Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

XLI.

1585.

openly embraced the defence of the revolted Fle-CHA P. mings, scrupled not to say, that she had now taken the diadem from her head, and had adventured it upon the doubtful chance of war." Yet was this princess rather cautious than enterprising in her natural temper: She never needed more to be impelled by the vigour, than restrained by the prudence, of her ministers: But when she saw an evident necessity, she braved danger with magnanimous courage; and trusting to her own consummate wisdom, and to the affections, however divided, of her people, she prepared herself to resist and even to assault the whole force of the catholic monarch.

The earl of Leicester was sent over to Holland, at the head of the English auxiliary forces. He carried with him a splendid retinue; being accompanied by the young earl of Essex, his son-in-law, the lords Audley and North, sir William Russel, sir Thomas Shirley, sir Arthur Basset, sir Walter Waller, sir Gervase Clifton, and a select troop of five hundred gentlemen. He was received on his arrival at Flushing by his nephew sir Philip Sidney, the governor; and every town through which he passed expressed their joy by acclamations and triumphal arches, as if his presence and the queen's protection had brought them the most certain deliverance. The States, desirous of engaging Elizabeth still farther in their defence, and knowing the interest which Leicester possessed with her, conferred on him the title of governor and captaingeneral of the United Provinces, appointed a guard to attend him, and treated him in some respects as their sovereign. But this

step had a contrary effect to' what they expected. The queen was displeased with the artifice of the States, and the ambition of

Leicester. u Camden, p. 508. Vol. v.

T

XLI.

Hostilities

CHA P. Leicester. She severely reprimanded both; and it

was with some difficulty that, after many humble 158.). submissions, they were able to appease her. with Spain.

AMEKICA was regarded as the chief source of Philip's power, as well as the most defenceless part of his dominions; and Elizabeth, finding that an open breach with that monarch was unavoidable, resolved not to leave him unmolested in that quarter. The great success of the Spaniards and Portuguese in both Indies had excited a spirit of emulation in England; and as the progress of commerce, still more that of colonies, is slow and gradual, it was happy that a war in this critical period had opened a more flattering prospect to the avarice and ambition of the English, and had tempted them, by the view of sudden and exorbitant profit, to engage in naval enterprises. A fleet of twenty sail was equipped to attack the Spaniards in the West Indies: Two thousand three hundred volunteers, besides seamen, engaged on board it; sir Francis Drake was appointed Admiral ; Christopher Carlisle commander

of the land forces. They took St Jago, near Cape Jauuary. Verde, by surprise; and found in it plenty of pro

visions, but no riches. They sailed to Hispaniola; and, easily making themselves masters of St. Domingo by assault, obliged the inhabitants to ransom their houses by a sum of money. Carthagena fell next into their hands after some more resistance, and was treated in the same manner. They burned St. Anthony and St. Helens, two towns on the coast of Florida. Sailing along the coast of Virginia, they found the small remains of a colony which had been planted there by sir Walter Raleigh, and which had gone extremely to decay. This was the first attempt of the English to form such settlements; and though they have since surpassed all European nations, both in the situation of their colonies, and in the noble principles of liberty and industry, on which they

1586.

are

XLI.

1586.

are founded; they had here been so unsuccessful, C HA P. that the miserable planters abandoned their settlements, and prevailed on Drake to carry them with him to England. He returned with so much riches as encouraged the volunteers, and with such accounts of the Spanish weakness in those countries as served extremely to inflame the spirits of the nation to future enterprises. The great mortality which the climate had produced in his fleet was, as is usual, but a feeble restraint on the avidity and sanguine hopes of young adventurers." It is thought that Drake's fleet first introduced the use of tobacco into England.

The enterprises of Leicester were much less successful than those of Drake. This man possessed neither courage nor capacity equal to the trust reposed in him by the queen ; and as he was the only bad choice she made for any considerable employment, men naturally believed that she had here been influenced by an affection still more partial than that of friendship. He gained at first some advantage in an action against the Spaniards; and threw succours into Grave, by which that place was enabled to make a vigorous defence: But the cowardice of the governor, Van Hemert, rendered all these efforts useless. He capitulated after a feeble resistance; and, being tried for his conduct, suffered a capital punishment from the sentence of a courtmartial. The prince of Parma next undertook the siege of Venlo, which was surrendered to him after some resistance. The fate of Nuys was more dismal; being taken by assault while the garrison was treating of a capitulation. Rhimberg, which was garrisoned by twelve hundred English, under the command of colonel Morgan, was afterwards be. sieged by the Spaniards; and Leicester, thinking

himself w Camden, p. 509.

T 2

XLI.

CHA P. himself too weak to attempt raising the siege, endea

voured to draw off the prince of Parma by forming another enterprise. He first attacked Doesburgh, and succeeded : He then sat down before Zutphen, which the Spanish general thought so important a fortress that he hastened to its relief. He made the marquis of Guesto advance with a convoy, which he intended to throw into the place. They were favoured by a fog; but, falling by accident on a body of English cavalry, a furious action ensued, in which the Spaniards were worsted, and the marquis of Gonzaga, an Italian nobleman of great reputation and family, was slain. The pursuit was stopped by the advance of the prince of Parma with the main body of the Spanish army; and the English cavalry, on their return from the field, found their advantage more than compensated by the loss of sir Philip Sidbey, who, being mortally wounded in the action, was carried off by the soldiers, and soon after died. This person is described by the writers of that age as the most perfect model of an accomplished gentleman that could be formed even by the wanton imagination of poetry or fiction. Virtuous conduct, polite conversation, heroic valour, and elegant erudition, all concurred to render him the ornament and delight of the English court; and as the credit which he possessed with the queen and the earl of Leicester was wholly employed in the encouragement of genius and literature, his praises have been transmitted with advantage to posterity. No person was so low as not to become an object of his bumanity. After this last action, while he was lying on the field mangled with wounds, a bottle of water was brought him to relieve his thirst; but, observing a soldier near him in a like miserable condition, he said, This man's necessity is still greater than mine : And resigned to him the bottle of water. The king of Scots, struck with admira

1586.

tion

XLI.

1586.,

tion of Sidney's virtue, celebrated his memory in CHA P. a copy of Latin verses, which he composed on the death of that young hero.

The English, though a long peace had deprived them of all experience, were strongly possessed of military genius; and the advantages gained by the prince of Parma were not attributed to the superior bravery and discipline of the Spaniards, but solely to the want of military abilities in Leicester. The States were much discontented with his management of the war; still more with his arbitrary and imperious conduct, and at the end of the campaign they applied to him for a redress of all their grievances. But Leicester, without giving them any satisfaction, departed soon after for England.”

The queen, while she provoked so powerful an enemy as the king of Spain, was not forgetful to secure herself on the side of Scotland; and she endeavoured both to cultivate the friendship and alliance of her kinsman James, and to remove all grounds of quarrel between them. An attempt which she had made some time before was not well calculated to gain tbe confidence of that prince. She had dispatched Wotton as her ambassador to Scotland; but though she gave him private instructions with regard to her affairs, she informed James that when she had any political business to discuss with him, she would employ another minister; that this man was not fitted for serious negotiations; and that her chief

purpose in sending him was to entertain the king with witty and facetious conversation, and to partake without reserve of his pleasures and amusements. Wotton was master of profound dissimulation, and knew how to cover, under the appearance of a careless gaiety, the deepest designs and most dangerous artifices. When but a

youth * Camden, p. 512. Bentivoglio, part ii. lib. 4.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »