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“But,” says Monson, “after he had put out to sea, the King of Spain, becoming better advised than to adventure twenty of his ships to ten of ours, sent for Don Alonzo to return to port, and so frustrated the expectation of our fleet."*
The English squadron then stood over to the Azores, and made an attempt to land at Fayal, which the Earl of Cumberland had got possession of, the preceding year, and had given it back to the Spanish authorities. In the mean time the fortifications had been strengthened, and the town put into a good state of defence; but as the object of Frobisher was to wait the arrival of the East and West India ships, he sent a trumpet to the Governor, in a friendly manner, to request a certain quantity of wine and provisions, to be paid for, which he not only refused, but the messenger was shot. The Admiral, or General as he is called, being highly incensed at this barbarous act, sent word that he would visit the town most severely for this conduct, and received in reply from the Governor, that he was the servant of the King of Spain, and, as in duty bound, would resist any attack to the utmost
of his power.
The English fleet having now been absent about seven months here and on the coast of Spain, it was deemed most expedient to return to England, as they had not, during the whole of this time, taken or even fallen in with a single Spanish ship worthy of being captured. The expedition, however, answered its purpose, by compelling the King of Spain to keep in port the whole of the outward-bound ships, and also to send out instructions to the Indies, to detain the sailing of the homeward-bound ships till the following year.
Sir Walter Raleigh having, with others, been consulted on the defence of the country in 1588, towards which he assisted in providing a division of merchant-ships, now turned his attention to sea affairs; and, being a great favourite at court, obtained the loan of two of her Majesty's ships—the Garland, commanded by himself, and the Foresight, by Captain Cross—in the former of which was Sir J. Burroughs, a commander of the land-forces. To the Queen's ships were added a number of armed merchant-ships, making in the whole 15 sail; of which Sir Walter was constituted General and Admiral. The object of this expedition was to intercept the Spanish fleet, on its return from America. The delay that occurred in preparing it for sea gave to Philip the opportunity of sending, as on a former occasion, to countermand the sailing of this fleet for that year (1592).
Sir Walter had scarcely put to sea when he encountered a heavy storm, in which he lost several of his pinnaces and long boats, destined for crossing the Isthmus of Darien and the capture of the sea
port of Panama, which so much interfered with the object of his voyage that, as Camden says, “the project was quashed.” The real reason, however, of the project being quashed was the recall of Raleigh, by order of the Queen Sir Martin Frobisher, in a pinnace of the Lord Admiral, called the Disdain, fell in with and brought him a letter of recall from the Queen, ordering him forth with to return, and transfer the command to Sir Martin and Sir John Burroughs. The occasion for his return is accounted for in another place. The order to Sir Martin was to cruise
the coast of Spain, and to intercept any ships attempting to get into or out of harbour; and to Burroughs and Cross the captain, with the division under them, to visit the Azores, to surprise any of the carracks that might arrive from the Indies: and this division, as Camden says, was not altogether without success; as the Spanish admiral, being most intent upon Frobisher, kept his ships in port, and neglected the safety of the carracks.
The Azores squadron, on standing for the Island of Flores, observed the Portuguese unlading a large carrack, which, on the approach of the English, was immediately set fire to. Cross, however, having spread his ships along the coast of the island, discovered a second large carrack. “ The first ship that came up with her,” says Camden, " played furiously upon her with the great guns, and poured in her broadsides, being animated by the hope of a considerable prize. But they soon sheered off again, being surprised at the tallness of the ship, and the number of men to defend her, till Cross, whom he calls Sir Robert, laid the Queen's ship named the Providence across her stern, and stood the brunt singly for three hours together. After which the rest of the ships, together with two belonging to the Earl of Cumberland, joining them, plied her so warmly, especially at the stern, that no man had the courage to stand at the helm any longer. The first that boarded her was Cross himself, followed by several others. The victory being obtained, they found every place full of slaughtered bodies, and a confused heap of dead and dying men, which, with the maimed and wounded, who lay everywhere scattered up and down, made a very lamentable spectacle."
The carrack was called the Madre de Dios (the Mother of God)—was 165 feet from stem to stern, a seven-decked ship of 1600 tons, most richly laden, was armed with 32 brass guns, and had a crew of 600 men on board. This prize, when brought home, was valued by report at 150,0001. sterling, besides what the officers and seamen had pilfered and got into their own clutches.
On this subject; Raleigh himself, the most interested, complains bitterly, in a letter to the Lord Treasurer, of the conduct of some of the officers and men who had pillaged the carrack, by which both himself and Sir Martin Frobisher were sufferers. “ Mercenary men,” he says, “are not so affectionate or religious but they can, with safe conscience, lick their own fingers."
The Queen, as usual, assumed to herself the power of making the distribution to the adventurers, with which some were satisfied. As a matter of favour, she is said to have awarded to the Earl of Cumberland some 36,0001.
The King of Spain, anxious, as he always was, and ever ready, to assist the enemies of England, joined the faction in France, known by the name of the League, against the legitimate king, then in alliance with Queen Elizabeth. Philip, in 1591, had sent 3000 Spanish troops to the neighbourhood of Brest, where they had taken up and fortified themselves in a strong position. The Queen, desirous to give assistance to the King of France, ordered a body of about 3000 troops, under the command of Sir John Norris, to be conveyed to Brest. No progress being made on either side, a squadron, with a fresh supply of troops, was ordered from Spain; whereupon the Queen of England was a second time applied to for naval assistance, which she was the more ready to grant, as the Spaniards were already in possession of the fort of Crozon, near Brest, which, if suffered to become a