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patch positively asserts, that he backed well as folly of war undertaken upon his sails and lowered his flag to the any but the most solid grounds, to British Admiral, who nevertheless fired render it wholly impossible. the first broadside, and wounded several The fleet of Blake was rapidly reinof his crew ;* while, on the other hand, forced by the personal exertions of CromBlake's letter as expressly states the well and Bond, who repaired to Dover contrary. It is difficult to doubt the to consult with him on the subject. Some assertion of an individual so personally time elapsed before it was in a condihonourable as Blake; and it appears tion to meet that of the Dutch, which that his conduct was fully justified by a soon amounted to seventy sail; so vireport from the Council of State at gorous were the exertions of those Rehome, as well as by the popular feeling, publicans to obtain a naval superiority which was so much irritated, that it over the English. In about a month, became necessary to grant a guard to Blake deemed himself strong enough to the Dutch ambassadors, who attributed meet the enemy; and, aware of the the engagement to accident and mis- arduous nature of the expected conflict, conception on both sides. The States he proclaimed a solemn fast and day of sent another envoy, ostensibly to effect humiliation, which both officers and a pacification; but the parliament per seamen were called upon to observe. sisting in the same high tone as before, The two main fleets, however, did not enthe United Provinces at last recalled counter each other so soon as was extheir ambassadors, and prepared for a pected; and in the mean time, the ad. continuation of the war. Both sides miral most effectually exerted himself to issued manifestoes on this occasion; the annoy the Dutch trade. He then sailed Dutch to demonstrate that they were with a strong squadron northward, and attacked without provocation, and the in less than a month, captured thirteen parliament to recapitulate the preceding Dutch ships of war, being the whole of grievances, to which was now to be their Herring convoy. With great and added the refusal to strike the flag. To considerate humanity, however, he did this demand the States had pleaded, not destroy the fishing vessels, but only that although the Republic, in its in- claimed the tenth Herring, the former fancy, had paid that compliment to the tax, for the liberty of fishing on the royal dignity of England, they did not British coast ; nobly declaring his rehold it due to the Commonwealth. luctance to waste so much food, to A more indiscreet plea could scarcely the probable hunger and distress of have been advanced, to men of the cha- thousands.* racter of those who then ruled the destinies of England; and accordingly it
CHAPTER III. was determined to maintain the national honour at all hazards. “But after all," Return from the North-Engagement continues Rapin, with great simplicity, or with and Defeat of De Witt and De rather with that conventional language, Ruyter--Exertions on both sideswhich it is so usual to apply to common A great Force placed under the Complace political falsities, “this was by no mand of Van Tromp-Inferiority of means the true ground of the war; but
the English Fleet under Blake-Rethese manifestoes were necessary to vin sult of the ensuiny Engagementdicate the rulers of both Republics, and Vain Glory of Van Tromp-Quick to impose a belief on the subjects, that
Recovery of Superiority by the Engthey were not plunged into these extra
lish-Series of Engagements with the ordinary expenses to support a war, Dutch-Behaviour of Blake and his without the most evident necessity."* Colleagues on the turning out of the That is to say, the people were to be
Long Parliament-Cromwell assumes deluded into the supposition of a neces the Protectorate - Peace with the sity which did not actually exist. It is Dutch. gratifying to feel assured that this spe- Blake returned from the north with cies of delusion, at least, becomes day more impracticable'; and that it is his prizes, and 900 prisoners; and reachonly necessary for the people to be ed the Downs on the 12th of August, thoroughly convinced of the atrocity as
1652, where he was joined by several more ships ; and his fleet being now
La Vie de Tromp, p. 17. + Rapin's Hist. of Englaud, vol. xi. p. 62.
* Lives English and Foreign, vol. ii. p. 101. Campbell's Lives of the Admirals, vol. vi.
sufficiently strong, he steered over to Van Tromp. The English, on their side, the Dutch coast. During this cruise he were equally active; an act was passed fell in with a French squadron, pro- by the Parliament, requiring all English ceeding to the relief of Dunkirk, and on seamen to return home in forty days, and account of some hostile proceedings at such as were in India in twelve months : Newfoundland; he captured and carried it also directed that all Englislı carpenit into Dover, by which means the ters, shipwrights, and other efficient former town fell into the hands of the artisans found on board the enemy's Spaniards. On the 28th of the follow- ships, should be thrown overboard withing month, of September, he met the out mercy. In point of fact, the war was Dutch fleet, under the command of De essentially injurious to both countries; Ruyter and De Witt, who, in conse except upon that inhuman theory, which quence of the popular dissatisfaction holds occasional warfare to be neceswith Van Tromp, in Holland, had suc sary as a species of exercise, and national ceeded that officer. When Blake dis- prosperity to rest securely on established covered the Dutch, he had but three of ascendancy alone. Were the power of his ships with him, Vice Admiral Penn's self-preservation exclusively implied by squadron being at some distance; and this doctrine, it might be difficult to conthe remainder of the fleet a league or two trovert it; but unhappily ascendancy in astern. He, however, bravely bore in all its guises is disposed to be aggressive, among them, and being soon admirably and the power to oppress is almost inseconded by the divisions under Penn variably followed by the inclination. It and Rear Admiral Bourne, the fight must, however, be admitted, that the welbegan with great animation; and lasted fare of Great Britain is so intimately until night, by which time the Dutch saw connected with naval superiority, that it their Rear Admiral captured, and three is difficult altogether to condemn a other ships destroyed. Blake would course of proceedings which has matehave renewed the fight the next day, but rially conduced to it. Such was certainly the Dutch made all the sail in their the case with this otherwise profitless power, and reached Goree. The English warfare. Whatever may now be thought lost but few men, and not one ship, of the motives on both sides, the merit of while the Dutch fleet landed more than Blake will remain the same: if the con2000 wounded; the disadvantage, ac test was necessary,
he carried it on with cording to De Witt, being caused by the triumphant vigour, and ultimate succowardice, or disaffection of his cap- cess; and even if impolitic, he still rentains, irritated by a great arrear of pay dered it as beneficial as it could be made, and the unprofitable nature of the con- by the energy and spirit which he intest*.
fused into the sea service, and the manThe impolicy of such a war, on the ner in which he made it redound to the part of a commercial people like the honour of the English name. Dutch, was by this time apparent; Nothing is more remarkable during for Blake, with his usual activity, had this war, than the transient superiomade use of his success, so as to annoyrity acquired on either side; at least their trade in all quarters. The ill hu as regards the number of ships employmour created by their losses vented ed, and the power of riding paramount itself with great asperity upon De Witt, on the high seas.
This was partly who was in another way unpopular, owing to the smallness of the vessels of from his republican opposition to the war, as compared with such as are now ascendancy of the House of Orange. admitted into the line of battle.* Ships On his return to Flushing, a tumult ensued; and so much disappointment was * The comparative ease with which this conld be expressed, that De Ruyter was anxious
effected, will be apparent when it is understood that
at this time any merchantman, capable of carrying to resign his commission, and De Witt
guns, coull with a few alterations be converted into took to his bed from pure chagrin. a man of war. It appears on the authority of the
Parliainentary Journals of 1651, containing a list of Considerable pains were taken by the
merchantmen thus altered for the nary, inat a vessel of States to remedy the late disasters; com 900 tons burthen could be made & inan of war of 60 missioners were appointed to inquire guns, and those of 700, 400, 200, 100, and 60 tons, ren:
dered ships of war respectively, of 46, 34, 20, 10, and 8 into the conduct of the offending cap
guns ; five or six men being allowed for each gun. It tains; and the feet being refitted, was is further to be observed, that naval battles were not once more put under the command of then fought in line, he first engagement of that descrip
tion being the celebrated sea ngnt of the third of June,
1665, in which the Duke of York, afterwards Janes Il., • Whitelocke's Memorials, p. 5.6. Ludlow's Me gained a victory over the Dutch Admiral Opdani, moirs, vol. i. p. 428. Ileatli's Chron., p. 526.
whose ship was blown up in the conflict, James, in
could then be prepared and manned with of these causes, it happened that Blake very great celerity, and consequently had only forty ships under him, when when exertion became necessary, a strong Van Tromp appeared at the back of the numerical force was quickly collected. Goodwin Sands, where these two valiant The defeat of De Wiit and De Ruy- chiefs had fought before; a choice of ter stimulated the United Provinces to position which, it is supposed, he meant strain every nerve to regain the advan- to be understood as a sort of national tages which they had lost; and Van challenge. Tromp again appeared in the Downs in Blake placed, by orders from home, the command of a fleet of fourscore in this mortifying state of inferiority, men-of-war. His purpose was to seek immediately called a council of war, Blake, of whose deficiency of force when it was decided that a battle should he was probably well informed: the be hazarded, under all disadvantages. English Admiral had not only been or- Dr. Johnson, in his life of Blake, blames dered to weaken his fleet by despatching this resolution as exhibiting more of the large detachments on different services, rashness of a private soldier, than the but it has been asserted that the Par- wisdom of a commander. Something, liamentary Committee, having by this however, must be allowed for the retime become jealous of all their great luctance of a man of invincible spirit, commanders, were careless of repairing to endure a second insult from the same the damaged ships, or of expediting the adversary; and probably still more to necessary supplies. From some, or all the state of party at home, where a fac
tion was anxious to lower his popularity. his "Life," attributes the introduction of the naval line of battle to hunself; and if so, it does consider Nor is it quite clear that in a national able honour to his professional skill, having been point of view, more might not have been practised without variation by all our great admirals lost by declining an engagement than on Naval Tactics," to adopt the maneuvre of break by risking a defeat without dishonour. ing the line in his celebrated engagement with
Van Tromp might undertake with a Count de Grasse. The following absiract is condensed from an elaborate list of the British navy, as strong and uncrippled fleet, what he it existed in 1675, about twenty years after the would have been unable to effect after a the handwriting of the eccentric sea-chaplain Heary dear-bought victory. At all events, it Teonge; and from a similar statement, supplied to is to this daring spint that the English the House of Cominons in the same year, both appended to Teonge's published diary. According to these
navy owes its high character; and it authorities, the navy then consisted of
is scarcely correct to judge of master 8 First-rates, of irom 100 to 90 guos, varying in minds by maxims applicable only to the from 137 to 122 feet, and carrying from 550 to mediocrity of talent possessed by the
great mass of mankind. 9 Second-rates, of from 84 to 64 guns, varying in
After the determination to fight had tonnage from 1032 to 663 tons, in length from 120 to 110 feet, and carrying from 530 been taken, the engagement would have
commenced immediately, but for a change 22 Third rates, of from 74 to 56 guns, varying in
of wind, which postponed it until the next tonnage from 978 to 417 tons, in length from 127 tó 107 feet, and carrying from 500 to day. Early in the morning both fleets
plyed a little to the westward, the Eng37 Fourth rates, of from 60 to 40 guns, varying in
tonnage from 657 to 354 tons, in length from lish having the weathergage; and about
110 to 88 feet, and carrying from 300 to 170 noon the action began. It appears, that 15 Filth-rates, of from 40 to 28 guns, varying in
beside the great disparity in numerical tonnage from 366 to 180 tons, and carrying strength, the English fleet was so poorly 8 Sixth-rates, or from 20 to 4 guns, varying in
manned, that a great part of it could not tonnage from 194 to 35 tons, and carrying engage at all, so that a few ships bore
the brunt of the action. Of these the With 49 sloops, doggers, smacks, yachts, fireships,
&c. &c. carrying from 12 to 2 guns, and col principal were the Victory, the Vanlectively manned by 1401 seamen.
guard, the Garland, and the Triumph, the It will be perceived thai there is much discrepancy admiral's own ship. The action lasted until sels, and the number of guns which they carried- night, a short time previously to which a fact to be accounted for on the presuinption that the adventurous captain of the Garland, adapted merchantmen could not always be made to
of forty guns, made a bold attempt to carry guins in proportion to their tonnage; or that very different weights of metal are referred to. Of board the ship of Van Tromp, but fell in the foregoing ships, which are rated as in the ori
the attempt, which led to the capture of ginal ducunents, one first-rate, six second-rates, eleven third-rates, twenty-six fourth-rates, one sixth.
his own vessel. The Bonaventure, enrate, and four smaller vessels-in all forty-nine, deavouring to relieve the Garland, was alone existed before the Restoration; which shows the rapid increase of the navy in the brief interval
also captured, after the fall of its comof tifteen years
mander. Blake himself was boarded
death of Blake. It
to 410 men ;
from 150 to 100 men ;
froin 50 to 45 men;
twice, and but for the brave manner in war sunk and taken, retired. Blake, which he was supported by the Van- after sending ashore his sick and woundguard and the Sapphire, he would have ed men, pursued the enemy; and for the fallen into the hands of the enemy. Be- two following days occasional encounters side the two ships taken, another was took place, in which both sides fought run ashore, and the entire fleet was so with extraordinary fury. At length the shattered, that had not night favoured Dutch fleet reached the sands of Calais, their retreat, the consequences might where they anchored, and, favoured by have been still more disastrous. As it the light draft of water of their shipping, was, they were enabled to reach the they were enabled safely to tide it home. Thames, and thereby defeated the inten- In these engagements the Dutch lost tion of Van Tromp to assail them the eleven ships and thirty merchantmen; next day with fire-ships, and complete and, according to their own accounts, their destruction. One of the Dutch full 1,500 seamen. The English lost flag-ships was blown up; and those only one ship; but the number of seaboth of Van Tromp and his vice-admi- men killed and wounded was equal to ral, De Ruyter, were so damaged, as to that of the enemy. It is recorded, that require immediate laying up. This un- being short of hands, Blake had em. equal contest lasted from eight in the barked some regiments of soldiers on morning of the 29th November, 1652, to this occasion, who contributed greatly to six o'clock in the evening*.
the victory, and most probably their eviThe Dutch admiral, puffed up with dent utility led to the establishment of rethis momentary advantage, was so vain- gular corps of marines. glorious as to sail through the channel Towards the end of the following with a broom at his mast-head, to sig- April, Blake and his former colleagues, nify that he had swept away the English with a fleet amounting to a hundred from that sea; and the populace of the ships of war, attacked a Dutch fleet of United Provinces equally elated, with seventy sail on their own coast; and, the usual presumption of success, talked after capturing fifty doggers, drove them of capturing the whole of the English into the Texel. They then sailed northWest India islandst.
wards in search of Van Tromp, who with The emptiness of the bravado of Van a rich fleet of merchantmen under conTromp, and the futility of the expecta- voy, having deemed it hazardous to enter tions of his countrymen, were soon the Channel, had steered round the north made apparent; for in about two months of Scotland. With great dexterity that Blake, with whom, at his own request, able seaman contrived to escape the Monk and Deane had been joined in three English admirals, and to lead his commission, was enabled to repair and merchantmen safely into port; a very fit out a fleet of eighty sail of ships of beneficial service, but almost ludicrously
With these they quickly sought contrasted with his former “top gallant and again encountered Van Tromp, who, humour," as one of the writers of the with a fleet of seventy sail of vessels of period has called it, of sweeping the war, and no less than three hundred British shipping from its own seas. merchant ships under his convoy, was At length. convinced of the absolute returning up the Channel from the Isle of necessity of again bestirring themselves Rhé. Blake commenced the action off with energy, the States enabled Van Portland with twelve ships, led by him- Tromp to put to sea, with a fleet of one self in the Triumph; and so warm was hundred and twenty ships; and on the the conflict, that his own ship received no third of June he came into contact, off fewer than seven hundred shots in her the North Foreland, with the English hull, and might have been sunk but for squadrons under Monk and Deane. Althe timely relief afforded by Captain most in the beginning of this engageLawson in the Fairfax. In this action, ment, Deane, a commander of distinwhich took place on the 18th February, guished reputation, was carried off by a 1653, Blake lost his own captain, a cannon ball; and although, after a condistinguished veteran named Ball, his flict of six hours, the Dutch retired, the secretary Mr. Sparrow, and received success was but equivocal. The arrival himself a grievous wound in the thigh. of Blake on the fourth, with eighteen As usual, the fight lasted until night, fresh ships, turned a partial advantage when the Dutch, who had six men-of- into complete victory. Of the Dutch • Lives English and Foreiga, vol. ii. p. 104.
fleet six were sunk and eleven captured, + Heath's Chronicle, p. 381.,
and the number of prisoners amounted
to 1350, of whom six were captains. The assumption of_supreme power. The English, on the contrary, lost not a single States and the Royalists looked forward ship, while the number of killed and with great anxiety to the manner in wounded fell short of 260. _In this battle which the fleet and its commanders Van Tromp boarded the English vice- would receive this bold act of usurpaadmiral Penn, but was not only beaten tion. Whatever hopes they might have off, but himself boarded in return, and formed were quickly terminated by the he would have been taken but for the publication of a formal declaration from timely assistance of his colleagues, De Blake, Deane, Monk, and the rest of the Witt and De Ruyter. It was, in fact, sea officers, that notwithstanding the only by retiring once more among the recent changes, they felt that their duty, flats and shallows of the Dutch coast, and the national trust reposed in them, that Van Tromp was enabled to save the required a continuance of their exergreater part of his fleet.*
tions against the foreign foes of the The discontent of the people of the Commonwealth. Blake, on this occaUnited Provinces during these successive sion, emphatically expressed his often defeats and mortifications was extreme; quoted opinion, that it was not their and the alternate despondency and pre- business to mind state affairs, but to sumption which they displayed, afford a prevent the enemy from taking advanvery instructive lesson to those politi- tage of our domestic disputes. “Recians who work on the popular feel- member, “said he, “ that we are Englishing, and lightly employ the ignorance, men, and that our foes are foreigners. the prejudices, and the inconstant pas. The unsophisticated good sense of Blake sions of the multitude. What beyond perceived that a maintenance of the a candid and patriotic appeal to the British ascendancy at sea, was equally actual interests of the people can the necessary under every sort of sway; and honest statesman require ?" Upon any that it was not for foreigners to profit real emergency would such appeal be less by our dissensions, however they might forcible or the motives to exertion less originate, or to whatever they might earnest? Who in the long and vague conduce. At the same time, he had the annals of history, abounding as they do less temptation to act otherwise, as the with the crimes and errors of the human Parliament had, by this time, become race, but must perceive the readiness exceedingly unpopular with the nation, with which men usually answer the calls in consequence of a design to perfor sacrifices, when absolutely and evi- petuate themselves being strongly dently necessary ? Where is the country suspected by all parties. The same whose records do not contain many more jealousy, whether well founded or not, had examples of brave and patriotic devo- been manifested by the Parliament totion in cases of urgent need, than of wards the officers of the navy as to those shameless and pusillanimous self-aban- of the army, which rendered them indifdonment? It is however fair to remark, ferent to a change, whatever they might that rulers often participate in the errors think of the character of that which which they propagate ; and many a took place. As to Blake himself, he ruinous course of policy has been pur was probably too sincere a Republican sued with a firm conviction that it was to approve cordially of the approaching just and necessary. Knowledge, then, exaltation of Cromwell; for although on both sides is the only corrective : on on his return home in ill health, immethat of the ruler, that it may not err diately after his last victory, he was with good intentions; and on that of the appointed a commissioner for Somerpeople, that they may discountenance setshire, in the Mock or Little Parliaevery injurious appeal, whether the mo- ment, and was otherwise much contives in which it originate be insittious sulted, it was so exclusively in relation or sincere.
to naval affairs, or foreign warfare, that While these contests were taking place his name stands perfectly clear of every at sea, an imporiant change was effect- shadow of imputation of cabal, or ining in the government at home. In the trigue. On this account, as already month of April, 1653, Cromwell turned intimated, he was regarded with respect out the remnant, or, as it has been usu- by the most opposite parties; all of ally termed, the Rump of the Long whom beheld in him a spirited and disParliament, and took measures for the
• Fasti. Oxon. vol. i. Coll. 201. Lives English • Blake and Monk's Despatch,
and Foreign, vol, ii. p. 109.