Voyages and Travels: Ancient and Modern. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
Sir Francis Drake Revived
Sir Francis Drake
Our Captain, considering the speech of these persons, and weighing it with his former intelligences had not only by Negroes, but Spaniards also, whereof he was always very careful: as also conferring it with his brothers 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 lie 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 rivers 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.
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 [on Rio Diego, see pp. 152 and 153] (22nd September), 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 fet[ched] 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 oclock 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 (14th15th 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 Captains 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 [grappling irons] 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 the passengers, had forsaken her, and were gone ashore in the Gundeloe [ships boat]: 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 Captains 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 soever 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 great[er] frigates gundeloe, and dismissed them.
The next morning (21st October) when they came down to the wester[n] point with a flag of truce, our Captain manned one of his pinnaces and rowed ashore. When we were within a cables 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 a land: 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.
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.
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 such 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 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.
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 from the sea, so that, we being betwixt the shore and them, were in 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.
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.
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 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, &c.; 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 wester[n] 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 a land, 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 Coriçao [Curaçao], 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 GODS Almighty providence, which never faileth them that trust in Him.
With that he hoisted his foresail, and set his course for Coriçao; 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.
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 GODS 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 howsoever 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 Cabeças [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 Fleets 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) ao 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 Captains 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 foresaid 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 Jan. 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 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 Captains 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 Captains 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 sea-most 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 as 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 from 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 rivers 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 to 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 lover [louvre] hole for a vent, in the midst of the roof. In every [one] 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, Potato[e]s, 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?
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 Captains persuasion, they were contented to leave their crosses, and to learn the Lords Prayer, and to be instructed in some measure concerning GODS 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 divers very strange accidents, that had fallen out between them and the Spaniards, namely [especially] one. A gallant gentleman entertained by the Governors of the country, undertook, the year last past , 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 mans 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.
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.
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 [also] 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 GODS 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.
But after that we were come within a days 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 Kings 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.
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.
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, having drunken too much aqua vitæ 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 gentlemans 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 Treasurers 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.