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Philip and promised the support of the Huguenots in an invasion of the Low Countries. Never had a fairer prospect opened to French ambition. Catharine, however,
saw ruin for the monarchy in a France at once Protestant and free. She threw herself on the side of the Guises, and ensured their triumph by lending herself to their massacre of the Protestants on St. Bartholomew's day. But though the long gathering clouds of religious hatred had broken, Elizabeth trusted to her dexterity to keep out of the storm. France plunged madly back into a chaos of civil war, and the Low Countries were left to cope single-handed with Spain. Whatever enthusiasm the heroic struggle of the Prince of Orange excited among her subjects, it failed to move Elizabeth even for an instant from the path of cold self-interest. To her the revolt of the Netherlands was simply "a bridle of Spain, which kept war out of our own gate." At the darkest moment of the contest, when Alva had won back all but Holland and Zealand, and even William of Orange despaired, the Queen bent her energies to prevent him from finding succor in France. That the Provinces could in the end withstand Philip, neither she nor any English statesmen believed. They held that the struggle must close either in utter subjection of the Netherlands, or in their selling themselves for aid to France; and the accession of power which either result must give to one of her two Catholic foes the Queen was eager to avert. Her plan for averting it was by forcing the Provinces to accept the terms offered by Spain-a restoration, that is, of their constitutional privileges on condition of their submission to the Church. Peace on such a footing would not only restore English commerce, which suffered from the war; it would leave the Netherlands still formidable as a weapon against Philip. The freedom of the Provinces would be saved; and the religious question involved in a fresh submission to the yoke of Catholicism was one which Elizabeth was incapable of appreciating. To her the steady refusal of William the Silent to sacrifice his faith was as unintelligible as the steady bigotry of Philip in demanding such a sacrifice. It was of more immediate consequence that Philip's anxiety to avoid provoking an intervention on the part of England which would destroy all hope of his success in Flanders, left her
tranquil at home. Had revolt in England prospered he was ready to reap the fruits of other men's labors; and he made no objection to plots for the seizure or assassination of the Queen. But his state was too vast to risk an attack while she sate firmly on her throne; and the cry of the English Catholics, or the pressure of the Pope, had as yet failed to drive the Spanish King into strife with Elizabeth.
The control of events was, however, passing from the hands of statesmen and diplomatists; and the long period of suspense which their policy had won was ending in the clash of national and political passions. The rising fanaticism of the Catholic world was breaking down the caution and hesitation of Philip; while England set aside the balanced neutrality of her Queen and pushed boldly forward to a contest which it felt to be inevitable. The public opinion, to which the Queen was so sensitive, took every day a bolder and more decided tone. Her cold indifference to the heroic struggle in Flanders was more than compensated by the enthusiasm it excited among the nation at large. The earlier Flemish refugees found a refuge in the Cinque Ports. The exiled merchants of Antwerp were welcomed by the merchants of London. While Elizabeth dribbled out her secret aid to the Prince of Orange, the London traders sent him half-amillion from their own purses, a sum equal to a year's revenue of the Crown. Volunteers stole across the Channel in increasing numbers to the aid of the Dutch, till the five hundred Englishmen who fought in the beginning of the struggle rose to a brigade of five thousand, whose bravery turned one of the most critical battles of the war. Dutch privateers found shelter in English ports, and English vessels hoisted the flag of the States for a dash to the Spanish traders. Protestant fervor rose steadily as "the best captains and soldiers" returned from the campaigns in the Low Countries to tell of Alva's atrocities, or as privateers brought back tales of English seamen who had been seized in Spain and the New World, to linger amidst the tortures of the Inquisition, or to die in its fires. In the presence of this steady drift of popular passion the diplomacy of Elizabeth became of little moment. When she sought to put a check on Philip by one of her last matrimonial intrigues, which threatened England with a Catholic sovereign in the Duke of Anjou, a younger
son of the hated Catharine of Medicis, the popular indignation rose suddenly into a cry against "a Popish King" which the Queen dared not defy. If Elizabeth was resolute for peace, England was resolute for war. A new courage had arisen since the beginning of her reign, when Cecil and the Queen stood alone in their belief in England's strength, and when the diplomatists of Europe regarded her obstinate defiance of Philip's counsels as "madness." The whole people had caught the self-confidence and daring of their Queen. The seamen of the southern coast had long been carrying on a halfpiratical war on their own account. Four years after Elizabeth's accession the Channel swarmed with "sea-dogs," as they were called, who sailed under letters of marque from the Prince of Condé and the Huguenot leaders, and took heed neither of the complaints of the French Court nor of Elizabeth's own attempts at repression. Her efforts failed before the connivance of every man along the coast, of the very port-officers of the Crown who made profit out of the spoil, and of the gentry of the west, who were hand and glove with the adventurers. They broke above all against the national craving for open fight with Spain, and the Protestant craving for open fight with Catholicism. Young Englishmen crossed the sea to serve under Condé or Henry of Navarre. The war in the Netherlands drew hundreds of Protestants to the field. The suspension of the French contest only drove the sea-dogs to the West Indies; for the Papal decree which gave the New World to Spain, and the threats of Philip against any Protestant who should visit its seas, fell idly on the ears of English seamen. It was in vain that their trading vessels were seized, and the sailors flung into the dungeons of the Inquisition, "laden with irons, without sight of sun or moon." The profits of the trade were large enough to counteract its perils; and the bigotry of Philip was met by a bigotry as merciless as his own. The Puritanism of the sea-dogs went hand in hand with their love of adventure. To break through the Catholic monopoly of the New World, to Kill Spaniards, to sell negroes, to sack goldships, were in these men's minds a seemly work for the "elect of God." The name of Francis Drake became the terror of the Spanish Indies. In Drake a Protestant fanaticism was united with a splendid daring. He conceived the design of penetrating
into the Pacific, whose waters had never seen an English flag; and backed by a little company of adventurers, he set sail for the southern seas in a vessel hardly as big as a Channel schooner, with a few yet smaller companions who fell away before the storms and perils of the voyage. But Drake with his one ship and eighty men held boldly on; and passing the Straits of Magellan, untraversed as yet by any Englishman, swept the unguarded coast of Chili and Peru, loaded his bark with the gold-dust and silver-ingots of Potosi, and with the pearls, emeralds, and diamonds which formed the cargo of the great galleon that sailed once a year from Lima to Cadiz. With spoils of above half-a-million in value the daring adventurer steered undauntedly for the Moluccas, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and after completing the circuit of the globe dropped anchor again in Plymouth harbor.
THE SPIRIT OF ENGLAND
[The speech of John of Gaunt, Shakespeare's Richard II]
Methinks I am a prophet new inspired
He tires betimes that spurs too fast betimes; With eager feeding food doth choke the
Light vanity, insatiate cormorant,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear'd by their breed and famous by their birth,
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself. Ah, would the scandal vanish with my life, How happy then were my ensuing death!
2. Unity Against the Foe [The speech of Faulconbridge, Shakespeare's King John]
Bast. This England never did, nor never shall,
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,
If England to itself do rest but true.
3. England at War
[From Shakespeare's Henry V, Act III] Enter Chorus
Chor. Thus with imagined wing our'swift scene flies
In motion of no less celerity
Than that of thought. Suppose that you have seen
The well-appointed king at Hampton pier Embark his royalty; and his brave fleet With silken streamers the young Phoebus fanning:
Play with your fancies, and in them behold Upon the hempen tackle ship-boys climbing; Hear the shrill whistle which doth order give To sounds confused; behold the threaden sails,
Borne with the invisible and creeping wind, Draw the huge bottoms through the furrow'd sea,
Breasting the lofty surge: 0, do but think
Grapple your minds to sternage of this navy, And leave your England, as dead midnight still,
Guarded with grandsires, babies, and old women,
Either past or not arrived to pith and puis
For who is he, whose chin is but enrich'd With one appearing hair, that will not follow
These cull'd and choice-drawn cavaliers to France?
Work, work your thoughts, and therein see a siege;
Behold the ordnance on their carriages, With fatal mouths gaping on girded Harfleur.
Suppose the ambassador from the French comes back;
Tells Harry that the king doth offer him Katharine his daughter, and with her, to dowry,
Some petty and unprofitable dukedoms.
[Alarum, and chambers go off And down goes all before them. Still be kind,
And eke out our performance with your mind. [Exit
SCENE I. France. Before Harfleur Alarum. Enter KING HENRY, EXETER, BEDFORD, GLOUCESTER, and Soldiers, with scaling-ladders.
K. Hen. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base, Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean. Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English,
Whose blood is fet from fathers of warproof!
Fathers, that, like so many Alexanders, Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonor not your mothers; now attest
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
[Exeunt. Alarum, and chambers go off.
[From Act IV]
Chor. Now entertain conjecture of a time
The hum of either army stilly sounds,
Each battle sees the other's umber'd face; Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs
Piercing the night's dull ear, and from the tents
The armorers, accomplishing the knights,
The country cocks do crow, the clocks do toll,
And the third hour of drowsy morning
Proud of their numbers and secure in soul,
Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires
The morning's danger, and their gesture sad
Presenteth them unto the gazing moon So many horrid ghosts. O now, who will behold
The royal captain of this ruin'd band Walking from watch to watch, from tent to
Let him cry, "Praise and glory on his head!"
For forth he goes and visits all his host,
Upon his royal face there is no note
A largess universal like the sun
His liberal eye doth give to every one,
With four or five most vile and ragged foils,
SCENE III. The English Camp
Enter GLOUCESTER, BEDFORD, EXETER, ERPINGHAM, with all his host; SALISBURY and WESTMORELAND.
Glou. Where is the king?
Bed. The king himself is rode to view their battle.
West. Of fighting men they have full three-score thousand.
Exe. There's five to one; besides, they all are fresh.
Sal. God's arm strike with us! 'tis a fearful odds.
God be wi' you, princes all; I'll to my charge:
If we no more meet till we meet in heaven, Then, joyfully, my noble Lord of Bedford, My dear Lord Gloucester, and my good Lord Exeter,
And my kind kinsman, warriors all, adieu! Bed. Farewell, good Salisbury; and good luck go with thee!
Exe. Farewell, kind lord; fight valiantly today:
And yet I do thee wrong to mind thee of it, For thou art framed of the firm truth of valor. [Exit Salisbury
Bed. He is as full of valor as of kind
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And say, "These wounds I had on Crispin's day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
What feats he did that day: then shall our
Familiar in his mouth as household words, Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
BALLAD OF AGINCOURT
Fair stood the wind for France,
But putting to the main,
Landed King Harry.