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1590] DESTRUCTION OF WHITE'S COLONY.
55 the shore, White writes, “we sounded with a trumpet a call, and afterwardes many familiar English tunes of songs." But there were no Englishmen there to be gladdened by the welcome sound; only savages, who fled at their approach. When White reached the group of houses where he had left the colonists, he found everything in a state of desolation; but he found no sign of distress, such as they had promised to leave, should they be driven to extremities. At last he found carved on a tree, from which the bark had been partially removed, the word Croaton, in fair capital letters. This he took to mean that the planters had departed to Croaton. He found five chests, which had been carefully hidden, but had been discovered and plundered by the savages, who had found the contents for the most part of little good to them. They had consequently left them— books, maps, and pictures—lying about, torn and rotted with the rain. White would gladly have gone on to Croaton to search for the colonists, but he could not persuade the captains of the ships who had brought him to Virginia to do so, and so had to return to England with them.
Ralegh fitted out no more expeditions to Virginia. It is indeed wonderful that, with only the means of a private gentleman, he should have persevered so long in so formidable a task. Already, in 1589, he had transferred the patent given him by the Queen to a company of merchants. They made no use of it; but in 1602 it passed to a more energetic company, who at last, in 1606, began the real colonization of Virginia, for which Ralegh had paved the way. The new colonists heard that the people left by White had been miserably slaughtered; some however had escaped and gone far inland, where they lived peaceably with the natives. It was reported that there were still seven English alive, four men, two boys, and one maid; but the new settlers never found them.
The Spanish Armada.
HE time had now come when Philip II.
determined to make an open attack upon England. In 1587, Elizabeth had at last been persuaded to consent to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Since her flight from Scotland in 1568, Mary had been kept in prison in England for nineteen years altogether; and she had been a centre round which discontent could always gather. Plots had been formed with the object of restoring her to liberty, making her Queen of England, and bringing back the Catholic religion. Philip II. had often threatened to interfere on her behalf.
By the execution of Mary, Elizabeth removed the object of endless intrigues at home and abroad. Henceforth the real question of the day was clearly set before the minds of all Englishmen. But Mary's execution hurried on the plans of Philip II. So long as Mary lived, Philip could only interfere in Mary's behalf. Now that she
was dead, he could go forth to conquer England in his own name. Hitherto he had hoped to reduce the Netherlands first, and thence proceed to re-establish Catholicism in England. But he found England in the way of his plans. English help had encouraged the Huguenots to carry on their resistance in France; English gold had helped Philip's revolted subjects in the Netherlands; English seamen had again and again robbed him of his treasure. Philip determined to alter his plans. England was the key to the Protestant resistance in Europe. England must be entirely crushed before he could succeed in striking a death-blow to Protestantism. To Englishmen the problem was made simple by the attitude of Philip. English Catholics, or other malcontents, were willing enough to fight for Mary Queen of Scots; but they would fight for Elizabeth rather than see their country crushed by Philip.
Philip's preparations were delayed by the reckless daring of Drake, who, in 1587, led a fleet of twenty-five sail into the harbour of Cadiz, with the view of “singeing King Philip's beard,” as he said. There he found sundry great ships laden with provisions for the projected invasion of England. He sank some thirty-four ships, and carried away four more with him, and did other damage on the coasts of Spain and Portugal. So Philip's preparations were delayed; and though he set to work with new vigour to fit out a mighty fleet, which should once for all crush these im
1588] PREPARATION FOR ARMADA FIGHT.
pudent islanders, it could not be got ready before June, 1588.
This fleet, “the most fortunate and invincible Armada,” consisted of 132 ships, manned by 8,766 sailors and 2,088 galley slaves, and carrying 21,855 soldiers. Alexander, Prince of Parma, who was now Spanish Commander in the Netherlands, and the greatest general of the age, was to join the fleet in the Channel with 17,000 Spanish troops from the Netherlands, so that there might be an army of 50,000 men for the invasion of England.
Meanwhile Elizabeth could not believe in the danger which was threatening her. It seems as if both she and Burleigh had hoped, up to the last moment, that they would be able to avert it by negotiations. Both the army and the navy were in a thoroughly unfit state to meet the invaders. The Lord High Admiral, Lord Howard of Effingham, was in despair, and wrote to Walsingham and Burleigh begging for reinforcements, and complaining bitterly of the condition of the navy.
In one thing the English people were strong, and that was in their union. Mary of Scotland was dead, and the country was no longer distracted with divisions. All, Protestants and Catholics alike, were ready to gather round their Queen and do their utmost to keep out the foreigner. In the Royal Navy, when all was done, there were only thirty-four ships, with 6,279 men; but every nobleman and gentleman who was able, provided and