The usual picture of Drake in men’s minds is a brave, bluff man of infinite audacity, a great patriot, a great sailor, a man to whom success came of its own accord.
But this is only half the truth.
He was always studying and learning. He reached success by the painful ways of failure. Few men have stood up to so many rebuffs in early manhood and snatched victory out of them. In many respects he was in advance of his time — in none perhaps more than the kindness and humanity he showed to native peoples.
He confronted a vast world power determined to enslave England and destroy its claim to think as it thought and live in independence. He shattered that power by changing the naval strategy of England from defence to attack. And his theory of sea-warfare, developed by Nelson two centuries later, remains the principle of the Royal Navy today.