Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

hereupon equally resolved to risk every thing for the existence and the freedom of their country. Elizabeth rejected with abhorrence the proposal of some violent persons to get rid of all the principal Roman Catholics, and besides it was now evident that, since Mary had fallen, the discontented were so destitute of a point of union, that it was sufficient to send a few, by way of precaution, into the interior of the kingdom. The other Catholics were not even excluded from offices in the army, and proved themselves worthy of the confidence that was placed in them: even Lord Howard, the Admiral, was a Roman Catholic. They were sensible that a Protestant Queen, like Elizabeth, was to be preferred to a Catholic King, like Philip, and that her prosperity was inseparable from their own. As the hopes which the Spaniards had entertained of party dissensions among the English failed, they were also disappointed of assistance from France and Scotland. Henry III. was jealous of the Spanish power, declined co-operating under various pretexts, and in truth was not able to defend himself against his domestic enemies. James indeed at first expressed his indignation at the execution of his mother, but he was not strong enough to make war, and the Scotch by no means participated in his grief. He therefore listened to Elizabeth's excuses, and was convinced that if Philip should conquer England, Scotland would fall

into a state of oppressive dependence; and, on the other hand, if his enterprise should fail, Elizabeth would make war upon the Scotch in return for their hostilities, or would certainly annul the claims of James to the succession to the throne of England. Meanwhile the armaments in that country were prosecuted with great prudence and activity. The corporation and citizens of London declared themselves ready to furnish twice the number of ships and men that were required of them, and the same enthusiasm inspired all the inhabitants throughout the whole kingdom. Sooner than it was conceived to be possible, 200 ships were equipped with 15,700 seamen; Lord Howard, John Hawkins, Frobisher, and Francis Drake, men equally eminent for their valour, talents, and activity, deserved and obtained the chief command. On every part of the coast, preparations were made against a landing, and precise orders given to break up the roads, to carry off the provisions, to collect troops in all the inland counties, and have them in readiness to act in any direction. Some eminent person in every county had the direction of all matters relative to war and the militia. Twenty-five thousand men were assembled for the protection of the south coast; 23,000 under the Earl of Leicester at Tilbury to defend the Thames, and 26,000, under Earl Hunsdon, guarded and accompanied the Queen; 76,000 foot, and 3000 cavalry, an incredibly large number for

those times, fully armed and equipped, were ready in the ranks, and every one knew where and how he was to act in the moment of danger. Elizabeth repaired to the camp at Tilbury. Mounted on a noble charger, in a splendid habit. and shining armour, she rode through the ranks amidst their unanimous acclamations; and when silence was restored, addressed them in the following terms: “My beloved people; Some persons have indeed warned me to provide for my own safety, have, through fear, advised me to beware of treachery, and not venture among an armed multitude. But I assure you, that I desire not to live if I should distrust my faithful and beloved people. Tyrants may fear, but I have always conducted myself in such a manner, that I find my greatest strength and safety, next to God, in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects. I am therefore come among you, not for amusement and pastime, but resolved to live and die with you in the battle, and to sacrifice my crown and life for God, my kingdom, and my people. I know that I have but the weak and feeble arm of a woman, but I have the heart of a king, and of a King of England too, and bid defiance to the Spaniards, and Parma, and to every Prince in Europe, who shall venture to invade the frontiers of my kingdom. Before such disgrace should come over me, I will take up arms and be your leader, the judge and the rewarder of your deeds. You have already deserved recompence and honours by the good will which you have shewn, and, on the word of a prince, they shall be yours, for by obedience to your commanders, concord in the camp, and valour in the field, we shall soon obtain a glorious victory over these enemies of God, of my kingdom, and my people.” While England thus displayed more unanimity and courage than Philip had expected, his fleet sailed from Lisbon on the 30th of May, 1588, but, before it reached Corunna, sustained so much injury in a storm, that the delusive hope was, for a moment, entertained in England that the danger was wholly averted. But Philip declared that his force was still superior, his cause just, England destitute of all foreign aid, and therefore the enterprise should not be given up or delayed. The fleet sailed from Corunna on the 12th of July, and reached the English Channel on the 19th. The Duke of Medina Sidonia, who had the chief command, instead of the deceased High Admiral Santa Croce, was much surprised when he learnt that King James had armed the Scotch coasts, and equipped ships to defend them against Spain. He was still more alarmed when he found that the Duke of Parma, without whom he was to attempt nothing decisive, had not been able, with all his exertions, to have the army and fleet ready to co-operate with him, and that the latter was besides hindered from putVOL. I. A a

ting to sea by the measures adopted by the Dutch. —The Duke of Parma's hopes to deceive the English, by negociations for peace, which continued till the commencement of hostilities, were disappointed, and the Duke of Medina Sidonia was now as far from venturing contrary to Philip's orders, to sail direct to London, as from seeking a battle in the open sea. But the English hastened from all sides, with their light, easily managed ships, attacked and retreated, took advantage of every wind, cut off every ship that got separated from the fleet, and fired from their low decks with much greater certainty and effect. In seven days, of which only three passed without warm actions, the Invincible Armada, without any other accident, was so shattered by the skill and bravery of the English, that it sought for safety in the roads of Calais. But fire-ships which the Earl of Howard sent out in the night, destroyed many ships, and all was thrown into such terror and confusion, that the damage thereby occasioned was much greater. The masts and sails, such is the report of the friends of Spain, were damaged and shot away, the cables and anchors torn and lost, the provisions and ammunition nearly exhausted, and no possibility of anywhere obtaining a fresh supply. In this desperate situation the Duke of Medina Sidonia, that he might not again encounter the English, resolved to return to Spain by sailing round the North of Scotland.

« EdellinenJatka »