CHAPTER XXV. ELIZABETH (x), 1588-98-BRITANNIA VICTRIX
Although Drake's expedition had been spoilt, his theories were once more, in the main, in the ascendant; and in June 1598 a great attacking force was again organised, with Cadiz for its principal objective. An effective blow at Philip's navy was made all the more necessary at the moment, because the Archduke Albert, now in command in the Netherlands, had just succeeded in capturing Calais from the French. Howard of Effingham again commanded as admiral, with Essex as general in chief, a council which included Raleigh and Lord Thomas Howard, and a Dutch contingent which was under the orders of the English chief. The Spaniards had this time no suspicion of what was on foot. The harbour of Cadiz was full of shipping; which included however a number of ships of war in fighting trim. Thus it was not without a fierce conflict that the English drove their way in. Two ships only were captured, and transferred from the Spanish to the English navy, but numbers were sunk or burnt. The exploit was a brilliant one, owing its success largely to a change from the original plan of attack, for which that advocated by Raleigh was substituted. Cadiz itself was stormed, captured, and put to ransom; but the victors displayed what was in those days a singular and notable restraint and courtesy in their treatment of the vanquished. In spite, however, of the protests of Essex, who wished to remain in occupation of Cadiz, Lord Howard was content with the heavy spoils secured and the immense destruction wrought, and the expedition returned home.
Tyrone in the meantime was playing his difficult game in Ireland with remarkable success. He consistently maintained his professions of loyalty, though by now calling himself "The O'Neill," like Shan, he fostered the belief that he was only waiting to declare himself anti-English; he continued to evade action against the more open rebels; he continued to correspond with Spain; and yet Sir John Norreys, now in command of the army in Ireland, could not resist the belief that he meant to be loyal and would be loyal and would make the other chiefs so, if his assistance were loyally accepted and his position frankly confirmed by the English. Whether such anticipations would have proved true if he had been treated as Henry VII. treated Kildare, it is impossible to say. But the Deputy Fitzwilliam, and his successor Russell, regarded him as a traitor at heart, and persistently provided him with palpable excuse for distrusting them [Footnote: Tyrone received a letter from Philip, which he showed the Deputy, as a proof of the tempting offers made to him and of his own loyalty, on condition that it should neither be copied nor retained. But it was kept by the English, and used by them to attack Philip, and others.] in turn. Under such conditions, loyal or not at bottom, it was no part of the Earl's policy to break with Philip, or on the other hand to commit himself too deeply till Philip should be also irrevocably committed to rendering real solid assistance.
So Norreys went on recommending conciliation, and Russell went on opposing that policy, while Elizabeth persistently abstained alike from effective conciliation and from the one practicable alternative policy of placing a really strong organised and orderly garrison in the country: maintaining instead only a few ill-paid ill-disciplined ill-behaved troops who might on occasion meet the raw Irish levies but were wholly unfitted to be the instruments of a firm government. And all the time from every officer in Ireland arose the perpetual petition to be recalled from service in a country where neither a soldier nor an administrator could possibly escape lowering any reputation he might have previously acquired. It was well for England that Drake's last expedition demanded the entire attention of the Spanish Fleet; and that, following thereon, the Cadiz expedition was even more destructive to the prospects of the new Armada which Philip was still seeking to organise, than Drake's former Cadiz expedition had proved itself to the Great Armada in 1587. Tyrone was thereby baulked of Spanish help, without which he would not plunge into such a rebellion as might threaten seriously to embarrass Elizabeth and benefit Philip.
[1596 The second Armada]
So matters stood in the summer of 1596. One quality however Philip possessed with which Englishmen must sympathise; he never recognised that he was beaten. Crushing as the blow at Cadiz was, the northern ports were left alone, and there the laborious building up of a great fleet was in steady progress. Philip was stirred to deal a counterstroke, and late in October a huge new Armada of nearly a hundred vessels sailed from Vigo Bay, its destination unknown save to Philip, its very existence unrealised in England, where no one believed that a Spanish fleet would put to sea so late in the year. The Irish chiefs however had notice that an invading force was coming. But the old story was repeated. The preparations had been thrown out of gear by the disaster of the summer; all the provisions were incomplete; the ships were hopelessly ill-found; and the fleet had hardly started when a terrific storm fell on it and shattered it. Thirty or more of the vessels were lost at sea; when the rest of the battered armament struggled back to Ferrol, pestilence broke out, and the crews died and deserted by hundreds if not by thousands. The stars in their courses fought against Philip and ruined the second Armada - this time without the help of hostile man.
[1597 The Island Voyage, etc.]