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ambassadors, who lived at Chelsea, had not the CHAP. council of state sent guards to protect them. v^s/^/
When the States heard of this action, of which 1652. the consequences were easily foreseen, they were in the utmost consternation. They immediately dispatched Paw, pensionary of Holland, as their ambassador extraordinary to London, and ordered him to lay before the parliament the narrative which Tromp had sent of the late rencounter. They entreated them, by all the bands of their common religion and common liberties, not to precipitate themselves into hostile measures, but to appoint commissioners, who should examine every circumstance of the action, and clear up the truth which lay in obscurity. And they pretended that they had given no orders to their admiral to offer any violence to the English, but would severely punish him, if they found, upon inquiry, that he had been guilty of an action which they so much disapproved. The imperious parliament would hearken to none of these reasons or remonstrances. Elated by the numerous successes which they had obtained over their domestic enemies, they thought that every thing must yield to their fortunate arms; and they gladly seized the opportunity, which they sought, of making war upon the States. They demanded that, without any farther delay or enquiry, reparation should be made for all the damages which the English had sustained. And when this demand was not complied with, they dispatched orders for commencing war against the United Provinces.
Blake sailed northwards with a numerous fleet, and fell upon the herring busses, which were escorted by twelve men of war. All these he either took or dispersed. Tromp followed him with a fleet of above a hundred sail. When these two admirals were within sight of each other, and preparing for battle, a furious storm attacked them. Blake
C H/ A P. took shelter in the English harbours. The Dutch v^J^/ fleet was dispersed, and received great damage.
i652. Sir George Ayscue, though he commanded only Aug. 16. forty ships, according to the English accounts, engaged, near Plymouth, the famous de Ruiter, who had under him fifty ships of war, with thirty merchantmen. The Dutch ships were indeed of inferior force to the English. De Ruiter, the only ad. .miral in Europe who has attained a renown equal to that of the greatest general, defended himself so well, that Ayscue gained no advantage over him. Night
Sarted them in the greatest heat of the action. De Ruiter next day sailed off with his convoy. The English fleet had been so shattered in the fight, that it was not able to pursue. Oct.28. Near the coast of Kent, Blake, seconded by Bourne and Pen, met a Dutch squadron, nearly equal in numbers, commanded by de Witte and de Ruiter. A battle was fought much to the disadvantage of the Dutch. Their rear-admiral was boarded and taken. Two other vessels were sunk, and one blown up. The Dutch next day made sail towards Holland.
The English were not so successful in the Mediterranean. Van Galen, with much superior force, attacked captain Badily, and defeated him. He bought, however, his victory with the loss of his life.
Nov.89. Sea-fights are seldom so decisive as to disable the vanquished from making head in a little time against the victors. Tromp, seconded by de Ruiter, met, near the Goodwins, with Blake, whose fleet was inferior to the Dutch, but who resolved not to decline the combat. A furious battle commenced, where the admirals on both sides, as well as the inferior officers and seamen, exerted great bravery. In this action the Dutch had the advantage. Blake himself was wounded. The Garland
and and Bonaventure were taken. Two ships were Chap burned, and one sunk; and night came opportune- Lx. ly to save the English fleet. After this victory, Tromp, in a bravado, fixed a broom to his mainmast; as if he were resolved to sweep the sea entirely of all English vessels.
Great preparations were made in England, in i6.M. order to wipe off this disgrace. A gallant fleet of eighty sail was fitted out. Blake commanded, and Dean under him, together with Monk, who had been sent for from Scotland. When the English Feb-18lay off Portland, they descried, near break of day, a Dutch fleet of seventy-six vessels, sailing up the channel, along with a convoy of 300 merchantmen, who had received orders to wait at the isle of Rhe, till the fleet should arrive to escort them. Tromp, and, under him, de Ruiter, commanded the Dutch. This battle was the most furious that had yet been fought between these warlike and rival nations. Three days was the combat continued with the utmost rage and obstinacy; and Blake, who was victor, gained not more honour than Tromp, who was vanquished. The Dutch admiral made a skilful retreat, and saved all the merchant ships, except thirty. He lost, however, eleven ships of war, had 2000 men slain, and near 1500 taken prisoners. The English, though many of their ships were extremely shattered, had but one sunk. Their slain were not much inferior in number to those of the enemy.
All these successes of the English were chiefly owing to the superior size of their vessels; an advantage which all the skill and bravery of the Dutch admirals could not compensate. By means of shipmoney, an imposition which had been so much complained of, and in some respects with reason, the late king had put the navy into a situation which it had never attained in any former reign; and he ventured to build ships of a size which was then
Chap- unusual. But the misfortunes which the Dutch v^^^/met with in battle, were small in comparison of 1653. those which their trade sustained from the English. Their whole commerce by the channel was cut off: Even that to the Baltic was much infested by English privateers. Their fisheries were totally suspended. A great number of their ships, above 1600, had fallen into the hands of the enemy. And all this distress they suffered, not for any national interests or necessity; but from vain points of honour and personal resentments, of which it was difficult to give a satisfactory account to the public. They resolved, therefore, to gratify the pride of the parliament, and to make some advances towards peace. They met not, however, with a favourDie reception; and it was not without pleasure that they learned the dissolution of that haughty assembly, by the violence of Cromwel; an event from which they expected a more prosperous turn to their affairs.
The zealous republicans in the parliament had not been the chief or first promoters of the war; but when it was once entered upon, they endeavoured to draw from it every possible advantage. On all occasions they set up the fleet in opposition to the army, and celebrated the glory and successes of their naval armaments. They insisted on the intolerable expence to which the nation was subjected, and urged the necessity of diminishing it, Dissoiu- kv a reduction of the land forces. They had or
tion of the J . . 1 1 1 n
pariia- deied some regiments to serve on board the fleet, meDt• in the quality of marines. And Cromwel, by the whole train of their proceedings, evidently saw that they had entertained a jealousy of his power and ambition, and were resolved to bring him to a subordination under their authority. Without scruple or delay he resolved to prevent them.
On such firm foundations was built the credit of this extraordinary man, that though a great master
of of fraud and dissimulation, he judged it superfluous to employ any disguise in conducting this bold enterprise. He summoned a general council of offi- 1653. cers; and immediately found that they were disposed to receive whatever impressions he was pleased to give them. Most of them were his creatures, had owed their advancement to his favour, and relied entirely upon him for their future preferment. The breach being already made between the military and civil powers, when the late king was seized at Holdenby; the general officers regarded the parliament as at once their creature and their rival; and thought that they themselves were entitled to share among them those offices and riches, of which its members had so long kept possession. Harrison, Rich, Overton, and a few others who retained some principle, were guided by notions so extravagant, that they were easily deluded into measures the most violent and most criminal. And the whole army had already been guilty of such illegal and atrocious actions, that they could entertain no farther scruple with regard to any enterprise which might serve their selfish or fanatical purposes.
In the council of officers it was presently voted to frame a remonstrance to the parliament. After complaining of the arrears due to the army, they there desired the parliament to reflect how many years they had sitten, and what professions they had formerly made of their intentions to new-model the representative, and establish successive parliaments, who might bear the burthen of national affairs, from which they themselves would gladly, after so much danger and fatigue, be at last relieved. They confessed that the parliament had achieved great enterprises, and had surmounted mighty difficulties; yet was it an injury, they said, to the rest of the nation to be excluded from bearing any part in the service of their country. It was now full