Imagens das páginas
PDF

This was followed by vague intelligence of a similar character as the year proceeded, as also of the building of new great ships and of the assembling of a fleet at the Groyne, better known as Corunna, and other preparations there, set on foot by the Adelautado of Castile, "now the man that governeth "Spain" (p. 132). Sir Francis Godolphin from "her "Majesty's little fort in Seilly," "so much undervalued" (p. 171), was also a diligent transmitter of "advertisements," and in particular, of the Spaniards' vaunt that they were coming to England in the summer, knowing the country's chief strength to be in Ireland. In May, there were Spanish ships off the Cornish coast, one of which boarded an English ship near the Lizard, but was "put off again" (p. 172), not, however, without causing the loss of two of the English sailors killed and more wounded. Sir Alexander Clifford, on the look out for the Dunkirkers on the East Coast, who were constantly troublesome at the seasons of the dark moon, communicated—only, however, to discredit it—the story of "a bark of Newcastle," the master of which reported a fleet of 100 sail, " thought to be Spaniards." The good man could not be persuaded to agree with Clifford's suggestion to him that they were fishermen, and that "his early stirring in the "morning, being, as he said, at 4 of the clock, dimmed his eye"sight that he could not justly discern them." A few days later, early in July, Sir Nicholas Parker, from Fcndennis Castle, sent intelligence (p. 223) of a great fleet of ships athwart the Manacles, which must either be the Flemings or the enemy, sounding the alarm in case they should prove to be the latter, that proper preparations might be made against any landing. This, however, turned out to be no other than a peaceful fleet of Flemish merchantmen, which subsequently put into Plymouth, a man-of-war of their company striking sail "in dutiful sort" before her Majesty's island (p. 230). Just at this juncture the Dutch fleet created a diversion by taking the Great Canaries (p. '24!)). But, nevertheless, at the end of July, in consequence of information of the assembly of a Spanish force at Brest and Conquet (p. 322), there was real and universal alarm, as the result of which the Lord Treasurer stopped all payments (p. 25:5), the train-bands were called out, and soldiers summoned from Flushing for the defence of the country. In London, three thousand men were levied (p. 259), the same city also furnishing twelve ships (p. 280). The Archbishop of 18804 o b

Canterbury suggested the use of a special form of prayers "in this "expected time of troubles" (p. 262) on the model of those used in 1588, which "could not be bettered." The Earl of Nottingham, the Lord High Admiral, was put in supreme command of the forces of defence, occupying the position filled by the Earl of Leicester in 1588. In the West of England, the Earl of Bath had control of the defensive operations. Part of his duty was to impress mariners at Plymouth (pp. 269, 274) for the Queen's ships as far away as Chatham. His proceedings and dispositions are set out in a letter from him of the 6th of August (p. 274). Schemes were propounded for the defence of the Thames (pp. 274, 281), one of which, the sinking of ships to bar the channel at Barking Shelf, was strongly opposed by the aldermen, merchants and shipowners, for reasons which they set out and which no doubt appeared adequate to prevent its adoption (p. 282). In connexion with the levies of men in London, estimates are given of the population of the city which are of interest. The Lord Mayor writes (pp. 280, 281):—"For "the whole number of persons fit to bear arms within this city, I "understand that certain of my brethren the Aldermen, who "attended you a few days since, have informed you, upon conjec"tare, that this city is able to afford and furnish 50,000 persons; "wherein, lest you should conceive otherwise than the truth is, and "be disappointed of that strength and number which you might "expect, I thought it my duty to remember you that in 1588, "when like occasion did enforce the like choice and levy of men, "at what time also (being then Term) there were conversing "within this city divers gentlemen, lawyers and others, with their "attendants (upon whom the levy was likewise extended), there "were found in all of able men, fit to bear arms, betwixt the age of "16 and 60, not above the number of 22,000, the city at that time "being more populous and better replenished with inhabitants "than it is at this time."

The sort of " strange and fearful rumours" current in London at the moment, " as much amazing the people as if the invasion "were made," may be gathered from a letter to Sir Robert Cecil, which gives as examples (pp. 282,283):" that the Spaniards' fleet is "150 sail of ships and 70 gallies; that they bring 30,000 soldiers "with them, and shall have 20,000 from the Cardinal; that the "King of Denmark sends to aid him 100 sail of ships; that the "King of Scots is in arms with 40,000 men to invade England, and "the Spaniard comes to settle the King of Scots in this realm: "which is so creditably limited as a preacher, in his prayer before "his sermon, prayed to be delivered from the mighty forces of the "Spaniard, the Scots and the Danes; that my Lord Scroope was "slain, with 200 men more, by the Scots; that Sir William Bowes "was turned out of Scotland by the King with great disdain; that "the Adilantado has taken the sacrament to come to London "Bridge, and brings his wife and two daughters with him. Upon '• Tuesday at night last, it went for certain the Spaniards were "landed at Southampton, and that the Queen came at ten of "the clock at night to St. James's in all post; and upon "Wednesday, it was said the Spanish army was broken, and no "purpose of their coming hither: with 100 other strange and "fearful rumours." The writer thought that the very propagation of these rumours was in itself "a dangerous plot to amaze and "discourage our people, and to advance the strength and mighty "power of the Spaniard, working doubts in the better sort, fear in "the poorer sort, and a great distraction in all."

The alarm was at its height about the 11th of August (p. 289). Notwithstanding the imperfect state of the preparations for resisting a landing, the levies at this date having not yet all assembled under the Lord Admiral, and being likely to be"wouder"ful raw, for in all the shires there are very few of the trained "men left," yet there was some confidence that the Spaniards, if they came, would be "better beaten than ever they were." Come, however, at this time, in fact, they did not; and in the height of the preparations, before even these had reached finality, the alarm began to grow cold. Barks were sent out along the south coast (p. 291) but they could "learn nothing of these beggarly "Spaniards." Information came through the French Ambassador (p. 295), that there was no reason to think that the Spanish vessels seen in the bay of Brest carried any troops, as the Adelantado was known to have been a short time before at Lisbon. Yet, even as late as the 14th of August (p. 296), Henry Lok, who, stationed at Bayonne, was a source of information, sends intimation of suspicious preparations. Soon, however, reports of an eye-witness from Brest itself (p. 307) proved the absence of any Spanish army there, and by the 20th of August the real state of affairs was sufficiently well known to make it possible for the Lord General, the Earl of Nottingham, to be authorised to "dismiss the Queen's loving subjects " who had been assembled as a means to hold some of the officers together—to her Majesty a great certainty and to the undoubted safety of the placo and the neighbourhood.

[ocr errors]

The Spaniards had, it subsequently transpired, been at the Groyne in force, and their objective had been some point of the English coast (p. 828), but the diversion caused by the attack made on the Canary Islands by the Dutch fleet, and the rashness of the Adelantado had frustrated their design; so the Adelantado sailed away to the South, leaving behind him the big galleys in a state of great misery. The main part of the English fleet at sea under Lord Thomas Howard was consequently recalled (p. y-2S>, but directions were given that an effort should be made to catch the galleys left behind, six of which were heard of near Cape La Hogue. It is amusing to read the somewhat simple stratagem which was concocted in London when the Lord Admiral, the Lord Chamlierlain and Sir Robert Cecil laid their wise heads together. They appear to have thought that they had hit upon a very pretty ruse indeed in the suggestion they diffidently make of a method by which "these baggages might be catched or "canvassed" (p. 382):—" G. Fenner, you are a wise man and "have experienced how to use stratagems. It will not be ami*.-*, "if you think good, to lay a bait for them in this sort; that some "league before you, some barque may be sent, and take in her "ordnance as though she were no man-of-war, which perudven"ture may entice them from the shore to come off and take her, "but this we do but remember unto you, leaving all things to "your discretion. Expedition is now all, and resolution. If you "light on them, you will find good store of treasure in them."

As regards countries of Europe other than Spain, the present volume has but little to say. Taking such papers ns relate to France, the first to be noted is a long letter from Thomas Franc Edmondes, the English resident or agent in that country. It is an unsigned duplicate or copy, the signed original of which is among the hitherto uncalendared State Papers in the Public Record Office. The letter was written from Paris in the month of January, and has for its Buhject the measures proposed in France to restrain the import of foreign manufactures for the benefit of native interests, " to set their people at work and keep "their money in the country," proposals which Edmondes endeavoured to combat us being directly against the ancient treaties

« AnteriorContinuar »