Imágenes de páginas

At once on all her stately gates arose the answering fires;
At once the wild alarum clashed from all her reeling spires;
From all the batteries of the Tower pealed forth the voice of fear;
And all the thousand masts of Thames sent back a louder cheer:
And from the furthest wards was heard the rush of hurrying feet,
And the broad streams of pikes and flags rushed down each roaring street ;



[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

“And roused in many an ancient hall the gallant squires of Kent.”

[ocr errors]

And broader still became the blaze, and louder still the din,
As fast from every village round the horse came spurring in :
And eastward straight, from wild Blackheath, the warlike errand went,
And roused in many an ancient hall the gallant squires of Kent.
Southward from Surrey's pleasant hills, flew those bright couriers forth ;
High on bleak Hampstead's swarthy moor they started for the north ;


[ocr errors]

And on, and on without a pause, untired they bounded still ;
All night from tower to tower they sprang, they sprang from hill to hill :
Till the proud Peak unfurled the flag o'er Darwin's rocky dales,
Till like volcanoes flared to heaven the stormy hills of Wales,
Till twelve fair counties saw the blaze on Malvern's lonely height,
Till stream'd in crimson on the wind the Wrekin's crest of light,
Till broad and fierce the star came forth on Ely's stately fane,
And tower and hamlet rose in arms o'er all the boundless plain;
Till Belvoir's lordly terraces the sign to Lincoln sent,
And Lincoln sped the message on o'er the wide vale of Trent;
Till Skiddaw saw the fire that burned on Gaunt's embattled pile,

And the red glare on Skiddaw roused the burghers of Carlisle.” And, it was no mean occasion, no contemptible foe, which called forth all this busy action. The veterans of Spain were off our coasts--mad with a thirst for blood-revenge-treasure. Duke Parma, it was expected would soon be amongst them, leading them towards a city wealthier than Antwerp when it fell beneath the Spanish fury. The fleet presented a pompous, almost a theatrical display. It was a grand naval pageant, a triumph—only the victory had not been achieved. Disposed in the form of a crescent, the horns of which were seven miles asunder, their gilded, towered, floating citadels, fluttered with embroidered flags; and while martial music rang over the blue waves, on came the stately show, with an air of indolent

pomp, towards our shores. Here in the midst was the great galleon Saint Martin, wherein was the Golden Duke himself-as strange to all maritime affairs as ever man could be: he was surrounded by officers, horse and foot, who knew as little of sea matters as he did himself; and so the great gaudy show came forward—a brilliant spectacle for a holiday—and formidable enough, doubtless, if Duke Parma could join. If! there was a good deal in that postulate when the Dutchmen were resolved to keep him from joining the fleet.

When the English fleet came within sight of the Spanish Armada, Medina Sidonia hoisted the royal standard at the fore, and made some preparations for a general engagement. But for this the English had no disposition : they wisely refused so unequal a battle; and contented themselves with attacking only the rear guard of the Armada. It was a running fight, as the fleet proceeded up the channel, in full view of Plymouth, whence boats with reinforcements and volunteers were perpetually arriving to the English ships. It was a bright Sunday afternoon when this “small fight," as Hawkins called it, took place; but before the priest on board the Spanish fleet had chanted vespers there were signs of insubordination, and worse trouble than had yet been felt from the enemy. On board the flag ship of Admiral Oquendo there was a Flemish master gunner, who felt himself aggrieved by a reprimand for inefficient ball practice; and probably, beyond this private grudge, he bore no good will to the Spanish nation : however this may be, he succeeded in laying a train to the powder magazine and blowing up the decks of the vessel. “The great castle at the stern rose into the clouds, carrying with it the paymaster-general of the fleet, a large portion of the treasure, and nearly

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

two hundred men. The Fleming flung himself overboard and escaped with his life. The ship was a wreck, but it was possible to save the rest of the crew; so Medina Sidonia sent light vessels to remove them, and brought up his flag ship to defend Oquendo who had already been fastened upon by his English pursuers. But the Spaniards not being so light in hand as their enemies, involved themselves in much embarrassment by this mancuvre; and there was much falling foul of each other, entanglement of rigging, and carrying away of yards. Oquendo's men, however, were ultimately saved and taken to other ships."

[ocr errors]
[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed]
« AnteriorContinuar »