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At the suggestion of Monson, an attempt was made for his escape, but failed; a second succeeded; but after various adventures, consequent on his liberation, Fernandez was recognised, and being informed against, fled for refuge into a church: but when the Prince Cardinal was acquainted with this, he ordered him to be taken from the sanctuary, brought to Lisbon, and confined in his old dungeon.
When this unfortunate captive was taken out for execution, one of the soldiers, moved with pity, fled at his request to the House of the Miseracordia, to report the injury which had been done to God, to themselves, and the holy church, by removing by force a penitent sinner from the sanctuary. Some of the members forth with proceeded to the place of execution, where they found poor Fernandez in the act of recommending his spirit to God, and the hangman ready to perform his office. By the intercession of this humane and charitable institution, he was redeemed from present death, but returned to the place from whence he came. But what ultimately became of him, Monson, being himself released, does not say. Previous to his release, however, Monson was strictly examined as aiding and abetting the escape of Fernandez; but insisting that by the law of arms, being a prisoner of war, and taken in arms, he challenged the privilege of that law, which was reluctantly conceded to him.
In 1593 the Earl of Cumberland having obtained from Her Majesty two of her ships, the Lyon and Bonaventure, appointed Captain Monson as his flag-captain. These ships, and seven others to accompany them, were victualled at his own expense; and, arriving off the coast of Spain, he took two French ships of the League, which Monson says did produce more than treble the
Having understood that a fleet of twenty sail of Spaniards was gone to the Islands, the Earl proceeded to Flores, where he met with and captured one of the fleet; and received from the Captain, then on his deathbed, intelligence where the rest were, and what was their strength. The next day he fell in with them; but, being far too weak to engage, left them to pursue their course, and spent some time in expectation of the carracks, which, however, had passed without being discovered.
Captain Monson says, the Earl being now so ill that his recovery was despaired of, unless he speedily got to the shore or could receive a supply of cow's milk, the Captain ventured on shore in the island of Corvo, where by threats and promises of reward he obtained a cow, which he says was the means in all likelihood of saving the Earl's life. Captain Monson, however, thought it most prudent for the whole fleet to make the best of its way home.
But the most important voyage, in which Captain Monson was concerned, was that in which the Lord High Admiral and the Earl of Essex, “Generals equally,” as Monson styles them, “ both by sea and land,” were associated. Monson was Captain to the Earl of Essex in the Repulse; and Sir Amos Preston Captain to the Lord High Admiral in the Ark Royal. Monson, having acquired an extensive knowledge of sea affairs, and being well acquainted with the coasts and harbours of the European states, strongly advised Essex,' as soon as they discovered the land, to get possession of the harbour of Cadiz and the shipping before they attempted a landing. But as the detail of the transactions of this expedition has been narrated in the memoirs of the Lord High Admiral and the Earl of Essex, it is not necessary to repeat it here, except so far as personally regards Monson. He says in his narrative, “that Lord Essex, with his usual impetuosity, and without consulting the Admiral, landed with three regiments, which his Captain (Monson) did not approve, more especially as the Lord Admiral was in his barge, ready with his troops of seamen to land, hastening to support the soldiers." And he adds, “though the Earl of Essex's carriage and forwardness merited much, yet if it had been with more deliberation and less haste. it would have succeeded better; and he (Monson) advised him rather to seek to be masters of the ships than of the town ; for it was that would afford both wealth and honour, for the riches in ships could not be concealed or conveyed away, as in towns they might; and the ships themselves being brought to England, would be always before men's eyes there, and put them in mind of the greatness of the exploit. As for the town, perhaps it might be soon won, but probably not long enjoyed, and so quickly forgotten ; and to speak indifferently, by the Earl's sudden landing, without the Lord Admiral's privity, and his giving advice by a message to attempt the ships, which should have been resolved
upon mature deliberation, perhaps the Lord Admiral felt a little eclipsed, which perhaps hastened his landing, for his reputation sake, when as he thought it more advisable to have possessed himself of their fleet." *
The next important service on which Monson was employed was in 1597, when the Earl of Essex was appointed General of an expedition to the Azores, with fourteen of Her Majesty's best ships, besides the two galleons, the St. Matthew and St. Andrew, that were captured at Cadiz the preceding year. Sir William Monson was appointed Captain of the Rainbow, and in that capacity had little to do but to obey his orders, and to find fault with the General for his want of seamanship and arrangement.
In 1599 Lord Thomas Howard was sent to the Đowns in the Elizabeth Jonas, with nineteen of the Queen’s best ships under his orders, in which expedition Sir William Monson commanded the Defiance. The appointment of this fleet, as already stated, was a precautionary measure occasioned by the Spaniards having collected a large naval force of their great ships and galleys in the Groyne, their usual place of rendezvous, when they intended an attack on any part of the coasts of England or Ireland, but they withdrew them to pursue a Dutch fleet that had proceeded to the Western Islands to intercept, as was supposed, the India plate ships. Monson, however, consoles himself for the speedy return of our own ships, by the benefit which he says accrued to the navy and the country by this sudden preparation of so respectable a fleet; "that our men were now suddenly taught to arm, every man knowing his command and how to be commanded, which before they were ignorant of.” To say the truth, the expedition which was then used in drawing together so great an army by land and in rigging so great and royal a navy for sea in so little space of time, was so admirable in the
of other countries, that they received a terror from it; and many that came from beyond sea said, “The Queen was never more dreaded abroad, for any. thing she ever did.”
In the same year, 1599, King Philip being dead,