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"THE TROUBLESOME VOYAGE"
 THE four centuries before the sixteenth, in which Drake lived, have been called the Age of Discovery. The world
widened before men's eyes as new lands and seas, new peoples, and even new stars, became known to them. The
little country of Portugal was the first to begin those discoveries. Her ships explored the coasts of Africa
and traded there. One of her mariners discovered the passage round the Cape of Good Hope to India, the Spice
Islands, and China, and for long she had no rival in her trade.
About fifty years before Drake was born, America was discovered by Christopher Columbus, an Italian sailor in
the service of Spain. The ships in use in those days were very different to any we see now. There have been
three kinds of ships made,
 ships with oars, ships with sails, and ships with steam. They are divided into two kinds, fighting ships and
The old-fashioned galley was long and low-decked, and could be rowed or sailed. In the middle of the ship,
between two platforms or upper decks, the rowers were chained to their seats. Three or four men worked each of
the long oars, or sweeps as they were called. There were twenty-five oars or more on each side of the ship.
The rowers or galley-slaves were generally prisoners taken in war, and to "be sent to the galleys" was a
terrible fate. They lived on the benches, ill-fed and ill-clothed, with only an awning to cover them when in
port, though the low sides of the ships protected them a little from the weather and from the fire of the
enemy. Drake seems always to have released the slaves he took on Spanish galleys. Once, we are told, they
included "Turks, Greeks, Negroes, Frenchmen, and Spaniards."
The sailors who worked the ships were free. The ships were always armed, at first with shields and spears and
arrows, later with guns and powder. With such ships the Italians fought many great battles
 on the Mediterranean, and in such ships, the Norsemen had invaded England and raided the Northern Seas; and,
with his caravels, or light Spanish ships, Columbus reached the islands which he called the West Indies. In
later voyages he reached the mainland of America, but to the day of his death be always believed that he had
found the coast of Asia. Another Italian sailor, named Amerigo, also in the service of Spain, gave his name
to, the New World. The Italians had long been good sailors and ship-builders, and great fighters at sea, and
they had the glory of discovering America, though they gained no possessions there.
Spain, at that time the most powerful state in Europe, seized upon a great part of the new land, and found
there gold and silver mines. The natives they first subdued and afterwards forced to become Christians, as the
custom was in warfare with a Pagan race.
The American Indians, however, have never been easy to subdue, and have always had an undying affection for
their own way of life. The Spaniards found them unfitted for hard work in the mines. The Portuguese had
already captured negroes in their
 West African settlements, and numbers of those were sent to America as slaves.
From the time of Henry the Eighth the English were building and buying fine ships, and learnt to sail them so
well that they began less and less to use the old galley ship with its many oars. They traded mostly with
Spain and the Low Countries; but as they got better ships, and became expert sailors, they wanted to go
farther away, to discover new countries and get more trade. They began to sail to the Canary Islands, to
Africa, and America.
The Hawkins family had taken a large part in this new activity. The elder William Hawkins had sailed to
Brazil; and his son, John Hawkins, with whom Drake took service, made several voyages to the "Isles of the
Canaries." Having learnt something about the West Indies, he made several voyages there, carrying with him
numbers of negroes to sell, whom he took, partly by the sword, and partly by other means, on the coast of
Hawkins and the other adventurers who joined him brought home great riches. In the account of those early
voyages we see the beginning of a quarrel with Spain, which
 was to last through the reign of Elizabeth, till Philip sent his great Armada. to invade England.
The third and most famous voyage of John Hawkins to the West Indies was called "the troublesome voyage," for
it ended in disaster. It was the biggest venture that had yet been made by the English, and Drake took part in
it. Hawkins sailed with six ships. There were two "great ships" of the Royal Navy—the Jesus,
commanded by Hawkins himself, and the Minion; the William and John, named after and owned
by the Hawkins brothers; and three smaller ones, the Swallow, the Angel, and the Judith,
the last being under the command of Francis Drake.
They got slaves in Africa and sold them in the West Indies, though not without difficulty, because the
Spaniards had been forbidden by their king to trade with the English. As they were about to start on their way
home, the ships met with fearful storms, and as the Jesus was much shattered, Hawkins made up his
mind to seek for haven. They were driven at last into Vera Cruz, the port of the city of Mexico. Here they
sheltered, hoping to buy food and
 repair their fleet. Now in this very port lay treasure which was said to be worth thousands of pounds. It was
waiting for the fleet of armed ships which was to take it safely back to Spain. The Spaniards were much
dismayed to see the English ships, with their Portuguese ships and prisoners captured on the voyage, come, as
they thought, to seize their treasure. It was this very danger they had feared when Hawkins first began his
slave trade and disturbed the peace of the Spanish colonies.
Next morning thirteen great ships appeared, and proved to be a Mexican fleet returning with a new Viceroy or
Governor from King Philip. A solemn and peaceful agreement was made, and the Spanish ships were moored
alongside the English ones, which were already in possession of the harbour. However, the Spaniards afterwards
broke faith and fell upon the English, and a great and fierce fight took place, which lasted from ten in the
morning until night. The Angel and the Swallow were sunk, and the Jesus
so damaged that it could not be brought away.
As the remaining ships were sailing away the Spaniards sent two "fire ships" after
 them. This was not an unusual way of fighting in those days. The empty, burning ships were sent to try and
fire the enemies' ships, and were borne along, flaming, by the wind, an awful and terrifying sight. The men on
the Minion became panic-stricken, and set sail without orders. Some of the men from the
Judith followed in a small boat. The rest were forced "to abide the mercy of the Spaniards,"
which, Hawkins says, he doubts was very little.
"The same night," he goes on, "the Judith forsook us in our great misery. In the end, when the
wind came larger, we weighed anchor and set sail, seeking for water, of which we had very little. And
wandering thus certain days in these unknown seas, hunger forced us to eat hides, cats and dogs, mice, rats,
parrots, and monkeys."
Some of the men asked to be put on land, rather than risk shipwreck and starvation in the overcrowded boat.
Hawkins did, in the end, get safely home, with his weather-beaten ship, and the survivors of his feeble,
starving crew. But he says that, if all the miseries and troubles of this sorrowful voyage were to be written,
 tale would be as long as the "Book of Martyrs." Some of the men that were left also reached England, after
weary wanderings and years of terrible sufferings. Some were put to death as heretics, and others were sent to
the galleys as slaves. Others, more fortunate, were sent to serve in monasteries, where the monks made kind
and gentle masters.
Five days before Hawkins reached England, the little Judith struggled into Plymouth Harbour with
Drake and his load of men. William Hawkins sent him at once to London on horseback, "post, post haste," as the
old letters say. He carried letters to the Lords of Council, and to Sir William Cecil, the Chief Secretary of
the Queen. So he rode swiftly along the country roads, only stopping to fling himself off one weary, smoking
horse on to, the back of a fresh one. The people would gather round him as he made the change, and wonder what
great news was going to town.
DRAKE CARRYING TO COURT THE NEWS OF HIS VOYAGE.
William Hawkins said in his letter: "There is come to Plymouth, at this present hour, one of the small barks
of my brother's fleet, and as I have neither writing nor
 anything else from him, I thought it good, and my most bounden duty, to send you the captain of the same bark.
He is our kinsman, and is called Francis Drake."
He was to tell the whole story, and the Queen was to hear it. He was to tell of the losses of John Hawkins,
and of his absence, which his brother says "is unto me more grief than any other thing in the world."
Drake was much blamed at the time for deserting his general. It is difficult for us to see what he could have
done. His little ship was crowded, and he had small store of food and water, and he no doubt thought it best
to get home as soon as possible. His story of Spanish treachery and English loss must have roused the country
side. The excitement was at its height when the Minion appeared off Cornwall.
A man "for goodwill" came riding to William Hawkins, at Plymouth, to get help. He sent a bark, with
thirty-four mariners and a store of fresh food and other necessaries. And again letters were sent to London
with the news. Haste! Haste! post haste!