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word from Sir Philip to put to sea. A letter arrives post "as if the whole fleet staid only for Sir Philip and a wind." He sets off for Plymouth, "was feasted the first night by Sir Francis, with a great deal of outward pomp and compliment.” "Yet I, (says Lord Brooke,) being his loving and beloved Achates in this journey, observing the countenance of this gallant mariner, more than Sir Philip's leisure served him to do, acquainted him with my observation of the discountenance and depression which appeared in Sir Francis; as if our coming were both beyond his expectation and desire."*
It may be that the observation of Lord Brooke turned out to be correct, that Drake did not much relish such high company, and that, in fact, he was playing the game assigned to him. "For, (says his lordship,) within a few days after, a post steals up to the court, upon whose arrival an alarm is presently taken; messengers sent away to stay us, and, if we refused, to stay the whole fleet." It now indeed was sufficiently evident, that the Queen in her affection, almost parental, for Sir Philip Sydney, conveyed her royal mandate by a peer of the realm, "carrying with it in the one hand, grace, and in the other, thunder."+
Of her grace he was certain, and of her thunder
* Lord Brooke's Life of Sir Philip Sydney.
he had no reason to be afraid. It is impossible to read that beautiful letter of Sir Philip to the Queen, dissuading her from her understood resolution to marry the Duke of Anjou, without being strongly impressed with the real attachment and esteem which the Queen and Sydney mutually felt for each other. That letter, as Hume says, "is written with an unusual elegance of expression, as well as force of reasoning," he might have added, with a delicacy of remonstrance, against such an union with a papist, softened by the most affectionate terms of regard, corresponding with the opening address, "For our most feared and beloved, most sweet and gracious Sovereign."*
How Drake contrived to settle this ticklish affair with the Queen does not appear. It is not improbable that he was, all the while, in communication with Sir Francis Walsingham, or some other person at court, and that he was desired to indulge the scheme of the romantic knight, until the expedition should be ready to depart. Everything in fact had been already settled, as to the officers and men, and the preparations were completed. It consisted of a fleet of one and twenty sail of ships, (some say twenty-five sail,) and pinnaces, on which were embarked two thousand seamen and soldiers, at Plymouth.
The principal officers were
Sir Francis Drake,
Admiral or General.
To whom were added, Lieutenant-General Carleill, who had command of the troops, with one major, three corporals of the field, and ten captains under him.
The other sixteen ships were probably taken up as transports, but neither the tonnage, guns, nor men of any part of the expedition are mentioned.
This was evidently a combined expedition, of naval and military forces, strictly sent out on the public service, the first instance of a divided command, on which Drake had been employed; and though he was the chief, or General, of the expedition, yet the military part of the operations, to which it was in a great degree confined, necessarily devolved upon the superintending direction of the Lieutenant General Carleill (or Carlisle); and in point of fact, the whole account of their proceedings, as given in Hakluyt, is a copy from the narrative drawn up by one of his officers, Captain Walter Biggs, who died on the voyage; was completed by Lieutenant Cripps, who gave it to Lieutenant
Cates, to be by him published, all three being officers of the army serving in the Lieutenant General's company.
On the 14th September, 1585, the expedition left Plymouth, and near to the coast of Spain fell in with divers French ships of small burthen, mostly laden with salt, one of which, having no person in her, the General took for the service, meaning at their return to pay the value of her, which he did ; to this bark he gave the name of Drake. A few days after this, they fell in with a stout Spanish ship, having great store of dry Newfoundland fish on board, "commonly called with us Poor John," a better sort it is to be hoped than Trinculo describes as "neither fish nor flesh, a kind of, not of the newest, Poor John;" but it is said to have been of great use to him during the voyage.
Coming before Bayonne, a message was sent to the Governor, to ask if there was war between Spain and England, and why our merchants were embargoed and arrested? Being satisfied on these points, and receiving from the Governor a present of bread, wine, oil, apples, grapes and marmalade, they took their leave, but scarcely could reach their ships, from the shore, before a storm arose which scattered the fleet.
Being again collected, they sent their pinnaces
to see what might be done above the harbour of Vigo, where they succeeded in taking many boats
and caravels laden with things of small value, one with "stuff of the high church or Cathedral of Vigo, among which was a cross of silver doubly gilt, having cost a great mass of money." The Spaniards declared that the property taken here amounted in value to thirty thousand ducats.
At Palma, in the Canary Islands, "by the naughtinesse of the landing place, well furnished with great ordnance," they thought fit to depart with "the receipt of many of their cannon shot, some into our ships, and some of them besides being in very deed full cannon high."* But their calling first at Bayonne, and then here, was imprudent, as it had enabled the Governor of the former to send a despatch to their several possessions, to warn them of the approach of English forces, the strength of which he greatly exaggerated. At Ferro they found the inhabitants were so poor, that they spared them, and proceeded to the Cape de Verde Islands, and anchored near Porta Praya, (which is called Playa by Cates,) where they put on shore a thousand Here they dallied for fourteen days, between the towns of St. Jago and Porta Praya, two of the most wretched Portuguese villages, mostly of miserable huts; the Governor (who, in our times, is usually a man of colour), the Bishop and the better sort having all run away into the mountains. All they could find as booty were two pieces of ord