Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/558

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could hope to retain political independence. William Cecil found him* self called upon to guide the destinies of the realm, at a time when the $| country was destitute of munitions of war. Elizabeth's Protestantism seriously interfered with the opportunities of procuring military stores 5 the chief supply of saltpetre and sulphur, which were required for gunpowder, as well as of the metals which were necessary for the making of ordnance, came from ports controlled by the great lioman Catholic Powers. The native mining industries we're. quite undeveloped, and England could easily have been prevented from purchasing copper and iron from abroad. Woollen cloth was the chief export from the country; but alum, which was used in the processes of dyeing and finishing, was obtained from Ischia, an island which belonged to the Pope. . A hoard of bullion, laid up against possible emergencies, was a political luxury which Cecil could not afford; all the resources that the Crown could dispose of, either as personal possessions, or by influence exercised on loyal subjects, were devoted to the planting of industries which directly subserved the strength of the realm and rendered it less hopelessly unprepared for the struggle that could not be indefinitely postponed. When the storm burst at last, and England had to get ready for meeting the Spanish Armada, it was found that the leeway had been entirely made up, and that English guns and gunners were as good as those of Spain, and better too.

It would in any case have been useless for Cecil to imitate the Spanish policy and amass bullion to serve for the payment of mercenaries. England had no access to silver mines, and she was forced to rely on her own sons to man her fleets and to serve in her armies. It was essential to adhere to the policy which was even then traditional in England, and to take pains that there should be a well-diffused and healthy population. With this end in view, the government was specially anxious to maintain tillage, as an avocation which gave employment to vigorous labourers; and agriculture came to be encouraged, not merely on economic but on military grounds. In a similar way, much attention was paid to securing favourable conditions for the maintenance of a large sea-faring population. The fishing trades were important as a source of wealth, but even more so as a school of seamanship and a ready way of training men who should be capable of serving in naval warfare; this employment was artificially stimulated, and people were compelled by law to eat fish on three days in the week. The special exigencies of the situation forced Cecil to devote the greatest possible care to developing native resources of every kind in such a fashion that they should, as much as possible, contribute directly to the national strength. The government was of course aware that the general increase of industrial skill and of commercial activity was likewise of importance; in the actual circumstances of England these were the only means of procuring treasure at all; but, since the supply could only be secured indirectly, it