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France and the Low Countries, were likewise looking to England
enterprise and the other. Dutch opinion of greatest authority
Of the enterprise finally decided upon the first intimations in The expedition these papers are perhaps to be found in the applications addressed "Samo to Essex for permission to accompany him. That of Sir William Woodhouse is the earliest (p. 80), made in the month of February, but his is followed by those of numerous other aspirants, some of them - tall” soldiers serving at the time in France, like Sir J.
Aldrich (p. 184); others, like Captain Chamberlain (p. 188), in the Low Countries. The first definite references to the voyage are to be found in letters from Sir R. Sydney of May 24th (p. 210), and from Sir Francis Vere of May 25th (p. 212), in which the latter argues against its execution. At this time he did not know the exact point of Essex's objective, and could only infer that it must be either the Groyne or Ferrol. But at home the decision had been taken, and in furtherance of the preparations for it, one Captain Coustable was despatched with letters to Count Maurice and the States General calling upon them for aid. He reached the Hague on the 23rd of May (p. 211), and two days later Vere was able to report that Mr. Gilpin, the English Agent at the Hague, and he had “obtained for answer that Her Majesty's “ demand shall be fulfilled in all.” Sydney was among those who ardently longed to accompany Essex, though his desire was not granted. Vere too cherished the same desire, but he begged (p. 223) that he might be commanded by Her Majesty's letter, and that formal signification of his withdrawal might be made to the States “to whom in some sort he was tied,” in order to save his credit and secure his place. These preliminaries complied with, he promised to be at the rendezvous with the 2,000 men he was to bring with him, then and there “as ready “ to receive your further commandment as any that shall be in “ your army."
By the beginning of the last week in June preparations for the expedition were so far advanced that Essex had gone down to Sandwich to take command (p. 267). He and his “adver:0 party ” were now “ very inward,” as Sydney puts it (p. 210), and he was at this moment expecting a visit from Sir Robert Cecil, the personage thus indicated, and Sir John Stanhope, to see the fleet, and was providing for their entertainment as his guests. But in his eagerness to strike a blow where the Spaniards least expected it, he was anxious to get further westward and nearer to the troops to be embarked. Some of the "inconveniences” with which he had to contend appear from a letter (p. 269) which he despatched from Sandwich. Its bearer was a certain Captain Talkerne, driven to leave the army because his brother had been killed“ by a misfortune heretofure fallen
out” between himself and another gentleman. If the surviving brother were retained,“ hardly would he be contained,” so Essex's solution of the difficulty was to send him away. More serious hindrance to his plans arose from circumstances over which he had no control, nar.ely, wind and tide. On the evening of Saturday, June 25, he set sail with a fair wind from the Downs (p. 275), but when the fleet had doubled the South Foreland there came an unwelcome calm, and they were carried by the slack tide into Dover Road. Meanwhile the Admiral of the Low Countries, whom Essex had been expecting, came up with sixteen sail. It was agreed to stop tides and then ply to the westward, but now gale succeeded calm, and instead of getting westward they were driven back to the Downs. From this uneasy berth he despatches on the midnight of Sunday a note to the Lord Admiral and Cecil, “ bare and lastily written from one over watched “ and over tossed, and yet one that wisheth you both as much “ happiness as you may desire.”
Four days later, shortly after dawn, though the wind was contrary, the fleet, now reinforced by the Dutchmen, taking advantage of the tide, dropped anchor a second time in Dover Road (p. 279), and in the evening set sail again for the southwest, “purposing to tide it up as far as they inay,” the wind still remaining adverse. By July 6 they had got to Portland (p. 291), where the troops were waiting to be embarked. And now a new difficulty arose, namely, shortness of supplies, the only obstacle, so it seemed to Essex and his companions, “likely to “ hinder the good success of their action.” Thereupon the council of war unanimously agreed to despatch Mr. Fulk Greville to the Court “to move Her Majesty that in her dear “ and princely wisdom she would weigh how much both in “ honour and interest she was engaged in this action, how just " and how great a grief it would be to her royal heart that “ those services which yield glory to her blessed name, sa fety to “ hier estate, and profit to her coffers, should be hindered by “ want of means to keep this brave fleet and army together, “ which being in all humbleness by Her Majesty's poor servants “ Jaid before her, they think to have discharged their duties to “ God and to her royal self, and will believe that that resolution “ is best which she is best pleased withal.” Á month's supply
was the extent of their demand, and one may well ask, were ever Queen and country more devotedly and patiently served by brave, self-forgetful men ?
But in their estimate of what was required, they were again mistaken, for they had reckoned without weather such as in the summer season of the year, “was never seen by man" (p. 306), and “great and sore extremities.” What these extremities were and what fortune befell the fleet during the next fortnight may be learnt in greater detail from the series of State Papers, Domestic, of this date: how the fleet set out for the Spanish coast; how it was storm-beaten and separated; how portions with Essex and Ralegh regained English ports, but with the utmost difficulty, after experiences in the course of which they had thought they must “yield themselves up to God," having no way to work that offered any hope, the men wasted with labour and watching; how Lord Thomas Howard with fifty-seven sail of ships (p. 361) had pursued his course “ with “ valour and constancy” for the Spanish coast, but eventually also returned to England; of all this the papers in this volume tell comparatively little. But we learn that “ London was full of “ discomfortable news” (p. 307), and that men there and at the Court gave God fervent thanks when, on July 22nd, tidirgs came of Essex's safe return to Falmouth. And as to the feeling of the Queen herself, “ I protest before God," writes the Lord Admiral to Essex (p. 306), “ I did never see creature receive “ more comfort than Her Majesty did when she saw by Sir W. “ Ralegh’s letter that your person was safe. She shewed the “ dear love she beareth you, for with joy the water came “ plentiful out of her eyes.” The Queen expresses her own sentiments on the occasion (p. 314), both to Essex and to Lord Thomas Howard. A reply from the latter will be found on page 336. Wind and weather had been, indeed, says Howard, their bitter enemies, but no extremities already endured nor perils to come were, he avers,“ prized at aught " in comparison of their desire and zeal to do the Queen service. His sense of the value of the presence and co-operation of Essex appears in a kind of postscript to his letter (p. 337). “We are “ here a naked flock without our shepherd, whom we beseech “ you return to us.” This postscript, in addition to other