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THE land in that part of America, bearing farther out into the west than we before imagined, we were nearer on it than we were aware; and yet the nearer still we came unto it, the more extremity of cold did seize upon us. The 5 day of June [1578 ], we were forced by contrary winds to run in with the shore, which we then first descried, and to cast anchor in a bad bay, the best road we could for the present meet with, where we were not without some danger by reason of the many extreme gusts and flaws that beat upon us, which if they ceased and were still at any time, immediately upon their intermission there followed most vile, thick, and stinking fogs, against which the sea prevailed nothing, till the gusts of wind again removed them, which brought with them such extremity and violence when they came, that there was no dealing or resisting against them.

In this place was no abiding for us; and to go further north, the extremity of the cold (which had now utterly discouraged our men) would not permit us; and the winds directly bent against us, having once gotten us under sail again, commanded us to southward whether we would or no….
The 3 day following, viz., the 21, our ship having received a leak at sea, was brought to anchor nearer the shore, that, her goods being landed, she might be repaired; but for that we were to prevent any danger that might chance against our safety, our general first of all landed his men, with all necessary provision, to build tents and make a fort for the defense of ourselves and goods: and that we might under the shelter of it with more safety (whatever should befall) end our business; which when the people of the country perceived us doing, as men set on fire to war in defense of their country, in great haste and companies, with such weapons as they had, they came down unto us, and yet with no hostile meaning or intent to hurt us: standing, when they drew near, as men ravished in their minds, with the sight of such things as they never had seen or heard of before that time: their errand being rather with submission and fear to worship us as gods, than to have any war with us as with mortal men. Which thing, as it did partly show itself at that instant, so did it more and more manifest itself afterwards, during the whole time of our abode among them. At this time, being willed by signs to lay from them their bows and arrows, they did as they were directed, and so did all the rest, as they came more and more by companies unto them, growing in a little while to a great number, both of men and women….

In recompense of those things which they had received of us, as shirts, linen cloth, etc., they bestowed upon our general, and diverse of our company, diverse things, as feathers, cawls of network, the quivers of their arrows, made of fawn skins, and the very skins of beasts that their women wore upon their bodies. Having thus had their fill of this times visiting and beholding of us, they departed with joy to their houses, which houses are dug round within the earth, and have from the uppermost brims of the circle clefts of wood set up, and joined close together at the top, like our spires on the steeple of a church; which being covered with earth, suffer no water to enter, and are very warm; the door in the most part of them performs the office also of a chimney to let out the smoke: it's made in bigness and fashion like to an ordinary scuttle in a ship, and standing slopewise: their beds are the hard ground, only with rushes strewn upon it, and lying round about the house, have their fire in the middle, which by reason that the house is but low vaulted, round, and close, gives a marvelous reflection to their bodies to heat the same.

Their men for the most part go naked; the women take a kind of bulrushes, and combing it after the manner of hemp, make themselves thereof a loose garment, which being knit about their middles, hangs down about their hips, and so affords to them a covering of that which nature teaches should be hidden; about their shoulders they wear also the skin of a deer, with the hair upon it. They are very obedient to their husbands, and exceeding ready in all services; yet of themselves offering to do nothing, without the consents or being called of the men.

As soon as they were returned to their houses, they began among themselves a kind of most lamentable weeping and crying out; which they continued also a great while together, in such sort that in the place where they left us (being near about 3 quarters of an English mile distant from them) we very plainly, with wonder and admiration, did hear the same, the women especially extending their voices in a most miserable and doleful manner of shrieking….

Against the end of three days more (the news having the while spread itself farther, and as it seemed a great way up into the country), were assembled the greatest number of people which we could reasonably imagine to dwell within any convenient distance round about. Among the rest the king himself, 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 down to see us.

Before his coming, were sent two ambassadors or messengers to our general, to signify that their Hi?h, that is, their king, was coming and at hand. They in the delivery 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 was) about half an hour. Which being ended, they by signs made request to our general, to send something by their hands to their Hi?h or king, as a token that his coming might be in peace. Our general willingly satisfied their desire; and they, glad men, made speedy return to their Hi?h. Neither was it long before their king (making as princely a show as possibly he could) with all his train came forward.

In their coming forward they cried continually after a singing manner, with a lusty courage. And as they drew nearer and nearer towards us, so did they more and more strive to behave themselves with a certain comeliness and gravity in all their actions.

In the forefront came a man of a large body and goodly aspect, bearing the scepter or royal mace, made of a certain kind of black wood, and in length about a yard and a half, before the king. Whereupon hung two crowns, a bigger and a less, with three chains of a marvelous length, and often doubled, besides a bag of the herb Tabah. The crowns were made of knitwork, wrought upon most curiously with feathers of divers colors, very artificially placed, and of a formal fashion. The chains seemed of a bony substance, every link or part thereof being very little, thin, most finely burnished, with a hole pierced through the middle. The number of links going to make one chain, is in a manner infinite; but of such estimation it is among them, that few be the persons that are admitted to wear the same; and even they to whom it is lawful to use them, yet are stinted what number they shall use, as some ten, some twelve, some twenty, and as they exceed in number of chains, so thereby are they known to be the more honorable personages.

Next unto him that bare this scepter, was the king himself with his guard about him; his attire upon his head was a cawl of knitwork, wrought upon somewhat like the crowns, but differing much both in fashion and perfectness of work; upon his shoulders he had on a coat of the skins of conies, reaching to his waist; his guard also had each coats of the same shape, but of other skins; some having cawls likewise stuck with feathers, or covered over with a certain down, which grows up in the country upon an herb much like our lettuce, which exceeds any other down in the world for fineness, and being laid upon their cawls, by no winds can be removed. Of such estimation is this herb among them, that the down thereof is not lawful to be worn, but of such persons as are about the king (to whom also it is permitted to wear a Plume of feathers on their heads, in sign of honor), and the seeds are not used but only in sacrifice to their gods. After these, in their order, did follow the naked sort of common people, whose hair being long, was gathered into a bunch behind, in which stuck plumes of feathers; but in the forepart only single feathers like horns, every one pleasing himself in his own device.

This one thing was observed to be general among them all, that every one had his face painted, some with white, some black, and some with other colors, every man also bringing in his hand one thing or other for a gift or present. Their train or last part of their company consisted of women and children, each woman bearing against her breast a round basket or two, having with them divers things, as bags of Tobah, a root which they call Petah, whereof they make a kind of meal, and either bake it into bread, or eat it raw; broiled fish, like a pilchard; the seed and down aforenamed, with such like….

They are a people of a tractable, free, and loving nature, without guile or treachery; their bows and arrows (their only weapons, and almost all their wealth) they use very skillfully, but yet not to do any great harm with them, being by reason of their weakness more fit for children than for men, sending the arrows neither far off nor with any great force: and yet are the men commonly so strong of body, that that which 2 or 3 of our men could hardly bear, one of them would take upon his back, and without grudging carry it easily away, up hill and down hill an English mile together: they are also exceedingly swift in running, and of long continuance, the use whereof is so familiar with them, that they seldom go, but for the most part run. One thing we observed in them with admiration, that if at any time they chanced to see a fish so near the shore that they might reach the place without swimming, they would never, or very seldom, miss to take it….

This country our general named Albion, and that for two causes; the one in respect of the white banks and cliffs, which lie toward the sea; the other, that it might have some affinity, even in name also, with our own country, which was sometimes so called.

Before we went from thence, our general caused to be set up a monument of our being there, as also of her majesty's and successor's right and title to that kingdom; namely, a plate of brass, fast nailed to a great and firm post; whereon is engraven her grace's name, and the day and year of our arrival there, and of the free giving up of the province and kingdom, both by the king and people, into her majesty's hands: together with her highness' picture and arms, in a piece of sixpence current English money, showing itself by a hole made of purpose through the plate; underneath was likewise engraven the name of our general, etc….

The 23 of July they took a sorrowful farewell of us, but being loath to leave us, they presently ran to the top of the hills to keep 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) sacrifices at our departure.


General Summary

Sir Francis Drake, whose very name has become a synonym for adventure and deeds of daring on the high seas, was what we should nowadays call a pirate. To be sure his piracy was legalized to some extent by his government.

Sailing from Plymouth on November 15, 1577, Drake coasted down the South American continent to the Straits of Magellan. After 17 days spent in working his way through, he came up the West Coast and attempted to sail around the North American continent, and so back to England, but he was halted by fog and bad weather somewhere near the present site of Vancouver, and returned to California before striking out across the Pacific.

The passages given here deal with his experiences in California. They are taken from "The World Encompassed by Sir Francis Drake," a book prepared in 1628 by his nephew from notes kept by the Admiral's chaplain, with the assistance of "divers others his followers" on the long voyage.

Original Sources http://www.originalsources.com