4 MAY 1907, Page 22

SIR JOHN HAWKINS.• THERE is no biography of Sir John

Hawkins, the Elizabethan sea-captain, although his name is every where in the chronicles - of his age. Mr. Walling does not profess to do more than make " suggestions" for a Life, Till a full biography appears, however, we shall do very well with this book, which is a thoroughly workmanlike narrative with fairly judicious com- ment. It has a strong flavour of hero-worship, to be sure, but we should not wish it to be without that, even though a hero-worshipper can scarcely be the beat of judges. The story is not less than fascinating, and Mr. Walling has done well to gather into one coherent record the general facts which busy people cannot disentangle for themselves out of Haklnyt or Purchas. This book, read together with Froude's English Seamen of the Sixteenth Century, which is the last word on the spirit of the Elizabethan sailors, will tell the ordinary reader practically all that be need know about John Hawkins. Hawkins was not so big a man as Drake, as Mr. Walling frankly, though with some amiable regret, admits. Drake overshadowed him in life, and in the matter of biographies too has left him a long way behind,—too far, as we think. Not only is there Barrow's Life of Drake; there is also Mr. Julian Corbett's exhaustive study, Drake and the Rise of the Tudor Nary.

Hawkins has always suffered under the unenviable reputa- tion of having been the first Englishman to engage in the slave trade. Mr. Walling disputes this, and assigns the dis- honour to John Lok. However this may be, Hawkins must submit to the inevitable penalty of being more famous than Lok. With what Mr. Walling says in extenuation every reader will agree in the main. It is useless to confuse the ideals - of the twentieth century with those of the sixteenth. We can well believe that sincere and devout men convinced them- selves, or rather assumed, that all was right with the trade. It seemed right in that age. It was no more questioned than the cattle trade of to-day. Moreover, it was an opportunity for the spread of Christianity,—it is never to be forgotten that the rise of Elizabethan sea-power was an incident in the struggle between Roman Catholicism and the spirit of the Reformation. John Newton, the joint-author with Cowper of the "Olney Hymns," was a slave-trader, and when his evangelical fervour deepened we fear that there was no correspondingly deep recognition of the enormity of the part be bad played in the trade. If that could happen in the case of the author of "How sweet the name of Jesus sounds" in the eighteenth century, what is not capable of excuse in the sixteenth century P In writing of the slave trade Mr. Walling makes what seems to us an unnecessarily mis- leading reference to Las Cases. The attitude of Lok, the first English slave-trader, he says, was "ostensibly that of Las Casas,"—that " the negroes were people of beastly living, without God, law, religion, or Commonwealth," and that slavery "gave some of them opportunity of a life in creation." This, no doubt, was Las Casas's original opinion, but he recom- mended negro slavery only as an expedient to save the natives of Cuba, whom he supposed to be less able than negroes to

• A SecoDoy of Devon. By R. A. J. Walling. London: Cassell and Co. Ega. not.]

support servitude. He did not introduce negro slavery; it was already in existence. And afterwards he bitterly repented his act, and did all he could to undo the wrong, as he recognised it to be. The only possible way to judge Hawkins, of course, is by the ideals of his own age. Burleigh never trusted him. We do not know whether he, or any one else, ever questioned Hawkins's conduct of the slave trade, That would be a matter to treat of in a larger biography. The only reason we know of that Burleigh had for distrusting him was the almost invariably provocative character of bia dealings with Spain. This may quite well have been the result of clearness of vision in Hawkins. He was for the "forward policy" of those days. He believed war with Spain to be in- evitable, and thought that the sooner it was declared the better. Elizabeth, like Burleigh, hoped against hopefor peace; and when Hawkins was at the head of the Admiralty there was naturally a conflict of policy between this resolute and tremendously efficient man and the Queen and her Minister, who both wished to think that peace might still be consonant with the honour and security of England. To Hawkins must be given a very large part of the credit for the readiness of the Navy when the Armada appeared. In spite of the reductions in the personnel—if we may use this word of the haphazard Elizabethan Navy—forced more than once on Hawkins by the Queen, be kept ships and men in splendid trim. Elizabeth's Navy was never better fitted out than when the Armada sailed up Channel. Mr. Walling abuses Elizabeth roundly for wilful blindness and parsimony. If the unusual bitterness of his strictures is justified, the triumph of Hawkins only appears the greater. As Lord Brassey and Mr. John Leyland say in their introduction to this book, Hawkins was " less bold and generous in temperament, perhaps, than Drake, less gifted as a statesman than Raleigh, without the inspiration of Humphrey Gilbert, Raleigh's half-brother, but with the attractive qualities of John Davis...... Hawkins deserved well of his country. He was a man of courage and resource. He displayed in a high degree adminis- trative ability."

Hawkins's grievance when the Spaniards seized all the fruits of the long and arduous trading of his first voyage was typical of the grievances of all English' seamen. The extensive and political expression of these things was the cry that Spain must have no monopoly in the New World. The "open door" became the object of our Navy, and has remained ea ever since. But, after all, the demand for commercial freedom would never have been inspiring enough in itself if there had not been also the powerful impetus of religious animosity, if there bad not been the heroic anger of men whose brothers and sisters and cousins and mates had been tortured by the Inquisition. There is no more tragic narrative of sea-life than the Odyssey of John Hawkins after his disastrous third voyage, after the treachery of the Spaniards at San Juan de Ulloa and the virtual annihilation of his fleet. It was such anger as Englishmen felt when they heard of the tortures of men who had been captured at San Juan—men who bad walked with them on the Hawe (Hoe) or the Butterwalk—that turned them into an odd mixture of saints and demons. It is the fashion now rather to dilute the driving-power of the Reformation. This book insists upon it. Kingsley did not distort Eliza- bethan feeling to the ends of the novelist in Westward Ho ! The finicking and exquisite euphuist was really capable of enduring the rack for his faith and his Queen. The last taste the Spaniards had of Achines de Plimua, as they called Hawkins, was the hottest. It was in the duel between the ' Victory' and the great galleon, the ' Santa Anna,' off the Isle of Wight. After the fight Hawkins was knighted on his own quarter-deck. Yet he died a disappointed man on board his ship off Porto Rico, bitter in the knowledge that his son was in the hands of Spain.