Voyages and Travels: Ancient and Modern. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
Sir Francis Drake
SIR FRANCIS DRAKE, the greatest of the naval adventurers of England of the time of Elizabeth, was born in Devonshire about 1540. He went to sea early, was sailing to the Spanish Main by 1565, and commanded a ship under Hawkins in an expedition that was overwhelmed by the Spaniards in 1567. In order to recompense himself for the loss suffered in this disaster, he equipped the expedition against the Spanish treasure-house at Nombre de Dios in 1572, the fortunes of which are described in the first of the two following narratives. It was on this voyage that he was led by native guides to that goodly and great high tree on the isthmus of Darien, from which, first of Englishmen, he looked on the Pacific, and besought Almighty God of His goodness to give him life and leave to sail once in an English ship in that sea.
The fulfilment of this prayer is described in the second of the voyages here printed, in which it is told how, in 1578, Drake passed through the Straits of Magellan into waters never before sailed by his countrymen, and with a single ship rifled the Spanish settlements on the west coast of South America and plundered the Spanish treasure-ships; how, considering it unsafe to go back the way he came lest the enemy should seek revenge, he went as far north as the Golden Gate, then passed across the Pacific and round by the Cape of Good Hope, and so home, the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. Only Magellans ship had preceded him in the feat, and Magellan had died on the voyage. The Queen visited the ship, The Golden Hind, as she lay at Deptford and knighted the commander on board.
Drakes further adventures were of almost equal interest. Returning from a raid on the Spaniards in 1586, he brought home the despairing Virginian colony, and is said at the same time to have introduced from America tobacco and potatoes. Two years later he led the English fleet in the decisive engagement with the Great Armada. In 1595 he set out on another voyage to the Spanish Main; and in the January of the following year died off Porto Bello and was buried in the waters where he had made his name as the greatest seaman of his day and nation.