Drake's Voyage (1579)

From Guatulco we departed the day following, viz, Aprill 16, [1579] setting our course directly into the sea, whereon we sayled 500 leagues in longitude, to get a winde: and between that and June 3, 1400 leagues in all, till we came into 42 deg. of North latitude, where in the night following we found such alteration of heate, into extreame and nipping cold, that our men in generall did grieuously complaine thereof, some of them feeling their healths much impaired thereby; neither was it that this chanced in the night alone, but the day following carried with it not onely the markes but the stings and force of the night going before, to the great admiration of vs all; for besides that the pinching and biting aire was nothing altered, the very roapes of our ship were stifle, and the raine which fell was an unnatural congealed and frozen substance, so that we seemed rather to be in the frozen Zone then any way so neere unto the sun, or these hotter climates.

The 3 day following, was., the 21, our ship having receiued a leake at sea, was brought to anchor neerer the shoare, that, her goods being landed, she might be repaired; but for that we were to preuent any danger that might chance against our safety, our Generall first of all landed his men, with all necessary prouision, to build tents and make a fort for the defence of our selues and goods: and that wee might under the shelter of it with more safety (what euer should befall) end our businesse; which when the people of the countrey perceiued us doing, as men set on fire to war in defence of their countrie, in great hast and companies, with such weapons as they had, they came downe vnto vs. and yet with no hostile meaning or intent to hurt vs: stan ding, when they drew neere, as men rauished in their minded with the sight of such things as they neuer had seene or heard of before that time: their errand being rather with submission and feare to worship us as gods, then to haue any warre with vs as with mortall men. which thing, as it did partly shew itself at that instant, so did it more and more manifest itself afterwards, during the whole time of our abode amongst them. At this time, being willed by signes to lay from them their bowes and arrovves, they did as they were directed, and so did all the rest, as they came more and more by companies vnto them, growing in a little while to a great number, both of men and women

To the intent, therefore, that this peace which they themselves so willingly sought might, without any cause of the breach thereof on our part given, be continued, and that wee might with more safety and expedition end our businesses in quiet, our Generall, with all his company, vsed all meanes possible gently to intreate them, bestowing upon each of them liberally good and necessary things to couer their nakednesse; withall signifying vnto them we were no Gods, but men, and had neede of such things to couer our owne shame; teaching them to vse them to the same ends, for which cause also wee did eate and drinke in their presence, giuing them to understand that without that wee could not live, and therefore were but men as well as they.

Notwithstanding nothing could persuade them, nor remoue that opinion which they had concoiued of vs. that wee should be Gods. In recompense of those things which they had receiued of vs. as shirts, linnen cloth, etc., they bestowed vpon our Generall, and diuerse of our company, diuerse things, as feathers, cawles of networke, the quiuers of their arrowes, made of fawne skins, and the very skins of beasts that their women wore vpon their bodies. Hauing thus had their fill of this times visiting and beholding of vs. they departed with ioy to their houses, which houses are digged round within the earth, and haue from the vppermost brimmes of the circle clefts of wood set vp, and ioyned close together at the tops like our spires on the steeple of a Church; which being couered with earth suffer no water to enter, and are very warme, the doore in the most part of them performes the office also of a chimney to let out the smoake: its made in bignesse and fashion like to an ordinary scuttle in a ship, and standing slopewise: their beds are the hard ground, onely with rushes strewed vpon it, and lying round about the house haue their fire in the middest, which by reason that the house is but low vaulted, round, and close, giueth a maruelous reflexion to their bodies to heate the same.

Their men for the most part goe naked; the women take a kinde of bulrushes, and kembing it after the manner of hemp, make themselues thereof a loose garment, which being knitte about their middles, hanges downe about their hippes, and so affordes to them a couering of that which nature teaches should be hidden; about their shoulders they weare also the skin of a deere, with the haire vpon it. They are very obedient to their husbands, and exceeding ready in all seruices; yet of themselues offring to do nothing, without the consents or being called of the men....

Against the end of three daies more (the newes hauing the while spread itselfe farther, and as it seemed a great way vp into the countrie), were assembled the greatest number of people which wee could reasonably imagine to dwell within any conuenient distance round about. Amongst the rest the king himselfe, a man of a goodly stature and comely personage, attended with his guard of about 100 tall and warlike men, this day, viz., June 26, came downe to see vs.

Before his comming, were sent two ambassadors or messengers to our Generall to signifie that their Hioh, that is, their king, was comming and at hand. They in the deliuery of their message, the one spoke with a soft and low voice, prompting his fellow; the other pronounced the same, word by word, after him with a voice more audible, continuing their proclamation (for such it wash about have an houre. Which seizer ezzdedy they by signes made request to our Generall, to send something by their hands to their Hioh or king, as a token that his comming might be in peace. Our Generall willingly satisfied their desire; and they, glad men, made speedy returne to their Hioh. Neither was it long before their king (making as princely a shew as possibly he could) with all his traine came forward.

In their comming forwards they cryed continually after a singing manner, with a lustie courage. And as they drew neerer and neerer towards vs. so did they more and more striue to behaue themselues with a certaine comelillesse and grauity in all their actions.

In the forefront came a man of a large body and goodly aspect, bearing the Scepter or royall mace, made of a certaine kind of blacke wood, and in length about a yard and a halfe, before the king. Whereupon hanged two crowned a bigger and a lesser, with three chaines of a maruellous length, and often doubled, besides a bagge of the herbe Tabah. The crownes were made of knitworke, wrought vpon most curiously with feathers of diners colours, very artificially placed, and of a formall fashion. The chaines seemed of a bony substance, euery linke or part thereof being very little, thinne, most finely burnished, with a hole pierced through the middest. The number of linkes going to make one Caine is in a manner infinite; but of such estimation it is amongst them, that few be the persons that are admitted to weare the same; and euen they to whom its lawfull to use them, yet are stinted what number they shall vse, as some ten, some twefue, some twentie, and as they exceed in number of chainess so thereby are they knowne to be the more honorable personages.

Next vnto him that bare this Scepter was the king himselfe with his guard about him; his attire upon his head was a cawle of knitworke, wrought vpon somewhat like the crownes, but differing much both in fashion and perfectnesse of worke; vpon his shoulders he had on a coate of the skins of conies, reaching to his waist; his guard also had each coats of the same shape, but of other skins; some hauing cawles likewise stucke with feathers, or couered ouer with a certaine downe, which groweth vp in the countrey vpon an herbe much like our lectuce, which exceeds any other downe in the world for finenesse, and being layed vpon their cawles, by no winds can be remoued.

In the meane time, our Generall hauing assembled his men together (as forecasting the danger and worst that might. fall out) prepared himselfe to stand vpon sure ground, that wee might at all times be ready in our owne defence, if any thing should chance otherwise than was looked for or excpected.

Wherefore euery man being in a warlike readinesse, he marched within his fenced place, making against their approach a most warlike shew (as he did also at all other times of their resort), whereby if they had beene desperate enemies, they could not haue chosen but haue conceiued terrour and fear, with discouragement to attempt anything against vs. in beholding of the same.

When they were come somewhat neere vnto vs. trooping together, they gaue vs a common or generall salutation, observing in the meane time a generall silenee. Whereupon, he who bare the Scepter before the king, being prompted by another whom the king assigned to that office, pronounced with an audible and manly voice what the other spoke to him in secret, continuing, whether it were his oration or proclamation, at the least halfe an houre. At the close whereof there was a common Amen, in signe of approbation, giuen by euery person: and the king himselfe, with the whole number of men and women (the little ehildren onely remaining behind) came further downe the hill, and as they came set themselues againe in their former order.

And beeing now come to the foot of the hill and neere our fort, the Scepter bearer, with a composed countenance and stately carriage began a song, and answerable thereunto obserued a kind of measures in a dance: whom the king with his guard and euery other sort of person following, did in like manner sing and daunce, sauing onely the women, who danced but kept silence. As they danced they still came on: and our Generall perceiuing their plaine and simple meaning, gaue order that they might freely enter without interruption within our bulwarke. Where, after they had entred, they yet continued their song and dance a reasonable time, their women also following them with their wassaile boales in their hands, their bodies bruised, their faces torne, their dugges, breasts, and other parts bespotted with bloud, trickling downe from the wounds, which with their nailes they had made before their comming.

After that they had satisfied, or rather tired themselues in this manner, they made signes to our Generall to haue him sit down; unto whom both the king and diucrs others made seuerall orations~~ or rather, indeed, if wee had vnderstood them, supplications, that hee would take the Prouince and kingdome into his hand, and become their king and patron: making signes that they would resigne vnto him their right and title in the whole land, and become his vassals in themselues and their posterities: which that they might make vs indeed beleeue that it was their true meaning and intent, the king himselfe, with all the rest, with one consent and with great reuerence, ioyfully singing a song, set the crowne vpon his head, inriched his necke with all their chained and offering vnto him many other things, honoured him by the name of Hyoh. Adding thereunto (as it might seeme) a song and dance of triumph; because they were not onely visited of the gods (for so they still iudged vs to be), but the great and chiefe God was now become their God, their king and patron, and themselues were become the onely happie and blessed people in the world.

These things being so freely offered, our Generall thought not meet to reiect or refuse the same, both for that he would not giue them any cause of mistrust or disliking of him (that being the onely place, wherein at this present, we were of neeessitie inforced to seeke reliefe of many things), and chiefely for that he knew not to what good end God had brought this to passe, or what honour and profit it might bring to our countrie in time to come.

Wherefore, in the name and to the vse of her most excellent maiesty, he tooke the scepter, crowne, and dignity of the sayd countrie into his hand; wishing nothing more than that it had layen so fitly for her maiesty to enioy, as it was now her proper owne, and that the riches and treasures thereof (wherewith in the vpland countries it abounds) might with as great conueniency be transported, to the enriching of her kingdome here at home, as it is in plenty to be attained there; and especially that so tractable and louing a people as they shewed themselues to be, might haue meanes to haue manifested their most willing obedience the more vnto her, and by her meanes, as a mother and nurse of the Church of Christ, might by the preaching of the Gospell, be brought to the right knowledge and obedience of the true and euerliuing God.

The ceremonies of this resigning and receiving of the kingdome being thus performed, the common sort, both of men and women, leaning the king and his guard about him, with out (generally dispersed themselucs among our people, taking a diligent view or suruey of euery man; and finding such as pleased their fancies (which commonly were the youngest of vs), they presently enclosing them about offred their sacrifices vnto them, crying out with lamentable shreekes and moanes, weeping and scratching and tearing their very flesh off their faces with their nailes; neither were it the women alone which did this, but euen old men, roaring and crying out, were as violent as the women were....

Few were the dayes, wherein they were absent from vs. during the whole time of our abode in that place; and ordinarily euery third day they brought their sacrifices, till such time as they certainely vnderstood our meaning, that we tooke no pleasure, but were displeased with them; whereupon their zeale abated, and their sacrificing, for a season, to our good liking ceased; not withstanding they continued still to make their resort vnto vs in great abundance, and in such sort, that they oft-time forgate to prouide meate for their owne sustenance....

This country our Generals named Albion, and that for two causes; the one in respect of the white bancks and cliffes, which lie toward the sea; the other, that it might haue some affinity, euen in name also, with our own country which was sometime so called.

Before we went frorn thence, our Generall caused to be set vp a monument of our being there, as also of her maiesties and successors right and title to that kingdome; namely, a plate of brasse, fast nailed to a great and firme poste; whereon is engrauen her graces name, and the day and yeare of our arriuall there, and of the free guing vp of the prouince and kingdome, both by the king and people, into her maiesties hands: together with her highnesse picture and armes, in a piece of sixpence currant English monie, shewing itselfe by a hole made of purpose through the plate; vnderneath was likewise engrauen the name of our Generall, etc.

The Spaniards neuer had any dealing, or so much as set a foote in this country, the vtmost of their discoueries reaching onely to many degrees Southward of this place.

And now, as the time of our departure was perceived by them to draw high, so did the sorrowes and miseries of this people seeme to themsedues to increase vpon them, and the more certaine they were of our going away, the more doubtfull they chewed themselues what they might doe; so that we might easily iudge that that ioy (being exceeding great) wherewith they receiued vs at our first arriuall, was cleane drowned in their excessive sorrow for our departing. For they did not onely loose on a sudden all mirth, ioy, glad countenance, pleasant speeches, agility of body, familiar reioycing one with another, and all pleasure what euer flesh and blood might bee delighted in, but with sighes and Borrowings, with heauy hearts and grieued minds, they powred out wofull complaints and moanes, with bitter teares and wringing of their hands, tormenting themselues. And as men refusing all comfort, they onely accounted themselues as cast-awayes, and those whom the gods were about to forsake: so that nothing we could say or do, was able to ease them of their so heauy a burthen, or to deliuer them from so desperate a straite, as our leaning of them did seeme to them that it would cast them into, .

The 23 of July they tooke a sorrowfull farewell of vs. but being loath to leaue vs. they presently ranne to the top of the hils to keepe us in their sight as long as they could, making fires before and behind, and on each side of them, burning therein (as is to be supposed) sacrafices at our departure. therein (as is to be supposed) saerifices at our departure.