People and Personalities: Francis Drake

FrancisOne of the greatest problems we, as historians, face is one of discerning people and personalities from sources. We can happily find out where a person was, what they did, where, how and why they did it, who they did it with etc. We can even look at the lasting repercussions of a persons actions and how it later affected their lives. But we can never really know how they felt about it or indeed, what kind of person they were.

Personalities are a lot harder to discern from the source material available, though obviously items such as personal letters can tell us more than a court record. So I am on a search to find sources, from which we can see something of a person’s character and personality. This might not be a regular segment, it depends entirely on what I find in my research cupboard. I will not interpret or analyse it, just leave it for your perusal and hopefully it will allow you to draw your own conclusions about the person. Today: Sir Francis Drake.

This morning one of my daily prayer apps gave me a prayer written by Drake in 1577, while he was on an expedition. I think his prayer, as well as being one of the more beautiful prayers I have read, certainly gives us an insight into his mindset; his hopes, fears and above all his faith.
What do you think?

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Want more?
Follow us on Twitter @HistoricalNoveI