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through her sufferings, and was still remarkable in this fatal moment. The earl of Kent, observing that in her devotions she made frequent use of the crucifix, could not forbear reproving her, exhorting her to have Christ in her heart, not in her hand. She replied, with presence of mind, that it was difficult to hold such an object in her hand, without feeling her heart touched for the sufferings of him whom it represented. She now began, with the aid of her two women, to undress for the block; and the executioner also lent his hand to assist them. She smiled, and said that she was not accustomed to undress herself before so large a company, or to be attended by such servants. Her women bursting into tears and loud exclamations of sorrow, she turned about to them, put her finger upon her lips, as a sign of imposing silence upon them; and having given them her blessing, desired their prayers in return. The two executioners kneeling, and asking her pardon, she said she forgave them, and all the authors of her death, as freely as she hoped forgiveness of her Maker ; and once more made a solemn protestation of her innocence. Her eyes were then covered with a linen handkerchief; she laid herself down without any fear or trepidation, and when she had recited a psalm, and repeated a pious ejaculation, her head was severed from her body at two strokes. The executioner instantly held it up to the spectators, streaming with blood, and agitated with the convulsions of death. The dean of Peterborough alone exclaimed, “So perish all queen Elizabeth's enemies !” The earl of Kent replied Amen, while the rest of the spectators wept and sighed at this affecting spectacle ; for flattery and zeal alike gave place to stronger and better emotions. Thus died Mary, in the forty-fifth year of her age, and the nineteenth of her captivity—a princess unmatched in bcauty, and unequalled in misfortunes. In contemplating the contentions of mankind, we find almost ever both sides culpable : Mary, who was stained with crimes that deserved punishment, was put to death by a princess who had no right to inflict punishment on her equal.
174.-THE SPANISH ARMADA.
FROM "THE PLAIN ENGLISHMAN."
The spirit of bigotry and tyranny, by which Philip II. of Spain, formerly wedded to Mary, Queen of England, was actuated, with the fraudulent maxims which governed his counsels, excited the most violent agitation among his own people, engaged him in acts of the greatest cruelty, and threw all Europe into alarm. He had long harboured a secret and violent desire of revenge against Queen Elizabeth, to execute which he formed the plan of an invasion of England, by fitting out his invincible armada.
Many circumstances contributed to his hatred of Elizabeth. The rejection of his hand on the death of her sister ; her support of the Protestant cause ; the great and decisive part that she embraced to prevent his oppression of the Netherlands : and her successes in Spanish America ; these circumstances excited the jealousy of Philip, and induced him to believe that, by her subjection, he should acquire the renown of re-uniting the whole Christian world in the Catholic communion.
At this period Spain was rich and populous. Philip had lately annexed the kingdom of Portugal to his dominions.
All the princes of Italy, even the pope and the court of Rome, were reduced to a kind of subjection under him, and seemed to possess their sovereignty on terms somewhat precarious. The Austrian branch in Germany, with their dependant principalities, was closely connected with him, and was ready to supply him with troops for every enterprise.
Three years had been spent by Philip in secretly making great preparations for this enterprise. The project, indeed, was formed after the Queen of Scots had been persuaded to make over to him her right to England, as being the only plan to restore there the Catholic religion. Besides this vague right, conveyed by will, he thought he might justly claim the crown of England as being the next Catholic prince descended, by the female line, from the Duke of Lancaster, fourth son of Edward III. Pope Sextus IV., not less ambitious than Philip, excited him to the invasion of England. He again excommunicated the queen. All the ports of Spain resounded with preparations for this alarming expedition ; and the Spaniards seemed to threaten the English with a total annihilation.
The fleet, which, on account of its prodigious strength, was called “the Invincible Armada,” was completed in 1588.
The English fleet at this time consisted only of twenty-eight sail, most of which were very small vessels ; but the alacrity of Elizabeth's subjects sufficiently atoned for the weakness of her navy. The maritime towns, the nobility and gentry, testified the greatest zeal on this occasion. The city of London fitted out thirty ships, though fifteen only had been required. The gentry and nobility hired and armed forty-three ships, at their own expense. Lord Howard, of Effingham, a man of great courage and capacity, was Lord Admiral, and took upon him the command of the navy. Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher, the most renowned seamen in Europe, served under him. The main fleet was stationed at Plymouth, while a smaller fleet, consisting of forty vessels, under the command of Lord Seymour, lay off Dunkirk, in order to intercept the forces commanded by the Duke of Parma.
Twenty thousand land forces were cantoned along the southern coasts of England ; another body of disciplined troops encamped at Tilbury, near the mouth of the Thames, under the command of the Earl of Leicester, whom the queen, on this occasion, created general in chief of all her forces ; and the Lord Hunsden commanded a third army, consisting of thirty thousand men, for the defence of her majesty's person, and to march to that part of the coast on which the enemy might make their chief landing.
The chief hopes of Elizabeth were placed in the affections of her people. Party distinctions were forgotten, and every man exerted himself in the defence of his country.
The magnanimity of Elizabeth was remarkable on this trying occasion. She appeared on horseback in the camp of Tilbury, harangued her army, and expressed an entire confidence in their loyalty and courage. The following was her truly noble speech on this occasion :
“ My loving people, we have been persuaded, by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery ; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself, that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safe-guard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you, at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all ; to lay down for my God, and for my peopie, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.
"I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman ; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England too; and I think it foul scorn, that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realms: to which, rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms ; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.
“I know already, by your forwardness, that you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you.
“ In the mean time, my lieutenant-general shall be in my stead ; than whom never prince commanded a more noble and worthy subject; not doubting, by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people."
The armada was some time prevented from sailing, by the death of the Marquis of Santa Cruz. The Duke of Medina Sidonia, a nobleman of great family, but wholly unacquainted with maritime affairs, was appointed admiral in his room. This interval was employed by Elizabeth in making new preparations for rendering the design abortive.
At length the invincible fleet sailed from Lisbon on the 29th of May; but being overtaken with a dreadful tempest, it was obliged to put into the Groyne, having received considerable damage.
After a delay of two months, the armada sailed once more to prosecute the intended enterprise. The fleet consisted of 130 ships, of which near 100 were galleons, and of a greater burden than had ever before appeared on the coast of England.
The armada advanced towards Plymouth. It was disposed in the form of a half-moon, and stretched to the distance of seven leagues from the extremity of one division to the other. But this appearance dismayed not the English ; they knew their huge vessels were so ill-constructed, and so difficult to be managed, that they would not be able to support themselves against the repeated attacks of ships at a distance.
Two of the largest ships in the Spanish fleet were soon after taken by Sir Francis Drake ; and, while the enemy advanced slowly up the channel, the English followed their rear, and harrassed them with perpetual skirmishes. The Spaniards now began to abate in their confidence of success; the design of attacking the English navy in Plymouth was laid aside, and they directed their course towards Calais
The armada, after many losses, came to an anchor before Calais, in the expectation of being joined by the Prince of Parma ; but before that general could embark his troops, ail hope of success vanished, by a stratagem of the English admiral. He filled eight of his smaller ships with combustible materials, and, setting them on fire, sent them, one after another, into the midst of the enemy's fleet. Terrified at this appearance, the Spaniards cut their cables, and betook themselves to flight, in a very precipitous and disorderly manner. In the midst of this confusion, the English fell upon them with such fury, that twelve of their largest ships were taken, and several others were thoroughly damaged.
The ambitious Spaniards were now convinced that their scheme was entirely frustrated, and would willingly have abandoned the enterprise, and returned inmediately to their ports, could they have done it with safety; but this was impossible ; the wind was contrary, and the only chance of escaping was that of making a tour of the whole island, and reaching at last the Spanish harbours by the ocean ; but a violent storm soon overtook them, and completed the destruction of the Invincible Armada ; not half the vessels returned to the ports of Spain.
Of the armada there were taken and destroyed in the Channel 15 ships, and 4,791 men ; and on the coast of Ireland 17 ships, and 5,394 men : in all 33 ships, and 10,185 men.
175—THE FALL OF ESSEX.
C. KNIGHT, “SHAKSPERE BIOGRAPHY." The spring of 1599 saw Shakspere's friends and patrons, Essex and Southampton, in honour and triumph. “
“ The 29th March, 1599, about two o'clock in the afternoon, Robert Earl of Essex, Vicegerent of Ireland, &c., took horse in Seeding Lane, and from thence, being accompanied with divers noblemen and many others, himself very plainly attired, rode through Grace Street, Cornhill, Cheapside, and other high streets, in all which places, and in the fields, the people pressed exceedingly to behold him, especially in the highways, for more than four miles space, crying, and saying, God bless your lordship, God preserve your honour, &c.; and some followed him until the evening, only to behold him. When he and his company came forth of London, the sky was very calm and clear, but before he could get past Iseldon, (Islington) there arose a great black cloud in the north-east, and suddenly came lightning and thunder, with a great shower of hail and rain, the which some held as an ominous prodigy.”* It was, perhaps, with some reference to such forebodings, that in the chorus to the fifth act of “ Henry V.",—which of course must have been performed between the departure of Essex in March, and his return in September-Shakspere thus anticipates the triumph of Essex
“ But now behold,
To welcome him!” But the “ominous prodigy ” was sadly realized. About the close of the year 1599, the Blackfriars Theatre was remarkable for the constant presence of two men of high rank, who were there seeking amusement and instruction as some solace for the bitter mortifications of disappointed ambition. “My Lord Southampton and Lord Rutland came noť to the court; the one doth but very seldom ; they pass away the time in London merely in going to plays every day.”+ Essex had arrived from Ireland on the 28th of September, 1599-not
“Bringing rebellion broached on his sword,”— not surrounded with swarms of citizens who
“Go forth and fetch their conquering Cæsar in,"— but a fugitive from his army ; one who in his desire for peace had treated with rebels, and had brought down upon him the censures of the court; one who knew that his sovereign was surrounded with his personal enemies, and who in his reckless anger once thought to turn his army homeward to compel justice at their hands; one who at last rushed alone into the queen's presence, “full of dirt and mire," and found that he was in the toils of his foes. From that Michaelmas till
Stow's " Annals."
the 26th of August, 1600, Essex was in the custody of the lord keeper ; in free custody as it was termed, but to all intents a prisoner. It was at this period that Southampton and Rutland passed away the time in London merely in going to plays every day," Southampton in 1598 had married Elizabeth Vernon, a cousin of Lord Essex. The marriage was without the consent of the queen ; and therefore Southampton was under the ban of the court, having been peremptorily dismissed by Elizabeth from the office to which Essex had appointed him in the expedition to Ireland. Rutland was also connected with Essex by family ties, having married the daughter of Lady Essex, by her first husband, the accomplished Sir Philip Sydney. The season when these noblemen sought recreation at the theatre was one therefore of calamity to themselves, and to the friend who was at the head of their party in the state. We cannot with extreme precision fix the date of any novelty from the pen of Shakspere when Southampton and Rutland were amongst his daily auditors ; but there is every reason to believe that “ As You Like It" belongs as nearly as possible to this exact period. It is pleasant to speculate on the tranquillizing effect that might have been produced upon the minds of the banished courtiers, by the exquisite philosophy of this most delicious play. It is pleasant to imagine Southampton visiting Essex in the splendid prison of the lord keeper's house, and there repeating to him from time to time those lessons of wisdom that were to be found in the woods of Arden. The two noblemen who had once revelled in all the powers and privileges of court favouritism had now felt by how precarious a tenure is the happiness held of
• That poor man that hangs on princes' favours." The great dramatic poet of their time had raised up scenes of surpassing lovelin-ss, where happiness might be sought for even amidst the severest penalties of fortune :
“Now, my co mates, and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
More free from peril than the envious court ?"
“Sweet are the uses of adversity." Happy are those that can feel such a truth
“ That can translate the stubbornness of fortune
Into so quiet and so sweet a style." And yet the same poet had created a character that could interpret the feelings of those who had suffered undeserved indignities, and had learnt that the greatest crime in the world's eye was to be unfortunate. There was one in that piay who could moralize the spectacle of
A poor sequester'd stag,
That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt," and who thus pierced through the hollowness of “ this our life”
« Poor deer,' quoth he, thou mak’st a testament
As worldlings do, giving thy sum of more