Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/131

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85
MANLY PEEKE

England. Among those who had sailed with him was Richard Peeke, of Tavistock, who returned home much disgusted, "My Body more wasted and weatherbeaten, but my purse never the fuller nor my pockets thicker lyned."

Charles I came to the throne in 1625; and one of his first acts was to organize and start an expedition against the Spanish. It was devised for the sake of plunder. His treasury was empty; he was obliged to borrow £3000 to procure provisions for his own table. Plate ships, heavy-laden argosies, were arriving in the port of Spain from the New World, and Buckingham suggested to him to fill his empty coffers by the capture of these vessels. The English fleet counted eighty sail; the Dutch contributed a squadron of sixteen sail; it was the greatest joint naval power that had ever spread sail upon salt water—and this made the world abroad wonder what the purpose was for which it was assembled. Ten thousand men were embarked on the English vessels, and the command of both fleet and army was given to Sir Edward Cecil, now created Lord Wimbledon, a general who had served with very little success in the Palatinate and the Low Countries. This appointment of a mere landsman surprised and vexed the seamen. The position belonged to Sir Robert Mansell, Vice-Admiral of England, in case the Admiral did not go; but Buckingham had made the choice and persisted in it. The fleet set sail in the month of October, and shaped its course for the coast of Spain.

Richard Peeke had remained in Tavistock after his return from Algiers till October, 1625, when—"The Drumbe beating up for a New Expedition in which many noble Gentlemen, and Heroical Spirits, were to venture their Honors, Lives and Fortunes: Cables could