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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Among them Viscount Montague who had once


that Philip II had ever thought or planned was thus concentrated as it were into one focus. The moment was come when he could subdue England, become master of the European world, and re-establish the Catholic faith in the form in which he professed it. When the fleet (on the 22nd July 1588) sailed out of Corunna, and the long-meditated, long-prepared, enterprise was now set in action, the King and the nation displayed deep religious emotion: in all the churches of the land prayers were offered up for forty days; in Madrid solemn processions were arranged to our Lady of Atocha, the patroness of Spain: Philip II spent two hours each day in prayer. He was in the state of silent excitement which an immense design and the expectation of a great turn in a man's fortune call forth. Scarcely any one dared to address a word to him.

It was in these very days that people in England first really became conscious of the danger that threatened them. A division of the fleet under Henry Seymour was watching, with Dutch assistance, the two harbours held by the prince of Parma: the other and larger division, just returned from Spain and on the point of being broken up, made ready at Plymouth, under the admiral, Howard of Effingham, to receive the enemy. Meanwhile the land forces assembled, on Leicester's advice,[271] in the neighbourhood of London. The old feudal organisation of the national force was once more called into full activity to face this danger. Men

saw the gentry take the field at the head of their tenants and copyholders, and rejoiced at their holding together so well. It was without doubt an advantage, that the threatened attack could no longer be connected with a right of succession recognised in the country; it appeared in its true character, as a great invasion by a foreign power for the subjugation of England. Even the Catholic lords came forward, among them Viscount Montague (who had once, alone in the Upper House, opposed the Supremacy, and had also since not reconciled himself to the religious position of the Queen), with his sons and grandsons, and even his heir-presumptive who, though still a child, bestrode a war-horse; Lord Montague said, he would defend his Queen with his life, whoever might attack her, king or pope. No doubt that these armings left much to be desired, but they were animated by national and religious enthusiasm. Some days later the Queen visited the camp at Tilbury: with slight escort she rode from battalion to battalion. A tyrant, she said, might be afraid of his subjects: she had always sought her chief strength in their good will: with them she would live and die. She was everywhere received with shouts of joy: psalms were sung, and prayers offered up in which the Queen joined.

For, whatever may be men's belief, in great wars and dangers they naturally turn their eyes to the Eternal Power which guides our destiny, and on which all equally feel themselves dependent. The two nations and their two chiefs alike called on God to decide in their religious and political conflict. The fortune of mankind hung in the balance.

On the 31st July, a Sunday, the Armada, covering a wide extent of sea, came in sight of the English coast off the heights of Plymouth. On board the fleet itself it was thought most expedient

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