In this expedition he acquired immense riches for his owners, and considerable wealth for himself; and being of an honourable and generous disposition, he scorned to avail himself of advantages, which most other men would have considered as their right. Of this we have the following remarkable instance. Having presented a cutlass to a captain or cacique of the free Indians inhabiting the isthmus of Darien, the cacique gave him in return four large ingots of gold, which he immediately threw into the common stock, saying, “My owners gave me that cutlass, and it is just they should receive their share of its produce.” His return to England from this successful expedition was equally fortunate, as he sailed in twenty-three days from Cape Florida to the Scilly islands. Arriving at Plymouth on Sunday, the 9th August, 1573, during divine service, the news of his return was carried to church, on which few persons remained with the preacher, all the congregation running out to welcome the adventurous Drake, who had been absent fourteen months and sixteen days in this voyage.
The wealth he gained in this expedition he generously expended in the service of his country, equipping no less than three frigates at his own expence, which he commanded in person, and with which he contributed materially to the reduction of the rebellion in Ireland, under the supreme command of the earl of Essex. After the death of that nobleman, he chose Sir Christopher Hatton for his patron, then vice-chamberlain to the queen, and afterwards lord high-chancellor of England. By his interest, not without great opposition, captain Drake obtained a commission from queen Elizabeth for the voyage of which it is now proposed to give an account, and which he had long meditated. Being thus provided with the royal authority, his friends contributed largely towards the intended expedition, while he applied himself with all diligence to get every thing in readiness for the important undertaking; having in view to attack the powerful monarchy of Spain, in its richest yet most vulnerable possessions on the western coasts of America, with what would now be considered a trifling squadron of five small barks.
The ships, as they were then called, fitted out for this bold enterprize, were, the Pelican, afterwards named the Hind, of 100 tons, admiral-ship of the squadron, under his own immediate command as captain-general; the Elizabeth, vice-admiral, of 80 tons, commanded by Captain John Winter, who was lieutenant-general of the expedition; the Marigold, a bark of 30 tons, Captain John Thomas; the Swan, a fly-boat of 50 tons, Captain John Chester; and the Christopher, a pinnace of 15 tons, Captain Thomas Moon. These ships were manned with 164 able-bodied men, including officers, and were provided with an ample supply of provisions, ammunition and stores, for so long and dangerous a voyage. Captain Drake likewise provided the frames of four pinnaces, which were stowed on board in pieces,