Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/253

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THE SPANISH ARMADA. 247


island. Some few traitors there were; but as a body, the Englishmen who held the ancient faith stood the trial of their patriotism nobly. The lord admiral himself was a Catholic, and (to adopt the words of Hallam) "then it was that the Catholics in every county repaired to the standard of the lord lieutenant, imploring that they might not be suspected of bartering the national independence for their religion itself." The Spaniard found no partisans in the country which he assailed, nor did England, self-wounded,

"Lie at the proud foot of her enemy."

For upward of a year the Spanish preparations had been actively and unremittingly urged forward. Negotiations were, during this time, carried on at Ostend, in which various pretexts were assigned by the Spanish commissioners for the gathering together of such huge masses of shipping, and such equipments of troops in all the sea-ports which their master ruled; but Philip himself took little care to disguise his intentions; nor could Elizabeth and her able ministers doubt but that this island was the real object of the Spanish armament. The peril that was wisely foreseen was resolutely provided for. Circular letters from the queen were sent round to the lord lieutenants of the several counties, requiring them "to call together the best sort of gentlemen under their lieutenancy, and to declare unto them these great preparations and arrogant threatenings, now burst forth in action upon the seas, wherein every man's particular state, in the highest degree, could be touched in respect of country, liberty, wives, children, lands, lives, and (which was specially to be regarded) the profession of the true and sincere religion of Christ. And to lay before them the infinite and unspeakable miseries that would fall out upon any such change, which miseries were evidently seen by the fruits of that hard and cruel government holden in countries not far distant. We do look," said the queen, "that the most part of them should have, upon this instant extraordinary occasion, a larger proportion of furniture, both for horsemen and footmen, but especially horsemen, than hath been certified; thereby to be in their best strength against any attempt, or to be employed about our own person, or otherwise. Hereunto as we doubt not but by your good endeavors they will be the rather conformable, so also we assure ourselves that Almighty God will