Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/246

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240 DEFEAT OF


and the other high officers, which was offered by the English fleet putting into Plymouth; and we may look on Raleigh as one of the group that was assembled at the Bowling Green on the Hoe. Many other brave men and skillful mariners, besides the chiefs whose names have been mentioned, were there, enjoying, with true sailor-like merriment, their temporary relaxation from duty. In the harbor lay the English fleet with which they had just returned from a cruise to Corunna in search of information respecting the real condition and movements of the hostile Armada. Lord Howard had ascertained that our enemies, though tempest-tossed, Were still formidably strong; and fearing that part of their fleet might make for England in his absence, he had hurried back to the Devonshire coast. He resumed his station at Plymouth, and waited there for certain tidings of the Spaniard's approach.

A match at bowls was being played, in which Drake and other high officers of the fleet were engaged, when a small armed vessel was seen running before the wind into Plymouth harbor with all sails set. Her commander landed in haste, and eagerly sought the place where the English lord admiral and his captains were standing. His name was Fleming; he was the master of a Scotch privateer; and he told the English officers that he had that morning seen the Spanish Armada off the Cornish coast. At this exciting information the captains began to hurry down to the water, and there was a shouting for the ships' boats; but Drake coolly checked his comrades, and insisted that the match should be played out. He said that there was plenty of time both to win the game and beat the Spaniards. The best and bravest match that ever was scored was resumed accordingly. Drake and his friends aimed their last bowls with the same steady, calculating coolness with which they were about to point their guns. The winning cast was made; and then they went on board and prepared for action with their hearts as light and their nerves as firm as they had been on the Hoe Bowling Green.

Meanwhile the messengers and signals had been dispatched fast and far through England, to warn each town and village that the enemy had come at last. In every sea-port there was instant making ready by land and by sea; in every shire and every city there was instant mustering of horse and man.* But

  • In Macaulay's Ballad on the Spanish Armada, the transmission of