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The grass, the grass, the beautiful grass,
Oh! well may the gift endure,
But grows for both rich and poor;
Where the emerald turf is spread,
That stays like a dear old friend!
And it serves us to the end.-J. E. Carpenter.
It was on Saturday, the 20th of July, that Lord Effingham came in sight of his formidable adversaries. The “invincible” 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 quickness in attacking and maneuvring, suffered little comparative loss. Each day added not only to the spirit, but to the number of Effingham's force.
Raleigh justly praises the English admiral for his skilful tactics. He says,-" Certainly, he that will happily perform a fight at sea, must be skilful in making choice of vessels to fight in; he must believe that there is more belonging to a good man-of-war upon the waters, than great daring; and must know, that there is a great deal of difference between fighting loose, or at large, and grappling. The guns of a slow ship pierce as well, and make as great holes, as those in a swift. To clap ships together without consideration, belongs rather to a madman than to a man of war.”
The Armada lay off Calais, with its largest ships ranged outside. 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 galleys 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. 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:
“Upon the 29th of July in the morning, the Spanish fleet, after the above-mentioned tumult, having arranged themselves again into order, were, 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 Calais road, and of the advantage of the wind near unto Dunkirk, rather than they would change their array or separate their forces now conjoined 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 skill in nimble steerage, whereby they could turn and wield themselves with the wind which way they listed, came
very 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, until 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 advantages of the English—namely, for the extraordinary size of their ships, and also for that they were so nearly conjoined, and kept together in so good array, that they could by no means be fought withal one to one. The English thought, therefore, that they had right well acquitted themselves, in chasing the Spaniards first from Calais, and then from Dunkirk, and by that means to have hindered them from joining with the Duke of Parma's 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 ships shot through and through, and they discharged likewise great store of ordnance against the English; who, indeed, sustained some hindrance, but not to be compared to the Spaniards' loss: for they did not lose either one ship or person of importance, although Sir Francis Drake's ship was pierced with shot about forty times.”
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 further 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. --Creasy, "The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World."
SHE strikes, and she reels, and her high towering mast,