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THE DEFENCES OF THE COAST.
Amongst the curious relics of this most interesting period of our history one of the most curious is "A Plott of all the coast of Cornwall and Devonshire, as they were to be fortified in 1588 against the landing of any enemy."* In this "Plott" is most distinctly laid down every accessible point from the Land's end to Exmouth; and, less carefully marked for defence, on the north also. There appears to have been one invariable mode of defence upon the exposed coast, that of breastworks or redoubts, behind whose angles, more or less in number, appear soldiers, bearing pikes. At the havens, such as St. Michael's Mount, Plymouth, and Dartmouth, pieces of ordnance are placed. By this plan we are enabled to see what were the defences of Plymouth. In the centre of the Sound is a little fort with cannon; and on each side of the passage to the inner harbour are also cannon. The town is indicated by a church and some houses with gabled roofs; and before the town cannon are planted. Taken altogether, the number of stations for artillery is very inconsiderable. On this south-western coast, which was so exposed to the first attack of the invaders, the lines of intrenchment were evidently intended to be of no ordinary extent. But we may readily imagine that Raleigh's counsel to meet the enemy boldly at sea was considered far more practicable than the construction of land defences of such magnitude. Their purposed formation does not appear to have been entrusted to any famous military engineers, if we may judge from a notice of magistrates, in 1587, that they intended to proceed along the coast, to view the dangerous places for the landing of an enemy, calling upon the mayors of the towns to attend with all that are skilled in fortifications. The temporary beacons that were built on every hill and high cliff of that coast, and which were to blaze out when the great hostile fleet first appeared in the Channel, were amongst the best means of defence. "The warning radiance" was to call every merchant ship that was waiting for the signal, to give its sails to the wind, and go forth to fight. It was to be repeated in the remotest counties, where well-disciplined men with bow and arquebuss, with pike and bill, were mustered day by day under their natural leaders. "There was through England, no quarter, east, west, north, or south, but all concurred in one mind, to be in readiness to serve for the realm. . . . As the leaders and officers of the particular bands were men of experience in the wars, so, to make the bands strong and constant, choice was made of the principal knights of all counties to bring their tenants to the field, being men of strength, and landed, and of wealth; whereby all the forces, so compounded, were of a resolute disposition to stick to their lords and chieftains, and the chieftains to trust to their own tenants." From Cornwall to Kent, and eastward to
* Cotton Collection, in the British Museum, Aug. I., vol. i. 6.
+ Quoted from "Sherren Papers," in Roberts's "Southern Counties," p. 426.
Copy of a Letter sent to Mendoza." London, 158s. This curious tract, reprinted in the Harleian Miscellany, purports to be by a Seminary Priest, but is evidently written by a well-informed Englishman in that character.
THE DEMEANOUR OF THE QUEEN.
Lincolnshire, the same writer, who describes himself as an eye-witness, says that the maritime counties were so furnished with soldiers, that twenty thousand fighting men, with victual and ammunition, could have been collected in forty-eight hours at any point where an enemy landed.
Of all the defences of the realm at this crisis there were none which gave the people a greater confidence than the demeanour of the queen. At the camp at Tilbury, she was, day by day, in the midst of her soldiers; going amongst the levies in their particular stations; reviewing them when they were trained in battalions; saluted, wherever she moved, "with cries, with shouts, with all tokens of love, of obedience, of readiness and willingness to fight for her." From that army, adds the eye-witness, went forth at certain times, a solemn voice to Heaven, of "divers psalms, put into form of prayers, in praise of Almighty God, no ways to be misliked, which she greatly commended, and with very earnest speech thanked God with them." To that camp of Tilbury, and to the towns near London, came bands of men from distant places, "whom she remanded to their countries, because their harvest was at hand; and many of them would not be countermanded, but still approached onward, on their own charges as they said, to see her person, and to fight with them that boasted to conquer the realm." The soldiers gazed upon their sovereign riding amidst the camp, bearing a marshal's truncheon; and knights and gentlemen pressed round her tent, where she sat surrounded by her great nobles, and having proffered their services and received her winning acceptance, led their bands home to spread the fame of the great queen, who was resolved, as she said, "to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust." Thus she said, in the famous oration which has been handed down to us-" words that burn," words which England has never forgotten in any hour of similar peril :
"My loving people, we have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear! I have always so behaved myself, that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm! which, rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, for your forwardness, you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the meantime, my lieutenant-general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but, by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly
HER ORATION AT TILBURY.
have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdoms, and of my people."
But of all the defences of the country at this perilous crisis the loyalty of the great body of the Catholics was amongst the most important. The laws against Popish recusants were severe, but they were greatly mitigated in their execution; and it may reasonably be doubted whether the fines imposed upon them were inflicted, except in extreme cases. On the approach of the armada some of the recusants were thrown into prison; but they were released upon subscribing a declaration that the queen was their lawful sovereign, nothwithstanding any excommunication; and that. they would
defend her with life and goods against prince, pope, or potentate.* It was proposed by some to disarm them, but this absurd scheme was rejected; and the confidence of the government in the patriotism of the great body who adhered to the ancient church was strikingly exhibited by the appointment of Howard, a Catholic, to the command of the fleet. In truth the Jesuits and Seminary Priests had executed their mission in a way to disgust those who
* See note in Lingard, vol. viii.
LOYALTY OF THE CATHOLICS.
had sense to know that the Romanists constituted a minority of the country; and that, although their faith was not in the ascendant, they would not be persecuted for their opinions unless they were hounded on into conspiracy. The Catholic landed proprietors were Englishmen; they were gentlemen; their welfare was bound up with the prosperity of their country, and that was prosperous beyond all example. The miserable libels against the queen provoked their disgust, instead of exciting them to rebellion. The invading ships of Spain were laden with printed books, whose title was an "Admonition to the Nobility and People of England and Ireland, concerning the present Wars made for the execution of his holiness' sentence, by the high and mighty king catholic of Spain; by the cardinal of England." This brutal production, to which cardinal Allen had the baseness to put his name, contained the same filthy libels against Elizabeth as those which had been whispered through the land by the missionaries of Rome. The honest Catholics despised these gross calumnies and incentives to murder. When the trial came they were found in the train-bands of that queen who, they were told," deserveth not only deposition, but all vengeance both of God and man." They were found nobly fighting in her ships. The time might come when such loyalty might be rewarded by equal civil rights, though not with ecclesiastical preponderance. There was a struggle of two hundred and fifty years before this great principle was fully recognised; but the noble example of the Catholics of 1588 has always endured, as one of the best arguments for a final and complete justice to their descendants.
Sailing of the Armada-The English Fleet-The Armada off Plymouth-The fight up Channel -The run to Calais-The Fire-Ships at Calais-The fight off Gravelines-The flight to the North-The Deliverance-The Thanksgiving-Spain makes new preparations Expeditions against Spain-The heroic time.
On the 28th of May, 1588, from his galleon San Marten, lying in the Tagus off Belem, the duke of Medina Sidonia, " captain-general of the ocean sea, of the coast of Andalusia, and of this army of his majesty," issued his orders to be observed in the voyage towards England. This was an army, be it remarked, and the command of it was given to a general. The fighting men who went on board that fleet, and the mariners who worked the ships, were a distinct race; and there were especial regulations for holding them together in a very doubtful amity. On the 29th of May, the captain-general being under the towers of Belem, led the way down the Tagus; and amidst the sounding of trumpets from every vessel, the mighty armada followed him, when he had fired his gun as the signal. Being specially warned in these