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tance, and to prevent the Spaniards from projecting a second invasion, ordered a fleet to be equipped for the attack of Cadiz. Upon this occasion, the greatest part of the expenses were borne by the principal persons engaged in the enterprise. The armament, both from it's number of ships (150), and the land-soldiers and mariners aboard, was the most considerable which had hitherto been assembled. The command of it was entrusted to the Earl of Essex, and Lord Howard (then Lord High Admiral of England) with joint and equal authority: and Lord Thomas Howard, Sir Walter Ralegh, Sir Francis Vere, a veteran general who had acquired immortal fame by several campaigns in Holland and Flanders, Sir George Carew, and Sir Conyers Clifford, were nominated as their assistant council of war. After being joined by a Dutch squadron of twenty-four ships of the line, under the command of Admiral Van Duvenvoord, on the eighteenth of June they arrived off Cape St. Vincent; where they learned from an Irish bark, that the port of Cadiz was full of rich merchant-ships, and that they had no suspicion even of the equipment of the English armament. On the twentieth they anchored near St. Sebastian's, on the west of the island of Cadiz, where the Admiral wished to land the forces, in order to their immediately attacking the town; but Essex, upon trial finding this to be impracticable, by the advice of Sir Walter Ralegh desisted.
It was then proposed by the Earl to begin with attacking the fleet. To this hazardous project the Lord Admiral at length agreed, upon which Essex threw his hat into the sea for joy. The next day, their heroic resolution was as heroically carried into
execution; no one distinguishing himself more than the General, who in his own ship (the Due Repulse) offered to second Ralegh in boarding the St. Philip. The Spaniards behaved with great gallantry, as long as any hopes remained, after which setting fire to their ships, they retired.
Essex now landed eight hundred men at the port of Puntal: and having adopted measures for destroying the bridge, attacked the place with so much fury, that it was quickly taken; and, the next day, the citadel surrendered upon capitulation. An offer was then made of two millions of ducats for the ships; but the Admiral replied, "He came there to consume, and not to compound.' Upon this, the Spaniards themselves set them on fire; with a loss, as it was computed, of ten times the sum proffered.
Essex was extremely desirous of keeping Cadiz, which he proposed to have done with a very small garrison; but the council differing from him in opinion, they plundered the island, demolished the forts, and bore away for the port of Faro, a bishop's see* in Portugal, which they destroyed. They next proceeded to Cape St. Vincent, and held a council, to determine whether they should sail for the Azores, with a view of intercepting the Plate-fleet; but this was determined in the negative. The Earl's offer of making the attempt with two of her Majesty's ships and ten others, was likewise rejected. For
* A very valuable library belonging to Jerom Osorius, a celebrated Portuguese, prelate who died in 1580, falling to Essex's share, he generously gave it to the library founded at Oxford by Sir Thomas Bodley in the following year.
+ This Camden ascribes to the anxiety of some of the officers, who had amassed large booties, to get their treasure safe on shore.
these refusals Essex was so much disgusted with his brother-officers, that upon his return he drew up and dispersed an account of the expedition, in which he freely censured their conduct, not sparing even that of the Lord High Admiral himself. Hence arose a recrimination, in which he was himself charged with want of cool judgement, and with temerity. By this indiscreet step he created a number of powerful enemies, who never forgave him.
The first measure which they took was, to render the Queen jealous of his popularity. With this view, they particularly cautioned her against receiving such as he recommended to civil employments. That a spirit like that of Essex should exhibit to those, whom he deemed the authors of such counsels, visible tokens of resentment, even to the neglect of her Majesty's obvious displeasure, was to be expected. Out of her natural kindness to him, however, as well as from a desire of remunerating his various exertions, she appointed him Master of the Ordnance by patent in the year 1597.
This appears to have quieted his agitated mind; and upon a report that the Spaniards were preparing a new fleet at Ferrol and Corunna, for the invasion of some part of the British islands, he instantly offered his service to his royal mistress: cheerfully declaring, as Camden assures us, that he would either defeat this new Armada, which had threatened England for a year together, or perish in the attempt.' Delighted with his proposal, Elizabeth caused a considerable fleet to be equipped for the occasion; and appointed Essex at once General, Admiral, and Commander-inchief.
We may infer the interest, which the Earl took in
the success of his voyage, from the number of his friends who accompanied him as volunteers; particularly the Earls of Rutland and Southampton, and the Lords Cromwell and Rich. Neither could his
secret enemies, observing his influence over the Queen, refuse to serve under him in this expedition. His sanguine hopes, however, were in some measure disappointed; for, at sixty leagues' distance from Plymouth, they encountered for four days so violent a storm, that they were obliged to put back, and remained wind-bound a whole month.
During this interval, Essex with Ralegh personally visited the court, in order to receive fresh instructions. His proposals still continued to be highly daring; but, as Camden insinuates, they were at the same time so extremely dangerous, that the Queen refused to give them her countenance.
The squadron being refitted and victualled, Essex by her Majesty's express command disembarked all the land-forces, with the exception of Sir Francis Vere's regiment, and set sail a second time, for the purpose not only of burning the Spanish shipping in their own harbours, but also of intercepting the homeward-bound Plate-fleet, which was expected to touch about this time at the Azores. For these islands, accordingly, he made the best of his way; having informed Sir Walter Ralegh, who commanded one division of the armament, that he himself intended to attack Fayal. By some accident the squadrons separated; and Ralegh, who arrived first, justly apprehending that the smallest delay might frustrate their design, took Fayal himself, before Essex came up with the rest of the fleet.
This conduct Essex construed into a design to rob him of the honour of the conquest. Accordingly he cashiered the captains, who had borne a part in the enterprise; and he would have shown his resentment against the Admiral himself, had not Lord Thomas Howard induced Ralegh to make some concessions to him, as his superior, which produced a temporary reconciliation between them, and the re-instating of the discarded officers in their commands.
One of the pilots having dissuaded Essex from remaining at Graciosa (where the whole fleet always touched) in consequence of the insecurity of that haven, the Spanish vessels, the grand object of the expedition, got safe into the port of Angra. The English ships had indeed separated into different divisions, with a view of intercepting the enemy; but they passed unseen, except by Sir William Monson,* who though stationed at the greatest distance, gave the signal for a general chace. Unhappily, it was without effect. They fell in, however, with three rich merchant-men from the Havannah ; the value of whose cargoes, according to that officer's statement, more than defrayed the expenses of the whole expedition.
Chagrined at the escape of the Plate-fleet, Essex resolved to attempt some enterprise of importance, which might sustain his popularity. With this view, he took the town of Villa Franca by surprise, and pillaged it; after which he set sail for England; and upon his passage would certainly have fallen in with
* A naval officer of distinguished reputation, who had signalised himself in almost every engagement against the Spaniards, and was but ill requited for his services in the reign of James I.