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FIRST NAVAL DESPATCH.
oldest despatch of the kind from a British admiral. "At this present," said he, "it may like your majesty that the enemies and we have sight one of the other, striving who shall get the advantage of the wind: their galleys roweth fast for it, and our wing doth their best they have yet the advantage of the same; nevertheless, they make no haste, such as they might do, an if they were disposed to fight. Wherefore I think we shall not fight this day. They have weather as they would wish, for it bloweth little wind; and yet if they were better disposed to the matter than they seem at this time to be, yet may we dally with them a day or two before we need to fight, except we see a better advantage with opportunity. I intend not to omit to see what God will send in the mean time. They seem to be many more ships in number than we be; but the victory resteth not always in the number of ships nor men, but only on the goodness of God, working with Him as much as men may to serve the turn; wherein, God willing, we shall do that may lie in us, according to our duties. And if it shall please Him to send us a commodious wind, I have good hopes your majesty shall hear such news of our proceedings with them, as shall be extable unto the same, to the laud and praise of Almighty God, who, grant it so: Amen. The place where we be at this present is thwart of Shoreham, too kennys almost from the shore. The wind, ever since the first night of our coming out at midnight, hath been at east south east and at east, that we could not fetch by east of Bechiefe, and it hath been almost calm ever since. I pray God send us a fresher gale of wind, and then I trust there shall no advantage be forslowed that may be taken of them; as knoweth the living God, who ever preserve your most excellent majesty in long and prosperous felicity, with the continual desire of your most royal heart !”†
+ State Papers, 815. "In the Harry Grace à Dieu, the 15th of August at 10 of the clock before noon."
Dudley's intention was, as much as in him might be, to eschew the fight that day; for a better day," he said, "than the same was for their galleys, they could not wish." About noon the galleys assailed him, and continued to do so the whole day. "The tide and the wind," he says, in a subsequent despatch, were so favourable at that time unto them, that if they had been earnestly determined to have taken the advantage, it would hardly been avoided from a battle; wherein we did put our confidence in the goodness of God, and shewed ourselves to be nothing affrayed of them, but kept together, close by a wind, putting our ships that would not row, and such as had no pieces to annoy the galleys, furthest off; and our rowing pieces, and such other of your highness' great ships as were best ordinanced, next unto them. If we should straight have given them place, the gallies would have been too busy at our poops, whereby their fleet might have taken occasion of canvass, which I thought not meet to give them; assuring your majesty the Mistress, St. Anne Gallaunt, the Greyhound, with all your highness' shallups and rowing pieces, did their parts right well; but especially the Mistress and the Anne Gallaunt did so handle the galleys, as well with their sides as their prows, that your great ships in a manner had little to do. Their whole fleet did still keep the advantage of the wind, making no haste towards us, until the sun was almost set, by which time their galleys were well beaten and repulsed towards them; and being no time, then, for two such armies to begin a fight so near night, gave me occasion to think that they rather minded to make us affrayed than to do us any harm; and when they were come within a league of us, I caused our fleet to come to an anchor, to the intent they should perceive we were not affrayed of them. And thereupon their admiral shot off two warning pieces, as though they would do the like. But in the morning, when the day brake, their whole fleet was as far off from us as we could escry them out of my top gallant, haling into the seaward, the wind being somewhat fresh, so that if they had tarried, their
THE FRENCH GO INTO PORT.
galleys could have done them little pleasure. whereas the day before they came together like a whole wood, they kept now in their removing none order; for some of our small boats which could lie best by a wind, and which I did purposely send to see what course they held, and what order they kept, brought me word that they lay east with the sails, as though it should seem that they minded to fetch the narrow seas before us. There was four miles in length, as they thought, between their foremost and their hindermost ships.'
This was the first time, since the general use of cannon, that two great fleets had encountered in the British seas. On neither part was there any thing like victory to boast of; but the object of the French had been effectually defeated: they found it necessary to return to port immediately after this partial action, not for any damage that they had sustained in it, but because of the state of the ships and the sickness that prevailed on board ; and they felt that there had been some loss of credit in an expedition which, having been undertaken at a great expense, had proved so bootless. † The ships were distributed in different ports, there being no hope
*State Papers, 816-819. The French account is, that the English, as soon as they perceived their enemy meant to give battle, made sail," sans plus dissimuler," toward the Isle of Wight; that La Garde, with the galleys, attacked some of their heaviest sailers, and thus made the others slacken sail; but the wind freshened, and enabled them to effect their retreat without disorder: nevertheless, that there was an action of two hours with the galleys, and at such close quarters, that the French had, hardly room to fire their guns; that more than three hundred shot were fired on both sides; but that the galleys, being lower than the English ships, were least exposed, and that, in the morning, many splinters and many dead bodies were seen in the sea; that night put an end to the action, wind and tide, meantime, having carried the English toward their port; and that M. d'Annebault, finding, in the morning, that they were safe there, sailed forthwith for Havre, to land his sick, who were very numerous, and refresh his people. (Du Bellay, 239, 240.) This statement, false as it is, has the merit of being a modest one: of the truth of Dudley's there can be no doubt.
† Montluc says, " Le desir que le roi avoit de se venger du roi d'Angleterre le fit entrer dans une extrême despense, laquelle enfin servit de peu, quoique nous eussions prins terre, et depuis combattu les Anglois sur mer, où d'un costé et d'autre il y eut plusieurs vaisseaux mis à fonds. Deslors que je vis à nostre depart embrazer le grand Carracon, que estoit ce croisje, le plus beau vaisseau qu'il estoit possible, j'eus mauvaise opinion de nostre entreprinse. Et parce que pour mon particulier je ne fis rien qui fust digne d'estre escrit, et que le general est assez discouru par d'autres, je m'en tairai pour descrire la conquête de la terre d'Oye; aussi nostre fait est plus propre sur la terre que sur l'eauë, où je ne sçais pas que nostre nation ait jamais gagné de grandes batailles.”—p. 322.
of their putting to sea again that year, both for want of stores and of men. "There be also in this army,” said Dudley, in one of his despatches, "divers ships, which, after another storm, will be able to look no more abroad this year; and I think our enemies be in as evil a case, For among such a number of ships as they have, and as we have, all cannot be strong, and all cannot be well tackled." He would not, however, return till he had revenged " their bravadoes and presumptuous attempts made at Portsmouth and in the Isle of Wight:". more accustomed to inflict than to endure the evils of war, in this light the English regarded their enemies' attempt at invasion. Six thousand men were landed about three miles west of Treport. Three ensigns of the French had taken a position to oppose the landing; they were beaten, but as they retreated received continual reinforcements; the English, however, a second time entered that unfortunate town, in spite of all resistance, set it on fire, burnt some of the adjacent villages, destroyed thirty ships in the harbour, reembarked with the loss of only fourteen men, and then returned to Portsmouth, concluding the campaign with this exploit.* If it had not been thus honourably terminated, the plague which now broke out in the fleet must speedily have rendered it inefficient. †
That fleet had not been equipped without great exertions. Most of the fishermen had been pressed into it; and this was not only an individual hardship, but a serious inconvenience to all persons near the coast, when the observance of fast-days was enjoined by the law and enforced by it. Fish was then one of the necessaries of life; and that the market might not be wholly unsupplied, the women of the fishing towns ventured out in the boats by themselves, or with the help of a boy, or of a man, if one could be found, to assist them. It was not remembered that women had ever before been driven to this occupation. The costs of the war
State Papers, 829. Holinshed, 850.
+ Ibid. 852, 833. 841.
SURREY AT BOULOGNE.
had been very great. "The king's majesty," says the chancellor Wriothesley*, writing to the council, "hath this year and the last year spent 1,300,000l. or thereabouts; and his subsidy and benevolence ministering scant 300,000l. thereof; as I muse sometime where the rest, being so great a sum, hath been gotten, so the lands being consumed, the plate of the realm molten and coined, whereof much hath risen, I sorrow and lament the danger of the time to come, wherein is also to be remembered the money that is to be paid in Flanders; and, that is as much and more than all the rest, the great scarcity that we have of corn, being wheat, in all places in manner, Norfolk excepted, at twenty shillings the quarter, and a marvellous small quantity to be gotten of it. And tho the king's majesty should have a greater grant than the realm could bear at one time, it would do little to the continuance of these charges, which be so importable, that I see not almost how it is possible to bear the charges this winter till more may be gotten. Therefore, good my lords, tho you write to me still Pay, pay, pre
pare for this and for that,' consider it is your parts to remember the state of things with me, and by your wisdoms to ponder what may be done, and how things may be continued."
The defence of Boulogne was one of those pressing occasions for which money was wanted. Poynings died at this time. Lord Grey of Wilton was appointed to succeed him in that fortress, and Surrey to take the place of lord Grey at Guisnes. Surrey had gone over to command the vanguard of the army with which Suffolk was to march for the relief of Boulogne; and, to equip himself for the expedition, he mortgaged the furniture + of his house at St. Leonards, near Norwich. Suffolk,
* State Papers, 830.
† A minute account of the furniture is printed in the Appendix (No. 48.) to Dr. Nott's Life of Surrey. John Spencer, of Norwich, was the lender. The sum is stated to have been clvii : xxvii of lawful money of England; what that may import I am at a loss to understand. It is said, in the document, that the goods are "of little better valuing than the said sum of money.