Imágenes de páginas

one of the finest fleets that had been sent forth from Spain since the invincible Armada. "Of all the desperate attempts," says an old writer, "that were ever made in the world against an enemy by sea, this of the noble Blake's is not inferior to any." "The Spaniards," says Clarendon, "comforted themselves with the belief that they were fiends and not men who had destroyed them."

This was the crowning act of the Mediterranean campaign. The ships now bore away for England, through the stormy Bay of Biscay, every knot bringing the brave man nearer to the white cliffs, the green vales, the yellow uplands he so longed to see. He was dying rapidly, and stern duty had compelled him to part with his beloved brother Humphrey, on account of a breach in naval discipline, which the brother might forgive, but the officer could not overlook. As the bold cliffs and bare hills of Cornwall came in sight, the brave captain, surrounded by trusty friends, was in death agony; and when the ships rounded Rame Head, his eyes were closed for ever, and weather-beaten sailors were sobbing like little children.

The only honours that could be rendered to England's Sea King were offered by a grateful country-the body was borne in princely state to Westminster, and buried among kings.

[graphic][merged small][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

FEW words may serve to close the story of the struggle for civil and religious freedom in England. When the British dominions were restored to order, when the sword was sheathed and men looked about them for what would come next, the Parliament in its divisions-faction fights and small bigotries

appeared very likely to undo all that had been done. Cromwell saw this and he took the readiest but certainly not the most constitutionl method of ending it.

He went down to the House. The crisis had come. To Harrison he said, "This is the time I must do it ;" and rating the members in no measured terms, he bid them begone, declaring the Lord had chosen other men to do his work. His troops entered at a given signal-no one made the least resistance the House was cleared. "What," said Cromwell, pointing to the mace- -"what shall we do with this fool's bauble ?" and ordered one of the soldiers to take it out of his sight. He then commanded that the doors of the House should be closed, and he put the key in his pocket.

Without a King-without a Parliament-England presented the strangest of all spectacles. Who would be man enough to take the helm? Cromwell-he took it with a bold, strong hand-he held it with no nervous grasp—and he would not relinquish it to hold a regal sceptre: through storms and tempests he guided the vessel of State, so ably that all acknowledged his power-but who should hold it when he was gone? And that time was rapidly approaching. The 3rd of September, 1658the anniversary of his famous victories-saw the end. Before the sun went down he had "entered the eternities and rested on his arms."


« AnteriorContinuar »