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Revenge, on account of many of his men straggling on shore, and of his endeavours in getting them off, was hemmed in between the Spanish fleet and the shore. He might perhaps have got over this difficulty, but, Camden says, that, from a rash piece of bravery, he would not suffer his pilot to carry the ship out, and by so doing turn his back upon the enemy He therefore resolutely attempted to break through them; and, notwithstanding he had ninety sick on board, he maintained a gallant but unequal fight, with the largest of the Spanish ships, for fifteen hours. In the commencement of the action the George Noble, of London, one of the victuallers, after receiving some shot, fell under the lee of the Revenge, and asked Sir Richard if he had any commands for him; but Sir Richard desired him to shift for himself, and leave him to his fortune. The Spanish Admiral, named the St. Philip, got to windward of him, and plied him so on one side, while three more attacked him on the other, that a great number of his men were either killed or wounded.
The enemy now attempted to board the Revenge, and were as often beaten off, and thrown overboard ; others succeeded, and the fighting continued all night, the enemy constantly bringing up fresh recruits from their fleet. In this conflict the Spaniards lost a vast number of their men. The Revenge now began to be in want of powder; besides which their
pikes were broken; all the bravest men either killed or wounded; their masts split and rigging damaged ; the ship battered with not fewer than eight hundred great shot; and, to complete their misfortune, Sir Richard Greenvil was himself severely. wounded, and, whilst the wound was dressing by the surgeon, he received a second shot in the head, and the surgeon was killed by his side. “By break of day," says Camden, “the hatches appeared all over blood, and the vast shoal of carcasses and men half dead that lay scattered up and down, presented a very lamentable spectacle to those who were left alive."*
After this prolonged fight, Greenvil being now past all hopes of life, and seeing that nothing but utter destruction awaited the few surviving crew, he ordered the ship to be sunk; but the master countermanded it, and, by consent of the greater part of the crew, got into the boats and yielded themselves to the Spanish Admiral, on compounding for their lives and liberties. The brave Greenvil, being now almost at the last extremity, was conveyed into the Spanish Admiral's ship, and died within two days, amid high commendations, even from his enemies, of his conduct and bravery. As he had lived, so he died, with the feelings of a brave man and a hero. Perceiving the hour of death approach, he is said to have uttered or dictated these words :—“Here die I, Richard Greenvil, with a joyful and quiet mind,
for that I have ended my life, as a true soldier ought to do that hath fought for his country, Queen, religion, and honour, whereby my soul most joyfully departeth out of this body, and shall always leave behind it an everlasting fame of a valiant and true soldier, that hath done his duty, as he was bound to do.” While the unequal action was going on, Howard, depending more on his courage than his strength, had a great inclination to venture into the midst of the enemy's fleet; but neither the master nor the rest thought it prudent to contend against such evident odds, and with certain defeat; while, at the same time, there was little or no probability of rescuing their friends. However, Howard and the rest, as well as Sir Thomas Vavasor (who assisted the Revenge for full two hours), fought bravely as long as they had the advantage of the wind, and did all that could be expected in such fearful odds, and by men of courage, till night parted them."*
The ship was surrendered, but, being so thoroughly shot through her hull, shortly after sunk in a storm with two hundred Spaniards on board, and with her perished some other vessels of the Spanish fleet; so that, as Camden says, “ the Revenge made good its name, and forced the Spaniards to pay dear for this new victory.” Howard had, besides, the satisfaction of making some amends for the loss of the
Revenge, her brave captain and crew, by taking several valuable Spanish ships; in one of which were found about twenty thousand indulgences, designed for the American Indians and settlers, and, what was infinitely better, a rich treasure besides. These indulgences, it seems, were articles of value, being sold to the Indians at a yearly rate,“ by which the King of Spain's coffers are filled, and good grist carried to the Pope's mill."*
The death of Sir Richard Greenvil made a deep impression on his countrymen : there is but one historian that speaks in a slighting manner of his conduct and death, and that one is Sir William Monson, a cold, unfeeling, and heartless censurer of most other men's actions; he calls Sir Richard a “ stubborn man," "so headstrong and rash that he offered resistance to those who adyised him to cut his cable and follow his Admiral;" that “his wilful rashness made the Spaniards triumph as much as if they had obtained a naval victory,” &c.f · Other feelings prompted greater men to view the conduct of Greenvil in a different light. “The fight of the Revenge,” says Bacon, " was memorable even beyond credit, and to the height of some heroical fable : for though it were a defeat, yet it exceeded a victory; being like the act of Sampson, that killed more men at his death than he had done in the time * Camden.
of all his life; this ship,” he adds, “ for fifteen hours sat like a stag among hounds at the bay.”*
It is true that valour alone, without discretion, is not unlikely to lead to discomfiture; but it has been owing to such stuff as Greenvil was made of, that the navy of Great Britain has acquired that high pre-eminence which, since his time, it has never ceased to hold; that, in short, produced a Nelson, who, in like circumstances with Greenvil, would have fought like Greenvil.
The next piece of nayal service, performed by Lord Thomas Howard, was in the year 1596, in the attack and capture of Cadiz, and the destruction of the fleet and shipping there assembled. An account of this transaction has been given under the memoir of the Lord High Admiral. In the large fleet fitted out for this occasion, Lord Thomas served in command of the Mere-honeur, as Vice-Admiral, and had his full share in the attack on the castle and the capture of the ships and galleons; and at the conclusion of the business, he and the Dutch Admiral were the only two officers that volunteered to go with the Earl of Essex to the Azores, there to lay in wait for the return of the East India carracks" so much,” says one, speaking of the rest, “had the fear of losing what they had gained at Cadiz got the ascendant over every other.” The next affair in which Lord Thomas Howard
* Bacon: 'A Speech on the War with Spain.',