The Invincible Armada.

[On the 21st of this month a monument on Plymouth Hoe, erected to
commemorate the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, will be unveiled by
the Duke of Edinburgh. This opportunity reminds us of the spirit of Eng-
land’s sons, which in the days of Queen Elizabeth raised their country’s name
to a height far beyond even that pre-eminence which it had previously
achieved. Protestant England then showed of what stuff she was made.
To subdue her people, and crush their religious convictions, Spain, with the
sanction of Pope Sixtus V., sent out from her shores a gigantic fleet, such as
the modern world had never known, of one hundred and thirty vessels,
manned with the flower of her sailors and soldiers. Great was the consterna-
tion throughout this country at the tidings of the preparations for this for-
midable invasion, and men’s minds were for a time, and very naturally so,
apprehensive as to the result. But “ we must be free or die” was ever our
national creed ; and with such men as Lord Howard of Effingham, Lord
Seymour, Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher to lead them, they made ready
with the thirty ships of the line—all they could muster—to try conclusions
with the insolent invader. From the first, disaster befell the Armada, which
had to put back to Lisbon after losing several vessels in a storm. Misled by
a false rumour, that the English, on hearing of this disaster, had paid off their
ships, in the belief that the invasion had been abandoned, the Spanish admiral
sailed for Plymouth, in hopes to destroy the British fleet in the harbour
there. But he found a warm reception awaiting him. Lord Howard, with
Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher, put out to meet him, and in a dexterous
skirmishing fight captured two of the Spanish galleons, and routed the rest
of the fleet. Not content with this, as the Spaniards retreated, the English
harassed their rear, and, gathering numbers as they advanced up the
Channel, they were strong enough to attack the Spaniards, who had sought
shelter in the port of Calais, sending ships loaded with combustibles into their
midst. Struck with panic, the Spanish fleet drew off in confusion, leaving
twelve of their ships in the hands of the English. What was left of the
diminished Armada was pursued by them as far north as Flamborough Head,
where it was farther shattered by a great storm. Seventeen of the Spanish
ships, with 5000 men on board, were subsequently cast away upon the
Western Hebrides and the coast of Ireland ; and of the whole fleet only fifty-
three vessels returned in a pitiable condition to Spain. A coin was struck by
Queen Elizabeth, on which the Spanish fleet was represented as going to
wreck in a storm, and upon it was the inscription, “ Aflavit Deus et dissipati
,”—words which Schiller has turned to account in the concluding lines of
his poem. ]
She comes, Spain’s proud fleet comes !  The ocean broad1
Moans underneath her, as along she steers ;2
With dismal clank of chains, with a new God,3
And thunders infinite thy coast she nears4
A floating armament of bastions vast,—5
(Such sight the ocean ne’er hath seen before)6
Invincible men call her, all aghast,7
So on she moves, the startled billows o’er :8
Well won that vauntful title by the dread,9
That all around is by her coming spread ;10
Ocean, awe-struck, bears on the whelming load11
With pace majestic, into stillness crushed ;12
The ruin of a world within her stowed,13
Now she draws nigh, and every wind is hushed !14
Thou happy isle, thou ruler of the waves,15
Thou of the giant heart and princely race,16
Britain ! ’tis thee this host of galleons braves,17
As there it floats and fronts thee face to face !18
Woe to thy freeborn people !  There in gloom19
It floats,—a cloud with tempest charged and doom !20
Who hath from thee the peerless jewel wrung,21
That made thee queen of empires ?  Hast not thou,22
Into revolt by tyrant monarchs stung,23
Devised the laws, whose wisdom rules thee now,24
In that Great Charter, which of monarchs makes25
Subjects, and makes of simple subjects kings ?26
In many a stout sea-fight, whose fame awakes27
An echo that along the nations rings,28
Hast thou not conquered the proud right to be29
Supreme, where’er thy navies sweep the sea ?30
To what dost owe this right ?  Blush, you that dwell31
In yon fair land !  To what but this alone32
Thy spirit, that no craven hour has known ;33
Thy sword, that served this dauntless spirit well !34
Unhappy land !  On these Colossi look,35
That belch from myriad throats death-dealing flame,36
Look, and divine the downfall of thy fame !37
The world mourns for thee of thy strength forsook,38
And every free man’s heart for thee is sore,39
And all good souls that love the right deplore,40
With pity wrung, thy downfall and thy shame !41
God, the Almighty, from on high looked down,42
Saw thy foe’s haughty lion banners wave,43
Saw gape for thee a sure and ruthless grave ;44
Shall, then,” He said, “ my Albion be o’erthrown,45
My brood of heroes be discomfited ?46
The one last bulwark ’gainst oppression be47
Razed to the dust, and trembling Europe see48
The strong arm paralysed, which tyrants dread ?49
Never shall Freedom’s Paradise,” He cried,50
The shield of human worth, be left forlorn ! ”51
God, the Almighty, blew, and far and wide52
The Armada drifted, by wild tempests torn !53