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appulisse classem Mam invincibilem, at hoc anno alteram classem invisibilem,1 atque mussarent, si hujusmodi ludi fiorales a consilio Anglice ineunte Maio cdebrati fuissent, magis congruum eristimari potuisse; verum ut plebs a messe sua avocaretur (erat enim adultus Autumnus) nimis serias ineptias esse.
'And it is probable that the Queen had some secret intimation of this design. For just at that time there grew up rumours (such as are commonly spread when the sovereign is willing they should circulate) and went abroad all over the land, that a mighty and well appointed Spanish fleet was at hand, that it had been seen on the western coast, and was doubtful for what part it was designed. Thereupon musters were diligently held on all sides, the coast counties were ordered to arm themselves and be in readiness, couriers were sent continually to the court, nay a royal army, under command of the Earl of Nottingham, Admiral of England, was levied. Moreover a tale was given out by which even the wiser sort might well be taken in: viz. that the King of Spain, who had not forgotten the voyage to Portugal in which the same Essex had been engaged, when he was informed that so great an army had been set forth to suppress the Irish rebellion, under so eminent and prosperous a commander, fell into a suspicion that it was designed, under pretext of Irish matters, to invade some part of Spain: and therefore got together a numerous fleet and also land forces for the defence of his own dominions: but that when he found that the army was in truth sent over into Ireland and occupied with the work there, he was advised by his council, seeing that he had gathered together such a fleet and force with great charge and trouble and had them ready, not to discharge them without doing some service; but to strike a blow at England; the rather because the flower of the English army had been sent over with Essex, and the Queen expected nothing of the kind at that time. Now all this was done to the end that Essex, hearing that the kingdom was in arms, might be deterred from any attempt to bring the Irish army over into England. And yet these devices of the Queen were even by the common people suspected and taken in bad part; insomuch that they forbore not from scoffs, saying that in the year '88 Spain had sent an Invincible Armada against us and now she had sent an Invisible Armada; and muttering that if the council had celebrated this kind of Maygame in the beginning of May, it might have been thought more suitable, but to call the people away from the harvest for it (for it was now full autumn) was too serious a jest.'
1 The words at hoc — invmbilem are omitted in Hcarne's edition, p. 795., having been omitted by the transcriber of the corrections in Rawlinson's copy.
The substance of this story is given by Fuller in his Church History (ix. 41.) on the authority of Camden's MS. Life of Queen Elizabeth, which it seems he had seen. It is the more worthy of notice because any one collecting the history of the time from the documents now remaining in the State Paper Office might easily conclude that the danger, or at least the alarm, was a real one. For though the occasion was pretended the preparations were in earnest.
Fuller makes a remark upon the last sentence, which is strange for a man of his judgment. "My author addeth (he says) that people affirmed that such Maygames had been fitter in the spring (when sports were used amongst the Romans to Flora) and not in the autumn when people were seriously employed to fetch in the fruits of the earth. But by his leave, these expressions flow from critics, and fly far above the capacities of countrymen." Here Fuller seems to have been deceived by his own learning, and to have for gotten that the May-game was an incident of spring in England as well as at Rome. The incongruity of May-games (ludi florales means no more) in harvest time, must have been intelligible enough to any Englishman.
XIV. The only remaining additions or corrections which 1 find in Bacon's hand occur in the trial of the Earl of Essex for treason in February 1600-1. They are few and slight, but sufficient to shew that he had read that part of the history with care. As it stands in Hearne's edition, in which these corrections are introduced, it may be regarded as having in a manner received his sanction.
Camden had represented Bacon himself (p. 853.) as saying at the trial (in answer to Essex's assertion that the violence of Cobham, Cecil, and Raleigh had driven him to take up arms in necessary self-defence) that Cobham, Cecil, and Raleigh were such sincere honest men, and had such large estates (adeo sincere probos esse, et ab opibus instructos), that they would never overthrow their estates and hopes by committing such a crime. For the words adeo sincere probos, $c. Bacon substitutes (Faust. F. ix. fo. 82.) tales esse et amnw et fortunis: 'were of such a condition both in mind and in fortunes, that they would never' &c. Which agrees with the summary of the argument as given in the Declaration of Treasons. "Then it was shewed how improbable it was, considering that my Lord Cobham and Sir Walter Raleigh were men whose estates were better settled and established than to overthrow thenfortunes by such a crime."
In the next sentence Camden had represented him as observing that the fictions put forward by Essex of a plot against his life, fell to the ground by reason of their inconsistency and variety — inasmuch as Essex, not keeping to one story, cried out at one time that he was to have been murdered in his bed, at another in a boat, at another by the Jesuits; and likewise by the vanity of them (necnon e vanitate), since he exclaimed that the kingdom of England was to have been sold to the Spaniard. For necnon e vanitate, cum exclamaret $c. Bacon substitutes Quinetiam subinde exclamaret cf-e. (nay and he cried out presently after &c.) His argument, as represented both in the contemporary reports of the trial and in the Declaration, was not that the story about the kingdom being to be sold to the Spaniard was so vain a fiction as to shake the credit of the whole plea (the vanity of it was proved by other evidence), but that it was irrelevant to the point in question, which was the taking up arms in self-defence against private enemies.
Camden had represented him as adding, that it was a familiar thing to traitors (proditoribus) to strike at princes not directly but through the sides of their ministers. For proditoribus Bacon substitutes defeetionem et rebellionem tentantibus: 'attempters of revolt and rebellion.'
In the next sentence, Camden had represented him as taxing Essex with deep dissimulation, as if he had put on the mask of piety; and likening him to Pisistratus of Athens, who had gashed his body, &c. (Essexium profundce dissinndationis arguit, quasi pietatis larvam induerat: et Pisistrato Atheniensi assimilat, qui corpus <fe.) For this Bacon substitutes Essexii factum profundce dissimulationis arguit, quale fait illud Pisistrati Atheniensis, qui corpus $• c. 'He taxes the action of Essex with deep dissimulation; comparing it to that of Pisistratus,' &c. There is nothing about the "mask of piety " either in the report or in the Declaration. Such an imputation would indeed have been quite from the purpose; for Pisistratus's object was not to gain a reputation for piety, but to make people think that he was in danger of his life. The report of the trial says, "I cannot resemble your proceedings more rightly than to one Pisistratus," &c. And in the Declaration, the substance of the argument is thus given, "It was said .... that this action of his resembled the action of Pisistratus of Athens, that proceeded so far in this kind of fiction and dissimulation, as he lanced his own body, &c."