« AnteriorContinuar »
SIR WALTER RALEIGH.
SIR WALTER RALEIGH was born in 1552. His father, Walter Raleigh, was descended from an old Devonshire family, and held an estate, called Fardel, in the parish of Cornwood in that county. After a brief residence at Oriel College, Oxford, and after seeing some service on the Continent and in Ireland, he attracted the notice of Queen Elizabeth, under whose sanction he, in 1584, discovered and took possession of Virginia. In the following year he was knighted, and became a Member of Parliament; and during the rest of Elizabeth's reign, was one of the most prominent characters at her Court and in Parliament. He served against the Armada, and was at the taking of Cadiz in 1596.
Shortly after the accession of James, he was convicted upon a charge of treason, and suffered sixteen years' imprisonment in the Tower, during which he composed his History of the World. On regaining liberty he attempted, unsuccessfully, the conquest of Guiana from the Spaniards, to please whom he was, in 1618, brought to the scaffold.
Though his career was thus active, he was a diligent student and a voluminous writer, especially upon history, politics, geography, and military and naval tactics. In describing events in which he had taken part, or in the discussion of moral questions, his style is rich and eloquent; it is often, and naturally, dry and cold in his great compilation, The History of the World.
1. Action at the taking of Cadiz. HAVING, as aforesaid, taken the leading, I was first saluted by the fort called Philip, afterward by the ordnance on the curtain, and lastly by all the galleys in good order. To show scorn to all which, I only answered first the fort, and afterward the galleys, to each piece a blur with a trumpet; disdaining to shoot one piece at any one or all of those esteemed dreadful monsters. The ships that followed beat upon the galleys so thick as they soon betook them to their oars, and got up to join with the galleons in the strait, as aforesaid; and then, as they were driven to come near me, and enforced to range their sides towards me, I bestowed a benediction amongst them.
But St. Philip, the great and famous admiral of Spain, was the mark I shot at; esteeming those galleys but as wasps in respect of the powerfulness of the other; and being resolved to be revenged for the Revenge, or to second her with mine own life, I came to anchor by the galleons; of which the Philip and Andrew were two that boarded the Revenge. I was formerly commanded not to board, but was promised fly-boats, in which, after I had battered a while, I resolved to join unto them.
My lord Thomas came to anchor by me, on the one hand, with the Lion; the Mary Rose, on the other, with the Dreadnought; the marshal toward the side of Puntall; and towards ten of the clock my lord general Essex, being impatient to abide far off, hearing so great thunder of ordnance, thrust up through the fleet, and headed all those on the left hand, coming to anchor next unto me on that side; and afterward came in the Swiftsure, as near as she could. Always I must, without glory, say for myself, that I held single in the head of all.
Now after we had beaten, as two butts, one upon another almost three hours, (assuring your honour that the volleys of cannon and culverin came as thick as if it had been a skirmish of musketeers, and finding myself in danger to be sunk in the place, I went to my lord general in my skiff, to desire him that he would enforce the promised fly-boats to come up, that I might board; for as I rid, I could not endure so great a battery any long time. My lord general was then coming up himself; to whom I declared that if the fly-boats came not, I would board with the queen's ship; for it was the same loss to burn or sink, for I must endure the
The earl finding that it was not in his power to command fear, told me that whatsoever I did, he would second me in person upon his honour. My lord admiral, having also a disposition to come up at first, but the river was so choked as he could not pass with the Ark, came up in person into the Nonparilla, with my lord Thomas.
While I was thus speaking with the earl, the marshal, who thought it some touch to his great esteemed valour, to ride behind me so many hours, got up ahead my ship; which my lord Thomas perceiving, headed him again, myself being but a quarter of an hour absent. At my return, finding myself from being the first to be but the third, I presently let slip anchor, and thrust in between my lord Thomas and the marshal, and went up further ahead than all them before, and thrust myself athwart the channel, so as I was sure none should outstart me again for that day. My lord general Essex, thinking his ship's sides stronger than the rest, thrust the Dreadnought aside, and came next the Warspite on the left hand, ahead all that rank but my lord Thomas. The marshal, while we had no leisure to look behind us, secretly fastened a rope on my ship's side towards him, to draw himself up equally with me; but some of my company
advertising me thereof, I caused it to be cut off, and so he fell back into his place; whom I guarded, all but his very prow, from the sight of the enemy.
Now if it please you to remember, that having no hope of my fly-boats to board, and that the earl and my lord Thomas both promised to second me, I laid out a warp by the side of the Philip to shake hands with her : (for with the wind we could not get aboard:) which when she and the rest perceived, finding also that the Repulse (seeing mine) began to do the like, and the rear-admiral my lord Thomas, they all let slip, and came aground, tumbling into the sea heaps of soldiers, so thick as if coals had been poured out of a sack in many ports at once, some drowned and some sticking in the mud. The Philip and the St. Thomas burnt themselves : the St. Matthew and the St. Andrew were recovered by our boats ere they could get out to fire them. The spectacle was very lamentable on their side ; for many drowned themselves; many, half-burnt, leaped into the water ; very many hanging by the ropes' ends by the ships' sides, under the water even to the lips; many swimming with grievous wounds, strucken under water, and put out of their pain; and withal so huge a fire, and such tearing of the ordnance in the great Philip, and the rest, when the fire came to them, as, if any man had a desire to see hell itself, it was there most lively figured. Ourselves spared the lives of all after the victory; but the Flemings, who did little or nothing in the fight, used merciless slaughter, till they were by myself, and afterward by my lord admiral, beaten off.
2. Of the last refuges of the Devil to maintain his kingdom.
Now the Devil, because he cannot play upon the open stage of this world, (as in those days,) and being still as industrious as ever, finds it more for his advantage to creep into the minds of men; and inhabiting in the temples of their hearts, works them to a more effectual adoration of himself than ever. For whereas he first taught them to sacrifice to monsters, to dead stones cut into faces of beasts, birds, and other mixed natures; he now sets before them the high and shining idol of glory, the all-commanding image of bright gold. He tells them that truth is the goddess of dangers and oppressions; that chastity is the enemy of nature; and lastly, that as all virtue, in general, is without taste, so pleasure satisfieth and delighteth every sense : for true wisdom, saith he, is exercised in nothing else than in the obtaining of power to oppress, and of riches to maintain plentifully our worldly delights. And if this archpolitician find in his pupils any remorse, any fear or feeling of God's future judgment, he persuades them that God hath so great need of men's souls, that he will accept them at any time and upon any conditions; interrupting by his vigilant endeavours all offer of timeful return towards God, by laying those great blocks of rugged poverty and despised contempt in the narrow passage leading to his divine presence. But as the mind of man hath two ports, the one always frequented by the entrance of manifold vanities, the other desolate and overgrown with grass, by which enter our charitable thoughts and divine contemplations; so hath that of death a double and twofold opening; worldly misery passing by the one, worldly prosperity by the other : at the entrance of the one we find our sufferings and patience to attend us; (all which have gone before us to prepare our joys;) at the other our cruelties, covetousness, licentiousness, injustice, and oppressions, (the harbingers of most fearful and terrible sorrow, staying for us. And as the Devil, our most industrious enemy, was ever most diligent, so is he now more laborious than ever; the long day of mankind