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THE DEFEAT OF THE ARMADA.
BY CHARLES KINGSLEY.
(From “Westward Ho!").
CHARLES KINGSLEY, English clergyman, novelist, and miscellaneous writer, was born at Dartmoor, June 12, 1819. He took B.A. at Magdalen College, Cambridge, in 1842, with honors in classics and mathematics, and two years later became rector of Eversley in Hampshire, where he resided through life. He was professor of modern history at Cambridge from 1860 until 1869, when he became canon of Chester, and subsequently (1873) of Westminster. He made his mark with “The Saint's Tragedy," a metrical drama ; and added to his reputation with “ Yeast” and “Alton Locke," novels dealing with social problems, and the historical romances “ Hypatia,” “Westward Ho!" and “ Hereward the Wake." Other works are: “Glaucus," “ The Heroes," “ The Water Babies," "Two Years Ago,” “ Prose Idylls." In company with Dr. Maurice and others Kingsley devoted much attention to the amelioration of the condition of the working classes, and to their efforts may be traced the formation of coöperative associations. Kingsley died at Eversley, January 23, 1875.]
“ DRAKE, Hawkins, and Frobisher played stoutly with their ordnance on the hindmost squadron, which was commanded by Recalde.” The Spaniards soon discover the superior “nimbleness of the English ships ” ; and Recalde's squadron, finding that they are getting more than they give in spite of his endeavors, hurry forward to join the rest of the fleet. Medina the Admiral, finding his ships scattering fast, gathers them into a half-moon ; and the Armada tries to keep solemn way forward, like a stately herd of buffaloes, who march on across the prairie, disdaining to notice the wolves which snarl around their track. But in vain. These are no wolves, but cunning hunters, swiftly horsed and keenly armed, and who will "shamefully shuffle" (to use Drake's own expression) that vast herd from the Lizard to Portland, from Portland to Calais Roads; and who, even in this short two hours' fight, have made many a Spaniard question the boasted invincibleness of this Armada.
One of the four great galleasses is already riddled with shot, to the great disarrangement of her“ pulpits, chapels," and friars therein assistant. The fleet has to close round her, or Drake and Hawkins will sink her; in effecting which maneuver, the “principal galleon of Seville,” in which are Pedro de Valdez and a host of blue-blooded Dons, runs foul of her neighbor, carries away her foremast, and is, in spite of Spanish chivalry,
left to her fate. This does not look like victory, certainly. But courage! though Valdez be left behind, “our Lady,” and the saints, and the Bull Cæna Domini (dictated by one whom I dare not name here) are with them still, and it were blasphemous to doubt. But in the mean while, if they have fared no better than this against a third of the Plymouth fleet, how will they fare when those forty belated ships, which are already whitening the blue between them and the Mewstone, enter the scene to play their part?
So ends the first day; not an English ship, hardly a man, is hurt. It has destroyed forever, in English minds, the prestige of boastful Spain. It has justified utterly the policy which the good Lord Howard had adopted by Raleigh's and Drake's advice, of keeping up a running fight, instead of “clapping ships together without consideration,” in which case, says Raleigh, “ he had been lost, if he had not been better advised than a great many malignant fools were, who found fault with his demeanor.
Be that as it may, so ends the first day, in which Amyas and the other Bideford ships have been right busy for two hours, knocking holes in a huge galleon, which carries on her poop a maiden with a wheel, and bears the name of “Sta. Catharina."
She had a coat of arms on the flag at her sprit, probably those of the commandant of soldiers; but they were shot away early in the fight, so Amyas cannot tell whether they were De Soto's or not. Nevertheless, there is plenty of time for private revenge; and Amyas, called off at last by the Admiral's signal, goes to bed and sleeps soundly.
But ere he has been in his hammock an hour, he is awakened by Cary's coming down to ask for orders.
“We were to follow Drake's lantern, Amyas; but where it is, I can't see, unless he has been taken up aloft there among the stars for a new Drakium Sidus."
Amyas turned out grumbling: but no lantern is to be seen; only a sudden explosion and a great fire on board some Spaniard, which is gradually got under, while they have to lie-to the whole night long, with nearly the whole fleet.
The next morning finds them off Torbay; and Amyas is hailed by a pinnace, bringing a letter from Drake, which (saving the spelling, which was somewhat arbitrary, like most men's in those days) ran somewhat thus:
DEAR LAD,- I have been woolgathering all night after five great hulks, which the Pixies transfigured overnight into galleons, and this morning again into German merchantmen. I let them go with my blessing; and coming back, fell in (God be thanked !) with Valdez' great galleon; and in it good booty, which the Dons his fellows had left behind, like faithful and valiant comrades, and the Lord Howard had let slip past him, thinking her deserted by her crew. I have sent to Dartmouth a sight of noblemen and gentlemen, maybe a half-hundred; and Valdez himself, who when I sent my pinnace aboard must needs stand on his punctilios, and propound conditions. I answered him, I had no time to tell with him; if he would needs die, then I was the very man for him; if he would live, then, buena quera. He sends again, boasting that he was Don Pedro Valdez, and that it stood not with his honor, and that of the Dons in his company. I replied, that for my part, I was Francis Drake, and my matches burning. Whereon he finds in my name salve for the wounds of his own, and comes aboard kissing my fist, with Spanish lies of holding himself fortunate that he had fallen into the hands of fortunate Drake, and much more, which he might have kept to cool his porridge. But I have much news from him (for he is a leaky tub); and among others, this, that your Don Guzman is aboard of the “Sta. Catharina," commandant of her soldiery, and has his arms flying at her sprit, beside “Sta. Catharina” at the poop, which is a maiden with a wheel, and is a lofty built ship of 3 tier of ordnance, from which God preserve you, and send you like luck with
Your deare Friend and Admirall.
She sails in the squadron of Recalde. The Armada was minded to smoke us out of Plymouth; and God's grace it was they tried it not: but their orders from home are too strait, and so the slaves fight like a bull in a tether, no farther than their rope, finda
, ing thus the devil a hard master, as do most in the end. They cannot compass our quick handling and tacking, and take us for very witches. So far so good, and better to come. You and I know the length of their foot of old. Time and light will kill any hare, and they will find it a long way from Start to Dunkirk.
“ The Admiral is in a gracious humor, Leigh, to have vouchsafed you so long a letter.
“St. Catharine !' why, that was the galleon we hammered all yesterday !” said Amyas, stamping on the deck.
* Of course it was. Well, we shall find her again, doubt not. That cunning old Drake! how he has contrived to line his own pockets, even though he had to keep the whole fleet waiting for him.”
“He has given the Lord High Admiral the dor, at all events.”
“Lord Howard is too high-hearted to stop and plunder, Papist though he is, Amyas.”
Amyas answered by a growl, for he worshiped Drake, and was not too just to Papists.
The fleet did not find Lord Howard till nightfall; he and Lord Sheffield had been holding on steadfastly the whole night after the Spanish lanterns, with two ships only. At least there was no doubt now of the loyalty of English Roman Catholics, and, indeed, throughout the fight, the Howards showed (as if to wipe out the slurs which had been cast on their loyalty by fanatics) a desperate courage, which might have thrust less prudent men into destruction, but led them only to victory. Soon a large Spaniard drifts by, deserted and partly burnt. Some of the men are for leaving their places to board her ; but Amyas stoutly refuses. He has "come out to fight, and not to
“ plunder; so let the nearest ship to her have her luck without grudging." They pass on, and the men pull long faces when they see the galleon snapped up by their next neighbor, and towed off to Weymouth, where she proves to be the ship of Miguel d'Oquenda, the Vice Admiral, which they saw last night, all but blown up by some desperate Netherland gunner, who, being “misused," was minded to pay off old scores on his tyrants.
And so ends the second day; while the Portland rises higher and clearer every hour. The next morning finds them off the island. Will they tr
Will they try Portsmouth, though they have spared Plymouth? The wind has shifted to the north, and blowed clear and cool off the white-walled downs of Weymouth Bay. The Spaniards turn and face the English. They must mean to stand off and on until the wind shall change, and then to try for the Needles. At least, they shall have some work to do before they round Purbeck Isle.
The English go to the westward again ; but it is only to return on the opposite tack; and now begin a series of maneuvers, each fleet trying to get the wind of the other ; but the struggle does not last long, and ere noon the English fleet have slipped close-hauled between the Armada and the land, and are coming down upon them right before the wind.
“ And fight
And now begins a fight most fierce and fell. they did confusedly, and with variable fortunes ; while, on the one hand, the English manfully rescued the ships of London, which were hemmed in by the Spaniards; and, on the other side, the Spaniards as stoutly delivered Recalde being in danger.' “ Never was heard such thundering of ordnance on both sides, which notwithstanding from the Spaniards flew for the most part over the English without harm. Only Cock, an Englishman” (whom Prince claims, I hope rightfully, as a worthy of Devon), “died with honor in the midst of the enemies in a small ship of his. For the English ships, being far the lesser, charged the enemy with marvelous agility; and having discharged their broadsides, flew forth presently into the deep, and leveled their shot directly, without missing, at those great and unwieldy Spanish ships.” - This was the most furious and bloody skirmish of all” (though ending only, it seems, in the capture of a great Venetian and some small craft), “in which the Lord Admiral, fighting amidst his enemies' fleet, and seeing one of his captains afar off (Fenner by name, he who fought the seven Portugals at the Azores), cried, 0 George, what doest thou ? Wilt thou now frustrate my hope and opinion conceived of thee? Wilt thou forsake me now?' With which words he, being enflamed, approached, and did the part of a most valiant captain ; ” as, indeed, did all the rest.
Night falls upon the floating volcano; and morning finds them far past Purbeck, with the white peak of Freshwater ahead ; and pouring out past the Needles, ship after ship, to join the gallant chase. For now from all havens, in vessels fitted out at their own expense, flock the chivalry of England ; the Lords Oxford, Northumberland, and Cumberland, Pallavicin, Brooke, Carew, Raleigh and Blunt, and many another honor
as to a set field, where immortal fame and honor was to be attained.” Spain has staked her chivalry in that
” mighty cast ; not a noble house of Arragon or Castile but has lent a brother or a son and shall mourn the loss of one; and England's gentlemen will measure their strength once for all against the cavaliers of Spain. Lord Howard has sent forward light craft into Portsmouth for ammunition : but they will scarce return to-night, for the wind falls dead, and all the evening the two fleets drift helpless with the tide, and shout idle defiance at each other with trumpet, fife, and drum.
The sun goes down upon a glassy sea, and rises on a glassy