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A History of the Philippines by David P. Barrows

Cavendish landed the Spanish on the California coast


We

can imagine how carefully selected and rich in quality were the merchandises with which these solitary galleons were freighted, the pick of all the rich stores which came to Manila. The profits were enormous,--six and eight hundred per cent. Biscaino wrote that with two hundred ducats invested in Spanish wares and some Flemish commodities, he made fourteen hundred ducats; but, he added, in 1588 he lost a ship,--robbed and burned by Englishmen. On the safe arrival of these ships depended how much of the fortunes of the colony!

Capture of the Galleons.--For generations these galleons were probably the most tempting and romantic prize that ever aroused the cupidity of privateer. The first to profit by this rich booty was Thomas Cavendish, who in 1584 came through the Straits of Magellan with a fleet of five vessels. Like Drake before him, he ravaged the coast of South America and then steered straight away across the sea to the Moluccas. Here he acquired information about the rich commerce of the Philippines and of the yearly voyage of the galleon. Back across the Pacific went the fleet of Cavendish for the coast of California.

In his own narrative he tells how he beat up and down between Capes San Lucas and Mendocino until the galleon, heavy with her riches, appeared. She fell into his hands almost without a fray. She carried one hundred and twenty-two thousand pesos of gold and a great and rich store of satins,

damask, and musk. Cavendish landed the Spanish on the California coast, burned the "Santa Anna," and then returned to the Philippines and made an attack upon the shipyard of Iloilo, but was repulsed. He sent a letter to the governor at Manila, boasting of his capture, and then sailed for the Cape of Good Hope and home.

There is an old story that tells how his sea-worn ships came up the Thames, their masts hung with silk and damask sails. From this time on the venture was less safe. In 1588 there came to Spain the overwhelming disaster of her history,--the destruction of the Great Armada. From this date her power was gone, and her name was no longer a terror on the seas. English freebooters controlled the oceans, and in 1610 the Dutch appeared in the East, never to withdraw.

The City of Manila Three Hundred Years Ago.--We can hardly close this chapter without some further reference to the city of Manila as it appeared three hundred years ago. Morga has fortunately left us a detailed description from which the following points in the main are drawn. As we have already seen, Legaspi had laid out the city on the blackened site of the town and fortress of the Mohammedan prince, which had been destroyed in the struggle for occupation. He gave it the same extent and dimensions that it possesses to this day.

Like other colonial capitals in the Far East, it was primarily a citadel and refuge from attack. On the point between the sea and the river Legaspi had built the famous and permanent fortress of Santiago. In the time of the great Adelantado it was probably only a wooden stockade, but under the governor Santiago de Vera it was built up of stone. Cavendish (1587) describes Manila as "an unwalled town and of no great strength," but under the improvements and completions made by Dasmarinas about 1590 it assumed much of its present appearance. Its guns thoroughly commanded the entrance to the river Pasig and made the approach of hostile boats from the harbor side impossible.


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