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crews, that on the morning of the twentieth of July he got clear off the port with thirty sail of the line. He now descried the Spanish fleet; but he suffered them to pass without appearing to notice them, that with the wind in his favour, he might bear down upon their rear. These huge masses, though with all their sails spread, moved unwieldily along a circumstance highly advantageous to the English Admiral, who with his light vessels, in the event of his being worsted, could securely have effected his retreat. He took care however to inform her Majesty, by a special messenger, of the arrival of the enemy, the superiority of their force, and his own plan of attack; desiring her at the same time to make the proper dispositions by land, in case the Spaniards should disembark any troops, and to order the other squadrons to join him with all possible expedition. Having taken these prudent precautions, he resolved to bring the enemy to action, with a view of diminishing the terror, which the sight of their large galleons had created. He soon fell in with the rear-division, commanded by Don Ricaldo, and the event fully answered his purpose: for perceiving that the Spanish Admiral in the centre, and Don Alphonso de Levya commander of the van, were preparing to surround him, he made his retreat in excellent order; thus convincing both his officers and his men, how easily they could manage their own ships, and either attack or elude those of their adversaries.
The Spaniards, after several unfavourable skirmishes, finding the English fleet more numerous and powerful than it had been represented, suddenly tacked about, and made for Calais. The Lord Admiral then held a council of war, and after having
conferred the honour of knighthood on Drake, Hawkins, Frobisher, and three other principal officers, proposed to pursue them; a measure which he was farther induced to adopt, from the prospect of being joined by the squadrons stationed, under Lord Henry Seymour and Sir William Winter, off the coast of Flanders. Accordingly, the council concurring in his opinion, he gave chace; and being joined (as he had anticipated) by the other armaments, on the twenty-seventh, in the Straits of Calais, he had now under his command one hundred and forty sail. This force however was still inferior to the Armada, which lay at anchor off Calais, disposed in such order, that Effingham saw there were no hopes of attacking them in different divisions, as he had proposed, unless some stratagem could be devised to throw them previously into disorder. With this view, he converted eight of his worst barks into fireships, which being convoyed by two experienced captains, about midnight steered with sails set for the Spanish fleet. In the confusion occasioned by this unexpected manœuvre, some of the enemy fell foul of each other, after cutting their cables; others got up their anchors, and put to sea to avoid the flames, which had already in several instances caught the rigging: and in this state, as soon as dawn appeared, the English falling upon them took, or destroyed, twelve of their largest ships. The Spaniards, in their dismay, now endeavoured to make their escape through the Straits of Dover; but adverse winds drove them on the coast of Zealand, where their Admiral narrowly
* This was the first introduction of fire-ships in the English navy.
escaped shipwreck. After this, they determined to effect their retreat by sailing round the island north; but here encountered by a second storm, the Commander with twenty-five sail steered for the Bay of Biscay, and left the wretched remains of his 'Invincible Armada' to the mercy of their foes. Upward of thirty of their best ships perished on the Irish coast; others were driven on shore in the Orkneys, and several were taken by Hawkins, Frobisher, and Drake. Of their whole fleet, only fifty-four returned to Spain, and those in an extremely shattered condition. In this fatal expedition likewise, it is computed, they lost 25,000 men, including such numbers of volunteers of distinguished rank, that most of the noble families in Spain went into mourning. The English Admiral, after he had cleared the channel of the enemy, returned triumphant to the Downs. Elizabeth repaired publicly to the Cathedral of St. Paul's, and there by a solemn thanksgiving expressed her gratitude to God for her signal deliverance; and as Effingham's genius, judgement, and valour had greatly contributed to her success, she rewarded him with a pension for life.*
His next important service was against Cadiz, which was taken by the fleet and the land-forces, under the Earl of Essex in August, 1596. Upon this occasion, beside two rich galleons, thirteen men of war and a hundred pieces of brass cannon fell into the hands of the English. The Lord High Admiral refused, at the same time, a ransom of two `millions of ducats for the merchant-ships in Port-Real;
*Upon this occasion likewise, she ordered a medal to be struck with the inscription, Afflavit Deus, et dissipantur.
his instructions being to "consume, and not to compound," with a view of intercepting the early probability of a second invasion. On his return from this service, Elizabeth, attributing the honour of the achievement chiefly to his exertions, created him Earl of Nottingham. This gave birth to the quarrel between the Admiral and Essex, which ended only with the death of the latter.
In 1599, the nation was alarmed with the project of another Spanish invasion; and Essex being in Ireland, the Queen, to manifest her entire confidence in Nottingham, gave him the command of her fleets and armies with the addition of a new title, as Lieutenant-General of all England, investing him with more ample powers than had ever before been granted to any subject. But this extraordinary commission expired with the occasion, which gave birth to it. However, he became her chief minister soon afterward, and by the death of Essex the sole administrator of the government. To pave the way to this high station, it is strongly suspected that he aggravated every act of rashness committed by his impetuous rival, and widened the quarrel between him and his royal mistress into an irreparable breach.
From the moment that Essex surrendered himself, Elizabeth, who had been terrified by so daring an insurrection in the heart of her capital, was extravagant in her praises of the Lord Admiral, and publicly declared that he was born to be the saviour of his country.' Thus raised to the summit of his ambition, and not very unreasonably fearing a relapse on the part of the Queen in behalf of her old favourite, he too probably intercepted the token sent by that unfortunate nobleman on his last application for mercy.
For many years after the event, the following re markable anecdote was discredited by our best historians: but later discoveries have left little room to doubt it's truth. Essex, soon after his return from his successful expedition against Cadiz, grew extremely jealous of being supplanted in the royal favour; and accordingly resolved to secure himself against such reverse, while the Queen's attachment to him remained in it's full vigour. With this view having obtained a private audience, he took occasion to regret, that her Majesty's service should so frequently oblige him to be absent from her person; by which he was exposed to all those ill offices, which his enemies, in the course of their constant attendance upon her, had it in their power to do him by misrepresentations of his conduct.' Elizabeth, greatly moved by his remonstrances, took a ring (it is said) from her finger, and desired him to keep it as a pledge of her affection; assuring him, that whatever prejudices she might be induced to conceive against him, if he sent her that ring, she should instantly call to mind her former regard, and grant him all his requests.'* After sentence of death had been passed upon him, it is well known that he requested the favour of a visit from the Countess of Nottingham, at that time principal lady of the bed-chamber to the Queen; wishing perhaps through her hands to transmit this ring to her Majesty, and at the same
* The reader will recollect, that Henry VIII. acted thus in the case of Archbishop Cranmer; and he will farther observe, that in many instances Elizabeth affected to imitate her father. This circumstance, which has escaped the notice of our historians in their warm contests upon the credibility of this story, is a presumptive proof of it's authenticity.