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ships-the greater number of them the largest and most heavily armed in the world, lay face to face, and scarcely out of cannon shot, with one hundred and fifty English sloops and frigates, the strongest and swiftest that the island could furnish, and commanded by men whose exploits had rung through the world.

"Further along the coast, invisible, but known to be performing a more perilous and vital service, was a squadron of Dutch vessels of all sizes, lining both the inner and outer edges of the sand banks of the Flemish coast, and swarming in all the estuaries and inlets of that intricate and dangerous cruising ground between Dunkerk and Walcheren. These fleets of Holland and Zeland, numbering some one hundred and fifty

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galleons, sloops, and flyboats, under Warmond, Nassau, Van der Does, de Moor and Rosendad, lay patiently blockading every possible egress from Newport or Graveline, or Sluys, or Flushing, or Dunkerk, and longing to grapple with the Duke of Parma, so soon as his fleet of gunboats and hoys, packed with his Spanish and Italian veterans, should venture to set forth upon the sea for their long prepared exploit.

"It was a pompous spectacle that midsummer night upon those narrow seas. The moon, which was at the full, was calmly rising upon a scene of anxious expectation. Would she not be looking by the morrow's night upon a subjugated England, a re-enslaved Holland-upon the downfall of civil and religious liberty? Those ships of Spain which lay there with

their banners waving in the moonlight, discharging salvoes of anticipated triumph and filling the air with strains of insolent music, would they not by daybreak be moving straight to their purpose, bearing the conquerors of the world to the scene of their cherished hope?

"That English fleet, too, which rode there at anchor, so anxiously on the watch would that swarm of nimble, lightly-handled, but slender vessels, which had held their own hitherto in hurried and desultory skirmishes, be able to cope with their great antagonists, now that the moment had arrived for the death grapple? Would not Howard, Drake, Frobisher, Seymour, Winter, and Hawkins be swept out of the Strait at last, yielding an open passage to Medina, Oquendo, Recalde, and Farnese? Would those Hollanders and Zelanders cruising so vigilantly among their treacherous shallows, dare to maintain their post, now that the terrible 'Holofernese' with his invincible legion was resolved to come forth?”

Upon the prowess of these Hollanders and Zelanders the safety of England depended. If their vigilance was eluded, their strength defied and overcome, if once Duke Parma united his forces with the Spanish fleet, the fate of England, Holland, the Protestant liberties of the world, were sealed.

So far as the English fleet had yet engaged the Invincible Armada, they had been tolerably secure. There had been no regular action; they had hung upon the skirts of the foes, had pelted them with shot from a convenient distance, had made the best use of skilful seamanship and a favourable wind, but they were now to enter on a general engagement— to fight out the battle, face to face. As Howard, in company with Winter, stood on the deck of his vessel, gazed on the pompous display of strength, and compared-as he could not help comparing-the insignificance of his own fleet with that of the Spaniards in point of strength, weight, and numbers, the result, even to his brave heart, seemed almost hopeless. But in a happy moment, Winter recalled the story he had heard of the fire-ships of Antwerp; their inventor, Gianibelli, was then in England, helping to strengthen the fortifications of the Thames. What if, by a stratagem, they could create a panic among those who were so confident of victory! It was a suggestion worthy of consideration; certainly there was no time to prepare vessels so costly, so elaborate, so destructive as those which might have saved Antwerp, but still something of the kind might be attempted. Howard and Winter sat together in the state cabin, and talked over the probability of success. Suddenly

there were cries of alarm,-a heavy crash. Both officers sprung on deck, and found that the ship White Bear, with three others of the English fleet, had drifted against the Ark, carried away many yards and much tackle, and threatened to cripple the best ship in the fleet on the eve of a general engagement. Fortunately the alacrity and good handling the ships received averted the ill consequences of the accident, and Howard and Winter returned to the cabin to discuss their plan as to the fire ships.

The morrow was Sunday. The Spanish commander had been for more than a week off our coast; as yet no injury had been sustained, and at present there were no signs of Duke Parma's appearance. Early in the morning Howard hung out his signal for council, and soon after the chief officers of the fleet were assembled in his cabin. To them Winter's suggestion was submitted, and was highly approved. Sir Harry Palmer started in a pinnace for Dover to bring off a number of old vessels fit to be fired, together with a supply of light wood, tar, resin, sulphur, and other combustibles. But notwithstanding the speed with which he endeavoured to carry out his instructions, the night came on before he could return, and the opportunity seemed lost for ever. Failing the return of Palmer, it was then resolved that materials for the fire ships should be collected among the fleet, and every man engaged in the adventure set to work with zeal and with speed.

In the meantime the soldiers and sailors on board the Spanish fleet were becoming impatient. Within sight of the richest prize that had ever yet been offered to their grasp, they loitered for Duke Parma. The southern warriors beheld with contempt the small and apparently illequipped vessels of their foes; they relied on an easy victory if Parma but came in time. The delay in his arrival might be fatal to the whole enterprise. The men were impatient: the officers not without suspicion that the Duke was playing a double game. It was whispered about that King Philip had issued secret instructions to seize the duke on his arrival and send him a disgraced captain to Spain; that he had been detected in plotting with the English, and that probably the news of this detection had already reached him.

The position of the Armada, as it rode off Calais on that Sunday, was full of danger. The position selected, secure enough in calm weather, was extremely hazardous in a storm, and a tempest might at any time arise. Indeed, as the evening advanced, dark clouds spread over the sky, clouds which the moon sought in vain to pierce; the surge grew

heavier, and the low moan of the wind betokened a gale. At midnight the darkness became intense; there was the roll of distant thunder, the sob of the rising waves; the sounds of merriment on board the fleet were hushed, and those who were on the watch spoke but few words to each other; every man thought of the treacherous quicksands under their lee.

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Suddenly a practised ear caught the faint dip of oars; it was a vain endeavour to pierce the darkness, and those who heard the sound listened with breathless attention. A few moments afterwards a broad glare of light flashed across the dark water, and six flaming vessels were seen bearing steadily down on the Armada before wind and tide.


under any circumstances for a fleet so vast

and so unwieldy as the Armada, but it was especially alarming to the Spanish soldiers and seamen who remembered the demon-ships of Gianibelli. It was known that Gianibelli was in England, busy, doubtless, in the service of the English queen; and doubtless also, these floating apparitions were but so many floating volcanoes that would presently burst into eruption, as was the case at Antwerp, pouring down a deadly shower of scythes and gravestones on the crew of Philip's Armada, just as they had done on the defenders of Parma's bridge. The bridge and floating forts of Farnese had been shattered by them as though they were toys of glass, and doubtless the same would now happen even to the Invincible Armada. A panic seized the Spaniards. There was a yell throughout the fleet; the cry was caught up from ship to ship

"The fire-ships of Antwerp-the fire-ships of Antwerp !"

Every cable was cut, and frantic attempts were made by those on board each galleon and galeasse to escape what seemed to be imminent destruction. Four or five of the large ships became entangled with each other. Two caught fire and were burnt to the water's edge. Medina Sidonia, who was not altogether unprepared for a surprise, behaved with admirable coolness; he issued immediate orders that every ship, as soon as the danger was over, should return to its assigned post; but the panic was great, and Sidonia's orders were totally disregarded. Gianibelli—the despised Mantuan whose inventive skill had been rejected by Philip, and foiled only by the cowardice of Runaway Jacob-was too terrible a foe to admit of calm obedience being rendered when he was at work—and the Spaniards never doubted that the diabolical fire-ships were of his manufacture.

As to the fire-ships, they did no further damage than spreading a panic through the whole fleet. So long as the darkness of the night continued, so long the confusion prevailed. When the morning dawned several of the Spanish vessels lay disabled, while the rest of the fleet were seen at a distance of two leagues from Calais driving towards the Flemish coast. The weather was squally, and the huge vessels of the Armada were difficult to manage in a rough sea. The English fleet, on the contrary, was all astir, riding bravely at no great distance from the Spaniards, and ready to give chase or to bear down on any tempting victim.

"In the immediate neighbourhood of Calais," says Mr. Motley, "the flag-ship of the squadron of galeasses, commanded by Don Hugo de Moncado, was discovered using her foresail and oars, and endeavouring to

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