought aboard her, that every one might take out of her whatever they lacked or liked.
This, though the company at first marvelled at; yet presently it was put in execution and performed that night.
Our Captain had his desire, and men enough for his pinnaces.
The next morning (16th August) we resolved to seek out some fit place, in the Sound of Darien, where we might safely leave our ship at anchor, not discoverable by the enemy, who thereby might imagine us quite departed from the coast, and we the meantime better follow our purposes with our pinnaces; of which our Captain would himself take two to Rio Grande [Magdalena], and the third leave with his brother to seek the Cimaroons.
Upon this resolution, we set sail presently for the said Sound; which within five days [21st August], we recovered: abstaining of purpose from all such occasion, as might hinder our determination, or bewray [betray] our being upon the coast.
As soon as we arrived where our Captain intended, and had chosen a fit and convenient road out of all trade [to or from any Mart] for our purpose; we reposed ourselves there, for some fifteen days, keeping ourselves close, that the bruit of our being upon the coast might cease.
But in the meantime, we were not idle: for beside such ordinary works, as our Captain, every month did usually inure us to, about the trimming and setting of his pinnaces, for their better sailing and rowing: he caused us to rid a large plot of ground, both of trees and brakes, and to build us houses sufficient for all our lodging, and one especially for all our public meetings; wherein the Negro which fled to us before, did us great service, as being well acquainted with the country, and their means of building. Our archers made themselves butts to shoot at, because we had many that delighted in that exercise, and wanted not a fletcher to keep our bows and arrows in order. The rest of the company, every one as he liked best, made his disport at bowls, quoits, keiles, etc. For our Captain allowed one half of the company to pass their time thus, every other day interchangeable; the other half being enjoined to the necessary works, about our ship and pinnaces, and the providing of fresh victuals, fish, fowl, hogs, deer, conies, etc., whereof there is great plenty. Here our smiths set up their forge, as they used, being furnished out of England, with anvil, iron, coals, and all manner of necessaries, which stood us in great stead.
At the end of these fifteen days (5th September), our Captain leaving his ship in his brother's charge, to keep all things in order; himself took with him, according to his former determination, two pinnaces for Rio Grande, and passing by Cartagena but out of sight, when we were within two leagues of the river, we landed (8th September), to the westward on the Main, where we saw great store of cattle. There we found some Indians, who asking us in friendly sort, in broken Spanish, "What we would have?" and understanding that we desired fresh victuals in traffic; they took such cattle for us as we needed, with ease and so readily, as if they had a special commandment over them, whereas they would not abide us to come near them. And this also they did willingly, because our Captain, according to his custom, contented them for their pains, with such things as they account greatly of; in such sort that they promised, we should have there, of them at any time what we would.
The same day, we departed thence to Rio Grande [Magdalena], where we entered about three of the clock in the afternoon. There are two entries into this river, of which we entered the western most called Boca Chica. The freshet [current] is so great, that we being half a league from the mouth of it, filled fresh water for our beverage.
From three o'clock till dark at night, we rowed up the stream; but the current was so strong downwards, that we got but two leagues, all that time. We moored our pinnaces to a tree that night: for that presently, with the closing of the evening, there fell a monstrous shower of rain, with such strange and terrible claps of thunder, and flashes of lightning, as made us not a little to marvel at, although our Captain had been acquainted with such like in that country, and told us that they continue seldom longer than three-quarters of an hour.
This storm was no sooner ceast, but it became very calm, and therewith there came such an innumerable multitude of a kind of flies of that country, called mosquitoes, like our gnats, which bit so spitefully, that we could not rest all that night, nor find means to defend ourselves from them, by reason of the heat of the country. The best remedy we then found against them, was the juice of lemons.
At the break of day (9th September), we departed, rowing in the eddy, and hauling up by the trees where the eddy failed, with great labour, by spells, without ceasing, each company their half-hour glass: without meeting any, till about three o'clock in the afternoon, by which time we could get but five leagues ahead.
Then we espied a canoe, with two Indians fishing in the river; but we spake not to them, lest so we might be descried: nor they to us, as taking us to be Spaniards. But within an hour after, we espied certain houses, on the other side of the river, whose channel is twenty-five fathom deep, and its breadth so great, that a man can scantly be discerned from side to side. Yet a Spaniard which kept those houses, had espied our pinnaces; and thinking we had been his countrymen, made a smoke, for a signal to turn that way, as being desirous to speak with us. After that, we espying this smoke, had made with it, and were half the river over, he wheaved [waved] to us, with his hat and his long hanging sleeves, to come ashore.
But as we drew nearer to him, and he discerned that we were not those he looked for: he took his heels, and fled from his houses, which we found to be, five in number, all full of white rusk, dried bacon, that country cheese (like Holland cheese in fashion, 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.
With this store of victuals, we loaded our pinnaces; by the shutting in of the day, we were ready to depart; for that we hastened the rather, by reason of an intelligence given us by certain Indian women which we found in those houses: that the frigates (these are ordinarily thirty, or upwards, which usually transport the merchandise, sent out of Spain to Cartagena from thence to these houses, and so in great canoes up hence into Nuevo Reyno, for which the river running many hundred of leagues within the land serveth very fitly: and return in exchange, the gold and treasure, silver, victuals, and commodities, which that kingdom yields abundantly) were not yet returned from Cartagena, since the first alarm they took of our being there.
As we were going aboard our pinnaces from these Storehouses (10th September), the Indians of a great town called Villa del Rey, some two miles distant from the water's side where we landed, were brought down by the Spaniards into the bushes, and shot arrows; but we rowed down the stream with the current (for that the wind was against us) only one league; and because it was night, anchored till the morning, when we rowed down to the mouth of the river, where we unloaded all our provisions, and cleansed our pinnaces, according to our Captain's custom, and took it in again, and the same day went to the Westward.
In this return, we descried a ship, a barque, and a frigate, of which the ship and frigate went for Cartagena, but for the Barque was bound to the Northwards, with the wind easterly, so that we imagined she had some gold or treasure going for Spain: therefore we gave her chase, but taking her, and finding nothing of importance in her, understanding that she was bound for sugar and hides, we let her go; and having a good gale of wind, continued our former course to our ship and company.
In the way between Cartagena and Tolou, we took [11th September] five or six frigates, which were laden from Tolou, with live hogs, hens, and maize which we call Guinea wheat. Of these, having gotten what intelligence they could give, of their preparations for us, and divers opinions of us, we dismissed all the men; only staying two frigates with us, because they were so well stored with good victuals.
Within three days after, we arrived at the place which our Captain chose, at first, to leave his ship in, which was called by our Captain, Port Plenty; by reason we brought to thither continually all manner store of good victuals, which we took, going that way by sea, for the victualling of Cartagena and Nombre de Dios as also the Fleets going and coming out of Spain. 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: insomuch that we were forced to build four several magazines or storehouses, some ten, some twenty leagues asunder; some in islands, some in the Main, providing ourselves in divers places, that though the enemy should, with force, surprise any one, yet we might be sufficiently furnished, till we had "made" our voyage as we did hope. In building of these, our Negro's help was very much, as having a special skill, in the speedy erection of such houses.
This our store was much, as thereby we relieved not only ourselves and the Cimaroons while they were with us; but also two French ships in extreme want.
For in our absence, Captain JOHN DRAKE, having one of our pinnaces, as was appointed, went in with the Main, and as he rowed aloof the shore, where he was directed by DIEGO the Negro aforesaid, which willingly came unto us at Nombre de Dios, he espied certain of the Cimaroons; with whom he dealt so effectually, that in conclusion he left two of our men with their leader, and brought aboard two of theirs: agreeing that they should meet him again the next day, at a river midway between the Cabecas [Cabeza is Spanish for Headland] and our ships; which they named Rio Diego.
These two being very sensible men, chosen out by their commander [chief], did, with all reverence and respect, declare unto our Captain, that their nation conceited great joy of his arrival, because they knew him to be an enemy to the Spaniards, not only by his late being in Nombre de Dios, but also by his former voyages; and therefore were ready to assist and favour his enterprises against his and their enemies to the uttermost: and to that end their captain and company did stay at this present near the mouth of Rio Diego, to attend what answer and order should be given them; that they would have marched by land, even to this place, but that the way is very long, and more troublesome, by reason of many steep mountains, deep rivers, and thick brakes: desiring therefore, that it might please our Captain to take some order, as he thought best, with all convenient speed in this behalf.
Our Captain considering the speech of these persons, and weighing it with his former intelligences had not only Negroes, but Spaniards also, whereof he was always very careful: as also conferring it with his brother's informations of the great kindness that they shewed him, being lately with them: after he had heard the opinions of those of best service with him, "what were fittest to be done presently?" resolved himself with his brother, and the two Cimaroons, in his two pinnaces, to go toward this river. As he did the same evening, giving order, that the ship and the rest of his fleet should the next morning follow him, because there was a place of as great safety and sufficiency, which his brother had found out near the river. The safety of it consisted, not only in that which is common all along that coast from Tolou to Nombre de Dios, being above sixty leagues, that it is a most goodly and plentiful country, and yet inhabited not with one Spaniard, or any for the Spaniards: but especially in that it lieth among a great many of goodly islands full of trees. Where, though there be channels, yet there are such rocks and shoals, that no man can enter by night without great danger; nor by day without discovery, whereas our ships might be hidden within the trees.
The next day (14th September) we arrived at this river appointed, where we found the Cimaroons according to promise: the rest of their number were a mile up, in a wood by the river's side. There after we had given them entertainment, and received good testimonies of their joy and good will towards us, we took two more of them into our pinnace, leaving our two men with the rest of theirs, to march by land, to another river called Rio Guana, with intent there to meet with another company of Cimaroons which were now in the mountains.
So we departed that day from Rio Diego, with our pinnaces, towards our ship, as marvelling that she followed us not as was appointed.
But two days after (16th September), we found her in the place where we left her; but in far other state, being much spoiled and in great danger, by reason of a tempest she had in our absence.
As soon as we could trim our ship, being some two days, our Captain sent away (18th September) one of his pinnaces, towards the bottom of the bay, amongst the shoals and sandy islands, to sound out the channel, for the bringing in of our ship nearer the Main.
The next day (19th September) we followed, and were with wary pilotage, directed safely into the best channel, with much ado to recover the road, among so many flats and shoals. It was near about five leagues from the Cativaas, betwixt an island and the Main, where we moored our ship. The island was not above four cables in length from the Main, being in quantity some three acres of ground, flat and very full of trees and bushes.
We were forced to spend the best part of three days, after our departure from our Port Plenty, before we were quiet in this new found road, which we had but newly entered, when our two men and the former troop of Cimaroons, with twelve others whom they had met in the mountains, came (23rd September) in sight over against our ship, on the Main. Whence we fetched them all aboard, to their great comfort and our content: they rejoicing that they should have some fit opportunity to wreak their wrongs on the Spaniards; we hoping that now our voyage should be bettered.
At our first meeting, when our Captain had moved them, to shew him the means which they had to furnish him with gold and silver; they answered plainly, that "had they known gold had been his desire; they would have satisfied him with store, which, for the present, they could not do: because the rivers, in which they sunk great store (which they had taken from the Spaniards, rather to despite them than for love of gold) were now so high, that they could not get it out of such depths for him; and because the Spaniards, in these rainy months, do not use [are not accustomed] to carry their treasure by land."
This answer although it were somewhat unlooked for, yet nothing discontented us, but rather persuaded us farther of their honest and faithful meaning toward us. Therefore our Captain to entertain these five months, commanded all our ordnance and artillery ashore, with all our other provisions: sending his pinnaces to the Main, to bring over great trees, to make a fort upon the same island, for the planting of all our ordnance therein, and for our safeguard, if the enemy, in all this time, should chance to come.
Our Cimaroons (24th September) cut down Palmito boughs and branches, and with wonderful speed raised up two large houses for all our company. Our fort was then made, by reason of the place, triangle-wise, with main timber, and earth of which the trench yielded us good store, so that we made it thirteen feet in height. [Fort Diego.]
But after we had continued upon this island fourteen days, our Captain having determined, with three pinnaces, to go for Cartagena left (7th October), his brother, JOHN DRAKE, to govern these who remained behind with the Cimaroons to finish the fort which he had begun: for which he appointed him to fetch boards and planks, as many as his pinnaces would carry, from the prize we took at Rio Grande, and left at the Cativaas, where she drove ashore and wrecked in our absence: but now she might serve commodiously, to supply our use, in making platforms for our ordnance. Thus our Captain and his brother took their leave; the one to the Eastward, and the other to the Cativaas.
That night, we came to an isle, which he called Spur-kite land, because we found there great store of such a kind of bird in shape, but very delicate, of which we killed and roasted many; staying there till the next day midnoon (8th October), when we departed thence. And about four o'clock recovered a big island in our way, where we stayed all night, by reason that there was great store of fish, and especially of a great kind of shell-fish of a foot long. We called them whelks.
The next morning (9th October), we were clear of these islands and shoals, and hauled off into the sea. About four days after (13th October), near the island of St. Bernards, we chased two frigates ashore; and recovering one of these islands, made our abode there some two days (14th-15th October) to wash our pinnaces and to take of the fish.
Thence we went towards Tolou, and that day (16th October) landed near the town in a garden, where we found certain Indians, who delivered us their bows and arrows, and gathered for us such fruit as the garden did yield, being many sorts of dainty fruits and roots, [we] still contenting them for what we received. Our Captain's principal intent in taking this and other places by the way, not being for any other cause, but only to learn true intelligence of the state of the country and of the Fleets.
Hence we departed presently, and rowed towards Charesha, the island of Cartagena; and entered in at Bocha Chica, and having the wind large, we sailed in towards the city, and let fall our grappers betwixt the island and the Main, right over against the goodly Garden Island. In which, our Captain would not suffer us to land, notwithstanding our importunate desire, because he knew, it might be dangerous: for that they are wont to send soldiers thither, when they know of any Men-of-war on the coast; which we found accordingly. For within three hours after, passing by the point of the island, we had a volley of a hundred shot from them, and yet there was but one of our men hurt.
This evening (16th October) we departed to sea; and the day following (17th October), being some two leagues off the harbour, we took a bark, and found that the Captain and his wife with the better sort of passengers, had forsaken her, and were gone ashore in the Gundeloe: by occasion whereof we boarded without resistance, though they were well provided with swords and targets and some small shot, besides four iron bases. She was 50 tons, having ten mariners, five or six Negroes, great store of soap and sweet meat, bound from St. Domingo to Cartagena. This Captain left behind him a silk ancient [flag] with his arms; as might be thought, in hasty departing.
The next day (18th October), we sent all the company ashore to seek their masters, saving a young Negro two or three years old, which we brought away; but kept the bark, and in her, bore into the mouth of Cartagena harbour, where we anchored.
That afternoon, certain horsemen came down to the point by the wood side, and with the Scrivano fore-mentioned, came towards our bark with a flag of truce, desiring of our Captain's safe conduct for his coming and going; the which being granted, he came aboard us, giving our Captain "great thanks for his manifold favours, etc., promising that night before daybreak, to bring as much victuals as they would desire, what shift so ever he made, or what danger so ever incurred of law and punishment." But this fell out to be nothing but a device of the Governor forced upon the Scrivano, to delay time, till they might provide themselves of sufficient strength to entrap us: for which this fellow, by his smooth speech, was thought a fit means. So by sun rising, (19th October), when we perceived his words but words, we put to sea to the westward of the island, some three leagues off, where we lay at hull the rest of all that day and night.
The next day (20th October), in the afternoon, there came out of Cartagena, two frigates bound for St. Domingo, the one of 58, the other of 12 tons, having nothing in them but ballast. We took them within a league of the town, and came to anchor with them within sacre shot of the east Bulwark. There were in those frigates some twelve or thirteen common mariners, which entreated to be set ashore. To them our Captain gave the greater frigate's gundeloe, and dismissed them.
The next morning (21st October) when they came down to the western point with a flag of truce, our Captain manned one of his pinnaces and rowed ashore. When we were within a cable's length of the shore, the Spaniards fled, hiding themselves in the woods, as being afraid of our ordnance; but indeed to draw us on to land confidently, and to presume of our strength. Our Captain commanding the grapnell to be cast out of the stern, veered the pinnace ashore, and as soon as she touched the sand, he alone leapt ashore in their sight, to declare that he durst set his foot aland: but stayed not among them, to let them know, that though he had not sufficient forces to conquer them, yet he had sufficient judgment to take heed of them.
And therefore perceiving their intent, as soon as our Captain was aboard, we hauled off upon our grapner and rid awhile.
They presently came forth upon the sand, and sent a youth, as with a message from the Governor, to know, "What our intent was, to stay upon the coast?"
Our Captain answered: "He meant to traffic with them; for he had tin, pewter, cloth, and other merchandise that they needed."
The youth swam back again with this answer, and was presently returned, with another message: that, "The King had forbidden 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."
He answered, that "He was come from his country, to exchange his commodities for gold and silver, and is not purposed to return without his errand. They are like, in his opinion, to have little rest, if that, by fair means, they would not traffic with him."
He gave this messenger a fair shirt for a reward, and so returned him: who rolled his shirt about his head and swam very speedily.
We heard no answer all that day; and therefore toward night we went aboard our frigates and reposed ourselves, setting and keeping very orderly all that night our watch, with great and small shot.
The next morning (22nd October) the wind, which had been westerly in the evening, altered to the Eastward.
About the dawning of the day, we espied two sails turning towards us, whereupon our Captain weighed with his pinnaces, leaving the two frigates unmanned. But when we were come somewhat nigh them, the wind calmed, and we were fain to row towards them, till that approaching very nigh, we saw many heads peering over board. For, as we perceived, these two frigates were manned and set forth out of Cartagena, to fight with us, and, at least, to impeach or busy us; whilst by some means or other they might recover the frigates from us.
But our Captain prevented both their drifts. For commanding JOHN OXNAM to stay with the one pinnace, to entertain these two Men-of-war; himself in the other made much speed, that he got to his frigates which he had left at anchor; and caused the Spaniards, (who in the meantime had gotten aboard in a small canoe, thinking to have towed them within the danger of their shot) to make the greater haste thence, than they did thither.
For he found that in shifting thence, some of them were fain to swim aland (the canoe not being able to receive them) and had left their apparel, some their rapiers and targets, some their flasks and calivers behind them; although they were towing away of one of them.
Therefore considering that we could not man them, we sunk the one, and burnt the other, giving them to understand by this, that we perceived their secret practices.
This being done, he returned to JOHN OXNAM; who all this while lay by the Men-of-war without proffering to fight. And as soon as our Captain was come up to these frigates, the wind blew much for the sea, so that, we being betwixt the shore and them, were to a manner forced to bear room into the harbour before them, to the great joy of the Spaniards; who beheld it; in supposing, that we would still have fled before them. But as soon as we were in the harbour, and felt smooth water, our pinnaces, as we were assured of, getting the wind, we sought, with them upon the advantage, so that after a few shot exchanged, and a storm rising, they were contented to press no nearer. Therefore as they let fall their anchors, we presently let drop our grapner in the wind of them; which the Spanish soldiers seeing, considering the disadvantage of the wind, the likelihood of the storm to continue, and small hope of doing any good, they were glad to retire themselves to the town.
But by reason of the foul and tempestuous weather, we rode therein four days, feeling great cold, by reason we had such sore rains with westerly wind, and so little succour in our pinnaces.
The fifth day (27th October) there came in a frigate from the sea, which seeing us make towards her, ran herself ashore, unhanging her rudder and taking away her sails, that she might not easily be carried away. But when we were come up to her, we perceived about a hundred horse and foot, with their furniture, come down to the point of the Main, where we interchanged some shot with them. One of our great shot passed so near a brave cavalier of theirs, that thereby they were occasioned to advise themselves, and retreat into the woods: where they might sufficiently defend and rescue the frigate from us, and annoy us also, if we stayed long about her.
Therefore we concluded to go to sea again, putting forth through Boca Chica, with intent to take down our masts, upon hope of fair weather, and to ride under the rocks called Las Serenas, which are two leagues off at sea, as we had usually done aforetime, so that they could not discern us from the rocks. But, there, the sea was mightily grown, that we were forced to take the harbour again; where we remained six days, notwithstanding the Spaniards grieved greatly at our abode there so long.
They put (2nd November) another device in practice to endanger us.
For they sent forth a great shallop, a fine gundeloe, and a great canoe, with certain Spaniards with shot, and many Indians with poisoned arrows, as it seemed, with intent to begin some fight, and then to fly. For as soon as we rowed toward them and interchanged shot, they presently retired and went ashore into the woods, where an ambush of some sixty shot were laid for us: besides two pinnaces and a frigate warping towards us, which were manned as the rest. They attempted us very boldly, being assisted by those others, which from out of the wood, had gotten aboard the gundeloe and canoe, and seeing us bearing from them (which we did in respect of the ambuscado), they encouraged themselves and assured their fellows of the day.
But our Captain weighing this their attempt, and being out of danger of their shot from the land, commanding his other pinnace to be brought ahead of him, and to let fall their grapners each ahead of the other, environed both the pinnaces with bonnets, as for a close fight, and then wheaved [waved] them aboard him.
They kept themselves upon their oars at caliver-shot distance, spending powder apace; as we did some two or three hours. We had only one of our men wounded in that fight. What they had is unknown to us, but we saw their pinnaces shot through in divers places, and the powder of one of them took fire; whereupon we weighed, intending to bear room to overrun them: which they perceiving, and thinking that we would have boarded them, rowed away amain to the defence they had in the wood, the rather because they were disappointed of their help that they expected from the frigate; which was warping towards us, but by reason of the much wind that blew, could not come to offend us or succour them.
Thus seeing that we were still molested, and no hope remained of any purchase to be had in this place any longer; because we were now so notably made known in those parts, and because our victuals grew scant: as soon as the weather waxed somewhat better (the wind continuing always westerly, so that we could not return to our ships) our Captain thought best to go (3rd November) to the Eastward, towards Rio Grande [Magdalena] long the coast, where we had been before, and found great store of victuals.
But when after two days' sailing, we were arrived (5th November) at the villages of store, where before we had furnished ourselves with abundance of hens, sheep, calves, hogs, etc.; now we found bare nothing, not so much as any people left: for that they, by the Spaniards' commandments, had fled to the mountains, and had driven away all their cattle, that we might not be relieved by them. Herewith being very sorry, because much of our victuals in our pinnaces was spoilt by the foul weather at sea and rains in harbour. A frigate being descried at sea revived us, and put us in some hope for the time, that in her we should find sufficient; and thereupon it may easily be guessed, how much we laboured to recover her: but when we had boarded her, and understood that she had neither meat nor money, but that she was bound for Rio Grande to take in provision upon bills, our great hope converted into grief.
We endured with our allowance seven or eight days more, proceeding to the Eastward, and bearing room for Santa Marta, upon hope to find some shipping in the road, or limpets on the rocks, or succour against the storm in that good harbour. Being arrived; and seeing no shipping; we anchored under the western point, where is high land, and, as we thought, free in safety from the town, which is in the bottom of the bay: not intending to land there, because we knew that it was fortified, and that they had intelligence of us.
But the Spaniards (knowing us to be Men-of-war, and misliking that we should shroud under their rocks without their leave) had conveyed some thirty or forty shot among the cliffs, which annoyed us so spitefully and so unrevengedly, for that they lay hidden behind the rocks, but we lay open to them, that we were soon weary of our harbour, and enforced (for all the storm without and want within) to put to sea. Which though these enemies of ours were well contented withal, yet for a farewell, as we came open of the town, they sent us a culverin shot; which made a near escape, for it fell between our pinnaces, as we were upon conference of what was best to be done.
The company advised that if it pleased him, they might put themselves aland, some place to the Eastward to get victuals, and rather hope for courtesy from the country-people, than continue at sea, in so long cold, and great a storm in so leaky a pinnace. But our Captain would in no wise like of that advice; he thought it better to bear up towards Rio de [la] Hacha, or Coricao [Curacao], with hope to have plenty without great resistance: because he knew, either of the islands were not very populous, or else it would be very likely that these would be found ships of victual in a readiness.
The company of the other pinnace answered, that "They would willingly follow him through the world; but in this they could not see how either their pinnaces should live in that sea, without being eaten up in that storm, or they themselves able to endure so long time, with so slender provision as they had, viz., only one gammon of bacon and thirty pounds of biscuit for eighteen men."
Our Captain replied, that "They were better provided than himself was, who had but one gammon of bacon, and forty pounds of biscuit for his twenty-four men; and therefore he doubted not but they would take such part as he did, and willingly depend upon God's Almighty providence, which never faileth them that trust in Him."
With that he hoisted his foresail, and set his course for Coricao; which the rest perceiving with sorrowful hearts in respect of the weak pinnace, yet desirous to follow their Captain, consented to take the same course.
We had not sailed past three leagues, but we had espied a sail plying to the Westward, with her two courses, to our great joy: who vowed together, that we would have her, or else it should cost us dear.
Bearing with her, we found her to be a Spanish ship of above 90 tons, which being wheaved [waved] amain by us, despised our summons, and shot off her ordnance at us.
The sea went very high, so that it was not for us to attempt to board her, and therefore we made fit small sail to attend upon her, and keep her company to her small content, till fairer weather might lay the sea. We spent not past two hours in our attendance, till it pleased God, after a great shower, to send us a reasonable calm, so that we might use our pieces [i. e., bases] and approach her at pleasure, in such sort that in short time we had taken her; finding her laden with victuals well powdered [salted] and dried: which at that present we received as sent us of God's great mercy.
After all things were set in order, and that the wind increased towards night, we plied off and on, till day (13th November), at what time our Captain sent in ELLIS HIXOM, who had then charge of his pinnace, to search out some harbour along the coast; who having found out a little one, some ten or twelve leagues to the east of Santa Marta, where in sounding he had good ground and sufficient water, presently returned, and our Captain brought in his new prize. Then by promising liberty, and all the apparel to the Spaniards which we had taken if they would bring us to water and fresh victuals; the rather by their means, we obtained of the inhabitants (Indians) what they had, which was plentiful. These Indians were clothed and governed by a Spaniard, which dwelt in the next town, not past a league off. We stayed there all day, watering and wooding, and providing things necessary, by giving content and satisfaction of the Indians. But towards night our Captain called all of us aboard (only leaving the Spaniards lately taken in the prize ashore, according to our promise made them, to their great content; who acknowledged that our Captain did them a far greater favour in setting them freely at liberty, than he had done them displeasure in taking their ship), and so set sail.
The sickness which had begun to kindle among us, two or three days before, did this day shew itself, in CHARLES GLUB, one of our Quarter-Masters, a very tall man, and a right good mariner; taken away, to the great grief both of Captain and company. What the cause of this malady was, we knew not of certainty, we imputed it to the cold which our men had taken, lying without succour in the pinnaces. But however it was, thus it pleased GOD to visit us, and yet in favour to restore unto health all the rest of our company, that were touched with this disease; which were not a few.
The next morning (15th November) being fair weather, though the wind continued contrary, our Captain commanded the Minion, his lesser pinnace, to hasten away before him towards his ships at Fort Diego within the Cabecas [Headlands] to carry news of his coming, and to put all things in a readiness for our land journey, if they heard anything of the Fleet's arrival by the Cimaroons; giving the Minion charge if they wanted wine, to take St. Bernards in their way, and there take in some such portion as they thought good, of the wines which we had there hidden in the sand.
We plied to windwards, as near as we could, so that within seven-night after the Minion departed from us, we came (22nd November) to St. Bernards, finding but twelve botijos of wine of all the store we left, which had escaped the curious search of the enemy, who had been there; for they were deep in the ground.
Within four or five days after, we came (27th November) to our ship, where we found all other things in good order; but received very heavy news of the death of JOHN DRAKE, our Captain's brother, and another young man called RICHARD ALLEN, which were both slain at one time (9th October), as they attempted the boarding of a frigate, within two days after our departing from them.
The manner of it, as we learned by examination of the company, was this. When they saw this frigate at sea, as they were going towards their fort with planks to make the platforms, the company were very importunate on him, to give chase and set upon this frigate, which they deemed had been a fit booty for them. But he told them, that they "wanted weapons to assail; they knew not how the frigate was provided, they had their boats loaded with planks, to finish that his brother had commanded." But when this would not satisfy them, but that still they urged him with words and supposals: "If you will needs," said he, "adventure! It shall never be said that I will be hindmost, neither shall you report to my brother, that you lost your voyage by any cowardice you found in me!"
Thereupon every man shifted as they might for the time: and heaving their planks overboard, took them such poor weapons as they had: viz., a broken pointed rapier, one old visgee, and a rusty caliver: JOHN DRAKE took the rapier, and made a gauntlet of his pillow, RICHARD ALLEN the visgee, both standing at the head of the pinnace, called Eion. ROBERT took the caliver and so boarded. But they found the frigate armed round about with a close fight of hides, full of pikes and calivers, which were discharged in their faces, and deadly wounded those that were in the fore-ship, JOHN DRAKE in the belly, and RICHARD ALLEN in the head. But notwithstanding their wounds, they with oars shifted off the pinnace, got clear of the frigate, and with all haste recovered their ship: where within an hour after, this young man of great hope, ended his days, greatly lamented of all the company.
Thus having moored our ships fast, our Captain resolved to keep himself close without being descried, until he might hear of the coming of the Spanish Fleet; and therefore set no more to sea; but supplied his wants, both for his own company and the Cimaroons, out of his aforesaid magazine, beside daily out of the woods, with wild hogs, pheasants, and guanas: continuing in health (GOD be praised) all the meantime, which was a month at least; till at length about the beginning of January, half a score of our company fell down sick together (3rd January, 1573), and the most of them died within two or three days. So long that we had thirty at a time sick of this calenture, which attacked our men, either by reason of the sudden change from cold to heat, or by reason of brackish water which had been taken in by our pinnace, through the sloth of their men in the mouth of the river, not rowing further in where the water was good.
Among the rest, JOSEPH DRAKE, another of his brethren, died in our Captain's arms, of the same disease: of which, that the cause might be the better discerned, and consequently remedied, to the relief of others, by our Captain's appointment he was ripped open by the surgeon, who found his liver swollen, his heart as it were sodden, and his guts all fair. This was the first and last experiment that our Captain made of anatomy in this voyage.
The Surgeon that cut him open, over-lived him not past four days, although he was not touched with that sickness, of which he had been recovered about a month before: but only of an over-bold practice which he would needs make upon himself, by receiving an over-strong purgation of his own device, after which taken, he never spake; nor his Boy recovered the health which he lost by tasting it, till he saw England.
The Cimaroons, who, as is before said, had been entertained by our Captain in September last, and usually repaired to our ship, during all the time of our absence, ranged the country up and down, between Nombre de Dios and us, to learn what they might for us; whereof they gave our Captain advertisement, from time to time; as now particularly certain of them let him understand, that the Fleet had certainly arrived in Nombre de Dios.
Therefore he sent (30th January) the Lion, to the seamost islands of the Cativaas, to descry the truth of the report: by reason it must needs be, that if the Fleet were in Nombre de Dios, all frigates of the country would repair thitherward with victuals.
The Lion, within a few days descried that she was sent for, espying a frigate, which she presently boarded and took, laden with maize, hens, and pompions from Tolou; who assured us of the whole truth of the arrival of the Fleet: in this frigate were taken one woman and twelve men, of whom one was the Scrivano of Tolou. These we used very courteously, keeping them diligently guarded form the deadly hatred of the Cimaroons; who sought daily by all means they could, to get them of our Captain, that they might cut their throats, to revenge their wrongs and injuries which the Spanish nation had done them; but our Captain persuaded them not to touch them, or give them ill countenance, while they were in his charge; and took order for their safety, not only in his presence, but also in his absence. For when he had prepared to take his journey for Panama, by land; he gave ELLIS HIXOM charge of his own ship and company, and especially of those Spaniards whom he had put into the great prize, which was hauled ashore to the island, which we termed Slaughter Island (because so many of our men died there), and used as a storehouse for ourselves, and a prison for our enemies.
All things thus ordered, our Captain conferring with his company, and the chiefest of the Cimaroons, what provisions were to be prepared for this great and long journey, what kind of weapons, what store of victuals, and what manner of apparel: was especially advised, to carry as great store of shoes as possible he might, by reason of so many rivers with stone and gravel as they were to pass. Which, accordingly providing, prepared his company for that journey, entering it upon Shrove-Tuesday (3rd February). At what time, there had died twenty-eight of our men, and a few whole men were left aboard with ELLIS HIXOM to keep the ship, and attend the sick, and guard the prisoners.
At his departure our Captain gave this Master straight charge, in any case not to trust any messenger, that should come in his name with any tokens, unless he brought his handwriting: which he knew could not be counterfeited by the Cimaroons or Spaniards.
We were in all forty-eight, of which eighteen only were English; the rest were Cimaroons, which beside their arms, bare every one of them, a great quantity of victuals and provision, supplying our want of carriage in so long a march, so that we were not troubled with anything but our furniture. And because they could not carry enough to suffice us altogether; therefore (as they promised before) so by the way with their arrows, they provided for us competent store from time to time.
They have every one of them two sorts of arrows: the one to defend himself and offend the enemy, the other to kill his victuals. These for fight are somewhat like the Scottish arrow; only somewhat longer, and headed with iron, wood, or fish bones. But the arrows for provision are of three sorts, the first serveth to kill any great beast near at hand, as ox, stag, or wild boar: this hath a head of iron of a pound and a half weight, shaped in form like the head of a javelin or boar-spear, as sharp as any knife, making so large and deep a wound as can hardly be believed of him that hath not seen it. The second serveth for lesser beasts, and hath a head of three-quarters of a pound: this he most usually shooteth. The third serveth for all manner of birds: it hath a head of an ounce weight. And these heads though they be of iron only, yet are they so cunningly tempered, that they will continue a very good edge a long time: and though they be turned sometimes, yet they will never or seldom break. The necessity in which they stand hereof continually causeth them to have iron in far greater account than gold: and no man among them is of greater estimation, than he that can most perfectly give this temper unto it.
Every day we were marching by sun-rising. We continued till ten in the forenoon: then resting (ever near some river) till past twelve, we marched till four, and then by some river's side, we reposed ourselves in such houses, as either we found prepared heretofore by them, when they travelled through these woods, or they daily built very readily for us in this manner.
As soon as we came to the place where we intended to lodge, the Cimaroons, presently laying down their burdens, fell to cutting of forks or posts, and poles or rafters, and palmito boughs, or plantain leaves; and with great speed set up the number of six houses. For every of which, they first fastened deep into the ground, three or four great posts with forks: upon them, they laid one transom, which was commonly about twenty feet, and made the sides, in the manner of the roofs of our country houses, thatching it close with those aforesaid leaves, which keep out water a long time: observing always that in the lower ground, where greater heat was, they left some three or four feet open unthatched below, and made the houses, or rather roofs, so many feet the higher. But in the hills, where the air was more piercing and the nights cold, they made our rooms always lower, and thatched them close to the ground, leaving only one door to enter in, and a louvre hole for a vent, in the midst of the roof. In every of these, they made four several lodgings, and three fires, one in the midst, and one at each end of every house: so that the room was most temperately warm, and nothing annoyed with smoke, partly by reason of the nature of the wood which they use to burn, yielding very little smoke, partly by reason of their artificial making of it: as firing the wood cut in length like our billets at the ends, and joining them together so close, that though no flame or fire did appear, yet the heat continued without intermission.
Near many of the rivers where we stayed or lodged, we found sundry sorts of fruits, which we might use with great pleasure and safety temperately: Mammeas, Guayvas, Palmitos, Pinos, Oranges, Lemons, and divers other; from eating of which they dissuaded us in any case, unless we eat very few of them, and those first dry roasted, as Plantains, Potatoes, and such like.
In journeying, as oft as by chance they found any wild swine, of which those hills and valleys have store, they would ordinarily, six at a time, deliver their burdens to the rest of their fellows, pursue, kill and bring away after us, as much as they could carry, and time permitted. One day as we travelled, the Cimaroons found an otter, and prepared it to be drest: our Captain marvelling at it, PEDRO, our chief Cimaroon, asked him, "Are you a man of war, and in want; and yet doubt whether this be meat, that hath blood?"
Herewithal our Captain rebuked himself secretly, that he had so slightly considered of it before.
The third day of our journey (6th February), they brought us to a town of their own, seated near a fair river, on the side of a hill, environed with a dyke of eight feet broad, and a thick mud wall of ten feet high, sufficient to stop a sudden surpriser. It had one long and broad street, lying east and west, and two other cross streets of less breadth and length: there were in it some five or six and fifty households; which were kept so clean and sweet, that not only the houses, but the very streets were very pleasant to behold. In this town we saw they lived very civilly and cleanly. For as soon as we came thither, they washed themselves in the river; and changed their apparel, as also their women do wear, which was very fine and fitly made somewhat after the Spanish fashion, though nothing so costly. This town is distant thirty-five leagues from Nombre de Dios and forty-five from Panama. It is plentifully stored with many sorts of beasts and fowl, with plenty of maize and sundry fruits.
Touching their affection in religion, they have no kind of priests, only they held the Cross in great reputation. But at our Captain's persuasion, they were contented to leave their crosses, and to learn the Lord's Prayer, and to be instructed in some measure concerning GOD's true worship. They kept a continual watch in four parts, three miles off their town, to prevent the mischiefs, which the Spaniards intend against them, by the conducting of some of their own coats [i.e., Cimaroons], which having been taken by the Spaniards have been enforced thereunto: wherein, as we learned, sometimes the Spaniards have prevailed over them, especially when they lived less careful; but since, they [watch] against the Spaniards, whom they killed like beasts, as often as they take them in the woods; having aforehand understood of their coming.
We stayed with them that night, and the next day (7th February) till noon; during which time, they related unto us diverse very strange accidents, that had fallen out between them and the Spaniards, namely one. A gallant gentleman entertained by the Governor of the country, undertook, the year last past (1572), with 150 soldiers, to put this town to the sword, men, women, and children. Being conducted to it by one of them, that had been taken prisoner, and won by great gifts; he surprised it half an hour before day, by which occasion most of the men escaped, but many of their women and children were slaughtered, or taken: but the same morning by sun rising (after that their guide was slain, in following another man's wife, and that the Cimaroons had assembled themselves in their strength) they behaved themselves in such sort, and drove the Spaniards to such extremity, that what with the disadvantage of the woods (having lost their guide and thereby their way), what with famine and want, there escaped not past thirty of them, to return answer to those which sent them.
Their king [chief] dwelt in a city within sixteen leagues southeast of Panama; which is able to make 1,700 fighting men.
They all intreated our Captain very earnestly, to make his abode with them some two or three days; promising that by that time, they would double his strength if he thought good. But he thanking them for their offer, told them, that "He could stay no longer! It was more than time to prosecute his purposed voyage. As for strength, he would wish no more than he had, although he might have presently twenty times as much!" Which they took as proceeding not only from kindness, but also from magnanimity; and therefore, they marched forth, that afternoon, with great good will.
This was the order of our march. Four of those Cimaroons that best knew the ways, went about a mile distance before us, breaking boughs as they went, to be a direction to those that followed; but with great silence, which they also required us to keep.
Then twelve of them were as it were our Vanguard, other twelve, our Rearward. We with their two Captains in the midst.
All the way was through woods very cool and pleasant, by reason of those goodly and high trees, that grow there so thick, that it is cooler travelling there under them in that hot region, than it is in the most parts of England in the summer time. This gave a special encouragement unto us all, that we understood there was a great Tree about the midway, from which, we might at once discern the North Sea from whence we came, and the South Sea whither we were going.
The fourth day following (11th February) we came to the height of the desired hill, a very high hill, lying East and West, like a ridge between the two seas, about ten of the clock: where [PEDRO] the chiefest of these Cimaroons took our Captain by the hand, and prayed him to follow him, if he was desirous to see at once the two seas, which he had so long longed for.
Here was that goodly and great high Tree, in which they had cut and made divers steps, to ascend up near unto the top, where they had also made a convenient bower, wherein ten or twelve men might easily sit: and from thence we might, without any difficulty, plainly see the Atlantic Ocean whence now we came, and the South Atlantic [i.e., Pacific Ocean] so much desired. South and north of this Tree, they had felled certain trees, that the prospect might be the clearer; and near about the Tree there were divers strong houses, that had been built long before, as well by other Cimaroons as by these, which usually pass that way, as being inhabited in divers places in those waste countries.
After our Captain had ascended to this bower, with the chief Cimaroon, and having, as it pleased God, at that time, by reason of the brize [breeze], a very fair day, had seen that sea, of which he had heard such golden reports: he "besought Almighty God of His goodness, to give him life and leave to sail once in an English ship, in that sea!" And then calling up all the rest of our [17 English] men, he acquainted JOHN OXNAM especially with this his petition and purpose, if it would please God to grant him that happiness. Who understanding it, presently protested, that "unless our Captain did beat him from his company, he would follow him, by God's grace!"
Thus all, thoroughly satisfied with the sight of the seas, descended; and after our repast, continued our ordinary march through woods, yet two days more as before: without any great variety. But then (13th February) we came to march in a champion country, where the grass groweth, not only in great lengths as the knot grass groweth in many places, but to such height, that the inhabitants are fain to burn it thrice in the year, that it may be able to feed the cattle, of which they have thousands.
For it is a kind of grass with a stalk, as big as a great wheaten reed, which hath a blade issuing from the top of it, on which though the cattle feed, yet it groweth every day higher, until the top be too high for an ox to reach. Then the inhabitants are wont to put fire to it, for the space of five or six miles together; which notwithstanding after it is thus burnt, within three days, springeth up fresh like green corn. Such is the great fruitfulness of the soil: by reason of the evenness of the day and night, and the rich dews which fall every morning.
In these three last days' march in the champion, as we past over the hills, we might see Panama five or six times a day; and the last day (14th February) we saw the ships riding in the road.
But after that we were come within a day's journey of Panama, our Captain (understanding by the Cimaroons that the Dames of Panama are wont to send forth hunters and fowlers for taking of sundry dainty fowl, which the land yieldeth; by whom if we marched not very heedfully, we might be descried) caused all his company to march out of all ordinary way, and that with as great heed, silence, and secrecy, as possibly they might, to the grove (which was agreed on four days before) lying within a league of Panama, where we might lie safely undiscovered near the highway, that leadeth from thence to Nombre de Dios.
Thence we sent a chosen Cimaroon, one that had served a master in Panama before time, in such apparel as the Negroes of Panama do use to wear, to be our espial, to go into the town, to learn the certain night, and time of the night, when the carriers laded the Treasure from the King's Treasure House to Nombre de Dios. For they are wont to take their journey from Panama to Venta Cruz, which is six leagues, ever by night; because the country is all champion, and consequently by day very hot. But from Venta Cruz to Nombre de Dios as oft as they travel by land with their treasure, they travel always by day and not by night, because all that way is full of woods, and therefore very fresh and cool; unless the Cimaroons happily encounter them, and made them sweat with fear, as sometimes they have done: whereupon they are glad to guard their Recoes [i.e., Recuas, the Spanish word for a drove of beasts of burden; meaning here, a mule train] with soldiers as they pass that way.
This last day, our Captain did behold and view the most of all that fair city, discerning the large street which lieth directly from the sea into the land, South and North.
By three of the clock, we came to this grove; passing for the more secrecy alongst a certain river, which at that time was almost dried up.
Having disposed of ourselves in the grove, we despatched our spy an hour before night, so that by the closing in of the evening, he might be in the city; as he was. Whence presently he returned unto us, that which very happily he understood by companions of his. That the Treasurer of Lima intending to pass into Spain in the first Adviso (which was a ship of 350 tons, a very good sailer), was ready that night to take his journey towards Nombre de Dios, with his daughter and family: having fourteen mules in company: of which eight were laden with gold, and one with jewels. And farther, that there were two other Recuas, of fifty mules in each, laden with victuals for the most part, with some little quantity of silver, to come forth that night after the other.
There are twenty-eight of these Recuas; the greatest of them is of seventy mules, the less of fifty; unless some particular man hire for himself, ten, twenty, or thirty, as he hath need.
Upon this notice, we forthwith marched four leagues, till we came within two leagues of Venta Cruz, in which march two of our Cimaroons which were sent before, by scent of his match, found and brought a Spaniard, whom they had found asleep by the way, by scent of the said match, and drawing near thereby, heard him taking his breath as he slept; and being but one, they fell upon him, stopped his mouth from crying, put out his match, and bound him so, that they well near strangled him by that time he was brought unto us.
By examining him, we found all that to be true, which our spy had reported to us, and that he was a soldier entertained with others by the Treasurer, for guard and conduct of this treasure, from Venta Cruz to Nombre de Dios.
This soldier having learned who our Captain was, took courage, and was bold to make two requests unto him. The one that "He would command his Cimaroons which hated the Spaniards, especially the soldiers extremely, to spare his life; which he doubted not but they would do at his charge." The other was, that "seeing he was a soldier, and assured him, that they should have that night more gold, besides jewels, and pearls of great price, then all they could carry (if not, then he was to be dealt with how they would); but if they all found it so, then it might please our Captain to give unto him, as much as might suffice for him and his mistress to live upon, as he had heard our Captain had done to divers others: for which he would make his name as famous as any of them which had received like favour."
Being at the place appointed, our Captain with half his men [8 English and 15 Cimaroons], lay on one side of the way, about fifty paces off in the long grass; JOHN OXNAM with the Captain of the Cimaroons, and the other half, lay on the other side of the way, at the like distance: but so far behind, that as occasion served, the former company might take the foremost mules by the heads, and the hindmost because the mules tied together, are always driven one after another; and especially that if we should have need to use our weapons that night, we might be sure not to endamage our fellows. We had not lain thus in ambush much above an hour, but we heard the Recuas coming both from the city to Venta Cruz, and from Venta Cruz to the city, which hath a very common and great trade, when the fleets are there. We heard them by reason they delight much to have deep-sounding bells, which, in a still night, are heard very far off.
Now though there were as great charge given as might be, that none of our men should shew or stir themselves, but let all that came from Venta Cruz to pass quietly; yea, their Recuas also, because we knew that they brought nothing but merchandise from thence: yet one of our men, called ROBERT PIKE, haven drunken too much aqua vitae without water, forgot himself, and enticing a Cimaroon forth with him was gone hard to the way, with intent to have shown his forwardness on the foremost mules. And when a cavalier from Venta Cruz, well mounted, with his page running at his stirrup, passed by, unadvisedly he rose up to see what he was: but the Cimaroon of better discretion pulled him down, and lay upon him, that he might not discover them any more. Yet by this, the gentleman had taken notice by seeing one half all in white: for that we had all put our shirts over our other apparel, that we might be sure to know our own men in the pell mell in the night. By means of this sight, the cavalier putting spurs to his horse, rode a false gallop; as desirous not only himself to be free of this doubt which he imagined, but also to give advertisement to others that they might avoid it.
Our Captain who had heard and observed by reason of the hardness of the ground and stillness of the night, the change of this gentleman's trot to a gallop, suspected that he was discovered, but could not imagine by whose fault, neither did the time give him leisure to search. And therefore considering that it might be, by reason of the danger of the place, well known to ordinary travellers: we lay still in expectation of the Treasurer's coming; and he had come forward to us, but that this horseman meeting him, and (as we afterwards learnt by the other Recuas) making report to him, what he had seen presently that night, what he heard of Captain DRAKE this long time, and what he conjectured to be most likely: viz., that the said Captain DRAKE, or some for him, disappointed of his expectation, of getting any great treasure, both at Nombre de Dios and other places, was by some means or other come by land, in covert through the woods, unto this place, to speed of his purpose: and thereupon persuaded him to turn his Recua out of the way, and let the other Recuas which were coming after to pass on. They were whole Recuas, and loaded but with victuals for the most part, so that the loss of them were far less if the worst befell, and yet they should serve to discover them as well as the best.
Thus by the recklessness of one of our company, and by the carefulness of this traveller; we were disappointed of a most rich booty: which is to be thought GOD would not should be taken, for that, by all likelihood, it was well gotten by that Treasurer.
The other two Recuas were no sooner come up to us, but being stayed and seized on. One of the Chief Carriers, a very sensible fellow, told our Captain by what means we were discovered, and counselled us to shift for ourselves betimes, unless we were able to encounter the whole force of the city and country before day would be about us.
It pleased us but little, that we were defeated of our golden Recua, and that in these we could find not past some two horse-loads of silver: but it grieved our Captain much more, that he was discovered, and that by one of his own men. But knowing it bootless to grieve at things past, and having learned by experience, that all safety in extremity, consisteth in taking of time [i. e., by the forelock, making an instant decision]; after no long consultation with PEDRO the chief of our Cimaroons, who declared that "there were but two ways for him: the one to travel back again the same secret way they came, for four leagues space into the woods, or else to march forward, by the highway to Venta Cruz, being two leagues, and make a way with his sword through the enemies." He resolved, considering the long and weary marches that we had taken, and chiefly that last evening and day before: to take now the shortest and readiest way: as choosing rather to encounter his enemies while he had strength remaining, than to be encountered or chased when we should be worn out with weariness: principally now having the mules to ease them that would, some part of the way.
Therefore commanding all to refresh themselves moderately with such store of victuals as we had here in abundance: he signified his resolution and reason to them all; asking PEDRO by name, "Whether he would give his hand not to forsake him?" because he knew that the rest of the Cimaroons would also then stand fast and firm, so faithful are they to their captain. He being very glad of his resolution, gave our Captain his hand, and vowed that "He would rather die at his foot, than leave him to the enemies, if he held this course."
So having strengthened ourselves for the time, we took our journey towards Venta Cruz, with help of the mules till we came within a mile of the town, where we turned away the Recuas, charging the conductors of them, not to follow us upon pain of their lives.
There, the way is cut through the woods, above ten or twelve feet broad, so as two Recuas may pass one by another. The fruitfulness of the soil, causeth that with often shredding and ridding the way, those woods grow as thick as our thickest hedges in England that are oftenest cut.
To the midst of this wood, a company of soldiers, which continually lay in that town, to defend it against the Cimaroons, were come forth, to stop us if they might on the way; if not, to retreat to their strength, and there to expect us. A Convent [Monastery] of Friars, of whom one was become a Leader, joined with these soldiers, to take such part as they did.
Our Captain understanding by our Cimaroons, which with great heedfulness and silence, marched now, but about half a flight-shot before us, that it was time for us to arm and take us to our weapons, for they knew the enemy was at hand, by smelling of their match and hearing of a noise: had given us charge, that no one of us should make any shot, until the Spaniards had first spent their volley: which he thought they would not do before they had spoken, as indeed fell out.
For as soon as we were within hearing, a Spanish Captain cried out, "Hoo!" Our Captain answered him likewise, and being demanded "Que gente?" replied "Englishmen!" But when the said Commander charged him, "In the name of the King of Spain, his Master, that we should yield ourselves; promising in the word and faith of a Gentleman Soldier, that if we would so do, he would use us with all courtesy." Our Captain drawing somewhat near him said: "That for the honour of the Queen of England, his Mistress, he must have passage that way," and therewithal discharged his pistol towards him.
Upon this, they presently shot off their whole volley; which, though it lightly wounded our Captain, and divers of our men, yet it caused death to one only of our company called JOHN HARRIS, who was so powdered with hail-shot, (which they all used for the most part as it seemed, or else "quartered," for that our men were hurt with that kind) that we could not recover his life, though he continued all that day afterwards with us.
Presently as our Captain perceived their shot to come slacking, as the latter drops of a great shower of rain, with his whistle he gave us his usual signal, to answer them with our shot and arrows, and so march onwards upon the enemy, with intent to come to handy-strokes, and to have joined with them; whom when we found retired as to a place of some better strength, he increased his pace to prevent them if he might. Which the Cimaroons perceiving, although by terror of the shot continuing, they were for the time stept aside; yet as soon as they discerned by hearing that we marched onward, they all rushed forward one after another, traversing the way, with their arrows ready in their bows, and their manner of country dance or leap, very singing Yo peho! Yo peho and so got before us, where they continued their leap and song, after the manner of their own country wars, till they and we overtook some of the enemy, who near the town's end, had conveyed themselves within the woods, to have taken their stand at us, as before.
But our Cimaroons now thoroughly encouraged, when they saw our resolution, brake in through the thickets, on both sides of them, forcing them to fly, Friars and all! although divers of our men were wounded, and one Cimaroon especially was run through with one of their pikes, whose courage and mind served him so well notwithstanding, that he revenged his own death ere he died, by killing him that had given him that deadly wound.
We, with all speed, following this chase, entered the town of Venta Cruz, being of about forty or fifty houses, which had both a Governor and other officers and some fair houses, with many storehouses large and strong for the wares, which brought thither from Nombre de Dios, by the river of Chagres, so to be transported by mules to Panama: beside the Monastery, where we found above a thousand bulls and pardons, newly sent from Rome.
In those houses we found three gentlewomen, which had lately been delivered in Nombre de Dios; because it hath been observed of long time, as they reported to us, that no Spaniard or white woman could ever be delivered in Nombre de Dios with safety of their children but that within two or three days they died; notwithstanding that being born and brought up in this Venta Cruz or Panama five or six years, and then brought to Nombre de Dios, if they escaped sickness the first or second month, they commonly lived in it as healthily as in any other place: although no stranger (as they say) can endure there any long time, without great danger of death or extreme sickness.
Though at our first coming into the town with arms so suddenly, these ladies were in great fear, yet because our Captain had given straight charge to all the Cimaroons (that while they were in his company, they should never hurt any woman nor man that had not a weapon in his hand to do them hurt; which they earnestly promised, and no less faithfully performed) they had no wrong offered them, nor any thing taken from them, to the worth of a garter; wherein, albeit they had indeed sufficient safety and security, by those of his company, which our Captain sent unto them, of purpose to comfort them: yet they never ceased most earnestly entreating, that our Captain would vouchsafe to come to them himself for their more safety; which when he did, in their presence reporting the charge he had first been given, and the assurance of his men, they were comforted.
While the guards which we had, not without great need, set, as well on the bridge which we had to pass over, as at the town's end where we entered (they have no other entrance into the town by land: but from the water's side there is one other to carry up and down their merchandise from their frigates) gained us liberty and quiet to stay in this town some hour and half: we had not only refreshed ourselves, but our company and Cimaroons had gotten some good pillage, which our Captain allowed and gave them (being not the thing he looked for) so that it were not too cumbersome or heavy in respect of our travel, or defence of ourselves.
A little before we departed, some ten or twelve horsemen came from Panama; by all likelihood, supposing that we were gone out of this town, for that all was so still and quiet, came to enter the town confidently: but finding their entertainment such as it was; they that could, rode faster back again for fear than they had ridden forward for hope.
Thus we having ended our business in this town, and the day beginning to spring, we marched over the bridge, observing the same order that we did before. There we were all safe in our opinion, as if we had been environed with wall and trench, for that no Spaniard without his extreme danger could follow us. The rather now, for that our Cimaroons were grown very valiant. But our Captain considering that he had a long way to pass, and that he had been now well near a fortnight from his ship, where he had left his company but weak by reason of their sickness, hastened his journeys as much as he might, refusing to visit the other Cimaroon towns (which they earnestly desired him) and encouraging his own company with such example and speech, that the way seemed much shorter. For he marched most cheerfully, and assured us that he doubted not but ere he left that coast, we should all be bountifully paid and recompensed for all those pains taken: but by reason of this our Captain's haste, and leaving of their towns, we marched many days with hungry stomachs, much against the will of our Cimaroons: who if we would have stayed any day from this continual journeying, would have killed for us victuals sufficient.
In our absence, the rest of the Cimaroons had built a little town within three leagues off the port where our ship lay. There our Captain was contented, upon their great and earnest entreaties to make some stay; for that they alleged, it was only built for his sake. And indeed he consented the rather, that the want of shoes might be supplied by means of the Cimaroons, who were a great help unto us: all our men complaining of the tenderness of their feet, whom our Captain would himself accompany in their complaint, some times without cause, but some times with cause indeed; which made the rest to bear the burden the more easily.
These Cimaroons, during all the time that we were with burden, did us continually very good service, and in particular in this journey, being unto us instead of intelligencers, to advertise us; of guides in our way to direct us; of purveyors, to provide victuals for us; of house-wrights to build our lodgings; and had indeed able and strong bodies carrying all our necessaries: yea, many times when some of our company fainted with sickness of weariness, two Cimaroons would carry him with ease between them, two miles together, and at other times, when need was, they would shew themselves no less valiant than industrious, and of good judgment.
From this town, at our first entrance in the evening, on Saturday (22nd February), our Captain despatched a Cimaroon with a token and certain order to the Master: who had, these three weeks, kept good watch against the enemy, and shifted in the woods for fresh victual, for the relief and recovery of our men left aboard.
As soon as this messenger was come to the shore, calling to our ship, as bringing some news, he was quickly fet[ched] aboard by those which longed to hear of our Captain's speeding: but when he showed the toothpike of gold, which he said our Captain had sent for a token to ELLIS HIXOM, with charge to meet him at such a river though the Master knew well the Captain's toothpike: yet by reason of his admonition and caveat [warning] given him at parting, he (though he bewrayed no sign of distrusting the Cimaroon) yet stood as amazed, lest something had befallen our Captain otherwise than well. The Cimaroon perceiving this, told him, that it was night when he was sent away, so that our Captain could not send any letter, but yet with the point of his knife, he wrote something upon the toothpike, "which," he said, "should be sufficient to gain credit to the messenger."
Thereupon, the Master looked upon it, and saw written, By me, FRANCIS DRAKE: wherefore he believed, and according to the message, prepared what provision he could, and repaired to the mouth of the river of Tortugos, as the Cimaroons that went with him then named it.
That afternoon towards three a clock, we were come down to that river, not past half-an-hour before we saw our pinnace ready come to receive us: which was unto us all a double rejoicing: first that we saw them, and next, so soon. Our Captain with all our company praised GOD most heartily, for that we saw our pinnace and fellows again.
We all seemed to these, who had lived at rest and plenty all this while aboard, as men strangely changed (our Captain yet not much changed) in countenance and plight: and indeed our long fasting and sore travail might somewhat forepine and waste us; but the grief we drew inwardly, for that we returned without that gold and treasure we hoped for did no doubt show her print and footsteps in our faces.
The rest of our men which were then missed, could not travel so well as our Captain, and therefore were left at the Indian new town: and the next day (23rd February) we rowed to another river in the bottom of the bay and took them all aboard. Thus being returned from Panama, to the great rejoicing of our company, who were thoroughly revived with the report we brought from thence: especially understanding our Captain's purpose, that he meant not to leave off thus, but would once again attempt the same journey, whereof they also might be partakers.
Our Captain would not, in the meantime, suffer this edge and forwardness of his men to be dulled or rebated, by lying still idly unemployed, as knowing right well by continual experience, that no sickness was more noisome to impeach any enterprise than delay and idleness.
Therefore considering deeply the intelligences of other places of importance thereabouts, which he had gotten the former years; and particularly of Veragua, a rich town lying to the Westward; between Nombre de Dios and Nicaragua, where is the richest mine of fine gold that is on this North side: he consulted with his company touching their opinions, what was to be done in this meantime, and how they stood affected?
Some thought, that "It was most necessary to seek supply of victuals, that we might the better be able to keep our men close and in health till our time came: and this way easy to be compassed, because the frigates with victuals went without great defence, whereas the frigates and barks with treasure, for the most part were wafted with great ships and store of soldiers."
Others yet judged, "We might better bestow our time in intercepting the frigates of treasure; first, for that our magazines and storehouses of victuals were reasonably furnished, and the country itself was so plentiful, that every man might provide for himself if the worst befell: and victuals might hereafter be provided abundantly as well as now: whereas the treasure never floateth upon the sea, so ordinarily as at this time of the Fleets being there, which time in no wise may be neglected."
The Cimaroons being demanded also their opinion (for that they were experienced in the particularities of all the towns thereabouts, as in which some or other of them had served), declared that "by Veragua, Signior PEZORO (some time their master from whom they fled) dwelt; not in the town for fear of some surprise, but yet not far off from the town, for his better relief; in a very strong house of stone, where he had dwelt nineteen years at least, never travelling from home; unless happily once a year to Cartagena, or Nombre de Dios when the Fleets were there. He keepeth a hundred slaves at least in the mines, each slave being bound to bring in daily, clear gain (all charges deducted) three Pesos of Gold for himself and two for his women (8s. 3d. the Peso), amounting in the whole, to above 200 pounds sterling each day: so that he hath heaped a mighty mass of treasure together, which he keepeth in certain great chests, of two feet deep, three broad, and four long: being (notwithstanding all his wealth) bad and cruel not only to his slaves, but unto all men, and therefore never going abroad but with a guard of five or six men to defend his person from danger, which he feareth extraordinarily from all creatures.
"And as touching means of compassing this purpose, they would conduct him safely through the woods, by the same ways by which they fled, that he should not need to enter their havens with danger, but might come upon their backs altogether unlooked for. And though his house were of stone, so that it could not be burnt; yet if our Captain would undertake the attempt, they would undermine and overthrow, or otherwise break it open, in such sort, as we might have easy access to his greatest treasure."
Our Captain having heard all their opinions, concluded so that by dividing his company, the two first different sentences were both reconciled, both to be practised and put in use.
JOHN OXNAM appointed in the Bear, to be sent Eastward towards Tolou, to see what store of victuals would come athwart his half; and himself would to the Westward in the Minion, lie off and on the Cabecas, where was the greatest trade and most ordinary passage of those which transported treasure from Veragua and Nicaragua to the Fleet; so that no time might be lost, nor opportunity let slip either for victuals or treasure. As for the attempt of Veragua, or Signior PEZORO'S house by land, by marching through the woods; he liked not of, lest it might overweary his men by continual labour; whom he studied to refresh and strengthen for his next service forenamed.
Therefore using our Cimaroons most courteously, dismissing those that were desirous to their wives, with such gifts and favours as were most pleasing, and entertaining those still aboard his ship, which were contented to abide with the company remaining; the pinnaces departed as we determined: the Minion to the West, the Bear to the East.
The Minion about the Cabecas, met with a frigate of Nicaragua, in which was some gold, and a Genoese Pilot (of which Nation there are many in those coasts), which had been at Veragua not past eight days before. He being very well entreated, certified our Captain of the state of the town, and of the harbour, and of a frigate that was there ready to come forth within few days, aboard which there was above a million of gold, offering to conduct him to it, if we would do him his right: for that he knew the channel very perfectly, so that he could enter by night safely without danger of the sands and shallows, though there be but little water, and utterly undescried; for that the town is five leagues within the harbour, and the way by land is so far about and difficult through the woods, that though we should by any casualty be discovered, about the point of the harbour, yet we might despatch our business and depart, before the town could have notice of our coming.
At his being there, he perceived they had heard of DRAKE'S being on the coast, which had put them in great fear, as in all other places (PEZORO purposing to remove himself to the South Sea!): but there was nothing done to prevent him, their fear being so great, that, as it is accustomed in such cases, it excluded counsel and bred despair.
Our Captain, conferring with his own knowledge and former intelligences, was purposed to have returned to his ship, to have taken some of those Cimaroons which had dwelt with Signior PEZORO, to be the more confirmed in this point.
But when the Genoese Pilot was very earnest, to have the time gained, and warranted our Captain of good speed, if we delayed not; he dismissed the frigate, somewhat lighter to hasten her journey! And with this Pilot's advice, laboured with sail and oars to get this harbour and to enter it by night accordingly: considering that this frigate might now be gained, and PEZORO'S house attempted hereafter notwithstanding.
But when we were come to the mouth of the harbour, we heard the report of two Chambers, and farther off about a league within the bay, two other as it were answering them: whereby the Genoese Pilot conjectured that we were discovered: for he assured us, that this order had been taken since his last being there, by reason of the advertisement and charge, which the Governor of Panama had sent to all the Coasts; which even in their beds lay in great and continual fear of our Captain, and therefore by all likelihood, maintained this kind of watch, at the charge of the rich Gnuffe PEZORO for their security.
Thus being defeated of this expectation, we found it was not GOD'S will that we should enter at that time: the rather for that the wind, which had all this time been Easterly, came up to the Westward, and invited us to return again to our ship; where, on Sheere Thursday (19th March), we met, according to appointment, with our Bear, and found that she had bestowed her time to more profit than we had done.
For she had taken a frigate in which there were ten men (whom they set ashore) great store of maize, twenty-eight fat hogs, and two hundred hens. Our Captain discharged (20th March) this frigate of her lading; and because she was new, strong, and of a good mould, the next day (21st March) he tallowed her to make her a Man-of-war; disposing all our ordnance and provisions that were fit for such use, in her. For we had heard by the Spaniards last taken, that there were two little galleys built in Nombre de Dios, to waft the Chagres Fleet to and fro, but were not yet both launched: wherefore he purposed now to adventure for that Fleet.
And to hearten his company he feasted them that Easter Day (22nd March) with great cheer and cheerfulness, setting up his rest upon that attempt.
The next day (23rd March) with the new tailored frigate of Tolou, and his Bear, we set sail towards the Cativaas, where about two days after we landed, and stayed till noon; at what time seeing a sail to the westward, as we deemed making to the island: we set sail and plied towards him, who descrying us, bare with us, till he perceived by our confidence, that we were no Spaniards, and conjectured we were those Englishmen, of whom he had heard long before. And being in great want, and desirous to be relieved by us: he bare up under our lee, and in token of amity, shot off his lee ordnance, which was not unanswered.
We understood that he was TETU, a French Captain of Newhaven [Havre] a Man-of-war as we were, desirous to be relieved by us. For at our first meeting, the French Captain cast abroad his hands, and prayed our Captain to help him to some water, for that he had nothing but wine and cider aboard him, which had brought his men into great sickness. He had sought us ever since he first heard of our being upon the coast, about this five weeks. Our Captain sent one aboard him with some relief for the present, willing him to follow us to the next port, where he should have both water and victuals.
At our coming to anchor, he sent our Captain a case of pistols, and a fair gift scimitar (which had been the late King's of France [HENRY II.], whom Monsieur MONTGOMERY hurt in the eye, and was given him by Monsieur STROZZE). Our Captain requited him with a chain of gold, and a tablet which he wore.
This Captain reported unto us the first news of the Massacre of Paris, at the King of NAVARRE'S marriage on Saint Bartholomew's Day last, [24th August, 1572]; of the Admiral of France slain in his chamber, and divers other murders: so that he "thought those Frenchmen the happiest which were farthest from France, now no longer France but Frensy, even as if all Gaul were turned into wormwood and gall: Italian practices having over-mastered the French simplicity." He showed what famous and often reports he had heard of our great riches. He desired to know of our Captain which way he might "compass" his voyage also.
Though we had seen him in some jealousy and distrust, for all his pretence; because we considered more the strength he had than the good-will he might bear us: yet upon consultation among ourselves, "Whether it were fit to receive him or not?" we resolved to take him and twenty of his men, to serve with our Captain for halves. In such sort as we needed not doubt of their forces, being but twenty; nor be hurt by their portions, being no greater than ours: and yet gratify them in their earnest suit, and serve our own purpose, which without more help we could very hardly have achieved. Indeed, he had 70 men, and we now but 31; his ship was above 80 tons, and our frigate not 20, or pinnace nothing near 10 tons. Yet our Captain thought this proportionable, in consideration that not numbers of men, but quality of their judgements and knowledge, were to be the principal actors herein: and the French ship could do not service, or stand in any stead to this enterprise which we intended, and had agreed upon before, both touching the time when it should take beginning, and the place where we should meet, namely, at Rio Francisco.
Having thus agreed with Captain TETU, we sent for the Cimaroons as before was decreed. Two of them were brought aboard our ships, to give the French assurance of this agreement.
And as soon as we could furnish ourselves and refresh the French company, which was within five or six days (by bringing them to the magazines which were the nearest, where they were supplied by us in such sort, as they protested they were beholding to us for all their lives) taking twenty of the French and fifteen of ours with our Cimaroons, leaving both our chips in safe road, we manned our frigate and two pinnaces (we had formerly sunk our Lion, shortly after our return from Panama, because we had not men sufficient to man her), and went towards Rio Francisco: which because it had not water enough for our frigate, caused us to leave her at the Cabecas, manned with English and French, in the charge of ROBERT DOBLE, to stay there without attempting any chase, until the return of our pinnaces.
And then bore to Rio Francisco, where both Captains landed (31st March) with such force as aforesaid, and charged them that had the charge of the pinnaces to be there the fourth day next following without any fail. And thus knowing that the carriages [mule loads] went now daily from Panama to Nombre de Dios; we proceeded in covert through the woods, towards the highway that leadeth between them.
It is five leagues accounted by sea, between Rio Francisco and Nombre de Dios; but that way which we march by land, we found it above seven leagues. We marched as in our former journey to Panama, both for order and silence; to the great wonder of the French Captain and company, who protested they knew not by any means how to recover the pinnaces, if the Cimaroons (to whom what our Captain commanded was a law; though they little regarded the French, as having no trust in them) should leave us: our Captain assured him, "There was no cause of doubt of them, of whom he had had such former trial."
When we were come within an English mile of the way, we stayed all night, refreshing ourselves, in great stillness, in a most convenient place: where we heard the carpenters, being many in number, working upon their ships, as they usually do by reason of the great heat of the day in Nombre de Dios; and might hear the mules coming from Panama, by reason of the advantage of the ground.
The next morning (1st April), upon hearing of that number of bells, the Cimaroons, rejoiced exceedingly, as though there could not have befallen them a more joyful accident chiefly having been disappointed before. Now they all assured us, "We should have more gold and silver than all of us could bear away:" as in truth it fell out.
For there came three Recuas, one of 50 mules, the other two, of 70 each, every [one] of which carried 300 lbs. weight of silver; which in all amounted to near thirty tons.
We putting ourselves in readiness, went down near the way to hear the bells; where we stayed not long, but we saw of what metal they were made; and took such hold on the heads of the foremost and hindmost mules, that all the rest stayed and lay down, as their manner is.
These three Recuas were guarded with forty-five soldiers or thereabouts, fifteen to each Recua, which caused some exchange of bullets and arrows for a time; in which conflict the French Captain was sore wounded with hail-shot in the belly, and one Cimaroon was slain: but in the end, these soldiers thought it the best way to leave their mules with us, and to seek for more help abroad.
In which meantime we took some pain to ease some of the mules which were heaviest loaden of their carriage. And because we ourselves were somewhat weary, we were contented with a few bars and quoits of gold, as we could well carry: burying about fifteen tons of silver, partly in the burrows which the great land crabs had made in the earth, and partly under old trees which were fallen thereabout, and partly in the sand and gravel of a river, not very deep of water.
Thus when about this business, we had spent some two hours, and had disposed of all our matters, and were ready to march back the very self-same way that we came, we heard both horse and foot coming as it seemed to the mules: for they never followed us, after we were once entered the woods, where the French Captain by reason of his wound, not able to travel farther, stayed, in hope that some rest would recover him better strength.
But after we had marched some two leagues, upon the French soldiers' complaint, that they missed one of their men also, examination being made whether he were slain or not: it was found that he had drunk much wine, and over-lading himself with pillage, and hasting to go before us, had lost himself in the woods. And as we afterwards knew, he was taken by the Spaniards that evening: and upon torture, discovered unto them where we had hidden our treasure.
We continued our march all that and the next day (2nd and 3rd April) towards Rio Francisco, in hope to meet with our pinnaces; but when we came thither, looking out to sea, we saw seven Spanish pinnaces, which had been searching all the coast thereabouts: whereupon we mightily suspected that they had taken or spoiled our pinnaces, for that our Captain had given so straight charge, that they should repair to this place this afternoon; from the Cabecas where they rode; whence to our sight these Spaniards' pinnaces did come.
But the night before, there had fallen very much rain, with much westerly wind, which as it enforced the Spaniards to return home the sooner, by reason of the storm: so it kept our pinnaces, that they could not keep the appointment; because the wind was contrary, and blew so strong, that with their oars they could all that day get but half the way. Notwithstanding, if they had followed our Captain's direction in setting forth over night, while the wind served, they had arrived at the place appointed with far less labour, but with far more danger: because that very day at noon, the shallops manned out, of purpose, from Nombre de Dios, were come to this place to take our pinnaces: imagining where we were, after they had heard of our intercepting of the treasure.
Our Captain seeing the shallops, feared lest having taken our pinnaces, they had compelled our men by torture to confess where his frigate and ships were. Therefore in this distress and perplexity, the company misdoubting that all means of return to their country were cut off, and that their treasure then served them to small purpose; our Captain comforted and encouraged us all, saying, "We should venture no farther than he did. It was no time now to fear: but rather to hasten to prevent that which was feared! If the enemy have prevailed against our pinnaces, which GOD forbid! Yet they must have time to search them, time to examine the mariners, time to execute their resolution after it is determined. Before all these times be taken, we may get to our ships, if ye will! though not possibly by land, because of the hills, thickets, and rivers, yet by water. Let us, therefore, make a raft with the trees that are here in readiness, as offering themselves, being brought down the river, happily this last storm, and put ourselves to sea! I will be one, who will be the other?"
JOHN SMITH offered himself, and two Frenchmen that could swim very well, desired they might accompany our Captain, as did the Cimaroons likewise (who had been very earnest with our Captain to have marched by land, though it were sixteen days' journey, and in case the ship had been surprised, to have abode always with them), especially PEDRO, who yet was fain to be left behind, because he could not row.
The raft was fitted and fast bound; a sail of a biscuit sack prepared; an oar was shaped out of a young tree to serve instead of a rudder, to direct their course before the wind.
At his departure he comforted the company, by promising, that "If it pleased GOD, he should put his foot in safety aboard his frigate, he would, GOD willing, by one means or other get them all aboard, in despite of all the Spaniards in the Indies!"
In this manner pulling off to the sea, he sailed some three leagues, sitting up to the waist continually in water, and at every surge of the wave to the arm-pits, for the space of six hours, upon this raft: what with the parching of the sun and what with the beating of the salt water, they had all of them their skins much fretted away.
At length GOD gave them the sight of two pinnaces turning towards them with much wind; but with far greater joy to them than could easily conjecture, and did cheerfully declare to those three with him, that "they were our pinnaces! and that all was safe, so that there was no cause of fear!"
But see, the pinnaces not seeing this raft, nor suspecting any such matter, by reason of the wind and night growing on, were forced to run into a cover behind the point, to take succour, for that night: which our Captain seeing, and gathering (because they came not forth again), that they would anchor there, put his raft ashore, and ran by land about the point, where he found them; who, upon sight of him, made as much haste as they could to take him and his company aboard. For our Captain (of purpose to try what haste they could and would make in extremity), himself ran in great haste, and so willed the other three with him; as if they had been chased by the enemy: which they the rather suspected, because they saw so few with him.
And after his coming aboard, when they demanding "How all his company did?" he answered coldly, "Well!" They all doubted that all went scarce well. But he willing to rid all doubts, and fill them with joy, took out of his bosom a quoit of gold, thanking GOD that "our voyage was made!"
And to the Frenchmen he declared, how their Captain with great pain of his company, rowed to Rio Francisco; where he took the rest in, and the treasure which we had brought with us: making such expedition, that by dawning of the day, we set sail back again to our frigate, and from thence directly to our ships: where, as soon as we arrived, our Captain divided by weight, the gold and silver into two even portions, between the French and the English.
About a fortnight after, when we had set all things to order, and taking out of our ship [the Pascha] all such necessaries as we needed for our frigate, had left and given her to the Spaniards, whom we had all this time detained, we put out of that harbour together with the French ship, riding some few days among the Cabecas.
In the meantime, our Captain made a secret composition with the Cimaroons, that twelve of our men and sixteen of theirs, should make another voyage, to get intelligence in what case the country stood; and if it might be, recover Monsieur TETU, the French Captain; at leastwise to bring away that which was hidden in our former surprise, and could not then be conveniently carried.
JOHN OXNAM and THOMAS SHERWELL were put in trust for his service, to the great content of the whole company, who conceived greatest hope of them next our Captain; whom by no means they would condescend to suffer to adventure again, this time: yet he himself rowed to set them ashore at Rio Francisco; finding his labour well employed both otherwise, and also in saving one of those two Frenchmen that had remained willingly to accompany their wounded captain.
For this gentleman, having escaped the rage of the Spaniards, was now coming towards our pinnace, where he fell down on his knees, blessing GOD for the time, "that ever our Captain was born; who now, beyond all his hopes, was become his deliverer."
He being demanded, "What was become of his Captain and other fellow?" shewed that within half an hour after our departure, the Spaniards had overgotten them, and took his Captain and other fellow: he only escaped by flight, having cast away all his carriage, and among the rest one box of jewels, that he might fly the swifter from the pursuers: but his fellow took it up and burdened himself so sore, that he could make no speed; as easily as he might otherwise, if he would have cast down his pillage, and laid aside his covetous mind. As for the silver, which we had hidden thereabout in the earth and the sands, he thought that it was all gone: for that he thought there had been near two thousand Spaniards and Negroes there to dig and search for it.
This report notwithstanding, our purpose held, and our men were sent to the said place, where they found that the earth, every way a mile distant had been digged and turned up in every place of any likelihood, to have anything hidden in it.
And yet nevertheless, for all that narrow search, all our men's labour was not quite lost, but so considered, that the third day after their departure, they all returned safe and cheerful, with as much silver as they and all the Cimaroons could find (viz., thirteen bars of silver, and some few quoits of gold), with which they were presently embarked, without empeachment, repairing with no less speed than joy to our frigate.
Now was it high time to think of homewards, having sped ourselves as we desired; and therefore our Captain concluded to visit Rio Grande [Magdalena] once again, to see if he could meet with any sufficient ship or bark, to carry victuals enough to serve our turn homewards, in which we might in safety and security embark ourselves.
The Frenchmen having formerly gone from us, as soon as they had their shares, at our first return with the treasure; as being very desirous to return home into their country, and our Captain as desirous to dismiss them, as they were to be dismissed: for that he foresaw they could not in their ship avoid the danger of being taken by the Spaniards, if they should make out any Men-of-war for them, while they lingered on the coast; and having also been then again relieved with victuals by us.—Now at our meeting of them again, were very loath to leave us, and therefore accompanied us very kindly as far up as St. Bernards; and farther would, but that they durst not adventure so great danger; for that we had intelligence, that the Fleet was ready to set sail for Spain, riding at the entry of Cartagena.
Thus we departed from them, passing hard by Cartagena, in the sight of all the Fleet, with a flag of St. GEORGE in the main top of our frigate, with silk streamers and ancients down to the water, sailing forward with a large wind, till we came within two leagues of the river [Magdalena], being all low land, and dark night: where to prevent the over shooting of the river in the night, we lay off and on bearing small sail, till that about midnight the wind veering to the eastward, by two of the clock in the morning, a frigate from Rio Grande [Magdalena] passed hard by us, bearing also but small sail. We saluted them with our shot and arrows, they answered us with bases; but we got aboard them, and took such order, that they were content against their wills to depart ashore and to leave us this frigate: which was of 25 tons, loaded with maize, hens, and hogs, and some honey, in very good time fit for our use; for the honey especially was notable reliever and preserver of crazed people.
The next morning as soon as we set those Spaniards ashore on the Main, we set our course for the Cabecas without any stop, whither we came about five days after. And being at anchor, presently we hove out all the maize a land, saving three butts which we kept for our store: and carrying all our provisions ashore, we brought both our frigates on the careen, and new tallowed them.
Here we stayed about seven nights, trimming and rigging our frigates, boarding and stowing our provision, tearing abroad and burning our pinnaces, that the Cimaroons might have the iron-work.
About a day or two before our departure, our Captain willed PEDRO and three of the chiefest of the Cimaroons to go through both his frigates, to see what they liked; promising to give it them, whatsoever it were, so it were not so necessary as that he could not return into England without it. And for their wives he would himself seek out some silks or linen that might gratify them; which while he was choosing out of his trunks, the scimitar which CAPTAIN TETU had given to our Captain, chanced to be taken forth in PEDRO'S sight: which he seeing grew so much in liking thereof, that he accounted of nothing else in respect of it, and preferred it before all that could be given him. Yet imagining that it was no less esteemed of our Captain, durst not himself open his mouth to crave or commend it; but made one FRANCIS TUCKER to be his mean to break his mind, promising to give him a fine quoit of gold, which yet he had in store, if he would but move our Captain for it; and to our Captain himself, he would give four other great quoits which he had hidden, intending to have reserved them until another voyage.
Our Captain being accordingly moved by FRANCES TUCKER, could have been content to have made no such exchange; but yet desirous to content him, that had deserved so well, he gave it him with many good words: who received it with no little joy, affirming that if he should give his wife and children which he loved dearly in lieu of it, he could not sufficient recompense it (for he would present his king with it, who he knew would make him a great man, even for this very gift's sake); yet in gratuity and stead of other requital of this jewel, he desired our Captain to accept these four pieces of gold, as a token of his thankfulness to him, and a pawn of his faithfulness during life.
Our Captain received it in most kind sort, but took it not to his own benefit, but caused it to be cast into the whole Adventure, saying, "If he had not been set forth to take that place, he had not attained such a commodity, and therefore it was just that they which bare part with him of his burden in setting him to sea, should enjoy the proportion of his benefit whatsoever at his return."
Thus with good love and liking we took our leave of that people, setting over to the islands of [ ? ], whence the next day after, we set sail towards Cape St. Antonio; by which we past with a large wind: but presently being to stand for the Havana, we were fain to ply to the windward some three or four days; in which plying we fortuned to take a small bark, in which were two or three hundred hides, and one most necessary thing, which stood us in great stead, viz., a pump! which we set in our frigate. Their bark because it was nothing fit for our service, our Captain gave them to carry them home.
And so returning to Cape St. Antonio, and landing there, we refreshed ourselves, and besides great store of turtle eggs, found by day in the [sand], we took 250 turtles by night. We powdered [salted] and dried some of them, which did us good service. The rest continued but a small time.
There were, at this time, belonging to Cartagena, Nombre de Dios, Rio Grande, Santa Marta, Rio de la Hacha, Venta Cruz, Veragua, Nicaragua, the Honduras, Jamaica etc., above 200 frigates; some of a 120 tons, others but of 10 or 12 tons, but the most of 30 or 40 tons, which all had intercourse between Cartagena and Nombre de Dios. The most of which, during our abode in those parts, we took; and one of them, twice or thrice each: yet never burnt nor sunk any, unless they were made out Men-of-war against us, or laid as stales to entrap us.
And of all the men taken in these several vessels, we never offered any kind of violence to any, after they were once come under our power; but either presently dismissed them in safety, or keeping them with us some longer time (as some of them we did), we always provided for their sustenance as for ourselves, and secured them from the rage of the Cimaroons against them: till at last, the danger of their discovering where our ships lay being over past, for which only cause we kept them prisoners, we set them also free.
Many strange birds, beasts, and fishes, besides fruits, trees, plants, and the like, were seen and observed of us in this journey, which willingly we pretermit as hastening to the end of our voyage: which from this Cape of St. Antonio, we intended to finish by sailing the directest and speediest way homeward; and accordingly, even beyond our own expectation, most happily performed.
For whereas our Captain had purposed to touch at Newfoundland, and there to have watered; which would have been some let unto us, though we stood in great want of water; yet GOD Almighty so provided for us, by giving us good store of rain water, that we were sufficiently furnished: and, within twenty-three days, we passed from the Cape of Florida, to the Isles of Scilly, and so arrived at Plymouth, on Sunday, about sermon time, August the 9th, 1573.
At what time, the news of our Captain's return brought unto his, did so speedily pass over all the church, and surpass their minds with desire and delight 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 our Gracious Queen and country, by the fruit of our Captain's labour and success.
Soli DEO Gloria. FINIS.