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Title: Fifty-two Stories of the British Navy, from Damme to Trafalgar.
Author: Miles, Alfred H. (Alfred Henry), 1848-1929
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                 BOARD THE "SAN JOSEPH." (_See page 402_)]



                  EDITED BY
               ALFRED H. MILES.

             _SEVENTH THOUSAND._

               HUTCHINSON & CO.,
             34, PATERNOSTER ROW.

                  PRINTED BY


This volume contains Fifty-two Stories of the British Navy from Damme to
Trafalgar. These stories are arranged chronologically, and, without
pretending to be a complete history of the British Navy, provide
fifty-two consecutive links of the chain which for a thousand years has
bound the sovereignty of the seas to the British throne.

In preparing this series many historical and biographical works have
been laid under contribution. Of these Dr. Campbell's "Lives of the
British Admirals and Naval History," Southey's "Life of Nelson,"
Giffard's "Deeds of Naval Daring," Creasy's "Fifteen Decisive Battles of
the World," Green's "History of the English People," Hakluyt's
"Voyages," and Sir Walter Raleigh's prose epic "The Truth of the Fight
about the Isles of Azores" are the most important.

When a story has been adequately told once there is little to be gained
by re-telling it in other words; hence the "Story of the _Revenge_" is
given from Sir Walter Raleigh's account with but slight abbreviation,
and the "Story of the Spanish Armada" from Sir Edward Creasy's book
with but similar abridgment. Many of the stories taken from Dr.
Campbell's work and that of Robert Southey have been subject to the same
treatment, and the Editor believes they have, for present purposes,
gained by condensation.

The Editor desires to acknowledge his indebtedness to his friend, Mr. A.
J. Pattle, who collaborated with him in the editorship of his "Fifty-two
Stories of the Indian Mutiny," published in 1895 with so much success,
and who has rendered valuable service in the production of this work.

He also desires to acknowledge the courtesy of Messrs. Cassell and Co.,
whereby he is enabled to use the engraving which forms the frontispiece
of this volume, from "The Story of the Sea" published by them.

Stories of the sea are always welcome to British boys and girls, and the
Editor has no fear for the reception of this collection.

    A. H. M.

    _September 1st, 1896._



  THE BEGINNINGS OF THE BRITISH NAVY                          11

  THE STORY OF THE CINQUE PORTS                               19

  THE STORY OF SIR EDWARD HOWARD                              33


  THE STORY OF SIR JOHN HAWKINS                               43

  THE WORTHY ENTERPRISE OF JOHN FOX                           55

  THE STORY OF SIR FRANCIS DRAKE                              69

  THE VOYAGE MADE TO TRIPOLIS IN BARBARY                      79

  A TRUE REPORT OF A WORTHY FIGHT                             91

  THE STORY OF THE SPANISH ARMADA                            101

  THE STORY OF THE "REVENGE"                                 117

  THE STORY OF ADMIRAL BLAKE                                 127

  THE STORY OF THE FIRST DUTCH WAR                           141

  STORIES OF THE SECOND DUTCH WAR                            154





  THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ALGERINE NAVY                       170

  THE STORY OF SIR JOHN BERRY                                175

  THE STORY OF THE THIRD DUTCH WAR                           180

  THE BATTLE OF BEACHY HEAD                                  195

  THE VICTORY OF LA HOGUE                                    201

  THE STORY OF SIR GEORGE ROOKE                              207

  OFF GIBRALTAR                                              221

  THE STORY OF ADMIRAL BENBOW                                225



  OFF CAPE FINISTERRE                                        245

  THE LOSS OF H.M.S. "NAMUR"                                 249

  THE LOSS OF H.M.S. "PEMBROKE"                              252


  IN INDIAN SEAS. 1758-9                                     273

      OF QUIBERON BAY                                        279

  THE STORY OF LORD RODNEY                                   285

  THE LOSS OF THE "RAMILIES"                                 295

  THE LOSS OF H.M.S. "CENTAUR"                               305

  THE LOSS OF THE "ROYAL GEORGE"                             319

  THE MUTINY OF THE "BOUNTY"                                 323

  THE STORY OF LORD EXMOUTH                                  336

  THE GLORIOUS FIRST OF JUNE                                 341

  TRIUMPH IN RETREAT                                         349

  THE MUTINY OF 1797                                         353

  THE BATTLE OF CAMPERDOWN                                   361

  THE LOSS OF H.M.S. "REPULSE"                               366

  THE STORY OF NELSON'S BOYHOOD                              375

      CAREER                                                 383

  ON BOARD THE "AGAMEMNON"                                   389

      VINCENT                                                395

  THE STORY OF SANTA CRUZ                                    405

  THE STORY OF THE BATTLE OF THE NILE                        409

  THE BOMBARDMENT OF COPENHAGEN                              423

  THE STORY OF THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR                       439



      BOARD THE "SAN JOSEPH"                      _Frontispiece_

  THE BATTLE OFF DOVER                                        68

  THE DEFEAT OF SIR ANDREW BARTON                            140

  THE SPANISH ARMADA                                         220

      THE NORE                                               294

  THE "VICTORY" AT PORTSMOUTH                                374




The founders of the English nation were a maritime people. Before they
settled in the British Isles they had to dare the dangers of the deep,
and though for nearly four hundred years after their first arrival they
were too much occupied with internal strife to think of external
enterprise, no sooner had they apparently completed the subjugation of
the Britons and effected a settlement of their own differences by
uniting the country under one crown, than they were called upon to give
vigorous attention to maritime affairs.

Egbert, king of the West Saxons, who, by the conquest of Mercia and
Northumbria, became the first overlord of all England, A.D. 828, was
soon compelled to deal seriously with the Danes. According to old
chroniclers, threatened with invasion in the south, he engaged these
formidable foes at Charmouth in Dorsetshire, but sustained defeat. Two
years later, however, when they returned and landed on the coast of
Wales, uniting with the disaffected Britons in a powerful armament,
Egbert proved equal to the occasion, met them in a general engagement at
the Battle of Hengestesdun, routed their entire forces, and compelled
the Britons to seek safety in their mountains and the Danes to return to
their ships. Desultory warfare supervened for some time with
ever-varying success until, according to the Saxon Chronicle, the Danes
were defeated off Sandwich in a desperate battle in which nine of their
ships were taken by the English, and the rest compelled to seek safety
in flight. After this they again returned, this time with a fleet of
three hundred and fifty sail, devastated the south country and took
Canterbury and London by storm.

Hitherto the English had made the fatal mistake of allowing their
enemies to land before attempting to grapple with them, and even the
disasters which followed naturally upon such a policy did not arouse
them to a sense of the necessity of maintaining an efficient fleet. On
the contrary, dispirited by their failures, the English seem to have
abandoned all thoughts of naval armament, and to have contented
themselves with fortifying their cities and defending them against
enemies whom they passively allowed to land. This unhappy condition of
things continued through the reigns of Ethelbald, Ethelbert and
Ethelred; during which time the Danes conquered Northumbria and East
Anglia, and invaded Wessex. In A.D. 867 they took York, and in the
following year Nottingham. In 870 they defeated and put to death Edmund,
king of East Anglia, whose burial-place was named St. Edmundsbury--Bury
St. Edmunds--and during the same year fought no less than nine battles
in Wessex. Abbeys, churches and monasteries were burnt, and the whole
country was given up to fire and the sword.

In the year 871 Alfred came to the throne and found himself a monarch
without a people, a king without a country. The long-continued struggle
with the Danes, who, like locusts, "came without number and devoured the
fruits of the land," had reduced the people to a state of despairing
servitude. The wealth, strength, and spirits of the English, who had
sometimes been compelled to fight as many as ten or twelve battles in
the course of a year, had become exhausted, and instead of attempting to
defend themselves further, they began everywhere to submit to the Danes;
preferring a settled slavery to a precarious freedom. Although the
country had been brought to this low condition, the young king did not
despair of its restoration, but with equal vigour and prudence applied
himself to the prosecution of the war and the conduct of public affairs.
Encouraged by his example and inspired by his spirit, the English at
length took heart again, and ultimately--led by his skill and
wisdom--defeated the Danes at Exeter in 877, and at Edington in the
following year, securing the peace of Wedmore, which, while it gave them
little more than the kingdom of Wessex as a possession, ensured them
what they needed much more than land, a period of rest and repose,
which, but for one short interval, lasted for fifteen years. This period
Alfred employed in pursuing the arts of peace and preparing himself for
the eventualities of war. In the year A.D. 883 he sent envoys to Rome
and India; and in 886 he took and re-fortified the city of London. From
893 to 897 he was once more engaged with his old enemies the Danes. This
protracted campaign was by no means a light undertaking. Hasting, the
Danish leader, pitched his camp on the hills gently sloping above
Benfleet, in Essex, and sent two hundred and fifty Danish ships cruising
along the south-west coast of Kent; while he proceeded himself with
eighty ships along the Thames estuary. Having formed a camp at Milton,
near Sittingbourne, he ventured up the River Lea where he found himself
unexpectedly entrapped; for Alfred hit upon the expedient of draining
the river, and by this means left the Danish ships high and dry.
Retreating to Benfleet, Hasting discovered that in his absence his camp
had been attacked and captured by one of Alfred's aldermen. Alfred drove
Hasting out of Wessex in 894, and out of Essex in 896, after which the
Danish leader appears to have had enough of English hospitality; for he
returned to Denmark in the following year.

From 897 to the end of his reign, Alfred devoted much time to the
construction of ships and the equipment of a fleet; a purpose which he
effected with so much success that he earned for himself the title of
"The Father of the British Navy." Alfred seems to have been the first of
the English kings to realise that the true principle of insular defence
is to meet one's enemies upon the sea, and destroy them before they have
time to effect a landing. Once realised, however, he made every effort
to carry out this sagacious and far-sighted policy, a policy in which,
for a thousand years, he has been followed by the wisest and best of his
successors. To do this, the creation and maintenance of a national fleet
became an imperative necessity. According to Dr. Campbell, Alfred
reflected that, as the fleets of his enemies were frequently built in a
hurry, hastily drawn together, meanly provided with victuals and rigging
and overcrowded with men, a few ships of a larger size, built in a new
manner of well-seasoned materials, thoroughly supplied with food and
arms, and manned by expert seamen must, at first sight, surprise, and,
in the course of an engagement destroy many with but little danger to
themselves; and with this view he constructed a number of ships in most
points twice the size of the largest ships then in use, and furnished
with accommodation for double the number of rowers. These vessels were
longer, higher, and yet swifter than the vessels in common use among the
Danes; so that Alfred was able always to engage his enemies at
advantage, and, when necessary, to escape them by flight. As, moreover,
these vessels were built upon a new model, they were wholly strange to
the enemy, who were a long time learning the way to board them; hence
their courage and seamanship did not avail them much.

Alfred was not long in finding employment for his infant navy. Soon
after the earlier of these ships were built, six large pirate ships of
unusual size appeared off the Isle of Wight and the coast of Devonshire.
The king immediately despatched nine of his new vessels in quest of
them, with orders to get, if possible, between them and the shore, and
to give and take no quarter. On sighting the king's ships three of the
pirates ran aground, while the others stood out to sea and boldly
offered battle. Of these, two were taken and the whole of their crews
destroyed, while the third escaped with five men only. Turning their
attention to the ships that had grounded, the king's men destroyed the
greater part of their crews, and when the tide floated them, brought the
ships to the coast of the South Saxons, where the remainder of their
crews endeavoured to escape. They were, however, captured and carried to
Winchester, where they were hanged by order of the king. This may be
regarded as one of the first engagements of the British navy--that is,
of ships built on purpose for defensive warfare; though of course there
were many famous sea fights of earlier dates. "If," says Dr. Campbell,
"it should be asked how this superiority at sea was lost, we must
observe that it was very late in the king's life before his experience
furnished him with light sufficient for this noble design, which very
probably his successors wanted skill to prosecute; though, as history
shows, they were moved by his example to make great efforts for
preserving their territories on shore by maintaining the sovereignty of
the sea."

Alfred the Great died in the year 901, and was succeeded by Edward the
Elder. Opposed by his cousin Ethelwald, who laid claim to the crown and
who invited the Danes over to help him in securing it, Edward was unable
to prevent the Northmen from landing; but marching into Kent he engaged
the united forces of his enemies in a desperate battle in which his
cousin Ethelwald and Eric, the King of the Danes, were slain. Still
troubled by successive hordes of Northmen, who--like the heads of the
fabled giants--seemed to multiply as they were destroyed, Edward had
recourse to his fleet, and gathering a hundred ships upon the coast of
Kent, totally defeated the invaders; forcing most of their ships upon
the shore, and destroying their commanders on the spot. Athelstan, who
succeeded his brother in 925, was also a wise and powerful ruler. Called
upon to defend himself against a confederacy which included Constantine,
King of the Scots, Anlaff, a Danish prince, settled in Ireland, and a
host of disaffected Britons, he attacked them both by sea and land at
the same time with equal valour and success. In this battle, fought in
938, there fell five kings and seven Danish chiefs. It is said to have
been the bloodiest engagement which up to that time had ever taken place
in England; and, as a result, Athelstan became the most absolute monarch
that had ever reigned in Britain. Edmund, Edred, and Edwy followed in
lineal succession, but without adding anything of importance to our
naval annals.

In Edgar, who came to the throne in 958, Alfred had a successor who
proved himself worthy of carrying on his great traditions. He thoroughly
understood and successfully pursued the maxims of his great ancestor,
and applied himself from the beginning of his reign to the raising of an
efficient maritime force. It is said that his fleet was far superior to
those of any of his predecessors, as well as much more powerful than
those of all the other European princes put together. This
navy--variously estimated by the monkish chroniclers to number from
three thousand to four thousand ships--he is said to have divided into
three fleets each of twelve hundred sail, which he stationed
respectively on the north, the east, and the west coasts of England. Not
content with making these provisions, it is said that "every year after
Easter, he went on board the fleet stationed on the eastern coast, and,
sailing west, scoured all the channels, looked into every creek and bay,
from the Thames mouth to Land's End in Cornwall; there, quitting these
ships, he went on board the western fleet, with which, steering his
course northward, he did the like not only on the English and Scotch
coasts, but also on those of Ireland and the Hebrides--which lie between
them and Britain; then meeting the northern fleet, he sailed in it to
the mouth of the Thames. Thus surrounding the island every summer, he
rendered invasion impracticable, kept his sailors in continual exercise,
and effectually asserted his sovereignty over the sea."

In the winter, Edgar is said to have travelled by land through all parts
of his dominion to see that justice was duly administered, to prevent
his nobles from becoming oppressors, and to protect the meanest people
from suffering wrong. By these arts he secured tranquillity at home
while he engendered respect abroad. By being always ready for war he
avoided it, so that in his whole reign there happened but one
disturbance, and that through the Britons, who, while he was in the
north, committed disorder in the west. It is further said of this prince
that "he reigned sixteen years without a thief being found in his
dominions on land, or a pirate being heard of at sea."

Edgar died in 975, and was succeeded by Edward the Martyr, who reigned
three years, and then gave place to Ethelred the Unready. Then followed
the period of decadence which prepared the way for Danish supremacy.
Ethelred adopted the fatal plan of buying off his invaders, the effect
of which policy was to increase the numbers and the demands of his
enemies. Accordingly, in 994, Sweyn, son of the King of Denmark, and
Olaf, King of Norway, made a descent upon London and devastated Kent,
Sussex, and Hampshire. Olaf was bought off with a payment of £16,000,
but the Danes were insatiable. A truce, purchased by Ethelred in 1002,
was brought to an abrupt conclusion by his own weakness and cruelty; for
in that year he planned and effected the massacre of all the Danes in
his dominions, on St. Brice's day. Among the victims was a sister of
Sweyn of Denmark, and Sweyn's revenge was sharp and swift. In 1003 he
laid Exeter waste, and in 1004 destroyed Norwich; and when two years
later the "great fleet" of the Danes arrived off Sandwich, Ethelred was
obliged to purchase peace with a supply of provisions and a sum of
thirty thousand pounds.

Great efforts were made during this truce to reconstruct the navy. The
king commanded ships to be built throughout the country and levied taxes
to pay for them. Within a year it is said that eight hundred ships,
equipped with thirty thousand men, were ready for the national defence.
But no armament can be strong that is directed by weak hands, and the
want of a wise and vigorous leader led to internal quarrels, which
effectually destroyed Ethelred's chances of successfully resisting the
Danes. In 1013 Sweyn was practically king of England, and Ethelred fled
to Normandy. In 1016 the death of Ethelred left Edmund Ironside his son,
and Canute, the son of Sweyn of Denmark, rival candidates for the
throne. After fighting two battles, they agreed to divide the kingdom
between them; but the death of Edmund the same year left Canute the
master of the whole. Under Canute, peace prevailed and commerce began to
thrive. "Men from the Rhineland and from Normandy moored their vessels
along the Thames, on whose rude wharves were piled a strange medley of
goods: pepper and spices from the far East, crates of gloves and gay
cloths, it may be from the Lombard looms, sacks of wool; ironwork, from
Liège, butts of French wine and vinegar, and with them the rural
products of the country itself--cheese, butter, lard and eggs, with live
swine and fowls." Such was Canute's influence that it became unnecessary
to maintain more than forty ships for the protection of the coast, and
this number was afterwards reduced to sixteen. With the death of Canute
the Danish rule began to collapse, and with the accession of Edward the
Confessor the Danes resumed their aggressive expeditions, though with
but little success. William of Normandy found England without a fleet,
for Harold had been compelled to disband the navy from want of supplies;
and, as he destroyed his own ships after he had effected a landing, he
began his reign without means of maritime defence.



The history of the English navy from the Conquest to the fifteenth
century is, in effect, the history of the great and powerful corporation
known as "The five Cinque Ports and two Ancient Towns"--Hastings,
Sandwich, Dover, Romney, Hythe, Winchelsea, and Rye. In the Domesday
Book only three such ports are mentioned--Sandwich, Dover, and
Romney--but in the charters and royal writs mention is always made of,
and precedence assigned to, Hastings. Winchelsea and Rye were added to
the first five soon after the Conquest, but the title of "Cinque" Ports
was retained. In addition to the seven head ports there were eight
"corporate members"--Deal, Faversham, Folkestone, Fordwich, Lydd,
Pevensey, Seaford, and Tenterden--and twenty-four non-corporate members,
which included Birchington, Brightlingsea, Bulverhithe, Grange,
Kingsdown, Margate, Ramsgate, Reculver, Sarre, and Walmer, all of which
were called Cinque Ports.

Some writers have endeavoured to connect the Cinque Ports with the five
Roman fortresses which guarded the south-eastern shores of Britain, and
the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports with the _Comes Littoris
Saxonici_--the count of the Saxon Shore, but it seems sufficiently clear
that the confederation of the ports was of Teutonic origin. Originally,
trading communities banded together to protect and control the
herring-fishery, the principal industry and food-supply of the people;
the regular descents of the Danes supplied the motive for the military
character the union afterwards assumed.

The Danish invasion, which ended in Canute's supremacy, raged most
fiercely round Sandwich, which was the head-quarters of the Danish
fleet, and acquired the title of "the most famous of all the English

As far back as the year 460, Hengist the Saxon conferred the office of
Warden of the Cinque Ports upon his brother Horsa, and since the time of
Godwin, Earl of Kent, who died in the year 1053, nearly one hundred and
fifty persons have held that distinguished office. These include many
whose names are illustrious in English history, amongst them being Odo,
Bishop of Bayeux, Eustace, Earl of Boulogne, William Longchamps, Hubert
de Burgh, Sir Stephen de Pencester, Edmund Plantagenet, King Henry V.,
Simon de Montfort, Richard III., Prince Henry, afterwards Henry VIII.,
James II., and Prince George of Denmark. William Pitt was Lord Warden in
1792, and from that date until the year 1896 the holders of the office
have been the Earl of Liverpool, the Duke of Wellington, the Marquis of
Dalhousie, Lord Palmerston, Earl Granville, Mr. W. H. Smith, the Marquis
of Dufferin and the Marquis of Salisbury. The privileges and
distinctions of the inhabitants of the ports in those days were of a
very substantial character. Amongst other things "pains and penalties"
were imposed on any one entering or quitting the kingdom from or for the
Continent except by way of Dover. The Grand Court of Shepway, at which
the Lord Warden takes the oath of office, in the presence of the
"barons," was formerly held in the open air at Lympne, a Roman port, the
remains of which are now several miles inland, in the neighbourhood of
Hythe, but the site of the court was removed to Dover as a more
convenient place in 1693.

To Edward the Confessor may be attributed the incorporation of the
Cinque Ports in the form of a Royal Navy bound to stated service. To
attach them to the throne he granted them lands and franchises, in
return for which they undertook, on a stated notice, to provide ships
for fighting purposes for a specified time. The Domesday Book, for
instance, records that "Dover, in the time of King Edward, rendered
eighteen pounds, of which moneys King Edward had two parts, and Earl
Godwin the third. The burgesses gave the king twenty ships once a year
for fifteen days, and in each ship were twenty men. This they did in
return for his having endowed them with sac and soc"--the right of
independent jurisdiction and free courts.

Soon after the Norman conquest, the Danes once more threatened invasion
with a powerful fleet, and Dover, Sandwich, and Romney were called upon
to provide, at their own expense, twenty vessels equipped for sea, each
with a crew of twenty-one men and provisions for fifteen days. Rye and
Winchelsea rendered similar assistance, and in return received
privileges similar to those enjoyed by the older ports. The fleet thus
provided was so fully maintained by William Rufus that England's
maritime supremacy may be dated from that early period. But, for more
than a century after the Conquest, English ships seldom ventured beyond
the Bay of Biscay or the entrance to the Baltic.

The reign of Henry I. was marked by the tragic death of Prince William
in the year 1120 while crossing from Normandy to England in _The White
Ship_. The rowers, hilarious with wine, ran _The White Ship_--probably
an undecked or only partially decked vessel, of not more than fifty tons
burden steered by two paddles over the quarter--violently on to a ledge
of rocks, now called Ras de Catteville. The sea rushed in, and all on
board, except two men, were lost. As soon as his ship struck, the prince
and a few others got into a small boat and pushed off, but, returning to
the aid of his sister, many persons jumped in the boat and all were
drowned. The prince's body was carried away by the current and never
recovered. Fitzstephen, the captain, whose father had carried William
the Conqueror to England, and who held his office by virtue of providing
a passage for his sovereign, rose once to the surface and asked, "What
has become of the king's son?" Being answered, "We have not seen him,
nor his brother, nor his sister, nor any of their companions," he
exclaimed, "Woe is me!" and sank back into the sea. For three days no
one ventured to break the news to Henry who, the old chroniclers say,
was so stricken with the tidings that he fainted away and was never seen
to smile again.

Not until the time of the Crusades, however, did maritime commerce
undergo any marked development, and England take her place among
sea-faring peoples. Whatever the Crusades may have done for the Cross,
they gave the first impetus to English maritime enterprise, and European
industry progressed with the conquests of the Crusaders. On ascending
the throne Richard Coeur de Lion made vast levies to equip an expedition
to the Holy Land. The fleet numbered one hundred vessels, the most of
which had been collected from the south and west of England, and from
the continental ports of the House of Anjou, Richard's own ship being
named "_Trenche-le-mer_," presumably because it was a swift sailer. It
was from Messina, on March 27th, 1190, that Richard dated his charter to
the Cinque Ports.

The reign of Richard marked another epoch in the naval history of
Britain, for he issued the first articles for the government of an
English fleet. If any man slew another on board a ship, he was to be
fastened to the dead body and thrown with it into the sea; if the murder
was committed on shore, he was to be bound to the corpse, and buried
with it. If any one was convicted by legal testimony of drawing his
knife upon another, or of drawing blood in any manner, he was to lose
his hand. For giving a blow with the hand without producing blood, the
offender was to be plunged three times into the sea. If any one reviled
or insulted another, he was on every occasion to pay to the offended
party an ounce of silver. A thief was to have his head shaven, boiling
pitch poured upon it, and feathers shaken over him, as a mark by which
he might be known; and he was to be put ashore at the first land at
which the ship might touch.

In the reign of John a close approach was made to a regular naval
establishment, and a kind of dockyard appears to have existed at
Portsmouth, for the Sheriff of Southampton was commanded to cause the
docks at Portsmouth to be enclosed with a strong wall to preserve the
king's ships and galleys, and to cause pent-houses to be erected for
their stores and tackle. The king had galleys, long ships, and great
ships; all allusions to which, however, make it clear that the largest
vessels had only one mast and sail. But no admiral or commander of the
fleets appears to have been created, and the chief management of the
navy was for many years entrusted to William de Wrotham, Archdeacon of
Taunton, who was designated "Keeper of the King's Ships," and also
"Keeper of the Seaports."

The expulsion of John from his dominions in Normandy in 1203 opened a
new chapter in English history and brought the Cinque Ports prominently
into notice, as frequently repeated orders were issued to the barons of
the ports to "guard the seas." By their vigilant guard, it is alleged,
the excommunication which followed the Pope's Interdict in 1208 was so
long prevented from making its way across the Channel, and they were
certainly the moving spirits in the great maritime exploit which help to
redeem the gloom of John's reign.

Philip of France, obeying the exhortation of the Pope to assist in
dethroning John, had made extensive preparations for the invasion of
England, and when in 1213 John became the Pope's vassal Philip did not
like the idea of giving up the project. John, therefore, found it
necessary to adopt retaliatory measures. All men capable of bearing arms
were ordered to assemble at Dover "for the defence of the king's and
their own heads, and the land of England," and the bailiffs of all the
ports were forbidden to suffer any ship to sail without the king's
express authority. The French king entered Flanders to punish the count,
who had refused to join the expedition against John, and despatched all
the ships which he had collected to the port of Damme, the harbour of
which, though of "wonderful size," could not contain all the French
ships, which are said to have numbered one thousand seven hundred sail.
Thither the English fleet, of five hundred sail the greater portion
consisting of ships from the Cinque Ports, under William Longsword,
proceeded at the urgent summons of the count. On the arrival of the
English they found that the French had landed and were ravaging the
surrounding country, whereupon they attacked the fleet in the harbour,
and three hundred vessels laden with corn, wine, and arms, fell into
English hands. The cables of the captured vessels were cut, and the wind
being off the land, they were soon on the passage to England. About a
hundred others were burnt, and the first great naval victory recorded in
English annals was complete.

The attitude of the Cinque Ports during the period immediately preceding
the granting of the Great Charter of English Liberties is obscure. They
are mentioned as guaranteed in their franchises when the Charter took
its final shape under Henry III., and it is clear that, when the
baronage invited Louis of France to depose the faithless King of
England, the ports resolved to stand by the House of Plantagenet. John's
unexpected death in 1216, at a time when London and a great part of Kent
were in the power of Louis, found the Cinque Ports--though Sandwich had
been burnt by the French--staunch to the loyal Earl of Pembroke--marshal
of the kingdom, and supporters of the boy-king, Henry III.

The following year, however, was destined to become memorable in the
history of naval warfare, for in August, 1217, the French fleet of one
hundred vessels put to sea with a view to a descent upon the Thames.
Hubert de Burgh, with the seamen of the Cinque Port ships, assembled in
Dover Harbour, and as the hostile fleet was descried from Dover Cliffs,
on the 24th forty ships dashed out of the harbour to challenge French
supremacy in England by engaging in the first regular sea-fight of
modern history. "It appears," says Sir W. H. Nicholas, "that the wind
was southerly, blowing fresh; and the French were going large steering
round the North Foreland, little expecting any opposition. The English
squadron, instead of directly approaching the enemy, kept their wind as
if going to Calais, which made Eustace, the French commander, exclaim,
'I know that those wretches think to invade Calais like thieves; but
that is useless, for it is well defended!' As soon as the English had
gained the wind of the French fleet, they bore down in the most gallant
manner upon the enemy's rear; and the moment they came close to the
sterns of the French ships they threw grapnels into them, and, thus
fastening the vessels together, prevented the enemy from escaping--an
early instance of that love of close fighting for which English sailors
have ever since been distinguished. The action commenced by the English
cross-bowmen and archers pouring volleys of arrows into the enemy's
ships with deadly effect; and to increase their dismay, the English
threw unslaked lime, reduced to a powder, on board their opponents,
which being blown by the wind into their eyes, completely blinded them.
The English then rushed on board; and cutting away the rigging and
halyards with axes, the sails fell over the French 'like a net over
ensnared small birds.' ... Thus hampered, the enemy could make but a
feeble resistance; and after an immense slaughter were completely
defeated. Though the French fought with great bravery, very few among
them were accustomed to naval tactics; and they fell rapidly under the
lances, axes, and swords of their assailants. In the meantime, many of
their vessels had been sunk by the galleys, which, running their own
prows into them, stove their sides.

"Of the whole French fleet, fifteen vessels only escaped; and as soon as
the principal persons had been secured, the English taking the captured
ships in tow, proceeded in triumph to Dover, 'victoriously ploughing the
waves,' and returning thanks to God for their success.... The battle was
seen with exultation by the garrison of Dover Castle, and the conquerors
were received by the bishops and clergy in full sacerdotal habits,
bearing crosses and banners in procession." Though the ships, compared
with those of the present age were small, yet the mode of attack, the
bravery displayed, and the great superiority of the enemy render the
event worthy of an honourable place in the list of our naval victories.
It was actually a hand-to-hand fight against double the number of ships,
and probably four times the number of men. The political effect of the
battle was that Louis relinquished all hopes of the English crown.
England was saved. "The courage of the sailors who manned the rude boats
of the Cinque Ports first made the flag of England terrible on the
seas." For this celebrated action, which saved England from the
domination of France, the Cinque Ports obtained further privileges,
amongst which was liberty to "annoy the subjects of France"--in other
words, to plunder as they pleased the merchant vessels of that country.

Few naval events of any importance occurred for many years after the
signal victory off Dover. The Cinque Ports were at their highest tide of
prosperity during the reign of Edward I., who, in 1300, took thirty of
their ships with him in his expedition against Scotland. During the
reign of Edward II. the ports did not lack employment on the king's
service, though they acted merely as coast-guards. The sovereignty of
the Channel was gradually challenged in this reign by the French, who
were encouraged by the revolutions and disorders of the time, and Edward
III. had not been many years on the throne before it became evident that
the nation must bestir itself in view of the increasing power of the
French fleet. A formal proclamation declaring England's sovereignty of
the seas was issued. A new spirit at once declared itself, but not a
moment before it was necessary; for in 1339 the French fleet burnt
Portsmouth, inflicted severe disaster upon Southampton, threatened
Sandwich, and, diverging to Rye, landed and ravaged the immediate
neighbourhood. On the approach of the English fleet the French took to
flight and were chased into Boulogne. The English gallantly entered the
harbour, captured several French vessels, hanged twelve of their
captains, burnt part of the town, and returned with their prizes to

Towards the end of 1339 a new invasion was planned. The French ships and
galleys assembled off the town of Sluys, in Flanders, and their crews
solemnly vowed not to return to their own ports till they had taken one
hundred English ships and five hundred English towns. In view of this
invasion parliament was summoned in January 1340 "to adopt various
measures relating to the navy." The sailors of the Cinque Ports
undertook to have their ships ready, and in due course a fleet of two
hundred vessels was formed, and more soldiers and archers assembled than
could be employed. On his arrival on the coast of Flanders, Edward found
that the various sections of his fleet had met, and discovered the
French fleet of one hundred and ninety ships, manned by thirty-five
thousand Normans and Genoese, lying at anchor off Sluys. The French
fleet was in four divisions, their ships being fastened to each other by
iron chains and cables. To the masts a small boat was suspended, filled
with stones, which were to be hurled by the soldiers stationed on the
tops. Trumpets and other martial instruments resounded from the French
ships. The fight was long and fierce, for "the enemy defended themselves
all that day and the night after." In one French ship alone four hundred
dead bodies were found, the survivors leaping headlong into the sea.
Only twenty-four of the French ships escaped, and no less than
twenty-five thousand French and Genoese perished. The English loss was,
perhaps, four thousand men, and all writers agree that it was one of the
most sanguinary and desperate sea-fights recorded in the pages of
history. Edward's modest letter regarding this victory is the earliest
naval despatch in existence. Though the annihilation of the French fleet
at Sluys did not surpass in importance the victory off Dover in the
preceding century, it established the maritime supremacy of England.

To supply a covering force for the army which was besieging Calais in
1347 and to guard the Channel, England made a general demand for ships
and seamen. The total number of ships mustered was seven hundred and
ten; these were equipped with a full complement of fighting men. The
"five Cinque Ports and two Ancient Towns," together with Seaford,
Faversham, and Margate, contributed one hundred and five ships; London
sent twenty-five ships, Fowey forty-seven, and Dunwich six. Three years
later on August 29th, 1350, the battle known as "Lespagnols-sur-mer" was
fought off Winchelsea, when Edward defeated a Spanish squadron of forty
sail which had plundered several English ships, capturing twenty-six
large vessels, the crews of which were put to death. This action firmly
established the reputation of Edward III. as the King of England, whose
name is more identified with the naval glory of England than that of any
other sovereign up to the sixteenth century.

But reverses of fortune clouded the end of what had promised to be a
glorious reign. In 1371 an engagement with the Flemings resulted in the
capture of twenty-five ships by the English, but in June, 1372, the
Spaniards completely defeated the English fleet of forty sail under the
Earl of Pembroke off La Rochelle; the Spaniards not only having the
advantage of size and numbers in their ships, but also in being provided
with cannon, said to have been first used at sea in this battle.
Immediately upon Edward's death an overwhelming fleet of French and
Spanish ships swept the Channel, and Winchelsea, Rye, Hastings,
Plymouth, Portsmouth and other ports suffered from the fury of the

The reign of Richard II. was redeemed from absolute barrenness in naval
affairs by the victory of the Earl of Arundel in 1387. Taking advantage
of the absence from England of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who had
sailed the year before to enforce his claim upon the crown of Spain, the
French raised a powerful armament with a view to invading the British
Isles. These preparations were made upon a most extensive scale, and
were said to have included an army of a hundred thousand men and a fleet
of ships which, if laid side by side, would have reached from Calais to
Dover. The news of this terrible armament caused great excitement in
England, and various preparations were made to receive it. The Earl of
Arundel was made high admiral and was dispatched to sea with
instructions to destroy the ships of the enemy as they disembarked;
while the people on shore laid waste the country, and dealt with them as
opportunity served. The winds and the waves, however, fought on
England's side, and under stress of weather the army was disbanded and
the enterprise abandoned. The Earl of Arundel, taking advantage of the
situation, attacked the French fleet with great vigour, captured a
hundred and sixty vessels, and proceeding to the Port of Sluys,
destroyed the ships that had taken refuge there, and laid waste the
country for ten leagues round.

The reign of Henry IV. was likewise characterised by abortive invasions
on the part of the French. In 1403-4, La Marche, a young French prince,
made a descent upon Falmouth with a view to helping Owen Glendower, the
leader of the Welsh rebellion; but the attempt was an entire failure. In
the spring of 1405, however, a second French fleet, consisting of a
hundred and twenty sail and carrying large numbers of cavalry, bore down
upon our southern coast. Once more our old allies, the winds and the
waves, did us good service; for most of the horses fell victims to the
rigours of the journey, and no sooner were the ships moored off Milford
Haven than they were attacked by the squadron of the Cinque Ports, which
burnt fifteen ships, captured six transports laden with food and
ammunition, and cut off all supplies at sea. The French were rather more
successful on land, but before the end of the year they were glad of an
excuse for sailing back to France.

But the corporation of the Cinque Ports had practically fulfilled its
purpose, and was now to give way to other organisations better adapted
to the requirements of the times. Even at this early date some of the
ports had begun to suffer from "the sea change," which eventually caused
the majority of them to be deserted by the routes of commerce; and Henry
V., finding that their harbours were no longer capable of building or
sheltering the large ships which were required in his time, determined
to establish a King's Royal Navy. So successful was he, that in his
fleet which invaded France in 1415, and which consisted of one thousand
four hundred vessels, carrying about six thousand men-at-arms and
twenty-four thousand archers, were twenty-seven royal ships, some
perhaps of the size of five hundred tons. After the return of Henry V.
from the Battle of Agincourt, and during the negotiations which were to
settle the relationships of England and France for the future, the Count
of Armagnac, who had succeeded D'Albret, slain at Agincourt, as
Constable of France, determined to attempt the recapture of Harfleur,
held for the king by the Earl of Dorset, and with this view laid siege
to the town by land, and sent the French fleet with a number of Genoese
caracks and Spanish ships hired for the occasion to blockade the port
from the sea. Henry V. in a great rage dispatched his brother, the Duke
of Bedford, to deal with this formidable armament. The Duke assembled
his ships at Rye in August 1416, and on the 14th of the same month
reached the mouth of the Seine, at the head of a fleet said to number
four hundred sail and to carry twenty thousand men. He found the Genoese
galleys so tall that the largest of his ships could not reach to their
upper decks by a spar's length, while the Spanish ships far out-matched
his own for size and for the number of their crews. Notwithstanding the
disparity of the forces the duke determined to attack the enemy on the
following day; and on the morning of August 15th, 1416, taking advantage
of the wind, he engaged the combined fleets with such vigour that he
succeeded in capturing or destroying nearly five hundred ships, his men
clambering up the Genoese galleys like so many squirrels and boarding
them in gallant style. Having destroyed the fleet, the duke joined his
forces with those of the garrison in repelling the attacks on land and
sea, and compelled the Count of Armagnac to raise the siege and retire.
The duke remained long enough to see the town placed in a state of
defence and then returned to England.

In 1417 the Earl of Huntingdon being sent to sea with a strong
squadron, met with the united fleets of France and Genoa, which he
fought and defeated, though they were much superior to his--not only in
number, but in the strength and size of their ships--taking the French
admiral prisoner, and capturing four large Genoese ships, containing a
quarter's pay for the whole navy.

The reign of Henry VI. added but little to the naval glory of England.
In August 1457 a fleet fitted out in Normandy made a descent upon the
coast of Kent and landed nearly two thousand men about two leagues from
Sandwich, with instructions to attack the port by land while the fleet
engaged it from the sea. In this case the English were taken by
surprise, and the town pillaged and burnt, with great loss on both
sides. Other attempts of the kind were also made at other parts of the
coast. In the following year, Warwick, the King Maker, having been made
admiral, caused several squadrons to be put to sea, to the officers of
which he gave such instructions as he thought proper.

On Trinity Sunday, 1458, one of these squadrons fell in with the Spanish
fleet and quickly came to hostilities; with the result that the English
captured six ships laden with iron and other merchandise and destroyed
twenty-six others. A year later Warwick himself put to sea from Calais
with fourteen sail, when he encountered five large ships in the English
Channel, three of which were Genoese and two Spanish, all of them being
richly laden with merchandise. After an engagement which lasted two days
he succeeded in capturing three of these, which were hauled into Calais,
where their cargoes realised £10,000. It is said that in this engagement
Warwick lost fifty men and the enemy nearly a thousand.

Jealous of the successes of Warwick, the French queen of Henry VI. sent
Lord Rivers down to Sandwich to seek the assistance of the Cinque Ports
in depriving the earl of the government of Calais; but when the ships
were almost ready, Warwick sent a squadron under Sir John Dineham, which
captured the whole fleet, carrying away Lord Rivers and Anthony
Woodville, his son, who long remained prisoners in Calais. After this,
one Sir Baldwin Talford undertook to burn the earl's fleet in the haven
of Calais; this, however, proved but a vain vaunt. At last the Duke of
Exeter, who had been made admiral, received information that the Earl of
Warwick had set sail for Ireland, and stood out to sea to intercept him;
the sailors in the king's ships, however, showed so much coldness in the
cause, that it was not judged safe to risk an engagement, and Warwick,
not wishing to destroy the king's fleet, passed by without molesting it.
Later, Warwick, on an invitation from Kent, made a descent upon the
country and encountered Sir Simon de Montfort, then warden of the Cinque
Ports, with his squadron off Sandwich, which he attacked, defeated and
destroyed, Sir Simon being killed in the engagement.

Thenceforward the decline of the Cinque Ports fleet as a fighting force
was sure. It was called out occasionally for the transport of royal
personages and was employed by Henry VII. and Henry VIII. to transport
troops to France; it furnished some of the ships which harassed the
Armada in its passage up the Channel; but that was its final effort. The
King's Navy with difficulty survived the chaos of the reign of Henry
VI., but it never wholly disappeared. The revival of commerce in the
reigns of Edward IV. and Henry VII., both of whom were engaged largely
in mercantile speculations, created additional interest in maritime
affairs; but it was left to Henry VIII. to make the vital change which
firmly established the Royal Navy as an organisation independent of the
merchant service.



Sir Edward Howard was the second son of Thomas, Earl of Surrey,
afterwards Duke of Norfolk, and treasurer to Henry VIII. He seems to
have begun early in life to testify his inclination for the sea service,
and we find him employed in the Flanders expedition in 1492, when King
Henry VII. thought fit to assist the Duke of Burgundy against his
rebellious subjects.

The Flemings, naturally a brave people and fond of freedom, grew uneasy
under the yoke of the House of Austria, and under the command of the
Baron de Ravenstein began to throw off allegiance. In doing this, they
seized the town and harbour of Sluys, whence they fitted out a number of
vessels of considerable force; and, under colour of pursuing their
enemies, took and plundered vessels of all nations without distinction.
As the English trade with Flanders was then very extensive, English
ships suffered at least as much as any others; and this was the reason
why King Henry, upon the first application of the Duke of Burgundy, sent
a squadron of twelve sail to his assistance under the command of Sir
Edward Poynings, with whom went out Sir Edward Howard, then a very young
man, to learn the art of war. The Duke of Saxony, in consequence of his
alliance with the Duke of Burgundy, marched with an army into Flanders,
and besieged Sluys by land; and Sir Edward Poynings thereupon blockaded
it by sea.

The port was defended by two strong castles, which the Flemings, who had
nothing to trust to but force, defended with unparalleled obstinacy;
insomuch, that though Poynings attacked them constantly every day for
twenty days successively, yet he made no great impression, till at last,
through accident, the bridge of boats, by which the communication
between the castles was preserved, took fire; whereupon the besieged
were glad to surrender their city to the Duke of Saxony, and their port
and castles to the English. After this expedition Sir Edward was made a
knight for extraordinary bravery, of which quality he gave many proofs
during the reign of Henry VII., so thoroughly establishing his
reputation that Henry VIII., on his accession, made choice of him for
his standard-bearer, which in those days was considered not only as a
mark of particular favour, but as a testimony also of the highest
confidence and esteem.

In the fourth year of the same reign he was created lord high-admiral of
England, and in that station convoyed the Marquis of Dorset into Spain.
The admiral, after the landing of the forces, put to sea again; and,
arriving on the coasts of Britanny, landed some of his men about Conquet
and Brest, who ravaged the country and burnt several of the small towns.
This roused the French, who began immediately to fit out a great fleet,
in order, if possible, to drive the English from their coasts; and, as
this armament was very extraordinary, King Henry sent a squadron of
five-and-twenty tall ships, which he caused to be fitted out under his
own eye at Portsmouth, to the assistance of the admiral. Among these
were two capital ships; one called the _Regent_, commanded by Sir Thomas
Knevet, master of the horse to the king; and the other, which was the
_Sovereign_, by Sir Charles Brandon, afterwards Duke of Suffolk. When
these vessels had joined the admiral, his fleet consisted of no less
than forty-five sail, with which he immediately resolved to attack the
enemy, who were by this time ready to come out of the harbour of Brest.
Authors differ much as to their number, though they agree pretty well as
to the name of the admiral, whom they call Primauget; yet it seems they
agree in a mistake, for the historians of Britanny assure us they have
no such name in that province, and that undoubtedly it ought to be

Whatever his name was, or whatever the force of his fleet might have
been (our writers say it consisted of thirty-nine, and the French only
of twenty, sail), he was certainly a very brave man. The ship he
commanded was called the _Cordelier_, and was so large as to be able to
carry twelve hundred fighting men, exclusive of mariners. At this time
there were nine hundred on board; and, encouraged by their gallant
officer, they did their duty bravely. Sir Thomas Knevet, in the
_Regent_, which was a much smaller ship, attacked and boarded the
_Cordelier_, and the action lasted for some time with equal vigour on
both sides. At last, both flag ships took fire and burnt together,
wherein the two commanders and upwards of sixteen hundred valiant men
were lost. It seems this accident struck both fleets with amazement; so
that they separated without fighting, each claiming the victory, to
which probably neither had a very good title.

In the beginning of the next April the admiral put to sea again with a
fleet of forty-two men-of-war, besides small vessels, and forced the
French into the harbour of Brest, where they fortified themselves, in
order to wait the arrival of a squadron of six galleys from the
Mediterranean. Sir Edward Howard, having considered their position,
resolved, since it was impossible to attack them, to burn the country
round about; which he accordingly did, in spite of all the care they
could take to prevent it; and yet the French lay still under the cover
of their fortifications and of a line of twenty-four large hulks lashed
together, which they proposed to have set on fire in case the English
attempted to force them to a battle. While the admiral was thus
employed, he had intelligence that M. Pregent, with the six galleys from
the Mediterranean, had arrived on the coast, and had taken shelter in
the Bay of Conquet. This circumstance induced him to change his plans;
and he now resolved first to destroy the galleys, if possible, and then
to return to the fleet. Upon his advancing to reconnoitre Pregent's
squadron, he found them at anchor between two rocks, on each of which
stood a strong fort; and, what was likely to give him still more
trouble, they lay so far up in the bay that he could bring none of his
ships of force to engage them. The only way open to him now was to put
the bravest of his sailors on board two galleys which were in his fleet,
and with these to venture in and try what might be done against the six.

This being resolved on, he went himself, attended by Sir Thomas Cheyne
and Sir John Wallop, on board one of the galleys, and sent Lord Ferrers,
Sir Henry Sherburn, and Sir William Sidney on board the other; and,
having a brisk gale of wind, sailed directly into the bay, where, with
his own galley, he attacked the French admiral. As soon as they were
grappled, Sir Edward Howard, followed by seventeen of the bravest of his
sailors, boarded the enemy, and were very gallantly received; but it so
happened that, in the midst of the engagement, the galleys sheered
asunder, and the French, taking advantage of this circumstance, forced
the English overboard, except one seaman, from whom they quickly learned
that the English admiral was among the slain. Lord Ferrers, in the other
galley, did all that was possible for a very brave man to do; but,
having spent all his shot, and perceiving, as he thought, the admiral
retire, he likewise made the best of his way out of the harbour.

In Lord Herbert's "Life and Reign of Henry VIII., 1513," there are some
very singular circumstances given relating to this unlucky adventure. He
says that Sir Edward Howard having considered the position of the French
fleet in the haven of Brest, and the consequences which would attend
either defeating or burning it, gave notice thereof to the king,
inviting him to be present at so glorious an action; desiring rather
that the king should have the honour of destroying the French naval
force than himself; a loyal, generous proposition--supposing the honour,
not the danger, too great for a subject, and measuring (no doubt very
justly) his master's courage by his own; the only standard men of his
rank and temper of mind ever use.

But, his letter being laid before the council, they were altogether of
another opinion; conceiving it was much too great a hazard for His
Majesty to expose his person in such an enterprise; and therefore they
wrote sharply to the admiral, commanding him not to send excuses, but to
do his duty. This, as it well might, piqued him to the utmost; and as it
was his avowed maxim that a seaman never did good who was not resolute
to a degree of madness, he took a sudden resolution of acting in the
manner he did. When he found his galley slide away and saw the danger to
which he was exposed, he took his chain of gold nobles which hung about
his neck, and his great gold whistle, the ensign of his office, and
threw them into the sea, to prevent the enemy from possessing the spoils
of an English admiral. Thus fell the great Sir Edward Howard, on April
25th, 1513, a sacrifice to his too quick sense of honour in the service,
and yet to the manifest and acknowledged detriment of his country; for
his death so dejected the spirits of his sailors that the fleet was
obliged to return home.

Sir Edward Howard, we are assured, was very far from being either a mere
soldier or a mere seaman, though so eminent in both characters; but he
was what it became an English gentleman of so high a quality to be--an
able statesman, a faithful counsellor, and a free speaker. He was ready
at all times to hazard his life and fortune in his country's quarrels;
and yet he was against her quarrelling on insufficient occasion or
against her interests. He particularly dissuaded a breach with the
Flemings, for the wise and strong reasons that such a war was
prejudicial to commerce abroad; that it diminished the customs, while it
increased the public expenses; that it served the French, by
constraining the inhabitants of Flanders to deal with them against their
will; and that it tended to the prejudice of our manufactures, by
interrupting our intercourse with those by whom they were principally

Thus qualified, we need not wonder he attained such high honours, though
he died in the flower of his age. Henry conferred upon him many titles
and other rewards, making him Admiral of England, Wales, Ireland,
Normandy, Gascony, and Aquitaine, for life, and causing him to be
chosen Knight of the Garter; believing that he should thereby command,
as indeed he did, not only the utmost service of Sir Edward, but also
all the force and interest of his potent family; an interest in later
years which he but ill requited. As soon as the news of his unfortunate
death reached the ears of his royal master he was succeeded in his high
office by Sir Thomas Howard, his elder brother.



In the third year of the reign of Henry VIII., Sir Andrew Barton, a
Scots seaman, with two stout vessels--the _Lion_ and the _Jenny
Perwin_--ranged the coasts of England and interrupted all trade and
navigation; his authority being letters of reprisals against the
Portuguese, granted him by James III., late King of Scotland, under
which he did not hesitate to attack and appropriate ships of all
nations, alleging that they had Portuguese goods on board. On complaint
of these grievances being made to the Privy Council of England, the Earl
of Surrey, afterwards Duke of Norfolk, treasurer to Henry VIII. and
father of Sir Edward Howard referred to in the previous story, and of
Sir Thomas Howard, who forms the subject of this sketch, said the narrow
seas should not be so infested while he had estate enough to furnish a
ship and a son capable of commanding it.

Upon this, two ships were immediately fitted out by the brothers,
probably at their own, or at their father's cost; for if they had gone
with the king's commission they would most likely have sailed at the
head of a squadron. Upon an expedition of this kind, however, they
needed no commission, for pirates being _hostes humani generis_, enemies
to mankind in general, every man was at liberty to act against them.

The brothers having been some days at sea, were separated by a storm,
which gave Sir Thomas Howard an opportunity of coming up with Sir Andrew
Barton in the _Lion_, whom he immediately engaged. The fight was long
and doubtful; for Barton, who was an experienced seaman, and who had
under him a determined crew, made a most desperate defence; cheering his
men with a boatswain's whistle to his last breath. On the loss of their
captain, however, they were induced to submit, and were received to
quarter and fair usage. In the meantime, Sir Edward fought and took the
consort of the _Lion_, which was likewise a strong vessel, and
exceedingly well-manned. Both these ships, with as many men as were left
alive, being in number one hundred and fifty, they brought on August
2nd, 1511, into the River Thames, as trophies of their victory.

King James IV., who then governed the Scots, exceedingly resented this
action, and instantly sent ambassadors to Henry to demand satisfaction;
on which the king gave the memorable answer: "That punishing pirates was
never held a breach of peace among princes." King James, however,
remained still dissatisfied; and, from that time to his death was never
thoroughly reconciled to the king or English nation.

Sir Thomas Howard accompanied the Marquis of Dorset in his expedition
against Guienne; which ended in King Ferdinand's conquering Navarre; and
the commander-in-chief falling sick, Sir Thomas succeeded him, and
brought home the remains of the English army. He had scarcely returned,
however, before the news arrived of the death of his brother, Sir Edward
the lord-admiral; whereupon the king instantly appointed him his
successor. The French ships were at that time hovering about the English
coasts; but Sir Thomas quickly scoured the seas, so that not a barque of
that nation durst appear; and, on July 1st, 1513, landing in Whitsand
Bay, he pillaged the country adjacent and burnt a considerable town.
Henry VIII. was at this time engaged in Picardy, and in the absence of
the king and his admiral, James IV. seized the opportunity to invade
England with a mighty army, supposing he should find it without defence.
Thomas, Earl of Surrey, father of the admiral, however, quickly
convinced him of his mistake, marching towards Scotland with a powerful
army, which strengthened as it moved; while Sir Thomas Howard,
returning, on the news of the invasion, landed five thousand veterans,
and made haste to join his father. The Earl of Surrey despatching a
herald to bid the Scots king battle, the lord-admiral sent him word, at
the same time, that he was come in person to answer for the death of Sir
Andrew Barton. This defiance produced the famous battle of Flodden
Field, which was fought on September the 8th, 1513, when Sir Thomas
Howard commanded the van-guard, and, by his courage and conduct,
contributed not a little to the glorious victory in which James IV. of
Scotland fell, with the flower of his army.

King Henry, for this and other services, restored Thomas, Earl of
Surrey, to the title of Norfolk, and created the lord-admiral Earl of

The war being ended with France, the admiral's martial talent lay some
time unemployed; but certain disturbances in Ireland calling for
redress, the active Earl of Surrey was sent thither, with a commission
as lord-deputy, where he suppressed Desmond's rebellion, humbled the
O'Neals and O'Carrols, and, without affecting severity or popularity,
brought all things into good order, leaving, when he quitted the island,
peace and a parliament behind him, and carrying with him the affections
of the people.

The pretence for recalling him was the breaking out again of a French
war. Before it was declared, the French ships of war interrupted
(according to custom) the English trade, so that we suffered as their
enemies, while their ambassadors were treated as our friends. The
lord-admiral, on his arrival, immediately fitted out a small squadron of
clean ships, under a vigilant commander, who soon drove the French
privateers from the sea. In the spring, Sir William Fitz-William, as
vice-admiral, put to sea, with a fleet of twenty-eight men-of-war, to
guard the narrow seas; and it being apprehended that the Scots might add
to the number of the king's enemies by sea as well as by land, a small
squadron of seven frigates sailed up the Firth of Forth, and burned all
such vessels as lay there and were in a condition of going to sea. In
the meantime, the admiral prepared a Royal Navy, with which that of the
Emperor Charles V. (of Spain) was to join; and as it was evident that
many inconveniences might arise from the fleets having several
commanders-in-chief, the Earl of Surrey, by special commission from
Henry VIII., received the emperor's commission to be admiral also of the
united navy, which consisted of one hundred and eighty tall ships.

With the united fleets, the admiral sailed over to the coast of
Normandy, and landed some forces near Cherbourg, wasted and destroyed
the country; after which they returned. This seems to have been a feint;
for, in a few days, the admiral landed again on the coast of Bretagne a
very large body of troops, with which he took and plundered the town of
Morlaix; and having gained an immense booty, and opened a passage for
the English forces into Champagne and Picardy, he first detached Sir
William Fitz-William with a strong squadron to scour the seas and to
protect the merchants, and then returned to Southampton, where the
emperor, Charles V., who had visited England to confer with Henry VIII.
and Cardinal Wolsey, embarked on board his ship, and was safely convoyed
to the port of St. Andero, in Biscay.

The Earl of Surrey succeeded to the office of Lord Treasurer on the
retirement of his father, and on the duke's death was appointed to
command an army against the Scots and employed on various other
commissions of importance.

Towards the close of his reign the king was led to believe that he (now
Duke of Norfolk) and his son, Henry, Earl of Surrey, the most
distinguished poet of his time, were in a plot to seize upon his person,
and to engross the government into their own hands. For these supposed
crimes, he and his son were imprisoned and attainted almost on
suspicion. Henry, Earl of Surrey, lost his head in his father's
presence; nor would the duke have survived him long, if the king had not
died at that critical juncture and thereby opened a door of hope and
liberty. After all these sufferings, he survived King Edward VI. and
died in the first year of Queen Mary, at the age of sixty-six, when his
attainder was repealed, and the act thereof taken from amongst the



Sir John Hawkins was born at Plymouth about the year 1520. He was from
his youth devoted to the study of navigation, and began very early to
carry his knowledge into practice by making voyages to Spain, Portugal
and the Canaries, voyages which were in those days great undertakings.
In 1562 he made his first voyage to Guinea for slaves, and then to
Hispaniola, St. John de Porto Rico, and other Spanish islands, for
sugars, hides, silver, etc. His venture proving financially successful
he made another voyage in 1564 with a like purpose, with the same
success, arriving on his return at Padstow in Cornwall, on September
20th, 1565.

Towards the end of the year 1567, he started on the unfortunate voyage
made with the _Jesus_, the _Minion_ and four other ships to the ports of
Guinea and the West Indies, his own personal account of which is thus
recorded in Hakluyt's "Voyages."

"The ships departed from Plymouth October 2nd, 1567, and had reasonable
weather until the seventh day, at which time, forty leagues north from
Cape Finisterre, there arose an extreme storm which continued four days,
in such sort that the fleet was dispersed and all our great boats lost,
and the _Jesus_, our chief ship, in such case as not thought able to
serve the voyage. Whereupon in the same storm we set our course
homeward, determining to give over the voyage; but the eleventh day of
the same month the wind changed, with fair weather, whereby we were
animated to follow our enterprise, and so did, directing our course to
the islands of Grand Canaries, where, according to an order before
prescribed, all our ships, before dispersed, met in one of those
islands, called Gomera, where we took water, and departed from thence on
November 4th towards the coast of Guinea, and arrived at Cape Verde,
November 18th, where we landed one hundred and fifty men, hoping to
obtain some negroes; where we got but few, and those with great hurt and
damage to our men, which chiefly proceeded from their envenomed arrows;
although in the beginning they seemed to be but small hurts, yet there
hardly escaped any that had blood drawn of them but died in strange
sort, with their mouths shut, some ten days before they died, and after
their wounds were whole; where I myself had one of the greatest wounds,
yet, thanks be to God, escaped. From thence we passed the time upon the
coast of Guinea, searching with all diligence the rivers from Rio Grande
unto Sierra Leone till January 12th, in which time we had not gotten
together a hundred and fifty negroes: yet, notwithstanding, the sickness
of our men and the late time of the year commanded us away: and thus
having nothing wherewith to seek the coast of the West Indies, I was
with the rest of our company in consultation to go to the coast of the
Myne, hoping there to have obtained some gold for our wares, and thereby
to have defrayed our charge. But even in that present instant there came
to us a negro sent from a king oppressed by other kings, his neighbours,
desiring our aid, with promise that as many negroes as by these wars
might be obtained, as well of his part as of ours, should be at our
pleasure. Whereupon we concluded to give aid, and sent one hundred and
twenty of our men, which January 15th assaulted a town of the negroes of
our allies' adversaries which had in it eight thousand inhabitants, and
very strongly impaled and fenced after their manner; but it was so well
defended that our men prevailed not, but lost six men, and forty hurt,
so that our men sent forthwith to me for more help; whereupon,
considering that the good success of this enterprise might highly
further the commodity of our voyage, I went myself, and with the help of
the king of our side assaulted the town, both by land and sea, and very
hardly with fire (their houses being covered with dry palm leaves)
obtained the town, and put the inhabitants to flight, where we took two
hundred and fifty persons, men, women, and children, and by our friend
the king of our side there were taken six hundred prisoners, whereof we
hoped to have our choice, but the negro (in which nation is seldom or
never found truth) meant nothing less; for that night he removed his
camp and prisoners, so that we were fain to content us with those few
which we had gotten ourselves.

"Now had we obtained between four and five hundred negroes, wherewith we
thought it somewhat reasonable to seek the coast of the West Indies, and
there, for our negroes, and our other merchandise, we hoped to obtain
whereof to countervail our charges with some gains, whereunto we
proceeded with all diligence, finished our watering, took fuel, and
departed the coast of Guinea, on February 3rd, continuing at the sea
with a passage more hard than before hath been accustomed till March
27th, which day we had sight of an island called Dominique, upon the
coast of the West Indies, in fourteen degrees; from thence we coasted
from place to place, making our traffic with the Spaniards as we might,
somewhat hardy, because the king had straightly commanded all his
governors in those parts by no means to suffer any trade to be made with
us; notwithstanding we had reasonable trade, and courteous entertainment
from the Isle of Marguerite and Cartagena, without anything greatly
worth the noting, saving at Capo de la Vela, in a town called Rio de la
Hacha, from whence come all the pearls. The treasurer who had the charge
there would by no means agree to any trade, or suffer us to take water.
He had fortified his town with divers bulwarks in all places where it
might be entered, and furnished himself with a hundred harquebusiers, so
that he thought by famine to have enforced us to have put on land our
negroes, of which purpose he had not greatly failed unless we had by
force entered the town; which (after we could by no means obtain his
favour) we were enforced to do, and so with two hundred men brake in
upon their bulwarks, and entered the town with the loss only of eleven
men of our parts, and no hurt done to the Spaniards, because after their
volley of shot discharged, they all fled.

"Thus having the town, with some circumstance, as partly by the
Spaniards' desire of negroes, and partly by friendship of the treasurer,
we obtained a secret trade; whereupon the Spaniards resorted to us by
night, and bought of us to the number of two hundred negroes; in all
other places where we traded the Spaniard inhabitants were glad of us,
and traded willingly.

"At Cartagena, the last town we thought to have seen on the coast, we
could by no means obtain to deal with any Spaniard, the governor was so
straight, and because our trade was so near finished, we thought not
good either to adventure any landing or to detract further time, but in
peace departed from thence on July 24th, hoping to have escaped the time
of their storms, which then soon after began to reign, the which they
call _Furicanos_; but passing by the west end of Cuba, towards the coast
of Florida, there happened to us, on August 12th, an extreme storm,
which continued by the space of four days, which so beat the _Jesus_,
that we cut down all her higher buildings; her rudder also was sore
shaken, and, withal, was in so extreme a leak, that we were rather upon
the point to leave her than to keep her any longer; yet, hoping to bring
all to good pass, sought the coast of Florida, where we found no place
nor haven for our ships because of the shallowness of the coast. Thus,
being in greater despair, and taken with a new storm, which continued
other three days, we were enforced to take for our succour the port
which serveth the city of Mexico, called St. John de Ullua, which
standeth in nineteen degrees, in seeking of which port we took in our
way three ships, which carried passengers to the number of one hundred,
which passengers we hoped should be a means to us the better to obtain
victuals for our money and a quiet place for the repairing of our fleet.
Shortly after this, on September 16th, we entered the port of St. John
de Ullua, and on our entry, the Spaniards thinking us to be the fleet of
Spain, the chief officers of the country came aboard us, which, being
deceived of their expectation, were greatly dismayed, but immediately,
when they saw our demand was nothing but victuals, were recomforted. I
found also in the same port, twelve ships, which had in them, by the
report, 200,000 livres in gold and silver, all which (being in my
possession with the King's Island, as also the passengers before in my
way thitherward stayed) I set at liberty, without the taking from them
the weight of a groat; only, because I would not be delayed of my
despatch, I stayed two men of estimation, and sent post immediately to
Mexico, which was two hundred miles from us, to the presidents and
council there, showing them of our arrival there by the force of
weather, and the necessity of the repair of our ships and victuals,
which wants we required, as friends to King Philip, to be furnished of
for our money, and that the presidents in council there should, with all
convenient speed, take order that at the arrival of the Spanish fleet,
which was daily looked for, there might no cause of quarrel rise between
us and them, but, for the better maintenance of amity, their commandment
might be had in that behalf. This message being sent away on September
16th, at night, being the very day of our arrival, in the next morning,
which was the sixteenth day of the same month, we saw open of the haven
thirteen great ships, and understanding them to be the fleet of Spain, I
sent immediately to advertise the general of the fleet of my being
there, giving him to understand that, before I would suffer them to
enter the port, there should be some order of conditions pass between us
for our safe being there and maintenance of peace. Now, it is to be
understood that this port is a little island of stones, not three feet
above the water in the highest place, and but a bow-shot of length any
way. This island standeth from the mainland two bow-shots or more. Also
it is to be understood that there is not in all this coast any other
place for ships to arrive in safety, because the north wind hath there
such violence, that, unless the ships be very safely moored, with their
anchors fastened upon this island, there is no remedy for these north
winds but death; also, the place of the haven was so little, that of
necessity the ships must ride one aboard the other, so that we could not
give place to them nor they to us; and here I began to bewail the which
after followed: 'For now,' said I, 'I am in two dangers, and forced to
receive the one of them.' That was, either I must have kept out the
fleet from entering the port (the which, with God's help, I was very
well able to do), or else suffer them to enter in with their accustomed
treason, which they never fail to execute where they may have
opportunity, or circumvent it by any means. If I had kept them out, then
had there been present shipwreck of all the fleet, which, amounted in
value to six millions, which was in value of our money 1,800,000 livres,
which I considered I was not able to answer, fearing the Queen's
Majesty's indignation in so weighty a matter. Thus with myself revolving
the doubts, I thought rather better to abide the jutt of the uncertainty
than the certainty. The uncertain doubt was their treason, which by good
policy I hoped might be prevented; and therefore, as choosing the least
mischief, I proceeded to conditions. Now was our first messenger come
and returned from the fleet with report of the arrival of a viceroy, so
that he had authority, both in all this province of Mexico (otherwise
called Nova Hispania) and in the sea, who sent us word that we should
send our conditions, which of his part should (for the better
maintenance of amity between the princes) be both favourably granted and
faithfully performed, with many fair words how, passing the coast of the
Indies, he had understood of our honest behaviour towards the
inhabitants, where we had to do as well elsewhere as in the same port;
the which I let pass, thus following our demand. We required victual for
our money, and license to sell as much ware as might furnish our wants,
and that there might be of either part twelve gentlemen as hostage for
the maintenance of peace, and that the island, for our better safety,
might be in our own possession during our abode there, and such ordnance
as was planted in the same island, which was eleven pieces of brass, and
that no Spaniard might land in the island with any kind of weapon.

"These conditions at the first he somewhat misliked--chiefly the guard
of the island to be in our own keeping, which, if they had had, we had
soon known our fate; for with the first north wind they had cut our
cables, and our ships had gone ashore; but in the end he concluded to
our request, bringing the twelve hostages to ten, which with all speed
on either part were received, with a writing from the viceroy, signed
with his hand and sealed with his seal, of all the conditions concluded,
and forthwith a trumpet blown, with commandment that none of either part
should inviolate the peace upon pain of death; and, further, it was
concluded that the two generals of the fleet should meet, and give faith
each to other for the performance of the promises, which was so done.

"Thus, at the end of three days, all was concluded, and the fleet
entered the port, saluting one another as the manner of the sea doth
require. Thus, as I said before, Thursday we entered the port, Friday we
saw the fleet, and on Monday, at night, they entered the port; then we
laboured two days, placing the English ships by themselves and the
Spanish ships by themselves, the captains of each part, and inferior men
of their parts, promising great amity of all sides; which, even as with
all fidelity was meant of our part, though the Spanish meant nothing
less of their parts, but from the mainland had furnished themselves with
a supply of men to the number of one thousand, and meant the next
Thursday, being September 23rd, at dinner-time, to set upon us of all
sides. The same Thursday, the treason being at hand, some appearance
showed, as shifting of weapons from ship to ship, planting and bending
of ordnance from the ship to the island where our men were, passing to
and fro of companies of men more than required for their necessary
business, and many other ill likelihoods, which caused us to have a
vehement suspicion, and therewithal sent to the viceroy to inquire what
was meant by it, which sent immediately straight commandment to unplant
all things suspicious, and also sent word that he, in the faith of a
viceroy, would be our defence from all villainies. Yet we, not being
satisfied with this answer, because we suspected a great number of men
to be hid in a great ship of nine hundred tons, which was moored next
unto the _Minion_, sent again unto the viceroy the master of the
_Jesus_, which had the Spanish tongue, and required to be satisfied if
any such thing were or not; on which the viceroy, seeing that the
treason must be discovered, forthwith stayed our master, blew the
trumpet, and of all sides set upon us. Our men which were on guard
ashore, being stricken with sudden fear, gave place, fled, and sought to
recover succour of the ships; the Spaniards, being before provided for
the purpose, landed in all places in multitudes from their ships, which
they could easily do without boats, and slew all our men ashore without
mercy, a few of them escaping aboard the _Jesus_. The great ship which
had, by the estimation, three hundred men placed in her secretly,
immediately fell aboard the _Minion_, which, by God's appointment, in
the time of the suspicion we had, which was only one half-hour, the
_Minion_ was made ready to avoid, and so, loosing her headfasts, and
hailing away by the sternfasts, she was gotten out; thus, with God's
help, she defended the violence of the first brunt of these three
hundred men. The _Minion_ being passed out, they came aboard the
_Jesus_, which also, with very much ado and the loss of many of our men,
were defended and kept out. Then were there also two other ships that
assaulted the _Jesus_ at the same instant, so that she had hard work
getting loose; but yet, with some time, we had cut our headfasts, and
gotten out by the sternfasts. Now, when the _Jesus_ and the _Minion_
were gotten two ship-lengths from the Spanish fleet, the fight began hot
on all sides, so that within one hour the admiral of the Spaniards was
supposed to be sunk, their vice-admiral burned, and one other of their
principal ships supposed to be sunk, so that the ships were little to
annoy us.

"Then is it to be understood that all the ordnance upon the island was
in the Spaniards' hands, which did us so great annoyance that it cut all
the masts and yards of the _Jesus_ in such sort, that there was no hope
to carry her away; also it sank our small ships, whereupon we determined
to place the _Jesus_ on that side of the _Minion_, that she might abide
all the battery from the land, and so be a defence for the _Minion_ till
night, and then to take such relief of victual and other necessaries
from the _Jesus_ as the time would suffer us, and to leave her. As we
were thus determining, and had placed the _Minion_ from the shot of the
land, suddenly the Spaniards had fired two great ships which were coming
directly to us, and having no means to avoid the fire, it bred among our
men a marvellous fear, so that some said, 'Let us depart with the
_Minion_;' others said, 'Let us see whether the wind will carry the fire
from us.' But to be short, the _Minion's_ men, which had always their
sails in readiness, thought to make sure work, and so without either
consent of the captain or master, cut their sail, so that very hardly I
was received into the _Minion_.

"The most part of the men that were left alive in the _Jesus_ made shift
and followed the _Minion_ in a small boat, the rest, which the little
boat was not able to receive, were enforced to abide the mercy of the
Spaniards (which I doubt was very little); so with the _Minion_ only,
and the _Judith_ (a small barque of fifty tons) we escaped, which barque
the same night forsook us in our great misery. We were now removed with
the _Minion_ from the Spanish ships two bow-shots, and there rode all
that night. The next morning we recovered an island a mile from the
Spaniards, where there took us a north wind, and being left only with
two anchors and two cables (for in this conflict we lost three cables
and two anchors), we thought always upon death, which ever was present;
but God preserved us to a longer time.

"The weather waxed reasonable, and the Saturday we set sail, and having
a great number of men and little victual, our hope of life waxed less
and less. Some desired to yield to the Spaniards, some rather desired
to obtain a place where they might give themselves to the infidels; and
some had rather abide, with a little pittance, the mercy of God at sea.
So thus, with many sorrowful hearts, we wandered in an unknown sea by
the space of fourteen days, till hunger enforced us to seek the land;
for hides were thought very good meat; rats, cats, mice, and dogs, none
escaped that might be gotten; parrots and monkeys that were had in great
prize, were thought there very profitable if they served the turn of one
dinner. Thus in the end, on October 8th, we came to the land in the
bottom of the same bay of Mexico, in twenty-three degrees and a half,
where we hoped to have found habitations of the Spaniards, relief of
victuals, and place for the repair of our ship, which was so sore beaten
with shot from our enemies, and bruised with shooting of our own
ordnance, that our weary and weak arms were scarce able to defend and
keep out the water. But all things happened to the contrary, for we
found neither people, victual, nor haven of relief, but a place where,
having fair weather, with some peril we might land a boat. Our people,
being forced with hunger, desired to be set aland, whereunto I

"And such as were willing to land I put apart, and such as were desirous
to go homewards I put apart, so that they were indifferently parted, a
hundred of one side and a hundred of the other side. These hundred men
were set on land with all diligence, in this little place aforesaid,
which being landed, we determined there to refresh our water, and so
with our little remain of victuals to take the sea.

"The next day, having on land with me fifty of our hundred men that
remained, for the speedier preparing of our water aboard, there arose an
extreme storm, so that in three days we could by no means repair our
ships. The ship also was in such peril that every hour we looked for

"But yet God again had mercy on us, and sent fair weather. We got aboard
our water, and departed October 16th, after which day we had fair and
prosperous weather till November 16th, which day, God be praised, we
were clear from the coast of the Indians and out of the channel and
gulf of Bahama, which is between the Cape of Florida and the Islands of
Cuba. After this, growing near to the cold country, our men, being
oppressed with famine, died continually, and they that were left grew
into such weakness that we were scarcely able to manoeuvre our ship; and
the wind being always ill for us to recover England, determined to go to
Galicia, in Spain, with intent there to relieve our company and other
extreme wants. And being arrived the last day of December, in a place
near unto Vigo, called Pontevedra, our men, with excess of fresh meat,
grew into miserable diseases, and died a great part of them. This matter
was borne out as long as it might be, but in the end, although there was
none of our men suffered to go on land, yet by access of the Spaniards
our feebleness was known to them. Whereupon they ceased not to seek by
all means to betray us; but with all speed possible we departed to Vigo,
where we had some help of certain English ships, and twelve fresh men,
wherewith we repaired our wants as we might, and departing January 20th,
1568, arrived in Mounts Bay in Cornwall the 25th of the same month,
praised be God therefore."

If all the misery and troublesome affairs of this sorrowful voyage
should be perfectly and thoroughly written, there should need a painful
man with his pen, and as great time as he had that wrote the "Lives and
Deaths of the Martyrs."

Sir John Hawkins rendered great service under Lord Howard in 1588,
against the Spanish Armada, acting as rear admiral on board H.M.S.
_Victory_, where we are told he had as large a share of the danger and
honour of the day as any man in the fleet; for which he deservedly
received the honour of knighthood, and was particularly commended by
Queen Elizabeth. In 1590 he was sent, in conjunction with Sir Martin
Frobisher--each having a squadron of men-of-war--to infest the coast of
Spain, where they met with many adventures but not much success. Later,
a proposition was made to the queen by Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis
Drake, to fit out an expedition for the West Indies to harry the
Spaniards, a proposition which they backed with an offer to bear the
greater part of the expense themselves. The queen favoured the design,
and the two ablest seamen of the time sailed from Plymouth on August
28th, 1595, with a squadron of twenty-seven ships and barques, and a
force of two thousand five hundred men. Divided counsels seem to have
interfered with the success of this expedition, Sir John and Sir Francis
not agreeing as to the course to be pursued. A few days before their
departure they received notice from the queen that the Plate fleet had
safely arrived in Spain, with the exception of a single galleon, which,
having lost a mast, had been obliged to return to Porto Rico; the
capture of which she recommended to them as practical without
interfering with the general design of the expedition. Sir John was for
immediately executing the queen's commands, but Sir Francis inclined
first to go to the Canaries, in which he prevailed over his friend and
colleague, but not over his enemies. In the meantime the Spaniards had
sent five stout frigates to bring away the damaged galleon from Porto
Rico, which convoy, falling in with the _Francis_, the sternmost of Sir
John's ships, captured her before she could receive assistance from the
admiral. This is said to have so affected the veteran Sir John, that he
died on November 21st, 1595, soon after his vessel had sighted the
island of Porto Rico.

"Sir John Hawkins," says Dr. Campbell, "was the author of more useful
inventions, and introduced into the navy better regulations than any
officer who had borne command therein before his time. One instance of
this was the institution of that noble fund the _Chest of Chatham_,
which was the humane and wise contrivance of this gentleman and Sir
Francis Drake, and their scheme that seamen, safe and successful,
should, by a voluntary deduction from their pay, give relief to the
wants, and reward to those who are maimed in the service of their
country, was approved by the queen, and has been adopted by posterity."



Richard Hakluyt was born at Eyton in Herefordshire in 1553, and was
educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where he
graduated B.A. in 1574, and M.A. in 1577, and lectured publicly upon
geography, showing "both the old imperfectly composed, and the new
lately reformed maps, globes, spheres, and other instruments of this

In 1582 Hakluyt published his "Divers Voyages touching the Discovery of
America and the Lands adjacent unto the same, made first of all by our
Englishmen, and afterwards by the Frenchmen and Bretons; and certain
Notes of Advertisements for Observations, necessary for such as shall
hereafter make the like attempt." In 1583, having taken orders, he went
to Paris as chaplain to the English ambassador, Sir Edward Stafford,
returning to England for a short time in 1584, when he laid before the
queen a paper entitled "A particular Discourse concerning Western
Discoveries, written in the year 1584 by Richard Hakluyt, of Oxford, at
the request and direction of the right worshipful Mr. Walter Raleigh,
before the coming home of his two barks."

In 1587 he translated and published in London "A Notable History
containing Four Voyages made by certain French Captains into Florida."
In 1589 he published "The Principal Navigations, Voyages and
Discoveries of the English Nation"--a work developed into three volumes
folio, published in the years 1598, 1599, and 1600 as "The Principal
Navigations, Voyages, Traffics, and Discoveries of the English Nation."
Hakluyt became Archdeacon of Westminster in 1603, and died in 1616. He
was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Four stories from Hakluyt's voyages appear in this book. "The
Troublesome Voyage of the _Jesus_," which is included with "The Story of
Sir John Hawkins," p. 43; "The Voyage made to Tripolis in Barbary," p.
79; "A True Report of a Worthy Fight," p. 91; and "The Worthy Enterprise
of John Fox" which here follows.

"Among our merchants here in England, it is a common voyage to traffic
to Spain; whereunto a ship called the _Three Half Moons_, manned with
eight and thirty men, well fenced with munitions, the better to
encounter their enemies withal, and having wind and tide, set from
Portsmouth 1563, and bended her journey towards Seville, a city in
Spain, intending there to traffic with them. And falling near the
Straits, they perceived themselves to be beset round about with eight
galleys of the Turks, in such wise that there was no way for them to fly
or escape away, but that either they must yield or else be sunk, which
the owner perceiving, manfully encouraged his company, exhorting them
valiantly to show their manhood, showing them that God was their God,
and not their enemies', requesting them also not to faint in seeing such
a heap of their enemies ready to devour them; putting them in mind also,
that if it were God's pleasure to give them into their enemies' hands,
it was not they that ought to show one displeasant look or countenance
there against; but to take it patiently, and not to prescribe a day and
time for their deliverance, as the citizens of Bethulia did, but to put
themselves under His mercy. And again, if it were His mind and good will
to show His mighty power by them, if their enemies were ten times so
many, they were not able to stand in their hands; putting them,
likewise, in mind of the old and ancient worthiness of their countrymen,
who in the hardest extremities have always most prevailed, and gone
away conquerors; yea, and where it hath been almost impossible. 'Such,'
quoth he, 'hath been the valiantness of our countrymen, and such hath
been the mighty power of our God.'

"With such other like encouragements, exhorting them to behave
themselves manfully, they fell all on their knees, making their prayers
briefly unto God; who, being all risen up again, perceived their
enemies, by their signs and defiances, bent to the spoil, whose mercy
was nothing else but cruelty; whereupon every man took him to his

"Then stood up one Grove, the master, being a comely man, with his sword
and target, holding them up in defiance against his enemies. So likewise
stood up the owner, the master's mate, boatswain, purser, and every man
well appointed. Now likewise sounded up the drums, trumpets and flutes,
which would have encouraged any man, had he never so little heart or
courage in him.

"Then taketh him to his charge John Fox, the gunner, in the disposing of
his pieces, in order to the best effect, and, sending his bullets
towards the Turks, who likewise bestowed their pieces thrice as fast
towards the Christians. But shortly they drew near, so that the bowman
fell to their charge in sending forth their arrows so thick amongst the
galleys, and also in doubling their shot so sore upon the galleys, that
there were twice as many of the Turks slain as the number of the
Christians were in all. But the Turks discharged twice as fast against
the Christians, and so long, that the ship was very sore stricken and
bruised under water; which the Turks, perceiving, made the more haste to
come aboard the ship: which, ere they could do, many a Turk bought it
dearly with the loss of their lives. Yet was all in vain, boarded they
were, where they found so hot a skirmish, that it had been better they
had not meddled with the feast; for the Englishmen showed themselves men
indeed in working manfully with their brown bills and halberds, where
the owner, master, boatswain and their company stood to it so lustily,
that the Turks were half dismayed. But chiefly the boatswain showed
himself valiant above the rest, for he fared amongst the Turks like a
wood lion; for there was none of them that either could or durst stand
in his face, till at last there came a shot from the Turks which brake
his whistle asunder, and smote him on the breast, so that he fell down,
bidding them farewell, and to be of good comfort, encouraging them,
likewise, to win praise by death, rather than to live captives in misery
and shame, which they, hearing, indeed, intended to have done, as it
appeared by their skirmish; but the press and store of the Turks were so
great, that they were not long able to endure, but were so overpressed
that they could not wield their weapons, by reason whereof they must
needs be taken, which none of them intended to have been, but rather to
have died, except only the master's mate, who shrunk from the skirmish,
like a notable coward, esteeming neither the value of his name, nor
accounting of the present example of his fellows, nor having respect to
the miseries whereunto he should be put. But in fine, so it was, that
the Turks were victors, whereof they had no great cause to rejoice or
triumph. Then would it have grieved any hard heart to see these infidels
so violently entreating the Christians, not having any respect of their
manhood, which they had tasted of, nor yet respecting their own state,
how they might have met with such a booty as might have given them the
overthrow; but no remorse hereof, or anything else doth bridle their
fierce and tyrannous dealing, but the Christians must needs to the
galleys, to serve in new officer; and they were no sooner in them, but
their garments were pulled over their ears and torn from their backs,
and they set to the oars.

"I will make no mention of their miseries, being now under their
enemies' raging stripes. I think there is no man will judge their fare
good, or their bodies unloaden of stripes, and not pestered with too
much heat, and also with too much cold; but I will go to my purpose,
which is to show the end of those being in mere misery, which
continually do call on God with a steadfast hope that He will deliver
them, and with a sure faith that He can do it.

"Nigh to the city of Alexandria, being a haven town, and under the
dominion of the Turks, there is a road, being made very fencible with
strong walls, whereinto the Turks do customably bring their galleys on
shore every year, in the winter season, and there do trim them, and lay
them up against the spring-time; in which road there is a prison,
wherein the captives and such prisoners as serve in the galleys are put
for all that time, until the seas be calm and passable for the galleys;
every prisoner being most grievously laden with irons on their legs, to
their great pain and sore disabling of them to any labour; into which
prison were these Christians put and fast warded all the winter season.
But ere it was long, the master and the owner, by means of friends, were
redeemed, the rest abiding still in the misery, while that they were
all, through reason of their ill-usage and worse fare, miserably
starved, saving one John Fox, who (as some men can abide harder and more
misery than other some can, so can some likewise make more shift, and
work more duties to help their state and living, than other some can do)
being somewhat skilful in the craft of a barber, by reason thereof made
great shift in helping his fare now and then with a good meal. Insomuch,
till at the last God sent him favour in the sight of the keeper of the
prison, so that he had leave to go in and out to the road at his
pleasure, paying a certain stipend unto the keeper, and wearing a lock
about his leg, which liberty likewise five more had upon like
sufferance, who, by reason of their long imprisonment, not being feared
or suspected to start aside, or that they would work the Turks any
mischief, had liberty to go in and out at the said road, in such manner
as this John Fox did, with irons on their legs, and to return again at

"In the year of our Lord 1577, in the winter season, the galleys happily
coming to their accustomed harbourage, and being discharged of all their
masts, sails, and other such furnitures as unto galleys do appertain,
and all the masters and mariners of them being then nested in their own
homes, there remained in the prison of the said road two hundred three
score and eight Christian prisoners who had been taken by the Turks'
force, and were of fifteen sundry nations. Among which there were three
Englishmen, whereof one was named John Fox, of Woodbridge, in Suffolk,
the other William Wickney, of Portsmouth, in the county of Southampton,
and the third Robert Moore, of Harwich, in the county of Essex; which
John Fox, having been thirteen or fourteen years under their gentle
entreatance, and being too weary thereof, minding his escape, weighed
with himself by what means it might be brought to pass, and continually
pondering with himself thereof, took a good heart unto him, in the hope
that God would not be always scourging His children, and never ceasing
to pray Him to further His intended enterprise, if that it should
redound to His glory.

"Not far from the road, and somewhat from thence, at one side of the
city, there was a certain victualling house, which one Peter Vuticaro
had hired, paying also a certain fee unto the keeper of the road. This
Peter Vuticaro was a Spaniard born, and a Christian, and had been
prisoner above thirty years, and never practised any means to escape,
but kept himself quiet without touch or suspect of any conspiracy, until
that now this John Fox using much thither, they brake one to another
their minds, concerning the restraint of their liberty and imprisonment.
So that this John Fox, at length opening unto this Vuticaro the device
which he would fain put in practice, made privy one more to this their
intent; which three debated of this matter at such times as they could
compass to meet together; insomuch that, at seven weeks' end they had
sufficiently concluded how the matter should be, if it pleased God to
further them thereto; who, making five more privy to this their device,
whom they thought that they might safely trust, determined in three
nights after to accomplish their deliberate purpose. Whereupon the same
John Fox and Peter Vuticaro, and the other five appointed to meet all
together in the prison the next day, being the last day of December,
where this John Fox certified the rest of the prisoners what their
intent and device was, and how and when they minded to bring that
purpose to pass, who thereunto persuaded them without much ado to
further their device; which, the same John Fox seeing, delivered unto
them a sort of files, which he had gathered together for this purpose by
the means of Peter Vuticaro, charging them that every man should be
ready, discharged of his irons, by eight of the clock on the next day at

"On the next day at night, the said John Fox, and his five other
companions, being all come to the house of Peter Vuticaro, passing the
time away in mirth for fear of suspect till the night came on, so that
it was time for them to put in practice their device, sent Peter
Vuticaro to the master of the road, in the name of one of the masters of
the city, with whom this keeper was acquainted, and at whose request he
also would come at the first; who desired him to take the pains to meet
him there, promising him that he would bring him back again. The keeper
agreed to go with him, asking the warders not to bar the gate, saying
that he would not stay long, but would come again with all speed.

"In the mean-season, the other seven had provided them of such weapons
as they could get in that house, and John Fox took him to an old rusty
sword-blade without either hilt or pommel, which he made to serve his
turn in bending the hand end of the sword instead of a pommel; and the
other had got such spits and glaves as they found in the house.

"The keeper being now come unto the house, and perceiving no light nor
hearing any noise, straightway suspected the matter; and returning
backward, John Fox, standing behind the corner of the house, stepped
forth unto him; who, perceiving it to be John Fox, said, 'O Fox, what
have I deserved of thee that thou shouldest seek my death?' 'Thou,
villain,' quoth Fox, 'hast been a bloodsucker of many a Christian's
blood, and now thou shalt know what thou hast deserved at my hands,'
wherewith he lift up his bright shining sword of ten years' rust, and
stroke him so main a blow, as therewithal his head clave asunder so that
he fell stark dead to the ground. Whereupon Peter Vuticaro went in and
certified the rest how the case stood with the keeper, and they came
presently forth, and some with their spits ran him through, and the
other with their glaves hewed him in sunder, cut off his head, and
mangled him so that no man should discern what he was.

"Then marched they toward the road, whereinto they entered softly, where
were five warders, whom one of them asked, saying, who was there? Quoth
Fox and his company, 'All friends.' Which when they were all within
proved contrary; for, quoth Fox, 'My masters, here is not to every man a
man, wherefore look you, play your parts.' Who so behaved themselves
indeed, that they had despatched these five quickly. Then John Fox,
intending not to be barren of his enterprise, and minding to work surely
in that which he went about, barred the gate surely, and planted a
cannon against it.

"Then entered they into the gaoler's lodge, where they found the keys of
the fortress and prison by his bedside, and there got they all better
weapons. In this chamber was a chest wherein was a rich treasure, and
all in ducats, which this Peter Vuticaro and two more opening, stuffed
themselves so full as they could between their shirts and their skin;
which John Fox would not once touch, and said, 'that it was his and
their liberty which he fought for, to the honour of his God, and not to
make a mart of the wicked treasure of the infidels.' Yet did these words
sink nothing unto their stomachs; they did it for a good intent. So did
Saul save the fattest oxen to offer unto the Lord, and they to serve
their own turn. But neither did Saul escape the wrath of God therefore,
neither had these that thing which they desired so, and did thirst
after. Such is God's justice. He that they put their trust in to deliver
them from the tyrannous hands of their enemies, he, I say, could supply
their want of necessaries.

"Now these eight, being armed with such weapons as they thought well of,
thinking themselves sufficient champions to encounter a stronger enemy,
and coming unto the prison, Fox opened the gates and doors thereof, and
called forth all the prisoners, whom he set, some to ramming up the
gate, some to the dressing up of a certain galley which was the best in
all the road, and was called _The Captain of Alexandria_, whereinto some
carried masts, sails, oars, and other such furniture as doth belong unto
a galley.

"At the prison were certain warders whom John Fox and his company slew,
in the killing of whom there were eight more of the Turks which
perceived them, and got them to the top of the prison, unto whom John
Fox and his company were fain to come by ladders, where they found a hot
skirmish, for some of them were there slain, some wounded, and some but
scarred and not hurt. As John Fox was thrice shot through his apparel,
and not hurt, Peter Vuticaro and the other two, that had armed them with
the ducats, were slain, as not able to wield themselves, being so
pestered with the weight and uneasy carrying of the wicked and profane
treasure; and also divers Christians were as well hurt about that
skirmish as Turks slain.

"Amongst the Turks was one thrust through, who (let us not say that it
was ill-fortune) fell off from the top of the prison wall, and made such
a groaning that the inhabitants thereabout (as here and there stood a
house or two) came and questioned him, so that they understood the case,
how that the prisoners were paying their ransoms; wherewith they raised
both Alexandria, which lay on the west side of the road, and a castle
which was at the city's end next to the road, and also another fortress
which lay on the north side of the road, so that now they had no way to
escape but one, which by man's reason (the two holds lying so upon the
mouth of the road) might seem impossible to be a way for them. So was
the Red Sea impossible for the Israelites to pass through, the hills and
rocks lay so on the one side, and their enemies compassed them on the
other. So was it impossible that the walls of Jericho should fall down,
being neither undermined nor yet rammed at with engines, nor yet any
man's wisdom, policy, or help, set or put thereunto. Such
impossibilities can our God make possible. He that held the lion's jaws
from rending Daniel asunder, yea, or yet from once touching him to his
hurt, cannot He hold the roaring cannons of this hellish force? He that
kept the fire's rage in the hot burning oven from the three children
that praised His name, cannot He keep the fire's flaming blasts from
among His elect?

"Now is the road fraught with lusty soldiers, labourers, and mariners,
who are fain to stand to their tackling, in setting to every man his
hand, some to the carrying in of victuals, some munitions, some oars,
and some one thing some another, but most are keeping their enemy from
the wall of the road. But to be short, there was no time mis-spent, no
man idle, nor any man's labour ill-bestowed or in vain. So that in short
time this galley was ready trimmed up. Whereinto every man leaped in all
haste, hoisting up the sails lustily, yielding themselves to His mercy
and grace, in Whose hands is both wind and weather.

"Now is this galley afloat, and out of the shelter of the road; now have
the two castles full power upon the galley; now is there no remedy but
to sink. How can it be avoided? The cannons let fly from both sides, and
the galley is even in the middest and between them both. What man can
devise to save it? There is no man but would think it must needs be

"There was not one of them that feared the shot which went thundering
round about their ears, nor yet were once scarred or touched with five
and forty shot which came from the castles. Here did God hold forth His
buckler, He shieldeth now this galley, and hath tried their faith to the
uttermost. Now cometh His special help; yea, even when man thinks them
past all help, then cometh He Himself down from Heaven with His mighty
power, then is His present remedy most ready. For they sail away, being
not once touched by the glance of a shot, and are quickly out of the
Turkish cannons' reach. Then might they see them coming down by heaps to
the water's side, in companies like unto swarms of bees, making show to
come after them with galleys, bustling themselves to dress up the
galleys, which would be a swift piece of work for them to do, for that
they had neither oars, masts, sails, nor anything else ready in any
galley. But yet they are carrying into them, some into one galley, and
some into another, so that, being such a confusion amongst them, without
any certain guide, it were a thing impossible to overtake the
Christians; beside that, there was no man that would take charge of a
galley, the weather was so rough, and there was such an amazedness
amongst them. And verily, I think their god was amazed thereat; it could
not be but that he must blush for shame, he can speak never a word for
dulness, much less can he help them in such an extremity. Well,
howsoever it is, he is very much to blame to suffer them to receive such
a gibe. But howsoever their god behaved himself, our God showed Himself
a God indeed, and that He was the only living God; for the seas were
swift under His faithful, which made the enemies aghast to behold them;
a skilfuller pilot leads them, and their mariners bestir them lustily;
but the Turks had neither mariners, pilot, nor any skilful master, that
was in readiness at this pinch.

"When the Christians were safe out of the enemy's coast, John Fox called
to them all, telling them to be thankful unto Almighty God for their
delivery, and most humbly to fall down upon their knees, beseeching Him
to aid them to their friends' land, and not to bring them into another
danger, since He had most mightily delivered them from so great a
thraldom and bondage.

"Thus when every man had made his petition, they fell straightway to
their labour with the oars, in helping one another when they were
wearied, and with great labour striving to come to some Christian land,
as near as they could guess by the stars. But the winds were so
contrary, one while driving them this way, another while that way, so
that they were now in a new maze, thinking that God had forsaken them
and left them to a greater danger. And forasmuch as there were no
victuals now left in the galley, it might have been a cause to them (if
they had been the Israelites) to have murmured against their God; but
they knew how that their God, who had delivered Egypt, was such a loving
and merciful God, as that He would not suffer them to be confounded in
whom He had wrought so great a wonder, but what calamity soever they
sustained, they knew it was but for their further trial, and also (in
putting them in mind of their further misery) to cause them not to
triumph and glory in themselves therefor. Having, I say, no victuals in
the galley, it might seem one misery continually to fall upon another's
neck; but to be brief the famine grew to be so great that in
twenty-eight days, wherein they were on the sea, there died eight
persons, to the astonishment of all the rest.

"So it fell out that upon the twenty-ninth day after they set from
Alexandria, they fell on the Isle of Candia, and landed at Gallipoli,
where they were made much of by the abbot and monks there, who caused
them to stay there while they were well refreshed and eased. They kept
there the sword wherewith John Fox had killed the keeper, esteeming it
as a most precious relic, and hung it up for a monument.

"When they thought good, having leave to depart from thence, they sailed
along the coast till they arrived at Tarento, where they sold their
galley, and divided it, every man having a part thereof. And then they
came afoot to Naples, where they departed asunder, every man taking him
to his next way home. From whence John Fox took his journey unto Rome,
where he was well entertained by an Englishman who presented his worthy
deed unto the pope, who rewarded him liberally, and gave him letters
unto the King of Spain, where he was very well entertained of him there,
who for this his most worthy enterprise gave him in fee twenty pence a
day. From whence, being desirous to come into his own country, he came
thither at such time as he conveniently could, which was in the year of
our Lord God 1579; who being come into England went unto the court, and
showed all his travel unto the council, who considering of the state of
this man, in that he had spent and lost a great part of his youth in
thraldom and bondage, extended to him their liberality to help to
maintain him now in age, to their right honour and to the encouragement
of all true-hearted Christians."

  [Illustration: THE BATTLE OFF DOVER. (_See page 25._)]



Francis Drake is said to have been born at Crowndale, near Tavistock,
about the year 1540. Both his birth and his parentage are involved in
obscurity; but it is probable that he was born of good family in reduced
circumstances, for he was declared by the King of Arms in 1551 to have
the right "by just descent and progeniture of birth" to bear the arms of
the Drakes of Ash; while it is clear that he began life in a humble
capacity. According to Camden, he was apprenticed at an early age to the
master of a small coasting vessel, who, dying without issue, left the
barque to him. We find also that at the age of eighteen he was purser on
board a ship trading to Biscay, and at twenty he made a voyage to
Guinea. At twenty-two he had the honour to be appointed captain of the
_Judith_, in the harbour of St. John de Ullua, in the Gulf of Mexico,
where he behaved most gallantly in the glorious action, fought there
under his kinsman, Sir John Hawkins, described in the story of Sir John
Hawkins, and afterwards returned with him into England with a great
reputation, but not worth a single groat.

Upon this he conceived a design of making reprisals on the King of
Spain, which, some say, was put into his head by the minister of his
ship; and, to be sure, in sea-divinity, the case was clear; the King of
Spain's subjects had undone Mr. Drake, and therefore Mr. Drake was at
liberty to take the best satisfaction he could on the subjects of the
King of Spain. This doctrine, how rudely soever preached, was very
taking in England; and therefore he no sooner published his design than
he had numbers of volunteers ready to accompany him, though they had no
such pretence even as he had to colour their proceedings. In 1570 he
made his first expedition with two ships, the _Dragon_ and the _Swan_,
and the next year in the _Swan_ alone, wherein he returned safe, with
competent advantages, if not rich; and, having now means sufficient to
perform greater matters, as well as skill to conduct them, he laid the
plan of a more important design with respect to himself and to his

This he put in execution on May 24th, 1572, on which day he sailed from
Plymouth, himself in a ship called the _Pascha_, of the burden of
seventy tons, and his brother, John Drake, in the _Swan_, of twenty-five
tons burden, their whole strength consisting of no more than
twenty-three men and boys; and, with this inconsiderable force, on July
22nd he attacked the town of Nombre de Dios, which he took in a few
hours by storm, notwithstanding a dangerous wound he received early in
the action; yet upon the whole he was no great gainer, for after a very
brisk action he was obliged to betake himself to his ships with very
little booty. His next attempt was to plunder the mules laden with
silver which passed from Vera Cruz to Nombre de Dios; but in this scheme
too he was disappointed. However, he attacked the town of Vera Cruz,
carried it, and got some little booty. In returning, he met unexpectedly
with a string of fifty mules laden with plate, of which he carried off
as much as he could, and buried the rest. In these expeditions he was
greatly assisted by the Simerons, a nation of Indians who were engaged
in a perpetual war with the Spaniards. The prince, or captain of these
people, whose name was Pedro, was presented by Captain Drake with a fine
cutlass, which he at that time wore, and to which he saw the Indian had
a mind. Pedro, in return, gave him four large wedges of gold, which
Drake threw into the common stock, saying, that "he thought it but just
that such as bore the charge of so uncertain a voyage on his credit
should share the utmost advantages that voyage produced." Then
embarking his men with all the wealth he had obtained, which was very
considerable, he bore away for England, and was so fortunate as to sail
in twenty-three days from Cape Florida to the isles of Scilly, and
thence without any accident to Plymouth, where he arrived August 9th,

His success in this expedition, joined to his honourable behaviour
towards his owners, gained him a high reputation, and the use he made of
his riches still a greater; for, fitting out three stout frigates at his
own expense, he sailed with them to Ireland, where, under Walter, Earl
of Essex (the father of the unfortunate earl who was beheaded), he
served as a volunteer, and did many glorious actions. After the death of
his noble patron he returned to England, where Sir Christopher Hatton,
who was then vice-chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth, and a great favourite,
took him under his protection, introduced him to Her Majesty, and
procured him her countenance. By this means he acquired facilities for
undertaking that glorious expedition which will render his name
immortal. His first proposal was to voyage into the South Seas through
the Straits of Magellan, an enterprise which hitherto no Englishman had
ever attempted. This project was well received at court, and in a short
time Captain Drake saw himself at the height of his wishes; for in his
former voyage, having had a distant prospect of the South Seas from the
top of a tree which he ascended for the purpose, he framed an ardent
prayer to God that he might sail an English ship in them, which he found
now an opportunity of attempting; the queen's permission furnishing him
with the means, and his own fame quickly drawing to him a force

The squadron with which he sailed on this extraordinary undertaking
consisted of the following ships: the _Pelican_, commanded by himself,
of the burden of one hundred tons; the _Elizabeth_, vice-admiral, eighty
tons, under Captain John Winter; the _Marygold_, a barque of thirty
tons, commanded by Captain John Thomas; the _Swan_, a fly-boat of fifty
tons, under Captain John Chester; and the _Christopher_, a pinnace of
fifteen tons, under Captain Thomas Moon. In this fleet were embarked no
more than one hundred and sixty-four able men, and all the necessary
provisions for so long and dangerous a voyage; the intent of which,
however, was not openly declared. Thus equipped, on November 15th, 1577,
about three in the afternoon, he sailed from Plymouth; but a heavy storm
taking him as soon as he was out of port, forced him, in a very bad
condition, into Falmouth, to refit; which, being expeditiously
performed, he again put to sea on the 13th of December following. On the
25th of the same month he fell in with the coast of Barbary; and on the
29th with Cape Verd; the 13th of March he passed the equinoctial; the
5th of April he made the coast of Brazil in 30° N. Lat. and entered the
river De la Plata, where he lost the company of two of his ships; but
meeting them again, and having taken out of them all the provisions they
had on board, he turned them adrift.

On August 20th, with his squadron reduced to three ships, he entered the
Straits of Magellan; on September 25th he passed them; having then only
his own ship, which, in the South Seas, he re-named the _Golden Hind_.
It may not be amiss to take notice here of a fact very little known, as
appearing in no relation of this famous voyage. Sir Francis Drake
himself reported to Sir Richard, son to Sir John Hawkins, that meeting
with a violent tempest, in which his ship could bear no sail, he found,
when the storm sank, he was driven through or round the Straits into the
latitude of fifty degrees. Here, lying close under an island, he went on
shore, and, leaning his body over a promontory as far as he could
safely, told his people, when he came on board, he had been farther
south than any man living. This we find confirmed by one of our old
chronicle writers, who farther informs us that he bestowed on this
island the name of Elizabetha, in honour of his royal mistress. On
November 25th he came to Machao, in the latitude of thirty degrees,
where he had appointed a rendezvous in case his ships separated; but the
_Marygold_ had gone down with all hands, and Captain Winter, having
repassed the Straits, had returned to England. Thence he continued his
voyage along the coasts of Chili and Peru, taking all opportunities of
seizing Spanish ships, or of landing and attacking them on shore, till
his crew were sated with plunder. While off the island of Mocha Drake
landed with some of his men to seek water; but the inhabitants,
mistaking them for Spaniards, attacked them, killed two of their number
and wounded several others, including Drake himself, who was shot in the
face with an arrow. As the surgeon of the _Golden Hind_ was dead, Drake
had to be his own doctor as well as surgeon to his crew. Realising that
the attack had been made in mistake, and not wishing to risk more
casualties, Drake did not attempt to punish the natives, but put to sea
and made his way to Valparaiso, where he made free with the stores and
valuables he found, and then proceeded further in search of his missing
vessels, and finding others which added to his booty; from one of which
he took a number of charts of seas then utterly unknown to the English
mariners. While pursuing this course he gained intelligence of a rich
ship laden with gold and silver for Panama, which he fell in with off
Cape Francisco on March 1st, 1579, and captured. The booty in this case
amounted to twenty-six tons of silver, eighty pounds of gold, thirteen
chests of money and a quantity of jewels and precious stones; valued in
all at nearly £200,000. Coasting North America to the height of
forty-eight degrees, he endeavoured to find a passage back into our seas
on that side, but being disappointed of what he sought, he landed, and
called the country New Albion, taking possession of it in the name, and
for the use of Queen Elizabeth; and, having trimmed his ship, set sail
thence, on September 29th, 1579, for the Moluccas; choosing this passage
round, rather than returning by the Straits of Magellan, owing to the
danger of being attacked at a great disadvantage by the Spaniards, and
the lateness of the season, whence dangerous storms and hurricanes were
to be apprehended.

On November 4th he sighted the Moluccas, and on December 10th made
Celebes, where his ship unfortunately ran on a rock on the 9th of
January; whence, beyond all expectation, and in a manner miraculously,
they got off, and continued their course. On March 16th he arrived at
Java, where he determined on returning directly home. On March 25th,
1580, he put this design in execution, and on June 15th doubled the Cape
of Good Hope, having then on board his ship fifty-seven men and but
three casks of water. On July 12th he passed the line, reached the coast
of Guinea on the 16th, and there watered. On September 11th he made the
island of Terceira, and on the 26th of the same month entered the
harbour of Plymouth.

In this voyage he completely circumnavigated the globe, which no
commander-in-chief had ever done before. His success in this enterprise,
and the immense mass of wealth he brought home, naturally raised much
comment throughout the kingdom; some highly commending, and some as
loudly decrying him. The former alleged that his exploit was not only
honourable to himself, but to his country; that it would establish our
reputation for maritime skill amongst foreign nations, and raise a
useful spirit of emulation at home; and that as to the money, our
merchants having suffered deeply from the faithless practices of the
Spaniards, there was nothing more just than that the nation should
receive the benefit of Drake's reprisals. The other party alleged that,
in fact, he was no better than a pirate; that, of all others, it least
became a trading nation to encourage such practices; that it was not
only a direct breach of all our late treaties with Spain, but likewise
of our old leagues with the house of Burgundy; and that the consequences
of owning his proceeding would be much more fatal than the benefits
reaped from it could be advantageous. Things continued in this
uncertainty during the remainder of that, and the spring of the
succeeding year.

At length they took a better turn; for on April 4th, 1581, Her Majesty,
dining at Deptford in Kent, went on board Captain Drake's ship, where
she conferred on him the honour of knighthood, and declared her absolute
approbation of all that he had done, to the confusion of his enemies and
to the great joy of his friends. She likewise gave directions for the
preservation of his ship, that it might remain a monument of his own and
his country's glory. In process of time, the vessel decaying, it was
broken up; but a chair made of the planks was presented to the
University of Oxford, and is still preserved.

In the year 1582 he was Mayor of Plymouth, and in 1584-5 a member of the
House of Commons.

In 1585 he concerted a scheme of a West-Indian expedition with the
celebrated Sir Philip Sidney. It was to be partly maritime and partly an
invasion. The sea force was to be commanded absolutely by Sir Francis,
the land troops by Sir Philip Sidney. The queen having required Sir
Philip to desist from his scheme, Drake sailed, notwithstanding, to the
West Indies, having under his command Captain Christopher Carlisle,
Captain Martin Frobisher, Captain Francis Knollys, and many other
officers of great reputation. In this expedition he took the cities of
St. Iago, St. Domingo, Carthagena, and St. Augustine, exceeding even the
expectation of his friends and the hopes of the common people, though
both were sanguine to the last degree. Yet the profits of this
expedition were but moderate; the design of Sir Francis being rather to
weaken the enemy than to enrich himself. It was, to do him justice, a
maxim from which he never varied, to regard the service of his country
first, next the profit of his proprietors, and last, his own interest.
Hence, though rich in wealth, he was richer still in reputation.

In 1587 he proceeded to Lisbon with a fleet of thirty sail, and having
intelligence of a numerous fleet assembled in the Bay of Cadiz, which
was to have made part of the Armada, he, with great courage, entered the
port, and burnt upwards of ten thousand tons of shipping. Drake's policy
was to attack the enemy in his own harbours and so prevent the
possibility of his invading our coasts; and this policy he was
continually pressing upon the home Government, but without success.
There can be little doubt that if he had been allowed to follow up his
success in the Bay of Cadiz by carrying out this policy the Spanish
Armada might have never set sail. Not obtaining the support and
authority he wanted, he now resolved to do his utmost to content the
merchants of London, who had contributed, by a voluntary subscription,
to the fitting out of his fleet. With this view, having intelligence of
a large carack expected at Terceira from the East Indies, thither he
sailed; and though his men were severely pinched through want of
victuals, yet by fair words and large promises he prevailed upon them to
endure these hardships for a few days. Within this time the East India
ship arrived, and was found to contain wealth to the value of £100,000,
which he took and carried home in triumph.

It was in consequence of the journals, charts, and papers, taken on
board his East India prize, that it was judged practicable for us to
enter into the Indian trade: for promoting which, the queen, by letters
patent, in the forty-third year of her reign, founded our first India
company. To this, we may also add that it was Drake who first brought in
tobacco, the use of which was much promoted by the practice of Sir
Walter Raleigh. How much this nation has gained by these branches of
commerce, of which he was properly the author, I leave to the
intelligent reader's consideration.

In 1588 Sir Francis Drake was appointed vice-admiral, under Charles Lord
Howard of Effingham, High-admiral of England; here his fortune favoured
him as remarkably as ever, for he made prize of a large galleon,
commanded by Don Pedro de Valdez, who yielded on the bare mention of his
name. In this vessel fifty thousand ducats were distributed among the
seamen and soldiers. It must not, however, be dissembled that, through
an oversight of his, the admiral ran the utmost hazard of being taken by
the enemy; for Drake being appointed, the first night of the engagement,
to carry lights for the direction of the English fleet, he being in full
pursuit of some hulks belonging to the Hanse Towns, neglected it; which
occasioned the admiral's following the Spanish lights, and remaining
almost in the centre of their fleet till morning. However, his
succeeding services sufficiently effaced the memory of this mistake; the
greatest execution done on the flying Spaniards being performed by the
squadron under his command.

The next year he was employed as admiral at sea over the fleet sent to
restore Don Antonio, King of Portugal; the command of the land forces
being given to Sir John Norris. They were hardly at sea, however, before
these commanders differed; though it is on all hands agreed that there
never was an admiral better disposed, with respect to soldiers, than Sir
Francis Drake. The ground of their difference was this: the general was
bent on landing at the Groyne, whereas Sir Francis and the sea-officers
were for sailing to Lisbon directly; in which, if their advice had been
taken, without question their enterprise would have succeeded, and Don
Antonio would have been restored. For it appeared, on their invading
Portugal, that the enemy had made use of the time they gave them to such
good purpose that it was not possible to make any impression. Sir John
Norris, indeed, marched by land to Lisbon, and Sir Francis Drake, very
imprudently, promised to sail up the river with his whole fleet; but
when he saw the consequences which would have attended the keeping of
his word, he chose rather to break his promise than to hazard the
queen's navy; for which he was grievously reproached by Norris, and the
miscarriage of the whole affair was imputed to his failure in performing
what he had undertaken. Yet Sir Francis fully justified himself on his
return; for he made it manifest to the queen and council that all the
service that was done was performed by him, and that his sailing up the
river of Lisbon would have signified nothing to the taking the castle,
which was two miles off; and without reducing that there was no taking
the town.

In 1590 he seems to have devoted himself to civil engineering, for we
find him contracting with the town of Plymouth to effect a water supply
from the River Meavy, which he did by conducting a stream a distance of
nearly twenty-five miles; after which he erected six mills for grinding
corn in 1591. In 1593 he represented Plymouth in parliament.

His next service was the fatal undertaking in conjunction with Sir John
Hawkins, in 1594, for the destroying of Nombre de Dios, referred to in
the story of Sir John Hawkins, who died the day before Sir Francis made
his desperate attack on the shipping in the harbour of Porto Rico. This
was performed, with all the courage imaginable, on November 13th, 1595,
and attended with great loss to the Spaniards, yet with very little
advantage to the English, who, meeting with a more resolute resistance
and much better fortifications than they expected, were obliged to sheer
off. The admiral then steered for the main, where he took the town of
Rio de la Hacha, which he burnt to the ground; a church and a single
house belonging to a lady only excepted. After this, he destroyed some
other villages, and then proceeded to Santa Marta, which he likewise
burnt. The like fate had the famous town of Nombre de Dios, the
Spaniards refusing to ransom any of these places, and the booty taken in
them being very inconsiderable. On December 29th Sir Thomas Baskerville
marched with seven hundred and fifty men towards Panama, but returned on
January 2nd, finding the design of reducing that place to be wholly
impracticable. This disappointment made such an impression on the
admiral's mind that it threw him into a lingering fever, of which he
died on the 28th of January, 1596, just two months after his
distinguished kinsman, Sir John Hawkins, with whom he had been so often
associated, and with so much glory.



This voyage was set forth by the Right Worshipful Sir Edward Osborne
Knight, chief merchant of all the Turkish Company, and one Master
Richard Stapers, the ship being of the burden of one hundred tons,
called the _Jesus_; she was builded at Farmne, a river by Portsmouth.
About November 29th, 1584, she made sail from Portsmouth, and December
1st, by means of a contrary wind, we were driven to Plymouth. The 18th
day then next following we made forthward again, and by force of weather
we were driven to Falmouth, where we remained until January 1st, at
which time the wind coming fair we departed thence, and about the 20th
day of the said month we arrived safely at St. Lucas. And about March
9th next following we made sail from thence, and about the 18th day of
the same month we came to Tripolis in Barbary, where we were very well
entertained by the king of that country and also of the commons. The
commodities of that place are sweet oils; the king there is a merchant,
and the rather (willing to prefer himself before his commons) requested
our said factors to traffic with him, and promised them that if they
would take his oils at his own price they should pay no manner of
custom; and they took of him certain tons of oil; and afterward
perceiving that they might have far better cheap, notwithstanding the
custom free, they desired the king to license them to take the oils at
the pleasure of his commons, for that his price did exceed theirs;
whereunto the king would not agree, but was rather contented to abate
his price, insomuch that the factors bought all their oils of the king's
custom free, and so laded the same aboard.

In the meantime there came to that place one Miles Dickinson, in a ship
of Bristol, who together with our said factors took a house to
themselves there. Our French factor, Romaine Sonnings, desired to buy a
commodity in the market, and, wanting money, desired the said Miles
Dickinson to lend him a hundred chikinoes until he came to his lodging,
which he did; and afterwards the same Sonnings met with Miles Dickinson
in the street, and delivered him money bound up in a napkin, saying,
"Master Dickinson, there is the money that I borrowed of you," and so
thanked him for the same. The said Dickinson did not tell the money
presently, until he came to his lodging, and then, finding nine
chikinoes lacking of his hundred (which was about three pounds, for that
every chikinoe is worth seven shillings of English money), he came to
the said Romaine Sonnings and delivered him his handkerchief, and asked
him how many chikinoes he had delivered him. Sonnings answered, "A
hundred"; Dickinson said "No"; and so they protested and swore on both
parts. But in the end the said Romaine Sonnings did swear deeply with
detestable oaths and curses, and prayed God that He might show His works
on him, that other might take ensample thereby, and that he might be
hanged liked a dog, and never come into England again, if he did not
deliver unto the said Dickinson a hundred chikinoes.

There was a man in the said town a pledge, whose name was Patrone
Norado, who the year before had done this Sonnings some pleasure there.
The foresaid Patrone Norado was indebted unto a Turk of that town in the
sum of four hundred and fifty crowns, for certain goods sent by him into
Christendom in a ship of his own, and by his own brother, and himself
remained in Tripolis as pledge until his said brother's return; and, as
the report went there, he came among lewd company, and lost his
brother's said ship and goods at dice, and never returned unto him

The said Patrone Norado, being void of all hope and finding now
opportunity, consulted with the said Sonnings for to swim a-seaboard the
islands, and the ship, being then out of danger, should take him in (as
was afterwards confessed), and so go to Tallowne, in the province of
Marseilles, with this Patrone Norado, and there to take in the rest of
his lading.

The ship being ready May 1st, and having her sails all abroad, our said
factors did take their leave of the king, who very courteously bid them
farewell, and when they came aboard they commanded the master and the
company hastily to get out the ship. The master answered that it was
impossible, for that the wind was contrary and overblowed. And he
required us, upon forfeiture of our bands, that we should do our
endeavour to get her forth. Then went we to warp out the ship, and
presently the king sent a boat aboard of us, with three men in her,
commanding the said Sonnings to come ashore, at whose coming the king
demanded of him custom for the oils. Sonnings answered him that his
highness had promised to deliver them customs free. But,
notwithstanding, the king weighed not his said promise, and as an
infidel that hath not the fear of God before his eyes, nor regard of his
word, albeit he was a king, he caused the said Sonnings to pay the
custom to the uttermost penny, and afterwards ordered him to make haste
away, saying that the janisaries would have the oil ashore again.

These janisaries are soldiers there under the Great Turk, and their
power is above the king's. And so the said factor departed from the
king, and came to the waterside, and called for a boat to come aboard,
and he brought with him the aforesaid Patrone Norado. The company,
inquisitive to know what man that was, Sonnings answered that he was his
countryman, a passenger. "I pray God," said the company, "that we come
not into trouble by this man." Then said Sonnings angrily, "What have
you to do with any matters of mine? If anything chance otherwise than
well, I must answer for all."

Now the Turk unto whom this Patrone Norado was indebted, missing him,
supposed him to be aboard of our ship, presently went unto the king and
told him that he thought that his pledge, Patrone Norado, was aboard on
the English ship. Whereupon the king presently sent a boat aboard of us,
with three men in her, commanding the said Sonnings to come ashore; and,
not speaking anything as touching the man, he said that he would come
presently in his own boat; but as soon as they were gone he willed us to
warp forth the ship, and said that he would see the knaves hanged before
he would go ashore. And when the king saw that he came not ashore, but
still continued warping away the ship, he straight commanded the gunner
of the bulwark next unto us to shoot three shots without ball. Then we
came all to the said Sonnings, and asked him what the matter was that we
were shot at; he said that it was the janisaries who would have the oil
ashore again, and willed us to make haste away. And after that he had
discharged three shots without ball he commanded all the gunners in the
town to do their endeavour to sink us; but the Turkish gunners could not
once strike us, wherefore the king sent presently to the banio (this
banio is the prison where all the captives lay at night), and promised
that if there were any that could either sink us or else cause us to
come in again, he should have a hundred crowns and his liberty. With
that came forth a Spaniard called Sebastian, which had been an old
servitor in Flanders, and he said that, upon the performance of that
promise, he would undertake either to sink us or to cause us to come in
again, and thereto he would gage his life; and at the first shot he
split our rudder's head in pieces, and the second shot he struck us
under water, and the third shot he shot us through our fore-mast with a
culverin shot, and thus, he having rent both our rudder and mast and
shot us under water, we were enforced to go in again.

This Sebastian for all his diligence herein had neither his liberty nor
a hundred crowns, so promised by the said king; but, after his service
done, was committed again to prison, whereby may appear the regard that
a Turk or infidel hath of his work, although he be able to perform
it--yea, more, though he be a king.

Then our merchants, seeing no remedy, they, together with five of our
company, went ashore; and they then ceased shooting. They shot unto us
in the whole nine-and-thirty shots without the hurt of any man.

And when our merchants came ashore the king commanded presently that
they, with the rest of our company that were with them, should be
chained four and four to a hundred-weight of iron, and when we came in
with the ship there came presently above a hundred Turks aboard of us,
and they searched us and stripped our very clothes from our backs, and
broke open our chests, and made a spoil of all that we had; and the
Christian caitiffs likewise that came aboard of us made spoil of our
goods, and used us as ill as the Turks did.

Then came the guardian Basha, who is the keeper of the king's captives,
to fetch us all ashore; and then I, remembering the miserable estate of
poor distressed captives in the time of their bondage to those infidels,
went to mine own chest, and took out thereof a jar of oil, and filled a
basket full of white ruske, to carry ashore with me. But before I came
to the banio the Turkish boys had taken away almost all my bread, and
the keeper said, "Deliver me the jar of oil, and when thou comest to the
banio thou shalt have it again;" but I never had it of him any more.

But when I came to the banio and saw our merchants and all the rest of
our company in chains, and we all ready to receive the same reward, what
heart is there so hard but would have pitied our cause, hearing or
seeing the lamentable greeting there was betwixt us? All this happened
May 1st, 1584.

And the second day of the same month the king with all his council sat
in judgment upon us. The first that were had forth to be arraigned were
the factors and the masters, and the king asked them wherefore they
came not ashore when he sent for them. And Romaine Sonnings answered
that, though he were a king on shore, and might command there, so was he
as touching those that were under him; and therefore said, if any
offence be, the fault is wholly in myself and in no other. Then
forthwith the king gave judgment that the said Romaine Sonnings should
be hanged over the north-east bulwark, from whence he conveyed the
forenamed Patrone Norado. And then he called for our master, Andrew
Dier, and used few words to him, and so condemned him to be hanged over
the walls of the westernmost bulwarks.

Then fell our other factor, named Richard Skegs, upon his knees before
the king, and said, "I beseech your highness either to pardon our master
or else suffer me to die for him, for he is ignorant of this cause." And
then the people of that country, favouring the said Rickard Skegs,
besought the king to pardon them both. So then the king spake these
words: "Behold, for thy sake I pardon the master." Then presently the
Turks shouted and cried, saying, "Away with the master from the presence
of the king." And then he came into the banio where we were, and told us
what had happened, and we all rejoiced at the good hap of Master Skegs,
that he was saved, and our master for his sake.

But afterwards our joy was turned to double sorrow, for in the meantime
the king's mind was altered: for that one of his council had advised him
that, unless the master died also, by the law they could not confiscate
the ship nor goods, neither make captive any of the men. Whereupon the
king sent for our master again, and gave him another judgment after his
pardon for one cause, which was that he should be hanged.

And when that Romaine Sonnings saw no remedy but that he should die, he
protested to turn Turk, hoping thereby to have saved his life. Then said
the Turk, "If thou wilt turn Turk, speak the words that thereunto
belong;" and he did so. Then said they unto him, "Now thou shalt die in
the faith of a Turk;" and so he did, as the Turks reported that were at
his execution; and the forenamed Patrone Narado, whereas before he had
liberty and did nothing, he then was condemned slave perpetual, except
there were payment made of the foresaid sum of money.

Then the king condemed all of us, who were in number five-and-twenty, of
which two were hanged (as you have heard) and one died the first day we
came on shore by the visitation of Almighty God, and the other
three-and-twenty he condemned slaves perpetually unto the Great Turk,
and the ship and goods were confiscated to the use of the Great Turk;
then we all fell down upon our knees, giving God thanks for this
sorrowful visitation and giving ourselves wholly to the almighty power
of God, unto whom all secrets are known, that He of His goodness would
vouchsafe to look upon us.

Every five men had allowance but five aspers of bread in a day, which is
but twopence English, and our lodging was to lie on the bare boards,
with a very simple cape to cover us. We were also forcibly and most
violently shaven, head and beard, and within three days after, I and
five more of my fellows, together with fourscore Italians and Spaniards,
were sent forth in a galiot to take a Greek carmosel, which came into
Arabia to steal negroes, and went out of Tripolis unto that place which
was two hundred and forty leagues thence; but we were chained three and
three to an oar, and we rowed naked above the girdle, and the boatswain
of the galley walked abaft the mast, and his mate afore the mast, and
each of them a whip in their hands, and when their devilish choler rose
they would strike the Christians for no cause: and they allowed us but
half a pound of bread a man in a day, without any other kind of
sustenance, water excepted. And when we came to the place where we saw
the carmosel, we were not suffered to have neither needle, bodkin,
knife, or any other instrument about us, nor at any other time in the
night, upon pain of one hundred bastinadoes: we were then also cruelly
manacled, in such sort that we could not put our hands the length of one
foot asunder the one from the other, and every night they searched our
chains three times, to see if they were fast riveted. We continued the
fight with the carmosel there hours, and then we took it, and lost but
two of our men in that fight; but there were slain of the Greeks five,
and fourteen were cruelly hurt; and they that were found were presently
made slaves and chained to the oars, and within fifteen days after we
returned again into Tripolis, and then we were put to all manner of
slavery. I was put to hew stones, and others to carry stones, and some
to draw the cart with earth, and some to make mortar, and some to draw
stones (for at that time the Turks builded a church); and thus we were
put to all kinds of slavery that was to be done.

Now, the king had eighteen captives, which three times a week went to
fetch wood thirty miles from the town, and on a time he appointed me for
one of the eighteen, and we departed at eight of the clock in the night;
and upon the way, at midnight, or thereabouts, as I was riding upon my
camel, I fell asleep, and the guide and all the rest rode away from me,
not thinking but I had been among them. When I awoke, and finding myself
alone, I durst not call nor holloa, for fear lest the wild Moors should
hear me--because they hold this opinion, that in killing a Christian
they do God good service--and musing with myself what were best for me
to do: if I should return back to Tripolis without any wood or company I
should be most miserably used; therefore, of the two evils, rather I had
to go forth to the losing of my life than to turn back and trust to
their mercy, fearing to be used as before I had seen others. For,
understanding by some of my company before how Tripolis and the said
wood did lie one off another, by the North Star I went forth at
adventure, and, as God would have it, I came right to the place where
they were, even about an hour before day. There altogether we rested,
and gave our camels provender, and as soon as the day appeared we rode
all into the wood; and I, seeing no wood there but a stick here and a
stick there, about the bigness of a man's arm, growing in the sand, it
caused me to marvel how so many camels should be loaded in that place.
The wood was juniper; we needed no axe nor edged tool to cut it, but
plucked it up by strength of hands, roots and all, which a man might
easily do, and so gathered together a little at one place, and so at
another, and laded our camels, and came home about seven of the clock
that night following; because I fell lame and my camel was tired, I left
my wood in the way.

This king had a son which was a ruler in an island called Gerbi,
whereunto arrived an English ship called the _Green Dragon_, of the
which was master one M. Blonket, who, having a very unhappy boy on that
ship, and understanding that whosoever would turn Turk should be well
entertained of the king's son, this boy did run ashore and voluntarily
turned Turk. Shortly after the king's son came to Tripolis to visit his
father, and seeing our company, he greatly fancied Richard Burges, our
purser, and James Smith. They were both young men, therefore he was very
desirious to have them to turn Turks; but they would not yield to his
desire, saying, "We are your father's slaves and as slaves we will serve
him." Then his father the king sent for them, and asked them if they
would turn Turks; and they said: "If it please your Highness, Christians
we were born and so we will remain, and beseech the king that they might
not be enforced thereunto." The king had there before in his house a son
of a yeoman of our queen's guard, whom the king's son had enforced to
turn Turk; his name was John Nelson. Him the king caused to be brought
to these young men, and then said unto them, "Will you not bear this,
your countryman, company, and be Turk as he is?" and they said that they
would not yield thereunto during life. But it fell out that, within a
month after, the king's son went home to Gerbi again, being five score
miles from Tripolis, and carried our two foresaid young men with him,
which were Richard Burges and James Smith. And after their departure
from us they sent us a letter, signifying that there was no violence
showed unto them as yet; yet within three days after they were violently
used, for that the king's son demanded of them again if that they would
turn Turk. Then answered Richard Burges: "A Christian I am, and so I
will remain." Then the king's son very angrily said unto him, "By
Mahomet thou shalt presently be made Turk!" Then called he for his men
and commanded them to make him Turk; and they did so, and circumcised
him, and would have had him speak the words that thereunto belonged; but
he answered them stoutly that he would not, and although they had put on
him the habit of a Turk, yet said he, "A Christian I was born, and so I
will remain, though you force me to do otherwise."

And then he called for the other, and commanded him to be made Turk
perforce also; but he was very strong, for it was so much as eight of
the king's son's men could do to hold him. So in the end they
circumcised him and made him Turk. Now, to pass over a little, and so to
show the manner of our deliverance out of that miserable captivity.

In May aforesaid, shortly after our apprehension, I wrote a letter into
England unto my father, dwelling in Evistoke in Devonshire, signifying
unto him the whole estate of our calamities, and I wrote also to
Constantinople to the English ambassador, both which letters were
faithfully delivered. But when my father had received my letter, and
understood the truth of our mishap, and the occasion thereof, and what
had happened to the offenders, he certified the Right Honourable the
Earl of Bedford thereof, who in short space acquainted Her Highness with
the whole cause thereof; and Her Majesty, like a most merciful princess
tendering her subjects, presently took order for our deliverance.
Whereupon the Right Worshipful Sir Edward Osborne, knight, directed his
letters with all speed to the English ambassador in Constantinople to
procure our delivery, and he obtained the Great Turk's commission, and
sent it forthwith to Tripolis by one Master Edward Barton, together with
a justice of the Great Turk's and one soldier, and another Turk and a
Greek, which was his interpreter, which could speak beside Greek,
Turkish, Italian, Spanish and English. And when they came to Tripolis
they were well entertained, and the first night they did lie in a
captain's house in the town. All our company that were in Tripolis came
that night for joy to Master Barton and the other commissioners to see
them. Then Master Barton said unto us, "Welcome, my good countrymen,"
and lovingly entertained us: and at our departure from him he gave us
two shillings, and said, "Serve God, for to-morrow I hope you shall be
as free as ever you were." We all gave him thanks and so departed.

The next day, in the morning very early, the king having intelligence of
their coming, sent word to the keeper that none of the Englishmen
(meaning our company) should go to work. Then he sent for Master Barton
and the other commissioners, and demanded of the said Master Barton his
message. The justice answered that the Great Turk, his sovereign, had
sent them unto him, signifying that he was informed that a certain
English ship, called the _Jesus_, was by him the said king confiscated
about twelve months since, and now my said sovereign hath here sent his
especial commission by us unto you for the deliverance of the said ship
and goods, and also the free liberty and deliverance of the Englishmen
of the said ship whom you have taken and kept in captivity. And further,
the same justice said, I am authorised by my said sovereign the Great
Turk to see it done; and therefore I command you, by the virtue of this
commission, presently to make restitution of the premises or the value
thereof. And so did the justice deliver unto the king the Great Turk's
commission to the effect aforesaid, which commission the king with all
obedience received; and after the perusing of the same, he forthwith
commanded all the English captives to be brought before him, and then
willed the keeper to strike off all our irons. Which done, the king
said, "You Englishmen, for that you did offend the laws of this place,
by the same laws therefore some of your company were condemned to die,
as you know, and you to be perpetual captives during your lives;
notwithstanding, seeing it hath pleased my sovereign lord the Great Turk
to pardon your said offences, and to give you your freedom and liberty,
behold, here I make delivery of you unto this English gentleman." So he
delivered us all that were there, being thirteen in number, to Master
Barton, who required also those two young men which the king's son had
taken with him. Then the king answered that it was against their law to
deliver them, for that they were turned Turks; and, touching the ship
and goods, the king said that he had sold her, but would make
restitution of the value, and as much of the goods as came unto his
hands. And so the king arose and went to dinner, and commanded a Jew to
go with Master Barton and the other commissioners to show them their
lodgings, which was a house provided and appointed them by the said
king. And because I had the Italian and Spanish tongues, by which there
most traffic in that country is, Master Barton made me his caterer, to
buy his victuals for him and his company, and he delivered me money
needful for the same. Thus were we set at liberty April 28th, 1585.



The merchants of London, being of the incorporation for the Turkey
trade, having received intelligences and advertisements from time to
time that the King of Spain, grudging at the prosperity of this kingdom,
had not only of late arrested all English ships, bodies, and goods in
Spain, but also, maligning the quiet traffic which they used, to and in
the dominions and provinces under the obedience of the Great Turk, had
given orders to the captains of his galleys in the Levant to hinder the
passage of all English ships, and to endeavour by their best means to
intercept, take, and spoil them, their persons and goods; they hereupon
thought it their best course to set out their fleet for Turkey in such
strength and ability for their defence that the purpose of their Spanish
enemy might the better be prevented, and the voyage accomplished with
greater security to the men and ships. For which cause, five tall and
stout ships appertaining to London, and intending only a merchant's
voyage, were provided and furnished with all things belonging to the
seas, the names whereof were these:--1. The _Royal Merchant_, a very
brave and good ship, and of great report. 2. The _Toby_. 3. The _Edward
Bonaventure_. 4. The _William and John_. 5. The _Susan_.

These five departing from the coast of England in the month of November,
1585, kept together as one fleet till they came as high as the Isle of
Sicily, within the Levant. And there, according to the order and
direction of the voyage, each ship began to take leave of the rest, and
to separate himself, setting his course for the particular port
whereunto he was bound--one for Tripolis in Syria, another for
Constantinople, the chief city of the Turk's empire, situated upon the
coast of Roumelia called of old Thracia, and the rest to those places
whereunto they were privately appointed. But before they divided
themselves, they altogether consulted of and about a certain and special
place for their meeting again after the landing of their goods at their
several ports. And in conclusion, the general agreement was to meet at
Zante, an island near to the main continent of the west part of Morea,
well known to all the pilots, and thought to be the fittest place for
their rendezvous; concerning which meeting it was also covenanted on
each side and promised that whatsoever ship of these five should first
arrive at Zante, should there stay and expect the coming of the rest of
the fleet for the space of twenty days. This being done, each man made
his best haste, according as wind and weather would serve him, to fulfil
his course and to despatch his business; and no need was there to
admonish or encourage any man, seeing no time was ill-spent nor
opportunity omitted on any side in the performance of each man's duty,
according to his place.

It fell out that the _Toby_, which was bound for Constantinople, had
made such good speed, and gotten such good weather, that she first of
all the rest came back to the appointed place of Zante, and not
forgetting the former conclusion, did there cast anchor, attending the
arrival of the rest of the fleet, which accordingly (their business
first performed) failed not to keep promise. The first next after the
_Toby_ was the _Royal Merchant_, which, together with the _William and
John_, came from Tripolis in Syria, and arrived in Zante within the
compass of the aforesaid time limited. These ships, in token of the joy
on all parts conceived for their happy meeting, spared not the
discharging of their ordnance, the sounding of drums and trumpets, the
spreading of ensigns, with other warlike and joyful behaviours,
expressing by these outward signs the inward gladness of their minds,
being all as ready to join together in mutual consent to resist the
cruel enemy, as now in sporting manner they made mirth and pastime among
themselves. These three had not been long in the haven but the _Edward
Bonaventure_, together with the _Susan_ her consort, were come from
Venice with their lading, the sight of whom increased the joy of the
rest, and they, no less glad of the presence of the others, saluted them
in most friendly and kind sort, according to the manner of the seas.

In this port of Zante the news was fresh and current of two several
armies and fleets, provided by the King of Spain, and lying in wait to
intercept them: the one consisting of thirty strong galleys, so well
appointed in all respects for the war that no necessary thing wanted;
and this fleet hovered about the Straits of Gibraltar. The other army
had in it twenty galleys, whereof some were of Sicily and some of the
Island of Malta, under the charge and government of John Andreas Dorea,
a captain of name serving the King of Spain. These two divers and strong
fleets waited and attended in the seas for none but the English ships,
and no doubt made their account and sure reckoning that not a ship
should escape their fury. And the opinion also of the inhabitants of the
Isle of Zante was, that in respect of the number of galleys in both
these armies having received such straight commandment from the king,
our ships and men being but few and little in comparison of them, it was
a thing in human reason impossible that we should pass either without
spoiling, if we resisted, or without composition at the least, and
acknowledgment of duty to the Spanish king.

But it was neither the report of the attendance of these armies, nor the
opinions of the people, nor anything else, that could daunt or dismay
the courage of our men, who, grounding themselves upon the goodness of
their cause, and the promise of God to be delivered from such as without
reason sought their destruction, carried resolute minds notwithstanding
all impediments to adventure through the seas, and to finish their
navigation maugre the beards of the Spanish soldiers. But lest they
should seem too careless and too secure of their estate, and by laying
the whole and entire, burden of their safety upon God's Providence,
should foolishly presume altogether of His help, and neglect the means
which was put into their hands, they failed not to enter into counsel
among themselves, and to deliberate advisedly for their best defence.
And in the end, with general consent, the _Royal Merchant_ was appointed
admiral of the fleet, and the _Toby_ vice-admiral, by whose orders the
rest promised to be directed; and each ship vowed not to break from
another whatsoever extremity should fall out, but to stand to it to the
death, for the honour of their country and the frustrating of the hope
of the ambitious and proud enemy.

Thus in good order they left Zante and the Castle of Grecia, and
committed themselves again to the seas, and proceeded in their course
and voyage in quietness, without sight of any enemy till they came near
to Pantalarea, an island so called betwixt Sicily and the coast of
Africa; into sight whereof they came on July 13th, 1586. And the same
day, in the morning about seven o'clock, they descried thirteen sails in
number, which were of the galleys lying in wait of purpose for them in
and about that place. As soon as the English ships had spied them, they
by-and-by, according to a common order, made themselves ready for a
fight, laid out their ordnance, scoured, charged, and primed them,
displayed their ensigns, and left nothing undone to arm themselves
thoroughly. In the meantime, the galleys more and more approached the
ships, and in their banners there appeared the arms of the Isles of
Sicily and Malta, being all as then in the service and pay of the
Spaniard. Immediately both the admirals of the galleys sent from each of
them a frigate to the admiral of our English ships, which being come
near them, the Sicilian frigate first hailed them, and demanded of them
whence they were; they answered that they were of England, the arms
whereof appeared in their colours. Whereupon the said frigate
expostulated with them, and asked why they delayed to send or come with
their captains and pursers to Don Pedro de Leiva, their general, to
acknowledge their duty and obedience to him, in the name of the Spanish
king, lord of those seas. Our men replied and said that they owed no
such duty nor obedience to him, and therefore would acknowledge none;
but commanded the frigate to depart with that answer, and not to stay
longer upon her peril. With that away she went, and up came towards them
the other frigate of Malta; and she in like sort hailed the admiral, and
would needs know whence they were and where they had been. Our
Englishmen in the admiral, not disdaining an answer, told them that they
were of England, merchants of London, had been in Turkey, and were now
returning home; and to be requited in this case, they also demanded of
the frigate whence she and the rest of the galleys were. The messenger
answered, "We are of Malta, and for mine own part, my name is Cavalero.
These galleys are in service and pay to the King of Spain, under the
conduct of Don Pedro de Leiva, a nobleman of Spain, who hath been
commanded hither by the king with this present force and army of purpose
to intercept you. You shall therefore," quoth he, "do well to repair to
him to know his pleasure; he is a nobleman of good behaviour and
courtesy, and means you no ill." The captain of the English admiral,
whose name was Master Edward Wilkinson, now one of the six masters of
Her Majesty's Royal Navy, replied and said, "We purpose not at this time
to make trial of Don Pedro his courtesy, whereof we are suspicious and
doubtful, and not without good cause;" using withal good words to the
messenger, and willing him to come aboard him, promising security and
good usage, that thereby he might the better know the Spaniard's mind.
Whereupon he indeed left his frigate and came aboard him, whom he
entertained in friendly sort, and caused a cup of wine to be drawn for
him, which he took, and began, with his cap in his hand and with
reverent terms, to drink to the health of the Queen of England, speaking
very honourably of her majesty, and giving good speeches of the
courteous usage and entertainment that he himself had received in
London at the time that the Duke of Alençon, brother to the late French
king, was last in England. And after he had well drunk, he took his
leave, speaking well of the sufficiency and goodness of our ships, and
especially of the _Royal Merchant_ which he confessed to have seen
before riding in the Thames near London. He was no sooner come to Don
Pedro de Leiva, the Spanish general, but he was sent off again, and
returned to the English admiral, saying that the pleasure of the general
was this, that either their captains, masters, and pursers should come
to him with speed, or else he would set upon them, and either take them
or sink them. The reply was made by Master Wilkinson aforesaid, that not
a man should come to him; and for the brag and threat of Don Pedro, it
was not that Spanish bravado that should make them yield a jot to their
hindrance, but they were as ready to make resistance as he to offer an
injury. Whereupon Cavalero, the messenger, left bragging, and began to
persuade them in quiet sort and with many words; but all his labour was
to no purpose, and as his threat did nothing terrify them, so his
persuasion did nothing move them to do that which he required. At the
last he entreated to have the merchant of the admiral carried by him as
a messenger to the general, that so he might be satisfied and assured of
their minds by one of their own company. But Master Wilkinson would
agree to no such thing; although Richard Rowit, the merchant himself,
seemed willing to be employed in that message, and laboured by
reasonable persuasions to induce Master Wilkinson to grant it--as hoping
to be an occasion by his presence and discreet answers to satisfy the
general, and thereby to save the effusion of Christian blood, if it
should grow to a battle. And he seemed so much the more willing to be
sent, by how much deeper the oaths and protestations of this Cavalero
were, that he would (as he was a true knight and a soldier) deliver him
back again in safety to his company. Albeit, Master Wilkinson who, by
his long experience, had received sufficient trial of Spanish
inconstancy and perjury, wished him in no case to put his life and
liberty in hazard upon a Spaniard's oath; but at last, upon much
entreaty, he yielded to let him go to the general, thinking indeed that
good speeches and answers of reason would have contented him, whereas,
otherwise, refusal to do so might peradventure have provoked the more

Master Rowit, therefore, passing to the Spanish general, the rest of the
galleys having espied him, thought, indeed, that the English were rather
determined to yield than to fight, and therefore came flocking about the
frigate, every man crying out, "_Que nuevas? que nuevas?_ Have these
Englishmen yielded?" The frigate answered, "Not so; they neither have
nor purpose to yield. Only they have sent a man of their company to
speak with our general." And being come to the galley wherein he was, he
showed himself to Master Rowit in his armour, his guard of soldiers
attending upon him, in armour also, and began to speak very proudly in
this sort: "Thou Englishman, from whence is your fleet? Why stand ye
aloof off? know ye not your duty to the Catholic king, whose person I
here represent? Where are your bills of lading, your letters, passports,
and the chief of your men? Think ye my attendance in these seas to be in
vain, or my person to no purpose? Let all these things be done out of
hand, as I command, upon pain of my further displeasure, and the spoil
of you all." These words of the Spanish general were not so outrageously
pronounced as they were mildly answered by Master Rowit, who told him
that they were all merchantmen, using traffic in honest sort, and
seeking to pass quietly, if they were not urged further than reason. As
for the King of Spain, he thought (for his part) that there was amity
betwixt him and his Sovereign, the Queen of England, so that neither he
nor his officers should go about to offer any such injury to English
merchants, who, as they were far from giving offence to any man, so they
would be loth to take an abuse at the hands of any, or sit down to their
loss, where their ability was able to make defence. And as touching his
commandment aforesaid for the acknowledging of duty in such particular
sort, he told him that where there was no duty owing there none should
be performed, assuring him that their whole company and ships in general
stood resolutely upon the negative, and would not yield to any such
unreasonable demand, joined with such imperious and absolute manner of
commanding. "Why, then," said he, "if they will neither come to yield,
nor show obedience to me in the name of my king, I will either sink them
or bring them to harbour; and so tell them from me." With that the
frigate came away with Master Rowit, and brought him aboard to the
English admiral again, according to promise, who was no sooner entered
in but by-and-by defiance was sounded on both sides. The Spaniards hewed
off the noses of the galleys, that nothing might hinder the level of the
shot; and the English, on the other side, courageously prepared
themselves to the combat, every man, according to his room, bent to
perform his office with alacrity and diligence. In the meantime a cannon
was discharged from out the admiral of the galleys, which, being the
onset of the fight, was presently answered by the English admiral with a
culverin; so the skirmish began, and grew hot and terrible. There was no
powder nor shot spared, each English ship matched itself in good order
against two Spanish galleys, besides the inequality of the frigates on
the Spanish side. And although our men performed their parts with
singular valour, according to their strength, insomuch that the enemy,
as amazed therewith, would oftentimes pause and stay, and consult what
was best to be done, yet they ceased not in the midst of their business
to make prayer to Almighty God, the revenger of all evils and the giver
of victories, that it would please Him to assist them in this good
quarrel of theirs, in defending themselves against so proud a tyrant, to
teach their hands to war and their fingers to fight, that the glory of
the victory might redound to His name, and to the honour of true
religion, which the insolent enemy sought so much to overthrow.
Contrarily, the foolish Spaniards, they cried out, according to their
manner, not to God, but to our Lady (as they term the Virgin Mary),
saying, "Oh, Lady, help! Oh, blessed Lady, give us the victory, and the
honour thereof shall be thine." Thus with blows and prayers on both
sides, the fight continued furious and sharp, and doubtful a long time
to which part the victory would incline, till at last the admiral of the
galleys of Sicily began to warp from the fight, and to hold up her side
for fear of sinking; and after her went also two others in like case,
whom all the sort of them enclosed, labouring by all their means to keep
them above water, being ready by the force of English shot which they
had received to perish in the seas. And what slaughter was done among
the Spaniards the English were uncertain, but by a probable conjecture
apparent afar off they supposed their loss was so great that they wanted
men to continue the charging of their pieces; whereupon with shame and
dishonour, after five hours spent in the battle, they withdrew
themselves. And the English, contented in respect of their deep lading
rather to continue their voyage than to follow in the chase, ceased from
further blows, with the loss of only two men slain amongst them all, and
another hurt in his arm, whom Master Wilkinson, with his good words and
friendly promises, did so comfort that he nothing esteemed the smart of
his wound, in respect of the honour of the victory and the shameful
repulse of the enemy.

Thus, with dutiful thanks to the mercy of God for His gracious
assistance in that danger, the English ships proceeded in their
navigation. And coming as high as Algiers, a port town upon the coast of
Barbary, they made for it, of purpose to refresh themselves after their
weariness, and to take in such supply of fresh water and victuals as
they needed. They were no sooner entered into the port but immediately
the king thereof sent a messenger to the ships to know what they were.
With which messenger the chief master of every ship repaired to the
king, and acquainted him not only with the state of their ships in
respect of merchandise, but with the late fight which they had passed
with the Spanish galleys, reporting every particular circumstance in
word as it fell out in action; whereof the said king showed himself
marvellous glad, entertaining them in the best sort, and promising
abundant relief of all their wants; making general proclamation in the
city, upon pain of death, that no man, of what degree or state soever he
were, should presume either to hinder them in their affairs or to offer
them any manner of injury in body or goods; by virtue whereof they
despatched all things in excellent good sort with all favour and

The English, having received this good justice at the king's hands, and
all other things that they wanted or could crave for the furnishing of
their ships, took their leave of him and of the rest of their friends
that were resident in Algiers, and put out to sea, looking to meet with
the second army of the Spanish king, which waited for them about the
mouth of the Strait of Gibraltar, which they were of necessity to pass.
But coming near to the said strait, it pleased God to raise, at that
instant, a very dark and misty fog, so that one ship could not discern
another if it were forty paces off, by means whereof, together with the
notable fair eastern winds that then blew most fit for their course,
they passed with great speed through the strait, and might have passed,
with that good gale, had there been five hundred galleys to withstand
them and the air never so clear for every ship to be seen. But yet the
Spanish galleys had a sight of them when they were come within three
English miles of the town, and made after them with all possible haste;
and although they saw that they were far out of their reach, yet in a
vain fury and foolish pride they shot off their ordnance and made a stir
in the sea as if they had been in the midst of them, which vanity of
theirs ministered to our men notable matter of pleasure and mirth,
seeing men to fight with shadows and to take so great pains to so small

But thus it pleased God to deride and delude all the forces of that
proud Spanish king, which he had provided of purpose to distress the
English; who, notwithstanding, passed through both his armies--in the
one, little hurt, and in the other, nothing touched, to the glory of His
immortal name, the honour of our prince and country, and the just
commendation of each man's service performed in that voyage.



On the afternoon of July 19th, 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 favourite
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 North-West Passage which is still the darling object of England's
boldest mariners; 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; 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

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 Harbour, 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 ship's 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 despatched fast and far
through England, to warn each town and village that the enemy had come
at last. In every seaport 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 England's best defence then, as ever, was her fleet; and
after warping laboriously out of Plymouth Harbour against the wind, the
lord-admiral stood westward under easy sail, keeping an anxious look-out
for the Armada, the approach of which was soon announced by Cornish
fishing-boats, and signals from the Cornish cliffs.

The England of our own days is so strong, and the Spain of our own days
is so feeble, that it is not possible, without some reflection and care,
to comprehend the full extent of the peril which England then ran from
the power and the ambition of Spain, or to appreciate the importance of
that crisis in the history of the world. We had then no Indian or
Colonial Empire save the feeble germs of our North American settlements,
which Raleigh and Gilbert had recently planted. Scotland was a separate
kingdom; and Ireland was then even a greater source of weakness, and a
worse nest of rebellion than she has been in after times. Queen
Elizabeth had found at her accession an encumbered revenue, a divided
people, and an unsuccessful foreign war, in which the last remnant of
our possessions in France had been lost; she had also a formidable
pretender to her crown, whose interests were favoured by all the Roman
Catholic powers; and even some of her subjects were warped by religious
bigotry to deny her title, and to look on her as an heretical usurper.

On the other hand, Philip II. was absolute master of an empire so
superior to the other states of the world in extent, in resources, and
especially in military and naval forces, as to make the project of
enlarging that empire into a universal monarchy seem a perfectly
feasible scheme; and Philip had both the ambition to form that project
and the resolution to devote all his energies, and all his means, to its
realisation. Since the downfall of the Roman empire no such
preponderating power had existed in the world.

Philip had also the advantage of finding himself at the head of a large
standing army in a perfect state of discipline and equipment, in an age
when, except some few insignificant corps, standing armies were unknown
in Christendom. The renown of the Spanish troops was justly high, and
the infantry in particular was considered the best in the world. His
fleet, also, was far more numerous, and better appointed, than that of
any other European power; and both his soldiers and his sailors had the
confidence in themselves and their commanders which a long career of
successful warfare alone can create.

One nation only had been his active, his persevering, and his successful
foe. England had encouraged his revolted subjects in Flanders against
him, and given them the aid in men and money without which they must
soon have been humbled in the dust. English ships had plundered his
colonies; had defied his supremacy in the New World as well as the Old;
they had inflicted ignominious defeats on his squadrons; they had
captured his cities, and burned his arsenals on the very coasts of
Spain. The English had made Philip himself the object of personal
insult. He was held up to ridicule in their stage-plays and masks, and
these scoffs at the man had (as is not unusual in such cases) excited
the anger of the absolute king even more vehemently than the injuries
inflicted on his power. Personal as well as political revenge urged him
to attack England. Were she once subdued, the Dutch must submit; France
could not cope with him, the empire would not oppose him; and universal
dominion seemed sure to be the result of the conquest of that malignant

There was yet another and a stronger feeling which armed King Philip
against England. He was one of the sincerest and sternest bigots of his
age. He looked on himself, and was looked on by others, as the appointed
champion to extirpate heresy and re-establish the Papal power throughout
Europe. A powerful reaction against Protestantism had taken place since
the commencement of the second half of the sixteenth century, and Philip
believed that he was destined to complete it. The Reform doctrines had
been thoroughly rooted out from Italy and Spain. Belgium, which had
previously been half Protestant, had been reconquered both in allegiance
and creed by Philip, and had become one of the most Catholic countries
in the world. Half Germany had been won back to the old faith. In Savoy,
in Switzerland, and many other countries, the progress of the
counter-Reformation had been rapid and decisive. The Catholic league
seemed victorious in France. The Papal court itself had shaken off the
supineness of recent centuries; and, at the head of the Jesuits and the
other new ecclesiastical orders, was displaying a vigour and a boldness
worthy of the days of Hildebrand or Innocent III.

Throughout continental Europe, the Protestants, discomfited and
dismayed, looked to England as their protector and refuge. England was
the acknowledged central point of Protestant power and policy; and to
conquer England was to stab Protestantism to the very heart. Sixtus V.,
the then reigning pope, earnestly exhorted Philip to this enterprise.
And when the tidings reached Italy and Spain that the Protestant Queen
of England had put to death her Catholic prisoner, Mary, Queen of Scots,
the fury of the Vatican and Escurial knew no bounds.

The Prince of Parma, who was appointed military chief of the expedition,
collected on the coast of Flanders a veteran force that was to play a
principal part in the conquest of England. Besides the troops who were
in his garrisons, or under his colours, five thousand infantry were sent
to him from northern and central Italy, four thousand from the kingdom
of Naples, six thousand from Castile, three thousand from Arragon, three
thousand from Austria and Germany, together with four squadrons of
heavy-armed horse; besides which he received forces from the
Franche-Comté and the Walloon country. By his command, the forest of
Waes was felled for the purpose of building flat-bottomed boats, which,
floating down the rivers and canals to Meinport and Dunkerque, were to
carry this large army of chosen troops to the mouth of the Thames, under
the escort of the great Spanish fleet. Gun-carriages, fascines, machines
used in sieges, together with every material requisite for building
bridges, forming camps, and raising fortresses, were to be placed on
board the flotillas of the Prince of Parma, who followed up the conquest
of the Netherlands whilst he was making preparations for the invasion of
this island. His intention was to leave to the Count de Mansfeldt
sufficient forces to follow up the war with the Dutch, which had now
become a secondary object, whilst he himself went at the head of fifty
thousand men of the Armada and the flotilla, to accomplish the principal
enterprise--that enterprise, which, in the highest degree, affected the
interests of the pontifical authority. In a bull, intended to be kept
secret until the day of landing, Sixtus V., renewing the anathema
fulminated against Elizabeth by Pius V. and Gregory XIII., affected to
depose her from our throne.

Elizabeth was denounced as a murderous heretic whose destruction was an
instant duty. A formal treaty was concluded (in June, 1587), by which
the pope bound himself to contribute a million of scudi to the expenses
of the war; the money to be paid as soon as the king had actual
possession of an English port. Philip, on his part, strained the
resources of his vast empire to the utmost. The French Catholic chiefs
eagerly co-operated with him. In the sea-ports of the Mediterranean,
and along almost the whole coast from Gibraltar to Jutland, the
preparations for the great armament were urged forward with all the
earnestness of religious zeal, as well as of angry ambition.

For some time the destination of the enormous armament of Philip was not
publicly announced. Only Philip himself, the Pope Sixtus, the Duke of
Guise, and Philip's favourite minister, Mendoza, at first knew its real
object. Rumours were sedulously spread that it was designed to proceed
to the Indies to realise vast projects of distant conquest. Sometimes
hints were dropped by Philip's ambassadors in foreign courts that his
master had resolved on a decisive effort to crush his rebels in the Low
Countries. But Elizabeth and her statesmen could not view the gathering
of such a storm without feeling the probability of its bursting on their
own shores. As early as the spring of 1587 Elizabeth sent Sir Francis
Drake to cruise off the Tagus. Drake sailed into the Bay of Cadiz and
the Lisbon roads, and burnt much shipping and military stores, causing
thereby an important delay in the progress of the Spanish preparations.
Drake called this "Singeing the King of Spain's beard." Elizabeth also
increased her succours of troops to the Netherlanders, to prevent the
Prince of Parma from overwhelming them, and from thence being at full
leisure to employ his army against her dominions.

Meanwhile in England, from the sovereign on the throne to the peasant in
the cottage, all hearts and hands made ready to meet the imminent deadly
peril. 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

The ships of the Royal Navy at this time amounted to no more than
thirty-six; but the most serviceable merchant vessels were collected
from all the ports of the country; and the citizens of London, Bristol,
and the other great seats of commerce, showed as liberal a zeal in
equipping and manning vessels as the nobility and gentry displayed in
mustering forces by land. The seafaring population of the coast, of
every rank and station, was animated by the same ready spirit; and the
whole number of seamen who came forward to man the English fleet was
17,472. The number of the ships that were collected was a hundred and
ninety-one; and the total amount of their tonnage 31,985. There was one
ship in the fleet (the _Triumph_) of eleven hundred tons, one of ten
hundred, one of nine hundred, two of eight hundred each, three of six
hundred, five of five hundred, five of four hundred, six of three
hundred, six of two hundred and fifty, twenty of two hundred, and the
residue of inferior burden. Application was made to the Dutch for
assistance; and, as Stowe expresses it, "The Hollanders came roundly in,
with threescore sail, brave ships of war, fierce and full of spleen, not
so much for England's aid, as in just occasion for their own defence;
these men foreseeing the greatness of the danger that might ensue, if
the Spaniards should chance to win the day and get the mastery over
them; in due regard whereof their manly courage was inferior to none."

We have more minute information of the numbers and equipment of the
hostile forces than we have of our own. In the first volume of Hakluyt's
"Voyages," dedicated to Lord Effingham, who commanded against the
Armada, there is given (from the contemporary foreign writer, Meteran) a
more complete and detailed catalogue than has perhaps ever appeared of a
similar armament.

"The number of mariners in the saide fleete were above eight thousand,
of slaves two thousand and eighty-eight, of soldiers twenty thousand
(besides noblemen and gentlemen voluntaries), of great cast pieces two
thousand six hundred. The aforesaide ships were of an huge and
incredible capacitie and receipt: for the whole fleete was large enough
to containe the burthen of sixty thousand tunnes.

"The galeons were sixty-four in number, being of an huge bignesse, and
very flately built, being of marveilous force also, and so high, that
they resembled great castles, most fit to defend themselves and to
withstand any assault; but in giving any other ships the encounter farr
inferiour unto the English and Dutch ships, which can with great
dexteritie weild and turne themselves at all assayes. The upperworke of
the said galeons was of thicknesse and strength sufficient to bear off
musket-shot. The lower worke and the timbers thereof were out of measure
strong, being framed of plankes and ribs foure or five foote in
thicknesse, insomuch that no bullets could pierce them, but such as were
discharged hard at hand; which afterward prooved true, for a great
number of bullets were found to sticke fast within the massie substance
of those thicke plankes. Great and well-pitched cables were twined about
the masts of their shippes, to strengthen them against the battery of

"The galliasses were of such bignesse, that they contained within them
chambers, chapels, turrets, pulpits, and other commodities of great
houses. The galliasses were rowed with great oares, there being in eche
one of them three hundred slaves for the same purpose, and were able to
do great service with the force of their ordinance. All these, together
with the residue aforenamed, were furnished and beautified with
trumpets, streamers, banners, warlike ensignes, and other such like

"Their pieces of brazen ordinance were sixteen hundred, and of yron ten

"The bullets thereto belonging were a hundred and twenty thousand.

"Item of gun-poulder, five thousand six hundred quintals. Of matche,
twelve hundred quintals. Of muskets and kaleivers seven thousand. Of
haleberts and partisans, ten thousand.

"Moreover they had great store of canons, double-canons, culverings and
field-pieces for land services.

"This navie (as Diego Pimentelli afterward confessed) was esteemed by
the king himselfe to containe thirty-two thousand persons, and to cost
him every day thirty thousand ducates."

While this huge Armada was making ready in the southern ports of the
Spanish dominions, the Prince of Parma, with almost incredible toil and
skill, collected a squadron of war-ships at Dunkirk, and his flotilla of
other ships and of flat-bottomed boats for the transport to England of
the picked troops, which were designed to be the main instruments in
subduing England. Thousands of workmen were employed, night and day, in
the construction of these vessels, in the ports of Flanders and Brabant.
The army which these vessels were designed to convey to England amounted
to thirty thousand strong, besides a body of four thousand cavalry,
stationed at Courtrai, composed chiefly of the ablest veterans of
Europe; invigorated by rest, and excited by the hopes of plunder and the
expectation of certain conquest.

Philip had been advised, in the first instance, to effect a landing and
secure a strong position in Ireland; his admiral, Santa Cruz, had
recommended him to make sure, in the first instance, of some large
harbour on the coast of Holland or Zealand, where the Armada, having
entered the Channel, might find shelter in case of storm, and whence it
could sail without difficulty for England; but Philip rejected both
these counsels, and directed that England itself should be made the
immediate object of attack; and on May 20th the Armada left the Tagus,
in the pomp and pride of supposed invincibility, and amidst the shouts
of thousands, who believed that England was already conquered. But
steering to the northward, and before it was clear of the coast of
Spain, the Armada was assailed by a violent storm, and driven back with
considerable damage to the ports of Biscay and Galicia. It had, however,
sustained its heaviest loss before it left the Tagus, in the death of
the veteran admiral Santa Cruz, who had been destined to guide it
against England.

Philip II. had replaced him by Alonzo Perez de Gusman, Duke of Medina
Sidonia, one of the most powerful of the Spanish grandees, but wholly
unqualified to command such an expedition. He had, however, as his
lieutenants, two seamen of proved skill and bravery, Juan de Martinez
Recalde of Biscay, and Miguel Orquendo of Guipuzcoa.

On July 12th, the Armada having completely refitted, sailed again for
the Channel, and reached it without obstruction or observation by the

The orders of King Philip to the Duke de Medina Sidonia were, that he
should, on entering the Channel, keep near the French coast, and, if
attacked by the English ships, avoid an action, and steer on to Calais
roads, where the Prince of Parma's squadron was to join him. The hope of
surprising and destroying the English fleet in Plymouth led the Spanish
admiral to deviate from these orders, and to stand across to the English
shore; but, on finding that Lord Howard was coming out to meet him, he
resumed the original plan, and determined to bend his way steadily
towards Calais and Dunkirk, and to keep merely on the defensive against
such squadrons of the English as might come up with him.

It was on Saturday, July 20th, that Lord Effingham came in sight of his
formidable adversaries. The Armada was drawn up in form of a crescent,
which from horn to horn measured some seven miles. There was a
south-west wind; and before it the vast vessels sailed slowly on. The
English let them pass by; and then, following in the rear, commenced an
attack on them. A running fight now took place, in which some of the
best ships of the Spaniards were captured; many more received heavy
damage; while the English vessels, which took care not to close with
their huge antagonists, but availed themselves of their superior
celerity in tacking and manoeuvring, suffered little comparative loss.
Each day added not only to the spirit, but to the number of Effingham's
force. Raleigh, Oxford, Cumberland, and Sheffield joined him; and "the
gentlemen of England hired ships from all parts at their own charge, and
with one accord came flocking thither as to a set field, where glory
was to be attained, and faithful service performed unto their prince and
their country."

The Spanish admiral also showed great judgment and firmness in following
the line of conduct that had been traced out for him; and on July 27th
he brought his fleet unbroken, though sorely distressed, to anchor in
Calais roads. But the King of Spain had calculated ill the number and
activity of the English and Dutch fleets; as the old historian expresses
it, "It seemeth that the Duke of Parma and the Spaniards grounded upon a
vain and presumptuous expectation, that all the ships of England and of
the Low Countreys would at the first sight of the Spanish and Dunkerk
Navie have betaken themselves to flight, yeelding them sea-room, and
endeavouring only to defend themselves, their havens, and sea coasts
from invasion. Wherefore their intent and purpose was, that the Duke of
Parma, in his small and flat-bottomed ships should, as it were, under
the shadow and wings of the Spanish fleet, convey over all his troupes,
armour, and warlike provisions, and with their forces so united should
invade England; or, while the English fleet were busied in fight against
the Spanish, should enter upon any part of the coast which he thought to
be most convenient. Which invasion (as the captives afterwards
confessed) the Duke of Parma thought first to have attempted by the
river of Thames; upon the banks whereof, having at the first arrivall
landed twenty or thirty thousand of his principall souldiers, he
supposed that he might easily have wonne the citie of London; both
because his small shippes should have followed and assisted his land
forces, and also for that the citie itselfe was but meanely fortified
and easie to ouercome, by reason of the citizens' delicacie and
discontinuance from the warres, who, with continuall and constant
labour, might be vanquished, if they yielded not at the first assault."

But the English and Dutch found ships and mariners enough to keep the
Armada itself in check, and at the same time to block up Parma's
flotilla. The greater part of Seymour's squadron left its cruising
ground off Dunkirk to join the English admiral off Calais; but the Dutch
manned about five-and-thirty sail of good ships, with a strong force of
soldiers on board, all well seasoned to the sea-service; and with these
they blockaded the Flemish ports that were in Parma's power. Still it
was resolved by the Spanish admiral and the prince to endeavour to
effect a junction, which the English seamen were equally resolute to
prevent: and bolder measures on our side now became necessary.

The Armada lay off Calais, with its largest ships ranged outside, "like
strong castles fearing no assault; the lesser placed in the middle
ward." The English admiral could not attack them in their position
without great disadvantage, but on the night of the 29th he sent eight
fire-ships among them, with almost equal effect to that of the
fire-ships which the Greeks so often employed against the Turkish fleets
in their late war of independence. The Spaniards cut their cables and
put to sea in confusion. One of the largest galeasses ran foul of
another vessel and was stranded. The rest of the fleet was scattered
about on the Flemish coast, and when the morning broke, it was with
difficulty and delay that they obeyed their admiral's signal to range
themselves round him near Gravelines. Now was the golden opportunity for
the English to assail them, and prevent them from ever letting loose
Parma's flotilla against England; and nobly was that opportunity used.
Drake and Fenner were the first English captains who attacked the
unwieldy leviathans: then came Fenton, Southwell, Burton, Cross, Raynor,
and then the lord-admiral, with Lord Thomas Howard and Lord Sheffield.
The Spaniards only thought of forming and keeping close together, and
were driven by the English past Dunkirk, and far away from the Prince of
Parma, who in watching their defeat from the coast, must, as Drake
expressed it, have chafed like a bear robbed of her whelps. This was
indeed the last and the decisive battle between the two fleets. It is,
perhaps, best described in the very words of the contemporary writer as
we may read them in Hakluyt.

"Upon July 29th, in the morning, the Spanish fleet after the forsayd
tumult, having arranged themselves againe into order, were, within sight
of Greveling, most bravely and furiously encountered by the English;
where they once again got the wind of the Spaniards; who suffered
themselves to be deprived of the commodity of the place in Caleis road,
and of the advantage of the wind neer unto Dunkerk, rather than they
would change their array or separate their forces now conjoyned and
united together, standing only upon their defence.

"And howbeit there were many excellent and warlike ships in the English
fleet, yet scarce were there twenty-two or twenty-three among them all,
which matched ninety of the Spanish ships in the bigness, or could
conveniently assault them. Wherefore the English ships using their
prerogative of nimble steerage, whereby they could turn and wield
themselves with wind which way they listed, came often times very near
upon the Spaniards, and charged them so sore, that now and then they
were but a pike's length asunder: and so continually giving them one
broadside after another, they discharged all their shot both great and
small upon them, spending one whole day from morning till night in that
violent kind of conflict, untill such time as powder and bullets failed
them. In regard of which want they thought it convenient not to pursue
the Spaniards any longer, because they had many great vantages of the
English, namely, for the extraordinary bigness of their ships, and also
for that they were so neerley conjoyned, and kept together in so good
array, that they could by no meanes be fought withall one to one. The
English thought, therefore, that they had right well acquitted
themselves, in chasing the Spaniards first from Caleis, and then from
Dunkerk, and by that meanes to have hindered them from joyning with the
Duke of Parma his forces, and getting the wind of them, to have driven
them from their own coasts.

"The Spaniards that day sustained great loss and damage, having many of
their shippes shot thorow and thorow, and they discharged likewise great
store of ordinance against the English; who, indeed, sustained some
hindrance, but not comparable to the Spaniard's loss: for they lost not
any one ship or person of account, for very diligent inquisition being
made, the English men all that time wherein the Spanish navy sayled upon
their seas, are not found to have wanted above one hundred of their
people: albeit Sir Francis Drake's ship was pierced with shot above
forty times, and his very cabben was twice shot thorow, and about the
conclusion of the fight, the bed of a certaine gentleman lying weary
thereupon, was taken quite from under him with the force of a bullet.
Likewise, as the Earle of Northumberland and Sir Charles Blunt were at
dinner upon a time, the bullet of a demy-culverin brake thorow the
middest of their cabben, touched their feet, and strooke downe two of
the standers by, with many such accidents befalling the English shippes,
which it were tedious to rehearse."

It reflects little credit on the English Government that the English
fleet was so deficiently supplied with ammunition, as to be unable to
complete the destruction of the invaders. But enough was done to ensure
it. Many of the largest Spanish ships were sunk or captured in the
action of this day. And at length the Spanish admiral, despairing of
success, fled northward with a southerly wind, in the hope of rounding
Scotland, and so returning to Spain without a farther encounter with the
English fleet. Lord Effingham left a squadron to continue the blockade
of the Prince of Parma's armament; but that wise general soon withdrew
his troops to more promising fields of action. Meanwhile the
lord-admiral himself, and Drake chased the vincible Armada, as it was
now termed, for some distance northward; and then, when it seemed to
bend away from the Scotch coast towards Norway, it was thought best, in
the words of Drake, "to leave them to those boisterous and uncouth
northern seas."

The sufferings and losses which the unhappy Spaniards sustained in their
flight round Scotland and Ireland are well known. Of their whole Armada
only fifty-three shattered vessels brought back their beaten and wasted
crews to the Spanish coast, which they had quitted in such pageantry
and pride.

Some passages from the writings of those who took part in the struggle
have been already quoted, to which may be added the following
description of the defeat of the Armada, written in answer to some
mendacious stories by which the Spaniards strove to hide their shame.

"They were not ashamed to publish, in sundry languages in print, great
victories in words, which they pretended to have obtained against this
realm, and spread the same in a most false sort over all parts of
France, Italy, and elsewhere; when, shortly afterwards, it was happily
manifested in very deed to all nations, how their navy, which they
termed invincible, consisting of one hundred and forty sail of ships,
not only of their own kingdom, but strengthened with the greatest
argosies, Portugal caracks, Florentines, and large hulks of other
countries, were by thirty of Her Majesty's own ships of war, and a few
of our own merchants, by the wise, valiant, and advantageous conduct of
the Lord Charles Howard, High-admiral of England, beaten and shuffled
together even from the Lizard in Cornwall, first to Portland, when they
shamefully left Don Pedro de Valdez with his mighty ship; from Portland
to Calais, where they lost Hugh de Monçado, with the galleys of which he
was captain; and from Calais driven with squibs from their anchors, were
chased out of the sight of England, round about Scotland and Ireland.
Where, for the sympathy of their religion, hoping to find succour and
assistance, a great part of them were crushed against the rocks, and
those others that landed, being very many in number, were,
notwithstanding, broken, slain, and taken; and so sent from village to
village, coupled in halters, to be shipped into England, where Her
Majesty, of her princely and invincible disposition, disdaining to put
them to death, and scorning either to retain or to entertain them, they
were all sent back again to their countries, to witness and recount the
worthy achievement of their invincible and dreadful navy. Of which the
number of soldiers, the fearful burthen of their ships, the commanders'
names of every squadron, with all others, their magazines of provisions
were put in print, as an army and navy irresistible and disdaining
prevention: with all which their great and terrible ostentation, they
did not in all their sailing round about England so much as sink or take
one ship, bark, pinnace, or cockboat of ours, or even burn so much as
one sheep-cote on this land."



Because the rumours are diversely spread, as well in England as in
the Low Countries and elsewhere, of this late encounter between Her
Majesties' ships and the Armada of Spain; and that the Spaniards,
according to their usual manner, fill the world with their
vain-glorious vaunts, making great appearance of victories--when,
on the contrary, themselves are most commonly and shamefully beaten
and dishonoured--thereby hoping to possess the ignorant multitude by
anticipating and forerunning false reports, it is agreeable with all
good reason for manifestation of the truth to overcome falsehood and
untruth, that the beginning, continuance and success of this late
honourable encounter of Sir Richard Grenville, and other Her Majesties'
captains with the Armada of Spain, should be truly set down and
published without partiality or false imagination.

The Lord Thomas Howard, with six of Her Majesties' ships, six victualers
of London, the bark _Ralegh_, and two or three pinnaces riding at anchor
near unto Flores, one of the westerly islands of the Azores, the last of
August in the afternoon, had intelligence by one Captain Middleton of
the approach of the Spanish Armada, which Middleton, being in a very
good sailer, had kept them company three days before, of good purpose
both to discover their forces the more as also to give advice to my
Lord Thomas of their approach. He had no sooner delivered the news but
the fleet was in sight: many of our ships' companies were on shore in
the island; some providing ballast for their ships, others filling of
water and refreshing themselves from the land with such things as they
could either for money or by force recover. By reason whereof our ships
being all pestered and romaging, everything out of order, very light for
want of ballast, and that which was most to our disadvantage, the one
half part of the men of every ship sick and utterly unserviceable. For
in the _Revenge_ there were ninety diseased: in the _Bonaventure_, not
so many in health as could handle her mainsail. For had not twenty men
been taken out of a bark of Sir George Caryes, his being commanded to be
sunk and those appointed to her, she had hardly ever recovered England.
The rest for the most part were in little better state.

The names of Her Majesties' ships were these as followeth: the
_Defiance_, which was admiral; the _Revenge_, vice-admiral; the
_Bonaventure_, commanded by Captain Crosse; the _Lion_, by George
Fenner; the _Foresight_, by M. Thomas Vavisour, and the _Crane_, by
Duffeild. The _Foresight_ and the _Crane_ being but small ships; only
the others were of the middle size; the rest, besides the bark _Ralegh_,
commanded by Captain Thin, were victualers and of small force or none.
The Spanish fleet, having shrouded their approach by reason of the
island, were now so soon at hand, as our ships had scarce time to way
their anchors, but some of them were driven to let slip their cables and
set sail. Sir Richard Grenville was the last weighed, to recover the men
that were upon the island, which otherwise had been lost. The Lord
Thomas with the rest very hardly recovered the wind, which Sir Richard
Grenville not being able to do was persuaded by the master and others to
cut his main sail and cast about, and to trust to the sailing of the
ship: for the squadron of Sivill were on his weather bow. But Sir
Richard utterly refused to turn from the enemy, alleging that he would
rather choose to die than to dishonour himself, his country, and Her
Majesties' ships, persuading his company that he would pass through the
two squadrons in despite of them, and enforce those of Sivill to give
him way. Which he performed upon divers of the foremost, who, as the
mariners term it, sprang their luffe and fell under the lee of the
_Revenge_. But the other course had been the better, and might right
well have been answered in so great an impossibility of prevailing.
Notwithstanding, out of the greatness of his mind he could not be
persuaded. In the meanwhile, as he attended those which were nearest
him, the great _San Philip_ being in the wind of him, and, coming
towards him, becalmed his sails in such sort as the ship could neither
make way nor feel the helm: so huge and high carged was the Spanish
ship, being of a thousand and five hundred tons; who afterlaid the
_Revenge_ aboard. When he was thus bereft of his sails, the ships that
were under his lee luffing up, also laid him aboard: of which the next
was the admiral of the _Biscaines_, a very mighty and puisant ship
commanded by Brittan Dona. The said _Philip_ carried three tire of
ordinance on a side and eleven pieces in every tire. She shot eight
forth right out of her chase, besides those of her stern ports.

After the _Revenge_ was entangled with this _Philip_, four other boarded
her; two on her larboard and two on her starboard. The fight thus
beginning at three of the clock in the afternoon continued very terrible
all that evening. But the great _San Philip_ having received the lower
tire of the _Revenge_ discharged with crossbar shot, shifted herself
with all diligence from her sides, utterly misliking her first
entertainment. Some say that the ship foundered, but we cannot report it
for truth unless we were assured. The Spanish ships were filled with
companies of soldiers, in some two hundred besides the mariners; in some
five, in others eight hundred. In ours there were none at all beside the
mariners, but the servants of the commanders and some few voluntary
gentlemen only. After many interchanged volleys of great ordinance and
small shot, the Spaniards deliberated to enter the _Revenge_, and made
divers attempts, hoping to force her by the multitudes of their armed
soldiers and musketiers, but were still repulsed again and again, and
at all times beaten back into their own ships or into the seas. In the
beginning of the fight the _George Noble_ of London, having received
some shot through her by the Armados, fell under the lee of the
_Revenge_, and asked Sir Richard what he would command him, being but
one of the victualers and of small force: Sir Richard bid him save
himself and leave him to his fortune. After the fight had thus without
intermission continued while the day lasted and some hours of the night,
many of our men were slain and hurt, and one of the great gallions of
the Armada and the admiral of the hulks both sunk, and in many other of
the Spanish ships great slaughter was made. Some write that Sir Richard
was very dangerously hurt almost in the beginning of the fight, and lay
speechless for a time ere he recovered. But two of the _Revenge's_ own
company, brought home in a ship of lime from the islands, examined by
some of the lords and others, affirmed that he was never so wounded as
that he forsook the upper deck till an hour before midnight; and then
being shot into the body with a musket as he was a-dressing, was again
shot into the head, and withal his Chirurgion wounded to death. This
agreeth also with an examination taken by Sir Frances Godolphin, of four
other mariners of the same ship being returned, which examination, the
said Sir Frances sent unto Master William Killigrue, of Her Majesties'
privy chamber.

But to return to the fight; the Spanish ships which attempted to board
the _Revenge_, as they were wounded and beaten off so always others came
in their places, she having never less than two mighty gallions by her
sides and aboard her. So that ere the morning, from three of the clock
the day before, there had fifteen several Armados assailed her; and all
so ill approved their entertainment, as they were by the break of day
far more willing to hearken to a composition, than hastily to make any
more assaults or entries. But as the day encreased so our men decreased,
and as the light grew more and more by so much more grew our
discomforts. For none appeared in sight but enemies, saving one small
ship called the _Pilgrim_, commanded by Jacob Whiddon, who hovered all
night to see the success; but in the morning, bearing with the
_Revenge_, was hunted like a hare amongst many ravenous hounds, but

All the powder of the _Revenge_ to the last barrel was now spent, all
her pikes broken, forty of her best men slain and the most part of the
rest hurt. In the beginning of the fight she had but one hundred free
from sickness, and four score and ten sick, laid in hold upon the
ballast. A small troop to man such a ship, and a weak garrison to resist
so mighty an army. By those hundred all was sustained, the volleys,
boardings and enterings of fifteen ships of war, besides those which
beat her at large. On the contrary, the Spanish were always supplied
with soldiers brought from every squadron: all manner of arms and powder
at will. Unto ours there remained no comfort at all, no hope, no supply
either of ships, men, or weapons; the masts all beaten overboard, all
her tackle cut asunder, her upper work altogether rased, and in effect
evened she was with the water, but the very foundation or bottom of a
ship, nothing being left overhead either for flight or defence. Sir
Richard finding himself in this distress, and unable any longer to make
resistance, having endured in this fifteen hours' fight the assault of
fifteen several Armadoes, all by turns aboard him, and by estimation
eight hundred shot of great artillery, besides many assaults and
entries, and that himself and the ship must needs be possessed by the
enemy, who were now all cast in a ring round about him, the _Revenge_
not able to move one way or other but as she was moved with the waves
and billows of the sea, commanded the master-gunner, whom he knew to be
a most resolute man, to split and sink the ship, that thereby nothing
might remain of glory or victory to the Spaniards, seeing in so many
hours' fight and with so great a navy they were not able to take her
having had fifteen hours' time, fifteen thousand men, and fifty and
three sail of men-of-war to perform it withal, and persuaded the
company, or as many as he could induce, to yield themselves unto God,
and to the mercy of none else; but as they had, like valiant, resolute
men, repulsed so many enemies, they should not now shorten the honour of
their nation by prolonging their own lives for a few hours or a few
days. The master-gunner readily condescended and divers others, but the
captain and the master were of another opinion, and besought Sir Richard
to have care of them, alleging that the Spaniards would be as ready to
entertain a composition as they were willing to offer the same; and that
there being divers sufficient and valiant men yet living and whose
wounds were not mortal, they might do their country and prince
acceptable service hereafter. And (that where Sir Richard had alleged
that the Spaniards should never glory to have taken one ship of Her
Majesties', seeing they had so long and so notably defended themselves)
they answered that the ship had six foot water in hold, three shot under
water which were so weakly stopped, as with the first working of the sea
she must needs sink, and was besides so crushed and bruised as she could
never be removed out of the place.

And as the matter was thus in dispute and Sir Richard refusing to
hearken to any of those reasons, the master of the _Revenge_ (while the
captain wan unto him all the greater party) was conveyed aboard the
general _Don Alfonso Bassan_, who, finding none over-hastie to enter the
_Revenge_ again, doubting least Sir Richard would have blown them up and
himself, and perceiving by the report of the master of the _Revenge_ his
dangerous disposition, yielded that all their lives should be saved, the
company sent for England, and the better sort to pay such reasonable
ransom as their estate would bear, and in the mean season to be free
from gally and imprisonment. To this he so much the rather condescended
as well as I have said, for fear of further loss and mischief to
themselves, as also for the desire he had to recover Sir Richard
Grenville, whom for his notable valour he seemed greatly to honour and

When this answer was returned and that safety of life was promised, the
common sort being now at the end of their peril, the most drew back from
Sir Richard and the master-gunner, being no hard matter to disuade men
from death to life. The master-gunner, finding himself and Sir Richard
thus prevented and mastered by the greater number, would have slain
himself with a sword had he not been by force withheld and locked in his
cabin. Then the general sent many boats aboard the _Revenge_, and divers
of our men, fearing Sir Richard's disposition, stole away aboard the
general and other ships. Sir Richard thus overmatched, was sent unto by
Alfonso Bassan to remove out of the _Revenge_, the ship being marvellous
unsavoury, filled with blood and bodies of dead and wounded men like a
slaughter house. Sir Richard answered that he might do with his body
what he list, for he esteemed it not, and as he was carried out of the
ship he swooned, and reviving again, desired the company to pray for
him. The general used Sir Richard with all humanity, and left nothing
unattempted that tended to his recovery, highly commending his valour
and worthiness, and greatly bewailed the danger wherein he was, being
unto them a rare spectacle, and a resolution seldom approved. To see one
ship turne toward so many enemies, to endure the charge and boarding of
so many huge Armados, and to resist and repel the assaults and entries
of so many soldiers, all which and more is confirmed by a Spanish
captain of the same Armada, and a present actor in the fight, who being
severed from the rest in a storm, was by the _Lyon_ of London, a small
ship, taken, and is now prisoner in London.

The general commander of the Armada was Don Alphonso Bassan, brother to
the Marquesse of Santa Cruce. The admiral of the Biscaine squadron was
Britan Dona; of the squadron of Sivill, Marques of Arumburch. The hulks
and fly-boats were commanded by Luis Cutino. There were slain and
drowned in this fight well near two thousand of the enemies and two
especial commanders, Don Luis de sant John and Don George de Prunaria de
Mallaga, as the Spanish captain confesseth, besides divers others of
special account, whereof as yet report is not made.

The admiral of the hulks and the ascention of Sivill were both sunk by
the side of the _Revenge_; one other recovered the road of Saint Nichels
and sunk also there; a fourth ran herself with the shore to save her
men. Sir Richard died, as it is said, the second or third day aboard the
general, and was by them greatly bewailed. What became of his body,
whether it was buried in the sea or on the land, we know not: the
comfort that remaineth to his friends is that he hath ended his life
honourably in respect of the reputation won to his nation and country,
and of the same to his posterity, and that being dead he hath not
outlived his own honour.

For the rest of Her Majesties' ships that entered not so far into the
fight as the _Revenge_, the reasons and causes were these. There were of
them but six in all, whereof two but small ships; the _Revenge_ engaged
past recovery; the Island of Flores was on the one side, fifty-three
sail of the Spanish divided into squadrons, on the other, all as full
filled with soldiers as they could contain. Almost the one half of our
men sick and not able to serve; the ships grown foul, unroomaged, and
scarcely able to bear any sail for want of ballast, having been six
months at the sea before. If all the rest had entered all had been lost.
For the very hugeness of the Spanish fleet, if no other violence had
been offered, would have crushed them between them into shivers. Of
which the dishonour and loss to the queen had been far greater than the
spoil or harm that the enemy could any way have received.
Notwithstanding, it is very true that the Lord Thomas would have entered
between the squadrons, but the rest would not condescend; and the master
of his own ship offered to leap into the sea rather than to conduct that
Her Majesties' ship and the rest to be a prey to the enemy where there
was no hope nor possibility either of defence or victory. Which also in
my opinion had ill-sorted or answered the discretion and trust of a
general to commit himself and his charge to an assured destruction
without any hope or any likelihood of prevailing, thereby to diminish
the strength of Her Majesties' Navy and to enrich the pride and glory of
the enemy.

[The story of Sir Richard Grenville's last fight has been told many
times in prose and verse. Sir Walter Raleigh tells it in the prose epic
from which the foregoing is taken; Froude made it the subject of one of
his essays, Gerald Massey and Lord Tennyson have both exploited it in
ballads of power and beauty. These ballads are too long for quotation
here, but there are some stanzas in Gerald Massey's poem which may be

    "Signalled the English admiral,
      'Weigh or cut anchors.' For
    A Spanish fleet bore down in all
      The majesty for war,
    Athwart our tack for many a mile,
    As there we lay off Florez Isle,
    With crews half sick; all tired of toil.

    "Eleven of our twelve ships escaped;
      Sir Richard stood alone!
    Though they were three and fifty sail--
      A hundred men to one--
    The old Sea Rover would not run,
    So long as he had man or gun;
    But--he could die when all was done.

      *       *       *       *       *

    "Ship after ship like broken waves
      That wash up on a rock,
    Those mighty galleons fall back foiled
      And shattered from the shock.
    With fire she answers all their blows;
    Again, again in pieces strows
    The girdle round her as they close.

    "Through all that night the great white storm
      Of worlds in silence rolled;
    Sirius with green-azure sparkle,
      Mars in ruddy gold.
    Heaven looked with stillness terrible
    Down on a fight most fierce and fell--
    A sea transfigured into hell.

    "Some know not they are wounded till
      'Tis slippery where they stand;
    Then each one tighter grips his steel
      As 'twere salvation's hand.
    Grim faces glow through lurid night
    With sweat of spirit shining bright:
    Only the dead on deck turn white.

    "At daybreak the flame-picture fades
      In blackness and in blood;
    There, after fifteen hours' fight,
      The unconquered sea-king stood,
    Defying all the powers of Spain:
    Fifteen armadas hurled in vain,
    And fifteen hundred foemen slain.

    "About that little bark _Revenge_
      The baffled Spaniards ride
    At distance. Two of their good ships
      Were sunken at her side;
    The rest lie round her in a ring
    As round the dying lion-king
    The dogs afraid of his death-spring.

      *       *       *       *       *

    "Old heroes who could gladly do,
      As they could greatly dare;
    A vesture very glorious
      Their shining spirits wear,
    Of noble deeds! God give us grace,
    That we may see such face to face,
    In our great day that comes apace."

We will only add here that the _Revenge_ foundered a few days after the
fight with two hundred Spaniards on board her, and conclude with Sir
Richard Grenville's last words, "Here die I, Richard Grenville, with a
joyful and quiet mind, for that I have ended my life as a true soldier
ought to do, fighting for his queen, religion, and honour; my soul
willingly departing from this body, leaving behind the lasting fame of
having behaved as any valiant soldier is in his duty bound to



Robert Blake, who became the admiral of the Commonwealth, was the eldest
son of Mr. Humphrey Blake, a Spanish merchant who, having acquired a
considerable fortune for the times in which he lived, purchased a small
estate near Bridgewater, in which neighbourhood his family had been long

Robert was born in the month of August, 1598, and was educated at a free
school in Bridgewater. He afterwards removed to Oxford, where he was
first a member of St. Alban's Hall and next of Wadham College. Having
taken a degree and met with more than one disappointment in his
endeavours to obtain academical preferment, he left the university after
a stay of seven years.

During his residence in Oxford he displayed a temper usually grave, and
in appearance morose, but inclined at times and with particular friends
to be very cheerful, though still with a tincture of severity that
disposed him to bear hard upon the pride of courtiers and the powers of
churchmen; which rendered him very agreeable company to the good fellows
of those days. This is certain, that his reputation for probity and his
known aversion to persecution caused the Puritans to promote his
election as a burgess for Bridgewater in the parliament which sat in
April 1640.

This assembly was dissolved too early for Blake to make any discovery
therein of his talents as a senator; and in the long parliament, which
sat soon after, he lost his election. When the war broke out between
the king and the parliament he declared for the latter, and took arms
very early in their service; but where, and in what capacity, is not
very clear. However, he was very soon made a captain of dragoons, in
which position he showed himself as able and active an officer as any in
the service; and as such was constantly employed upon occasions when
boldness or dexterity were requisite.

In 1643 he was at Bristol, under the command of Colonel Fiennes, who
entrusted him with a little fort on the line, in which he first gave the
world a proof of his military prowess; for, on July 26th, when Prince
Rupert attacked that important place, and the governor had agreed to
surrender it upon articles, Blake still held out his fort and killed
several of the king's forces. This exasperated Prince Rupert to such a
degree that he talked of hanging him, and would probably have carried
out his threat had not some friends interposed and excused the young
officer on account of his want of experience in war, and then prevailed
upon him to give up the fort.

After this Blake served in Somersetshire under the command of Popham,
who was governor of Lyme, to whose regiment he was lieutenant-colonel.
While here, in conjunction with Sir Robert Pye, he surprised Taunton for
the parliament, capturing ten pieces of cannon and a great deal of
ammunition. In 1664 he was made governor of the town, an important
appointment, as Taunton contained the only garrison the parliament had
in the west. The works about it, however, were far from being strong,
and the garrison was by no means numerous; yet by keeping a strict
discipline, and treating the townsmen well, he made shift to keep it,
though no great care was taken to furnish him with supplies, and he was
often besieged and blocked up by the king's forces.

At length General Goring attacked Taunton with nearly ten thousand men,
carried all the outworks, and actually took a part of the town. Blake,
however, held the rest of it and the castle with wonderful obstinacy
till relief came; for which extraordinary service the parliament gave
the garrison a bounty of two thousand pounds, and honoured Colonel
Blake with a present of five hundred pounds. All who have preserved the
memory of the signal events in this unhappy war allow this to have been
a singularly gallant and soldier-like action.

In April, 1646, Colonel Blake marched with a detachment from his
garrison, and reduced Dunster Castle, a seat belonging to the ancient
family of Lutterel, the troops posted therein having given great
disturbance to the country. This was the last military achievement he
performed during the Civil War. On the 24th of December following, the
parliament ordered five hundred pounds to be paid to him for disbanding
some forces. When the parliament voted that no further addresses should
be made to the king, Blake, as Governor of Taunton, joined in an address
of thanks to the House of Commons for having taken this step.

It is not easy to guess what induced the parliament to make choice of
Blake, who had always served as a horse-officer, to take the supreme
command of the fleet, but on February 12th, 1648-9, he was appointed one
of the commissioners of the navy, and upon the 21st an Act was passed,
appointing him, in conjunction with Deane and Popham, to command the
fleet. His first service was driving Prince Rupert's fleet from the
Irish coast, and then following him into the Mediterranean. This gave
his masters high satisfaction, for it not only put an end to the
piratical war in which the prince was engaged, and which did so much
damage to trade, but also inspired respect among the powers of Europe
for the young Commonwealth of England.

In the month of February, 1651, Blake, on his return homewards, fell in
with a French man-of-war of forty guns; when a characteristic incident
occurred which certainly deserves to be particularly mentioned. The
admiral commanded the French captain on board him, and asked him if he
was willing to lay down his sword? He answered that he was not; upon
which, Blake generously bade him return to his ship and fight it out as
long as he was able. The captain took him at his word, fought him
bravely for about two hours, and then submitting, went again on board
Blake's ship, first kissed him and then presented his sword to him upon
his knees. This ship, with four more, the admiral sent into England; and
not long after arriving at Plymouth with his squadron, there received
the thanks of the parliament for his vigilance and valour, and was
constituted one of the lords-wardens of the Cinque Ports.

In the March following, Colonel Blake, Colonels Popham and Deane, or any
two of them, were again appointed by act of parliament to be admirals
and generals of the fleet for the year ensuing; in which year Blake
reduced the islands of Scilly, Guernsey, and Jersey to the obedience of
the parliament; and, as a new mark of honour, was, on November 25th,
elected one of the council of state. When the necessity of a Dutch war
became apparent, the parliament gave the highest testimony of their
sense of his merit and of their entire confidence in his conduct by
constituting him, in March 1652, sole general of the fleet.

The story of the Dutch war is told in a separate chapter, where justice
is done to Blake's prowess as admiral, and it is only necessary here to
give such incidents as bring out his qualities as a man.

Just before the first battle in the Downs, which took place on May 19th,
1652, Blake observed that Van Tromp, the Dutch admiral, bore nearer to
his fleet than he had any occasion to do, and so saluted him with two
guns without ball, to put him in mind of striking sail; upon which the
Dutchman, in contempt, fired on the contrary side. Blake then fired a
second and a third gun, which Van Tromp answered with a broadside, and
the English admiral perceiving his intention to fight, detached himself
from the rest of the fleet to treat with him upon the point of honour,
to prevent unnecessary effusion of blood and a national quarrel. As
Blake approached nearer to the Dutchman, Van Tromp, and the rest of his
fleet, contrary to the law of nations, fired on him with whole
broadsides. Blake was in his cabin drinking with some officers, little
expecting to be thus saluted, when the shot broke the windows of the
ship and shattered the stern; which put him into a vehement passion, so
that curling his whiskers, as he used to do whenever he was angry, he
commanded his men to answer the Dutch in their kind, saying, when his
heat was somewhat over, "he took it very ill of Van Tromp that he should
take his ship for a disorderly house, and break his windows." Blake
singly sustained the shock of the Dutch fleet for some time, till his
own ships and the squadron under Major Bourne joined him; and then the
engagement grew hot on both sides, and bloody on the side of the enemy,
till night put an end to it.

After this battle Blake lay in the Downs for a considerable time, which
he spent in repairing and augmenting his fleet, and in detaching small
squadrons to cruise against the enemy. About the beginning of June,
finding he had force enough to undertake any service, he caused a solemn
fast to be held on board his ships, to implore the blessing of God upon
their arms, and encouraged his seamen by the example of his zeal on this
occasion, as much as he had ever done by his personal bravery in a time
of action. In the course of this month he sent forty rich prizes into
the river, and so effectually ruined the Dutch trade, and broke the
spirits of such as were appointed to support it, that most of their
vessels declined coming through the Channel, even under convoy; choosing
rather to put into French ports, land their cargoes there, and
afterwards transport them to Holland, by land or water, as they could.

In the beginning of July, finding Sir George Ayscue returned from
Barbadoes, with a force sufficient to guard the Downs, he resolved to
sail northwards, to execute a design he had long meditated, of
destroying the herring-fishery; which he thought would have put an
immediate end to the war by convincing the Dutch of the folly of
disputing our sovereignty in our own seas. This appears to have been the
most judicious scheme laid down through the whole war; because it tended
to clear the ground of the quarrel and to show the Dutch their error in
disputing with a nation who had it in their power to distress them at
any time in the tenderest part--that which afforded a subsistence to
many and was the main source of wealth to all.

On July 2nd Blake bore away to the north, and quickly fell in with the
Dutch fishing vessels, which were there in great numbers under the
protection of twelve men-of-war. Blake attacked their convoy, and they,
knowing the importance of their charge, and having taken on board a
great supply of fresh men from the vessels under their care, fought
bravely and sold their freedom dearly; but at last were all taken, which
left the fishery entirely at the admiral's mercy, who upon this occasion
showed the rectitude of his heart and the solidity of his understanding;
for having first threatened these busses with utter destruction if ever
they were found there again without leave, he afterwards freely
permitted them to complete their ladings, on their paying the tenth
herring as tribute to the Commonwealth.

During all the changes that happened in the government, Blake impressed
his men with the conviction that it was his and their business to act
faithfully in their respective stations, and to do their duty to their
country, whatever irregularities there might be in the councils at home;
and would often say among his officers that state affairs were not their
province, but that they were bound to keep foreigners from fooling us.
These principles rendered him agreeable to all parties, and gained him
so generally the reputation of a patriot, that when Cromwell, in his new
model of a parliament, left the populous town of Bridgewater the choice
of one representative only, they elected Blake. He was also very
acceptable to Cromwell, who knew that Blake's concern for the glory of
England would influence him to do all, and even more than any other man
could be excited to do by views of interest and ambition.

In 1654 he sailed into the Mediterranean, and came in the month of
December into the road of Cadiz, where he was received with great
respect and civility by the Spaniards, and indeed by all nations as well
as the English, who were then in port. A Dutch admiral would not wear
his flag while the English admiral was in the harbour; one of the
victuallers attending his fleet, being separated from the rest, fell in
with the French admiral and seven men-of-war near the Straits mouth. The
captain of the victualling-sloop was ordered on board the admiral, who
inquired of him where Blake was, drank his health with five guns, and so
wished the captain a good voyage. The Algerines stood in such awe of him
that they were wont to stop the Sallee rovers; and, in case they had any
prisoners on board, took them out, and sent them to Blake, in hopes
thereby of obtaining his favour.

He next sailed from Cadiz to Malaga; and while he lay in that road some
of his seamen, going ashore, met the Host as it was being carried to
some sick person, and not only paid no respect to it, but laughed at
those who did. The priest who accompanied it highly resented this, and
stirred up the people to revenge the indignity; upon which they fell
upon the sailors and beat some of them very severely. When they returned
on board the men complained of their ill usage, and the admiral
instantly sent a trumpet to the viceroy, to demand the surrender of the
priest who was the author of the insult. The viceroy answered that he
had no authority over priests, and therefore could not send him. Upon
this Blake sent a second message to the effect that he would not enter
into the question as to who had power to send him, but that, if he was
not sent within three hours, he would burn the town about their ears.
The inhabitants, to save themselves, obliged the viceroy to send the
priest; who, when he came on board, excused himself to the admiral on
account of the behaviour of the sailors. Blake with much calmness and
composure told him that if he had complained to him of this outrage he
would have punished the men severely; for he would not suffer any of his
men to affront the established religion of any place that he might
visit; but he blamed him for setting on a mob of Spaniards to beat them,
adding, that "he would have him and the whole world know that none but
an Englishman should chastise an Englishman."

In 1655 Blake proceeded to Algiers, where he arrived on March 10th, and
anchored without the mole, sending an officer to the dey to demand
satisfaction for the piracies that had been formerly committed on the
English, and the immediate release of all captives belonging to his
nation. The dey answered very modestly, that as for the ships and slaves
they were now the property of private persons, from whom he could not
take them with safety to himself; but that he would make it his care
they should be speedily redeemed upon easy terms, and would make a
treaty with him to prevent any hostilities being committed on the
English for the future.

The admiral left the port upon this and sailed to Tunis, where he sent
the like message on shore; but received a very different answer, viz.,
"Here are our castles of Guletta and Porto Farino: you may do your
worst; we do not fear you." Blake entered the bay of Porto Farino, and
came within musket-shot of the castle and line, upon both which he
played so warmly that they were soon in a defenceless condition. There
were then nine ships in the road, which the admiral resolved to burn;
and with this view ordered every captain to man his long-boat with
choice men, and directed these to enter the harbour and fire the ships
of Tunis; while he and his fleet covered them from the castle by playing
continually on it with their cannon. The seamen in their boats boldly
assaulted the corsairs and burnt all their ships, with the loss of
twenty-five men killed and forty-eight wounded. This daring action
spread the terror of his name, which had long been formidable in Europe,
through Africa and Asia. From Tunis he sailed to Tripoly, and concluded
a peace with that government. Thence he returned to Tunis, and granted a
peace on terms honourable to himself and profitable to his country.

In 1655 the protector sent Mr. Montague with a small squadron of
men-of-war into the Mediterranean to join Blake and to carry him fresh
instructions; one of which was to block up the port of Cadiz, in which
there was a fleet of forty sail, intended to secure the flota expected
from the Indies, and, at the same time, to prevent the flota from coming
in without sharing in the riches that were on board. Blake and Montague
executed their orders with equal skill and industry, taking care to
obtain a supply of fresh provisions and water, as often as they had
occasion, from the coast of Portugal. Thither, for that purpose, they
had sailed with the greatest part of the fleet, when the squadron from
the Indies approached Cadiz. Rear-admiral Stayner, with seven frigates,
plied to and fro, till eight large ships came in view, which he
presently recognised as the flota for which he was looking out; whereas
the Spaniards took his vessels, because they lay very low in the water,
for fishermen. This gave him an opportunity of coming up with and
fighting them, though the weather hindered four of his frigates from
acting. Yet with the _Speaker_, the _Bridgewater_, and the _Plymouth_ he
did his business; and, after an obstinate engagement, sunk two, ran two
more aground, and took two of the Spanish vessels; so that two only

In one of those that were destroyed was the Marquis of Badajoz, of the
family of Lopez, who had been Governor of Peru for the King of Spain,
who thus perished with the marchioness, his wife, and their daughter.
The eldest son and his brother were saved and brought safely to the
generals with the prize, wherein were two millions of pieces of eight.
Soon after, General Montague, with the young Marquis of Badajoz, and
part of the fleet to escort the silver, returned to England, delivered
the bullion into the mint, after which the young marquis was set at
liberty. For this success, a thanksgiving, with a narrative to be read
thereon, was appointed by the parliament, who issued their declaration
of war against Spain.

Admiral Blake continued to cruise before the haven of Cadiz and in the
Straits till the month of April, 1657; and having then information of
another Plate fleet, which had put into the haven of Santa-Cruz in the
island of Teneriffe, he immediately sailed thither, and arrived before
the town on April 20th. Here he found the flota, consisting of six
galleons very richly laden, and ten other vessels. The latter lay within
the port, with a strong barricade before them; the galleons without the
boom, because they drew too much water to lay within it. The port itself
was strongly fortified, having on the north a large castle well supplied
with artillery, and seven forts united by a line communication, well
lined with musketeers. The Spanish governor thought the place so secure,
and his own dispositions so well made, that when the master of a Dutch
ship desired leave to sail, because he apprehended Blake would presently
attack the ships in the harbour, the Spaniard answered tartly, "Get you
gone, if you will, and let Blake come, if he dares."

The admiral, after viewing the enemy's preparations, called a council of
war, wherein it was resolved to attempt destroying the enemy's ships;
for it was impossible to bring them off: and to this end he sent Captain
Stayner with a squadron to attack them. Stayner soon forced his passage
into the bay, while other frigates played on the forts and line, and
hindered them from giving the ships much disturbance. Stayner's squadron
was quickly supported by Blake with the whole fleet, who boarded the
Spanish galleons, and in a few hours made himself master of them all,
and then set them on fire; so that the whole Spanish fleet was burnt
down to the water's edge, except two ships which sank outright; and
then, the wind veering to south-west, he passed with his fleet safe out
of the port again, losing in this dangerous attempt no more than
forty-eight men killed, and having about one hundred and twenty wounded.
It was without question the boldest undertaking of its kind that had
ever been performed; and the Spaniards, who are romantic enough in their
own conduct, were so much astonished at his, that they quite lost their
spirits, and thenceforward never thought themselves safe either from
numbers or fortifications.

When the Protector received the news of this glorious success, he
immediately sent it by his secretary, Thurloe, to the parliament then
sitting; and they, on hearing the particulars, ordered a day to be set
apart for a thanksgiving; a ring of the value of five hundred pounds to
be given to the general as a testimony of his country's gratitude; a
present of one hundred to the captain who brought the news; and their
thanks to all the officers and soldiers concerned in the action.
Captain Richard Stayner, returning soon after, was knighted by the
Protector; nor was it long before Blake and the fleet returned, which
put an end to the Spanish war by sea; for the Protector had lately
entered into a closer conjunction with France; and, in consequence
thereof, sent over a body of land-forces into Flanders, where they
assisted in taking the fortress and port of Dunkirk, which was delivered
into the hands of the English, who kept it till after the Restoration.

Another characteristic incident, and one which shows the probity and
integrity of Blake, deserves mention. His brother, Captain Benjamin
Blake, for whom he had a very tender affection, having been guilty of
some misdemeanour or misbehaviour in the action at Santa-Cruz, was, by
sentence from Blake, removed from his ship, and the command of it given
to another. This was such an instance of disinterested discipline as
must have had a very strong effect on the minds of all who served under
him; and we need not wonder that such extraordinary things were
performed by men so perfectly disciplined.

In a short time after the destruction of the enemy's fleet at Teneriffe
we find Blake cruising again off the harbour of Cadiz; where, perceiving
his ships had become foul, and that his own health and spirits hourly
wore away, he resolved to sail for England. His distemper was a
complication of dropsy and scurvy, brought upon him by being for three
years together at sea, and wanting all that time the conveniences
requisite for the cure of his disease. In his passage home it increased
upon him, and he became so sensible of his approaching end, that he
frequently inquired for land; which, however, he did not live to see,
dying as his ship the _St. George_ entered Plymouth Sound, on August
17th, 1657, at about fifty-nine years of age. His body was the next day
embalmed and wrapped in lead, and, by order of the Protector, conveyed
by water to Greenwich.

On September 4th, after the body had lain several days in state, it was
carried from Greenwich in a magnificent barge, covered with velvet,
adorned with escutcheons and pendants, and accompanied by his brothers,
remoter relations, and their servants, in mourning; by Oliver's privy
council, the commissioners of the admiralty and navy, the lord-mayor and
aldermen of London, the field-officers of the army, and many other
persons of honour and quality, in a great number of barges and wherries
covered with mourning, marshalled and ordered by the heralds-at-arms,
who directed and attended the solemnity. Thus they passed to Westminster
Bridge; and, at their landing, proceeded in the same manner, through a
guard of several regiments of foot, to the abbey. The funeral procession
over, the body was interred in a vault, built on purpose, in the chapel
of Henry VII.

Some time after the Restoration an order was sent to the dean and
chapter of Westminster, directing them to cause such bodies as had been
interred in that church during the troubles to be removed; and on
September 12th, 1661, the body of Blake was removed from the abbey and
buried in the churchyard.

Though Blake was upon principle a supporter of the Commonwealth, his
character was such that he won from the royalists some of the warmest
tributes he received.

Dr. Bates, in drawing his character, says, "He was a man deserving
praise, even from an enemy. Being advanced to a command at sea, he
subdued the Scilly Islands, near home; and having attained the office
and title of an admiral, performed things worthy of immortal memory
abroad. For he humbled the pride of France; reduced Portugal to reason;
broke the naval force of Holland, and drove them to the shelter of their
ports; suppressed the rovers of Barbary, and twice triumphed over Spain.
Alone blamable in this, that he complied with the parricides." In the
words of Anthony Wood, "He was a man wholly devoted to his country's
service; resolute in his undertakings, and most faithful in the
performance of them. With him, valour seldom missed its reward, nor
cowardice its punishment."

  [Illustration: THE DEFEAT OF SIR ANDREW BARTON. (_See page 39._)]



The causes of this war are differently stated, according to the humours
and opinions of different writers. The parliament, on the one side, was
jealous of its newly-acquired sovereignty, and expected extraordinary
marks of defference from the powers with which it corresponded. The
Dutch, on the other hand, were extremely alarmed when they found the
English Commonwealth insisting upon the sovereignty of the sea, the
right of fishing, and of licensing to fish, and disposed to carry the
point of saluting by the flag to the utmost limit. Under these
conditions of excitement and tension, anxiety led to watchfulness and
proximity to rupture.

It was in the spring of the year 1652 that the war broke out; but it was
warmly disputed then, and has not been fully settled since, who were the
actual aggressors. It is clear, however, that the Dutch had secretly
made great preparations for war, and had actually one hundred and fifty
ships of force at sea; whereas the English parliament had equipped no
more than the usual squadron for guarding the narrow seas, which was a
fleet of twenty-five ships under the command of Admiral Blake.

The first blood drawn in this quarrel was occasioned by Commodore Young,
who fired upon a Dutch man-of-war upon the captain's refusing him the
honour of the flag. This was on May 14th, 1652, and would have attracted
much more public attention if an engagement of greater consequence had
not happened immediately after.

Admiral Van Tromp was at sea with a fleet of upwards of forty sail, to
protect, as was given out, the Dutch trade. This fleet coming into the
Downs on May the 18th, met with a small squadron under the command of
Major Bourne, to whom the admiral sent word that he was forced in by
stress of weather; Bourne answered roundly, that the truth of this would
best appear by the shortness of his stay, and immediately sent advice of
it to his admiral. The next day, Van Tromp, with his fleet, bore down
upon Blake in Dover road, and on his coming near him Blake fired thrice
at his flag; upon which the Dutch admiral returned a broadside. For
nearly four hours Blake was engaged almost alone with the Dutch
squadron; but, by degrees, the weather permitted his fleet to come in to
his assistance. Towards the close of the engagement, which lasted from
four in the afternoon till nine at night, Bourne joined him with his
eight ships, upon which the enemy bore away.

In this battle the victory was clearly on the side of the English, as
the Dutch writers themselves confess, there being two Dutch ships taken
and one disabled; whereas the English lost none: and yet the forces were
very unequal; for the Dutch fleet consisted of forty-two ships and
Blake's at first only of fifteen; and even at the end of the fight of no
more than twenty-three. Each of the admirals wrote an account of this
affair to their respective masters, wherein they plainly contradict each
other: but with this difference, that there is no disproving any one
fact mentioned in Blake's letter; whereas there are several inaccuracies
in that of Van Tromp. The states themselves were so sensible of being in
the wrong, and at the same time so mortified that their fleet,
notwithstanding its superiority, had been beaten, that they apologised
for it, and sent over another ambassador, Adrian Paauw, to proceed with
the treaty. But the demands of the parliament were, in their opinion,
too high; so all thoughts of peace were dismissed on both sides, and war
was proclaimed in Holland on July 8th.

The English in the meantime, in virtue of the act of navigation, and by
way of reprisal for the late damages, affronts, and hostilities,
received from the states-general and their subjects, took many Dutch
ships. On June 11th Blake brought in eleven merchant ships with their
convoy coming from Nantes. On June 12th Captains Taylor and Peacock, in
two English frigates, engaged two Dutch men-of-war on the coast of
Flanders, for refusing to strike; one of which was taken and the other
stranded: and, on the 13th of the same month, Blake took twenty-six
merchant ships, with their convoys, homeward bound from France. On July
4th Vice-admiral Ayscue, who, on his late return from the reduction of
Barbadoes, had taken ten merchant ships and four men-of-war, attacked
the St. Ubes fleet of about forty sail, of which nearly thirty were
taken, burnt or stranded, and plundered, on the French coast.

After this, while the states with the utmost diligence were getting
ready a fleet of seventy men-of-war, under the command of Admiral Van
Tromp, Blake, with about sixty, received orders to sail to the north to
disturb and distress the Dutch fishery. Sir George Ayscue, who, since
the destruction of the St. Ubes fleet, had taken five Dutch merchant
ships, was left with the remainder of the English fleet, consisting of
no more than seven men-of-war, in the Downs. While Blake triumphed in
the north, Tromp, with his great fleet, came into the mouth of the
Thames, in the hope of either surprising Ayscue or of insulting the
coast. Failing in this, he sailed northward to intercept Blake; but his
ships being dispersed by a storm, he was disappointed in that scheme
also, and lost five or six frigates, which fell into the hands of Blake
on his return towards the south.

The people of Holland were very much dissatisfied with the conduct of
Admiral Van Tromp, who, first justifying himself to the states, laid
down his commission to gratify the people. The main objection against
him was his being no great seaman; and this engaged the states to cast
their eyes upon De Ruyter, the ablest man among them in his profession.
He accepted the command, but accepted it unwillingly; for he saw that
as things then stood the English were superior. The parliament, in the
meantime, took care to strengthen Sir George Ayscue's fleet, so that it
increased to thirty-eight sail; of which only two were large ships, and
the rest frigates and fire-ships. With these he put to sea in search of
the Dutch, took many rich prizes, and at last met with De Ruyter, who,
with a fleet equal to his own, was convoying home between fifty and
sixty merchantmen. This was on August 16th, 1652, and as our admiral was
cruising off Plymouth. It was about one in the afternoon when the fleets
came in sight. De Ruyter took twenty of the merchant ships into his line
of battle, and was then very ready to engage. The fight began about
four, when the English admiral, with nine others, charged through the
Dutch fleet, and having thus gained the weather-gauge, attacked them
again, and continued fighting till night parted them; the rest of Sir
George's fleet having very little to do in the action. The rear admiral,
Peck, lost his leg, and soon afterwards died; and most of the captains
who did their duty were wounded. One fire-ship was lost. On the other
side the Dutch were miserably torn, so that many of their best ships
were scarcely able to keep the sea. Sir George Ayscue followed them for
some time the next day, and then returned into Plymouth Sound to refresh
his men and to repair his ships.

Admiral Blake, who was now in the Channel, did infinite damage to the
enemy; and, some hostilities having been committed upon the coast of
Newfoundland by the French, he attacked a strong squadron of their ships
going to the relief of Dunkirk, and took or destroyed them all, by which
means this important place fell into the hands of the Spaniards. The
Dutch, seeing their trade thus ruined, and apprehensive of still worse
consequences, fitted out another fleet under the command of De Witte,
and sent it to join De Ruyter, who was appointed to bring home a large
number of merchantmen. After the junction of these fleets, and the
sending of their convoy into Holland, the admirals showed a design of
attacking the English navy, and Blake gave them a fair opportunity of
executing their intention. But when it came to the point the Dutch
fleet covered themselves behind a sandbank to avoid action.

Blake, however, engaged them on September the 28th, dividing his fleet
into three squadrons; the first commanded by himself, the second by
Vice-admiral Penn, and the third by Rear-admiral Bourne. It was about
three when the engagement began, and the English quickly discovered
their rashness in attacking an enemy under such disadvantages; for the
_Sovereign_, a new ship, struck immediately on the sands, and so did
several others; but, getting off again, the English fleet stood aloof
till De Witte came freely from his advantages to a fair engagement,
which was boldly begun by Bourne and gallantly seconded by the rest of
the fleet. A Dutch man-of-war, attempting to board the _Sovereign_, was
sunk by her side, and this by the first discharge she made. Soon after,
a Dutch rear-admiral was taken by Captain Mildmay, and two other
men-of-war sunk, a third blowing up before the end of the fight. De
Witte was then glad to retire, and was pursued by the English fleet as
long as it was light. The next day they continued the chase till they
were within twelve leagues of the Dutch shore, and then, seeing the
Dutch fleet entering into the Goree, Blake returned in triumph to the
Downs, and thence into port, having lost about three hundred men, and
having as many wounded. For the reception of the wounded the parliament
took care to provide hospitals near Dover and Deal, and on the return of
the fleet sent their thanks to the admiral and his officers.

It being now the beginning of November, Blake, who thought the season of
action over, detached twenty of his ships for the security of the
Newcastle colliers; twelve more were sent to Plymouth, and fifteen had
retired into the river, in order to repair the damage which they had
received in a storm. Admiral Tromp, who had again taken command, having
intelligence of this, and that Blake had with him no more than
thirty-seven ships, and many of these but thinly manned, resolved to
attack him in the Downs, not far from the place where they had fought
before. On November the 29th he presented himself before the English
fleet, and Blake, after holding a council of war, resolved to engage
notwithstanding the great superiority of the enemy; but the wind rising
they were obliged to defer fighting until the next day, and that night
our fleet rode a little above Dover road. In the morning, both fleets
plied westward, Blake having the weather-gauge. About eleven the battle
began with great fury; but, very unluckily for the English, half of
their small fleet could not engage. The _Triumph_, in which Blake was in
person, the _Victory_ and the _Vanguard_ bore almost the whole stress of
the fight, having twenty Dutch men-of-war upon them at once; and yet
they fought it out till it was dark. Late in the evening, the _Garland_,
commanded by Captain Batten, and the _Bonaventure_, Captain Hookston,
clapped Von Tromp aboard, killed his secretary and purser by his side,
and would certainly have taken his ship if they had not been boarded by
two Dutch flag-ships, by whom, after their captains were killed, both
these ships were taken. Blake, who saw this with indignation, pushed so
far to their relief that he was very near sharing the same fate, if the
_Vanguard_ and _Sapphire_ had not stood by him with the utmost
resolution and at last brought him off. The _Hercules_ was run ashore in
the retreat, and if the night had not sheltered them most of the ships
that were engaged must have been lost; but they took the advantage of
its obscurity, and retired first to Dover and then into the river.

Admiral Tromp continued a day or two in the Downs, sailed from thence
towards Calais, took part of the Barbadoes fleet, and some other prizes,
and then sailed to the Isle of Rhé with a broom at his top-mast head,
intimating that he would sweep the narrow seas of English ships. There
appears, however, no such reason for boasting as the Dutch writers
suggest: their fleet had indeed many advantages; yet they bought their
success very dear, one of their best ships being blown up and two

The parliament showed their steadiness by caressing Blake after his
defeat, and naming him, in conjunction with Deane and Monk, their
generals at sea for another year. In order to the more speedy manning
the navy, they issued a proclamation, offering considerable rewards to
such as entered themselves within the term of forty days; they also
raised the sailors' pay from nineteen to twenty-four shillings a month:
and this had so good an effect that in six weeks' time they had a fleet
of sixty men-of-war ready to put to sea; forty under Blake in the river,
and twenty more at Portsmouth. On February 11th both fleets joined near
Beachy Head, and thence Admiral Blake sailed over against Portland,
where he lay across the Channel, in order to welcome Tromp on his
return. This was a surprise to the Dutch admiral, who did not think it
possible, after the late defeat, for the parliament to fit out, in so
short a period, a fleet capable of facing him again. He had between two
and three hundred merchant ships under convoy, and was therefore much
amazed when, sailing up the Channel, he found Blake so stationed that it
was impossible to avoid fighting. English and Dutch authors vary pretty
much as to the strength of their respective fleets; but, on comparing
the admirals' letters, they appear to have been nearly equal, each
having about seventy sail.

The Generals Blake and Deane were both on board the _Triumph_, and with
twelve stout ships led their fleet, and fell in first with the Dutch on
February the 18th, 1653, about eight in the morning. They were roughly
treated before the rest of the fleet came up, though gallantly seconded
by Lawson in the _Fairfax_, and Captain Mildmay in the _Vanguard_. In
the _Triumph_ Blake was wounded in the thigh by a piece of iron which a
shot had driven, the same piece of iron tearing General Deane's coat and
breeches. Captain Ball, who commanded the ship, was shot dead and fell
at Blake's feet; his secretary, Mr. Sparrow, was likewise killed while
receiving his orders: besides whom he lost a hundred seamen, the rest
being most of them wounded and the ship so miserably shattered that it
had little share in the next two days' fights.

In the _Fairfax_ there were a hundred men killed, the ship being
wretchedly mauled; the _Vanguard_ lost her captain and a large number of
men. The _Prosperous_, a ship of forty-four guns, was boarded by De
Ruyter and taken; but, De Ruyter's ship being at that instant boarded by
an English man-of-war, Captain Vesey, in the _Merlin_ frigate, entered
the _Prosperous_, and retook her. The _Assistance_, vice-admiral of the
blue squadron, was disabled in the beginning of the fight and brought
off to Portsmouth, whither the _Advice_ quickly followed her, being no
longer able to keep the sea. Tromp, who was long engaged with Blake,
lost most of his officers and had his ship disabled; De Ruyter lost his
main and foretop mast, and very narrowly escaped being taken. One Dutch
man-of-war was blown up; six more were either sunk or taken.

Friday night was spent in repairing the damage and making the necessary
dispositions for a second engagement. On Saturday morning the enemy was
seen again seven leagues off Weymouth, whither the English plied, and
came up with them in the afternoon, about three leagues to the
north-west of the Isle of Wight. Tromp had again drawn his fleet
together, and ranged it in the form of a half-moon, enclosing the
merchant ships within a semi-circle; and in that posture he maintained a
retreating fight. The English made several desperate attacks, striving
to break through to the merchant ships; during which De Ruyter's ship
was again so roughly treated that she was towed out of the fleet. At
last the merchantmen, finding they could be no longer protected, began
to shift for themselves, throwing part of their goods overboard for the
greater expedition. According to Blake's own letter, eight men-of-war
and fourteen or sixteen merchant ships were taken, and the fight
continued all night.

On Sunday morning the Dutch were near Boulogne, where the fight was
renewed, but with little effect. Tromp had slipped away in the dark with
his merchantmen to Calais sands, where he anchored that day with forty
sail; the wind favouring him, he thence tided it home, our fleet
pursuing but slowly; for Blake, though he feared not Dutchmen, yet
dreaded their shallow coasts: however, the Captains Lawson, Martin, and
Graver, took each a Dutch man-of-war, and Penn picked up many of their
merchantmen. On the whole, the Dutch had the better of the fight the
first day, lost ground the second, and were clearly beaten the third.
They lost eleven men-of-war--their own accounts say but nine--thirty
merchantmen, fifteen hundred men killed, and as many wounded. As for the
English, they lost only the _Sampson_, which Captain Batten, finding
disabled, sank of his own accord; though it is certain our loss in
killed and wounded was little inferior to that of the Dutch.

Van Tromp now convoyed a great fleet of merchantmen by the north, trying
that route to escape the difficulties of the channel; whereupon our navy
followed him to Aberdeen, yet to no purpose: for he escaped them both
going and coming back, which gave him an opportunity of coming into the
Downs, making some prizes, and battering Dover Castle. This scene of
triumph lasted but a week; for on May 31st Tromp had intelligence that
Monk and Deane, who commanded the English fleet, were approaching, and
that their whole fleet consisted of ninety-five sail of men-of-war and
five fire-ships. The Dutch had ninety-eight men-of-war and six
fire-ships, and both fleets were commanded by men the most remarkable
for courage and conduct in either nation; so that it was generally
conceived this battle would prove decisive.

On June 2nd, in the morning, the English fleet discovered the enemy,
whom they immediately attacked with great vigour. The action began about
eleven o'clock, and the first broadside from the enemy carried off the
brave Admiral Deane, whose body was almost cut in two by a chain-shot.
Monk, with much presence of mind, covered his body with his cloak: and
here appeared the wisdom of having both admirals on board the same ship;
for as no flag was taken in the fleet had no notice of the accident, and
the fight continued with the same warmth as if it had not happened. The
blue squadron charged through the enemy, and Rear-admiral Lawson bid
fair for taking De Ruyter; and after he was obliged to leave his ship,
sank another of forty-two guns commanded by Captain Buller. The fight
continued very hot till three o'clock, when the Dutch fell into great
confusion, and Tromp saw himself obliged to make a kind of running
fight till nine in the evening, when a stout ship, commanded by
Cornelius van Velsen, blew up. This increased the consternation in which
they were before; and though Tromp used every method in his power to
oblige the officers to do their duty, and even fired upon such ships as
drew out of the line, yet it was to no purpose, but rather served to
increase their misfortune. In the night Blake arrived in the English
fleet with a squadron of eighteen ships, and so had his share in the
second day's engagement.

Tromp did all that was consistent with his honour to avoid fighting the
next day; but he would not do more, so that the English fleet came up
with him again by eight in the morning and engaged with the utmost fury;
the battle continued very hot for about four hours, and Vice-admiral
Penn boarded Tromp twice, and had taken him, if he had not been
seasonably relieved by De Witte and De Ruyter. At last the Dutch fell
again into confusion, which was so great, that a plain flight quickly
followed; and, instead of trusting to their arms, they sought shelter on
the flat coast of Newport, from whence, with difficulty enough, they
escaped to Zealand. Our writers agree that the Dutch had six of their
best ships sunk, two blown up, and eleven taken; six of their principal
captains were made prisoners, and upwards of fifteen hundred men. Among
the ships before-mentioned, one was a vice-admiral and two were
rear-admirals. The Dutch historians, indeed, confess the loss of but
eight men-of-war. On our side, Admiral Deane and one captain were all
the persons of note killed; of private men there were but few, and not a
ship was missing; so that a more signal victory could scarcely have been
obtained, or, indeed, desired. After this victory the Dutch sent
ambassadors to England to negotiate a peace almost on any terms.

The states were, however, far from trusting entirely to negotiations,
but, at the time they treated, laboured with the utmost diligence to
repair their past losses and to fit out a new fleet. This was a very
difficult task; and, in order to effect it, they were forced to raise
the seamen's wages, though their trade was at a full stop; they came
down in person to their ports, and saw their men embarked, and advanced
them wages beforehand, and promised them if they would fight once more
they would never ask them to fight again.

Yet all this would hardly have sufficed if the industry of De Witte, in
equipping their new-built ships, and the care and skill of Van Tromp in
refitting their old ones, and encouraging the seamen, had not succeeded
in equipping a fresh fleet, of upwards of ninety ships, by the latter
end of July, a thing admired then, and scarcely credible now. These were
victualled for five months; and the scheme laid down by the states was
to force the English fleet to leave their ports by coming to block up
ours. But first it was resolved Van Tromp should sail to the mouth of
the Texel, where De Ruyter, with twenty-five sail of stout ships, was
kept in by the English fleet, in order to try if they might not be
provoked to leave their station, and thereby give the Dutch squadron an
opportunity of coming out.

On July 29th, 1653, the Dutch fleet appeared in sight of the English,
upon which the latter did their utmost to engage them; but Van Tromp,
having in view the release of De Witte, rather than fighting, kept off;
so that it was seven at night before General Monk in the _Resolution_,
with about thirty ships, great and small, came up with him and charged
through his fleet. It growing dark soon after nothing more passed that
night, Monk sailing to the south and Van Tromp to the northward, by
which, unsuspected by the English, he both joined De Witte's squadron
and gained the weather-gauge. The next day proving very foul and windy,
the sea ran so high that it was impossible for the fleets to engage, the
English particularly finding it hard enough to avoid running upon the
enemy's coasts.

On Sunday, July 31st, the weather having become favourable, both fleets
engaged with terrible fury. The battle lasted at least eight hours, and
was the most hard fought fight of any that happened during the war. The
Dutch fire-ships being managed with great dexterity, many of the large
vessels in the English fleet were in the utmost danger of perishing by
them, and the _Triumph_ was so effectually fired, that most of her crew
threw themselves into the sea; and yet the few who stayed behind
succeeded in extinguishing the flames. Lawson engaged De Ruyter briskly,
killed and wounded more than half his men, and so disabled his ship that
it was towed out of the fleet; whereupon the admiral, returning in a
galiot, went on board another ship. About noon, Van Tromp was shot
through the body with a musket-ball, as he was giving orders. This
effectually discouraged his countrymen, so that by two they began to
retreat in great confusion, having but one flag standing among them. The
lightest frigates in the English fleet pursued them closely, till the
Dutch admiral, perceiving they were but small and of no great strength,
turned his helm and resolved to engage them; but some larger ships
coming to their assistance, the Dutchman was taken. It was night by the
time their scattered fleet reached the Texel, while the English, fearing
their flats, rode warily about six leagues off.

This was a terrible blow to the Dutch, who, according to Monk's letter,
lost no less than thirty ships; but from better intelligence it appeared
that four of these had escaped, two into a port of Zealand, and two into
Hamburg. Their loss, however, was very great; five captains were taken
prisoners, between four and five thousand men killed, and twenty-six
ships of war either burnt or sunk. On the side of the English there were
two ships only, viz., the _Oak_ and the _Hunter_ frigate burnt, six
captains killed, and upwards of five hundred seamen. There were also six
captains wounded and about eight hundred private men.

The parliament then sitting ordered gold chains to be sent to the
Generals Blake and Monk, and likewise to Vice-admiral Penn and
Rear-admiral Lawson; they sent also chains to the rest of the
flag-officers, and medals to the captains. August 25th was appointed for
a day of solemn thanksgiving; and, General Monk being then in town,
Cromwell, at a great feast in the city, put the gold chain about his
neck, and obliged him to wear it all dinner-time. As for the states,
they supported their loss with inexpressible courage and constancy, and
buried Tromp with great magnificence at the public expense.

Hostilities between the two states had not continued quite two years,
and yet, in that time, the English took no less than one thousand seven
hundred prizes, valued by the Dutch themselves at sixty-two millions of
guilders, or nearly six millions sterling. On the contrary, those taken
by the Dutch did not amount to a fourth part either in number or value.
Within that period the English were victorious in no less than five
general battles, some of which were of several days' duration; whereas
the Hollanders cannot justly boast of having gained one; for the action
between De Ruyter and Ayscue, in which they pretended some advantage,
was no general fight; and the advantage gained by Tromp in the Downs is
owned to have been gained over a part only of the English fleet. Short
as this quarrel was, it brought the Dutch to greater extremities than
their eighty years of war with Spain.




The second Dutch war was declared in Holland in January and in England
in February, 1665. It arose out of the conflicts of the rival companies
of Dutch and English merchants in the East and West Indies and in
Africa, and the refusal of Charles II. to remedy a condition of things
which had become unendurable.

In 1664 the Dutch sent an embassy to the English court, to complain of
the depredations from which they suffered at the hands of the
Anglo-African company, of which the king's brother, the Duke of York,
was then governor; but the king replied that he had received no
particular information of the affairs in question and that the rival
companies must settle their differences among themselves. On the other
hand, the English merchants appealed to him with so much persistence,
that he finally demanded satisfaction of the Dutch.

The first action of consequence that happened after the war actually
broke out was an attack made upon a Dutch fleet coming richly laden from
Smyrna upon the Spanish coast near Cadiz. This consisted of forty
merchant ships, some of them very large, and well provided with
ordnance; and their convoy was composed of four third-rate men-of-war.
Sir Thomas Allen, who commanded the English squadron, had with him about
nine ships. With these he attacked the enemy so successfully, that
having killed their commodore, Brackel, and taken or sunk four of their
richest ships, he drove the rest into the Bay of Cadiz, where for some
time he blocked them up. A misfortune of the same kind befell the Dutch
Bourdeaux fleet, out of which about one hundred and thirty ships were

These heavy misfortunes obliged the Dutch to lay an immediate embargo on
all vessels in their ports; by which their fisheries and their annual
commerce were stopped for that season. They likewise settled a fund of
fourteen millions of guilders for the support of the war; and, in order
to show that there ought to be some difference between such wars as are
made by trading nations, and those entered into by arbitrary princes,
for the mere thirst of dominion, they ordered about fifty English and
Scotch vessels, which had been seized in their harbours, to be set at
liberty; and, on the arrival of these ships in England, the civility was
returned by a like release of all the Dutch ships that had been stopped

The English fleet, which was the first ready, consisted of one hundred
and fourteen sail of men-of-war and frigates, twenty-eight fire-ships
and ketches, having about twenty-two thousand seamen and soldiers on
board. The whole was commanded by the Duke of York, as lord
high-admiral; Prince Rupert was admiral of the white; and the Earl of
Sandwich who, as Captain Montague had won distinction under Blake, was
admiral of the blue. On April 21st, 1665, the English sailed for the
Dutch coast, and on the 28th sent in a squadron so near the shore and
harbour of the Texel that the country was exceedingly alarmed. After
remaining there a month, however, the fleet was so ruffled by a storm,
that it was found necessary to retire towards our own shore.

This opportunity the Dutch took of sending out their fleet, which, by
the latter end of May, appeared about the Dogger Sands. It was divided
into seven squadrons, the first under Admiral Opdam, consisting of
fourteen men-of-war and two fire-ships; the second under John Everts, of
the like force; the third commanded by Admiral Cortenaer, consisting of
fourteen men-of-war and one fire-ship; the fourth under Stillingwert,
composed likewise of fourteen men-of-war and a fire-ship; the fifth
conducted by Van Tromp, the son of the famous old admiral, who fought
with Blake, made up of sixteen men-of-war and two fire-ships; the sixth
under Cornelius Everts, consisting of fourteen men-of-war and a
fire-ship; the seventh commanded by Schram, comprising sixteen
men-of-war and two fire-ships--in all, a hundred and three men-of-war,
eleven fire-ships, and seven yachts. A mighty fleet indeed!

The Duke of York having retired with our navy from the Dutch coast when
they came out, afforded them the opportunity to fall upon our Hamburg
fleet, which they did not neglect; capturing the greater part of it,
whereby our merchants suffered a loss of nearly two hundred thousand
pounds. This exceedingly exasperated the English, and, at the same time,
gave great encouragement to the Dutch.

Admiral Opdam, who commanded the latter, was a prudent as well as a
truly gallant commander, but he was not allowed the liberty of action
absolutely necessary at such a crisis. No sooner was he out at sea than
he received a letter from the states directing him to fight at all
events; and this order he resolved to obey, though contrary to the
advice of most of his officers and to his own opinion. "I am," said he,
addressing the council of war, "entirely in your sentiments: but here
are my orders. To-morrow my head shall be bound with laurel or with
cypress." On June 3rd the English and Dutch navies engaged about three
in the morning off Lowestoft; when the English had the weather-gauge--an
advantage they knew how to use as well as keep.

Things went at first very equally on both sides; several squadrons
charging through and through, without any remarkable advantage. But
about noon, the Earl of Sandwich, with the blue squadron, fell into the
centre of the Dutch fleet, and divided it into two parts, thus beginning
the confusion which ended in their defeat. The Duke of York in the
_Royal Charles_, a ship of eighty guns, and Admiral Opdam in the
_Eendracht_, of eighty-four, were closely engaged. The fight continued
for some hours with great obstinacy, and the duke was often in the
utmost danger. Several persons of distinction were killed on board his
ship, particularly the Earl of Falmouth, the king's favourite, Lord
Muskerry and Mr. Boyle, son to the Earl of Corke, with one ball, and so
near the duke that he was covered with their blood and brains; nay, a
splinter from the last-mentioned gentleman's skull razed his hand. About
one, the Dutch admiral blew up, with a prodigious noise; but how the
accident occurred is not known. In this vessel, together with Admiral
Opdam, perished five hundred men, only five of the whole crew escaping;
many of those lost being volunteers, of the best families of Holland,
and not a few Frenchmen, who had taken this opportunity of being present
in a sea-fight.

A little after this unlucky blow, the Dutch received a greater. Four
fine ships, the largest of sixty, the least of forty guns, ran foul of
each other, and were burnt by one fire-ship, and soon after, three
larger vessels, by the same accident, shared the same fate. The
_Orange_, a ship of seventy-five guns, after a most gallant defence was
also burnt; and thus, towards four in the afternoon, all fell into
confusion. Vice-admiral Stillingwert was shot through the middle by a
cannon-ball; and Vice-admiral Cortenaer received a shot in his thigh, of
which he instantly died. Their ships bearing out of the line on the
death of their commanders, without striking their flags, drew many after
them; so that, by eight at night, Tromp, who held out bravely to the
last, and fought retreating, had not more than thirty ships left with

According to English accounts, the Dutch had eighteen ships taken, and
fourteen sunk in this action, besides such as were burnt or blown up.
Yet their accounts admit of no more than nine ships taken, one, their
admiral, blown up, and eight burnt. The English lost the _Charity_, a
ship of forty-six guns, with most of her men, in the beginning of the
fight; about two hundred and fifty men killed, and three hundred and
forty wounded; on the other side, they lost at least six thousand men,
including two thousand three hundred taken prisoners.

There is very little room for doubt that if there had not been some
mismanagement on the side of the English, this, which was the first,
might also have been the last action in this war; for the Dutch fleet
fled in great confusion, and if the English had pressed them vigorously,
as they might have done, having the wind, so many ships might have been
either sunk, disabled, or taken as must have forced a peace; in favour
of which there was a very strong party in Holland, who did not like the
domination of the pensionary De Witte and the dependence in which he
held the states, who seldom ventured to do anything of importance when
he was absent. This great opportunity was lost through the English
fleet's slacking sail in the night, contrary, it is said, to the express
directions of His Royal Highness the duke before retiring to rest.

It is far from being an easy matter to determine how this came to pass.
But the circumstances appear to have been as follows. The duke, as lord
high-admiral, had two captains on board his ship--Sir William Penn, who
had the rank of a vice-admiral, and Captain, afterwards Sir, John
Harman. Sir William had retired as well as the duke, so that the command
remained with Captain Harman, who was himself at the helm, when one Mr.
Brounker, who was of the duke's bed-chamber, came and told him that "he
ought to consider how much His Royal Highness's person had been already
exposed in the action, and how much greater risk he might run if their
ship, which was the headmost of the fleet, should fall in single with
those of the enemy upon their own coasts." Harman heard him, but
answered like an honest brave man as he was that he could do nothing
without orders. Brounker upon this went to the duke's cabin and returned
with orders, in His Royal Highness's name, to make less sail; these
Captain Harman, without the least scruple, obeyed, though it caused some
confusion in the fleet, several ships coming very near to running foul
of each other.

In the morning the duke expressed surprise and resentment at finding the
fleet at such a distance from the Dutch, that there was no longer any
hope of coming up with them. It then appeared that either through
cowardice, or something worse, Brounker had carried Captain Harman
orders which he never received. However, this was concealed from His
Royal Highness at the time, and other excuses made, such as a brisk wind
from shore and their fire-ships being all spent. The truth, however, was
very soon whispered about, though the duke was not acquainted with it
for more than six months after; upon which he discharged Brounker his
service, and would have done more, if the celebrated Duchess of
Cleveland, then Countess of Castlemain, with whom he was a favourite,
had not by her interest with the king protected him. However, at the end
of the war when the House of Commons was out of humour, the matter was
mentioned and inquired into; upon which Brounker, who was a member, was
expelled the house and ordered to be impeached, but was never


After the defeat of the Dutch off Harwich, the Duke of York returned to
England to report himself to the king; and the command of the fleet now
lying in Southwold Bay fell upon the Earl of Sandwich, who had
contributed so much to the late victory. While here news reached the
earl that two rich Dutch squadrons had put to sea; whereupon he
immediately prepared to follow them with Sir George Ayscue as
vice-admiral, and Sir Thomas Tyddiman as admiral of the rear, determined
either to intercept De Ruyter, the Dutch admiral, on his return, or to
take and burn the Turkey and East India fleets of which they had news.

Both these schemes were doomed to failure. De Ruyter returned
unexpectedly by the north of Scotland and arrived safely in Holland,
where he was immediately promoted to the chief command of the fleet. The
Turkey and India fleet--consisting of twenty sail under the command of
Commodore Bitter--took the same route; but having intelligence of the
approach of the English, took shelter in the port of Bergen in Norway.

Here the Danish governor promised them all the assistance he could give,
and to strengthen his hands the Dutch landed forty-one pieces of cannon,
which he disposed in a line in front of the port, the Dutch forming
another line of their largest ships across the bay, and then waiting the
arrival of the English fleet. Bergen, being a neutral port, ought to
have been an asylum of safety for these Dutch merchantmen, but the King
of Denmark, hoping to share the plunder, showed himself willing to treat
with the Earl of Sandwich for liberty to attack the convoy in port. The
earl, however, had no desire to share the spoil, and, impatient of
delay, ordered Sir Thomas Tyddiman with fourteen sail of men-of-war and
three fire-ships to enter the bay and cut out the Dutch squadron. This
he attempted with great courage; though the wind was against him and he
had to face a fierce fire from the castle, the line of guns, and the
Dutch ships. Eventually, he was compelled to bear out of the bay, which
he succeeded in doing without the loss of a ship; though five or six of
his squadron were very much damaged.

To relieve the Dutch squadron--now practically prisoners in the port of
Bergen--the Dutch manned a stout fleet, which put to sea under the
command of Admiral Ruyter, who was accompanied by De Witte, appointed,
with two other deputies by the states, to attend upon the admiral. After
meeting with many difficulties, the Dutch fleet succeeded in eluding
that of the English, and arrived safely before Bergen, where, in the
meantime, their friends had found a new enemy in their old defender. The
Danish governor had modestly desired a hundred thousand crowns for the
assistance he had given them in the late affair with the English, and
had threatened to sink them without ceremony if they offered to stir out
of the port before they had complied with his demand. The arrival of De
Ruyter's fleet made him change his tone, and he allowed them to sail
without paying the money, but kept the cannon they had put ashore.

Thus far, the Dutch were very successful; but on their return home the
fleet was scattered by a storm, in which they lost two fire-ships and
some of the merchantmen. The vice-admiral and rear-admiral of the East
India fleet, ships of very great value, with four men-of-war, were taken
by five English frigates, which the same storm had separated from their
fleet; and soon after four of their men-of-war, two fire-ships, and
thirty merchantmen joined our fleet instead of their own, and through
this mistake were all taken prisoners. This ended the operations of the
year 1665.


The year 1666 opened upon a new condition of affairs. The French having
declared in favour of the Dutch, Charles II. recalled his ambassador,
Lord Holles, from the French court, and sent the Earl of Sandwich as
ambassador to Spain; placing the fleet under the command of Prince
Rupert and the Duke of Albemarle, who had won distinction as General
Monk, the former to look after the French, who began to talk very high,
and the latter to act against the Dutch.

Prince Rupert and the Duke of Albemarle went on board the fleet on April
23rd, 1666, and sailed with it in the beginning of May. Towards the
latter end of the month a rumour reached the English court that the
French fleet, under the command of the Duke of Beaufort, was coming out
to the assistance of the Dutch; and orders were immediately despatched
to Prince Rupert to sail with the white squadron to engage it; which
order he proceeded to obey.

As Prince Rupert sailed from the Downs, the Dutch with their whole force
put to sea, the wind at north-east, and blowing a fresh gale. This
brought the Dutch fleet on to the coast of Dunkirk, and carried away His
Highness towards the Isle of Wight; but the wind suddenly shifting to
the south-west, and blowing hard, brought both the Dutch and the Duke of
Albemarle with his two squadrons to an anchor. Captain Bacon in the
_Bristol_ first discovered the enemy, and, by firing his guns, gave
notice of it to the English fleet.

The departure of Prince Rupert had left the Duke of Albemarle with but
sixty sail; whereas the Dutch fleet consisted of ninety-one men-of-war,
carrying four thousand seven hundred and sixteen guns, and twenty-two
thousand four hundred and sixty-two men. But a council of war was
called; wherein, without much debate, it was resolved to fight the
enemy, notwithstanding their great superiority.

It was the 1st of June when the Dutch fleet was discovered, and the duke
was so warm for engaging, that he attacked the enemy without giving them
time to weigh anchor; as De Ruyter himself says in his letter,
compelling them to cut their cables to make ready for the fight. In the
same letter De Ruyter says, that to the last the English were the
aggressors, notwithstanding their inferiority of force. The English
fleet had the weather-gauge, but the wind bowed their ships so much that
they could not use their lowest tier. Sir William Berkley's squadron led
the van. The Duke of Albemarle, when he came on the coast of Dunkirk, to
avoid running full on the sand, made a sudden tack, and this brought his
top-mast by the board, which compelled him to lie by four or five hours
till another could be set up. The blue squadron, knowing nothing of
this, sailed on, charging through the Dutch fleet, though they were five
to one.

In this engagement fell the brave Sir William Berkley, and his ship, the
_Swiftsure_, a second-rate, was taken; so was the _Essex_, a third-rate;
and Sir John Harman, in the _Henry_, had the whole Zealand squadron to
deal with. His ship being disabled, the Dutch admiral, Cornelius Evertz,
called to Sir John, and offered him quarter, who answered, "No, sir! it
is not come to that yet," and immediately discharged a broadside, by
which Evertz was killed and several of his ships damaged. This so
discouraged their captains that they quitted the _Henry_, and sent three
fire-ships to burn her. The first grappled on her starboard quarters,
and there began to raise so thick a smoke that it was impossible to
perceive where the irons were fixed. At last, when the ship began to
blaze, the boatswain of the _Henry_ threw himself on board her, and
having, by her own light, discovered and removed the grappling irons,
in the same instant jumped back on board his own ship. He had scarcely
done this before another fire-ship was fixed on the larboard, which did
its business so effectually that the sails, being quickly on fire,
frightened the chaplain and fifty men overboard. Upon this, Sir John
drew his sword, and threatened to kill any man who should attempt to
provide for his own safety by leaving the ship. This obliged them to
endeavour to put out the fire, which in a short time they did; but the
cordage being burnt, the cross-beam fell and broke Sir John's leg, at
which instant the third fire-ship bore down upon him; but four pieces of
cannon loaded with chain-shot disabled her: so that, after all, Sir John
brought his ship into Harwich, where he repaired her as well as he
could, and, notwithstanding his broken leg, put to sea again to seek the
Dutch. The battle ended on the first day about ten in the evening.

The following night was spent in repairing the damage suffered on both
sides, and next morning the attack was renewed by the English with fresh
vigour. Admiral Van Tromp, with Vice-admiral Vander Hulst, being on
board one ship, rashly engaged it among the English, and their vessel
was in the utmost danger of being either taken or burnt. The Dutch
affairs, according to their own account, were now in a desperate
condition; but Admiral De Ruyter at last disengaged them, though not
till his ship was disabled and Vice-admiral Vander Hulst killed. This
only changed the scene; for De Ruyter was now as hard pressed as Tromp
had been before. However, a reinforcement arriving preserved him also;
and so the second day's fight ended earlier than the first.

The third day the Duke of Albemarle found it necessary to retreat; and
he performed it with wonderful courage and skill. He first burnt three
ships that were absolutely disabled; he next caused such as were most
torn to sail before, and, with twenty-eight men-of-war that were in a
pretty good condition, brought up the rear. Sir John Harman, indeed,
says he had but sixteen ships that were able to fight. Yet, in the
evening, his grace, discovering the white squadron coming to his
assistance, resolved to engage the enemy again. In joining Prince Rupert
a very unlucky accident happened; for Sir George Ayscue, who was on
board the _Royal Prince_, the largest and heaviest ship in the whole
fleet, ran upon the _Galloper_, and being there in danger of burning,
and past all hope of relief, was forced to surrender; and then night
falling ended this day's engagement.

On June the 4th, the Dutch, who were still considerably stronger than
the English, were almost out of sight; but the Duke of Albemarle, having
prevailed upon the prince to follow them, about eight in the morning
they engaged again, and the English fleet charged five times through the
Dutch; till Prince Rupert's ship being disabled, and that of the Duke of
Albemarle very roughly handled, about seven in the evening the fleets
separated, each side being willing enough to retire. In this day's
engagement fell that gallant admiral, Sir Christopher Myngs, who, having
a shot in the neck, remained upon deck and gave orders, keeping the
blood from flowing with his fingers for above an hour, till another shot
pierced his throat and put an end to his pain.

This was the most terrible battle fought in this war. De Witte said
roundly upon this occasion, "If the English were beaten, their defeat
did them more honour than all their former victories; and all the Dutch
had discovered was that Englishmen might be killed and English ships
burnt, but that English courage was invincible."

After all, it is by no means easy to say who were victors upon the
whole, or what was the loss of the vanquished. Some Dutch writers talk
of thirty-five ships, and between five and six thousand men lost by the
English; which is more than half their fleet, and very little less than
all their seamen. Other authorities, however, compute our loss at
sixteen men-of-war, of which ten were sunk and six taken. Our writers
say the Dutch lost fifteen men-of-war, twenty-one captains, and five
thousand men, and they themselves own to the loss of nine ships and a
prodigious slaughter of their seamen.


After the four days' fight the Dutch had once more the credit of
appearing at sea before the English, their ships having suffered less in
that protracted conflict. It was not long, however, before the English
fleet appeared. It consisted of eighty men-of-war, great and small, and
nineteen fire-ships, divided into three squadrons: the red, under Prince
Rupert and the Duke of Albemarle, who were on board the same ship with
Sir Joseph Jordan for their vice-admiral and Sir Robert Holmes for their
rear-admiral. Sir Thomas Allen was admiral of the white, and had under
him Sir Thomas Tyddiman and Rear-admiral Utburt. Sir Jeremiah Smith
carried the blue flag, and his officers were Sir Edward Spragge and
Rear-admiral Kempthorne. The Dutch, according to their own accounts, had
eighty-eight men-of-war and twenty fire-ships, divided also into three
squadrons, under Lieutenant-admiral De Ruyter, John Evertz, brother to
the admiral who was killed in the former engagement, and Van Tromp.

On July the 25th, about noon, the English came up with the enemy off the
North Foreland. Sir Thomas Allen, with the white squadron, began the
battle by attacking Evertz. Prince Rupert and the duke, about one in the
afternoon, made a desperate attack upon De Ruyter, whose squadron was in
the centre of the Dutch fleet; but, after fighting about three hours,
were obliged to go on board another ship. In this interim the white
squadron had entirely defeated their enemies; Admiral John Evertz, his
vice-admiral, De Vries, and his rear-admiral, Koenders, being all
killed, the vice-admiral of Zealand taken, and another ship of fifty
guns burnt. The prince and duke fought De Ruyter ship to ship, disabled
the _Guelderland_, of sixty-six guns, which was one of his seconds,
killed the captain of another, and mortally wounded two more; upon which
some of the Dutch ships began to retreat. However, Vice-admiral Van Nes
stood bravely by De Ruyter, and his ship received great damage; yet,
being at last deserted by all but seven ships, they yielded to
necessity, and followed the rest of their fleet to sea.

This was the clearest victory gained during the whole war; the Dutch
lost twenty ships; four admirals were killed and a great many captains;
as to private men, there might be about four thousand slain and three
thousand wounded. The English had only the _Resolution_ burnt, three
captains killed, and about three hundred private men.

By the end of the year 1666, however, both nations had become weary of
the war, and the King of Sweden having offered his mediation, it was
readily accepted by both sides. Negotiations were immediately set on
foot which ultimately resulted in the treaty of Breda; but in the
meantime the Dutch rather increased than relaxed their efforts to
strengthen their navy, hoping thereby to influence the terms of the
treaty in process of negotiation. Having previously sounded the mouth of
the Thames to ascertain how far it might be practicable to attempt to
enter it with large ships, and having thereby discovered the facility
with which such a project could be carried out, De Witte determined to
make the attempt without delay.

The Dutch fleet being ready, sailed over to the English coast, where it
was joined by Van Ghent, and formed a fleet of seventy men-of-war,
besides fire-ships. On June 7th they attacked Sheerness, which was at
that time unfinished and in no state of defence, and captured fifteen
iron guns and a considerable quantity of naval stores. The Duke of
Albemarle, Sir Edward Spragge, and other officers had made all
imaginable provision for the defence of the River Medway, by sinking
ships in the passage, throwing a chain across it, and placing three
large vessels, which had been taken from the Dutch, behind the chain.
The Dutch, however, had the advantage of a strong easterly wind, which
encouraged them to make an attempt upon our ships at Chatham, in spite
of the precautions taken to preserve them. It was on June the 12th that
they executed this design; which, however, would have miscarried at
last, if one Captain Brakell, who was a prisoner on board their fleet
for some misdemeanour, had not offered to wipe out the memory of his
former mistake by breaking the chain, a service which he gallantly
performed. Captain Brakell also with great bravery boarded and took one
of the English frigates which guarded the passage; and soon after, the
_Matthias_, the _Unity_, and the _Charles the Fifth_, the ships which
had been taken from the Dutch, were set on fire. The next day, the
advantage of wind and tide continuing, the Dutch advanced with six
men-of-war and five fire-ships as high as Upnore Castle; but were so
warmly received that they were obliged to return. However, as they came
back, they burnt the _Royal Oak_, a very fine ship, and in her Captain
Douglas, who chose to be burnt with her rather than live to be
reproached with having deserted his command. On the 14th they carried
off the hull of the _Royal Charles_, notwithstanding all the English
could do to prevent it; a project which they had dearly at heart. On
their return, two Dutch men-of-war ran ashore in the Medway and were
burnt, which, with eight fire-ships consumed in the action and one
hundred and fifty men killed, is all the loss acknowledged by the Dutch
writers; though it is not improbable that they really suffered much

De Ruyter, highly pleased with what he had performed, left Admiral Van
Nes with part of his fleet in the mouth of the Thames, and sailed with
the rest to Portsmouth, in the hope of burning the ships there. Failing
in this design, he sailed westward to Torbay, where he was likewise
repulsed. Then he returned back again to the mouth of the Thames and
with twenty-five sail came as high as the Hope, where our squadron lay
under the command of Sir Edward Spragge. This consisted of eighteen
sail; yet, the admiral not being on board when the enemy began the
attack, the English fleet suffered at first from their fire-ships; but
Sir Edward repairing to his command, and being joined by Sir Joseph
Jordan with a few small ships, quickly forced the Dutch to retire. The
like success attended their attack on Landguard Fort, which was
performed by sixteen hundred men, commanded by Colonel Doleman, a
republican, under the fire of their whole fleet: but Governor Darrel, an
old cavalier, beat them off with great loss. On the 23rd Van Nes sailed
again up the river as far as the Hope, where he engaged Sir Edward
Spragge, who had with him five frigates and seventeen fire-ships. This
proved a very sharp action, at least between the fire-ships, of which
the Dutch writers themselves confess they spent eleven to our eight.

The next day the English attacked the Dutch in their turn, and,
notwithstanding their superiority, forced them to retire and to burn the
only fire-ship they had left, to prevent her being taken. On the 25th
they bore out of the river with all the sail they could make, followed
at a distance by Sir Edward Spragge and his remaining fire-ships. On the
26th, in the mouth of the river, they were met by another English
squadron from Harwich, consisting of five men-of-war and fourteen
fire-ships. These boldly attacked the Dutch, and grappled the
vice-admiral of Zealand and another large ship; but were not able to
fire them, though they frightened a hundred of their men into the sea.
In this struggle the rear-admiral of Zealand was forced on shore, and so
much damaged thereby as to be obliged to return home.

While the whole Dutch fleet was employed in alarming our coasts, Sir
Jeremiah Smith was sent with a small squadron northwards; with which,
and the assistance of a numerous fleet of privateers, already abroad for
their own profit, the Dutch commerce to the Baltic was in a manner
ruined, and multitudes of rich prizes were daily brought into English
ports. Thus it may be truly said that the nations at this time changed
characters. The Dutch preferred the insult at Chatham, which, all things
considered, was of little or no consequence to them, to the preservation
of their trade; and the English endeavoured to make themselves amends
for this unexpected loss of a few men-of-war by taking numbers of

The English, in the West Indies, took the island of St. Eustatia, Saba,
St. Martin, Buen Ayre, the island of Tobago, and other places from the
Dutch. On the contrary, the Dutch, under the conduct of Commodore
Krynsen, made themselves masters of Surinam; and the French, assisted by
the Dutch, almost deprived the English of their half of the island of
St. Christopher, after several obstinate disputes and the death of their
commander Le Salles. Six frigates and some other small vessels from
Barbadoes, sailing from thence to repair this loss, were so ill-treated
by a violent storm that they were put out of a condition to execute
their design, and two or three of the most disabled ships fell into the
hands of the enemy; though, before their misfortune, they had burnt two
Dutch ships richly laden in the harbour of Los Santos.

There were three distinct treaties of peace signed at Breda
respectively, with the Dutch, the French, and the Danes, and these were
ratified on August 24th, 1667. The terms upon which this peace was made
were safe and honourable at least, though not so glorious and beneficial
as might have been expected after such a war. By it the honour of the
flag was secured; and the island of Poleron, to prevent further
disputes, was yielded to the Dutch. In the West Indies we kept all that
we had taken, except Surinam; and the French were obliged to restore
what they had taken from us.


On the conclusion of the Dutch war it became necessary to restore order
on the high seas by destroying the pirates who had taken advantage of
the disturbed condition of things to prey upon English and Dutch
commerce; and with this view Charles II. sent Sir Thomas Allen with a
stout squadron into the Mediterranean to repress the Algerines, and the
Dutch sent Admiral Van Ghent with a squadron to secure their trade. Van
Ghent having engaged six corsairs, forced them to fly to their own
coasts, where probably they would have escaped if Commodore Beach with
four English frigates had not fallen upon them, and, after a close
chase, obliged them to run aground. In this situation they were attacked
by the English and Dutch in their boats; and, being abandoned by their
respective crews, were all taken, and a great number of Christian slaves
of different nations released. The English commodore presented sixteen
Dutch slaves to Admiral Van Ghent, and received from him twenty English
by way of exchange; but the Algerine ships being leaky, they were burnt.
The same year some of our frigates attacked seven of the enemy's best
ships near Cape Gaeta. The admiral and vice-admiral of the Algerines
carried fifty-six guns each; their rear-admiral, the biggest ship in the
squadron, carried sixty, and the least forty. Yet after a sharp
engagement the vice-admiral sank, and the rest were forced to retire,
most of them miserably disabled. At the close of the year 1669 Captain
Kempthorne, afterwards Sir John, in the _Mary Rose_, a small frigate,
engaged seven Algerine men-of-war; and, after a very warm action,
forced them to sheer off, being in no condition to continue the fight
any longer.

It is somewhat extraordinary that, considering the Dutch, as well as the
English, were concerned in attacking these pirates, we have no better
account of the war that was carried on against them, or of the force
they employed, than we are left to collect as we can, from scattered
accounts of particular engagements. In 1668 their navy only consisted of
twenty-four ships, great and small--that is, from about fifty to twenty
guns: and they had likewise six new ships of force upon the stocks. Yet
this pitiful enemy continued to disturb, and even to distress the
commerce of both the maritime powers for several years.

At last Sir Edward Spragge was sent with a strong squadron of men-of-war
and frigates to put an end to the war.

Spragge sailed from England, on this expedition, in the spring of the
year 1671, with five frigates and three fire-ships, uniting his fleet
with a squadron of as many more ships already at sea; so that, in all,
his fleet consisted of about twelve sail. In the latter end of the month
of April he had intelligence that there were several Algerine men-of-war
in Bugia Bay; on which he called a council of war, when it was resolved
that he ought immediately to attack them. In pursuance of this
resolution he sailed thither, but, in his passage, had the misfortune to
have the _Eagle_ fire-ship disabled by a storm; and soon after, one of
his ships springing her main mast, was obliged to bear away for the
Spanish shore. Sir Edward, however, persisted in his design, refitted
the _Eagle_, and bore into the bay of Bugia with a brisk gale, not
doubting that he should be able to fire the ships; but by the time they
got within half-shot of the castle and forts it fell a dead calm, and
when the wind rose again it proved contrary.

On May 2nd they were able to do nothing for the same reason, the wind
changing every half hour; upon which, Sir Edward resolved to make an
attempt upon them in the night with his boats and the smallest of his
fire-ships, which rowed as well as a long-boat. About twelve o'clock
that night he executed his project, sending in all his boats, and the
_Eagle_ fire-ship, under the command of his eldest lieutenant, Mr.
Nugent; but the night proving very dark, and the high land obscuring the
ships as they drew near them, they passed by; and Lieutenant Nugent
leaving one of the boats with the fire-ships, besides her own, rowed in
to discover the enemy leaving orders with the captain of the fire-ship
to come to an anchor in case he found shoal water. The lieutenant had
not left them a minute before he perceived himself within pistol-shot of
the ships; and, concluding the business now as good as done, steered off
again to find the fire-ship, and, to his amazement, saw her in flames.

The enemy taking the alarm at this, the lieutenant was forced to retire
with his boats; and so this promising enterprise, which had given hopes
of burning the Algerine men-of-war, without the loss of a man,
miscarried. The next day the enemy unrigged all their ships and made a
strong boom with their yards, top masts, and cables, buoyed up with
casks, for which they had all the leisure and convenience they could
wish, the wind hindering the English from doing anything; and, to try
the admiral's patience to the very utmost, it so fell out that a drunken
gunner firing a pistol, his other small fire-ship was destroyed; so that
he had now none left but the _Little Victory_, which drew too much water
to enter that part of the bay where the Algerines lay.

On Monday, May 8th, 1671, there appeared a considerable body of horse
and foot in the neighbourhood of the bay, and this was soon after
discovered to be an escort to a very large convoy of ammunition sent
from Algiers to the ships; on the safe arrival of which they fired all
their cannon, to testify their joy. Sir Edward Spragge considering this,
and not knowing what future reinforcements they might receive, resolved
to take the earliest opportunity of making his last and utmost effort;
and, in order thereto, directed the _Victory_ to be lightened, so that
she might not draw above eight feet. About noon there sprang up a fine
breeze to the east; upon which the admiral gave the signal for the
men-of-war to draw into a line and bear up into the bay; but
immediately after the wind sank again, and they began to despair of
doing anything.

About two the gale sprang up again, and the ships bore in as they were
directed. The admiral came to an anchor in four fathom of water, close
under the walls of their castle, which fired upon him continually for
two hours. In this interim he sent in his own pinnace and those of the
_Mary_ and the _Dragon_; these cut the boom, though not without
considerable loss. The lieutenant who commanded the _Mary's_ boat's crew
had eight wounded with himself; Lieutenant Pierce of the _Dragon_ was
also wounded, with ten of his men, and one killed. In the admiral's own
pinnace there were seven killed, and all the rest wounded, except Mr.
Harman, who commanded it.

The boom being cut, the fire-ship went in, and getting up athwart their
bowsprits, their ships being a-ground, and fast to the castles, she
burnt very well and destroyed them all. Captain Harris, who commanded
her, his master's mate, gunner, and one of his seamen were desperately
wounded with small shot, and this at their entrance; so that probably
the whole design would have proved abortive if the admiral had not with
great prudence commissioned Henry Williams, then one of his master's
mates, but who had formerly commanded the _Rose_ fire-ship, to take the
charge of the vessel in case the captain was disabled; which he did
accordingly, and performed all that could be expected from him.

This loss was irreparable to the Algerines, who had picked out the seven
men-of-war that were here burnt, on purpose to fight Sir Edward Spragge,
and furnished them with their best brass ordnance from on board all the
rest of their vessels, and between eighteen and nineteen hundred chosen
men double-officered, under the command of old Terkey, their admiral. Of
this force between three and four hundred men were killed; the castle
and town were miserably shattered; and a vast number of people slain and
wounded; and, what much increased the misfortune, all their surgeons'
chests were burnt on board their ships, so that numbers died for want
of having their wounds dressed. Besides the men-of-war there were burnt
a Genoese ship, a small English prize, and a settee.

In this engagement Sir Edward Spragge had only seventeen men killed and
forty-one wounded. This and other misfortunes caused such a tumult among
the Algerines that they murdered their dey and chose another, by whom
peace was concluded to the satisfaction of the English on December 9th,



As an illustration of the way in which a man could rise to the highest
honours of the navy in the good old days with no other influence or
recommendation than his own merit, the case of Sir John Berry may be
instanced here.

John Berry, who was the second son of the Rev. Daniel Berry, Vicar of
Knowestone, Devonshire--a clergyman who suffered for his loyalty to the
cause of Charles I.--was born at the Vicarage, Knowestone, in the year
1635. His father, after being expelled from his benefice and losing his
property by confiscation, died at the early age of forty-five, leaving a
widow with nine children, of whom John, aged seventeen, was the second.
Thrown entirely upon his own resources, John went to Plymouth, where he
bound himself apprentice to Mr. Robert Mering, a merchant and part-owner
of several ships. Going to sea in his service, he was extremely
unfortunate, being twice taken by the Spaniards, and suffering a long
imprisonment, which, however, did him no great harm. On his return to
England, his master, who was suffering from a reverse in circumstances,
released him from his indentures, upon which he came up to London;
where, by the help of some friends, he was preferred to be boatswain of
a ketch belonging to the Royal Navy, called the _Swallow_; which, under
the command of Captain Insam, was ordered to the West Indies in company
with two of the king's frigates. Both the frigates were lost in the Gulf
of Florida; but the _Swallow_, by cutting down her masts and heaving her
guns and provisions overboard, got clear, and in the space of sixteen
weeks, during which the crew had nothing to eat but the fish they
caught, or to drink but rain-water, the survivors arrived at Campeachy.
There they furnished themselves with provisions, and then sailed for
Jamaica, where they arrived in three weeks.

Sir Thomas Muddiford, a native of Devonshire, was then governor of that
island, and he ordered the _Swallow_ to be refitted, put eight guns on
board her, and having intelligence that a pirate, who had taken one Mr.
Peach bound from Southampton to Jamaica, and marooned him and all his
crew, was still in those seas, he ordered the _Swallow_, now well
victualled and manned, to go in quest of her, and gave his countryman
Berry the title of lieutenant.

In three weeks after they sailed from Jamaica they found the pirate at
anchor in a bay off the island of Hispaniola. He had a force of about
sixty men and twenty guns, whereas the _Swallow_ had but forty men and
eight small guns. Captain Insam, having considered the enemy's strength
and compared it with his own, called up all his men and addressed them
in these words: "Gentlemen, the blades we are to attack are men-at-arms,
old buccaneers, and superior to us in number and in the force of their
ship, and therefore I would have your opinion, whether----" "Sir,"
interrupted Lieutenant Berry, "we are men-at arms, too, and what is
more, honest men, who fight under the king's commission; and if you have
no stomach for fighting, be pleased to walk down into your cabin." The
crew applauded this speech, and declared one and all for Lieutenant
Berry, who undertook the affair with all its disadvantages.

The pirate rode at anchor to the windward, by reason of which the
_Swallow_ was obliged to make two trips under her lee, in which she
received two broadsides and two volleys of small shot without returning
a gun. Mr. Berry then boarded her on the bow, pouring in his broadside,
which killed the pirate and twenty-two men on the spot: they then fought
their way to the main mast, soon after which the pirate was taken,
having only seven men left, and those all wounded, though they lived
long enough to be hanged afterwards in Jamaica; and all this with no
other loss than that of the boatswain's mate.

On their return to Jamaica Captain Insam confined his lieutenant and
brought him to a court martial; where, on the evidence of the men, the
court declared he had done his duty, and ordered the captain to live
peaceably with him in their voyage to England, which he did; and Mr.
Berry, notwithstanding what was past, behaved towards him with all
imaginable modesty and submission.

In a short time after he came home the Dutch war broke out, and Mr.
Berry had a sloop given him, the _Maria_, of fourteen guns, with the
king's commission. He held this small command for about four months, in
which time he took thirty-two prizes; and for his extraordinary
diligence had the command given him of the _Coronation_, a ship of
fifty-six guns.

In this ship he was soon after sent to the West Indies, where our
colonies were in no small danger, having both the French and Dutch upon
their hands. On his arrival at Barbadoes the governor bought some large
merchant ships, converted them into men-of-war, and having made up nine
sail, including the _Coronation_, manned and put them under the command
of Commodore Berry. With this little fleet he sailed for Nevis, in order
to protect it from the French, who had already made themselves masters
of St. Christopher, Antigua, and Montserrat. He had scarcely arrived
before he had intelligence that the French were preparing at St.
Christopher a very great force, which was intended for the conquest of
Nevis. They had twenty-two men-of-war and frigates, six large transport
ships of their own, and four Dutch. With these they sailed toward Nevis
as to a certain victory.

Commodore Berry sailed with his nine ships to meet them; and, as he
turned the point of the island, one of his best ships blew up, which
struck his men with astonishment if not dismay. "Now you have seen an
English ship blow up," said the commodore, "let us try if we can't blow
up a Frenchman. There they are, boys! and if we don't beat them they
will beat us." Having said this, he immediately began the fight with the
French admiral; and, after an engagement of upwards of thirteen hours,
forced this mighty fleet to fly for shelter under the cannon of St.
Christopher, whither he pursued them, sent in a fire-ship, and burnt the
French admiral. Seeing her in flames, he said to his seamen, "I told you
in the morning that we should burn a Frenchman before night; to-morrow
we will try what we can do with the rest." While he was refitting his
ships the enemy wisely stole away; the French to Martinico, and the
Dutch to Virginia.

In the third Dutch war he had the command of the _Resolution_, a
seventy-gun ship, in which he was present at the famous action in
Southwold Bay, on May 28th, 1672. In this battle, observing that the
Duke of York was very hard pressed, he left his station, and came in to
his relief, where the service proved so hot that in less than two hours
he had no fewer than one hundred and twenty men killed, as many more
wounded, and his ship completely disabled: upon this he was towed out of
the line, stopped his leaks, and fell into his place again in an hour,
and there did such service that when Charles II. came to meet the fleet,
and dined on board the _Royal Sovereign_ at the Buoy in the Nore, he, of
his own thought, called for Captain Berry, and, having knighted him,
said very graciously, "As our thoughts have been now upon honour, we
will hereafter think of profit; for I would not have so brave a man a
poor knight."

In the year 1682 it was thought expedient to send the Duke of York down
to Scotland, and for this purpose the _Gloucester_ frigate, under the
command of Sir John Berry, was ordered to be ready; and accordingly, on
April 28th, the Duke of York embarked on board that ship. In their
passage Sir John observed, on May 3rd, when in the mouth of the Humber,
as he apprehended, an error in the pilot's conduct, though he was looked
upon as a man of great ability in his employment. Of this he informed
the duke and desired they might lie to, at least for that night, which
the pilot opposed; and, being a great favourite of the duke, his advice
prevailed. But His Royal Highness was soon convinced of the superiority
of Sir John Berry's judgment; since, in three-quarters of an hour
afterwards, the ship was lost, and about three hundred people in her,
among whom were some persons of the first rank. The duke himself but
narrowly escaped in the long-boat, Sir John Berry standing with his
sword drawn in the stern of the boat to hinder people from crowding in,
which undoubtedly saved the duke, since a very few more would have
overset it.

During the reign of King James II. he was in as high favour as he could
desire, the king constantly consulting him in matters relating to the
management of the fleet. When it became known that the Dutch meditated
an invasion, Sir John Berry was appointed vice-admiral, and after the
landing of the Prince of Orange, when Lord Dartmouth left the fleet, the
sole command of it devolved upon him.

The change of the government wrought none in the condition of our
admiral. An experienced officer and a man of honour will be a welcome
servant to any prince. King William was one who valued abilities and
understood them, and therefore he often sent for Sir John Berry to
confer with him on naval affairs; and once particularly the king engaged
with him in so close and earnest a conversation, that it took up the
whole night, and Sir John was not dismissed from the royal closet until
it was far advanced in the morning. Yet this favour brought him no
accession either for post or profit; he kept what he had, and probably
thought that sufficient, being commissioner of the navy, governor of
Deal Castle, and captain of an independent company.

In February 1691 he was ordered to Portsmouth to pay off some ships
there; and, while thus employed on board one of them, he was taken
suddenly ill, and thereupon carried on shore, where it was given out
that he died of a fever. A post-mortem revealed that he did not die a
natural death, but as the result of poison, though by whom administered,
or for what reason, was never made public. His body, according to his
own direction, was carried from Portsmouth to London and interred in the
chancel of Stepney Church, where a monument is erected to his memory.




We come now to the story of the third Dutch war, perhaps more frequently
called the second, from the fact that it was the second war with Holland
in the reign of Charles II.

War was declared by Charles on the 28th of March, 1672; Louis XIV. of
France agreeing to join with the English against the Dutch, and sending
the Count d'Estrees, Vice-admiral of France, with a large squadron, to
join the English fleet.

The French squadron arrived at St. Helen's on the 3rd of May, and the
king immediately went down to Portsmouth; and, to show his confidence in
his new ally, went on board the French admiral, where he remained some
hours. The English fleet sailed to the Downs, the Duke of York, as
high-admiral, wearing the red, and the Earl of Sandwich, the blue. Here
the French squadron joined them, their admiral bearing the white flag;
the united fleet consisting of one hundred and one sail of men-of-war,
besides fire-ships and tenders. Of these the English had sixty-five
ships of war, carrying four thousand and ninety-two pieces of cannon,
and twenty-three thousand five hundred and thirty men. The French
squadron consisted of thirty-six sail, on board of which were one
thousand nine hundred and twenty-six pieces of cannon, and about eleven
thousand men. The Dutch, in the meantime, were at sea with a very
considerable fleet, consisting of ninety-one stout men-of-war,
fifty-four fire-ships, and twenty-three yachts. On May the 9th they were
seen off Dover, and the 13th of the same month a Dutch squadron chased
the _Gloucester_, and some other ships, under the cannon of Sheerness.

The English fleet were at anchor in Solebay on May 28th, when the Dutch
fell in with them; and, if they had not spent too much time in council,
had entirely surprised them. As it was, many of the English captains
were forced to cut their cables, in order to get into the line in time
for the battle. The engagement began between seven and eight in the
morning, when De Ruyter attacked the red squadron in the centre, and
engaged the admiral, on board of which was the Duke of York, for two
hours, forcing His Highness at last to remove to another ship. The Dutch
captain, Van Brakell, attacked the Earl of Sandwich in the _Royal
James_; and while they were engaged, almost all the squadron of Van
Ghent fell upon the earl's ships. His lordship behaved with amazing
intrepidity; killed Admiral Van Ghent with his own hands, sank three
fire-ships and a man-of-war, that would have laid him on board; but when
he had lost all his officers and two-thirds of his men, his battered
ship was grappled and set on fire by a fourth fire-ship.

In this distress, it is said, he might have been relieved by his
vice-admiral, Sir Joseph Jordan, if Sir Joseph had not been more
solicitous about assisting the duke. It is said that when the earl saw
Sir Joseph sail by, heedless of the condition in which he lay, he said
to those about him, "There is nothing left for us now but to defend the
ship to the last man," and those who knew him best knew quite well that
by the last man he meant himself. When the fourth fire-ship had grappled
him, he begged his captain, Sir Richard Haddock, and all his servants,
to get into the boat and save themselves, which they did; but many of
his men would not leave their admiral, and continued to make fruitless
efforts to quench the fire until the ship blew up about noon.

The death of Van Ghent, with the furious attack of part of the blue
squadron, coming in, though too late, to the Earl of Sandwich's
assistance, threw this part of the Dutch fleet into very great confusion
and forced them to stand off. This gave an opportunity for the blue
squadron to join the red and to assist the Duke of York, who, deserted
by the French, was in the utmost danger of being destroyed by the two
squadrons of De Ruyter and Bankert. About this time Cornelius Evertz,
vice-admiral of Zealand, was killed, and De Ruyter and Allemand narrowly
escaped being burnt by fire-ships; but, when the English thought
themselves secure of victory, the scattered squadron of Van Ghent came
in to the assistance of their countrymen, and again rendered doubtful
the fortune of the day.

It is said that all this time the French, who composed the white
squadron, instead of seconding the efforts of the English, kept as far
out of danger as they could, and left our fleet to sustain the whole
force of the enemy at a disadvantage of three to two. But,
notwithstanding this inequality of numbers, the fight continued with
inexpressible obstinacy till towards the evening, when victory declared
for the English. Five or six of the enemy's fire-ships were sunk by an
English man-of-war; and Sir Joseph Jordan, of the blue squadron, having
the advantage of the wind, pierced the Dutch fleet, and thereby spread
through it the utmost confusion; while a fire-ship clapped their
admiral, De Ruyter, on board, and was, with the utmost difficulty,
repulsed. As it grew dark, De Ruyter, collecting his fleet in the best
order he could, fought retreating and steered northwards.

The loss was pretty equal on both sides. The English had four men-of-war
sunk or disabled, but they were small ships; whereas the Dutch lost
three of the best in their fleet: one sunk, another burnt, and a third
taken; a fourth, called the _Great Holland_, commanded by the brave
Captain Brakell, was entirely disabled. As for the French,
notwithstanding all their caution, they lost two men-of-war and their
rear-admiral, M. de la Rabiniere. Of the English, about two thousand
five hundred were killed and as many wounded. The Dutch did not publish
any list, though their loss without question must have been as great;
since De Ruyter says in his letter, "it was the hardest fought battle
that he ever saw."

But though losses were reckoned as pretty equal on either side, the loss
of the _Royal James_ with its one hundred guns, its eight hundred men,
and its admiral, the Earl of Sandwich, who was probably without his
equal upon the sea at this time, was loss enough, as the Duke of
Buckingham observed, to give the name of victory to the Dutch.

The earl, a son of Sir Sidney Montague, born on July 27th, 1625, had
rendered a great deal of distinguished service. On August 20th, 1643,
when no more than eighteen years of age, he received a commission to
raise and command a regiment in the parliamentary interest in the Civil
War. He was present at the storming of Lincoln, on the 6th of May, 1644,
which was one of the warmest actions in the course of the war. He was
likewise in the battle of Marston Moor, which was fought on July the
2nd, of the same year, where he greatly distinguished himself; insomuch
that soon after, when the city of York demanded to capitulate, he was
appointed one of the commissioners for settling the articles; which must
have been the pure effect of personal ability, since he was then but in
his nineteenth year. We find him next in the battle of Naseby; and in
the month of July, 1645, he stormed the town of Bridgewater. In
September he commanded a brigade in the storming of Bristol, where he
performed very remarkable service, and, on September 10th, 1645,
subscribed the articles of the capitulation, granted to Prince Rupert on
the delivery of that important place to the parliament.

After the first Dutch war was over he was brought into a command of the
fleet, and was appointed by the protector to act with Blake in his
expedition into the Mediterranean.

In 1657 he was appointed to command the fleet in the Downs, and in the
following year, on the death of Oliver, had command of the great fleet
sent to the North to preserve the tranquillity of Europe; returning from
whence he gave an account of his conduct to parliament, and then retired
to his own estate. On the restoration of Charles II. he was made Earl
of Sandwich, admiral of the narrow seas, and lieutenant-admiral to the
Duke of York as Lord High-admiral of England. The story of his career
from this time forward has been told in the successive stories of the
Dutch wars, and it only remains now to record the last honours done to
his remains. His body was found, nearly a fortnight after his death,
floating in the sea; and the king testified, by the honours he paid to
his remains, how much he admired the man, how sensible he was of his
hard fate, and how willing he was to mingle with the dust of his
ancestors the ashes of such as died gloriously in their country's
service. The facts stand thus recorded in the _Gazette_ of June 13th,

        "HARWICH, _June 10th_.

    "This day the body of the Right Honourable Edward, Earl of
    Sandwich, being, by the order upon his coat, discovered floating
    on the sea, by one of His Majesty's ketches was taken up and
    brought into this port; where Sir Charles Littleton, the
    governor, receiving it, took immediate care for its embalming
    and honourable disposing, till His Majesty's pleasure should be
    known concerning it; for the obtaining of which His Majesty was
    attended at Whitehall, the next day, by the master of the said
    vessel, who, by Sir Charles Littleton's order, was sent to
    present His Majesty with the George found about the body of the
    said earl, who remained, at the time of its taking up, in every
    part unblemished, saving some impressions made by the fire upon
    his face and breast: upon which His Majesty, out of his princely
    regard to the great deservings of the said earl, and his
    unexampled performances in this last act of his life, hath
    resolved to have his body brought up to London, there, at his
    charge, to receive the rites of funeral due to his great quality
    and merits.

    "The Earl of Sandwich's body being taken out of one of his
    majesty's yachts at Deptford on July 3rd, 1672, and laid in the
    most solemn manner in a sumptuous barge, proceeded by water to
    Westminster Bridge, attended by the king's barges, His Royal
    Highness the Duke of York's, as also with the several barges of
    the nobility, lord mayor, and the several companies of the city
    of London, adorned suitable to the melancholy occasion, with
    trumpets and other music that sounded the deepest notes. On
    passing by the Tower the great guns there were discharged, as
    well as at Whitehall; and, about five o'clock in the evening,
    the body being taken out of the barge at Westminster Bridge,
    there was a procession to the abbey-church with the highest
    magnificence. Eight earls were assistant to his son Edward, Earl
    of Sandwich, chief mourner, and most of the nobility and persons
    of quality in town gave their assistance to his interment in the
    Duke of Albemarle's vault, in the north side of King Henry
    VII.'s chapel, where his remains are deposited."

After the Battle of Solebay the Dutch fleet returned to the coast of
Holland, where they were obliged to lay up for the want of powder, all
available ammunition being wanted by the land forces to dispute the
victorious march of the French.

In their extremity the Dutch sued for peace, and sent four deputies to
England and as many to the French king. At both courts they were treated
with the same scant courtesy. Charles II., instead of hearing and giving
them an answer in person, sent four of his ministers to confer with
them, and afterwards sent the Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Arlington,
and Viscount Halifax into Holland to treat with them there. These
ambassadors made most extravagant demands; asking ten millions of
guilders for the expense of the war, an annual tribute of one hundred
thousand for the liberty of fishing, and the perpetual stadtholdership
for the Prince of Orange and his issue male. These, however, were
moderate articles in comparison with the rest; for they insisted on a
share in the Dutch East India trade, the possession of the city of Sluys
in Flanders, and the islands of Cadzand, Walcheren, Goree and Voorn. The
deputies sent to the French court were answered in the style of a
conqueror, and so sent back to spread despair through the country;
whereupon the Dutch seeing nothing before them but slavery, resolved to
lay aside all treaties and to die free.

In the meantime, the French and English fleets, being perfectly
refitted, and the latter having taken on board a large body of land
forces, sailed again for the Dutch coasts, with a design to make a
descent on Zealand, the only province into which the French had not
carried their arms by land. Here they found the Dutch fleet; but, not
thinking proper to attack them among the sands, they deferred the
execution of their design, and blocked up the Maese and Texel; which De
Ruyter, having strict orders to avoid battle, saw with concern, yet
wanted power to prevent. The Duke of York now resolved to disembark his
troops on the Isle of Texel. The occasion was favourable in all
respects; the French and the Bishop of Munster were in the heart of the
Dutch territories, so that no great force could be drawn together to
resist the English on shore, and the coast was so low and flat that it
looked as if nothing could secure the Dutch from invasion.

It was upon July 3rd this resolution was taken; and it was intended that
the forces should have landed the next flood. But at this critical
juncture wind and wave interposed in favour of a free people, and saved
them from a yoke which seemed already to press upon their necks. The ebb
continued much longer than usual, and this defeated the intended descent
for that time; and the storm, that rose the night following, forced the
fleet out to sea, where they struggled for some time with very foul
weather, and then returned to the English shore. The Dutch clergy
magnified this circumstance into a miracle; and certainly it was a good
stroke of policy at such a time to persuade the nation, struggling
against superior enemies, that they were particularly favoured by

After this disappointment, there was no other action thought of at sea
for this year, except the sending Sir Edward Spragge, with a squadron,
to disturb the Dutch herring-fishery; which he performed with a degree
of moderation that became so great a man; contenting himself with taking
one of their vessels, when he saw that was sufficient to disperse the

All this time affairs in England were getting into very strained
conditions. The parliament had never owned the Dutch war, and though
they voted liberal supplies to the king, did so without naming the
object to which they were to be applied further than to designate them
"the king's extraordinary occasions." At this time, too, the Test Act
was passed, an Act, which, putting it out of the power of the papists to
continue in public offices, compelled Lord Clifford to quit the
treasury and the Duke of York to give up the fleet.

Early in the year 1673 it was resolved that Prince Rupert should succeed
the Duke of York at the head of the fleet, and by the middle of May he
was ready for sea.

The object of the English was to make another attempt to land troops
upon the Dutch coast; and, with this view, a considerable number of
soldiers was put on board the fleet. Charles II. and the Duke of York
visited the navy on May 19th; and, in a council of war held in their
presence, it was resolved to attack the enemy even upon their own coast,
in case they could not be provoked to put to sea. In pursuance of this
determination, Prince Rupert stood over towards the coast of Holland,
and found De Ruyter with the Dutch fleet riding within the sands of
Schonevelt, in a line between the Rand and the Stony-bank, which was a
very advantageous situation.

On the 28th, in the morning about nine o'clock, Prince Rupert sent a
detached squadron of thirty-five frigates and thirteen fire-ships to
draw the enemy out, which was very easily done; for De Ruyter presently
advanced in good order, and, the English light ships retreating, put
their own fleet in some disarray. This engagement took place upon very
unequal terms: the confederate fleet consisted of eighty-four men of
war, besides fire-ships, divided into three squadrons, under the command
of Prince Rupert, Count d'Estrees, and Sir Edward Spragge. The Dutch
were scarcely seventy men-of-war and frigates, under De Ruyter, Tromp,
and Bankert.

The battle was very hard fought on both sides, insomuch that Tromp
shifted his flag four times; from the _Golden Lion_ to the _Prince on
Horseback_, from the _Prince on Horseback_ to the _Amsterdam_, and from
the _Amsterdam_ to the _Comet_, from on board which he dated his letter
to the states in the evening. Sir Edward Spragge and the Earl of Ossory
distinguished themselves on our side by their extraordinary courage and
conduct. Prince Rupert also performed wonders, considering that his ship
was in a very bad condition and took in so much water at her ports that
she could not fire the guns of her lower tier. The battle lasted till
night, and then the Dutch are said to have retired behind their sands.

Both sides, however, claimed the victory: De Ruyter, in his letter to
the Prince of Orange, says, "We judge absolutely that the victory is on
the side of this state and of your highness." Prince Rupert, in his
letter to the Earl of Arlington, says, "I thought it best to cease the
pursuit and anchor where I now am." As to the slain on both sides in
this battle, it is reported the Dutch lost Vice-admiral Schram,
Rear-admiral Vlugh, and six of their captains, and had one ship
disabled, which was lost in her retreat. On our side fell the Captains
Fowls, Finch, Tempest, and Worden: Colonel Hamilton had his legs shot
off, and we had only two ships disabled, none either sunk or taken.

In one respect, however, the Dutch may certainly be credited with
victory; since they prevented a descent intended upon their country,
which was the main object of the attack, and for which service, in case
of the victory of the English fleet, Count Schomberg, with six thousand
men, lay ready at Yarmouth.

The Dutch, being upon their own coast, had the advantage of receiving
quick supplies; whereas the wind prevented the English from obtaining
succour. Prince Rupert, however, did all in his power to repair his
fleet, and believing that the Dutch would not be long before they
resumed hostilities, he went on board the _Royal Sovereign_ in the
evening of June 3rd, "where he went not to bed all night." His foresight
was justified by events; for on the 4th, in the morning, the Dutch
fleet, by this time at least as strong as the confederates, bore down
upon them as fast as the wind would permit. Prince Rupert was so much in
earnest that, finding his ship's crew raised his anchors very slowly, he
ordered his cables to be cut, that he might make haste to meet the
Dutch. Count d'Estrees, with the white squadron, is said to have
betrayed no such great willingness to fight, but to have kept as much as
might be out of harm's way.

At last, about five in the evening, Spragge and Tromp engaged with great
fury. De Ruyter showed at first a design of coming to a close engagement
with the prince: but before he came within musket-shot, he tacked and
bore away; whence it was concluded that he had suffered some
considerable damage. Spragge, in the meantime, had forced Tromp to sheer
off. He then fell into Vice-admiral Sweers's division, which he soon put
to confusion, and had a third engagement with Tromp, wherein he shot
down his flag. The battle lasted till between ten and eleven at night,
and then the Dutch stood to the south-east, and so it ended.

Both sides claimed the victory as before, losses being pretty equal on
both sides, though far from considerable on either.

The prince was for attacking the enemy again; but it was carried in a
council of war to sail for the English coast, in order to obtain
supplies, as well of ammunition as provision; of the want of which a
great many captains complained loudly. Besides, the fleet was so poorly
manned that if it had not been for the land forces on board they could
not have fought at all. On June the 8th the fleet arrived at the Nore,
and on the 14th Prince Rupert went to London, to give the king an
account of the condition of things and to press for necessary supplies.

About the middle of July Prince Rupert was once more at sea, having on
board the troops intended for a descent upon the Dutch coast. His
Highness arrived off Holland on the 21st of the said month; and,
declining an engagement, stood along the shore in order to find an
opportunity for disembarking his troops. On August the 9th he took a
Dutch East India ship richly laden. This induced De Ruyter to bear down
upon the English fleet; upon seeing which, Prince Rupert commanded the
French a particular course, and had thereby an opportunity of discerning
what he was to expect from them in a time of action. They lay by twice
that night; first about eleven o'clock, when the prince sent to Count
d'Estrees to order him to make sail, which he did till about one o'clock
and then laid his sail to the mast again causing a second stop to the
fleet and obliging the prince to send him another message. In those
days, when party-spirit ran very high, nobody ever suspected the Count
d'Estrees' courage, which was so well known and so thoroughly
established as clearly to disclose his orders.

These delays gave the Dutch admiral an opportunity of gaining the wind,
which he did not neglect; but, early on August 11th, bore down upon the
confederates as if he meant to force them to a battle; upon which His
Highness thought fit to tack, and thereby brought the fleet into good
order. He put the French in the van, himself in the centre, and Sir
Edward Spragge in the rear; and in this disposition the French lay fair
to get the wind of the enemy, which, however, they neglected. The
English fleet consisted of about sixty men-of-war and frigates, the
French of thirty, and the Dutch of seventy or thereabouts; so that the
royal fleets were indisputably superior to that of the republic.

De Ruyter, bearing down with his fleet in three squadrons, prepared to
attack the prince himself, while Tromp engaged Spragge and the blue
squadron, in which the English admiral obliged him, by laying his
fore-top sail to his mast, in order to stay for him, contrary to the
express order of the prince. This fondness for a point of honour proved
fatal to himself as well as disadvantageous to the fleet. Bankert, with
his Zealand squadron, should have engaged the white, commanded by
D'Estrees; but it seems the Dutch understood the temper of the French
better than to give themselves much trouble about them; for Bankert
contented himself with sending eight men-of-war and three fire-ships to
attack the rear-admiral, De Martel, who seemed to be the only man that
had any real design to fight; and then the rest of the Zealand squadron
united themselves to De Ruyter, and fell together upon Prince Rupert.

The battle between De Ruyter and the red squadron began about eight
o'clock in the morning, and a multitude of circumstances concurred to
threaten the English admiral with inevitable ruin. Sir Edward Spragge,
intent on his personal quarrel with Van Tromp, had fallen to the
leeward several leagues with the blue squadron; and to complete Prince
Rupert's misfortune, the enemy found means to intercept his own
rear-admiral, Sir John Chichele, with his division; so that by noon His
Highness was wholly surrounded by the Dutch, being pressed by De Ruyter
and his division on his lee-quarter, an admiral with two flags more on
his weather-quarter, and the Zealand squadron on his broadside to

His Highness, in the midst of these disappointments, behaved with such
intrepidity, and encouraged all his officers so effectually by his own
example that, by degrees, he cleared himself of his enemies, rejoined
Sir John Chichele, and by two o'clock had time to think of the blue
squadron, which was now at three leagues' distance; and, not hearing
their guns well plied, he made all the sail he could towards them, in
order to unite with and relieve them. De Ruyter, perceiving His
Highness's design, left firing and bore away also with his whole force
to the assistance of Tromp; so that both fleets ran down side by side
within range of cannon-shot, and yet without firing on either part.
About four the prince joined the blue squadron, which he found in a very
tattered condition.

At the beginning of the fight, Tromp in the _Golden Lion_, and Sir
Edward Spragge in the _Royal Prince_, fought ship to ship. The Dutch
admiral, however, would not come to a close fight, which gave him a
great advantage; for Spragge, who had more than his complement on board,
suffered much by the enemy's cannon, and, having the wind and smoke in
his face, could not make such good use of his own as he would otherwise
have done. After three hours' warm fighting the _Royal Prince_ was so
disabled that Sir Edward was forced to go on board the _St. George_; and
Tromp quitted his _Golden Lion_ to hoist his flag on board the _Comet_,
when the battle was renewed with incredible fury.

The great aim of the Dutch admiral was to take or sink the _Royal
Prince_; but the Earl of Ossory and Sir John Kempthorne, together with
Spragge himself, so effectually protected the disabled vessel that none
of the enemy's fire-ships could come near her, though they often
attempted it. At last, the _St. George_ being terribly torn and disabled
Sir Edward Spragge designed to go on board a third ship, the _Royal
Charles_; but, before he had got ten boats' length, a shot, which passed
through the _St. George_, took his boat, and though they immediately
rowed back, before they could get within reach of the ropes that were
thrown out from the _St. George_, the boat sank, and Sir Edward was

When Prince Rupert drew near the blue squadron he found the admiral
disabled, the vice-admiral lying to the windward, mending his sails and
rigging, the rear-admiral astern of the _Royal Prince_, between her and
the enemy, bending his new sails and mending his rigging. The first
thing His Highness did was to send two frigates to take the _Royal
Prince_ in tow. He then steered in between the enemy and the lame ships,
and perceiving that Tromp had tacked and was coming down again upon the
blue squadron, he made a signal for all the ships of that squadron to
join him: but it was in vain; for, except the two flags, Sir John
Kempthorne and the Earl of Ossory, there was not one in a condition to
move. The French still continued to look on with all the coolness
imaginable; and notwithstanding the prince put out the blue flag upon
the mizen-peak, which was the signal to attack set down in the general
instructions for fighting, and known not only to all the English
captains but also to those of the white squadron, yet they remained, as
before, wholly inactive. But, to give some kind of colour to this
conduct, the Count d'Estrees, after the battle was in a manner over,
sent to know what this signal meant. An officer who wrote an account of
this engagement, says, "The sending to inquire the meaning of the signal
was cunningly done: but one of De Ruyter's sailors seems to have had as
much penetration as the French ministry had artifice; for, upon one of
his companions asking him what the French meant by keeping at such a
distance, 'Why, you fool,' said he, 'they have hired the English to
fight for them; and all their business here is to see that they earn
their wages.'"

About five in the evening, De Ruyter, with all his flags and fleet, came
close up with the prince, and then began a very sharp engagement. His
Highness had none to second him but the vice-admiral and rear-admiral of
the blue, Sir John Harman, Captain Davis, and Captain Stout, of his own
division, Sir John Holmes in the _Rupert_, Captain Legge in the _Royal
Katharine_, Sir John Berry in the _Resolution_, Sir John Ernle in the
_Henry_, Sir Roger Strickland in the _Mary_, and Captain Carter in the
_Crown_; in all about thirteen ships. The engagement was very close and
bloody till about seven o'clock, when His Highness forced the Dutch
fleet into great disorder and sent in two fire-ships amongst them to
increase it, at the same time making a signal for the French to bear
down; which, even then, if they had done, a total defeat must have
followed: but, as they took no notice of it and the prince saw that most
of his ships were not in any condition to keep the sea long, he wisely
provided for their safety by making with an easy sail toward our own

This battle ended as doubtfully as any of the rest; for the Dutch very
loudly claimed the victory now, as they did before, and with fully as
much reason. The truth is, it seems to have been a drawn battle; since
the Dutch, notwithstanding all their advantages, did not take or sink a
single English man-of-war, and killed but two captains, Sir William
Reeves and Captain Havard, besides our gallant admiral, Sir Edward
Spragge, and no great number of private men. On their side they lost two
vice-admirals, Sweers and Liefde, three captains, and about one thousand
private men.

Soon after this battle the English fleet came into the Thames, and
Prince Rupert returned to court, where he joined his representations to
those of others who were desirous for peace, the result of which was
that a treaty of peace was signed in London on February 9th, 1674,
whereby all differences were adjusted. The limits of the British seas
were particularly defined; and the states undertook that not only
separate ships, but whole fleets should strike their sails to any fleet
or single ship carrying the king's flag, as the custom was in the days
of his ancestors.

The East India trade was likewise settled so as to prevent subsequent
debates, and not leave either party at liberty to encroach upon the
other. Places taken on both sides were by this treaty to be restored;
and the states-general were to pay His Majesty eight hundred thousand
patacoons at four payments; the first, immediately after the
ratification of this treaty, and the other three by annual payments.

Thus ended the third of our Dutch wars; which, though made against the
interest and will of the people, terminated to their advantage; whereas
the former war, begun at the instance of the nation, ended but
indifferently; so little correspondence is there between the grounds and
issues of things.


There was little to record to the honour of the navy in the reign of
James II. As Duke of York he had held the office of Lord High-admiral
for years, and he doubtless knew as much about the navy as any man of
his time. This knowledge he is said to have employed as soon as he came
into power to bring the navy into a state of efficiency, and yet, when
in November 1688 the Prince of Orange sailed for England, he was able to
effect his passage and land his army at Torbay without any opposition
from the fleet.

During the first year of the reign of William and Mary the navy did some
service in Ireland, Admiral Herbert engaging the French in Bantry Bay
without much success, and Commodore Rooke effecting the relief of
Londonderry. The former engagement was virtually a defeat for the
English, as the French effected their purpose by landing their supplies
and making good their retreat. William III., however, willing to put the
best possible construction upon the event, and desirous of conciliating
the navy, created Admiral Herbert Earl of Torrington, and knighted
Captains John Ashby and Cloudesley Shovel.

As to the remaining naval transactions of this year, they were neither
many nor great, but they included the taking of two celebrated
sea-officers of the French service, the Chevalier Fourbin and John du
Bart. These gentlemen commanded two small frigates, and had under their
convoy six rich merchantmen, homeward-bound. Near the Isle of Wight they
were chased by two of our fifty-gun ships, which they engaged very
bravely, though they saw that it was impossible for them to avoid being
taken. All they aimed at was to give their merchantmen time to escape,
and in this they succeeded; for, while they fought desperately, the
vessels under their convoy got safely into Rochelle. As for the
Chevalier Fourbin and Captain Bart, they were carried prisoners into
Plymouth, from whence not long after they found means to escape, and got
safely over to Calais. For this gallant and generous action the French
king rewarded each of them with the command of a man-of-war.

In 1690, however, the fleet was called upon to face a far more
formidable encounter. The French, who had for years been paying
increased attention to naval affairs, and who had made use of the recent
Dutch wars, first on one side and then on the other, to obtain knowledge
and experience of maritime affairs, now despatched their fleet with a
considerable body of troops to make a descent upon England in the
interests of James II., while the Jacobins in London made active
preparations for a simultaneous rising.

On June 12th the French fleet put to sea in three squadrons, each
squadron being divided into three divisions. Of these the white and blue
squadrons, commanded by Count d'Estrees, on board the _Le Grand_, a ship
of eighty-six guns, formed the vanguard, consisting of twenty-six
men-of-war. The main body was composed of the white squadron, which
consisted likewise of twenty-six sail, commanded by the Admiral Count
Tourville in the _Royal Sun_, a ship of one hundred guns; while the blue
squadron, commanded by M. d'Amfreville in the _Magnificent_, a ship of
eighty guns, comprised twenty-five sail and formed the rear-guard. In
all there were seventy-eight men-of-war and twenty-two fire-ships, and
the whole fleet carried upwards of four thousand seven hundred pieces of
cannon. On June the 13th they steered for the English coast, and on the
20th arrived off the Lizard. The next day the admiral took some English
fishing-boats; and, after having paid the people who were on board for
their fish, set them at liberty again. These men were the first to bring
the news of the arrival of the French fleet on our coast, while our own
fleet was lying idle in the Downs.

Under the arrangement of the conspirators the French fleet was to enter
the Thames, and the Jacobins in London were to rise, seize the queen and
her principal ministers, and proclaim James once more king, whereupon
James was to leave Ireland to the care of Lauzun and Tyrconnel, return
to England and take the head of the revolution, while the French landed
troops at Torbay and intercepted the return of William from Ireland.

The Earl of Torrington was at St. Helen's when he received the news of
the arrival of the French fleet, which must have surprised him very
much, since he was so far from expecting the French in that quarter that
he had no scouts to the westward. He put to sea, however, with such
ships as he had, and stood to the south-east, leaving orders that all
the English and Dutch ships which could have notice should follow him.
In the evening he was joined by several more ships, and the next morning
he found himself within sight of the enemy. The French landed and made
some prisoners on shore; and by them sent a letter from Sir William
Jennings, an officer in the navy, who had followed the fortunes of King
James and served now as third captain on board the admiral, promising
pardon to all such captains as would now adhere to that prince. The next
day Torrington received another reinforcement of seven Dutch men-of-war,
under the command of Admiral Evertzen, and for some time the English
fleet lay off Ventnor, while the French fleet stood off the Needles. It
is certain that the Earl of Torrington did not think himself strong
enough to venture on an engagement, and in all probability the rest of
the admirals agreed with him.

His whole strength consisted of about thirty-four men-of-war of several
sizes, and the three Dutch admirals had under their command twenty-two
large ships. Outnumbered by more than twenty sail it was perhaps but
natural that he should seek to avoid hostilities.

In London, where the Jacobin plot was known, the utmost excitement
prevailed. The rival fleets were known to be in sight of each other, and
it was clear that the English admiral was reluctant to engage. Under
these circumstances the queen, fearful of the consequences of continued
tension, by the advice of the privy council sent the earl orders to
fight at all costs and compel the French fleet to withdraw. In obedience
to this order, as soon as it was light, on June 30th, the admiral threw
out the signal for drawing into line and bore down upon the enemy, while
they were under sail, with their heads to the northward.

The signal for battle was made about eight, when the French braced their
head sails to their masts, in order to lie by. The action began about
nine, when the Dutch squadron, which made the van of the united fleets,
fell in with the van of the French, and put them into some disorder.
About half an hour after our blue squadron engaged their rear very
warmly; but the red, commanded by the Earl of Torrington in person,
which made the centre of our fleet, could not come up till about ten;
and this occasioned a great opening between them and the Dutch. The
French, making use of this advantage, weathered, and of course
surrounded the Dutch, who defended themselves very gallantly, though
they suffered extremely from so unequal a fight. The admiral, seeing
their distress, endeavoured to relieve them; and while they dropped
their anchors, the only method they had left to preserve themselves, he
drove with his own ship and several others between them and the enemy,
and in that situation anchored about five in the afternoon, when it grew
calm; but discerning how much the Dutch had suffered, and how little
probability there was of regaining anything by renewing the fight, he
weighed about nine at night, and retired eastward with the tide of

The next day it was resolved in a council of war, held in the afternoon,
to preserve the fleet by retreating, and rather to destroy the disabled
ships, if they should be pressed by the enemy, than to hazard another
engagement by endeavouring to protect them. This resolution was executed
with as much success as could be expected, which, however, was chiefly
owing to want of experience in the French admirals; for, by not
anchoring when the English did, they were driven to a great distance;
and, by continuing to chase in a line of battle, instead of leaving
every ship at liberty to do her utmost, they could never recover what
they lost by their first mistake. But, notwithstanding all this, they
pressed on their pursuit as far as Rye Bay; and forcing the _Anne_, of
seventy guns, which had lost all her masts, on shore near Winchelsea,
they sent in two ships to burn her, which the captain prevented by
setting fire to her himself. The body of the French fleet stood in and
out of the bays of Bourne and Pevensey, in Sussex, while about fourteen
of their ships anchored near the shore. Some of these attempted to burn
a Dutch ship of sixty-four guns, which at low water lay dry; but her
commander defended her so stoutly every high water, that they were at
length forced to desist, and the captain carried her safe into Holland.

Our loss in this unlucky affair, if we except reputation, was not so
great as might have been expected; not more than two ships, two sea
captains, two captains of marines, and three hundred and fifty private
men. The Dutch were much more unfortunate, because they were more
thoroughly engaged. Besides three ships sunk in the fight, they were
obliged to set fire to three more that were stranded on the coast of
Sussex, losing in all six ships of the line. They likewise lost many
gallant officers; particularly their rear-admirals, Dick and Brakel, and
Captain Nordel, with a great number of inferior officers and seamen.

After the engagement our fleet retreated towards the River Thames; and
the Earl of Torrington, going on shore, left the command to Sir John
Ashby. On July 8th the French fleet stood toward their own coast, but
were seen, upon the 27th, off the Berry Head, a little to the eastward
of Dartmouth, and then, the wind taking them short, they put into
Torbay. There they lay but a short time; for they were discovered on the
29th near Plymouth, at which place the necessary preparations were made
by platforms and other works to give them a warm reception. On August
5th they appeared again off the Rame Head, in number between sixty and
seventy, when, standing westward, they were no more seen in the Channel
during 1690.

The earl was tried by court martial on the charge of having from
treachery or cowardice misbehaved in his office, drawn dishonour on the
English nation and sacrificed our good allies the Dutch. He defended
himself with dignity and eloquence, affirming that he fought under
orders, against his own judgment and that of his staff, against superior
forces without any probability of success; that the Dutch suffered for
their own rashness, and that if he had sustained them in the manner they
expected, the whole fleet must have been surrounded and destroyed. In
the end the earl was acquitted, but the day after the trial he was



On the dismissal of the Earl of Torrington from the command of the navy,
Edward Russel was appointed admiral and commander-in-chief; but twelve
months elapsed before an opportunity occurred for wiping out the
dishonour of the engagement off Beachy Head.

As soon as Louis XIV. perceived that it was impossible to support the
war in Ireland any longer to advantage, he resolved to employ the forces
still left with King James to serve his purpose in another way. With
this view, he concerted with the malcontents in England an invasion of
the coast of Sussex; and though for this design it was necessary to draw
together a large number of transports, as well as a very considerable
body of troops, he had both in readiness before his purpose was so much
as suspected here. The land forces consisted of fourteen battalions of
English and Irish troops, and about nine thousand French soldiers,
commanded by Marshal de Belfondes; so that in all there were not less
than twenty thousand men. The fleet of transports consisted of three
hundred sail, and was well provided with everything necessary for the
invasion. In short, nothing was wanting to the execution of this design
in the beginning of April but the arrival of Count d'Estrees' squadron
of twelve men-of-war, which was to escort the embarkation; while the
Count de Tourville cruised in the Channel with the grand fleet, ready to
put to sea but detained by contrary winds. Things being in this
position, King James sent over Colonel Parker and some other agents to
give his friends intelligence of his motions; and some of these people,
in hopes of reward, gave the first clear account of the whole design to
the English government; upon which, order after order was sent to
Admiral Russel to hasten out to sea in whatever condition the fleet
might be.

There were at this very critical juncture two considerable squadrons at
sea; one under the command of Sir Ralph Delaval, sent to bring home a
fleet of merchantmen from the Mediterranean; the other under
Rear-admiral Carter, near the French coast. It was apprehended that the
French would have endeavoured to intercept the former; and therefore, on
the last of February, orders were sent by the _Groin_ packet-boat to
Vice-admiral Delaval, to avoid coming near Cape St. Vincent, but rather
to sail to Dingle Bay, the mouth of the Shannon, or some other port
thereabouts. But, for fear these orders might not reach him soon enough
at Cadiz, an advice-boat was ordered to cruise for him off Cape Clear,
with instructions to put into Cork or Kingsale. However, both these
orders missed him, and he was so fortunate as to arrive in the beginning
of March, 1692, safe in the Downs.

Rear-admiral Carter was ordered to continue cruising with his squadron
of eighteen sail as near the French coast as possible, in order to be
the better and earlier informed of the movements of the enemy. King
William, as soon as he arrived in Holland, took care to hasten the naval
preparations with unusual diligence; so that the fleet was ready to put
to sea much sooner than had been expected, or at least much sooner than
it had done the year before, and was also in a much better condition.
Admiral Russel went on board in the beginning of May, and soon after
received orders to cruise between Cape la Hogue and the Isle of Wight
till the squadrons should join him, though he had proposed the junction
should be made off Beachy Head. However, he obeyed his orders as soon as
he received them, and plied down through the sands with a very scanty
wind, contrary to the opinion of many of his officers and all the
pilots, who were against hazarding so great a fleet in so dangerous an
attempt; and yet to this bold stroke of the admiral's was due his
subsequent success.

On May the 8th the fleet came safe off Rye, and that night the admiral
sent to the Dutch admiral to weigh and make sail after him, that no time
might be lost. He also sent a squadron of small ships to look for Sir
Ralph Delaval, being in great anxiety until the whole confederate fleet
was collected in one body. On May 11th he sailed from Rye Bay for St.
Helen's; where in two days' time he was joined by Sir Ralph Delaval and
Rear-admiral Carter with their squadrons. While here, the admiral
received a letter from the Earl of Nottingham, as secretary of state,
written by Queen Mary's direction, wherein he was informed that a
scandalous and malicious report had been spread with regard to some of
the officers of the fleet, to the effect that they were disaffected or
not hearty in the service, and that Her Majesty had thereupon been
pressed to discharge many of them from their employment; but Her Majesty
charged the admiral to acquaint his officers that she was satisfied this
report was raised by the enemies of the government, and that she reposed
so entire a confidence in their fidelity that she had resolved not to
displace so much as one of them. Upon this the flag-officers and
captains drew up a very dutiful and loyal address, dated from on board
the _Britannia_ at St. Helen's, May 15th, 1692, which was the same day
transmitted to court, and on the next presented by the lords of the
Admiralty to Her Majesty, who was pleased to make the following wise and
gracious answer, which was published that night in the _Gazette_: "I
always had this opinion of the commanders; but I am glad this is come to
satisfy others."

When all the ships, English and Dutch, were assembled the admiral
proposed that a small detachment of six or eight frigates might be sent
to hover about the coast of Normandy, and that the grand fleet should
lie westward of that place, in order to protect them from the enemy.
This proposition being in part approved, he detached six light ships to
gain intelligence, and sailed on May 18th for the coast of France. The
next day, about three in the morning, the scouts westward of the fleet
fired swivel-guns, and made the signal of discovering the enemy.
Immediately orders were given for drawing into a line of battle; and the
signal was made for the rear of the fleet to tack, in order to engage
the sooner if the French stood to the northward. A little after four,
the sun dispersing the fog, the enemy were seen standing southward. The
admiral upon this caused the signal for the rear to tack to be taken in,
and bore away with his ship to leeward, that each ship in the fleet
might fetch his wake and then be brought to and lay by, with his foretop
sail to the mast; that so others might have the better opportunity of
placing themselves according to the manner formerly directed for such an

The confederate fleet was in good order by eight, having the Dutch
squadron in the van, the red in the centre, and the blue in the rear.
About ten the French fleet bore down upon them with great resolution.
About half-past eleven Count Tourville in the _Royal Sun_ brought to and
began the fight with Admiral Russel, being within three-quarters
musket-shot. He plied his guns very warmly till one, but then began to
tow off in great disorder; his rigging, sails, and topsail yards being
very much injured. About two the wind shifted; so that five of the
enemy's blue squadron posted themselves, three ahead and two astern of
their admiral, and fired very briskly till after three. The admiral and
his two seconds, Mr. Churchil and Mr. Aylmer, had all these ships to
deal with. The fog was so thick about four that the enemy could not be
seen; and, as soon as it cleared up, the French admiral was discovered
towing away northward; upon which the admiral followed him and made the
signal for chasing.

While this passed between the admirals, Sir Cloudesley Shovel got to the
windward of Count Tourville's squadron and engaged them; but the fog
growing darker than before, they were forced to anchor. The weather
clearing up a little, the French followed their flying admiral, and the
English chased the best they could. About eight in the evening it grew
foggy again, and part of the English blue squadron, having fallen in
with the enemy, engaged about half an hour, till, having lost four
ships, they bore away for Conquet road. In this short action
Rear-admiral Carter was killed.

The 20th of May proved so dark and foggy, that it was eight o'clock
before the Dutch discovered the enemy; and then the whole fleet began to
chase, the French crowding away westward. About four in the afternoon
both fleets anchored; about ten they weighed again, and about twelve
Admiral Russel's foretop mast came by the board.

On the 22nd, about seven in the morning, the English fleet continued the
chase with all the success they could desire; about eleven the French
admiral ran ashore and cut her masts away; upon which her two seconds
plied up to her and other ships began to hover about them; and the
English admiral ordered Sir Ralph Delaval, who was in the rear, to keep
with him a strength sufficient to destroy these ships, and to send the
rest, under his command, to join the body of the fleet. In the evening a
great number of the enemy's ships were seen going into La Hogue. On the
23rd the admiral sent in Sir George Rooke with several men-of-war,
fire-ships, and all the boats of the fleet, to destroy these ships in
the bay. On their entering it was perceived that there were thirteen
sail; but they were got up so high that none but the small frigates
could reach them. Sir George, however, was resolved to execute his
orders; and therefore, having manned his boats, he went in person to
encourage the attempt, burnt six of them that night, and the other seven
the next morning, together with a great number of transport ships, and
other vessels laden with ammunition. This remarkable piece of service,
the greatest that happened during the whole affair, was performed under
a prodigious fire from the enemy's battery on shore, and within sight of
the Irish camp, with the loss only of ten men.

Sir John Ashby, with his own squadron and some Dutch ships, pursued the
rest of the French fleet till they ran through the Race of Alderney,
among such rocks and shoals that our pilots were absolutely against
following them; for which the admiral was censured, though some of the
ablest seamen in England were of opinion that there could not be a more
desperate undertaking than the flight of the French ships through that
passage. Though despair might justify the French in making the attempt,
clearly prudence forbade the English from following them.




Sir George Rooke was the son of Sir William Rooke, Knt., of an ancient
and honourable family in the county of Kent, where he was born in the
year 1650.

Originally intended for another profession, his passion for the sea was
not to be denied, and Sir William, after a fruitless struggle with his
son's bent for the navy, at last gave way and suffered him to go to sea.
His first station in the navy was that of a volunteer, then styled a
reformade, in which he distinguished himself by his courage and
application. This soon secured him the post of lieutenant, from which he
rose to that of captain before he was thirty; promotion then thought
very extraordinary. Admiral Herbert distinguished him early, by sending
him, in the year 1689, as commodore, with a squadron to the coast of
Ireland, where he concurred with Major-general Kirke in the relief of
Londonderry, assisting in person in taking the island in the Lake, which
opened a passage for the relief of the town. In the year 1690 he was
appointed rear-admiral of the red; and, in that station, served in the
fight off Beachy Head, where, notwithstanding the misfortune of our
arms, indisputably the greatest we ever met with at sea, Admiral Rooke
was allowed to have done his duty with much resolution. In the spring
of 1691 he was promoted to the rank of vice-admiral of the blue, in
which station he served in the famous battle of La Hogue, on May the
22nd, 1692, and contributed no small share to the victory. For this
service, an account of which will be found in the story of "The Victory
of La Hogue," he was knighted in the following year.

The direction of the fleet being now put in commission, Sir George Rooke
was entrusted with the command of the squadron appointed to escort the
Smyrna fleet, and the joint admirals received orders to accompany him as
far to sea as they thought proper; after which his instructions were to
take the best care of the fleet he could, and, in case of any
misfortune, to retire into some of the Spanish ports and put himself
under the protection of their guns.

The combined fleet had not proceeded far before the accompanying
admirals signified their intention to return, and Sir George Rooke, who
had good reason to believe that the French squadron had gone to Toulon
with a view to intercepting the ships under his convoy, had to content
himself with protesting against the withdrawal of the grand fleet so
early in the voyage, and proceeding upon the journey alone. On June the
15th, being about sixty leagues short of Cape St. Vincent, he ordered
the _Lark_ to stretch ahead of his scouts into Lagos Bay; and on the
following day, having confirmed advice of danger, from the close
proximity of the enemy, proposed in a council of war to keep the wind or
lie by during the night, with a view to discovering the enemy's strength
in the morning. In this he was over-ruled, for it was urged that the
wind being fresh northerly, it gave the fleet a fair opportunity of
pushing for Cadiz; with which view he ran along the shore all night with
a pressed sail, forcing several of the enemy's ships to cut from their
anchors in Lagos Bay.

The next day, when off Villa Nova, it fell calm, and a little after
daybreak ten sail of the enemy's men-of-war and several small ships were
seen in the offing. The French no sooner discovered Sir George Rooke
than they stood away with their boats ahead, setting fire to some, and
sinking others of their small craft, to save them from falling into his
hands. The crew of a fire-ship which fell in with our fleet in the
night, being carried on board the flag ship and examined by the admiral,
told him that the French squadron consisted of only fifteen ships of the
line, notwithstanding there were three flags, and had with them
forty-six merchantmen and store-ships, bound either for Toulon or to
join M. d'Estrees. They said also that the squadron had been becalmed
off the Cape, and that, having watered in the bay, were bound directly
into the Straits, without any intention of following our fleet. This
story, consistent with the hasty retreat of their men-of-war in the
morning and their desertion and destruction of their small vessels,
completely deceived the admiral and the rest of the officers; though
afterwards it appeared that they made this retreat with a view to
drawing the English squadron more completely into their power. About
noon the sea breeze sprang up and the admiral bore away along shore upon
the enemy, discovering their real strength as he came nearer to them,
until at last he sighted about eighty sail.

About three in the afternoon the Dutch vice-admiral sent Sir George
Rooke word that, in his judgment, the best course would be to avoid
fighting. Sir George differed with him upon the point and had actually
made his arrangements for engaging the enemy; but reflecting that he
should take upon himself the whole blame of the consequences if he
fought contrary to the Dutch admiral's advice, he brought to and then
stood off with an easy sail, at the same time despatching the
_Sheerness_ with orders to the small ships that were on the coast to
endeavour to get along shore in the night and save themselves in the
Spanish ports; this, happily, many of them succeeded in doing.

Sir George Rooke's whole squadron consisted of no more than twenty-three
ships of war; of these, thirteen only were English, eight Dutch, and two
Hamburgers. The fleet of merchantmen under his convoy numbered four
hundred sail of all nations, though the greater part of them were
English ships. The fleet under M. Tourville consisted of one hundred
and twenty sail, of which sixty-four were of the line, and eighteen
three-deck ships; yet Sir George Rooke saved all his men-of-war and no
less than sixty merchantmen, and was said by the Dutch gazettes to have
gained more reputation by his escape than the French had by their

Early in the year 1697 Sir George Rooke was appointed admiral and
commander-in-chief of the fleet, and put to sea towards the latter end
of June. As the French avoided fighting Sir George found it impossible
to do anything with them; but while cruising off the French coast he met
with a large fleet of Swedish merchantmen, and having obliged them to
bring to and submit to be searched, found just grounds for believing
that most of their cargoes belonged to French merchants: upon which he
sent them under the convoy of some frigates into Plymouth. This caused a
great deal of excitement, the Swedish minister interposing, and some of
our statesmen being inclined to disapprove the admiral's conduct.

Upon this Sir George insisted that the matter should be brought to trial
before the court of admiralty, where, upon the clearest evidence, it was
shown that these Swedish ships were freighted by French merchants,
partly with French goods, but chiefly with Indian merchandise, which had
been taken out of English and Dutch ships; and that the Swedes had no
further concern therein than receiving two per cent. for lending their
names, procuring passes, and taking other necessary precautions for
screening the effects of the French merchants; so that the whole of this
rich fleet was adjudged to be good prize, and the clamour that had been
raised against Sir George Rooke was converted into general applause!

The following year he was elected member of parliament for Portsmouth,
where, voting mostly with the Tories, the Whigs tried to ruin him in the
king's favour; but, to the honour of King William be it said, that when
pressed to remove Sir George Rooke from his seat at the Admiralty-board,
he answered plainly "Sir George Rooke has served me faithfully at sea,
and I will never displace him for acting as he thinks most for the
service of his country in the House of Commons."

Upon the accession of Queen Anne, in 1702, Sir George was constituted
vice-admiral and lieutenant of the Admiralty of England, as also
lieutenant of the fleets and seas of this kingdom; and, upon the
declaration of war with France, it was resolved that Sir George Rooke
should command the grand fleet sent against Cadiz, the Duke of Ormond
having the command-in-chief of the land forces.

When it was found impracticable for the land forces to make themselves
masters of Cadiz, Sir George Rooke proposed bombarding it, but this
suggestion meeting with opposition the admiral decided to return home.

On September 19th, 1702, the fleet sailed homeward bound, but on October
6th the admiral received information from Captain Hardy that a number of
galleons under the escort of a strong French squadron had entered the
harbour of Vigo; upon which Sir George called a council of war composed
of English and Dutch flag-officers, by whom it was resolved to sail to
Vigo as expeditiously as possible, and attack the enemy.

The passage into the harbour was not more than three-quarters of a mile
across, and was defended on the north side by a battery of eight brass
and twelve iron guns; and on the south by a platform of twenty brass and
twenty iron guns, also a stone fort, with a breast-work and deep trench
before it, mounting ten guns and manned by five hundred men. There was,
from one side of the harbour to the other, a strong boom composed of
ships-yards and top masts, fastened together with three-inch rope, and
underneath with hawsers and cables. The top-chain at each end was moored
to a seventy-gun ship; one the _Hope_, which had been taken from the
English, and the other the _Bourbon_. Within the boom were moored five
ships, of between sixty and seventy guns each, with their broadsides
fronting the entrance of the passage, so as to command any ship that
came near the boom, forts, and platform.

The admirals removed their flags from the great ships into third-rates,
the first- and second-rates being all too big to go in. Sir George Rooke
went out of the _Royal Sovereign_ into the _Somerset_; Admiral Hopson
out of the _Prince George_ into the _Torbay_; Admiral Fairbourne out of
the _St. George_ into the _Essex_; and Admiral Graydon out of the
_Triumph_ into the _Northumberland_. A detachment of fifteen English and
ten Dutch men-of-war, with all their fire-ships, frigates, and
bomb-vessels, was ordered to go upon the service.

The Duke of Ormond, to facilitate this attack, landed two thousand five
hundred men on the south side of the river, at a distance of about six
miles from Vigo; and Lord Shannon, at the head of five hundred men,
attacked the stone fort at the entrance of the harbour and made himself
master of the platform of forty pieces of cannon. The French governor,
M. Sozel, ordered the gates of the fort to be thrown open, resolving to
force his way through the English troops. But though there was great
bravery, there was but very little judgment in this action, for his
order was no sooner obeyed than the grenadiers stormed the place, sword
in hand, and forced the garrison, consisting of about three hundred and
fifty Frenchmen and Spaniards, to surrender as prisoners of war.

As soon as our flag was seen flying from the fort the ships advanced;
and Vice-admiral Hopson in the _Torbay_, crowding all the sail he could,
ran directly against the boom, and broke it; upon which the _Kent_, with
the rest of the squadron, English and Dutch, entered the harbour. The
enemy made a prodigious fire upon them, both from their ships and
batteries on shore, until the latter were captured by our grenadiers;
who, seeing the execution done by their guns on the fleet, stormed them
with incredible resolution. In the meantime, one of the enemy's
fire-ships had laid the _Torbay_ on board and did her considerable
damage. Her foretop mast was shot by the board; most of the sails burnt
or scorched; the fore-yard consumed to a cinder; the larboard shrouds,
fore and aft, burnt to the dead eyes; several ports blown off the
hinges; her larboard side entirely scorched; one hundred and fifteen
men killed and drowned, of whom about sixty jumped overboard as soon as
they were grappled by the fire-ship.

In the meantime Captain William Bokenham, in the _Association_, a ship
of ninety guns, lay with her broadside to the battery, on the left of
the harbour, which was soon disabled; and Captain Francis Wyvill, in the
_Barfleur_, a ship of the same force, was sent to batter the fort on the
other side, which was a very dangerous and troublesome service, since
the enemy's shot pierced the ship through and through, and for some time
he durst not fire a gun because our troops were between him and the
fort; but they soon drove the enemy from their post, and then the
struggle was between the French firing their ships and the galleons and
our men endeavouring to save them. In this dispute the _Association_ had
her main-mast shot, and two men killed; the _Kent_ had her fore-mast
shot and the boatswain wounded; the _Barfleur_ had her main-mast shot,
two men killed, and two wounded; the _Mary_ had her bowsprit shot. Of
the troops there were only two lieutenants and thirty men killed, and
four superior officers wounded; a very inconsiderable loss, considering
that the enemy had fifteen French men-of-war, two frigates and a
fire-ship, burnt, sunk, or taken, besides seventeen galleons.

Six galleons were taken by the English and five by the Dutch, who sank
six. As to the wealth on board the galleons we have no exact account. Of
the silver fourteen millions of pieces were saved; of the goods about
five. Four millions of plate were destroyed with ten millions of
merchandise; and about two millions in silver and five in goods were
brought away by the English and Dutch.

Sir Cloudesley Shovel arriving on October 16th as the troops were
embarking, the admiral left him at Vigo with orders to see that the
French men-of-war and the galleons that we had taken, and that were in a
condition to be brought to England, were carefully rigged and properly
supplied with men. He was likewise directed to burn such as could not be
brought home, and to take the best care he could to prevent
embezzlements. After appointing a strong squadron for this service, the
admiral, with the rest of the fleet and one of the Spanish galleons,
sailed home, and arrived in the Downs on November 7th, 1702, whence the
great ships were sent round to Chatham.

The year 1703 was barren of naval achievements; but, if one year can be
said to make up for another, 1704 was equal to the occasion. On July
17th the fleet being in the road of Tetuan a council of war was called
at which Sir George Rooke proposed the attacking of Gibraltar, a
proposal which was immediately agreed to and speedily put into
execution, as will be seen by the admiral's own account as follows:--

"July 17th, the fleet being then about seven leagues to the eastward of
Tetuan, a council of war was held on board the _Royal Catherine_,
wherein it was resolved to make a sudden attempt upon Gibraltar.
Accordingly the fleet sailed thither, and on the 21st got into the bay.
At three o'clock in the afternoon the marines, English and Dutch, to the
number of one thousand eight hundred, with the Prince of Hesse at the
head of them, were put on shore on the neck of land to the northward of
the town to cut off all communication with the country. His Highness,
having posted his men there, sent a summons to the governor to surrender
the place, which he rejected with great obstinacy. The admiral, on the
22nd in the morning, gave orders that the ships which had been appointed
to cannonade the town under the command of Rear-admiral Byng and
Rear-admiral Vanderdussen, as also of those which were to batter the
south mole head, commanded by Captain Hicks of the _Yarmouth_, should
range themselves accordingly; but the wind blowing contrary they could
not possibly get into their places till the day was spent. In the
meantime, to amuse the enemy, Captain Whitaker was sent with some boats,
who burnt a French privateer of twelve guns at the mole. The 23rd, soon
after break of day, the ships being all placed, the admiral gave the
signal for beginning the cannonade, which was performed with very great
fury, above fifteen thousand shot being made in five or six hours' time
against the town, insomuch that the enemy were soon beat from their
guns, especially at the south mole head: whereupon the admiral,
considering that by gaining the fortification they should of consequence
reduce the town, ordered Captain Whitaker, with all the boats armed, to
endeavour to possess himself of it; which he performed with great
expedition. But Captain Hicks and Captain Jumper, who lay next the mole,
had pushed on shore with their pinnaces and some other boats before the
rest could come up; whereupon the enemy sprang a mine that blew up the
fortifications upon the mole, killed two lieutenants and forty men, and
wounded about sixty. However, our men kept possession of the great
platform which they had made themselves masters of, and Captain Whitaker
landed with the rest of the seamen which had been ordered upon this
service, who advanced and took a redoubt, or small bastion, halfway
between the mole and the town, and possessed themselves of many of the
enemy's cannon. The admiral then sent a letter to the governor, and at
the same time a message to the Prince of Hesse to send to him a
peremptory summons, which His Highness did accordingly; and on the 24th
in the morning, the governor, desiring to capitulate, hostages were
exchanged, and the capitulation being concluded the prince marched into
the town in the evening and took possession of the land and north-mole
gates and the out-work.

"The town is extremely strong, and had an hundred guns mounted, all
facing the sea and the two narrow passes to the land, and was well
supplied with ammunition. The officers, who have viewed the
fortifications, affirm there never was such an attack as the seamen
made; for that fifty men might have defended those works against

After this remarkable service the Dutch admiral thought of returning
home, and actually detached six men-of-war to Lisbon; so little
appearance was there of any further engagement. But on August the 9th
the French fleet, under the command of the Count de Toulouse, was seen
at sea, and appeared to be the strongest fleet that had been equipped
during the whole war; the English admiral, however, resolved to do all
in his power to force an engagement, which determination resulted in
the battle off Malaga, of which the following is Sir George Rooke's own
account, as published by authority. It was dated from on board the
_Royal Catherine_, off Cape St. Vincent, August 27th, 1704, and
addressed to his Royal Highness Prince George of Denmark.

"On the 9th instant, returning from watering our ships on the coast of
Barbary to Gibraltar, our scouts made the signals of seeing the enemy's
fleet; which, according to the account they gave, consisted of sixty-six
sail, and were about ten leagues to windward of us. A council of
flag-officers was called, wherein it was determined to lie to the
eastward of Gibraltar to receive and engage them. But perceiving that
night, by the report of their signal guns, that they wrought from us, we
followed them in the morning with all the sail we could make.

"On the 11th we forced one of the enemy's ships ashore near Fuengorolo;
the crew quitted her, set her on fire and she blew up immediately. We
continued still pursuing them, and the 12th, not hearing any of their
guns all night nor seeing any of their scouts in the morning, our
admiral had a jealousy they might make a double, and, by the help of
their galleys, slip between us and the shore to the westward: so that it
was resolved, that in case we did not see the enemy before night, we
should make the best of our way to Gibraltar; but standing in to the
shore about noon we discovered the enemy's fleet and galleys to the
westward, near Cape Malaga, going very large. We immediately made all
the sail we could and continued the chase all night.

"On Sunday the 13th, in the morning, we were within three leagues of the
enemy, who brought to with their heads to the southward, the wind being
easterly, formed their line and lay to to receive us. Their line
consisted of fifty-two ships and twenty-four galleys; they were very
strong in the centre and weaker in the van and rear, to supply which
most of the galleys were divided into those quarters. In the centre was
Monsieur de Toulouse with the white squadron; in the van the white and
blue, and in the rear the blue. Each admiral had his vice- and
rear-admirals. Our line consisted of fifty-three ships, the admiral, and
Rear-admirals Byng and Dilkes being in the centre; Sir Cloudesley Shovel
and Sir John Leake led the van, and the Dutch the rear.

"The admiral ordered the _Swallow_ and _Panther_, with the _Lark_ and
_Newport_ and two fire-ships, to lie to the windward of us, that, in
case the enemy's van should push through our line with their galleys and
fire-ships, they might give them some diversion.

"We bore down upon the enemy in order of battle a little after ten
o'clock, when, being about half gun-shot from them, they set all their
sails at once and seemed to intend to stretch ahead and weather us; so
that our admiral, after firing a chase-gun at the French admiral to stay
for him, of which he took no notice, put the signal out and began the
battle, which fell very heavy on the _Royal Catherine_, _St. George_,
and the _Shrewsbury_. About two in the afternoon the enemy's van gave
way to ours, and the battle ended with the day, when the enemy went
away, by the help of their galleys, to the leeward. In the night the
wind shifted to the northward, and in the morning to the westward, which
gave the enemy the wind of us. We lay by all day, within three leagues
one of another; repairing our defects; and at night they filled and
stood to the northward.

"On the 15th, in the morning, the enemy was four or five leagues to the
westward of us; but a little before noon we had a breeze of wind
easterly, with which we bore down on them till four o'clock in the
afternoon: it being too late to engage, we brought to and lay by with
our heads to the northward all night.

"On the 16th, in the morning, the wind being still easterly, hazy
weather, and having no sight of the enemy or their scouts, we filled and
bore away to the westward, supposing they would have gone away for
Cadiz; but being advised from Gibraltar and the coast of Barbary that
they did not pass the Straits, we concluded they had been so severely
treated as to oblige them to return to Toulon.

"The admiral says he must do the officers the justice to say that every
man in the line did his duty, without giving the least umbrage for
censure or reflection, and that he never observed the true English
spirit so apparent and prevalent in our seamen as on this occasion.

"This battle is so much the more glorious to Her Majesty's arms because
the enemy had a superiority of six hundred great guns, and likewise the
advantage of cleaner ships, being lately come out of port, not to
mention the great use of their galleys in towing on or off their great
ships and in supplying them with fresh men as often as they had any
killed or disabled. But all these disadvantages were surmounted by the
bravery and good conduct of our officers and the undaunted courage of
our seamen."

In this fierce engagement neither side lost a ship, but the carnage was
very great, the English killed and wounded numbering three thousand and
the French nearly four thousand. The French claimed it as a victory but
showed no disposition to follow it up.

Upon his return to England Sir George found himself the subject of much
party strife, and, as perceiving that as he rose in credit with his
country he lost his interest in those at the helm, resolved to retire
from public service and prevent the affairs of the nation from receiving
any disturbance upon his account. Retiring to his seat in Kent he spent
the rest of his life in rest and peace, dying of the gout on January
24th, 1708-9 in the fifty-eighth year of his age.

A good husband and a kind master, he lived hospitably with his
neighbours and left behind him a moderate fortune. "I do not leave
much," said he, "but what I leave was honestly gotten; it never cost a
sailor a tear or the nation a farthing." After he was laid aside a privy
seal was offered him for passing his accounts; but he refused it, and
made them up in the ordinary way and with all the exactness

  [Illustration: THE SPANISH ARMADA. (_See page 101._)]


It is not to be supposed that our enemies quietly accepted the conquest
of Gibraltar by Sir George Rooke as final; indeed, a very short time
elapsed before they began to make efforts to regain it.

The Spaniards, who were the best judges, found our possession of the
great fortress so great a thorn in their sides that they prevailed upon
the French to hazard an engagement at sea to facilitate their re-taking
it, and afterwards obtained a squadron of French ships, under the
command of Monsieur de Pointis, to assist them in carrying on a siege.
The Prince of Hesse having sent early advice of this to Lisbon, Sir John
Leake, in the beginning of the month of October, 1704, proceeded with
his squadron to the relief of the garrison, and actually landed several
gunners, carpenters, and engineers, with a body of four hundred marines;
but receiving intelligence that the French were approaching with a force
much superior to his own, he found it necessary to return to Lisbon.

He did this with a view only to refit and to be in a better condition to
supply and assist the garrison in a second expedition, for which he had
very prudently directed preparations to be made in his absence. This
enabled him to put to sea again on October 25th, and on the 29th he
entered the Bay of Gibraltar at a very critical juncture; for that very
night the enemy intended to storm the town on all sides, and had
procured two hundred boats from Cadiz in order to land three thousand
men near the new mole. Sir John Leake entered so suddenly that he
surprised two frigates in the bay, one of forty-two and the other of
twenty-four guns, a brigantine of fourteen, a fire-ship of sixteen, a
store-ship full of bombs, and two English prizes; while a tartane and a
frigate of thirty guns, which had just left the bay, were taken by an
English ship that followed him.

The enemy, notwithstanding these discouragements, continued the siege in
expectation of strong naval succours from France, and therefore Sir John
Leake resolved to land as many men as he could spare to reinforce the
garrison. This he performed on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of November, and
continued still on the coast in order to alarm and distress the enemy.
On the 19th and 20th he ordered his smallest frigates as near the shore
as possible, and then manned his boats as if he intended a descent. This
was done so slowly that the Spanish general had time to draw down a
great body of cavalry, upon which the admiral put his design in
execution and saluted them in such a manner with his great and small
arms that they scampered back to their camp with great precipitation.
The _Centurion_ arrived on November 22nd, and brought in with her a
French prize from Martinico, very richly laden; and, at the same time,
gave the admiral intelligence that he had discovered a very strong
squadron in the Bay of Cadiz, which he apprehended would soon be in a
condition to sail. Upon this Sir John Leake resolved to put to sea, and
to stand with his fleet to the eastward of Gibraltar, that he might be
the better able to take such measures as should be found necessary, as
well for the preservation of the place as for securing the succours that
were expected from Lisbon.

On December 7th the _Antelope_ arrived with nine transports under her
convoy, and two days afterwards the _Newcastle_ with seven more, having
on board nearly two thousand land troops. These escaped the French fleet
very luckily; for when they were off Cape Spartel they had sight of
Monsieur Pointis's squadron, consisting of twenty-four sail of
men-of-war sailing under English and Dutch colours. As they expected to
meet the confederate fleet under Sir John Leake and Rear-admiral
Vanderdussen thereabouts they were readily deceived and did their
utmost to join their enemies. Being becalmed they put their boats to sea
on both sides to tow the ships; but, observing that the men-of-war
stretched themselves and endeavoured to make a half-moon to surround
them, they made a private signal which Sir John Leake would have
understood. This betrayed the French, who, finding themselves
discovered, put up their colours and endeavoured to fall upon the
transports; which, however, escaped by means of their oars, and night
coming on got away by favour of a small breeze from the south-west. By
the arrival of these succours the garrison of Gibraltar was increased to
upwards of three thousand men; and having already obtained many
advantages over the enemy, it was no longer thought requisite to keep
the fleet, which by long service was now but in an indifferent
condition, either in the bay or on the coast; whereupon it was
unanimously resolved to sail with all convenient speed to Lisbon in
order to refit and to provide further supplies for the garrison, in
case, as the Spaniards gave out, they should receive such reinforcements
from King Louis and King Philip as would enable them to renew the siege
both by land and sea. This resolution was as speedily executed as wisely
taken, and the fleet arrived at Lisbon in the latter end of 1704.

Four years later fortune favoured Sir John Leake in these waters once

Upon receiving advice from Colonel Elliot, governor of Gibraltar, in
April 1708, that some French ships of war were seen cruising off the
Straits mouth the admiral sailed from the river of Lisbon on the 28th,
and, in his passage up the Straits on May 11th, when about twelve
leagues from Alicante, sighted several vessels which he took to be
fishing-boats. Sir John had previously detached some light frigates to
give notice of the approach of his fleet, and one of them had had the
good luck to take a French frigate of twenty-four guns, from which he
obtained an account of a convoy that was expected. Upon this the
captains of our frigates made the necessary dispositions for
intercepting it. The next day the French convoy appeared in sight,
consisting of three men of war, one of forty-four, another of forty,
and the third of thirty-two guns, with ninety settees and tartanes laden
with wheat, barley, and oil for the use of the Duke of Orleans' army,
and bound for Peniscola, near the mouth of the Ebro. The British
frigates bore down immediately upon the enemy's men-of-war, who,
however, abandoning their barques and endeavouring to make their escape,
came in view of the main fleet, upon which Sir John Leake made signal to
give chase. As our great ships could not follow them near the coast, the
French made their escape in the night; but the vice-admiral of the
white, perceiving the barques near the coast, sent his long-boats and
small ships in and took several of them. The next morning others were
captured, and some barques of Catalonia, coming out of their harbours to
secure a share in the booty, sixty-nine of them were taken and the rest



Admiral Benbow was descended from the ancient and honourable family of
the Benbows in the county of Salop; a family that suffered for their
loyalty to the cause of Charles I.

When the Civil War broke out, the king, relying upon the loyalty of the
inhabitants of this county, repaired in person to Shrewsbury, on
September 20th, 1642; whereupon the Lords Newport and Littleton, with
many of the gentry of the county, came in and offered His Majesty their
services; among these were Thomas Benbow and John Benbow, Esquires, both
men of estates, and both colonels in the king's service, of whom the
latter was the father of our admiral.

After the execution of Charles I. his followers retired into the country
and lived as privately as they could. But though their interests were
much reduced and their fortunes in a great measure ruined, their spirits
remained unbroken, and when the time came they acted as cheerfully for
the service of King Charles II. as if they had never suffered in the
cause of his father. When, therefore, Charles II. marched from Scotland
towards Worcester, the two Benbows, among other gentlemen of the county
of Salop, went to attend him; and after fighting bravely in his support
were both taken prisoners by the parliamentary forces.

After the battle of Worcester, which was fought September 3rd, 1651, a
court martial was appointed to sit at Chester, whereby ten gentlemen, of
the first families in England, were sentenced to death for complicity
with His Majesty, and five of them were executed. They then proceeded to
try Sir Timothy Featherstonhaugh, Colonel Thomas Benbow and the Earl of
Derby for being in his service. They were all condemned, and, in order
to strike the greater terror in different parts of the county, the Earl
of Derby was adjudged to suffer death on October 15th, at Bolton; Sir
Timothy to be beheaded on the 17th, at Chester; and Colonel Thomas
Benbow to be shot on the 19th, at Shrewsbury; all these sentences were
severally put in execution.

As for Colonel John Benbow, he made his escape after a short
imprisonment, and lived privately in his own county till after the
Restoration, when he was far advanced in years; and yet was so hard
pressed for a livelihood that he was glad to accept a small office
belonging to the ordnance in the Tower, which brought him an income just
sufficient to keep him and his family from starving. He was found in
this situation when, a little before the breaking out of the first Dutch
war, Charles II. came to the Tower to examine the magazines. The king,
whose memory was as quick as his eye, knew him at first sight, and
immediately came up and embraced him. "My old friend, Colonel Benbow,"
said he, "what do you here?" "I have," returned the colonel, "a place of
fourscore pounds a year, in which I serve Your Majesty as cheerfully as
if it brought me in four thousand." "Alas!" said the king, "is that all
that could be found for an old friend at Worcester? Colonel Legge, bring
this gentleman to me to-morrow, and I will provide for him and his
family as it becomes me." But the poor old colonel did not live to
receive, or so much as to claim, the effects of this gracious promise;
for his feelings so overcame him, that, sitting down on a bench, he
breathed his last before the king was well out of the Tower. Thus both
brothers fell martyrs to the royal cause, one in grief, and the other in

John, the subject of this sketch, who was then about fifteen, had been
bred to the sea; probably in some lowly capacity, although even in
Charles II.'s reign he was owner and commander of a ship called the
_Benbow_ frigate, and made as respectable a figure as any man concerned
in the trade to the Mediterranean. He was always considered by the
merchants as a bold, brave, and active commander; one who took care of
his seamen, and was therefore cheerfully obeyed by them, though he
maintained strict discipline.

In the year 1686 Captain Benbow in his own vessel, the _Benbow_ frigate,
was attacked in his passage to Cadiz by a Sallee rover, against which,
though greatly out-numbered, he defended himself with the utmost
bravery. At last the Moors boarded him, but were quickly beaten back,
with the loss of thirteen men, whose heads Captain Benbow ordered to be
cut off and thrown into a tub of pork-pickle. Arrived at Cadiz, he went
ashore and ordered a negro servant to follow him with the Moors' heads
in a sack. He had scarcely landed before the officers of the revenue
inquired of his servant what he had in his sack? The captain answered
salt provisions for his own use. "That may be," answered the officers,
"but we must insist upon seeing them." Captain Benbow alleged that he
was no stranger there, and pretended to take it very ill that he was
suspected. The officers told him that the magistrates were sitting not
far off and that if they were satisfied with his word his servant might
carry the provisions where he pleased; but that otherwise it was not in
their power to grant any such dispensation.

The captain consented to the proposal; and away they marched to the
custom-house, Mr. Benbow in the front, his man in the centre and the
officers in the rear. The magistrates, when he came before them, treated
him with great civility; told him they were sorry to make a point of
such a trifle, but that, since he had refused to show the contents of
his sack to their officers they were obliged to demand a sight of them;
and that if they were salt provisions the showing of them could be of no
great consequence either way. "I told you," said the captain sternly,
"they were salt provisions for my own use. Cæsar, throw them down upon
the table; and, gentlemen, if you like them, they are at your service."
The Spaniards were exceedingly struck at the sight of the Moors' heads,
and no less astonished at the account of the captain's adventure, who,
with so small a force, had been able to defeat such a number of
barbarians. They sent an account of the whole matter to the court of
Madrid; and Charles II. of Spain was so pleased with it that he must
needs see the English captain, who made a journey to court, where he was
received with great show of respect and dismissed with a handsome
present. His Majesty also wrote a letter on his behalf to King James,
who, upon the captain's return, gave him a ship; which was Captain
Benbow's introduction to the Royal Navy.

After the Revolution, Benbow distinguished himself by several successful
cruises in the Channel, where he was employed at the request of the
merchants in protecting trade, and was very successful, and where his
diligence and activity recommended him to the favour of William III., to
whose personal kindness he owed his early promotion to a flag. After
this he was generally employed as the most experienced seaman in the
navy to watch the movements of the French at Dunkirk, and to prevent, as
far as it was possible, the depredations of Du Bart; in which he showed
such diligence and did such signal service that he escaped the slightest
censure at a time when libels flew about against almost every other
officer of rank in the fleet. The truth was, the seamen generally looked
upon Rear-admiral Benbow as their greatest patron; one who not only used
them well while under his care, but was always ready to interpose in
their favour when they were ill-treated by others.

Admiral Benbow's next employment was in the West Indies, where he met
with many difficulties and rendered valuable service, receiving on his
return home unmistakable marks of royal favour. Shortly after his return
it became necessary to send another expedition to the same place, and
when the subject of leadership was discussed the ministers suggested
Admiral Benbow. This, however, the king, who seems to have had some
affection for our admiral, would not hear of. "Benbow," he said, "had
but just come home from thence, where he had met with nothing but
difficulties; and it was but fair that some other officer should take
his turn." One or two were named and consulted, but excused themselves
upon various grounds; upon which the king said merrily, alluding to the
dress and appearance of these gentlemen, "Well then, I find we must
spare our beaux and send honest Benbow."

William, accordingly, sent for our admiral and asked him whether he was
willing to go to the West Indies, assuring him, if he was not, he would
not take it amiss if he desired to be excused. Mr. Benbow answered
bluntly, "That he did not understand such compliments; that he thought
he had no right to choose his station; and that if His Majesty thought
fit to send him to the East or West Indies, or anywhere else, he would
cheerfully execute his orders as became him." Thus the matter was
settled in very few words, and the command of the West India squadron
conferred on Vice-admiral Benbow.

He arrived at Barbadoes on November 3rd, 1701, from whence he sailed to
examine the state of the French and of our own Leeward Islands. He found
the former in some confusion, and the latter in so good a state of
defence, that he saw no necessity of remaining, and therefore sailed to
Jamaica. Here he received advice of two French squadrons having arrived
in the West Indies, much to the alarm of the inhabitants of Jamaica and
of Barbadoes. After arranging for the safety of both places as far as
his strength would permit, he formed a design of attacking Petit Goave;
but before he could execute it, received intelligence that Monsieur Du
Casse was in the neighbourhood of Hispaniola with a squadron of French
ships, to settle the _assiento_ in favour of the French and to destroy
the English and Dutch trade for negroes.

After alarming Petit Goave, which he found it inexpedient to attack, the
admiral sailed for Donna Maria Bay, where he continued until August
10th; when, having received advice that Monsieur Du Casse had sailed for
Carthagena, and from thence was to sail to Portobello, he resolved to
follow him, and accordingly sailed for the Spanish coast of

On August the 19th, in the evening, he discovered ten sail of tall ships
to the westward. Standing towards them he found the best part of them to
be French men-of-war; upon which he made the usual signal for a line of
battle, going away with an easy sail, that his sternmost ships might
come up and join him, the French steering along-shore under their top
sails. Their squadron consisted of four ships, from sixty to seventy
guns, with one great Dutch-built ship of about thirty or forty, and
there was another full of soldiers; the rest small ones, and a sloop.
Our frigates astern were a long time in coming up, and the night
advancing, the admiral steered alongside of the French, endeavouring to
near them, yet intending to avoid attack until the _Defiance_ was
abreast of the headmost.

Before he could reach that station the _Falmouth_, which was in the
rear, attempted the Dutch ship, and the _Windsor_ the ship abreast of
her, as did also the _Defiance_; and soon after the vice-admiral himself
was engaged. But the _Defiance_ and the _Windsor_ stood no more than two
or three broadsides before they luffed out of gun-shot, whereupon the
two sternmost ships of the enemy lay upon the admiral and galled him
very much; nor did the ships in the rear come up to his assistance with
due diligence. From four o'clock until night the fight continued, and
though the French then left off firing, our admiral still kept them

On the 20th, at daybreak, the admiral found himself very near the enemy
with only the _Ruby_ to assist him, the rest of the ships lying three,
four, or five miles astern. About two in the afternoon the sea-breeze
began to blow, and then the enemy got into a line, making what sail they
could; and the rest of his ships not coming up, the admiral and the
_Ruby_ plied them with chase-guns and kept them company all the next

On the 21st the admiral was on the quarter of the second ship of the
enemy's line, within point-blank shot; but the _Ruby_ being ahead of the
same ship was attacked by two of the enemy's line. The _Breda_, which
carried the admiral, engaged the ship that first attacked the _Ruby_,
and plied her so warmly that she was forced to tow off. The admiral
would have followed her, but the _Ruby_ was in such a condition that he
could not leave her. During this engagement the rear ship of the enemy's
was abreast of the _Defiance_ and _Windsor_; but neither of those ships
fired a single shot. On the 22nd, at daybreak, the _Greenwich_ was five
leagues astern, though the signal for battle was never struck night or
day; about three in the afternoon the wind came southerly, which gave
the enemy the weather-gauge.

On the 23rd the enemy was six leagues ahead and the great Dutch ship
separated from them. At ten the enemy tacked with the wind at
east-north-east, the vice-admiral fetched point-blank within a shot or
two of them, and each gave the other his broadside. About noon they
recovered from the enemy a small English ship called the _Anne_ galley,
which they had taken off the rock of Lisbon. The _Ruby_ being disabled,
the admiral ordered her for Port Royal. The rest of the squadron now
came up, and the enemy being but two miles off, the brave admiral was in
hopes of doing something at last, and therefore continued to steer after
them; but his ships, except the _Falmouth_, were soon astern again. At
twelve the enemy began to separate.

On the 24th, about two in the morning, they came up within call of the
sternmost, there being then very little wind. The admiral fired a
broadside with double round below, and round and cartridge aloft. At
three o'clock the admiral's right leg was shattered to pieces by a
chain-shot, and he was carried below; but he presently ordered his
cradle to be carried to the quarter-deck, and continued the fight till
day. Then appeared the ruins of the enemy's ship of about seventy guns;
her main yard down and shot to pieces, her foretop-sail yard shot away,
her mizen-mast shot by the board, all her rigging gone, and her sides
bored to pieces. The admiral soon after discovered the enemy standing
toward him with a strong gale of wind. The _Windsor_, _Pendennis_, and
_Greenwich_, ahead of the enemy, came to the leeward of the disabled
ship, fired their broadsides, passed her, and stood to the southward;
then came the _Defiance_, fired part of her broadside, when the
disabled ship returning about twenty guns, the _Defiance_ put her helm
a-weather, and ran away right before the wind, lowered both her
top-sails, and ran to the leeward of the _Falmouth_ without any regard
to the signal of battle.

The enemy seeing the other two ships stand to the southward, expected
they would have tacked and stood towards them, and therefore they
brought their heads to the northward. But when they saw these ships did
not tack, they immediately bore down upon the admiral, and ran between
their disabled ship and him, and poured in all their shot, by which they
brought down his maintop-sail yard, and shattered his rigging very much;
none of the other ships being near him or taking the least notice of his
signals, though Captain Fog ordered two guns to be fired at the ships
ahead in order to put them in mind of their duty. The French, seeing
things in this confusion, brought to and lay by their own disabled ship,
re-manned and took her into tow. The _Breda's_ rigging being much
shattered she was forced to lie by till ten o'clock; and, being by that
time refitted, the admiral ordered his captain to pursue the enemy, then
about three miles to the leeward, his line-of-battle signal out all the
while; and Captain Fog, by the admiral's orders, sent to the other
captains, to order them to keep the line and behave like men. Upon this
Captain Kirby came on board the admiral, and told him that "he had
better desist; that the French were very strong; and that from what was
past he might guess he could make nothing of it."

The brave Admiral Benbow, more surprised at this language than he would
have been at the sight of another French squadron, sent for the rest of
the captains on board in order to ask their opinion. They obeyed him
indeed, but were most of them in Captain Kirby's way of thinking; which
satisfied the admiral that they were not inclined to fight; and that, as
Kirby phrased it, _there was nothing to be done_, though there was the
fairest opportunity that had yet offered. Our strength was, at this
time, one ship of seventy guns, one of sixty-four, one of sixty, and
three of fifty; their masts, yards, and all things else in as good
condition as could be expected, and not above eight men killed, except
in the vice-admiral's own ship, nor was there any want of ammunition;
whereas the enemy had now no more than four ships, from sixty to seventy
guns, and one of them disabled and in tow. The vice-admiral thought
proper upon this to return to Jamaica, where he arrived with his
squadron, very weak with a fever induced by his wounds, and was soon
after joined by Rear-admiral Whetstone, with the ships under his

As soon as he conveniently could, Vice-admiral Benbow issued a
commission to Rear-admiral Whetstone and to several captains to hold a
court martial for the trial of several offenders. On October 6th, 1702,
the court sat at Port Royal, when Captain Kirby, of the _Defiance_, was
put upon his trial. He was accused of cowardice, breach of orders and
neglect of duty; which crimes were proved upon oath, by the admiral
himself, ten commissioned, and eleven warrant officers; by whose
evidence it appeared that the admiral boarded Du Casse in person three
times, and received a large wound in his face, and another in his arm
before his leg was shot off; that Kirby, after two or three broadsides,
kept always out of gun-shot, and by his behaviour created such a fear of
his desertion as greatly discouraged the English in the engagement; that
he kept two or three miles astern all the second day, though commanded
again and again to keep his station; that the third day he did not fire
a gun though he saw the admiral in the deepest distress, having two or
three French men-of-war upon him at a time; and that he threatened to
kill his boatswain for repeating the admiral's command to fire. He had
very little to say for himself, and therefore was most deservedly
sentenced to be shot.

The same day Captain Constable, of the _Windsor_, was tried; his own
officers vindicated him from cowardice, but the rest of the charge being
clearly proved he was sentenced to be cashiered and to be imprisoned
during Her Majesty's pleasure. The next day Captain Wade was tried, and
the charge being fully proved by sixteen commissioned and warrant
officers on board his own ship, as also that he was drunk during the
whole time of the engagement, he, making little or no defence, had the
same sentence with Kirby. As for Captain Hudson, he died a few days
before his trial should have come on, and thereby avoided dying as Kirby
and Wade did; for his case was exactly the same with theirs.

The reflections he made on this unhappy business threw the brave admiral
into a deep melancholy, which soon brought him to his end; for he died
on November 4th, 1702, of a fever engendered by his wounds and worries.
The condemned captains were sent home from Jamaica on board Her
Majesty's ship the _Bristol_, and arrived at Plymouth on April 16th,
1703, where, as in all the western ports, there lay a warrant for their
immediate execution, and they were shot on board the ship that brought
them home.

The mortification felt by the admiral at the failure of his officers is
indicated in the answer he gave to one of his lieutenants who expressed
sorrow for the fact that the admiral had lost his leg. "Why, yes," said
the fine old sailor, "I am sorry for it too, but I would rather have
lost them both than have seen this dishonour brought upon the English

The French accounts of this engagement represent the whole affair to
their own advantage; but M. Du Casse, who was a brave man, and withal by
far the best judge of the circumstances, has put the matter out of
dispute by the following short letter, written by him immediately after
his arrival at Carthagena; the original of which is said to be still in
the hands of Admiral Benbow's family.

    "Sir,--I had little hopes, on Monday last, but to have supped in
    your cabin; but it pleased God to order it otherwise; I am
    thankful for it. As for those cowardly captains who deserted
    you, hang them up; for, by God, they deserve it.


        "DU CASSE."



Early in the year 1718 the activity of the naval preparations in
England, rendered necessary by the disturbed condition of Europe,
excited considerable anxiety and comment.

M. de Monteleone, the Spanish minister here, a man of foresight and
intrigue, taking alarm, in a memorial dated March 18th, 1718,
represented "That so powerful an armament in time of peace could not but
cause umbrage to the king his master and alter the good intelligence
that reigned between the two crowns." To which King George I. replied,
"That it was not his intention to conceal the object of the armament;
and that he designed soon to send Admiral Byng with a powerful squadron
into the Mediterranean, in order to maintain the neutrality of Italy
against those who should seek to disturb it." The reasons assigned for
acting with so much vigour were the preparations made in Spain for
attacking the island of Sicily and the hardships suffered by British

In the month of March, 1718, Sir George Byng was appointed admiral and
commander-in-chief of the squadron intended for the Mediterranean; and
in the May following he received his instructions as follows: "That he
should, upon his arrival in the Mediterranean, acquaint the King of
Spain, and likewise the Viceroy of Naples and Governor of Milan, he was
sent into that sea in order to promote all measures that might best
contribute to the composing the differences arisen between the two
crowns, and for preventing any further violation of the neutrality of
Italy, which he was to see preserved. That he was to make instances to
both parties to forbear all acts of hostility, in order to the setting
on foot and concluding the proper negotiations of peace. But, in case
the Spaniards should still persist to attack the emperor's territory in
Italy, or to land in any part of Italy for that purpose, or should
endeavour to make themselves masters of the island of Sicily, which must
be with a design to invade the kingdom of Naples, he was then, with all
his power, to hinder and obstruct the same; but, if they were already
landed, he was to endeavour amicably to dissuade them from persevering
in such an attempt, and to offer them his assistance to withdraw their
troops and put an end to all farther acts of hostility; but if his
friendly endeavours should prove ineffectual he was then to defend the
territories attacked, by keeping company with, or intercepting their
ships, convoys, or (if necessary) by opposing them openly."

The admiral sailed from Spithead on June 15th, 1718, with twenty ships
of the line-of-battle, two fire-ships, two bomb-vessels, a
hospital-ship, and a store-ship. Arriving on the 30th off Cape St.
Vincent he despatched the _Superbe_ to Cadiz, with a letter to Colonel
Stanhope, the king's envoy at Madrid, desiring him to inform the King of
Spain of his arrival in those parts on his way to the Mediterranean, and
to lay before him the instructions he had received.

The envoy showed the letter to Cardinal Alberoni, who, upon reading it,
told him with some warmth, that "his master would run all hazards,
rather than recall his troops or consent to any suspension of arms;"
adding, that "the Spaniards were not to be frightened, and that he was
so well convinced of their fleets doing their duty that if the admiral
should think fit to attack them he should be in no pain for the
success." Mr. Stanhope having in his hand a list of the British
squadron, desired his eminence to peruse it, and to compare its strength
with that of their own squadron; this the cardinal took and threw on the
ground with much passion.

All that the cardinal could be brought to promise was to lay the
admiral's letter before the king, and to let the envoy know his
resolution upon it in two days; but it was nine before he could obtain
and send it away. The answer was written under the admiral's letter in
these words:--

    "His Catholic Majesty has done me the honour to tell me that the
    Chevalier Byng may execute the orders which he has from the king
    his master.


    "ESCURIAL, _July 15th, 1718_."

The admiral, pursuing his voyage with unfavourable winds, reached the
Bay of Naples on August the 1st, and on the 9th anchored in view of the
Faro of Messina. The Spanish army, having taken the city of Messina,
were now encamped before the citadel which the troops under Sir George
Byng's convoy were intended to relieve. From these strained conditions
hostilities seemed imminent, and the desire of the English was that the
Spaniards should take the responsibility and the blame of striking the
first blow.

Under these circumstances Sir George Byng sent Captain Saunders with a
letter to the Marquis de Lede, in which he acquainted him with the
instructions under which he was acting, and proposed to him to come to a
cessation of arms in Sicily for two months, in order to give time for
the several courts to conclude on such resolutions as might restore a
lasting peace: but added that "if he was not so happy as to succeed in
this offer of service, nor to be instrumental in bringing about so
desirable a work, he then hoped to merit His Excellency's esteem in the
execution of the other part of his orders, which were, to use all his
force to prevent farther attempts to disturb the dominions his master
stood engaged to defend."

The next morning the captain returned with the general's answer, "That
as he had no powers to treat he could not of consequence agree to any
suspension of arms, but should follow his orders, which directed him to
seize on Sicily for his master the King of Spain." Upon receiving this
answer Admiral Byng immediately weighed, with the intention of coming
with his squadron before Messina, in order to encourage and support the
garrison and the citadel. In executing this manoeuvre he sighted two
Spanish scouts in the Faro; whereupon he altered his design, and stood
through the Faro with all the sail he could, following the scouts,
imagining they would lead him to the fleet, which they did. About noon
he came in view of their whole Spanish fleet, lying by and drawn into a
line of battle, consisting of twenty-seven sail of men-of-war small and
great, besides two fire-ships, four bomb-vessels, seven galleys, and
several ships laden with stores and provisions, commanded by the Admiral
Don Antonio de Casteneta and four rear-admirals, who, sighting the
English squadron, stood away large but in good order of battle.

The admiral followed them all the rest of that day and the succeeding
night, and the next morning early, the English having approached near to
them, the Marquis de Mari, rear-admiral, with six Spanish men-of-war and
all the galleys, fire-ships, bomb-vessels and store-ships, separated
from the main fleet and stood in for the Sicilian shore; upon which
Admiral Byng detached Captain Walton in the _Canterbury_ with five other
ships to follow them.

The admiral pursuing the main body of the Spanish fleet, the _Orford_,
Captain Falkingham, and the _Grafton_, Captain Haddock, came up first
with them, about ten o'clock, the Spaniards firing their stern-chase
guns. The Spaniards repeating their fire, the _Orford_ attacked the
_Santa Rosa_, of sixty-four guns, and took her. The _St. Carlos_, of
sixty guns, struck next, without much opposition to the _Kent_, Captain
Matthews. The _Grafton_ attacked warmly the _Prince of Asturias_, of
seventy guns, formerly called the _Cumberland_, in which was
Rear-admiral Chacon; but the _Breda_ and _Captain_ coming up, Captain
Haddock left that ship, much shattered, for them to take, and stretched
ahead after another ship of sixty guns, which had kept firing on his
starboard bow during his engagement with the _Prince of Asturias_. About
one o'clock the _Kent_, and soon after the _Superbe_, Captain Master,
came up with and engaged the Spanish admiral of seventy-four guns, who,
with two ships more, fired on them and made a running fight till about
three; and then the _Kent_, bearing down under his stern, gave him her
broadside and fell to leeward afterwards; the _Superbe_, putting forward
to lay the admiral aboard, fell on his weather-quarter; upon which, the
Spanish admiral shifting his helm, the _Superbe_ ranged under his
lee-quarter; on which he struck to her. At the same time the _Barfleur_,
which carried the English admiral, being astern of the Spanish admiral,
within shot, and inclining on his weather-quarter, Rear-admiral Guevara
and another sixty-gun ship, which were to windward, bore down upon him,
and gave him their broadsides, and then clapped upon a wind, standing in
for land. The admiral immediately tacked and stood after them until it
was almost night; but there being little wind, and the enemy hauling
away out of his reach, he left pursuing them and rejoined the fleet two
hours after night.

The _Essex_ took the _Juno_ of thirty-six guns, the _Montague_ and
_Rupert_ took the _Volante_ of forty-four guns, and Rear-admiral
Delaval, in the _Dorsetshire_, took the _Isabella_ of sixty guns. The
action happened off Cape Passaro, at about six leagues' distance from
the shore. The English received but little damage: the ship that
suffered most was the _Grafton_, for, being a good sailer, her captain
engaged several ships in succession, always pursuing the headmost and
leaving the ships he had disabled or damaged to be taken by those that
followed him. The admiral lay by for some days at sea to refit the
rigging of his ships and to repair the damages which the prizes had
sustained, and on the 18th received a letter from Captain Walton, who
had been sent in pursuit of the Spanish ships which had made for the
Sicilian shore under the Marquis de Mari. The letter is singular enough
to deserve notice. It ran thus:--

    "SIR,--We have taken and destroyed all the Spanish ships and
    vessels which were upon the coast, the number as _per_ margin.

        "I am, etc.,


    "CANTERBURY, OFF SYRACUSE, _August 16th, 1718_."

The ships that Captain Walton thrust into his margin would have
furnished matter for some pages in a French relation of the engagement;
for, from the account they referred to, it appeared that he had taken
four Spanish men-of-war--one of sixty guns, commanded by Rear-admiral
Mari, one of fifty-four, one of forty, and one of twenty-four guns with
a bomb-vessel and a ship laden with arms--and burnt four men-of-war, one
of fifty-four guns, two of forty, and one of thirty guns, with a
fire-ship and a bomb-vessel.


The difficulties under which merchantmen carried on their trade with
foreign countries before the navy had reduced to order the highway of
the seas, is well illustrated in many a narrative of adventure with
pirates and fights with privateers, which equal in the heroism and
daring they display the proudest stories of naval conquest. The
following story taken from Young's "History of Whitby" is a case in

Mr. Richard Hornby, of Stokesley, was master of a merchant ship, the
_Isabella_, of Sunderland, in which he sailed from the coast of Norfolk
for the Hague, June 1st, 1744, in company with three smaller vessels
recommended to his care. Next day they made Gravesant steeple in the
Hague; but while they were steering for their port, a French privateer,
that lay concealed among the Dutch fishing-boats, suddenly came against
them, singling out the _Isabella_ as the object of attack, while the
rest dispersed and escaped.

The conquest was very unequal, for the _Isabella_ mounted only four
carriage guns and two swivels, and her crew consisted of only five men
and three boys, besides the captain; while the privateer, the _Marquis
de Brancas_, commanded by Captain André, had ten carriage guns and eight
swivels, with seventy-five men and three hundred small arms.

Yet Captain Hornby, after consulting his mate and gaining the consent of
his crew, whom he animated by an appropriate address, hoisted the
British colours, and with his two swivel guns returned the fire of the
enemy's chase guns. The Frenchmen, in abusive terms, commanded him to
strike, to which he returned an answer of defiance. Upon this the
privateer advanced, and poured in such showers of bullets into the
_Isabella_ that Captain Hornby found it prudent to order his brave
fellows into close quarters. While he lay thus sheltered the enemy twice
attempted to board him on the larboard quarter; but by a dexterous turn
of the helm he frustrated both attempts, though the Frenchmen kept
firing upon him both with their guns and small arms, which fire Captain
Hornby returned with his two larboard guns. At two o'clock, when the
action had lasted an hour, the privateer, running furiously in upon the
larboard of the _Isabella_, entangled her bowsprit among the main
shrouds, and was lashed fast to her; upon which Captain André bawled, in
a menacing tone, "You English dog, strike!" but the undaunted Hornby
challenged him to come on board and strike his colours, if he dared. The
enraged Frenchman took him at his word, and threw in twenty men upon
him, who began to hack and hew into his close quarters; but a discharge
of blunderbusses made the invaders retreat as fast as their wounds would
permit them.

The privateer, being then disengaged from the _Isabella_, turned about,
and made another attempt on the starboard side; when Captain Hornby and
his valiant mate shot each his man as they were again lashing the ships

The Frenchmen once more commanded him to strike, and the brave Briton
returning another refusal, twenty fresh men entered, and made a fierce
attack on the close quarters with hatchets and pole-axes, with which
they had nearly cut their way through in three places, when the constant
fire kept up by Captain Hornby and his brave crew obliged them to
retreat, carrying their wounded with them, and hauling their dead after
them with boat-hooks. The _Isabella_ continued lashed to the enemy; the
latter, with small arms, fired repeated and terrible volleys into the
close quarters, partly from his forecastle and partly from his main
deck, bringing forward fresh men to supply the place of the dead and
wounded: but the fire was returned with such spirit and effect that the
Frenchmen repeatedly gave way. At length Captain Hornby, seeing them
crowding behind their main mast for shelter, aimed a blunderbuss at
them, which being by mistake doubly loaded, containing twice twelve
balls, burst in the firing, and threw him down to the great
consternation of his little crew, who supposed him dead; yet he soon
started up again, though greatly bruised, while the enemy, among whom
the blunderbusses had made dreadful havoc, disengaged themselves from
the _Isabella_, to which they had been lashed an hour and a quarter, and
sheered off with precipitation, leaving their grapplings, pole-axes,
pistols, and cutlasses behind them.

The gallant Hornby fired his two starboard guns into the enemy's stern;
and the indignant Frenchman soon returning, the conflict was renewed,
and carried on yard-arm and yard-arm with great fury for two hours
together. The _Isabella_ was shot through her hull several times, her
sails and rigging were torn to pieces, her ensign was dismounted, and
every mast and yard wounded; yet she bravely maintained the conflict,
and at last by a fortunate shot which struck the _Brancas_ between wind
and water, obliged her to sheer off and careen. While the enemy were
retiring, Hornby and his brave little crew sallied out from their
fastness, and erecting their fallen ensign gave three cheers.

By this time both vessels had driven so near the shore that immense
crowds, on foot and in coaches, had assembled to be spectators of the

The Frenchman, having stopped his leak, returned to the combat, and
poured a dreadful volley into the stern of the _Isabella_, when Captain
Hornby was wounded in the temples by a musket shot, and bled profusely.

This somewhat disconcerted his companions in valour; but he called to
them briskly to take courage and stand to their arms, for his wound was
not dangerous; upon which their spirits revived, and again taking post
in their close quarters, sustained the shock of another assault, and
after receiving three tremendous broadsides, repulsed the foe by
another well-aimed shot, which sent the _Brancas_ again to careen. The
huzzas of the _Isabella's_ crew were renewed, and they again set up
their shattered ensign, which was shot through and through into
honourable rags.

André, who was not deficient in bravery, soon renewed the fight; and
having disabled the _Isabella_ by five terrible broadsides, once more
summoned Hornby, with dreadful menaces, to strike his colours.

Captain Hornby animated his gallant comrades--"Behold," said he,
pointing to the shore, "the witnesses of your valour this day!" then
finding them determined to stand by him to the last, he hurled his final
defiance upon the enemy. The latter immediately ran upon his starboard
and lashed close alongside; but his crew murmured, and refused to renew
the dangerous task of boarding, and, cutting off the lashings, again
retreated. Captain Hornby resolved to salute the privateer with one
parting gun; and this last shot, fired into the stern of the _Brancas_,
reached the magazine, which blew up with a tremendous explosion, and the
vessel instantly foundered. Out of seventy-five men, thirty-six were
killed or wounded in the action, and all the rest, together with the
wounded, perished in the deep, except three who were picked up by the
Dutch fishing-boats. The horrible catastrophe excited the commiseration
of Captain Hornby and his brave men, who could render no assistance to
their unfortunate enemies, the _Isabella_ having become unmanageable,
and her boat being shattered to pieces. The engagement lasted seven

For this singular instance of successful bravery Mr. Hornby received
from the king a large gold medal commemorating his heroism. He survived
the action seven years, and dying at sea of a lingering illness, was
buried at Liverpool, being then fifty-two years of age.


Towards the end of the year 1746 the French ministry came to a
determination to increase their forces in Canada, and, with the
assistance of the native Indians, to extend their territories by
encroachments on the neighbouring provinces belonging to Great Britain.
At the same time they formed a design against some of our settlements in
the East Indies. For these purposes, in the beginning of the year 1747,
a considerable armament was prepared at Brest; the squadron destined for
America being under the command of Monsieur Jonquiere, and that for the
East Indies under that of Monsieur de St. George. For greater security
these two fleets were ordered to sail at the same time.

The British ministry, being informed of the strength and destination of
these squadrons, sent a superior fleet, commanded by Vice-admiral Anson,
to the coast of France. This fleet sailed from Plymouth on April 9th,
1747, and, cruising off Cape Finisterre, on May 3rd fell in with the
French fleet, consisting of thirty-eight sail, nine of which shortened
sail and prepared to engage, while the rest bore away with all the sail
they could make. Admiral Anson first formed his squadron in
line-of-battle; but, perceiving the enemy begin to sheer off, he made a
signal for his whole fleet to give chase and engage promiscuously. The
_Centurion_ came up with the sternmost ship of the enemy about four in
the afternoon. She was followed by the _Namur_, _Defiance_, and
_Windsor_, who were soon warmly engaged with five of the French
squadron. The _Centurion_ had her main-top mast shot away early in the
action, which obliged her to drop astern; but she was soon repaired.
The battle now became general, and the French maintained this very
unequal conflict with great spirit and gallantry till about seven in the
evening, when the whole fleet struck their colours. The _Diamant_ was
the last French ship that submitted, after fighting the _Bristol_ for
nearly three hours. In justice to our enemy it is necessary to remember
that the squadron, commanded by Admiral Anson, consisted of fourteen
ships of the line, a frigate, a sloop and a fire-ship, with nine hundred
and twenty-two guns, and six thousand two hundred and sixty men on
board; and that Monsieur de la Jonquiere had no more than five
line-of-battle ships and as many frigates, four hundred and forty-two
guns, and three thousand one hundred and seventy-one men. Admiral Anson
in the meantime detached the _Monmouth_, the _Yarmouth_, and the
_Nottingham_ in pursuit of the convoy, and they returned with the
_Vigilant_ and _Modeste_, both of twenty-two guns, the rest having made
their escape. But though we acknowledge the great superiority of the
British squadron, it is necessary to inform the reader that no more than
eight English ships were engaged. Captain Grenville, of the _Defiance_,
a very gallant officer, lost his life in this engagement. Our number of
killed and wounded amounted to five hundred and twenty; that of the
enemy to seven hundred. Captain Boscawen was wounded in the shoulder by
a musket-ball. Monsieur de la Jonquiere was also wounded in the same
part; one French captain was killed and another lost a leg.

Admiral Anson returned to England and brought the captive squadron safe
to an anchor at Spithead. He set out immediately for London, where he
was graciously received by the king, and afterwards created a peer.
Rear-admiral Warren was made Knight of the Bath. The money taken on
board of the French fleet was brought through the city of London in
twenty waggons and lodged in the Bank.

About the middle of April Captain Fox in the _Kent_, with the _Hampton
Court_, the _Eagle_, the _Lion_, the _Chester_, and the _Hector_, with
two fire-ships, sailed on a cruise, designing to intercept a fleet of
St. Domingo men under the convoy of four French men-of-war. After
cruising a month between Ushant and Cape Finisterre, Captain Fox fell
in with this French fleet of one hundred and seventy sail. They were
immediately deserted by their men-of-war, and forty-six of them were

The British ministry, having received intelligence that nine French
men-of-war of the line had sailed from Brest in order to convoy a large
fleet of merchantmen to the West Indies, ordered Rear-admiral Hawke,
with fourteen men-of-war, to sail immediately in quest of them. The
admiral, with the fleet under his command, left Plymouth on August 9th.
The French fleet, consisting of the above-mentioned men-of-war and two
hundred and fifty-two merchant vessels, sailed from the Isle of Aix on
October 6th, and on the 14th they had the misfortune to fall in with the
British squadron. As soon as the French admiral became sensible of his
situation, he made a signal for the trade to make the best of their way
with the _Content_ and frigates, and for the rest of his squadron to
prepare for battle. Admiral Hawke first made a signal to form the line;
but finding the French begin to sheer off, he ordered his whole fleet to
give chase and engage as they came up with the enemy. The _Lion_ and the
_Louisa_ began the conflict about noon and were soon followed by the
_Tilbury_, the _Eagle_, the _Yarmouth_, the _Windsor_, and the
_Devonshire_, which ships particularly shared the danger and
consequently the glory of the day.

About four o'clock four of the French squadron struck--viz., _Le
Neptune_, _Le Monarque_, _Le Fougeux_, and _Le Severn_; at five _Le
Trident_ followed their example and _Le Terrible_ surrendered about
seven. Be it, however, remembered, to the credit of their several
commanders, that they maintained this unequal conflict with great spirit
and resolution, and that they did not submit until they were entirely
disabled. Their number of killed and wounded was about eight hundred,
and of prisoners three thousand three hundred men. M. Fromentierre,
who commanded _Le Neptune_, was among the slain, and their
commander-in-chief was wounded in the leg and in the shoulder. The
English had one hundred and fifty-four killed and five hundred and
fifty-eight wounded. Captain Saumarez, of the _Nottingham_, was among
the former. We lost no other officer of distinction. On the last day of
October Admiral Hawke brought these six French men-of-war to Portsmouth
in triumph, and, in reward for his services, was soon after honoured
with the Order of the Bath.

During this year the English took from the French and Spaniards six
hundred and forty-four prizes, among which were one Spanish and
seventeen French men-of-war. The English vessels, including one
man-of-war and a fire-ship, taken by the French and Spaniards, amounted
to five hundred and fifty-one. The Royal Navy of Spain was now reduced
to twenty-two ships of the line, and that of France to thirty-one;
whilst the Navy of Britain amounted to one hundred and twenty-six sail
of the line besides seventy-five frigates.



On July 15th, 1747, Captain Boscawen was made rear admiral of the blue,
and placed at the head of a large military and naval expedition
dispatched to the East Indies. In 1749 soon after the peace of
Aix-la-Chapelle had put an end to hostilities.

The fleet was lying in the road of Fort St. David, when on the 12th of
April it began to blow most violently from the north-north-west. The
following day the fleet encountered a terrible storm in which the
flag-ship the _Namur_, seventy-four guns, foundered; the admiral,
captain, and several of the officers being fortunately on shore. The
_Pembroke_, of sixty guns, was also lost in this storm.

Mr. Alms, of the _Namur_, gives the following account of the loss of
that ship, in a letter to Mr. Ives:--

"We were at anchor in the _Namur_, in Fort St. David's road, Thursday,
April 13th, 1749. In the morning it blew fresh, wind north-east. At noon
we veered away to a half cable on the small bower. From one to four
o'clock we were employed in setting up the lower rigging. Hard gales and
squally, with a very great sea. At six o'clock the ship rode very well,
but half an hour afterwards had four feet of water in her hold. We
immediately cut the small bower cable, and stood to sea under our
courses. Our mate, who cut the cable, was up to his waist in water at
the bitts.

"At half-past seven we had six feet of water in the hold, when we hauled
up our courses and heaved overboard most of our upper-deck and all the
quarter-deck guns to the leeward. By three-quarters after eight the
water was up to our orlop gratings, and there was a great quantity
between decks so that the ship was water logged; when we cut away all
the masts, by which she righted. At the same time we manned the pumps
and baled, and soon perceived that we gained upon the ship, which put us
in great spirits. A little after nine we sounded, and found ourselves in
nine fathoms of water: the master called, 'Cut away the sheet-anchor!'
which was done immediately, and we veered away to a little better than a
cable; but, before the ship came head to the sea, she parted at the
chesstree. By this time it blew a hurricane. It is easier to conceive
than to describe what a dismal, melancholy scene now presented
itself--the shrieking cries, lamentations, ravings, despair, of above
five hundred poor wretches verging on the brink of eternity!

"I had, however, presence of mind to consider that the Almighty was at
the same time all-merciful, and experienced consolation in the
reflection that I had ever put my whole trust in Him. In a short prayer
I then implored His protection, and jumped overboard. The water, at that
time, was up to the gratings of the poop, from which I leaped. The first
thing I grappled was a capstan-bar, by means of which, in company with
seven more, I got to the davit; but, in less than an hour, I had the
melancholy experience of seeing them all washed away, and finding myself
upon it alone, and almost exhausted. I had now been above two hours in
the water, when, to my unspeakable joy, I saw a large raft with a great
many men driving towards me. When it came near I quitted the davit, and
with great difficulty swam to the raft, upon which I got, with the
assistance of one of our quarter-gunners. The raft proved to be the
_Namur's_ booms. As soon as we were able we lashed the booms close
together, fastened a plank across them, and by these means made a good

"It was by this time one o'clock in the morning; soon afterwards the
seas became so mountainous that they turned our machine upside down, but
providentially, with the loss of only one man. About four, we struck
ground with the booms, and, in a very short time, all the survivors
reached the shore. After having returned thanks to God for His almost
miraculous goodness towards us, we took each other by the hand, for it
was not yet day, and still trusting to the Divine Providence for
protection, we walked forward in search of some place to shelter
ourselves from the inclemency of the weather; for the spot where we
landed offered nothing but sand. When we had walked about for a whole
hour, but to no manner of purpose, we returned to the place where we had
left our catamaran, and to our no small uneasiness found that it was
gone. Daylight appearing, we found ourselves on a sandy bank, a little
to the southward of Porto Novo, from which we were divided by a river
that we were under the necessity of fording, soon after which we arrived
at the Dutch settlement where we were received with much hospitality.
From our first landing till our arrival at Porto Novo we lost four of
our company, two at the place where we were driven ashore, and two in
crossing the river.

"After we had sufficiently refreshed ourselves at Porto Novo, the chief
there was so obliging as to accommodate me with clothes, a horse and a
guide to carry me to Fort St. David, where I arrived about noon the
following day, and immediately waited on the admiral, who received me
very kindly indeed; but so excessive was the concern of that great and
good man for the loss of so many poor souls, that he could not find
utterance for those questions he appeared desirous of asking me
concerning the particulars of our disaster.

"Till I reached Porto Novo, you beheld me shipwrecked and naked; I must
again repeat it, that the Dutch received, refreshed, and kindly conveyed
me to my truly honourable patron, through whose kindness and humanity I
am not only well clothed and comforted, but am also made lieutenant of
the _Syren_, from which ship I date this letter. I am, etc.,


"P.S.--There were only twenty-three of us saved on the wreck; twenty of
whom came ashore on the booms."



The melancholy fate of the _Namur_, which was lost at the same time and
place as the _Pembroke_, has already been related. The calamity which
befell the latter was, if possible, still more deplorable. Out of her
whole crew, only twelve persons were saved; her commander, Captain
Fincher, and about three hundred and thirty men were drowned, among whom
were all the officers excepting a captain of marines. The following
particulars of this disaster are given by an eye-witness, Mr. Cambridge,
the master.

"About ten o'clock in the morning of April 13th, 1749, it blew fresh,
the wind at north-east by east and a great sea began to come in: we
having then a cable out the captain ordered half a cable more to be
veered away. At one in the afternoon it blew very hard, the wind at
north-east. His Majesty's ship _Namur_, lying about a cable's length
within us and abaft our beam, I went to the captain, as did likewise the
lieutenants, and desired him to go to sea. He replied, he could not
answer to go to sea unless the _Namur_ did (on board which Rear-admiral
Boscawen's flag was flying), but ordered all our ports to be barred in
and well secured.

"At three o'clock I went to the captain, who was sick and in his cabin,
and again desired him to go to sea. He seemed angry, and said he could
not, giving the same reason as before, nor would he suffer any more
cable to be veered away. At the same time the ship rode hard, strained
much, and made water.

"At five, the sea increasing, our cable parted, and we cast our head off
to the sea; otherwise we should have fallen on board the _Namur_. We
immediately set the fore and mizen sails, got on board the main-tack,
and set our main sail, fore and mizen stay-sails; at the same time some
of our people were employed in heaving in the cable, for the captain
would not have it cut. This took up some time; it blew so very hard that
the ship would not bear any more sail.

"At six, there being a great head sea, we made very little way, and were
obliged to set both pumps to work. At half-past six our main sail split
in pieces; we got down the yard in order to bend a new sail; but it
blowing hard, the ship lay down so much that we could not get the sail
to the yard. At eight the carpenter sent word to the captain that the
ship gained upon them much, and had four feet of water in her hold.

"At half-past eight our tiller broke short off at the rudder-head, and
we likewise found one of the rudder chains broken: the sails we had now
set were our fore sail, mizen, and fore-stay sails. The sea made a free
passage over us, and the ship being water logged, we hauled up our fore
sail to ease her, but expected to go down every minute. In hauling down
our fore-stay sail it split; and as I looked aft from the forecastle, I
saw the main and mizen masts had gone, though I never heard them go. By
this time the ship righted much, and in about seven minutes the fore
mast went by the board, but the bowsprit held fast. Our pumps were kept
continually working. The third lieutenant being on the quarter-deck,
sent forward to me to clear and let go the small bower anchor, which was
immediately done. We found the ship drove to shore very fast.

"At half-past ten, we had eight feet of water in the hold, and kept all
the pumps working. About eleven we found the ship settle; the depth of
water twelve or fourteen fathoms. The anchor then brought the ship up,
but the cable parted in a few minutes: then we let go the sheet anchor,
which was all we had. The sea now making a free passage over us again,
broke and tore away our boats and booms. The sheet cable tore out with
such violence that no person could venture near it till the clench
brought up the ship: but the sea came with such force and was so very
high that in the hollow of the sea the ship struck, and the cable
immediately parted.

"It was now near twelve o'clock; the ship struck fore and aft, but abaft
very hard. The third lieutenant was near me when the ship first struck,
but I saw no more of him afterwards. I kept the forecastle accompanied
by the boatswain, cook, and about eight more men. I got myself lashed to
the bitts before the ship took heel, but shifted myself over to windward
when she began to heel, and lashed myself as before: the sea continually
beating over us. About two I saw the captain's cabin washed away, and
the ship almost on her broadside.

"When daylight came, we were sixteen men on the forecastle and four
hanging abaft to the timber heads; but three of the latter got upon a
piece of the wreck which was loose, and drove away; the other was
drowned. All this time the sea came over us in a dreadful manner, so
that we could scarcely take breath.

"About eight o'clock nine men were washed off the forecastle. We could
not now see the trees on shore between the seas. At nine, the boatswain
and cook were washed away from each side of me, on which I removed to
the cat-head, as did likewise another man. About ten all our men were
washed away, excepting those who were lashed to the cat-head. We judged
that we were about two miles off the shore: we continued there all the
day; the sea beating over us incessantly, so that we had little time to
fetch breath or speak to one another. At noon we found the sea to come
every way upon us, and could perceive that the wind having shifted was
the cause of it. This part of the wreck kept together, but night coming
on, we had a dismal prospect before us, without any hopes of relief.
About midnight the sea abated, so that we could speak to one another for
the space of two or three minutes together; but I found myself so weak,
having been sick ever since we arrived in the country, that when the
sea washed me on one side in my lashing, I was not able to help myself
up, but was obliged to get my companion to assist me.

"At daylight I found myself much weaker and very thirsty. The sea at
this time came over us once in a quarter of an hour. We found the wreck
much nearer the shore than yesterday. About noon we found the sea much
abated, so that it seldom came over us, and the weather began to be
fine, but I felt extremely faint. About two or three o'clock we saw two
paddy boats coming along shore, about a mile away from us. We spread out
a handkerchief, which I had about my neck, that the boats might see us.
One of them seemed to edge towards us for some minutes, but hauled off
again. We then saw several catamarans near the shore, which we judged to
be fishing. We spread abroad the handkerchief again, but none of them
approached us. Soon afterwards we saw several people gather together on
shore; the sun began to grow low, so that we judged it to be about five
o'clock. At last we saw two of the catamarans above mentioned coming
towards us, with three black men on each, who took us off the wreck and
carried us on shore.

"As soon as we were landed, we found ourselves surrounded by about three
hundred armed men. My companion told me we had fallen into the hands of
the Mahrattas, who were at this time at war with the English. They
ordered us to come off the catamarans. I strove to rise, but I found
myself so weak and my legs so terribly bruised that I could not get up;
on which some of them came and lifted me off, and laid me on the sand,
for I was unable to stand. I made a signal to them that I wanted some
water to drink, but they gave me none, and only laughed at our
condition. Their commander ordered them to strip us, which they did
quite naked.

"As I was not able to walk, they led us part of the way to Cavecotta, a
fort belonging to them, and there put us into a canoe, and carried us up
a river to the walls of the fort. About ten that night they put us
within the walls and laid us on the ground, where we had nothing to
cover us but the heavens, and about eleven brought us a little rice with
some water. Great numbers of people gathered round us, laughing at us
and expressing great contempt and derision.

"The country people flocked daily to the fort to see us, but none of
them showed us the least pity; on the contrary, they laughed and
threatened us with death. We slept very little the first night on
account of the cold and the risk we ran of our lives, these barbarians
having signified that they would cut us in pieces with their sabres.
When daylight appeared and the gates were opened, I was very ill. I had
dysentery, and my legs were so much swelled that I concluded I had not
long to live, at least if I did not receive some relief. I acquainted my
comrade with my situation, and begged him, if he ever should be so
fortunate as to return to England, to inform my friends in what manner I
had terminated my career. Some days we received rice and others we had
none. On the seventh day they gave me some lamp oil, with which I
fomented my legs, and this simple application afforded me considerable

"Our lodging place was between the gate-ways; and when we had been there
fourteen days they carried us into the country. Though my legs were much
better, yet still I could not walk; and my companion was extremely weak,
which I believe was owing to the want of more victuals. So they put us
into dooleys or cradles, fastened together with ropes, which they got
from the wreck.

"About four o'clock on the fifteenth day they carried us about twelve
miles to their king, who was encamped against our company's troops. That
prince examined us a long time, and inquired whether we were officers: I
replied in the negative, conceiving that an acknowledgment of that kind
would render our escape much more difficult. He was desirous that we
should enter into his service, but we told him by means of the
interpreters, who were three Dutchmen, that we could not consent to it.
He promised we should want for nothing if we would accept his offers;
but we persisted in replying that we were too ill to be capable of
serving. He ordered refreshment to be given to us, of which we stood in
great need, having scarcely taken any nourishment since the day we fell
into the hands of his subjects. The interpreters asked us whether we
chose to enter into the king's service or to go to prison; to which we
answered that we could not resolve to fight against our countrymen.

"At sunset we departed. Our conductors having halted till three o'clock
in the morning, we again set out and continued our march till noon, when
they again stopped two hours to take some refreshment, and afterwards
directed their course to the south-west. We arrived that night at a fort
and were immediately put into a dungeon. There we found two other
prisoners, one of them our ship-mate and the other a deserter from the
company's troops.

"The next morning they opened the gates and made signs to us to come
out. My companions complied, but I chose rather to stay where I was as I
found myself extremely weak and my legs were covered with ulcers. I
begged them to give me a little lamp oil to foment them, which they did.
Our only nourishment was water and a quart of rice a day, though there
were four of us, and a small pot of grease instead of butter. I rubbed
my legs with oil and grease, and on the fourth day found myself much
better, which gave me fresh spirits. We were permitted to walk morning
and evening before the dungeon.

"In about three weeks my legs were almost well, so that I was able to
walk. We began to entertain some hopes of making our escape, and taking
an opportunity, I, with some difficulty, got high enough upon the wall
to look over it, and found it was very lofty and surrounded with a wide
moat or ditch; but there was a path between the wall and the ditch, so
that we might choose our place to swim over, if it proved deep. We got,
several times, some strands of rope off the dooleys which they had
carried us in, as they happened to be left within the bounds of our
liberty; and in a few days collected so many pieces that when knotted
together they made several fathoms.

"After some consultation, we resolved to undermine the foundation of
the dungeon at the farthest part from the guards, and on May 27th began
to work. On June 1st we came to the foundation, being six feet deep, and
the wall thirty inches through. In two days' time we had worked upwards,
on the other side, so far that the light began to appear through the
surface, so that we let everything remain till night. At seven it
beginning to grow dark they put us into the dungeon as usual, and soon
afterwards we worked ourselves quite out. Without being discovered we
got over the wall by the help of our rope, and in less than half an hour
had crossed the moat, though very wide and deep. We travelled all night,
we judged about sixteen miles, and in the day hid ourselves among the
bushes. The second night we travelled as before, to the south-east, and
day coming on, we concealed ourselves among some rushes. About three in
the afternoon we were discovered, which obliged us to go on; but we were
not molested. We proceeded till about midnight, and then lay down till
daybreak. I had a fever and was extremely weak for want of food. This
day, which was the third, we resolved to travel till noon, and to
plunder the first house we might chance to meet with. But Providence was
more favourable to us than we could have expected; for about ten o'clock
we met a cooley who told us he would show us to Caracal. About noon we
arrived there, and were received with great humanity; but my fever was
no better.

"The next morning the governor sent to Mr. Boscawen to let him know we
were there, and by the return of the messenger the admiral desired we
might be furnished with what money we wanted. In about twelve days we
found ourselves well recovered, and went to Tranquebar, a place
belonging to the Danes, where we stayed three days, and got a passage
for Fort St. David where we arrived on June 23rd."



The honourable John Byng was the fourth son of George Viscount
Torrington, and was born at his father's seat at Southill, in
Bedfordshire, in the year 1704. Showing a strong inclination for the
navy, his father took him to sea with him when he was only thirteen
years old; and so rapid was his promotion, that at twenty-three he was
made captain of the _Gibraltar_ frigate, then stationed in the
Mediterranean. These were, comparatively speaking, peaceable times, and
the record of the next twenty-five years was one of routine service,
honourably performed and rewarded by steady promotion.

Towards the end of the year 1755 the British Government received
intelligence that a powerful armament was equipping in Toulon, which was
intended to act against Fort St. Philip. Though the case was urgent, the
government took no notice of repeated warnings until at last, on the
strong and positive representation of General Blakeney that his garrison
must be reinforced if the ministry wished to retain it, they made a
tardy and inadequate arrangement to relieve the garrison and protect the
Island of Minorca.

To effect this purpose it was necessary to send out a fleet and a
reinforcement of troops. The command of this fleet they gave to Admiral
Byng, whom they promoted to the rank of admiral of the blue. The
ministers were blamed at the time for appointing Admiral Byng to this
command. The service was one of the greatest importance; it required
not only great personal courage and professional skill and experience,
but also a comprehensive judgment and great activity and zeal, and
Admiral Byng, whatever talents he possessed, had never had an
opportunity of displaying them; he was, in fact, without that degree of
experience which ought to have been regarded as an indispensable
requisite in the person entrusted with this command. Moreover, the force
placed under his command was inadequate to the service; it consisted
only of ten sail of the line, several of which were not in a proper
condition either for fighting or going to sea; and most of them were
either short of their complement of men, or manned by crews consisting
of young and inexperienced seamen.

On April 7th, 1756, Admiral Byng sailed from St. Helen's, and on May 2nd
he arrived at Gibraltar. From this place he wrote a letter to the
Admiralty, which is supposed, by reflecting on the conduct of ministers,
to have irritated them against him. On May 8th he sailed for Minorca,
but having contrary winds, did not make that island until the morning of
the 19th, when he saw the English flag still flying on the castle of St.
Philip, and several bomb-batteries playing upon it from the enemy's
works. Early in the morning the admiral despatched Captain Hervey, in
the _Phoenix_, with the _Chesterfield_ and _Dolphin_, with orders to
reconnoitre the entrance into the harbour, and, if possible, to convey a
letter to General Blakeney. Captain Hervey got round the Laire, and made
signals to the garrison for a boat to come off, but without effect; and
the admiral, about this time discovering the French fleet, ordered him
to return.

At two o'clock on the following day Admiral Byng made a signal to bear
away two points from the wind and engage. Rear-admiral West was then at
too great a distance to comply with both these orders; he therefore bore
away seven points from the wind, and with his whole division attacked
the enemy with such impetuosity that several of their ships were soon
obliged to quit the line. Had Admiral Byng been equally alert, it is
most probable that the French fleet would have been defeated and Minorca
saved; but the enemy's centre keeping their station, and Byng's
division not advancing, Admiral West was prevented from pursuing his
advantage by the danger of being separated from the rest of the fleet.

After engaging about a quarter of an hour, the _Intrepid_, the sternmost
ship of the van, lost her foretop mast, which, according to Byng's
account of the action, obliged his whole division to back their sails to
prevent their falling foul of each other. But when this matter came to
be examined by the court martial, it appeared that immediately after the
signal for engaging, while the van were bearing down upon the enemy,
Admiral Byng, in the _Ramillies_, edged away some points, by which means
the _Trident_ and _Louisa_ got to windward of him, and that, in order to
bring them again into their stations, he backed his mizen-top sail, and
endeavoured to back his main-top sail. This manoeuvre necessarily
retarded all the ships in his division and gave the enemy time to
escape. M. Galissoniere seized the opportunity, and, his ships being
clean, he was soon out of danger.

The English had in this engagement forty-two men killed and one hundred
and sixty-eight wounded; the French one hundred and forty-five wounded
and twenty-six killed. The next morning the admiral, finding that three
of his squadron were damaged in their masts, called a council of war,
which decided to proceed to Gibraltar.

Admiral Byng wrote an account of this engagement, which he sent to the
Admiralty who, after some delay, published it with excisions which
materially affected the impression it was likely to produce.

Not only were parts of Admiral Byng's letter withheld from the public,
but the letter itself, though said to have been received on June 16th,
was not inserted in the _Gazette_ till the 26th of that month. The hired
writers in the pay of the ministry were instantly set to work to censure
his conduct in the most violent and inflammatory language. One fact was
particularly pointed out and most strenuously insisted upon as a proof
of personal cowardice; from the returns of the killed and wounded on
board of the different ships it appeared that on board the _Ramillies_,
Admiral Byng's own ship, there was not one man either killed or wounded.

Sir Edward Hawke and Admiral Saunders were ordered to supersede Mr.
Byng, whom they were instructed to send home under arrest. By this time
the popular clamour and indignation were so extremely violent that
government were afraid some of it would be directed against themselves
unless they placed it beyond doubt that they were resolved to proceed
against Mr. Byng without the least delay, and in the most rigorous

The admiral landed at Portsmouth. At every place that he passed through
he was hooted by the mob. On the road to Greenwich Hospital, where he
was to remain until his trial, he was guarded as if he had been guilty
of the most heinous crime, while that part of the hospital where he was
confined was most scrupulously and carefully fortified, the government
taking care that all their precautions to prevent his escape should be
made known.

On December 27th, 1756, the court martial assembled on board the _St.
George_ in Portsmouth Harbour, and on January 15th, 1757, the evidence
concluded. The opinion of the court was that "the admiral did not do his
utmost to relieve the garrison of St. Philip, and that during the
engagement he did not do his utmost to take, seize, and destroy the
ships of the French king, and assist such of his own ships as were
engaged." They therefore came to the following resolution:--

"That the admiral appears to fall under the following part of the
twelfth article of the articles of war, viz.--'or shall not do his
utmost to take or destroy every ship which it shall be his duty to
engage, and to assist and relieve all and every of His Majesty's ships
which it shall be his duty to assist and relieve': and as that article
positively prescribes death, without any alternative left to the
discretion of the court, under any variation of circumstances, resolved
that he be adjudged to be shot to death at such time, and on board such
ship, as the lords commissioners of the Admiralty shall direct; but as
it appears by the evidence of Lord Robert Bertie, Lieutenant-colonel
Smith, Captain Gardiner, and other officers of the ship, who were near
the person of the admiral, that they did not perceive any backwardness
in him during the action, or any marks of fear or confusion, either from
his countenance or behaviour, but that he seemed to give his orders
coolly and distinctly and did not seem wanting in personal courage, and
from other circumstances the court do not believe that his misconduct
arose either from cowardice or disaffection, and do therefore
unanimously think it their duty most earnestly to recommend him as a
proper object of mercy."

Not only in their resolution did the court martial recommend him to
mercy, but in the letter which accompanied a copy of their proceedings
to the board of Admiralty they expressed themselves strongly to the same

Notwithstanding these repeated, strong, and earnest representations of
the opinion and wishes of the court martial, the lords of the Admiralty
contented themselves, when they laid before His Majesty a copy of the
proceedings, with transmitting the letters of the court martial;
hinting, indeed, a doubt respecting the legality of the sentence,
because the crime of negligence, for which alone Admiral Byng was
condemned, did not appear in any part of the proceedings. When the
sentence was known, George, Lord Viscount Torrington, a near relation of
the admiral's, presented two petitions to His Majesty; and his other
friends interested themselves in his behalf: but the people were so
clamorous and violent that it would scarcely have been safe to have
pardoned him; however, in consequence of the representation of the lords
of the Admiralty respecting the doubtful legality of the sentence, His
Majesty referred it to the twelve judges, who were unanimous in their
opinion that it was legal. The next step was to transmit this opinion to
the lords of the Admiralty, in order that they might sign the warrant
for the execution. All the lords signed it, except Admiral Forbes, who
entered his reasons for his refusal.

Admiral Forbes was not the only naval officer who resolutely and
honourably stood forward and protested against the sentence passed upon
Admiral Byng. Mr. West, who had been second in command under him in the
Mediterranean, and who on his return was appointed one of the lords
commissioners of the Admiralty, and soon afterwards commander-in-chief
of a squadron destined for a secret expedition, on the very day sentence
was passed on Admiral Byng wrote official and private letters, declining
these appointments on account of the treatment of Admiral Byng.

When the warrant was signed, Mr. Keppel, one of the members of the court
martial, rose in his place in the House of Commons, and prayed, on
behalf of himself and some other members of the court, that they might
be released from their oath of secrecy, in order to disclose the reasons
which had induced them to pass sentence of death upon Admiral Byng; as,
probably, by this disclosure, some circumstances might come out that
would prove the sentence to be illegal. To this the Commons agreed, and
an order was sent down to Portsmouth to respite the execution of the
admiral until March 14th. The House of Lords, however, after
interrogating the members of the court martial who were responsible for
the bill, unanimously rejected it.

On his way to receive sentence on board the _St. George_ Admiral Byng
told some of his friends that he expected to be reprimanded, and
possibly he might be cashiered; "because," added he, "there must have
been several controverted points: the court martial has been shut up a
long time, and almost all the questions proposed by the court have
tended much more to pick out faults in my conduct than to get a true
state of the circumstances; but I profess I cannot conceive what they
will fix upon."

When he arrived on board the _St. George_, and as he was walking on the
quarter-deck, a member of the court martial came out and told one of his
relations that they had found the admiral capitally guilty, and
requested him to prepare him for his sentence. The gentleman to whom
this communication was made went up to him immediately, but was unable
to address him for some time; his countenance, however, and the
embarrassment of his manner, led the admiral to suspect that he had some
unpleasant intelligence to communicate; and he said to him, "What is the
matter? have they broke me?" The gentleman, perceiving from this
question that he was totally unprepared for his sentence, hesitated
still more: upon which the countenance of the admiral changed a little,
and he added, "Well, I understand--if nothing but my blood will satisfy,
let them take it."

A few minutes afterwards one of his friends endeavoured to support and
reconcile him to his fate by observing that a sentence without guilt
could be no stain; and adding that it was extremely unlikely that the
sentence would be carried into execution, begged him to indulge the hope
of obtaining a pardon; he replied, "What will that signify to me? What
satisfaction can I receive from the liberty to crawl a few years longer
on the earth with the infamous load of a pardon at my back? I despise
life upon such terms, and would rather have them take it."

When the respite for fourteen days came down to Portsmouth, his friends
endeavoured to encourage the expectation that he would be honourably
pardoned, and dwelt upon every circumstance which gave countenance and
probability to this idea; to them he replied, in a calm and
unembarrassed manner, "I am glad _you_ think so, because it makes you
easy and happy; but I think it has now become an affair merely
political, without any relation to right or wrong, justice or injustice;
and therefore I differ in opinion from you."

Immediately after he received his sentence he was put on board the
_Monarque_, a third-rate man-of-war, lying at anchor in the harbour of
Portsmouth, under a strong guard, in the custody of the marshal of the
Admiralty. On Sunday morning, March 13th, Captain Montague, who had
received the warrant from Admiral Boscawen for his execution next day,
gave it to the admiral for him to read; he read it over without the
slightest sign of perturbation, and then remarked with some warmth that
"the place named in the warrant for his execution was upon the
forecastle." A circumstance which evidently filled his mind with

His friends endeavoured to turn his thoughts from this idea; they could
not indeed hold out to him the expectation that the place would be
changed, because the warrant expressly named it: they coincided with him
in the opinion that it ought not to have been so; but they trusted, at
this awful and important moment, he would deem such a circumstance
beneath his notice, and not suffer it to break in upon the tranquillity
of his mind. On this he composed his thoughts and feelings, and replied,
"It is very true, the place or manner is of no great importance to me;
but I think living admirals should consult the dignity of the rank for
their own sakes. I cannot plead a precedent; there is no precedent of an
admiral, or a general officer in the army, being shot. They make a
precedent of me, such as admirals hereafter may feel the effects of."

During the time he was at dinner no alteration in his manner was
observable; he was cheerful and polite, helping his friends and drinking
their healths; but he did not continue long at table. After dinner he
conversed a good deal respecting his approaching execution; and the
indignation and uneasiness he had before felt about the place appointed
for it recurred with considerable force in his thoughts. His friends
were extremely desirous of conversing on other subjects; and at length,
perceiving this, he remarked, "I like to talk upon the subject; it is
not to be supposed I do not think of it; why then should it be more
improper to talk of it?" He frequently noticed how the wind was; and on
his friends inquiring the reason of his anxiety on this subject, he said
he hoped it might continue westerly long enough for the members of the
court martial (who were just about to sail) to be present when his
sentence was put in execution.

About six o'clock, according to his usual custom, he ordered tea; and
while he and his friends were at it his conversation was easy and
cheerful. Perceiving that his friends were astonished at this
circumstance, "I have observed," said he, "that persons condemned to
die have generally had something to be sorry for that they have
expressed concern for having committed; and though I do not pretend to
be exempt from human frailties, yet it is my consolation to have no
remorse for any transaction in my public character during the whole
series of my long services." On one of his friends observing that no man
was exempt from human frailties, and that what came under that
denomination were not crimes cognisable here, or supposed to be so
hereafter, he replied, "I am conscious of no crimes, and am particularly
happy in not dying the mean, despicable, ignominious wretch my enemies
would have the world to believe me. I hope I am not supposed so now; the
court martial has acquitted me of everything criminal or ignominious."
One of his friends assured him that none called or thought him so but
persons who were obstinately prejudiced against him, and his enemies,
whose interest and design it was to deceive the nation; and it was vain
to expect that they would be induced to change their opinion or do him
justice by any reasoning or statement. This observation seemed to please
him much.

In the evening he ordered a small bowl of punch to be made; and as all
his friends were seated round the table, taking his own glass with a
little punch in it, after having helped his friends, he said, "My
friends, here is all your healths, and God bless you; I am pleased to
find I have some friends still, notwithstanding my misfortunes." After
drinking his glass, he added, "I am to die to-morrow, and as my country
requires my life, I am ready to resign it, though I do not as yet know
what my crime is. I think my judges, in justice to posterity, to
officers who come after us, should have explained my crime a little more
and pointed out the way to avoid falling into the same errors I did. As
the sentence and resolutions stand now, I am persuaded no admiral will
be wiser hereafter by them, or know better how to conduct himself on the
like occasion." Observing one or his friends with his eyes attentively
fixed upon him while he was speaking: "My friend," said he, "I
understand reproof in that grave look. It is a long time since I have
spoken so much upon the subject, and you now think I say too much;
perhaps I do so." "Far from presuming to mean any reproof," replied his
friend, "I am all attention to what you say, sir; and though all of us
here are satisfied of these truths, yet we must be pleased to hear you
make them plainer."

The admiral was always watched in the great cabin during the night by
officers who relieved one another at twelve at night and at four o'clock
in the morning. At these hours he was seldom found awake; but the night
before his execution at both hours he was found in a tranquil and
profound sleep.

He had always been in the habit of rising very early; and while he was
on board the _Monarque_ he used to banter the marshal for not being up
so soon as he was. On Monday morning, the day of his execution, he was
up by five o'clock: the marshal did not make his appearance till six;
and when he saw him, "Well," said he, "I think I have beat you at rising
this morning." Soon afterwards, when he was shifting, as he regularly
did every morning, "Here," said he to his valet, "take these
sleeve-buttons and wear them for my sake; yours will do to be buried

As soon as he was dressed he returned to the state-room by himself,
where he spent some time; on coming out he sat down to breakfast with
the marshal as composedly as usual. He was dressed in a light grey coat,
white waistcoat and white stockings, and a large white wig. These
clothes he had regularly worn since he received the intelligence of his
suspension at Gibraltar; for after having read the order he stripped off
his uniform and threw it into the sea.

About nine o'clock his friends came on board the _Monarque_; he received
them in an easy, familiar manner, took each of them by the hand and
inquired after their health. They informed him that the place of his
execution was changed; that it was not to take place on the forecastle,
but on the quarter-deck. This intelligence seemed to give him great
satisfaction. He had constantly declared his resolution to die with his
face uncovered, and to give the word of command to the platoon of
marines himself; saying, "As it is my fate I can look at it and receive
it." His friends were grieved at this determination and endeavoured to
dissuade him from it; sometimes he seemed disposed to comply with their
wishes, but at other times he replied, "No, it cannot be; I cannot bear
it; I must look and receive my fate." His friends, however, persevered
in representing to him that, considering his rank, it was impossible the
marines could receive the word of command from him, or look in his face
and see him looking at them without being intimidated and awed; they
hinted, also, at the consequences which might result; that he might be
wounded only and mangled. By arguments and entreaties they at length
prevailed upon him to have a bandage over his eyes, and to make a signal
by dropping a handkerchief.

He then requested to be made acquainted with all the particulars of the
form, in order that he might conduct himself strictly according to them,
remarking that he had never been present at an execution.

As soon as the admiral had agreed upon the signal he was to make, it was
communicated to the commanding officer of the marines, in order that he
might instruct his men accordingly; and he was also desired to tell them
that they should have ten guineas if they conducted themselves properly.
The marines were drawn up, under arms, upon the poop, along the
gangways, in the waist, and on one side of the quarter-deck. A heap of
sawdust was thrown on the other side of the quarter-deck, and a cushion
placed upon it; in the middle, upon the gratings, a platoon of nine
marines were drawn up in three lines, three in each: the two foremost
lines, which were intended to fire, had their bayonets fixed, as is
customary on such occasions.

Orders had been given for all the men-of-war at Spithead to send their
boats, with the captains and all the officers of each ship, accompanied
by a party of marines under arms, to attend the execution. In compliance
with these orders they rowed from Spithead and made the harbour a little
after eleven o'clock; but with great difficulty and danger, as it blew
a dreadful gale at west-north-west and the tide was ebbing.
Notwithstanding the state of the weather, there was a prodigious number
of other boats present.

About eleven o'clock Admiral Byng, walking across his cabin, and
observing the crowd of boats out of one of the cabin windows, took up a
glass to view them more distinctly. The decks, shrouds, and yards of all
the ships that lay near were crowded with men; upon which he remarked,
"Curiosity is strong; it draws a great number of people together; but
their curiosity will be disappointed: where they are, they may hear, but
they cannot see." A gentleman said to him, "To see you so easy and
composed, sir, gives me as much pleasure as I can have on this occasion;
but I expected no less from the whole of your conduct heretofore; and
the last actions of a man mark his character more than all the actions
of his life." "I am sensible they do, sir," replied he, "and am obliged
to you for putting me in mind. I find innocence is the best foundation
for firmness of mind."

He continued to walk about in the cabin for some time; inquired what
time it would be high water; observed that the tide would not suit to
carry his body ashore after dark; expressed some apprehensions that his
body might be insulted if it were carried ashore in the daytime, on
account of the prejudices of the people against him: but his friends
assuring him that there was no such disposition among the inhabitants of
Portsmouth, he appeared very well satisfied.

He walked out of the great cabin to the quarter-deck, accompanied by a
clergyman, who had attended him during his confinement, and two
gentlemen, his relations. One of these went with him to the cushion and
offered to tie the bandage over his eyes; but he, having a white
handkerchief ready folded in his hand, replied, with a smile on his
countenance, "I am obliged to you, sir; I thank God I can do it myself;
I think I can; I am sure I can;" and tied it behind his head himself.

He continued upon his knees rather more than a minute, much composed,
and apparently recommending himself to the Almighty, and then dropped
his handkerchief, the signal agreed upon, a few minutes before twelve
o'clock. On this a volley was fired from the six marines, five of whose
bullets went through him, and he was in an instant no more: the sixth
bullet went over his head. The spectators were amazed at the intrepidity
of his behaviour, and scarcely could refrain from tears. One of the
common seamen, who had stood all the time full of attention, with his
arms across, cried out with enthusiasm, when he saw him fall, "There
lies the bravest and best officer of the navy."

A few minutes before his execution he delivered to the marshal of the
Admiralty the following paper, addressing himself to him in these

    "Sir, these are my thoughts on this occasion. I give them to you
    that you may authenticate them and prevent anything spurious
    being published that might tend to defame me. I have given a
    copy to one of my relations.

    "A few moments will now deliver me from the virulent
    persecutions and frustrate the farther malice of my enemies: nor
    need I envy them a life subject to the sensations my injuries
    and the injustice done me must create. Persuaded, I am, justice
    will be done to my reputation hereafter: the manner and cause of
    raising and keeping up the popular clamour and prejudice against
    me will be seen through. I shall be considered (as I now
    perceive myself) a victim destined to divert the indignation and
    resentment of an injured and deluded people from the proper
    objects. My enemies themselves must now think me innocent. Happy
    for me, at this my last moment, that I know my own innocence,
    and am conscious that no part of my country's misfortunes can be
    owing to me. I heartily wish the shedding my blood may
    contribute to the happiness and service of my country; but
    cannot resign my just claim to a faithful discharge of my duty
    according to the best of my judgment and the utmost exertion of
    my ability for His Majesty's honour and my country's service. I
    am sorry that my endeavours were not attended with more success,
    and that the armament under my command proved too weak to
    succeed in an expedition of such moment.

    "Truth has prevailed over calumny and falsehood; and justice has
    wiped off the ignominious stain of my supposed want of personal
    courage or disaffection. My heart acquits me of these crimes.
    But who can be presumptuously sure of his own judgment? If my
    crime is an error of judgment, or differing in opinion from my
    judges, and if yet the error in judgment should be on their
    side, God forgive them, as I do; and may the distress of their
    minds and uneasiness of their consciences, which in justice to
    me they have represented, be believed and subside, as my
    resentment has done.

    "The supreme Judge sees all hearts and motives, and to Him I
    must submit the justice of my cause.

        "J. BYNG.

    "_On board His Majesty's ship 'Monarque,' in Portsmouth Harbour,
    March 14th, 1757._"

In his parish church, at Southill, is the following inscription to the
memory of this unfortunate officer:--

           PUBLIC JUSTICE,
           FELL A MARTYR TO
    ON MARCH 14, IN THE YEAR 1757:



Though the great achievements of large fleets are apt to monopolise
fame, it often happens in the story of our English navy that small
squadrons in out-of-the-way places show equal heroism in achieving less
important results. Of such services the following are illustrations.

Captain Forrest, of the _Augusta_, having sailed from Port Royal in
Jamaica, in 1758, proceeded to cruise off Cape Francis, a harbour in the
island of St. Domingo; he was accompanied by Captains Suckling and
Langdon, commanding the _Dreadnought_ and _Edinburgh_. There lay at that
time, at the Cape, a French squadron of four ships of the line and three
stout frigates, which the French commodore, piqued at seeing the coast
insulted by Forrest's little squadron, reinforced with several
store-ships, which he mounted with cannon and supplied with seamen from
the merchant vessels and with soldiers from the garrison. Thus prepared,
he weighed anchor and stood out for sea. When Forrest perceived the
approach of the French ships, he called his two captains. "Gentlemen,"
said he, "you know our own strength and see that of the enemy. Shall we
give them battle?" Being answered in the affirmative, he bore down on
the French fleet, and between three and four in the afternoon came to
action. The French attacked with great impetuosity, and displayed
uncommon spirit in the sight of their own coast. But, after an
engagement of more than two hours, their commodore found his ship so
much shattered that he was obliged to make a signal for his frigates to
tow him out of the line. The rest of the squadron followed his example,
and availed themselves of the land breeze to escape in the night from
the three British ships, which were too much damaged in their sails and
rigging to pursue their victory.

Captain Forrest signalised his courage in this engagement; but he
displayed equal courage and still more uncommon conduct and sagacity in
a subsequent adventure near the western coast of Hispaniola. Having
received intelligence that there was a considerable French fleet at Port
au Prince, a harbour on that coast, ready to sail for Europe, he
proceeded from Jamaica to cruise between Hispaniola and the little
island Goave. He disguised his ship with tarpaulins, hoisted Dutch
colours, and, in order to avoid discovery, allowed several small vessels
to pass without giving them chase. The second day after his arrival in
these parts he perceived a fleet of seven sail steering to the westward.
He kept from them to prevent suspicion, but, at the approach of night,
pursued them with all the sail he could crowd. About ten in the evening
he came up with two vessels of the chase, one of which fired a gun and
the other sheered off. The ship which had fired no sooner discovered her
enemy than she submitted. Forrest manned her with thirty-five of his own
crew, and now perceiving eight sail to leeward, near the harbour of
Petit Goave, ordered them to stand for that place, and to intercept any
vessels that attempted to reach it. He himself, in the _Augusta_, sailed
directly for the French fleet, and, coming up with them by daybreak,
engaged them all by turns as he could bring his guns to bear. The
_Solide_, the _Theodore_, and the _Marguerite_ returned his fire; but,
having soon struck their colours, they were immediately secured, and
then employed in taking the other vessels, of which none had the fortune
to escape. The nine sail, which, by this well-conducted stratagem, had
fallen into the power of one ship, and that even in the sight of their
own harbours, were safely conducted to Jamaica, where the sale of their
rich cargoes rewarded the merit of the captors.

While Forrest acquired wealth and glory by protecting the trade of
Jamaica, the vigilance of Captain Tyrrel secured the English navigation
to Antigua. In the month of March 1758 this enterprising and judicious
commander demolished a fort on the island of Martinico, and destroyed
four privateers riding under its protection. In November of the same
year, he, in his own ship, the _Buckingham_, of sixty-four guns,
accompanied by the _Weazle_ sloop, commanded by Captain Boles,
discovered, between the islands of Guadaloupe and Montserrat, a fleet of
nineteen sail under convoy of the _Florissant_, a French man-of-war of
seventy-four guns, and two frigates of which the largest carried
thirty-eight, and the other twenty-six guns. Captain Tyrrel, regardless
of the great inequality of force, immediately gave chase in the
_Buckingham_; and the _Weazle_, running close to the enemy, received a
whole broadside from the _Florissant_. Though she sustained it without
much damage, Mr. Tyrrel ordered Captain Boles to keep aloof, as his
vessel could not be supposed to bear the shock of heavy metal; and he
alone prepared for the engagement. The _Florissant_, instead of lying to
for him, made a running fight with her stern chase, while the two
frigates annoyed the _Buckingham_ in her pursuit. At length, however,
she came within pistol-shot of the _Florissant_, and poured in a
broadside which did great execution. The salutation was returned with
spirit and the battle became close and obstinate. Mr. Tyrrel, being
wounded, was obliged to leave the deck, and the command devolved upon
Mr. Marshall, his first lieutenant, who fell in the arms of victory. The
second lieutenant took the command, and finally silenced the enemy's
fire. On board the _Florissant_ one hundred and eighty men were slain
and three hundred wounded. She was so much disabled in her hull that she
could hardly be kept afloat. The largest frigate received equal damage.
The _Buckingham_ had only seven men killed and seventeen dangerously
wounded; she had suffered much, however, in her masts and rigging, which
was the only circumstance that prevented her from adding profit to glory
by making prizes of the French fleet under so powerful a convoy.

In the East Indies the French squadron was commanded by M. d'Aché, and
the English by Admiral Pocock, who had succeeded Admiral Watson. The
former was reinforced by a considerable armament under the command of
General Lally, an adventurer of Irish extraction in the French service.
The English admiral was also reinforced March 24th, 1758, by four ships
of the line; and, being soon after apprised of Lally's arrival, hoisted
his flag on board the _Yarmouth_, a ship of sixty-four guns, and sailed
in quest of the enemy. He made the height of Negapatam on March 28th,
and the day following discovered the enemy's fleet in the road of Fort
St. David. It consisted of eight ships of the line and a frigate, which
immediately stood out to sea and formed the line-of-battle. Pocock's
squadron consisted only of seven ships; with which he formed the line,
and, bearing down upon M. d'Aché, began the engagement. The French
commodore, having sustained a warm action for about two hours in which
one of his largest ships was disabled, sheered off with his whole fleet.
Being afterwards joined by two more ships of war, he again formed the
line-of-battle to leeward. Admiral Pocock, though his own ship and
several others were considerably damaged, and though three of his
captains had misbehaved in the engagement, prepared again for the
attack. But the manoeuvres of the French fleet seem to have been
intended merely to amuse him; for they neither showed lights nor gave
any signal in the night, and next morning the smallest trace of them
could not be observed.

Admiral Pocock made various attempts to bring the French squadron to a
second engagement. These, however, proved ineffectual till August 3rd,
when he perceived the enemy's fleet, consisting of eight ships of the
line and a frigate, standing to sea off the road of Pondicherry. They
would have gladly eluded his pursuit, but he obtained the weather-gauge,
and sailed down upon them in order of battle. As it was now impossible
to escape without coming to action the French prepared for the
engagement, and fired on the _Elizabeth_, which happened to be within
musket-shot of the ship in their van. But this spirited attack was not
seconded with equal perseverance. In little more than ten minutes after
Admiral Pocock had displayed the signal for battle, M. d'Aché set his
fore-sail, and bore away, maintaining a running fight in a very
irregular line for nearly an hour. The whole squadron immediately
followed his example; and at two o'clock they cut away their boats,
crowded sail and put before the wind. They escaped by favour of the
night into the road of Pondicherry; but their fleet was so much damaged
that, in the beginning of September, their commodore sailed for the Isle
of Bourbon in order to refit, thus leaving the English admiral, whose
squadron had always been inferior to that of the French in number of
ships and men as well as in weight of metal, sovereign of the Indian

In the glorious '59 the French fleet, under M. d'Aché, was augmented to
eleven sail of the line, besides frigates and store-ships, an armament
hitherto unknown in the Indian seas. The English commander, however, no
sooner had intelligence of their arrival than he sailed to the coast of
Coromandel, and determined to pursue and give them battle,
notwithstanding the fact that the French had a superiority of one
hundred and ninety-two guns and two thousand three hundred and
sixty-five men, besides a great advantage in the size of their ships. On
the morning of September 2nd the French fleet were descried from the
mast-head. Admiral Pocock immediately threw out the signal for a general
chase; but, the wind abating, he could not approach near enough to
engage, though he crowded all the sail he could carry. At length they
totally disappeared, and the admiral stood for Pondicherry on a
supposition that they intended to sail thither. His conjecture was well
founded; for on September 8th he observed them standing to the
southward, and on the 10th, about two in the afternoon, M. d'Aché,
seeing no possibility of escaping, made the signal for battle. The
cannonading began without farther delay, and both squadrons engaged with
equal impetuosity; but the French directing their cannon at the masts
and rigging, while the English fired only at the hulls of the ships, the
former sustained such a loss of men, and found their vessels in so
shattered a condition that they were glad to sheer off with all their
canvas set. The loss on the side of the English was not inconsiderable,
there being five hundred and sixty-nine men killed and wounded; that on
the side of the French must have been far greater, as their ships could
hardly keep the sea, and they were obliged to make the best of their way
to the Island of Mauritius in order to be refitted. Soon after this
engagement Admiral Cornish arrived from England with four ships of the
line, and confirmed the dominion of the English over the Indian seas.


The year 1759 has been described as one of the most glorious years in
the history of England, a year during which "it was necessary to ask
every morning what new victory there was, for fear of missing one." The
early part of the year was, indeed, one of "magnanimous fear"--as Pitt
called it--for the French were known to be making unparalleled efforts
for the invasion of England with the proud hope of entire conquest, and
in Germany, in America, and in India, England was at war. Hostile fleets
were assembled at Havre, Brest, Dunkirk, and Toulon. The fleet at Havre
was an immediate menace to the English coasts; the Brest squadron was
destined for the invasion of Ireland, the ships at Dunkirk were
commissioned to harass Scotland, while it was hoped that the Toulon
fleet would supply reinforcements wherever needed. In France this naval
combination was regarded as irresistible.

But Pitt had aroused the national spirit, and aggressive reprisals were
adopted with enthusiasm. Admiral Rodney was entrusted with an attack
upon Havre, where a vast number of flat-bottomed boats with a quantity
of military stores of all kinds had been prepared to assist in the
projected invasion. On July 3rd he anchored in Havre roads. The French
commander had been forewarned of the English approach, and had made
ample preparations for resistance. Powerful batteries had been erected
all along the shore, and on both sides of the river's mouth; these were
garrisoned with several thousand men, who opened a heavy fire on the
squadron the moment it came within gunshot. The pilots proved wholly
ignorant of the place, but some of Rodney's captains worked all night in
taking soundings. The bombardment was continued without intermission for
two days and two nights. Nearly all the French transports and boats were
burnt, with all the warehouses containing the stores; and Havre itself
was so disabled as to be valueless as an arsenal during the remainder of
the war.

In August the Toulon fleet slipped through the Straits of Gibraltar,
with the intention of re-inforcing the Brest fleet; only, however, to be
vigorously attacked and decisively defeated by Admiral Boscawen, who
gave battle in Lagos Bay off the south coast of Portugal; meanwhile the
ships at Dunkirk were blockaded by Admiral Boyce.

In May, Admiral (afterwards Lord) Hawke was ordered to blockade the
Brest fleet. For six months the blockade lasted. The gales and the
difficulty of victualling the fleet governed the situation. When a
westerly gale sprang up, the French could not get out to sea from Brest;
but there was the great danger of some of the English ships being driven
on shore, and the question was "How to get the fleet into a place of
safety, like Plymouth or Torbay, and out again before the wind changed
and allowed the French to sail." It was like "a cat watching a mouse."
The difficulties of the commissariat may be estimated by a letter in
which Hawke wrote to the responsible officer at Plymouth: "The beer
brewed at your port is so excessively bad that it employs the whole of
the time of the squadron in surveying it and throwing it overboard.... A
quantity of bread will be returned to you; though not altogether unfit
for use, yet so full of weevils and maggots that it would have infected
all the bread come on board this day."

The fierce gales of November made Hawke's task of keeping a large fleet
in the Bay of Biscay one of supreme difficulty, and unusually wild
weather compelled him to run for shelter in Torbay. On the 14th the
storm abated, and De Conflans, seeing the coast clear, put to sea. The
same day Hawke left the shelter of the English coast; on the 16th he was
off Ushant. "On that afternoon," writes Dr. John Campbell, "several
English transports returning from Quiberon Bay passed through the fleet,
and informed the admiral that they had seen the French squadron on the
preceding day, standing to the south-east, and distant about
twenty-three leagues from Belle-Isle." The intelligence was received by
the whole British fleet with acclamations, and every ship prepared for
action. The wind also became favourable and every sail was spread to
catch the gale.

On the 20th, about half an hour after eight o'clock in the morning, the
_Maidstone_ frigate let fly her top-gallant sails, which was a signal
for discovering a fleet. About nine, Lord Howe, in the _Magnanime_, made
signal that they were enemies. Sir Edward Hawke immediately told his
officers that he did not intend to trouble himself with forming lines,
but would attack them in the old way, to make downright work with them;
and accordingly he threw out a signal for seven of his ships to chase,
in order to allure the enemy to fight.

As the British neared the French, the weather became squally and rough;
but Conflans in a very gallant style seemed to offer battle: his
courage, however, soon cooled, and long before the fleets were within
the range of shot, he changed his plan, and stood right before the wind
toward the shore. It was two in the afternoon before our headmost ships
could get up with his rear; but at that time the _Warspite_ and
_Dorsetshire_ began to fire.

The imagination can conceive nothing more sublime than the spectacle
which the hostile squadrons presented at this moment. A dreadful storm
darkened the face of the heavens; the sea was rolling in tremendous
waves which on all sides were dashing themselves into foam on
treacherous rocks and shallows unknown to the English pilots. In the
midst of these terrible circumstances, calculated, from the very majesty
of the physical power in action, to awe and intimidate, two adverse
navies, the greatest that had been employed in one of the greatest wars
in the annals of Europe, freighted with the fate, and worthy of being
intrusted with the glory of the rival nations, were preparing for

It was a moment as if nature had resolved to contrast the tameness of
physical terror with the grandeur of heroism, and to show how much more
sublime are the moral sentiments of a collected mind than all the awful
phenomena of the heavens darkened, and the ocean agitated by a tempest,
with the multifarious dangers of secret rocks and unknown shallows.

In the open sea Conflans might have hazarded a battle without the
imputation of temerity, as his fleet was equal in force to that of
Hawke, but like a prudent commander he endeavoured to avail himself of
all the advantages arising from the local knowledge of his pilots, who
were well acquainted with the navigation of the shallows. He directed
them to steer in such a manner as to decoy the English among the rocks.
But the very execution of this proceeding, which at the time was thought
disreputable to his character as a commander, required more time in
execution than the occasion allowed, and the British ships came up with
the French before they were well prepared for action.

At half an hour after two o'clock the British van opened fire on the
French rear. The _Formidable_, a French man-of-war, commanded by Admiral
de Verger, a man of great courage and noble determination, behaved in
the most heroic manner; broadside after broadside were poured into her
by the British as they sailed successively past towards the van of the
enemy; and she returned their fire with a promptitude that excited the
admiration of friends and foes.

In the meantime, the _Royal George_, with Hawke on board, was
approaching the _Soleil Royal_, which bore the flag of Conflans. Intent,
as it were, only on her prey, she passed on without heeding the shot of
the other ships. The sea was dashing over her bows, and as she came
rapidly nearer, she appeared as if she had been actuated by the
furiousness of rage. Her pilot, seeing the breakers foaming on every
side, told the admiral that he could not go farther, without the most
imminent danger from the shoals. "You have done your duty in pointing
out the danger," said Hawke, "but lay me alongside of the _Soleil
Royal_." The pilot bowed in obedience, and gave the necessary orders.

The _Superbe_, a French ship of seventy guns, perceiving what was
intended by the movements of the English admiral, generously interposed
between her commander and received the whole fatal broadside which the
_Royal George_ had intended for Monsieur Conflans. The thunder of the
explosion was succeeded by a wild shriek from all on board. The British
sailors gave a shout of triumph, which was instantly checked by a far
other feeling; for the smoke clearing away, only the masts of the
_Superbe_, with her colours still flying, were seen above the water, and
in a moment they were covered by a roll of the sea, and seen no more;
but the _Soleil Royal_ was spared; she escaped to the shore, where she
was afterwards burnt with disgrace.

About four in the afternoon, the _Formidable_, which had maintained the
whole battle with such heroic determination, struck her colours; but not
until after all her officers had been killed. The _Héros_, a
seventy-four, also struck, and the _Thésée_, of seventy guns, was sunk
like the _Superbe_.

Darkness coming on, the remainder of the enemy's fleet fled; seven ships
of the line hove their guns overboard, and ran into the River Villaine;
about as many more, in a shattered condition, escaped to other ports.
The wind blowing strong in shore, Hawke made the signal for anchoring to
the westward of the small island of Durnel. Here the fleet remained
during the night, and as the tempest continued to increase, the darkness
was occasionally broken by the flashes of cannon and the howl of the
wind; and the roar of the breakers was augmented in horror by the sound
of guns of distress. "This action, more memorable on account of the
terrific circumstances in which it was fought, than any other of equal
magnitude in the annals of heroic achievement," put an end to the naval
power of France for many years, and therefore, to all fear of invasion.
It, moreover, indicated the overwhelming superiority of the English

The capture of Goree in January, and of Guadaloupe in June, the victory
of Minden in August, and of Lagos in September, the capture of Quebec in
October, and the crowning victory of Quiberon Bay in November have
immortalised "the glorious fifty-nine" in English history.



George Brydges Rodney was born at Walton-on-Thames in the year 1718. His
father, Henry Rodney, was at the time of his son's birth commander of
the yacht in which the king, attended by the Duke of Chandos, used to
pass to and from Hanover; hence he was christened George and Brydges
after the king and the duke, who stood godfathers to him. He entered the
navy at fourteen years of age, and obtained command of a ship at
twenty-four. He was made governor of Newfoundland in 1749, and in 1759
admiral of the blue. This same year he distinguished himself by
destroying the stores prepared for the invasion of England at Havre de
Grace. In 1761 he served in the West Indies and was made a baronet. In
1768 he was elected member of parliament for Northampton; but the cost
of his election ruined him and he was obliged to seek a temporary asylum
on the Continent. While here he received overtures from the French
government, which he rejected; upon which the English government gave
him command of the Mediterranean squadron. The two principal victories
of his life were gained over the Spanish and French fleets in 1780 and
1782, in connection with his appointment to the West Indian squadron.

There were two naval objects which demanded the attention of the
ministry at the commencement of the year 1780, the relief of Gibraltar
and the protection of the West Indies. To secure both these Admiral
Rodney was appointed to command a fleet in the West Indies, and _en
route_ to convoy a large supply of provisions and stores to Gibraltar.
The admiral had been but a very few days at sea when he fell in with a
Spanish fleet, bound from St. Sebastian to Cadiz: it consisted of
fifteen sail of merchantmen under the protection of a fine new
sixty-four gun ship, four frigates, mounting from twenty-six to
thirty-two guns, and two smaller vessels; these ships of war belonged to
the Royal Company of the Caraccas, and had been assigned to the others
as a convoy. The whole fleet were captured; and on examining the cargoes
of the merchantmen, the capture was ascertained to be extremely
fortunate, as the greater part of them were laden with wheat, flour, and
other stores, which the admiral of course destined for Gibraltar. On
January 16th, about a week after this capture, he fell in with another
Spanish squadron, consisting of eleven ships of the line, under the
command of Don Juan Langara, off Cape St. Vincent. As the Spaniards,
being inferior in force and favoured by the wind, endeavoured to escape,
the British admiral changed the signal for a line of battle abreast to
that for a general chase, with orders to engage as the ships came up.
Night came on, but the pursuit was still continued, though the dangers
of a dark and tempestuous night were increased by the vicinity of the
shoals of St. Lucar. About four o'clock the headmost ships began to
engage. Early in the action the Spanish ship _St. Domingo_, of seventy
guns and seven hundred men, blew up, and all on board perished; the
English ship opposed to her nearly suffering the same fate. The
engagement did not terminate till two in the morning, when the
_Monarca_, the headmost of the enemy's fleet, struck to the _Sandwich_,
Admiral Rodney's own ship. Three others were also taken and carried
safely into port; among these was the _Phoenix_, of eighty guns, Don
Langara's ship. Two others had struck, but after the officers had been
taken out, they were driven on shore by the tempestuous weather, and one
of them was entirely lost. Two frigates and four ships of the line
escaped; of the latter, two were much damaged in the action. Our loss
amounted to thirty-two killed and one hundred and two wounded.

The convoy having been conducted safely to Gibraltar, and the
provisions and stores having been landed there, Admiral Digby, taking
under his charge the Spanish prizes and homeward bound transports,
sailed for England on February 15th, 1780; and Admiral Rodney, with the
remainder, proceeded to his station in the West Indies.

The great object of the French and Spanish forces in the West Islands at
this time was the reduction of Jamaica. Hitherto foiled in attaining
this object, they were in great hopes of being more successful in 1782.
In order to frustrate their design, soon after his arrival in England,
in the fall of the year 1781, Admiral Rodney was sent back to resume his
command in the West Indies, with a reinforcement of twelve sail of the
line. He sailed from the Channel in the month of January, 1782, and
arrived off the island of Barbadoes on the 19th of the following month.
Having formed a junction with Sir Samuel Hood he resolved to proceed
with his whole fleet to St. Lucia; the most convenient station for
watching the motions of the enemy. As soon as he arrived off this island
he ordered some of his frigates to cruise, for the purpose of giving him
the earliest intelligence of the movements of the enemy; and in the
meantime took on board provisions and water sufficient to last him for
five months.

The first object which Admiral Rodney had in view was to prevent, if
possible, the junction of the French and Spanish fleets, as he had
reason to believe that, if this junction were effected, Jamaica would
fall a prey to the enemy. The Spanish fleet at this time were to leeward
of the French.

On April 5th Admiral Rodney was informed that the French were embarking
troops on board their ships of war; and on the 8th of the same month, at
break of day, a signal was made from the _Andromache_ that their fleet
was coming out of Fort Royal and standing to the north-west. Admiral
Rodney immediately made the necessary signal for weighing anchor and
getting under weigh, and this was obeyed with so much promptitude and
alacrity that the whole British fleet, consisting of thirty-six sail of
the line, was clear off Grosislet Bay before noon. They proceeded, under
as much sail as they could carry, in pursuit of the enemy, so that
before daylight the next morning the French fleet was discovered under
the island of Dominica. At this time both fleets were becalmed; the
enemy got the breeze first, and taking advantage of it stood towards
Guadaloupe. The breeze next favoured the van of the English fleet, under
the command of Sir Samuel Hood, who stood after them with a press of
sail; all this while the rear and the centre of Admiral Rodney's fleet
were still becalmed. This circumstance, which to all appearance was
unfavourable to the English, proved in the issue highly advantageous to
them; for the Count de Grasse, who had determined to avoid an
engagement, and to press forward in order to effect a junction with the
Spanish fleet, perceiving the van of the English at a distance from, and
unsupported by, the rear and centre, was tempted to engage; so as soon
as Sir Samuel Hood's division came near enough the Count de Grasse bore
down upon him with his whole force. Sir Samuel Hood was not dispirited;
though at one period of this very unequal engagement his own ship, the
_Barfleur_, had seven of the enemy's ships firing upon her, and during
the greatest part of the action not less than three. The example of the
_Barfleur_ was followed by all the rest of the division, so that no
advantage could be obtained over them. At length part of the centre got
near enough to engage; and the breeze soon afterwards reaching the rear
of the British fleet, the Count de Grasse withdrew his ships, and having
the advantage of the wind was enabled to decline any further contest,
notwithstanding all the endeavours of Admiral Rodney to continue it.
During this partial engagement the _Royal Oak_ and the _Montague_, the
leading ships of the van, sustained considerable damage. Captain Boyne
of the _Alfred_ was killed. Two of the French ships were so disabled as
to be obliged to take shelter in Guadaloupe.

The British fleet lay to all the night after the action for the purpose
of repairing their damages, but the next morning made sail to the
windward in pursuit of the enemy. But the pursuit seemed in vain, for on
the morning of the 11th the French fleet had got so far to windward
that some of their ships were scarcely visible.

About noon on April 11th one of the enemy's ships was seen in a disabled
state, a great way to windward; Admiral Rodney now entertained hopes
that he should either be able to capture her or to bring on a general
engagement, if the Count de Grasse bore down to her support; he
therefore ordered a general chase. Towards evening, one of the leading
ships of the British approached so near the disabled ship of the enemy,
that her capture was inevitable if she were not assisted. The Count de
Grasse, perceiving her danger, bore down with his whole fleet for her
protection. Admiral Rodney had now gained his object; for by nightfall
the two fleets were very near each other: it was necessary, however, to
put off the engagement till the next day, April 12th. Still, however, as
during the night the French admiral might have drawn off his fleet,
Admiral Rodney took such measures as effectually prevented this from
taking place; so that when daylight broke he had the satisfaction to
perceive that the Count de Grasse, even if so inclined, could not avoid
a general engagement. The action was begun about half-past seven in the
morning of the 12th by Captain Penny, of the _Marlborough_, the leading
ship of the British van. The two fleets met on opposite tacks; the
British ranging slowly along--there being but little wind--and close
under the lee of the enemy's line, continuing a most tremendous fire,
which the French received and returned with the utmost firmness. About
noon, Sir George Rodney in the _Formidable_, having passed the _Ville de
Paris_, the French admiral's ship, and her second--and during her
passage directing against them a most tremendous and effective
fire--stood athwart the line of the enemy, between the second and third
ship astern of the _Ville de Paris_; she was immediately followed and
supported by the _Duke_, _Namur_, and _Canada_; and the rest imitated
their example. As soon as the _Formidable_ had broken the line she wore
round; and a signal being made for the van division to tack, the British
fleet thus gained the wind and stood upon the same tack with the enemy.
By this bold and masterly manoeuvre the French line was completely
broken and the whole thrown into confusion; the consequences were
decisively advantageous and glorious to the British; for though the
enemy still continued to fight with great gallantry, it was evident that
the victory was with Admiral Rodney. The action hitherto had been
chiefly supported by the van and centre of the British; for the rear
under Sir Samuel Hood being becalmed, did not for some time get into the
engagement; and when the breeze did spring up, it was so trifling that
Sir Samuel Hood, in the _Barfleur_, took an hour and a half to reach
that part of the enemy's line where it had been broken through by the
_Formidable_. During all this time, however, he kept up a tremendous and
well-directed fire.

As the French ships always carry a much larger complement of men than
the British, and as, moreover, at this time they had on board a great
number of troops, the carnage was extreme; notwithstanding this,
however, and the certainty that they must ultimately be beaten, the
Count de Grasse in the _Ville de Paris_ and the other ships in the
centre, withstood till the evening all the efforts of the various ships
that attacked him. Nor was the gallantry of the British inferior to that
of the French. Captain Cornwallis, of the _Canada_, especially
distinguished himself; for, having obliged the _Hector_, a ship of the
same force as his own, to strike her colours, he did not lose time by
taking possession of her, but leaving her in charge of a frigate pushed
on to the _Ville de Paris_, which he engaged for the space of two hours,
notwithstanding her great superiority, and left her a complete wreck.
The Count de Grasse, however, refused to surrender; and as it was
supposed that he would not yield to any vessel that did not carry an
admiral's flag, towards sunset Sir Samuel Hood poured from the
_Barfleur_ a most dreadful fire into the _Ville de Paris_. The Count de
Grasse bore it for about ten minutes, when he surrendered: at this time
there were only three men alive and unhurt on the upper deck, and of
this number the count himself was one. Besides the _Ville de Paris_ and
the _Hector_, the _Ardent_, of sixty-four guns, which had been captured
in the British Channel, was re-taken; the _Cæsar_ and the _Glorieux_, of
seventy-four guns each, also surrendered after they were made complete
wrecks. The _Diadem_, early in the engagement, bore up to assist in
protecting the _Ville de Paris_ from the _Formidable_, but by a single
broadside from the latter she was sunk.

Night, which must have been ardently wished for by the French, now came
on; when the British admiral made the signal for his fleet to bring to,
in order that he might secure his prizes. In the course of this night
the _Cæsar_, one of the prizes, blew up by accident; and a British
lieutenant and fifty seamen, with about four hundred prisoners,

The _Ville de Paris_ was the most important of the prizes; she was the
largest ship in the French king's service. She had been a present from
the city of Paris to Louis XV., and no expense had been spared to render
the gift worthy of the city and of the monarch; the expense of building
her and fitting her for sea is said to have been one hundred and
fifty-six thousand pounds. On board of her there were, at the time of
her capture, thirty-six chests of money, intended for the pay and
subsistence of the men who were to have been employed in the expedition
against Jamaica: in the other captured ships the whole train of
artillery and the battering cannon, and travelling carriages meant for
that expedition, were also found.

The loss of men in the British fleet in both actions, on April the 9th
and 12th, was very small, amounting only to two hundred and thirty-seven
killed and seven hundred and seventy-six wounded. The loss of the French
is computed to have been three thousand slain and more than double that
number wounded. In the _Ville de Paris_ alone upwards of three hundred
men were killed; and several other of the captured ships lost between
two or three hundred.

Two sail of the line and three frigates were captured the following day,
so that the total loss of the enemy amounted to eight sail of the line
and two frigates; six of which were in possession of the British, one
sunk and another blown up. The Count de Grasse was sent prisoner to

After his success, Sir Samuel Hood joined Admiral Rodney, who proceeded
to Jamaica with his prizes; leaving Sir Samuel with twenty-five sail of
the line to keep the sea and watch the motions of the enemy.

Admiral Pigot, having arrived from England to succeed Sir George Rodney
on the West India station, the latter sailed from Jamaica in the
beginning of August. The news of his victory gave great and universal
joy in Great Britain, and the admiral was created an English peer, and a
pension of £2,000 a year was conferred upon him. Sir Samuel Hood was
created an Irish peer.

Lord Rodney died in 1792, and a memorial was erected to his memory in
St. Paul's Cathedral by public subscription.

                 THE NORE. (_See page 361._)]



Admiral (afterwards Lord) Graves having requested leave to return to
England in 1782, was appointed by Lord Rodney to command the convoy sent
home with a numerous fleet of merchantmen from the West Indies in the
month of July. He accordingly hoisted the flag on board the _Ramilies_,
of seventy-four guns, and sailed on the 25th from Bluefields, having
under his orders the _Canada_ and _Centaur_, of seventy-four guns each,
with the _Pallas_ frigate of thirty-six guns, and the following French
ships taken by Lord Rodney and Sir Samuel Hood, out of the armament
commanded by the Count de Grasse, viz., the _Ville de Paris_, of one
hundred and ten guns; the _Glorieux_ and _Hector_, of seventy-four guns
each; the _Ardent_, _Caton_, and _Jason_, of sixty-four guns each. These
were originally British ships and had been in so many actions and so
long absent from England, as to have become extremely out of condition,
while that of the prizes was still more deplorable; and the following
authentic account of the various disasters which attended this
distressed convoy will be found equally melancholy and interesting.

Soon after the fleet had sailed, the officers of the _Ardent_ united in
signing such a representation of her miserable plight as induced Admiral
Graves to order her back to Port Royal; and the _Jason_ by not putting
to sea with the convoy, from the want of water, never joined him at all.
The rest proceeded, and after the vessels that were bound for New York
had separated, the whole convoy was reduced to ninety-two or three sail.

On September 8th, the _Caton_ springing a leak, made such alarming
complaints, that the admiral directed her and the _Pallas_, which had
also become leaky, to bear away immediately and keep company together,
making for Halifax, which then bore north-north-west and was about
eighty-seven leagues distant.

The afternoon of September 16th, showing indications of a gale and foul
weather from the south-east quarter, every preparation was made on board
the flag ship for such an event, not only on account of her own safety,
but also by way of example to the rest of the fleet. The admiral
collected the ships about six o'clock, and brought to under his main
sail on the larboard tack, having all his other sails furled, and his
top-gallant yards and masts lowered down.

The wind soon increasing, blew strongly from the east-south-east with a
very heavy sea, and about three o'clock in the morning of the 17th flew
suddenly round to the contrary point, blowing most tremendously, and
accompanied with rain, thunder, and lightning; the _Ramilies_ was taken
by the lee, her main sail thrown aback, her main mast went by the board,
and her mizen mast half way up; the foretop mast fell over the starboard
bow, the foreyard broke in the slings, the tiller snapped in two, and
the rudder was nearly torn off. Thus was this capital ship, from being
in perfect order, reduced within a few minutes to a mere wreck, by the
fury of the blast and the violence of the sea, which acted in opposition
to each other. The ship was pooped, the cabin, where the admiral lay,
was flooded, his cot bed jerked down by the violence of the shock and
the ship's instantaneous revulsion, so that he was obliged to pull on
his boots half-leg deep in water, without any stockings, to huddle on
his wet clothes, and repair upon deck. On his first coming hither, he
ordered two of the lieutenants to examine into the state of the affairs
below, and to keep a sufficient number of people at the pumps, while he
himself and the captain kept the deck, to encourage the men to clear
away the wreck, which by its constant swinging backwards and forwards by
every wave against the body of the ship, had beaten off much of the
copper from the starboard side, and exposed the seams so much to the sea
that the decayed oakum washed out, and the whole frame became at once
exceedingly porous and leaky.

At dawn of day they perceived a large ship under their lee, lying upon
her side, water-logged, her hands attempting to wear her by first
cutting away the mizen mast, and then main mast: hoisting her ensign,
with the union downwards, in order to draw the attention of the fleet;
but to no purpose, for no succour could be given, and she very soon went
down head foremost, the fly of her ensign being the last thing visible.
This was the _Dutton_, formerly an Indiaman, and then a store ship,
commanded by a lieutenant of the navy, who in his agitation leaped from
her deck into the sea; but, as might be expected, was very soon
overwhelmed by the billows. Twelve or thirteen of the crew contrived,
however, to slip off with one of the boats, and running with the wind,
endeavoured to reach a large ship before them, failing in which,
however, and afraid of filling if they attempted to haul up for that
purpose, they made up for another ship more to the leeward, who,
fortunately descrying them, threw a number of ropes, by the help of
which these desperate fellows scrambled up her sides and fortunately
saved their lives. Out of ninety-four or ninety-five sail seen the day
before scarcely twenty could now be counted; of the ships of war there
were discovered the _Canada_ half hull down upon the lee quarter, having
her main-top mast and mizen mast gone, the main top damaged, the main
yard aloft, and the main sail furled. The _Centaur_ was far to windward,
without masts, bowsprit or rudder; and the _Glorieux_ without fore mast,
bowsprit, or main-top mast. Of these the two latter perished with all
their crews, excepting the captain of the _Centaur_ and a few of his
people, who contrived to slip off her stern into one of the boats
unnoticed, and thus escaped the fate of the rest.

The _Ville de Paris_ appeared to have received no injury, and was
commanded by a most experienced seaman, who had made twenty-four voyages
to and from the West Indies, and had, therefore, been pitched upon to
lead the ship through the Gulf; nevertheless, she was afterwards buried
in the ocean with all on board her, consisting of above eight hundred
people. Of the convoy, besides the _Dutton_ before mentioned and the
_British Queen_, seven others were discovered without mast or bowsprit;
eighteen lost masts, and several others had actually foundered.

In the course of this day the _Canada_ crossed upon and passed the
_Ramilies_. Some of the trade attempted to follow the _Canada_, but she
ran at such a rate that they soon found it to be in vain, and then
returned to the flag ship. The _Ramilies_ had at this time six feet of
water in her hold, and the pumps would not free her, the water having
worked out the oakum, and her beams amid ship being almost drawn from
her clamps.

The admiral therefore gave orders for all the buckets to be manned, and
every officer to help towards freeing the ship; the mizen-top sail was
set upon the fore mast, the main top-gallant sail on the stump of the
mizen mast, and the tiller shipped. In this condition, by bearing away,
she scudded on at so good a rate that she held pace with some of the

The day having been spent in baling and pumping, with materially gaining
on the water, the captain, in the name of the officers, represented to
the admiral the necessity of parting with the guns for the relief of the
ship; but he objected that there would then be left no protection for
the convoy. At length, however, he consented to their disposing of the
fore castle and aftermost quarter-deck guns, together with some of the
shot, and other articles of very great weight. The ensuing night was
employed in baling and endeavouring to make the pumps useful, for the
ballast, by getting into the well, had choked and rendered them useless,
and the chains had broken as often as they were repaired. The water had
risen to seven feet in the hold. The wind from the eastward drove a vast
sea before it, and the ship, being old, strained most violently.

On the morning of the 18th nothing could be seen of the _Canada_, she
having pushed on at her greatest speed for England. The frame of the
_Ramilies_ having opened during the night, the admiral was prevailed
upon, by the renewed and pressing remonstrances of his officers,
although with great reluctance, to let six of the forwardmost and four
of the aftermost guns of the main deck be thrown overboard, together
with the remainder of those on the quarter-deck; and the ships still
continuing to open very much, he ordered tarred canvas and hides to be
nailed fore and aft from under the sills of the ports on the main deck
under the fifth plank above, or within the water ways; and the crew,
without orders, did the same on the lower deck. Her increasing
complaints required still more to be done. The admiral directed all the
guns on the upper deck, the shot, both on that and the lower deck, and
various heavy stores, to be thrown overboard; a leakage in the
light-room of the grand magazine having almost filled the ship forward,
and there being eight feet of water in the magazine, every gentleman was
compelled to take his turn at the whips or in handing the buckets. The
ship was besides frapped from the fore mast to the main mast.

Notwithstanding their utmost efforts the water still gained on them the
succeeding night, and the wind blowing very hard, with extremely heavy
squalls, a part of the orlop deck fell into the hold: the ship herself
seemed to work excessively, and to settle forward.

On the morning of the 19th, under these very alarming circumstances, the
admiral commanded both the bower anchors to be cut away, all the junk to
be flung overboard, one sheet and one bower cable to be reduced to junk
and served the same way, together with every remaining ponderous store
that could be got at, and all the powder in the grand magazine (it being
damaged); the cutter and pinnace to be broken up and tossed overboard,
the skids having already worked off the side. Every soul on board was
now employed in baling. One of the pumps was got up; but to no purpose,
for the shot lockers being broken down, some of the shot, as well as the
ballast, had fallen into the well; and as the weather moderated a
little everything was made ready for heaving the lower-deck guns into
the sea, the admiral being anxious to leave nothing undone for the
relief of the ship.

When evening approached, there being twenty merchant ships in sight, the
officers united in beseeching him to go into one of them; but this he
positively refused to do, deeming it, as he declared, unpardonable in a
commander-in-chief to desert his garrison in distress; that his living a
few years longer was of very little consequence, but that, by leaving
his ship at such a time, he should discourage and slacken the exertions
of the people by setting them a very bad example. The wind lulling
somewhat during the night, all hands baled the water, which, at this
time, was six feet fore and aft.

On the morning of the 20th the admiral ordered the square and
stream-anchors to be cut away, and within the course of the day all the
lower-deck guns to be thrown overboard. When evening came the spirits of
the people in general, and even of the most courageous, began to fail,
and they openly expressed the utmost despair, together with the most
earnest desire of quitting the ship, lest they should founder in her.
The admiral hereupon advanced and told them that he and their officers
had an equal regard for their own lives, that the officers had no
intention of deserting either them or the ship, that, for his part, he
was determined to try one night more in her; he therefore hoped and
entreated they would do so too, for there was still room to imagine that
one fair day, with a moderate sea, might enable them, by united
exertion, to clear and secure the well against the encroaching ballast
which washed into it; that if this could be done they might be able to
restore the chains to the pumps and use them, and that then hands enough
might be spared to raise jury masts, with which they might carry the
ship into Ireland; that her appearance alone, while she could swim,
would be sufficient to protect the remaining part of her convoy; above
all, that as everything that could be thought of had now been done for
her relief, it would be but reasonable to wait the effect. He concluded
with assuring them that he would make the signal directly for the trade
to lie by them during the night, which he doubted not they would comply

This temperate speech had the desired effect; the firmness and
confidence with which he spoke, and their reliance on his seamanship and
judgment, as well as his constant presence and attention to every
accident, had a wonderful effect upon them; they became pacified,
returning to their duty and their labours. Since the first disaster, the
admiral had, in fact, scarcely ever quitted the deck; this they had all
observed, together with his diligence in personally inspecting every
circumstance of distress. Knowing his skill and experience, they placed
great confidence in them; and he instantly made, according to his
promise, a signal for all the merchantmen.

At this period, it must be confessed, there was great reason for alarm,
and but little for hope; for all the anchors and guns, excepting one,
together with every other matter of weight, had been thrown overboard,
and yet the ship did not seem to be at all relieved. The strength of the
people was likewise so nearly exhausted, having had no sleep since the
first fatal stroke, that one half of the crew were ordered to bale, and
the other to repose; so that, although the wind was much abated, the
water still gained upon them, in spite of all their efforts, and the
ship rolled and worked prodigiously in a most unquiet sea.

At three in the morning of the 21st, being the fourth night, the well
being broken in, the casks, ballast, and remaining shot rushed together
and destroyed the cylinder of the pumps; the frame and carcase of the
ship began to give way in every part, and the whole crew exclaimed that
it was impossible to keep her any longer above water.

In this extremity the admiral resolved within himself not to lose a
moment in removing the people whenever daylight should arrive; but told
the captain not to communicate any more of his design than that he
intended to remove the sick and lame at daybreak, and for this purpose
he should call on board all the boats of the merchantmen. He,
nevertheless gave private orders to the captain, while this was doing,
to have all the bread brought upon the quarter-deck, with a quantity of
beef, pork, and flour, to settle the best distributing of the people
according to the number of trade ships that should obey their signal,
and to allow an officer to each division of them; to have the remaining
boats launched, and as soon as the sick were disposed of, to begin to
remove the whole of the crew, with the utmost dispatch, but without
risking too many in a boat.

Accordingly, at dawn, the signal was made for the boats of the
merchantmen, but nobody suspected what was to follow, until the bread
was entirely removed and the sick gone. About six o'clock the rest of
the crew were permitted to go off, and between nine and ten, there being
nothing farther to direct and regulate, the admiral himself, after
shaking hands with every officer, and leaving his barge for their better
accommodation and transport, quitted for ever the _Ramilies_ which had
then nine feet of water in her hold. He went into a small leaky boat,
loaded with bread, out of which both himself and the surgeon who
accompanied him were obliged to bale the water all the way. He was in
his boots, with his surtout over his uniform, and his countenance as
calm and composed as ever. He had, at the going off, desired a cloak, a
cask of flour, and a cask of water, but could get only the flour; and he
left behind all his stock, wines, furniture, books, charts, etc., which
had cost him upwards of one thousand pounds, being unwilling to employ
even a single servant in saving or packing up what belonged to himself
alone, in a time of such general calamity, or to appear to fare better
in that respect than any of the crew.

The admiral rowed for the _Belle_, Captain Forster, being the first of
the traders that had borne up to the _Ramilies_ the preceding night in
her imminent distress, and by his anxious humanity set such an example
to his brother-traders as had a powerful influence upon them--an
influence that was generally followed by sixteen others.

By three o'clock most of the crew were taken out, at which time the
_Ramilies_ had thirteen feet of water in her hold, and was evidently
foundering in every part. At half-past four the captain and first and
third lieutenants left her, with every soul excepting the fourth
lieutenant, who stayed behind only to execute the admiral's orders for
setting fire to her wreck when finally deserted. The carcase burned
rapidly, and the flame quickly reaching the powder, which was filled in
the after magazine, and had been lodged very high, in thirty-five
minutes the decks and upper works blew up with a horrid explosion and
cloud of smoke, while the lower part of the hull was precipitated to the
bottom of the ocean.

At this time the admiral, in the _Belle_, stood for the wreck to see his
last orders executed, as well as to succour any boats that might be too
full of men, the swell of the sea being prodigious, although the weather
had been moderate ever since noon of the foregoing day. There were,
however, at intervals, some squalls, with threats of the weather soon
becoming violent. It was not long before they were realised, for within
two hours after the last of the crew were put on board their respective
ships, the wind rose to a great height, and so continued, without
intermission, for six or seven successive days, so that no boat could,
during that time, have lived in the water. On such a small interval
depended the salvation of more than six hundred lives!

Upon their separation taking place, the officers who were distributed
with portions of the crew among the _Jamaica_ men, had orders
respectively to deliver them to the first man of war or tender they
should meet with, and to acquaint the Secretary of the Admiralty by the
earliest opportunity of their proceedings. A pendant was hoisted on
board the _Belle_, by way of distinction that she might, if possible,
lead the rest. Some of the traders kept with her, and others made the
best of their way, apprehensive lest they should soon fall short of
provisions, as they had so many more to feed.

The _Silver Eel_ transport, which had sailed from Bluefields with the
invalids of Sir George Rodney's fleet, and was under the command of a
lieutenant of the navy, had been ordered to keep near the _Ramilies_.
That ship was accordingly at hand on September 21st, the day of her
destruction, and in consequence of several deaths on the passage, had
room enough for the reception of all those that were now ailing or
maimed, and was consequently charged with them, being first properly
fitted for their accommodation.

The _Silver Eel_ parted from the admiral in latitude 42° 48´ N. and
longitude 45° 19´ W.; after seeing the _Ramilies_ demolished, and being
ordered to make for the first port, ran into Falmouth, October 6th, on
the afternoon of which day one of the trade ships, with a midshipman and
sixteen of the crew of the _Ramilies_, reached Plymouth Sound. Another
of the same convoy having on board another portion of the crew, with the
captain and first lieutenant, anchored in the same place before daylight
the next morning. The _Canada_, however, having exerted her utmost
speed, had, prior to all these, on the 4th of the same month got to
Portsmouth, where she spread the news of the dispersion of this
miserable fleet, which being conveyed to France, her privateers
immediately put to sea in hopes of making prize of them. Some of the
_Jamaica_ men, with part of the crew of the _Ramilies_, fell in
consequence into their hands; two of the _West India_ men were captured
in sight of the _Belle_, but she herself, with the admiral and
thirty-three of his crew, arrived safe, though singly, on October 10th,
in Cork Harbour, where was the _Myrmidon_ frigate. The admiral
immediately hoisted his flag on board the latter, and sailing with the
first fair wind, arrived, on the 17th, in Plymouth Sound.



The storm which proved fatal to the _Ramilies_ was responsible for the
loss of many other ships in the same convoy, among which was the
_Centaur_ of seventy-four guns, whose commander, Captain Inglefield,
with the master and ten of the crew, providentially escaped the general
fate. The captain's narrative affords the best explanation of the manner
and means by which this signal deliverance was effected.

"The _Centaur_" (says Captain Inglefield) "left Jamaica in rather a
leaky condition, keeping two hand pumps going, and, when it blew fresh,
sometimes a spell with a chain pump was necessary. But I had no
apprehension that the ship was not able to encounter a common gale of

"In the evening of September 16th, when the fatal gale came on, the ship
was prepared for the worst weather usually met in those latitudes, the
main sail was reefed and set, the top-gallant masts struck, and the
mizen yard lowered down, though at that time it did not blow very
strong. Towards midnight it blew a gale of wind, and the ship made so
much water that I was obliged to turn all hands up to spell the pumps.
The leak still increasing, I had thoughts to try the ship before the
sea. Happy I should have been, perhaps, had I in this been determined.
The impropriety of leaving the convoy, except in the last extremity, and
the hopes of the weather growing moderate, weighed against the opinion
that it was right.

"About two in the morning the wind lulled, and we flattered ourselves
the gale was breaking. Soon after we had much thunder and lightning from
the south-east, with rain, when it began to blow strong in gusts of
wind, which obliged me to haul the main sail up, the ship being then
under bare poles. This was scarcely done, when a gust of wind, exceeding
in violence anything of the kind I had ever seen or had any conception
of, laid the ship on her beam ends. The water forsook the hold and
appeared between decks, so as to fill the men's hammocks to leeward: the
ship lay motionless, and to all appearance irrecoverably overset. The
water increasing fast, forced through the cells of the ports, and
scuttled in the ports from the pressure of the ship. I gave immediate
directions to cut away the main and mizen mast, hoping when the ship
righted to wear her. The main mast went first, upon cutting one or two
of the lanyards, without the smallest effect on the ship; the mizen mast
followed, upon cutting the lanyard of one shroud; and I had the
disappointment to see the foremast and bowsprit follow. The ship upon
this immediately righted, but with great violence; and the motion was so
quick, that it was difficult for the people to work the pumps. Three
guns broke loose upon the main deck, and it was some time before they
were secured. Several men being maimed in this attempt, everything
movable was destroyed, either from the shot thrown loose from the
lockers, or the wreck of the deck. The officers, who had left their beds
naked, when the ship overset in the morning, had not an article of
clothes to put on, nor could their friends supply them.

"The masts had not been over the sides ten minutes before I was informed
the tiller was broken short in the rudder head; and before the chocks
could be placed the rudder itself was gone. Thus we were as much
disastered as it was possible, lying at the mercy of the wind and sea;
yet I had one comfort, that the pumps, if anything, reduced the water in
the hold; and as the morning came on (the 17th) the weather grew more
moderate, the wind having shifted in the gale to north-west.

"At daylight I saw two line-of-battle ships to leeward; one had lost
her fore mast and bowsprit, the other her main mast. It was the general
opinion on board the _Centaur_ that the former was the _Canada_, the
other the _Glorieux_. The _Ramilies_ was not in sight, nor more than
fifteen sail of merchant ships.

"About seven in the morning I saw another line-of-battle ship ahead of
us, which I soon distinguished to be the _Ville de Paris_, with all her
masts standing. I immediately gave orders to make the signal of
distress, hoisting the ensign on the stump of the mizen mast, union
downwards, and firing one of the forecastle guns. The ensign blew away
soon after it was hoisted, and it was the only one we had; but I had the
satisfaction to see the _Ville de Paris_ wear and stand towards us.
Several of the merchant ships also approached us, and those that could
hailed, and offered their assistance; but depending upon the king's
ship, I only thanked them, desiring, if they joined Admiral Graves, to
acquaint him of our condition. I had not the smallest doubt but the
_Ville de Paris_ was coming to us, as she appeared to us to have
suffered the least by the storm, and having seen her wear, we knew she
was under government of her helm; at this time, also, it was so moderate
that the merchantmen set their top-sails; but approaching within two
miles she passed us to windward: this being observed by one of the
merchant ships she wore and came under our stern, offering to carry any
message to her. I desired the master would acquaint Captain Wilkinson
that the _Centaur_ had lost her rudder as well as her masts, that she
made a great deal of water, and that I desired he would remain with her
until the weather grew moderate. I saw this merchantman approach
afterwards near enough to speak to the _Ville de Paris_, but am afraid
that her condition was much worse than it appeared to be, as she
continued upon the tack. In the meantime all the quarter-deck guns were
thrown overboard, and all but six which had overset on the main deck.
The ship, lying in the trough of the sea, laboured prodigiously. I got
over one of the small anchors, with a boom and several gun carriages,
veering out from the head door by a large hawser, to keep the ship's bow
to the sea; but this, with a top-gallant sail upon the stump of the
mizen mast, had not the desired effect.

"As the evening came on it grew hazy, and blew strong in squalls. We
lost sight of the _Ville de Paris_, but I thought it a certainty that we
should see her the next morning. The night was passed in constant labour
at the pumps. Sometimes the wind lulled, the water diminished; when it
blew strong again, the sea rising, the water again increased.

"Towards the morning of the 18th I was informed there was seven feet
water upon the kelson; that one of the winches was broken, that the two
spare ones would not fit, and that the hand pumps were choked. These
circumstances were sufficiently alarming; but upon opening the after
hold, to get some rum up for the people, we found our condition much
more so.

"It will be necessary to mention that the _Centaur's_ after hold was
inclosed by a bulk head at the after part of the well: here all the dry
provisions and the ship's rum were stowed upon twenty chaldron of coals,
which unfortunately had been started on this part of the ship, and by
them the pumps were continually choked. The chain pumps were so much
worn as to be of little use; and the leathers, which, had the well been
clear, would have lasted twenty days or more, were all consumed in
eight. At this time it was observed that the water had not a passage to
the well, for here there was so much that it washed against the orlop
deck. All the rum--twenty-six puncheons--all the provisions, of which
there was sufficient for two months, in casks, were staved, having
floated with violence from side to side until there was not a whole cask
remaining; even the staves that were found upon clearing the hold were
most of them broken in two or three pieces. In the fore hold we had a
prospect of perishing; should the ship swim, we had no water but what
remained in the ground tier, and over this all the wet provisions and
butts filled with salt water were floating, and with so much motion that
no man could with safety go into the hold. There was nothing left for us
to try but baling with buckets at the fore hatchway and fish-room; and
twelve large canvas buckets were immediately employed at each. On
opening the fish-room, we were so fortunate as to discover that two
puncheons of rum, which belonged to me, had escaped. They were
immediately got up and served out at times in drams; and had it not been
for this relief, and some lime juice, the people would have dropped.

"We soon found our account in baling; the spare pump had been put down
the fore hatchway, and a pump shifted to the fish-room; but the motion
of the ship had washed the coals so small that they reached every part
of the ship, and the pumps were soon choked. However, the water by noon
had considerably diminished by working the buckets; but there appeared
no prospect of saving the ship if the gale continued. The labour was too
great to hold out without water: yet the people worked without a murmur,
and indeed with cheerfulness.

"At this time the weather was more moderate, and a couple of spars were
got ready for shears to set up a jury fore mast; but as the evening came
on the gale again increased. We had seen nothing this day but the ship
that had lost her main mast, and she appeared to be as much in want of
assistance as ourselves, having fired guns of distress; and before night
I was told her fore mast was gone.

"The _Centaur_ laboured so much that I had scarcely a hope she could
swim till morning. However, by great exertion with the chain pumps and
baling, we held our own; but our sufferings for want of water were very
great, and many of the people could not be restrained from drinking salt

"At daylight (the 11th) there was no vessel in sight; and flashes from
guns having been seen in the night, we feared the ship we had seen the
preceding day had foundered. Towards ten o'clock in the forenoon the
weather grew more moderate, the water diminished in the hold, and the
people were encouraged to redouble their efforts to get the water low
enough to break a cask of fresh water out of the ground tier; and some
of the most resolute of the seamen were employed in the attempt. At
noon we succeeded with one cask, which, though little, was a seasonable
relief. All the officers, passengers, and boys, who were not of the
profession of seamen, had been employed in thrumming a sail, which was
passed under the ship's bottom, and I thought had some effect. The
shears were raised for the fore mast; the weather looked promising, the
sea fell, and at night we were able to relieve at the pumps and baling
every two hours. By the morning of the 20th the fore hold was cleared of
the water, and we had the comfortable promise of a fine day. It proved
so, and I was determined to make use of it with all possible exertion. I
divided the ship's company, with officers attending them, into parties,
to raise the jury fore-mast; to heave over the lower-deck guns; to clear
the wreck of the fore and after holds; to prepare the machine for
steering the ship, and to work the pumps. By night the after hold was as
clear as when the ship was launched; for, to our astonishment, there was
not a shovel of coals remaining, twenty chaldrons having been pumped out
since the commencement of the gale. What I have called the wreck of the
hold was the bulkheads of the after hold, fish-room, and spirit-rooms.
The standards of the cockpit, an immense quantity of staves and wood,
and part of the lining of the ship were thrown overboard, that if the
water should again appear in the hold we might have no impediment in
baling. All the guns were overboard, the fore mast secured, and the
machine, which was to be similar to that with which the _Ipswich_ was
steered, was in great forwardness; so that I was in hopes, the moderate
weather continuing, that I should be able to steer the ship by noon the
following day, and at least save the people on some of the western
islands. Had we had any other ship in company with us, I should have
thought it my duty to have quitted the _Centaur_ this day.

"This night the people got some rest by relieving the watches; but in
the morning of the 21st we had the mortification to find that the
weather again threatened, and by noon it blew a storm. The ship laboured
greatly and the water appeared in the fore and after hold, and
increased. The carpenter also informed me that the leathers were nearly
consumed; and likewise, that the chains of the pumps, by constant
exertion and the friction of the coals, were considered as nearly

"As we had now no other resource but baling, I gave orders that scuttles
should be cut through the deck to introduce more buckets into the hold,
and all the sail-makers were employed, night and day, in making canvas
buckets; and the orlop deck having fallen in on the larboard side, I
ordered the sheet cable to be tossed overboard. The wind at this time
was at west, and being on the larboard tack, many schemes had been
practised to wear the ship, that we might drive into a less boisterous
latitude, as well as approach the western islands; but none succeeded;
and having a weak carpenter's crew they were hardly sufficient to attend
the pumps, so that we could not make any progress with the steering
machine. Another sail had been thrummed and got over, but we did not
find its use; indeed, there was no prospect but in a change of weather.
A large leak had been discovered and stopped in the fore hold, but the
ship appeared so weak from her labouring that it was clear she could not
last long. The after cockpit had fallen in, the fore cockpit the same,
with all the store-rooms down: the stern post was so loose that, as the
ship rolled, the water rushed in on either side in great streams, which
we could not stop.

"Night came on, with the same dreary prospect as that of the preceding
day, and was passed in continual labour. Morning came (the 22nd) without
our seeing anything, or any change of weather, and the day was spent
with the same struggles to keep the ship above water, pumping and baling
at the hatchways and scuttles. Towards night another of the chain pumps
was rendered quite useless, by one of the rollers being displaced at the
bottom of the pump, and this was without remedy, there being too much
water in the well to get to it; we also had but six leathers remaining,
so that the fate of the ship was not far off. Still the labour went on
without any apparent despair, every officer taking his share of it, and
the people always cheerful and obedient.

"During the night the water increased, but about seven in the morning of
the 23rd I was informed that an unusual quantity of water appeared, all
at once, in the fire hold, which, upon my going forward to be convinced,
I found but too true; the stowage of the hold ground tier was all in
motion, so that in a short time there was not a whole cask to be seen.
We were convinced the ship had sprung a fresh leak. Another sail had
been thrumming all night, and I was giving directions to place it over
the bows, when I perceived the ship settling by the head, the lower-deck
bow ports being even with the water.

"At this period the carpenter acquainted me the well was staved in,
destroyed by the wreck of the hold, and the chain pumps displaced and
totally useless. There was nothing left but to redouble our efforts in
baling, but it became difficult to fill the buckets, from the quantity
of staves, planks, anchor stocks, and yard-arm pieces which were now
washed from the wings and floating from side to side with the motion of
the ship. The people, till this period, had laboured, as if determined
to conquer their difficulties, without a murmur or without a tear; but
now, seeing their efforts useless, many of them burst into tears, and
wept like children.

"I gave orders for the anchors, of which we had two remaining, to be
thrown overboard, one of which (the spare anchor) had been most
surprisingly hove in upon the forecastle and midships when the ship had
been upon her beam-ends, and gone through the deck.

"Every time that I visited the hatchway I observed the water increased,
and at noon washed even with the orlop deck; the carpenter assured me
the ship could not swim long, and proposed making rafts to float the
ship's company, whom it was not in my power to encourage any longer with
a prospect of their safety. Some appeared perfectly resigned, went to
their hammocks, and desired their messmates to lash them in; others were
lashing themselves to gratings and small rafts: but the most
predominant idea was that of putting on their best and cleanest clothes.

"The weather, about noon, had been something moderate, and as rafts had
been mentioned by the carpenter, I thought it right to make the attempt,
though I knew our booms could not float half the ship's company in fine
weather; but we were in a situation to catch at a straw. I therefore
called the ship's company together, told them my intention, recommending
them to remain regular and obedient to their officers. Preparations were
immediately made for this purpose; the booms were cleared; the boats, of
which we had three, viz., cutter, pinnace, and five-oared yawl, were got
over the side; a bag of bread was ordered to be put in each, and any
liquors that could be got at, for the purpose of supplying the rafts. I
had intended myself to go in the five-oared yawl, and the coxswain was
desired to get anything from my steward that might be useful. Two men,
captains of the tops of the forecastle, or quarter-masters, were placed
in each of them, to prevent any person from forcing the boats or getting
into them till an arrangement was made. While these preparations were
making, the ship was gradually sinking, the orlop decks having been
blown up by the water in the hold, and the cables floated to the
gun-deck. The men had for some time quitted their employment of baling,
and the ship was left to her fate.

"In the afternoon the weather again threatened, and blew strong in
squalls, the sea ran high, and one of the boats (the yawl) was staved
alongside and sunk. As the evening approached the ship appeared little
more than suspended in water. There was no certainty that she would swim
from one minute to another; and the love of life began now to level all
distinctions. It was impossible, indeed, for any man to deceive himself
with a hope of being saved upon a raft in such a sea; besides that, the
ship in sinking, it was probable, would carry everything down with her
in a vortex, to a certain destruction.

"It was near five o'clock, when, coming from my cabin, I observed a
number of people looking very anxiously over the side, and looking
myself, I saw that several men had forced the pinnace and that more were
attempting to get in. I had immediate thoughts of securing this boat
before she might be sunk by numbers. There appeared not more than a
moment for consideration; to remain and perish with the ship's company,
to whom I could not be of use any longer, or seize the opportunity,
which was the only way of escaping, and leave the people, with whom I
had been so well satisfied on a variety of occasions that I thought I
could give my life to preserve them--this, indeed, was a painful
conflict, such as, I believe, no man can describe, nor any have a just
idea of who have not been in a similar situation.

"The love of life prevailed. I called to Mr. Rainy, the master, the only
officer upon deck, desired him to follow me, and immediately descended
into the boat, at the after-part of the chains; but not without great
difficulty got the boat clear of the ship, twice the number that the
boat would carry pushing to get in, and many jumping into the water. Mr.
Baylis, a young gentleman fifteen years of age, leaped from the chains
after the boat had got off, and was taken in. The boat falling astern,
became exposed to the sea, and we endeavoured to pull her bow round to
keep her to the break of the sea, and to pass to windward of the ship;
but in the attempts she was nearly filled, the sea ran too high, and the
only probability of living was keeping her before the wind.

"It was then that I became sensible how little, if any, better our
condition was than that of those who remained in the ship; at best, it
appeared to be only a prolongation of a miserable existence. We were,
all together, twelve in number, in a leaky boat, with one of the
gunwales staved, in nearly the middle of the Western Ocean, without a
compass, without quadrant, without sail, without great-coat or cloak,
all very thinly clothed, in a gale of wind, with a great sea running! It
was now five o'clock in the evening, and in half an hour we lost sight
of the ship. Before it was dark a blanket was discovered in the boat.
This was immediately bent to one of the stretchers, and under it, as a
sail, we scudded all night, in expectation of being swallowed up by
every wave, it being with great difficulty that we could sometimes clear
the boat of the water before the return of the next great sea; all of us
half drowned, and sitting, except those who baled, at the bottom of the
boat; and without having really perished, I am sure no people ever
endured more. In the morning the weather grew moderate, the wind having
shifted to the southward, as we discovered by the sun. Having survived
the night, we began to recollect ourselves, and to think of our future

"When we quitted the ship the wind was at north-west or
north-north-west. Fayal had borne east-south-east two hundred and fifty
or two hundred and sixty leagues. Had the wind continued for five or six
days, there was a probability that running before the sea we might have
fallen in with some of the Western Islands. The change of wind was death
to these hopes; for, should it come to blow, we knew there would be no
preserving life but by running before the sea, which would carry us
again to the northward, where we must soon afterwards perish.

"Upon examining what we had to subsist on, I found a bag of bread, a
small ham, a single piece of pork, two quart bottles of water, and a few
of French cordials. The wind continued to be southward for eight or nine
days, and providentially never blew so strong but that we could keep the
side of the boat to the sea; but we were always most miserably wet and
cold. We kept a sort of reckoning, but the sun and stars being somewhat
hidden from us, for twenty-four hours we had no very correct idea of our
navigation. We judged, at this period, that we had made nearly an
east-north-east course since the first night's run, which had carried us
to the southeast, and expected to see the island of Corvo. In this,
however, we were disappointed, and we feared that the southerly wind had
driven us far to the northward. Our prayers were now for a northerly
wind. Our condition began to be truly miserable, both from hunger and
cold; for on the fifth we had discovered that our bread was nearly all
spoiled by salt water, and it was necessary to go on allowance. One
biscuit divided into twelve morsels for breakfast, and the same for
dinner; the neck of a bottle broken off, with the cork in, served for a
glass, and this filled with water was the allowance of twenty-four hours
for each man. This was done without any sort of partiality or
distinction; but we must have perished ere this, had we not caught six
quarts of rain water; and this we could not have been blessed with, had
we not found in the boat a pair of sheets, which by accident had been
put there. These were spread when it rained, and when thoroughly wet
wrung into the kid with which we baled the boat. With this short
allowance, which was rather tantalising than sustaining in our
comfortless condition, we began to grow very feeble, and our clothes
being continually wet, our bodies were in many places chafed into sores.

"On the 13th day it fell calm, and soon after a breeze of wind sprang up
from the south-south-west and blew to a gale, so that we ran before the
sea at the rate of five or six miles an hour under our blanket, till we
judged we were to the south ward of Fayal and to the westward sixty
leagues; but the wind blowing strong we could not attempt to steer for
it. Our wishes were now for the wind to shift to the westward. This was
the fifteenth day we had been in the boat, and we had only one day's
bread and one bottle of water remaining of a second supply of rain. Our
sufferings were now as great as human strength could bear, but we were
convinced that good spirits were a better support than any great bodily
strength; for on this day Thomas Matthews, quarter-master, the stoutest
man in the boat, perished from hunger and cold; on the day before he
complained of want of strength in his throat, as he expressed it, to
swallow his morsel, and in the night drank salt water, grew delirious
and died without a groan. As it became next to a certainty that we
should all perish in the same manner in a day or two, it was somewhat
comfortable to reflect that dying of hunger was not so dreadful as our
imagination had represented. Others had complained of these symptoms in
their throats; some had drunk their own urine; and all but myself had
drunk salt water.

"As yet despair and gloom had been successfully prohibited; and as the
evenings closed in, the men had been encouraged by turns to sing a song,
or relate a story, instead of supper; but this evening I found it
impossible to raise either. As the night came on it fell calm, and about
midnight a breeze of wind sprang up, we guessed from the westward by the
swell, but there not being a star to be seen, we were afraid of running
out of the way, and waited impatiently for the rising sun to be our

"As soon as the dawn appeared we found the wind to be exactly as we had
wished, at west-south-west, and immediately spread our sail, running
before the sea at the rate of four miles an hour. Our last breakfast had
been served with the bread and water remaining, when John Gregory,
quarter-master, declared with much confidence that he saw land in the
south-east. We had so often seen fogbanks, which had the appearance of
land, that I did not trust myself to believe it, and cautioned the
people (who were extravagantly elated) that they might not feel the
effects of disappointment, till at length one of them broke out into a
most immoderate fit of joy, which I could not restrain, and declared he
had never seen land in his life if what he now saw was not land.

"We immediately shaped our course for it, though on my part with very
little faith. The wind freshened, and the boat went through the water at
the rate of five or six miles an hour; and in two hours' time the land
was plainly seen by every man in the boat, at a very great distance, so
that we did not reach it till ten at night. It was at least twenty
leagues from us when first discovered; and I cannot help remarking, with
much thankfulness, the providential favour shown to us in this instance.

"In every part of the horizon, except where the land was discovered,
there was so thick a haze that we could not have seen anything for more
than three or four leagues. Fayal, by our reckoning, bore east by north,
which course we were steering, and in a few hours, had not the sky
opened for our preservation, we should have increased our distance from
the land, got to the eastward, and of course missed all the island. As
we approached the land our belief was strengthened that it was Fayal.
The island of Pico, which might have revealed it to us, had the weather
been perfectly clear, was at this time capped with clouds, and it was
some time before we were quite satisfied, having traversed for two hours
a great part of the island, where the steep and rocky shore refused us a
landing. This circumstance was borne with much impatience, for we had
flattered ourselves that we should meet with fresh water at the first
part of the land we might approach; and being disappointed, the thirst
of some had increased anxiety almost to a degree of madness, so that we
were near making the attempt to land in some places where the boat must
have been dashed to pieces by the surf. At length we discovered a
fishing canoe, which conducted us into the road of Fayal about midnight,
but where the regulation of the port did not permit us to land till
examined by the health officers; however, I did not think much of
sleeping this night in the boat, our pilot having brought us some
refreshments of bread, wine, and water. In the morning we were visited
by Mr. Graham, the English consul, whose humane attention made very
ample amends for the formality of the Portuguese. Indeed, I can never
sufficiently express the sense I have of his kindness and humanity both
to myself and people; for I believe it was the whole of his employment
for several days to contrive the best means of restoring us to health
and strength. It is true, I believe, there never were more pitiable
objects. Some of the stoutest men belonging to the _Centaur_ were
obliged to be supported through the streets of Fayal. Mr. Rainy, the
master, and myself, were, I think, in better health than the rest; but I
could not walk without being supported; and for several days, with the
best and most comfortable provisions of diet and lodgings, we grew
rather worse than better."



When the brave die in battle, the ardour which impels them to glory and
renders them insensible of their danger leaves a brilliance behind,
which mitigates, in a great degree, the grief of their relatives and
friends. But nothing can be more distressing than to behold a multitude
of gallant men in a moment of inactivity, perhaps in the midst of
amusements and the height of enjoyment, anchored on their own coast, and
riding in smooth water, overwhelmed in a moment in the liquid abyss, and
precipitated into an awful eternity. Such was the fate of the crew of
the _Royal George_.

The _Royal George_, one hundred and eight guns, the flag ship of Admiral
Kempenfeldt and one of the best ships in the navy, had just returned
from a cruise in which she had sprung a leak which demanded attention.
The carpenter and others, after a strict survey, finding that the leak
was not more than two feet below the water-mark, and supposing it to be
occasioned by the rubbing off the copper sheathing, it was resolved, in
order to save time, instead of sending her into dock to give her a
slight careen, or in the language of the seamen, "a parliament
heel"--that is, to lay her to a certain degree upon her side while her
defects were examined and repaired at Spithead. It was meanwhile
discovered that the pipe, for the occasional admission of water to
cleanse and sweeten the ship, was out of repair, and that it was
necessary to replace it with a new one. As the ship required to be
heeled very much for this purpose, the greater part of the guns were
removed from one side to the other; but the vessel heeling more than was
intended and the crew having neglected to stop the scuppers of the lower
decks, the water came in and for some time she stole down imperceptibly.
During this time many of the crew were at dinner; but as soon as they
discovered their dangerous condition they beat to arms to right the
ship. They were, however, too late, and all their efforts were in vain,
for in a few minutes the _Royal George_ fell flat on one side, filled
with water, and the guns, shot, etc., falling to the under side, she
went to the bottom, August 29th, 1782, before any signal of distress
could be made.

At this fatal moment there were nearly twelve hundred persons on board,
including about two hundred and fifty women and several children,
chiefly belonging to the seamen, who had been permitted to go on board
when the ship cast anchor at Spithead and to remain there until the
order for sailing arrived. The people who were on watch upon deck, to
the number of two hundred and thirty, were mostly saved by the boats,
which were manned with the utmost expedition by the ships near the
_Royal George_ when they observed that the vessel was going down. Their
assistance was, however, delayed for some time by the swell occasioned
by the sinking of such a large body, which produced a temporary
whirlpool in the water. About seventy others, who rose after the ship
disappeared, were also picked up; among these were four lieutenants,
eleven women, and the rest seamen.

One of the officers thus rescued was Lieutenant Durham, who fortunately
was the officer of the watch and upon deck when he observed the vessel
going down. He had just time to throw off his coat and scramble on the
beam from which, as the ship sank, he was soon washed and left floating
about among men and hammocks. A drowning marine caught him by the
waistcoat and held him fast, so that he was several times drawn under
water. It was in vain to reason with the man: he therefore clung with
his legs round a hammock, with one hand unbuttoned his waistcoat, and,
sloping his shoulders, committed it, together with the unfortunate
marine, to the waves. He then got to some of the top rigging; a boat
came to him, but he nobly declined the assistance offered by those on
board her, pointing out to them where Captain Waghorne was in great
danger, and desiring them to go to his relief, after which the gallant
youth was taken up and brought in safety to the shore.

Mr. Henry Bishop, a young man about nineteen years of age, experienced a
very extraordinary preservation. Being on the lower deck at the time of
the fatal accident, as the vessel filled the force of the water hurried
him almost insensibly up the hatchway, when at that instant he was met
by one of the guns which had fallen from the middle deck. Striking him
on his left hand it broke three of his fingers; he, however, found
himself a few seconds later floating on the surface of the water, where
he was ultimately taken up by a boat.

By this sudden and dreadful catastrophe nearly nine hundred persons
perished. Among the rest, the loss of Admiral Kempenfeldt, whose flag
was then flying on board the _Royal George_, was universally lamented.
He was the son of Lieutenant-colonel Kempenfeldt, a native of Sweden,
whose character is preserved in the _Spectator_, under the name of
Captain Sentry. He entered very early into the service of the navy, for
which profession he soon discovered uncommon talents. In the year 1757
he was appointed captain of the _Elizabeth_, and proceeded with
Commodore Stevens to the East Indies, where he distinguished himself in
three several actions against the French squadron, being always opposed
to a ship of superior force. His skill was of the utmost importance
during the blockade of Pondicherry as well as at the subsequent
reduction of Manilla by Admiral Cornish in 1761. After serving a
considerable time in the West Indies he obtained leave to return to
England. During the peace he constantly spent part of the year in
France, not in the pursuit of pleasure, but in search of professional
knowledge, in which, if he did not excel, he at least equalled any naval
officer in Europe. At the commencement of the American war he was
appointed to the _Buckingham_, and served as first captain under the
Admirals Hardy, Geary, and Darby; and his gallant conduct contributed in
no small degree to the capture of the convoy under M. Guichen. His
character in private life rendered his acquaintance an enviable
acquisition, and as an officer his death was a very severe loss to his

The _Lark_ sloop victualler, which was lying alongside the _Royal
George_, was swallowed up in the vortex occasioned by the sinking of the
vessel, and several of the people on board her perished.

The _Royal George_ was the oldest first-rate in the service. She was
built at Woolwich; her keel was laid down in 1751 and she was hauled out
of the dock in July 1755, it being unusual, at that time, to build such
large ships on slips to launch. She was pierced for one hundred guns,
but having recently had two additional ports, including the carronades,
mounted one hundred and eight guns; she was rather short and high, like
all the old first-rates, but sailed so well that she had more flags on
board her than any vessel then in the service. Lord Anson, Admiral
Boscawen, Lord Hawke, Lord Rodney, Lord Howe, and several other
principal officers, repeatedly commanded in her. She carried the tallest
masts and squarest canvas of any English built ship in the navy, and
originally the heaviest metal--namely, fifty-two, forty, and
twenty-eight pounders--but they had been changed, on account of her age,
to forty, thirty-two and eighteen pounders.


The circumstances detailed in the following narrative are altogether of
so singular and romantic a character that but for the undeniable
authenticity of every particular, the whole might be considered as the
production of the ingenious brain of a Defoe. Some of the incidents
indeed surpass in impressive interest anything to be met with in the
fictitious history of Alexander Selkirk's solitary existence and

In December 1787 the _Bounty_ sailed from Spithead for Otaheite under
the command of Lieutenant Bligh, who had previously accompanied Captain
Cook in his exploiting voyages in the Pacific Ocean. The object of the
present expedition was to convey from Otaheite to our West Indian
colonies the plants of the bread-fruit tree which Dampier, Cook, and
other voyagers had observed to grow with the most prolific luxuriance in
the South Sea Islands, and which furnished the natives with a perpetual
and wholesome subsistence without even the trouble of cultivation.

The crew of the _Bounty_ consisted of forty-five individuals, including
the commander and two skilful gardeners to take charge of the plants,
for the removal of which every accommodation had been provided on board,
under the superintendence of Sir Joseph Banks who had personally visited
Otaheite with Captain Wallis. After a most distressing voyage, in which,
after reaching Cape Horn, they were compelled to put the helm a-weather
and take the route by Van Diemen's Land, the voyagers anchored in
Matavia Bay, Otaheite, on October 26th, 1788, having run over, by the
log, since leaving England, a space of 27,086 miles, or an average of
one hundred and eight miles in twenty-four hours.

The simple natives, who had experienced much kindness from Captain Cook,
testified great joy on the arrival of the strangers, and loaded them
with presents of provisions of every sort. The character, condition, and
habits of the islanders, as described to us even by their early
visitors, present a most extraordinary contrast to the usual features of
savage life. They were a kind, mild-tempered, social, and affectionate
race, living in the utmost harmony amongst themselves, their whole lives
being one unvaried round of cheerful contentment, luxurious ease, and
healthful exercise and amusements.

Bligh appears to have been tempted to remain at this luxurious spot much
longer than was either proper or necessary, as the bread-fruit plants,
and provisions of hogs, fowls, fish, and vegetables of every description
were amply supplied him by the kind natives. The liberty which he gave
his crew to go on shore and enjoy all the indulgences which the place
afforded, was extremely imprudent; and this, together with the
capricious harshness and unjustifiable insult with which he occasionally
treated every one on board--officers as well as men--appears to have
been the sole cause of the unfortunate occurrence that afterwards took
place. The _Bounty_ which, as we have mentioned, arrived October 20th,
1788, did not sail till April 4th, 1789, when she departed loaded with
presents, and amid the tears and regrets of the natives. They continued
till the 27th amongst the islands of that archipelago, touching many of
them, bartering and interchanging presents with the natives, many of
whom remembered Bligh when he accompanied Cook in the _Resolution_.

It was on the night of the 27th that the mutiny broke out. The affair,
as far as can ever be learned by the strictest investigation, was
entirely unpremeditated, and resulted entirely from the commander's
giving way to one of those furious and ungovernable fits of passion
which he from time to time exhibited. On the day previous (the 26th),
Bligh, having missed some of the cocoanuts that were piled up on deck,
ordered a search to be made; but none being discovered, he burst into a
paroxysm of passion, calling them all scoundrels and thieves alike,
swearing he would make the half of them jump overboard before they got
through Endeavour Straits, and ordering the villains' (officers) grog to
be stopped and gave them half a pound of yams for dinner. The officer of
the watch, a young man of respectable family, named Fletcher Christian,
who was master's mate, and had been two voyages with Bligh, incurred the
greatest share of abuse, the latter cursing him for a hound, and
accusing him of having stolen the cocoanuts for his own use. Christian,
who was a fiery-spirited young man, appears to have become exasperated
at this ignominious treatment, to much of the same kind of which he had
been subjected for some time previous; so much so, indeed, that he
declared to some of his messmates that he had been in hell for the last
fortnight, on account of Bligh's usage of him, and expressed his
determination to leave the ship in a raft on the first opportunity, and
commit himself to the waves rather than remain on board. During the
night of the 28th he accordingly began to prepare his raft; and while so
employed, one of the crew unfortunately suggested that it would be
better for him to seize the ship at once. The idea which Christian does
not seem to have thought of till that moment, was instantly caught at,
and a few whispers amongst the crew showed that the majority were quite
ready for the scheme, which was forthwith put into execution. About
sunrise on Tuesday, April 28th, Christian, with three of the crew,
entered Bligh's cabin and secured him in bed, tied his hands behind his
back, and hurried him on deck. Their companions had in the meanwhile
secured those who were suspected to be disinclined to the mutiny; among
whom was Mr. Peter Heywood (afterwards so much distinguished in the
royal navy service), and two other midshipmen, who were detained
(contrary to their express wishes) to assist the mutineers in managing
the vessel. Several other of the crew, likewise, who disclaimed all
share in the mutiny, were thus forcibly detained. A boat was then
hoisted alongside, and Bligh, with eighteen unfortunate companions, was
forced into it. Some provisions, clothes, and four cutlasses were given
them, and they were cast adrift in the open ocean. Twenty-five remained
on board, the ablest of the ship's company. As the boat put off, "Huzza
for Otaheite!" was shouted by the mutineers, thus indicating the
destination of their further proceedings.

Being near the island of Tofoa, the castaways rowed towards it for the
purpose of obtaining some bread-fruit and water, with which the natives
at first seemed very willing to supply them, until Bligh imprudently
advised his men to say, in answer to the queries put them about the
ship, that it had overset and sunk. The consequence was, that the
natives attacked them, stoned one man to death, and it was with
difficulty that the remainder escaped. Bligh's companions then entreated
him to steer for home at all risks and hazards; and on being told that
no hope of relief could be entertained till they reached Timor, off the
coast of New Holland, a distance fully twelve hundred leagues, they
readily agreed to be content with an allowance, which, on calculation,
was found would not exceed an ounce of bread and a quarter of a pint of
water per day for each man. After taking them, bound by a solemn promise
to this effect, these unfortunate men boldly bore away, on May 2nd,
across a sea where the navigation was little, in an open boat
twenty-three feet long and deep, laden with eighteen men. It is not our
purpose here to detail the particulars of this adventurous voyage.
Suffice it to say that, after enduring the most horrible distresses from
cold, thirst, famine, and running a distance by the log of more than
three hundred miles, the whole reached the island of Timor alive on June
14th, but so much spent as more to resemble spectres than men. They were
treated with great kindness by the inhabitants, but, notwithstanding
every attention, four or five of them here died; the rest proceeded to
Batavia, whence they obtained passages to England, where Bligh arrived
in March, 1790.

The intelligence of the mutiny, and the sufferings of Bligh and his
companions, naturally excited a great sensation in England. Bligh was
immediately promoted to the rank of commander, and Captain Edwards was
despatched to Otaheite in the _Pandora_ frigate, with instructions to
search for the _Bounty_ and her mutinous crew, and bring them to
England. The _Pandora_ reached Matavia Bay on March 23rd, 1791; and even
before she had come to anchor, Joseph Coleman, formerly armourer of the
_Bounty_, pushed off from shore in a canoe, and came on board. He
frankly told who he was, and professed his readiness to give every
information that might be required of him. Scarcely had the ship
anchored, when Messrs. Heywood and Stewart, late midshipmen of the
_Bounty_, also came on board; and in the course of two days afterwards,
the whole of the remainder of the _Bounty's_ crew (in number sixteen)
then on the island surrendered themselves, with the exception of two,
who fled to the mountains, where, as it afterwards appeared, they were
murdered by the natives.

From his prisoners, and the journals kept by one or two of them, Captain
Edwards learnt the proceedings of Christian and his associates after
turning Bligh and his companions adrift in the boat. It appears that
they steered in the first instance to the island of Toobouai, where they
intended to form a settlement; but the opposition of the natives, and
want of many necessary materials, determined them to return in the
meantime to Otaheite, where they arrived on May 25th, 1789. In answer to
the inquiries of Tinah, the king, about Bligh and the rest of the crew,
the mutineers stated that they had fallen in with Captain Cook, who was
forming a settlement in a neighbouring island, and had retained Bligh
and the others to assist him, while they themselves had been despatched
to Otaheite for an additional supply of hogs, goats, fowls, bread-fruit
and various other articles. Overjoyed at hearing their old friend Cook
was alive, and about to settle so near them, the humane and unsuspicious
islanders set about actively to procure the supplies wanted, that in a
few days the _Bounty_ received on board three hundred and twelve hogs,
thirty-eight goats, eight dozen of fowls, a bull and a cow, and a large
quantity of bread-fruit, plantains, bananas, and other fruits. The
mutineers also took with them eight men, nine women, and seven boys,
with all of whom they arrived a second time at Toobouai on June 26th,
where they warped the ship up the harbour, landed the live stock, and
set about building a fort fifty yards square. Quarrels and
disappointments, however, soon broke out among them. The poor natives
were treated like slaves, and upon attempting to retaliate, were
mercilessly put to death. Christian, finding his authority almost
entirely disregarded, called a consultation as to what steps were next
to be taken, when it was agreed that Toobouai should be abandoned; that
the ship should once more be taken to Otaheite, where those who might
choose it would be put ashore, while the rest who preferred remaining in
the vessel might proceed wherever they had a mind. This was accordingly
done: sixteen of the crew went on shore at Matavia (fourteen of whom, as
already stated, were received on board the _Pandora_, and two were
murdered), while Christian with his eight comrades, and taking with them
seven Otaheitan men and twelve women, finally sailed from Matavia on
September 21st, 1789, from which time they had never been more heard of.

Captain Edwards instituted a strict search after the fugitives amongst
the various groups of islands in the Pacific, but finding no trace of
them, he set sail, after three months' investigation, for the east coast
of New Holland. Here, by some mismanagement, the _Pandora_ struck upon
the singular coral reef that runs along that coast, called the Barrier
Reef, and filled so fast that scarcely were the boats got out when she
foundered and went down, thirty-four of the crew and four of the
prisoners perishing in her. It is painful to record anything to the
discredit of that service which has proved the pride and safeguard of
Great Britain, and made her the acknowledged sovereign of the sea. But
the concurring testimony of the unfortunate prisoners exhibits the
conduct of Captain Edwards towards them in colours which are shocking to
contemplate. They were confined in a small round house, built on the
after deck on purpose, which could only be entered by a scuttle in the
top, about eighteen inches square. From this narrow prison they were
never allowed to stir, and they were, over and above, heavily loaded
with irons both at the wrists and ankles. When the _Pandora_ went down,
no attempt was made to save them, and the ten survivors escaped almost
in a state of complete nudity. After reaching a low, sandy, desert
island, or rather quay, as such are nautically termed, Captain Edwards
caused his men to form tents out of the sails they had saved, under
which he and his men reposed in comparative comfort; but he refused the
same indulgence to his miserable captives, whose only refuge, therefore,
from the scorching rays of the sun, was by burying themselves up to the
neck amongst the burning sand, so that their bodies were blistered as if
they had been scalded with boiling water. But we refrain from dwelling
on facts so disreputable to the character of a British sailor. The
_Pandora's_ survivors reached Batavia in their boats, whence they
obtained passages to England in Dutch vessels. A court martial was soon
after held (September, 1792), when six of the ten mutineers were found
guilty and condemned to death--the other four were acquitted. Only three
of the six, however, were executed. Mr. Heywood, who was amongst the
condemned (chiefly by the perverted and prejudiced evidence of Captain
Bligh and a fellow-midshipman), was afterwards pardoned upon the strong
recommendation of the court, who, notwithstanding the vindictive
evidence against him, were perfectly convinced of his innocence. His
subsequent honourable career proved him fully deserving the favourable
opinion of his judges, as well as of the promotion he obtained.

Nearly twenty years elapsed after the period of the above occurrences,
and all recollection of the _Bounty_ and her wretched crew had passed
away, when an accidental discovery, as interesting as unexpected, once
more recalled public attention to that event. The captain of an American
schooner having in 1808 accidentally touched at an island, up to that
time supposed to be uninhabited, called Pitcairn's Island, found a
community, speaking English, who represented themselves as the
descendants of the mutineers of the _Bounty_, of whom there was still
one man, of the name of Alexander Smith, alive amongst them.
Intelligence of this singular circumstance was sent by the American
captain (Folger) to Sir Sydney Smith at Valparaiso, and by him
transmitted to the Lords of the Admiralty. But the government was at
that time perhaps too much engaged in the events of the continental war
to attend to the information, nor was anything further heard of this
interesting little society until 1814. In that year two British
men-of-war cruising in the Pacific, made an island, which they could not
at first believe to be Pitcairn's Island, as it was more than three
degrees out of the longitude assigned it by Captain Carteret, who first
discovered it in 1797. They were confirmed in this opinion by observing
symptoms of cultivation, and, on nearing the shore, saw plantations
regularly and orderly laid out. Soon afterwards they observed a few
natives coming down a steep descent with their canoes on their
shoulders, and in a few minutes perceived one of these little vessels
darting through a heavy surf, and paddling off towards the ships. But
their astonishment may be imagined, when, on coming along side, they
were hailed in good English with--"Won't you heave us a rope now?" This
being done, a young man sprang up the side with extraordinary activity,
and stood on the deck before them. In answer to the question, "Who are
you?" he replied that his name was Thursday October Christian, son of
the late Fletcher Christian by an Otaheitan mother; that he was the
first born on the island, and was so named because he was born on a
Thursday in October. All this sounded singular and miraculous in the
ears of the British captains, Sir Thomas Staines and Mr. Pipon, but they
were soon satisfied of its truth. Young Christian was at this time about
twenty-four years old, a tall, handsome youth fully six feet high, with
black hair, and an open, interesting English countenance. As he wore no
clothes except a piece of cloth round his loins, and a straw hat
ornamented with black cock's feathers, his fine figure and well-shaped
muscular limbs were displayed to great advantage, and attracted general
admiration. His body was much tanned by exposure to the weather; but
although his complexion was somewhat brown, it wanted that tinge of red
peculiar to the natives of the Pacific. He spoke English correctly both
in grammar and pronunciation; and his frank and ingenuous deportment
excited in every one the liveliest feelings of compassion and interest.
His companion was a fine, handsome youth, of seventeen or eighteen years
of age, named George Young, son of one of the _Bounty's_ midshipmen.

The youths expressed great surprise at everything they saw, especially a
cow, which they supposed to be either a huge goat or a horned sow,
having never seen any other quadruped. When questioned concerning the
_Bounty_, they referred the captains to an old man on shore, the only
surviving Englishman, whose name they said was John Adams, but who
proved to be the identical Alexander Smith before mentioned, having
changed his name from some caprice or other. The officers went ashore
with the youths, and were received by old Adams, as we shall now call
him, who conducted them to his house, and treated them to an elegant
repast of eggs, fowls, yams, plaintains, bread-fruit, etc. They now
learned from him an account of the fate of his companions, who, with
himself, preferred accompanying Christian in the _Bounty_ to remaining
at Otaheite--which account agreed with that he afterwards gave at
greater length to Captain Beechey in 1825. Our limit will not permit us
to detail all the interesting particulars at length, as we could have
wished, but they are in substance as follows:--

It was Christian's object, in order to avoid the vengeance of the
British law, to proceed to some unknown and uninhabited island, and the
Marquesas Islands were first fixed upon. But Christian, on reading
Captain Carteret's account of Pitcairn's Island, thought it better
adapted for the purpose, and shaped his course thither, Having landed
and traversed it, they found it every way suitable to their wishes,
possessing water, wood, a good soil, and some fruits. The anchorage in
the offing was extremely dangerous for ships, and it was scarcely
possible for boats to get through the surf that broke on the shore. The
mountains were so difficult of access, and the passes so narrow, that
they might be maintained by a few persons against an army, and there
were several caves, to which, in case of necessity, they could retreat,
and where, as long as their provisions lasted, they might bid defiance
to all pursuit. Having ascertained all this, they returned on board, and
having landed their hogs, goats, and poultry, and gutted the ship of
everything that could be useful to them, they set fire to her, and
destroyed every vestige that might lead to the discovery of their
retreat. This was on January 23d, 1790. The island was then divided into
nine equal portions amongst them, a suitable spot of neutral ground
being reserved for a village. The poor Otaheitans now found themselves
reduced to the condition of mere slaves; but they patiently submitted,
and everything went on peaceably for two years. About that time,
Williams, one of the seamen, having the misfortune to lose his wife,
forcibly took the wife of one of the Otaheitans, which, together with
their continued ill-usage, so exasperated the latter that they formed a
plan for murdering the whole of their oppressors. The plot, however, was
discovered and revealed by the Englishmen's wives, and two of the
Otaheitans were put to death. But the surviving natives soon afterwards
matured a more successful conspiracy, and in one day murdered five of
the Englishmen, including Christian. Adams and Young were spared at the
intercession of their wives, and the remaining two, M'Koy and Quintal
(two desperate ruffians), escaped to the mountains, whence, however,
they soon rejoined their companions. But the further career of these
villains was short. M'Koy having been brought up in a Scotch distillery,
succeeded in extracting a bottle of ardent spirits from the tea root;
from which time he and Quintal were never sober, until the former became
delirious, and committed suicide by jumping over a cliff. Quintal being
likewise almost insane with drinking, made repeated attempts to murder
Adams and Young, until they were absolutely compelled, for their own
safety, to put him to death, which they did by felling him with a

Adams and Young were at length the only surviving males who had landed
on the island, and being both of a serious turn of mind, and having time
for reflection and repentance, they became extremely devout. Having
saved a Bible and prayer-book from the _Bounty_, they now performed
family worship morning and evening, and addressed themselves to training
up their own children, and those of their unfortunate companions, in
piety and virtue. Young, however, was soon carried off by an asthmatic
complaint, and Adams was thus left to continue his pious labours alone.
At the time Captain Staines and Pipon visited the island, this
interesting little colony consisted of about forty-six persons, mostly
grown-up young people, and all living in harmony and happiness together;
and not only professing, but fully understanding and practising, the
precepts and principles of the Christian religion. Adams had instituted
the ceremony of marriage, and he assured his visitors that not one
instance of debauchery or immoral conduct had occurred amongst them.

The visitors having supplied these interesting people with some tools,
kettles, and other articles, took their leave. The account which they
transmitted home of this newly-discovered colony, was, strange to say,
as little attended to by government as that of Captain Folger, and
nothing more was heard of Adams and his family for nearly twelve years,
when in 1825, Captain Beechey, in the _Blossom_, bound on a voyage of
discovery to Behring's Straits, touched at Pitcairn's Island. On the
approach of the _Blossom_ a boat came off under all sail towards the
ship, containing old Adams and ten of the young men of the island. After
requesting and obtaining leave to come on board, the young men sprang up
the side, and shook every officer cordially by the hand. Adams, who was
grown very corpulent, followed more leisurely. He was now dressed in a
sailor's shirt and trousers, with a low-crowned hat, which he held in
his hand in sailor fashion, while he smoothed down his bald forehead
when addressed by the officers of the _Blossom_. It was the first time
he had been on board a British vessel since the destruction of the
_Bounty_, now thirty-five years ago; and it was evident his mind
recurred to the events of that period. Captain Beechey procured from
Adams a detailed narrative of the whole transaction of the mutiny and
subsequent events, which has since been published by that gentleman, and
of which we have already given an abstract. The little colony had now
increased to about sixty-six, including an English sailor of the name of
John Buffet, who at his own earnest desire had been left by a whaler. In
this man, the society luckily found an able and willing schoolmaster. He
instructed the children in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and
devoutly co-operated with old Adams in affording religious instruction
to the community. The officers of the _Blossom_ went ashore, and were
entertained with a sumptuous repast at young Christian's, the table
being spread with plates, knives, and forks. Buffet said grace in an
emphatic manner, and so strict were they in this respect, that it was
not deemed proper to touch a morsel of bread without saying grace both
before and after it. The officers slept in the house all night, their
bed-clothing and sheets consisting of the native cloth made of the
native mulberry-tree. The only interruption to their repose was the
melody of the evening hymn, which was chanted together by the whole
family after the lights were put out; and they were awakened at early
dawn by the same devotional ceremony. On Sabbath the utmost decorum was
attended to, and the day was passed in regular religious observances.
All that remains to be said of these excellent people, concludes
Beechey, is, that they appear to live together in perfect harmony and
contentment; to be virtuous, religious, cheerful, and hospitable beyond
the limits of prudence; to be patterns of conjugal and parental
affection, and to have very few vices. We remained with them many days,
and their unreserved manners gave us the fullest opportunity of becoming
acquainted with any faults they might have possessed.

In consequence of a representation made by Captain Beechey, the British
government sent out Captain Waldegrave in 1830, in the _Seringapatam_,
with a supply of sailors' blue jackets and trousers, flannels, stockings
and shoes, women's dresses, spades, mattocks, shovels, pickaxes,
trowels, rakes, etc. He found their community increased to about
seventy-nine, all exhibiting the same unsophisticated and amiable
characteristics as we have before described. Other two Englishmen had
settled amongst them; one of them, called Nobbs, a self-constituted
missionary, who was endeavouring to supersede Buffet in his office of
religious instructor. The patriarch Adams, it was found, had died in
March, 1826, aged sixty-five. While on his death-bed he had called the
heads of families together, and urged upon them to elect a chief, which,
however, they had not yet done; but the greatest harmony still prevailed
amongst them, notwithstanding Nobb's exertions to form a party of his
own. Captain Waldegrave thought that the island, which is about four
miles square, might be able to support a thousand persons, upon reaching
which number they would naturally emigrate to other islands.

Such is the account of this most singular colony, originating in crime
and bloodshed. Of all the repentant criminals on record, the most
interesting, perhaps, is John Adams. Nor do we know where to find a more
beautiful example of the value of early instruction than in the history
of this man, who, having run a full career of most kinds of vice, was
checked by an interval of leisure and reflection, and a sense of new
duties awakened by the power of natural affection.



Edward Pellew, afterwards Viscount Exmouth, was born at Dover in 1757.
At thirteen years of age he went to sea on board the _Juno_ frigate as
midshipman, and later served in the _Blonde_ frigate on Lake Champlain
during the American War. While here, in command of the _Pelican_ in
1782, he defeated three French privateers. Attracting the attention of
his superiors by his cool and intrepid daring, he was sent home with
despatches and strongly recommended for promotion.

On the outbreak of war with France in 1793 he was made captain of the
_Nymph_, a thirty-six gun frigate, which he manned chiefly with Cornish
miners, signalising his appointment by capturing the _Cleopatra_ of
forty guns--"a crack ship of France"--after a brief and brilliant
encounter on the morning of June 18th. The captain of the French frigate
was killed and three lieutenants wounded, besides which she lost sixty
of her men, one hundred and fifty being taken prisoners. Captain Pellew
lost twenty-three men killed and twenty-seven wounded. This being the
first capture after the outbreak of the war, Captain Pellew received the
honour of knighthood. His next appointment was to the _Arethusa_, of
forty-four guns, in which he distinguished himself on many occasions
while serving in the Channel with Sir J. B. Warren's squadron. Sir
Edward Pellew was, however, distinguished not only for his military
skill and prowess but for his heroic humanity. The story of the
shipwreck of the _Dutton_ and of Sir Edward Pellew's gallant rescue of
her crew and passengers has been often told, and we are glad to be able
to quote the description given by his biographer.

In January, 1796, Sir Edward's ship the _Indefatigable_ was refitting in
Plymouth Harbour, and on the 26th Sir Edward and Lady Pellew were
driving to a dinner party when they learned that there was a wreck off
the shore, upon which Sir Edward left the carriage and proceeded to the

"Arrived at the beach, he saw at once that the loss of nearly all on
board, between five hundred and six hundred, was inevitable, without
some one to direct them. The principal officers of the ship had
abandoned their charge and got on shore just as he arrived on the beach.
Having urged them, but without success, to return to their duty, and
vainly offered rewards to pilots and others belonging to the port to
board the wreck--for all thought it too hazardous to be attempted--he
exclaimed, 'Then I will go myself!' A single rope, by which _the
officers_ and a few others had landed, formed the only communication
with the ship, and by this he was hauled on board through the surf. The
danger was greatly increased by the wreck of the masts which had fallen
towards the shore, and he received an injury in the back which confined
him to his bed for a week, in consequence of being dragged under the
main mast. But, disregarding this at the time, he reached the deck,
declared himself and assumed the command. He assured the people that
every one would be saved if they quietly obeyed his orders; that he
himself would be the last to quit the wreck, but that he would run any
one through who disobeyed him. His well-known name, with the calmness
and energy he displayed, gave confidence to the despairing multitude. He
was received with three hearty cheers, which were echoed by the
multitude on shore, and his promptitude and resource soon enabled him to
find and apply the means by which all might be safely landed. His
officers, in the meantime, though not knowing that he was on board, were
exerting themselves to bring assistance from the _Indefatigable_. Mr.
Pellowe, first lieutenant, left the ship in the barge, and Mr. Thomson,
acting master, in the launch; but the boats could not be brought
alongside the wreck and were obliged to run for the Barbican. A small
boat belonging to a merchant vessel was more fortunate. Mr. Esdell,
signal midshipman to the port admiral, and Mr. Coghlan, mate of the
(merchant) vessel, succeeded, at the risk of their lives, in bringing
her alongside. The ends of two additional hawsers were got on shore, and
Sir Edward contrived cradles, to be slung upon them, with travelling
ropes to pass forward and backward between the ship and the beach. Each
hawser was held on shore by a number of men, who watched the rolling of
the wreck, and kept the ropes tight and steady. Meantime a cutter had
with great difficulty worked out of Plymouth Pool, and two large boats
arrived from the dockyard, under the directions of Mr. Hemmings, the
master-attendant, by whose caution and judgment they were enabled to
approach the wreck, and received the more helpless of the passengers who
were carried to the cutter. Sir Edward, with his sword drawn, directed
the proceedings and preserved order, a task the more difficult as the
soldiers had got at the spirits before he came on board and many were
drunk. The children, the women and the sick were the first landed. One
of them was only three weeks old, and nothing in the whole transaction
impressed Sir Edward more strongly than the struggle of the mother's
feelings before she would entrust her infant to his care, or afforded
him more pleasure than the success of his attempt to save it. Next, the
soldiers were got on shore, then the ship's company, and finally Sir
Edward himself, who was one of the last to leave her. Every one was
saved, and presently afterwards the wreck went to pieces."

"Nothing," says Mr. Giffard in his "Deeds of Naval Daring," "could equal
the lustre of such an action, except the modesty of him who was the hero
of it. Indeed, upon all occasions, forward as he was to eulogise the
merits of his followers, Sir Edward was reserved, almost to a fault,
upon everything connected with his own services. The only notice taken
of the _Dutton_ in the journal of the _Indefatigable_, is the short
sentence, 'Sent two boats to the assistance of a ship on shore in the
Sound;' and in his letter to Vice-admiral Onslow, who had hoisted his
flag at Plymouth a day or two before, he throws himself almost out of
sight and ascribes the chief merit to the officer who directed the

    "'DEAR SIR,--I hope it happened to me this afternoon to be
    serviceable to the unhappy sufferers on board the _Dutton_; and
    I have much satisfaction in saying that every soul in her was
    taken out before I left her, except the first mate, boatswain
    and third mate, who attended the hauling of ropes to the shore,
    and they eased me on shore by the hawsers. It is not possible to
    refrain speaking in raptures of the handsome conduct of Mr.
    Hemmings, the master-attendant, who, at the imminent risk of his
    life, saved hundreds. If I had not hurt my leg and been
    otherwise much bruised, I would have waited on you; but hope
    this will be a passable excuse.--I am, with respect, sir, your
    most obedient humble servant,

        "'ED. PELLEW.'"

Services performed in the sight of thousands could not thus be
concealed. Praise was lavished upon him from every quarter. The
corporation of Plymouth voted him the freedom of the town. The merchants
of Liverpool presented him with a valuable service of plate. On the 5th
of March following he was created a baronet as Sir Edward Pellew, of
Ireverry, and received for an honourable augmentation of his arms a
civic wreath, a stranded ship for a crest, and the motto "Deo adjuvante
Fortuna sequatur." This motto, so modest, and not less expressive of his
own habitual feeling, was chosen by himself, in preference to one
proposed which was more personally complimentary.

In 1799 he removed into _L'Impétueux_, of seventy-four guns, and later
to _Le Tonnant_, of eighty guns, soon after being raised to the rank of
rear-admiral and placed in command of the fleet in the East Indies,
where he exterminated the French cruisers and remained until 1809. After
this he served in the North Sea and then in the Mediterranean. His
services were rewarded with a peerage, to which he was raised as Baron
Exmouth, and a pension of £2,000 a year. In 1816 he proceeded to the
Barbary States on a mission to liberate the Christian slaves; but
finding on his return that his treaties were disregarded, he returned to
Algiers and bombarded the town, reducing the enemy to submission, for
which service he was made a viscount. In 1817 he was appointed to the
chief command at Plymouth, and in 1821 he returned from active service,
but was made Vice-admiral of England in 1832. "Few men," says a
biographer, "in the naval service of this country--eminently
distinguished as many have been--ever bore so prominent a part, or
evinced more determined courage and coolness in the discharge of their
arduous duties than did this gallant, humane and active officer. He
seemed to be a very _beau idéal_ of a British sailor; his undaunted
courage and enterprise was strikingly shown in his manly aspect, and
though a perfect disciplinarian, his hearty and encouraging words
produced a magic effect on his officers and men, while they always felt
the fullest confidence in his skill and intrepidity. He died in January


On January 21st, 1793, Louis XVI. of France was guillotined, and in the
following month the French Republic declared war against England. Fully
sensible of their inability to cope with the English in regular naval
warfare the French contented themselves for some time with sending out
cruisers and small squadrons and even single ships; and these were so
successful that in the month of May, 1794, ninety-nine ships were taken
by the French, whereas only one, a frigate of thirty-eight guns, was
captured by the English.

At length the French government were compelled to attempt a naval
armament on a larger scale, for their harvest failed them, and in dread
of famine they were compelled to look abroad for sources of supply. The
stability of their own government depended upon the success with which
they dealt with this difficulty, for it was not to be expected that a
new government, deriving its power and authority from the people, would
be able to continue if the nation became irritated and excited by the
pressure of famine. And yet the difficulties that beset their path were
all but insurmountable. The nations of Europe were almost without
exception hostile to them, and America was almost the only country to
which they could look for help, and the task of convoying supplies from
America while the English were masters of the sea was one attended with
very great difficulty and risk.

The French Government, however, had only a choice of difficulties. If
they sent their fleet to sea it must encounter the English fleet; if
they did not send a fleet to sea they were sure to lose their convoy of
provisions and worse disasters would follow. There can be no doubt,
however, that, under the circumstances, the utter destruction even of
the whole fleet would have been a much less serious evil than the loss
of the provision convoy, for the fleet might, in the course of time, be
replaced, but if the provisions were taken France would either be
actually starved or the people, under the apprehension of starvation,
would rise against the government.

It was therefore resolved to send the French fleet to sea; and about the
middle of May a fleet, under the command of Rear-admiral Villaret,
sailed from Brest; Jean Bon St. Andre, one of the representatives of the
people, sailing on board the admiral's ship to stimulate and encourage
the expedition.

Lord Howe, aware of the expected convoy, proceeded to sea early in the
same month with twenty-six sail of the line in the hope of intercepting
it. On the 19th as he was cruising off Brest, he received information
that the enemy's fleet had put to sea, and on the same evening he
received despatches from Rear-admiral Montague, who was also cruising in
the Channel, which induced him to attempt a junction of the two fleets.
Had this been effected Lord Howe would have had a very great superiority
over the French fleet; but in the meantime he learnt that the French
were but a few leagues to the westward, and he was consequently obliged
to alter his course to go in quest of them.

Early in the morning of May 28th the advanced English frigates
discovered the French fleet far on the weather bow of the English
admiral's ship. At first the enemy did not appear to see the English,
for they came down for some time in very loose order; but when they came
nearer they hauled to the wind. They were, however, very slow in
completely forming in regular order of battle, occupying indeed several
hours in the operation. This circumstance was of great consequence to
Lord Howe, as it afforded time for the detached part of the British
fleet, commanded by Rear-admiral Pasley, to be placed advantageously for
effecting an impression on their rear; and in the meantime the whole of
the English fleet was making a nearer approach.

In the French official report of the engagement given by Jean Bon St.
Andre, he observes that while the two fleets continued manoeuvring, one
of the ships, _La Révolutionnaire_, from motives not understood by the
rest of the fleet, slackened its sails on the approach of the English;
and that Admiral Pasley taking advantage of this circumstance, led on
his division and attacked this vessel. In the conflict the British
rear-admiral had his top mast disabled; assistance was therefore
immediately ordered, and Lord Hugh Seymour, in the _Leviathan_, pushed
up also to attack the _Révolutionnaire_, and was supported by Captain
Parker, of the _Audacious_. The captain of the _Révolutionnaire_ was
killed and the vessel greatly damaged. English official accounts add
that the _Révolutionnaire_ struck to the _Audacious_. Night, however,
put an end to the conflict; and in the morning a French ship fell in
with the _Révolutionnaire_ and towed her into Rochefort.

During the whole of the night of the 28th the two fleets continued in
sight of each other; and on the morning of the following day Lord Howe
made the signal for the fleet to tack, with the intention, if possible,
of making some further impression on the rear of the enemy. As soon as
the French admiral perceived this manoeuvre he also made the signal for
his fleet to wear from van to rear, and continued edging down in a line
for the purpose of bringing the van of the British fleet to action. Lord
Howe upon this made the signal for passing through the enemy's line, and
a severe action commenced. The _Cæsar_, which was the leading ship of
the British van, did not, however, keep to the wind; and this
circumstance appearing likely to prevent the movement of passing the
French line from taking its full and proper effect, the admiral
immediately tacked, and being followed and supported by the
_Bellerophon_ and the _Leviathan_, passed through between the fifth and
sixth ships of the line of the enemy. Lord Howe having accomplished this
part of his plan, put about again, in preparation for renewing the
attack; but after manoeuvring and counter-manoeuvring for some time the
French wore round and stood away in order of battle, on the larboard
tack, followed by the British fleet in the same order. The fleets then
remained separated a few miles; and as there was a very thick fog they
were seldom seen by each other. This fog lasted for the greater part of
the two following days.

The object of the British admiral, hitherto, had been to obtain the
weather-gauge of the enemy, in order that he might not only compel him
to fight, but to fight on terms and in a situation comparatively
favourable to himself. Having succeeded in this object, an opportunity
occurred on June 1st for bringing the French fleet to close and general
action. Lord Howe accordingly threw out the signal for his ships to bear
up together and come to close action, between seven and eight o'clock in
the morning. The French fleet originally consisted of twenty-six sail of
the line, and the British of the same force; but on the part of the
former the _Révolutionnaire_ had been towed into Rochefort; and on the
part of the latter the _Audacious_ had parted company after her
engagement with the _Révolutionnaire_.

The battle immediately commenced and was carried on in a very courageous
manner on both sides; but though the revolutionary spirit of the French
officers and seamen incited them to fight with more obstinacy than they
generally displayed in naval engagements, it could not give them
discipline, skill and experience equal to that of the British, and they
soon became sensible that the victory could not be with them. Several of
the ships on both sides were dismasted, and the carnage was very great.
In the French official account of the battle it was stated that the
officers and crew of _Le Vengeance_, of seventy-four guns, displayed a
true republican spirit; that after the lower decks were under water and
destruction inevitable, they continued to fire the upper tier; and that
at the moment the ship went to the bottom the air resounded with the cry
of "Vive la république, vive la liberté et la France."

Giffard in his "Deeds of Naval Daring" gives several anecdotes of
incidents which occurred during this famous day. He says, "On the
morning of June 1st Rear-admiral Neuilly, pointing out to Captain
Troubridge, at that time a prisoner on board the _Sans Pareil_, our
fleet sailing parallel to them, said, 'Your people are not disposed to
fight; they won't venture down.' Troubridge, who had seen the signal
flying for breakfast on board the ships of the British fleet, was at the
time partaking of the same meal, and, dropping the loaf he held, he
placed his hand on the French officer's shoulder, saying, 'Not fight!
stop till they have had their breakfasts. I know John Bull well, and
when his belly is full, you will get it. Depend on it, they will pay you
a visit in half an hour.' In a few minutes after the British fleet bore
up to engage. During the action Troubridge was sent below, where for
some time he leaned against the fore-mast. Suddenly he felt the
vibration of the mast as it was struck by a shot, and heard it fall over
the side, when, grasping the astounded Frenchman appointed to guard him
with both hands, he began to caper about with all the gestures of a
maniac. Lord Howe, in the _Queen Charlotte_, wished to be placed
alongside the _Montagne_, the French admiral's ship, and gave his orders
to his master accordingly. As they approached the French line it
appeared so compact and close that a doubt was expressed whether they
could get through; while closing with the _Montagne_, the master, who
held the helm, called out that they would be on board the next ship.
'What's that to you, sir?' said Lord Howe. Bowen, the master, as bold a
man as his admiral, replied coolly in an undertone, 'If you don't care,
I am sure I don't. I'll go near enough to singe some of our whiskers.'
The _Queen Charlotte_ dashed through the line, brushed the ensign of the
French admiral's (_Villaret Joyeuse_) flag ship on one side, grazing on
the other the _Jacobin's_ mizen shrouds with her jibboom, an exploit
which has never been equalled, although approached by Collingwood at
Trafalgar. The cannonade was tremendous and our gunnery most effective.
The broadside poured into the stern of the _Montagne_ as the _Queen
Charlotte_ passed made a hole, said the sailors, large enough to row the
admiral's barge through it. Howe's masts were shot away as the
_Montagne_ ceased firing; this gave her the opportunity to make off to
leeward. The _Queen_, _Defence_, _Marlborough_, _Royal George_, and
_Brunswick_ were the only ships which, like Howe's, pushed through the
enemy's line on that memorable and eventful day. The _Queen_, in which
Lord Gardner's flag was flying, was dreadfully cut up; her Captain,
Hutt, died of his wounds, and has a monument in St. Paul's. Gardner
learned during the engagement that a near relative, to whom he was
attached, was killed. He went on giving his orders in an unaltered tone;
but as the wind for a moment cleared off the smoke, marks of tears were
on his face; they were easily traced, for it was besmeared with smoke
and powder. The _Defence_, Captain Gambier, got into the midst of the
French ships, lost her main and mizen masts and behaved in the most
gallant manner. Captain Berkeley of the _Marlborough_ was carried off
deck wounded, and the second lieutenant, Seymour, afterwards Sir
Michael, lost an arm. The ship was reduced to a wreck, but was fought to
the last by Lieutenant Monckton. While the bowsprit of the _Impétueux_
was over the _Marlborough's_ quarters, a sailor, leaping over, said he
would pay them a visit. He was called to take a sword. 'I'll find one
there,' he said, and actually came back with two of the enemy's
cutlasses in his hands. The _Brunswick_ had a figure-head of the duke,
with a laced cocked-hat on; the hat was shot off. The crew thinking that
a prince of that house should not be uncovered in the face of an enemy,
sent a request to their captain to supply the loss. He ordered his
servant to give them his cocked-hat. The carpenter nailed it on, and
there it remained until the battle was over. These incidents, amidst a
terrific fire, paint our sailors as they were and as they are. Harvey,
the captain of the _Brunswick_, died of his wounds."

In less than an hour after the engagement had become close and general
the French admiral, who had been engaged by Lord Howe's ship, the _Queen
Charlotte_, made all sail and crowded off, followed by nearly all the
ships in his van that were in a condition to carry sail; ten or twelve
of those that were dismasted, or much crippled, were left behind. Had
the British fleet not been very much disabled all these must have been
captured; but in consequence of their state several of them escaped; two
or three, even under a sprit sail singly or a smaller sail, hoisted on
the stump of the foremast, were able to get away. Six, however, were
secured and captured--viz., _La Juste_ of eighty guns; _La Sans
Pareille_ of eighty guns; _L'Amérique_ of seventy-four guns; _L'Achille_
of seventy-four guns; _L'Impétueux_ of seventy-four guns; and the
_Northumberland_ of seventy-four guns; these added to _Le Vengeur_ and
_Le Jacobin_, which were also sunk, made the whole loss of the French
amount to eight ships of the line. The return of [those] killed on board
of the English fleet was two hundred and seventy-two, and of wounded
seven hundred and eighty-seven. The loss of the French is not accurately
known, but it is believed to have been much greater than that of the
English. On board of _La Montagne_ the captain was killed and nearly
three hundred men were either killed or wounded. In the ships that were
taken six hundred and ninety men were killed and five hundred and eighty
wounded; besides, it is supposed that three hundred and twenty perished
in _Le Vengeur_.

Though this victory was a great triumph to the English and a severe blow
to the arms of the Republic, the French can hardly be said to have
failed in the object of their expedition; for while Lord Howe was
engaged in chasing and fighting the French fleet, the provision convoy,
which the French fleet came out to protect, managed to escape him, and
one hundred and sixty sail of vessels, valued at five millions sterling,
and conveying an immense quantity of provisions and naval stores,
arrived from America safe in port a few days after the engagement.

On the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday immediately following the
publication of the "Extraordinary Gazette" which announced Lord Howe's
victory there were illuminations in all parts of the metropolis; a
subscription was almost immediately raised at Lloyd's Coffee House for
the widows and children of the seamen who fell in the engagement, and
the proprietors of Drury Lane Theatre gave a clear benefit, which
produced upwards of one thousand three hundred pounds, in aid of the

In order to show all due honour to the fleet which had achieved such a
victory, on Thursday, June 26th, George III. and Queen Charlotte and
three of the princesses arrived at Portsmouth; the three younger
princesses having come down the day before. The royal party then
proceeding in barges in the usual procession, and receiving the
customary honours, visited Lord Howe's ship at Spithead. Here His
Majesty held a naval levée, and presented Lord Howe with a
diamond-hilted sword, the value of which was three thousand guineas, and
a gold chain, to which a medal was afterwards suspended, to be worn
round the neck. After these ceremonies were gone through the royal party
dined with Lord Howe on board his ship. His lordship was also raised to
the rank of an earl for his glorious services in the battle.



After the defeat of the French by Lord Howe on the 1st of June, 1794,
the French navy was much too shattered to attempt anything like
offensive warfare for some time. Notwithstanding this, however, fortune
favoured France with an opportunity of revenge as early as the following

In June, 1795, Admiral Cornwallis, known in the fleet as "Billy Blue,"
was cruising off Belle Isle when on the 7th he fell in with a fleet of
merchantmen under the convoy of three ships of the line and six
frigates. His own force consisted of five sail of the line and two
frigates, with which he made an easy capture of eight of the enemy's
ships, the men-of-war effecting their escape. On the 16th, however, came
the Frenchman's opportunity of turning the tables; for, as the admiral
was standing in towards the land, near the Penmarks, one of his frigates
signalled the sighting of the enemy's fleet, which numbered thirteen
sail of the line, several frigates, two brigs and a cutter. The wind at
first falling calm and afterwards coming round to the north, the enemy's
ships were enabled to get to windward, and the next morning by daylight
they were seen mooring on both quarters of the British squadron.

During the preceding day and night the admiral himself had led the
retreating ships in the _Royal Sovereign_, in order that he might be
able to take advantage of any favourable opportunity that might present
itself in the night for altering his course and getting away
unperceived by the enemy; but with daylight he changed his disposition,
ordering the two heavy sailing ships, the _Brunswick_ and the
_Bellerophon_, to lead, and the _Mars_ and _Triumph_ to form the rear,
while he himself, in the _Royal Sovereign_, formed a connecting link,
and was prepared to bear down to the assistance of any of his squadron
that might particularly need his help. It was now in the power of the
French admiral to have engaged closely, and at about nine o'clock in the
morning a line-of-battle ship and a frigate opened their fire upon the
_Mars_. From this time a pretty constant cannonade was kept up, the
French ships firing at a distance as they came up, and three of the
English ships returning it. Such was the bad sailing of the _Brunswick_
and _Bellerophon_ that their fire was quite lost and they were obliged
to keep their course without retaliating; in fact, it became necessary
to cut away their anchors and launches, throw overboard part of their
ballast, and crowd all the sail they could carry, to enable them to keep
their proper place, while the _Mars_ and _Triumph_ continued under easy
sail. The day had nearly passed over, and there was no serious
appearance of attack; but as the afternoon drew on, the enemy, as if
ashamed of having yet done nothing effectual to check the progress, or
even to ruffle the majestic steadiness of our little line, seemed to be
inclined to close upon the rear ship, the _Mars_. Two or three of them
had fore-reached upon her beam, and a beautiful eighty-four-gun ship was
hauling towards her, as if determined to act as champion, and by
arresting one of the ships to bring the matter to an immediate issue,
when an incident occurred which completely deceived the enemy.

In the early morning the admiral had called by signal for a boat from
the _Phaëton_, and as her young officer, afterwards Admiral Sir Francis
Beaufort, K.C.B., was eagerly springing up the _Royal Sovereign's_ side,
he was stopped by the noble old admiral's foot and the words, "Stop,
sir; listen: go back immediately and tell your captain to go ahead of
the squadron a long way, and, when far enough off, to make the signals
for seeing first one or two strange sail, then more, and then a fleet;
in short, to humbug those fellows astern. He will understand me. Go."
The _Phaëton_ sailed well, but it took a long time to get to the
admiral's "far enough," in order to give colour and credibility to her
signals. At length, about three o'clock p.m., she made the signal for a
stranger, then two, five, and then for a fleet, which was made by
letting fly the top-gallant sheets and firing a lee gun. It was well
known that the French had copies of our "Tabular" signals, and by them
Captain Stopford announced that the fleet was English; the large recall
flag (the Dutch ensign) was then hoisted to bring them into the
squadron, and when time had been given for the supposed answer, the
_Phaëton_ wore round, under easy sail, towards the squadron, thus
implying that a fleet of English ships was following her, and, passing
under the admiral's stern, gave him three cheers.

By a happy coincidence two or three small distant vessels were at that
time actually peeping up on the horizon; but the bait had been fully
swallowed; a flood of signals was made by the enemy--their fire became
languid--and at half-past six their whole force tacked off to the
eastward, leaving our gallant squadron to enjoy the fruit of their
bravery and wit.

In the official announcement of this encounter the admiral gives full
credit to his gallant companions, as well as to Sir C. Cotton and Sir
Erasmus Gower, who, in the _Mars_ and _Triumph_, bore the brunt of the
fray. Of the officers, seamen and marines, he says that, "instead of
being cast down at seeing thirty sail of the enemy's ships attacking our
little squadron, they were in the highest spirits imaginable, and
although circumstanced as we were, we had no great reason to complain of
the conduct of the enemy, yet our men could not help repeatedly
expressing their contempt of them. Could common prudence have allowed me
to let loose their valour I hardly know what might not have been
accomplished by such men."

Of the admiral himself we are told that, on the anxious morning he
continued the operation of shaving, dressing and powdering with his
usual composure, and observed to Captain Whitby, in his customary cool
and dry manner, that he had been in similar situations before, and knew
very well what they, the French, would do. More than once during the day
he repeated that sooner than abandon his comrades in the slow sailers,
the _Brunswick_ and the _Bellerophon_, the _Royal Sovereign_ should go
down with her colours flying.

Admiral (then Captain) Cornwallis had previously exhibited great daring
in Rodney's celebrated action in 1782, when, in the _Canada_,
seventy-four, after having defeated the _Hector_, a ship of equal force,
single-handed, he bore down upon the huge _Ville de Paris_, and lay her
alongside and commenced a combat which lasted two hours. A point of
honour prevented De Grasse striking to anything short of a flag; but
when Sir Samuel Hood came up in the _Barfleur_ the count surrendered,
having only three men, of whom he himself was one, alive and unhurt upon
his upper deck. He declared, after the action, that the little red-sided
ship (the _Canada_) had done him more harm than all the rest with which
he had contended.

The fleet from which Admiral Cornwallis thus escaped were not destined
long to boast of their triumph; for on the 22nd of the same month, Lord
Bridport, with fourteen sail of the line and eight frigates, fell in
with them, and as they indicated no intention to fight him, made the
signal for four of his best sailing vessels to chase. As there was very
little wind the pursuit continued all that day and during the night.
Early on the morning of the 23rd some of the British ships came up with
the enemy; and a little before six o'clock the action began, and
continued till three in the afternoon. The French kept as near their own
shore as possible; so that only three were captured--the _Alexander_,
which had been taken from the British the preceding year, the
_Formidable_ and the _Tigre_. The rest of the French squadron escaped
into _L'Orient_. The loss of the British in this action was thirty-one
killed and one hundred and fifteen wounded; the loss of the French was
not accurately ascertained.



In the course of February and March, 1797, Lord Howe received several
anonymous letters, enclosing petitions from the ships' companies of a
number of vessels of the Channel fleet, asking for increased pay and
better provisions. These letters, though coming from different quarters,
were apparently written by the same hand, and the authorities judging
that they were so, and that they represented an agitation carried on by
one person, took but little notice of them.

A word to the wise is sufficient, but governments are not always wise,
or the Admiralty would at least have made inquiries as to the justice of
the demands made. Of this, however, they can hardly have been unaware,
for while the pay of the army and the militia had been increased, the
pay of the navy had remained the same from the time of Charles II., and
many abuses had sprung up in the administration of the commissariat
which bore very hardly upon the men. The greed of purveyors and the
corruption of commissioners provided them with food short in quantity
and often unfit to eat; while under the system then in vogue the ship's
purser was allowed to deduct two ounces in every pound of provisions
served out to the men and a similar proportion of grog and beer in lieu
of direct wages from the government.

It soon became evident, however, that the disaffection was far more
formidable than was at first supposed. On the return of the Channel
fleet into port a secret correspondence was arranged between all the
ships that composed it; and this ended in a unanimous agreement that no
ship should lift an anchor until a redress of grievances was obtained.
At this stage it was reported to Lord Spencer, the head of the
Admiralty, that a general conspiracy had been entered into to take
command of the fleet on April 16th; to test which on the 15th Lord
Bridport ordered the signal to prepare for sea. But instead of the men
proceeding to weigh anchor, they manned the rigging and gave three
cheers, as the signal for mutiny, and every other ship followed the

The officers of every ship exerted themselves to their utmost to bring
their men back to obedience; but all their endeavours were vain. The
fleet being now in the complete possession of the seamen, every ship's
company appointed two delegates, and Lord Howe's cabin was fixed upon as
their place of consultation. On the 17th an oath was administered to
every man in the fleet to support the cause in which they had engaged,
and ropes were reeved to the yard arms in every ship as signals of the
punishment that would be inflicted on those that betrayed it. Several
officers who had made themselves particularly obnoxious to their
respective crews were sent ashore.

In the meantime, though the admiral was restricted from putting to sea,
he retained the command of the fleet in every other respect; the
strictest discipline was maintained and the severest orders and
regulations were enacted by the delegates, enjoining the most respectful
attention to their officers, and threatening disobedience with rigorous

On the 18th two petitions, one to the Admiralty and the other to the
House of Commons, were drawn up and signed by the delegates. They were
both worded with the highest propriety of expression and respect. The
petition to parliament stated that the price of all articles necessary
for subsistence having advanced at least thirty per cent. since the
reign of Charles II., when the seamen's pay was settled as at present,
they requested that a proportionate relief might be granted to them. It
represented at the same time that, while their loyalty was equal to that
of the army, the pensions of Chelsea had been augmented to thirteen
pounds a year, but those of Greenwich still remained at seven. The
petition to the Admiralty contained a recital of the services rendered
by the petitioners and a warm declaration of their readiness to defend
their country, and set forth the low rate of their pay, and the
insufficiency of their allowance of provisions, demanding increase of
both, together with the liberty of going ashore while in harbour and the
continuance of pay to wounded seamen till cured and discharged.

Such, in the meanwhile, was the alarm of the public, and particularly of
the government, that it was judged necessary to transfer the board of
Admiralty to Portsmouth, in order to be nearer at hand to inspect the
transactions on board the fleet, and to consult on the readiest and most
likely means of quelling the discontent, the consequences of which might
prove ruinous to the nation by throwing open the Channel and all the
neighbouring seas to the uncontrolled dominion of the French fleets and

The first lord of the Admiralty, Lord Spencer, accompanied by Lord Arden
and Admiral Young, repaired accordingly to Portsmouth, where they
directly proceeded to take into consideration the petition that had been
transmitted to the board. They authorised Lord Bridport to inform the
ships' companies that they would recommend the king to propose to
parliament an augmentation of pay to the seamen in the navy at the rate
of four shillings a month to petty officers and able seamen, three
shillings to ordinary seamen, and two shillings to landsmen. Seamen
wounded in action were also to continue in the receipt of their pay till
cured or declared unable to serve, when they should be allowed a pension
or admitted into Greenwich Hospital.

To this notification the seamen replied by requesting that the
long-established distinctions in the navy, of able and ordinary seamen,
should be retained; the pay of the former to be raised to one shilling a
day, and that of petty officers and ordinary seamen in the usual
proportion; they also requested that the pay of the marines while on
board should be the same as of ordinary seamen, and that the pensions
of Greenwich Hospital should be increased to ten pounds.

On April 20th the lords of the Admiralty notified to Lord Bridport their
compliance with the demands of the seamen, directing him to make it
known through the fleet, and to require, in consequence, an immediate
return of the people to their duty, on pain of forfeiting their right to
smart-money, to pensions from the chest of Chatham, and to an admission
into Greenwich Hospital, and of being made responsible for the
consequences that might ensue from the continuance of their
disobedience. They were informed, at the same time, that an unqualified
pardon for all that had taken place would be granted to every ship's
company that should, within one hour of these resolutions being
communicated to them, submit to their officers and cease to hold farther
intercourse with those who remained in a state of mutiny.

On the 21st, Admirals Gardner, Colpoys and Poole went on board the
_Royal Charlotte_ in order to confer with the delegates, who explicitly
informed them that it was the determination of the crews to agree to
nothing that should not be sanctioned by parliament and guaranteed by
the king's proclamation. Admiral Gardner was so irritated by this
declaration that he seized one of the delegates by the collar, and swore
he would have them all hanged, with every fifth man throughout the
fleet. This behaviour of the admiral so exasperated the ship's company
that it was with difficulty he escaped with his life.

The delegates from the _Royal George_ returned immediately to their ship
and informed their crew of what had happened; after some consultation
they resolved to summon all the delegates on board their ship. This was
forthwith done by hoisting the red, a signal that struck terror through
the fleet, as it was not generally understood; the officers in
particular being apprehensive that some fatal designs were in agitation.
The crew now proceeded to load their guns, to order the watch to be kept
as at sea, and to put everything in a state of defence.

On the following day the ships' crews directed two letters to be
written, one to the lords of the Admiralty, to acquaint them with the
motives for their conduct on the preceding day, and another to Lord
Bridport, in which they styled him their father and their friend, and
assured him of their respect and attachment. This induced him to return
to his ship the next day, the 23rd, and to rehoist his flag, which he
had struck during the confusion on the 21st. After a short and pathetic
address to the crew he informed them that he had brought with him a
redress of all their grievances and the king's pardon for what had
passed. After some deliberation these offers were accepted and every man
returned to his duty.

From April 23rd to May 7th the fleet remained in due subordination; but
on that day a fresh mutiny broke out. The seamen, from whatever cause it
arose, had conceived a mistrust of government, and apprehending a
violation of the promises made to them, renewed their former menaces. As
soon as this alarming intelligence arrived, government dispatched with
all speed a person of the highest weight and authority to quell this
unexpected tumult. This was Lord Howe, an officer long held in the first
degree of respect and esteem in the British navy, and personally beloved
by all that had served under him for his humane disposition as well as
for his many great qualities. His presence and exhortations wrought the
desired effect, and happily dissipated the suspicions that were
beginning to prevail.

Conformably to the expectation of the public, the House of Commons on
May 8th took into consideration the estimates laid before it by the
ministry, for the purpose of augmenting the pay, and the Bill, as soon
as it was framed, went through the necessary formalities without delay,
and immediately received the royal assent by commission.

The suppression of the disturbances among the seamen at Portsmouth,
without recurring to violent measures, and by granting their petitions,
occasioned universal satisfaction, and it was hoped that no farther
complaints would arise. These reasonable expectations were, however,
wholly disappointed by a fresh mutiny that broke out at the Nore on May

The crews on that day took possession of their respective ships, elected
delegates to preside over them, and to draw up a statement of their
demands and transmit them to the lords of the Admiralty. These demands
went much farther than those of the seamen at Portsmouth and Plymouth,
and were not met with the same indulgence. On June 6th, in the morning,
the fleet at the Nore was joined by the _Agamemnon_, _Leopard_,
_Ardent_, and _Isis_ men-of-war, together with the _Ranger_ sloop, which
ships had deserted from the fleet under Admiral Duncan.

The principal person at the head of this mutiny was one Richard Parker,
a man of good natural parts and some education, and of a remarkably bold
and resolute character. Admiral Buckner, the commanding officer at the
Nore, was directed by the lords of the Admiralty to inform the seamen
that their demands were totally inconsistent with the good order and
regulations necessary to be observed in the navy, and could not for that
reason be complied with; but that on returning to their duty they would
receive the king's pardon for their breach of obedience. To this offer
Parker replied by a declaration that the seamen had unanimously
determined to keep possession of the fleet until the lords of the
Admiralty had repaired to the Nore and redressed the grievances which
had been laid before them.

In order to put an end with all possible expedition to a mutiny that
appeared so dangerous, Lord Spencer, Lord Arden and Admiral Young
hastened immediately to Sheerness and held a board, at which Parker and
the other delegates attended; but their behaviour was so audacious that
the lords of the Admiralty returned to town without the least success.
The principal article of complaint on the part of the mutineers was the
unequal distribution of prize-money, for the omission of which they much
blamed their fellow-seamen at Portsmouth. On the return of the lords of
the Admiralty from Sheerness a proclamation was issued offering His
Majesty's pardon to all such of the mutineers as should immediately
return to their duty; intimating at the same time Admiral Buckner was
the proper person to be applied to on such an occasion. All the buoys,
by the order of government, were removed from the mouth of the Thames
and the neighbouring coast; from which precaution any ships that might
attempt to get away would be in danger of running aground. Great
preparations were also made at Sheerness against an attack from the
mutinous ships, which had manifested some strong indications of an
intention to bombard that place; and furnaces and hot balls were kept

Emboldened by the strength of men and shipping in their hands, and
resolved to persevere in their demand till they had exhorted a
compliance, the mutineers proceeded to secure a sufficiency of
provisions for that purpose by seizing two vessels laden with stores,
and sent notice ashore that they intended to block up the Thames and cut
off all communication between London and the sea in order to force
government to a speedy accession to their terms. They began the
execution of this menace by mooring four of their vessels across the
mouth of the river and stopping several ships that were coming from the

These transactions, while they excited the greatest alarm in the nation,
were violently reprobated by the seamen belonging to the two divisions
of the fleet lying at Portsmouth and at Plymouth. Each of them addressed
an admonition to their fellow-seamen at the Nore, warmly condemning
their proceedings as a scandal to the name of British seamen, and
exhorting them to be content with the indulgence already granted by
government, and to return to their duty without insisting on more
concessions than had been demanded by the rest of the navy.

But these warnings proved ineffectual. The reinforcement of the four
ships lately arrived, and the expectation of being joined by others,
induced them to persist in their demands. The committee of delegates on
board the _Sandwich_ came to a determination to commission Lord
Northesk, whom they had kept in confinement in the _Montague_, of which
he was commander, to repair to the king in the name of the fleet, and
to acquaint him with the conditions on which they were willing to
deliver up the ships. The petition which he was charged to lay before
the king was highly respectful and loyal to him, but very severe on his
ministers, and they required an entire compliance with every one of
their demands, threatening on the refusal of any to put immediately to
sea. Lord Northesk readily undertook to be the bearer of their petition,
but told them that from the unreasonableness of their demands he could
not flatter them with the hope of success. Confiding in him, they said,
as the seamen's friend, they had entrusted him with this mission on
pledging his honour to return with a clear and positive answer within
fifty-four hours.

Lord Northesk departed accordingly for London, and was introduced by
Lord Spencer to the king. But no answer being returned to the message,
and information being brought to the fleet that the nation at large
highly disapproved of their proceedings, great divisions took place
among the delegates, and several of the ships deserted the others--not,
however, without much contest and bloodshed. The mutineers, despairing
now of accomplishing their designs, struck the red flag, which they had
hoisted as the signals of mutiny, and restored a free passage to the
trade of the metropolis. Every ship was now left at its own command, and
they all gradually returned to obedience, though on board of some
violent struggles happened between the mutineers and the loyal parties.

The principal conductor of the mutiny, Richard Parker, was seized and
imprisoned, and after a solemn trial that lasted three days on board of
the _Neptune_, was sentenced to death. He suffered with great coolness
and intrepidity, acknowledging the justice of his sentence, and
expressing his hope that mercy might be extended to his associates. But
it was judged necessary to make public examples of the principal and
most guilty, who were accordingly tried, and after full proof of their
criminality, condemned and executed. Others remained under sentence of
death till after the great victory obtained over the Dutch fleet at
Camperdown by Admiral Duncan, when His Majesty issued a general pardon.


The mutiny at Spithead found the British ministry intent upon blocking
up the Dutch fleet in the Texel and Admiral Duncan appointed to the
duty. The pacific suppression of that formidable rising left the
government free to pursue their policy and Admiral Duncan to carry out
his instructions. Early in June, however, the admiral found himself
deserted by the _Agamemnon_, the _Leopard_, the _Ardent_, and the _Isis_
men-of-war and the _Ranger_ sloop, which left him and joined in the
mutiny of the Nore on the 6th.

When the admiral found himself deserted by so important a section of his
fleet, he called his own ship's crew together and addressed them in the
following speech:--

"MY LADS,--I once more call you together with a sorrowful heart from
what I have lately seen, the disaffection of the fleet. I call it
disaffection, for the crews have no grievances. To be deserted by my
fleet in the face of an enemy is a disgrace which, I believe, never
before happened to a British admiral; nor could I have supposed it
possible. My greatest comfort under God is that I have been supported by
the officers, seamen, and marines of this ship; for which, with a heart
overflowing with gratitude, I request you to accept my sincere thanks. I
flatter myself much good may result from your example, by bringing those
deluded people to a sense of their duty, which they owe, not only to
their king and country, but to themselves.

"The British navy has ever been the support of that liberty which has
been handed down to us by our ancestors, and which I trust we shall
maintain to the latest posterity; and that can only be done by
unanimity and obedience. This ship's company and others, who have
distinguished themselves by their loyalty and good order, deserve to be,
and doubtless will be, the favourites of a grateful country. They will
also have from their inward feelings a comfort which will be lasting,
and not like the floating and false confidence of those who have swerved
from their duty.

"It has often been my pride with you to look into the Texel and see a
foe which dreaded coming out to meet us; my pride is now humbled indeed;
my feelings are not easily to be expressed! our cup has overflowed and
made us wanton. The all-wise Providence has given us this check as a
warning, and I hope we shall improve by it. On Him then let us trust,
where our only security can be found. I find there are many good men
among us; for my own part, I have had full confidence of all in this
ship; and once more beg to express my approbation of your conduct.

"May God, who has thus far conducted you, continue to do so; and may the
British navy, the glory and support of our country, be restored to its
wonted splendour, and be not only the bulwark of Britain, but the terror
of the world.

"But this can only be effected by a strict adherence to our duty and
obedience; and let us pray that the almighty God may keep us in the
right way of thinking.

"God bless you all."

At an address so unassuming, modest and pious, and so well calculated,
from its simplicity and truth, to touch the human heart, the whole
ship's crew were dissolved in tears. They declared, by every expression
they could devise, their resolution to abide by the admiral in life or
death. Their example was followed by all the other ships, besides those
already mentioned. And the admiral, notwithstanding the defection of so
considerable a part of his squadron, repaired to his station off the
coast of Holland to watch the motions of the Dutch fleet, and resolved
still to do battle if opportunity served.

While he lay off the Texel the Dutch fleet did not venture out; but on
his being driven from his station by a gale of wind they took advantage
of his absence and put to sea; they had scarcely cleared the land,
however, when they were descried by the British fleet, which had
returned from Yarmouth as soon as possible. It was at nine o'clock on
the morning of October 12th, 1797, that the two fleets came in sight of
each other. Admiral Duncan, having judiciously placed his squadron in
such a position that the enemy could not regain the Texel unless they
fought their way thither, immediately bore up and made the signal for a
general chase. The Dutch at the time were forming in a line on the
larboard tack to receive the British, the wind being at north-west.

As soon as the British squadron came near, Admiral Duncan made the
signal to shorten sail in order to connect the ships of his squadron:
soon after this the land was seen between Camperdown and Egmont, on the
coast of Holland. This convinced him that no time was to be lost in
making the attack, as otherwise he might get entangled with the shore;
he accordingly made the signal to bear up, break the enemy's line and
engage them to leeward, each ship her opponent. By this manner he got
between them and the land, whither they were fast approaching.

Vice-admiral Onslow, in obedience to the signal, bore down on the rear
of the Dutch fleet in the most gallant manner, his division following
the example; and the action commenced about forty minutes after twelve
o'clock. Admiral Duncan, in the _Venerable_, soon got through the line
of the enemy, and began a close action with his division against their
van. The engagement lasted nearly two hours and a half, when the masts
of the Dutch admiral's ship were observed to go by the board: even for
some time after this, however, she was defended in the most gallant
manner; but at last, being overpowered by numbers, her colours were
struck, and the Dutch admiral, De Winter, was brought on board the

About the same time Vice-admiral Onslow had obliged the ship which
carried the Dutch vice-admiral's flag to strike her colours. Many others
had also surrendered. During the action the two fleets had approached
so near the coast of Holland, being within five miles of it, that they
had only nine fathoms of water. The first thing, therefore, to which
Admiral Duncan directed his attention was to get the heads of the
disabled ships off shore. This was indeed difficult and dangerous; for
the wind continued for some time to blow strong from west-south-west to
west-north-west, and consequently directly on the coast of Holland; as
soon as it shifted to the north the admiral made the signal to wear, and
stood to the westward. On October 14th he succeeded in reaching Orford
Ness, the _Venerable_ being so leaky that, with all her pumps going, she
could be scarcely kept free of water.

During the action one of the enemy's ships caught fire and drove very
near the _Venerable_; but no mischief was done. The British squadron
suffered much in their masts, rigging, etc. The number of killed and
wounded on board of the British ships was very great; but that of the
Dutch much greater, five hundred men being killed and wounded on board
two of their ships only. Besides the Dutch admiral's ship, eight others
of the line and two frigates were captured. The Dutch attributed their
defeat to the circumstance that Vice-admiral Storey fled into the Texel
with the greater part of his division soon after the action began.

It was in connection with this engagement that the incident occurred
which forms the subject of the illustration on the cover of this volume.
The admiral's ship, the _Venerable_, was so hotly pressed that more than
once her colours were shot away. On one of these occasions the flag is
said to have been rescued and replaced by Jack Crawford, one of the
_Venerable's_ men, in some such way as is described in the following

    We had battled all the morning, 'mid the never-ceasing hail
    Of shot and shell and splinter, of cable--shred, and sail;
    We had thrice received their onslaught, which we thrice had driven
    And were waiting, calm and ready, for the last forlorn attack;
    When the stainless flag of England, that has braved a thousand
    Was shot clean from the masthead; and they gave three hearty cheers.

    'Twas the purpose of a moment, and the bravest of our tars
    Plunged headlong in the boiling surf, amid the broken spars;
    He snatched the shot-torn colours, and wound them round his arm,
    Then climbed upon the deck again, and there stood safe and calm
    He paused but for a moment--for it was no time to stay--
    Then leaped into the rigging that had yet survived the fray;
    Higher yet he climbed and higher, till he gained a dizzy height,
    And then turned and paused a moment to look down upon the fight.

    Whistled wild the shots around him, as a curling, smoky wreath
    Formed a cloudy shroud to hide him from the enemy beneath.
    Beat his heart with proud elation as he firmly fixed his stand,
    And again the colours floated as he held them in his hand.
    Then with pistol deftly wielded, 'mid the battle's ceaseless blast,
    Fastened there the colours firmly, as he nailed them to the mast;
    Then, as if to yield him glory, the smoke-clouds cleared away--
    And we sent him up the loudest cheer that reached his ear that day,
    And, with new-born zeal and courage, dashed more boldly to the
    Till the day of battle ended in the triumph of the night.

Jack Crawford was a native of Sunderland, where he died in 1831. In 1890
a statue was erected to his memory in his native town by public
subscription, and was unveiled on April 8th by Lord Camperdown, a
descendant of Admiral Duncan, in whose ship Crawford served.



The _Repulse_ was one of the ships belonging to the Channel fleet, under
the command of Sir Allen Gardner, but had been detached for the purpose
of intercepting provision vessels going into Brest. On the night of
March 10th, 1800, she struck upon a sunken rock, supposed to be the
Mace, about twenty-five leagues southeast of Ushant. The crew made good
a landing on one of the Glenan Islands, about two miles from the
continent. Here the captain, and most of the officers, were made
prisoners, and sent to Quimper; but Mr. Rother, the first lieutenant,
Mr. Gordon, the fifth, Mr. Finn, the master, two midshipmen, and eight
seamen, got into the larger cutter; and, on the fourth day after leaving
the ship, during which interval they experienced bad weather, and were,
at times, near perishing, arrived safe at Guernsey.

The following letter from one of the officers who escaped, to his
father, gives a full account of the loss of the _Repulse_, and likewise
of the adventures of the boat's crew, from the time of their quitting
the ship till their arrival at Guernsey:--

    "GUERNSEY, _March 13th, 1800_.

"MY DEAR FATHER,--I embrace the opportunity of a packet sailing for
England, to acquaint you with the unfortunate fate of the _Repulse_.
Coming off the Penmarks, in company with the _Agamemnon_, on Saturday,
March 9th, it then blowing a very heavy gale of wind, Captain Alms was
thrown down the companion ladder by the rolling of the ship, by which
accident some of his ribs were broken and he was much bruised. The same
day, we parted company with the _Agamemnon_, in chase of a strange sail
to leeward; and, about six in the evening, we came up with and
re-captured the _Princess Royal_ packet, from the West Indies. Next
morning, Captain Alms, finding himself much worse, resolved to put into
Torbay. We accordingly bore up and shaped a course, which, if our
reckoning had been correct, would have carried us far enough to the
westward of Ushant. But, unfortunately, owing to the thickness of the
weather (not having had an observation for some days), and to the
different set of the tides, which are very strong on this coast, the
ship had got nearly three degrees to the east of her reckoning; and at
twelve o'clock the same night going under an easy sail, that the prize
might be able to keep up, breakers were discovered ahead. It was
extremely foggy, and the ship was going at the rate of about seven
knots, with the wind almost right aft, so that our endeavours to clear
the danger were ineffectual. In a moment the ship struck with great
violence and was instantly so completely surrounded with rocks, that we
could not even see the opening which we had entered. In this dreadful
situation we continued nearly three quarters of an hour, the ship, from
the great surf that ran among the rocks, striking so violently, that we
every moment expected she would go to pieces.

"I shall not attempt to describe the appearance of so many men, with
certain and almost instant death staring them in the face: but I cannot
forbear observing, that those whom I ever considered the greatest
reprobates now became the greatest cowards, and were so overcome by
their awful situation, that they were totally unable to exert themselves
for their own perservation. We had no hopes of deliverance. The prize
was, indeed, in company, and we kept firing guns to inform her of our
danger. It was, however, absolutely impossible for us to receive any
assistance from that quarter; and if our firing enabled her to escape
herself it was as much as we could expect. That nothing on our part
might be left untried, the sails were hove aback, and, with the Divine
assistance, the ship backed astern, clear of the danger.

"Our joy on this occasion was, however, of short duration, for the ship
made so much water, that in half an hour it reached as high as the orlop
deck; and the rudder having lost all command, there appeared to be no
other chance of saving our lives than by running for the coast of
France. Accordingly, having got her head round to the eastward, we made
all the sail we could. We had now sufficient employment for all hands,
some were busy at the pumps, others were engaged in throwing the guns
overboard, and otherwise lightening the ship; while others, again, were
employed in lining a sail with beds, blankets, etc., which being got
over the bows, and bowsed taut up to the ship's bottom, was of very
great service. The water being considerably above the orlop deck, we
were enabled to bale at the hatchway; by which, and the wonderful
exertions of men actuated by the fear of death, we were enabled to keep
her afloat till five o'clock, when, to our inexpressible joy, the echo
of the report of one of our guns announced our being near the land, the
fog being so thick that we could not see the length of the ship. But
judge what must have been our sensations when we found ourselves within
half a ship's length of a lee shore, bounded by a precipice as high as
our mast head, against which the sea broke with excessive violence, and
on which we were running with great rapidity. The only chance of
preservation we now had, was by letting go an anchor, which, however,
did not bring us up. At the moment when we expected to be dashed to
pieces, our jib-boom almost touching the precipice, Providence again
interposed in our behalf, and the eddy wind, reverberating from the
rock, took the sail aback, and most miraculously saved us from

"We now cut the cable, and the ship drifted along the shore, till we
cleared a rugged point a quarter of a mile to the leeward of us, when
she filled and ran up under a weather shore, which, being very high,
sheltered us a good deal. Here we grounded; but, from the heavy surf,
the ship continued striking with such violence that we were afraid she
would go to pieces before we could leave her. We therefore made what
haste we could in getting the boat out, and then cut away the masts,
when she lay tolerably easy.

"As I had early in the morning resolved within myself to attempt
escaping in one of the boats, rather than be made prisoner, I mentioned
my design to Mr. Gordon, fifth lieutenant, who readily agreed to
accompany me. The eight-oared cutter being hoisted, I got into her, as
she was the best boat for the purpose, under pretence of seeking a
landing place; and having taken on board as many men as she could
conveniently carry, I landed them to the leeward of the point about a
mile from the ship, and then returned for another cargo. Having
disclosed my plan to the boat's crew, I sent one of them on board the
ship for a compass, boat's mast, sails, etc., but, to my infinite
mortification, he could only get a compass, the boat's sail being down
in the store-room. The pilot now came into my boat to go on shore. I
thought if I could secure him, it would be a great point, and I was glad
to obtain his concurrence.

"I had made four or five more trips between the ship and the shore, when
Mr. Rothery, the first lieutenant, called me to take him on board, which
I did, and was agreeably surprised to find that Mr. Gordon had
acquainted him with our secret, that he was resolved to go with us, and
had made some provision for the voyage. It consisted of some pieces of
hung beef, which, though raw, was better than nothing, a small quantity
of bread, and half a dozen of brandy, as he imagined, but which
afterwards proved to be wine. When I mentioned our want of sail, he
replied that we must make shift to supply that deficiency with some
table-cloths and sheets he had brought with him.

"We still continued going and returning, till almost all the people were
landed, and on our way had fortunately picked up the jolly-boat's mast
and sails, and the masts and yards belonging to several other boats, so
that the only article we now wanted was water. I recollected the fire
cask in the mizen chains, which we desired a man to push overboard.
Having picked it up and taken it in, with Mr. Gordon, we again
committed ourselves to the mercy of the waves and the care of

"But before I leave the ship, it will be proper to mention the number of
lives that were lost. When we first struck upon the rock, five of the
crew, whose apprehensions were too powerful for any other consideration,
got into a boat that was hung over the quarter, and in their hurry to
escape, cut one of the tackles by which the boat was suspended, while
they kept the other fast. The boat, consequently, hung by one end, and
they were all thrown out and drowned.

"I forgot to mention that, while the boats were employed in landing the
people, those on board had thrown the ends of several hawsers on shore,
which the peasantry made fast to the rock, and which being hauled taut
on board, they could go on shore upon them with great ease. Two men,
however, being intoxicated, fell off the hawsers into the water, and
perished. These, together with four marines, who lay upon deck
dead-drunk at the time we came away, and who, I believe, were not
afterwards carried on shore, are, as far as I know, all that suffered on
this occasion.

"Having a fair wind, we set the jolly-boat's sail for a fore sail, then
made a sparing breakfast and thought to recruit our spirits with a dram,
when, to our great disappointment, we found we had nothing but wine.
This was not the greatest of our misfortune, for, upon broaching our
water, we found it so strongly impregnated with the varnish with which
the cask had been so frequently laid over, that it was scarcely
drinkable, and even made some of us sick.

"One of the men having, fortunately, some sail needles in his pocket,
all hands turned to sail-making, some sewing, others unlaying rope, and
making it into twine. A table-cloth and a sheet sewed together made an
excellent main sail; and out of a piece of canvas we happened to have in
the boat we contrived to make a mizen sail, so that in a couple of hours
we had a complete suit.

"About twelve o'clock we were much alarmed by being becalmed among the
Penmark rocks, and they were obliged to pull hard to avoid being dashed
to pieces against them. We soon afterwards had a fine breeze, and about
five found ourselves close in with the land, a few miles to the
southward of Cape Roz. The wind was so scant that we could barely lie
along shore, and were obliged to pass several signal posts, at each of
which the enemy had a gun, so that we every moment expected to be fired
at. I believe by our being so badly rigged, and white sail, they took us
for Frenchmen.

"About dusk, we had another narrow escape among a reef of rocks, which
lay off Cape Roz, and upon which we were set by a very heavy swell and a
strong tide. It was now nearly dark, and, as it had every appearance of
blowing hard, we ran down into a deep bay, a little to the southward of
Brest Harbour, purposing to come to an anchor till the morning; but in
luffing up round a point, under which we intended to take shelter, we
were much surprised by the appearance of something like a fort, and soon
found our fears realised when the sentinel hailed us in French, which he
did twice. We now bore up, and made sail from it as fast as we could,
and I fancy were out of reach before they could get a gun ready, as we
saw a number of lights moving about.

"Some of the boat's crew now thought our undertaking so desperate that
they proposed to surrender rather than run any further risk. It was,
however, agreed to wait till daylight, and we accordingly came to an
anchor in the middle of the bay, not daring to trust ourselves any more
in shore. About eleven, the wind having moderated, and the moon shining
bright, we got under weigh, and ran between the Saints and the main,
which is a very dangerous passage. By two o'clock next morning we were
clean off Ushant, having also passed between that and the main. We were
now in high spirits to think we had got clear of the coast of France,
and regaled ourselves with an additional glass of wine; having also a
fair wind for England, which continued all that day till four in the
afternoon, when, to our great distress, it fell calm, at a time when, by
the distance we had to run, we computed ourselves at no more than eight
leagues from Plymouth. At seven, a breeze sprang up from the northward,
and at eight it blew extremely violent, with a heavy sea. The gale
continued to increase till eleven, when our situation became very
alarming, exposed to a heavy gale of wind, in the middle of the English
Channel, in an open boat, with the sea breaking over us in such a manner
that we expected each succeeding wave would overwhelm the boat and
terminate our existence.

"The pilot, after some consideration, proposed to us, as the only chance
we had remaining, to bear up for the island of Guernsey or Jersey. To
this proposal we all would readily have acceded, but were of opinion
that if he once put the boat before the sea she would immediately fill.
During our consultation a singular circumstance occurred, which
determined us to follow the pilot's advice. Three distinct flashes of
lightning were perceived, at regular intervals, in the southeast which
was exactly the direction the islands bore from us. This the
superstition of the boat's crew interpreted as a signal from heaven. We
accordingly bore up, and stood in the same direction in which we had
observed the lightning.

"Next morning the gale rather abated; and about two o'clock in the
afternoon, to our inexpressible joy, we discovered the island of
Guernsey; but the wind failing, we did not make the land till late the
following morning."

  [Illustration: THE "VICTORY" AT PORTSMOUTH.]



Horatio Nelson, son of Edmund and Catherine Nelson, was born September
29th, 1758, in the Rectory of Burnham Thorpe, a village in the county of
Norfolk, of which his father was rector. The maiden name of his mother
was Suckling: her grandmother was an elder sister of Sir Robert Walpole,
and Horatio was named after his godfather, the first Lord Walpole. Mrs.
Nelson died in 1767, leaving eight, out of eleven, children. Her
brother, Captain Maurice Suckling, of the navy, visited the widower upon
this event, and promised to take care of one of the boys. Three years
afterwards, when Horatio was only twelve years of age, being at home
during the Christmas holidays, he read in the county newspaper that his
uncle was appointed to the _Raisonnable_, of sixty-four guns. "Do,
William," said he to a brother who was a year and a half older than
himself, "write to my father, and tell him that I should like to go to
sea with Uncle Maurice." Mr. Nelson was then at Bath, whither he had
gone for the recovery of his health; his circumstances were straitened,
and he had no prospect of ever seeing them bettered: he knew that it was
the wish of providing for himself by which Horatio was chiefly actuated,
and did not oppose his resolution: he understood also the boy's
character, and had always said, that in whatever station he might be
placed, he would climb, if possible, to the very top of the tree.
Accordingly, Captain Suckling was written to. "What," said he in his
answer, "has poor Horatio, who is so weak, done, that he above all the
rest should be sent to rough it out at sea? But let him come, and the
first time we go into action, a cannon ball may knock off his head, and
provide for him at once."

It is manifest from these words that Horatio was not the boy whom his
uncle would have chosen to bring up in his own profession. He was never
of a strong body; and the ague, which at that time was one of the most
common diseases in England, had greatly reduced his strength; yet he had
already given proofs of that resolute heart and nobleness of mind,
which, during his whole career of labour and of glory, so eminently
distinguished him. When a mere child, he strayed a-bird's-nesting from
his grandmother's house in company with a cow-boy: the dinner hour
elapsed; he was absent, and could not be found, and the alarm of the
family became very great, for they apprehended that he might have been
carried off by gipsies. At length, after search had been made for him in
various directions, he was discovered alone, sitting composedly by the
side of a brook which he could not get over. "I wonder, child," said the
old lady when she saw him, "that hunger and fear did not drive you
home." "Fear! grandmamma," replied the future hero, "I never saw fear:
what is it?" Once, after the winter holidays, when he and his brother
William had set off on horseback to return to school, they came back
because there had been a fall of snow; and William, who did not much
like the journey, said it was too deep for them to venture on. "If that
be the case," said the father, "you certainly shall not go: but make
another attempt, and I will leave it to your honour. If the road is
dangerous, you may return; but remember, boys, I leave it to your
honour." The snow was deep enough to have afforded them a reasonable
excuse; but Horatio was not to be prevailed upon to turn back. "We must
go on," said he; "remember, brother, it was left to our honour!" There
were some fine pears growing in the schoolmaster's garden, which the
boys regarded as lawful booty, and in the highest degree tempting; but
the boldest among them were afraid to venture for the prize. Horatio
volunteered upon this service: he was lowered down at night from the
bedroom window by some sheets, plundered the tree, was drawn up with the
pears, and then distributed them among his schoolfellows without
reserving any for himself. "He only took them," he said, "because every
other boy was afraid."

Early on a cold and dark spring morning Mr. Nelson's servant arrived at
this school at North Walsham, with the expected summons for Horatio to
join his ship. The parting from his brother William, who had been for so
many years his playmate and bed-fellow, was a painful effort, and was
the beginning of those privations which are the sailors' lot through
life. He accompanied his father to London. The _Raisonnable_ was lying
in the Medway. He was put into the Chatham stage, and on its arrival was
set down with the rest of the passengers and left to find his way on
board as best he could. After wandering about in the cold without being
able to reach the ship, an officer observed the forlorn appearance of
the boy, questioned him, and, happening to be acquainted with his uncle,
took him home and gave him some refreshments. When he got on board,
Captain Suckling was not in the ship, nor had any person been apprised
of the boy's coming. He paced the deck the whole remainder of the day
without being noticed by any one, and it was not till the second day
that somebody, as he expressed it, "took compassion on him."

The _Raisonnable_ having been commissioned on account of the dispute
respecting the Falkland Islands, was paid off as soon as the difference
with the court of Spain was accommodated, and Captain Suckling was
removed to the _Triumph_, seventy-four, then stationed as a guardship in
the Thames. This was considered as too inactive a life for a boy, and
Nelson was therefore sent [on] a voyage to the West Indies in a merchant
ship, commanded by Mr. John Rathbone, an excellent seaman, who had
served as master's mate under Captain Suckling in the _Dreadnought_. He
returned a practical seaman, but with a hatred of the king's service,
and a saying then common among the sailors--"Aft the most honour;
forward the better man." Rathbone had probably been disappointed and
disgusted in the navy; and, with no unfriendly intentions, warned Nelson
against a profession which he himself had found hopeless. His uncle
received him on board the _Triumph_ on his return, but he had not been
many months on board when his love of enterprise was excited by hearing
that two ships were fitting out for a voyage of discovery towards the
North Pole. In consequence of the difficulties which were expected on
such a service, these vessels were to take out effective men instead of
the usual number of boys. This, however, did not deter him from
soliciting to be received, and by his uncle's interest he was admitted
as coxswain under Captain Lutwidge, second in command.

They sailed from the Nore on June 4th; on the 6th of the following month
they were in latitude 79° 56´ 39´´, longitude 9° 43´ 30´´ E. The next
day, about the place where most of the old discoverers had been stopped,
the _Racehorse_ was beset with ice; but they hove her through with ice
anchors. Captain Phipps continued ranging along the ice, northward and
westward, till the 24th; he then tried to the eastward. On the 30th he
was in latitude 80° 13´, longitude 18° 48´ E., among the islands and in
the ice, with no appearance of an opening for the ships. The weather was
exceedingly fine, mild, and unusually clear. Here they were becalmed in
a large bay, with three apparent openings between the islands which
formed it; but everywhere, as far as they could see, surrounded with
ice. There was not a breath of air, the water was perfectly smooth, the
ice covered with snow, low and even, except a few broken pieces near the
edge, and the pools of water in the middle of the ice fields just
crusted over with young ice. On the next day the ice closed upon them,
and no opening was to be seen anywhere, except a hole or lake, as it
might be called, of about a mile and a half in circumference, where the
ships lay fast to the ice with their ice anchors. They filled their
casks with water from these ice-fields, which was very pure and soft.
The men were playing on the ice all day; but the Greenland pilots, who
were further than they had ever been before and considered that the
season was far advancing, were alarmed at being thus beset.

The next day there was not the smallest opening, the ships were within
less than two lengths of each other, separated by ice, and neither
having room to turn. The ice, which the day before had been flat and
almost level with the water's edge, was now in many places forced higher
than the mainyard by the pieces squeezing together. A day of thick fog
followed: it was succeeded by clear weather, but the passage by which
the ships had entered from the westward was closed, and no open water
was in sight, either in that or any other quarter. By the pilots' advice
the men were set to cut a passage and warp through the small openings to
the westward. They sawed through pieces of ice twelve feet thick; and
this labour continued the whole day, during which their utmost efforts
did not move the ships above three hundred yards, while they were
driven, together with the ice, far to the north-east and east by the
current. Young as he was, Nelson was appointed to command one of the
boats which were sent out to explore a passage into the open water. It
was the means of saving a boat belonging to the _Racehorse_ from a
singular but imminent danger. Some of the officers had fired at, and
wounded, a walrus. The wounded animal dived immediately and brought up a
number of its companions, and they all joined in an attack upon the
boat. They wrested an oar from one of the men; and it was with the
utmost difficulty that the crew could prevent them from staving or
upsetting her, till the _Carcass's_ boat came up, and the walruses,
finding their enemies thus reinforced, dispersed. Young Nelson exposed
himself in a more daring manner. One night, during the mid-watch, he
stole from the ship with one of his comrades, taking advantage of a
rising fog, and set out over the ice in pursuit of a bear. It was not
long before they were missed. The fog thickened, and Captain Lutwidge
and his officers became exceedingly alarmed for their safety. Between
three and four in the morning the weather cleared, and the two
adventurers were seen at a considerable distance from the ship,
attacking a huge bear. The signal for them to return was immediately
made: Nelson's comrade called upon him to obey it, but in vain; his
musket had flashed in the pan, their ammunition was expended, and a
chasm in the ice, which divided him from the bear, probably preserved
his life. "Never mind," he cried; "do but let me get a blow at this
devil with the butt-end of my musket, and we shall have him." Captain
Lutwidge, however, seeing his danger, fired a gun, which had the desired
effect of frightening the beast; and the boy returned. The captain
reprimanded him sternly for conduct so unworthy of the office which he
filled, and desired to know what motive he could have for hunting a
bear. "Sir," said he, pouting his lip, as he was wont to do when
agitated, "I wished to kill the bear that I might carry the skin to my

A party were now sent to an island about twelve miles off (named
Walden's Island in the chart, from the midshipman who was entrusted with
this service) to see where the open water lay. They came back with
information that the ice, though close all about them, was open to the
westward, round the point by which they came in. They said also, that
upon the island they had had a fresh east wind. This intelligence
considerably abated the hopes of the crew: for where they lay it had
been almost calm, and their main dependence had been upon the effect of
an easterly wind in clearing the bay. There was but one alternative,
either to wait the event of the weather upon the ships, or to betake
themselves to the boats. No time was to be lost; the ships had driven
into shoal water, having but fourteen fathoms. Should they, or the ice
to which they were fast, take the ground, they must inevitably be lost,
and at this time they were driving fast towards some rocks on the
north-east. Captain Phipps had sent for the officers of both ships and
told them his intention of preparing the boats for going away. They were
immediately hoisted out and the fitting begun. Canvas bread-bags were
made, in case it should be necessary suddenly to desert the vessels; and
men were sent with the lead and line to the northward and eastward, to
sound wherever they found cracks in the ice, that they might have notice
before the ice took the ground; for, in that case, the ships must have
instantly been crushed or overset.

On August 7th they began to haul the boats over the ice, Nelson having
command of the four-oared cutter. The men behaved excellently well, like
true British seamen: they seemed reconciled to the thought of leaving
the ships, and had full confidence in their officers. About noon, the
ice appeared rather more open near the vessels; and as the wind was
easterly, though there was but little of it, the sails were set and they
got about a mile to the westward. They moved very slowly, and were not
now nearly so far to the westward as when they were first beset.
However, all sail was kept upon them, to force them through whenever the
ice slacked the least. Whatever exertions were made, it could not be
possible to get the boats to the water's edge before the 14th; and if
the situation of the ships should not alter by that time, it would not
be justifiable to stay longer by them. The commander therefore resolved
to carry on both attempts together, moving the boats constantly, and
taking every opportunity of getting the ships through. A party was sent
out next day to the westward to examine the state of the ice: they
returned with tidings that it was very heavy and close, consisting
chiefly of large fields. The ships, however, moved something, and the
ice itself was drifting westward. There was a thick fog, so that it was
impossible to ascertain what advantage had been gained. It continued on
the 9th; but the ships were moved a little through some very small
openings: the mist cleared off in the afternoon, and it was then
perceived that they had driven much more than could have been expected
to the westward, and that the ice itself had driven still farther. In
the course of the day they got past the boats, and took them on board
again. On the morrow the wind sprang up to the north-north-east. All
sail was set, and the ships forced their way through a great deal of
very heavy ice. They frequently struck, and with such force that one
stroke broke the shank of the _Racehorse's_ best bower anchor; but the
vessels made way, and by noon they had cleared the ice and were out at

The ships were paid off shortly after their return to England; and
Nelson was then placed by his uncle with Captain Farmer, in the
_Seahorse_, of twenty guns, then going out to the East Indies in the
squadron under Sir Edward Hughes. His good conduct attracted the
attention of the master (afterwards Captain Surridge), and, upon his
recommendation, the captain rated him as midshipman. At this time his
countenance was florid, and his appearance rather stout and athletic;
but when he had been about eighteen months in India he felt the effects
of that climate, so perilous to European constitutions. The disease
baffled all power of medicine; he was reduced almost to a skeleton; the
use of his limbs was for some time entirely lost; and the only hope that
remained was from a voyage home. Accordingly he was brought home by
Captain Pigot, in the _Dolphin_; and had it not been for the attentive
and careful kindness of that officer on the way, Nelson would never have
lived to reach his native shores.

Soon after his return, on April 8th, 1777, he passed his examination for
a lieutenancy. Captain Suckling sat at the head of the board; and when
the examination had ended, in a manner highly honourable to Nelson, rose
from his seat, and introduced him to the examining captains as his
nephew. They expressed their wonder that he had not informed them of
this relationship before; he replied that he did not wish the younker to
be favoured; he knew his nephew would pass a good examination, and he
had not been deceived.




Though Nelson did not live to be an old man, he crowded his life with so
much activity that it is quite impossible to follow it in detail within
the limits of the present space. Active to restlessness, he wearied
beyond endurance of perfunctory duty and official routine, and if active
service did not come in his way he sought it. The death of his uncle,
Captain Suckling, soon after he had obtained his lieutenancy, threw him
upon his own resources, and compelled him to look out for himself. This
naturally strengthened his self-reliance and helped to develop his

On the day following his examination for a lieutenancy Nelson was
appointed to the _Lowestoffe_ frigate,--Captain William Locher then
fitting out for Jamaica,--from whence he passed to the Bristol flag-ship
and soon became first lieutenant. On December 8th, 1778, he was
appointed to the command of the _Badger_ brig. While the _Badger_ was
lying in Montego Bay an incident occurred which showed the coolness and
readiness of resource of the young officer. The _Glasgow_, a craft of
twenty guns, having entered the bay and cast anchor, was found to be on
fire, the steward having carelessly caused the conflagration while
taking rum from the after hold. Many of the crew sought safety in
flight, leaping into the water to escape the inevitable explosion of the
magazine. Nelson, however, was soon upon the spot, when he compelled
the remainder of the crew to throw the powder overboard and point the
cannon upwards, thereby minimising the evil consequences of the

Shortly after this Nelson was employed in conveying five hundred men
from Port Royal to Cape Gracias a Dios in Honduras, in furtherance of a
project of General Dalling to take Fort San Juan and cut off the
communication of the Spaniards between their northern and southern
possessions in America.

The castle of San Juan is thirty-two miles below the Lake of Nicaragua,
from which the river issues, and sixty-nine from its mouth. Boats reach
the sea from thence in a day and a half; but their navigation back, even
when unladen, is the labour of days. The English appeared before it on
the 11th, two days after they had taken San Bartolomeo. Nelson's advice
was, that it should instantly be carried by assault: but Nelson was not
the commander, and it was thought proper to observe all the formalities
of a siege. Ten days were wasted before this could be commenced: it was
a work more of fatigue than of danger; but fatigue was more to be
dreaded than the enemy. The rains set in, and, could the garrison have
held out a little longer, disease would have rid them of their invaders.
Even the Indians sank under it, the victims of unusual exertion and of
their own excesses. The place surrendered on the 24th. But victory
procured to the conquerors none of the relief they expected; the castle
was worse than a prison, and it contained nothing which could contribute
to the recovery of the sick or the preservation of those who were yet
unaffected. The huts, which served for hospitals, were surrounded with
filth and with the putrefying hides of slaughtered cattle--almost
sufficient of themselves to have engendered pestilence; and when, at
last, orders were given to erect a convenient hospital, the contagion
had become so general that there were none who could work at it; for,
besides the few who were able to perform garrison duty, there were not
orderly men enough to assist the sick.

Nelson was attacked with the prevailing dysentery when the news arrived
that he had been appointed to succeed Captain Glover in the _Janus_ of
forty-four guns. He returned to the harbour the day before San Juan
surrendered, and immediately sailed for Jamaica in the sloop that had
brought the news of the appointment. His health, however, compelled him
to forego his opportunity and return to England, where he spent four
months in rest and recuperation. Nelson's next appointment was to the
_Albemarle_ of twenty-eight guns with which, as he said, as if to try
his constitution he was now sent to the North Seas and kept there the
whole winter. Nelson arrived at this station during the armed
neutrality; and when he anchored off Elsineur, the Danish admiral sent
on board, desiring to be informed what ships had arrived, and to have
their force written down. "The _Albemarle_," said Nelson to the
messenger, "is one of his Britannic Majesty's ships: you are at liberty,
sir, to count the guns as you go down the side; and you may assure the
Danish admiral that, if necessary, they shall all be well served." Other
characteristic actions are recorded of Nelson at this time.

On his return to the Downs, while he was ashore visiting the senior
officer, there came on so heavy a gale that almost all the vessels
drove, and a store-ship came athwart-hawse of the _Albemarle_. Nelson
feared she would drive on the Goodwin Sands: he ran to the beach; but
even the Deal boatmen thought it impossible to get on board, such was
the violence of the storm. At length some of the most intrepid offered
to make the attempt for fifteen guineas; and, to the astonishment and
fear of all the beholders, Nelson embarked during the height of the
tempest. With great difficulty and imminent danger he succeeded in
reaching her. She lost her bowsprit and foremast, but escaped further

Nelson was now ordered to Quebec, and accordingly sailed for Canada.
During her first cruise on that station the _Albemarle_ captured a
fishing-schooner, which contained, in her cargo, nearly all the property
that her master possessed, and the poor fellow had a large family at
home, anxiously expecting him. Nelson employed him as a pilot in Boston
Bay, then restored him the schooner and cargo, and gave him a
certificate to secure him against being captured by any other vessel.
The man came off afterwards to the _Albemarle_, at the hazard of his
life, with a present of sheep, poultry, and fresh provisions. A most
valuable supply it proved; for the scurvy was raging on board: this was
in the middle of August, and the ship's company had not had a fresh meal
since the beginning of April. While here, Lord Hood introduced Nelson to
Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence, telling him that if he wished to
ask any questions respecting naval tactics, Captain Nelson could give
him as much information as any officer in the fleet. Another
characteristic act of Nelson occurred while he was cruising between
Puerto Cabello and La Guayra, under French colours, for the purpose of
obtaining information, when a king's launch, belonging to the Spaniards,
passed near, and, being hailed in French, came alongside without
suspicion, and answered all the questions asked concerning the number
and force of the enemy's ships. The crew, however, were not a little
surprised when they were taken on board, and found themselves prisoners.
One of the party went by the name of the Count de Deux Ponts. He was,
however, a prince of the German empire, and brother to the heir of the
Electorate of Bavaria: his companions were French officers of
distinction, and men of science, who had been collecting specimens in
the various branches of natural history. Nelson having entertained them
with the best his table could afford, told them they were at liberty to
depart with their boat and all that it contained; he only required them
to promise that they would consider themselves as prisoners, if the
commander-in-chief should refuse to acquiesce in their being thus
liberated: a circumstance which was not by any means likely to happen.
Tidings soon arrived that the preliminaries of peace had been signed;
and the _Albemarle_ returned to England, and was paid off.

Nelson's next appointment was to the _Boreas_, twenty-eight guns, bound
for the Leeward Islands as a cruiser on the peace establishment. Here
we have a happy picture of his treatment of the midshipmen who came
under his influence.

If he perceived that a boy was afraid at first going aloft, he would say
to him, in a friendly manner: "Well, sir, I am going a race to the
mast-head, and beg that I may meet you there." The poor little fellow
instantly began to climb, and got up how he could--Nelson never noticed
in what manner, but, when they met in the top, spoke cheerfully to him,
and would say how much any person was to be pitied who fancied that
getting up was either dangerous or difficult. Every day he went into the
school-room, to see that they were pursuing their nautical studies, and
at noon he was always the first on deck with his quadrant. Whenever he
paid a visit of ceremony, some of these youths always accompanied him.

The sense of duty, which was so strong an element in Nelson's character,
led him into much trouble at this period of his career. The Navigation
Act as then in existence had been allowed to become a dead letter in as
far as America and Nova Scotia were concerned, and Nelson felt that it
was the duty of the navy to enforce it. This led him into difficulties
with his superiors, who resented his dictation, and with the traders
whose interests he attacked. In the result he had to choose between
disobeying his superiors and disobeying acts of parliament. "I
determined," he says, "upon the former, trusting to the uprightness of
my intentions, and believing that my country would not let me be ruined
for protecting her commerce." For this he would probably have been tried
by court martial had not the spirit of the fleet been with him. As it
was he was subject to civil proceedings, which made it impossible for
him to leave his ship for a long time for fear of arrest and subjected
him to annoyance for years after. The government, however, ultimately
took up his defence and finally thanked the commander-in-chief for the
services rendered by Nelson against his orders.

Nelson's attempts at this time to put down the abuses whereby the
British Government were being defrauded by dishonest traders also made
him many enemies; but in this as in most of his enterprises, he was
ultimately successful; inducing the Government to introduce proper
systems of checking supplies.

About this time he found consolation for public worries in domestic
felicity, betrothing the daughter of Mr. Herbert, the President of
Nevis, then, though only in her eighteenth year, the widow of Dr.
Nisbet, a physician. She had one child, a son, by name Josiah, who
afterwards entered the navy. One day Mr. Herbert, who had hastened,
half-dressed, to receive Nelson, exclaimed, on returning to his
dressing-room, "Good God! if I did not find that great little man, of
whom everybody is so afraid, playing in the next room, under the
dining-table, with Mrs. Nisbet's child!" A few days afterwards Mrs.
Nisbet herself was first introduced to him, and thanked him for the
partiality which he had shown her little boy.

They were married on March 11th, 1787; Prince William Henry, who had
come out to the West Indies the preceding winter, being present, by his
own desire, to give away the bride. Nelson took his wife to his father's
parsonage, meaning only to pay him a visit before they went to France; a
project which he had formed for the sake of acquiring a competent
knowledge of the French language. But his father could not bear to lose
him thus unnecessarily. Mr. Nelson had long been an invalid, suffering
under paralytic and asthmatic affections, which, for several hours after
he rose in the morning, scarcely permitted him to speak. He had been
given over by his physicians for this complaint nearly forty years
before his death, and was, for many of his last years, obliged to spend
all his winters at Bath. The sight of his son, he declared, had given
him new life. "But, Horatio," said he, "it would have been better that I
had not been thus cheered, if I am so soon to be bereaved of you again.
Let me, my good son, see you whilst I can. My age and infirmities
increase, and I shall not last long." To such an appeal there could be
no reply. Nelson took up his abode for a time at the parsonage, and
amused himself with the sports and occupations of the country.




On January 30th, 1793, by the united interest of Prince William, now
Duke of Clarence, and Lord Hood, Nelson was appointed to the _Agamemnon_
of sixty-five guns and was ordered to the Mediterranean to serve under
Lord Hood. While here, he was sent with despatches to Sir William
Hamilton, our envoy at the court of Naples, and thus formed the
acquaintance of Sir William and his wife. When returning from this
mission, he fell in with five sail of the enemy and gave chase. He came
near enough to one frigate to engage her, but after inflicting and
receiving much damage was unable to follow up his advantage. Shortly
after, he was detached with a small squadron to co-operate with General
Paoli and the anti-Galician party in Corsica, an expedition--the
immediate object of which was the conquest of the city of Bastia, then
held by the French--in which Nelson showed what a determined sailor can
do on shore.

Lord Hood submitted to General Dundas, who commanded the land forces, a
plan for the reduction of this place; but the general declined
co-operating, thinking the attempt impracticable without a reinforcement
of two thousand men, which he expected from Gibraltar. Upon this Lord
Hood determined to reduce it with the naval force under his command,
and leaving part of his fleet off Toulon, sailed with the rest to
Bastia. General d'Aubant, who succeeded General Dundas in the command of
the land forces, held the same opinion as his predecessor and refused to
furnish his lordship with a single soldier, cannon, or any stores. Lord
Hood could only obtain a few artillerymen; so ordering on board the
troops who, having been embarked as marines, were borne on the ships'
books as part of their respective complements, he began the siege with
eleven hundred and eighty-three soldiers, artillerymen, and marines, and
two hundred and fifty sailors. "We are but few," said Nelson, "but of
the right sort; our general at St. Fiorenzo not giving us one of the
five regiments he has there lying idle."

These men were landed on April 4th, under Lieutenant-Colonel Villettes
and Nelson, who had now acquired from the army the title of brigadier.
Guns were dragged by the sailors up heights where it appeared almost
impossible to convey them; a work of the greatest difficulty, and one
which Nelson said could never, in his opinion, have been accomplished by
any but British seamen. The soldiers, though less dexterous in such
service, because not accustomed, like sailors, to habitual dexterity,
behaved with equal spirit. "Their zeal," said the brigadier, "is almost
unexampled. There is not a man but considers himself as personally
interested in the event, and as deserted by the general. It has, I am
persuaded, made them equal to double their numbers."

La Combe St. Michel, the commissioner from the national convention, who
was in the city, replied to the summons of the British admiral in these
terms: "I have hot shot for your ships, and bayonets for your troops.
When two-thirds of our men are killed, I will then trust to the
generosity of the English." The siege, however, was not sustained with
the firmness which such a reply seemed to augur. On May 19th a treaty of
capitulation was begun, and that same evening the troops from St.
Fiorenzo made their appearance on the hills; and, on the following
morning, General d'Aubant arrived with the whole army to take possession
of the town.

The events of the siege had justified the confidence of the sailors; but
they themselves excused the opinion of the generals, when they saw what
they had done. "I am all astonishment," said Nelson, "when I reflect
upon what we have achieved: one thousand regulars, fifteen hundred
national guards, and a large party of Corsican troops, four thousand in
all, laying down their arms to twelve hundred soldiers, marines, and
seamen! I always was of opinion, have ever acted up to it and never had
any reason to repent it, that one Englishman was equal to three
Frenchmen. Had this been an English town, I am sure it would not have
been taken by them."

The _Agamemnon_ was now despatched to co-operate at the siege of Calvi
with General Sir Charles Stuart. Nelson had less responsibility here
than at Bastia, and was acting with a man after his own heart, who was
never sparing of himself, and slept every night in the advanced battery.
But the service was not less hard than that of the former siege. "We
will fag ourselves to death," said he to Lord Hood, "before any blame
shall lie at our doors. I trust it will not be forgotten that
twenty-five pieces of heavy ordnance have been dragged to the different
batteries, mounted, and all but three fought by seamen, except one
artilleryman to point the guns." The climate proved more destructive
than the service; for this was during the period of the "lion sun," as
they there call our season of the "dog days." Of two thousand men above
half were sick, and the rest like so many phantoms. Nelson described
himself as the reed among the oaks, bowing before the storm when they
were laid low by it. "All the prevailing disorders have attacked me,"
said he, "but I have not strength enough for them to fasten on." The
loss from the enemy was not great; but Nelson received a serious injury:
a shot struck the ground near him, and drove the sand and small gravel
into one of his eyes. He spoke of it slightly at the time: writing the
same day to Lord Hood, he only said that he got a little hurt that
morning, not much; and the next day, he said, he should be able to
attend his duty in the evening. In fact, he suffered it to confine him
only one day; but the sight was lost.

After the fall of Calvi, his services were, by a strange omission,
altogether overlooked and his name was not even mentioned in the list of
wounded. Nelson felt himself neglected. "One hundred and ten days," said
he, "I have been actually engaged, at sea and on shore, against the
enemy; three actions against ships, two against Bastia in my ship, four
boat actions, and two villages taken, and twelve sail of vessels burnt.
I do not know that any one has done more. I have had the comfort to be
always applauded by my commander-in-chief, but never to be rewarded;
and, what is more mortifying, for services in which I have been wounded
others have been praised, who, at the same time, were actually in bed,
far from the scene of action. They have not done me justice. But, never
mind. I'll have a _Gazette_ of my own." How amply was this prediction

As the result of this expedition, Corsica was annexed to the British
Crown with the consent of the majority of the people, and received a
constitution as free as our own. Some, however, favoured French
occupation, and soon after France taking advantage of the discontent,
sought the reconquest of the island. Corsica was now loudly threatened.
The French had a superior fleet in the Mediterranean, and they sent it
out with express orders to seek the English and engage them.
Accordingly, the Toulon fleet, consisting of seventeen ships of the
line, and five smaller vessels, put to sea. Admiral Hotham, who had
succeeded Lord Hood, received this information at Leghorn, and sailed
immediately in search of them. He had with him fourteen sail of the line
and one Neapolitan seventy-four; but his ships were only half manned,
containing but seven thousand six hundred and fifty men, whereas the
enemy had sixteen thousand nine hundred. He soon came in sight of them:
a general action was expected; but after manoeuvring for a day in sight
of the English fleet, they allowed themselves to be chased. Nelson
followed the _Ça Ira_ for several hours, inflicting and receiving
considerable damage, the result of which was that seven of the
_Agamemnon_ men were hurt, while the _Ça Ira_ lost one hundred and ten,
and was so cut up that she could not get a top mast aloft during the
following night.

The next morning the French fleet was observed about five miles off the
_Ça Ira_, and the _Censeur_ which had her in tow being about three and a
half miles distant. All sail was made to cut these ships off, and a
partial engagement of the two fleets ensued. The _Agamemnon_ was again
engaged with her yesterday's antagonist; but she had to fight on both
sides the ship at the same time. The _Ça Ira_ and the _Censeur_ fought
most gallantly: the first lost nearly three hundred men, in addition to
her former loss; the last, three hundred and fifty. Both at last struck,
and Lieutenant Andrews, of the _Agamemnon_, hoisted English colours on
board them both. As soon as these vessels had struck, Nelson went to
Admiral Hotham, and proposed that the two prizes should be left with the
_Illustrious_ and _Courageux_, which had been crippled in the action,
and with four frigates, and that the rest of the fleet should pursue the
enemy and follow up the advantage to the utmost. But his reply was--"We
must be contented: we have done very well." "Now," said Nelson, "had we
taken ten sail, and allowed the eleventh to escape, when it had been
possible to have got at her, I could never have called it well done.
Goodall backed me: I got him to write to the admiral; but it would not
do. We should have had such a day as, I believe, the annals of England
never produced."

Nelson's next expedition was to Genoa to co-operate with the Austrian
and Sardinian forces; but his allies were unworthy of him and by their
irresolution and delay continued to frustrate his best laid schemes. In
an engagement between the Austrians and the French, General de Vins, the
Austrian general, gave up the command in the middle of the battle,
pleading ill-health. "From that moment," says Nelson, "not a soldier
stayed at his post: it was the devil take the hindmost. Many thousands
ran away who had never seen the enemy; some of them thirty miles from
the advanced posts. Had I not--though, I own, against my
inclination--been kept at Genoa, from eight to ten thousand men would
have been taken prisoners, and, amongst the number, General de Vins
himself; but, by this means, the pass of the Bocchetta was kept open.
The purser of the ship, who was at Vado, ran with the Austrians eighteen
miles without stopping: the men without arms, officers without soldiers,
women without assistance. The oldest officer, say they, never heard of
so complete a defeat, and certainly without any reason. Thus has ended
my campaign."

The defeat of General de Vins gave the enemy possession of the Genoese
coast from Savona to Voltri; and it deprived the Austrians of their
direct communication with the English fleet. The _Agamemnon_, therefore,
could no longer be useful on this station, and so Nelson sailed for
Leghorn to refit. When his ship went into dock, there was not a mast,
yard, sail, or any part of the rigging but what stood in need of repair,
having been cut to pieces with shot. The hull was so damaged that it had
for some time been secured by cables, which were served or thrapped
round it.



Sir John Jervis now became commander of the Mediterranean fleet, and
Nelson joined him in Fiorenzo Bay. The manner in which Nelson was
received is said to have excited some envy. One captain observed to him:
"You did just as you pleased in Lord Hood's time, the same in Admiral
Hotham's, and now again with Sir John Jervis; it makes no difference to
you who is commander-in-chief."

Had Nelson consulted his own inclinations at this time, he would have
returned for a short period of rest, but as Sir John Jervis put it, "We
cannot spare you, either as captain or admiral," and so he resumed his
station in the Gulf of Genoa.

The French had not followed up their successes in that quarter with
their usual celerity. Scherer, who commanded there, owed his advancement
to any other cause than his merit, was removed from a command for which
his incapacity was afterwards clearly proved, and Bonaparte was
appointed to succeed him. Bonaparte, with a celerity which had never
before been witnessed in modern war, pursued his advantages to the
uttermost; and, in a very short time, dictated to the court of Turin
terms of peace, or rather of submission, by which all the strongest
places of Piedmont were put into his hands.

On one occasion, and only on one, Nelson was able to impede the progress
of this new conqueror. Six vessels, laden with cannon and
ordnance-stores for the siege of Mantua, sailed from Toulon for St. Pier
d'Arena. Assisted by Captain Cockburn, in the _Meleager_, he drove them
under a battery, pursued them, silenced the batteries, and captured the
whole. Military books, plans, and maps of Italy, with the different
points marked upon them where former battles had been fought, sent by
the Directory for Bonaparte's use, were found in the convoy. The loss of
this artillery was one of the chief causes which compelled the French to
raise the siege of Mantua.

The successes of Bonaparte on land led the British government to order
the evacuation of Corsica, and Nelson undertook to protect the
embarkation of British property. The viceroy, Sir Gilbert Elliott,
deeply felt the impolicy and ignominy of this evacuation, and Nelson
exclaimed, when he heard that the fleet was to leave the Mediterranean,
"Do His Majesty's ministers know their own minds? They do not know what
this fleet is capable of performing--anything and everything. Much as I
shall rejoice to see England, I lament our present orders in sackcloth
and ashes, so dishonourable to the dignity of England, whose fleets are
equal to meet the world in arms." Sir Gilbert Elliott believed that the
great body of the Corsicans were perfectly satisfied with the British
government, but when they found that the English intended to evacuate
the island, they naturally and necessarily sent to make their peace with
the French. The partisans of France found none to oppose them. A
committee of thirty took upon them the government of Bastia, and
sequestrated all the British property; armed Corsicans mounted guard at
every place, and a plan was laid for seizing the viceroy. Nelson, who
was appointed to superintend the evacuation, frustrated these projects.
At a time when every one else despaired of saving stores, cannon,
provisions, or property of any kind, and a privateer was moored across
the mole-head to prevent all boats from passing, he sent word to the
committee that if the slightest opposition were made to the embarkment
and removal of British property, he would batter the town down. The
privateer pointed her guns at the officer who carried this message, and
muskets were levelled against his boats from the mole-head. Upon this
Captain Sutton, of the _Egmont_, pulling out his watch, gave them a
quarter of an hour to deliberate upon their answer. In five minutes
after the expiration of that time, the ships, he said, would open their
fire. Upon this the very sentinels scampered off, and every vessel came
out of the mole. A ship-owner complained to the commodore that the
municipality refused to let him take his goods out of the custom-house.
Nelson directed him to say that unless they were instantly delivered he
would open his fire. The committee turned pale; and without answering a
word gave him the keys. Their last attempt was to levy a duty upon the
things that were re-embarked. He sent them word that he would pay them a
disagreeable visit if there were any more complaints. The committee then
finding that they had to deal with a man who knew his own power and was
determined to make the British name respected, desisted from the
insolent conduct which they had assumed, and it was acknowledged that
Bastia never had been so quiet and orderly since the English were in
possession of it. In less than a week private property and public stores
to the value of £200,000 had been safely removed.

The French, favoured by the Spanish fleet, which was at that time within
twelve leagues of Bastia, pushed over troops from Leghorn, who landed
near Cape Corse on the 18th, and, on the 20th, at one in the morning
entered the citadel, an hour only after the British had spiked the guns
and evacuated it. Nelson embarked at daybreak, being the last person who
left the shore; having thus, as he said, seen the first and the last of

Having thus ably effected this humiliating service, Nelson was ordered
to hoist his broad pennant on board the _Minerve_ frigate, Captain
George Cockburn, and, with the _Blanche_ under his command, proceed to
Porto Ferrajo, and superintend the evacuation of that place also. On his
way he fell in with two Spanish frigates, the _Sabina_ and the _Ceres_.
The _Minerve_ engaged the former, which was commanded by Don Jacobo
Stuart, a descendant of the Duke of Berwick. After an action of three
hours, during which the Spaniards lost a hundred and sixty-four men, the
_Sabina_ struck. The Spanish captain, who was the only surviving
officer, had hardly been conveyed on board the _Minerve_, when another
enemy's frigate came up, compelled her to cast off the prize, and
brought her a second time to action. After half an hour's trial of
strength, this new antagonist wore and hauled off; but a Spanish
squadron of two ships of the line and two frigates came in sight. The
_Blanche_, from which the _Ceres_ had got off, was far to windward, and
the _Minerve_ escaped only by the anxiety of the enemy to recover their
own ship. As soon as Nelson reached Porto Ferrajo, he sent his prisoner
in a flag of truce to Carthagena, having returned him his sword; this he
did in honour of the gallantry which Don Jacobo had displayed, and not
without some feeling of respect for his ancestry. By the same flag of
truce he sent back all the Spanish prisoners at Porto Ferrajo, in
exchange for whom he received his own men who had been taken in the

Nelson now sailed from Porto Ferrajo with a convoy for Gibraltar, and
thence proceeded westward in search of the admiral. Off the mouth of the
Straits he fell in with the Spanish fleet, and on February 13th, 1797,
reaching the station off Cape St. Vincent, informed Sir John Jervis of
its proximity.

He was now directed to shift his broad pennant on board the _Captain_,
seventy-four, Captain R. W. Miller; and, before sunset, the signal was
made to prepare for action, and to keep, during the night, in close
order. At daybreak the enemy were in sight. The British force consisted
of two ships of one hundred guns, two of ninety-eight, two of ninety,
eight of seventy-four, and one sixty-four: fifteen of the line in all;
with four frigates, a sloop, and a cutter. The Spaniards had one
four-decker, of one hundred and thirty-six guns, six three-deckers of
one hundred and twelve, two eighty-fours, eighteen seventy-fours: in
all, twenty-seven ships of the line, with ten frigates and a brig.
Their admiral, Don Joseph de Cordova, had learnt from an American, on
the 5th, that the English had only nine ships, which was indeed the case
when his informer had seen them; for a reinforcement of five ships from
England, under Admiral Parker, had not then joined, and the _Culloden_
had parted company. Upon this information, the Spanish commander,
instead of going into Cadiz, as was his intention when he sailed from
Carthagena, determined to seek an enemy so inferior in force; and
relying, with fatal confidence, upon the American account, he suffered
his ships to remain too far dispersed, and in some disorder. When the
morning of the 14th broke and discovered the English fleet, a fog for
some time concealed their number. The look-out ship of the Spaniards,
fancying that her signal was disregarded, because so little notice
seemed to be taken of it, made another signal that the English force
consisted of forty sail of the line. The captain afterwards said he did
this to rouse the admiral; it had the effect of perplexing him, and
alarming the whole fleet. The absurdity of such an act shows what was
the state of the Spanish navy under that miserable government, by which
Spain was so long oppressed and degraded and finally betrayed. In
reality, the general incapacity of the naval officers was so well known,
that in a pasquinade, which about this time appeared at Madrid, wherein
the different orders of the state were advertised for sale, the greater
part of the sea-officers, with all their equipments, were offered as a
gift; and it was added that any person who would please to take them
should receive a handsome gratuity.

Before the enemy could form a regular order of battle, Sir John Jervis,
by carrying a press of sail, came up with them, passed through their
fleet, then tacked, and thus cut off nine of their ships from the main
body. These ships attempted to form on the larboard tack, either with a
design of passing through the British line, or to leeward of it, and
thus rejoining their friends. Only one of them succeeded in this
attempt, and that only because she was so covered with smoke that her
intention was not discovered till she had reached the rear: the others
were so warmly received that they put about, took to flight, and did not
appear again in the action till its close. The admiral was now able to
direct his attention to the enemy's main body, which was still superior
in number to his whole fleet, and more so in weight of metal. He made
signal to tack in succession. Nelson, whose station was in the rear of
the British line, perceived that the Spaniards were bearing up before
the wind, with an intention of forming their line, going large, and
joining their separated ships; or else, of getting off without an
engagement. To prevent either of these schemes, he disobeyed the signal
without a moment's hesitation, and ordered his ship to be wore. This at
once brought him into action with the _Santissima Trinidad_, one hundred
and thirty-six, the _San Joseph_, one hundred and twelve, the _Salvador
del Mundo_, one hundred and twelve, the _San Nicolas_, eighty, the _San
Isidro_, seventy-four, another seventy-four, and another first-rate.
Trowbridge, in the _Culloden_, immediately joined, and most nobly
supported him; and for nearly an hour did the _Culloden_ and _Captain_
maintain what Nelson called "this apparently, but not really, unequal
contest;"--such was the advantage of skill and discipline and the
confidence which brave men derive from them. The _Blenheim_ then passing
between them and the enemy, gave them a respite, and poured in her fire
upon the Spaniards. The _Salvador del Mundo_ and _San Isidro_ dropped
astern, and were fired into, in a masterly style, by the _Excellent_,
Captain Collingwood. The _San Isidro_ struck; and Nelson thought that
the _Salvador_ struck also. "But Collingwood," says he, "disdaining the
parade of taking possession of beaten enemies, most gallantly pushed up,
with every sail set, to save his old friend and messmate, who was, to
every appearance, in a critical situation;" for the _Captain_ was at
this time actually fired upon by three first-rates, by the _San
Nicolas_, and by a seventy-four, within about pistol-shot of that
vessel. The _Blenheim_ was ahead, the _Culloden_ crippled and astern.
Collingwood ranged up, and hauling up his main sail just astern passed
within ten feet of the _San Nicolas_, giving her a most tremendous fire,
then passing on for the _Santissima Trinidad_. The _San Nicolas_ luffing
up, the _San Joseph_ fell on board her, and Nelson resumed his station
abreast of them, and close alongside. The _Captain_ was now incapable of
farther service, either in the line or in chase: she had lost her
foretop-mast; not a sail, shroud, or rope was left, and her wheel was
shot away. Nelson, therefore, directed Captain Miller to put the helm
a-starboard, and, calling for the boarders, ordered them to board.

Captain Berry, who had lately been Nelson's first lieutenant, was the
first man who leaped into the enemy's mizen chains. Miller, when in the
very act of going, was ordered by Nelson to remain. Berry was supported
from the spritsail yard, which locked in the _San Nicolas's_ main
rigging. A soldier of the 69th broke the upper quarter-gallery window,
and jumped in, followed by the commodore himself, and by others as fast
as possible. The cabin doors were fastened, and the Spanish officers
fired their pistols at them through the window; the doors were soon
forced, and the Spanish brigadier fell while retreating to the
quarter-deck. Nelson pushed on, and found Berry in possession of the
poop, and the Spanish ensign hauling down. He passed on to the
forecastle, where he met two or three Spanish officers, and received
their swords. The English were now in full possession of every part of
the ship; and a fire of pistols and musketry opened upon them from the
admiral's stern gallery of the _San Joseph_. Nelson having placed
sentinels at the different ladders, and ordered Captain Miller to send
more men into the prize, gave orders for boarding that ship from the
_San Nicolas_. It was done in an instant, he himself leading the way,
and exclaiming--"Westminster Abbey, or victory!" Berry assisted him into
the main chains; and at that very moment a Spanish officer looked over
the quarter-deck rail and said they surrendered. It was not long before
he was on the quarter-deck, where the Spanish captain presented to him
his sword, and told him the admiral was below, dying of his wounds.
There, on the quarter-deck of an enemy's first-rate, he received the
swords of the officers, giving them, as they were delivered, one by one,
to William Fearney, one of his old "Agamemnons," who, with the utmost
coolness, put them under his arm. One of his sailors came up, and, with
an Englishman's feeling, took him by the hand, saying he might not soon
have such another place to do it in, and he was heartily glad to see him
there. Twenty-four of the _Captain's_ men were killed, and fifty-six
wounded; a fourth part of the loss sustained by the whole squadron
falling upon this ship. Nelson received only a few bruises.

The Spaniards had still eighteen or nineteen ships, which had suffered
little or no injury; that part of the fleet which had been separated
from the main body in the morning was now coming up, and Sir John Jervis
made signal to bring-to. His ships could not have formed without
abandoning those which they had captured, and running to leeward: the
_Captain_ was lying a perfect wreck on board her two prizes; and many of
the other vessels were so shattered in their masts and rigging as to be
wholly unmanageable. The Spanish admiral meantime, according to his
official account, being altogether undecided in his own opinion
respecting the state of the fleet, inquired of his captains whether it
was proper to renew the action: nine of them answered explicitly that it
was not; others replied that it was expedient to delay the business. The
_Pelayo_ and the _Principe Conquistador_ were the only ships that were
for fighting.

As soon as the action was discontinued Nelson went on board the
admiral's ship. Sir John Jervis received him on the quarter-deck, took
him in his arms, and said he could not sufficiently thank him. For this
victory the commander-in-chief was rewarded with the title of Earl St.
Vincent. In the official letter of Sir John Jervis Nelson was not
mentioned. It is said that the admiral had seen an instance of the ill
consequence of such selections, after Lord Howe's victory, and therefore
would not name any individual, thinking it proper to speak to the public
only in terms of general approbation. His private letter to the first
lord of the Admiralty was, with his consent, published for the first
time in a "Life of Nelson," by Mr. Harrison. Here it is said that
"Commodore Nelson, who was in the rear on the starboard tack, took the
lead on the larboard, and contributed very much to the fortune of
the day." It is also said that he boarded the two Spanish ships
successively; but the fact that Nelson wore without orders, and thus
planned as well as accomplished the victory, is not explicitly stated.
Perhaps it was thought proper to pass over this part of his conduct in
silence, as a splendid fault: but such an example is not dangerous.
The author of the work in which this letter was first made public,
protests against those over-zealous friends "who would make the
action rather appear as Nelson's battle than that of the illustrious
commander-in-chief, who derives from it so deservedly his title. No
man," he says, "ever less needed, or less desired, to strip a single
leaf from the honoured wreath of any other hero, with the vain hope of
augmenting his own, than the immortal Nelson; no man ever more merited
the whole of that which a generous nation unanimously presented to Sir
J. Jervis, than the Earl St. Vincent." Certainly Earl St. Vincent well
deserved the reward which he received: but it is not detracting from his
merit to say that Nelson is as fully entitled to as much fame from this
action as the commander-in-chief; not because the brunt of the action
fell upon him; not because he was engaged with all the four ships which
were taken, and took two of them, it may almost be said, with his own
hand; but because the decisive movement which enabled him to perform all
this, and by which the action became a victory, was executed in neglect
of orders, and upon his own judgment, and at his peril. Earl St. Vincent
deserved his earldom; but it is not to the honour of those by whom
titles were distributed in those days that Nelson never obtained the
rank of earl for either of those victories which he lived to enjoy,
though the one was the most complete and glorious in the annals of naval
history, and the other the most important in its consequences of any
which was achieved during the whole war.

Before the news of the action reached England, Nelson was advanced to
the rank of rear-admiral, and now his gallantry was rewarded by the
Order of the Bath. The sword of the Spanish rear-admiral, presented to
Nelson when he boarded his ship, and which Sir John Jervis insisted on
his keeping, he presented to the mayor and corporation of Norwich,
saying that he knew no place where it could give him or his family more
pleasure to have it kept than in the capital city of the county where he
was born. The freedom of that city was voted to him on that occasion.

But of all the numerous congratulations which he received, none could
have affected him more deeply than that which came to him from his
venerable father. "I thank my God," said that excellent man, "with all
the power of a grateful soul, for the mercies He has most graciously
bestowed on me in preserving you. Not only my few acquaintances here,
but the people in general, met me at every corner with such handsome
words that I was obliged to retire from the public eye. The height of
glory to which your professional judgment, united with a proper degree
of bravery, guarded by Providence, has raised you, few sons, my dear
child, attain to, and fewer fathers live to see. Tears of joy have
involuntarily trickled down my furrowed cheeks. Who could stand the
force of such general congratulations? The name and services of Nelson
have sounded throughout this city of Bath from the common ballad singer
to the public theatre." The good old man concluded by telling him that
the field of glory in which he had so long been conspicuous was still
open, and by giving him his blessing.



About the middle of the year 1797 Nelson hoisted his flag as
rear-admiral of the blue on board the _Theseus_. This ship had taken
part in the mutiny in England, and being just arrived from home, some
danger was apprehended from the temper of the men. This was one reason
why Nelson was removed to her. He had not been on board many weeks
before a paper, signed in the name of all the ship's company, was
dropped on the quarter-deck, containing these words: "Success attend
Admiral Nelson! God bless Captain Miller! We thank them for the officers
they have placed over us. We are happy and comfortable, and will shed
every drop of blood in our veins to support them; and the name of the
_Theseus_ shall be immortalised as high as her captain's."

While Nelson was in the _Theseus_, he was employed in the command of the
inner squadron at the blockade of Cadiz. During this service the most
perilous action occurred in which he was ever engaged. Making a night
attack upon the Spanish gun-boats, his barge was attacked by an armed
launch, under their commander, Don Miguel Tregoyen, carrying twenty-six
men. Nelson had with him only his ten barge-men, Captain Freemantle, and
his coxswain, John Sykes, an old and faithful follower, who twice saved
the life of his admiral by parrying the blows that were aimed at him,
and, at last, actually interposed his own head to receive the blow of a
Spanish sabre, which he could not by any other means avert;--thus
dearly was Nelson beloved. Notwithstanding the great disproportion of
numbers, eighteen of the enemy were killed, all the rest wounded, and
their launch taken.

Twelve days after this _rencontre_, Nelson sailed at the head of an
expedition against Teneriffe. In this disastrous expedition, which took
place in July 1797, Nelson was much embarrassed by difficulties of wind
and tide, but though foiled in his plans still felt it a point of honour
to make some attempt to capture the town. Perfectly aware how desperate
a service this was likely to prove, before he left the _Theseus_, he
called Lieutenant Nisbet into the cabin that he might assist in
arranging and burning his mother's letters. Perceiving that the young
man was armed he earnestly begged him to remain behind. "Should we both
fall, Josiah," said he, "what would become of your poor mother? The care
of the _Theseus_ falls to you; stay, therefore, and take charge of her."
Nisbet replied, "Sir, the ship must take care of itself; I will go with
you to-night, if I never go again."

He met his captains at supper on board the _Seahorse_; Captain
Freemantle, whose wife, whom he had lately married in the Mediterranean,
presided at table. At eleven o'clock the boats, containing between six
and seven hundred men, with a hundred and eighty on board the _Fox_
cutter, and from seventy to eighty in a boat which had been taken the
day before, proceeded in six divisions toward the town, conducted by all
the captains of the squadron, except Freemantle and Bowen, who attended
with Nelson to regulate and lead the way to the attack. They were to
land on the mole, and thence hasten, as fast as possible, into the great
square; then form and proceed as should be found expedient. They were
not discovered till about half-past one o'clock, when, being within half
gun-shot of the landing place, Nelson directed the boats to cast off
from each other, give a huzza, and push for the shore. But the Spaniards
were excellently well prepared; the alarm bells answered the huzza, and
a fire of thirty or forty pieces of cannon, with musketry from one end
of the town to the other, opened upon the invaders. Nothing, however,
could check the intrepidity with which they advanced. The night was
exceedingly dark; most of the boats missed the mole and went on shore
through a raging surf, which stove all to the left of it. The admiral,
Freemantle, Thompson, Bowen, and four or five other boats found the
mole; they stormed it instantly and carried it, though it was defended,
as they imagined, by four or five hundred men. Its guns, which were
six-and-twenty pounders, were spiked; but such a heavy fire of musketry
and grape was kept up from the citadel and the houses at the head of the
mole, that nearly all the assailants were killed or wounded. In the act
of stepping out of the boat Nelson received a shot through the right
elbow, and fell; but, as he fell, he caught the sword, which he had just
drawn, in his left hand, determined never to part with it while he
lived, for it had belonged to his uncle, Captain Suckling, and he valued
it like a relic. Nisbet, who was close to him, placed him at the bottom
of the boat, and laid his hat over the shattered arm, lest the sight of
the blood, which gushed out in great abundance, should increase his
faintness. He then examined the wound; and taking some silk
handkerchiefs from his neck, bound them round tight above the lacerated
vessels. Had it not been for this presence of mind in his step-son,
Nelson must have perished. One of his barge-men, by name Lovel, tore his
shirt into shreds, and made a sling with them for the broken limb. They
then collected five other seamen, by whose assistance they succeeded, at
length, in getting the boat afloat; for it had grounded with the falling
tide. Nisbet took one of the oars, and ordered the steersman to go close
under the guns of the battery, that they might be safe from its
tremendous fire. They pushed on for the _Theseus_. When they came
alongside, Nelson peremptorily refused all assistance in getting on
board. A single rope was thrown over the side, which he twisted round
his left hand, saying, "Let me alone: I have yet my legs left, and one
arm. Tell the surgeon to make haste and get his instruments. I know I
must lose my right arm; so the sooner it is off the better."

The total loss of the English, in killed, wounded, and drowned, amounted
to two hundred and fifty. Nelson made no mention of his own wound in his
official despatches; but in a private letter to Lord St. Vincent--the
first which he wrote with his left hand--he shows himself to have been
deeply affected by the failure of this enterprise. "I am become," he
said, "a burthen to my friends, and useless to my country; but by my
last letter you will perceive my anxiety for the promotion of my
son-in-law, Josiah Nisbet. When I leave your command, I become dead to
the world:--'I go hence, and am no more seen.' If from poor Bowen's loss
you think it proper to oblige me, I rest confident you will do it. The
boy is under obligations to me; but he repaid me, by bringing me from
the mole of Santa Cruz. I hope you will be able to give me a frigate to
convey the remains of my carcass to England." "A left-handed admiral,"
he said subsequently, "will never again be considered as useful;
therefore, the sooner I get to a very humble cottage the better, and
make room for a sounder man to serve the state."

Not having been in England till now, since he lost his eye, he went to
receive a year's pay, as smart money; but could not obtain payment,
because he had neglected to bring a certificate from a surgeon that the
sight was actually destroyed. A little irritated that this form should
be insisted upon; because, though the fact was not apparent, he thought
it was sufficiently notorious, he procured a certificate, at the same
time, for the loss of his arm; saying, they might just as well doubt one
as the other. This put him in good humour with himself, and with the
clerk who had offended him. On his return to the office, the clerk,
finding it was only the annual pay of a captain, observed he thought it
had been more. "Oh!" replied Nelson, "this is only for an eye. In a few
days I shall come for an arm; and in a little time longer, God knows,
most probably for a leg." Accordingly, he soon afterwards went; and with
perfect good humour exhibited the certificate of the loss of his arm.



Early in the year 1798 Sir Horatio Nelson hoisted his flag on board the
_Vanguard_, and was ordered to rejoin Earl St. Vincent.

Immediately on his rejoining the fleet, he was despatched to the
Mediterranean, with a small squadron, in order to ascertain, if
possible, the object of the great expedition which at that time was
fitting out, under Bonaparte, at Toulon. The defeat of this armament,
whatever might be its destination, was deemed by the British government
an object paramount to every other; and Earl St. Vincent was directed,
if he thought it necessary to take his whole force into the
Mediterranean, to relinquish, for that purpose, the blockade of the
Spanish fleet, as a thing of inferior moment; but, if he should deem a
detachment sufficient, "I think it almost unnecessary," said the first
lord of the Admiralty, in his secret instructions, "to suggest to you
the propriety of putting it under Sir Horatio Nelson." It is to the
honour of Earl St. Vincent that he had already made the same choice.

The armament at Toulon consisted of thirteen ships of the line, seven
forty-gun frigates, with twenty-four smaller vessels of war, and nearly
two hundred transports. Nelson sailed from Gibraltar on May 9th, with
the _Vanguard_, _Orion_, and _Alexander_, seventy-fours; the _Caroline_,
_Flora_, _Emerald_, and _Terpsichore_ frigates; and the _Bonne
Citoyenne_ sloop of war, to watch this formidable armament. On the 19th,
when they were in the Gulf of Lyons, a gale came on from the
north-west. It moderated so much on the 20th, as to enable them to get
their top-gallant masts and yards aloft. After dark, it again began to
blow strong; but the ships had been prepared for a gale, and therefore
Nelson's mind was easy. Shortly after midnight, however, his main-top
mast went over the side, and the mizen-top mast soon afterward. The
night was so tempestuous, that it was impossible for any signal either
to be seen or heard; and Nelson determined, as soon as it should be
daybreak, to wear, and scud before the gale: but, at half-past three the
foremast went in three pieces, and the bowsprit was found to be sprung
in three places.

When day broke, they succeeded in wearing the ship with a remnant of the
spritsail: this was hardly to have been expected. The _Vanguard_ was at
that time twenty-five leagues south of the islands of Hieres, with her
head lying to the north-east, and if she had not wore, the ship must
have drifted to Corsica. Captain Ball, in the _Alexander_, took her in
tow, to carry her into the Sardinian harbour of St. Pietro. Here, by the
exertions of Sir James Saumarez, Captain Ball, and Captain Berry, the
_Vanguard_ was refitted in four days; months would have been employed in
refitting her in England.

The delay which was thus occasioned was useful to him in many respects:
it enabled him to complete his supply of water, and to receive a
reinforcement, which Earl St. Vincent, being himself reinforced from
England, was enabled to send him. It consisted of the best ships of his
fleet: the _Culloden_, seventy-four, Captain T. Trowbridge; _Goliath_,
seventy-four, Captain T. Foley; _Minotaur_, seventy-four, Captain T.
Louis; _Defence_, seventy-four, Captain John Peyton; _Bellerophon_,
seventy-four, Captain H. D. E. Darby; _Majestic_, seventy-four, Captain
G. B. Westcott; _Zealous_, seventy-four, Captain S. Hood; _Swiftsure_,
seventy-four, Captain B. Hallowell; _Theseus_, seventy-four, Captain R.
W. Miller; _Audacious_, seventy-four, Captain Davidge Gould. The
_Leander_, fifty, Captain T. B. Thompson, was afterwards added. These
ships were made ready for the service as soon as Earl St. Vincent
received advice from England that he was to be reinforced. As soon as
the reinforcement was seen from the masthead of the admiral's ship, off
Cadiz Bay, signal was immediately made to Captain Trowbridge to put to
sea; and he was out of sight before the ships from home cast anchor in
the British station. Trowbridge took with him no instructions to Nelson
as to the course he was to steer, nor any certain account of the enemy's
destination: everything was left to his own judgment. Unfortunately, the
frigates had been separated from him in the tempest, and had not been
able to rejoin: they sought him unsuccessfully in the Bay of Naples,
where they obtained no tidings of his course, and he sailed without

The first news of the enemy's armament was, that it had surprised Malta.
Nelson formed a plan for attacking it while at anchor at Gozo; but on
June 22nd intelligence reached him that the French had left that island
on the 16th, the day after their arrival. It was clear that their
destination was eastward--he thought for Egypt--and for Egypt,
therefore, he made all sail. Had the frigates been with him he could
scarcely have failed to gain information of the enemy: for want of them,
he only spoke three vessels on the way; two came from Alexandria, one
from the Archipelago; and neither of them had seen anything of the
French. He arrived off Alexandria on the 28th, and the enemy were not
there, neither was there any account of them; but the governor was
endeavouring to put the city in a state of defence, having received
advice from Leghorn that the French expedition was intended against
Egypt, after it had taken Malta. Nelson then shaped his course to the
northward, for Caramania, and steered from thence along the southern
side of Candia, carrying a press of sail, both night and day, with a
contrary wind.

Baffled in his pursuit, he returned to Sicily. The Neapolitan ministry
had determined to give his squadron no assistance, being resolved to do
nothing which could possibly endanger their peace with the French
Directory; by means, however, of Lady Hamilton's influence at court, he
procured secret orders to the Sicilian governors; and, under those
orders, obtained everything which he wanted at Syracuse--a timely
supply, without which, he always said, he could not have recommenced his
pursuit with any hope of success. "It is an old saying," said he in his
letter, "that the devil's children have the devil's luck. I cannot to
this moment learn, beyond vague conjecture, where the French fleet are
gone to; and having gone a round of six hundred leagues at this season
of the year, with an expedition incredible, here I am, as ignorant of
the situation of the enemy as I was twenty-seven days ago."

On July 25th he sailed from Syracuse for the Morea. Anxious beyond
measure, and irritated that the enemy should so long have eluded him,
the tediousness of the nights made him impatient; and the officer of the
watch was repeatedly called on to let him know the hour, and convince
him, who measured time by his own eagerness, that it was not yet
daybreak. The squadron made the gulf of Coron on the 28th. Trowbridge
entered the port, and returned with the intelligence that the French had
been seen about four weeks before steering to the south-east from
Candia. Nelson then determined immediately to return to Alexandria; and
the British fleet accordingly, with every sail set, stood once more for
the coast of Egypt. On August 1st, about ten in the morning, they came
in sight of Alexandria. The port had been vacant and solitary when they
saw it last; it was now crowded with ships, and they perceived with
exultation that the tri-colour flag was flying upon the walls. At four
in the afternoon, Captain Hood in the _Zealous_ made the signal for the
enemy's fleet. For many preceding days Nelson had hardly taken either
sleep or food: he now ordered his dinner to be served, while
preparations were making for battle, and when his officers rose from the
table and went to their separate stations, he said to them: "Before this
time to-morrow I shall have gained a peerage or Westminster Abbey."

The French, steering direct for Candia, had made an angular passage for
Alexandria; whereas Nelson, in pursuit of them, made straight for that
place, and thus materially shortened the distance. The two fleets must
actually have crossed on the night of June 22nd.

The French fleet arrived at Alexandria on July 1st; and Brueys, not
being able to enter the port, which time and neglect had ruined, moored
his ships in Aboukir Bay, in a strong and compact line of battle; the
headmost vessel, according to his own account, being as close as
possible to a shoal on the north-west, and the rest of the fleet forming
a kind of curve along the line of deep water, so as not to be turned by
any means in the south-west.

The advantage of numbers, both in ships, guns, and men, was in favour of
the French. They had thirteen ships of the line and four frigates,
carrying 1196 guns, and 11,230 men. The English had the same number of
ships of the line, and one fifty-gun ship, carrying 1012 guns and 8068
men. The English ships were all seventy-fours: the French had three
eighty-gun ships and one three-decker of one hundred and twenty.

During the whole pursuit it had been Nelson's practice, whenever
circumstances would permit, to have his captains on board the
_Vanguard_, and explain to them his own ideas of the different and best
modes of attack, and such plans as he proposed to execute, on falling in
with the enemy, whatever their situation might be. There is no possible
position, it is said, which he did not take into calculation. His
officers were thus fully acquainted with his principles of tactics; and
such was his confidence in their abilities, that the only thing
determined upon, in case they should find the French at anchor, was for
the ships to form as most convenient for their mutual support, and to
anchor by the stern. "First gain the victory," he said, "and then make
the best use of it you can." The moment he perceived the position of the
French, that intuitive genius with which Nelson was endowed displayed
itself; and it instantly struck him that where there was room for an
enemy's ship to swing there was room for one of ours to anchor. The
plan which he intended to pursue, therefore, was to keep entirely on the
outer side of the French line, and station his ships, as far as he was
able, one on the outer bow and another on the outer quarter, of each of
the enemy's. This plan of doubling on the enemy's ships was projected by
Lord Hood, when he designed to attack the French fleet at their
anchorage in Gourjean road. Lord Hood found it impossible to make the
attempt; but the thought was not lost upon Nelson, who acknowledged
himself on this occasion indebted for it to his old and excellent
commander. Captain Berry, when he comprehended the scope of the design,
exclaimed with transport, "If we succeed, what will the world say!"

"There is no _if_ in the case," replied the admiral; "that we shall
succeed is certain: who may live to tell the story is a very different

As the squadron advanced they were assailed by a shower of shot and
shells from the batteries on the island, and the enemy opened a steady
fire from the starboard side of their whole line, within half gun-shot
distance, full into the bows of our van ships. It was received in
silence: the men on board every ship were employed aloft in furling
sails, and below in tending the braces and making ready for anchoring. A
miserable sight for the French, who, with all their skill, and all their
courage, and all their advantages of numbers and situation, were upon
that element, on which, when the hour of trial comes, a Frenchman has no

A French brig was instructed to decoy the English, by manoeuvring so as
to tempt them toward a shoal lying off the island of Bekier; but Nelson
either knew the danger or suspected some deceit, and the lure was
unsuccessful. Captain Foley led the way in the _Goliath_, outsailing the
_Zealous_, which for some minutes disputed this post of honour with him.
He had long conceived that if the enemy were moored in line of battle in
with the land the best plan of attack would be to lead between them and
the shore, because the French guns on that side were not likely to be
manned, nor even ready for action. Intending, therefore, to fix himself
on the inner bow of the _Guerrier_, he kept as near the edge of the bank
as the depth of water would admit; but his anchor hung, and having
opened his fire, he drifted to the second ship, the _Conquerant_, before
it was clear, then anchored by the stern, inside of her, and in ten
minutes shot away her mast. Hood, in the _Zealous_, perceiving this,
took the station which the _Goliath_ intended to have occupied, and
totally disabled the _Guerrier_ in twelve minutes. The third ship which
doubled the enemy's van was the _Orion_, Sir J. Saumarez; she passed to
windward of the _Zealous_, and opened her larboard guns as long as they
bore on the _Guerrier_, then passing inside the _Goliath_, sank a
frigate which annoyed her, hauled round toward the French line, and
anchoring inside, between the fifth and sixth ships from the _Guerrier_,
took her station on the larboard bow of the _Franklin_ and the quarter
of the _Peuple Souverain_, receiving and returning the fire of both. The
sun was now nearly down. The _Audacious_, Captain Gould, pouring a heavy
fire into the _Guerrier_ and the _Conquerant_, fixed herself on the
larboard bow of the latter; and when that ship struck, passed on to the
_Peuple Souverain_. The _Theseus_, Captain Miller, followed, brought
down the _Guerrier's_ remaining main and mizen masts, then anchored
inside of the _Spartiate_, the third in the French line.

While these advanced ships doubled the French line the _Vanguard_ was
the first that anchored on the outer side of the enemy, within half
pistol-shot of their third ship, the _Spartiate_. Nelson had six colours
flying in different parts of his rigging, lest they should be shot
away;--that they should be struck, no British admiral considers as a
possibility. He veered half a cable, and instantly opened a tremendous
fire; under cover of which the other four ships of his division, the
_Minotaur_, _Bellerophon_, _Defence_, and _Majestic_, sailed on ahead of
the admiral. In a few minutes every man stationed at the first six guns
in the fore part of the _Vanguard's_ deck was killed or wounded--these
guns were three times cleared. Captain Louis, in the _Minotaur_,
anchored next ahead, and took off the fire of the _Aquilon_, the fourth
in the enemy's line. The _Bellerophon_, Captain Darby, passed ahead, and
dropped her stern anchor on the starboard bow of the _Orient_, seventh
in the line, Brueys' own ship, of one hundred and twenty guns, whose
difference of force was in proportion of more than seven to three, and
whose weight of ball, from the lower deck alone, exceeded that from the
whole broadside of the _Bellerophon_. Captain Peyton, in the _Defence_,
took his station ahead of the _Minotaur_, and engaged the _Franklin_,
the sixth in the line; by which judicious movement the British line
remained unbroken. The _Majestic_, Captain Westcott, got entangled with
the main rigging of one of the French ships astern of the _Orient_, and
suffered dreadfully from that three-decker's fire; but she swung clear,
and closely engaging the _Heureux_, the ninth ship on the starboard bow,
received also the fire of the _Tonnant_, which was the eighth in the
line. The other four ships of the British squadron, having been detached
previous to the discovery of the French, were at a considerable distance
when the action began. It commenced at half-past six; about seven, night
closed, and there was no other light than that from the fire of the
contending fleets.

Trowbridge, in the _Culloden_, then foremost of the remaining ships, was
two leagues astern. He came on sounding, as the others had done: as he
advanced, the increasing darkness increased the difficulty of the
navigation, and suddenly, after having found eleven fathoms water,
before the lead could be hove again, he was fast aground; nor could all
his own exertions, joined to those of the _Leander_ and the _Mutine_
brig, which came to his assistance, get him off in time to bear a part
in the action. His ship, however, served as a beacon to the _Alexander_
and _Swiftsure_, which would else, from the course which they were
holding, have gone considerably farther on the reef, and must inevitably
have been lost. These ships entered the bay, and took their stations, in
the darkness, in a manner long spoken of with admiration by all who
remembered it. Captain Hallowell, in the _Swiftsure_, as he was bearing
down, fell in with what seemed to be a strange sail; Nelson had
directed his ships to hoist four lights horizontally at the mizen peak,
as soon as it became dark, and this vessel had no such distinction.
Hallowell, however, with great judgment, ordered his men not to fire: if
she was an enemy, he said, she was in too disabled a state to escape;
but, from her sails being loose, and the way in which her head was, it
was probable she might be an English ship. It was the _Bellerophon_,
overpowered by the huge _Orient_: her lights had gone overboard, nearly
two hundred of her crew were killed or wounded; all her masts and cables
had been shot away; and she was drifting out of the line, towards the
lee side of the bay. Her station, at this important time, was occupied
by the _Swiftsure_, which opened a steady fire on the quarter of the
_Franklin_ and the bows of the French admiral. At the same instant,
Captain Ball, with the _Alexander_, passed under his stern, and anchored
within side on his larboard quarter, raking him, and keeping up a severe
fire of musketry upon his decks. The last ship which arrived to complete
the destruction of the enemy was the _Leander_. Captain Thompson,
finding that nothing could be done that night to get off the _Culloden_,
advanced with the intention of anchoring athwart-hawse of the _Orient_.
The _Franklin_ was so near her ahead that there was not room for him to
pass clear of the two; he, therefore, took his station athwart-hawse of
the latter, in such a position as to rake both.

The two first ships of the French line had been dismasted within a
quarter of an hour after the commencement of the action; and the others
had in that time suffered so severely, that victory was already certain.
The third, fourth, and fifth were taken possession of at half-past

Meantime, Nelson received a severe wound on the head from a piece of
langrage shot. Captain Berry caught him in his arms as he was falling.
The great effusion of blood occasioned an apprehension that the wound
was mortal. Nelson himself thought so: a large flap of the skin of the
forehead, cut from the bone, had fallen over one eye, and the other
being blind, he was in total darkness. When he was carried down, the
surgeon--in the midst of a scene scarcely to be conceived by those who
have never seen a cock-pit in time of action, and the heroism which is
displayed amid its horrors,--with a natural and pardonable eagerness
quitted the poor fellow then under his hands, that he might instantly
attend the admiral. "No!" said Nelson, "I will take my turn with my
brave fellows." Nor would he suffer his own wound to be examined till
every man who had been previously wounded was properly attended to.
Fully believing that the wound was mortal, and that he was about to die,
as he had ever desired, in battle and in victory, he called the
chaplain, and desired him to deliver what he supposed to be his dying
remembrance to Lady Nelson: he then sent for Captain Louis on board from
the _Minotaur_, that he might thank him personally for the great
assistance which he had rendered to the _Vanguard_; and, ever mindful of
those who deserved to be his friends, appointed Captain Hardy from the
brig to the command of his own ship, Captain Berry having to go home
with the news of the victory. When the surgeon came in due time to
examine his wound (for it was in vain to entreat him to let it be
examined sooner) the most anxious silence prevailed; and the joy of the
wounded men, and of the whole crew, when they heard that the hurt was
merely superficial, gave Nelson deeper pleasure than the unexpected
assurance that his life was in no danger. The surgeon requested, and as
far as he could, ordered him to remain quiet; but Nelson could not rest.
He called for his secretary, Mr. Campbell, to write the despatches.
Campbell had himself been wounded, and was so affected at the blind and
suffering state of the admiral, that he was unable to write. The
chaplain was then sent for; but, before he came, Nelson, with his
characteristic eagerness, took the pen, and contrived to trace a few
words, marking his devout sense of the success which had already been
obtained. He was now left alone; when suddenly a cry was heard on the
deck that the _Orient_ was on fire. In the confusion, he found his way
up, unassisted and unnoticed; and, to the astonishment of every one,
appeared on the quarter-deck, where he immediately gave orders that
boats should be sent to the relief of the enemy.

It was soon after nine that the fire on board the _Orient_ broke out.
Brueys was dead: he had received three wounds, yet he would not leave
his post; a fourth cut him almost in two. He desired not to be carried
below, but to be left to die upon deck. The flames soon mastered his
ship. Her sides had just been painted, and the oil-jars and
paint-buckets were lying on the poop. By the prodigious light of this
conflagration the situation of the two fleets could now be perceived,
the colours of both being clearly distinguishable. About ten o'clock the
ship blew up, with a shock which was felt to the very bottom of every
vessel. Many of her officers and men jumped overboard, some clinging to
the spars and pieces of wreck, with which the sea was strewn, others
swimming to escape from the destruction which they momentarily dreaded.
Some were picked up by our boats; and some even in the heat and fury of
the action were dragged into the lower ports of the nearest British
vessel by the British sailors. The greater part of her crew, however,
stood the danger till the last, and continued to fire from the lower
deck. This tremendous explosion was followed by a silence not less
awful: the firing immediately ceased on both sides, and the first sound
which broke the silence was the dash of her shattered masts and yards
falling into the water from the vast height to which they had been
exploded. It is upon record that a battle between two armies was once
broken off by an earthquake:--such an event would be felt like a
miracle; but no incident in war, produced by human means, has ever
equalled the sublimity of this co-instantaneous pause, and all its

About seventy of the _Orient's_ crew were saved by the English boats.
Among the many hundreds who perished, were the commodore, Casa-Bianca,
and his son, a brave boy, only ten years old. They were seen floating on
a shattered mast when the ship blew up. She had money on board (the
plunder of Malta) to the amount of £600,000 sterling. The masses of
burning wreck, which were scattered by the explosion, excited for some
moments apprehensions in the English which they had never felt from any
other danger. Two large pieces fell into the main and fore tops of the
_Swiftsure_, without injuring any person. A port fire also fell into the
main-royal of the _Alexander_: the fire which it occasioned was speedily
extinguished. Captain Ball had provided, as far as human foresight could
provide, against any such danger. All the shrouds and sails of his ship,
not absolutely necessary for its immediate management, were thoroughly
wetted, and so rolled up that they were as hard and as little
inflammable as so many solid cylinders.

The firing recommenced with the ships to leeward of the centre, and
continued till about three. At daybreak, the _Guillaume Tell_ and the
_Genereux_, the two rear ships of the enemy, were the only French ships
of the line which had their colours flying; they cut their cables in the
forenoon, not having been engaged, and stood out to sea, and two
frigates with them. The _Zealous_ pursued; but as there was no other
ship in a condition to support Captain Hood, he was recalled. It was
generally believed by the officers that if Nelson had not been wounded,
not one of these ships could have escaped: the four certainly could not,
if the _Culloden_ had got into action, and if the frigates belonging to
the squadron had been present, not one of the enemy's fleet would have
left Aboukir Bay. These four vessels, however, were all that escaped;
and the victory was the most complete and glorious in the annals of
naval history. "Victory," said Nelson, "is not a name strong enough for
such a scene;" he called it a conquest. Of thirteen sail of the line,
nine were taken and two burnt; of the four frigates, one was sunk,
another, the _Artimese_, was burnt by her captain, who, having fired a
broadside at the _Theseus_, struck his colours, then set fire to his
ship and escaped with most of his crew to shore. The British loss in
killed and wounded amounted to 895. Westcott was the only captain who
fell; 3105 of the French, including the wounded, were sent on shore, and
5225 perished.

The shore, for an extent of four leagues, was covered with wreck; and
the Arabs found employment for many days in burning on the beach the
fragments which were cast up, for the sake of the iron. Part of the
_Orient's_ main mast was picked up by the _Swiftsure_. Captain Hallowell
ordered his carpenter to make a coffin of it; the iron as well as wood
was taken from the wreck of the same ship. It was finished as well and
handsomely as the workman's skill and materials would permit, and
Hallowell then sent it to the admiral with the following letter,--"Sir,
I have taken the liberty of presenting you a coffin made from the main
mast of _L'Orient_, that when you have finished your military career in
this world you may be buried in one of your trophies. But that that
period may be far distant, is the earnest wish of your sincere friend,
Benjamin Hallowell."--An offering so strange, and yet so suited to the
occasion, was received by Nelson in the spirit with which it was sent.
As if he felt it good for him, now that he was at the summit of his
wishes, to have death before his eyes, he ordered the coffin to be
placed upright in his cabin.

Nelson was now at the summit of glory: congratulations, rewards, and
honours were showered upon him by all the states, and princes, and
powers to whom his victory gave a respite. At home he was created Baron
Nelson of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe, with a pension of £2000 for
his own life, and those of his two immediate successors. A grant of
£10,000 was voted to Nelson by the East India Company; the Turkish
Company presented him with a piece of plate; the city of London
presented a sword to him and to each of his captains; gold medals were
distributed to the captains; and the first lieutenants of all the ships
were promoted, as had been done after Lord Howe's victory.

After the battle of the Nile, Nelson returned to Naples, where he
renewed his friendship with Sir William and Lady Hamilton. Italy
received him everywhere with open arms, and the most flattering welcome
was given him by both court and people. The story of his stay in Italy,
however, is the saddest chapter in his life, for it was here that his
domestic happiness was destroyed, and his fine chivalrous nature
received its only stain.

His birthday, which occurred a week after his arrival, was celebrated
with one of the most splendid _fêtes_ ever beheld at Naples. But,
notwithstanding the splendour with which he was encircled, and the
flattering honours with which all ranks welcomed him, Nelson was fully
sensible of the depravity, as well as weakness, of those by whom he was
surrounded. "What precious moments," said he, "the courts of Naples and
Vienna are losing! Three months would liberate Italy! but this court is
so enervated, that the happy moment will be lost. I am very unwell; and
their miserable conduct is not likely to cool my irritable temper. It is
a country of fiddlers and poets, libertines and scoundrels."

He saved the court from the inevitable consequences of misrule for a
time, drove the French out of Rome, laid siege to Malta, and worked
miracles of energy and skill in many ways, but he left Italy with the
feeling that there was no pleasure in life.

Nelson was welcomed in England with every mark of popular honour. At
Yarmouth, where he landed, every ship in the harbour hoisted her
colours. The mayor and corporation waited upon him with the freedom of
the town, and accompanied him in procession to church, with all the
naval officers on shore and the principal inhabitants. Bonfires and
illuminations concluded the day; and, on the morrow, the volunteer
cavalry drew up and saluted him as he departed, and followed the
carriage to the borders of the county. At Ipswich the people came out to
meet him, drew him a mile into the town and three miles out. In London,
he was feasted by the city, drawn by the populace from Ludgate Hill to
Guildhall, and received the thanks of the common council for his great
victory and a golden hilted sword studded with diamonds. Nelson had
every earthly blessing except domestic happiness; he had forfeited that
for ever.



In the year 1801, Nelson, who had been made vice-admiral of the blue,
was sent to the Baltic, as second in command under Sir Hyde Parker, by
Earl St. Vincent, now first lord of the Admiralty. The three northern
courts had formed a confederacy for making England resign her naval
rights. Of these courts Russia was guided by the passions of its
emperor, Paul, a man not without fits of generosity and some natural
goodness, but subject to the wildest humours of caprice and crazed by
the possession of greater power than can ever be safely, or perhaps
innocently, possessed by weak humanity. Denmark was French at heart;
ready to co-operate in all the views of France, to recognise all her
usurpations, and obey all her injunctions. Sweden, under a king whose
principles were right and whose feelings were generous, but who had a
taint of hereditary insanity, acted in acquiescence with the dictates of
two powers whom it feared to offend. The Danish navy, at this time,
consisted of twenty-three ships of the line with about thirty-one
frigates and smaller vessels, exclusive of guardships. The Swedes had
eighteen ships of the line, fourteen frigates and sloops, seventy-four
galleys and smaller vessels, besides gun-boats, and this force was in a
far better state of equipment than the Danish. The Russians had
eighty-two sail of the line and forty frigates. Of these there were
forty-seven sail of the line at Cronstadt, Revel, Petersburg, and
Archangel; but the Russian fleet was ill-manned, ill-officered, and
ill-equipped. Such a combination under the influence of France would
soon have become formidable; and never did the British cabinet display
more decision than in instantly preparing to crush it.

The British fleet sailed on March 12th and Mr. Vansittart sailed in it;
the government still hoping to obtain its ends by negotiation. Mr.
Vansittart left the fleet at the Scaw and preceded it in a frigate with
a flag of truce. Precious time was lost by this delay which was to be
purchased by the dearest blood of Britain and Denmark; according to the
Danes themselves, the intelligence that a British fleet was seen off the
Sound produced a much more general alarm in Copenhagen than its actual
arrival in the roads; for their means of defence were, at that time, in
such a state that they could hardly hope to resist, still less to repel,
an enemy. On the 21st, Nelson had a long conference with Sir Hyde; and
the next day addressed a letter to him worthy of himself and of the
occasion. Mr. Vansittart's report had then been received. It represented
the Danish government as in the highest degree hostile, and their state
of preparation as exceeding what our cabinet had supposed possible; for
Denmark had profited with all activity, by the leisure which had so
impoliticly been given her. "The more I have reflected," said Nelson to
his commander, "the more I am confirmed in opinion that not a moment
should be lost in attacking the enemy. They will every day and every
hour be stronger; we shall never be so good a match for them as we are
at this moment. The only consideration is how to get at them with the
least risk to our ships."

Of the two courses open to them, that of proceeding past Cronenburg, and
taking the deepest and straightest channel along the middle grounds and
attacking the Danish line of floating batteries, or that of attempting
the passage of the Belt, Sir Hyde Parker preferred the latter, Nelson
and Captain Domett the former, though as Nelson put it, "Let it be by
the Sound, by the Belt, or anyhow, only lose not an hour!" when it was
finally decided to take the passage of the Sound.

The next day was wasted in despatching a flag of truce to the Governor
of Cronenburg Castle, to ask whether he had received orders to fire at
the British fleet, as the admiral must consider the first gun to be a
declaration of war on the part of Denmark. A soldier-like and becoming
answer was returned to this formality. The governor said that the
British minister had not been sent away from Copenhagen but had obtained
a passport at his own demand. He himself, as a soldier, could not meddle
with politics: but he was not at liberty to suffer a fleet--of which the
intention was not yet known--to approach the guns of the castle which he
had the honour to command, and he requested, if the British admiral
should think proper to make any proposals to the King of Denmark, that
he might be apprised of it before the fleet approached nearer. During
this intercourse a Dane, who came on board the commander's ship, having
occasion to express his business in writing found the pen blunt, and,
holding it up, sarcastically said, "If your guns are not better pointed
than your pens you will make little impression on Copenhagen!"

Nelson, who was now appointed to lead the van, shifted his flag to the
_Elephant_, Captain Foley--a lighter ship than the _St. George_, and,
therefore, fitter for the expected operations. The two following days
were calm. Orders had been given to pass the Sound as soon as the wind
would permit; and on the afternoon of the 29th the ships were cleared
for action with an alacrity characteristic of British seamen. At
daybreak on the 30th it blew a top-sail breeze from north-west. The
signal was made and the fleet moved on in order of battle; Nelson's
division in the van, Sir Hyde's in the centre, and Admiral Graves' in
the rear.

The whole force consisted of fifty-one sail of various descriptions, of
which sixteen were of the line. The greater part of the bomb and gun
vessels took their stations off Cronenburg Castle, to cover the fleet;
while others on the larboard were ready to engage the Swedish shore. The
Danes, having improved every moment which ill-timed negotiation and
baffling weather gave them, had lined their shore with batteries; and as
soon as the _Monarch_, which was the leading ship, came abreast of them
a fire was opened from about a hundred pieces of cannon and mortars. Our
light vessels immediately in return opened their fire upon the castle.
The enemy's shot fell near enough to splash the water on board our
ships; not relying upon any forbearance of the Swedes they meant to have
kept the mid channel, but when they perceived that not a shot was fired
from Helsinburg and that no batteries were to be seen on the Swedish
shore, they inclined to that side, so as completely to get out of reach
of the Danish guns. The uninterrupted blaze which was kept up from them
till the fleet had passed served only to exhilarate our sailors and
afford them matter for jest, as the shot fell in showers a full cable's
length short of its destined aim.

About mid-day the whole fleet anchored between the island of Huen and
Copenhagen. Sir Hyde, with Nelson, Admiral Graves, some of the senior
captains, and the commanding officers of the artillery and the troops,
then proceeded in a lugger to reconnoitre the enemy's means of defence;
a formidable line of ships, radeaux, pontoons, galleys, fire-ships, and
gun-boats, flanked and supported by extensive batteries, and occupying,
from one extreme point to the other, an extent of nearly four miles.

A council of war was held in the afternoon. Nelson offered his services
for the attack, requiring ten sail of the line and the whole of the
smaller craft. Sir Hyde gave him two more line-of-battle ships than he
asked for and left everything to his judgment.

The enemy's force was not the only, nor the greatest, obstacle with
which the British fleet had to contend: there was another to be overcome
before they could come in contact with it. The channel was little known
and extremely intricate; all the buoys had been removed; and the Danes
considered this difficulty as almost insuperable, thinking the channel
impracticable for so large a fleet. Nelson himself saw the soundings
made and the buoys laid down, boating it upon this exhausting service,
day and night, till it was effected. When this was done, he thanked God
for having enabled him to get through this difficult part of his duty.
"It had worn him down," he said, "and was infinitely more grievous to
him than any resistance which he could experience from the enemy."

On the morning of April 1st the whole fleet removed to an anchorage
within two leagues of the town and off the north-west end of the Middle
Ground: a shoal lying exactly before the town, at about three-quarters
of a mile distance, and extending along its whole sea front. The King's
Channel, where there is deep water, is between this shoal and the town;
and here the Danes had arranged their line of defence, as near the shore
as possible: nineteen ships and floating batteries, flanked, at the end
nearest the town, by the Crown Batteries, which were two artificial
islands at the mouth of the harbour--most formidable works; the larger
one having, by the Danish account, sixty-six guns; but, as Nelson
believed, eighty-eight. The fleet having anchored, Nelson, with Riou in
the _Amazon_, made his last examination of the ground; and about one
o'clock, returning to his own ship, threw out the signal to weigh. It
was received with a shout throughout the whole division; they weighed
with a light and favourable wind. The narrow channel between the island
of Saltholm and the Middle Ground had been accurately buoyed; the small
craft pointed out the course distinctly; Riou led the way: the whole
division coasted along the outer edge of the shoal, doubled its further
extremity, and anchored there off Draco Point, just as the darkness
closed--the headmost of the enemy's line not being more than two miles
distant. The signal to prepare for action had been made early in the
evening; and, as his own anchor dropped, Nelson called out, "I will
fight them the moment I have a fair wind." It had been agreed that Sir
Hyde, with the remaining ships, should weigh on the following morning,
at the same time as Nelson, to menace the Crown Batteries on his side
and the four ships of the line which lay at the entrance of the arsenal,
and to cover our own disabled ships as they came out of action.

The Danes, meantime, had not been idle: no sooner did the guns of
Cronenburg make it known to the whole city that all negotiation was at
an end, that the British fleet was passing the Sound, and that the
dispute between the two crowns must now be decided by arms, than a
spirit displayed itself most honourable to the Danish character. All
ranks offered themselves to the service of their country; the university
furnished a corps of twelve hundred youths, the flower of Denmark. It
was one of those emergencies in which little drilling or discipline is
necessary to render courage available: they had nothing to learn but how
to manage the guns, and were employed day and night in practising them.
When the movements of Nelson's squadron were perceived, it was known
when and where the attack was to be expected, and the line of defence
was manned indiscriminately by soldiers, sailors, and citizens.

This was an awful night for Copenhagen--far more so than for the British
fleet, where the men were accustomed to battle and victory, and had none
of those objects before their eyes which render death terrible. Nelson
sat down to table with a large party of his officers; he was, as he was
ever wont to be when on the eve of action, in high spirits, and drank to
a leading wind and to the success of the morrow. After supper they
returned to their respective ships, except Riou, who remained to arrange
the order of battle with Nelson and Foley, and to draw up instructions:
Hardy, meantime, went in a small boat to examine the channel between
them and the enemy, approaching so near, that he sounded round their
leading ship with a pole, lest the noise of throwing the lead should
discover him. The incessant fatigue of body as well as mind which Nelson
had undergone during the last three days had so exhausted him that he
was earnestly urged to go to his cot; and his old servant, Allen, using
that kind of authority which long and affectionate services entitled and
enabled him to assume on such occasions, insisted upon his complying.
The cot was placed on the floor and he continued to dictate from it.
About eleven Hardy returned and reported the practicability of the
channel and the depth of water up to the enemy's line. About one the
orders were completed; and half a dozen clerks in the foremost cabin
proceeded to transcribe them, Nelson frequently calling out to them from
his cot to hasten their work, for the wind was becoming fair. Instead of
attempting to get a few hours of sleep he was constantly receiving
reports on this important point. At daybreak it was announced as
becoming perfectly fair. The clerks finished their work about six.
Nelson, who was already up, breakfasted, and made signal for all

Between eight and nine the pilots and masters were ordered on board the
admiral's ship. The pilots were mostly men who had been mates in Baltic
traders, and their hesitation about the bearing of the east end of the
shoal and the exact line of deep water gave ominous warning of how
little their knowledge was to be trusted. The signal for action had been
made, the wind was fair--not a moment to be lost. Nelson urged them to
be steady, to be resolute, and to decide; but they wanted the only
ground for steadiness and decision in such cases, and Nelson had reason
for regret that he had not trusted to Hardy's single report.

Captain Murray, in the _Edgar_, led the way; the _Agamemnon_ was next in
order; but, on the first attempt to leave her anchorage she could not
weather the edge of the shoal, and Nelson had the grief to see his old
ship, in which he had performed so many years' gallant services,
immovably aground at a moment when her help was so greatly required.
Signal was then made for the _Polyphemus_; and this change in the order
of sailing was executed with the utmost promptitude; yet so much delay
had thus been unavoidably occasioned, that the _Edgar_ was for some time
unsupported, and the _Polyphemus_, whose place should have been at the
end of the enemy's line where their strength was the greatest, could get
no further than the beginning, owing to the difficulty of the channel;
there she occupied indeed an efficient station, but one where her
presence was less required. The _Isis_ followed, with better fortune,
and took her own berth. The _Bellona_, Sir T. Thompson, kept too close
on the starboard shoal, and grounded abreast of the outer ship of the
enemy; this was the more vexatious, inasmuch as the wind was fair, the
room ample, and three ships had led the way. The _Russell_, following
the _Bellona_, grounded in like manner; both were within reach of shot,
but their absence from their intended stations was severely felt. Each
ship had been ordered to pass her leader on the starboard side, because
the water was supposed to shoal on the larboard shore. Nelson, who came
next after these two ships, thought they had kept too far on the
starboard direction, and made signal for them to close with the enemy,
not knowing that they were aground; but when he perceived that they did
not obey the signal, he ordered the _Elephant's_ helm to starboard, and
went within these ships, thus quitting the appointed order of sailing
and guiding those which were to follow. The greater part of the fleet
were probably, by this act of promptitude on his part, saved from going
on shore. Each ship, as she arrived nearly opposite to her appointed
station, let her anchor go by the stern and presented her broadside to
the Danes. The distance between each was about half a cable. The action
was fought at the distance of nearly a cable's length from the enemy.

At five minutes after ten the action began. The first half of our fleet
was engaged in about half an hour; and by half-past eleven the battle
became general. The plan of the attack had been complete, but seldom has
any plan been more disconcerted by untoward accidents. Of twelve ships
of the line, one was entirely useless, and two others in a situation
where they could not render half the service which was required of them.
Of the squadron of gun-brigs only one could get into action: the rest
were prevented, by baffling currents, from weathering the eastern end of
the shoal, and only two of the bomb-vessels could reach their station on
the Middle Ground, and open their mortars on the arsenal, firing over
both fleets.

Nelson's agitation had been extreme when he saw himself, before the
action began, deprived of a fourth part of his ships of the line; but
no sooner was he in battle, where his squadron was received with the
fire of more than a thousand guns, than, as if that artillery, like
music, had driven away all care and painful thoughts, his countenance
brightened; and, as a bystander describes him, his conversation became
joyous, animated, elevated, and delightful. The commander-in-chief,
meantime, near enough to the scene of action to know the unfavourable
accidents which had so materially weakened Nelson, and yet too distant
to know the real state of the contending parties, suffered the most
dreadful anxiety. To get to his assistance was impossible; both wind and
current were against him. Fear for the event, in such circumstances,
would naturally preponderate in the bravest mind; and at one o'clock,
perceiving that after three hours' endurance the enemy's fire was
unslackened, he began to despair of success. "I will make the signal of
recall," said he to his captain, "for Nelson's sake. If he is in a
condition to continue the action successfully he will disregard it; if
he is not, it will be an excuse for his retreat, and no blame can be
imputed to him." Under a mistaken judgment, therefore, but with this
disinterested and generous feeling he made the signal for retreat.

Nelson was at this time, in all the excitement of action, pacing the
quarter-deck. A shot through the main mast knocked the splinters about;
and he observed to one of his officers with a smile, "It is warm work,
and this day may be the last to any of us at a moment;" and then
stopping short at the gangway, added with emotion--"But mark you! I
would not be elsewhere for thousands." About this time the signal
lieutenant called out, that No. 39 (the signal for discontinuing the
action) was thrown out by the commander-in-chief. He continued to walk
the deck and appeared to take no notice of it. The signal officer met
him at the next turn, and asked him if he should repeat it, "No," he
replied, "acknowledge it." Presently he called after him to know if the
signal for close action was still hoisted; and being answered in the
affirmative, said, "Mind you keep it so." He now paced the deck, moving
the stump of his lost arm in a manner which always indicated great
emotion. "Do you know," said he to Mr. Ferguson, "what is shown on board
the commander-in-chief? No. 39!" Mr. Ferguson asked what that
meant,--"Why, to leave off action!" Then, shrugging up his shoulders, he
repeated the words--"Leave off action? Now, hang me if I do! You know,
Foley," turning to the captain, "I have only one eye--I have a right to
be blind sometimes;" and then, putting the glass to his blind eye, in
that mood of mind which sports with bitterness, he exclaimed, "I really
do not see the signal! Keep mine for closer battle flying! That's the
way I answer such signals! Nail mine to the mast!" Admiral Graves, who
was so situated that he could not discern what was done on board the
_Elephant_, disobeyed Sir Hyde's signal in like manner: whether by
fortunate mistake, or by a like brave intention, has not been made
known. The other ships of the line, looking only to Nelson, continued
the action. The signal, however, saved Riou's little squadron but did
not save its heroic leader. This squadron, which was nearest the
commander-in-chief, obeyed, and hauled off. "What will Nelson think of
us!" was Riou's mournful exclamation when he unwillingly drew off. He
had been wounded in the head by a splinter, and was sitting on a gun
encouraging his men, when, just as the _Amazon_ showed her stern to the
_Trekroner_ battery, his clerk was killed by his side, and another shot
swept away several marines who were hauling in the main-brace. "Come,
then, my boys!" cried Riou, "let us die all together!" The words had
scarcely been uttered before a raking shot cut him in two. Except it had
been Nelson himself, the British navy could not have suffered a severer

The action continued along the line with unabated vigour on our side and
with the most determined resolution on the part of the Danes. They
fought to great advantage because most of the vessels in their line of
defence were without masts: the few which had any standing had their
top-masts struck, and the hulls could only be seen at intervals.

The _Bellona_ lost seventy-five men; the _Iris_, one hundred and ten;
the _Monarch_, two hundred and ten. She was, more than any other
line-of-battle ship, exposed to the great battery, and supporting, at
the same time, the united fire of the _Holstein_ and the _Zealand_, her
loss this day exceeded that of any single ship during the whole war.
Amid the tremendous carnage in this vessel some of the men displayed a
singular instance of coolness: the pork and peas happened to be in the
kettle; a shot knocked its contents about; they picked up the pieces,
and ate and fought at the same time.

The prince-royal had taken his station upon one of the batteries, from
whence he beheld the action and issued his orders. Denmark had never
been engaged in so arduous a contest, and never did the Danes more nobly
display their national courage. A youth of seventeen, by name Villemoes,
particularly distinguished himself on this memorable day. He had
volunteered to take the command of a floating battery, which was a raft
consisting merely of a number of beams nailed together, with a flooring
to support the guns: it was square, with a breastwork full of
port-holes, and without masts--carrying twenty-four guns and one hundred
and twenty men. With this he got under the stern of the _Elephant_,
below the reach of the stern-chasers; and, under a heavy fire of small
arms from the marines, fought his raft till the truce was announced,
with such skill, as well as courage, as to excite Nelson's warmest

Between one and two the fire of the Danes slackened; about two it ceased
from the greater part of their line, and some of their lighter ships
were adrift. It was, however, difficult to take possession of those
which struck, because the batteries on Amak Island protected them, and
because an irregular fire was kept up from the ships themselves as the
boats approached. This arose from the nature of the action; the crew
were continually reinforced from the shore, and fresh men coming on
board, did not inquire whether the flag had been struck, or, perhaps,
did not heed it; many, or most of them, never having been engaged in war

By half-past two the action had ceased along that part of the line
which was astern of the _Elephant_, but not with the ships ahead and the
Crown Batteries. Nelson, seeing the manner in which his boats were fired
upon when they went to take possession of the prizes, became angry, and
said he must either send on shore to have this irregular proceeding
stopped, or send a fire-ship and burn them. Half the shot from the
_Trekroner_ and from the batteries at Amak at this time struck the
surrendered ships, four of which had got close together; and the fire of
the English in return was equally, or even more, destructive to these
poor devoted Danes. Nelson, who was as humane as he was brave, was
shocked at this massacre--for such he called it--and, with a presence of
mind peculiar to himself, and never more signally displayed than now, he
retired into the stern galley, and wrote thus to the crown-prince:
"Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson has been commanded to spare Denmark when she
no longer resists. The line of defence which covered her shores has
struck to the British flag; but if the firing is continued on the part
of Denmark he must set on fire all the prizes that he has taken, without
having the power of saving the men who have so nobly defended them. The
brave Danes are the brothers, and should never be the enemies, of the
English." A wafer was given him, but he ordered a candle to be brought
from the cockpit and sealed the letter with wax, affixing a larger seal
than he ordinarily used. "This," said he, "is no time to appear hurried
and informal." Captain Sir Frederick Thesiger, who acted as his
aide-de-camp, carried this letter with a flag of truce. Meantime the
fire of the ships ahead and the approach of the _Ramilies_ and _Defence_
from Sir Hyde's division, which had now worked near enough to alarm the
enemy, though not to injure them, silenced the remainder of the Danish
line to the eastward of the _Trekroner_. That battery, however,
continued its fire.

During Thesiger's absence, Nelson sent for Freemantle, from the
_Ganges_, and consulted with him and Foley whether it was advisable to
advance with those ships which had sustained least damage, against the
yet uninjured part of the Danish line. They were decidedly of opinion
that the best thing which could be done was, while the wind continued
fair to remove the fleet out of the intricate channel, from which it had
to retreat. In somewhat more than half an hour after Thesiger had been
despatched, the Danish adjutant-general, Lindholm, came bearing a flag
of truce; upon which the _Trekroner_ ceased to fire and the action
closed after four hours' continuance. He brought an inquiry from the
prince, What was the object of Nelson's note? The British admiral wrote
in reply: "Lord Nelson's object in sending the flag of truce was
humanity; he therefore consents that hostilities shall cease and that
the wounded Danes may be taken on shore. And Lord Nelson will take his
prisoners out of the vessels, and burn or carry off his prizes as he
shall think fit. Lord Nelson, with humble duty to his royal highness the
prince, will consider this the greatest victory he has ever gained if it
may be the cause of a happy reconciliation and union between his own
most gracious sovereign and His Majesty the King of Denmark."--Sir
Frederick Thesiger was despatched a second time with the reply; and the
Danish adjutant-general was referred to the commander-in-chief for a
conference upon this overture. Lindholm, assenting to this, proceeded to
the _London_, which was riding at anchor full four miles off; and
Nelson, losing not one of the critical moments which he had thus gained,
made signal for his leading ships to weigh in succession; they had the
shoal to clear, they were much crippled, and their course was
immediately under the guns of the _Trekroner_.

The _Monarch_ led the way. This ship had received six-and-twenty shot
between wind and water. She had not a shroud standing; there was a
double-headed shot in the heart of her fore mast and the slightest wind
would have sent every mast over her side. The imminent danger from which
Nelson had extricated himself soon became apparent; the _Monarch_
touched immediately upon a shoal, over which she was pushed by the
_Ganges_ taking her amid-ships; the _Glatton_ went clear; but the other
two, the _Defiance_ and the _Elephant_, grounded about a mile from the
_Trekroner_, and there remained fixed for many hours in spite of all the
exertions of their wearied crews. The _Désirée_ frigate also, at the
other end of the line, having gone toward the close of the action to
assist the _Bellona_, became fast on the same shoal. Nelson left the
_Elephant_ soon after she took the ground to follow Lindholm. The heat
of action was over; and that kind of feeling, which the surrounding
scene of havoc was so well fitted to produce, pressed heavily upon his
exhausted spirits. The sky had suddenly become overcast; white flags
were waving from the mast-heads of so many shattered ships; the
slaughter had ceased, but the grief was to come; for the account of the
dead was not yet made up, and no man could tell for what friends he
would have to mourn. There was another reflection also, which mingled
with these melancholy thoughts and predisposed him to receive them. He
was not here master of his own movements as at Egypt; he had won the day
by disobeying his orders; and in so far as he had been successful, had
convicted the commander-in-chief of an error in judgment. "Well," said
he, as he left the _Elephant_, "I have fought contrary to orders and I
shall perhaps be hanged! Never mind, let them!"

This was the language of a man, who, while he is giving utterance to an
uneasy thought, clothes it half in jest because he half repents that it
has been disclosed. His services had been too eminent on that day, his
judgment too conspicuous, his success too signal, for any commander,
however jealous of his own authority or envious of another's merits, to
express anything but satisfaction and gratitude, which Sir Hyde heartily
felt and sincerely expressed. It was speedily agreed that there should
be a suspension of hostilities for four-and-twenty hours; that all the
prizes should be surrendered and the wounded Danes carried on shore.
Seventeen sail of the Danes were taken, burnt, or sunk in this battle.

The boats of Sir Hyde's division were actively employed all night in
bringing out the prizes and in getting afloat the ships which were on
shore. At daybreak, Nelson, who had slept in his own ship, the _St.
George_, rowed to the _Elephant_, and his delight at finding her afloat
seemed to give him new life. There he took a hasty breakfast, praising
the men for their exertions, and then pushed off to the prizes which had
not yet been removed. The English spent the day in refitting their own
ships, securing the prizes, and distributing the prisoners; the Danes,
in carrying on shore and disposing of the wounded and the dead. It had
been a murderous action. Our loss, in killed and wounded, was nine
hundred and fifty-three. The loss of the Danes, including prisoners,
amounted to about six thousand. The negotiations, meantime, went on; and
it was agreed that Nelson should have an interview with the prince the
following day. The preliminaries of the negotiation were adjusted at
this interview. During the repast which followed, Nelson, with all the
sincerity of his character, bore willing testimony to the valour of his
foes. He told the prince that he had been in a hundred and five
engagements but that this was the most tremendous of all. "The French,"
he said, "fought bravely, but they could not have stood for one hour the
fight which the Danes had supported for four." He requested that
Villemoes might be introduced to him; and, shaking hands with the youth,
told the prince that he ought to be made an admiral. The prince replied:
"If, my lord, I am to make all my brave officers admirals, I should have
no captains or lieutenants in my service."

For the battle of Copenhagen, fought on April 2nd, 1801, Nelson was
raised to the rank of viscount; an inadequate mark of reward for
services so splendid and of such paramount importance to the dearest
interests of England. There was, however, some prudence in dealing out
honours to him step by step; had he lived long enough he would have
fought his way up to a dukedom.

He had not been many weeks on shore before he was called upon to
undertake a service for which no Nelson was required. Bonaparte, who was
now first consul and in reality sole ruler of France, was making
preparations upon a great scale for invading England; but his schemes
in the Baltic had been baffled; fleets could not be created as they were
wanted; and his armies, therefore, were to come over in gun-boats and
such small craft as could be rapidly built or collected for the
occasion. From the former governments of France such threats have only
been matter of insult or policy: in Bonaparte they were sincere; for
this adventurer, intoxicated with success, already began to imagine that
all things were to be submitted to his fortune. We had not at that time
proved the superiority of our soldiers over the French, and the
unreflecting multitude were not to be persuaded that an invasion could
only be effected by numerous and powerful fleets. A general alarm was
excited, and, in condescension to this unworthy feeling, Nelson was
appointed to a command extending from Orfordness to Beachy Head, on both
shores--a sort of service, he said, for which he felt no other ability
than what might be found in his zeal. This zeal he continued to display
without abatement until the Peace of Amiens gave him leisure to return
home again.



In 1803 the short-lived Peace of Amiens came to an end, and Nelson was
re-appointed to the command of the Mediterranean fleet. Hoisting his
flag upon the _Victory_ he busied himself for some time in preventing a
combination of the French fleets. Notwithstanding his vigilance, the
French ships escaped from Toulon and joined with those of Cadiz. Nelson
followed them to the West Indies, but they were evidently more inclined
to fence than to fight, and so contrived to elude him. Nelson, weary of
cruising in search of the enemy, gave up the chase, and returned to
England determined to rest awhile and recoup. All his stores were
brought up from the _Victory_, and he found in his house at Merton the
rest he required. Many days had not elapsed before Captain Blackwood, on
his way to London with despatches, called on him at five in the morning.
Nelson, who was already dressed, exclaimed the moment he saw him: "I am
sure you bring me news of the French and Spanish fleets! I think I shall
yet have to beat them!" They had refitted at Vigo after an indecisive
action with Sir Robert Calder, then proceeded to Ferrol, brought out the
squadron from thence, and with it entered Cadiz in safety. "Depend on
it, Blackwood," he repeatedly said, "I shall yet give M. Villeneuve a
drubbing." But, when Blackwood had left him, he wanted resolution to
declare his wishes to Lady Hamilton and his sisters, and endeavoured to
drive away the thought. He had done enough; he said, "Let the man trudge
it who has lost his budget!" His countenance belied his lips and as he
was pacing one of the walks in the garden, which he used to call the
quarter-deck, Lady Hamilton came up to him and told him she saw he was
uneasy. He smiled, and said, "No, he was as happy as possible; he was
surrounded by those he loved, his health was better since he had been on
shore, and he would not give sixpence to call the king his uncle." She
replied that she did not believe him, that she knew he was longing to
get at the combined fleets, that he considered them as his own property,
that he would be miserable if any man but himself did the business, and
that he ought to have them as the price and reward of his two years'
long watching and his hard chase. "Nelson," said she, "however we may
lament your absence, offer your services; they will be accepted and you
will gain a quiet heart by it; you will have a glorious victory, and
then you may return here and be happy."

His services were as willingly accepted as they were offered; and Lord
Barham, giving him the list of the navy, desired him to choose his own
officers. "Choose yourself, my lord," was his reply; "the same spirit
actuates the whole profession; you cannot choose wrong."

Early on September 14th Nelson reached Portsmouth, and having despatched
his business on shore, endeavoured to elude the populace by taking a
by-way to the beach; but a crowd collected in his train, pressing
forward to obtain sight of his face; many were in tears, and many knelt
down before him and blessed him as he passed. England has had many
heroes, but never one who so entirely possessed the love of his
fellow-countrymen as Nelson. All men knew that his heart was as humane
as it was fearless; that there was not in his nature the slightest alloy
of selfishness or cupidity; but that, with perfect and entire devotion,
he served his country with all his heart, and with all his soul, and
with all his strength; and, therefore, they loved him as truly and as
fervently as he loved England. They pressed upon the parapet to gaze
after him when his barge pushed off, and he was returning their cheers
by waving his hat. The sentinels who endeavoured to prevent them from
trespassing upon this ground, were wedged among the crowd; and an
officer, who, not very prudently upon such an occasion, ordered them to
drive the people down with their bayonets, was compelled speedily to
retreat, for the people would not be debarred from gazing till the last
moment upon the hero--the darling hero--of England!

Nelson arrived off Cadiz on September 29th--his birthday. Fearing that
if the enemy knew his force they might be deterred from venturing to
sea, he kept out of sight of land, desired Collingwood to fire no salute
and hoist no colours; and wrote to Gibraltar to request that the force
of the fleet might not be inserted there in the _Gazette_. His reception
in the Mediterranean fleet was as gratifying as the farewell of his
countrymen at Portsmouth: the officers, who came on board to welcome
him, forgot his rank as commander in their joy at seeing him again. On
the day of his arrival, Villeneuve received orders to put to sea the
first opportunity. Villeneuve, however, hesitated when he heard that
Nelson had resumed the command. He called a council of war; and their
determination was, that it would not be expedient to leave Cadiz unless
they had reason to believe themselves stronger by one-third than the
British force.

In the public measures of this country secrecy is seldom practicable,
and seldom attempted: here, however, by the precautions of Nelson and
the wise measures of the Admiralty, the enemy were for once kept in
ignorance; for, as the ships appointed to reinforce the Mediterranean
fleet were despatched singly, each as soon as it was ready, their
collected number was not stated in the newspapers and their arrival was
not known to the enemy. But the enemy knew that Admiral Louis, with six
sail, had been detached for stores and water to Gibraltar. Accident also
contributed to make the French admiral doubt whether Nelson himself had
actually taken the command. An American, lately arrived from England,
maintained that it was impossible--for he had seen him only a few days
before in London, and at that time there was no rumour of his going
again to sea.

The station which Nelson had chosen was some fifty or sixty miles to the
west of Cadiz, near Cape St. Mary's. At this distance he hoped to decoy
the enemy out, while he guarded against the danger of being caught with
a westerly wind near Cadiz and driven within the Straits. The blockade
of the port was rigorously enforced, in hopes that the combined fleet
might be forced to sea by want. The Danish vessels, therefore, which
were carrying provisions from the French ports in the bay, under the
name of Danish property, to all the little ports from Ayamonte to
Algeziras, from whence they were conveyed in coasting boats to Cadiz,
were seized. Without this proper exertion of power, the blockade would
have been rendered nugatory by the advantage thus taken of the neutral
flag. The supplies from France were thus effectually cut off. There was
now every indication that the enemy would speedily venture out: officers
and men were in the highest spirits at the prospect of giving them a
decisive blow; such, indeed, as would put an end to all further contest
upon the seas.

"I verily believe," said Nelson, writing on October 6th, "that the
country will soon be put to some expense on my account; either a
monument, or a new pension and honours; for I have not the smallest
doubt but that a very few days, almost hours, will put us in battle. The
success no man can insure; but for the fighting them, if they can be got
at, I pledge myself. The sooner the better: I don't like to have these
things upon my mind."

At this time he was not without some cause of anxiety; he was in want of
frigates--the eyes of the fleet, as he always called them--to the want
of which the enemy before were indebted for their escape and Bonaparte
for his arrival in Egypt. He had only twenty-three ships--others were on
the way; but they might come too late; and though Nelson never doubted
of victory, mere victory was not what he looked to, he wanted to
annihilate the enemy's fleet.

On the 9th, Nelson sent Collingwood what he called, in his diary, the
Nelson-touch. "I send you," said he, "my plan of attack, as far as a man
dare venture to guess at the very uncertain position the enemy may be
found in; but it is to place you perfectly at ease respecting my
intentions, and to give full scope to your judgment for carrying them
into effect. We can, my dear Coll, have no little jealousies. We have
only one great object in view--that of annihilating our enemies and
getting a glorious peace for our country. No man has more confidence in
another than I have in you; and no man will render your services more
justice than your very old friend, Nelson and Bronte." The order of
sailing was to be the order of battle; the fleet in two lines with an
advanced squadron of eight of the fastest sailing two-deckers. The
second in command, having the entire direction of his line, was to break
through the enemy, about the twelfth ship from their rear; he would lead
through the centre, and the advanced squadron was to cut off three or
four ahead of the centre. This plan was to be adapted to the strength of
the enemy, so that they should always be one-fourth superior to those
whom they cut off. Nelson said that "his admirals and captains, knowing
his precise object to be that of a close and decisive action, would
supply any deficiency of signals and act accordingly. In case signals
cannot be seen or clearly understood, no captain can do wrong if he
places his ship alongside that of an enemy." One of the last orders of
this admirable man was that the name and family of every officer,
seaman, and marine who might be killed or wounded in action, should be,
as soon as possible, returned to him, in order to be transmitted to the
chairman of the patriotic fund, for the benefit of the sufferer or his

About half-past nine in the morning of the 19th, the _Mars_, being the
nearest to the fleet of the ships which formed the line of communication
with the frigates in-shore, repeated the signal that the enemy were
coming out of port. The wind was at this time very light, with partial
breezes, mostly from the south-south-west. Nelson ordered the signal to
be made for a chase in the south-east quarter. About two the repeating
ships announced that the enemy were at sea. All night the British fleet
continued under all sail, steering to the south-east. At daybreak they
were in the entrance of the Straits, but the enemy were not in sight.
About seven one of the frigates made signal that the enemy were bearing
north. Upon this the _Victory_ hove to; and shortly afterwards Nelson
made sail again to the northward. In the afternoon the wind blew fresh
from the south-west, and the English began to fear that the foe might be
forced to return to port. A little before sunset, however, Blackwood, in
the _Euryalus_, telegraphed that they appeared determined to go to the
westward. "And that," said the admiral in his diary, "they shall not do
if it is in the power of Nelson and Bronte to prevent them." Nelson had
signified to Blackwood that he depended upon him to keep sight of the
enemy. They were observed so well that all their motions were made known
to him; and, as they wore twice, he inferred that they were aiming to
keep the port of Cadiz open and would retreat there as soon as they saw
the British fleet; for this reason he was very careful not to approach
near enough to be seen by them during the night. At daybreak the
combined fleets were distinctly seen from the _Victory's_ deck, formed
in a close line of battle ahead, on the starboard tack, about twelve
miles to leeward and standing to the south. Our fleet consisted of
twenty-seven sail of the line and four frigates; theirs of thirty-three
and seven large frigates. Their superiority was greater in size and
weight of metal than in numbers. They had four thousand troops on board;
and the best riflemen who could be procured, many of them Tyrolese, were
dispersed through the ships.

Soon after daylight Nelson came upon deck. October 21st was a festival
in his family, because on that day his uncle, Captain Suckling, in the
_Dreadnought_, with two other line-of-battle ships, had beaten off a
French squadron of four sail of the line and three frigates. Nelson,
with that sort of superstition from which few persons are entirely
exempt, had more than once expressed his persuasion that this was to be
the day of his battle also; and he was well pleased at seeing his
prediction about to be verified. The wind was now from the west, light
breezes, with a long, heavy swell. Signal was made to bear down upon
the enemy in two lines, and the fleet set all sail. Collingwood, in the
_Royal Sovereign_, led the lee line of thirteen ships; the _Victory_ led
the weather line of fourteen. Having seen that all was as it should be,
Nelson retired to his cabin, and wrote the following prayer:--

"May the great God whom I worship grant to my country and for the
benefit of Europe in general a great and glorious victory, and may no
misconduct in any one tarnish it; and may humanity after victory be the
predominant feature in the British fleet! For myself individually, I
commit my life to Him that made me; and may His blessing alight on my
endeavours for serving my country faithfully! To Him I resign myself and
the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen. Amen. Amen."

Having thus discharged his devotional duties, he proceeded to recite at
length in his diary the services rendered to him and through him to the
English nation by Lady Hamilton, commending her to the care of the
Government. This entry was witnessed by Henry Blackwood and T. M. Hardy.

Blackwood arrived on board the _Victory_ about six o'clock. He found
Nelson in good spirits, but very calm; not in that exhilaration which he
had felt upon entering into battle at Aboukir and Copenhagen. He knew
that his own life would be particularly aimed at, and seems to have
looked for death with almost as sure an expectation as for victory. His
whole attention was fixed upon the enemy. They tacked to the northward
and formed their line on the larboard tack; thus bringing the shoals of
Trafalgar and St. Pedro under the lee of the British, and keeping the
port of Cadiz open for themselves. This was judiciously done; and
Nelson, aware of the advantages it gave them, made signal to prepare to

Villeneuve was a skilful seaman; worthy of serving a better master and a
better cause. His plan of defence was as well conceived and as original
as the plan of attack. He formed the fleet in a double line; every
alternate ship being about a cable's length to windward of her second
ahead and astern. Nelson, certain of a triumphant issue to the day,
asked Blackwood what he should consider as a victory. That officer
answered, that, considering the handsome way in which battle was offered
by the enemy, their apparent determination for a fair trial of strength
and the situation of the land, he thought it would be a glorious result
if fourteen were captured. He replied: "I shall not be satisfied with
less than twenty." Soon afterwards he asked him if he did not think
there was a signal wanting. Captain Blackwood made answer that he
thought the whole fleet seemed very clearly to understand what they were
about. These words were scarcely spoken before that signal was made
which will be remembered as long as the language, or even the memory, of
England shall endure--Nelson's last signal:--"ENGLAND EXPECTS EVERY MAN
WILL DO HIS DUTY!" It was received throughout the fleet with a shout of
answering acclamation, made sublime by the spirit which it breathed and
the feeling which it expressed. "Now," said Lord Nelson, "I can do no
more. We must trust to the great Disposer of all events and the justice
of our cause. I thank God for this opportunity of doing my duty."

The French admiral, from the _Bucentaure_, beheld the new manner in
which his enemy was advancing--Nelson and Collingwood each leading his
line--and pointing them out to his officers he is said to have exclaimed
that such conduct could not fail to be successful. Yet Villeneuve had
made his own dispositions with the utmost skill, and the fleets under
his command waited for the attack with perfect coolness. Ten minutes
before twelve they opened their fire. Eight or nine of the ships
immediately ahead of the _Victory_, and across her bows fired single
guns at her, to ascertain whether she was yet within their range. As
soon as Nelson perceived that their shot passed over him, he desired
Blackwood and Captain Prowse, of the _Sirius_, to repair to their
respective frigates, and, on their way, to tell all the captains of the
line-of-battle ships that he depended on their exertions, and that, if
by the prescribed mode of attack they found it impracticable to get into
action immediately, they might adopt whatever they thought best,
provided it led them quickly and closely alongside an enemy. Standing
on the front poop, Blackwood took him by the hand, saying he hoped soon
to return and find him in possession of twenty prizes. He replied, "God
bless you, Blackwood; I shall never see you again."

Nelson's column was steered about two points more to the north than
Collingwood's, in order to cut off the enemy's escape into Cadiz: the
lee line, therefore, was first engaged. "See," cried Nelson, pointing to
the _Royal Sovereign_ as she steered right for the centre of the enemy's
line, cut through it astern of the _Santa Anna_, three-decker, and
engaged her at the muzzle of her guns on the starboard side--"See how
that noble fellow, Collingwood, carries his ship into action!"
Collingwood, delighted at being first in the heat of the fire, and
knowing the feelings of his commander and old friend, turned to his
captain, and exclaimed: "Rotherham, what would Nelson give to be here!"
Both these brave officers, perhaps, at this moment, thought of Nelson
with gratitude for a circumstance which had occurred on the preceding
day. Admiral Collingwood, with some of the captains, having gone on
board the _Victory_ to receive instructions, Nelson inquired of him
where his captain was, and was told in reply that they were not upon
good terms with each other. "Terms!" said Nelson; "good terms with each
other!" Immediately he sent a boat for Captain Rotherham, led him, as
soon as he arrived, to Collingwood, and saying: "Look; yonder are the
enemy!" bade them shake hands like Englishmen.

The enemy continued to fire a gun at a time at the _Victory_, till they
saw that a shot had passed through her main-top-gallant sail; then they
opened their broadsides, aiming chiefly at her rigging, in the hope of
disabling her before she could close with them. Nelson, as usual, had
hoisted several flags, lest one should be shot away. The enemy showed no
colours till late in the action, when they began to feel the necessity
of having them to strike. For this reason, the _Santissima Trinidad_,
Nelson's old acquaintance, as he used to call her, was distinguishable
only by her four decks; and to the bow of this opponent he ordered the
_Victory_ to be steered. Meantime, an incessant raking fire was kept up
upon the _Victory_. The admiral's secretary was one of the first who
fell: he was killed by a cannon shot while conversing with Hardy.
Captain Adair of the marines, with the help of a sailor, endeavoured to
remove the body from Nelson's sight, who had a great regard for Mr.
Scott; but he anxiously asked, "Is that poor Scott that's gone?" and
being informed that it was indeed so, exclaimed, "Poor fellow!"
Presently, a double-headed shot struck a party of marines, who were
drawn up on the poop, and killed eight of them: upon which Nelson
immediately desired Captain Adair to disperse his men round the ship,
that they might not suffer so much from being together. A few minutes
afterwards a shot struck the fore-brace bits on the quarter-deck, and
passed between Nelson and Hardy, a splinter from the bit tearing off
Hardy's buckle and bruising his foot. Both stopped and looked anxiously
at each other: each supposed the other to be wounded. Nelson then
smiled, and said: "This is too warm work, Hardy, to last long."

The _Victory_ had not yet returned a single gun; fifty of her men had
been by this time killed or wounded, and her main-top mast with all her
studding sails and their booms shot away. Nelson declared that, in all
his battles, he had seen nothing which surpassed the cool courage of his
crew on this occasion. At four minutes after twelve she opened her fire
from both sides of her deck. It was not possible to break the enemy's
line without running on board one of their ships; Hardy informed him of
this and asked him which he would prefer. Nelson replied: "Take your
choice, Hardy, it does not signify much." The master was ordered to put
the helm to port, and the _Victory_ ran on board the _Redoubtable_ just
as her tiller-ropes were shot away. The French ship received her with a
broadside, then instantly let down her lower-deck ports, for fear of
being boarded through them, and never afterwards fired a great gun
during the action. Her tops, like those of all the enemy's ships, were
filled with riflemen. Nelson never placed musketry in his tops; he had a
strong dislike to the practice; not merely because it endangers setting
fire to the sails, but also because it is a murderous sort of warfare,
by which individuals may suffer and a commander now and then be picked
off, but which never can decide the fate of a general engagement.

Captain Harvey, in the _Temeraire_, fell on board the _Redoubtable_ on
the other side. Another enemy was in like manner on board the
_Temeraire_, so that these four ships formed as compact a tier as if
they had been moored together, their heads all lying the same way. The
lieutenants of the _Victory_ seeing this, depressed their guns of the
middle and lower decks, and fired with a diminished charge, lest the
shot should pass through and injure the _Temeraire_. And because there
was danger that the _Redoubtable_ might take fire from the lower-deck
guns, the muzzles of which touched her side when they were run out, the
fireman of each gun stood ready with a bucket of water, which, as soon
as the gun was discharged, he dashed into the hole made by the shot. An
incessant fire was kept up from the _Victory_ from both sides; her
larboard guns playing upon the _Bucentaure_ and the huge _Santissima

It had been part of Nelson's prayer that the British fleet might be
distinguished by humanity in the victory he expected. Setting an example
himself, he twice gave orders to cease firing upon the _Redoubtable_,
supposing that she had struck, because her great guns were silent; for,
as she carried no flag, there was no means of instantly ascertaining the
fact. From this ship, which he had thus twice spared, he received his
death. A ball fired from her mizen-top, which, in the then situation of
the two vessels, was not more than fifteen yards from that part of the
deck where he was standing, struck the epaulette on his left shoulder,
about a quarter after one, just in the heat of action. He fell upon his
face on the spot which was covered with his poor secretary's blood.
Hardy, who was a few steps from him, turning round, saw three men
raising him up. "They have done for me at last, Hardy!" said he. "I hope
not!" cried Hardy. "Yes," he replied, "my back-bone is shot through!"
Yet even now, not for a moment losing his presence of mind, he
observed, as they were carrying him down the ladder, that the
tiller-ropes, which had been shot away, were not yet replaced, and
ordered that new ones should be rove immediately. Then, that he might
not be seen by the crew, he took out his handkerchief, and covered his
face and his stars. Had he but concealed these badges of honour from the
enemy, England, perhaps, would not have had cause to receive with sorrow
the news of the battle of Trafalgar. The cockpit was crowded with
wounded and dying men, over whose bodies he was with some difficulty
conveyed and laid upon a pallet in the midshipman's berth. It was soon
perceived, upon examination, that the wound was mortal. This, however,
was concealed from all except Captain Hardy, the chaplain, and the
medical attendants. He himself being certain, from the sensation in his
back, and the gush of blood he felt momently within his breast, that no
human care could avail him, insisted that the surgeon should leave him,
and attend to those to whom he might be useful. "For," said he, "you can
do nothing for me." All that could be done was to fan him with paper and
frequently to give him lemonade to alleviate his intense thirst. He was
in great pain, and expressed much anxiety for the event of the action,
which now began to declare itself. As often as a ship struck, the crew
of the _Victory_ hurrahed; and at every hurrah a visible expression of
joy gleamed in the eyes, and marked the countenance of the dying hero.
But he became impatient to see Captain Hardy; and as that officer though
often sent for could not leave the deck, Nelson feared that some fatal
cause prevented him, and repeatedly cried: "Will no one bring Hardy to
me? He must be killed! He is surely dead!" An hour and ten minutes
elapsed from the time when Nelson received his wound before Hardy could
come to him. They shook hands in silence; Hardy in vain struggling to
suppress the feelings of that most painful and yet sublimest moment.
"Well, Hardy," said Nelson, "how goes the day with us?" "Very well,"
replied Hardy; "ten ships have struck, but five of the van have tacked
and show an intention to bear down upon the _Victory_. I have called
two or three of our fresh ships round, and have no doubt of giving them
a drubbing." "I hope," said Nelson, "none of our ships have struck?"
Hardy answered, "There was no fear of that." Then, and not till then,
Nelson spoke of himself. "I am a dead man, Hardy," said he; "I am going
fast; it will be all over with me soon. Come nearer to me. Let my dear
Lady Hamilton have my hair, and all other things belonging to me." Hardy
observed that he hoped Mr. Beatty could yet hold out some prospect of
life. "Oh, no!" he replied; "it is impossible; my back is shot through.
Beatty will tell you so." Captain Hardy then once more shook hands with
him, and with a heart almost bursting, hastened upon deck.

By this time all feeling below the breast was gone; and Nelson having
made the surgeon ascertain this, said to him, "You know I am gone. I
know it. I feel something rising in my breast" (putting his hand on his
left side) "which tells me so." And upon Beatty's inquiring whether his
pain was very great, he replied, "So great, that he wished he was dead.
Yet," said he, in a lower voice, "one would like to live a little
longer, too!" And after a few minutes, in the same undertone, he added:
"What would become of poor Lady Hamilton if she knew my situation!" Next
to his country, she occupied his thoughts. Captain Hardy, some fifty
minutes after he had left the cockpit, returned, and, again taking the
hand of his dying friend and commander, congratulated him on having
gained a complete victory. How many of the enemy were taken he did not
know, as it was impossible to perceive them distinctly, but fourteen or
fifteen at least. "That's well!" cried Nelson; "but I bargained for
twenty." And then in a stronger voice, he said: "Anchor, Hardy; anchor."
Hardy, upon this, hinted that Admiral Collingwood would take upon
himself the direction of affairs. "Not while I live, Hardy," said the
dying Nelson, ineffectually endeavouring to raise himself from the bed.
"Do you anchor." His previous order for preparing to anchor had shown
how clearly he foresaw the necessity of this. Presently, calling Hardy
back, he said to him, in a low voice: "Don't throw me overboard;" and
he desired that he might be buried by his parents, unless it should
please the king to order otherwise. Then reverting to private
feelings--"Take care of my dear Lady Hamilton, Hardy; take care of poor
Lady Hamilton. Kiss me, Hardy," said he. Hardy knelt down and kissed his
cheek; and Nelson said: "Now I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my
duty!" Hardy stood over him in silence for a moment or two, then knelt
again, and kissed his forehead. "Who is that?" said Nelson; and being
informed, he replied: "God bless you, Hardy." And Hardy then left him
for ever.

Nelson now desired to be turned upon his right side, and said: "I wish I
had not left the deck; for I shall soon be gone." Death was, indeed,
rapidly approaching. He said to the chaplain: "Doctor, I have _not_ been
a _great_ sinner;" and after a short pause, "Remember that I leave Lady
Hamilton and my daughter Horatia as a legacy to my country." His
articulation now became difficult; but he was distinctly heard to say:
"Thank God, I have done my duty!" Nelson expired at thirty minutes after
four, three hours and a quarter after he had received his wound.

Within a quarter of an hour after Nelson was wounded, about fifty of the
_Victory's_ men fell by the enemy's musketry. They, however, on their
part, were not idle; and it was not long before there were only two
Frenchmen left alive in the mizen-top of the _Redoubtable_. One of them
was the man who had given the fatal wound; he did not live to boast of
what he had done. An old quarter-master had seen him fire, and easily
recognised him, because he wore a glazed cocked hat and a white frock.
This quarter-master and two midshipmen, Mr. Collingwood and Mr. Pollard,
were the only persons left in the _Victory's_ poop; the two midshipmen
kept firing at the top, and he supplied them with cartridges. One of the
Frenchmen attempting to make his escape down the rigging, was shot by
Mr. Pollard, and fell on the poop. But the old quarter-master, as he
cried out, "That's he, that's he," and pointed at the other, who was
coming forward to fire again, received a shot in his mouth, and fell
dead. Both the midshipmen then fired at the same time, and the fellow
dropped in the top. When they took possession of the prize they went
into the mizen-top, and found him dead, with one ball through his head
and another through his breast.

The _Redoubtable_ struck within twenty minutes after the fatal shot
had been fired from her. During that time she had been twice on fire;
in her forechains, and in her forecastle. The French, as they had
done in other battles, made use in this of fire-balls and other
combustibles--implements of destruction which other nations from a sense
of honour and humanity have laid aside--which add to the sufferings of
the wounded without determining the issue of the combat; which none but
the cruel would employ, and which never can be successful against the
brave. Once they succeeded in setting fire, from the _Redoubtable_, to
some ropes and canvas on the _Victory's_ booms. The cry ran through the
ship and reached the cockpit. But even this dreadful cry produced no
confusion; the men displayed that perfect self-possession in danger by
which English seamen are characterised; they extinguished the flames on
board their own ship, and then hastened to extinguish them in the enemy,
by throwing buckets of water from the gangway. When the _Redoubtable_
had struck, it was not practicable to board her from the _Victory_; for
though the two ships touched, the upper works of both fell in so much
that there was a great space between their gangways, and she could not
be boarded from the lower or middle decks because her ports were down.
Some of our men went to Lieutenant Quilliam and offered to swim under
her bows, and get up there; but it was thought unfit to hazard lives in
this manner.

What our men would have done from gallantry, some of the crew of the
_Santissima Trinidad_ did to save themselves. Unable to stand the
tremendous fire of the _Victory_, whose larboard guns played against
this great four-decker, and not knowing how else to escape them nor
where else to betake themselves for protection, many of them leapt
overboard and swam to the _Victory_, and were actually helped up her
sides by the English during the action. The Spaniards began the battle
with less vivacity than their unworthy allies, but continued it with
greater firmness. The _Argonauta_ and _Bahama_ were defended till they
had each lost about four hundred men; the _San Juan Nepomuceno_ lost
three hundred and fifty. Often as the superiority of British courage has
been proved against France upon the seas, it was never more conspicuous
than in this decisive conflict. Five of our ships were engaged muzzle to
muzzle with five of the French. In all five the Frenchmen lowered their
lower-deck ports and deserted their guns; while our men continued
deliberately to load and fire till they had made the victory secure.

The total British loss in the battle of Trafalgar amounted to one
thousand five hundred and eighty-seven. Twenty of the enemy struck.
Unhappily the fleet did not anchor, as Nelson, almost with his dying
breath, had enjoined; a gale came on from the south-west; some of the
prizes went down, some went on shore; one effected its escape into
Cadiz; others were destroyed--four only were saved, and those by the
greatest exertions. The wounded Spaniards were sent ashore, an assurance
being given that they should not serve till regularly exchanged; and the
Spaniards, with a generous feeling which would not, perhaps, have been
found in any other people, offered the use of their hospitals for our
wounded, pledging the honour of Spain that they should be carefully
attended there. When the storm, after the action, drove some of the
prizes upon the coast, they declared that the English, who were thus
thrown into their hands, should not be considered as prisoners of war;
and the Spanish soldiers gave up their own beds to their shipwrecked
enemies. The Spanish vice-admiral, Alva, died of his wounds. Villeneuve
was sent to England and permitted to return to France. The French
government say that he destroyed himself on the way to Paris, dreading
the consequences of a court martial; but there is every reason to
believe that the tyrant, who never acknowledged the loss of the battle
of Trafalgar, added Villeneuve to the numerous victims of his murderous

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

    Obvious typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected.
    Ambiguous end-of-line hyphenation has been preserved.
    Inconsistencies in punctuation and hyphenation have been preserved:
        several authors contributed to this book.
    Words printed in reverse order have not been corrected.

    Page  22: "Trenche-le·mer" changed to "Trenche-le-mer" (Richard's
              own ship being named "_Trenche-le-mer_,")
    Page  86: "there" changed to "three" (We continued the fight with
              the carmosel three)
    Page 173: "a-ground" is spelled "aground" elsewhere in book (their
              ships being a-ground,)
    Page 218: "disturbace" changed to "disturbance" (from receiving any
              disturbance upon his)
    Page 229: missing opening quotation mark added ("had but just come)
    Page 347: missing word added in brackets (The return of [those])
    Page 377: missing word added in brackets (Nelson was therefore sent
              [on] a voyage)

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