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ledge, O Lord, with all humble and hearty thanks, thy wonderful and great benefits, which thou hast bestowed upon this thy church and people of England, in giving unto us, without all desert on our part, not only peace and quietness, but also in preserving our most gracious queen, thine handmaid, so miraculously from so many conspiracies, perils, and dangers. We do instantly beseech thee, of thy gracious goodness, to be merciful to thy church militant here upon earth; and, as at this time, compassed about with most strong and subtle adversaries. And especially, O Lord, let thine enemies know, and make them confess, that thou hast received England, (which they, most of all for thy Gospel's sake, do malign,) into thine own protection. Set, we pray thee, O Lord, a wall about it, and evermore mightily defend it. Let it be a comfort to the afflicted, an help to the oppressed, a defence to thy church and people persecuted abroad. And, forasmuch as thy cause is now in hand, we beseech thee to direct and go before our armies, both by sea and land. Bless and prosper them, and grant unto them, O Lord, thy good and honourable success and victory, as thou didst to Abraham and his company against the four mighty kings; to Joshua, against the five kings, and against Amalek; and to David, against the strong and mighty-armed Goliath ; and as thou usest to do to thy children when they please thee. We acknowledge all power, strength, and victory to come from thee. Some put their trust in chariots, and some in horses, ; but we will remember thy name, O Lord our God! Thou bringest the counsel of the heathen to nought, and makest the devices of the people to be of none effect. There is no king that can be saved by the multitude of an host; neither is any mighty man delivered by much strength. Therefore we pray unto thee, O Lord! thou art our help and our shield !"* This," says Strype, we may call a prayer of faith, in regard of the strong hopes of success to be granted to this kingdom professing the Gospel." And such is
* Strype, vol. iii. p. 2. 15-17.
the emphatic and scriptural language in which the prayers of the church of England have always been composed; such the sober and earnest devotion which they breathe; such the spirit of Christian humility in which they are conceived.
History never impresses itself so strongly on the imagination, as when, in great emergencies, it presents us with the hopes and feelings of the people in their own words. Never, indeed, had England been threatened with an equal danger since the Norman conquest; that was a danger of which there was no general apprehension throughout the nation; nor was it in itself so formidable; and even the evils which it brought upon the Anglo-Saxon people were light in comparison with the horrors of a Romish persecution, and a war such as that which was then raging in the Netherlands, when there were no such defensive advantages as the Netherlanders possessed in their strong places and the nature of their country. If ever national prayers proceeded from the heart of a nation, it was at this momentous crisis. One of the most passionate was framed in these words: "For preservation and success against the Spanish navy and forces. “O Lord God, heavenly Father, without whose providence nothing proceedeth, and without whose mercy nothing is saved; in whose power lie the hearts of princes, and the end of all their actions; have mercy upon thine afflicted church, and especially regard Elizabeth, our most excellent queen, to whom thy dispersed flock do fly, in the anguish of their souls, and in the zeal of thy truth. Behold how the princes of the nations do band themselves against her, because she laboureth to purge thy sanctuary, and that thy holy church may live in security. Consider, O Lord, how long thy servant hath laboured to them for peace, but how proudly they prepare themselves unto battle. Arise, therefore; maintain thine own cause, and judge thou between her and her enemies. She seeketh not her own honour, but thine; nor the dominions of others, but a just defence of herself; not the
shedding of Christian blood, but the saving of poor afflicted souls. Come down, therefore, come down, and deliver thy people by her. To vanquish is all one with thee, by few or by many, by want or by wealth, by weakness or by strength. O! possess the hearts of our enemies with a fear of thy servants. The cause is thine, the enemies thine, the afflicted thine: the honour, victory, and triumph shall be thine. Consider, Lord, the end of our enterprises. Be present with us in our armies, `and make a joyful peace for thy Christians. And now, since in this extreme necessity, thou hast put into the heart of thy servant Deborah, to provide strength to withstand the pride of Sisera and his adherents, bless thou all her forces by sea and land. Grant all her people one heart, one mind, and one strength, to defend her person, her kingdom, and thy true religion. Give unto all her council and captains wisdom, wariness, and courage, that they may speedily prevent the devices, and valiantly withstand the forces of all our enemies; that the fame of thy Gospel may be spread unto the ends of the world. We crave this in thy mercy, O heavenly Father, for the precious death of thy dear Son, Jesus Christ. Amen."
In this faith, with these preparations, and with a national spirit thus roused, the queen and the English people awaited the coming of the enemy. It was towards the latter end of May† that the then called Invincible Armada sailed from the Tagus for Coruña, there to take on board the remainder of the land forces and stores. Cardinal Albert of Austria, then viceroy of Portugal, gave it his solemn blessing before it departed, and it set forth with all the confidence that could be derived from military and naval strength, and an entire belief that all the saints in the Romish Litany would
*Strype, book ii. App. no. 54.
Most of the old accounts say the 19th. One which Mr. Turner follows makes it the 25th. The Dutch writers the 29th or 30th, and with this Camden agrees; but the earliest date accords with the account given to Drake by the hulk from S. Lucar.
+ "With the greatest pride and glory," says sir W. Monsey, "and least doubt of victory that ever any nation did." P. 156.
DRAKE'S FIRST DESPATCH.
befriend it. On the 30th, the lord admiral and sir Francis Drake sailed from Plymouth: their fleet "amounted to 100 sail, whereof 15 were victuallers, and 9 voluntaries of Devonshire gentlemen, many a serviceable man returning back for lack of employment or place." The easterly wind with which they set forth" continued but a short time; yet, nevertheless," says Drake," all men were so willing of service, and none more than my lord admiral himself, that we endured a great storm (considering the time of the year), with the wind southerly and at south-west, for seven days; and longer we had, had not the wind come westwardly, and that so much, as in keeping sea, we should have been put to leeward of Plymouth, either for Portland or Wight, which places had not been so meet, either for the meeting of the enemy, or relieving ourselves of those wants which daily will be in so great an army of ships." He had met with intelligence that the enemy were at sea, and he inferred that either they would very shortly be heard of, or else go to Coruña, and there "make their full rendezvous." "I assure your good lordship," said he in his letter to Burleigh, "and protest it before God, that I find my lord admiral so well affected for all honourable services in this action, as it doth assure all his followers of good success and hope of victory. Thus humbly taking my leave of your good lordship, I daily pray to God to bless her majesty, and to give us grace to fear him. So shall we not need to doubt the enemy, although they be many. From aboard her majesty's good ship the Revenge, riding in Plymouth Sound, this 6th of June, 1588. Your good lordship's very ready to be commanded, Francis Drake." This was the first despatch relating to the operations of this great campaign.
The storm which the English encountered dismasted some of the enemy's ships, dispersed others, and occasioned the loss of four Portugueze galleys. One sunk; a Welshman, David Gwynne* by name, who had been a
* Hakluyt, 596. Speed, 859. Bor. 321, 322. In the latter author the details are given.
galley-slave among these merciless people eleven years, took the opportunity of regaining his liberty, and made himself master of another, captured one galley with it, was joined by a third, in which the slaves were encouraged to rise by his example, and carried the three into a French port. The Armada, after this ominous commencement of the voyage, put back to Coruña; the lord admiral having received intelligence that it was broken in the storm, concluded rightly that its "stormshaken" ships would return thither, and he set sail with the first fair wind, hoping to attack them in the harbour. But when he was not far from the coast of Spain, the wind came suddenly about into the south; and he, lest they should effect their passage with that wind, unperceived, returned to the entrance of the Channel. "I myself," he wrote, "do lie in the midst of the Channel, with the greatest force; sir Francis Drake hath twenty ships, and four or five pinnaces, which lie towards Ushant; and Mr. Hawkins, with as many more, lieth towards Scilly. Thus we are fain to do, or else with this wind they might pass us by, and we never the wiser.-The Sleeve is another manner of thing than it was taken for: we find it by experience and daily observation to be 100 miles over: a large room for me to look unto!"* Yet the delay of the enemy, and the report of what they had suffered, not from the storm alone, but also from sickness, deceived both the admiral and the government; the ships withdrew, some to the coast of Ireland, the admiral, with the greater part of the fleet, to Plymouth, where the men were allowed to come ashore. Many of them were discharged †, and the officers amused themselves with revels, dancing, bowling, and making merry." The queen was verily persuaded that the invasion was not to be looked for this year; and in that rash confidence the secretary Walsingham wrote to the admiral to send back four of the tallest ships-royal, as if the war for that season were surely at an end. Happily for England, and most † Monson, 157.
* Turner, 675. n.