Part 14 out of 15
"Well, how goes on the reading?" said he; and then, without waiting
for an answer--"We shall be ready to clear out this day week,
mother, I do believe; that is, if the hatchets are made in time to
"I hope they will be better than the last," said Mrs. Leigh. "It
seems to me a shameful sin to palm off on poor ignorant savages
goods which we should consider worthless for ourselves."
"Well, it's not over fair: but still, they are a sight better than
they ever had before. An old hoop is better than a deer's bone, as
"I don't know anything about it," said she, who was always nettled
at the least allusion to her past wild life. "I am an English girl
now, and all that is gone--I forget it."
"Forget it?" said he, teasing her for want of something better to
do. "Should not you like to sail with us, now, and see the Indians
in the forests once again?"
"Sail with you?" and she looked up eagerly.
"There! I knew it! She would not be four-and-twenty hours ashore,
but she would be off into the woods again, bow in hand, like any
runaway nymph, and we should never see her more."
"It is false, bad man!" and she burst into violent tears, and hid
her face in Mrs. Leigh's lap.
"Amyas, Amyas, why do you tease the poor fatherless thing?"
"I was only jesting, I'm sure," said Amyas, like a repentant
schoolboy. "Don't cry now, don't cry, my child, see here," and he
began fumbling in his pockets; "see what I bought of a chapman in
town to-day, for you, my maid, indeed, I did."
And out he pulled some smart kerchief or other, which had taken his
"Look at it now, blue, and crimson, and green, like any parrot!"
and he held it out.
She looked round sharply, snatched it out of his hand, and tore it
"I hate it, and I hate you!" and she sprang up and darted out of
"Oh, boy, boy!" said Mrs. Leigh, "will you kill that poor child?
It matters little for an old heart like mine, which has but one or
two chords left whole, how soon it be broken altogether; but a
young heart is one of God's precious treasures, Amyas, and suffers
many a long pang in the breaking; and woe to them who despise
Christ's little ones!"
"Break your heart, mother?"
"Never mind my heart, dear son; yet how can you break it more
surely than by tormenting one whom I love, because she loves you?"
"Tut! play, mother, and maids' tempers. But how can I break your
heart? What have I done? Have I not given up going again to the
West Indies for your sake? Have I not given up going to Virginia,
and now again settled to go after all, just because you commanded?
Was it not your will? Have I not obeyed you, mother, mother? I
will stay at home now, if you will. I would rather rust here on
land, I vow I would, than grieve you--" and he threw himself at his
"Have I asked you not to go to Virginia? No, dear boy, though
every thought of a fresh parting seems to crack some new fibre
within me, you must go! It is your calling. Yes; you were not
sent into the world to amuse me, but to work. I have had pleasure
enough of you, my darling, for many a year, and too much, perhaps;
till I shrank from lending you to the Lord. But He must have
you. . . . It is enough for the poor old widow to know that her boy
is what he is, and to forget all her anguish day by day, for joy that
a man is born into the world. But, Amyas, Amyas, are you so blind
as not to see that Ayacanora--"
"Don't talk about her, poor child. Talk about yourself."
"How long have I been worth talking about? No, Amyas, you must see
it; and if you will not see it now, you will see it one day in some
sad and fearful prodigy; for she is not one to die tamely. She
loves you, Amyas, as a woman only can love."
"Loves me? Well, of course. I found her, and brought her home;
and I don't deny she may think that she owes me somewhat--though it
was no more than a Christian man's duty. But as for her caring
much for me, mother, you measure every one else's tenderness by
"Think that she owes you somewhat? Silly boy, this is not
gratitude, but a deeper affection, which may be more heavenly than
gratitude, as it may, too, become a horrible cause of ruin. It
rests with you, Amyas, which of the two it will be."
"You are in earnest?"
"Have I the heart or the time to jest?"
"No, no, of course not; but, mother, I thought it was not comely
for women to fall in love with men?"
"Not comely, at least, to confess their love to men. But she has
never done that, Amyas; not even by a look or a tone of voice,
though I have watched her for months."
"To be sure, she is as demure as any cat when I am in the way. I
only wonder how you found it out."
"Ah," said she, smiling sadly, "even in the saddest woman's soul
there linger snatches of old music, odors of flowers long dead and
turned to dust--pleasant ghosts, which still keep her mind attuned
to that which may be in others, though in her never more; till she
can hear her own wedding-hymn re-echoed in the tones of every girl
who loves, and sees her own wedding-torch re-lighted in the eyes of
"You would not have me marry her?" asked blunt, practical Amyas.
"God knows what I would have--I know not; I see neither your path
nor my own--no, not after weeks and months of prayer. All things
beyond are wrapped in mist; and what will be, I know not, save that
whatever else is wrong, mercy at least is right."
"I'd sail to-morrow, if I could. As for marrying her, mother--her
birth, mind me--"
"Ah, boy, boy! Are you God, to visit the sins of the parents upon
"Not that. I don't mean that; but I mean this, that she is half a
Spaniard, mother; and I cannot!--Her blood may be as blue as King
Philip's own, but it is Spanish still! I cannot bear the thought
that my children should have in their veins one drop of that
"Amyas! Amyas!" interrupted she, "is this not, too, visiting the
parents' sins on the children?"
"Not a whit; it is common sense,--she must have the taint of their
bloodthirsty humor. She has it--I have seen it in her again and
again. I have told you, have I not? Can I forget the look of her
eyes as she stood over that galleon's captain, with the smoking
knife in her hand.--Ugh! And she is not tamed yet, as you can see,
and never will be:--not that I care, except for her own sake, poor
"Cruel boy! to impute as a blame to the poor child, not only the
errors of her training, but the very madness of her love!"
"Of her love?"
"Of what else, blind buzzard? From the moment that you told me the
story of that captain's death, I knew what was in her heart--and
thus it is that you requite her for having saved your life!"
"Umph! that is one word too much, mother. If you don't want to
send me crazy, don't put the thing on the score of gratitude or
duty. As it is, I can hardly speak civilly to her (God forgive
me!) when I recollect that she belongs to the crew who murdered
him"--and he pointed to the picture, and Mrs. Leigh shuddered as he
"You feel it! You know you feel it, tender-hearted, forgiving
angel as you are; and what do you think I must feel?"
"Oh, my son, my son!" cried she, wringing her hands, "if I be
wretch enough to give place to the devil for a moment, does that
give you a right to entertain and cherish him thus day by day?"
"I should cherish him with a vengeance, if I brought up a crew of
children who could boast of a pedigree of idolaters and tyrants,
hunters of Indians, and torturers of women! How pleasant to hear
her telling Master Jack, 'Your illustrious grand-uncle the pope's
legate, was the man who burned Rose Salterne at Cartagena;' or Miss
Grace, 'Your great-grandfather of sixteen quarterings, the Marquis
of this, son of the Grand-equerry that, and husband of the Princess
t'other, used to feed his bloodhounds, when beef was scarce, with
Indians' babies!' Eh, mother? These things are true, and if you
can forget them, I cannot. Is it not enough to have made me forego
for awhile my purpose, my business, the one thing I live for, and
that is, hunting down the Spaniards as I would adders or foxes, but
you must ask me over and above to take one to my bosom?"
"Oh, my son, my son! I have not asked you to do that; I have only
commanded you, in God's name, to be merciful, if you wish to obtain
mercy. Oh, if you will not pity this poor maiden, pity yourself;
for God knows you stand in more need of it than she does!"
Amyas was silent for a minute or two; and then,--
"If it were not for you, mother, would God that the Armada would
"What, and ruin England?"
"No! Curse them! Not a foot will they ever set on English soil,
such a welcome would we give them. If I were but in the midst of
that fleet, fighting like a man--to forget it all, with a galleon
on board of me to larboard, and another to starboard--and then to
put a linstock in the magazine, and go aloft in good company--I
don't care how soon it comes, mother, if it were not for you."
"If I am in your way, Amyas, do not fear that I shall trouble you
"Oh, mother, mother, do not talk in that way! I am half-mad, I
think, already, and don't know what I say. Yes, I am mad; mad at
heart, though not at head. There's a fire burning me up, night and
day, and nothing but Spanish blood will put it out."
"Or the grace of God, my poor wilful child! Who comes to the
door?--so quickly, too?"
There was a loud hurried knocking, and in another minute a serving-
man hurried in with a letter.
"This to Captain Amyas Leigh with haste, haste!"
It was Sir Richard's hand. Amyas tore it open; and "a loud laugh
"The Armada is coming! My wish has come true, mother!"
"God help us, it has! Show me the letter."
It was a hurried scrawl.
"DR. GODSON,--Walsingham sends word that the Ada. sailed from
Lisbon to the Groyne the 18. of May. We know no more, but have
commandment to stay the ships. Come down, dear lad, and give us
counsel; and may the Lord help His Church in this great strait.
"Your loving godfather,
"Forgive me, mother, mother, once for all!" cried Amyas, throwing
his arms round her neck.
"I have nothing to forgive, my son, my son! And shall I lose thee,
"If I be killed, you will have two martyrs of your blood, mother!--"
Mrs. Leigh bowed her head, and was silent. Amyas caught up his hat
and sword, and darted forth toward Bideford.
Amyas literally danced into Sir Richard's hall, where he stood
talking earnestly with various merchants and captains.
"Gloria, gloria! gentles all! The devil is broke loose at last;
and now we know where to have him on the hip!"
"Why so merry, Captain Leigh, when all else are sad?" said a gentle
voice by his side.
"Because I have been sad a long time, while all else were merry,
dear lady. Is the hawk doleful when his hood is pulled off, and he
sees the heron flapping right ahead of him?"
"You seem to forget the danger and the woe of us weak women, sir?"
"I don't forget the danger and the woe of one weak woman, madam,
and she the daughter of a man who once stood in this room," said
Amyas, suddenly collecting himself, in a low stern voice. "And I
don't forget the danger and the woe of one who was worth a thousand
even of her. I don't forget anything, madam."
"Nor forgive either, it seems."
"It will be time to talk of forgiveness after the offender has
repented and amended; and does the sailing of the Armada look like
"Alas, no! God help us!"
"He will help us, madam," said Amyas.
"Admiral Leigh," said Sir Richard, "we need you now, if ever. Here
are the queen's orders to furnish as many ships as we can; though
from these gentlemen's spirit, I should say the orders were well-
"Not a doubt, sir; for my part, I will fit my ship at my own
charges, and fight her too, as long as I have a leg or an arm
"Or a tongue to say, never surrender, I'll warrant!" said an old
merchant. "You put life into us old fellows, Admiral Leigh: but it
will be a heavy matter for those poor fellows in Virginia, and for
my daughter too, Madam Dare, with her young babe, as I hear, just
"And a very heavy matter," said some one else, "for those who have
ventured their money in these cargoes, which must lie idle, you
see, now for a year maybe--and then all the cost of unlading again--
"My good sir," said Grenville, "what have private interests to do
with this day? Let us thank God if He only please to leave us the
bare fee-simple of this English soil, the honor of our wives and
daughters, and bodies safe from rack and fagot, to wield the swords
of freemen in defence of a free land, even though every town and
homestead in England were wasted with fire, and we left to rebuild
over again all which our ancestors have wrought for us in now six
"Right, sir!" said Amyas. "For my part, let my Virginian goods rot
on the quay, if the worst comes to the worst. I begin unloading
the Vengeance to-morrow; and to sea as soon as I can fill up my
crew to a good fighting number."
And so the talk ran on; and ere two days were past, most of the
neighboring gentlemen, summoned by Sir Richard, had come in, and
great was the bidding against each other as to who should do most.
Cary and Brimblecombe, with thirty tall Clovelly men, came across
the bay, and without even asking leave of Amyas, took up their
berths as a matter of course on board the Vengeance. In the
meanwhile, the matter was taken up by families. The Fortescues (a
numberless clan) offered to furnish a ship; the Chichesters
another, the Stukelys a third; while the merchantmen were not
backward. The Bucks, the Stranges, the Heards, joyfully unloaded
their Virginian goods, and replaced them with powder and shot; and
in a week's time the whole seven were ready once more for sea, and
dropped down into Appledore pool, with Amyas as their admiral for
the time being (for Sir Richard had gone by land to Plymouth to
join the deliberations there), and waited for the first favorable
wind to start for the rendezvous in the Sound.
At last, upon the twenty-first of June, the clank of the capstans
rang merrily across the flats, and amid prayers and blessings,
forth sailed that gallant squadron over the bar, to play their part
in Britain's Salamis; while Mrs. Leigh stood watching as she stood
once before, beside the churchyard wall: but not alone this time;
for Ayacanora stood by her side, and gazed and gazed, till her eyes
seemed ready to burst from their sockets. At last she turned away
with a sob,--
"And he never bade me good-bye, mother!"
"God forgive him! Come home and pray, my child; there is no other
rest on earth than prayer for woman's heart!"
They were calling each other mother and daughter then? Yes. The
sacred fire of sorrow was fast burning out all Ayacanora's fallen
savageness; and, like a Phoenix, the true woman was rising from
those ashes, fair, noble, and all-enduring, as God had made her.
HOW THE ADMIRAL JOHN HAWKINS TESTIFIED AGAINST CROAKERS
"Oh, where be these gay Spaniards,
Which make so great a boast O?
Oh, they shall eat the gray-goose feather,
And we shall eat the roast O!"
What if the spectators who last summer gazed with just pride upon
the noble port of Plymouth, its vast breakwater spanning the Sound,
its arsenals and docks, its two estuaries filled with gallant
ships, and watched the great screw-liners turning within their own
length by force invisible, or threading the crowded fleets with the
ease of the tiniest boat,--what if, by some magic turn, the
nineteenth century, and all the magnificence of its wealth and
science, had vanished--as it may vanish hereafter--and they had
found themselves thrown back three hundred years into the pleasant
summer days of 1588?
Mount Edgecombe is still there, beautiful as ever: but where are
the docks, and where is Devonport? No vast dry-dock roofs rise at
the water's edge. Drake's island carries but a paltry battery,
just raised by the man whose name it bears; Mount Wise is a lone
gentleman's house among fields; the citadel is a pop-gun fort,
which a third-class steamer would shell into rubble for an
afternoon's amusement. And the shipping, where are they? The
floating castles of the Hamoaze have dwindled to a few crawling
lime-hoys; and the Catwater is packed, not as now, with merchant
craft, but with the ships who will to-morrow begin the greatest
sea-fight which the world has ever seen.
There they lie, a paltry squadron enough in modern eyes; the
largest of them not equal in size to a six-and-thirty-gun frigate,
carrying less weight of metal than one of our new gun-boats, and
able to employ even that at not more than a quarter of our modern
range. Would our modern spectators, just come down by rail for a
few hours, to see the cavalry embark, and return tomorrow in time
for dinner, have looked down upon that petty port, and petty fleet,
with a contemptuous smile, and begun some flippant speech about the
progress of intellect, and the triumphs of science, and our
benighted ancestors? They would have done so, doubt it not, if
they belonged to the many who gaze on those very triumphs as on a
raree-show to feed their silly wonder, or use and enjoy them
without thankfulness or understanding, as the ox eats the clover
thrust into his rack, without knowing or caring how it grew. But
if any of them were of the class by whom those very triumphs have
been achieved; the thinkers and the workers, who, instead of
entering lazily into other men's labors, as the mob does, labor
themselves; who know by hard experience the struggles, the self-
restraints, the disappointments, the slow and staggering steps, by
which the discoverer reaches to his prize; then the smile of those
men would not have been one of pity, but rather of filial love.
For they would have seen in those outwardly paltry armaments the
potential germ of that mightier one which now loads the Black Sea
waves; they would have been aware, that to produce it, with such
materials and knowledge as then existed, demanded an intellect, an
energy, a spirit of progress and invention, equal, if not superior,
to those of which we now so loudly boast.
But if, again, he had been a student of men rather than of
machinery, he would have found few nobler companies on whom to
exercise his discernment, than he might have seen in the little
terrace bowling-green behind the Pelican Inn, on the afternoon of
the nineteenth of July. Chatting in groups, or lounging over the
low wall which commanded a view of the Sound and the shipping far
below, were gathered almost every notable man of the Plymouth
fleet, the whole posse comitatus of "England's forgotten worthies."
The Armada has been scattered by a storm. Lord Howard has been out
to look for it, as far as the Spanish coast; but the wind has
shifted to the south, and fearing lest the Dons should pass him, he
has returned to Plymouth, uncertain whether the Armada will come
after all or not. Slip on for a while, like Prince Hal, the
drawer's apron; come in through the rose-clad door which opens from
the tavern, with a tray of long-necked Dutch glasses, and a silver
tankard of wine, and look round you at the gallant captains, who
are waiting for the Spanish Armada, as lions in their lair might
wait for the passing herd of deer.
See those five talking earnestly, in the centre of a ring, which
longs to overhear, and yet is too respectful to approach close.
Those soft long eyes and pointed chin you recognize already; they
are Walter Raleigh's. The fair young man in the flame-colored
doublet, whose arm is round Raleigh's neck, is Lord Sheffield;
opposite them stands, by the side of Sir Richard Grenville, a man
as stately even as he, Lord Sheffield's uncle, the Lord Charles
Howard of Effingham, lord high admiral of England; next to him is
his son-in-law, Sir Robert Southwell, captain of the Elizabeth
Jonas: but who is that short, sturdy, plainly dressed man, who
stands with legs a little apart, and hands behind his back, looking
up, with keen gray eyes, into the face of each speaker? His cap is
in his hands, so you can see the bullet head of crisp brown hair
and the wrinkled forehead, as well as the high cheek bones, the
short square face, the broad temples, the thick lips, which are yet
firm as granite. A coarse plebeian stamp of man: yet the whole
figure and attitude are that of boundless determination, self-
possession, energy; and when at last he speaks a few blunt words,
all eyes are turned respectfully upon him;--for his name is Francis
A burly, grizzled elder, in greasy sea-stained garments,
contrasting oddly with the huge gold chain about his neck, waddles
up, as if he had been born, and had lived ever since, in a gale of
wind at sea. The upper half of his sharp dogged visage seems of
brick-red leather, the lower of badger's fur; and as he claps Drake
on the back, and, with a broad Devon twang, shouts, "be you a
coming to drink your wine, Francis Drake, or be you not?--saving
your presence, my lord;" the lord high admiral only laughs, and
bids Drake go and drink his wine; for John Hawkins, admiral of the
port, is the patriarch of Plymouth seamen, if Drake be their hero,
and says and does pretty much what he likes in any company on
earth; not to mention that to-day's prospect of an Armageddon fight
has shaken him altogether out of his usual crabbed reserve, and
made him overflow with loquacious good-humor, even to his rival
So they push through the crowd, wherein is many another man whom
one would gladly have spoken with face to face on earth. Martin
Frobisher and John Davis are sitting on that bench, smoking tobacco
from long silver pipes; and by them are Fenton and Withrington, who
have both tried to follow Drake's path round the world, and failed,
though by no fault of their own. The man who pledges them better
luck next time, is George Fenner, known to "the seven Portugals,"
Leicester's pet, and captain of the galleon which Elizabeth bought
of him. That short prim man in the huge yellow ruff, with sharp
chin, minute imperial, and self-satisfied smile, is Richard
Hawkins, the Complete Seaman, Admiral John's hereafter famous and
hapless son. The elder who is talking with him is his good uncle
William, whose monument still stands, or should stand, in Deptford
Church; for Admiral John set it up there but one year after this
time; and on it record how he was, "A worshipper of the true
religion, an especial benefactor of poor sailors, a most just
arbiter in most difficult causes, and of a singular faith, piety,
and prudence." That, and the fact that he got creditably through
some sharp work at Porto Rico, is all I know of William Hawkins:
but if you or I, reader, can have as much or half as much said of
us when we have to follow him, we shall have no reason to complain.
There is John Drake, Sir Francis' brother, ancestor of the present
stock of Drakes; and there is George, his nephew, a man not
overwise, who has been round the world with Amyas; and there is
Amyas himself, talking to one who answers him with fierce curt
sentences, Captain Barker of Bristol, brother of the hapless Andrew
Barker who found John Oxenham's guns, and, owing to a mutiny among
his men, perished by the Spaniards in Honduras, twelve years ago.
Barker is now captain of the Victory, one of the queen's best
ships; and he has his accounts to settle with the Dons, as Amyas
has; so they are both growling together in a corner, while all the
rest are as merry as the flies upon the vine above their heads.
But who is the aged man who sits upon a bench, against the sunny
south wall of the tavern, his long white beard flowing almost to
his waist, his hands upon his knees, his palsied head moving slowly
from side to side, to catch the scraps of discourse of the passing
captains? His great-grandchild, a little maid of six, has laid her
curly head upon his knees, and his grand-daughter, a buxom black-
eyed dame of thirty, stands by him and tends him, half as nurse,
and half, too, as showman, for he seems an object of curiosity to
all the captains, and his fair nurse has to entreat again and
again, "Bless you, sir, please now, don't give him no liquor, poor
old soul, the doctor says." It is old Martin Cockrem, father of
the ancient host, aged himself beyond the years of man, who can
recollect the bells of Plymouth ringing for the coronation of Henry
the Eighth, and who was the first Englishman, perhaps, who ever set
foot on the soil of the New World. There he sits, like an old
Druid Tor of primeval granite amid the tall wheat and rich clover
crops of a modern farm. He has seen the death of old Europe and
the birth-throes of the new. Go to him, and question him; for his
senses are quick as ever; and just now the old man seems uneasy.
He is peering with rheumy eyes through the groups, and seems
listening for a well-known voice.
"There 'a be again! Why don't 'a come, then?"
"Quiet, gramfer, and don't trouble his worship."
"Here an hour, and never speak to poor old Martin! I say, sir"--
and the old man feebly plucks Amyas's cloak as he passes. "I say,
captain, do 'e tell young master old Martin's looking for him."
"Marcy, gramfer, where's your manners? Don't be vexed, sir, he'm
a'most a babe, and tejous at times, mortal."
"Young master who?" says Amyas, bending down to the old man, and
smiling to the dame to let him have his way.
"Master Hawkins; he'm never been a-near me all day."
Off goes Amyas; and, of course, lays hold of the sleeve of young
Richard Hawkins; but as he is in act to speak, the dame lays hold
of his, laughing and blushing.
"No, sir, not Mr. Richard, sir; Admiral John, sir, his father; he
always calls him young master, poor old soul!" and she points to
the grizzled beard and the face scarred and tanned with fifty years
of fight and storm.
Amyas goes to the Admiral, and gives his message.
"Mercy on me! Where be my wits? Iss, I'm a-coming," says the old
hero in his broadest Devon, waddles off to the old man, and begins
lugging at a pocket. "Here, Martin, I've got mun, I've got mun,
man alive; but his Lordship keept me so. Lookee here, then! Why,
I do get so lusty of late, Martin, I can't get to my pockets!"
And out struggle a piece of tarred string, a bundle of papers, a
thimble, a piece of pudding-tobacco, and last of all, a little
paper of Muscovado sugar--then as great a delicacy as any French
bonbons would be now--which he thrusts into the old man's eager and
Old Martin begins dipping his finger into it, and rubbing it on his
toothless gums, smiling and nodding thanks to his young master;
while the little maid at his knee, unrebuked, takes her share also.
"There, Admiral Leigh; both ends meet--gramfers and babies! You
and I shall be like to that one day, young Samson!"
"We shall have slain a good many Philistines first, I hope."
"Amen! so be it; but look to mun! so fine a sailor as ever drank
liquor; and now greedy after a hit of sweet trade! 'tis piteous
like; but I bring mun a hit whenever I come, and he looks for it.
He's one of my own flesh like, is old Martin. He sailed with my
father Captain Will, when they was both two little cracks aboard of
a trawler; and my father went up, and here I am--he didn't, and
there he is. We'm up now, we Hawkinses. We may be down again some
"Never, I trust," said Amyas.
"'Tain't no use trusting, young man: you go and do. I do hear too
much of that there from my lad. Let they ministers preach till
they'm black in the face, works is the trade!" with a nudge in
Amyas's ribs. "Faith can't save, nor charity nether. There, you
tell with him, while I go play bowls with Drake. He'll tell you a
sight of stories. You ask him about good King Hal, now, just--"
And off waddled the Port Admiral.
"You have seen good King Henry, then, father?" said Amyas,
The old man's eyes lighted at once, and he stopped mumbling his
"Seed mun? Iss, I reckon. I was with Captain Will when he went to
meet the Frenchman there to Calais--at the Field, the Field--"
"The Field of the Cloth of Gold, gramfer," suggested the dame.
"That's it. Seed mun? Iss, fegs. Oh, he was a king! The face o'
mun like a rising sun, and the back o' mun so broad as that there"
(and he held out his palsied arms), "and the voice of mun! Oh, to
hear mun swear if he was merry, oh, 'tas royal!--Seed mun? Iss,
fegs! And I've seed mun do what few has; I've seed mun christle
like any child."
"What--cry?" said Amyas. "I shouldn't have thought there was much
cry in him."
"You think what you like--"
"Gramfer, gramfer, don't you be rude, now--
"Let him go on," said Amyas.
"I seed mun christle; and, oh dear, how he did put hands on mun's
face; and 'Oh, my gentlemen,' says he, 'my gentlemen! Oh, my
gallant men!' Them was his very words."
"Why, Captain Will had just come to the Hard--that's to Portsmouth--
to speak with mun, and the barge Royal lay again the Hard--so; and
our boot alongside--so; and the king he standth as it might be
there, above my head, on the quay edge, and she come in near
abreast of us, looking most royal to behold, poor dear! and went to
cast about. And Captain Will, saith he, 'Them lower ports is cruel
near the water;' for she had not more than a sixteen inches to
spare in the nether overloop, as I heard after. And saith he,
'That won't do for going to windward in a say, Martin.' And as the
words came out of mun's mouth, your worship, there was a bit of a
flaw from the westward, sharp like, and overboard goeth my cap, and
hitth against the wall, and as I stooped to pick it up, I heard a
cry, and it was all over!"
"He is telling of the Mary Rose, sir."
"I guessed so."
"All over: and the cry of mun, and the screech of mun! Oh, sir, up
to the very heavens! And the king he screeched right out like any
maid, 'Oh my gentlemen, oh my gallant men!' and as she lay on her
beam-ends, sir, and just a-settling, the very last souls I seen was
that man's father, and that man's. I knowed mun by their armor."
And he pointed to Sir George Carew and Sir Richard Grenville.
"Iss! Iss! Drowned like rattens. Drowned like rattens!"
"Now; you mustn't trouble his worship any more."
"Trouble? Let him tell till midnight, I shall be well pleased,"
said Amyas, sitting down on the bench by him. "Drawer! ale--and a
parcel of tobacco."
And Amyas settled himself to listen, while the old man purred to
"Iss. They likes to hear old Martin. All the captains look upon
"Hillo, Amyas!" said Cary, "who's your friend? Here's a man been
telling me wonders about the River Plate. We should go thither for
luck there next time."
"River Plate?" said old Martin. "It's I knows about the River
Plate; none so well. Who'd ever been there, nor heard of it
nether, before Captain Will and me went, and I lived among the
savages a whole year; and audacious civil I found 'em if they 'd
had but shirts to their backs; and so was the prince o' mun, that
Captain Will brought home to King Henry; leastwise he died on the
voyage; but the wild folk took it cruel well, for you see, we was
always as civil with them as Christians, and if we hadn't been, I
should not have been here now."
"What year was that?"
"In the fifteen thirty: but I was there afore, and learnt the
speech o' mun; and that's why Captain Will left me to a hostage,
when he tuked their prince."
"Before that?" said Cary; "why, the country was hardly known before
The old man's eyes flashed up in triumph.
"Knowed? Iss, and you may well say that! Look ye here! Look to
mun!" and he waved his hand round--"There's captains! and I'm the
father of 'em all now, now poor Captain Will's in gloory; I, Martin
Cockrem! . . . Iss, I've seen a change. I mind when Tavistock
Abbey was so full o' friars, and goolden idols, and sich noxious
trade, as ever was a wheat-rick of rats. I mind the fight off
Brest in the French wars--Oh, that was a fight, surely!--when the
Regent and the French Carack were burnt side by side, being fast
grappled, you see, because of Sir Thomas Knivet; and Captain Will
gave him warning as he ran a-past us, saying, says he--"
"But," said Amyas, seeing that the old man was wandering away,
"what do you mind about America?"
"America? I should think so! But I was a-going to tell you of the
Regent--and seven hundred Englishmen burnt and drowned in her, and
nine hundred French in the Brest ship, besides what we picked up.
Oh dear! But about America."
"Yes, about America. How are you the father of all the captains?"
"How? you ask my young master! Why, before the fifteen thirty, I
was up the Plate with Cabot (and a cruel fractious ontrustful
fellow he was, like all they Portingals), and bid there a year and
more, and up the Paraguaio with him, diskivering no end; whereby,
gentles, I was the first Englishman, I hold, that ever sot a foot
on the New World, I was!"
"Then here's your health, and long life, sir!" said Amyas and Cary.
"Long life? Iss, fegs, I reckon, long enough a'ready! Why, I mind
the beginning of it all, I do. I mind when there wasn't a master
mariner to Plymouth, that thought there was aught west of the
Land's End except herrings. Why, they held them, pure wratches,
that if you sailed right west away far enough, you'd surely come to
the edge, and fall over cleve. Iss--'Twas dark parts round here,
till Captain Will arose; and the first of it I mind was inside the
bar of San Lucar, and he and I were boys about a ten year old,
aboord of a Dartmouth ship, and went for wine, and there come in
over the bar he that was the beginning of it all."
"Iss, fegs, he did, not a pistol-shot from us; and I saw mun stand
on the poop, so plain as I see you; no great shakes of a man to
look to nether; there's a sight better here, to plase me, and we
was disappointed, we lads, for we surely expected to see mun with a
goolden crown on, and a sceptre to a's hand, we did, and the ship
o' mun all over like Solomon's temple for gloory. And I mind that
same year, too, seeing Vasco da Gama, as was going out over the
bar, when he found the Bona Speranza, and sailed round it to the
Indies. Ah, that was the making of they rascally Portingals, it
was! . . . And our crew told what they seen and heerd: but nobody
minded sich things. 'Twas dark parts, and Popish, then; and nobody
knowed nothing, nor got no schooling, nor cared for nothing, but
scrattling up and down alongshore like to prawns in a pule. Iss,
sitting in darkness, we was, and the shadow of death, till the day-
spring from on high arose, and shined upon us poor out-o' -the-way
folk--The Lord be praised! And now, look to mun!" and he waved his
hand all round--"Look to mun! Look to the works of the Lord! Look
to the captains! Oh blessed sight! And one's been to the Brazils,
and one to the Indies, and the Spanish Main, and the North-West,
and the Rooshias, and the Chinas, and up the Straits, and round the
Cape, and round the world of God, too, bless His holy name; and I
seed the beginning of it; and I'll see the end of it too, I will!
I was born into the old times: but I'll see the wondrous works of
the new, yet, I will! I'll see they bloody Spaniards swept off the
seas before I die, if my old eyes can reach so far as outside the
Sound. I shall, I knows it. I says my prayers for it every night;
don't I, Mary? You'll bate mun, sure as Judgment, you'll bate mun!
The Lord'll fight for ye. Nothing'll stand against ye. I've seed
it all along--ever since I was with young master to the Honduras.
They can't bide the push of us! You'll bate mun off the face of
the seas, and be masters of the round world, and all that therein
is. And then, I'll just turn my old face to the wall, and depart
in peace, according to his word.
"Deary me, now, while I've been telling with you, here've this
little maid been and ate up all my sugar!"
"I'll bring you some more," said Amyas; whom the childish bathos of
the last sentence moved rather to sighs than laughter.
"Will ye, then? There's a good soul, and come and tell with old
Martin. He likes to see the brave young gentlemen, a-going to and
fro in their ships, like Leviathan, and taking of their pastime
therein. We had no such ships to our days. Ah, 'tis grand times,
beautiful times surely--and you'll bring me a bit sugar?"
"You were up the Plate with Cabot?" said Cary, after a pause. "Do
you mind the fair lady Miranda, Sebastian de Hurtado's wife?"
"What! her that was burnt by the Indians? Mind her? Do you mind
the sun in heaven? Oh, the beauty! Oh, the ways of her! Oh, the
speech of her! Never was, nor never will be! And she to die by
they villains; and all for the goodness of her! Mind her? I
minded naught else when she was on deck."
"Who was she?" asked Amyas of Cary.
"A Spanish angel, Amyas."
"Humph!" said Amyas. "So much the worse for her, to be born into a
nation of devils."
"They'em not all so bad as that, yer honor. Her husband was a
proper gallant gentleman, and kind as a maid, too, and couldn't
abide that De Solis's murderous doings."
"His wife must have taught it him, then," said Amyas, rising.
"Where did you hear of these black swans, Cary?"
"I have heard of them, and that's enough," answered he, unwilling
to stir sad recollections.
"And little enough," said Amyas. "Will, don't talk to me. The
devil is not grown white because he has trod in a lime-heap."
"Or an angel black because she came down a chimney," said Cary; and
so the talk ended, or rather was cut short; for the talk of all the
groups was interrupted by an explosion from old John Hawkins.
"Fail? Fail? What a murrain do you here, to talk of failing? Who
made you a prophet, you scurvy, hang-in-the-wind, croaking, white-
livered son of a corby-crow?"
"Heaven help us, Admiral Hawkins, who has put fire to your
culverins in this fashion?" said Lord Howard.
"Who? my lord! Croakers! my lord! Here's a fellow calls himself
the captain of a ship, and her majesty's servant, and talks about
failing, as if he were a Barbican loose-kirtle trying to keep her
apple-squire ashore! Blurt for him, sneak-up! say I."
"Admiral John Hawkins," quoth the offender, "you shall answer this
language with your sword."
"I'll answer it with my foot; and buy me a pair of horn-tips to my
shoes, like a wraxling man. Fight a croaker? Fight a frog, an
owl! I fight those that dare fight, sir!"
"Sir, sir, moderate yourself. I am sure this gentleman will show
himself as brave as any, when it comes to blows: but who can blame
mortal man for trembling before so fearful a chance as this?"
"Let mortal man keep his tremblings to himself, then, my lord, and
not be like Solomon's madmen, casting abroad fire and death, and
saying, it is only in sport. There is more than one of his kidney,
your lordship, who have not been ashamed to play Mother Shipton
before their own sailors, and damp the poor fellows' hearts with
crying before they're hurt, and this is one of them. I've heard
him at it afore, and I'll present him, with a vengeance, though I'm
"If this is really so, Admiral Hawkins--"
"It is so, my lord! I heard only last night, down in a tavern
below, such unbelieving talk as made me mad, my lord; and if it had
not been after supper, and my hand was not oversteady, I would have
let out a pottle of Alicant from some of their hoopings, and sent
them to Dick Surgeon, to wrap them in swaddling-clouts, like
whining babies as they are. Marry come up, what says Scripture?
'He that is fearful and faint-hearted among you, let him go and'--
what? son Dick there? Thou'rt pious, and read'st thy Bible.
What's that text? A mortal fine one it is, too."
"'He that is fearful and faint-hearted among you, let him go
back,'" quoth the Complete Seaman. "Captain Merryweather, as my
father's command, as well as his years, forbid his answering your
challenge, I shall repute it an honor to entertain his quarrel
myself--place, time, and weapons being at your choice."
"Well spoken, son Dick!--and like a true courtier, too! Ah! thou
hast the palabras, and the knee, and the cap, and the quip, and the
innuendo, and the true town fashion of it all--no old tarry-breeks
of a sea-dog, like thy dad! My lord, you'll let them fight?"
"The Spaniard, sir; but no one else. But, captains and gentlemen,
consider well my friend the Port Admiral's advice; and if any man's
heart misgives him, let him, for the sake of his country and his
queen, have so much government of his tongue to hide his fears in
his own bosom, and leave open complaining to ribalds and women.
For if the sailor be not cheered by his commander's cheerfulness,
how will the ignorant man find comfort in himself? And without
faith and hope, how can he fight worthily?"
"There is no croaking aboard of us, we will warrant," said twenty
voices, "and shall be none, as long as we command on board our own
Hawkins, having blown off his steam, went back to Drake and the
"Fill my pipe, Drawer--that croaking fellow's made me let it out,
of course! Spoil-sports! The father of all manner of troubles on
earth, be they noxious trade of croakers! 'Better to meet a bear
robbed of her whelps,' Francis Drake, as Solomon saith, than a fule
who can't keep his mouth shut. What brought Mr. Andrew Barker to
his death but croakers? What stopped Fenton's China voyage in the
'82, and lost your nephew John, and my brother Will, glory and hard
cash too, but croakers? What sent back my Lord Cumberland's armada
in the '86, and that after they'd proved their strength, too, sixty
o' mun against six hundred Portugals and Indians; and yet wern't
ashamed to turn round and come home empty-handed, after all my
lord's expenses that he had been at? What but these same beggarly
croakers, that be only fit to be turned into yellow-hammers up to
Dartymoor, and sit on a tor all day, and cry 'Very little bit of
bread, and no chee-e-ese!' Marry, sneak-up! say I again."
"And what," said Drake, "would have kept me, if I'd let 'em, from
ever sailing round the world, but these same croakers? I hanged my
best friend for croaking, John Hawkins, may God forgive me if I was
wrong, and I threatened a week after to hang thirty more; and I'd
have done it, too, if they hadn't clapped tompions into their
muzzles pretty fast."
"You'm right, Frank. My old father always told me--and old King
Hal (bless his memory!) would take his counsel among a thousand;--
'And, my son,' says he to me, 'whatever you do, never you stand no
croaking; but hang mun, son Jack, hang mun up for an ensign.
There's Scripture for it,' says he (he was a mighty man to his
Bible, after bloody Mary's days, leastwise), 'and 'tis written,'
says he, 'It's expedient that one man die for the crew, and that
the whole crew perish not; so show you no mercy, son Jack, or
you'll find none, least-wise in they manner of cattle; for if you
fail, they stamps on you, and if you succeeds, they takes the
credit of it to themselves, and goes to heaven in your shoes.'
Those were his words, and I've found mun true.--Who com'th here
"Captain Fleming, as I'm a sinner."
"Fleming? Is he tired of life, that he com'th here to look for a
halter? I've a warrant out against mun, for robbing of two
Flushingers on the high seas, now this very last year. Is the
fellow mazed or drunk, then? or has he seen a ghost? Look to mun!"
"I think so, truly," said Drake. "His eyes are near out of his
The man was a rough-bearded old sea-dog, who had just burst in from
the tavern through the low hatch, upsetting a drawer with all his
glasses, and now came panting and blowing straight up to the high
"My lord, my lord! They'm coming! I saw them off the Lizard last
"Who? my good sir, who seem to have left your manners behind you."
"The Armada, your worship--the Spaniard; but as for my manners,
'tis no fault of mine, for I never had none to leave behind me."
"If he has not left his manners behind," quoth Hawkins, "look out
for your purses, gentlemen all! He's manners enough, and very bad
ones they be, when he com'th across a quiet Flushinger."
"If I stole Flushingers' wines, I never stole negurs' souls, Jack
Hawkins; so there's your answer. My lord, hang me if you will;
life's short and death's easy 'specially to seamen; but if I didn't
see the Spanish fleet last sun-down, coming along half-moon wise,
and full seven mile from wing to wing, within a four mile of me,
I'm a sinner."
"Sirrah," said Lord Howard, "is this no fetch, to cheat us out of
your pardon for these piracies of yours?"
"You'll find out for yourself before nightfall, my lord high
admiral. All Jack Fleming says is, that this is a poor sort of an
answer to a man who has put his own neck into the halter for the
sake of his country."
"Perhaps it is," said Lord Howard. "And after all, gentlemen, what
can this man gain by a lie, which must be discovered ere a day is
over, except a more certain hanging?"
"Very true, your lordship," said Hawkins, mollified. "Come here,
Jack Fleming--what wilt drain, man? Hippocras or Alicant, Sack or
John Barleycorn, and a pledge to thy repentance and amendment of
"Admiral Hawkins, Admiral Hawkins, this is no time for drinking."
"Why not, then, my lord? Good news should be welcomed with good
wine. Frank, send down to the sexton, and set the bells a-ringing
to cheer up all honest hearts. Why, my lord, if it were not for
the gravity of my office, I could dance a galliard for joy!"
"Well, you may dance, port admiral: but I must go and plan, but God
give to all captains such a heart as yours this day!"
"And God give all generals such a head as yours! Come, Frank
Drake, we'll play the game out before we move. It will be two good
days before we shall be fit to tackle them, so an odd half-hour
"I must command the help of your counsel, vice-admiral," said Lord
Charles, turning to Drake.
"And it's this, my good lord," said Drake, looking up, as he aimed
his bowl. "They'll come soon enough for us to show them sport, and
yet slow enough for us to be ready; so let no man hurry himself.
And as example is better than precept, here goes."
Lord Howard shrugged his shoulders, and departed, knowing two
things: first, that to move Drake was to move mountains; and next,
that when the self-taught hero did bestir himself, he would do more
work in an hour than any one else in a day. So he departed,
followed hastily by most of the captains; and Drake said in a low
voice to Hawkins:
"Does he think we are going to knock about on a lee-shore all the
afternoon and run our noses at night--and dead up-wind, too--into
the Dons' mouths? No, Jack, my friend. Let Orlando-Furioso-
punctilio-fire-eaters go and get their knuckles rapped. The
following game is the game, and not the meeting one. The dog goes
after the sheep, and not afore them, lad. Let them go by, and go
by, and stick to them well to windward, and pick up stragglers, and
pickings, too, Jack--the prizes, Jack!"
"Trust my old eyes for not being over-quick at seeing signals, if I
be hanging in the skirts of a fat-looking Don. We'm the eagles,
Drake; and where the carcase is, is our place, eh?"
And so the two old sea-dogs chatted on, while their companions
dropped off one by one, and only Amyas remained.
"Eh, Captain Leigh, where's my boy Dick?"
"Gone off with his lordship, Sir John."
"On his punctilios too, I suppose, the young slashed-breeks. He's
half a Don, that fellow, with his fine scholarship, and his fine
manners, and his fine clothes. He'll get a taking down before he
dies, unless he mends. Why ain't you gone too, sir?"
"I follow my leader," said Amyas, filling his pipe.
"Well said, my big man," quoth Drake. "If I could lead you round
the world, I can lead you up Channel, can't I?--Eh? my little
bantam-cock of the Orinoco? Drink, lad! You're over-sad to-day."
"Not a whit," said Amyas. "Only I can't help wondering whether I
shall find him after all."
"Whom? That Don? We'll find him for you, if he's in the fleet.
We'll squeeze it out of our prisoners somehow. Eh, Hawkins? I
thought all the captains had promised to send you news if they
heard of him."
"Ay, but it's ill looking for a needle in a haystack. But I shall
find him. I am a coward to doubt it," said Amyas, setting his
"There, vice-admiral, you're beaten, and that's the rubber. Pay up
three dollars, old high-flyer, and go and earn more, like an honest
"Well," said Drake, as he pulled out his purse, "we'll walk down
now, and see about these young hot-heads. As I live, they are
setting to tow the ships out already! Breaking the men's backs
over-night, to make them fight the lustier in the morning! Well,
well, they haven't sailed round the world, Jack Hawkins."
"Or had to run home from San Juan d'Ulloa with half a crew.
"Well, if we haven't to run out with half crews. I saw a sight of
our lads drunk about this morning."
"The more reason for waiting till they be sober. Besides, if
everybody's caranting about to once each after his own men,
nobody'll find nothing in such a scrimmage as that. Bye, bye,
Uncle Martin. We'm going to blow the Dons up now in earnest."
THE GREAT ARMADA
"Britannia needs no bulwarks,
No towers along the steep,
Her march is o'er the mountain wave,
Her home is on the deep."
CAMPBELL, Ye Mariners of England.
And now began that great sea-fight which was to determine whether
Popery and despotism, or Protestantism and freedom, were the law
which God had appointed for the half of Europe, and the whole of
future America. It is a twelve days' epic, worthy, as I said in
the beginning of this book, not of dull prose, but of the thunder-
roll of Homer's verse: but having to tell it, I must do my best,
rather using, where I can, the words of contemporary authors than
"The Lord High Admirall of England, sending a pinnace before,
called the Defiance, denounced war by discharging her ordnance; and
presently approaching with in musquet-shot, with much thundering
out of his own ship, called the Arkroyall (alias the Triumph),
first set upon the admirall's, as he thought, of the Spaniards (but
it was Alfonso de Leon's ship. Soon after, 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 galliasses 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 manoeuvre, 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
Caena Domini (dictated by one whom I dare not name here), are with
them still, and it were blasphemous to doubt. But in the
meanwhile, 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 for ever, 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 turns 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
"DEAR LAD,--I have been wool-gathering 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
querra. 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 this squadron of Recalde. The Armada was minded to
smoke us out of Plymouth; and God's grace it was they tried 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, finding 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. Catherine! 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 worshipped 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
place 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 try Portsmouth, though they have spared Plymouth? The
wind has shifted to the north, and blows 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 manoeuvres, 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 now begins a fight most fierce and fell. "And fight 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 marvellous agility; and having
discharged their broadsides, flew forth presently into the deep,
and levelled 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, 'O 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 honorable name, "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 sea
again. But what day is this? The twenty-fifth, St. James's-day,
sacred to the patron saint of Spain. Shall nothing be attempted in
his honor by those whose forefathers have so often seen him with
their bodily eyes, charging in their van upon his snow-white steed,
and scattering Paynims with celestial lance? He might have sent
them, certainly, a favoring breeze; perhaps, he only means to try
their faith; at least the galleys shall attack; and in their van
three of the great galliasses (the fourth lies half-crippled among
the fleet) thrash the sea to foam with three hundred oars apiece;
and see, not St. James leading them to victory, but Lord Howard's
Triumph, his brother's Lion, Southwell's Elizabeth Jonas, Lord
Sheffield's Bear, Barker's Victory, and George Fenner's Leicester,
towed stoutly out, to meet them with such salvoes of chain-shot,
smashing oars, and cutting rigging, that had not the wind sprung up
again toward noon, and the Spanish fleet come up to rescue them,
they had shared the fate of Valdez and the Biscayan. And now the
fight becomes general. Frobisher beats down the Spanish admiral's
mainmast; and, attacked himself by Mexia and Recalde, is rescued by
Lord Howard; who, himself endangered in his turn, is rescued in his
turn; "while after that day" (so sickened were they of the English
gunnery) "no galliasse would adventure to fight."
And so, with variable fortune, the fight thunders on the livelong
afternoon, beneath the virgin cliffs of Freshwater; while myriad
sea-fowl rise screaming up from every ledge, and spot with their
black wings the snow-white wall of chalk; and the lone shepherd
hurries down the slopes above to peer over the dizzy edge, and
forgets the wheatear fluttering in his snare, while he gazes
trembling upon glimpses of tall masts and gorgeous flags, piercing
at times the league-broad veil of sulphur-smoke which welters far
So fares St. James's-day, as Baal's did on Carmel in old time,
"Either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is on a journey; or
peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked." At least, the only
fire by which he has answered his votaries, has been that of
English cannon: and the Armada, "gathering itself into a roundel,"
will fight no more, but make the best of its way to Calais, where
perhaps the Guises' faction may have a French force ready to assist
them, and then to Dunkirk, to join with Parma and the great
flotilla of the Netherlands.
So on, before "a fair Etesian gale," which follows clear and bright
out of the south-southwest, glide forward the two great fleets,
past Brighton Cliffs and Beachy Head, Hastings and Dungeness. Is
it a battle or a triumph? For by sea Lord Howard, instead of
fighting is rewarding; and after Lord Thomas Howard, Lord
Sheffield, Townsend, and Frobisher have received at his hands that
knighthood, which was then more honorable than a peerage, old
Admiral Hawkins kneels and rises up Sir John, and shaking his
shoulders after the accolade, observes to the representative of
majesty, that his "old woman will hardly know herself again, when
folks call her My Lady."
And meanwhile the cliffs are lined with pike-men and musketeers,
and by every countryman and groom who can bear arms, led by their
squires and sheriffs, marching eastward as fast as their weapons
let them, towards the Dover shore. And not with them alone. From
many a mile inland come down women and children, and aged folk in
wagons, to join their feeble shouts, and prayers which are not
feeble, to that great cry of mingled faith and fear which ascends
to the throne of God from the spectators of Britain's Salamis.
Let them pray on. The danger is not over yet, though Lord Howard
has had news from Newhaven that the Guises will not stir against
England, and Seymour and Winter have left their post of observation
on the Flemish shores, to make up the number of the fleet to an
hundred and forty sail--larger, slightly, than that of the Spanish
fleet, but of not more than half the tonnage, or one third the
number of men. The Spaniards are dispirited and battered, but
unbroken still; and as they slide to their anchorage in Calais
Roads on the Saturday evening of that most memorable week, all
prudent men know well that England's hour is come, and that the
bells which will call all Christendom to church upon the morrow
morn, will be either the death-knell or the triumphal peal of the
Reformed faith throughout the world.
A solemn day that Sabbath must have been in country and in town.
And many a light-hearted coward, doubtless, who had scoffed (as
many did) at the notion of the Armada's coming, because he dare not
face the thought, gave himself up to abject fear, "as he now
plainly saw and heard that of which before he would not be
persuaded." And many a brave man, too, as he knelt beside his wife
and daughters, felt his heart sink to the very pavement, at the
thought of what those beloved ones might be enduring a few short
days hence, from a profligate and fanatical soldiery, or from the
more deliberate fiendishness of the Inquisition. The massacre of
St. Bartholomew, the fires of Smithfield, the immolation of the
Moors, the extermination of the West Indians, the fantastic horrors
of the Piedmontese persecution, which make unreadable the too
truthful pages of Morland,--these were the spectres, which, not as
now, dim and distant through the mist of centuries, but recent,
bleeding from still gaping wounds, flitted before the eyes of every
Englishman, and filled his brain and heart with fire.
He knew full well the fate in store for him and his. One false
step, and the unspeakable doom which, not two generations
afterwards, befell the Lutherans of Magdeburg, would have befallen
every town from London to Carlisle. All knew the hazard, as they
prayed that day, and many a day before and after, throughout
England and the Netherlands. And none knew it better than she who
was the guiding spirit of that devoted land, and the especial mark
of the invaders' fury; and who, by some Divine inspiration (as men
then not unwisely held), devised herself the daring stroke which
was to anticipate the coming blow.
But where is Amyas Leigh all this while? Day after day he has been
seeking the Sta. Catharina in the thickest of the press, and cannot
come at her, cannot even hear of her: one moment he dreads that she
has sunk by night, and balked him of his prey; the next, that she
has repaired her damages, and will escape him after all. He is
moody, discontented, restless, even (for the first time in his
life) peevish with his men. He can talk of nothing but Don Guzman;
he can find no better employment, at every spare moment, than
taking his sword out of the sheath, and handling it, fondling it,
talking to it even, bidding it not to fail him in the day of
vengeance. At last, he has sent to Squire, the armorer, for a
whetstone, and, half-ashamed of his own folly, whets and polishes
it in bye-corners, muttering to himself. That one fixed thought of
selfish vengeance has possessed his whole mind; he forgets
England's present need, her past triumph, his own safety,
everything but his brother's blood. And yet this is the day for
which he has been longing ever since he brought home that magic
horn as a fifteen years boy; the day when he should find himself
face to face with an invader, and that invader Antichrist himself.
He has believed for years with Drake, Hawkins, Grenville, and
Raleigh, that he was called and sent into the world only to fight
the Spaniard: and he is fighting him now, in such a cause, for such
a stake, within such battle-lists, as he will never see again: and
yet he is not content, and while throughout that gallant fleet,
whole crews are receiving the Communion side by side, and rising
with cheerful faces to shake hands, and to rejoice that they are
sharers in Britain's Salamis, Amyas turns away from the holy
"I cannot communicate, Sir John. Charity with all men? I hate, if
ever man hated on earth."
"You hate the Lord's foes only, Captain Leigh."
"No, Jack, I hate my own as well."
"But no one in the fleet, sir?"
"Don't try to put me off with the same Jesuit's quibble which that
false knave Parson Fletcher invented for one of Doughty's men, to
drug his conscience withal when he was plotting against his own
admiral. No, Jack, I hate one of whom you know; and somehow that
hatred of him keeps me from loving any human being. I am in love
and charity with no man, Sir John Brimblecombe--not even with you!
Go your ways in God's name, sir! and leave me and the devil alone
together, or you'll find my words are true."
Jack departed with a sigh, and while the crew were receiving the
Communion on deck, Amyas sate below in the cabin sharpening his
sword, and after it, called for a boat and went on board Drake's
ship to ask news of the Sta. Catharina, and listened scowling to
the loud chants and tinkling bells, which came across the water
from the Spanish fleet. At last, Drake was summoned by the lord
admiral, and returned with a secret commission, which ought to bear
fruit that night; and Amyas, who had gone with him, helped him till
nightfall, and then returned to his own ship as Sir Amyas Leigh,
Knight, to the joy and glory of every soul on board, except his
So there, the livelong summer Sabbath-day, before the little high-
walled town and the long range of yellow sandhills, lie those two
mighty armaments, scowling at each other, hardly out of gunshot.
Messenger after messenger is hurrying towards Bruges to the Duke of
Parma, for light craft which can follow these nimble English
somewhat better than their own floating castles; and, above all,
entreating him to put to sea at once with all his force. The duke
is not with his forces at Dunkirk, but on the future field of
Waterloo, paying his devotions to St. Mary of Halle in Hainault, in
order to make all sure in his Pantheon, and already sees in visions
of the night that gentle-souled and pure-lipped saint, Cardinal
Allen, placing the crown of England on his head. He returns for
answer, first, that his victual is not ready; next, that his Dutch
sailors, who have been kept at their post for many a week at the
sword's point, have run away like water; and thirdly, that over and
above all, he cannot come, so "strangely provided of great ordnance
and musketeers are those five-and-thirty Dutch ships, in which
round-sterned and stubborn-hearted heretics watch, like terriers at
a rat's hole, the entrance of Nieuwport and Dunkirk. Having
ensured the private patronage of St. Mary of Halle, he will return
to-morrow to make experience of its effects: but only hear across
the flats of Dixmude the thunder of the fleets, and at Dunkirk the
open curses of his officers. For while he has been praying and
nothing more, the English have been praying, and something more;
and all that is left for the Prince of Parma is, to hang a few
purveyors, as peace offerings to his sulking army, and then
"chafe," as Drake says of him, "like a bear robbed of her whelps."
For Lord Henry Seymour has brought Lord Howard a letter of command
from Elizabeth's self; and Drake has been carrying it out so busily
all that Sunday long, that by two o'clock on the Monday morning,
eight fire-ships "besmeared with wild-fire, brimstone, pitch, and
resin, and all their ordnance charged with bullets and with
stones," are stealing down the wind straight for the Spanish fleet,
guided by two valiant men of Devon, Young and Prowse. (Let their
names live long in the land!) The ships are fired, the men of
Devon steal back, and in a moment more, the heaven is red with
glare from Dover Cliffs to Gravelines Tower; and weary-hearted
Belgian boors far away inland, plundered and dragooned for many a
hideous year, leap from their beds, and fancy (and not so far
wrongly either) that the day of judgment is come at last, to end
their woes, and hurl down vengeance on their tyrants.
And then breaks forth one of those disgraceful panics, which so
often follow overweening presumption; and shrieks, oaths, prayers,
and reproaches, make night hideous. There are those too on board
who recollect well enough Jenebelli's fire-ships at Antwerp three
years before, and the wreck which they made of Parma's bridge
across the Scheldt. If these should be like them! And cutting all
cables, hoisting any sails, the Invincible Armada goes lumbering
wildly out to sea, every ship foul of her neighbor.
The largest of the four galliasses loses her rudder, and drifts
helpless to and fro, hindering and confusing. The duke, having (so
the Spaniards say) weighed his anchor deliberately instead of
leaving it behind him, runs in again after awhile, and fires a
signal for return: but his truant sheep are deaf to the shepherd's
pipe, and swearing and praying by turns, he runs up Channel towards
Gravelines picking up stragglers on his way, who are struggling as
they best can among the flats and shallows: but Drake and Fenner
have arrived as soon as he. When Monday's sun rises on the quaint
old castle and muddy dykes of Gravelines town, the thunder of the
cannon recommences, and is not hushed till night. Drake can hang
coolly enough in the rear to plunder when he thinks fit; but when
the battle needs it, none can fight more fiercely, among the
foremost; and there is need now, if ever. That Armada must never
be allowed to re-form. If it does, its left wing may yet keep the
English at bay, while its right drives off the blockading
Hollanders from Dunkirk port, and sets Parma and his flotilla free
to join them, and to sail in doubled strength across to the mouth
So Drake has weighed anchor, and away up Channel with all his
squadron, the moment that he saw the Spanish fleet come up; and
with him Fenner burning to redeem the honor which, indeed, he had
never lost; and ere Fenton, Beeston, Crosse, Ryman, and Lord
Southwell can join them, the Devon ships have been worrying the
Spaniards for two full hours into confusion worse confounded.
But what is that heavy firing behind them? Alas for the great
galliasse! She lies, like a huge stranded whale, upon the sands
where now stands Calais pier; and Amyas Preston, the future hero of
La Guayra, is pounding her into submission, while a fleet of hoys
and drumblers look on and help, as jackals might the lion.
Soon, on the south-west horizon, loom up larger and larger two
mighty ships, and behind them sail on sail. As they near a shout
greets the Triumph and the Bear; and on and in the lord high
admiral glides stately into the thickest of the fight.
True, we have still but some three-and-twenty ships which can cope
at all with some ninety of the Spaniards: but we have dash, and
daring, and the inspiration of utter need. Now, or never, must the
mighty struggle be ended. We worried them off Portland; we must
rend them in pieces now; and in rushes ship after ship, to smash
her broadsides through and through the wooden castles, "sometimes
not a pike's length asunder," and then out again to re-load, and
give place meanwhile to another. The smaller are fighting with all
sails set; the few larger, who, once in, are careless about coming
out again, fight with top-sails loose, and their main and foreyards
close down on deck, to prevent being boarded. The duke, Oquenda,
and Recalde, having with much ado got clear of the shallows, bear
the brunt of the fight to seaward; but in vain. The day goes
against them more and more, as it runs on. Seymour and Winter have
battered the great San Philip into a wreck; her masts are gone by
the board; Pimentelli in the San Matthew comes up to take the
mastiffs off the fainting bull, and finds them fasten on him
instead; but the Evangelist, though smaller, is stouter than the
Deacon, and of all the shot poured into him, not twenty "lackt him
thorough." His masts are tottering; but sink or strike he will
"Go ahead, and pound his tough hide, Leigh," roars Drake off the
poop of his ship, while he hammers away at one of the great
galliasses. "What right has he to keep us all waiting?"
Amyas slips in as best he can between Drake and Winter; as he
passes he shouts to his ancient enemy,--
"We are with you, sir; all friends to-day!" and slipping round
Winter's bows, he pours his broadside into those of the San
Matthew, and then glides on to re-load; but not to return. For not
a pistol shot to leeward, worried by three or four small craft,
lies an immense galleon; and on her poop--can he believe his eyes
for joy?--the maiden and the wheel which he has sought so long!
"There he is!" shouts Amyas, springing to the starboard side of the
ship. The men, too, have already caught sight of that hated sign;
a cheer of fury bursts from every throat.
"Steady, men!" says Amyas, in a suppressed voice. "Not a shot!
Re-load, and be ready; I must speak with him first;" and silent as
the grave, amid the infernal din, the Vengeance glides up to the
"Don Guzman Maria Magdalena Sotomayor de Soto!" shouts Amyas from
the mizzen rigging, loud and clear amid the roar.
He has not called in vain. Fearless and graceful as ever, the
tall, mail-clad figure of his foe leaps up upon the poop-railing,
twenty feet above Amyas's head, and shouts through his vizor,--
"At your service, sir whosoever you may be."
A dozen muskets and arrows are levelled at him; but Amyas frowns
them down. "No man strikes him but I. Spare him, if you kill
every other soul on board. Don Guzman! I am Captain Sir Amyas
Leigh; I proclaim you a traitor and a ravisher, and challenge you
once more to single combat, when and where you will."
"You are welcome to come on board me, sir," answers the Spaniard,
in a clear, quiet tone; "bringing with you this answer, that you
lie in your throat;" and lingering a moment out of bravado, to
arrange his scarf, he steps slowly down again behind the bulwarks.
"Coward!" shouts Amyas at the top of his voice.
The Spaniard re-appears instantly. "Why that name, senor, of all
others?" asks he in a cool, stern voice.
"Because we call men cowards in England, who leave their wives to
be burnt alive by priests."
The moment the words had passed Amyas's lips, he felt that they
were cruel and unjust. But it was too late to recall them. The
Spaniard started, clutched his sword-hilt, and then hissed back
through his closed vizor,--
"For that word, sirrah, you hang at my yardarm, if Saint Mary gives
"See that your halter be a silken one, then," laughed Amyas, "for I
am just dubbed knight." And he stepped down as a storm of bullets
rang through the rigging round his head; the Spaniards are not as
punctilious as he.
"Fire!" His ordnance crash through the stern-works of the
Spaniard; and then he sails onward, while her balls go humming
harmlessly through his rigging.
Half-an-hour has passed of wild noise and fury; three times has the
Vengeance, as a dolphin might, sailed clean round and round the
Sta. Catharina, pouring in broadside after broadside, till the guns
are leaping to the deck-beams with their own heat, and the
Spaniard's sides are slit and spotted in a hundred places. And
yet, so high has been his fire in return, and so strong the deck
defences of the Vengeance, that a few spars broken, and two or
three men wounded by musketry, are all her loss. But still the
Spaniard endures, magnificent as ever; it is the battle of the
thresher and the whale; the end is certain, but the work is long.
"Can I help you, Captain Leigh?" asked Lord Henry Seymour, as he
passes within oar's length of him, to attack a ship ahead. "The
San Matthew has had his dinner, and is gone on to Medina to ask for
a digestive to it."
"I thank your lordship: but this is my private quarrel, of which I
spoke. But if your lordship could lend me powder--"
"Would that I could! But so, I fear, says every other gentleman in
A puff of wind clears away the sulphurous veil for a moment; the
sea is clear of ships towards the land; the Spanish fleet are
moving again up Channel, Medina bringing up the rear; only some two
miles to their right hand, the vast hull of the San Philip is
drifting up the shore with the tide, and somewhat nearer the San
Matthew is hard at work at her pumps. They can see the white
stream of water pouring down her side.
"Go in, my lord, and have the pair," shouts Amyas.
"No, sir! Forward is a Seymour's cry. We will leave them to pay
the Flushingers' expenses. And on went Lord Henry, and on shore
went the San Philip at Ostend, to be plundered by the Flushingers;
while the San Matthew, whose captain, "on a hault courage," had
refused to save himself and his gentlemen on board Medina's ship,
went blundering miserably into the hungry mouths of Captain Peter
Vanderduess and four other valiant Dutchmen, who, like prudent men
of Holland, contrived to keep the galleon afloat till they had
emptied her, and then "hung up her banner in the great church of
Leyden, being of such a length, that being fastened to the roof, it
reached unto the very ground."
But in the meanwhile, long ere the sun had set, comes down the
darkness of the thunderstorm, attracted, as to a volcano's mouth,
to that vast mass of sulphur-smoke which cloaks the sea for many a
mile; and heaven's artillery above makes answer to man's below.
But still, through smoke and rain, Amyas clings to his prey. She
too has seen the northward movement of the Spanish fleet, and sets
her topsails; Amyas calls to the men to fire high, and cripple her
rigging: but in vain: for three or four belated galleys, having
forced their way at last over the shallows, come flashing and
sputtering up to the combatants, and take his fire off the galleon.
Amyas grinds his teeth, and would fain hustle into the thick of the
press once more, in spite of the galleys' beaks.
"Most heroical captain," says cary, pulling a long face, "if we do,
we are stove and sunk in five minutes; not to mention that Yeo says
he has not twenty rounds of great cartridge left."
So, surely and silent, the Vengeance sheers off, but keeps as near
as she can to the little squadron, all through the night of rain
and thunder which follows. Next morning the sun rises on a clear
sky, with a strong west-north-west breeze, and all hearts are
asking what the day will bring forth.
They are long past Dunkirk now; the German Ocean is opening before
them. The Spaniards, sorely battered, and lessened in numbers,
have, during the night, regained some sort of order. The English
hang on their skirts a mile or two behind. They have no
ammunition, and must wait for more. To Amyas's great disgust, the
Sta. Catharina has rejoined her fellows during the night.
"Never mind," says Cary; "she can neither dive nor fly, and as long
as she is above water, we-- What is the admiral about?"
He is signalling Lord Henry Seymour and his squadron. Soon they
tack, and come down the wind for the coast of Flanders. Parma must
be blockaded still; and the Hollanders are likely to be too busy
with their plunder to do it effectually. Suddenly there is a stir
in the Spanish fleet. Medina and the rearmost ships turn upon the
English. What can it mean? Will they offer battle once more? If
so, it were best to get out of their way, for we have nothing
wherewith to fight them. So the English lie close to the wind.
They will let them pass, and return to their old tactic of
following and harassing.
"Good-bye to Seymour," says Cary, "if he is caught between them and
Parma's flotilla. They are going to Dunkirk."
"Impossible! They will not have water enough to reach his light
craft. Here comes a big ship right upon us! Give him all you have
left, lads; and if he will fight us, lay him alongside, and die
They gave him what they had, and hulled him with every shot; but
his huge side stood silent as the grave. He had not wherewithal to
return the compliment.
"As I live, he is cutting loose the foot of his mainsail! the
villain means to run."
"There go the rest of them! Victoria!" shouted Cary, as one after
another, every Spaniard set all the sail he could.
There was silence for a few minutes throughout the English fleet;
and then cheer upon cheer of triumph rent the skies. It was over.
The Spaniard had refused battle, and thinking only of safety, was
pressing downward toward the Straits again. The Invincible Armada
had cast away its name, and England was saved.
"But he will never get there, sir," said old Yeo, who had come upon
deck to murmur his Nunc Domine, and gaze upon that sight beyond all
human faith or hope: "Never, never will he weather the Flanders
shore, against such a breeze as is coming up. Look to the eye of
the wind, sir, and see how the Lord is fighting for His people!"
Yes, down it came, fresher and stiffer every minute out of the gray
north-west, as it does so often after a thunder-storm; and the sea
began to rise high and white under the " Claro Aquilone," till the
Spaniards were fain to take in all spare canvas, and lie-to as best
they could; while the English fleet, lying-to also, awaited an
event which was in God's hands and not in theirs.
"They will be all ashore on Zealand before the afternoon," murmured
Amyas; "and I have lost my labor! Oh, for powder, powder, powder!
to go in and finish it at once!"
"Oh, sir," said Yeo, "don't murmur against the Lord in the very day
of His mercies. It is hard, to be sure; but His will be done."
"Could we not borrow powder from Drake there?"
"Look at the sea, sir!"
And, indeed, the sea was far too rough for any such attempt. The
Spaniards neared and neared the fatal dunes, which fringed the
shore for many a dreary mile; and Amyas had to wait weary hours,
growling like a dog who has had the bone snatched out of his mouth,
till the day wore on; when, behold, the wind began to fall as
rapidly as it had risen. A savage joy rose in Amyas's heart.
"They are safe! safe for us! Who will go and beg us powder? A
cartridge here and a cartridge there?--anything to set to work
Cary volunteered, and returned in a couple of hours with some
quantity: but he was on board again only just in time, for the
south-wester had recovered the mastery of the skies, and Spaniards
and English were moving away; but this time northward. Whither
now? To Scotland? Amyas knew not, and cared not, provided he was
in the company of Don Guzman de Soto.
The Armada was defeated, and England saved. But such great
undertakings seldom end in one grand melodramatic explosion of
fireworks, through which the devil arises in full roar to drag Dr.
Faustus forever into the flaming pit. On the contrary, the devil
stands by his servants to the last, and tries to bring off his
shattered forces with drums beating and colors flying; and, if
possible, to lull his enemies into supposing that the fight is
ended, long before it really is half over. All which the good Lord
Howard of Effingham knew well, and knew, too, that Medina had one
last card to play, and that was the filial affection of that
dutiful and chivalrous son, James of Scotland. True, he had
promised faith to Elizabeth: but that was no reason why he should
keep it. He had been hankering and dabbling after Spain for years
past, for its absolution was dear to his inmost soul; and Queen
Elizabeth had had to warn him, scold him, call him a liar, for so
doing; so the Armada might still find shelter and provision in the
Firth of Forth. But whether Lord Howard knew or not, Medina did
not know, that Elizabeth had played her card cunningly, in the
shape of one of those appeals to the purse, which, to James's dying
day, overweighed all others save appeals to his vanity. "The title
of a dukedom in England, a yearly pension of 5000 pounds, a guard
at the queen's charge, and other matters" (probably more hounds and
deer), had steeled the heart of the King of Scots, and sealed the
Firth of Forth. Nevertheless, as I say, Lord Howard, like the rest
of Elizabeth's heroes, trusted James just as much as James trusted
others; and therefore thought good to escort the Armada until it
was safely past the domains of that most chivalrous and truthful
Solomon. But on the 4th of August, his fears, such as they were,
were laid to rest. The Spaniards left the Scottish coast and
sailed away for Norway; and the game was played out, and the end
was come, as the end of such matters generally comes, by gradual
decay, petty disaster, and mistake; till the snow-mountain, instead
of being blown tragically and heroically to atoms, melts helplessly
and pitiably away.
HOW AMYAS THREW HIS SWORD INTO THE SEA
"Full fathom deep thy father lies;
Of his bones are corals made;
Those are pearls which were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange;
Fairies hourly ring his knell,
Hark! I hear them. Ding dong bell."
Yes, it is over; and the great Armada is vanquished. It is lulled
for awhile, the everlasting war which is in heaven, the battle of
Iran and Turan, of the children of light and of darkness, of
Michael and his angels against Satan and his fiends; the battle
which slowly and seldom, once in the course of many centuries,
culminates and ripens into a day of judgment, and becomes palpable
and incarnate; no longer a mere spiritual fight, but one of flesh
and blood, wherein simple men may choose their sides without
mistake, and help God's cause not merely with prayer and pen, but
with sharp shot and cold steel. A day of judgment has come, which
has divided the light from the darkness, and the sheep from the
goats, and tried each man's work by the fire; and, behold, the
devil's work, like its maker, is proved to have been, as always, a
lie and a sham, and a windy boast, a bladder which collapses at the
merest pinprick. Byzantine empires, Spanish Armadas, triple-
crowned papacies, Russian despotisms, this is the way of them, and
will be to the end of the world. One brave blow at the big
bullying phantom, and it vanishes in sulphur-stench; while the
children of Israel, as of old, see the Egyptians dead on the sea-
shore,--they scarce know how, save that God has done it, and sing
the song of Moses and of the Lamb.
And now, from England and the Netherlands, from Germany and Geneva,
and those poor Vaudois shepherd-saints, whose bones for generations
"Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;"
to be, indeed, the seed of the Church, and a germ of new life,
liberty, and civilization, even in these very days returning good
for evil to that Piedmont which has hunted them down like the
partridges on the mountains;--from all of Europe, from all of
mankind, I had almost said, in which lay the seed of future virtue
and greatness, of the destinies of the new-discovered world, and
the triumphs of the coming age of science, arose a shout of holy
joy, such as the world had not heard for many a weary and bloody
century; a shout which was the prophetic birth-paean of North
America, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, of free
commerce and free colonization over the whole earth.
"There was in England, by the commandment of her majesty," says Van
Meteran, "and likewise in the United Provinces, by the direction of
the States, a solemn festival day publicly appointed, wherein all
persons were solemnly enjoined to resort unto ye Church, and there
to render thanks and praises unto God, and ye preachers were
commanded to exhort ye people thereunto. The aforesaid solemnity
was observed upon the 29th of November: which day was wholly spent
in fasting, prayer, and giving of thanks.
"Likewise the Queen's Majesty herself, imitating ye ancient Romans,
rode into London in triumph, in regard of her own and her subjects'
glorious deliverance. For being attended upon very solemnly by all
ye principal Estates and officers of her Realm, she was carried
through her said City of London in a triumphant Chariot, and in
robes of triumph, from her Palace unto ye said Cathedral Church of
St. Paul, out of ye which ye Ensigns and Colours of ye vanquished
Spaniards hung displayed. And all ye Citizens of London, in their
liveries, stood on either side ye street, by their several
Companies, with their ensigns and banners, and the streets were
hanged on both sides with blue Cloth, which, together with ye
foresaid banners, yielded a very stately and gallant prospect. Her
Majestie being entered into ye Church together with her Clergy and
Nobles, gave thanks unto God, and caused a public Sermon to be
preached before her at Paul's Cross; wherein none other argument
was handled, but that praise, honour, and glory might be rendered
unto God, and that God's Name might be extolled by thanksgiving.
And with her own princely voice she most Christianly exhorted ye
people to do ye same; whereunto ye people, with a loud acclamation,
wished her a most long and happy life to ye confusion of her foes."
Yes, as the medals struck on the occasion said, "It came, it saw,
and it fled!" And whither? Away and northward, like a herd of
frightened deer, past the Orkneys and Shetlands, catching up a few
hapless fishermen as guides; past the coast of Norway, there, too,
refused water and food by the brave descendants of the Vikings; and
on northward ever towards the lonely Faroes, and the everlasting
dawn which heralds round the Pole the midnight sun.
Their water is failing; the cattle must go overboard; and the wild
northern sea echoes to the shrieks of drowning horses. They must
homeward at least, somehow, each as best he can. Let them meet
again at Cape Finisterre, if indeed they ever meet. Medina
Sidonia, with some five-and twenty of the soundest and best
victualled ships, will lead the way, and leave the rest to their
fate. He is soon out of sight; and forty more, the only remnant of
that mighty host, come wandering wearily behind, hoping to make the
south-west coast of Ireland, and have help, or, at least, fresh
water there, from their fellow Romanists. Alas for them!--
"Make Thou their way dark and slippery,
And follow them up ever with Thy storm."
For now comes up from the Atlantic, gale on gale; and few of that
hapless remnant reached the shores of Spain.
And where are Amyas and the Vengeance all this while?
At the fifty-seventh degree of latitude, the English fleet, finding
themselves growing short of provision, and having been long since
out of powder and ball, turn southward toward home, "thinking it
best to leave the Spaniard to those uncouth and boisterous northern
seas." A few pinnaces are still sent onward to watch their course:
and the English fleet, caught in the same storms which scattered
the Spaniards, "with great danger and industry reached Harwich
port, and there provide themselves of victuals and ammunition," in
case the Spaniards should return; but there is no need for that
caution. Parma, indeed, who cannot believe that the idol at Halle,
after all his compliments to it, will play him so scurvy a trick,
will watch for weeks on Dunkirk dunes, hoping against hope for the
Armada's return, casting anchors, and spinning rigging to repair
"But lang, lang may his ladies sit,
With their fans intill their hand,
Before they see Sir Patrick Spens
Come sailing to the land."
The Armada is away on the other side of Scotland, and Amyas is
following in its wake.
For when the lord high admiral determined to return, Amyas asked
leave to follow the Spaniard; and asked, too, of Sir John Hawkins,
who happened to be at hand, such ammunition and provision as could
be afforded him, promising to repay the same like an honest man,
out of his plunder if he lived, out of his estate if he died;
lodging for that purpose bills in the hands of Sir John, who, as a
man of business, took them, and put them in his pocket among the
thimbles, string, and tobacco; after which Amyas, calling his men
together, reminded them once more of the story of the Rose of
Torridge and Don Guzman de Soto, and then asked:
"Men of Bideford, will you follow me? There will be plunder for
those who love plunder; revenge for those who love revenge; and for
all of us (for we all love honor) the honor of having never left