Page images

sion under Sir John Hawkins, took one of his barks, and having tortured some of it's crew into a confession that the whole English force was bent against Porto Rico, crowded all sail without attempting an engage. ment, and thus saved the place, Hawkins foreseeing the inevitable consequences of these repeated delays, died of a fever occasioned by chagrin November 21, 1595. . He was one of the ablest and most experienced seamen of his time; and had improved his parts, naturally strong, by constant application. He was apt in council to differ from other men's opinions, and yet was reserved in discovering his own.* Slow, jealous, and somewhat irresolute in deliberation; in action he was merciful, apt to forgive, and a strict observer of his word. As he had passed a considerable part of his life at sea, he had too vehement a dislike of landsoldiers, When occasion required it, he could dissemble, though he was naturally of a blunt disposition. With great personal courage, and presence of mind, he is said to have been much beloved by his seamen for his affability. He was twice elected burgess for Plymouth, and sat a third time in parliament for some other borough. To him, likewise, was owing the foundation of an hospital at Chatham for poor and diseased sailors.

His character, however, it is to be lamented, was tarnished by the mean passion of avarice; which apparently, upon several occasions, exercised a pernicious influence over his public conduct. But his abilities in the naval department, both at land and at sea, ex

* Mr. Pitt, it is said, complained of his great collegue, Lord Chancellor Thurlow, that “he opposed every thing, and proposed nothing."

tenuated his defects. He was no less than forty-eight years engaged in active service, and during nearly half that long period held the treasurership of the navy, for the regulation of which he established many excellent orders; and he was both the author, and the patron, of several useful improvements in the art of navigation. Lastly, in conjunction with his brother William, he contributed to the great increase of sailors by promoting commercial adventure; for they were owners of thirty sail, says Dr. Campbell, of goodly ships.

He likewise bred up his son Richard to the sea, and had the happiness, two years before he died, to see him knighted for his signal services. Sir Richard accompanied him in many of his expeditions, and invariably evinced that he inherited his valour. In the engagement with the Armada, he commanded the Swallow frigate, which suffered more than any other ship in the fleet. Two years afterward, under the command of his father and Sir Martin Frobisher, he signalised himself on the coasts of Spain; and in 1593, he fitted out two large vessels at his own expense, to annoy the Spaniards in South-America. He had, likewise, a farther design of sailing round the globe, that he might share the glory of Drake and Cavendish : with this view, in 1594, he passed with only one ship the Streights of Magellan, and cruised along the coasts of Patagonia. In 48° S. lat. he discovered a fair country, situated in a very temperate climate, to particular places of which he gave different names; but the land collectively he called Hawkins' Maiden Land,' assigning as a reason, that he had discovered it at his own expense under the auspices of a maiden Queen. Having secured some value able prizes, and bravely disengaged himself in one instance from an attempt made by Don Bertrand de Castro to take him prisoner, under the influence of his father's foible (an inordinate love of money) he loitered in those seas with the hope of still more profitable conquests, till in the end he was cap, tured, after a desperate engagement, in the course of which he received several dangerous wounds. He surrendered indeed upon a promise, that the whole 'crew should have a free passage to England as soon as possible: but the Spaniards, with their usual perfidy, retained him a prisoner in Spain till the fruitless negociation for peace in 1600; upon which he obtained his release, and passed the remainder of his days in retirement. He left an account of his voyage, up to the time of his capture, which was published after his decease in one volume folio, entitled, “The Observations of Sir Richard Hawkins, in his Voyage to the South-Seas.'



TUND SPENSER was born about 1553, in London, and educated as a sizar at Pembroke-Hall, Cambridge, where he took the degree of B. A. in 1572, and of M. A. in 1576. The accounts of his birth and family* are extremely imperfect, and at his first setting out in life, his fortune and interest seem to have been very inconsiderable. After he had continued some time at college, and made great proficiency in learning, he offered himself as candidate for a fellowship, in which he was unsuccessful. This disappointment, joined with the narrowness of his circumstances, compelled him to quit the University; and we find him subsequently residing at the house of a friend in the North, where he fell in love with the Rosalind,' of whose cruelty he has composed such pathetic complaints. About this time, indeed, his genius probably began first to distinguish itself; for · The Shepherd's Calendar,' which is so full of his unprosperous passion, was among the first of his works of note. This work he addressed, in a short dedication, to Sir Philip Sidney,* who for wit and gallantry was the most popular of all the courtiers of his age; and, excelling as he did in the inventive part of poetry, was naturally struck with the powers of the youthful writer. The conversation and intimacy of so distinguished a personage prepared the way for his

* That his family, however, was one of the most splendid in modern English history, was asserted by Gibbon, who observes, “ the nobility of the Spensers has been illustrated and enriched by the trophies of Marlborough; but I exhort them to consider the • Fairy Queen,' as the most precious jewel of their coronet.

* To this distinguished man he was introduced by his friend Mr. Gabriel Hervey, of Trinity-Hall, by whose advice he had removed, in 1578, to London. Sidney's gènerous and elevating friendship speedily made the poet known to the Earl of Leicester; and from Leicester, in 1579, he received an appointment as agent in France, and other parts, though it proved abortive.

+ A story is related of him by Hughes, which, though disproved by his late biographer Mr. Todd, may be admitted pere haps in a note. Spenser, it is said, was an entire stranger to Sidney, when he began to write his . Fairy Queen,'and introduced himself at Leicester-House by sending him a copy of the ninth canto of the first book of that poem. Sidney, surprised by the description of Despair, exhibited an unusual species of transport on the discovery of so new and uncommon a genius. After perusing a few stanzas, he turned to his steward, and bade him

give the person who brought them fifty pounds;' a sum which, upon reading the next, he ordered to be doubled. The steward, no less surprised than his master, thought it his duty to remonstrate against so sudden and lavish a bounty ; but upon reading an additional stanza, Sidney raised the gratuity to two hundred pounds, and commanded the steward to bestow it immediately, lest as he proceeded he should be tempted to give away his whole estate. The following are said to be the stanzas, with which this accomplished scholar was first struck:

• From him returning, sad and comfortless,

As on the way together we did fare,
We met that villain (God from him mę bless!)

That cursed wight, whom I escaped whilere,
A man of hell that calls himself Despair;

« PreviousContinue »