Abbildungen der Seite

traffic overcame their timidity, and the English received a friendly welcome. On the island of Roanoke, they were entertained by the wife of Granganimeo, father of Wingina, the king, with the refinements of Arcadian hospitality. “The people were most gentle, loving and faithful, void of all guile and treason, and such as lived after the manner of the golden age." They had no cares but to guard against the moderate cold of a short winter, and to gather such food as the earth almost spontaneously produced. And yet it was added, with singular want of comparison, that the wars of these guileless men were cruel and bloody; that domestic dissensions had almost exterminated whole tribes; that they employed the basest stratagems against their enemies; and that the practice of inviting men to a feast, to murder them in the hour of confidence, was not exclusively a device of European bigots, but was known to the natives of Secotan. The English, too, were solicited to engage in a similar enterprise under promise of lucrative booty.

The adventurers were satisfied with observing the general aspect of the New World; no extensive examination of the coast was undertaken ; Pamlico and Albemarle Sound and Roanoke Island were explored, and some information gathered by inquiries from the Indians; the commanders had not the courage or the activity to survey the country with exactness. Having made but a short stay in America, they arrived in September in the west of England, accompanied by Manteo and Wanchese, two natives of the wilderness; and the returning voyagers gave such glowing descriptions of their discoveries as might be expected from men who had done no more than sail over the smooth waters of a summer's sea, among “the hundred islands” of North Carolina. Elizabeth esteemed her reign signalized by the discovery of the enchanting regions, and, as a memorial of her state of life, named them Virginia.




[Philip at last resolved to make an effort for the conquest

of England, and gathered a great feet in the Tagus, and an army in Flanders, for that purpose. The Armada, as the fleet was called, was ordered to sail through the Channel to the Flemish coast to join the army there, and protect its crossing to England. After long delays the Spaniards put to sea, and the vast armament entered the Channel.]

On Friday, the 29th of July, 1588, off the Lizard, the Spaniards had their first glimpse of the land of promise presented them by Sixtus V., of which they had at last come to take possession. On the same day and night the blaze and smoke of ten thousand beacon-fires from the Land's End to Margate, and from the Isle of Wight to Cumberland, gave warning to every Englishman that the enemy was at last upon them. Almost at that

instant intelligence had been brought from the court to the LordAdmiral 2 at Plymouth, that the Armada, dispersed and shattered by the gales of June, was not likely to make its appearance that year; and orders had consequently been given to disarm the four largest ships and send them into dock. Even the shrewd Walsingham 3 had participated in this strange delusion. Before Howard had time to act upon this ill-timed suggestion-even had he been disposed to do so-he received authentic intelligence that the great fleet was off the Lizard. Neither he nor Francis Drake were the men to lose time in such an emergency, and before that Friday night was spent, sixty of the best English ships had been warped out of Plymouth harbour.



1 The Pope, who had. aided the enterprise, and promised it

2 Lord Howard of Effingham, whose fleet lay at Plymouth. With him were Drake, Frobisher, and other great

3 Elizabeth's foreign secretary.


On Saturday, 30th July, the wind was very light at southwest, with a mist and drizzling rain, but by three in the afternoon the two fleets could descry and count each other through the haze.

By nine o'clock, 31st July, about two miles from Looe, on the Cornish coast, the fleets had their meeting. There were 136 sail of the Spaniards, of which ninety were large ships, and sixty-seven of the English. It was a solemn moment. The long-expected Armada presented a pompous, almost a theatrical appearance. The ships seemed arranged for a pageant in honour of a victory already won. Disposed in form of a crescent, the horns of which were seven miles asunder, those gilded, towered, floating castles, with their gaudy standards and their martial music, moved slowly along the Channel with an air of indolent pomp. Their captain-general, the Golden Duke,4 stood in his private shotproof fortress on thedeck of his greatgalleon the Saint Martin, surrounded by generals of infantry and colonels of cavalry, who knew as little as he did himself of naval matters. The English vessels, on the other hand—with a few exceptions, light, swift, and easily handled—could sail round and round those unwieldy galleons, hulks, and galleys rowed by fettered slave-gangs. The superior seamanship of free Englishmen, commanded by such experienced captains as Drake, Frobisher, and Hawkins—from infancy at home on blue water —was manifest in the very first encounter. They obtained the weather-gage at once, and cannonaded the enemy at intervals with considerable effect, easily escaping at will out of range of the sluggish Armada, which was incapable of 4 The Duke of Medina-Sidonia, who commanded the Armada.

bearing sail in pursuit, although provided with an armament which could sink all its enemies at close quarters. “We had some small fight with them that Sunday afternoon," said Hawkins.

Medina-Sidonia hoisted the royal standard at the fore, and the whole fleet did its utmost, which was little, to offer general battle. It was in vain. The English, following at the heels of the enemy, refused all such invitations, and attacked only the rear-guard of the Armada, where Recalde commanded. That admiral, steadily maintaining his post, faced his nimble antagonists, who continued to teaze, to maltreat, and to elude him, while the rest of the fleet proceeded slowly up the Channel, closely followed by the enemy. And thus the running fight continued along the coast, in full view of Plymouth, whence boats with reinforcements and volunteers were perpetually arriving to the English ships, until the battle had drifted quite out of reach of the town.

Already in this first “small fight " the Spaniards had learned a lesson, and might even entertain a doubt of their invincibility. But before the sun set there were more serious disasters. Much powder and shot had been expended by the Spaniards to very little purpose, and so a master-gunner on board Admiral Oquendo's flag-ship was reprimanded for careless ball-practice. The gunner, who was a Fleming, enraged with his captain, laid a train to the powder-magazine, fired it, and threw himself into the sea. The two decks blew up. The great castle at the stern rose into the clouds, carrying with it the paymaster-general of the fleet, a large portion of treasure, and nearly two hundred men. The ship was a wreck, but it was possible to save the rest of the crew. So Medina-Sidonia sent light vessels to remove them, and wore with his flagship to defend Oquendo, who had already been fastened upon by his English pursuers. But

the Spaniards, not being so light in hand as their enemiės involved themselves in much embarrassment by this ma nouvre; and there was much falling foul of each other, entanglement of rigging, and carrying away of yards. Oquendo's men, however, were ultimately saved, and taken to other ships.

Meantime Don Pedro de Valdez, commander of the Andalusian squadron, having got his galleon into collision with two or three Spanish ships successively, had at last carried away his fore-mast close to the deck, and the wreck had fallen against his main-mast. He lay crippled and helpless, the Armada was slowly deserting him, night was coming on, the sea was running high, and the English, ever hovering near, were ready to grapple with him. In vain did Don Pedro fire signals of distress. The captain-generaleven as though the unlucky galleon had not been connected with the Catholic fleet-calmly fired a gun to collect his scattered ships, and abandoned Valdez to his fate. “He left me comfortless in sight of the whole fleet," said poor Pedro, “and greater inhumanity and unthankfulness I think was never heard of among men.”

Yet the Spaniard comported himself most gallantly. Frobisher, in the largest ship of the English fleet, the Triumph, of 1100 tons, and Hawkins in the Victory, of 800, cannonaded him at a distance, but, night coming on, he was able to resist; and it was not till the following morning that he surrendered to the Revenge.

Drake then received the gallant prisoner on board his flagship-much to the disgust and indignation of Frobisher and Hawkins, thus disappointed of their prize and ransommoney-treated him with much courtesy, and gave his word of honour that he and his men should be treated fairly, like good prisoners of war. This pledge was redeemed, for it was not the English, as it was the Spanish custom, to convert

« ZurückWeiter »