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Lord's Prayer and the Catechism, and said that he had tried to instruct his children in the Christian Faith, but that they would only laugh in his face. His intelligence had mado him chief in his island, and he would not hear of going back to the civilised world, though he was much pleased with a present of some old uniforms, and a salute of honour which was fired as he returned to his savage home.
De Ruyter then cruised along the African coast, recapturing the forts that had lately been taken by Holmes; but he had a very sharp conflict at Fort Cormantin, where the English were assisted by a negro army under a terrible savage, who had a bitter hatred to the Dutch, and exercised such barbarities that he was so much afraid of falling into their hands as to commit suicide, when he found the English cause hopeless. The garrison were all made prisoners, and De Ruyter sailed for America, and appeared before Barbadoes, but met such a fire from the forts as drove him away with great damage. On his way back he heard reports that war had been declared, and not thinking the channel a safe route, sailed by way of the North Sea.
It had not been long before Admiral Lawson discovered how he had been duped. He sent intelligence to the Duke of York, who immediately sent out two fleets, one under Prince Rupert, and 150 Dutch merchant vessels were captured, and guarded in the English harbours to be sold by way of indemnification to any sufferers by Ruyter's expedition.
Meantime Charles wrote to his Ambassador at the Hague to inquire into the matter, and Downing, in his conceit, answered that there could be no such expedition, as if there were, he must have heard of it. Charles wrote again, and Sir George was obliged to go 10 the Grand Pensionary, whom he asked coolly whether the story of De Ruyter's voyage were true. De Witt smiled, and assured him the Province of Holland had given the Admiral no orders that need concern his master, and as to the States-General, it was useless to say anything about their resolutions since his Excellency always know what took place there!
Again Downing wrote that it was a baseless report, and that De Ruyter was in the Mediterranean! However, certain news had come by this time. He was very much enraged, and desired to be recalled to London, where he found himself blamed and laughed at for his conceit!
War was inevitable, and Charles had to raise money for it, to the amount of two millions and a half; but the nation was hot against the Dutch, and on this occasion the old mode of raising money by subsidies was exchanged for a quarterly assessment on the countiesin fact, bringing in, in 1664, the system of taxation which has continued ever since in force. The clergy had hitherto voted their own subsidies in Convocation, which was held to be the third estate of the realm ; but apparently for convenience sake, Archbishop
Sheldon, who had just succeeded Juxson, came to an agreement that the clergy should be taxed like the laity for the future, little guessing that he thus gave up a very important element of influence. There was now no necessity to keep Convocation sitting until the grant had been made, and thus much of its strength was lost as a power in the kingdom.
The navy was really dear to both Charles and James, and they threw themselves into the preparations with great zeal, so as to fit. out the grandest navy England had ever seen. The Duke of York was a thorough sailor, and sought out Blake's old captains; but when the Duke of Buckingham and other courtly friends offered their services, he replied that they might serve as volunteers, but that. he could give no command to the inexperienced. He seems to have been the first person to understand that seamanship did not come by nature, and that all generals were not qualified for admirals; and he divided the fleet into three squadrons, known by their flags; the red under himself, the white under Prince Rupert, the blue under the Earl of Sandwich. His own vessel was the Royal Charles, and with ninety-eight sail of the line and four fine sbips he sailed up and down the German Ocean, defying the Hollanders.
The Dutch were in the meantime quarrelling as to the command of their fleet. Before the great battle of the Texel the StatesGeneral had voted that in case of the death of Van Tromp the command should devolve upon Evertsen; but his retreat in that. battle had displeased the States, and besides, he was a Zeelander and an Orangeman. The admiralship was at first given to Cornelis de Witt, who had been killed during the war with Sweden and Holland. John de Witt, then appointed as High Admiral, Opdam van Wassenaer, a brave cavalry officer, but no sailor, and always sea-sick. All the other provinces, Zeeland at their head, made Evertsen Vice-Admiral; but as a matter of party, Holland appointed three more LieutenantAdmirals, Cortenaer, De Ruyter, and Meppel, evidently to prevent Evertsen, though senior, being sixty-five years old, from coming to the front. After much squabbling, the fleet put out on the 24th of May, 1665, 103 ships, with 4800 guns and 21,000 men, and on the 11th of June came in sight of the English under the Duke of York, with 109 ships, 4200 guns, and about the same number of men as their opponents.
The Hollanders were so much resolved that Evertsen should have no opportunity of distinguishing himself, that they gave explicit instructions to their Admiral for the battle, and having some secret doubts of his ability, they continued to urge him on to make the attack, so that he felt himself insulted. He was altogether at a loss, yet he held no council of war, and made the signal for attack suddenly on the 13th of June, just as the wind had turned in favour of the English, and when the Vice-Admirals, instead of being at the head of their squadrons, all had their ships near him, and in a position whence signals could not be seen by a great portion of the flect. The huge fleets covered the sea for a mile or more off Lowestoff.
The English fleet advanced in excellent order, drawn up half-moon fashion. The two fleets slowly sailed past each other with a tremendous cannonade, but the wind and the weight of the guns enabled the English to inflict more damage than they received. At 5 A.M. next morning the two fleets tacked, and again passed each other firing, and in this encounter the Lieutenant-Admiral Cortenaer was killed.
A third time the manoeuvre was repeated, but the Dutch ships, for want of efficient command, were so entangled with one another that all could not fire, and there was a gap in the line, into which Lord Sandwich rushed, breaking their fleet in two. In the confusion Wassenaer brought his flagship, the Eendraght, close alongside of the Royal Charles, and there was a most fearful exchange of broadsides. Three of the noble volunteers, Lords Falmouth and Muskerry, and young Boyle, were killed beside the Duke of York, who was bespattered with their blood. At one moment the Royal Charles was almost boarded, but another English ship came up to her relief, and James, watching the confusion on board the Eendrught, commanded all his guns to be discharged into her in succession, and at the third shot from the lower tier there was a fearful explosion. The Eendraght had been blown up with the Admiral of the Fleet, and 500 men, all of whom were lost. In the horror that followed, the captain of Cortenaer's ship, still bearing the flag of the dead or dying Admiral, turned and fled, and several followed him. Some ships fought desperately till burnt. Evertsen, as senior Admiral, hoisted a flag, and signalled to collect the fleet, and his own ship was terribly damaged. Cornelis, son of the great Van Tromp, also tried to stop the flight, but was not ready to obey Evertsen ; and when the Texel was signalled for, he turned towards the Meuse.
The English gave chase, but in the night slackened sail at a signal from the Royal Charles. It turned out that a servant of the Duke's, named Bronkhard, who had been in mortal terror all through the fight, actually forged this order to Captain Penn as soon as his master had fallen asleep, to prevent the battle from being renewed ! However, eighteen ships had been taken and seven destroyed, 7000 men killed, and four admirals. Indeed, this battle of Lowestoff was one of the greatest of our naval victories, since the Dutch were more equal antagonists by sea to the English than any other nation; but exultation was almost forgotten in dismay at the ravages of the plague.
This horrible malady is apparently an extremely rapid fever, accompanied by a huge carbuncle, or plague-spot, as it was called, and is one of the disorders that thrive upon the foulness and filth of unwholesome cities. The Turkish cities of Asia Minor seemed to be its home, whence it sallied out from time to time—the infection being brought sometimes by persons, but more often in clothes and other goods—and overrunning western cities during the summer and autumn months with such fatal effect, that it came to be known above all other diseases as the plague.
Dr. Hodges, who watched throughout the visitation in London, traced the contagion to Holland, whence it had come from Turkey. There is also a narrative by Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe,' hung upon a fictitious · London Citizen,' but borne out in all its details of fact by other authorities, such as public records, and the diaries of the excellent John Evelyn at Wotton and Says Court, and of Samuel Pepys, one of the clerks at the Admiralty. Before the beginning of the war, when trade was not interrupted, the plague had broken out in Amsterdam, but was hushed up, and in the end of 1664 two men had died in Long Acre. It went smouldering on through the winter, and in the third week in January no less than 474 persons had died of it in the two parishes of St. James's and St. Giles’s. Then the disease slackened, but never ceased, though no great alarm was taken till the end of May, when the number of fatal cases became so alarming that every one who could, began to remove.
The Court and all the officials retreated to Oxford, leaving only Lord Albemarle behind to conduct the business of Government, and the gentry and wealthy persons fled. Indeed, the whole neighbourhood took alarm, and the Lord Mayor refused to grant certificates of health, without which people could not leave the town. The absence of so many increased the distress; whole streets were deserted, 40,000 servants were thrown out of place, artisans and labourers had no employment, and distress added to the danger.
The King subscribed £1000 per week for the relief of these sufferers, the City £600; the Queen Dowager, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and others gave largely, nor did the magistrates desert their posts. They did their best, dividing the parishes into districts, and appointing officers over them as searchers, nurses, and watchers. Each infected house was shut up, with a red cross marked on the door, or the words · Lord, have mercy on us. Provisions were brought to the inmates, and at night a dead cart went round with torches and a bell to bear away corpses to a great common grave without religious rites. Only the lowest and vilest were employed in this fearful office, and their brutality was another element of misery and horror.
Those months were like a nightmare on the devoted city. Strange fancies prevailed. The almanacks were full of portents. One halfcrazy man ran about shouting the words of Jonah, · Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed. Another wandered, half-naked, with looks of horror, crying, 'Oh, the great and dreadful God!' Voices were thought to be heard in the air, flaming swords, hearses and coffins to be seen in the sky, and at the same time there were all manner of quack antidotes and charms sold as infallible protections. One was a bit or parchment inscribed thus :
Medical skill was at fault, indeed, many of the physicians died, and the only conclusion to which they came was that if the boil or carbuncle broke and suppurated, the patient recovered; but this, during the summer months, was the exception.
The clergy too did their utmost. There were daily prayers, and the churches open all day, but with the smitten houses shut up
there could be no visiting the sick and dying. Indeed, many of the clergy died of the infection, while both they and the ejected Presbyterians strove to comfort and minister as far as they were permitted. People were going in one by one all day to the churches to pray, and there were assemblies, prayers, and exhortation at the meeting-houses; but there were others who gave themselves up recklessly to mirth and revelry, and mocked these devotional exercises. One party, rioting in a tavern just opposite to one of the churches, is specially mentioned as horrifying every one by their profanity, for three or four days. Then in a fortnight's time, all of them were carried to the great pit beyond the town, where torches burnt around all night, and bodies were shot out of the carts like rubbish.
August and September brought the height of the misery. Those who fell sick in those months never recovered, even though the weather became cooler. The largest number of deaths in one week was about ten thousand, in that ending on the 29th of August. Very large fires of coal in every street were thought to purify the air, but rain did more, and the equinoctial gales began to lessen the infection. Recoveries became frequent, and though cases continued all the winter, the terrible visitation was gradually passing away. The numbers of deaths are computed at not less than 100,000.
The pestilence had not been confined to London. The fugitives carried it to other towns; York, Norwich, Salisbury, Winchester, all had their share, either that year or the next. Narrow streets and tall houses with no sufficient drainage could not but foster it, and there were cases enough to cause the cities to be isolated, and the payment for provisions made outside the gates by placing the money in a pail of water or in vinegar.
(To le continued.)