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was prepared under the guidance of Lord Lisle, and with much personal supervision from the King himself. The French fleet, under the command of Admiral D'Annebault, comprised twenty-five galleys, a hundred and fifty large ships, and fifty smaller vessels and transports. In the English fleet there were a hundred and four vessels of war and merchantmen fitted up for warlike use, with 12,738 men of all sorts on board.
Lord Lisle put to sea on the 15th of June, intending to anticipate the invasion by sailing boldly up to the mouth of the Seine, and there attacking the French shipping in its moorings. But a tempest drove him back, and he was waiting in Portsmouth Harbour, when, on the 18th of July, while the King was reviewing the forces, balefires on the cliff above Ventnor gave warning that the Frenchmen were in sight. D'Annebault anchored in Brading Harbour, and along the coast towards Ryde. Lisle arranged his ships in warlike order, almost within gunshot, at Spithead. Next morning anchors were weighed and the guns were put to use. For an hour the French had the advantage. There was no wind to fill the English sails, and the French galleys made great havoc. The Great Harry was almost sunk, and many others of the English vessels were partially disabled. The threatened defeat
* State Papers, Henry VIII., edited by LEMON, vol. i., p. 810. The English fleet was manned in great part by the bold fishermen of the neighbourhood, whose customary work had therefore to be undertaken by their wives. “The women of the fishers' towns," wrote Lord Russell,
eight or nine of them, with but one boy or one man with them, adventure to sail a-fishing, sixteen or twenty miles to sea, and are sometimes chased home by the Frenchmen.”-Stute Papers, vol. i., p. 828.
The Battle at Spithead.
was averted, however, by a kindly breeze from the west, which enabled Lord Lisle to advance against the enemy, to disperse their ships, and while he damaged many of them, to drive many others within reach of the guns
that surmounted the earthworks around Portsmouth. The Frenchmen retreated before very much mischief had been done to them, and Lord Lisle, satisfied with his easy victory, returned to his anchorage at Spithead.
The victory was marred by one heavy disaster. The Mary Rose-the same vessel of six hundred tons burthen which, when it was newly built two-and-thirty years before, Sir Edward Howard declared to be “ the noblest ship of sail in Christendom, the flower of all ships that ever sailed”—had done good service during the early part of the action. That its guns might be worked more efficiently, they had been removed from their fastenings and pointed full upon the attacking galleys of France.
When the west wind suddenly arose, the Mary Rose tilted to the leeward, all the guns rolled together on one side, and so overbalanced the vessel that the sea poured in at her open portholes and sunk her, with four hundred men on board. It was an accident precisely similar to that which, two hundred and thirty-seven years later, befel the Royal George in the same waters.
A like mischance also happened to a French treasure-ship, La Maîtresse, though so near to Brading Haven that the wrecked vessel, its crew, and its money-chest were brought on shore.
The French and English fleets met again on the 15th of August, when D'Annebault having returned to the English coast, and done some damage to Brighton and the adjoining towns, was met by Lisle off Shoreham and forced to retire, after some desultory and unimportant fighting. After that, the war was suspended for the summer, and the peace that was concluded in June, 1546, put a stop to any further contest during the short remainder of Henry's reign, and for many years ensuing. Save in the loss of the Mary Rose, great credit was brought to English seamanship at a very trifling cost of life. The expenditure in money, judged by modern standards, was also tolerably insignificant. Of the 1,300,0001., however, which Henry spent during two years in preparation for this naval war, only 300,0001. were met by the subsidy and benevolence which Parliament granted for the purpose. The rest had to be obtained with not a little difficulty, by pawning some of the crown lands, melting down much of the royal plate and turning it into coin, procuring loans from Flemish merchants at exorbitant interest, and other ignoble devices.
Yet it was by such devices, and in succession to such trivial fightings as we have noticed, that Henry VIII. prepared the way for the greatness of England as a
* State Papers, vol. i., pp. 789, 790, 814–830 ; vol. x., p. 468. It is worth noting that, during this brief war, the watchword used, for the first time apparently, was “God save King Henry !" with “ Long to reign over us for its answer-words that were afterwards incorporated in the national anthem.
SERASTIAN CABOT'S LATER WORK.
WHILE Henry VIII., in his devotion to maritime affairs, paid almost exclusive attention to the development of shipping as a means of war and to the encouragement of military seamanship, the more adventurous of his subjects were not unmindful of those projects for distant voyaging and discovery which John Cabot and his friends had first made popular, and to which fresh interest came with every new report of the brilliant progress of Spanish colonization. By Papal mandate and the consent of nations, the more accessible parts of America were reserved to the people who, under Columbus's leadership, had gone westward to possess the Indies. Englishmen, if they would share in the fabled riches of Cathay, or in the substantial treasures to be found on the way to it, must seek some other channel; and this they were resolved to do in spite of the unproductive nature of the elder Cabot's labours. While Sebastian Cabot gave himself up, for a time and to a great extent at any rate, to the service of Spain, they continued their endeavours in the course
he had at first pursued, and were led by those endeavours to embark in other enterprises very helpful to the maritime advancement of their nation.
The first of these endeavours, in Henry's reign, was made by Robert Thorne, a native of Bristol and a merchant of London. His father had been connected with John Cabot in his schemes for reaching Cathay. He himself, when carrying on his trade in Seville during some time previous to 1527, had made or renewed acquaintance with Sebastian Cabot, and out of that arose in him fresh interest in the projects that had been the delight of his boyhood. To the La Plata expedition which Cabot headed, in the interests of Spain, in 1526, he contributed fourteen hundred ducats, “ principally,” as he said, “for that two English friends of mine, which are somewhat learned in cosmography, should go in the same ships, to bring me certain relation of the country and to be expert in the navigation of those seas.”* Early in 1527, having been written to by Dr. Lee, Henry VIII.'s ambassador at the Court of Charles V., for information about Cathayan exploration, he replied in a learned treatişe, discussing the various efforts made by the nations of Europe in the way of American colonization and discovery, and strongly urging a revival of English participation in the work. This treatise was followed by a letter from Thorne to King Henry himself, and by Thorne's return to England, in company with Dr. Lee, with the avowed object of further setting forth his recommendations.
* HAKLUYT, Divers Voyages, p. 215.,