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Spanish force it might have to encounter, employed two years in fitting it out. It consisted of twenty ships, large and small; the greater part of them fitted out at his own expense, and the remainder by private individuals. He embarked himself in the Scourge of Malice as Admiral, his Captain John Wats; the Merchant Royal, Sir John Berkley, Vice-Admiral (and Lieutenant-General); and the Ascension, Rear-Admiral, Captain Robert Flicker. Several officers and gentlemen volunteers accompanied this little fleet.
On the 6th of March, 1598, the fleet set sail from Plymouth, in the hope of falling in with five large Spanish carracks about to sail to the Indies, accompanied by more than twenty sail for the Brazils. The Spaniards, however, having got intelligence of the Earl's preparations, had kept their ships in harbour. Learning this from some coasters, the Earl proceeded to the Canaries, landed upon, and ravaged, the island of Lancerota ; the town, consisting of about one hundred houses, the castle, the church, and a convent, being left to the mercy of the invaders : all the inhabitants had fled, the very name of the English having inspired terror. Little plunder, however, was obtained by the invaders.
The Earl next proceeded to Dominica and the Virgin Islands, where Indians only resided. Hence he made sail for Porto Rico, where 1000 men were landed, attacked the town, and took all the forts
and castles, garrisoned by about 400 men, after a stout resistance. The English, in order to get at them, had to pass along a narrow, rocky, rugged causeway, leading to a drawbridge. The Earl on the march fell from the causeway into the sea, where, by the weight and incumbrance of his armour, he narrowly escaped drowning; and received so much salt-water into his stomach as to stay. his march for some time along the causeway. The Admiral soon, however, recovered; and, with his troop, added to that of Sir John Berkley, made a joint attack, and carried all before them; the Mora Castle among the rest; and the whole town, with its cathedral and monastery, were in the Earl's possession.
As this place was the common resort of all the plate-ships, and the key of the Carribean country, the Earl resolved to keep it; but he soon found it necessary to relinquish this scheme by the sickness which seized his troops. A violent flux carried off so many of his people that the number was soon found to be inadequate to keep the place, without unmanning the squadron. Of the thousand men who landed, it is said that seven hundred died.* The consequence was, that the rapsom of the place, which might once have brought him a large sum, was now treated of by the Spaniards with coldness and indifference; and it appeared to the Earl that
* Camden ; but Purchas, says six hundred.
the best policy was forthwith to re-embark the remnant of the troops. The fleet was then divided; a certain number to go with the Earl, and the rest to follow the orders of Sir John Berkley. They met at Flores, after both having suffered much in a violent gale of wind. They thence proceeded for England, where they arrived in the month of October. This grand expedition must have been a very serious expense to the Earl, and a loss to all employed on it; but it so far served the nation as to the damage done to the Spaniards, by obstructing their carracks and plate-ships both in going to and returning from the Indies. For himself the loss must haye been great enough to deter him from any further crusades.
Whatever may have been the leading motive that induced the Earl of Cumberland to pursue, with so much steadiness and vigour, his numerous voyageswhether with the view of serving his country, of gratifying the Queen, or of repairing his shattered fortune, or, it is fair to add, from the love of honourable fame—it must be granted, at least, that his unremitting zeal and indefatigable perseverance are deserving of admiration, and that his numerous expeditions were favourable to the increase and employment of seamen, and advantageous to the shipping interests. Perhaps, however, his personal share in them was not exactly such as to have stamped on his memory the character of a hero.
Other pursuits, however, of a different character were intermixed with his sea-voyages, and occupied the time and attention of the Earl of Cumberland. In the year 1590 (when certain jousts and tournaments were exhibited before the Queen at the tiltyard, under the name of Exercises in Arms, which were solemnized annually on the 17th of November) the Earl was invited to be present. These exhibitions were the invention of “the right virtuous and honourable Sir Henry Lee, Master of Her Highness' Armorie, who of his great zeale and earnest desire to eternize the glory of her Majesty's court, in the beginning of her happy reigne, voluntarily vowed (unless infirmity, age, or other accident, did impeach him) during his life to present himself at the tilt, armed, the day aforesaide, yearly, there to perform, in honour of Her Sacred Majestie, the promise he formerly made. However, the author of that custom, being now by age overtaken, in the thirtythird year of her Majesty's reigne, resigned, and recommended that office unto the Right Noble George Earl of Cumberland.”*
“On the day in question the author, with the Earl, having first performed their service in armes, presented themselves unto her Highness, at the foot of the stairs under her gallery windows, in the tiltyard at Westminster; where her Majesty did sit, accompanied with the ambassador of France, many
* Nicholls's Progresses,
ladies, and the chiefest nobility. As the armed knights approached her Majesty, musick so sweet and secret was heard, that every one greatly marvelled.” : We have then a long description, during that excellent melody, of the earth opening, and a pavilion rising up “like unto the sacred temple of the Virgins Vestall;" resembling a church with pillars of porphyry, and within it many lamps burning. There were also various crowned pillars and other devices, with complimentary songs and verses, while “ Vestal Maydens” presented various gifts unto her Majesty. While these presents, with prayer, were with great reverence delivered unto her Majesty's own hands, the venerable champion, disarmed, offered up his armour at the foot of her Majesty's crowned pillar; and, kneeling, presented the Earle of Cumberland, humbly beseeching she would be pleased to accept him as her knight, to continue the yearly exercises aforesaid. Her Majestie generously accepting of that offer, this aged knight armed the Earle, and mounted him upon his horse. *
There is something touching amidst these frivolities, as they appear to 'us, in a song sung in the character of the aged knight, of which the following are two verses :
* Nicholls's Progresses.