« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
orderly army; and so many hastened upon the downs, to enjoy the sight, that all the exertion of their captains was required to make as many as they could return for the defence of the camp.
The duke and his engineers had formed a notable project for blocking up the port. For this purpose six huge hulks had been filled with great square stones, well cemented, and, moreover, cramped with lead, “to the intent that they should lie still like a mount, and not sever in sunder." Four of these, on the evening that the fleet arrived, were conveyed to the mouth of the harbour and there sunk, the fleet meantime keeping up a constant fire upon the ships in the port, one of which went down in consequence. The other two stone ships, at the next full sea were, by the same craft and policy, sunk also. "But," says the English chronicler, "whether God would not that the haven should be destroyed, or that the conveyers of the hulks knew not the very channel, these ships, at low water, lay openly upon the sands." At ebb tide the English, women as well as men, hastened from the town, and working at the demolition with hearty good-will, pulled them to pieces, in spite of a continual fire from the ships, to the great astonishment, as Monstrelet observes, of the duke and his admirals, and carried both the stones and the timber into the town, to be used for strengthening their own fortifications. The fleet, which had the mortification
*Monstrelet, 369. Holinshed, 188. Sueyro says (p. 282.) fue gasto y trabajo inutil, pues quemando las los Ingleses se llevò los impedimentos la marea. Deziam algunos que no havian acertado con el puerto, los mas se burlaron de la traza. — Hall, 182.
Had this story found its way into any popular history of England, the experiment would not have been repeated at Boulogne during the war with Buonaparte; but it had long been the fashion for modern historians to reject all the circumstances of history, and present little more than a caput mortuum of results. That a first lord of the admiralty should have read Monstrelet or Holinshed was not to be expected; but it might have been expected that he would have known what the rise of the tide is upon that coast.
The port of Calais was closed in a more extraordinary manner in the year 1679. "The entrance," says Mr. Malcolm (Miscellaneous Anecdotes, p. 54.) "was so narrow that only one vessel could pass at a time, and not without considerable skill in the pilot, aided by the highest flow of the tide A ship from Amsterdam was entering under full sail, and received a violent shock, in consequence of which, the ship being repelled with great force, the crew moored in the roads, and waited for the next tide. They then
of seeing this extraordinary device thus frustrated, set sail for Holland on the morrow, because the seamen knew how dangerous it was to keep the sea on that station; and also because they dreaded still more the appearance of the English armament, which it was reported was on the point of sailing. But the Flemings looked upon this as a desertion on the admiral's part, and as a proof of treason in the duke's ministers: they had been assured before they left Flanders, they said, that Calais should be besieged by sea as well as by land, and see how they had been betrayed! With much difficulty the chiefs succeeded in pacifying them for the time; and when the duke convened the principal leaders of the commonalty to a grand council, and laid before them the whole plan of his intended operations, they seemed to be perfectly satisfied. He had ordered the ground to be examined by persons well acquainted with the country, and competent to such a task, and with their advice he had fixed upon a spot whereon to offer duke Humphrey battle, whenever he should arrive.
Hardly had the council in which the Flemings had thus resolutely concurred in the duke's brave determination been broken up, when the English sallied from the town in great force, and attacked the bastile: a cry went through the camp; all were in confusion, so little were they prepared for an alarm which ought always to have been expected: they hastened from all quarters to the defence, the duke himself hurrying there on foot; but horse as well as foot had sallied; and while the infantry attacked the work, the horsemen interposed between it and the disorderly multitude, and presented so formidable a front, that before any assistance could be given, it was taken by pure force. About eight score of the garrison were slain, the greater part of the
made a second attempt, with the same result, and some damage to the ship. The captain sent the long boat at low water to sound about the place where this unaccountable accident had happened. They found a full grown whale lying directly across the channel, dead, as if the first stroke from the ship had killed it; and the port was blocked up till it could be cut in pieces and
rest were made prisoners; and because the Flemings had put to death an English knight, who fell into the hands of the Picards in this affair, half those prisoners were put to death before the gates in sight of the duke's army. The success was so complete that they carried away all the ordnance and other artillery; and the consequences were more important than the victors themselves could have thought possible; for mutinous assemblies were immediately held in the camp; absurd charges of treason were mingled with well-founded accusations of neglect or carelessness against their leaders; ferocious opinions were advanced, that certain of the duke's counsellors should be put to death; and a general resolution was declared that they would decamp at once, and return home without delay. No sooner was the duke aware of these movements than he repaired to the head-quarters of the Ghent army, and there convened a large body of these ungovernable subjects, and reminded them of the answer which, with their accord, he had returned to duke Humphrey's challenge, and of the resolution which that very morning they had taken to give the English battle whenever they should arrive, as it was certain that they soon must; and he entreated them not to decamp at such a time, as if they feared the enemy, for to do this would be indelibly to disgrace themselves, and to bring upon him such shame as never prince before him had incurred.
He knew their temper too well to employ any other language than that of entreaty; but even entreaties were vain; and any appeal to their sense of honour, and to their courage, was lost upon men who sought by their boldness in mutiny to conceal from others the fear which they really felt, and perhaps to disguise it from themselves. Some of the captains answered respectfully for their men, and endeavoured to excuse their conduct; but the men 66 little thanked them for this ;" and, turning a deaf ear to all that the duke could urge, obstinately persisted in their purpose. "It need not," says Monstrelet," be asked whether he was grieved at
RETREAT OF THE FLEMISH ARMY.
heart, for hitherto he had succeeded in all his undertakings to his heart's desire, and now in this, which was the greatest of all his enterprises, he saw that he must fail." Even his repeated requests that they would wait for a few days only were of no avail: any day they thought might bring the English fleet in sight; and the duke was not more solicitous to tarry for its arrival than they were to be at safe distance when it should arrive. Convinced, too surely, at last, that all farther persuasions would be ineffectual, he asked them only to remain till the morrow, that they might pack up their baggage and retreat in good order, for the sake of their own safety; and that they might not be harassed by the enemy, he said that he would escort them as far as the river of Gravelines. With this they complied, though the greater number said they were in sufficient force not to need any escort. By way of employing the interval, some of the ringleaders intended to go to the duke's quarters, and there murder some of his counsellors, for having advised him to an enterprise which, in the manner they carried it on, never possibly could have been achieved. The persons whose lives were thus threatened heard of their danger in time; and, leaving the army unobserved while they could, made their way with some few attendants to Jean de Croy's detachment, which was before Guisnes. Their escape made this disorderly host more clamorous, and more eager to hasten from a position where they thought that if the enemy found them they should be exposed to certain destruction, either by the treachery or the incapacity of the duke's counsellors. The men of Ghent, who were the principals in this mutiny, began to strike their tents and load their baggage, and the rest of the army were not slow in following the example: the men of Bruges alone were displeased at the disgraceful determination which had been taken; and, though compelled to pursue the same course with their unworthy comrades, prepared for the retreat with less precipitation, and were resolved to leave behind them no
memorials of their own misconduct: the other Flemings abandoned their artillery and engines*, but the men of Bruges put theirs on carriages, and, for lack of horses, had them drawn by men. Many pipes of wine and of other liquors were staved, to the great loss of the merchants: many, however, were left, equally to their loss, but to the great contentment of the garrison of Calais, and of duke Humphrey's men. They set fire to their tents; and yet such was the hurry of their retreat, that many tents were left standing, and great booty and abundant stores were found in the forsaken camp. †
All that the duke could do was to protect this mutinous host from what might else have been the likely, as it would have been the just, consequence of their own disobedience and indiscipline. He covered their retreat in person with his men-at-arms; and forming thus a rear-guard, which secured them against any sally from the garrison, followed them to Gravelines, where, their panic being somewhat abated, they quartered themselves upon the same spot which they had occupied before their bootless siege. There Jean de Croy joined him with the troops from before Guisnes, pursuant to his orders. He, too, had left his stores and engines on the ground, for want of means for transporting them, and his retreat had been insulted by the garrison. The duke now called his lords to council: their first business was to give him consolation, mortified as he was, and complaining bitterly of the disgrace thus brought upon him he had, however, no worse fault wherewith to reproach himself than the imprudence of having relied upon a people who were so little to be trusted, but severe
Sueyro mentions two guns, belonging one to Leyden and the other to Haarlem, and named Hoppenbier and Swertegriete. Holinshed, among "the many fair pieces of ordnance found in the camp," mentions "specially one called Dijon, so named after the chief town of Burgundy." + Monstrelet, 372-377.
Monstrelet says they were hardly pressed, and must have been compelled to surrender in a few days if the Burgundians had remained; but he forgot that in a few days duke Humphrey would have arrived; and Holinshed says, that the orders to raise the siege were to Jean de Croy, " very joyous, for he neither got nor saved."