Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/245

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DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA. 239


CHAPTER X.

THE DEFEAT OF THE SPANISH ARMADA, A.D. 1588.

In that memorable year, when the dark cloud gathered round our coasts, when Europe stood by in fearful suspense to behold what should be the result of that great cast in the game of human politics, what the craft of Rome, the power of Philip, the genius of Farnese could achieve against the island-queen, with her Drakes and Cecils—in that agony of the Protestant faith and English name.—Hallam, Const. Hist. vol. i, p. 220.

On the afternoon of the 19th of July, A.D. 1588, a group of English captains was collected at the Bowling Green on the Hoe at Plymouth, whose equals have never before or since been brought together, even at that favorite mustering place of the heroes of the British navy. There was Sir Francis Drake, the first English circumnavigator of the globe, the terror of every Spanish coast in the Old World and the New; there was Sir John Hawkins, the rough veteran of many a daring voyage on the African and American seas, and of many a desperate battle; there was Sir Martin Frobisher, one of the earliest explorers of the Arctic seas, in search of that Northwest Passage which is still the darling object of England's boldest manners. There was the high admiral of England, Lord Howard of Effingham, prodigal of all things in his country's cause, and who had recently had the noble daring to refuse to dismantle part of the fleet, though the queen had sent him orders to do so, in consequence of an exaggerated report that the enemy had been driven back and shattered by a storm. Lord Howard (whom contemporary writers describe as being of a wise and noble courage, skillful in sea matters, wary and provident, and of great esteem among the sailors) resolved to risk his sovereign's anger, and to keep the ships afloat at his own charge, rather than that England should run the peril of losing their protection.

Another of our Elizabethan sea-kings, Sir "Walter Raleigh, was at that time commissioned to raise and equip the land-forces of Cornwall; but we may well believe that he must have availed himself o the opportunity of consulting with the lord admiral