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passages from the same source, is quoted by Cecil in a letter tu Essex, not found in this collection, but included among the State Papers, Domestic [see S. P., Dom., Vol. CCLXIV., No. 77]. The result up to this moment gave point to a reflection by Sir H. Palavicino, who had his doubts (p. 319) as to the value of these “uncertain expeditions."
Foiled thus far in its endeavours, the fleet assembled for a second start in the early days of August, on this occasion, however, at Plymouth, and in a very different condition; still showing, nevertheless, the same loyal confidence in its “worthy commander” (p. 345), “well deserving that power.” But now again casual misfortune was not absent, and wind and weather were still adverse. Furthermore, to make matters worse, virulent sickness broke out among the soldiers, whereupon the council of war were driven to the conclusion that they must in part alter the character of the expedition by “cassing”: this part of the force, and must trust to the fleet to carry the attempt on the Spanish ships in Ferrol to a successful issue. To justify this “inconstancy," and if possible to obtain sanction for the change of plans, two of their number were despatched forthwith to Court. This sanction they obtained; but before the result was known at Plymouth, the wind coming fair (p. 352), Essex, urged to this decision by his Council, assumed the responsibility of dismissing the “land army," with the exception of the thousand veterans from the Low Countries, and prepared to set sail, having first made elaborate arrangements for the conveyance of the dismissed men to their homes. Essex's letters, when his days were fully occupied with other business, were not seldom writien at midnight, and so it was on this occasion when he was writing to the Privy Council from Plymouth to inform them of his proceedings. It had been a busy day, taken up with the tasks of getting the fleet out of the harbour and shipping men and provisions and the work had “almost tired them all," yet notwithstanding his own weariness he undertook the task of penning the necessary despatch, sending his associates to rest, that he might have more help of them in the morning, but he excused himself in advance for a hasty, and yet not short, letter, by reason of a confused mind “streighted with time and oppressed with business.” It is probable that his mind was also burdened with the knowledge of his own impoverishment. If now he did not succeed he must inevitably come home bankrupt (p. 346). And while acting the part of a thrifty servant by the Queen (p. 352), he had, he declares, been an ill master of his own purse, “ for so “ long lying in so dear a place with so poor a company had “ made him lay himself to gauge.” It is certain that he was labouring under a consciousness of the ill-success up to this moment of the “poor endeavours” of himself and his fellows, and it is probable that he was sustained by but " weak watery hopes” (p. 361) in regard to the future.
Space is not available, in view of other topics which merit notice, to set out in detail the history of the fleet's adventures during the next two months, but particulars are given in letters from the Earl of Essex, Sir George Carew, Lord Mountjoy, Ralegh, and others, not all of course here printed for the first time. Briefly stated, the course of events was as follows:The fleet sailed on the 17th August, experiencing storm and tempest as soon as they reached the Spanish coast, during which Sir George Carew in the St. Matthew fared so badly that he was finally compelled to make his way back to England. Essex and Ralegh were for a time separated. The consequence was that the Spanish ships in Ferrol were neither taken nor burnt; not even an attempt made to do either. And so, although going for the Azores, and levying tribute from the islands to the “ Queen of the Ocean,” Essex kept the sea like a constable to arrest all ships passing within thirty leagues (p. 386), he nevertheless missed the Indian fleet (p. 489), from wbich, taking refuge in Tercera road, “God drove us off by contrary winds.” Three valuable prizes belonging to this fleet were, however, taken. But at this juncture want of water and an ill wind, and the danger of the separation of the fleet and army, all combined to compel the decision to sail for home, which was reached at the beginning of the last week in October in the manner of a “straggling retreat ” (p. 447), to find that they were just in time to tako part in the defence of the coasts of their own country on the alarm of the appearance of another Spanish armada. Three of the leaders, Thomas Howard, Mountjoy, and Ralegh, complacently summed up their achievements in the
sentence (p. 450), “all well returned, Her Majesty's Kingdom
when I came to an anchor.” When the St. Matthew was disabled on the first voyage he put in to Rochelle to refit, and he relates (p. 384) that here when he lay in St. Martin's Road, 12 miles from Rochelle, he “bad at sundry times not so little “ as 4,000 persons aboard to see the ship, and among them “ Madame Chastillon, the widow of Mons. Chastillon, with “ thirty gentlewomen, who for three long hours talked of the “ Queen's beauty, wisdom, and government, calling her the “ only woman of ladies, and the assured pillar for distressed “ Christians.” One suspects a little exaggeration in the number of his visitors, and one thinks that the hours during which the lively French ladies held him in conversation should not have been deemed long. The descent upon the English coasts of a Spanish “ armado," Another
Spanish which Essex was thought to have arrived home in October just armada.
in the nick of time to superintend measures to frustrate and defeat, had been threatened on the one side and expected on the other ever since the spring of the year. It will be remembered that at the most unpropitious season of the last month of the previous year 1596 a Spanish fleet had set sail intending to effect a landing in the Isle of Wight, but had been shattered by tempest, numerous ships having been totally lost and thousands of men (pp. 6,7) having perished. With the surviving force the Adelantado, who was in chief command, had come to anchor in Ferrol. Concerning the Spanish force here, its condition and augmentation, and the renewed designs connected with it, a considerable amount of information supplied from various sources will be found in these papers. An excellent example of the manner in which information was obtained by the enterprising and bold English sailor is furnished by the story of Capt. John Legatt (p. 6), who put out to sea on his adventurous voyage in time to spend his Christinas Day becalmed at the Groyne. He succeeded in capturing “a “ sufficient barque to come home,” where he arrived within the space of a fortnight from his setting out, but having been so weather beaten that he thought never to have seen England more. He declared that he would not again “abide the like continual torment,” not even for the certainty of an Indian ship and its great wealth. He brought home with him a couple of Spaniards who, he thought, might be repositories of useful information. At Ferrol, as independent accounts testified, the Spanish soldiery were suffering grievously from sickness, and their numbers were also diminished by desertion, while the ships were scarcely in a fit state for any renewed attempt. The threatenings of Spain did not now indeed cause great alarm in England: there was little fear of inability to repel any attack. “ As far as I can understand," writes Stallenge, the Commissioner at Plymouth (p. 14), “ they are more afraid of us there than we “ of them here.” And he expresses the opinion that if Her Majesty would keep a reasonable number of ships on the Spanish coast, much good service might be done; "and so should our “ mariners be employed abroad, and not rob and steal, as many “ of them do at this present at home for want of maintenance." But the information to hand was that strenuous efforts were being made hy the King of Spain to get together again a
Changed views about Spain.
sufficient force to effect a landing in England' or Ireland (pp. 154, 158, 187). “They prepare to land 40,000 men,” wrote Norreys from Ostend (p. 187), “wherewith they have swallowed up the “ poor island of England in their conceit.” “But He that “ sitteth aloft can overthrow them,” he adds, apparently in calm confidence of mind that He who could certainly would. This belief that God was without doubt fighting on the side of their Queen, their conntry, and themselves comes out clearly in the statements of several. Lord Thomas Howard employs the expression “our storins” in connexion with the subsequent frustration of the Spanish attempt, and Sir Thomas Leighton gives utterance to the reflection (p. 365), “The Lord ". seemeth to join with Her Majesty to fight against the proud “ iyrant of Spain."
It was in order to disperse the gathering clouds ere they should gain sufficient volume to discharge devastation upon the English seaboard, that the naval and military expedition under Essex's command essayed to set out for the Spanish coasts in the height of summer, only, as we have seen, to be driven back by unexpected storm and tempest at the first, and when, later, it did succeed in reaching the neighbour'hood of Ferrol, to find the adverse forces of nature still too potent to be overcome, and to be compelled to return with purpose unachieved. The Spanish preparations being therefore unaffected, in the month of October the alarm spread in the south-west of England that another Spanish armada was on the coast. This fleet was composed of four squadrons under the chief command of the Adelantado, with a fifth to follow, numbering, as some said, 110 ships, but according to others, 160 (p. 455). Ten leagues off the Lizard it was met by a nor'easter, one of “our” storms, as Lord Thomas Howard would say, and scattered, and this misfortune and “their own fears.” (p. 462) sent the invaders packing home again (p. 494), so that the basty preparations for defence in the southern and 'western shires were never put to the test. It happened, however, that here and there a Spanish ship touched at a port against Spanish ships the will and desire of its crew, and came to make a forced stay, as at Milford Haven (p. 466), or escaped with difficulty, after an uncomfortable welcome, as on the inhospitable shores