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which the commanders and seamen of the English navy were then formed.
We must now turn to those more impure channels into which no small portion of the nautical enterprizes of that age flowed. The number of pirates who then swarmed in the British seas may be in some degree estimated from the facility with which Bothwell collected them at Shetland; a station to which they flocked on account of its remoteness from legal authority. The records of the privy council show the same multiplication of sea-robbers more distinctly, from 1570 to 1575; when twenty-two piratical cases were the subject of proceedings in that body. In the next five years the numbers were more than doubled. Their decrease in subsequent years must be ascribed to enlistment in naval expeditions against the American Spaniards, where they continued to exercise their former profession, but with some accession of dignity from the grandeur of the object. The expeditions of John Hawkins, a gentleman of Devonshire, afford a melancholy instance of the fortitude of a seaman dishonoured by application to the purposes of a criminal. His own account of his slaving expeditions on the west coast of Africa will, better than any other words, characterise the deeds of blood which were long, by a prostitution of terms, called by the respectable name of trade. He begins by bewailing (as sportsmen sometimes complain of the scarcity or shyness of game) that he was not able to catch above 150 negroes; whose countrymen had, it seems, the insolence to kill and wound some of his crew. In this difficulty, 66 a negroe came to us, sent by a negroe king oppressed by other kings his neighbours, desiring our aid, with a promise, that as many negroes as might by these wars be obtained should be at our pleasure. I went myself, and with the assistance of the king of our side assaulted the town by land and sea, and very hardly with fire (the huts being covered with dry palm leaves), and out of 8000 souls, seized 250 persons, men, women, and children.”*
* Hakluyt, 553.
The sale of these slaves to the inhabitants of Spanish America, who were forbidden to trade with foreigners, was accomplished by fraud or by arms.
The immense extent of coast of the thinly peopled territories of Spain in America, which the whole naval force of the world would have been insufficient to guard, opened facilities for contraband trade, which produced the natural effect on the adventurous and hardy mariners of England. A hatred against Spain was deeply rooted in the nation who had so cruelly suffered under Philip and Mary. The two governments, as we have seen, began gradually to manifest more hostile feelings towards each other. Men of lawless character scarcely thought seriously of the principle of international law, which enjoins the members of a community to offer no violence to the members of another, as long as the two states are at peace: and this sort of refined jurisprudence was deemed more inapplicable to the barbarous regions where Europeans often met. Two centuries after this period, the French and English East India companies continued to carry on war, after their sovereigns had concluded peace. In the time of Elizabeth the example of private war was not forgotten; and the frequency of piracy seems to indicate that hostilities by sea were not regarded as subject to the same strict rules with those on land. The encroachments on the Spanish colonies were made on plausible grounds, and by slow degrees. The Dutch and English ships were first content with trade, and the colonists, whom they supplied cheaply and plentifully with European commodities, received them. They entered a harbour under allegations, generally false, of needing water, provisions, or repairs. They set forth the amity of the two sovereigns as a sufficient reason for expecting hospitality. When by this fair language they had won their way into a haven, if they were stronger than the inhabitants of the town, they generally ended with the most atrocious acts of rapine and murder. The complaints of a Spanish viceroy reached Madrid slowly. The negotiations for
redress in London were perhaps protracted so long by contradictory averments, that the decision might be too late for any purpose, either of compensation to the sufferers *, or of the execution of justice on the wrongdoers.
Francis Drake was perhaps the most distinguished among these freebooters, whom the spirit of maritime adventure sent forth, and who afterwards signally served their country by a more honourable exercise of their knowledge and valour. His first expedition in 1572, in which he attacked Nombre de Dios, displays a most lively picture of an union of watchfulness, activity, caution, and resolution, which, though they were then applied by him to the purposes of robbery, are in themselves qualities by which friends are protected, enemies are quelled, and men in general are ruled. In a hazardous journey across the isthmus of Panama, his Indian guides showed him from the top of a high mountain the South Sea, which no English vessel had ever entered. He secretly resolved on sailing in an English vessel on that sea, and with that mixture of piety, which forms so strong a contrast with his ordinary occupations, falling on his knees and lifting up his hands to heaven, implored the blessing of God upon the enterprise on which he had just determined. An event occurred in his second voyage so characteristic of the spirit and manners of the age that it seems worthy of being related in the words of an eye-witness. "In this port (St. Julian) our general began to enquire diligently into the actions of Mr. Thomas Doughty, the second in command, and found them not to be such as he looked for,
*The complaints of pillaged merchants of both countries formed the subject of a large part of the correspondence between the two courts. The negotiations of Man, the English ambassador at Madrid, in 1564, remaining in the State Paper Office, chiefly apply to complaints of English merchants of piracy and other grievances. On the other hand, we find Elizabeth obliged, in 1573, by the clamours of Spanish and Portuguese merchants, to issue commissions of enquiry into their complaints. See Rymer, xv. 719. 721.
+"E montibus Mare Australe conspexit: huic homo, gloriæ opumque cupiditate inflammatus, navigandi mare illud tanto flagravit ardore, ut eo loci in genua procumbens, divinam opem imploraret ad mare illud aliquando navigandum et explorandum, et ad hoc voti religione se obstrinxit."Camd. ii. 352.
but tending rather to contention or mutiny, whereby the success of the voyage might be hazarded. Whereupon the company were called together, and made acquainted with the particulars of the cause, which were found partly by Doughty's confession, and partly by the evidence of the fact, to be true; which when our general saw, although his private affection for Mr. Doughty (as he then in the presence of us all sacredly protested) was great, yet that the care he had of the state of the voyage, of the expectations of her majesty, and of the honour of his country, did more touch him (as indeed it ought) than the private respect to one man; so that the cause being thoroughly heard, and all things done in good order as near as might be to the course of our laws in England, it was concluded that Mr. Doughty should receive punishment according to the quality of his offence; and he seeing no remedy but patience, desired to receive the communion, which he did at the house of Mr. Fletcher, our minister, and our general himself accompanied him in that holy action, which being done, and the place of execution made ready, he having embraced our general, and taken leave of all the company, with prayers for the queen's majesty and her realm, in quiet sort laid his head to the block, where he ended his life." * The expedition of Drake in 1577 has become memorable as the first in which the commander accomplished in his own person the circumnavigation of this planet. For Magalhanes, though he perfected the practical demonstration of the earth's spherical form, having by a western route reached the Moluccas,— the navigation to which by the Cape of Good Hope had become familiar, yet having been killed in those islands on his return to Europe in 1521, had completed his fame indeed, but without perfectly attaining his object. After an interval of sixty years, in which discovery slumbered, this achievement was performed by Drake, who, in this respect more fortunate than the discoverer, reached in 1580 by the southern promontory of Africa
* Hakluyt, 643, 644.
the port of Plymouth, from which he had sailed three years before by the road round Cape Horn. Drake was directly encouraged in this enterprise by his sovereign, who said to him before he sailed, "We do account that he which striketh at thee, Drake, striketh at us.” * After his return Elizabeth dined with him on board his own vessel, on which occasion she conferred on him the honour of knighthood. + The pertinency of many of the particulars which have been now related to the subsequent history of this reign, independently of their immeasurable importance as a part of the history of human civilisation, will appear evident to the reader from the fact that ten years afterwards, when England was exposed to one of the most tremendous dangers which she ever encountered, sir Francis Drake, sir John Hawkins, and sir Martin Frobisher were the efficient commanders of a fleet to which the salvation of their country was intrusted. +
We have thus endeavoured to trace the guarded steps by which the queen of England advanced, as well as some of the various means by which she was gradually prepared to venture beyond the boundaries of her wary system, and to take a decisive part in the commotions of Europe. As in the period of her caution, so in that of her energy, her strength consisted in acting at the head of her people. She was a demagogue. In that character her sway began to spread among protestants of every nation. Her sex perhaps partly prevented her pursuit of popularity from lowering her dignity; her com*Stowe, 807. + Ibid. 809.
Camd. ii. 573.