« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
spring of the year 1562,* and a small squadron was soon afterward fitted out at their expense for the purpose of procuring slaves on the coast of Guinea, to
* Elizabeth seems, however, on the very commencement of the trade in slaves, to have questioned it's lawfulness: for when Hawkins "returned from his first voyage to Africa and Hispaniola, whither he had carried slaves, she sent for him, and (as we learn from Hill's Naval History') expressed her concern lest any of the Africans should be carried off without their free coasent, declaring that it would be detestable, and call down the vengeance of heaven upon the undertakers.' He promised to comply with her injunctions in this respect." (Clarkson's History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the Slave-Trade,' I. 40.) We perceive from the text, how he kept his word: and here (says Hill, in his account of Hawkins' second voyage) "began the horrid practice of forcing the Africans into slavery; an injustice and barbarity which, so sure as there is vengeance in heaven for the worst of crimes, will some time be the destruction of all who allow or encourage it." That it will not, we may trust under Providence, be ours, is referable (to adopt the words of Mr. Clarkson's Dedication) to that wise and virtuous administration, who during their brief possession of office under the auspices of Mr. Fox secured to themselves the unparallelled and eternal glory of annihilating, as far as their power extended, one of the greatest sources of crimes and sufferings ever recorded in the annals of mankind. Nor should the indefatigable and effective labours of Mr. Wilberforce, and perhaps above all, of Mr. Clarkson himself, be forgotten. His 'History,' indeed, is one of the most interesting exhibitions of criminal and of virtuous perseverance, as respectively displayed by the abettors and the assailants of the Slave-Trade, which the range of literature has at any time supplied.
Whatever may be now thought of these exploits, however, they appear to have gained Hawkins signal credit in that "age of heroism;" as he bore their badge in the crest of arms granted to him by patent, a demi-moor in his proper colour, bound with a cord'-a worthy symbol of the humane and honourable traffic, which he had opened to his country!
be bartered at the Spanish West-India islands for silver, sugar, hides, &c. Their whole force consisted of two ships of a hundred, and a bark of forty tons, collectively carrying only one hundred men. With these, having by force or purchase acquired three hundred negroes, he exchanged them at Hispaniola upon very advantageous terms, and returned safe from his barbarous enterprise in September 1563.
The following year he undertook a second voyage, but with greater force; and having reached the island of Margaretta, in the West-Indies, with his living cargo, he was hospitably received by the Alcaide, and supplied with provisions. The governor, however, positively refused to permit him to traffic with the inhabitants; despatching likewise intelligence of his arrival to the governor of St. Domingo, who immediately prohibited every species of commerce with the English fleet. Thus disappointed, Hawkins sailed for the continent, and cruising along the coast, sent a deputation on shore at Burboroata, to request the liberty of trading with the inhabitants. But the solicited permission was so clogged by duties, as to render all contracts necessarily unfavourable to the English. Exasperated at this ill usage, he commissioned a hundred men completely armed to demand better terms, which were immediately granted.
He was, next, employed in convoying the English troops sent to the relief of the French Protestants at Rochelle. On his return from France, while he was lying with his squadron at Catwater waiting farther orders, the Spanish fleet of fifty sail passed by, without paying the usual honours to the English squadron.
Hawkins, therefore, ordered a shot to be fired at the admiral's flag, and this producing no effect, a second; upon which the Spaniards came to, and hauled down their colours. The Admiral then despatched one of his chief officers in a boat, to desire an explanation; when the Captain, through the medium of a subaltern, haughtily directed him to inform his principal, that as he had neglected the customary honours, especially with so large a fleet under his command, it gave room to suspect some hostile design, and that in consequence he insisted on his departure in twelve hours, otherwise he should treat him as an enemy.' This gallant behaviour gave rise to a visit from the Spanish Admiral himself, who desired to know, if the two crowns were at war?' Captain Hawkins replied, No; but that possibly this affront might occasion one, as he was determined to communicate to the Queen by express what had passed.' The Spaniard, at first, pretended not to understand the nature of his offence; but being finally convinced of his error, Hawkins agreed to let the matter rest, and with the first fair wind the delinquent fleet set sail for the coast of Flanders.
In October, 1576, Captain Hawkins embarked on a third trading expedition to the coast of Guinea and the West-Indies, accompanied by five other ships, one of which was commanded by Captain (afterward Admiral) Drake; and having taken on board about five hundred negroes, proceeded to the Spanish settlements. Rio de la Hacha was the first place, where he attempted to trade; but being refused permission, he landed his men, and (probably, by collusion) took possession of the town, after which he
disposed of great part of his cargo: with the remainder he sailed for Carthagena, and there completed his commercial transactions. Upon his return homeward, stormy weather obliged him to put into the harbour of St. John de Ulloa in the bay of Mexico. The inhabitants, imagining his squadron was part of their own fleet then expected from Spain, readily came on board, and were extremely terrified when they discovered their mistake. But Hawkins entertained them with great civility, and to dispel their fears assured them, that he wanted nothing except provisions; neither did he attempt any thing against twelve merchant-ships, then lying richly laden in the port. For his own security, however, he detained two persons of rank as hostages, till the return of an express sent to Mexico with an account of his arrival. The next day, the Spanish fleet appeared, having on board the new viceroy, on his way to his government. In this delicate situation, Hawkins was at a loss how to act: for while he was apprehensive of his Sovereign's displeasure, if he should prevent their entrance into the harbour, especially as the storms continued with unabating severity; he at the same time strongly suspected, that some treachery would be practised against him, as soon as their ships were in security. He therefore took the precaution to insist upon such conditions from the viceroy, before he would admit him into the harbour, as were best calculated to guard against latent perfidy; stipulating that the English fleet
* It is to be observed, that at this time no open war subsisted between the two nations; but the English claimed a right of free trade in virtue of treaties with Charles V., which the Spaniards refused to admit.
should be supplied with provisions on paying for them, that hostages for keeping the peace should be given by both parties, and that the island with the cannon on the fortifications should be put into his hands during his stay.' The viceroy, at first, rejected these proposals with disdain; but being told that 'Captain Hawkins considered himself as the representative of the Queen of England, and therefore of a rank equal to his own,' he vouchsafed to negociate the matter with him in person, and solemnly promised in every particular to fulfil the stipulations.
A conspiracy, however, was at this time forming to attack the English; not less than a thousand men being mustered on shore, and the people of the town having agreed to support the operations of the fleet. Unusual manœuvres were observed on board the Spanish ships; their small arms being shifted from one vessel to another, and their ordnance pointed at the English squadron. A larger number of men than usual, likewise, were seen upon the decks; and this with other circumstances alarming Captain Hawkins, he sent to inquire the meaning of these extraordinary motions: when, in order to carry on the deception, the viceroy assured him, that if the inhabitants should attempt any violence against the English, he would give them his protection and assistance.' Hawkins, however, notwithstanding these asseverations, ordered his people to stand upon their defence; and shortly afterward, suspecting that a considerable land-force was concealed in one of the enemy's vessels, he again demanded a categorical answer upon the subject: upon which the viceroy, unable any longer to mask his project, ordered the trumpet to sound, as the signal for falling upon the English fleet.
Hawkins was at dinner, when he heard the trumpet;