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Title: Half hours on the quarter-deck: The Spanish Armada to Sir Cloudesley Shovel 1670

Author: Anonymous

Release date: October 1, 2022 [eBook #69077]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: James Nisbet & Co., Limited, 1899

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Half Hours in the Holy Land.

Travels in Egypt, Palestine, and Syria.
By Norman Macleod.

Half Hours in the Far North.

Life amid Snow and Ice.

Half Hours in the Wide West.

Over Mountains, Rivers, and Prairies.

Half Hours in the Far South.

The People and Scenery of the Tropics.

Half Hours in the Far East.

Among the People and Wonders of India.

Half Hours with a Naturalist.

Rambles near the Seashore.
By the Rev. J. G. Wood.

Half Hours in the Deep.

The Nature and Wealth of the Sea.

Half Hours in the Tiny World.

Wonders of Insect Life.

Half Hours in Woods and Wilds.

Adventures of Sport and Travel.

Half Hours in Air and Sky.

Marvels of the Universe.

Half Hours Underground.

Volcanoes, Mines, and Caves.
By Charles Kingsley and others.

Half Hours at Sea.

Stories of Voyage, Adventure, and Wreck.

Half Hours in Many Lands.

Arctic, Torrid, and Temperate.

Half Hours in Field and Forest.

Chapters in Natural History.
By the Rev. J. G. Wood.

Half Hours on the Quarter-Deck.

Half Hours in Early Naval Adventure.


[Page 41.




The Spanish Armada to Sir Cloudesley Shovel


21 Berners Street, W.



This is the second of a series of books on a subject of the greatest interest to all young Englishmen—the Naval History of England. To the sea England owes its greatness, and the Anglo-Saxon race its possession of such large portions of the earth. Two-thirds of the surface of our globe are covered with water, and the nations that have the chief command of the seas must naturally have immense power in the world. There is nothing more marvellous in the last century, great as has been the progress in all directions, than the birth of new nations in distant parts of the earth, sprung from our own people, and speaking our own language. England and America bid fair to encompass the world with their influence; because, centuries ago, England became, throughviii the bravery and endurance of her sailors, the chief ocean power.

From the earliest times, the command of the sea was eagerly sought after. The Phœnicians, occupying a position of much importance as a commercial centre between the great regions of Asia on the east and the countries surrounding the Mediterranean on the west, made rapid progress in navigation. The large ships they sent to Tarshish were unequalled for size and speed. Their vessels effected wonderful things in bringing together the varied treasures of distant countries. They used the sea rather for commerce, and the sending forth of colonists through whom they might extend their trade, than for purposes of conquest. With the Romans, who succeeded them in the command of the sea, especially after the fall of Carthage, the sea was a war-path, and the subjugation of the world was the paramount idea, although the vessels brought treasures from all parts to enrich the imperial city. The Anglo-Saxons have used the seas, both east and west, as the Phœnicians used the Mediterranean, forix the extension of commerce and the planting of colonies, but also, as the Romans, for the subjugation and civilisation of great empires.

There is a great interest in observing the progress of events for a century after the opening up of the great world by Columbus and others of the same period. It seemed for a time as if Spain and Portugal were to conquer and possess most of the magnificent territories discovered; France seemed also likely to have a fair portion; but England, almost nowhere at first, gradually led the way. This was due chiefly to the wonderful feats and endurance and bravery of her sailors. One country after another fell under our influence, till the great continent of America in all its northern parts became peopled by the Anglo-Saxon race—which has, in later periods, similarly spread over Australia and New Zealand.

With the growth of the maritime power of England is associated a splendid array of heroic names, and many of the humblest sailors were equal in bravery to their renowned commanders. No history is more intensely interesting thanx that of the daring perils and triumphs of heroic seamen. The heroes, who have distinguished themselves in the history and growth of the British Navy, furnish a gallery and galaxy, bewildering in extent; the events of pith and moment, in which they have been prominent actors, present fields too vast to be fully traversed; they can only be touched at salient points.









The proclivities of parents are not uniformly manifested in their children, and the rule of “Like father, like son” has its exceptions. The three generations of the Hawkins’ family, who distinguished themselves as maritime adventurers in the reign of Henry VIII. and Queen Elizabeth, while differing in character, disposition, and attainments at divers points, were in common governed by a ruling passion—love of the sea, and choice of it as a road to fame and fortune.

William Hawkins, Esq., of Tavistock, was a man of2 much property, acquired by inheritance, but chiefly by his good fortune as a successful naval adventurer. He was regarded with great favour by King Henry VIII. About the year 1530 he fitted up a ship of 250 tons burthen, which he named the Paul of Plymouth, and in which he made three voyages to Brazil, touching also at the coast of Guinea to buy or capture human beings,—to make merchandise of them. He was probably the first English adventurer that engaged in this horrible traffic. Old chroniclers coolly record the fact that he traded successfully and most profitably in “slaves, gold, and elephants’ teeth.” Brazil was in those days under a quite different government to that of the enlightened ex-Emperor Dom Pedro, or of the Republic that has recently succeeded him. Its rulers were savage Indian chiefs, with whom Hawkins was signally successful in ingratiating himself. On the occasion of his second visit to the country, so complete was the confidence reposed in him by these native princes, that one of them consented to return with him to England, Hawkins leaving Martin Cockram of Plymouth, one of his crew, as a hostage for the safe return of the prince. The personal adornments of this aboriginal grandee were of a remarkable character. According to Hakluyt’s account, “In his cheeks were holes, made according to the savage manner, and therein small bones were planted, standing an inch out from the surface, which in his country was looked on as evidence5 of great bravery. He had another hole in his lower lip, wherein was set a precious stone about the bigness of a pea. All his apparel, behaviour, and gestures were very strange to the beholders,” as may easily be believed. After remaining in England for about a year, during which time the distinguished foreigner was a repeated visitor at the court of Henry VIII., who was a warm patron of Hawkins, the adventurer embarked to return to Brazil. Unhappily, the Indian prince died on the passage, which naturally occasioned serious apprehensions in Hawkins’ mind. He was sorry for the death of his fellow-voyager, but more concerned on account of poor Cockram, the hostage, whose life, he feared, was imperilled by the death of the savage, for whose safe return he had been left as security. The confiding barbarians, however, disappointed his fears; they accepted, without doubt or hesitation, his account of the circumstances of the chief’s death, and his assurance that all that was possible to skill and care had been done to save his life. The friendly intercourse between Hawkins and the natives continued; they traded freely upon mutually satisfactory terms, and Hawkins returned to England freighted with a valuable cargo. He was greatly enriched by his successive voyages to the West Indies and Brazil, and at a mature age retired from active life, in the enjoyment of the fortune he had amassed by his skill and courage as a seaman, his wisdom and astuteness as a merchant, his enterprise,6 fortitude, perseverance, and other qualities and characteristics that distinguish most men who get on in the world.


John Hawkins, the second son of William Hawkins of Plymouth above referred to, was born at Plymouth about the year 1520. His elementary education was followed up in his early youth by assiduous study of mathematics and navigation. Early in life he made voyages to Spain and Portugal, and to the Canary Islands—the latter being considered a rather formidable undertaking in those days. In his early life he so diligently applied himself to his duties, and acquitted himself so successfully in their discharge, as to achieve a good reputation, and soon after the accession of Queen Elizabeth, an appointment in her navy, as an officer of consideration. It is stated concerning him, that as a young man he had engaging manners, and that at the Canaries, to which he had made several trips, “he had, by his tenderness and humanity, made himself very much beloved,” and had acquired a knowledge of the slave trade, and of the mighty profits which even in those days resulted from the sale of negroes in the West Indies. These glowing accounts of a quick road to riches fired the ambition of the tender and humane adventurer.

In 1562, when he had acquired much experience as a seaman, and was at the best of his manhood’s years, he projected a great slave-trading expedition. His design was to obtain subscriptions from the most eminent7 London traders and other wealthy persons, to provide and equip an adventure squadron. He proposed to proceed first to Guinea for a cargo of slaves, to be procured by barter, purchase, capture, or in any other way,—and the cheaper the better. With his freight of slaves, his design was to proceed to Hispaniola, Porto Rico, and other Spanish islands, and there to sell the slaves for money, or barter them in exchange for sugar, hides, silver, and other produce. He readily obtained, as his partners in this unscrupulous project, Sir William Lodge, Sir William Winter, Mr. Bromson, and his (Hawkins’) father-in-law, Mr. Gunson. The squadron consisted of the Solomon, of 120 tons, Hawkins, commander; the Swallow, of 100 tons, captain, Thomas Hampton; and the Jonas, a bark of 40 tons. The three vessels carried in all one hundred men. The squadron sailed in October 1562, and touched first at Teneriffe, from which they proceeded on to Guinea, where landing, “by money, and where that failed, by the sword,” Hawkins acquired three hundred negroes to be sold as slaves. These he disposed of at enormous profits at Hispaniola and others of the Spanish settlements, and returned to England,—to the enrichment, as the result of his “famous voyage,” of himself and his unscrupulous co-proprietors.

“Nothing succeeds like success.” There was now no difficulty in obtaining abundant support, in money and8 men, for further adventure, on the same lines. Slave-trading was proved to be a paying pursuit, and then as now, those who hasted to be rich were not fastidious, as to the moral aspect and nature of the quickest method. Another expedition was determined upon, and on a larger scale. Hawkins, the successful conductor of the expedition, was highly popular. As eminent engineers have taken in gentlemen apprentices in more modern times, Captain Hawkins was beset with applications to take in gentlemen apprentices to the art and mystery of slave-trade buccaneering. Among the youngsters entrusted to his tutelage were several who afterwards achieved distinction in the Royal Navy, including Mr. John Chester, son of Sir Wm. Chester, afterwards a captain in the navy; Anthony Parkhurst, who became a leading man in Bristol, and turned out an enterprising adventurer; John Sparkes, an able writer on maritime enterprises, who gave a graphic account of Hawkins’ second expedition, which Sparkes had accompanied as an apprentice.

The squadron in the second expedition comprised the Jesus of Lubeck, of 700 tons, a queen’s ship, Hawkins, commander; the Solomon; and two barques, the Tiger and the Swallow. The expedition sailed from Plymouth on the 18th October 1564. The first endeavour of the adventurers was to reach the coast of Guinea, for the nefarious purpose of man-stealing, as before. An9 incident, that occurred on the day after the squadron left Teneriffe, reflects credit on Hawkins in showing his paternal care for the lives of his crew, although he held the lives of Guinea negroes of little account, and in exhibiting also his skill as a seaman. The pinnace of his own ship, with two men in it, was capsized, and the upturned boat, with the two men struggling in the water, was dropped out of sight, before sail could be taken in. Hawkins ordered the jolly-boat to be let down and manned by twenty-four able-bodied seamen, to whose leading man he gave steering directions. After a long and stiff pull, the pinnace, with the two men riding astride on the keel, was sighted, and their rescue effected.

The poor hunted savages sometimes sold their lives and liberties dearly to their Christian captors. In one of his raids upon the coast of Africa in this expedition, the taking of ten negroes cost Hawkins six of his best men killed, and twenty-seven wounded. The Rev. Mr. Hakluyt—affected with obliquity of moral vision it may be—deliberately observes concerning Captain Hawkins and this disaster, that “his countenance remained unclouded, and though he was naturally a man of compassion, he made very light of his loss, that others might not take it to heart.” A very large profit was realised by this expedition, “a full cargo of very rich commodities” having been collected in the trading with Jamaica, Cuba, and other West Indian islands. On the return voyage10 another incident occurred illustrative of Captain Hawkins’ punctilious regard to honesty in other directions than that of negroes—having property rights in their own lives and liberties. When off Newfoundland, which seemed to be rather round circle sailing on their way home, the commander fell in with two French fishing vessels. Hawkins’ squadron had run very short of provisions. They boarded the Frenchmen, and, without leave asked or obtained, helped themselves to as much of their stock of provisions, as they thought would serve for the remainder of the voyage home. To the amazement as much as the satisfaction of the Frenchmen, Hawkins paid honourably for the salt junk and biscuits thus appropriated.

The squadron arrived at Padstow, Cornwall, on the 20th September 1565. The idea of the brotherhood of man had not in that age been formulated, and Hawkins was honoured for his achievements, in establishing a new and lucrative branch of trade. Heraldic honours were conferred upon him by Clarencieux, king at arms, who granted him, as an appropriate crest, “a demi-moor bound with a cord or chain.”


In 1567 Hawkins sailed in charge of an expedition for the relief of the French Protestants at Rochelle. This object was satisfactorily effected, and he proceeded to prepare for a third voyage to the West Indies. Before this expedition sailed, Hawkins, while off Cativater waiting 13the queen’s orders, had an opportunity, of which he made12 prompt and spirited use, for vindicating the honours of the queen’s flag. A Spanish fleet of fifty sail, bound for Flanders, passed comparatively near to the coast, and in sight of Hawkins’ squadron, without saluting by lowering their top-sails, and taking in their flags. Hawkins ordered a shot to be fired across the bows of the leading ship. No notice was taken of this, whereupon he ordered another to be fired, that would make its mark. The second shot went through the hull of the admiral, whereupon the Spaniards struck sail and came to an anchor. The Spanish general sent a messenger to demand the meaning of this hostile demonstration. Hawkins would not accept the message, or even permit the messenger to come on board. On the Spanish general sending again, Hawkins sent him the explanation that he had not paid the reverence due to the queen, that his coming in force without doing so was suspicious; and he concluded his reply by ordering the Spanish general to sheer off, or he would be treated as an enemy. On coming together, and further parley, Hawkins and the Spaniard arrived at an amicable understanding, and concluded their conferences in reconciliation feasts and convivialities, on board and on shore.

The new expedition sailed on the 2nd October 1567. The squadron consisted of the Jesus of Lubeck, the Minion, and four other ships. As before, the adventurers made first for Guinea, the favourite gathering-ground for the14 inhuman traffic, and collected there a crowd of five hundred negroes, the hapless victims of their cupidity. The greater number of these they disposed of at splendid prices, in money or produce, in Spanish America. Touching at Rio Del Hacha, to Hawkins’ indignant surprise, the governor, believing it to be within his right, refused to trade with him. Such arrogance was not to be submitted to, and Hawkins landed a storming party, who assaulted and took the town, which, if it did not exactly make things pleasant, compelled submission, and, for the invading adventurers, a profitable trade. Having made the most he could of Hacha, Hawkins next proceeded to Carthagena, where he disposed, at good prices, of the remainder of the five hundred slaves.

The adventurers were now (September 1568) in good condition for returning home with riches, leaving honours out of consideration, but the time had passed for their having their own will and way. Plain sailing in smooth seas was over with them; storm and trouble, and struggle for dear life, awaited them. Shortly after leaving Carthagena the squadron was overtaken by violent storms, and for refuge they made, as well as they could, for St. John de Ulloa, in the Gulf of Mexico. While in the harbour, the Spanish fleet came up in force, and was about to enter. Hawkins was in an awkward position. He liked not the Spaniards, and would fain have given their vastly superior force a wide berth. He tried what15 diplomacy would do. He sent a message to the viceroy that the English were there only for provisions, for which they would pay, and he asked the good offices of the viceroy, for the preservation of an honourable peace. The terms proposed by Hawkins were assented to, and hostages for the observance of the conditions were exchanged. But he was dealing with deceivers. On Thursday, September 23rd, he noticed great activity in the carrying of ammunition to the Spanish ships, and that a great many men were joining the ships from the shore. He sent to the viceroy demanding the meaning of all this, and had fair promises sent back in return. Again Hawkins sent Robert Barret, master of the Jesus, who knew the Spanish language, to demand whether it was not true that a large number of men were concealed in a 900-ton ship that lay next to the Minion, and why it was that the guns of the Spanish fleet were all pointed at the English ships. The viceroy answered this demand by ordering Barret into irons, and directing the trumpet to sound a charge. At this time Hawkins was at dinner in his cabin with a treacherous guest, Don Augustine de Villa Nueva, who had accepted the rôle of Hawkins’ assassin. John Chamberlain, of Hawkins’ bodyguard, detected the dagger up the traitor’s sleeve, denounced him, and had him cared for. Going on deck, Hawkins found the English attacked on all sides; an overpowering crowd of enemies from the great Spanish ship alongside was16 pouring into the Minion. With a loud voice he shouted, “God and St. George! Fall upon those traitors, and rescue the Minion!” His men eagerly answered the call, leaped out of the Jesus into the Minion, and made short work with the enemy, slaughtering them wholesale, and driving out the remnant. Having cleared the Minion of the enemy, they did equally effective service with the ship’s guns; they sent a shot into the Spanish vice-admiral’s ship that, probably from piercing the powder-room, blew up the ship and three hundred men with it. On the other hand, all the Englishmen who happened to be on shore were cut off, except three who escaped by swimming from shore to their ships. The English were overmatched to an enormous extent, by the fleet and the attack from the shore. The Spaniards took the Swallow, and burnt the Angel. The Jesus had the fore-mast cut down by a shot, and the main-mast shattered. The Spaniards set fire to two of their own ships, with which they bore down upon the Jesus, with the desire of setting it on fire. In dire extremity, and to avert the calamity of having their ship burnt, the crew, without orders, cut the cables and put to sea; they returned, however, to take Hawkins on board. The English ships suffered greatly by the shots from the shore, as well as from the fleet, but inflicted, considering the disparity in strength of the combatants, much greater damage than they sustained. The ships of the Spanish admiral and vice-admiral were17 both disabled,—the latter destroyed; four other Spanish ships were sunk or burnt. Of the Spanish fighting men,—fifteen hundred in number at the commencement of the battle,—five hundred and forty, or more than a third, were killed or wounded. The Jesus and the Minion fought themselves clear of the Spaniards, but the former was so much damaged as to be unmanageable, and the Minion, with Hawkins and most of his men on board, and the Judith, of 50 tons, were the only ships that escaped. The sanguinary action lasted from noon until evening. The wreckage to such an extent of Hawkins’ fleet involved, of course, a heavy deduction from his fortune.

After leaving St. John de Ulloa, the adventurers suffered great privations. Their design to replenish their failing stock of provisions had been frustrated, and Hawkins was now threatened with mutiny among the crew, because of the famine that seemed imminent, and which he was powerless to avert. They entered a creek in the Bay of Mexico, at the mouth of the river Tampico. A number of the men demanded to be left on shore, declaring that they would rather be on shore to eat dogs and cats, parrots, rats, and monkeys, than remain on board to starve to death. “Four score and sixteen” men thus elected to be left on shore. Job Hortop, one of the crew, who left a narrative of the voyage, states that Hawkins counselled the men he was leaving to “serve God and love one another, and courteously bade them a18 sorrowful farewell.” On the return voyage, Hawkins and the remnant with him, sustained great hardships and privations. At Vigo, where he touched, he met with some English ships, from which he was able to obtain, by arrangement, twelve stout seamen, to assist his reduced and enfeebled crew, in the working of his ships for the remainder of the homeward voyage. He sailed from Vigo on the 20th January 1569, and reached Mount’s Bay, Cornwall, on the 25th of the same month. Thus ended his third eventful and disastrous expedition to El Dorado.

The poor fellows, left on shore in Mexico, entered upon a terrible campaign of danger and suffering. The first party of Indians that the castaways fell in with, slaughtered a number of them, but on discovering that they were not Spaniards, whom the Indians hated inveterately, spared the remainder, and directed them to the port of Tampico. It is recorded of two of their number, Richard Brown and Richard Twide, that they performed the wonderful feat, under such cruel disadvantages and difficulties, of marching across the North American continent from Mexico to Nova Scotia,—from which they were brought home in a French ship. Others of the wanderers fell into the hands of the Spaniards, who sent some of them prisoners to Mexico, and others to Spain, where, by sentence of the Holy Inquisition, some were burnt to death, and others consigned for long terms21 to imprisonment. Miles Philips, one of the crew, reached England, after many perilous adventures and hair-breadth ’scapes, in 1582. Job Hortop and John Bone were sentenced to imprisonment for ten years. Hortop, after twenty-three years’ absence from England, spent in Hawkins’ fleet, and in wanderings, imprisonment, and divers perils, reached home in 1590, and wrote an interesting account of the voyage, and of his personal adventures.


In his last expedition Hawkins had returned with impaired fortune, but without dishonour. He had, indeed, added to the lustre of England, and to his personal renown, by the skill and valour he had displayed in the affair of St. John de Ulloa,—in which the glory was his, and infamy attached to the treacherous Spaniards, whose immense superiority in strength should have enabled them to extinguish their enemy, instead of being beaten by him. In recognition of his valour, Hawkins was granted by Clarencieux, king at arms, further heraldic honours, in an augmentation of his arms; he was also appointed Treasurer to the Navy, an office of great honour and profit.

Hawkins’ next great public service was rendered, as commander of Her Majesty’s ship Victory, in the actions against the Spanish Armada in 1588. The commanders of the English squadrons in the Armada actions and pursuit were the Lord High Admiral, and Sir Francis Drake,22 and Sir John Hawkins, rear-admiral. Sir John was knighted by the Lord High Admiral for his distinguished services; as was also Sir Martin Frobisher. Sir John Hawkins shared largely in the dangers and honours of the actions, and, in the pursuit of the Spaniards, he rendered extraordinarily active and successful service, for which he was particularly commended by Queen Elizabeth.

In 1590 Sir John Hawkins, in conjunction with Sir Martin Frobisher,—each with a squadron of fifty ships,—was sent to harass the Spanish coast, and to intercept and capture, if possible, the Plate fleet. Suspecting this intention, the Spanish king contrived to convey intelligence to India, ordering the fleet to winter there, instead of coming home. Hawkins and Frobisher cruised about for six or seven months, with no more definite result than humiliating Spain, and detracting from its dignity and influence as a naval power.

Sir John Hawkins was next appointed in a joint expedition against Spain with Sir Francis Drake. The design of the expedition, which sailed from Plymouth on the 28th August 1595, was to burn Nombre-de-Dios, and to march thence overland to Panama, and appropriate there the Spanish treasure from Peru. The design proved abortive, partly from tempestuous weather, but partly also from disagreement between the commanders. On the 30th October, at a short distance from Dominica, the Francis, a bark of 35 tons, the sternmost of Sir23 John Hawkins’ fleet,—and a long way in the rear of the others,—was fallen in with by a squadron of five Spanish frigates, and captured. This misfortune, in conjunction with other depressing circumstances, and the hopelessness of the enterprise, so much affected Sir John Hawkins as to cause his death on the 21st November 1595—of a broken heart, it was believed.

The expeditions of Sir John Hawkins to the West Indies, his services in connection with the Spanish Armada, his joint expeditions with Frobisher and Drake, fall far short of filling up the story of his life, or the measure of his usefulness as a public man. Of his home life they tell nothing.

Sir John was twice married, and was three times elected a member of Parliament, twice for Plymouth. He was a wise, liberal, and powerful friend and supporter of the British Navy. He munificently provided, at Chatham, an hospital for poor and distressed sailors. The “Chest” at Chatham was instituted by Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake,—being a provident fund, formed from voluntary deductions from sailors’ pay, applied to the relief of disabled and indigent comrades. Sir John Hawkins was the author and promoter of many beneficial rules and regulations for the government of the navy. He was an accomplished mathematician, a skilful navigator, a courageous combatant; as Treasurer of the Navy he proved an able administrator; and to these24 qualities he added the enterprising spirit of a merchant prince,—he and his brother William being joint owners at one time of a fleet of thirty good stout ships. It was said of him by a contemporary that he had been graceful in youth, and that he was grave and reverend in advanced life. He was a man of great sagacity, unflinching courage, sound judgment, and cool presence of mind, submissive to authority, courteous to his peers, affable and amiable to his men, by whom he was much beloved. His active life embraced a period of forty-eight years, during which he, for longer or shorter periods, acted as a commander at sea, including twenty-two years, during which he held the office of Treasurer of the Navy.

Richard Hawkins, of the third generation of eminent navigators, and son of Sir John Hawkins, was born at Plymouth about the year 1570. He had a strong predilection for naval service, and when only a lad in his teens had the command of a vessel, and was vice-admiral of a small squadron commanded by his uncle, William Hawkins, Esq., of Plymouth, that was employed in a “private expedition” to the West Indies—really to “pick and steal” what they could from the Spaniards. He had an early opportunity of showing his courage and confidence in his own powers. The captain of one of the ships of the fleet, the Bonner, complained that his ship was not seaworthy, and recommended that his crew and himself should be shifted into a better ship, and that the27 Bonner should be sunk. Young Hawkins protested against the sacrifice of the ship, and offered, if a good crew were allowed him, to carry the Bonner through the cruise, and then home. His success would, of course, have disgraced the captain, who withdrew his recommendation, and remained in his ship,—which justified young Hawkins’ protest by continuing seaworthy for many years.


In 1588 young Hawkins was captain of the queen’s ship Swallow, which suffered most of any in the actions with the Spanish Armada. A fire arrow that had been hid in a sail, burnt a hole in the beak-head of the Swallow. Richard afterwards wrote an able account of the actions, with a judicious criticism and defence of the strategy of the Earl of Nottingham, Lord High Admiral,—in not laying the Spaniards aboard. This Hawkins held would have been a dangerous course, from the greater height of the Spanish ships, and from their having an army on board. By keeping clear, the English ships could also take advantage of wind and tide for manœuvring round the enemy. He held that, by lying alongside of the Spaniards they would have risked defeat, and that the free movement and fighting gave them a better chance of humiliating the enemy.

In 1590 Richard Hawkins commanded the Crane, of 200 tons, in the expedition of his father and Sir Martin Frobisher against Spain. The commander of the Crane did excellent service in the pursuit of the Spanish28 squadron employed in carrying relief to the forces in Brittany; and afterwards he so harassed the Spaniards at the Azores, as to incite the merchants there to curse the Spanish ministers who had brought about (or permitted) a war with such a powerful enemy as England.

On returning from this expedition, Hawkins commenced preparations for a bold buccaneering project against Spain. He built a ship of 350 tons, to which his mother-in-law—who had assisted with funds—obstinately persisted in giving the ominous name of the Repentance. Richard Hawkins could not stand this name, and sold the ship to his father. The Repentance, in spite of the name, did excellent service, and had very good fortune. On return from an expedition, while lying at Deptford, the Repentance was surveyed by the queen, who rowed round the ship in her barge, and graciously—acting probably upon a hint from Sir John or his son Richard—re-named it the Dainty, whereupon Richard bought back the ship from his father for service in his projected great expedition. His plan included, in addition to plundering the Spaniards, visits to Japan, the Moluccas, the Philippines, passage through the Straits of Magellan, and return by the Cape of Good Hope. His ambitious prospectus secured the admiration and approval of the greatest men of the time, including the lord high admiral, Sir R. Cecil, Sir Walter Raleigh, etc. On the 8th of April 1593, the Dainty dropped down the river to29 Gravesend, and on the 26th arrived at Plymouth, where severe misfortune overtook the little squadron, consisting of the Dainty, the Hawk, and the Fancy,—all of them the property of Richard Hawkins, or of the Hawkins family. A tempest arose in which the Dainty sprang her main-mast, and the Fancy was driven ashore and knocked to pieces before the owner’s eyes. This misfortune magnified the fears, and intensified the tender entreaties, of his young wife that he would abandon the perilous enterprise,—but he was not to be dissuaded. He said that there were “so many eyes upon the ball, that he felt bound to dance on, even though he might only be able to hop at last.”

On the 12th June 1593, Hawkins left Plymouth Sound, with his tiny squadron of the Dainty and tender. Before the end of the month he arrived at Madeira, and on the 3rd July passed the Canaries, and shortly after the Cape de Verd Islands, all well, and without anything notable occurring to the squadron. Later, however, when nearing the coast of Brazil, scurvy of a malignant type broke out among the crew. Hawkins gave close attention to the men stricken, personally superintended their treatment, and made notes,—from which he afterwards wrote an elaborate paper on the disease, its causes, nature, and cure. At a short distance south of the Equator he put in to a Brazilian port for provisions. He sent a courteous letter, written in Latin,30 to the governor, stating that he was in command of an English ship, that he had met with contrary winds, and desired provisions, for which he would gladly pay. The governor replied that their monarchs were at war, and he could not supply his wants, but he politely gave him three days to do his best and depart. The three days’ grace were promptly taken advantage of to lay in a supply of oranges and other fruit, when he again sailed southward. On the 20th November he arrived at the Island of St. Ann, 20° 30’ south latitude, where—the provisions and stores having been taken out of the Hawk—that vessel was burned. He touched at other parts of the coast for provisions and water. Hawkins had a difficult part to play in dealing with his crew, who were impatient for plunder. Robert Tharlton, who commanded the Fairy, and who had proved a traitor to Captain Thomas Cavendish, in the La Plata, drew off a number of the men, with whom he deserted before they reached the Straits of Magellan. Notwithstanding the discouragement of Tharlton’s treachery and desertion, Hawkins courageously proceeded with his hazardous enterprise. Sailing along the coast of Patagonia, he gave names to several places, amongst others to Hawkins’ Maiden Land,—because discovered by himself in the reign of a maiden queen.

In the course of his voyage southward, he made a prize of a Portuguese ship. He found it to be the31 property of an old knight who was on board, on his way to Angola, as governor. The old gentleman made a piteous appeal to Hawkins, pleading that he had invested his all in the ship and its cargo, and that the loss of it would be his utter ruin. His petition was successful, and Hawkins let him go. On the 10th February he reached the Straits of Magellan, and, passing through, emerged into the South Pacific Ocean on the 29th March 1594. This was the sixth passage of the straits—the third by an Englishman. He wrote an excellent account of the passage through the straits, which he pronounced navigable during the whole year, but the most favourable—or, it should rather perhaps be put, the least unfavourable—seasons for the at best unpleasant voyage were the months of November, December, and January. On the 19th April he anchored for a short time under the Isle of Mocha. Resuming his voyage along the coast of Chili, he encountered, in the so-called Pacific Ocean, a violent storm, that lasted without intermission for ten days. His men were becoming desperately impatient, and they insisted that they should attempt to take everything floating that they sighted. Every vessel in those waters, they believed, had gold or silver in them. At Valparaiso they took four ships, much against Hawkins’ wish. He exercised discrimination, and wished to reserve their strength, and prevent alarm on shore, by waiting till a prize worth32 taking came in their way. They got from the prizes an abundant supply of provisions, but very little gold, and only trifling ransoms for the prisoners. The small amount taken added greatly to Hawkins’ difficulties and embarrassments. His bold buccaneers demanded that the third part of the treasure should, according to contract, be given up to them,—then and there. He resisted the demand, urged that they could not expend anything profitably here and now, and that they would only gamble with their shares, which would probably lead to quarrels and the ruin of the expedition. It was at last agreed that the treasure should be placed in a chest with three locks,—one key to be held by Hawkins, one by the master, and the third by a representative appointed by the men.


Arriving at Ariquipa, Hawkins ascertained by some means that Don Garcia Hurtado de Mendoza, Viceroy of Peru, had received intelligence of his being off the coast, and had sent out a squadron of six vessels to capture him. Hawkins had in the Dainty, and in a little Indian vessel he had taken, and which he had fitted up as a pinnace, a combined crew of seventy-five men and boys—a lamentably small force to resist a well-manned squadron of six men-of-war ships. About the middle of May the Spanish squadron was sighted near Civite. Hawkins, who was to windward, stood out to sea. The Spanish ships, under the command of Don33 Bertrand de Castro, followed. The wind freshened greatly; the Spanish admiral lost his main-mast, the vice-admiral split his main-sail, and the rear-admiral’s main-yard tumbled down. The Spaniards were thrown into utter confusion, and Hawkins escaped. On34 returning to port with his damaged ships, and without the diminutive enemy he had gone out to capture, De Castro and the other commanders were received with humiliating and exasperating derision. De Castro’s earnest petition to be allowed to go to sea again was granted, and he sailed with two ships and a pinnace,—all fully manned with picked men. On the 20th June the Spanish squadron came in sight. Hawkins’ ungovernable crew would have him chase everything they sighted; they would have it that the armed cruisers were the Peruvian plate fleet, laden with the treasure for which they had come, and for which they had so long toiled and waited. They were soon undeceived by the Spanish attack, which they met with dogged bravery. The Spanish ships were manned by about thirteen hundred of the best men in the service,—and it seems marvellous that Hawkins and his bull-dogs could have stood out so long. The fight lasted for two whole days and part of a third. Hawkins had received six wounds, two of them dangerous, and was at last completely disabled. Besides the killed, there were forty of his men wounded, and his ship was sinking. On the afternoon of 22nd June, this was his deplorable plight:—the whole of his sails were rent, the masts shattered, eight feet of water in the hold, and the pumps rent and useless; scarcely a single unwounded man was left in the ship, and all were so fatigued that they could not stand.35 Helpless as was their plight, and desperate their condition, Hawkins was able to obtain honourable conditions of surrender, namely, that himself and all on board should have a free passage to England, as soon as possible. De Castro swore by his knighthood that the conditions would be faithfully observed, in token of which he sent his glove to Hawkins, and took possession of the shattered Dainty, without inflicting the slightest humiliation on his brave fallen enemy, or permitting his crew to express triumph over them. On the 9th July, the Spanish squadron, with Hawkins on board De Castro’s ship, arrived at Panama, which was brilliantly illuminated in celebration of the “famous victory.” Despatches, to allay apprehensions concerning the terrible enemy, were sent off to the viceroys of New Spain and Peru. Hawkins was allowed to send letters home to his father and other friends, and to the queen. From Don Bertrand, Hawkins learned that the King of Spain had received from England full and minute particulars, concerning the strength and equipment of Hawkins’ little squadron before it sailed, showing that the King of Spain had spies in England. The Dainty prize was repaired and re-named the Visitation, because surrendered on the day of the feast of the blessed Virgin. Hawkins was long kept in captivity. He was for two years in Peru and adjacent provinces, and was then sent to Europe and kept a prisoner at Seville and Madrid. His release was claimed36 on the ground of Don Bertrand’s knightly pledge, but the reply was given that he had received his authority from the Viceroy of Peru, not from the King of Spain, upon whom his engagement was not binding. The Count de Miranda, President of the Council, however, at last gave judgment, that the promise of a Spanish general in the king’s name should be kept, and Hawkins was set at liberty, and returned to England.

During his captivity he wrote a detailed account of his voyage, entitled The Observations of Richard Hawkins, Knight, in his Voyage into the South Sea, 1593. It was published in London in 1622, the year in which Hawkins died of apoplexy,—at somewhere near fifty years of age.

Sir Richard Hawkins possessed powers that fitted him for great achievements. With resources at command, and a fitting field for their use, corresponding with his courage and ability, he would have distinguished himself by mighty deeds. His ill-fated voyage to the South Sea was like the light cavalry charge at Balaclava—it was magnificent, but it was not war!


Queen Elizabeth has been magniloquently designated the Restorer of England’s Naval Power and Sovereign of the Northern Seas. Under her sovereignty Lord Charles Howard wielded supreme authority worthily and well, on behalf of his country, during that naval demonstration, which may be regarded as the most important, in its design and results, of any that the world has known. Lord Charles was High Admiral of England during the period of the inception, the proud departure, the baleful course, and the doleful return to Spain, of the “most happy and invincible Armada,” or rather—what was left of it.



Charles Howard, elder son of the Earl of Effingham, was born in the year 1536, in the reign of Henry VIII. Charles served under his father, who was Lord Admiral to Mary, in several expeditions. He did duty as an envoy to Charles IX. of France on his accession. He served as a general of horse in the army headed by Warwick, against the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland, and, as a courtier, he rendered various other services, not calling for particular notice. In 1572 he39 succeeded his father, and in 1573 was made a Knight of the Garter. On the death of the Earl of Lincoln, in 1585, the queen appointed Lord Charles, High Admiral. This appointment gave great satisfaction to all ranks, and was especially gratifying to seamen,—with whom Lord Charles was highly popular.

Philip of Spain employed all the art he was possessed of to obtain ascendency over Elizabeth, as he had done over her infatuated sister Mary, and—irrespective of law, if any existed to the contrary—was more than willing to marry his “deceased wife’s sister,” but Elizabeth would neither marry, nor take orders from him, which exasperated Philip greatly. His religious fanaticism and the influence of the Jesuits made him determined to punish the queen and ruin her country. With this amiable intention the great Armada was prepared. It consisted of 130 ships, of an aggregate of about 60,000 tons. It was armed with 2630 pieces of cannon, and carried 30,000 men, including 124 volunteers,—the flower of the Spanish nobility and gentry,—and 180 monks. Twelve of the greatest ships were named after the twelve apostles.

The English fleet was put under the command of Lord Howard, with Sir Francis Drake for his vice-admiral, and Sir John Hawkins for his rear-admiral. Lord Henry Seymour, with Count Nassau, cruised on the coast of Flanders, to watch the movements of the40 Duke of Parma, who purposed, it was believed, to form a junction with the Spanish Armada, or to aid it, by making a separate descent upon England.

The threatened invasion stirred the kingdom to the highest pitch of patriotic fervour. The city of London advanced large sums of money for the national service. Requisitioned to provide 15 ships and 5000 men, the city fathers promptly provided 30 ships and 10,000 men.

The Armada encountered a violent storm, at almost the commencement of the voyage northwards, and had to put back. The rumour was current in England that the great expedition was hopelessly shattered. Lord Howard consequently received, through Walsingham, Secretary of State, instructions to send four of his largest ships into port. The admiral doubted the safety of this course, and willingly engaged to keep the ships out, at his own charge. He bore away towards Spain, and soon obtained such intelligence, as confirmed him in the opinion he had formed, and fully justified the course he had adopted.

On the 19th July, Fleming, a Scottish pirate, who plied his vocation in the Channel and the approaches thereto, sailed into Plymouth in hot haste, with the intelligence that the Armada was at hand. This pirate did, for once at least in his life, an honest and incalculably important day’s work. An ancient historian41 estimates it so highly as to say that “this man was, in reality, the cause of the absolute ruin of the Spaniards; for the preservation of the English was undoubtedly owing to his providential discovery of the enemy.” At the request of Lord Admiral Howard, the queen afterwards granted a pardon to Fleming for his past offences, and awarded him a pension for the timely service he had rendered to the nation.

“And then,” says Dr. Collier, “was played on the Hoe at Plymouth that game of bowls, which fixes itself like a picture on the memory,—the faint, hazy blue of the July sky, arching over sun-baked land and glittering sea; the group of captains on the grass, peak-bearded and befrilled, in the fashion of Elizabeth’s day; the gleaming wings of Fleming’s little bark skimming the green waters like a seagull, on her way to Plymouth harbour with the weightiest news. She touches the rude pier; the skipper makes hastily for the Hoe, and tells how that morning he saw the giant hulls off the Cornish coast, and how he has with difficulty escaped by the fleetness of his ship. The breathless silence changes to a storm of tongues; but the resolute man who loaded the Golden Hind with Spanish pesos, and ploughed the waves of every ocean round the globe, calls on his comrades to ‘play out the match, for there is plenty of time to do so, and to beat the Spaniards too.’ It is Drake who speaks. The game is resumed, and played42 to the last shot. Then begin preparations for a mightier game. The nation’s life is at stake. Out of Plymouth, along every road, men spur as for life, and every headland and mountain peak shoots up its red tongue of warning flame.”

The sorrows and sufferings of the crowd of Spaniards noble and ignoble, of the nine score holy fathers, and the two thousand galley slaves, who left the Tagus in glee and grandeur, in the “happy Armada,” with a great design,—but really to serve no higher purpose, as things turned out, than to provide, in their doomed persons, a series of banquets for the carnivorous fishes in British waters,—need not be dwelt upon here, being referred to elsewhere.

As commander-in-chief, it was universally felt and admitted that Lord Charles Howard acquitted himself with sound judgment, consummate skill, and unfaltering courage. The queen acknowledged his merits, the indebtedness of the nation to the lord high admiral, and her sense of his magnanimity and prudence, in the most expressive terms. In 1596 he was advanced to the title and dignity of Earl of Nottingham, his patent of nobility containing the declaration, “that by the victory obtained anno 1588, he did secure the kingdom of England from the invasion of Spain, and other impending dangers; and did also, in conjunction with our dear cousin, Robert, Earl of Essex, seize by force the45 Isle and the strongly fortified castle of Cadiz, in the farthest part of Spain; and did likewise rout and entirely defeat another fleet of the King of Spain, prepared in that port against this kingdom.” On entering the House of Peers, the Earl of Nottingham was received with extraordinary expressions and demonstrations of honourable regard.


In 1599, circumstances of delicacy and difficulty again called for the services of the Earl of Nottingham. Spain meditated another invasion. The Earl of Essex in Ireland had entangled affairs, had left his post there, and had rebelliously fortified himself in his house in London. The Earl of Nottingham succeeded in bringing the contumacious earl to a state of quietude, if not of reason, and had the encomium pronounced upon him by the queen, that he seemed to have been born “to serve and to save his country.” He was invested with the unusual and almost unlimited authority of Lord Lieutenant General of all England; he was also appointed one of the commissioners for executing the office of Earl-Marshal. On her death-bed the queen made known to the earl her desire as to the succession,—an unequivocal proof of her regard and confidence,—the disclosure having been entreated in vain by her most favoured ministers.

The accession of James did not impede the fortunes of the Earl of Nottingham; he was appointed Lord High Steward, to assist at the coronation; and afterwards46 commissioned to the most brilliant embassy—to the court of Philip III. of Spain—that the country had ever sent forth. During his stay at the Spanish court, the dignified splendour that characterised the Embassy commanded the admiration and respect of the court and people; and at his departure, Philip made him presents of the estimated value of about £20,000,—thereby exciting the jealousy and displeasure of the far from magnanimous James I. Popularity and influence, enjoyed or exercised independently of himself, were distasteful and offensive to his ungenerous nature. James frequently reminded his nobles at court “that they were there, as little vessels sailing round the master ship; whereas they were in the country so many great ships each riding majestically on its own stream.”

The earl had his enemies, but he regained the confidence of the king, and in 1613 assisted at the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth with Frederick, the Elector Palatine. His last naval service was to command the squadron that escorted the princess to Flushing. The infirmities of age having disqualified him for discharging the onerous duties of the office, he resigned his post of lord high admiral, after a lengthened term of honourable and effective service. The distinguished career of this eminent public man came to a calm and honourable close on the nth December 1624—the earl having reached the advanced age of eighty-eight years.


Martin Frobisher had no “lineage” to boast of; he was of the people. His parents, who had respectable connections, are supposed to have come from North Wales to the neighbourhood of Normanton, Yorkshire, where he was born about the year 1535. Frobisher seems to have taken to the sea from natural inclination. He is said to have been bred to the sea, but had reached the prime of life—about forty years of age—before he came into public notice as a mariner. He must have been a man of mark, and possessed of qualities that commanded confidence. His mother had a brother in London, Sir John York, to whom young Frobisher was sent, and by whom he was probably assisted.


In 1554 he sailed to Guinea in a small squadron of merchant ships under the command of Captain John Lock, and in 1561 had worked his way up to the command of a ship. In 1571 he was employed in superintending the building of a ship at Plymouth, that was intended to be employed against Ireland. For years he had been scheming, planning, and striving to obtain means for an expedition in search of a North-West passage from England to “far Cathay.” He was at last so far successful as to get together an amusingly small squadron for such a daring project. He was placed in command of the Gabriel and the Michael, two small barques of 20 tons each, and a pinnace of 10 tons, with crews of thirty-five men all told, wherewith to encounter the unknown perils of the Arctic seas. Captain Matthew Kindersley was associated with him in the adventure. The expedition sailed from Gravesend on the 7th June 1576, and proceeded northwards by way of the Shetland Islands. The pinnace was lost on the voyage, and the other vessels narrowly escaped wreck in the violent weather encountered off the coast of Greenland, of which Frobisher was the first English discoverer. He reached Labrador 28th July, and effected a landing on Hall’s Island, at the mouth of the bay that bears Frobisher’s name. At Butcher’s Island, where he afterwards landed, five of the crew were captured by the natives, and were never again seen. The adventurers51 took on board samples of earth,—with bright specks supposed to be gold. Compared with subsequent Arctic expeditions, this was a small affair in length of voyage and time occupied,—the mariners reaching home on the 9th October.


Practical mineralogy was in its infancy in those days, and the supposed auriferous earth excited great expectations, but no attempt seems to have been made to find out whether it was or was not what it seemed. Pending analysis, the expedition was considered so far satisfactory and successful, and a Cathay Company was straightway formed under a charter from the Crown. Another expedition was determined upon; the queen lent a ship of 200 tons, and subscribed £1000; Frobisher was appointed High Admiral of all lands and seas he might discover, and was empowered to sail in every direction except east. The squadron consisted of the queen’s ship, the Aid, the Gabriel, and the Michael of last year’s voyage, with pinnaces and boats, and a crew of one hundred and twenty men. The squadron sailed 28th May 1577, and arrived off Greenland in July. More of the supposed precious earth was shipped, and certain inhospitable shores were taken possession of in the queen’s name, but no very notable discoveries were made. An unsuccessful search was made after the five men lost in the previous expedition. The Aid arrived home at Milford Haven on 22nd August, and the52 others later,—one at Yarmouth, and others at Bristol. Although no results had been obtained from the “ore,” yet another and much larger expedition was planned. Frobisher was honoured with the thanks of the queen, who showed great interest in the expeditions. The new fleet consisted of thirteen vessels of various kinds, including two queen’s ships of 400 and 200 tons, with one hundred and fifty men and one hundred and twenty pioneers. For the other ships there was an aggregate crew of two hundred and fifty men. The squadron sailed from Harwich on the 31st May 1578, and reached Greenland 19th June, and Frobisher Bay about a month later. A considerable amount of hitherto unexplored area of land and water was roughly surveyed in this voyage, including a sail of sixty miles up Hudson’s Strait, and more would probably have been done, but for dissensions and discontent among the crews. A vast quantity of the golden (?) earth was shipped, and the expedition returned to England, which was reached in October.


Frobisher’s next public employment was of a different character. In command of the Primrose, he accompanied Drake’s expedition to the West Indies in 1585, and shared in the rich booty of which the Spaniards were spoiled during that cruise. In 1588 Frobisher held a high command, and with his ship, the Triumph, rendered distinguished service in the actions with the55 Spanish Armada. The Triumph was the largest ship in the English fleet, being of about 1000 tons burthen, or the same as the floating wonder of Henry VIII., the Henry Grace à Dieu,—but not so heavily armed. The Henry carried no fewer than one hundred and forty-one guns, whereas the Triumph was armed with only sixty-eight guns. Frobisher proved well worthy of his important command. For his skilful and courageous service, in the series of actions against the Armada, he received the well-earned honour of knighthood, at the hands of the lord high admiral. In 1591 he commanded a small fleet that cruised on the coast of Spain, with hostile and plundering designs. He burned one rich galleon in the course of this cruise, and captured and brought home another. Having got the prize safely disposed of, the gallant old hero answered a summons from the court of Cupid, and, after a short courtship, he led the fair daughter of Lord Wentworth to the altar. The following year, however, he was again afloat in command of a cruising fleet, as successor to Sir Walter Raleigh, who had been recalled.

One of the most important and brilliant actions, among the many in which Sir Martin had taken a leading part, was his next, and, alas! his last,—the taking of Brest from the Spaniards. The place was strong, well armed, and stubbornly defended, with obstinate valour. Sir Martin first attacked from the sea, but, impetuous56 and impatient, was dissatisfied with the result of his cannonade, and, landing his blue-jackets, headed them in a desperate storming assault, which compelled the surrender of the garrison. The surrender cost the assailants a heavy price in the lives of many brave heroes, Sir Martin Frobisher himself, their gallant leader, receiving a musket ball in his side. His wound was unskilfully treated, and he died from its effects at Plymouth two days after the action,—22nd November 1594. His body was conveyed to London, and interred at St. Giles’s, Cripplegate.

Sir Martin Frobisher was a man of great and varied capabilities as a navigator and commander; enthusiastic, enterprising, skilful, manly, and of dauntless valour, but rather rough and despotic, and not possessed of the polished manners, airs, and graces that adorn carpet knights and make men shine in courts.


In the time of Queen Elizabeth it was not unusual for men of the highest rank to devote their private fortunes and their personal services to the advancement of what were considered national interests, with the tacit understanding that the adventurers should consider themselves at liberty to engage in operations fitted to serve their own private interests, concurrently with those of the State. The morals of the time were somewhat lax, and “sea divinity,” as Fuller terms it, was taken to sanction extraordinary transactions in the appropriation and treatment of property, especially such as was owned by the State or the subjects of Spain. To spoil the Spaniards by all and every possible means, seems to58 have been esteemed an object of honourable and patriotic enterprise, in which Sir Francis Drake distinguished himself, as he did also by much nobler and more disinterested service. Thomas Cavendish was a contemporary of Drake, and in his wake plundered the Spaniards, and he also followed him in circumnavigating the globe,—the second Englishman who achieved that feat.

Thomas was a descendant of Sir William Cavendish; he was born at the family mansion, Trimley, Suffolk, about the year 1560. His father died while he was still a minor. Trimley, his birthplace, is situate on the river Orwell, below Ipswich. The locality in which he spent his early days probably induced a liking for the sea.

In April 1585, Cavendish accompanied Sir Richard Grenville in an expedition to Virginia, its object being the establishment of a colony as designed by Sir Walter Raleigh. The colony was a failure, and Drake, as we have related in another place, subsequently brought home the emigrants sent out to form it. Cavendish accompanied the expedition in a ship that had been equipped at his own cost, and acquired considerable nautical experience in the course of the voyage.


On his return to England, Cavendish applied such means as he could command to the equipment of a small squadron with which to commence business as a61 buccaneer. He diligently got together all the existing maps and charts accessible, and, through the influence of Lord Hunsdon, he was so fortunate as to obtain a queen’s commission. The “flag-ship” of Cavendish, admiral and commander, was the Desire, of only 120 tons burthen; the others were, the Content, of 60 tons, and the Hugh Gallant, a barque of 40 tons. The crews consisted of 123 officers, sailors, and soldiers, all told. The expedition sailed from Plymouth on the 21st July 1586. The squadron first touched at Sierra Leone, where they landed, and plundered and burned the town. Having obtained supplies of water, fish, and lemons, the squadron sailed for the coast of America, and reached in 48° S. a harbour on the coast of Patagonia, in which they anchored, and which, in honour of the admiral’s ship, they named Port Desire. Here the crews were enabled to make an agreeable change in the ship’s dietary, by slaughtering the sea-lions and the penguins that abounded on the coast; the flesh of the young sea-lions, after a long course of salt junk, seemed to the sailors equal to lamb or mutton. Towards the end of December the squadron sailed southward for Magellan’s Straits, which were entered on the 6th January 1587. At a short distance from the entrance, lights were seen from the north shore that were supposed to be signals, and on the morning following a boat was sent off for information. Unmistakable signs were made, as the62 shore was approached, by three men waving such substitutes as they could find for flags. It was found that they were the wretched survivors of one of the colonies that the Spaniards had attempted to plant, in order to intercept Drake on his expected return, and to prevent, in the future, any buccaneer from ravaging the coast as he had done. The crops of the perishing colonists had all failed; they were constantly harassed by the natives, subject to unspeakable hardships; out of four hundred men and thirty women landed by Pedro Sarmiento, about seven years before Cavendish’s visit, only fifteen men and three women survived. He offered the poor creatures a passage to Peru. They at first hesitated to trust themselves with the English heretic, but, after brief reflection on the misery and hopelessness of their situation, eagerly accepted the offer,—but unhappily too late. A favourable wind sprang up, of which Cavendish took advantage, and set sail. Concern for the safety of his crew, desire to escape as speedily as possible from the perilous navigation of the Straits, and probably eagerness to make a beginning with the real objects of the expedition—the acquisition of plunder—overbore any pity he may have felt for the wretched colonists, whose heartless abandonment to hopeless misery attached shame and infamy to the Spanish Government responsible for sending them thither, rather than to the bold buccaneer, with no humanitarian pretensions, who had come upon them63 accidentally. He brought off one Spaniard, Tomé Hernandez, who wrote an account of the colony.

On the 24th of February the squadron emerged from the Straits and sailed northwards, reaching the island of Mocha about the middle of March, but not before the little ships had been much knocked about, by weather of extreme violence. The crews landed at several points, and laid the natives under contribution for provisions. They were mistaken for Spaniards, and were in some cases received with undisguised hatred, in others with servility. On the 30th they anchored in the Bay of Quintero, to the north of Valparaiso, which was passed by mistake, without being “tapped.” Notice of the appearance of the suspicious squadron seems to have reached some of the authorities. Hernandez, the Spaniard, was sent ashore to confer with them. On returning, he reported that the English might have what provisions they required. Remaining for a time at their anchorage here, parties were sent ashore for water and such provisions as could be obtained. In one of these visits, the men were suddenly attacked by a party of two hundred horsemen, who cut off, and took prisoners, twelve of the Englishmen. Six of the English prisoners were executed at Santiago as pirates, although, as has been said, with somewhat arrogant indignation, “they sailed with the queen’s commission, and the English were not at open war with Spain.”


Putting again to sea, the adventurers captured near Arica a vessel laden with Spanish treasure. The cargo was appropriated, and the ship—re-named the George—attached to the squadron. Several other small vessels were taken and burned. One of these from Santiago had been despatched to the viceroy, with the intelligence that an English squadron was upon the coast. Before they were taken, they threw the despatches overboard, and Cavendish resorted to the revolting expedient of torture, to extort their contents from his captives. The mode of torture employed was the “thumbikins,” an instrument in which the thumb, by screw or lever power, could be crushed into shapeless pulp. Having got what information he could wring out of his prisoners, Cavendish burned the vessel and took the crew with him. One of them was a Greek pilot, who knew the coast of Chili, and might be useful. After a visit to a small town where supplies were obtained—not by purchase—of bread, wine, poultry, fruit, etc., and some small prizes taken, the adventurers proceeded to Paita, where they landed on the 20th May. The town, consisting of about two hundred houses, was regularly built and very clean. The inhabitants were driven out, and the town burned to the ground. Cavendish would not allow his men to carry away as much as they could, as he expected they would need a free hand to resist a probable attack. After wrecking the town and burning a ship in the65 harbour, the squadron again sailed northwards, and anchored in the harbour of the island of Puna. The Indian chief, who lived in a luxuriously furnished palace, surrounded by beautiful gardens, and the other inhabitants had fled, carrying as many of their valuables with them as possible. The English visitors sank a Spanish ship of 250 tons that was in the harbour, burned down a fine large church, and brought away the bells.


On the 2nd June, before weighing anchor at Puna, a party of Cavendish’s men, strolling about and foraging, was suddenly attacked by about one hundred armed Spaniards. Seven of the Englishmen were killed, three were made prisoners, two were drowned, and eight escaped. To avenge this attack, Cavendish landed with as powerful a force as he could muster, drove out the Spaniards, burned the town and four ships that were building; he also destroyed the gardens and orchards, and committed as much havoc generally as was in his power. Again proceeding northwards to Rio Dolce, he sent some Indian captives ashore, and sank the Hugh Gallant, the crew of which he needed for the manning of the other two ships. On the 9th July a new ship of 120 tons was taken; the sails and ropes were appropriated, and the ship burned. A Frenchman, taken in this vessel, gave valuable information respecting a Manilla ship, then expected from the66 Philippines. The record of the proceedings of the squadron continues most inglorious, including the burning of the town, the church, and the custom-house of Guatulco; the burning of two new ships at Puerto de Navidad; capturing three Spanish families, a carpenter, a Portuguese, and a few Indians,—the carpenter and the Portuguese only being kept for present and future use. On the 12th September the adventurers reached the island of St. Andrew, where a store of wood and of dried and salted wild-fowl was laid in, and the sailors, failing other supply, had a fresh meat change in cooking the iguanas, which were found more palatable, than inviting in appearance. Towards the end of September the fleet put into the Bay of Mazattan, where the ships were careened, and water was taken in. During October the fleet cruised, in wait for the expected prize, not far wide of Cape St. Lucas. On the 4th November a sail was sighted, which proved to be the Santa Anna, which was overtaken after some hours’ chase, and promptly attacked. The Spaniards resisted with determination and courage, although they had no more effective means of defence than stones, which they hurled at the boarders, from behind such defective shelters as they could improvise. Two separate accounts of the action have been preserved, both written by adventurers who were present. After receiving a volley of stones from the defenders, one 69narrator proceeds: “We new-trimmed our sails and67 fitted every man his furniture, and gave them a fresh encounter with our great ordnance, and also with our small-shot, raking them through and through, to the killing and wounding of many of their men. Their captain, still like a valiant man with his company, stood very stoutly in close fights, not yielding as yet. Our general, encouraging his men afresh, with the whole voice of trumpets, gave them the other encounter with our great ordnance and all our small-shot, to the great discouragement of our enemies,—raking them through in divers places, killing and wounding many of their men. They being thus discouraged and spoiled, and their ship being in hazard of sinking by reason of the great shot which were made, whereof some were made under water, within five or six hours’ fight, sent out a flag of truce, and parleyed for mercy, desiring our general to save their lives and take their goods, and that they would presently yield. Our general, of his goodness, promised them mercy, and called to them to strike their sails, and to hoist out their boat and come on board; which news they were full glad to hear of, and presently struck their sails and hoisted out their boat, and one of their chief merchants came on board unto our general, and, falling down upon his knees, offered to have kissed our general’s feet, and craved mercy.” It is satisfactory that this craven submission was not made by the commander of the Santa Anna, who must have been a noble hero to70 stand out, almost without arms of any kind, against the “great ordnance and small-shot” of his enemy for five or six hours. The narrator proceeds: “Our general graciously pardoned both him and the rest, upon promise of their true-dealing(!) with him and his company concerning such riches as were in the ship, and sent for their captain and pilot, who, at their coming, used the like duty and reverence as the former did. The general, out of his great mercy and humanity, promised their lives and good usage.”

Cavendish and his crews must have been getting rather disgusted with their hard and bitter experiences up to the time they fell in with the Santa Anna. They were about sixteen months out from Plymouth; had been much knocked about; had destroyed a great deal of property, but had acquired very little. The Santa Anna compensated for all their hardships and disappointments. It was a ship of 700 tons burthen, the property of the King of Spain, and carried one of the richest cargoes that had ever floated up to that time. It had on board 122,000 pesos of gold, i.e. as many ounces of the precious metal, with a cargo of the finest silks, satins, damasks, wine, preserved fruits, musk, spices, etc. The ship carried a large number of passengers, with the most luxurious provision for their accommodation and comfort. The captors entered with alacrity upon the unrestrained enjoyment of luxuries such71 as many of them had never known before. Cavendish carried his prize into a bay within Cape St. Lucas, where he landed the crew and passengers,—about one hundred and ninety in all. He allowed them a supply of water, a part of the ship’s stores, some wine, and the sails of the dismantled prize to construct tents for shelter. He gave arms to the men to enable them to defend their company against the natives. He also allowed them some planks wherewith to build a raft, or such craft as they might be able to construct for their conveyance to the mainland. Among the passengers were two Japanese youths, both of whom could read and write their own language. There were also three boys from Manilla, one of whom, on the return of the expedition to England, was presented to the Countess of Essex,—such an attendant being at that time considered evidence of almost regal life and splendour. These youths, with a Portuguese who had been in Canton, the Philippines, and Japan, with a Spanish pilot, Cavendish took with him.

Much anger and discontent were excited in connection with the division of the spoils, especially among the crew of the Content, who thought Cavendish took more than a fair share for himself and the company of the Desire—his own ship. The threatened mutiny was, however, suppressed, and a grand gala was held on the queen’s day—17th November, with eating and drinking,72 firing of guns, and a display of fireworks, with as a grand set-piece the blazing Santa Anna, with all of her precious cargo on board that the captors could not carry away with them. They left the ship burned down to the water’s edge. After they left the burning ship, the fire providentially freed the wreck from the anchors, and the flood-tide carried her still burning into the bay. The abandoned company were happily enabled to extinguish the flames, and to save so much of the hull as with some fitting furnished them with a means of escape from the inhospitable shore upon which they had been cast.

After leaving Cape St. Lucas, the Content fell behind, and was never again seen by Cavendish, who set sail to cross the Pacific by a course not very widely different from that taken by Drake.

In January 1588, Cavendish reached the Ladrone Islands, a few miles from which an incident occurred that does not redound to his credit. A fleet of fifty or more canoes surrounded the Desire with cargoes of fish, potatoes, plantains, etc., to exchange them, as they had been accustomed to do with the Spaniards, for pieces of iron. The islanders were importunate and rather troublesome, and, to get rid of them, “our general” and five of his men fired a volley into them. The savages were so expert as divers and swimmers that the sportsmen could not tell how many they killed. These73 natives were of tawny colour, tall, stout, and naked. Their canoes, six or seven yards in length, but very narrow, were admirably made, and had carved figureheads. They had square and triangular sails of a cloth made from rushes.

On the voyage, while in the vicinity of the Philippines, an important secret oozed out. The Portuguese taken from the Santa Anna let it be known that the Spanish pilot had prepared a letter to be secretly conveyed to the governor at Manilla, explaining how the Desire might be surprised and overpowered. The Spaniard was summarily hanged for his patriotism. The further course of the homeward voyage was from Manilla to the Moluccas, passed about the middle of February; Java; the Cape of Good Hope; St. Helena, in June; to Plymouth, which was reached on the 9th September 1588; Cavendish’s circumnavigation of the globe—the third that had been accomplished—having been made in two years and fifty days, a considerably shorter time than had been occupied by either Magellan and his successors or Sir Francis Drake,—but mere speed in getting back to a home port had not been an object with either of the three distinguished navigators.

Accounts differ as to the style in which Cavendish made his return entry into Plymouth. According to one account, he encountered, for four days, a violent storm in the Channel, from which the tempest-tossed74 adventurers happily escaped, and, says N. H., “on 10th September 1588, like wearied men, through the favour of the Almighty, we got into Plymouth, where the townsmen received us with all humanity.” Anyway, his arrival, like that of Drake before him, caused a great sensation at Plymouth.


Cavendish was received as a hero, and appeared to consider himself worthy of his fame and the honours conferred upon him. He had acquired great wealth, albeit dishonestly, and his exploits had been distinguished in many instances by wanton outrage and gratuitous destruction of life and property. He, however, appeared to be unconscious of having done anything to be ashamed of, and probably held in accord with those avowed by the Rev. Dr. Thos. Fuller, prebendary of Sarum, who, as apologist for Sir Francis Drake’s piratical performances, considered that “his case was clear in sea divinity; and few are such infidels as not to believe doctrines which make for their own profit.” In a letter to his patron, Lord Hunsdon, he writes: “It hath pleased Almighty God to suffer me to circumpass the whole globe of the world, entering in at the Strait of Magellan, and returning by the Cape de Buena Esperança; in which voyage I have either discovered or brought certain intelligence of all the rich places in the world, which were ever discovered by any Christian. I navigated along the77 coast of Chili, Peru, and New Spain, where I made great spoils. I burned and sank nineteen ships, small and great. All the villages and towns that ever I landed at I burned and spoiled; and had I not been discovered upon the coast, I had taken great quantity of treasure. The matter of most profit unto me was a great ship of the king’s which I took at California, which ship came from the Philippines, being one of the richest of merchandise that ever passed those seas. From the Cape of California, being the uttermost part of all New Spain, I navigated to the islands of the Philippines, hard upon the coast of China, of which country I have brought such intelligence as hath not been heard of in these parts; the stateliness and riches of which country [China] I fear to make report of, lest I should not be credited. I found out by the way homeward the island of Santa Helena; and from that island God hath suffered me to return unto England. All which services, with myself, I humbly prostrate at Her Majesty’s feet, desiring the Almighty long to continue her reign amongst us; for at this day she is the most famous and victorious princess that liveth in the world.” Although Cavendish contributed comparatively little to the sum of geographical knowledge by accurate reports of any original discoveries he had made, apart from the moral aspect of the principal incidents in his career, he was indisputably a remarkable man, and rarely since the78 world began has a young man of only twenty-eight years achieved such a record as he had done, at the end of his circumnavigation, illustrative of daring bravery, indomitable perseverance, and manly endurance.

The wealth with which Cavendish returned was considered sufficient to have bought “a fair earldom”; but it was not to his taste to settle, or found a family. His expedition had been undertaken to repair his shattered fortunes, and had done so satisfactorily, but it was probably “light come, light go” with him. The treasure of the Santa Anna had been put into “a bag with holes,” and what did not run through was providently applied by Cavendish to fitting out another expedition on an extended scale, which it was expected would do a much larger business, and prove even a more pronounced success than the last. The new squadron consisted of “three tall ships” and two pinnaces,—the galleon Leicester, in which Cavendish sailed; the Desire, his old ship, commanded by Captain John Davis; the Roebucke, the Black Pinnace, and the Daintie. The expedition sailed from Plymouth on 26th August 1591, which was from the beginning a series of dreary, unrelieved misery and disaster. The Straits of Magellan were reached in April 1592, and passed through about half-way. Disagreements arose among the crews, and Cavendish seemed to have lost his power of command. He determined to return to Santos. The ships79 parted company, and the last notice of Cavendish in the homeward voyage of the Leicester is his own notice of the death of his cousin John Locke in 8° N. latitude. Cavendish is supposed to have died on board a few days later, the victim of grief and disappointment. While tossed about in the Desire after the ships had parted company, Captain Davis was, on the 14th August 1592, “driven in among certain islands never before discovered by any known relation, lying fifty leagues or better off the shore, east and northerly from the Straits.” These were the Falkland Islands, of which Captain Davis has certainly the honour of being the original discoverer, although the discovery has been claimed by Sir Richard Hawkins, and certain foreign navigators.1 Several more or less complete accounts of this last80 disastrous voyage of Cavendish have been preserved; one of them, drawn up at sea by himself, is a most affecting and depressing narrative. In this account he writes: “We had been almost four months between the coast of Brazil and the Straits, being in distance not above six hundred leagues, which is commonly run in twenty or thirty days; but such was the adverseness of our fortune, that in coming thither we spent the summer, and found the Straits in the beginning of a most extreme winter, not endurable for Christians. After the month of May was come in, nothing but such flights of snow, and extremity of frosts, as in all my life I never saw any to be compared with them. This extremity caused the weak men to decay; for, in seven or eight days in this extremity, there died forty men and sickened seventy, so that there were not fifteen men able to stand upon the hatches.” Mr. John Lane, a friend of Captain Davis, writing of their experiences in the middle of “charming May,” says: “In this time we endured extreme storms, with perpetual snow, where many of our men died of cursed famine and miserable cold, not having wherewith to cover their bodies nor to fill their stomachs, but living by mussels, water, and weeds of the sea, with a small relief from the ship’s stores of meal sometimes.” He makes the shocking disclosure that “all the sick men in the galleon” (Cavendish’s ship) “were most uncharitably put on shore into the woods, in the snow, wind, and81 cold, when men of good health could scarcely endure it, where they ended their lives in the highest degree of misery.”

1 Captain John Davis achieved in this early age deserved celebrity as a navigator and discoverer. He made three voyages, under the sanction and authority of the English Government, in search of a North-West passage to the Pacific. In the first, in 1585, he pushed his way round the southern end of Greenland, across the strait that from then until now has borne his name—Davis Strait—and along the coast of what is now known as Baffin’s Land, to the Cape of God’s Mercy, which he thus named in the belief that his task was virtually accomplished. In the second voyage, 1586, he made little further progress; in the third, 1587, he reached the entrance to the strait afterwards explored by, and named after, Hudson. Davis, after other important nautical services, was, when on his return from the East Indies, killed by pirates off the coast of Malacca. Davis was an author as well as a navigator.

Anthropology, natural history, or other scientific subjects, had no attractions for the adventurers, whose attention, and such powers as were left with them, were absorbed in their conflicts with storm and tempest, cold, hunger, and nakedness. After parting company they never again reunited, or in any of the separated ships made any attempt to carry out the objects of the expedition. Almost all perished miserably. It is stated that Davis, whom Cavendish charged with treachery and desertion, did all that was possible to find and rejoin his leader, but without success. Long after the separation of the fleet, Davis returned to Port Desire, and three times attempted unsuccessfully to pass through the Straits in search for Cavendish. Davis and a few more survived their terrible hardships. Out of a crew of seventy-six men who sailed from England, only a remnant of fifteen lived to return with Davis, in misery and weakness so great that they could neither “take in or heave out a saile.” Davis, with the distressed survivors, arrived off Bearhaven, Ireland, on 11th June 1593, fully a year after the death and burial of Cavendish at sea.

Cavendish was far from faultless. He was passionate and impetuous, and was still young at the end of his82 adventurous life. He was a University man, a bred aristocrat, a courtier, with a contempt for humanitarian doctrines and practices. Society, as it was constituted then, has to share the blame of his excesses, and especially his recklessness of human life. It was a comparatively venial offence in those days to fire into a crowd of South Sea Islanders with as little hesitation as if they had been a flock of wild ducks. His high spirit, courage, and intrepidity are, however, indisputable.


Endowed with a rare combination of high qualities and capability, Sir Walter Raleigh may be pronounced one of the most distinguished men of the Elizabethan era. He approved himself a brave soldier, an intrepid sailor, and a thorough disciplinarian; in other directions he was a learned scholar, a profound philosopher, an eloquent orator, and an elegant courtier.

Raleigh’s family traced its lineage from before the Conquest, and Walter could claim descent from, and connection with, three of the best Devonshire houses—the Gilberts, the Carews, and the Champernouns. His father, Walter Raleigh the elder, was the second husband of Catherine, daughter of Sir Philip Champernoun of Modbury. By a former husband, Otto Gilbert, this84 lady had two sons, Humphrey and Adrian, destined to distinguish themselves as navigators and colonists, with whom Walter Raleigh was intimately associated in their enterprises.

Walter Raleigh was born, according to Camden, in 1552, at Hayes Barton, East Budleigh, a farmstead in Devonshire, pleasantly situated near the coast.

Information touching Raleigh’s education and the early part of his life is vague and meagre, few facts being on record concerning him prior to 1569, when, it is stated, he left Oxford, where he was first a resident at Christ Church, from which he removed to Oriel. It is supposed that he commenced at Oxford his acquaintance with Sir Philip Sydney, Hakluyt, and Camden.

Camden states, in his Annales, that Raleigh was one of a hundred gentlemen volunteers who proceeded to France with Henry Champernoun, Raleigh’s cousin, to the assistance of the Huguenots. The service of the English contingent appears to have commenced about the end of the year 1569. References are made by Raleigh in his History of the World to the Huguenot troubles, and his own connection with them; amongst others, to the conduct of the Protestants at the battle of Jarnac, after the death of the Prince of Condé; and to the retreat at Moncontour, of which he was an eye-witness. It is conjectured that Raleigh spent about six years in France in active service.




It has been discovered by modern historians that in 1577 Raleigh was attached in some capacity to Queen Elizabeth’s court, and that he was also “of the Middle Temple,” but whether called to the Bar, or only lodging in the Temple, or “eating his terms,” is not certain. He had reached vigorous manhood, was twenty-five years of age, of cultivated mind, active temperament, enterprising and ambitious. He was familiar with the exploits of Hawkins and Drake, and was probably fired by the romance of the Spanish Indies. His half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, had made several voyages to the Gulf of Mexico and the country afterwards called Virginia in honour of Queen Elizabeth, and it has been considered probable that on one or more occasions Walter was his companion. It is known that he was with Gilbert in an unfortunate expedition to the St. Lawrence in 1578. In the following year he was committed to the Fleet prison for a violent difference with another courtier. He was released after a short confinement, however, and in the same year was stopped when in the act of starting on a piratical expedition against Spain.

At the close of 1579 the Spanish Catholics invaded Ireland. The invading expedition, which came from Ferrol, first landed at Dingle, but not feeling so secure there as they desired, they sailed four miles farther west to Senerwick Bay, and built there the Fort del Ore, upon88 a sandy isthmus, from which the invaders thought they might easily, if pressed, escape to sea. The Earl of Desmond and the Geraldines coalesced with their foreign co-religionists, casting off their allegiance to Elizabeth. Raleigh was sent to take part with the force then in Ireland upholding the queen’s power, and to assist in exterminating the invaders.

Raleigh left London in January 1580, with one hundred foot soldiers. At the Isle of Wight they were transferred into ships of the queen’s fleet. On the 22nd February, Raleigh wrote from Cork to Lord Burghley, giving an account of his voyage. His arrival was welcome, and timely, to his friend Sir Warham Saint Leger, who was holding Cork with great difficulty, with an insufficient garrison of only forty Englishmen.

It does not appear that Raleigh entered at once upon active duty, as his pay only begins July 13, 1580; he probably served, however, irrespective of this circumstance. In August he was associated with Saint Leger, provost-marshal of Munster, in a commission to try the younger brother of the Earl of Desmond, whom they sentenced to be hung.

In August, Lord Grey of Wilton arrived in Dublin, to relieve Pelham of the chief command in Ireland. He had with him the afterwards famous poet, Edmund Spenser, as his secretary. Raleigh remained in Ireland, and thus were brought together two of the most gifted89 men of their time; they naturally, as they became known to each other, entered into a close friendship.

In the operations for the suppression of the rebellion that followed, Raleigh took an active and influential part, and was for a time practically governor of Munster. There was much hard work in the campaign, and considerable scope for dash and military capability, which Raleigh exhibited in a high degree, but there was little “glory” to be derived from skirmishes, raids, and forays, or from scouring the woods and ravines for hunted rebels, and it must have been a welcome relief to Raleigh when a summons from London, to which he returned in December 1581, put an end to his military service in Ireland. An established reputation for military prowess had preceded him.

Raleigh, as before stated, was attached in some capacity to the court in 1577, but had not then entered into personal relations, or become a favourite, with the queen, who reappointed him a captain to serve in Ireland, but decreed in connection with the appointment,—“That our pleasure is that the said [Irish] land be, in the meantime, till he [Raleigh] repair into that Our realm, delivered to some such as he shall depute to be his lieutenant there.” “For that he is, for some considerations, by Us excused to stay here.” The Duc d’Alençon, who had at this time come from France to woo the queen, was not very favourably spoken of90 by Her Majesty. He served probably as a foil to manly, handsome Raleigh, who was now about thirty years of age, and described as “having a good presence in a well-compacted person; a strong natural wit, and a better judgment; with a bold and plausible tongue, whereby he could set out his parts to the best advantage.” He was “about six feet in height, with dark hair and a high colour, a facial expression of great brightness, personable from the virile force of his figure, and illustrating these attractions by a splendid taste in dress. His clothes were at all times noticeably gorgeous; and to the end of his life his person was commonly bedizened with jewels to his very shoes.” The sprightly soldier-poet never lost his decided Devonshire accent, which his royal mistress liked rather than otherwise. For several years he basked in the almost perfectly unclouded sunshine of her smiles, and received openly many distinguishing marks of the queen’s favour. Old writers give some interesting illustrations of the little passages of wit and gallantry that marked their intercourse. On one occasion, it is related, when the queen, with Raleigh in attendance, had to alight from her carriage into a puddle,—roads were bad in those days,—the gay cavalier whipt off his dainty cloak of silk plush, and spread it out as a foot-cloth to protect her feet from the mud. The sacrifice of the cloak was highly appreciated, and proved to have been—although,91 perhaps, not so designed on Raleigh’s part—an excellent investment.

The personal intimacy and intercourse between the queen and Raleigh were as close as was permissible between a sovereign and a subject. Had the queen given the Duc d’Alençon half the encouragement she gave to Raleigh, his suit would have ended in a royal wedding. Sir Walter did not dare, probably, to make the queen an offer of his heart and hand, but he did not fail to give her an “inkling” concerning his feelings. On a pane in the window of her boudoir or other apartment, he wrote with his diamond ring—

“Fain would I climb, but that I fear to fall.”

His royal inamorata, holding probably that “there is much virtue in an ‘if,’” replied—

“If thy heart fail thee, then climb not at all.”

Raleigh did not go to Ireland to take over from his lieutenant command of the company of infantry of which he was the nominal commander, but had a confidential place by the queen’s side, and was her counsellor in divers weighty matters.

In 1583, Raleigh came into possession, through the queen’s favour, of the estates of Stolney and Newland, formerly possessions of All Souls’ College, Oxford. He was also favoured with letters patent for the “Farm of Wines,” afterwards one of the principal sources of his92 wealth. Under this grant each vintner throughout the kingdom had to pay twenty shillings a year for a licence to sell wines. The grant also included a share to Raleigh of fines accruing to the Crown, under previously existing wine statutes. From his wine trade emoluments Raleigh realised at one period about £2000 a year, equivalent to about £12,000 of our money. From certain causes the amount of his receipts from this source declined, and he afterwards resigned his patent to James I. for £1000 per annum.

Meantime, Raleigh’s half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, had been making, at great cost, persevering attempts to establish a colony or colonies in North America, but unfortunately without success. Gilbert had obtained a charter for his colonisation project extending for six years from 1578. After repeated failures of his enterprises, particularly in 1579, he gave up, for a time at least, their further prosecution, and lent three of his ships to the Government for service on the coast of Ireland.


Raleigh had always befriended his courageous relative, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and now used all his court influence in his favour. His charter was about to expire. The queen was much importuned to renew it, and reluctantly did so, but refusing permission to her favourite, Raleigh, to take part personally in the enterprise. He expended, however, a large sum in aid of the95 fresh expedition to North America, which Sir Humphrey was resolved to undertake. One of the five ships that constituted the fleet—the Ark Raleigh—was built and fitted out entirely by Sir Walter, at a cost of £2000. The expedition sailed June 11th, 1583, and met with a series of disasters, including the death of its resolute and gallant commander. In this expedition Newfoundland was touched at, and taken possession of by Gilbert in the queen’s name.

Undismayed by Humphrey Gilbert’s repeated and disastrous failures, Raleigh continued to believe in the ultimate success of these American colonisation schemes, and he induced the queen to renew the charter, to which the parties were Raleigh himself, as chief; Adrian Gilbert, a younger brother of Sir Humphrey; and John Davis, a courageous and experienced navigator. These three were incorporated as representing “The College of the Fellowship for the Discovery of the North-West Passage.” Realisation of the queen’s dream, and desire after a shorter route via the north-west to China, was the professed object of the adventurers, but Raleigh was careful to secure subsidiary material advantages, and the charter gave full powers to the adventurers to inhabit or retain, build or fortify, at Raleigh’s discretion, any remote lands that he might find hitherto unoccupied by any Christian power.

Raleigh was financier and managing director, but not96 the personal conductor of the next American expedition. In April 1584 a small fleet sailed for the West, under the command of Captains Amadas and Barlow. In May they passed the Canaries; in June they fell in with the Bahama Islands. While still far out at sea, delicate odours, sweet as those of “Araby the blest,” were wafted to them from Florida, at which they touched; thereafter sailing northwards, they landed at, and, in name of the queen, annexed the islands then called Roanoke and Wokoken, with the mainland adjacent. In honour of Queen Elizabeth, the newly-annexed country was named Virginia. An ancient writer pronounces the name appropriate, from the country having been discovered in the reign of the Virgin Queen, and also because the country seemed “to retain the virgin purity and plenty of the first creation, and the people their primitive innocence.” Early in 1585 Raleigh sent out a second expedition to Virginia under Sir Richard Grenville; others were afterwards sent, and, under Ralph Lane, settled for a time on Roanoke, but failed to succeed as settlers, or to justify the sanguine expectations of Raleigh, who was by this time very rich, and could well afford to carry out his costly colonisation hobby. He was also befriended by a success that befell his lieutenant, Sir Richard Grenville, who, in returning to England, fell in with a treasure-laden Spanish ship of an estimated value of97 £50,000, which he captured and brought safely into Plymouth.

In addition to his other rich privileges and possessions, the queen granted to Raleigh a liberty to export broadcloth. This fresh mark of royal favour was disapproved by Lord Burghley, who estimated the increase to Raleigh’s income from the woollen broadcloth trade at the equivalent of £18,000 of our present money. It is to be said for Sir Walter that his enormous wealth was not wasted in vice and debauchery, although personal ambition had probably a good deal to do in directing his expenditure. He probably aspired to the creation of a state in the West, with himself as its chief, that for riches, dignity, and power, would excel the possessions of Spain. His were not the views or aims of the mere grubber after lucre for its own sake, or for his own personal aggrandisement. He was not indifferent to any promise the newly-found region might give of pearls or precious metals, but was equally solicitous concerning its useful mineral, vegetable, and animal products, and he appointed Mr. Thomas Hariot, an able scientific and practical man, commissioner to collect trustworthy information.

At this time, 1584, Raleigh was very much in close attendance on the queen, at one or other of her palaces, at Greenwich or Windsor. His own residence was in the then rural village of Islington. The immense98 revenue derived from his wine and broadcloth businesses enabled him to indulge in such a scale of expenditure as could only be incurred by a merchant prince or other opulent personage. He leased from the queen, Durham House, situated on the river, in the locality now known as the Adelphi. This was a vast palace, occupied at one time by the bishops of Durham, and afterwards by Queen Elizabeth herself. This stately building was Raleigh’s town house from 1584 to 1603.

In the year 1584, or the year following, Raleigh was knighted, and advanced to various high dignities. He was appointed Lord Warden of the Stannaries, Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, Vice-Admiral of Cornwall and Devon, and he entered Parliament, as one of the two members for Devonshire. He was no carpet knight or mere sinecurist, but to the utmost of his ability discharged faithfully the duties devolving upon him in these various offices, personally as far as possible, or by competent deputies. As Warden of the Stannaries he effected important reforms that greatly mitigated the hardships of the Cornish miners. His discrimination, judgment, and resolution fitted him admirably for judge, and director of administration of the affairs that came within his jurisdiction.

Raleigh’s Virginian colony came to an inglorious end in 1586, but he was successful in another less creditable enterprise. He had sent a small fleet for undisguised99 predatory purposes to the Azores, that did good business. Its commander captured and brought to England a Spanish noble, Don Pedro Sarmiento, a colonial governor. While his ransom was being collected, Raleigh entertained his illustrious guest in splendid style in his grand town house. In 1587, Raleigh took possession of vast estates in Ireland, assigned to his charge by the queen, as gentleman-undertaker; they were part of the escheated lands of the Earl of Esmond, and embraced forty-two thousand acres in the counties of Cork, Waterford, and Tipperary. He did his best to re-people the desolate regions, and brought over many West of England farmers and farm labourers, but his energetic and well-meant efforts met with only partial success.

Up to this time, 1587, Raleigh had been first favourite with the queen, who had showered wealth and influence upon him. The queen had now, however, other flutterers around her in addition to Raleigh. In 1587 one appeared on the scene, who seemed likely to cut them all out. The queen had reached the mature age of fifty-four years; the young Earl of Essex, the new royal favourite, was only twenty. Essex hated “that knave Raleigh,” as he designated him, and did all he could to make mischief between the queen and her favourite.

Turning to affairs more worthy of Raleigh’s nature and powers, the public offices he held necessitated his100 frequent and rapid movements from one distant locality to another, and withdrew him from court connection and intrigues. His interest in his Virginian enterprise had never flagged. A third expedition he had despatched had proved disastrous; in May 1587 he sent out another, under Captain John White. Another still, under Sir Richard Grenville, that attempted to follow, was stopped by Government at Bideford. Undismayed and resolute, Raleigh sent out from Bideford, in April 1588, two pinnaces, with help to the unfortunate colonists. These fell into the hands of privateers, and returned to England stripped and helpless. Raleigh had up to this time used the most strenuous endeavours, and had spent a princely fortune, in his attempt to found an American colony, but he was unaided by court or other influence, and public affairs now required the application of his energies in another direction. The advent of the “invincible Spanish Armada” was at hand. Raleigh was one of the nine commissioners appointed to consider the best means of resisting the threatened invasion; two of his captains, Sir Richard Grenville and Ralph Lane, were also on the commission, which implies that Sir Walter was an important factor in determining the most important national affairs. In anticipation of the arrival of the Armada he made all necessary preparations for defence, and for assistance in attack, in relation to the counties under his charge, as vice-admiral. He also directed101 preparations to resist invasion on the east coast—notably at Norfolk. In resistance of the Armada, and assistance in its pursuit and destruction, Raleigh took a prominent part. His ship was amongst those that chased the distressed Spanish galleons northwards. In proof that he had rendered important service in connection with the memorable events, it may be mentioned that on September 5th, 1588, to Raleigh and Drake were consigned equal numbers of wealthy Spanish prisoners, whose ransoms were to be the reward of the achievements of these commanders. Raleigh so distinguished himself in the actions with the Armada by his skill in naval tactics, and his genius for rapid action, as to excite the admiration of Lord Howard, High Admiral, who ever after treated him as a recognised authority in important naval affairs.

In 1589, Raleigh leased his patent rights, title, and interest in the Virginia Colony to a company of merchants, reserving only a royalty upon gold and silver ore that might be raised in the colony. It is not recorded that he ever received profit from this reservation, or from his costly efforts to colonise Virginia, extending over thirteen years. In the settlement of America by Europeans he was the unpaid pioneer. After the defeat of the Armada, Raleigh continued actively occupied in the direction of important schemes in Devonshire, Cornwall, Ireland, and other parts of the kingdom, and was102 interested also in some privateering enterprises for which the King of Spain—“the natural enemy of England”—and the Armada were convenient covering and excuse. Raleigh’s rovers were not particular as to nationality of vessels attacked; they sacked the English ship Angel Gabriel of a cargo of wine, and took sack and sugar and mace from other vessels, without assurance that these were only reprisals against the Spaniards.

In 1589, Raleigh was associated with Sir Francis Drake in an expedition to restore Dom Antonio to the throne of Portugal, from which he had been ousted by Philip of Spain. Raleigh proceeded with the force up to the walls of Lisbon. The object of the expedition was not achieved, but a good deal of plunder was secured in its course,—Raleigh’s share amounting to £4000. Some of the ships engaged were Raleigh’s own property, amongst them the afterwards famous Revenge, the Crane, and the Garland. These ships were employed as merchantmen or men-of-war, as circumstances might require or interest suggest. The sort of public service they rendered, led to the exploits of their owners and crews being judged with a considerable degree of indulgence by the national authorities, who sometimes overlooked acts of piracy, and in some instances appropriated the proceeds. Raleigh’s men were on this occasion so rash and inconsiderate as to capture two French barques, which brought a sharp reprimand upon105 Sir Walter, because France and England were at that time at peace with each other. In some cases the cargo of the privateers was “taken over” wholesale by the authorities.


The Earl of Essex, as a courtier and an admirer, had a great advantage over Raleigh, thus so much out of the queen’s sight,—and he made the most of it to his rival’s disadvantage. In August 1589, a contemporary writes, “My Lord of Essex hath chased Mr. Raleigh from the court, and hath confined him to Ireland”; but Raleigh contradicted the rumour of his disgrace. However this may have been, he proceeded to Ireland in 1589, and resided in his own house at Youghal,—his most intimate friends and neighbours there being his cousin, Sir George Carew, who lived at Lismore, and the poet, Edmund Spenser, who had been rewarded for his services, as Clerk of the Council of Munster, with a gift of a manor and ruined castle, Kilcolman, formerly the property of the rebel Desmonds. With Spenser, Raleigh had much close, pleasant, sympathetic intercourse. Much of Spenser’s admirable poetical work was done during his comparative seclusion at Kilcolman, and there Raleigh also, perturbed though his life had been, and unfavourable to cultivation of the muses, exercised his extraordinary literary powers. Spenser had nearly completed his great poem, The Faery Queen, the MS. of which was read by Raleigh, who in turn submitted to106 the friendly criticism of Spenser his Lamentable Lay, a eulogy on Queen Elizabeth, under the name of Cynthia. Mr. Edmund Gosse, as a result of the most searching inquiry into the circumstances and evidence, touching the intercourse between Raleigh and Spenser at this time, says that the evidence is conclusive that Raleigh had then written a poem or poems which Spenser “set on a level with the best works of the age, in verse.”

But Raleigh was an energetic man of business as well as a poet, a man of action more than of dreams, and, during his residence in Ireland, he did much in various ways to promote the material prosperity of the people. He defended the rights of the merchants of Waterford and Wexford, and encouraged their export trade in barrel staves by putting two of his own ships to a regular service between Waterford and the Canaries. Traces of his beneficent work in Munster still remain. Sir John Pope Hennessy says:—

“The richly perfumed wallflowers that he brought to Ireland from the Azores, and the Affane cherry, are still found where he first planted them by the Blackwater. Some cedars he brought to Cork are to this day growing at a place called Tivoli. He also introduced a number of plants, before unknown in England,—among others, the potato, which has had such an influence—for good or evil—on the destinies of Ireland and many other107 countries,—and the tobacco plant, which was not much approved by the queen, and which he had to use very privately. The four venerable yew-trees, whose branches have grown and intermingled into a sort of summer-house thatch, are pointed out as having sheltered Raleigh, when he first smoked tobacco in his Youghal garden. In that garden he also planted tobacco.... A few steps farther on, where the town-wall of the thirteenth century bounds the walls of the gardens of the Warden’s house, is the famous spot where the first Irish potato was planted by him. In that garden he gave the tubers to the ancestor of the present Lord Southwell, by whom they were spread throughout the province of Munster.”

Such were some of the precious gifts brought by Raleigh’s wisely-instructed and zealous agents from across the Atlantic, and conferred by the enlightened patriot upon his country—boons of infinitely greater value than the plate and pearls of which the Spaniards were deprived by the early English rovers.

About the end of 1589 Raleigh returned to England, taking Spenser with him, whom he introduced to the queen, and he was instrumental in obtaining for him, as the first poet-laureate, a pension of £50 a year. Spenser’s Faery Queen was published by royal command.

“The supplementary letter and sonnets to Raleigh108 express Spenser’s generous recognition of the services his friend had performed for him, and appeal to Raleigh, as ‘the Summer Nightingale, thy sovereign goddess’s most dear delight,’ not to delay in publishing his own great poem, the Cynthia. The first of the eulogistic pieces prefixed by friends to the Faery Queen was that noble and justly celebrated sonnet signed W. R., which alone would justify Raleigh in taking a place among the English poets.”—Gosse, p. 49.

In 1591, Raleigh’s first published work appeared, being an account of the battle of the Azores, between the Revenge and an armada of the King of Spain. Raleigh sets forth enthusiastically the valour of his gallant and faithful friend, Sir Richard Grenville, as displayed in this contest, one of the most famous in English history, in which Grenville, with one ship containing one hundred men, stood to his guns against a fleet manned by fifteen thousand Spaniards. He ably vindicated Grenville’s conduct, and following historians are agreed that this action was “memorable even beyond credit, and to the height of some heroical fable.” This report has been highly praised by competent critics as attaining the highest level reached by English narrative prose up to the period at which it was written.

About this time, 1591, Raleigh received another valuable gift from the queen, in a long lease of Sherborne, an estate in Dorsetshire, formerly the possession109 of the dean and chapter of Salisbury. This was, for the future, Raleigh’s favourite country residence.

An expedition was planned at this time that seemed to promise additional wealth and honours to Raleigh. Its objects were to capture the rich fleet of Indian plate-ships, and to take possession of the pearl fisheries of Panama, or to rifle the pearl treasuries. The queen sanctioned and aided the project, and Raleigh threw his whole fortune into it. He was to be admiral of the fleet of fifteen sail, and the chief adventurer, with Sir Martin Frobisher as second in command. The fleet was ready for sea in February 1592, but when the time for sailing arrived, the capricious queen could not, or would not, part with Raleigh, and the fleet sailed under the command of Sir John Burrough.

The courtship of Raleigh and Miss Elizabeth Throgmorton, afterwards Lady Raleigh, a maid of honour of the queen, greatly exasperated his royal mistress, and he was banished for four years from the queen’s presence.

The privateering expedition before referred to, in which Raleigh was so largely interested, proceeded to the Azores. The queen had contributed two ships and £1800, and the citizens of London had given £6000 in aid, but Raleigh retained by much the largest share. Sir John Burrough divided his fleet, and left Frobisher with part of it on the coast of Spain; with his own portion of the fleet he proceeded to the supposed track110 of the expected richly-laden carracks, to await their coming. The victims came as expected, and fell an easy prey to the spoilers. The Madre de Dios, the largest of the treasure-laden carracks, carried what was unprecedented in those days, the enormous cargo of 1800 tons, valued at £500,000. The cargo included rubies, pearls, ambergris, frankincense, ebony, sandalwood, cypress, ivory, carpets, silks, sarsenets, cinnamon, nutmegs, and cloves, and stores of the most costly productions of India. The unwieldy carrack offered a feeble resistance to Raleigh’s more nimble and mischievous craft, the Roebuck, which speedily overcame her. There had been considerable leakage in the valuable cargo, which had been freely tapped at every port called at, and before Sir John Burrough could get on board to take personal command, his sailors had made the best possible use of their opportunity to do a little privateering, each man for his own hand. Even after these deductions, the Madre de Dios was a prize of great value. It was, after many trials and troubles from wind and weather, and narrow escapes from foundering, safely brought into Dartmouth on the 2nd September, being, as it happened, the queen’s birthday.

At this time Raleigh was a prisoner in the Tower, whither he had been sent by the queen for his misconduct. The arrival of the Madre de Dios with such113 a store of plunder, awoke greed of gain in all directions, and caused excitement and disorder that baffled the authorities.


Sir Robert Cecil, writing from Exeter, 19th September, reports that “for seven miles everybody met on the London road smells of musk or spice, and you could not open a private bag that had not seed pearls in it”; he declares that “there never was such rich spoil.” Lord Burleigh sent down Raleigh, in charge of a keeper, to look after his property—if the term can be applied to plunder—and to restore order. The disgraced favourite received quite an ovation: “His poor servants, to the number of one hundred and forty goodly men, and all the mariners, met him with shouts and joy.” Raleigh was greatly enraged to find so much of the treasure devoured and dispersed. The residue of the property was disposed of, according to the report of a commission of inquiry, which included Sir Francis Drake, Sir Robert Cecil, and four other persons.

From the settlement of the affairs of the Madre de Dios at the close of 1592, Raleigh was occupied with his own business concerns and the discharge of various official duties; amongst others, with the exercise of his judgment and authority, in attempting settlement of the quarrels between English and French fishermen on the south coast, that were rife then, and have continued intermittently, even until this day. He was now about114 forty years of age, and although his health had suffered from his imprisonment, he was at about the zenith of his vigorous life. He was now married to a well-born lady, worthy of his affection and esteem; he was possessed of a fair competence in wealth and property, the wearer of high honours,—amongst others Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, Admiral of Devon and Cornwall, and Lord Warden of the Stannaries. With these possessions and dignities an ordinary man would have been content to settle down as a provincial magnate, but they did not suffice for a man of Raleigh’s active and sanguine temperament, his enterprising and ambitious nature. His life up to this point had been enlivened by many and important stirring adventures and projects, that had elevated him in position and influence, and made him famous. He had proved himself alert, valorous, and capable alike as a soldier and as a naval commander, and in the last-named capacity had rendered brilliant service in connection with the defeat of the Spanish Armada. As a pioneer colonist and a privateer, he had organised spirited and costly projects, but had been prevented by circumstances from personally conducting his enterprises. The desire to command personally in the expeditions that had been successively fitted at his cost, and that were conducted under his orders and directions, had always been alive in his mind,—and now, as it would seem, the time had115 arrived for him to realise his cherished dream. He hated the Spaniard as thoroughly as Sir Francis Drake did, and had in common with that redoubtable sea-dog the ruling passion and strong desire to shatter the Spaniard’s power, and to appropriate the Spaniard’s treasure. He was in possession, it may be supposed, of all the information existing and accessible concerning Spanish discoveries and possessions in the West Indies and South America, and touching the mineral wealth and other resources of the settlements and resorts of the Spanish and other adventurers in these quarters. Raleigh had probably by this time had enough of court life and intrigues; he had the strong desire, “with God’s blessing, and the queen’s permission, to sail into the sunset, and conquer for England as much as he may of the fabled golden lands and cities of the West.”

Early in 1594, Captain George Popham, a sea rover, sailing in one of Raleigh’s vessels, made a prize at sea of a ship with letters to the King of Spain, announcing that De Berreo, Governor of Trinidad, had annexed Guiana to the Spanish dominions, under the name of the New El Dorado. The despatches contained interesting particulars respecting the country and its inhabitants. The documents were delivered to Raleigh, in whom they excited lively interest, and they stimulated him to prompt energetic action, which resulted in his sailing from Plymouth, bound “Westward ho,” on the 2nd116 January 1595, with a squadron of five ships, and an equipment of small craft for river navigation. On the voyage out, two ships were captured, from one of which, laden with wine, the ships of the expedition were stocked. In March they arrived off Trinidad, the southern and western coasts of which were surveyed by Raleigh in a boat,—the ships lying at anchor in the channel known as the Serpent’s Mouth. In his History of the World, Raleigh describes some of the natural curiosities he met with at Trinidad, including oysters hanging to the branches of mangrove trees, and a curious liquid pitch, a peculiar product of the island. At the first settlement touched—the Port of Spain—some trading was done with the settlers, and Raleigh endeavoured to worm out any information he could obtain concerning Guiana, stating, with loose regard for veracity, that he was on his way to Virginia, and that his inquiries were prompted by mere curiosity. Very little information they did give him. This much he found out, that De Berreo, the governor, had sent for reinforcements, in anticipation of Raleigh’s arrival. Some of the Indians came on board secretly, and gave harrowing accounts of the horrible cruelties practised upon them by the Spaniards. Raleigh at once marched a part of his force inland to St. Joseph, the capital of the island, which they took by storm, with De Berreo in it. The reports of the Indians as to the117 hideous cruelty of the governor were fully confirmed. It was a pastime with him to baste the naked bodies of the Indians with boiling fat. Five poor scorched chieftains were found in irons, and near the point of death. They were released, and the town was burned.

Raleigh spared De Berreo, in the hope possibly that he might be useful to him, but De Berreo did his best to bamboozle his captor. The larger vessels of the expedition were left at anchor in the Gulf of Paria, and with a galley, a barge, two wherries, and a ship’s boat carrying a hundred men, with a stock of provisions, Raleigh entered the Orinoco, the flotilla encountering at many points, and in divers ways, formidable difficulties and obstacles in the navigation. Raleigh thus describes the most painful and unpleasant voyage of four hundred miles:—

“We were all driven to lie in the rain and weather in the open air, in the burning sun, and upon the hard boards, and to dress our meat and to carry all manner of furniture, wherewith the boats were so pestered and unsavoury, that what with victuals being most fish, and the wet clothes of so many men thrust together, and the heat of the sun, I will undertake there was never any prison in England that could be found more unsavoury and loathsome, especially to myself, who had for many years before been dieted and cared for in a sort far different.”


The provisions ran short, and hunger, added to other hardships, induced a mutinous spirit, repression of which severely taxed Raleigh’s oratorical powers. At length they approached the inner reach of the vast flat delta, with its mud banks and brackish water. They next came to banks, on which wholesome fruits were found. In the purer water they caught edible fresh fish. The abundance and variety of birds and the brilliancy of the plumage of many of them, excited wonder and admiration. Deer came feeding down to the water’s edge; the alligators, with which the river swarmed, were less pleasant objects of contemplation. A handsome young Indian, who leaped into the water from the galley was seized and devoured by these monsters, immediately he touched its surface. Four canoes laden with excellent bread were met with in the river. The Indians to whom they belonged deserted them on the approach of the strangers.

On the fifteenth day, far-off mountain peaks gladdened the sight of the voyagers. On the evening of the same day the flotilla anchored in the main stream of the great river, at a point a little to the east of San Rafael de Barrancas. Here a welcome change of fare was met with. The eggs of fresh-water turtles were found in vast numbers on the sandy islands. The mountain chains to the south, in the direction of Essiquibo, now assumed defined forms, and furnished a grand feature119 in the splendid panorama. Parties of the native Indians were met with ashore, who entertained the adventurers hospitably with provisions and the “wine” of the country, of which Raleigh’s captains partook with “strict moderation,” yet in sufficient quantity to make them, as their leader has it, “reasonable pleasant.” Raleigh had an elastic moral code; he was far from being straitlaced or squeamish with regard to either honesty or veracity when he had his own purpose to promote. He did not hesitate to tap the cargo of an alien, or even an English trader, for a gratuitous supply to his wine-cellar; if the governor was fool enough to swallow the tale, he did not scruple to tell it, that he had found Trinidad on his way from England to Virginia. Whatever laxity in morals he may have shown in other directions, it must be said to his credit that he was the chivalrous protector of women; his men were given to understand, and they well knew that the penalty would be inflicted if incurred, that death would be the punishment for violence towards an Indian matron or maiden.

Geography was not a strong point with Raleigh and the adventurers. It is scarcely possible for us to measure or appreciate the difference between the state of geographical knowledge then and now, between their dubious scraps and our full and accurate knowledge,—the contrast between their darkness and our light. So crude were their geographical notions, that it has been said120 of the explorers that they believed that if they could only sail far enough up the Orinoco, they would emerge into the Pacific on the western coast of South America! They traversed about three degrees of west longitude, through a region until then entirely unknown to Europeans, except Spaniards, who had already planted settlements here and there, at vast distances apart. Raleigh’s party passed one of these, but possibly ignored its existence, his majestic idea being to annex the entire territory in the name of the Queen of England. His intercourse with the Indians was everywhere friendly and pacific, and he was assiduous in impressing them with the danger and disadvantage that would result from their having anything to do with the Spaniards otherwise than by driving them out of the country; he strongly recommended England as a safe and benign protector.


On the banks of the Orinoco, Raleigh and his company feasted on pine-apples and other luscious fruits, and made acquaintance with the armadillo and many other strange creatures. At the junction of the Caroni, a southern tributary, with the Orinoco, Raleigh left the main stream, and ascended the branch to the great cataract which stopped his further progress. Raleigh’s description of the great cataract and the adjoining country may be given as a fair specimen of his literary style:—


“When we ran to the tops of the first hills of the plains adjoining to the river, we beheld the wonderful breach of the waters which ran down Caroni, and might from that mountain see the river how it ran in three parts, above twenty miles off, and there appeared some ten or twelve overfalls in sight, every one as high over the other as a church tower, which fell with that fury that the rebound of waters made it seem as if it had been all covered over with a great shower of rain; and in some places we took it at the first for a smoke that had risen over some great town. For mine own part I was well persuaded from thence to have returned, being a very ill footman, but the rest were so desirous to go near the said strange thunder of waters, that they drew me on, little by little, till we came into the next valley, where we might better discern the same. I never saw a more beautiful country, nor more lively prospects; hills so raised here and there over the valleys, the river winding into divers branches, the plains adjoining without bush or stubble, all fair green grass, the ground of hard sand, easy to march on, either for horse or foot; the deer crossing in every path, the birds towards the evening singing on every tree, with a thousand several tunes, cranes and herons, of white, crimson, and carnation, perching on the river’s side, the air fresh with a gentle easterly wind, and every stone that we stopped to take up promised either gold or silver by his complexion.”


The expedition was not equipped with geologists’ hammers or prospecting tools, but they nevertheless collected, and Sir Walter brought home, a number of specimens, that he thought auriferous quartz richly charged with gold. The white quartz brought home did contain gold, but in such infinitesimal proportion as not to be worth extracting.

The friendly Indians, with whom Sir Walter had much familiar intercourse, finding that he “with greedy ear devoured up their discourse,” entertained him with many wondrous recitals—of pronounced Munchausen flavour—concerning the gold and gems with which the country abounded, and of the wonders in anthropology and natural history that he would meet with, if he went a little farther on. These included tribes of Indians away west, whose eyes were on their shoulders, and their mouths below where their necks should be. In another direction he would meet with men with heads of the form and fit-on of dogs, who spent the day in the sea, and who spoke the Caril language. Sir Walter, to do him justice, does not state that he saw or heard of any of these marvels, except by report at second-hand. It should be remembered, too, that the recitals, reaching Raleigh through interpreters, probably very indifferently qualified, exposed them to the risk of distortion and misapprehension, and conduced to exaggeration rather than accuracy.


The great cataract on the Caroni was the farthest point reached by Raleigh in this exploration. He and his party had now been away from the fleet for about a month. He gave up the hope of reaching Manoa; and the terrific violence of the tropical rains, the sudden floods to which the rivers were subject, and the general aspect of affairs, admonished him to return to the ships with the utmost possible speed. They were carried down at a tremendous pace, without need to use sail or oar. At Morequito, Raleigh had a grave, private conference with an ancient chief, Topiawari. Raleigh solemnly denounced Spain as the enemy and England as the friend of Guiana, and entered into an alliance with him, offensive and defensive, Topiawari to become the ally of England, which would in turn aid him against certain Indians who had given the chief grounds for complaint. The old chief and his people heartily assented, and urged Raleigh to proceed farther inland, if not to Manoa, to a rich city, Macureguari, about four days’ journey distant, where they would find many “statues of gold.” The prospect was tempting, but the adventurers had been, and were, suffering severe privations, and Raleigh determined to hasten back. He exchanged hostages with the chief, engaging to return next year; he took with him the chiefs son, and left with the chief Goodwin, who learned the Indian language, and was found by Raleigh, on his revisiting the country many126 years later, when Goodwin had almost forgotten the English language.

In the course of their descent of the Orinoco, the adventurers visited a lake where they met with the curious creature, the manatee, or sea-cow. On an island in the Orinoco they had a feast, at which armadillo meat was the principal dainty. After encountering much violent weather in rain-floods, thunder-storms, and intermittent cold winds, they reached the sea. Notwithstanding bad water, scanty food, and weather hardships, only one life was lost in the course of the voyage, that of the young Indian who was devoured by the alligator.

During Raleigh’s absence, his fleet, under the command of Captain Amyas Preston, was active in spoiling the Spaniards, sacking and burning all the towns he could get at, in Venezuela. They were able to do much mischief, but to collect very little plunder. The visits of English captains had waked up the inhabitants to the propriety of preparing for their coming; they hid their most precious portable possessions away among the hills inland, or shipped them off to Spain for safety with the least possible delay. Among other towns devastated was Cumana, concerning which Captain Amyas Preston felt provoked to make the peevish complaint that he “found not the value of a single real of plate.”


Having accomplished all that his resources and circumstances made possible, and prepared the way for future operations, Raleigh brought back his little fleet to England in the autumn of 1595, making a quiet entrance into port,—Dartmouth or Falmouth,—that was in strong contrast with the pomp and circumstance, and noisy enthusiasm, that distinguished the return of Sir Francis Drake from his famous voyage. Raleigh’s spirited achievements do not seem to have been appreciated. He had, as he thought, returned bringing a gift to his queen of a rich empire that would assure his restoration to favour, but he was met with cold neglect, and left in doubt as to whether his report concerning Guiana was to be accepted as a true history or passed by as an idle tale. At this stage of his career he gave conclusive evidence of the diversity of his gifts, the wide range of his capability, his restless activity, and indomitable perseverance. He had distinguished himself as a practical navigator and commander, and as an explorer of regions before unknown. As a diplomatist he had established satisfactory relations with foreign potentates—albeit uncivilised—as allies; he had carried out with safety and success a perilous expedition, and had laid a good foundation for future operations. He had full confidence in his own ability to prosecute these operations successfully, and felt certain that evil and failure would result from his being supplanted, as he seemed to128 have reason to fear. Of himself and the Guiana chiefs he says: “I rather sought to win the kings than to sack them; I know what others will do when these kings come singly into their hands.”

No author of reputation, probably, who has written works which the world will not willingly let die,—works which have not died,—has done his literary work under greater disadvantages than Raleigh, or has enjoyed so little of the tranquillity of retirement, favourable to literary pursuits. It would appear from the date of publication, the end of the year 1595, that he must have been engaged in writing a book that became famous, while his expedition was actually in progress. In November he submitted a manuscript account of his Guiana voyage and travels, illustrated with a map, to Sir Robert Cecil. In a letter which accompanied it, he expresses his disappointment and surprise at the rejection of such a prize, as was never before offered to a Christian prince. In magnifying the value and importance of the acquisition within reach, he draws freely upon his imagination, and declares that the golden statues with which the city of Manoa abounds—which he has not seen—are worth at least £100,000 each! He urges that, whatever may be done about Guiana, or whoever may be sent to do it, the enterprise may not be soiled by cruelty, and plunder of the Indians. At the close of 1595 his work was published under the129 somewhat ponderous title, The Discovery of the large, rich, and beautiful Empire of Guiana, with a Relation of the Great and Golden City of Manoa, which the Spaniards call El Dorado, and of the provinces of Emeria, Arromaia, Amapaia, and other countries, with their Rivers adjoining. The book became famous throughout Europe. Two editions were published in England in 1596, and a Latin translation in Germany. Raleigh’s literary contemporaries at this period included such illustrious men as Shakespeare, Bacon, Hooker, and Marlowe. His book on Guiana is admitted to occupy the foremost place among the volumes describing voyages and discoveries, that appeared towards the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries, and has been republished in Hakluyt’s Voyages and Purchas’s Pilgrim.


The desirability of further crippling or arresting the reviving power of Spain, engaged the continued attention of the queen and her advisers, but there was much vacillation, on the part of the queen, with regard to actual operations. In 1596 a commission was appointed to act as a council of war, consisting of the Earl of Essex, Lord Charles Howard, High Admiral; Sir Walter Raleigh, and Lord Thomas Howard. Raleigh was treated with the highest consideration as an experienced and skilful naval authority. As Admiral of the Counties, he sent to the Council a valuable report on the defence of Cornwall and Devon. He was appointed collector of levies for a projected hostile expedition to Cadiz. In the prosecution of this work he displayed robust133 activity, recruiting all round the southern and south-eastern coasts, flitting about from place to place between Plymouth, Dover, Gravesend, and Blackwall as occasion required. On 1st June 1596, the forces collected put to sea, and on the 20th cast anchor in the Bay of San Sebastian. The English fleet, in four divisions, comprised 93 ships; an auxiliary Dutch squadron numbered 24 additional. The combined fleet had on board about 13,000 English soldiers and sailors, and 2600 Dutchmen.


This English Armada of 1596 was the “return match” for the “most happy and invincible Armada” of Philip of Spain, that visited, and was for the most part scattered, upon our shores in 1588. The English force, although very imposing, was much smaller than the array which Spain had made. As has been stated, the combined fleet consisted of 117 ships, carrying 15,600 men. The Spanish Armada embraced 130 ships, some of them of enormous size, carrying about 30,000 men all told, including “124 volunteers of quality, and 180 monks.” The Spanish expedition attracted the flower of the nobility of the nation, and the English Armada, in like manner, enlisted the sympathy, fired the patriotism, and inflamed the martial ardour of the flower of English chivalry. The most distinguished men in both arms of the service accompanied the expedition. Even amongst such associates in council and comrades in arms, Sir Walter134 Raleigh came to the front simply by his native force and merits; even in such a galaxy he shone the bright particular star—he was pre-eminently the hero of the expedition.

At the beginning of the battle of Cadiz, Raleigh, in compliance with the orders of the lord admiral, detached the ships under his charge and the Dutch squadron from the main body, and took up a favourable position for preventing the escape of Spanish ships from Cadiz harbour. He was directed to watch, but not to fight unless attacked. Lord Howard and the impetuous Essex, Raleigh being absent from their council, determined to open the action by military, in preference to naval operations—to land the soldiers and assault the town, leaving the Spanish fleet alone for the time. Raleigh detected in this a false and dangerous move, and despite his being a subordinate in command, interposed with promptitude and courage. He came up with Essex in the Repulse, when the embarkation of the soldiers was actually in progress. There was a heavy sea running, making the landing an enterprise to be attended with extreme difficulty and danger. He warmly remonstrated with Essex, and declared that this course imperilled their own lives, and risked the utter overthrow and ruin of the whole expedition. Essex deferred to Raleigh’s superior experience, judgment, and ability, and shifted the responsibility for the movement to the135 lord admiral, to whom, on board the Ark Royal, Raleigh immediately repaired,—now that he had boldly declared himself,—warmly supported by the highest military officers of the expedition. Lord Howard was converted to Raleigh’s views, which were in favour of immediate and vigorous action, but on a different plan. From his own ship, the War Sprite, Raleigh wrote a hurried letter to Lord Howard, advising the order of battle, which included the attack by well-manned boats upon the Spanish galleons, before they could be set on fire. Raleigh was at his best in this crisis. He bore himself with graceful courtesy towards his colleagues of the Council, and commanded, by his manifest grasp of the situation, his skill, intrepidity, and genius for rapid and vigorous action, their respect and admiration. Each of the four heads of the force was eager to lead the van, but they generously conceded the post of honour to Raleigh. Their final council before the action was held late on the evening of June 20th. Cadiz was illuminated, and its inhabitants carousing, and in the full enjoyment, as they supposed, of perfect security. At daybreak on the 21st June, the splendid English fleet swept into the harbour of Cadiz. Raleigh led in the War Sprite, followed by Sir George Carew in the Mary Rose, Sir Francis Vere in the Rainbow, Sir Robert Southwell in the Lion, Sir Conyers Clifford in the Dreadnought, and another ship, the six being a considerable136 distance in advance of the main body of the fleet. In front of them, under the walls of Cadiz, were seventeen galleons that were the special objects of attack. The forts and galleys opened fire upon the invading squadron, making a target of the leading War Sprite. Raleigh answered them not by shot from his guns, but, in contempt, by blasts from his trumpets. In his account of the action, he says that “the St. Philip, the great and famous ship of Spain, was the mark I shot at, esteeming those galleys but as wasps.” The St. Philip had a special claim upon his attention. It was the St. Philip and the St. Andrew that had been the principal actors in what Raleigh considered the murder of his gallant friend and companion-in-arms, Sir Richard Grenville, who in the fight at the Azores in 1591, in his ship the Revenge, with a hundred men, faced in battle, and was crushed by, a Spanish fleet, manned by fifteen thousand soldiers and sailors. Raleigh was determined to avenge the death of his gallant friend and kinsman, or to perish in the attempt. He came to anchor close to the galleons, and for three hours the battle raged with great fury. Raleigh’s ship was suffering severely, and he became impatient from the delay in the arrival of the boats. He put on his skiff, and urged first Essex and afterwards the admiral to make every possible effort to bring up the boats. During this short parley, and Raleigh’s absence from his137 ship, some of the other commanders, especially Sir Francis Vere in the Rainbow, had attempted to supplant the War Sprite. Vere, the marshal, had a rope attached from his own to Raleigh’s ship, to haul the Rainbow abreast of the leader. On Raleigh’s discovering this, he ordered the rope to be thrown off, and for the remainder of the fight the Rainbow, excepting a small part of the bows, was covered by the War Sprite. In Sir Walter’s spirited description of the action, he says:—

“Having no hope of my fly-boats to board, and the earl and my Lord Thomas having both promised to second me, I laid out a warp by the side of the Philip to shake hands with her, for with the wind we could not get aboard; which, when she and the rest perceived, finding also that the Repulse, seeing mine, began to do the like, and the rear-admiral my Lord Thomas, they all let slip, and ran aground, tumbling into the sea heaps of soldiers, as thick as if coals had been poured out of a sack in many ports at once, some drowned, and some sticking in the mud. The Philip and the St. Thomas burned themselves; the St. Matthew and the St. Andrew were recovered by our boats ere they could get out to fire them. The spectacle was very lamentable on their side; for many drowned themselves; many, half burned, leaped into the water; very many hanging by the ropes’ end, by the ships’ side, under the water138 even to the lips; many swimming with grievous wounds, stricken, under water, and put out of their pain; and withal so huge a fire, and such tearing of the ordnance in the great Philip and the rest when the fire came to them, as if a man had a desire to see hell itself, it was there most lively figured. Ourselves spared the lives of all after the victory, but the Flemings, who did little or nothing in the fight, used merciless slaughter, till they were by myself, and afterwards by my lord admiral, beaten off.”

In the action Raleigh received a serious wound in the leg, his flesh was torn by splinters, which disabled him from taking part in the land attack. Although his wound was excessively painful, he was unwilling to be left behind, and had himself carried into Cadiz on a litter. But a town in process of being sacked by soldiers freed from discipline and restraint, grievously hurt as he was, and suffering the agony he did, was no place for him, and he was speedily carried back to the War Sprite. Early next morning, however, eager in spirit although physically unfit for arduous duty, he went ashore again, and entreated for leave to follow a fleet of richly-laden Spanish carracks, Indian bound, that had escaped. The disturbance and excitement attending the operations on land, prevented attention being given to Raleigh’s request. In the interim of his waiting for authority, the Spanish commander, the Duke of141 Medina Sidonia, settled the matter by burning the whole fleet of rich argosies. Raleigh had the mortification of witnessing the conflagration from the deck of the War Sprite. Of the large fleet of Spain that had been completely defeated, only two ships, the St. Matthew and the St. Andrew, remained for the victors to take home as prizes to England.


Neither the lord admiral nor his colleagues on the Council concerned themselves about sending home information about their proceedings. A letter written by Raleigh to Cecil, dated 7th July, and taken home by Sir Anthony Ashley, was the first news received in England of the victory. An epidemic broke out in Raleigh’s ship, which could not be effectively dealt with, and it was determined, 1st August, that he should return with his ship to England, in company with two other ships of the fleet. He arrived at Plymouth in six days. On the 12th he landed at Weymouth, and proceeded to Sherborne for the rest and nursing of which he stood so sorely in need. The remainder of the fleet returned a few weeks later. Essex on the way home landed and pounced upon the magnificent library of the Bishop of Algarve. He presented it to Sir Thomas Bodley, to form the nucleus of the famous Bodleian Library, which remaineth at Oxford until this day.

Of such glory as attached to the destruction of the Spanish fleet, Sir Walter Raleigh was entitled to the142 chief share. There was much plunder, great destruction and loss of property, but little or no prize money resulted from the great victory. The “Council of Four” agreed that if the property available for prize money realised as much, the lord admiral and Essex should have £5000 each, and Raleigh £3000; subordinate officers and men according to the amount that the treasure would “pan out.” The Earl of Essex gallantly assigned his share to his venerable and royal lady, but he might have saved himself the trouble, for “the good Queen Bess,” without consultation, or “by’r leave,” scooped up the whole. She further blamed the victorious chiefs of the expedition for having failed to bring home the Indian carracks, and adding to her coffers the treasure with which they were laden! Raleigh did all he could to procure restoration to favour, but the queen continued relentless towards him.

Raleigh’s hope and expectation of achieving credit and renown to himself, and adding to the glory of his country, in connection with “the large, rich, and beautiful empire of Guiana,” had slumbered while other active enterprises engaged his energies, but they were now revived. Towards the close of 1596 he sent out another expedition to Guiana, under Captain Berrie, who brought back in the summer of 1597 a glowing confirmation of Raleigh’s favourable report. About this time he was received again at court, and appears to have143 been on the most friendly terms with Sir Robert Cecil and the Earl of Essex.

Essex, high in authority, with the assent of the queen, it may be supposed, and of the Privy Council and chiefs of the services, designed another expedition against Spain, and needed Raleigh’s assistance, which was heartily given. He fully approved the object, as may be inferred from his Spanish Alarum, which he wrote expressly to stimulate and warn the Government against its old enemy. He felt assured that as soon as Philip should think his power sufficient, he would attempt reprisals for the crushing losses and humiliating indignities that had been inflicted upon him in the face of the world. Raleigh was decidedly of opinion that it would be best not to wait Philip’s coming, but to go to him at home, or on the high seas. Restored to power, Raleigh proceeded energetically to victual and equip a powerful fleet. The Dutch contributed a contingent of twelve ships. On the night of Sunday, 10th July 1597, the fleet sailed from the rendezvous in Plymouth Sound, but soon got separated by a violent storm. Some of the ships were lost; the others got back as they could to Falmouth, Plymouth, and Tor Bay. On 18th August the fleet again put to sea. The St. Andrew and the St. Matthew, Spanish prizes, revisiting their native shores as enemies, were disabled in the Bay of Biscay, and had to be left at La Rochelle. Raleigh’s ship also sustained an144 accident, which required his detention for repairs off Lisbon. Essex left directions for Raleigh to hasten after him to the Azores. Raleigh rejoined the main fleet under Essex at Flores, on the 15th September. A pinnace from India, fallen in with, gave the news that the homeward-bound Spanish fleet was changing its course this year. The English fleet was, in consequence of this information, and as the decision of a council of war, divided, and the ships of the fleet assigned their several posts. Fayal was to be taken by Essex and Raleigh, the other islands by different appointed commanders. Essex sailed first, leaving Raleigh taking in provisions at Flores. Essex, after he had left, sent a letter to Raleigh to come on at once to Fayal, and do his victualling there. Raleigh had completed his work, and sailed at midnight; he had perhaps a better ship than Essex, or could handle it better, and thus headed his superior. When Raleigh arrived at Fayal with the War Sprite and the Dreadnought, Essex had not come up. The inhabitants immediately began to construct defensive works, and to remove their most valuable effects inland. Raleigh waited, chafing insufferably with impatience, for three days. On the fourth day his patience was exhausted; he leaped into a boat at the head of a storming party, and scaled the cliffs. The Spaniards contested every foot of the road, but were completely defeated, and Raleigh at the head of his four hundred145 and fifty men, entered Fayal, a “town full of fine gardens, orchards, and wells of delicate waters, with fair streets, and one very fair church.”

Next morning Essex came creeping into the harbour. Raleigh went out to meet and greet him. The impetuous earl felt mortified, doubtless, at having been forestalled and eclipsed, and as he had those about him envious of Raleigh, they would do what they could to inflame his anger. Essex reproved Raleigh for breach of orders and articles, and intimated that by taking Fayal without authority he had rendered himself liable to the punishment of death. Raleigh defended himself, and claimed that authority for what he had done had been given to him by the queen’s letters patent. A reconciliation for the present was patched up, and the fleet proceeded to St. Miguel, Raleigh being left to watch the roadstead, in which he had not been posted long, ere an Indian carrack of 1600 tons, laden with spices, unsuspectingly sailed into what it took for a friendly Spanish fleet. Raleigh, at the head of a party, made a prompt attempt to seize the vessel, but its commander ran her ashore, enabled his crew to land, and set the ship on fire. It was totally destroyed; he took, however, another carrack laden with cochineal. Nothing else notable distinguished the voyage, in which Raleigh, although not the highest in authority, was incontestably the most prominent, active, and successful in146 action. He came home in October, with his health greatly disordered and his strength much impaired.

In 1598, Raleigh resumed his duties at court as Captain of the Guard. Although his office brought him into personal contact with the queen, and he had well proved his loyalty and valour, these claims failed to benefit him. Essex had never been as patient and painstaking in serving and endeavouring to please the queen as Raleigh had been, yet nothing he might have asked from her in reason would have been denied him; but to the faithful Raleigh she would give nothing. He desired the office of Vice-Chamberlain, which had become vacant; he thought it not unreasonable that he should be raised to the peerage; he would have been a very fit man to have been made Lord Deputy of Ireland; but from all these offices he was excluded, and Cecil, his professed friend, prevented him from being sworn on the Privy Council. Life at court became unpleasant from the jarring and bad blood that prevailed. Essex had been so far left to himself as to personally insult the queen, whose conditions he declared were “as crooked as her carcass.” True friendship had never existed between Essex and Raleigh, and their relations did not improve by closer contact,—very much the reverse; their dislike grew into hate. About this time Raleigh formed another friendship that was to have much to do in effecting his ruin. This dangerous147 friend was Henry Brooke, afterwards Lord Cobham, Lady Cecil’s brother, who, with his brother, George Brooke, were the champions of Arabella Stuart, cousin of James I., daughter of Charles Stuart, a younger brother of Darnley, whom they conspired to support by secret intrigues as heir to the throne. Raleigh got unwittingly entangled with them, to his ultimate, although long-deferred, ruin. The closeness of his intimacy with Cobham may be inferred from the following letter, of date—

Bath, April 29, 1600.

“Here we attend you and have done this se’enight, and we still mourn your absence, the rather that we fear your mind is changed. I pray let us hear from you at least, for if you come not we will go hereby home, and make but short tarrying here. My wife will despair ever to see you in these parts, if your Lordship come not now. We can but long for you and wish you as our own lives whatsoever.—Your Lordship’s everest faithful, to honour you most.

W. Raleigh.

At intervals Raleigh did much good work in connection with his offices as Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, Warden of the Stannaries; affairs in Ireland also engaged much of his attention.

Sir Anthony Paulet, Governor of Jersey, died in August 1600, and Raleigh was appointed his successor. He148 “entered into residence” in October, Lady Raleigh and their little son Walter, now six years old, witnessing his departure from Weymouth. As Governor he discharged his duties with a breadth of view and a spirit of enterprise not often manifested by such officials. From considerations of policy his first intention was to destroy the castle of Mont Orgueil, but he was not an iconoclast; its stately architecture and commanding position so charmed him as to induce him to appoint a military guard for its preservation. He established a trade communication for interchange of products between Jersey and Newfoundland. In many ways he lightened the burdens and improved the condition of the people, whom he ruled with wisdom, justice, and beneficence.

Essex was tried and executed in 1601. The friends of Essex stigmatised Raleigh. A trap was laid for him by Sir Christopher Blount and others, who attempted, but unsuccessfully, to assassinate Raleigh when he kept an appointment on the river, off Durham House, to which they lured him. Four shots were fired at him from a boat manned by Blount and some of Essex’s servants. Raleigh escaped unhurt. Blount confessed having taken part in this treachery, and on the scaffold asked pardon from Raleigh, which was freely granted. Touching his enmity with Essex, Raleigh states that he “shed tears for him when he died. I confess I was of a contrary faction, but I knew he was a noble gentleman.151 Those that set me up against him, did afterwards set themselves against me.”


In 1601, Raleigh had much trouble in connection with Meeres, bailiff of the Sherborne estates, who was first aggressive and overbearing, and when brought to account, insolent, malicious, and audacious; clever enough to make much mischief, and cause his abused employer much vexation and annoyance. He made himself amenable to the law, and confessed that he had wrongously maligned Sir Walter. He was pardoned, but pardon was not followed by repentance, and he continued as vicious and troublesome as before.

In September 1601, Henry IV. of France being at Calais, sent a complimentary embassy, consisting of the Duke de Biron and a large and brilliant retinue, to pay respect to Queen Elizabeth. The queen was not in London at the time, and the remnant of her court left behind were unequal to the duty of fitly entertaining the French chevaliers. Raleigh happened, most opportunely, to pay a visit to London, and exercised his accomplishments to good purpose in the entertainment of the distinguished visitors, whom he escorted to Westminster, and to the Bear Garden by way of variety. After “doing London,” he accompanied the party, “by royal command,” to Hampshire, where the queen was the guest of the Marquis of Worcester. In anticipation of the visit, and by the queen’s desire, Raleigh wrote to152 Lord Cobham to join him, and assist in entertaining the visitors. Raleigh’s letters to Cobham show that they were on terms of intimate friendship.

In November the Duke of Lennox visited London, with a delicate diplomatic commission from James of Scotland touching the succession to the English throne. Amongst others he saw Raleigh and Cobham, both of whom he found unfavourable to the claims of the Scottish king. In the complications which resulted from this important question of State policy, Cecil, never a warm friend of Raleigh, became more unfriendly and even hostile, and accused him of ingratitude.

In 1602, Raleigh sent out commissioners to look after, and, if possible, more firmly settle the colony of Virginia, which had now occupied his attention for above a dozen years. His representatives were his nephew, Bartholomew Gilbert, Captain Gosnoll, and Samuel Mace. No definite results followed their expeditions, beyond their supplying a link establishing Raleigh’s claim to be the founder of the still inchoate colony. At home Raleigh devoted his time and attention to the discharge of his numerous and onerous official duties. He was at this time in poor health, very depressed in spirits, and pestered by legal proceedings taken by his dismissed steward Meeres, with whom Lord Thomas Howard, now Lord Howard of Bindon, Raleigh’s brother commander in the Cadiz expedition, meanly and maliciously conspired. Towards the close of 1602,153 Raleigh had what has been supposed his last interview with Queen Elizabeth, who asked for his counsel with respect to Irish affairs. He advised that the leaders of the malcontents should be treated with rigorous severity. In the same year he sold his great estates in Ireland to Boyle, Earl of Cork. Queen Elizabeth died 30th March 1603. The loss of his protector and patroness was to Raleigh ruinous and irreparable. His career up to this point—he was now fifty-one years of age—had not been distinguished by unclouded sunshine,—henceforth it was to be marked by unrelieved gloom. Of his well-earned title to honour and fame he could not be wholly stripped, but it was in the power of his enemies to deprive him of offices, property, peace, and other conditions that made life worth living. He entered now upon his decline and fall.

King James received Raleigh roughly, and at once superseded him as Captain of the Guard; Cecil was raised to the peerage as a mark of favour. In May 1603, Raleigh, in terms of a royal warrant, was required to surrender Durham House to the Bishop of Durham. He had expended large sums upon the “rotten house” to which, as was now stated, he had “no right.” The order to quit was most arbitrary and unjust. He had received no notice, and was required in the space of a few days to clear out his retinue of forty persons and twenty horses, with the provision laid in for them.


James was favourable to Spain and the Catholics; Raleigh never repressed or concealed his hostility to both. Raleigh became involved with Lord Cobham and George Brooke, brothers-in-law of Cecil, in an alleged treasonable plot, the lines and objects of which it would be difficult to define. Raleigh was arrested on 17th July, and immured in the Tower on the information of his dastardly and dangerous friend, Lord Cobham, the Judas who should have been consigned to the dungeon, in place of his too confiding and credulous friend. In his depression and desperation he attempted suicide. Anticipating death, he wrote an extremely touching letter to his wife:—

“Receive from thy unfortunate husband,” he writes, “these last lines.... That I can live never to see thee and my child more! I cannot! I have desired God and disputed with my reason, but nature and compassion have the victory. That I can live to think how you are both left a spoil to my enemies, and that my name shall be a dishonour to my child! I cannot!... Unfortunate woman, unfortunate child, comfort yourselves, trust God, and be contented with your poor estate. I would have bettered it, if I had enjoyed a few years.

“What will my poor servants think, at their return, when they hear I am accused to be Spanish, who sent them, at my great charge, to plant and discover upon his territory! O God! O intolerable infamy!... For the155 rest I commend me to thee, and thee to God, and the Lord knows my sorrow to part from thee and my poor child, and let him know his father was no traitor. Be bold of my innocence, for God—to whom I offer life and soul—knows it.... And the Lord for ever keep thee and give thee comfort in both worlds.”

On 21st September, Raleigh, Cobham, and George Brooke were indicted at Staines. The charge was “of exciting rebellion against the king, and raising one Arabella Stuart to the crown of England.” This Arabella Stuart was first cousin to James, being the daughter of Charles Stuart, fifth Earl of Lennox, Darnley’s elder brother. Raleigh’s bitter enemy, Lord Thomas Howard, afterwards Lord Howard of Bindon, and yet again created Earl of Suffolk, had powerful influence amongst the higher powers, and exercised his influence virulently against Raleigh to the full extent of his power. Raleigh was repeatedly examined, and on Thursday, 17th November 1603, put upon his trial before a Court of King’s Bench, the court-room having been fitted up in the old episcopal palace at Winchester. Lord Chief Justice Popham presided, and had with him on the bench as commissioners, Sir Robert Cecil, Sir W. Wood, the Earl of Devonshire, and Howard of Bindon, Earl of Suffolk, with judges Anderson, Gawdy, and Warburton. Sir Edward Coke, Attorney-General, prosecuted, with Serjeant Hale as his “junior.”


The indictment against Raleigh was in effect—

That he did conspire, and go about to deprive the king of his government, to raise up sedition within the realm, to alter religion, to bring in the Roman superstition, and to procure foreign enemies to invade the kingdom. That the Lord Cobham, the 9th of June last, did meet with the said Sir Walter Raleigh in Durham House, in the parish of St. Martins in the Fields, and then and there had conference with him, how to advance Arabella Stuart to the crown and royal throne of this kingdom, and that then and there it was agreed that Cobham should treat with Aremberg, ambassador from the Archduke of Austria, and obtain of him 600,000 crowns to bring to pass the intended treasons. It was agreed that Cobham should go to Albert the Archduke to procure him to advance the pretended title of Arabella, from thence, knowing that Albert had not sufficient means to maintain his own army in the Low Countries, Cobham should go to Spain to procure the king to assist and further her pretended title.

It was agreed, the better to effect all this conspiracy, that Arabella should write three letters, one to the Archduke, another to the King of Spain, and a third to the Duke of Savoy, and promise three things: first, to establish a firm peace between England and Spain; secondly, to tolerate the popish and Roman superstition; thirdly, to be ruled by them in contracting of her marriage.




And for the effecting these traitorous purposes, Cobham should return by the Isle of Jersey, and should there find Sir Walter Raleigh, Captain of the said isle, and take counsel of him for the distributing the aforesaid crowns, as the occasion or discontentment of the subjects should give cause and way.

That Raleigh must be found guilty was a foregone conclusion. The trial was a cruel mockery of the accused; a flagrant outrage upon the spirit, even the mere name, of justice. One of the judges at least—Gawdy—confessed on his death-bed that the procedure had violated and “degraded the justice of England.” Coke attacked the apparently deserted and friendless defendant with uncontrollable ferocity, with a shameless abuse of his office. Instead of attempting to prove his case by admissible evidence and legitimate arguments, he discharged upon the defendant a torrent of coarse invective, that was utterly disgraceful in the public prosecutor in a State trial. His case was doubtless aggravated by the feeling that the man whom he was privileged with permission to abuse was his superior, and bore himself with a self-command and dignity of demeanour that Coke could appreciate in another, but to which it was not given to himself to attain.

The sole evidence(?) against Raleigh consisted of the alleged declarations of persons with whom he was not confronted, as he demanded to be. Coke, in160 successive speeches, denounced the defendant with insensate rage, and in disgustingly clumsy phrases, as the “notoriousest traitor,” the “vilest viper,” the “absolutest traitor that ever came to the bar.” Raleigh had great difficulty in obtaining a hearing, in checking the rushing stream of violent abuse. “You try me,” said he, “as by the Spanish Inquisition, if you proceed only by the circumstances, without two witnesses.” He pleaded that “by the statute law and by God’s word it was required that there be two witnesses. Bear me if I ask for only one; the common law is my support in this. Call my accuser before my face, and I have done. All I hear against me is but this accusation of Cobham. Which of his accusations has he subscribed to or avouched?” Cobham, it appears, had made eight different confessions, each conflicting in some points, or varying from all the others. Coke’s answer to Raleigh’s reasonable plea was to heap more violent, utterly irrelevant abuse upon him,—“Thou art the most vile and execrable traitor that ever lived. I will make it appear that there never lived a viler viper on the face of the earth than thou. I want words to express sufficiently thy viperous treasons.” “You want words, indeed,” interposed Raleigh, “for you have spoken one thing half a dozen times; you speak indiscreetly, barbarously, and uncivilly.”

Raleigh defended himself with signal ability, but in161 vain. Popham summed up strongly against him, and the packed jury found him guilty. The rumours in circulation against Raleigh had been accepted, and before the trial popular fury raged against him. The effect of the trial, the cruel, crushing injustice with which he was treated, caused a reaction in his favour. So gross and palpable was the injustice done to him, that even in the High Court, Popham was hissed and Coke was hooted, by the portion of the public present during the proceedings. The revolting terms of the sentence are too hideous to be recited. Many weary years elapsed between Raleigh’s sentence and his execution.

A number of persons really concerned in the conspiracy were tried and condemned about the same time as Raleigh, and were executed. The execution of others, including Raleigh, was stayed by the king, although Raleigh had no knowledge of this. The Bishop of Winchester, who was appointed to prepare him for execution, gave him no hope. Believing himself at death’s door, he wrote a touching farewell letter to his wife, in which he says:—

“Know it, dear wife, that your son is the child of a true man, and who, in his own respect, despiseth death and all his misshapen and ugly forms. I cannot write much. God knows how hardly I stole this time, when all sleep; and it is time to separate my thoughts from the world. Beg my dead body, which living was denied162 you; and either lay it at Sherborne, if the land continue yours, or in Exeter Church, by my father and mother. I can write no more. Time and death call me away.”

From Wolvesley Castle, in which Raleigh was confined after his trial, he was, after having received the announcement that his life was not to be taken, removed to the Tower of London on the 16th December 1603, and remained there a State prisoner for twelve years. He, of course, lost his various offices and sources of income, excepting Sherborne, which was coveted and greedily desired by court favourites and others. Ultimately the estate was taken by the king, and £8000 paid as purchase-money for the benefit of Lady Raleigh and her children. Many of Raleigh’s voluminous writings were composed during the period of his confinement in the Tower.

The queen, who made the acquaintance of Raleigh about the year 1606, was very favourably disposed towards him, as was also Prince Henry, a most promising prince, who became warmly attached to the illustrious prisoner, and would probably have been successful in obtaining his release, had he been spared. He obtained from the king, indeed, a promise of Raleigh’s release, but died before the stipulated date had arrived. Influence on Raleigh’s behalf continued to be used with the king, who at last gave way to the importunities of the captive’s friends, and a warrant for163 his release from the Tower was signed by James on the 30th January 1616.

An express condition involved in Raleigh’s liberation was that he should proceed at once to undertake preparations for, and to personally conduct, another expedition to Guiana. This he set about with promptitude and energy, investing in it the whole of what remained of his fortune. Raleigh and his friends contributed to the enterprise an aggregate of about £15,000. Raleigh was by royal commission appointed commander of the expedition, which consisted of the Destiny, of 440 tons, which was built under Raleigh’s personal direction, and six smaller vessels.

The fleet sailed in March 1617. It could not be regarded with hopeful confidence. Raleigh’s description of the personnel of the expedition is decidedly unsatisfactory. “A company of volunteers who for the most part had neither seen the sea nor the wars; who, some forty gentlemen excepted, were the very scum of the world, drunkards, blasphemers, and such others as their fathers, brothers, and friends thought it an exceeding good gain to be discharged of, with the hazard of some thirty, forty, or fifty pound.” Raleigh was commander of the fleet, and his son Walter captain of the Destiny. Various delays occurred. On the 12th June the fleet left Plymouth, but soon got separated by stormy weather, and some of the ships turned back to Falmouth.164 The fleet reassembled in Cork harbour, and remained there waiting for a favourable wind for nearly six weeks. While thus detained, Raleigh disposed as completely as possible, and on the best terms he could command, of his remaining Irish leases and other interests in Ireland. The fleet called at the Canaries and the Cape Verde Islands. After encountering much rough weather, they sighted, on the 11th November, Cape Orange, the most northerly point of the coast of Brazil; on the 14th they anchored at the mouth of the Cayenne River; and Raleigh, who had been struck down by fever, was conveyed from the choky cabin to his barge. From this place he writes to Lady Raleigh: “To tell you I might be here King of the Indians were a vanity; but my name hath still lived among them. Here they feed me with fresh meat and all that the country yields; all offer to obey me. Commend me to poor Carew, my son.” Here, also, Goodwin, the English lad left as exchange hostage on the occasion of his first visit, twenty-two years before, came to do homage to his old master. He was voluble in the Indian tongue, but had almost lost ability to express himself in English.

The state of his health incapacitated Raleigh from conducting the expedition on the Orinoco and searching for the expected mines of the precious metals—gold more especially. He despatched a party under the command of Captain Keymis; his son Walter, and165 George Raleigh, his nephew, accompanied the expedition. Its result was disastrous. Keymis attacked a Spanish settlement—San Thomé; and young Walter Raleigh lost his life in the fight. Keymis, with a remnant of the men left with him, fled in the belief that a powerful Spanish force was in pursuit. When Raleigh and Keymis met, the admiral was severe in his reproof, and required from him such explanation of his conduct as he could give for the satisfaction of His Majesty and the State. Keymis, in great dejection, committed suicide. The crews mutinied, and became quite unmanageable; and the ships returned, each as the crews could find their way, to English ports. On the 21st May, Raleigh in the Destiny reached Kinsale harbour, and on the 21st June arrived at Plymouth, infirm in body, broken in spirit, penniless, dejected, and destitute.

Intrigues against Raleigh were originated and stimulated by Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador. He was beset with spies, who ensnared him into acts and confessions—to be employed against him. Sir Lewis Stukely, a cousin of Raleigh, an infamous wretch, was the traitor of the miserable drama. Again the grand old man had to stand his trial; the charge now was, of having abused the king’s confidence by setting out to find gold in a mine which never existed, with instituting a piratical attack upon a peaceful Spanish settlement, with attempting to capture the Mexican166 Plate fleet, although he had been specially warned that he would take his life in his hands, if he committed any one of these three faults.

Raleigh was tried before the Commissioners on 22nd October. He denied having had any intention of stirring up war between England and Spain, and declared that he had confidently believed in the existence of the gold mine. He confessed that in case of his failing to find the mine, he would if he could have taken the Mexican fleet. At the close of the examination, Lord Francis Bacon, in the name of the commissioners, said that he was guilty of abusing the confidence of King James, and of injuring the subjects of Spain, and that he must prepare to die,—being already civilly dead. Execution was ordered upon the Winchester sentence of 1603. On the 28th October 1618 he was roused from his bed in the Tower, where he lay suffering from a severe attack of ague. The order of movement was so hurried that the barber remarked that his master had not had time to comb his head. “Let them comb it that are to have it,” said Raleigh. He had been brought first to Westminster Hall from the Tower, and from the Hall was taken to the Gate House. On the way he told his old friend, Sir Hugh Beeston, “to secure a good place at the show next morning, adding that he (Raleigh) was sure of one.” His cousin, Francis Thynne, suggested that he should be more serious, lest his enemies should169 report his levity. Raleigh rejoined, “It is my last mirth in this world, do not grudge it to me.” The good Dr. Tounson, Dean of Westminster, a stranger to Raleigh, was puzzled by his conduct, but confessed his admiration. After the execution, he reported “he was the most fearless of death he had ever known, and the most resolute and confident, yet with reverence and conscience.”


It was late, on the evening before the date fixed for execution, when Lady Raleigh knew that the end was so near. She hastened to the Gate House, and remained till midnight with her husband, from whom she had been so much parted involuntarily, and from whom she was to be so soon finally separated in this life.

In the morning the dean visited Raleigh in the Gate House, and administered the Eucharist. He ate a hearty breakfast, and smoked a pipe of tobacco. The servant brought him a cup of sack, and, after he had drunk, asked if the wine was to his liking. “I may answer you,” said Raleigh, “as the fellow did on his way to Tyburn. ‘It is good drink, if a man might stay by it.’” As they passed through the dense crowd that had assembled, Raleigh noticed a very old man bareheaded. He pulled off the rich laced cap that he was wearing, and, throwing it to the old man with the remark, “Friend, you need this more than I do,” passed on himself bareheaded.


On the scaffold he delivered an ingenious and eloquent speech that occupied nearly half an hour. At the windows of an adjacent house he noticed a number of noblemen and gentlemen with whom he had been connected in his foreign adventures, or associated in public affairs. Amongst others were the Earls of Arundel, Oxford, and Northampton. He seemed anxious that they should hear his vindication of his conduct, and apologised for the weakness of his voice, whereupon they came down, solemnly embraced him, and took their places around him on the scaffold. He prayed that the company might bear with him, because this was the third day of his fever, which might cause him to show weakness. “I thank God,” he said, “that He has sent me to die in the light and not in darkness. I also thank God that He has suffered me to die before such an assembly of honourable witnesses, and not obscurely in the Tower, where for the space of thirteen years together I have been oppressed with many miseries. And I return Him thanks that my fever hath not taken me at this time, as I prayed to Him that it might not, that I might clear myself of such accusations unjustly laid to my charge, and leave behind me the testimony of a true heart both to my king and country.”

His speech was ingenious and eloquent, and well fitted to move the sympathy of his hearers. He closed his address—


“And now I entreat that you will all join me in prayer to the great God of heaven, whom I have grievously offended, being a man full of all vanity, who has lived a sinful life in such callings as have been most inducing to it; for I have been a soldier, a sailor, and a courtier, which are courses of wickedness and vice; that His almighty goodness will forgive me, that He will cast away my sins, and that He will receive me into everlasting life.—So I take my leave of you all, making my peace with God.”

His friends lingered on the stage after visitors had been asked to quit, and Raleigh himself requested them to leave, saying smilingly, “I have a long journey to go, and must take my leave of you.” Turning to the headsman, he asked to see his axe. “Let me see it, I prithee,” he said, as the executioner hesitated. “Dost thou think that I am afraid of it?” Feeling its keen edge, he turned to the sheriff, to whom he said with a smile, “’Tis a sharp medicine, but one that will cure me of all my diseases.” The executioner, greatly moved, begged Raleigh to pardon him for this cruel duty his office imposed. Raleigh answered him by a kindly touch on the shoulders and assuring words. Turning to the people, to whom he bowed right and left, Raleigh cried aloud, “Give me heartily your prayers.” He then lay down, and gave the directions to the headsman, “When I stretch forth my hands, despatch172 me.” After a brief space, in which he was supposed to be engaged in silent prayer, he put out his hands, but the man was completely overcome, and could not perform his office. Again he repeated the signal, and yet a third time, saying, “What dost thou fear? Strike, man, strike!” At last he did strike, and with two rapidly delivered blows completely severed Raleigh’s head from his body. According to custom, the head was held up in view of the people, but it is not recorded that they were called upon to behold the head of a traitor!

“All Europe,” says a biographer of last century, “was astonished at the injustice and cruelty of this proceeding; but Gondamor, the Spanish ambassador, thirsted for his blood, on account of his having been the scourge of Spain during the reign of Queen Elizabeth; and King James durst not refuse him the life of a man who, as a soldier, a scholar, and a statesman, was the greatest ornament to his country. This mean-spirited prince, to his eternal infamy, soon after ordered Cortington, one of the residents of Spain, to inform the Spanish Court how able a man Sir Walter Raleigh was, and yet to give them content, he had not spared him, though, by preserving him, he would have given great satisfaction to his subjects, and had at his command, upon all occasions, as useful a man as served any prince in Christendom.”


After the accession of James to the throne of England in 1603, very little happened of interest in connection with naval affairs, except the unfortunate expedition of Sir Walter Raleigh already referred to.

In 1617 there was an important sea-fight with the Turks, near Cagliari. Towards the close of December 1616 the ship Dolphin, Captain Edward Nicholl, left Zante, one of the Ionian Isles, with a full cargo for the Thames. She was a craft of 220 tons, with a crew of thirty-six men and two boys, and armed with nineteen pieces of cast ordnance and five “murderers,”—a name given to small pieces of cannon made to load at the breech. On the 8th January 1617 she sighted174 Sardinia. There was a west wind, and at nine in the morning she stood inshore for Cagliari. About noon she was close to two watch-towers from which cannon were fired, as a signal that the guard wished to speak with the crew. The object, not clearly understood, was to warn them that Turkish war vessels were cruising off the coast. Early on 12th January they saw a large vessel steering towards them. She was manned by armed men. Soon five other vessels were descried. The ports were open, and they were evidently bent on hostility. Preparations were accordingly made for battle, when the captain thus addressed his men: “Countrymen and fellows, you see into what an exigency it has pleased God to suffer us to fall. Let us remember that we are but men, and must of necessity die—where, and when, and how, is of God’s appointment; but if it be His pleasure that this must be the last of our days, His will be done; and let us, for His glory, our soul’s welfare, our country’s honour, and the credit of ourselves, fight valiantly to the last gasp. Let us prefer a noble death to a life of slavery; and if we die, let us die to gain a better life.”

The crew responded by a loud assent and cheers. The leading Turkish vessel had fifteen hundred men on board. After a tremendous struggle, in which one after the other of the enemy attacked the Dolphin, she got safely into Cagliari, with the loss of seventeen men. The177 captains of three of the Turkish war vessels were Englishmen.


But the chief event of this period was the establishment of the great English Colonies in North America. The first region colonised was Virginia—so called, as has been stated, in honour of Queen Elizabeth. A belt of twelve degrees on the American coast—from Cape Fear to Halifax—was set apart to be colonised by two rival companies. The first of these was composed of noblemen, gentlemen, and merchants in and about London; the second of knights, gentlemen, and merchants in the west of England. On the 19th December 1606, a squadron of three vessels, the largest not exceeding 100 tons burden, sailed for “the dear strand of Virginia, earth’s only paradise.” Michael Drayton, the patriot poet of “Albion’s glorious isle,” cheered them on their voyage in the following lines:—

“Go, and in regions far,
Such heroes bring ye forth
As those from whom we came;
And plant our name
Under that star
Not known unto our north.”

A severe storm carried the fleet, which had sailed by way of the Canaries and the West India Islands, into the magnificent bay of Chesapeake. A noble river was soon entered, which was named after King James, and on the 13th May 1607, the peninsula of Jamestown was178 selected for the site of the colony. After many early struggles the colony became settled, and in 1619 a Legislature was constituted. The Church of England was established as the Church of Virginia. All persons were to frequent Divine service upon the Sabbath-days, both forenoon and afternoon. Penalties were appointed for idleness, gaming with dice or cards, and drunkenness. And excess in apparel was taxed in the church for all public contributions. Gradually the colony, which was nurtured by a most influential company in London, became settled, and it soon increased in prosperity.

The New England Colony was founded about the same period. A Puritan community in the north of England, being persecuted at home, fled to Amsterdam in 1608. Their minister, a man of high character and great ability, was John Robinson. The Dutch made them large offers to settle in their colonies, but the pilgrims were attached to their nationality as Englishmen, and to the language of their country. A secret, but deeply-seated love of country led them to the resolution of recovering the protection of their country, by enlarging her dominions. They resolved to make a settlement of their own. They at first thought of joining the colony of Virginia, but, after consultation with the English Government, religious liberty was refused them. At length they resolved to sail at their own hazard, and made ready for their departure179 from Leyden. The ships which they had provided—the Speedwell of 60 tons, and the Mayflower of 180 tons—could hold but a minority of the congregation, and Robinson was therefore detained at Leyden; while Brewster, the governing elder, conducted “such of the youngest and strongest as freely offered themselves.” There were solemn instructions given them, and there was much prayer. They soon reached Southampton, and on the 5th August 1620 sailed from thence for America. The Speedwell put back, as unfit for the voyage, and the Mayflower at length, on 6th September, set sail alone with 102 on board,—men, women, and children,—without any warrant from King James. After a boisterous voyage of sixty-three days they cast anchor in the harbour of Cape Cod. Before they landed they formed themselves into a body politic by a solemn voluntary compact “to frame such just and equal laws as shall be thought most convenient,” and they pledged themselves to submission and obedience. They had to encounter terrible difficulties in seeking for a secure harbour, in the midst of a cold and stormy winter; but at length, on 11th December, they chose a spot, which they called Plymouth. When a body of Indians was discovered hovering near, the colony assumed a military organisation, with Miles Standish as the captain. Again in April the Mayflower sailed for Europe; and in autumn180 new emigrants arrived. In the summer the bay of Massachusetts and harbour of Boston were explored. The supply of bread was scanty; but, at their rejoicing together after the harvest, the colonists had great quantities of wildfowl and venison. They had many difficulties, but conquered them all, and soon became a strong, free community, of high moral character and devoted piety, though intolerant in some of their laws, according to the spirit of the age. They became a centre of attraction to many of the Puritans in England, and their number thus increased rapidly. This colony laid the basis of the principles of the United States constitution,—adopted a century and a half later. It was the true foundation of the great American nation.


Cromwell, with his great grasp of mind, saw at once the vast importance of the English navy, which, during the civil wars, had been neglected, and bent all his energies, not only to make it effective, but to give it the supreme command of the seas. The Dutch had become, through the long discords in England, the great traders of the world; they now aimed at nothing less than securing naval supremacy. It was this that brought about the fierce conflict between the two nations, both Protestant, and both at the time liberal,—which lasted for several years. The Dutch were unwilling to pay deference to the English Commonwealth by showing the wonted respect to the English flag in British waters. They probably thought that England182 was almost defunct as a sea-power, and they knew little the ruler with whom they had to deal. Cromwell had ulterior views, as to crushing the religious despotism which, with Spain as its chief instrument, had been long attempting to stamp out all Christian liberty. He could not proceed, however, with his plans, while Holland lay behind him as a possible enemy. Had the Dutch taken at the time a statesmanlike view of the position, they would have hailed the English Commonwealth as fighting the very battle which they themselves had fought,—and there might then have been a union of the naval forces of the two nations, for the good of the world, as afterwards, in the time of William III. But the Dutch looked only to their passing commercial interests. It was they that, by their exhibition of contempt for the English flag, originated the war. The battles during this war were about the fiercest ever fought on the seas. The result seemed uncertain for a time, but in the end England gained the day, and Holland had to succumb. Then, with Holland powerless, Cromwell was free to carry out his great policy, as to Spain and the Catholic powers. The navy entered the Mediterranean, where England had before no position at all, and swept everything before it, under its brave and godly commander, Blake, who felt, as did Cromwell, that he was fighting the universal battle of liberty of conscience. When Piedmont massacred numbers of her subjects, belonging to185 the ancient Vaudois Church, in the Alpine valleys, Cromwell was in a position, through his navy in the Mediterranean, to command the cessation of the persecution, and he thundered forth in the ears of astonished Europe, by his immortal secretary John Milton, such threats as alarmed the whole array of persecutors, and compelled submission to his demands,—for England now commanded the seas, and could sweep the coast of Italy, and all Mediterranean territory. To the foresight and statesmanship of Oliver Cromwell, John Milton, and Robert Blake is due, in great part, the position which England has occupied ever since, as the leading maritime power of the world.

O Cromwell


To designate some of the naval heroes of early times gallant “sea dogs,” is not disrespectful to these worthies. Dashing courage, indomitable perseverance, and open-handed generosity, were the qualities, by which they were chiefly distinguished. But to apply such an epithet to Robert Blake, “Admiral and General at Sea,” would be altogether unsuitable.

Grave, scholarly, courageous, generous, disinterested, wise in counsel, valiant in war, Admiral Blake occupied a high place among the men of his time. He has been pronounced one of the most perfect characters of his age.

Robert Blake was born at Bridgewater, Somersetshire,187 in 1598, the year before that in which Oliver Cromwell first saw the light. His father, Humphrey Blake, was possessed of landed property, and was also a merchant adventurer. He belonged to what Fuller, in his Worthies, calls the “middle-sized gentry.” The first portion of his education he received at the Bridgewater grammar school. When sixteen years of age he entered St. Alban’s Hall, Oxford, and afterwards shifted to Wadham College. He remained at Oxford for nine years, and had probably a stronger inclination to follow a scholastic life than for the adventurous career he passed through. He felt drawn into the great struggle of his time by his position and his sense of duty; the hurry and distracting influences of the life of after years never took away either the taste, which had made him learned, or the earnestness which had made him a Puritan.

In the year 1625, Robert was recalled home on account of the illness of his father, whose business affairs were in a very unsatisfactory condition. The father died in embarrassed circumstances, and upon Robert devolved the charge of his widowed mother and a large family, with a somewhat straitened income. He discharged his duties as head of the family with fidelity and success, and conducted himself in an exemplary manner in his domestic, social, and business relations. His brothers and sisters made their way in the world, married, and settled respectably.


At the time of Blake’s return to Bridgewater, State affairs and the relations between the sovereign and his subjects were causing much excitement and turmoil. Charles I. was at war with his Parliament, and wringing taxes illegally from his people, which many of them resisted. The king’s Catholic consort, Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henry IV. of France, hated the Puritans, and urged Charles to the exercise of absolute power, in resisting their reasonable demands. His first and second Parliaments refused the supplies he demanded. His third Parliament wrung from him assent to the famous “petition of right,”—a second Magna Charta,—which he nominally granted, but in practice resisted. From 1629 to 1640 there had been no meeting of Parliament; in 1640, when the Short Parliament, as it was called, was summoned, Blake was returned as representative for Bridgewater. In 1645 he was elected for Taunton to serve in the Long Parliament.

Oxford was not a likely nursery for Puritans, but Blake was a man of independent mind, and of resolute character. He considered the dissolution of the Short Parliament a declaration of defiance to the people on the part of the king, and took it as a signal for action, and declared for the Parliamentarians. He raised a troop of dragoons, who were among the first of the Parliamentary army that took the field; they were engaged in almost every action of importance in the189 western counties. Blake, although himself only a raw, untrained volunteer, distinguished himself above all the men about him, in the “marvellous fertility, energy, and comprehensiveness of his military genius”—evidence of native superiority. It has been stated that Prince Rupert alone, in the Royalist force, could be compared to him as a commander and leader. Blake distinguished himself by his gallant defence of Prior’s Hill fort, at the siege of Bristol in 1643, which he would have held, but for the surrender by his chief, Colonel Fiennes. In his next command, Blake had not a pusillanimous commander to overrule him, and showed conclusively the stuff he was made of. He had won the confidence of the Parliament, and was appointed to the Somerset Committee of Ways and Means, and to the lieutenant-colonelcy of Popham’s regiment, a body of stalwart Roundheads, fifteen thousand strong. He made an entry into Bridgewater, with the intention of seizing the castle, but finding that the attempt would be foolhardy, he desisted, and marched with his regiment to Lyme, where he was wanted for the defence of the place. He had a sad memory to carry away from this visit to the familiar scenes of the home of his youth. His younger brother Samuel, who was with his force, strayed from headquarters, and boldly attacked a Royalist recruiting party he fell in with. He was slain in the fray. When the news reached the town, the officers were greatly distressed.190 Colonel Blake suspected from their grave conferences that there was something wrong, of which they were reluctant to tell him. He demanded information, which was given reluctantly in the communication, “Your brother Sam is killed,” explaining how the thing came to pass. The colonel’s grave response was, “Sam had no business there.” Retiring, however, to the Swan Inn, he shut himself up in a room, and mourned bitterly the loss of his brother.

Colonel Blake’s defence of the “little vile fishing town” of Lyme, as Clarendon contemptuously calls it, was a brilliant service. It was besieged by Prince Maurice after he had failed in an attempt to take Plymouth by storm. It was a small place, with a population of about a thousand inhabitants. The natural defences were very weak. The Cavaliers in descending from the heights behind the town, drove in Blake’s outposts, charged with horse, and a shower of hand grenades. The prince summoned Blake to surrender, but the summons was only answered by a fire that emptied many saddles, threw the attacking force into confusion, and compelled them to retire. Day after day, from week to week, the attack was renewed by siege trains and storming parties, in which many gallant Cavaliers were slain. Charles was at Oxford, where he and his court waited in anxious expectation the defeat of Blake and the fall of Lyme, the successful191 defence of which seemed a marvel and a mystery. Instead of receiving the welcome news of Blake’s defeat, they had the mortifying intelligence, that his spirited defence was rousing and rallying the dispersed Parliamentary party in those parts. After a protracted siege, Warwick’s fleet arrived, in time to save Colonel Blake and his besieged heroes from being starved out. The siege was raised, after a loss to the Royalists of two thousand men, many of them of noble and gentle blood,—Blake’s fire having been more deadly, and the cause of heavier loss, than all the actions in the West since the commencement of the war.

Blake’s name and fame were now established, and he had proved his capacity sufficiently to be trusted to cut out his own work. All over the western counties the Cavaliers had strong fortresses, and consequently a line of communication. Blake saw that the possession of Taunton by his party would be of vital importance. He made a rapid march upon it, and carried it almost without encountering resistance. This was on the 8th of July 1644, six days after Cromwell and the Scots had defeated Prince Rupert at the battle of Marston Moor. The possession of Taunton was as important to the Cavaliers as it was to the Parliamentarians, and troops poured round the lines that had been formed for the defence of the inland town. Blake, who had been invested with office as Governor of Taunton, was summoned192 to surrender, but a deaf ear was turned to the summons. Again, the Governor of Bridgewater, Wyndham, sent an earnest entreaty to his old neighbour and fellow-townsman to accept the liberal terms of surrender offered, but Blake was influenced by a sense of public duty with which considerations of friendly ties or his own personal safety and comfort could not be allowed to interfere. Appeals to the patriot were made in vain, and so the siege began.


Governor Wyndham, who had charge of the attack, formed a blockade, barricading the roads with trees. A clever German officer who joined Blake made a dashing attack on Wyndham’s line, and broke it, which gave a short relief; but Goring’s forces came up from Weymouth to join in the attack, their track marked by every horror that can accompany civil war. Many of the inhabitants, to escape slaughter, fled before Goring to the besieged town, as to a sanctuary. Taunton excited the king’s party to fury; numerous councils were held, and various plans proposed, to effect its speedy subjugation. Their whole power was brought to bear upon it. Blake’s defence exhibited a rare combination of civil and military genius. The spectacle was one of the most remarkable ever presented in the history of battles and sieges. An inland town, without walls for defence, or any natural protection, surrounded by strong castles and garrisons, and invested by an enemy numerous,195194 watchful, and well supplied with artillery,—the defenders successfully resisting the attacks persistently made upon it for months. This stubborn resistance paralysed the king’s power, and gave to Cromwell the opportunity, of which he took full advantage, of remodelling his army. The besieged town was surrounded, as by a wall of fire. The suburbs were burned and pillaged, and the outer houses of the town crumbled into rubbish before the continuous shower of cannon balls. The brave defenders suffered the pangs of famine, but Blake’s zeal sustained their drooping courage and continued resistance. One of his answers, during a parley, to a repeated summons to surrender, was that he had four pairs of boots left, and would eat three pairs of them before he would give in. Another time, when threatened that when the town surrendered, unless it surrendered now, all but seven persons found in it would be put to the sword, his reply was, that he wanted the names of the seven, and their bodies would be sent out. He and his brave comrades were almost in the last stage of suffering and peril when Fairfax sent four regiments to his relief, and the siege was raised on the 11th May 1645.

The country around Taunton was terribly devastated, and almost completely depopulated, and the spectacle presented by the town inexpressibly shocking. This remarkable siege, which lasted a year, attracted the196 attention and admiration of foreign military critics, who did Blake the honour of pronouncing Taunton the modern Saguntum. Goring, the Royalist commander, had sworn fiercely that he would take the town, or leave his body in the trenches. He did neither, but beat a sullen retreat.

Blake’s victory was a great triumph for Parliament, which voted him thanks, and a gift of £500. Although elected to sit in Parliament for Taunton, and now regarded as a distinguished national hero, he did not attend Parliament, or put himself in the way of the popular ovations that many would have courted rather than avoided. It is believed that he had no sympathy with the regicides, and reported, indeed, concerning his feelings on this subject, that he would “as freely venture his life to save the king as he had ventured it to serve the Parliament.” He was a practical and a moderate man, and a gentleman, and had only opposed the king, because the king’s policy and conduct had been, as he considered, unjust, and dangerous to Protestantism and the State. With the king in prison, and his cause defeated, Blake was satisfied.

It was not desirable, Cromwell and his party probably thought, that a man possessing, deservedly, such commanding influence, of such independent mind, and holding opinions so moderate, should be near the centre of affairs or intrigues. Some such considerations may197 have led to his being appointed to the chief naval command. He possessed in an eminent degree the higher qualities necessary in a naval commander, but their cultivation was commenced at an unprecedentedly late period in life. If he had commenced his nautical training early, and continued it during the whole of his life, he could scarcely have achieved higher fame than he did, though his naval career began at fifty years of age. He vacated his comparatively quiet post of Governor of Taunton—his chief duties connected probably with the rebuilding of the town—to assume office as “General and Admiral at Sea,” a title afterwards changed to “General of the Fleet,” and again to “Admiral of the Fleet.”

Blake’s career and history are unique; among its greatest men, the world has rarely seen an accomplished scholar, a famous general, and still more famous admiral, with such a splendid record, united in one and the same man. The scope of his powers, the strength of his character, his wonderful ability to adapt himself to his position and surroundings, the rapidity with which he acquired knowledge,—in a word, his master mind, were abundantly displayed in the command of a force, that employed a language and conducted operations with which he had been previously entirely unacquainted.

It has been conjectured that the Blakes of Somersetshire came originally from Northumberland, and that the198 “forbears” of the Northumbrian Blakes, Blackes, or Blaks, a Scandinavian name, hailed from Norway or Denmark.

Blake joined the fleet on the 18th April 1649, eight months after the revolt of a part of the fleet to the Royalists. His first expedition was against his old adversary, Prince Rupert, who had also taken to the sea, and whose exploits were not of a very dignified character, consisting of picking up merchant ships in the Channel, and conveying them to Kinsale harbour, on the south coast of County Cork. Blake blockaded the prince for a long time, but he contrived to escape, with the loss of three ships, and made for Portugal, whither Blake followed, and again blockaded him in the river Tagus. Here Blake seized the Brazil fleet of the King of Portugal, and afterwards pursued and harassed Rupert, hither and thither, in the Mediterranean. Blake destroyed the principal part of the prince’s fleet at Carthagena, and Rupert escaped with three ships to the West Indies. He had been sheltered for a time at Toulon, which Blake avenged by taking several French ships. This first cruise in the Mediterranean by Admiral Blake was the beginning of our maritime influence and ultimate ascendency in those important waters.

The admiral’s maritime operations were watched with lively interest at home, and the result of his first cruises to Ireland, Portugal, and the Mediterranean was to199 fairly inaugurate his naval fame. It had seasoned him in his new profession, and made him every inch a sailor. He very soon commanded the confidence of the men,—became among them, indeed, an object of almost affectionate adoration. The naval system of the time stood greatly in need of reform, and no man could have been found more capable and willing to effect needed reforms than Blake. His care for the wellbeing of the men, and his progressive reforms, commenced at once with his going on board. It has been said concerning him that “he was from first to last England’s model seaman. Envy, hatred, and jealousy dogged the steps of every other officer of the fleet.” The Council of State conferred upon him almost unlimited powers, which he exercised with masterly success, startling officials and others by his bold and independent action, and contempt for established routine and red-tape, when they stood in the way of what he considered the best means for attaining desired ends. With but slender resources he performed extraordinary exploits. He effectually suppressed Prince Rupert, and put an end to his freebooting performances, and next directed his attention to Sir John Grenville in the Scilly Isles, and Sir George Cartaret in Jersey, who were seizing and plundering homeward-bound traders. It had been an axiom before Blake’s time that ships were not expected to attack, and should not waste power in attacking,200 castles. He had no respect for the restriction, and brought down the strongholds that the piratical Cavaliers had established in Scilly, Guernsey, and Jersey. The unfortunate Cavaliers whom the civil war had ruined, who had found refuge in these islands, and occupation in plundering at sea, were thus dispersed. For his services Blake was again thanked by Parliament, and voted a thousand pounds. He was also honoured with the appointment of Warden of the Cinque Ports.

In the year 1652, Blake had reached the age of fifty-three, but was still young and inexperienced as commander of a fleet. Able or otherwise, competent or incompetent, he was forced into conflict with the most thoroughly experienced, courageous, and competent naval commander, and the most powerful navy of the time—that of Holland. It had to be settled, whether England or Holland was to be sovereign of the seas. The foes that Blake had hitherto encountered at sea, such as Prince Rupert, Grenville, and Cartaret, were comparatively insignificant; he was now called upon to defeat, or be defeated by, such redoubtable and experienced naval commanders as Van Tromp, De Witt, and De Ruyter. Van Tromp, who of the trio named was Blake’s first antagonist, was the son of a famous sea-captain, and had been afloat since he was ten years old.

Blake’s first encounter with Van Tromp was caused201 by an act of defiance on the part of the Dutch. During the civil wars in England they had acquired great naval power and commercial prosperity. They wished to combat, therefore, the long maintained supremacy of the English flag in the narrow seas, where foreigners were accustomed to strike their colours on meeting our flag. Van Tromp, with a fleet of forty-five men-of-war, appeared in the Downs, where Blake was lying. Blake had only twenty ships with him, but, on the approach of the Dutch admiral’s ship, he fired three shots across his bows, to require him to show the usual respect to the flag, in seas considered to be under British dominion. Van Tromp answered with a broadside, and hung out the red flag as a signal for an engagement. Blake, in a vehement passion, curling his whiskers, as he used to do when angry, answered in kind, and for some time stood alone in his flag-ship against the whole force of the enemy, when, the rest of the squadron coming up, the battle went on from four P.M. till nine,—the Dutch then retreating, and leaving two of their vessels in his hands.

Blake continued to master the Channel. All pretence of reserve being thrown away, in consequence of the late engagement, he exerted all his power to harass the enemy’s trade, and to fit out such vessels as had fallen into his hand for immediate service against them. His cruisers brought prizes into port almost daily during the latter part of May and June. One day he received202 intelligence that a Dutch fleet of twenty-six traders, convoyed by three men-of-war, was coming up the Channel. They were all captured, traders and convoy, and the latter immediately manned and fitted for service. In less than a month, to the surprise and ecstasy of the Londoners, he had sent into the river more than forty rich prizes, captured in open sea from their vigilant and powerful enemy. The Dutch merchants were compelled to abandon the Straits. Their argosies from the south of Europe, and from the East and West Indies, had either to run for safety into French ports, and send their cargoes overland at an immense loss, or make the long and dangerous voyage round by the north. This brilliant success vivified the Council of State with new life. Orders were given to strengthen Dover pier. Forty sail were added by a vote to the fleet. At Blake’s suggestion, six additional fire-ships were prepared. The seamen’s wages were raised; and the vice-admirals of all the maritime stations from Norfolk to Hampshire were requested to summon together all mariners between the ages of fifteen and twenty, young, ardent, docile, and engage them in the State’s service. The Council of State, of which Blake was a member, resolved that the entire fleet should be raised to 250 sail and 14 fire-ships. At the end of one month from the fight off Dover, the energetic admiral could count with patriotic pride no less than 105 vessels, carrying 3961 guns under his flag.



Off Dover, 10th December 1652.


“The Dutch preparations for the campaign were also made ‘on the grandest scale.’ In a few weeks their renowned admiral, ripe in age, honours, and experience, saw himself at the head of 120 sail of ships—a power more than sufficient, in the opinion of every patriotic Dutchman, to sweep the English navy from the face of the earth.”

Blake proceeded to the North Sea, in the Resolution, of sixty-eight guns, accompanied by a squadron of smaller vessels, to disperse the great herring fleet of the Dutch. While in the North Sea on this service, Van Tromp followed him with a large fleet; but a tremendous storm scattered the Dutch forces, shattering on the rocks some of the vessels, and dispersing the others, so that the Dutch admiral had to return home to refit his vessels. Blake had kept his fleet together under shelter of the mainland of the Shetland Islands, and although he had not escaped without serious injury to many ships, he had not suffered nearly so much. He hung in the rear of the disabled Dutch ships, ravaged the coasts of Zealand, and reached Yarmouth with prizes and nine hundred prisoners. Clamorous at a reverse in a fleet from which victory had been expected, a Dutch mob insulted Van Tromp, and, in a fit of disgust, he laid down his commission, and retired into private life.

We may note here Van Tromp’s career. At ten years old, he was present in his father’s ship at the famous206 battle fought against Spain under the walls of Gibraltar in 1607. Shortly after that memorable event, he was captured by an English cruiser, after a brisk engagement, in which his father lost his life. Two years and a half he was compelled to serve in the menial capacity of cabin-boy on board the captor,—and thus were the seeds of hatred to England and the English sown in his proud and passionate heart. Once planted, this hatred grew with his growth, and strengthened with his strength. For a long time his life was passed on board fishing-boats and merchantmen; but his nautical genius was irresistible, and he fought his way through legions of obstacles to high command. At thirty years old he was confessedly the ablest navigator in Holland. More than twenty years he had now commanded his country’s fleet with success against Spain,—and had done more than any other individual to humble the pride and reduce the power of that extensive empire.

The States-General of Holland associated De Ruyter with De Witt in the supreme command of the Dutch navy; Blake and Ayscue were associated in the command of the force which was to meet the next attack to be delivered by the Dutch against the English in English waters. Meantime Blake, with characteristic judgment and promptitude, delivered a blow in another direction. He overhauled and defeated a French squadron on its way to relieve Dunkirk from the siege of the Archduke207 Leopold. Blake’s intervention was completely successful, and ensured prevention of the use of Dunkirk by the Dutch against the English, with the connivance of the French Government. This prompt action on Blake’s part was evidence of his genius and of his keen perception as a commander, and of the confidence reposed in him by the Commonwealth.

Much more imposing events in Blake’s career than any hitherto recorded were now pending. It had to be determined whether the English or Dutch were to be “Mistress of the Seas.” On the 28th September 1652, the Dutch fleet were off the North Foreland under De Witt, De Ruyter, and Evertsen. Blake, in the Resolution, at about four o’clock in the afternoon, bore down upon them, signalling the ships of his squadron to reserve their fire for close quarters,—and a murderous fire it was at close quarters till nightfall,—when the Dutch drew off, but still fighting. Two of the Dutch ships went down in the action, and two were carried, by boarding. Next morning, De Witt would have continued the fight, but De Ruyter and Evertsen refused to renew the action, and the Dutch fleet, terribly cut up, went home. Blake pursuing, was received with scorn and contempt; but his return was hailed with enthusiasm by his grateful countrymen.

The States, with wonderful energy and rapidity, got together another great fleet to sweep English waters208 of any power that might dare to oppose it. It was commanded by Van Tromp, De Ruyter, Evertsen, and Floritz. Blake’s commission was renewed as General and Admiral of the Fleet, with General Monk and Colonel Deane as colleagues. Not anticipating a renewed attack in force by the Dutch, Blake had separated his force for a number of duties to different destinations, and had only retained a fleet of thirty-seven ships, including frigates, in the Channel. With this small force he had to meet Van Tromp at the head of a hundred Dutch men-of-war. Notwithstanding the enormous disparity of force, Blake did not flinch, but stood to his guns, and for once, as was not to be wondered at, had the worst of the fight. In evidence that he had swept the sea, Van Tromp cruised along the south coast with a broom at his mast-head. Blake was dissatisfied with the conduct of some of his commanders, and asked to be relieved of his command. His proffered resignation was not accepted; on the contrary, the Council of State thanked him for his conduct in the engagement. Blake’s own brother Benjamin had not conducted himself to the admiral’s satisfaction, and he was sent ashore,—no excuse he could offer availing to avert the disgrace.

In February 1653, Blake was again at sea with a fleet of sixty ships, with Monk and Deane and a force of soldiers on board. With him were Penn as vice-admiral,209 and Lawson as rear-admiral. On the 18th, Van Tromp was sighted near Cape de la Hogue; he was in charge of a considerable convoy of merchantmen. As if eager for the fray, he left them to windward, and bore down upon the English. The leading ships of the English, in which were the three admirals, were considerably ahead of Monk and the main body of the fleet, for whom, however, they did not wait. Van Tromp in the Brederode passed on the weather-side of the Triumph, into which he poured a broadside, which he repeated from under the lee. The rearward ships of the English fleet came up with all speed, and a terrific general action ensued. The incessant roar of the guns was heard with exciting interest on both sides of the Channel, proclaiming the fierce struggle between the sea giants. In the action itself and around it, startling evidence abounded of its destructive character, and the resolute purpose and fierce valour of the combatants on both sides. Here, a ship on fire belching its towers of lurid flame into the cold wintry sky; there, two opposing ships crashing against each other; in another place, the wild shouts of the boarders, making headlong charges, met, repulsed, and renewed with varying fortune. The battle commenced in the forenoon; Monk, with the white division of the English fleet, came up at noon, and the whole of the forces continued engaged during the remainder of the day. The day’s action cost the bold and210 bellicose Van Tromp eight of his ships by destruction or capture. Sorely crippled and deeply wounded, but not subdued, he retreated, only to look after the merchantmen of his convoy that looked to him for protection. Several of Blake’s fleet had been boarded, but recaptured; one of his ships, the Sampson, had the captain and a large number of the men killed; those who remained were transferred to Blake’s own ship, the Triumph,—and the Sampson was allowed to drift to leeward. The Triumph and her crew suffered greatly in the action; Ball the captain was killed, the men were mown down at their guns, Blake himself was wounded in the leg, and the decks ran red with blood. The long night was spent in sending away, and otherwise caring for, the wounded, and in preparing for a renewal of the conflict on the morrow.

Enclosing his convoy in such position as he thought would best enable him to protect them, Van Tromp sailed up channel with them in the morning with a light breeze. Blake followed him up, and a running fight was kept up throughout the second day, at the close of which Van Tromp had lost five more of his ships, and he retreated towards Boulogne. It was the Dutch commander’s misfortune to be clogged by subordinates who were unworthy to serve under such a courageous leader. Some of his cowardly captains who advised retreat were indignantly ordered to retire, and did so211 during the night. On the morning of the third day, Blake renewed the attack upon Van Tromp’s reduced forces,—the gallant Dutchman suffering grave disadvantage from the encumbrance of his convoy, as well as from the demoralisation of a part at least of the officers and men of the fleet. He endeavoured to send off the merchantmen to Calais, but the wind was against them, and the merchantmen and fighting ships got mixed up, hindering his effective action. Blake, of course, made legitimate use of his advantages, and, pressing him hard, drove the defeated Dutch admiral—the broom no longer at his mast-head—to take shelter with the remnant of his fleet on the French coast. In the morning it was found that Van Tromp had departed, carrying the news of his own defeat. So ended this famous battle, in which the English loss was great and grievous, but that of the enemy much more disastrous. The flag-ship Triumph suffered greatly in its encounters with Van Tromp’s ship, the two commanding admirals and their respective ships being much engaged in close encounter with each other. Captain Ball of the Triumph was shot dead; Mr. Sparrow, Blake’s secretary, fell at his feet while taking his orders; a hundred of the crew were killed, and about as many wounded; the Fairfax had a hundred men killed, the Vanguard and other ships also suffering severely. Van Tromp’s ship was disabled, and the greater part of its officers slain.212 Eight men-of-war and a large number of the Dutch merchantmen fell into the hands of the English. The Dutch loss in the three days’ engagement has been stated at eleven men-of-war, thirty merchantmen, fifteen hundred killed, and as many wounded. The English only lost one ship, the Sampson, which, as stated, was allowed to drift and founder, after the crew were taken off. Blake made effective use of the soldiers on board, this being one of the earliest occasions of the many upon which the marines, as they are now called, have highly distinguished themselves in action.

Blake’s great victory caused much jubilation in London; a national thanksgiving was appointed, and a Patriotic Fund was formed for the benefit of the widows and children of the men who had fallen in the conflict. Blake remained for a time at St. Helen’s, refitting and preparing for what might next happen in the way of a Dutch attack. Learning that Van Tromp was again preparing for sea, Blake proceeded to the Texel, where he did not exactly flourish a broom in sight of the enemy, but treated him with like provocation, without effect, however; and he next proceeded with a small squadron, with which he cruised for a time off the east coast of Scotland, where he was on 20th April 1653, when Cromwell came down to the House of Commons, drove out the Rump Parliament, locked the door of the House, and put the key in his pocket. Admiral Blake215 did not personally figure as a politician in these important State events. As a commander of the State forces, he held that it was not his “business to mind State affairs, but to keep foreigners from fooling us,” and he remained afloat at his post.


In June the Dutch again made a marine parade in the Channel, with a hundred and twenty ships of war, carrying four admirals. Admiral Lawson of the blue squadron first fell in with them, and engaged De Ruyter on the forenoon of the 2nd June. The ships of both fleets came up promptly, and a desperate broadside engagement at close quarters ensued. The fight was continued to the close of the long summer day, and after a few hours’ interval and some manœuvring, was renewed with unabated fury in the morning. Blake, who had joined the Channel fleet with his squadron from the North, had with him his nephew, also a Robert Blake, a young hero who distinguished himself by breaking the Dutch line, amid the roaring cheers of the men of the English fleet. Van Tromp was furious, and his men on board the Brederode performed desperate feats of valour. They boarded Admiral Penn’s ship, the James, but were repulsed and followed to the Brederode, the sacred quarter-deck of which was reached by the men of the James. This was more than Van Tromp could stand, and he threw a firebrand into the magazine, which blew up the decks and effectually dispersed the boarders.216 The Dutch admiral’s own life was saved as if by miracle, but belief that he was killed brought the crisis of the battle. The Dutch fleet broke into wild disorder, and sheered off, each taking its own course, the English in hot pursuit, sinking one after another of the fugitives. Van Tromp got away, but his defeat was crushing and final. The Dutch had eight men-of-war destroyed, eleven captured, and a very heavy loss in officers and men. The English ships were terribly battered and damaged, but the loss in killed and wounded was much less than that sustained by the enemy.

Hard work, hard living, and high pressure conquered, in their combined attack, on Admiral Blake’s health and strength, and he was reluctantly compelled to go ashore, ill with a complication of disorders, including the sailor’s peculiar distemper, scurvy, fever, and threatened dropsy. While the great commander was thus disabled, and involuntarily off duty, it devolved upon Admirals Penn and Lawson and General Monk to conduct the last grand encounter with the naval power of the Dutch Republic. Van Tromp, De Ruyter, and Evertsen, were again the opposing commanders. Again the battle lasted for three days, and again the English were completely victorious, and achieved for England the title, never since disputed, of being “Mistress of the Seas.” On the last of these three days, the great Van Tromp received a bullet in his heart, which, we feel sure,217 caused him much less pain, than he would have suffered, had he been spared to cherish the bitter memory of his defeat.

During his temporary retirement from the navy, Admiral Blake attended in his place in Parliament, transacted important business with the Navy Commissioners, dined occasionally with Oliver Cromwell, and gave energetically his personal attention and labours to the important work of reform, not of the navy and its administration,—in these he had already effected great reforms,—but of other important public institutions. He aspired, even, to “purging the churches of England of ignorant, scandalous, and inefficient pastors.” Blake was a man among ten thousand, and was doubtless equal to the efficient discharge of even this delicate and difficult duty. It may be noted that he was a great student of the Bible, and regularly conducted the family devotions in his own house.

The naval supremacy that Admiral Blake had done so much to achieve was not to remain inert or valueless. Proud, priest-ridden Spain, the enemy of truth, righteousness, and freedom of worship, had to be crippled and humbled. A new naval force was created and organised in 1654, and Blake, at the head of a fleet, sailed from England, with sealed orders, towards the end of that year. He first visited Cadiz, whence he sailed in pursuit of the Duke of Guise, who was understood to have gone218 to Naples with hostile intent. The duke was not there, and Blake next proceeded to Leghorn, where he demanded and obtained from the Grand Duke of Tuscany a large sum of money as compensation to the owners of ships, that had been sold there by the Princes Rupert and Maurice. The admiral’s name and fame had preceded him, and his irresistible power caused consternation among the states bordering on the Mediterranean. Having settled with the Duke of Tuscany, he next sent in his account against the sovereign pontiff, Alexander VII., for ships sold by the same princes, in ports under the sovereignty of His Holiness. The admiral did not object to foreign coin in payment, and accordingly received on board the sixty-gun ship George, the sum of twenty thousand pistoles, in whole or part payment of his Roman account. He next sailed southwards, with the desire of bringing the piratical powers of North Africa to a better state of mind and behaviour. The Bey of Tunis resisted Blake’s overtures, and left the admiral the only alternative of battering his forts and burning all the corsair ships he could get at, both of which he did. He visited in succession Tripoli, Venice, Malta, and Versailles, and was received at some places with honour,—at others with fear and constrained hospitality. He may be regarded as the pioneer, the first of the long line of English admirals that entered with pride the noble bay of Valetta, as an English possession. At Algiers he219 ransomed, for a moderate sum, a number of Englishmen who had fallen into the hands of the Algerine corsairs. A cheery illustration of the good heart of the jolly tars of the time was given while the squadron lay off Algiers. A number of captives, pursued by Moors, swam from the shore to the English ships, and were readily hauled on board, and found to be Dutchmen. The English sailors raised a subscription for them,—many of the men giving a dollar out of their wages,—and the Dutchmen were sent home happy and grateful.

Admiral Blake next touched at Malaga, and reached the Bay of Cadiz in June. By this time his ships were getting much in need of overhauling and repair, and stores were run out, particularly water, renewed supply of which was often obtained with difficulty; and, most distressing of all, the hero’s health and strength were failing greatly, which naturally caused sore depression of spirits. In a touching letter to Cromwell, dated “Aboard the George in Cascaes Road, August 30, 1655,” he writes, after stating some of the difficulties he was encountering: “Our only comfort is that we have a God to lean upon, although we walk in darkness and see no light. I shall not trouble your Highness with any complaints of myself, of the indisposition of my body or the troubles of my mind; my many infirmities will one day, I doubt not, plead for me, or against me, so that I may be free of so great a burden, consoling myself meantime220 in the Lord, and in the firm purpose of my heart with all faithfulness and sincerity, to discharge the trust while reposed in me.”

Although sick and broken, and having well earned his rest, his great heart quailed not nor failed. Cromwell had lost a number of his principal commanders by death or defection, and Blake honoured the draft upon such powers as remained with him. He superintended the operations in the dockyard and arsenal when ashore. At the end of February 1656, he was again afloat in the Naseby. He took on board as his colleague Edward Montague, afterwards Earl of Sandwich. The departing fleet sailed down channel, westward. In the waning light of the bleak brief day, the grave, grand, and heroic patriot took his last look of the hills and vales and rock-bound shores of old England—the country that he had served so well, and that was honoured in having such a son.

His first duty after leaving England was of a diplomatic nature, being to effect, if possible, a satisfactory permanent treaty with Portugal. He left a part of his squadron to watch Cadiz, and came to an anchor with the remainder of the fleet at the mouth of the Tagus. He kept a lookout for the homeward-bound Spanish argosies, and had his patience severely tried. The squadron suffered greatly from a succession of violent gales. Running short of provisions and water, the admiral221 proceeded northwards to Portugal for supplies, leaving the watching squadron of seven ships under the command of Captain Stayner. They had not long parted company ere the expected fleet was sighted—four splendid Spanish galleons, and two Indian merchant ships, laden amongst them with products rich and rare, in gold and silver, pearls and gems, indigo, cochineal, tobacco, etc. It was on the evening of 8th September that the homeward-bounds caught sight of Stayner’s frigates, which they at first mistook for a protecting guard that was to convoy them into port in safety and glad triumph. They were speedily undeceived by Stayner swooping down upon them. They resisted desperately, and there were six hours of hard fighting, in which heavy loss in life and treasure was sustained. The treasure ships had on board as passengers high dignitaries and members of some of the proudest families of Spain and its possessions; one of the ships plundered first, was afterwards the burning tomb of a viceroy and his family who had sailed in it. Montague took home the prizes. The treasure was forwarded to London in thirty-eight heavily-laden waggons, many of them freighted with gold and silver. Under strong military escort, it passed along the streets to the Tower, amid the ringing cheers of the crowd who turned out to welcome its arrival.

Blake, amid hardships and trials that he was now ill fitted to stand against, kept faithfully his post off222 Cadiz. In the spring of 1657 he made a run to Tetuan, and gave a salutary word of warning to the Barbary pirates, that had a restraining effect upon these marauders. “From information received,” but from what source is not communicated, Admiral Blake had reason to believe that another bullion fleet had crossed the Atlantic, and had taken shelter somewhere about the Canary Islands: hither he repaired with his squadron. It was even so, the silver fleet had taken shelter in the strongly fortified harbour of Santa Cruz, in the island of Teneriffe. The spacious harbour is of horse-shoe shape, and was dominated by a strong castle above the inner portion of the area, flanked on each side by a series of forts, connected with earthworks, available for musketry. The water was so deep that the ships could lie close under the forts. The castle and forts were well supplied with guns. The galleons also had their broadsides turned to the narrow entrance of the harbour. To an enemy the harbour entrance seemed the veritable jaws of death. The governor believed his position impregnable, and the precious fleet in the harbour unassailable and absolutely secure. The redoubtable admiral was prostrate from illness, but, with indomitable spirit, he rose from his couch to preside at a council of war. The plan of attack decided on was, for the admiral to lead and direct the bombardment of the castle and the forts, and for Captain Richard223 Stayner to direct his force against the galleons. Blake and Stayner had twenty-five ships between them. For his second’s share in the action Blake chose the innovation, as some authorities considered it, that he had introduced, of attacking strong castles and forts from the floating wooden walls of Old England. The attacking ships were received by a tremendous simultaneous volley from the whole of the guns of the castle, the forts, and the galleys, that could be brought to bear upon them.

It was a battle of gunnery, of weight of metal, of rapidity and precision of delivery. In these particulars the English had the advantage. The forts were knocked about the ears of the gunners that manned them, and silenced one after another. That morning the ships’ companies had prayers before breakfast, and the terrible day’s work commenced immediately after. About noon, Blake had disposed of the land forces so satisfactorily as to be at liberty to assist Stayner in completing the destruction of the galleons, which would have been brought out and carried away as prizes, had this been possible. About two o’clock the work of destruction had been completed. Two of the Spanish ships went down in the course of the attack, and the whole of the others were burned. A favourable change in the wind carried the victors out with flying colours, leaving the costly contents and strong defences of the harbour utterly wrecked.224 The English only sustained the almost incredibly small loss of about fifty killed, and about three times that number wounded. Of this action the historian Clarendon says: “The whole action was so miraculous that all men who knew the place wondered that any sober man, with what courage soever endowed, would ever undertake it; and they could hardly persuade themselves to believe what they had done, whilst the Spaniards comforted themselves with the belief that they were devils, and not men, who had destroyed them in such a manner.”

This brilliant and daring feat of arms caused the highest degree of admiration and delight at home. Cromwell ordered a day of public thanksgiving for the victory; a ring of the value of five hundred guineas was voted to Blake by Parliament; and a gratuity of one hundred pounds to the captain who had brought the intelligence; thanks were also voted to the officers, sailors, and soldiers who had been concerned in the action.


It was the great admiral’s last battle with mortal foes! He was approaching to close quarters with “the last great enemy.” On his way home he paid a visit to Morocco, where he exercised his influence, in further restraining the Sallee rovers, and in procuring the deliverance of some of their Christian captives. He was completely successful in his negotiations, and at last,227 suffering much, wearied and worn-out, he turned his prow towards “home.” Cromwell’s letter, the thanks of Parliament, and the jewel of honour met him on the way, but he was past saving by such solace. While crossing the Bay of Biscay, his illness increased rapidly without check. When England was sighted he was dying, and while others were delighting in the vision of the long-looked-for shores, his noble spirit passed away. He died on board his ship, the St. George, on the 17th August 1657, when he was just entering his sixtieth year. “The St. George,” says Mr. Hepworth Dixon in his Life of Blake, “rode with its precious burden into the Sound; and just as it came into full view of the eager thousands crowding the beach, the pier-head, the walls of the citadel, or darting in countless boats over the smooth waters between St. Nicholas and the docks, ready to catch the first glimpse of the hero of Santa Cruz, and salute him with a true English welcome,—he, in his silent cabin, in the midst of his lion-hearted comrades, now sobbing like little children, yielded up his soul to God.”

His body, embalmed, and enclosed in lead, was carried by sea to Greenwich, where it lay in state for several days. Thence the remains were conveyed in a splendid barge to Westminster Abbey for interment. The imposing river procession embraced a large number of mourners of wide variety in rank and condition,228 including his relations and servants, Cromwell’s Council, the Commissioners of the Navy, admirals and generals, the Lord Mayor and aldermen of London, and a large number of persons of distinction, in their barges and wherries,—the whole marshalled by the heralds at arms. At Westminster, the body had a guard of honour of several regiments of foot, and was landed amid salvoes of artillery. The remains were deposited in a vault in Henry Seventh’s Chapel. A few years later, after the Restoration, Blake’s remains, among those of some others, were rejected from the Abbey, and buried in the Abbey yard, where they have since, it is believed, remained undisturbed. “To their eternal infamy,” says his biographer, “the Stuarts afterwards disturbed the hero’s grave.... Blake had ever been for mild and moderate councils. He had opposed the late king’s trial.... The infamy belonged to Charles himself. Good men looked aghast at such atrocity....” Blake “had laid the foundations of our lasting influence in the Mediterranean, and, in eight years of success, had made England the first maritime power in Europe.”

Blake exhibited a combination of high excellences of character and disposition, and capabilities that are rarely met with in one man. As a leader and commander he was undauntedly brave, fertile in expedients, irresistible in action. Anxious only for the glory and interest of his country, he took no care for personal aggrandisement.229 “His contempt for money, his impatience with the mere vanities of power, were supreme. Bribery he abhorred in all its shapes. He was frank and open to a fault; his heart was ever in his hand, and his mind ever on his lips. His honesty, modesty, generosity, sincerity, and magnanimity were unimpeached. The care and interest with which he looked to the wellbeing of his humblest followers made him eminently popular in the fleet. He was one of England’s simplest, truest, bravest captains, one of her greatest naval heroes, and he was truly a knight sans peur et sans reproche.”


Among the distinguished heroes of the seventeenth century, men born to command, and qualified above their fellows, to achieve renown in the “profession of arms,” as general in the army or as admiral of the fleet, a foremost place has to be assigned to General and Admiral Monk.

George Monk, son of Sir Thomas Monk, was a scion of an ancient and honourable family, that had even by the female line been related to royalty, a pedigree being in existence that shows a descent of the family from Edward IV. The family were established at Potheridge, Devonshire, where George was born on the 6th December 1608. His father’s means were very limited; and, having231 no fortune to divide amongst his family, he designed George for a soldier of fortune, and proceeded to equip him with a “sword” with which to open “the world—his oyster.” His education was intended to prepare him for following the art of war. In his seventeenth year he joined, as a volunteer, a fleet that sailed to Cadiz with hostile intent, under the command of Lord Wimbledon. Two years later he accompanied an unfortunate expedition under Sir John Burroughs to the Île de Rhé. His earliest experiences in warlike adventure were the reverse of encouraging.

Sir Thomas had intended his son George to be a soldier rather than a sailor, but circumstances, that may be glanced at, diverted the young man’s course. Charles I., at the beginning of his reign, visited Plymouth to inspect the naval preparations in progress in view of an expected war with Spain. Sir Thomas wished to pay his duty to the king, and took this opportunity for carrying out his loyal purpose. His financial affairs were in a most unsatisfactory condition. So he sent a considerable present to the under-sheriff of the county, who, in return, gave him a promise of freedom from “molestation” while he paid his duty to the king. The creditors of Sir Thomas, having heard of this arrangement, sent a more considerable present to this official, who unblushingly arrested the old gentleman whom he had betrayed. George, his devoted and232 plucky son, proceeded to Exeter to expostulate with the sheriff, and procure, if possible, his father’s release. He employed his rhetorical powers with much energy, but scant patience. His arguments and appeals were made in vain, and, finding that no redress was to be obtained, he proceeded to give the sheriff a thorough beating, and, without wasting time in leave-taking ceremonies, escaped to Cadiz.

Monk remained connected with the navy till 1628, when he went to Holland, and served with valour under the Earl of Oxford. He returned to England, and from 1641 did military duty in Ireland. In 1643, when the disputes between Charles I. and the Parliament were at their height, Monk was arrested by Fairfax, and imprisoned in the Tower. The king sent to Monk from Oxford a hundred pounds in gold as an expression of his esteem; considering the king’s circumstances, the gift in coin was certainly evidence of his generosity.


Early in 1647, the royal cause being hopeless, Monk obtained his liberty by accepting a commission to serve under his relative Lord Lisle, who was appointed by Parliament to the government of Ireland. He incurred the displeasure of Parliament by entering into a treaty with Owen O’Neile. This he had felt to be the only means by which he could save the remnant of troops left under his command, and preserve the interest of the Parliament in the country. In 1650, Monk accepted a235 commission to serve under Cromwell in Scotland. These engagements seem to have been inconsistent in a loyalist. He was only, it may be, keeping his hand in as a combatant, until the king should “enjoy his own again.” Leaving out of consideration his inconsistency, it may be said with truth that, in Scotland Monk rendered Cromwell most important service, by counsel as well as action.

The Dutch war gave occasion for removing Monk, now a general, from his command in Scotland, to give him employment on board the fleet. He was now forty-five years of age, which seems an advanced period of life for entering upon a profession, for which he had not been designed. The case of Blake, who was older than Monk when he changed from military to naval service, was similar. Both of these distinguished commanders were capable of playing, worthily and well, a variety of parts. At the beginning of his career Monk had been connected with the navy, although he had not had any experience fitting him for high command. His remarkable natural powers and strength of character had to make up for slender experience.

In May 1653 he was afloat, in joint command with Admiral Deane, of a fleet that had been prepared for conflict with the Dutch. Both of the admirals were on board the Resolution. On the 2nd June they fell in with the Dutch fleet, and immediately attacked them236 with desperate vigour. The English fleet consisted of ninety-five men-of-war and five fire-ships. The Dutch fleet consisted of ninety-eight men-of-war and six fire-ships; it was commanded by the famous Admirals De Ruyter, De Witt, and Van Tromp.

Early in the course of the action Admiral Deane was killed by a chain shot.2 Monk was close by, and, with admirable presence of mind, threw his cloak over the mangled body of his colleague, the sight of which would have had a dispiriting effect upon the crew. After a few turns and encouraging the men in the action, he had the body removed, quickly and quietly, to his cabin. No intimation of the loss that had been sustained was made to the fleet, and Monk, now sole commander, continued the action with undiminished energy. The action, which commenced at about eleven o’clock, was continued with great fury till late at night. A forty-two gun ship of the Dutch fleet was sunk, and another large ship, commanded by Van Kelson, was blown up in the course of the action. Admiral Blake arrived at night with a squadron of eighteen ships.

2 The invention of this murderous missile is attributed to the Dutch Admiral De Witt.

Van Tromp would have avoided renewal of the conflict next morning had his honour permitted, but it was forced upon him. Fire was opened about eight o’clock, and the battle raged with great fury till about noon, when the237 Dutch fell into great confusion, and got away as well and as fast as they could, escaping with difficulty to Zealand. Six of the Dutch ships were sunk, two blown up, and eleven taken. Six of their captains were made prisoners, and upwards of fifteen hundred men. The English had Admiral Deane and a captain killed, and a comparatively small number of men, and did not lose a single ship.

The Dutch, undismayed by defeat, fitted a fresh fleet of upwards of ninety ships, that were afloat ready for renewed action in a few weeks. On the 29th July 1653, the hostile fleets came in sight of each other. Monk, in the Resolution, and a squadron of thirty ships, came up with the Dutch fleet, and boldly charged and dashed through their line. Darkness ended the action. The following day was so foul and windy, and the sea ran so high, that fighting would only have been wasting ammunition. Sunday, 31st July, the weather being more calm, witnessed a renewal of the deferred battle. The action raged with terrible fury for about eight hours. De Ruyter’s ship was so severely injured that it had to be towed out of the fleet; the brave admiral, however, did not leave with his ship, but went aboard another to continue the action. The brave Van Tromp was shot through the body. His fall was to his countrymen a paralysing disaster, that seemed to take the heart out of them, and utterly quench what was left of their drooping238 spirit. The Dutch had only one flag left flying,—Van Tromp killed,—all going against them! Again they sought refuge behind the sandbanks on the coasts of their country, whither the victors followed, as closely as their knowledge of the navigation would permit. In the pursuit of the flying foe, the lightest of the English ships took the most prominent part. The Dutch admiral, perceiving that they were only frigates that pursued him, turned upon them, but heavier ships coming up, he was not permitted to sink his tenacious tormentors, but had his own ship captured before he reached the Texel.

This battle was a terrible blow to the Dutch. Twenty-six of their ships were burned or sunk. Five of their captains were taken prisoners, and between four and five thousand men killed. Such is the statement of the historian, which should perhaps be taken with a deduction; for the celerity with which the Dutch provided new fleets and fresh crews, after such disastrous losses, was wonderful. The English are reported to have lost two frigates—the Oak and the Hunter, and had six captains and about five hundred seamen killed. The Dutch Admiral De Witt, in a report to the States, confesses to a heavy loss in ships, and to his having been compelled to retreat, for which he assigns two reasons—that the best of their ships were much shattered, and that many of his officers had behaved like poltroons, by “retiring out of the reach of the enemy’s cannon, as well in this engagement as239 formerly.” He adds, with conclusive force: “If they had been hanged for behaving so before, they had not had it in their power to have acted the same parts over again.”

In this important action a number of merchant ships were engaged. To prevent their making concern, for the safety of their owners’ ships and cargoes, their paramount consideration, and a curb upon their fighting energy, Monk astutely placed the captains in other ships than those to which they were respectively attached. This expedient fully justified itself in the result,—the merchant ships and their captains behaving admirably. Monk also issued orders at the beginning of the fight that quarter was neither to be given nor taken. This order was not given from wanton recklessness of life, but because the taking of ships and conveying them to harbour occupied much time, diverted needed strength, and risked opportunities of advantage. There is no reason to believe that General Monk was displeased with the English crews taking about twelve hundred Dutchmen out of the sea, while their ships were sinking. The “no quarter” order was doubtless intended to apply to ships, not men.

General Monk exhibited, personally, unresting energy and steadfast bravery, from first to last of the battle. Of five Dutch admirals’ flags displayed at the commencement of the action, Monk brought down three—those of240 Van Tromp, Evertsen, and De Ruyter. Monk’s own ship, the Resolution, was so shattered that it had to be towed out of the line; all of the great ships, indeed, were so leaky and unseaworthy as to compel them to give up, lest they should sink, and return home for repair.

Parliament, on the 8th August 1653, ordered gold chains to be sent to Admirals Blake and Monk, in token of appreciation of their services; also to Vice-Admiral Penn and Rear-Admiral Lawson, and to the flag-officers, and medals to the captains. The 25th of August was appointed as a day of solemn thanksgiving. At a great banquet in the city, Oliver Cromwell put the chain of honour on Monk, with grave words of commendation for his public services.

The war had lasted two years, in which time the English had taken from the Dutch seventeen hundred prizes, valued at sixty-two million guilders, or six millions sterling. The prizes taken by the Dutch did not amount to a fourth, in number or value.

A treaty of peace with Holland was made, 4th April 1654. Cromwell had declared himself Lord Protector, and, feeling the weight of governing three kingdoms, he sought out competent officers to share the labour with him. General Monk was appointed to Scotland as a sort of Lord Lieutenant, and commenced his duties in April 1654. He made his residence at the house of the Countess of Buccleuch, at Dalkeith. He is said to have243 governed the country more absolutely, than many of its monarchs had done. His private life was quiet and unostentatious,—husbandry and gardening being his chief amusements.


General Monk’s loyalty to Cromwell was doubted, although his zeal for the Protectorate seemed more effusive, during his tenure of office in Scotland, than it had ever been before. He set a price upon the heads of the principal Royalists in the North, and erected magazines and garrisons for maintaining the Protectorate throughout Scotland, and governed it absolutely, yet with much wisdom,—the effects of his government conducing greatly to the welfare of the Scottish nation. Certain Parliamentarians plotted to take Monk’s life, as a traitor to their cause. Oliver Cromwell himself suspected Monk’s bonâ fides. A short time before his death, Cromwell wrote a long letter to Monk, that ended with the following remarkable postscript: “There be that tell me that there is a certain cunning fellow in Scotland, called George Monk, who is said to be in wait there, to introduce Charles Stuart. I pray use your diligence to apprehend him, and bring him up to me.”

Cromwell died 3rd September 1658, and Monk at once proclaimed his son Richard. Uncertain what turn the public mind would take, he thought it prudent to affect for the present attachment to the Protectorate carefully,—meanwhile, securing his own power. Richard Cromwell’s244 incapacity to rule soon showed itself, as Monk probably foresaw. Monk possessed powerful influence in the direction of public affairs, and employed it in promoting the restoration of the king. There has been more than one “Vicar of Bray” in the domestic and national history of England, and the species will never probably become extinct.

General Monk’s adherence to the two opposing parties in the State, Parliament and the Royalists; his service of the two masters, Cromwell and King Charles; his motives, and his talents, have been much discussed, and his merits hotly disputed by historians and critics. Monk has been credited with having been mainly instrumental in initiating, promoting, and consummating the Restoration. Up to this point in Monk’s career he had proved himself a valiant and skilful captain in Ireland, a firm and wise governor in Scotland, an able admiral in the war with Holland, and it is not too much to claim for him that he had proved himself to be also a profound statesman.

On the 23rd of May 1660, an English fleet brought Charles II. and his court from Holland. The king reached the Palace, Whitehall, on the 29th of the same month. On resuming the kingly dignity, almost the first use the king made of the royal prerogative was to elevate Monk to the peerage, as Duke of Albemarle, to invest him with the order of the Garter, and to appoint245 him Vice-Admiral of England under James, Duke of York.

Passing over a few years, in which the Duke of Albemarle was a prominent personage in the king’s Government, we come to renewed war with Holland.

The dissolute life and extravagant habits of the king kept him in constant want of money, and to fill his purse he did many mean things, amongst them, marrying Catherine of Portugal, for her dowry of half a million sterling. He also favoured the sale of Dunkirk to the French king for the beggarly sum of five thousand livres. He also plunged into a war with Holland. The Duke of Albemarle and Prince Rupert were associated in the command of the fleet that had been equipped against the Dutch. They went aboard in April 1666. Prince Rupert, with the white squadron, was detached to go in quest of a French contingent, reported to be hastening to join the Dutch. The duke was left with a fleet of about sixty sail. On the 1st June the Dutch fleet of about ninety men-of-war came in sight. The duke called a council of war, at which it was resolved that, notwithstanding their manifest numerical inferiority, and that several of their ships were not fully manned or ready, refusal to fight the Dutch was not to be thought of,—and the fleet was accordingly made ready to fall into line. The battle lasted throughout the day, and notwithstanding their246 greatly superior power the Dutch gained no important or decided advantage. A furious battle was fought between the flag-ships of Albemarle and De Ruyter, the Dutch admiral, which was maintained with dogged obstinacy for many hours,—but neither side could claim a victory. Both of the ships were greatly crippled by its adversary.

The bravery and skilful handling of their ships by the English commanders was above all praise, but their ships were badly provisioned. King Charles, to his shame, recked not that the lives of the bravest of his subjects should be sacrificed, if he could indulge, unchecked, the career of a Sybarite and profligate. It has been written by the careful historian that—“The money voted by Parliament for the war was squandered by the king in his wicked pleasures; and ships leaky and badly rigged were sent out to contend with the splendid fleets of Holland.”

Albemarle discreetly sought the decision of a council of war before renewing the action on the second day. What his own feeling was may be gathered from the reported gist of the address he delivered to the assembled commanders: “If we had dreaded the number of our enemies we should have retreated yesterday; but though we are inferior to them in number of ships, we are in other things superior. Force gives them courage; let us, if we need it, borrow resolution from the thoughts247 of what we have formerly performed. Let our enemy feel that, though our fleet is divided, our spirit is united. At the worst it will be more honourable to die bravely here on our own element than to be made spectacles to the Dutch. To be overcome is the fortune of war, but to fly is the fashion of cowards. Let us teach the world that Englishmen had rather be acquainted with death than with fear.”

Much terrible damage was again done by the belligerents to each other, but no decisive victory could be claimed by either power. On the 3rd of June, the duke, on a survey of the condition of his fleet, felt compelled to burn three of his disabled ships. He sent away, in the van, the ships that had suffered most, and, covering them in the rear, drew off. On the 4th of June, Albemarle’s spirits revived, and his strength was materially increased by the arrival of Prince Rupert with his squadron. Thus strengthened, he again sought the enemy, and came up with them about eight in the morning. Five times the English charged through the enemy’s line, firing into them right and left. The conflict, fiercely sustained on both sides, lasted till seven in the evening, when, as if by tacit agreement or sheer exhaustion, the wearied, worn-out warriors desisted from their murderous activity.

The loss was calamitous on both sides. Amongst the brave officers who fell, mention must be made of248 Sir William Berkeley, vice-admiral of the blue, whose squadron led the van in the first day’s action. Towards the close of the day, Sir William’s ship, the Swiftsure, a second-rate, and two others were cut off from the English; hemmed in and overwhelmed by greatly superior force, Sir William fought desperately. The following account of his gallant death-struggle is given by Lediard: “Highly to be admired was the resolution of Vice-Admiral Berkeley, who, though cut off from the line, surrounded by his enemies, great numbers of his men killed, his ship disabled and boarded on all sides, yet continued fighting almost alone, killed several with his own hand, and would accept of no quarter, till at length, being shot in the throat by a musket ball, he retired into the captain’s cabin, where he was found dead, extended at his full length upon a table, and almost covered with his own blood.” To their honour, the Dutch treated the hero’s remains with the utmost respect. The body was embalmed and deposited in the chapel of the great church at the Hague by order of the States, and a message was sent to King Charles for his orders for the disposal of the remains. This brave officer, a scion of an ancient and honourable family, had not reached his twenty-seventh year.


Another distinguished hero who fell in the action was Sir Christopher Myngs, vice-admiral, who led the 251van of Prince Rupert’s division on the fourth day of the249 fight. Myngs also was a young officer of proved vigilance, valour, and capacity. In this his last action, while fighting with desperate bravery, he received a musket ball in the throat. No persuasion could prevail with him to retire to have it dressed or to leave the quarter-deck; for nearly half an hour he held his finger in the wound to stop the flow of blood. Another musket ball in the neck, and the hero fell, and so finished his gallant career.

The Dutch claimed the victory, but admitted that if the English were beaten, they deserved honour in their defeat, and had proved incontestably their invincible courage.

On the 25th July 1666, the English fleet under Albemarle and Prince Rupert, and the Dutch fleet under Admirals Evertsen and De Ruyter, again came into conflict; a long and bloody battle ended in a complete and indisputable victory to the English. This was the last great naval action in which Albemarle took part. While he is taking the leading part in this bloody drama on the high seas, king and people alike want him urgently at home, for help and guidance in a time of sore trouble, from an unprecedented calamity. London is ablaze with the great fire; who among men has heart, head, and hand, tender, clear, and strong, fitting him to be a comforter, guide, and shield at such a time? The king recalled Albemarle from his naval duties to252 direct, deeply distressing, domestic affairs; the people wail piteously, perhaps not wisely, “If the duke had been here, London had not been burned.” Such was the confidence reposed in his wisdom and strength.

A vast amount of life and work had been crowded into his years, and the great man was wearing out. In 1667 he wisely exerted himself in warding off renewal of hostilities with the Dutch, and gave attention to his own much neglected domestic affairs. On the 3rd January 1669, he died peacefully while sitting in his chair, aged sixty-two years. By order of the king, his body lay in state for some time at Somerset House, and was interred in Westminster Abbey.

George Monk was a man distinguished by great personal valour. His zeal in the public service was indefatigable. He was wise in counsel, fearless in battle; as a commander a strict disciplinarian, but also the stern enemy of oppression and tyranny, on the part of naval and military officers. Few men have ever attained to the influence and power he wielded, with less of personal ambition.

He was commanding in person, robust in constitution, an early riser, and a hard worker; loyal, faithful, and affectionate, in his public, social, and domestic relations.


Remarks, by persons of mature age, are not uncommon, in our time, upon the precocity of the rising generation. It is alleged that we have no boys and girls nowadays, that they are too forward, know too much for their years, and are men and women before their time. Edward Montague, afterwards Earl of Sandwich, furnishes a notable illustration of precocity, in his generation.

Edward was the only surviving son of Sir Sidney Montague, and was a grandson of Lord Montague of Boughton, a staunch Royalist. Sir Sidney also adhered firmly to Charles I., and submitted to expulsion from the House of Commons, of which he was a member,254 rather than subscribe to an oath of allegiance to the Earl of Essex “to live and die with him,” in his conspiracy against the king.

Edward Montague was born 27th July 1625, the year of Charles I.’s accession to the throne, and of his marriage with Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henry IV., King of France. Some years before he reached his majority, young Montague entered the whirl of domestic and State affairs. When only seventeen years of age he married Jemima, daughter of Lord Crewe of Stene. In the following year, 1643, he received a commission from the Earl of Essex,—whom his father had refused to support,—to raise a regiment of horse, to serve against the king, to whom his father adhered. Such was the influence at the command of the young chief, and the ardour with which he entered upon the execution of his commission, that in six weeks he was ready to take the field at the head of his regiment, and he entered immediately upon active service. He assisted at the storming of Lincoln in May 1644, and also exhibited great bravery, at the battle of Marston Moor, in the July following. In 1645 he had a great deal of stirring service, fighting at Naseby in July, and taking part in the storming of Bridgewater. In September he commanded a brigade in the attack on Bristol, and subscribed the articles of the capitulation of that city by Prince Rupert. With Colonel Hammond he was255 deputed to carry the intelligence of this important success, to the Parliament in London.

While yet under age, so prominent a character was he in connection with public affairs, as to be elected, or more properly appointed, by those who had the power, a member of Parliament for Huntingdonshire. It is stated concerning his conduct as member of Parliament, that the plottings and contests of parties were distasteful to him, and that he shunned these,—as he did also intrigues and cabals in the army. His opinions were sought after and valued, and notwithstanding his youth, he exercised considerable influence in the direction of affairs. Cromwell affected to despise nobility and family lineage, but he had a keen eye for the men fitted to promote his objects, could fully appreciate their value, and was skilful and effective in his methods of attaching them to his person and cause. Montague had rendered distinguished service, but he was a supporter of a very different stamp from the ordinary Roundheads,—and his allegiance was held by a more uncertain tenure. His social and family relations probably drew him in a different direction. Cromwell was solicitous to have Montague fully committed to his cause; he extolled his valour, discretion, and independence, and snared him into a seat, at his Treasury board.

Montague rendered effective service at the Treasury, but was not in his element in the civil service, from256 which he obtained release in 1656, when, at the request of Admiral Blake, he was appointed, in conjunction with that distinguished commander, to the command of the fleet in the Mediterranean. Montague found great discontent with the service, prevailing among the officers of the fleet. Exercising patience and discretion with the disaffected, he succeeded in allaying their discontent, and the fleet sailed under the direction of its distinguished commanders, who cherished magnificent projects,—to be accomplished ere they returned to England. One of these was to fall upon the Spanish fleet in Cadiz harbour, which, however, on careful survey, they concluded it would be foolhardy to attempt. Another project designed was the reduction of Gibraltar. Montague doubted the success of an attack by sea, and decidedly favoured attack by a land force,—approaching by the isthmus. However, the attack was not then made, and, after cruising about for a time, the fleet made for the opposite coast of Barbary, the intention of the commanders being the chastisement of the Tripoli and Salee rovers. Notwithstanding the terror that Blake had inspired by a former visit, the pirates had become as troublesome, daring, and destructive to traders as they had been before.



Montague had experience in his early life, as a combatant, in successful land attacks, and seems to have had a decided preference for that method, which he259 again recommended in the conflict with the pirates, who were doubtless difficult to get at,—and who were not to be subdued by ordinary means. He was decidedly of opinion that forcible possession should be taken of a position on shore, as the best means of operating against the pirates, and protecting our trade in the Levant. Instructions from home, restricting rather than extending the powers of the admirals, prevented Montague’s design from being carried into effect.

The fleet was ordered back to Cadiz, to give the Spaniards an opportunity of engaging, if they would. While the main body lay off Cadiz, three ships were despatched to a bay along shore to take in fresh water, and obtain what provisions they could. On this expedition the detached squadron fell in with eight galleons, returning from South America, and promptly pounced upon them. One of the galleons was sunk, another burned, two were forced ashore, and others taken, on board of which were found treasure to the value of six hundred thousand pounds. In writing to Secretary Thurloe, Admiral Montague gives the following account of the silver taken in the galleons: “There have been some miscarriages by our ships that took the ships of Spain; I judge the best way to improve mercies of this kind is to look forward: however, that is my business at this time. The silver they brought is on board this ship, and in the vice-admiral: in the admiral we have five260 hundred and fifty bars of silver, and boxes of plate, and nine pieces of silver, not well refined, like sugar loaves. In the vice-admiral there are a hundred and twenty-four bars of silver, all of which we judge may produce nearly two hundred thousand pounds. I hope that it will make much more. In the galleons, also, there is a space between the main-mast and the bulkhead of the bread-room, not yet rummaged.”

Montague was charged with instructions to bring the treasure to England, and he requested that some trusty persons might be sent to Portsmouth to receive the silver. Great pains were taken to impress the public with a sense of the magnitude of the prize. When the silver reached London, it was placed in open carts and ammunition waggons, and conveyed in a triumphal procession through Southwark to the Tower to be coined. To show their confidence in the people, a guard of only ten soldiers accompanied the treasure. The intention of these arrangements was fully realised, and greatly increased Cromwell’s popularity. Montague also, although he had really had nothing to do with the actual capture of the treasure, but had only conveyed it home in safety, became quite a popular hero. Cromwell loaded him with praise, and Parliament thanked him formally, through the Speaker.

Montague was on the most intimate terms with Cromwell, and held in high esteem by the Protector, but261 he does not appear to have been cordially attached to his public employment, or satisfied with the instructions under which he was called to act.

In 1657, Montague was appointed to the command of a fleet in the Downs, the objects of which were—to keep a strict watch upon the Dutch, and to carry on the war with Spain. In his command of the fleet in the Downs he found no opportunity for useful action, and he chafed under the enforced stagnation; when called upon to act, he was not satisfied as to the justice of following the line the authorities wished him to take, or that it was compatible with manly honesty and safety to himself. His letters to Cromwell show the difficulties in which he felt himself placed, and also that the Protector expected him to follow his own course, although in doing so he might be unable, after the event, to justify himself, by official sanctions. A letter from Richard Cromwell to Montague illustrates the policy of the Protector, and the danger to which it exposed his admiral. He was commanded in express terms to insist upon honour to the flag, within the British seas, from all nations,—the writer stating, at the same time, that he did not know what were the limits of the British seas, and that the admiral must execute his orders with caution,—as peace or war might depend upon his acts. It was extremely difficult to obey such equivocal instructions, without incurring blame from one side or the other. Montague262 displayed great sagacity and prudence in the discharge of his delicate and difficult duties, but did not escape bitter complaints from the Dutch, because of the diligence he displayed in searching their vessels.

In 1658 Denmark and Sweden were at war. The Dutch believed it to be their interest to help Denmark; Cromwell thought that the defeat of Sweden would be a calamity to England,—and a powerful fleet was despatched to the Baltic under the command of Admiral Montague, with the avowed intention of negotiating an honourable peace between the belligerents. In the midst of these great events Oliver Cromwell died at Whitehall on the 3rd September 1658, and his son Richard was proclaimed ruler in his stead.

Although Montague was nominally in command of the Baltic fleet, three commissioners had been sent to conduct the negotiations, and control his actions. Before he had left home, Montague had suffered what seemed an unprovoked indignity, in being disjoined from his regiment of horse. He had never at any time, probably, been a very hearty Cromwellian,—and this treatment operated sharply in alienating him from the Parliamentary party. Montague had powerful personal influence in the fleet. The three commissioners—Colonel Algernon Sidney, Sir Robert Heywood, and Mr. Thomas Boon—regarded him as a disaffected subordinate, and the relations, between263 the commissioners and the admiral commanding, were the reverse of cordial. Montague’s colleagues were at Copenhagen, when he determined upon decisive action. He called a council of the flag-officers of the fleet, and, submitting to them a plain statement of the impossibility of doing anything for the honour of their country, by remaining where they were;—not having any authority to fight, and being therefore useless,—he suggested the necessity of returning home, which want of provisions, indeed, would soon compel them to do, as they had scarcely enough left to carry them to England. There was no dissent in the council, and the admiral at once issued orders to weigh anchor, set all sail, and shape course for England. Montague’s diplomatic colleagues had the mortification of witnessing, from the shore, the procession of the homeward-bound fleet. The rapidity of the movement was fortunate, as these diplomats had in their possession secret instructions to arrest Montague on board his own ship, and to place the command of the fleet in other hands. The worst they could do now was to send a strongly condemnatory despatch to the Parliament, charging Montague with treachery and desertion. Without waiting for a summons, he presented himself before Parliament, to give an account of his conduct. He had the unanimous support of his flag-officers, and presented such an unanswerable vindication, that Parliament had to be content with264 accepting his resignation, and letting him go. He retired from public life and service for a time, to his estate in the country.

A time of turbulence and anarchy ensued, which led to the restoration of Charles II. in the year 1660. In full accord and friendship with General Monk, Duke of Albemarle, Montague returned to the public service, and resumed naval command. He went with Monk to the Hague to bring over the king. After completion of certain ceremonials at the Hague, Montague conveyed the king to England,—the Duke of York being Lord High Admiral under the restored royal ruler. Two days after the king’s landing, he sent to Montague, by Garter king at arms, the Garter, in acknowledgment of his eminent services. He was also, as soon as the court was established, created by letters patent, Baron Montague of St. Neots, Viscount Hitchinbroke in Huntingdon, and Earl of Sandwich in Kent. He was sworn a member of the Privy Council, appointed Master of the King’s Wardrobe, Admiral of the Narrow Seas, and Lieutenant Admiral to the Duke of York.


As Admiral of the Narrow Seas, the duty devolved upon Lord Sandwich of conveying or escorting all persons of distinction, passing between England and foreign countries. He gave much attention to State affairs, and was a constant attender at meetings of the Privy Council,267 especially when questions of foreign policy were under consideration, and, ere long, was regarded as one of the king’s most capable and deservedly influential and trusted advisers.

An important question, in the settlement of which he took a leading part, was the disposal of Dunkirk, which had been taken by Cromwell from the Spaniards. The Commonwealth being at an end, the Spaniards claimed the restoration of the place; the question for the determination of the Privy Council was whether Dunkirk should be sold or kept. The matter caused lively and protracted discussion, and has been treated very fully by Clarendon, Burnet, and others. For advising or sanctioning the sale or surrender of Dunkirk, some historians have condemned, while others have defended, Lord Sandwich.

The Earl of Sandwich had courtly duties to perform in his capacity of Admiral of the Narrow Seas. In September 1660, with a squadron of nine ships of war, he proceeded to Helvoetsluys to bring over the Princess of Orange, the king’s sister. When the fleet returned, the king and the Duke of York went on board the Resolution, the admiral’s ship, where they passed the night, and they reviewed the squadron on the following day.

In 1661 an imposing fleet was equipped, with the several objects of bringing home the Infanta of Portugal to be married to the king,—of securing Tangier against268 the Moors,—and of punishing the Barbary and Algerine pirates, who, since the death of Admiral Blake, and in disregard of the terms which that powerful commander had imposed upon them, had resumed their rapacious, destructive attacks upon the merchant ships of England, as also upon those of Holland and France. The fleet consisted of eighteen men-of-war ships, and two fire-ships; it was placed under the command of the Earl of Sandwich and Sir John Lawson. The fleet sailed from the Downs on the 19th June, and was before Algiers on the 29th July. A council of war was held under the presidency of Lord Sandwich, which determined to require—as an article in any treaty with the Algerines—an undertaking that, for the future, English ships were not to be liable to search, upon any pretext whatever. Captain Spragge and Mr. Brown, the English consul, were deputed to attempt negotiation of a treaty with the Algerian Government, who professed willingness to enter into a treaty, but refused point-blank to give up their right of search, and insolently followed up their refusal by opening fire upon the fleet. The strength of the land batteries greatly preponderated over the power of the fleet for either attack or defence, and Lord Sandwich prudently withdrew from range of the guns, but did not abandon the purpose of crippling the pirates. Sir John Lawson was left with a strong squadron to cruise in the Mediterranean, for the protection of English merchantmen and the chastisement269 of the pirates. Sir John swept as many of the pirates off the seas as he could get at,—and at Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis, made such imposing demonstrations as compelled the barbaric powers to renew their treaties with England. At Algiers, however, he had much difficulty in arriving at a satisfactory settlement. He obtained the release there of one hundred and fifty slaves,—English, Irish, and Scottish sailors, who had been captured by the pirates. These men he sent home, with several captured ships, but the Algerines stopped short at surrender of the goods in the ships that had been captured. Lawson continued hostilities, seized an Algerine corsair of thirty-four guns, and sold the Turks and Moors by which it was manned to the French admiral, who was then cruising in the Mediterranean. Lawson was called home, and the duty of suppressing the pirates taken up by his successor, Sir Thomas Allen, who replaced him with twelve ships of war, and, acting with great energy and skill, compelled the Algerines to accept a satisfactory treaty. The Earl of Sandwich, in accordance with his instructions, proceeded to Tangier, of which he obtained possession from the Queen Regent of Portugal,—as part of the dowry of the Infanta, affianced to the King of England. After manning Tangier with English soldiers, and settling affairs, Lord Sandwich set sail for Lisbon, to take on board the royal bride. His reception at Lisbon was all that he could have desired; house, equipage, and appointments270 on a scale befitting his dignity, as an ambassador extraordinary to the queen. But the “business” entrusted to him presented a most unsatisfactory aspect. The dowry of the Infanta had been fixed, and his instructions were explicit; he was to ask for no more, but to take no less, than the sum that had been agreed upon, and to take payment only in “hard cash.” Tangier had already been secured, as part of the dowry, but the part to be paid in specie was not forthcoming. The queen-mother pleaded poverty, and asked for “time.” She averred that “the straits and poverty of the kingdom were so great that there could at this time be paid only one-half of the queen’s portion; that the other half should infallibly be paid within a year, with which she hoped the king, her brother, would be satisfied; and that, for the better doing it, she resolved to send back the ambassador, who had brought so good a work, with God’s blessing, to so good an end, with her daughter to the king.” The situation was further awkward, in this, that it was proposed to make the half payment in kind, not in cash—in jewels, sugar, and other commodities. The earl had no difficulty about taking off the young lady, but the “goods” were a serious embarrassment; his royal master he knew right well wanted cash badly, but he did not suppose him to be solicitous about “goods consignments.” The earl proved equal to the occasion. He distinctly refused to accept goods of any kind, at any “quotation”271 as regards price or value, but he would permit them to be shipped,—to be received and accounted for by some person in London, who should be appointed to transact the business. This difficulty was got over, and the goods were satisfactorily converted into cash, through the instrumentality of Diego Silvas, a wealthy Jew of Amsterdam, who accompanied the goods to London. Lord Sandwich gave a receipt for any denomination of money paid on account of the Infanta’s dowry, and took from the queen-mother a special promise to pay the balance, within the year following date of agreement. The Infanta and her retinue were safely landed at Portsmouth in May 1662.

In the great naval conflict between the English and the Dutch in 1664–65, the Earl of Sandwich highly distinguished himself. The English fleet was made up of 114 men-of-war and frigates, 28 fire-ships and ketches, and about 21,000 sailors and soldiers. It was divided into three squadrons; the first, under the red flag, was commanded by the Duke of York, and with him Admirals Penn and Lawson; the white squadron was commanded by Prince Rupert, and the blue squadron by the Earl of Sandwich. The fleet arrived at the Texel on the 28th April 1664, and cruised off the Dutch coast for about a month. Towards the end of May the Dutch fleet was descried near the Dogger Bank. Accounts vary as to the strength of the Dutch fleet.272 One careful historian puts it at 121 men-of-war, besides fire-ships, yachts, etc. Other writers give lower estimates of the strength of the fleet. It carried 4869 guns, and upwards of 22,000 men. It was divided into seven squadrons, commanded by valiant and skilful admirals, some of them of the highest renown. They were, Admirals Baron Opdam, Evertsen, Cortenaer, Stillingwerth, Van Tromp, son of the famous old fighting admiral, Cornelius Evertsen, and Schram.

It was said that neither the king nor the Duke of York approved the policy of this war, and it was believed that influences were at work to diminish the zeal and enthusiasm of the Dutch. De Witt, who was the ruling spirit in the States, sent a letter to Opdam of a peremptory character, ordering him to attack at once. Opdam and his officers were agreed that the time was inopportune, and would have delayed, for a brief space at least, until the wind and other circumstances were more favourable, but his orders were imperative, and he felt that his honour demanded prompt action upon them. The Dutch admiral came in sight of the English fleet not far from Harwich, in the early morning of the 3rd June. He bore down upon the duke’s ship with the intention of boarding. At the commencement of the action the English had the advantage in the weather-gage. The two fleets charged through each other’s lines with great fury and intrepidity. Critics have given the opinion that275 the English, having the wind in their favour, ought to have contented themselves with meeting the attack of the enemy, without changing their relative position more than could be avoided. For nine hours the onslaught was terrible and sanguinary, without either party having gained any decided advantage. About mid-day a brilliant movement was executed by the Earl of Sandwich, that greatly improved the prospects of the English. With his blue squadron compactly arranged, Lord Sandwich broke through the enemy’s centre, and threw the whole Dutch fleet into confusion and dire disorder.


Opdam’s determination from the beginning of the fight, to board the English admiral, had never slumbered. In the midst of the consternation caused by the dashing action of the Earl of Sandwich, Opdam, in the Eendract, of eighty-four guns, was engaged in a fierce contest with the Duke of York in the Royal Charles, of eighty guns. The fight was close and deadly—yard-arm and yard-arm. The Earl of Falmouth, Lord Muskerry, Mr. Boyle, son of the Earl of Burlington, and a number of others, the duke’s attendants, were killed by a chain-shot, when quite near His Grace’s person. In this terrific onslaught, either by accident or by a grenade from the Royal Charles, the gun-room of the Eendract, the Dutch admiral’s ship, was ignited, and the ship blown up. Five hundred men perished in this terrible catastrophe, including the noble and valiant Baron Opdam,276 and a number of volunteers belonging to some of the best families in Holland.

The greatest confusion prevailed among the Dutch ships; they fell foul of, and burned each other. The whole Dutch fleet seemed to be ablaze, and the cries of the wretched men perishing by fire and water were even more frightful and hideous than the noise of the cannon. The shelter of night permitted the shattered remnant of the Dutch fleet to escape. Had the light held out a little longer, the entire remainder of the armament would have been captured or destroyed. In addition to Opdam, Admirals Stillingwerth and Cortenaer were killed, upwards of four thousand of the Dutchmen perished, and two thousand were taken prisoners. Eighteen of the largest Dutch ships were taken, and fourteen more were sunk or burned. The English had one ship taken, had two hundred and fifty men killed, and three hundred and forty wounded. The fight lasted without intermission from three o’clock in the morning, till seven o’clock in the evening.

The Duke of York was severely blamed by some critics for his failure to secure the full advantages that might have been gained by this decisive victory. Clarendon says apologetically, that “the duke had received so many blows on his own and the other ships, that it was necessary to retire into port, where they might be repaired.” Bishop Burnet’s account of the277 duke’s conduct after the fight puts His Grace in an unenviable light and position. Burnet, in his circumstantial style of minute narration, says: “After the flight of the Dutch vessels, the duke ordered all the sail to be set on to overtake them. There was a council of war called to concert the method of action, when they should come up with them. In that council, Penn, who commanded under the duke, happened to say that they must prepare for hotter work, in the next engagement. He knew well the courage of the Dutch was never so high as when they were desperate.” Burnet adds that “the Earl of Montague, a volunteer, one of the duke’s court, said to me it was very visible, that made an impression. All the duke’s domestics said he had got honour enough,—why should he venture a second time? The duchess had also given a strict charge to the duke’s servants, to do all they could, to hinder him from engaging too far. When matters were settled, they went to sleep; and the duke ordered a call to be given him, when they should get up to the Dutch fleet. It is not known what passed between the duke and Brounker, who was of his bed-chamber, and was then in waiting; but he came to Penn, as from the duke, and said the duke ordered sail to be slackened. Penn was struck with the order, but did not go to argue the matter with the duke himself, as he ought to have done, but obeyed the order. When the duke278 had slept, he, upon his waking, went out on the quarter-deck, and seemed amazed to see the sails slackened, and that thereby all hope of overtaking the Dutch was lost. He questioned Penn upon it; Penn blamed Brounker, who said nothing. The duke denied having given any such order, but he neither punished Brounker for carrying it, nor Penn for obeying it. He put Brounker out of his service, but durst do no more, because he was so strong in the king’s favour. Penn was more in his favour after that than even before,—which favour was continued to his son after him, though a Quaker; and it was thought that all that favour was shown to oblige him to keep the secret. Lord Montague did believe “that the duke was struck, and that he had no mind to engage again, and that Penn was privately with him.” Other accounts of the affair have been given,—but none of them are a satisfactory vindication of the duke’s valour, or evidence that he followed up his advantage, as a brave and capable commander should have done.

The fleet returned home, and was refitted with expedition, and in less than a month was again ready for sea. Sixty ships sailed from Southwold Bay on the 5th July 1665, under the command of the Earl of Sandwich. The fleet sailed northwards, and at Bergen engaged in a series of tangled manœuvres and operations,—complicated by the part necessarily taken by the Danish authorities.279 In the course of his cruise, the earl, on the 4th September, fell in with four Dutch East Indiamen and several merchantmen in the North Sea. They were protected by a strong convoy. Lord Sandwich promptly attacked the Dutch, and, after a severe conflict, captured eight of the Dutch men-of-war, two of the richest of the East Indiamen, and several of the merchant ships;—the others were scattered by the storm, and escaped. On the 9th of September, four men-of-war, two fire-ships, and thirty merchantmen, losing their courses in the fog, joined the English fleet by mistake, and were all taken, with upwards of a thousand prisoners. The Earl of Sandwich brought home his fleet in triumph. The contribution to the Treasury from this expedition was most acceptable, and much needed to provide for further costly naval operations, necessary to maintain England’s “sovereignty of the seas.”

The valiant Earl of Sandwich, like most other eminent and successful men, had his enemies and detractors, and foremost among these was Sir William Coventry, the secretary to the Duke of York; “a sullen, ill-natured, proud man, whose ambition had no limits, nor could be contained within any.” He had prevented Prince Rupert from being associated with Lord Sandwich in the command of the fleet, not to favour the earl, but to mortify the prince. Clarendon pronounced him a man “who never paid a civility to any worthy man, but as it280 was a disobligation to another, whom he cared less for.” Without provocation he proceeded to pluck the earl of the honours he had taken part in conferring upon him. Coventry did his utmost to have the earl dismissed from the service.

In 1666 the Earl of Sandwich was appointed to an office of great trust and dignity—Ambassador Extraordinary, to mediate and negotiate a peace between England and Spain and Portugal. He accomplished his delicate mission with signal success, and in the course of a year brought the complicated negotiations to an amicable conclusion. He arrived at Madrid on the 26th May 1666, and a treaty of forty articles was signed, on the 13th May 1667. Having been successful with Spain, he next proceeded to Lisbon, and successfully arranged the conditions of a treaty with Portugal, which was signed on the 13th February 1668.

The Earl of Sandwich achieved a high reputation by the manner in which he conducted these important affairs of State. His despatches were pronounced models of sound judgment, dignity, and patriotism,—remarkable alike for accuracy of expression and honesty of purpose. In Spain and Portugal he produced a highly favourable impression, tending powerfully towards the cultivation of friendly relations with England. The king and the Duke of York sent Lord Sandwich autograph letters complimenting him highly upon the281 skill and success with which he had fulfilled his mission. On his return to England he was received with marked favour, and admitted to greater confidence at court than he had ever, up to that time, enjoyed.

The earl was, on the 3rd August 1670, sworn in President of a newly-appointed Council in Trade and Plantations, to whom the government of the Colonies was entrusted. As Vice-Admiral, Privy Councillor, and President of the Council of Trade, he had many opportunities of rendering important public services. He availed himself of these with great zeal, and exercised his authority in the most impartial spirit. He set his face against all factions, and in doing so, made for himself some bitter enemies. The Cabal did all they could to thwart and undermine him. He introduced a new system into the navy, founding promotion upon meritorious services. He was idolised by the fleet, but hated by the hunters after rank, who had no better claim to promotion than connection or private interest.

In 1672 war with the Dutch again broke out. The interval that had elapsed, since the close of the former hostilities, had been diligently employed by the Dutch in refitting their navy, and they turned out a powerful fleet of ships, improved in construction, well equipped, and commanded by the distinguished Admiral De Ruyter. The naval force of France acted in conjunction with282 that of England. The Duke of York, although his conduct in the former actions had been at least questionable, again assumed the chief command of the English fleet, in the red squadron which took the centre. The Earl of Sandwich commanded the blue squadron, and Count D’Estrées, the French vice-admiral, the white squadron. A trustworthy writer has given the strength of the united English and French fleets as sixty-five line of battle ships, exclusive of frigates and all necessary attendant vessels, making up the total force, including the French contingent, to something above one hundred sail. The Dutch fleet consisted of seventy-five large ships, and forty frigates and fire-ships, commanded by De Ruyter as chief, by Bancquert in the van, and Van Ghent in the rear. These divisions corresponded with those of the combined fleet.


After cruising about from the first week in May till the 28th, the Dutch fleet was descried at break of day, approaching with great speed. The utmost haste was needed in the English fleet to prepare for battle; and many of the ships had to cut their cables to get away and form in order. The blue squadron, commanded by the Earl of Sandwich, in his flag-ship the Royal James, of one hundred guns, commenced the action by a hot attack on the squadron of Van Ghent. The earl’s object in his attack was partly to give the vessels of the combined fleet time to form. In this he was completely285 successful. Captain Brackel, in the Great Holland, made a furious attack upon the Royal James, but got much the worst of the fight, and was, with several others of the Dutch men-of-war, disabled by their powerful antagonist, which also sank three of the Dutch fire-ships. The white squadron, under D’Estrées, the French vice-admiral, withstood for a time the fierce onslaught of the Dutch, but soon sheered off,—keeping aloof from the engagement during the remainder of the day.

The Duke of York and De Ruyter were warmly engaged against each other for several hours. The main-mast of the St. Michael, the duke’s ship, was shot down, and it sustained such serious damage as to compel him to change into the Loyal London. The most desperate part of the battle was that in which the Earl of Sandwich was engaged. Soon after he was attacked by the Great Holland, which had grappled with him for an hour and a half, when the whole of Van Ghent’s squadron bore down upon him. He was completely surrounded by Dutch men-of-war and fire-ships. In the midst of this tremendous struggle Van Ghent fell. The Great Holland was shattered, and became a wreck; Brackel, the commander, was wounded, and almost all the other officers were killed or wounded. In this unequal contest, which had lasted for more than five hours, the Earl of Sandwich defended his ship with the most heroic and dauntless bravery, and—although he286 had not received from the rest of the squadron the support he had a right to claim and expect—he succeeded in so far repulsing the enemy as to break through their wall of fire, and continue his daring conflict with them from the outer side. He carried on, against fearful odds, the struggle for victory. In his desperate strait, the vice-admiral, Sir Joseph Jordan, might have assisted him, had the duke demanded his assistance, but he sailed past, heedless of the condition of the wrecked flag-ship, and the claims upon a brave comrade, its gallant commander. When the earl saw Jordan pass unheeding, he exclaimed, “There is nothing left for us now but to defend the ship, to the last man.” The situation was appalling. Of one thousand men on board the Royal James at the commencement of the action, six hundred lay dead upon the deck. The devastation continued,—men dropped rapidly,—and the ship was so shattered that it was impossible to carry her off. A fourth fire-ship grappled the doomed Royal James, and accomplished its mission of destruction. The gallant ship was speedily in flames. The earl entreated his captain, Sir Richard Haddock, his servants, and all who could, to get into the boats and save themselves, which at last they did. Haddock was afterwards taken out of the sea alive, but severely wounded in the thigh. The attempts to extinguish the fire by the few sailors who remained on board were utterly vain, and about noon the Royal287 James blew up, and all who had remained in the ship perished, including the brave Earl of Sandwich and one of his sons. The body of the earl was not recovered till a fortnight after the terrible event. The following announcement appeared in the Gazette of 10th June 1672:—

Harwich, 10th June.

“This day the body of the Right Honourable Edward, Earl of Sandwich, being, by the order upon his coat, discovered floating on the sea by one of His Majesty’s ketches, was taken up and brought into this port, where Sir Charles Littleton, the governor, receiving it, took immediate care for its embalming and honourable disposing, till His Majesty’s pleasure should be known concerning it; for the obtaining of which His Majesty was attended at Whitehall the next day by the master of the said vessel, who, by Sir Charles Littleton’s order, was sent to present His Majesty with the George found upon the body of the said Earl, which remained, at the time of its taking up, in every part unblemished, saving by some impression made by the fire upon his face and breast; upon which His Majesty, out of his great regard to the deservings of the said Earl, and his unexampled performances in this last act of his life, hath resolved to have his body brought up to London; there at his charge, to receive the rites of funeral due to his great quality and merits.”


Reverting to the terrible contest, it is stated that the battle raged with incessant fury from a little after seven in the morning until nine o’clock in the evening. Tremendous losses were sustained by both the English and the Dutch, on whose side their admirals, Evertsen and Van Ghent, with many of their chief officers, were killed, and De Ruyter was wounded. The English also lost many officers, besides the brave Earl of Sandwich,—and vast numbers of men fell in both fleets. Victory was claimed by both sides, but it seems to have been gained by neither. They fought as long as a remnant of fighting life and strength were left in either of them. At the end of the dreadful day’s work the Dutch sailed away, which does not look like victory. The English did not pursue them, which looks also as if they had had enough of it.

The body of the deceased earl was conveyed from Harwich to Deptford in one of the king’s yachts. The Gazette of 4th July informs us that the body was at Deptford on the 3rd July 1672, “laid in the most solemn manner in a sumptuous barge, and conveyed to Westminster Bridge,3 attended by the King’s barge, His Royal Highness the Duke of York’s, as also with the several barges of the nobility, Lord Mayor, and the several companies of the city of London, adorned suitably to the melancholy occasion, with trumpets and289 other music that sounded the deepest notes. On passing by the Tower, the great guns there were discharged, as well as at Whitehall; and about five o’clock in the evening, the body being taken out of the barge at Westminster Bridge, there was a procession to the Abbey church, with the greatest magnificence. Eight earls were assistant to his son Edward, Earl of Sandwich, chief mourner; and most of the nobility, and other persons of quality in town, gave their assistance to his interment.” In this order they proceeded through a double line of the King’s Guards drawn up on each side of the street, to the west end of the Abbey, where the dean, prebends, and choir received them, and conducted them into Henry Seventh’s Chapel, where the remains of the Earl of Sandwich were most solemnly committed to, the Duke of Albemarle’s vault,—which done, the officers broke their white staffs, and Garter proclaimed the titles of the most noble earl deceased. The great earl perished in the prime of life, having only reached his forty-seventh year.

3 A causeway so called at that time.

The high character and noble qualities of the Earl of Sandwich are so clearly revealed in his life, as to render comment upon his character, or enumeration of his qualities, superfluous. He took no share in intrigues, either under the Commonwealth or the Monarchy, both of which he served. His life was a continuous series of public services. He was brave, wise, just, and generous,—the290 advocate of no party. His highest ambition was to be instrumental in promoting the prosperity of his country, and maintaining its honour among the nations.


Some heroes of the olden time played many parts, which are in these later days assigned to distinct and separate performers. The division of labour was not then so well understood and appreciated,—and specialists were more rare. Prince Rupert, like Blake, his great antagonist, with whom he repeatedly came into conflict upon land and at sea, distinguished himself highly as a military as well as a naval commander. He was, in addition, an accomplished chemist and metallurgist, and in general scientific culture and attainments much in advance of his age. Rupert was endowed with a degree of native energy that swept aside temptations to indulge in luxurious idleness, and made292 effeminacy impossible. He was preternaturally restless, active, and impetuous; so much so, as to have made his name a proverbial adjective, expressive of these qualities. This was illustrated in the case of a distinguished deceased statesman, Earl Derby, who was fitly pronounced “the Rupert of debate.”


Prince Rupert was the third son of Frederick, Elector Palatine, King of Bohemia, and Princess Elizabeth, eldest daughter of King James I., and sister of Charles I., King of England,—to whom he was accordingly nephew. He was born at Prague, 18th December 1619. He was probably educated and trained, as most German princes were then,—and have continued to be since,—with a view to his following the profession of arms. In 1630 he was a student at Leyden, and proved himself an apt scholar, particularly in languages. Military studies, even as a boy, he prosecuted with much zest. In 1633, a lad of fourteen years, he was with the Prince of Orange at the siege of Rheneberg, and served as a volunteer against the Spaniards in the Prince’s Life Guards. In 1635 he was at the English court, and in the following year took the degree—or had it conferred upon him—of M.A. at Oxford. In 1638 he was again at the Hague, and took part in the siege of Breda, at which he exhibited his characteristic reckless bravery. He was taken prisoner by the Austrians, and was confined for three years at Linz. Overtures were pressed upon him, which he295 steadfastly resisted, to change his religion, and take service under the emperor. In 1642 he was released, and returned to the Hague, proceeding shortly afterwards to England, where he was made Master of the Horse, otherwise commander of the king’s cavalry, when only twenty-three years of age. He joined the king at Leicester in August 1642, and was present at the raising of the royal standard at Nottingham. He was about that time admitted to the dignity of Knight of the Garter. He introduced important improvements in cavalry movements and general military administration. He displayed great activity and bravery, in the actions at Worcester and Edgehill. He was opposed in his march to London, and led valiantly in some desperate fighting. In 1643 took Cirencester for the king, but failed in his attempt to take Gloucester. He had a number of stirring military actions and adventures in different parts of the country, and amongst them a conflict with John Hampden at Chalgrove on the 18th June, in which the patriot was slain. Throughout the war Rupert exhibited unwavering intrepidity. In token of appreciation of his services, the king raised him to the dignity of a peer of England, under the title of Earl of Holderness and Duke of Cumberland, and appointed him Generalissimo of the army. In the course of events, during the contest between the king and the Parliament, Rupert achieved some victories,296 but sustained also many reverses, which culminated in the defeat of the king’s forces, at the battle of Naseby. Rupert was regarded with envy, jealousy, and dislike by a large party of the courtiers, who intrigued against him, and sought to diminish or destroy his influence. The queen was also against him. From Naseby the king and his shattered army fled to Bristol, which Rupert engaged to hold for four months, but surrendered in three weeks,—not from lack of bravery, but from impatience, and inability to endure an inactive life—he was as a caged lion. A contemporary critic says of him that he was “the boldest attaquer in the world for personal courage, but wanted the patience and seasoned head to consult and advise for defence.” Although impetuous and courageous to a fault, he was not utterly reckless,—and his view of the situation, estimate of forces, and calculation as to probabilities, led him to counsel the king to endeavour to come to terms with the Parliament.

A brilliant incident in Rupert’s career, in which the heroism of a noble lady shines resplendent, merits a brief reference. Lathom House, the seat of the Earl of Derby, was left in charge, during the absence of the earl on public affairs, of his countess, Charlotte de la Tremouille. The Parliamentary forces demanded possession, which the countess promptly and uncompromisingly resisted, although confronted with an army ten times the297 strength of her garrison. The siege commenced on the 24th February 1644. The fortress was bombarded by chain shot, bars of iron, stone balls of thirteen inches diameter, weighing eighty pounds, and all sorts of terrible missiles. The artillery of the assailants slackened for a time, and the beleaguered garrison made a gallant sortie; they slew thirty of the enemy, and took from them “forty guns and a drum.” Although suffering great privations, the answer of the countess to the repeated demands to capitulate was, that they would never be taken alive, but would burn the place and perish in the flames rather than surrender. Prince Rupert and his gallant cavalry arrived on the 27th May, put the besiegers to the rout, and relieved the long-suffering, noble countess and her gallant garrison.

The civil war was virtually ended with the battle of Naseby, June 14, 1645. Rupert applied to Parliament for a pass to go abroad, which they would only grant upon conditions that he could not accept. He was taken prisoner by Sir Thomas Fairfax, the Parliamentary commander. On the demand of the Parliament, Rupert proceeded to France, where he was made a marshal in the French army, and commenced at once active service. He sustained a wound in the head at Armentières in 1647. Part of the English fleet, that had adhered to the king, sailed to Holland, whither Rupert went also, to commence his career as a naval commander. In conjunction298 with the Prince of Wales, to whom part of the Parliamentary fleet had revolted, he assumed the command of the fleet; the sole command, very soon after, devolved upon Prince Rupert.

He set out upon a piratical expedition, inflicted considerable injury upon English trade, and after relieving Grenville at the Scilly Isles, sailed for the coast of Ireland, with the desire to assist, if possible, the king’s nearly hopeless cause. Rupert took the harbour and fort of Kinsale, but not for use or according to his own pleasure, for his old antagonist Blake was upon him, with a powerful squadron, which the prince must either engage or remain blocked up in Kinsale. With his characteristic dashing bravery, he attempted to force his way out of port, and did so, but at the loss of the Roebuck and the Black Prince, two of Rupert’s best ships, which were sunk in the encounter. Rupert sailed for Portugal, and was well received by the king, but Blake followed hard after him, and blockaded him in the Tagus. Again the gallant Rupert broke through, and sailed for the Mediterranean. He refitted at Toulon, and did a good deal of not altogether unprofitable piratical work in a cruise about Madeira, the Canaries, the Azores, Cape de Verd, and the West Indies. Blake, however, followed him whithersoever he went, and attacked him on every opportunity. Rupert was greatly overmatched, and his strength continuously299 reduced. Having lost most of his ships, with the remainder shattered and unfit for sea, at the close of 1652, he took the remnant and such prizes as he had made, and been able to keep, to Nantes, where he sold them, and with the proceeds paid the wages of his faithful crews, whom he discharged,—and then laid aside his command as an admiral.

Louis XIV. invited Rupert to Paris, and made him Master of the Horse in the French army. The restless energy of the prince prevented his settling,—and he travelled in France for a time, returning to Paris in 1655. About this time he took a turn of work in the laboratory, and completed a series of experiments, in which he succeeded in very greatly increasing the explosive force of gunpowder. He prosecuted his studies and researches in relation to other arts also, including mezzotint engraving, of which he was the reputed inventor.

On the restoration of Charles II. in May 1660, Prince Rupert was sent for by the king, and appears to have been connected with the court for a few years. In 1661 the prince, in company with a number of noblemen and persons of rank and eminence, was called to the Bar of the Inner Temple. In the following year he was sworn as a member of the Privy Council, and was also declared a Fellow of the Royal Society, which was then founded, the king subscribing the statutes as founder and patron.


In 1664, Prince Rupert was appointed admiral of a fleet, that had been equipped to watch the movements of the Dutch. He hoisted his flag on board the Henrietta, and afterwards on the Royal James. He took part, as admiral of the white, in the great sea-fight between the English and Dutch fleets, off Lowestoft, in June 1665. The English fleet was commanded by H.R.H. James, Duke of York, afterwards James II., King of England; the Dutch were commanded by Admirals Opdam and Van Tromp. The English got the weather-gage of the Dutch, and about three o’clock on a fine summer morning, commenced the action, awaking the inhabitants of Lowestoft by the thunder of their artillery. The contest was desperate, victory trembling in the balance during many hours. About noon the Earl of Sandwich came up with a reinforcement, and fell upon the Dutch centre, which threw them into the confusion that ended in their defeat. The Duke of York in his flag-ship, the Royal Charles, of eighty guns, and the Dutch Admiral Opdam in the Eendracht, of eighty-four guns, were engaged closely, ship to ship, yard-arm and yard-arm, when about noon the Eendracht blew up with a tremendous explosion, the disaster attributable, probably, to careless management of the powder magazine, and distribution of the ammunition. Admiral Opdam and five hundred men perished; many of them were volunteers belonging to some of the best families in Holland, with a number of303 Frenchmen, whose lives were the price they paid for the gratification of their curiosity to witness a sea-fight. Only five of the crew escaped. The explosion was one of a succession of misfortunes that befell the Dutch. A number of their best ships ran foul of each other, and were burnt by the English fire-ships. With a greatly reduced fleet, the gallant Van Tromp doggedly continued the unequal contest, and retreated fighting. The Duke of York was much censured for his failure to pursue his advantage, and terminate, at least for a time, the contest with Holland, as some authorities thought he might have done. This we have already referred to.


The impetuosity that had characterised Rupert in his earlier actions, and had detracted from the value of his services, was now tempered and subdued, and made him what he was not before, a safe commander. In the action with Opdam’s fleet, the prince rendered most important service, that encouraged the belief that he would achieve high distinction as a naval commander. On the 24th June, Prince Rupert again attacked the Dutch, pursued them to their own coast, and blocked them up in their harbours. Again, in the autumn of the same year, having the sole command of the English fleet, Prince Rupert, learning that the Dutch were endeavouring to form a junction with a French squadron of forty sail, followed them so closely into Boulogne Roads as to place them in imminent danger. A violent storm compelled the304 prince to return to St. Helen’s Bay, and prevented him from following up his advantage. Sir Thomas Allen did so shortly afterwards.

Prince Rupert on his return was warmly welcomed by the king and the nation, with whom he was becoming a popular favourite. He was now associated with the Duke of Albemarle in the command of the English navy.

In the spring of 1666 the duke and Prince Rupert were afloat with a fleet that had been equipped for operations against the Dutch. It was unfortunate that their power should have been divided, by detaching Prince Rupert with a squadron, to look for the French and thwart their naval operations. The duke had a fleet of sixty ships. On the morning of the 1st of June he got sight of the Dutch fleet, under Admirals Evertsen, De Ruyter, and Van Tromp,4 which was found to consist of ninety-one ships, many of them first-rates, with a number and weight of guns greatly superior to those of the English fleet. Lord Albemarle, without hesitation, gave battle. The fight was carried on with desperate bravery during the whole of that day, and resumed on the day following. The action is described in our notice of the Duke of Albemarle. Prince Rupert could find no trace of any French fleet destined to assist the Dutch, and returned to his home station. On the 3rd305 June he came up with the Duke of Albemarle, whose greatly overmatched squadrons had been so knocked about and reduced, as to necessitate retreat, which he conducted with great skill and undiminished courage. In joining forces with the duke, a great misfortune happened to Prince Rupert’s squadron. The Royal Prince, commanded by Sir George Ayscough, the largest and heaviest ship in the fleet, ran aground on the Galloper Sands; being without hope of relief, it was surrendered, and Ayscough, its commander, taken prisoner.

4 Cornelius Van Tromp, second son of the great admiral killed in 1653.

On the morning of the 4th June, the combined squadrons of Albemarle and Rupert, although still greatly inferior in power to the Dutch, started after them in pursuit,—the Dutch being almost out of sight. About eight in the morning they again commenced their onslaught upon each other. Five times the English fleet charged through the Dutch line, firing into it, right and left. Rupert’s ship became disabled, and that of Albemarle terribly shattered, and the injuries on both sides were most disastrous. About seven in the evening the hostile fleets drew off from each other,—their commanders appearing to agree, tacitly, in thinking that they had enough of it, for the present.

This, which may be pronounced a drawn battle, has been regarded as the most terrible action fought in this, or perhaps in any other war. So the Dutch admirals also considered it. De Witt says of it: “If the English were306 beat, their defeat did them more honour than all their former victories; all that the Dutch had discovered was, that Englishmen might be killed, and English ships might be burned, but English courage was invincible.” It is not easy to say who were victors on the whole, and what the losses were of the victors and the vanquished respectively. Dutch historians compute our loss at sixteen men-of-war, of which ten were sunk and six taken. Our writers put the Dutch loss at fifteen men-of-war, twenty-one captains, and five thousand men. The Dutch themselves admit that they lost nine ships, and had a prodigious number of men slain. Discounting even the lowest estimates, it seems impossible to realise the scenes that produced such ghastly results.

Only a short breathing-time was taken by the combatants, and a brief space for a hurried repair of damages. Before the end of June the Dutch fleet was again at sea, and was met by an English fleet of eighty men-of-war of different sizes, and nineteen fire-ships, divided into three squadrons. The command was again with the Duke of Albemarle and Prince Rupert. The Dutch fleet of eighty-eight men-of-war, and twenty fire-ships, was also in three squadrons, commanded by Admirals De Ruyter, John Evertsen, brother to the admiral who was killed in a former engagement, and Cornelius Van Tromp.

About noon the hostile fleets came into contact off the North Foreland. Rupert and the duke, who were307 in the same ship, made a desperate attack upon De Ruyter’s ship, which was in the centre of the Dutch fleet. After fighting for about three hours, their ship had sustained such serious injuries as to force them to betake themselves to another. The most dogged bravery was displayed on both sides, but the English had the best of the battle. The Dutch retreated. All that night Prince Rupert and the duke followed in pursuit of De Ruyter. When the gallant Dutchman found himself so hard pressed, and his fleet in such imminent danger, he is said to have cried in despair, “My God, what a wretch am I! Is there not one of these thousands of bullets to put me out of pain?” He reached, however, the shallow coast of Holland, where the English could not follow him. Prince Rupert sent a small shallop, with two small guns on board, close up to De Ruyter’s ship,—the men rowing it into position,—and opened fire upon the admiral. A return shot proved convincing to the assailants that this was too dangerous, and the shallop was rowed back.

This, it is stated, was the most decided and unquestioned victory gained during the war. The Dutch were completely defeated, and the two great admirals, De Ruyter and Van Tromp, could only attempt their defence by angry recriminations. The Dutch lost twenty ships in the action; four of their admirals, and a great many captains, and about four thousand men were killed, with308 as many wounded. The English lost one ship burnt, had three captains and about three hundred men killed.

From 1666 till 1672 there was an interval of peace, during which Prince Rupert applied himself to scientific pursuits. On the death of the Earl of Sandwich in 1672, Rupert was appointed to succeed him as Vice-Admiral of England, and when the Duke of York shortly after retired from command of the fleet, Prince Rupert was appointed Lord High Admiral of England.

Prince Rupert commenced his active duties with the new dignity in April 1673. He effected an important change in naval spirit and method. The Dutch had hitherto come to us, Rupert went to them. The Hollanders were rather surprised to find an English fleet at their doors in the middle of May 1673. De Ruyter was riding within the sands at Schonebeck, and occupied a very advantageous position, from which it was desirable he should be drawn. About nine in the morning of the 28th a squadron, consisting of thirty-five frigates and thirteen fire-ships, were accordingly detached to lure the enemy from his anchorage. The ruse was successful, and the action commenced at noon. The advanced detachment engaged Van Tromp, and the prince attacked De Ruyter. The contest was obstinate, and the contending ships inflicted tremendous punishment upon each other. Van Tromp shifted his flag four times,—and his English antagonists, Spragge and the Earl of311 Ossory, had to do the like. Rupert, on his part, did all that could be expected from a wise and valiant commander. Towards the close of the battle, which lasted till night, Rupert’s ship had taken in such quantities of water as to throw out of use the lower tier of guns. The Dutch retreated behind their sands, which averted what would have been their defeat. In reporting on the action to the Earl of Arlington, Prince Rupert writes: “Had it not been for the shoals, we had driven them into their harbours, and the king would have had a better account of them.”



With the advantage of recruiting immediately, being at home,—the Dutch were again at sea at the beginning of June. Suspicious that the enemy meant to take us by surprise, Prince Rupert went on board the Royal Sovereign on the evening of 3rd June, and watched during the whole of the night. On the morning of the 4th the Dutch were seen bearing down upon our fleet. Rupert, more than willing to meet them, ordered his cables to be cut. The action lasted from about four in the afternoon till dark, but no great damage was done, and there was no fighting at close quarters. Between ten and eleven at night the Dutch bore away to the east.

Considerably strengthened, the hostile fleets came together again in August, when Prince Rupert encountered De Ruyter for the third time. The French312 were in this action our allies, but Rear-Admiral De Martel was the only commander in the French contingent that was, in honesty and earnestness, a combatant. Rupert had to trust to himself, and to Sir Edward Spragge, for such help as he might be able to get from him. Against Prince Rupert and his squadron that occupied the centre of the English line of battle, the attack was concentrated. The English fleet consisted of about sixty men-of-war, and the French of thirty. The Dutch fleet had about seventy ships, but the numerical superiority of Rupert’s force was illusory. With the exception of De Martel, none of the French commanders rendered any assistance,—they were mere spectators. They deserted their own countryman,—the brave Martel,—and looked on with craven stare as he bore unaided the combined attack of five Dutch ships,—one of which he disabled, and made the others sheer off. The contest was furious and protracted, but indecisive. The conduct of Prince Rupert throughout the action was resolute, courageous, judicious, and worthy of the highest admiration. The pusillanimity of the French, and the disobedience or misconception of orders, on the part of his subordinate admirals and commanders, prevented the action from being a signal victory.

Soon after this action Prince Rupert retired from public life, although he did not resign his Admiralty commission till 1679. The years of his retirement were313 passed chiefly at Windsor Castle, his time being much given to literary and scientific studies and pursuits. He was an active member of the Board of Trade, and a governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Reference has already been made to his skill as an engraver, and to his improvement in the composition of gunpowder. He was the inventor of a method of treating plumbago,—converting it into a tractable fluid. Amongst his other inventions were the amalgam, named after him prince’s metal, for sheathing ships; a screw applied to a quadrant at sea, which prevented shifting, either from the unsteadiness of the observer’s hands or from the ship’s motion; a rapid discharging gun; an engine for raising water; an improved method of blasting in mines; a quick and accurate method of drawing in perspective.

Prince Rupert died in his house in Spring Gardens, London, on the 29th November 1682, in the sixty-third year of his age. He was interred in the Chapel of Henry VII., in Westminster Abbey, with the honour and respect due to his rank and character.

Throughout life he was eminently brave. He had natural and acquired powers, that lifted him high above the run of common men. He was thoroughly straightforward, detested cabals and intrigues, and kept entirely aloof from them, although he suffered from them,—especially as a naval commander. He never meddled with affairs of State or Cabinet or matters that were not314 his business. In religion he was a steady Protestant; to the State a zealous and faithful servant; to his king a loyal and devoted subject. It is not too much to say of him that he was an honest, wise, and brave man.


Those who are “born great” enjoy favourable conditions for also achieving greatness, provided they are possessed of the necessary qualifications. On the other hand, there have been many instances of men who have proved themselves “born to command,” whose forebears have left no trace of their existence. The naval heroes of the later half of the seventeenth century belonged to all classes, princes of the blood royal, scions of ancient and honourable houses, and many without any early records. The brave Sir Edward Spragge belongs to the last category.

Sir Edward Spragge, in 1661, was captain of the Portland, and afterwards, in succession, the Dover, the Lion,316 the Royal James, and the Triumph, which he commanded in the great battle with the Dutch off Lowestoft, on the 3rd June 1665. The mighty Dutch fleet in this battle comprised a hundred and three men-of-war, eleven fire-ships, and seven yachts. It was in seven squadrons, commanded by Admirals Opdam, Van Tromp, John Evertsen, Cornelius Evertsen, Cortenaer, Stillingwerth, and Schram. In this important action, referred to in the sketch of Prince Rupert, Spragge and Van Tromp made each other’s acquaintance as antagonists. Amongst many devoted heroes on both sides, Spragge distinguished himself highly by his conspicuous bravery, which procured him the honour of knighthood, conferred on the 24th June of the same year.

In 1666, Sir Edward was promoted rear-admiral of the white, and again, vice-admiral of the blue. As commander of the Dreadnought, he took a distinguished part in the four days’ battle with the Dutch in June 1666,—his brave and skilful conduct attracting the particular notice of the Duke of Albemarle. On the 24th July, Spragge, carrying his flag in the blue squadron, again engaged Van Tromp; he completely disabled Tromp’s vice-admiral, killed his rear-admiral, and ruined the rigging of his ship,—thus contributing greatly to the success of the action.

In the following year Sir Edward was appointed to an317 onerous duty, by the Duke of Albemarle—the defence of the fort at Sheerness, threatened by the Dutch. On the 10th June 1667, the Dutch attacked the fort. The place was really incapable of effective resistance, its sole defence consisting of a platform on which fifteen iron guns were mounted. He bravely continued to resist for a time the combined fierce attack of about thirty men-of-war. Continued resistance, however, would have resulted in the inevitable destruction of his gallant garrison, and he skilfully made good his retreat.

The appearance of the Dutch fleet in the Thames, and the capture of Sheerness, created a panic in London and in England generally, and brought many reproaches on Charles II.,—stirring up remembrances of Cromwell and the Commonwealth, under whose auspices the dignity and honour of the country had always been maintained. The fort of Sheerness was destroyed. The Dutch (who had received very little damage), it was feared, might at the next tide sail up the Thames, and extend their hostilities even to London Bridge. Thirteen ships were in consequence sunk at Northfleet and four at Blackwall; platforms were raised in many places, and furnished with artillery; the trained bands were called out, and every place was in violent agitation.

Spragge collected such naval force as he could, and retreated up the Medway, with a squadron of five frigates, seventeen fire-ships,—an extraordinary proportion!—and318 a few tenders. He took his station near the battery at Gillingham, opposite Upnor Castle, where he gave the Dutch, under Admiral Van Ness, a very warm reception, as they attempted to force their way up the river. The Dutch retreated, and, after paying a hostile visit to Harwich, returned again to the Medway, and on the 23rd July sailed up to near the Hope, where a squadron, slightly reinforced, and placed under the command of Sir Edward Spragge, awaited them. When the Dutch came up, Sir Edward unfortunately had not arrived to take the command, and the enemy were very near snatching a victory. Hostilities were renewed on the second day, under Sir Edward’s personal command. The enemy were attacked with great vigour and effect, and the Dutch sheered off, with Spragge in hot pursuit. By dexterous management he contrived so to tow his fire-ships as to burn twelve of the enemy’s, with an expenditure of six of his own fire-ships. On the 25th, at daylight, the Dutch had dropped down as far as the buoy at the Nore. Sir Edward following them was compelled by the tide coming up against him, to come to an anchor at a point a little below Lee. At one o’clock, the flood being spent, the Dutch fleet got under way, and our squadron resumed pursuit. The fleets opened fire upon each other, but at too great a distance for the guns, such as they were at that period, to be effective. On the 26th, Sir J. Jordan arrived321 from Harwich with a reinforcement. He contrived to pass the Dutch fleet, which lay between him and Spragge, and joined in the attack upon the Dutch; on the 27th the Dutch were out of sight, without having given Sir Edward a chance of closing with them. This was the last action in that war with the Dutch.


In 1668, Sir Edward was appointed an envoy to the Constable of Castile, who had recently been made Governor of the Spanish Netherlands. Sir Edward’s function was to compliment the governor on his appointment, and to complete further negotiations in relation to certain State measures in which Sir Edward was interested, and with which he was conversant. The estimation in which Sir Edward was held may be inferred from the following extract from a letter of Lord Arlington to Sir William Temple. It is dated London, December 11, 1668. “The bearer, Sir Edward Spragge, is sent by His Majesty to the Constable of Castile, to compliment His Excellency upon his arrival in Flanders; where it is possible you may either meet him, according to your late credential, or send to him, in order to something in His Majesty’s service, I thought I could not do less than, in a few lines, let you know that he is a brave man, and hath long served His Majesty faithfully (particularly with much gallantry in the last Dutch wars); that you may on all occasions put322 that value upon him which is his due, and which shall be always acknowledged by,” etc. Sir Edward returned to Whitehall from his embassy on the 29th of January following.

While the Dutch and English had been fighting each other, they had given a golden opportunity, of which an enemy common to both—the Algerine corsairs—had taken full advantage. These pirates infested the Mediterranean, and were the scourge of the traders of Western Europe. Expeditions had been repeatedly sent against them by both the English and the Dutch. They had been often punished in skirmishing actions, and cowed for a little while,—but never crushed. They entered readily into treaties, binding them to better behaviour, but broke the treaties, and their promises, before the negotiators of the other part reached their respective home ports. The merchants complained loudly of their heavy losses at the hands of the corsairs, and of the ruinous risks, incurred in the conduct of foreign commerce. The king and his advisers, unable to deny that the complaints were well grounded, selected Sir Edward Spragge to command a squadron to be sent against the pirates, in the hope that he would be successful in his operations, and especially that he would follow up and establish his success more effectively than had been done hitherto. Sir Edward had the character at court of possessing a sound judgment, resolute323 purpose, daring courage, and withal a captivating address, and the most polished manners.

Sir Edward sailed from England in the spring of the year 1671, with five frigates and three fire-ships, in the expectation of being joined by other ships on the way, so that he might have a fleet of about twelve sail in all. Misfortunes befell the squadron on the way. The Eagle fire-ship became disabled in a storm, and another ship sprang her main-mast, and had to leave for repair. The Eagle had such refitting as could be done, and the squadron held on its way, and about May Day 1671, entered the Bay of Boujeiah, or Bugia, in a brisk gale. The intention was to fire the ships of the Algerines, and a night attempt was made upon them by the men and boats of the squadron, but was frustrated by the premature lighting of the fire-ship that was to have carried the flames into the midst of the Algerines. They took alarm, and in haste unrigged their ships, and for defence made a strong boom of the spars, lashed together, and buoyed up with casks. The discharge of a pistol by a drunken gunner set light to a second fire-ship, which was destroyed, leaving only one more, the Little Victory, which unfortunately drew too much water to approach the part of the bay where the Algerines lay.

On the 8th May 1671, a body of horse and foot were seen on shore; they were an escort to a large supply of ammunition, that had been sent from Algiers324 for their ships. On its safe arrival, the Algerines fired off their cannon, as a joyous salute. Sir Edward Spragge, uncertain as to future reinforcements, concluded that prompt energetic action was the most hopeful course to pursue. He directed the Little Victory to be lightened, so that she might not draw above eight feet. About noon a fine breeze sprang up, and the admiral gave the signal for the men-of-war to draw into line, and bear into the bay. The ships bore in as directed. The admiral came to an anchor in four fathom water, and was a mark within range for the castle guns, which directed their fire upon him for two hours. His own pinnace and those of the Mary and the Dragon were manned with crews told off for the honourable and dangerous service of cutting the boom, which they did gallantly, although not without loss in killed and wounded. In the admiral’s pinnace there were seven men killed, and all the rest wounded, except Mr. Harman, who commanded. Lieutenant Pierce, of the Dragon, with ten of his men, were wounded, and one man killed. Lieutenant Pinn, of the Mary’s boat, was wounded, and eight of his men besides. The boom being cut, the fire-ship went in, and, getting up athwart the bowsprits of the Algerine ships,—the Little Victory being thoroughly well alight,—set fire to, and destroyed the whole of the enemy’s ships. Captain Harris, who commanded the fire-ship, his325 master’s mate, a gunner, and one of the seamen, were badly wounded, and the well-planned attack might have failed in execution, but for the forethought of the admiral in appointing a deputy commander to act in case of need. This was Henry Williams, master’s mate, who had formerly commanded the Rose fire-ship. As deputy and acting commander, he performed admirably, with unflinching courage, the duties thus devolving upon him. The Algerine ships destroyed were—the White Horse, the Orange Tree, the Three Cypress Trees, each of thirty-four guns; the Three Half Moons, twenty-eight guns; the Pearl, twenty-six guns; and the Golden Crown, and Half Moon, each of twenty-four guns.

This loss to the Algerines was almost irreparable. These picked men-of-war ships had been specially selected to fight Sir Edward Spragge. They were armed with the best brass guns that could be brought together, taken from their other ships. They were manned by about nineteen hundred picked men, and commanded by their most courageous and experienced admiral. Nearly four hundred of the Algerines were killed. The castle and town were greatly shattered, and a large number of people in them killed and wounded. The personal suffering was greatly aggravated from the surgeons’ chests having been burned with the ships,—thus cutting off the surgical aid and relief that might otherwise have been given. In addition to the ships enumerated, there326 were destroyed with them (of necessity, not willingly) a Genoese ship, a small English prize, and a settee.

In this memorable and important engagement, Sir Edward Spragge had seventeen men killed and forty-one wounded; a loss extraordinarily small, when it is borne in mind that his fleet was exposed to the fire of the guns of the fortress on land, as well as of the ships.

The internationally interesting fact is worthy of mention here, that in all our wars with the Algerines, the Spaniards allowed us the free use of the harbour of Port Mahon,—the English being regarded as the champions of civilisation and the protectors of the commerce of the Mediterranean. Sir Edward accordingly repaired to the harbour of Port Mahon, and there refitted sufficiently to enable him to bring his ships home. He returned in triumph.

In the subsequent Dutch wars Sir Edward Spragge took a prominent part, and discharged his duties with consummate skill and invincible courage. He acted as vice-admiral of the red in the battle of Solebay, and was afterwards appointed to succeed the Earl of Sandwich as admiral of the blue. Between this time and the war conducted by Prince Rupert, Sir Edward was sent to France on an embassy, which he conducted with sound judgment, to the entire satisfaction of the court.

His Royal Highness the Duke of York having resolved to resume command of the navy, the duty was327 assigned to Sir Edward Spragge to make all necessary preparations for his reception.

At the Solebay fight, 28th May 1673, Sir Edward Spragge took an active part, and distinguished himself greatly. It is stated that when he received his appointment from the king for this particular service, he promised that he would bring to the king, Van Tromp, dead or alive,—or lose his own life in the attempt. Spragge’s contest with Van Tromp, ship to ship, lasted for seven hours, in the course of which the gallant Dutchman was so assailed by his antagonist as to be compelled to shift from the Golden Lion into the Prince, again into the Amsterdam, and yet again, into the Comet. In this last ship, Spragge would have, in part at least, redeemed his promise to the king, and have done his adversary to death or captivity, but for Admiral De Ruyter coming to his assistance. Sir Edward’s ship was also so much damaged as to force him to shift into another, and again into a third. Prince Rupert and Spragge had had a quarrel, some time previous to this action, and the breach had not been healed, but this did not prevent the prince from bearing frank and honourable testimony to Sir Edward’s bravery. In a letter to the Earl of Arlington, he says: “Sir Edward Spragge did on his side maintain the fight with so much courage and resolution, that their whole body gave way to such a degree that, had it not been for fear of the shoals, we had328 driven them into their harbours.” Sir Edward had the advantage of Van Tromp in this action; Dutch writers admit the extraordinarily pertinacious bravery of Sir Edward, and Van Tromp himself admits that he was forced to retreat before it was dark.


A third battle was fought between these redoubtable combatants on the 11th August 1673. Sir Edward, with the blue squadron, was in the rear as the fleet neared the enemy. He had engaged to keep closely in company with Prince Rupert, but with lynx eye detecting what he considered a provocation on the part of Van Tromp, he laid his fore-topsail to the mast to wait for him, and, having engaged his squadron, maintained a hot contest for many hours, at a distance of several leagues to leeward of the main body of the fleet. Sir Edward, at the beginning of the action, fought on board the Royal Prince; Van Tromp was in the Golden Lion. It is recorded that Van Tromp avoided—and that Spragge strove to get to—close quarters; however this may be, after a terrible onslaught on each other for some time, both of the flag-ships became so much disabled as to compel the two admirals to change to other ships, Sir Edward to the St. George, and Van Tromp to the Comet. Having got on board these ships, the fight was renewed with, if possible, increased fury, and with determination on both sides to end it, with either death or 331victory. Again the St. George, Sir Edward’s flag-ship, was330 so battered that he was fain to leave it and take to the Royal Charles. This movement, alas! resulted in a fatal disaster. He had not been rowed many yards from the St. George when a shot struck the boat. The crew made every possible exertion to get back to the ship they had just left, but failed to reach it, and thus this brave commander perished miserably by drowning. Sir Edward sank with the boat, and, when it rose again, he rose with it, clutching it by the gunwale, with his head and shoulders above water, but—dead. How deplorable that this courageous commander should have been conquered in a trial out of which the dusky, untutored child of a South Sea Island savage would have come in safety; the hero could fight from early morn till dewy eve, could possess his soul in patience on the water for voyages lasting many weeks, covering many leagues,—but he could not swim a few yards.

In the history of his own times, Bishop Parker thus refers to the last gallant fight and death of Sir Edward Spragge:—

“There was a remarkable fight between Spragge and Van Tromp; for these, having mutually agreed to attack each other, not out of hatred, but from a thirst of glory, engaged with all the rage, or, as it were, the sport, of war. They came so close to one another that, like an army of foot, they fought, at once with their guns and their swords. Almost at every turn, both of their ships,332 though not sunk, were bored through,—their cannon being discharged within common gunshot range; each ship pierced the other as if they had fought with spears. At length, after several ships had been shattered, as Spragge was passing from one ship to another, the boat was overturned by a chance shot, and that great man, being unable to swim, was drowned, to the great grief of even his generous enemy, who, after the death of Spragge, could hardly hope to find an enemy equal to himself.” The author of the Life of De Ruyter, referring to this fierce conflict, says: “The Dutch avow the like never to have been seen; their own two ships (the ships of Tromp and Spragge) having, without touching a sail, strangely endured the fury of three hours’ incessant battery.”

It is difficult to get at anything approaching an adequate conception of the horrible scenes of carnage that must have been presented by this sanguinary conflict. Some particulars respecting Sir Edward’s flag-ship, the Royal Prince, with which he went into action, may assist in forming an idea of the dreadful devastation. The Royal Prince was a first-rate, of 1400 tons burthen, armed with one hundred pieces of brass ordnance, and carrying seven hundred and eighty men. She was well built, in perfect condition in all respects, and as fine a ship as any in either of the fleets. Before Sir Edward Spragge left the Royal Prince, the masts had all been shot away, most of the guns on the upper tier were disabled, four333 hundred men had been killed, and the ship was almost a helpless wreck. In this lamentable condition a large Dutch man-of-war, with two fire-ships, bore down upon the miserable object,—the Dutch commander resolving to burn, sink, or capture the Royal Prince. The first lieutenant, considering continued resistance hopeless, ordered the colours to be struck, and bid the men shift for themselves as they could. Richard Leake, the heroic master gunner, could not accept any such finish to the fray; he boldly took the command, ordered the lieutenant to go below, sank the two fire-ships, compelled the Dutch man-of-war to sheer off, and, wreck as it was, brought the Royal Prince into port. This hero, father of the famous Sir John Leake, was afterwards appointed Keeper of Ordnance Stores, and Master Gunner of England.

Sir Edward Spragge was highly distinguished for skill and bravery as a naval commander. To urbane and polite manners he united a resolute and daring spirit. He was beloved by his men, idolised by his friends, feared yet honoured by his enemies. His achievements in life commanded the enthusiastic admiration of his countrymen; his death was universally mourned.


The martial and naval heroes of England have been recruited from all classes, patrician and plebeian, with a large contribution from the class intermediate, to which Allen belonged. Some commanders rendered eminent service, to each of the great parties in the State, about the middle of the seventeenth century, who contended for supreme power—the Royalists and the Parliamentarians. Allen was not of these; he and his family were always steadfast in their adhesion to the royal cause. He is supposed to have been the son of a merchant and shipowner of Lowestoft, Suffolk. He rendered effective service as a privateer in the North Sea, before receiving a commission in the Royal Navy.

At the Restoration, Allen was rewarded for his335 fidelity, by being appointed to the command of the Dover, which was one of the first of the ships commissioned by the Duke of York. In the two following years he was in succession appointed to the command of the Plymouth, the Foresight, the Lion, and the Rainbow. In 1663 he was appointed commodore and commander-in-chief of the fleet in the Downs, and was allowed the special distinction of flying the Union flag at his main-top,—the St. Andrew being his flag-ship. In August 1664 he was appointed commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, in succession to the gallant Sir John Harman, who was ordered home. He seems to have been entrusted with diplomatic as well as naval functions, which may be inferred from Pepys recording, in his Diary, under date Nov. 28, 1664, “certain news of the peace made by Captain Allen at Tangier.” Specific instructions were given to him, however, to take in tow or destroy any Dutch men-of-war he might fall in with, and especially to capture their Smyrna fleet. He had a squadron of seven ships, which he posted so as to command the Straits of Gibraltar. His patience in waiting was not greatly strained. The Dutch Smyrna fleet—forty sail in all—hove in sight about the time expected, the escort consisting of four men-of-war. England had declared war against the Dutch States-General, and Allen attacked—it was in spring of 1665—without hesitation. The contest was obstinate; the336 Dutch, as usual, brought the stoutest of their merchant ships into the line of battle. Brackel, the Dutch commodore, was killed; the line was broken; several of the Dutch ships were sunk, and four of the richest were captured, but one of these was so much damaged in action that it foundered on the passage to England. Its cargo was valued at more than £150,000. A portion of the Dutch fleet took shelter in Cadiz, where they were blockaded by Allen, until the state of his supplies compelled his return to England, when the Dutchmen were allowed to come out. This important victory was not gained without loss on the part of the English, including two ships, the Phœnix and the Nonsuch, which were so much damaged as to become unmanageable; other two, the Advice and the Antelope, were also much injured. The Dutch men-of-war did a great deal of firing at comparatively long range; Allen did not fire a shot, until the antagonists were within pistol shot. The Dutch commodore, Brackel, was killed in the action. The fight was close in shore, and was watched by crowds of Spaniards, who, it is stated, laughed to see the alacrity with which the Dutch made for refuge. On his return to England, Allen was made admiral of the blue, and had also a special commission to act as vice-admiral of the fleet, then under the command of the Earl of Sandwich. On the 24th June 1665, the honour of knighthood was conferred upon him. In the following year he was337 appointed admiral of the white, and hoisted his flag on board the Royal James, which Prince Rupert made his flag-ship,—Allen remaining on board, however, as captain of the fleet. The prince, with a squadron, proceeded down the Channel on the lookout for a French naval force, which was expected to join the Dutch. Prince Rupert, in conjunction with Monk, Duke of Albemarle, commanded the Channel fleet. While Prince Rupert, with Sir Thomas Allen, were thus looking out for the expected hostile French fleet, Albemarle, greatly out-numbered,—sixty sail against ninety-one,—was engaged with the splendid Dutch fleet, commanded by the three famous admirals, De Ruyter, Evertsen, and Van Tromp. The fight had lasted for three days, and would probably have resulted in the defeat of Albemarle, but for the timely arrival, 4th June, of Allen’s white squadron, which compelled the Dutch to withdraw. On the 25th July the hostile fleets again met, both eager to renew hostilities. Sir Thomas Allen had the post of honour. He led the van, and commenced the battle by a furious attack on Admiral Evertsen, who commanded the Friesland and Zealand squadrons. The carnage was awful, and the Dutch loss crushing. Evertsen, chief in command of the combined squadrons, was killed, as were also his vice-admiral, De Vries, and his rear-admiral, Koenders. The Tolen, commanded by Vice-Admiral Banckart, was taken and burned, with another large man-of-war.338 The defeat of the Dutch was decisive. Their fugitive ships were pursued to the shores of Holland. There was great rejoicing in London on receipt of the news of the victory. On the 29th July the following notice was read from the pulpit at Bow: “The Dutch have been totally routed; fourteen ships taken, twenty-six burnt and sunk, two flag-ships taken, and with them, twelve hundred men,—six thousand men taken in all. Our ships have blocked up the Zealanders in Flushing, and ride before them top and top-gallant. The Dutch fleet are got into the Texel, and we ride before the same. The Lord Mayor ordered thanks—to be given this forenoon throughout the city.” On the 18th September a valuable prize fell into Allen’s hands in the Channel—a French ship, quite new, and considered the finest in the French navy, the Ruby, of fifty-four guns. De la Roche, commander, mistook Allen’s white squadron for a squadron of the French navy, and was captured before he could make more than a faint show of resistance.


The Duke of York, desirous to commemorate the victories over the Dutch, commissioned Sir Peter Lely, the court painter, to paint a portrait group embracing the “flag men” and heroes of the fleet. The Duke of York had himself commanded at the brilliant action off Lowestoft on the 3rd June 1665, when the Dutch, under Admirals Opdam and Van Tromp, sustained a total defeat. The picture by Lely included the principal339 naval commanders of the time;—and the number of figures shows conclusively that the age was rich in naval heroes. Among the subjects in this historical painting are the Duke of York, Lord High Admiral; Prince Rupert; George Monk, Duke of Albemarle; Montague,340 Earl of Sandwich; Admirals Sir Thomas Allen, Sir George Ayscough, Sir Thomas Teddiman, Sir Christopher Myngs, Sir Joseph Jordan, Sir William Berkeley, Sir John Harman, Sir William Penn, and Sir Jeremy Smith.

In November 1666, Allen had the honour conferred upon him of being elected an Elder Brother of the Trinity.

The Dutch war being apparently over, the naval authorities were left at liberty to prosecute more civilising, although not purely pacific, enterprises. In the autumn of 1668, Allen sailed in command of a squadron to repress the Algerine pirates, who had taken advantage of the war to ply their nefarious occupation against all such merchant ships as came in their way which they considered worth rifling,—killing and destroying with ready ferocity where they could not rob. Nationality was with them no object. The Dutch suffered as well as the English, and the whilom enemies were united in seeking redress for their common grievance. The Dutch sent a squadron under Admiral Van Ghent, with the same object in view as England had, in sending Allen. The united squadrons drove the corsairs on to their own shores. Large numbers of English and Dutch prisoners made slaves, who had formed the crews of ships captured by the pirates, were released and exchanged by Allen and Van Ghent.

Ere he returned home, Allen visited Naples and341 Florence, and was received with great honour at both places. After paying these visits he returned to Algiers, where he received fresh assurances that the terms of the treaty for the suppression of piracy would be scrupulously observed. He returned to England, but as soon as he had left, the corsairs resumed their depredations. Allen returned to Algiers, and inflicted summary vengeance on the persons and property of the pirates, destroying a large number of their vessels. In 1670 he was recalled at his own request, and on his return home was appointed Comptroller of the Navy. In 1678, war with France appearing imminent, he was again appointed to a command at sea. Happily, the occasion for his active service did not arise, and he passed the few closing years of his life at Somerleyton, an estate that he had purchased near his native place. He lived there in quiet privacy, respected by all who knew him, in the enjoyment of what he had well earned—Peace with honour.


Of the early life of this gallant commander there are no records extant. It is known that in 1664 he commanded the Gloucester, of fifty-eight guns, and in the following year the Royal Charles. He received the honour of knighthood for his distinguished services.

In the action with the Dutch on the 1st June 1666, Sir John Harman’s bravery was most conspicuous. He led the van of the fleet under the Duke of Albemarle. He boldly dashed into the centre of the Zealand squadron, and was the object of a concentrated attack by a number of their best ships. His ship, the Henry, becoming disabled, Evertsen, the Dutch admiral, offered Sir John quarter, which he bluntly and promptly refused, saying, “It was not come to that—not yet.” Sir343 John’s ship was grappled by a fire-ship on the starboard quarter, and in great danger of being destroyed, and probably would have been captured or burned but for the heroic conduct of Lieutenant Thomas Lamming, who swung himself into the fire-ship, and by the light of the fire found the grappling-irons, cast them loose, and swung back to his own ship.5 A second fire-ship was sent against the Henry, and grappled on the larboard quarter. This attack was more successful than that of the assailant Lamming had cast loose. The sails of the Henry caught fire, and a panic took possession of the crew, a number of whom leaped overboard. With drawn sword, Sir John Harman commanded the remainder of the crew to their duty, and threatened with death the first who should attempt to leave the ship or fail to exert himself to put out the flames. The fire was got under, but a third fire-ship was sent against the Henry. Happily, before the fire-ship could get to close quarters, a volley from the guns of the Henry’s lower deck was so well directed as to sink it—while a broadside directed against the Dutch flag-ship included in its terrible effects the death of Evertsen, the brave admiral.

5 For this gallant act, Lamming was promoted to the command of the Ruby.

Harman did not escape severe personal injury in the conflict. During the hottest part of the fight, some of the burnt rigging fell upon him and broke his leg, but344 he did not retire. He took the Henry into Harwich for such repairs as could be effected in a few hours. Notwithstanding his broken leg, he rejoined the fleet,—no entreaties could dissuade him,—to take his part in the continuation of the battle.

Arriving at the scene of conflict, although eager for action, Rupert and Albemarle, in consideration of his unfit and suffering condition, absolutely forbade his pursuing his determination, and insisted on his retiring for the rest essential to his recovery.

In March 1667, Sir John Harman sailed in command of an expedition to the West Indies. His squadron consisted of seven men-of-war and two fire-ships. He had permission to carry the Union flag at the main-top of his flag-ship, the Lion, of fifty-eight guns, as soon as he got out of the Channel. At Barbadoes he added four men-of-war to his squadron, and sailed thence to Nevis, where he arrived on the 13th June. He learned there that the French fleet, consisting of twenty-four men-of-war, was at anchor under Martinique. This information he laid before a council of war, and it was determined to attack the French. When he came up with the French, he found them so posted as to preclude the possibility, with the wind as it was, of forcing them to engage. Sir John was bold as a lion, but was also wise and wary, and felt his responsibility for the lives of his crews. On the 25th, the wind being favourable,345 he attacked the French fleet, albeit double the strength of his own. His success was complete. Eight of the French fleet were soon on fire, a number of others were sunk, and only three or four escaped.

A curious circumstance is recorded concerning the bearing of Sir John during this action. He had not fully recovered from the accident he had sustained in the preceding year, when he had his leg broken. He was also suffering from a severe attack of gout, and was very lame. On bearing in on the enemy’s fleet, he got up, walked about, and gave orders, as if in perfect health, till the fight was over, when he again became as lame as before.

He after this made a voyage to the Straits under Sir Thomas Allen, and, although suffering much from physical infirmities, conducted himself with characteristic bravery and discretion. The spirited action at Solebay, and the second battle in 1672, between Prince Rupert and De Ruyter, in which Harman rendered most effective service, were the last actions of importance in which he was engaged. He had attained to the rank of admiral of the blue when bodily infirmity compelled him to retire reluctantly from the service.


John Benbow is represented to have been born at Shrewsbury about the middle of the seventeenth century, and to have been apprenticed to a butcher, but to have broken his indentures and joined the Rupert, under Captain Herbert, in 1678. His first active service was in connection with a small squadron sent to redress the wrongs that had been sustained by English merchants and the mercantile marine, and to suppress the perpetrators—the pirates of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, that infested the Mediterranean.

Benbow so conducted himself in action as to secure the goodwill of his superior officer, Captain Herbert (afterwards Earl of Torrington), and speedy promotion. He was, in 1679, appointed master of the347 Nonsuch. In 1681, Benbow had an experience that was not pleasant. In conflict with an Algerine corsair, the British ship Adventure got the worst, and had to sheer off. The Algerine was taken in hand by the Nonsuch, and captured. Some crowing and chaffing on the part of the men of the Nonsuch at the expense of the crew of the Adventure, led to Benbow being tried by court-martial on the complaint of Captain Booth of the Adventure. Benbow was sentenced to forfeit three months’ pay (£12, 15s.), which was to be used for the benefit of the wounded men of the Adventure. He was also required to apologise to Captain Booth, which he did, declaring that he had only repeated the words of others, without any malicious intention.

The Nonsuch was, shortly after the Adventure affair, paid off, and Benbow next comes into view in connection with a ship named after, and owned and commanded by himself—the Benbow frigate. The merchants on Change, among whom Benbow was well known and highly esteemed, may have assisted him in the acquisition of such a valuable property,—but, however this may be, we find him in 1686 acting as sole owner and responsible commander. In that year, in a passage to Cadiz, a Salee rover, greatly an overmatch in number of fighting men, attacked the Benbow, whose crew made a valiant defence. The Moors boarded the Benbow, but were beaten off, with the loss of thirteen of their number.348 Captain Benbow ordered their heads to be cut off, and thrown into a tub of salt pickle. On arriving at Cadiz, he went ashore, followed by a negro servant carrying the pickled heads in a sack. The tide waiters, spying the sack, asked if he had “anything to declare,” that is, anything subject to import duty. He answered, only salt provisions for his own use, and affected indignation that, well known as he was, he should be suspected of running goods. The officers replied that they could not grant him a dispensation from search, but the magistrates, who were sitting close by, might do so if they would. The party proceeded in formal order to the custom-house, Captain Benbow leading,—the negro, with the suspected contraband goods, following,—and the revenue officers bringing up the rear. The magistrates received Benbow with great civility, and assured him that the custom-house officers had not exceeded their duty in requiring him to show the contents of the sack, and in conducting him hither. They politely asked him to satisfy them, as he could do so easily. Benbow answered, with real or assumed sternness, “I told you they were salt provisions for my own use. Pompey, show the gentlemen what you have got.” Whereupon the negro, nothing loth, tumbled out the baker’s dozen of Moors’ heads, to the astonishment of the Alcalde and his colleagues, who were assured by Benbow that the heads were quite at their service. An account of349 Benbow’s valiant exploit in defeating, with his small force, a number much larger of the fierce and ruthless barbarians who were the scourge and terror of the seas, was forwarded to the court of Madrid. Charles II., then King of Spain, expressed a desire to see the bold Benbow, whom he received with honour, presented with a handsome testimonial of his respect, and entrusted with a letter to King James of England, warmly recommending Benbow, as worthy of the king’s confidence and favour.

The Benbow frigate was, it may be supposed, paid off, or otherwise disposed of, and its late owner rejoined the King’s Navy in 1689, as lieutenant in the Elizabeth, of seventy guns. He was soon after appointed in succession, as captain, to the York, the Bonaventure, and the Britannia. His rapid promotion was probably, in part at least, attributable to the influence exercised on his behalf by his former commander, Herbert, now admiral, and a high authority in naval affairs. It has been conjectured that during the time of the Revolution, Benbow was attached to the fleet under Admiral Herbert’s command, and was its pilot, in landing William at Torbay.

From the Britannia Captain Benbow was appointed Master Attendant of Chatham Dockyard, and afterwards to a like office in Deptford Royal Dockyard, which he held for about six years. During this period, on several occasions, he was told off for special service. In the350 unfortunate action between the united English and Dutch and the French fleets off Beachy Head, in June 1690, Captain Benbow, of the Sovereign, served under the Earl of Torrington, commander-in-chief, as Master of the fleet. Benbow’s evidence in the trial of Lord Torrington by court-martial had great weight in leading to his acquittal. Continuing master of the Sovereign, Benbow again discharged the important duties of Master of the fleet at the battles of La Hogue and Barfleur in 1692, under Admiral Russell. In acknowledgment of the value of his special services as Master of the fleet, his pay as Master while afloat was added to his pay for his dockyard office.

Benbow was next employed, 1693 to 1695, in the command of flotillas of bomb vessels and fire-ships in attacks upon St. Malo, Dunkirk, and other localities on the French coast. At Dunkirk he saved the Virginia and West Indian fleets from falling into the hands of the French privateers, and for this service received the thanks of the merchants. He was by this time so well known as to be sometimes referred to as “the famous Captain Benbow.” So well satisfied were the Admiralty authorities with his services, as to order that he should be paid as rear-admiral during the time he had been employed on the French coast, as a reward for his good service. In 1696 he was promoted to the substantial rank of rear-admiral. After cruising service, directed to353 the protection of English and Dutch traders, he was appointed, in 1697, commander-in-chief of the king’s ships in the West Indies, with special orders to suppress the pirates. By a threat to blockade Carthagena, he obtained the restoration of two English merchant ships, which the governor had detained to form part of a projected expedition against the ill-fated Scottish colony at Darien. Benbow’s action stopped the intended raid.


In 1700 the admiral returned to England, and was for a time in command in the Downs, and served for some months as vice-admiral of the blue in the grand fleet under Admiral Sir George Rooke. In 1701 it was again thought necessary to send a strong squadron to promote and protect the national interests in the West Indies. Benbow was proposed by the ministry, but the king claimed for him that he had only just returned, and had been subjected to great difficulties in his West Indian command, and that it was but fair that some other officer should have a turn. Several officers were named and consulted, but they all with one consent made excuse—“health,” “family affairs,” etc. “Well, then,” said the king, in conference with his ministers, “we must spare our beaux, and send honest Benbow.” Asked if he was willing to go, Benbow answered bluntly that he did not understand such compliments as were paid to him; it was not for him to choose his station. If His Majesty thought fit to send him to the East or354 West Indies, or anywhere else, it was for him to cheerfully obey orders. He sailed with his new command in September 1701, with ten ships,—Sir George Rooke, admiral of the fleet, convoying him as far as Scilly with a strong squadron. For action in the West Indies, the French were also making extensive preparations. A squadron, consisting of five ships of the line and several large vessels, laden with arms and ammunition, sailed from Brest in April 1701, under the command of the Marquis de Coetlogon. Count de Chateau Renaud also sailed with fourteen ships of the line and sixteen frigates, and in addition to these, M. du Casse, Governor of St. Domingo, sailed also with a squadron, Admiral Benbow the while having received no fresh supplies or reinforcements, and being in danger apparently of being utterly crushed by the superior power of his enemies. He had made on arrival wise and skilful dispositions and arrangements for securing our own trade and crippling the enemy. The French saw with amazement the defeat of the schemes they had been able to mature from the possession of earlier intelligence of intended war. Even after the arrival of Marquis Coetlogon, the French had to confine themselves to acting on the defensive, and found all their grand projects for attacking Jamaica and the Leeward Islands entirely frustrated. The Dutch accounts of the state of affairs at the time state that, notwithstanding all the bluster of the French,355 Admiral Benbow, with a small squadron, remained master of the seas, taking many prizes, giving all possible support to the private trade carried on by the English on the Spanish coasts.

The situation changed for the worse for Benbow and his small fleet. Renaud, he learned, had arrived at Martinique with a squadron much stronger than his own. This had been joined by the squadron of Coetlogon from Havannah. The inhabitants of Barbadoes and Jamaica were excessively alarmed by the approach of a hostile fleet, which the English had no force capable of resisting.

Notwithstanding most of his ships being short of their complements of men, Admiral Benbow concluded it to be his best course under the circumstances to put to sea and cruise between Jamaica and Hispaniola. He sailed with this intention on the 8th May 1702, and was joined about this time by Rear-Admiral Whetstone. In cruising on the coast of St. Domingo, he received news of the French fleet having gone to Carthagena and Porto Bello. On the 19th August he sighted it near Santa Marta. It consisted of four ships of from sixty to seventy guns, one of thirty guns, and four frigates, all under the command of M. du Casse. The English force consisted of seven ships of from fifty to seventy guns, but the ships were much scattered, and their commanders showed no disposition to close up for action. Late in356 the afternoon there was a scrambling action that was closed by nightfall. Admiral Benbow, in the Breda, of seventy guns, closely followed by Captain Walton in the Ruby, of fifty guns, kept company with the enemy through the night, and was well up with them at daybreak, but the other English ships kept aloof during the whole day. The 21st and three following days brought no more worthy resolution to the captains of the English squadron. Walton of the Ruby, only, and Vincent of the Falmouth, supported the admiral in his persistent and resolute attempts to bring Du Casse to action, and for some time these three sustained the fire of the whole French squadron, while the other ships held aloof. The Ruby was disabled on the 23rd, and ordered to make the best of her way to Port Royal. For five days, against such overpowering odds, brave Benbow maintained the desperate conflict, sustained by the devoted loyalty and unflinching courage of his officers and men. On the 24th the brave commander had his right leg shattered by a chain shot. After the surgical operation below, the lion-hearted hero had himself carried up again to the quarter-deck to direct the continued action. Captain Kirby, of the Defence, came on board, and urged the hopelessness of the conflict and chase. All the other captains being summoned, eagerly expressed their concurrence with Captain Kirby, and reduced their finding to writing. The morally and357 physically depressed, shattered, and exhausted commander could contend no longer or further, and was thus compelled to return to Jamaica. A noble letter from his late enemy, Du Casse, would have been enough as a suggestion for inquiry into the conduct of the captains of his squadron. It was as follows:—

Sir,—I had little hopes on Monday last but to have supped in your cabin; but it pleased God to order it otherwise. I am thankful for it. As for those cowardly captains who deserted you, hang them up, for, by ——, they deserve it.—Yours,

Du Casse.”6

6 Campbell’s Lives of the Admirals, vol. iii. p. 524.

At Jamaica a court-martial was assembled by order of Admiral Benbow. Captains Kirby of the Defence, and Wade of the Greenwich, were condemned to be shot; and Captain Constable of the Windsor to be cashiered. Captain Vincent of the Falmouth, and Captain Fogg of the flag-ship, who had signed the protest, were sentenced to suspension during the sovereign’s pleasure. Kirby and Wade were shot on board the Bristol in Plymouth Sound, 16th April 1703.

Benbow was careful to secure such promotion and advantage as was in his power to the officers who had supported him in the engagement, as well as to bring the deserters to justice. He had a leg amputated after the action; fever supervened, and he died in Jamaica,358 after about a month’s painful illness, sustained with much fortitude, on the 4th November 1702, and was buried in St. Andrew’s Church, Kingston. His portrait, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, is in the Painted Hall, Greenwich.

Benbow’s bravery has not, we believe, been questioned, but his tact and temper were not, some of his critics have alleged, of as good quality as his courage, and the disaffection of his subordinates in the action with Du Casse has been attributed to defects in this direction.


Cloudesley Shovel was born at or near Cley, a small town on the north coast of Norfolk, about the year 1650. At that time Cley, which is about ten miles west from Cromer, had a good harbour, and a considerable shipping trade; but the harbour has been since silted up, and the rising generation of the place in this age are not brought so directly into contact with ships and maritime affairs as young Shovel, who was named Cloudesley in homage to a rich relative from whom the family had great expectations, which were not realised.

The boy was sent to learn the art and craft of shoe-making and mending, which did not accord with his inclination, and, from which he ran away,—and, offering360 his services to Sir John Narborough, was accepted by that famous seaman, and served as his cabin-boy. Sir John had himself commenced his naval career as cabin-boy to Sir Christopher Myngs, and probably took kindly to the runaway youngster, from that fellow-feeling which makes one wondrous kind. The lad showed great affection and respect to Sir John, who had him thoroughly instructed in navigation and other branches of useful knowledge. He proved an apt and diligent pupil, and became in due time an able and thoroughly capable seaman.

Sir John Narborough was the ever-ready and generous patron of merit, and had sufficient influence to obtain for his apprentice a lieutenant’s commission. Shovel served in this rank at the close of the second Dutch war.


The pirates of Algiers and Tripoli greatly harassed the traders of our own and other countries with the Levant, and a squadron was sent out in 1675, under the command of Sir John Narborough, to chastise their insolence, and, if possible, put an end to their predacious practices. Sir John found the corsairs in great force, and ready to give him a warm reception. The Algerines and the Tripolines combined in their defence, had their war ships in position, protected by the guns of the fort. Sir John had been instructed to try negotiation in preference to force, and, in view of the strength of the confederates, thought it might be well to at least attempt to obtain363 treaty promises of amendment by diplomacy, although he had little hope of a satisfactory result from this method. He despatched Lieutenant Shovel to the Dey of Tripoli as his representative. The Dey, despising the youthful ambassador, treated his message with contempt, which Shovel duly reported to his commander. He was sent back with a second message, and was received with even greater discourtesy than on the first occasion. He bore all patiently, however; appearing to be quite cool and unobservant, at the same time noting the number and disposition of the pirate ships. Returning to Sir John, he duly reported the insolent reception he had received, and added to the report a strong recommendation that a night attack should be made upon the enemy, with the object of burning their ships, stating his readiness to conduct the expedition. His recommendation was adopted, and at midnight on the 4th March, Lieutenant Shovel at the head of the boats of the English fleet, well manned, and well supplied with inflammable materials, put off, with muffled oars, from their own ships, and, stealthily approaching the pirates, boarded and set them on fire,—leaving them a blaze to light them back to their own vessels. This brilliant service Shovel accomplished without suffering the loss of a single man on the English side. The corsairs destroyed included the White Eagle of fifty guns, the Mirror of thirty-six guns, the Sancta Clara of twenty-four364 guns, and another ship of twenty guns, besides smaller vessels. The Tripolines were struck with amazement by this successful action, and sued for peace. When an attempt to treat was made, however, they refused to accede to the proposed terms, so far as regarded making good the losses that had been sustained by the English. Sir John cannonaded the town, but produced little effect. He drew off to a place about twenty leagues distant, where he destroyed a vast magazine of timber, stored for shipbuilding, but still failed to reduce the pirates, and sailed to Malta, whence, after staying a short time, he returned suddenly, and renewed his attack with so much spirit and success that the enemy were glad to conclude a peace on the terms that Sir John had proposed. Shortly after this, a number of the corsairs’ ships that had been at sea plying their nefarious vocation, returned to port. They repudiated his treaty and deposed the Dey for having made it, and continued the perpetration of their lawless practices. Again Sir John returned, this time with a force of eight frigates, which arriving before Tripoli, commenced a vigorous cannonade, and so battered the place as to make the inhabitants eagerly sue for peace. Peace was, for the time, concluded, and the authors of the late disturbances were brought to punishment. Lieutenant Shovel took a leading part in these actions.

In 1676, Shovel, whose conduct was warmly reported365 upon and commended by Sir John Narborough, was given the command of the Sapphire, and not long after of a larger ship, the James Galley, in which he continued till the death of Charles II.

Captain Shovel was not a pronounced politician, but such leaning as he had was in the opposite direction to the Jacobite side. King James thought it to his interest, doubtless, to conciliate and employ such an able commander, and appointed him to the command of the Dover, which he held when the Revolution took place in 1688. He closed heartily with the new Government, to which he rendered active and successful service, that brought him rapid promotion. He was in the first naval action in this reign, the battle of Bantry Bay, in 1689, in which he commanded the Edgar. In this action his valour and activity were so conspicuous as to lead the king to confer upon him the honour of knighthood. During the winter of 1689 he was employed in cruising on the coast of Ireland, to prevent the enemy from landing recruits. Here he received advice that several ships of war, French and Irish, were in Dublin Bay, where, at low water, they lay on the sands. Sir Cloudesley immediately stood for the bay, in which he noticed an English ship of good size, a French man-of-war, and several other ships filled with soldiers. These forces were not sufficient to deter Sir Cloudesley, who determined to destroy the ships, in sight of King James’s capital and of a powerful garrison.366 He left the flag-ship, and went on board the Monmouth yacht. At a little more than half-flood, with the Monmouth, two hoys belonging to men-of-war, a ketch, and the pinnaces, he passed over the bar with dashing bravery. The Irish fleet cut their cables, and sailed as close in shore as the sands would permit, and fired a few shots at the threatening force, calling also for assistance from the Dublin garrison. Sir Cloudesley, despite the fire of the ships, and the shower of bullets from King James’s militia, pressed forward, and as soon as he was near enough, signalled the fire-ship to advance. The soldiers deserted the largest ship, and those on board the others ran them aground. Sir Cloudesley ordered the boarding of the largest ship, the Pelican, of twenty guns, and directed her load to be lightened, which was done, and the ship was towed away, to the confusion of the witnesses ashore. The Pelican was the largest man-of-war then in King James’s possession. It had been taken by the Scots the previous year from the French, on the occasion of their having conducted forces to the assistance of the Highlanders, then in rebellion. In turning out of the bay, the wind, which had veered, drove one of the hoys aground. At the lowest ebb the hoy was upon dry ground; thousands of people crowded the strand, King James and his guards amongst them. Cloudesley’s crews remained in their boats, ready for any encounter. The Irish battalions discharged a volley or two,367 which were warmly returned. As soon as the rising tide permitted, the English left the bay with their prize, very much to the chagrin of King James and his adherents.

In June 1690, Sir Cloudesley was appointed to convey King William and his army to Ireland. In this service he had command of five men-of-war, six yachts, and a large number of transport vessels. Unfavourable weather was encountered, but the landing of the whole force at Carrickfergus, on the 14th June, was successfully accomplished. The king was so highly pleased with the skill and dexterity displayed by Sir Cloudesley in this difficult transport service, as to promote him to be rear-admiral of the blue, and he delivered the commission with his own hands.

On the 10th July the king received information that the enemy intended to send a fleet of frigates into St. George’s Channel to burn the transport ships, and Shovel was ordered to cruise off Scilly, or in such other station as he should think best for frustrating this design, and to send scouts east and west to gain intelligence respecting the movements of the French fleet. Nothing remarkable came of this cruise. The remainder of 1690 was spent by Sir Cloudesley chiefly in cruising, till he was appointed to join Sir George Rooke’s squadron, which escorted the king to Holland in January 1691. All the services of Sir Cloudesley were not alike brilliant, but all were well intended, and his courage and sincerity were368 never questioned. His promotion by the king, in the spring of 1692, to be rear-admiral of the red, gave general satisfaction. On his return from Holland in that year, Sir Cloudesley joined Admiral Russel with the grand fleet, and had a great share in the danger, and a deserved share in the glory attaching to the famous naval battle off La Hogue.

The combined fleet sailed from Spithead on the 18th May 1692. Admiral Russel, in the red squadron, had his flag on board the Britannia of 100 guns; his vice and rear admirals were Sir Ralph Delaval in the Royal Sovereign and Sir Cloudesley Shovel in the London, each of 100 guns. The blue squadron was commanded by Sir John Ashby in the Victory of 100 guns; his vice-admiral was Sir George Rooke in the Windsor Castle of 90 guns, and his rear-admiral, Richard Carter, in the Albemarle of 90 guns. The English fleet comprised 63 ships carrying 4504 guns and 27,725 men, to which was united a Dutch fleet of 36 ships under Admiral Allemonde, carrying 2494 guns and 12,950 men. Total, 99 ships, 6998 guns, 40,675 men. The French fleet consisted of 63 ships of war, of which 55 carried from 104 to 60 guns each, and 8 from 58 to 50 guns each. In addition the French had 7 smaller vessels, 26 ships armée en flute, and 14 others; in all, 110 vessels. The design of the French was the restoration of James to the English throne.




On the 18th May the fleet sailed from Spithead, the most powerful, probably, that had ever assembled in the reign of the wooden walls of England. On the morning of the 19th the French fleet was sighted to the westward. At 8 A.M. the line of battle was formed, the Dutch in the van, Admiral Russel in the centre, and Sir John Ashby in the rear. At 11.30 the French flag-ship, the Soleil Royal of 104 guns, opened fire upon the English admiral’s flag-ship, the Britannia. The light air of wind having died away, the rear division was prevented from closing with the enemy; the red division bore accordingly the brunt of the battle. The Soleil Royal was so shattered as to have to cease firing, and was towed out of the action. About noon a dense fog came on, and the firing consequently ceased. The fog continued till the evening, and the weather being calm, the ships drifted with the tide, and got considerably mixed, friends and foes, so as to make firing dangerous as touching unintentional billets for the bullets. The rear of the English fleet became partially engaged from about 7 till 9.30 P.M. After the day’s action the allied fleet stood to the north-west, and on the following day proceeded in chase of the enemy. The ships that escaped capture or destruction took refuge in the harbour of La Hogue, which gave the name to the glorious action. Sixteen French sail of the line were captured or destroyed by the English. In the action on the 19th, and the subsequent pursuit of372 the defeated enemy, Sir Cloudesley’s activity and valour were conspicuous; his ship fought in superb style, and he was entitled to the principal share of such credit as attached to burning the French ships of war.

The next notable action in which Sir Cloudesley took part was one of the few that have detracted from England’s glory and renown as “mistress of the seas.” In the battle of Beachy Head the glory was appropriated by the Dutch; if shame attached to any party in the contest it was to the English; but for mismanagement or failure Sir Cloudesley was in no degree responsible. He was responsible for the handling and fighting of the ships under his command, but had to take the orders of his admiral for the plan of action. In June 1690 the French fleet, under the Count de Tourville, embracing seventy-eight men-of-war, chiefly of large size, and carrying an aggregate of four thousand seven hundred guns, with twenty-two fire-ships, sailed from Brest, with the intention of creating a diversion in favour of King James, and, with this view, made a descent upon the coast of Sussex. Intelligence having reached Spithead of the enemy’s approach, the British fleet, under the Earl of Torrington, put to sea on the 21st June, and soon came in sight of the French. The English were joined by a Dutch squadron of twenty-two large ships, under Vice-Admiral Evertsen. On the 30th, at daylight,373 Admiral Torrington signalled to bear up in line abreast; and the Dutch in the van bore down with their characteristic bravery, and did not bring to until closely engaged with the French van at about 9 A.M. The blue squadron, following the example of their allies, gallantly attacked the rear of the French; but the centre, under the command of Lord Torrington, hung back, and did not close with the enemy. The French, taking advantage of the backwardness of the red division, kept their wind, and, passing through the wide opening in the line, completely cut off the Dutch squadron, that still, however, kept up the fight with dogged bravery. The fight lasted throughout the day, and at 5 P.M. the allied fleets anchored, but at 9 weighed anchor, and retreated eastward. One English ship, and three of the Dutch ships, were destroyed or sunk. The Earl of Torrington was tried by court-martial for his conduct of this action, and acquitted.

In September 1694, Sir Cloudesley sailed with a frigate squadron for an attack on Dunkirk. Commodore Benbow was in command of the smaller ships of the squadron, and had with him a Mr. Meesters, and a number of infernal machines invented by him; he had also a number of Dutch pilots. On the 12th September, the fleet, consisting of thirteen English and Dutch men-of-war ships, two mortar vessels, and seventeen machines, and small craft, arrived before Dunkirk, and on the 13th374 commenced the attack with the boats, and two of the machines, which were to be directed by the engineer, assisted by the pilots. The first machine took fire before it had reached near enough to damage the enemy, and the second machine was caught by piles the French had driven to obstruct the approach. Sir Cloudesley found Dunkirk too strong for the appliances at present at his command. He sailed for Calais, which he shelled, and destroyed a large number of houses. He was interrupted in this occupation by a gale of wind, and returned with his fleet to the Downs.

In 1703, Sir Cloudesley was sent on special service to Vigo, to look after and bring home the spoil of the French and Spanish fleets that fell to Sir George Rooke in the previous year. In this action, seven French ships, with 334 guns and 2030 men, were burnt and otherwise destroyed, and ten ships were taken by the English and Dutch, the total loss of the French being seventeen ships, carrying 960 guns and 5832 men, and, in addition, some Spanish galleys. Sir Cloudesley, left in charge of the prizes, succeeded in rescuing a large portion of the treasure from the sunken galleons, and recovered the Dartmouth, a fifty-gun ship, that had been captured in the previous war. He also took out of some of the French ships, which were lying aground severely damaged, fifty brass guns, and a larger number of guns from the shore defence. Before leaving the port (Vigo),375 he completed the destruction of every ship he could not tow away.

In 1704, Sir Cloudesley served under Sir George Rooke in the Mediterranean, and in 1705 was promoted to be Rear-Admiral of England, and shortly afterwards made Commander-in-chief of the British fleets. In 1705 he co-operated with the Earl of Peterborough in taking Barcelona.

Sir Cloudesley, having determined to open the passage of the bar, where the French were strongly entrenched, directed Sir John Norris, with four English and one Dutch ship, to sail into the river. They advanced to within musket-shot of the enemy’s works. He opened a well-directed fire, and the cavalry, with the greater portion of the infantry, taken by surprise, and quite unprepared for the sudden attack, quitted the camp. Sir Cloudesley, noticing this, ordered Sir John to land with the sailors and marines, and attack the French in flank. This service was effectively performed, and the French fled in confusion from the entrenchments, clearing the way for the Duke of Savoy, our ally, who passed up the river without meeting with any resistance.

On the 17th July 1707 an attempt was made upon Toulon by the combined English and Dutch forces, assisted by the fleet under the command of Sir Cloudesley Shovel. A hundred guns were landed from the ships for the batteries, with seamen to serve them; Sir Thomas376 Dilkes also bombarded the town from the fleet; but the attack did not prevail, and the attacking forces withdrew, not without having inflicted heavy damage and loss upon the French; eight of their largest ships were burnt; several magazines, and more than a hundred houses, were destroyed. Sir Cloudesley was greatly annoyed and disappointed by the partial failure of this expedition, and departed for England upon his last and fatal voyage. He left a squadron to blockade Toulon, under the command of Sir Thomas Dilkes.

The fleet had got so near home as the Scilly Isles, when, in the night of 22nd October 1707, Sir Cloudesley’s ship, the Association, and two others, struck the rocks known as “The Bishop and his Clerks.” Not a soul of the eight hundred on board with Sir Cloudesley was saved. The catastrophe was seen from on board the St. George. The Association went down in less than five minutes after striking the rock. Sir George Byng, in the St. Anne, had a very narrow escape. With Sir Cloudesley, on board the flag-ship, were his two stepsons, sons of Lady Shovel and Sir John Narborough, his brother James, Mr. Trelawney, eldest son of the Bishop of Winchester, and other persons of distinction. Sir Cloudesley’s body was cast ashore, and recovered next day. His remains were deposited, with the honourable and solemn ceremony due to his worth, in Westminster Abbey.




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  8. HALF-HOURS WITH A NATURALIST. Rambles near the Seashore. By the Rev. J. G. Wood, M.A.

  9. HALF-HOURS IN THE FAR NORTH. Life amid Ice and Snow.

10. HALF-HOURS IN THE FAR SOUTH. The People and Scenery of the Tropics.

11. HALF-HOURS IN THE FAR EAST. Among the People and Wonders of India.

12. HALF-HOURS IN WOODS AND WILDS. Adventures of Sport and Travel.

13. HALF-HOURS UNDERGROUND. Volcanoes, Mines, and Caves.

14. HALF-HOURS AT SEA. Stories of Voyage, Adventure, and Wreck.

15. HALF-HOURS IN THE WIDE WEST. Over Mountains.



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“That the story is Miss Giberne’s guarantees refinement and Christian principle.”—Churchman.

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THE DALRYMPLES. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d.

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“A delightful story, and, we need hardly add—being Miss Giberne’s—is full of the highest and most profitable religious teaching.”—Record.

“Miss Giberne’s book is for gentler readers. It appeals very delicately to their softer sympathies, and introduces them to one young girl at least who may serve as a model or ideal to them. It is written in a pleasing sympathetic style.”—Scotsman.

MISS CON; or, All Those Girls. 2s. 6d.

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“Enid’s nature is essentially heroic.... The other characters are cleverly sketched.”—Times.

ST. AUSTIN’S LODGE; or, Mr. Berkeley and his Nieces. 2s. 6d.

“A very good example of the author’s well-known style. It is carefully written, and is in all respects a conscientious performance.”—Academy.


“One of Miss Giberne’s most delightful tales.”—Record.

KATHLEEN. 2s. 6d.

“A fascinating tale.”—Record.

THE ANDERSONS. Illustrated. Extra crown 8vo. 3s. 6d.

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ON THE WORLD’S ROOF. A Tale of Adventure.

By S. M. S. CLARKE (Mrs. Pereira).

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“It is a romance of the school of Sir Walter Scott, abounding in stirring incidents, and not without a certain value as vividly calling up the scenes and events of real history.”—Scotsman.

THE DUKE’S PAGE; or, “In the Days of Luther.” A Story for Boys. From the German. Sixteen Illustrations. Extra crown 8vo. 3s. 6d. Gilt edges, bevelled boards.

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“This is one of the most fascinating historical tales we have ever read.”—British Weekly.


A NIGHT IN BETHLEHEM. Fifty Years After. Freely rendered by the Rev. J. Reid Howatt. Long fcap. 8vo, 1s. in leatherette. 1s. 6d., cloth boards.

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OFF TO KLONDYKE. A Story of Adventure. With Eight Illustrations by Chas. Whymper. Extra crown 8vo, bevelled boards, gilt edges. 5s.

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“This delightful story.”—British Weekly.

“Dr. Gordon Stables is as fresh, as entertaining, and as tactfully didactic as ever, and we can heartily recommend ‘From Ploughshare to Pulpit’ to all boys.”—Spectator.

“The story is lightly told and capitally illustrated, and sure to please a boy.”—Scotsman.


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TOM AND HIS CROWS. Illustrated. Crown 8vo. 2s.

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VIKING BOYS. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo. 2s.

“Wholesome and manly in tone, the book is thoroughly fresh and natural.”—Morning Post.

“We prophesy that the tale of the Viking boys and their wild deeds will become as popular as ‘The Lads of Lunda,’ and all the other stories with which Mrs. Saxby has delighted us.”—Athenæum.

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“A perfect book for boys—generous, wholesome, manly in tone, and withal thoroughly young, fresh, and natural. We recommend the book heartily, not only to all boys, but to everybody who knows and likes brave boys.”—Guardian.

“A capital book. The tales are full of fun and pathos.”—Athenæum.

THE YARL’S YACHT. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo. 2s.

“‘The Yarl s Yacht’ is a delightful sequel to the ‘Lads of Lunda.’”—Times.

* * * * *

THE HOME OF A NATURALIST. By Jessie M. E. Saxby and the Rev. Biot Edmonston. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d.

“We would fain linger long over the scenes which this excellent volume brings up before us. The authors have put together a very refreshing set of memories.”—Saturday Review.


LOTTA’S LIFE MISTAKE. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo. 1s.

GOLDEN LINKS IN A LIFE CHAIN. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d.

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YOKED TOGETHER: A Tale of Three Sisters. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo. 2s. Gilt edges. 2s. 6d.

“A quiet domestic story of deep interest, with several striking situations, described with considerable power.”—Leeds Mercury.

A BOY’S WILL. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo. 1s. 6d.

“The book is full of life and character, and would be a fitting gift alike to the Sunday-school teacher and the scholar.”—British Messenger.


MERRY AND WISE. Talks with School Girls. 16mo, 1s.

FIGHT AND WIN. Talks with Lads about the Battle of Life. 16mo, 1s.

LINED WITH LOVE. Friendly Talks with Young Girls about the Yoke of the Lord Jesus. 16mo, 1s.

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STRONG AND FREE. A Book for Young Men. 16mo. 1s.

YOUR SUNDAYS: Fifty-Two Short Readings. Especially intended for Schoolboys. Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d.

“YOUR INNINGS:” A Book for Schoolboys. Sixth Thousand. Crown 8vo. 1s. 6d.

EDIE’S LETTER; or, Talks with the Little Folks. 4to. 2s. 6d.


MORNING BELLS. Being Waking Thoughts for the Little Ones. Royal 32mo, 9d.; paper cover, 6d.

LITTLE PILLOWS. Being Good Night Thoughts for the Little Ones. 32mo, 9d.; paper cover, 6d.

MORNING STARS; or, Names of Christ for His Little Ones. 32mo. 9d.


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* * * * *

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Author of “Scarlet and Steel,” &c.

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GOOD LUCK. With Illustrations by W. Lance. Crown 8vo, 2s.

A LONDON BABY: The Story of King Roy. With Illustrations. Crown 8vo. 1s. 6d.

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KATHERINE’S KEYS. Illustrated by Chas. Richardson. Extra crown 8vo. Gilt edges, bevelled boards. 5s.

WHERE THE DEW FALLS IN LONDON. Illustrated. Crown 8vo. 2s.

A VANISHED HAND. Illustrated. Crown 8vo. 1s.

BITTER AND SWEET. Illustrated. Small crown 8vo. 1s.

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a predominant preference was found in the original book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; unbalanced quotation marks were remedied when the change was obvious, and otherwise left unbalanced.

Illustrations in this eBook have been positioned between paragraphs and outside quotations. In versions of this eBook that support hyperlinks, the page references in the List of Illustrations lead to the corresponding illustrations.

Some prices in the Book Catalog have been repositioned.