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and so I am expecting with solicitude to hear what has happened, and please God it may be that which is suitable for his service."
The pious aspirations of Philip were realized in a manner he did not anticipate.
Still good news was sent to Philip, news of partial if not entire victory, and the drooping spirits of the monarch revived, so that he wrote encouragingly to Parma, and suggested that he might readily make the passage to England, as the Armada having refitted would shortly be in the Thames, and adding ""Twill be easy to conquer the country so soon as you set foot on the soil."
Probably it might have been, but the Spaniards had not yet landed, and the Hollanders and English were still on the look out for the invaders and not disposed to leave the Channel free.
Some days later it occurred to the king that, perhaps after all the Armada was so much damaged by the stormy weather as to be incapable for the time of active service, and he straightway wrote to Parma: “In case the Armada is too much shattered to come out, and winter compels it to stay in, you must cause another Armada to be constructed at Emden and the adjacent towns, at my expense, and with the two together you will certainly be able to conquer England."
But before Parma could even respond to this letter, Medina Sidonia and the remnant of the invincible fleet arrived at Santanden, and a messenger was sent post haste to inform his Majesty that the invasion of England had hopelessly failed and that the Armada was completely shattered.
His Majesty's secretaries doubted what they should do when this intelligence arrived. Who should venture into his presence and tell him of his broken, ruined, forlorn expedition? There was some delay, but at length Secretary Moura consented to undertake the task, and entering the monarch's cabinet prepared to deliver the message.
Philip was writing at a desk, but looked up when his secretary entered. Being informed of the arrival of the messenger he laid down his pen and enquired the news. The secretary replied that the intelligence was unfavourable, but that the messenger was charged with full particulars. The courier was accordingly admitted and produced his gloomy budget. The king listened without a change of colour, without any visible emotion.
"Great thanks," he said, "do I render to Almighty God, by whose
generous hand I am gifted with such power that I could easily, if I chose, place another fleet upon the seas. Nor is it of great importance that a running stream should be sometimes intercepted so long as the fountain from which it flows remains inexhaustible."
He took up his pen and went on writing.
"And how does his Majesty receive the blow?" asks Secretary Idiaquey of Secretary Moura.
"His Majesty thinks nothing of the blow," is the answer, "nor do I consequently make more of this great calamity than does his Majesty."
But there was a wail of agony throughout Spain-scarcely a noble or ignoble home-where there was not one dead; no outward sign of mourning might be allowed, but the lamentations could not be utterly hushedor if hushed, the silence was eloquent.
Throughout Holland and England were heard the sounds of rejoicing; bonfires blazed, bells were rung, oxen roasted; and the solemn Te Deum resounded in every church. The overthrow of the Spanish invasion was complete; never had danger been so threatening, never had victory been so easily achieved.
HE withered white-haired man busily writing in the Escurial and devoutly giving thanks to God, after an ancient pattern, that he was not as other men are, had formidable foes with whom to contend. He comforted himself with the unction that he had sent forth his invincible fleet to defeat the English, not to contend with the elements; but there were men whom he could no more subdue than he could calm the storm.
In France there was one of sound heart and head, quick of eye, strong of hand, resolute of purpose, in whom Philip recognized a dangerous foe. "A man of moderate stature, light, sinewy, and strong; a face bronzed with continued exposure; small mouth; full yet commanding blue eyes glittered from beneath an arched brow and prominent cheek bones; a long hawk's nose almost resting upon a salient chin, a pendant moustache, and a thick, brown, curly beard, prematurely grizzled." This was the man whom Philip feared and hated.
He was every inch a man. While he was coming into the world his mother sang a gay Bernese song, so that, as his grandfather observed, he should be neither sulky nor morose. And truly this man was neither; his ringing laugh was full of geniality, his ready wit and magnificent good humour were without a dash of bitterness. In the lappel of his dressing gown his grandfather had taken him as soon as ever he was born, and brushed his infant lips with a clove of garlic, and moistened them with generous Gascon wine. So, said he, should the boy be bold and merry. He was bold. Never a blither spirit at the board; never a more heroic nature in the field; wherever his white plume was seen there the battle was the hottest; the first to advance, the last to retreat-this great manthis noble spirit-this Henry of Navarre was the dread of the industrious letter writer of the Escurial.
There was another Henry in France for whom Philip cared nothing; and he it was who wore the crown-Henry III. A weak, frivolous, contemptible creature, with neither mind to think nor heart to feel, a silly puppet in the hands of his crafty mother, the famous, or the infamous Catherine de Medici. His time was spent in the society of the vilest and most worthless associates, those who flattered his vanity and were unscrupulous in his service and their own, who laughed at his idle jests, praised his beauty, admired the cut of his clothes, and complimented him on his taste in monkeys and lapdogs. This king was never so well satisfied as when he put on woman's attire and rivalled the charms of the court ladies. It was his glory to have a woman's face, and to bare his neck and shoulders, and paint his cheeks and dye his eyebrows, and appear with jewelled stomacher and silken flounces, his little feet shod in satin slippers, and his delicate hands gloved; he slept in gloves to preserve the delicacy of his hands. Thus attired he would appear at court balls and tournaments-the belle of the ball room, the queen of the lists, indulging in mimicing coquetry with the gallants, and carrying with him
an odour of perfume, everything he wore being scented, even the little lapdog he carried occasionally under his arm and made to bark playfully at a too pressing suitor. At other times he might be seen dressed in the very height of the mode, slashed doublet and placarded vest, lounging in the public promenades and gravely playing at cup and ball, followed by a bevy of gentlemen and ladies all equally in the fashion and all intent on the same stately game. Sometimes, however, he became alarmed at what might come hereafter, or was frightened by his mother, and then he would throw aside his little porringer cap, and well starched ruff, and doublet of golden cloth, and in sackcloth bewail his sins, and say his prayers like a fawning coward; counting his beads-every bead made in the shape of a death's head-making rash promises to heaven, as if the saints were to be bribed, and this over, again betaking himself to cup and ball, or to the putting on of petticoats and the airs of a harlot.
This Henry III. succeeded to the throne of France on the death of his brother, Charles IX., chief actor in the Bartholomew Massacre. He had been elected King of Poland a short time previous to the death of Charles, and had set out for that country. The crown of Poland, subordinate to a fierce aristocracy, had long been a crown of thorns, and a law was at last passed putting it out of the power of any occupant of the throne to relieve himself from the weight of royalty by abdication. On receiving the news, therefore, of his accession to the regal dignity Henry was anxious to forsake the Poles; he therefore deceived his attendants as to his movements, slunk out of the palace by night, and did not rest till he had crossed the borders of his turbulent kingdom. He then slackened his speed, and amusing himself with the fêtes that were prepared in his honour on the road, consumed four months in his journey.
On arriving in France he found his mother Catherine de Medici had assumed the regency and was swaying the sceptre with no feeble hand. She was conciliating the Protestants-the Huguenots-striving to make them forget the horrors of the Bartholomew, not because she had any regard for them, but because they formed a powerful party in the state and might effect the stability of the throne. They had confederated with the liberal Catholics, and three princes of the blood were at their head: thus the court party was compelled to recognize them in another character from that of heretics, and soon after the return of Henry a treaty was signed with them by which they obtained large concessions.
The stern Catholic party were disgusted with what they considered the