Page images
PDF
EPUB

« The

u Cngl&ft fflttmtitt

"Published by Authoritie,
"For the Prevention of False Reportes,

"Whitehall, July 23, 1588."

Contains three pages and a half, small quarto, of matter of fact information.

Two pages respecting the Armada then seen "neare the Lizard, making for the entrance of the Channell," and appearing on the surface of the water "like floating castles."

A page of news from Ostend, where "nothing was talked of but the intended invasion of England. His Highnesse the Prince of Parma having compleated his preparationes, of which the subjoined Accounte might be depended upon as exacte and authentique."

Something to say—for a newspaper.

And a few lines dated " London, July 13, of the lord mayor, aldermen, common councilmen, and lieutenancie of this great citie" waiting on Her Majesty with assurances of support, and receiving a gracious reception from her.

Such was the newspaper of 1588.

The great events of Elizabeth's reign, in war, in politics, in legislation, belong to the historian; the great march of mind, the connecting link which that age formed between the darkness of the preceding ones (for during the period of the wars of the Roses all sorts of art and science retrograded), and the high cultivation of later days, it is the province of the metaphysician and philosopher to analyse; and even the lighter characteristics of the time have become so familiar through the medium of many modern and valuable works, that we have ventured only to touch very superficially on some few of the more prominent of them*

301

CHAPTER XIX.

TAPESTRY OF THE SPANISH ARMADA, BETTER KNOWN AS TAPESTRY OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS.

"He did blow with his wind, and they were scattered."

'Inscription On The Medal.'

The year 1588 had been foretold by astrologers to be a wonderful year, the " climacterical year of the world;" and the public mind of England was at that period sufficiently credulous and superstitious to be affected with vague presentiments, even if the preparation of an hostile armada so powerful as to be termed ({invincible/' had not seemed to engraft on these vague surmises too real and fearful a groundwork of truth.

The preparations of Philip II. in Spain, combined with those of the Duke of Parma in the Low Countries, and furthered by the valued and effective benediction of the shaken and tottering, but still influential and powerful head of the Roman church, had produced a hostile array which, with but too much probability of success, threatened the conquest of England, and its subjugation to the papal yoke. Not since the Norman Conquest had any event occurred which, if successful, would be fraught with results so harassing and distressing to the established inhabitants of the island. Though the Norman Conquest had, undoubtedly, in the course of time, produced a beneficial and civilising and ennobling influence on the island, it was long and bitter years ere the groans of the subjugated and oppressed Anglo-Saxons had merged in the contented peacefulness of a united people.

Yet William was certainly of a severe temper, and was incited by the unquenchable opposition of the English to a cruel and exterminating policy. Philip of Spain seemed not to promise milder measures. He was a bigot, and moreover hated the English with an utter hatred. During his union with Mary he had utterly failed to gain their good will, and his hatred to them increased in an exact ratio to the failure of his desired influence with them. Neither time, nor trouble, nor care, nor expense, was spared in this his decided invasion; and it is said that from Italy, Sicily, and even America, were drafted the most experienced captains and soldiers to aid his cause. Well, then, might England look with anxiety, and even with terror, to this threatened and fast approaching event.

But her energies were fully equal to the emergency. Elizabeth, now in the full plenitude of her power, was at the acme of her influence over the wills, and in a great degree over the affections of her subjects, at least over by far the greater portion of them; one factious and discontented party there was, but too insufficient to be anv effectual barrier to her designs. And the cause was a popular one: Protestants and Romanists joined in deprecating a foreign yoke. Her powerful and commanding energies did not forsake her. Her appeal to her subjects was replied to with heart-thrilling readiness, the city of London setting a noble example; for when ministers desired from it five thousand men and fifteen ships, the lord mayor, in behalf of the city, craved their sovereign to accept of ten thousand soldiers and thirty ships.

This spirited precedent was followed all through the empire, all classes vied with each other in contributing their utmost quota of aid, by means and by personal service, and amongst many similar instances it is recorded of "that noble, vertuous, honourable man, the Viscount Montague, that he now came, though he was very sickly, and in age, with a full resolution to live and dye in defence of the queene, and of his countrie, against all invaders, whether it were pope, king, and potentate whatsoever, and in that quarrell he would hazard his life, his children, his landes and goods. And to shew his mynde agreeably thereto, he came personally himselfe before the queene, with his band of horsemen, being almost two hundred; the same being led by his owne sonnes, and with them a yong child, very comely, seated on horseback, being the heire of his house, that is, ye eldest sonne to his sonne and heire; a matter much noted of many, to see a grandfather, father, and sonne, at one time on horsebacks afore a queene for her service.'*

For three years had Philip been preparing, in all parts of his dominions, for this overwhelming expedition, and his equipments were fully equal to his

« PreviousContinue »