For the Genealogical Table of the family Herbert, prefixed to the Philobiblon Society edition, see the page images of the book.
Note to the html edition: This edition modernizes spelling, punctuation and (occasionally) syntax, providing what I hope is a more accessible document while retaining Lord Herbert's tone, style and narrative. I have also edited some of the bibliographical comments of Lord Powis in his Introduction. Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A full transcription of the Philobiblon edition, with the original spelling and punctuation, is available.
This Account by Lord Herbert of Cherbury of the Expedition to the Isle of Rhé, A.D. 1627, appears never to have been published in the original English, although a Latin Translation of it was printed, A.D. 1656, by Dr. Timothy Baldwin, Fellow of All Souls' College, Oxford.xviii
The Manuscript is handsomely bound in yellow morocco, stamped alternately with the Rose and Fleur-de-Lys. The Dedication to King Charles is in Lord Herbert's handwriting.
The Manuscript came into my possession about five years ago. It had previously belonged, for about twelve years, to David Laing, Esq., Signet Library, Edinburgh, who purchased it accidentally at a sale in London.
Dr. Baldwin's Translation appears
to have been made from a different
copy, as in my Manuscript the long
Epistle to the Reader is wanting.
As this Epistle is referred to in the
body of the work, I have inserted
the Latin Translation. Again, in
the Latin Translation there appears
Dabam Castr. de Montgomery, Aug. 10, 1630, at the end of
the Dedication to King Charles,
which is wanting in the Manuscript.
In the Translation also each Chapter has a heading, which is wanting in the Manuscript, although space is left for it.
At the end of the Latin Version is an Index Capitum of nine leaves.
Lord Herbert's Autobiography leaves off about A.D. 1624, and consequently contains no mention of this work.
Sir Henry Wooton refers to this
This action, as I hear, has
been delivered by a Noble Gentleman of much learning, and active
spirits, himself the fitter to do it
right; which in truth it greatly
wanted, having found more honorable censure, even from some
of the French writers, than it had
generally amongst ourselves at
home. Now, because the said work
is not yet flowing into the light, I will but sweep the way with a few
notes; and these only touching
the Duke's own deportment in that
Island, the proper subject of my
quill.—Reliquiæ, page 226. 1685.
The work appears to have been undertaken by Lord Herbert as a political and literary friend of the Duke of Buckingham, well acquainted with the state of affairs in France from his previous Embassy. He does not appear to have been himself engaged in the Expedition.
Mr. Laing considers that this Manuscript is probably the identical
copy presented to the King, as in
Chapter 1. the words,
cause … Patrimony, are underlined,
and in lieu of
neyther … affinity the following words are
inserted in a hand which Mr. Laing
says is that of King Charles:
no Worldlie Cause he was willing
to breake. In lieu of
abundantly testified, is inserted,
To all the World is so well
The books principally referred to by Lord Herbert are Isnard, Monet the Jesuite, and the Mercure Françcois, vol. xiii.
Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury, was eldest son of Richard Herbert, of Montgomery Castle, and of Magdalen, daughter of Sir Richard Newport, of High Ercall, in the County of Salop. He was born, 1581.
He says, in his Life, that he was entered at University College, Oxford, when twelve years old.
In the Register of Matriculations of the University his name appears during the time that Dr. Lilley was Vice-Chancellor, July, 1595-1596, and his age is stated to be 14.
He was made a Knight of the xxiii Bath at the Coronation of King James I, 1603, appointed Ambassador to France, 1619, created Lord Herbert of Castle Island, in the Peerage of Ireland, Dec. 31, 1624, and Lord Herbert of Cherbury,in the Peerage of England, May 17, 1629.
He married, 28 Feb. 1598, Mary, daughter and heir of Sir William Herbert, Knight, of St. Julian's, in the County of Monmouth, and had issue Richard, second Lord, Edward, who died unmarried, and Beatrix, who died unmarried.
He was descended from Sir Richard Herbert, brother of Sir William Herbert, first Earl of Pembroke of the first creation, 1468, from whose third son, Sir George Herbert, of St. Julian's, his wife was descended. He died, Aug. 20, 1648, aged 67, and was buried in the Church of St. Giles in the Fields. Notices of his family will be found in Collins' xxiv Peerage, and Banks' Extinct and Dormant Peerages, 1809; and of his works in Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors. There are eleven volumes of his Manuscripts in the library of Jesus Coll. Oxford, an account of which is given in Coxe's Catalogue of All the Manuscripts in the Colleges and Halls at Oxford. Printed at the University Press, 1852, 2 vols. 4to. See vol. II. Jesus Coll. page 24, No. lxxi, lxxii, lxiii.
All Souls', cclvi, No. 2. Address to Henry VIII. in behalf of the Welch, written in 1536.
Queen's, clvii, 22. My Lord Herbert's paper about the King's Supremacy, showed to the Arch Bishop of Canterbury by the King's command.
Herbert Pedigree, in handwriting of Nicholas Charles, Lancaster Herald, lxxi.
Balliol, cccxxxvi, 4. Mensa Lubrica Montgom. illustrissimo domino Edw. Baroni de Cherbury.
There is a biographical notice of Lord Herbert in the Library of Corpus Christi Coll., by William Fulman, cccvii, 49.
Lord Herbert's Autobiography was privately printed by Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, at Strawberry Hill, 1764.
Three subsequent editions were printed.
The second edition was published 1770, and was followed by a third and fourth edition.
An edition was printed at Edinburgh by Bannatyne, in 1809, and in London by Saunders and Otley, 1826.
TO THE MOST SERENE AND MOST
By the Grace of God, Kinge of Great Brittaine,
France and Ireland. Defender
of the Faith.
Most Serene and Powerful monarche,
It pleased my Lord Duke of Buckingham heretofore to committ unto my charge the composing and putting into order of certain commentaries (hastily written) concerning his journey to the Isle of Rhé. This heavy burden, (which I could by no excuse avoid) being at last undertaken by me, his nefarious death by the hands of an assassin intervened. The loose sheets hereupon xxx lay a great while by me, which, together with their causes, I should willingly for ever have sacrificed to privacy and silence. And I would the same mind had happened to the French; and that they had not been so puffed up with their good successes, as to take occasion thereupon to wrong the universal honor of this Nation.
Their first brunts I endured with that patient mind I could; but when one after another appeared still more outrageous and offensive, I knew at last what it was to suffer such insolent and affronting dispositions to have their full scope in railing. I could not, therefore, any longer permit that the French should so at their pleasure vilify a nation which no foreign power (that ever I could learn) did overcome upon even terms. I will not deny yet but that the inhabitants of Great xxxi Britain have received diverse overthrows; but where, through straits and difficulties of passage, fit place to show their valor was wanting, or that they were much inferior in number to their Enemies. Here both causes concurred, although they prevailed not so far that the victory at the dike (of which they so much brag) did (even by the confession of their own authors) remain entirely theirs; but lest I should be thought to interrupt the frame and context of the History, by an unseasonable preoccupation of belief, I do submit it, with all the humility that is possible, to your Majesty's view.
It is not indeed as I could wish polished and set forth. The rough and unusual kind of style admits not the old ornaments of words; yet, since by your Majesty's good leave and favor it comes unto light, may your Majesty xxxii vouchsafe to behold it (such as it is) with a benign aspect. This seems promised by your Majesty's innate and implanted gentleness, which I should celebrate with many praises, did not the greatness of your Majesty's mind in a sort forbid me. For while being seated in the midst of all virtues, your Majesty is equally distant from all extremes, your Majesty does with the same fortitude despise the backbiters' language and the praisers'. For as your Majesty is indeed above both, so does your Majesty as from a height behold them, as all other worldly things, placed before you.
I will end, therefore, with a wish or vow, that your Majesty may always fix yourself in that degree or state as may be out of the power of flattery to raise, or slander to depress, or envy to turn aside. This elogium or character not given xxxiii before to any mortal Creature, that it may agree to your Majesty only, is the prayer of
Your most serene Majesty's
Most humble and most
obedient subject and
[A Latin 'Epistle to the Reader', referred to in Chap. XXXII below, is not transcribed.]
The year of our Lord 1625 was now current, when the inhabitants of Great Britain had long enjoyed a flourishing and firm peace; this happiness that it might be conserved entire, after our Queen Elizabeth, the most serene King James maintained friendship with all their neighbors, and that not in name and word only, but so as their actions might ever exceed the professions of their good will. Hence, by the means of that Heroina, Henry ivth was made capable 2 of the French kingdom and the low-country states of liberty; so little could envy or suspicion prevail against either form of government, when ready occasion of performing promise was given. Neither did this piety continue for one age only; for, those two princes being dead, the most serene King James did many ways assist Lewis xiiith in the midst of his civil broils and dissensions, whereof myself being Ambassador in France can render no vulgar testimony. The low-countrymen also by his favor were first established, and after, by magnificent and solemn ambassages, acknowledged as people asserted to the quality of free states.
But not to his neighbors only, but to foreign and remote potentates, did this most mild disposition of King James at length enlarge itself. Therefore he made a league with the house of 3 Austria, for no worldly cause he was willing to break which neither for cause of affinity [King Charles' amendment: for noe Wordlie Cause he was willing to breake], or pretence of religion and common profit he would break. This seems abundantly testified [King Charles's amendment: to all the World is so well knowen] by the miserable condition of his son-in-law, who being expulsed from a kingdom, not sought, but offered, did together lose his patrimony.
But [King Charles's amendment: That] there is no need that I should particularly set down those things which are vulgarly spoken; let it suffice to the Christian world that this most indulgent king had nothing more in recommendation than that peace might be kept everywhere solid and entire. Being thus made arbiter of Europe, he seemed equally to have obliged to him all the chief princes thereof; wherefore he did not without good reason hope that those benefits, which without him 4 they could not have received, they would (when occasion was) restore again and requite. But being frustrated in this expectation, he at last knew that nothing does sooner grow old and decay than good turns. It came to pass so, that by entreaties and admonitions alone he could neither restore his son-in-law and grandchildren into their hereditary right, nor sufficiently defend the reformed religion in France, which at that time was vehemently impugned. So little could any equity of cause prevail with them between whom and the attaining their desires it heretofore stood. Being shortly after taken up into Heaven, he left his son Charles, together with his kingdom, a troubled and perplexed condition of affairs.
This Prince now taking in hand the Scepter, not as one slow or lingering, but quick and fearless, 5 resolves a war, new causes being too much every day offered. For whether the Palatine (who together with his most worthy consort and innocent children was proscribed, disinherited, and expulsed) or those of the religion in France (who by agreement were delivered into His Protection) were taken into consideration, not a just only, but important occasion of taking arms was presented.
In the meanwhile, as there wanted not some among us who persuaded the undertaking of both these wars at once, so there were others likewise by whom neither of the said wars (though out of a diverse respect) was approved. They who brought the business of Germany into agitation did indeed concert the cause most just; but with all objected the distance of the place, far secluded from all navigation, the little union and consent between the reformed 6 princes in Germany, and the excessive charges required for raising and transporting an army thither. They who spake of the French affairs affirmed, with the ambassador of Lewis xiiith, that the question was not so much concerning the overthrowing the party of those of the religion, as of restraining their immoderate power; for giving credit hereunto they produced the frequent and public edicts that were made by the said Lewis xiiith. Besides they did enforce that the many reciprocal offices of friendship, which had now for a great while passed between both nations, were not rashly to be infringed and cast away; that the assistance we might expect from the French against the Spaniard (whom the last year we had provoked by a fleet sent to Cádiz), and the power of the house of Austria (which everywhere almost seemed 7 to increase), was of more importance than that it should be laid in balance with the pretences of fickle and unconstant persons, who did only study their own ends. In conclusion, that it was much better our arms were converted to the Palatinate, and the possedant princes ejected; but that those difficulties were interposed as could by no means be overcome. For though it were granted that the Duke of Saxony (who not long before had served the Emperor in Lusatia) could be brought into a better mind, and that the heretofore confederate princes in Germany would thereupon re-assume their ancient union: though we had got together vast sums of money, and thereupon would raise an huge army, from what quarter of the world yet could we convey it thither, how should we send supplies. That the correspondence between islanders and 8 those who inhabit the middle of the continent has never been so prosperous, there wanting that communis terminus which should conjoin and link them together. That it were better to send forces to the Moluccas than to a province so far remote from all ports, that when an enemy would not oppose, not so much as a friend would willingly admit a passage through his territories. What in the meanwhile might be hoped from the assistance of those little united princes in Germany did sufficiently appear: wherefore that we should not so much consider what ought as what might be done. That counsels must be proportioned always according to the power and force that must execute them. Therefore, that the war, which could not without inconvenience be made in Germany, should be transferred to France.
There 9 that just cause was neither wanting, nor perchance good havens and friends would be defective; besides that for performing hereof so vast expenses were not required. More over that it might so fall out as our expedition thither might have its conclusion in a confederacy for a joint uniting our forces to recover the Palatinate. It being no new thing that arms should evince what reason cannot, and that by strong hand rather than reason, stiff-necked and stubborn dispositions should be reduced and rectified. The cause of war being hereupon debated, some were judged impellent only, others altogether necessary. Among those of the former sort, the disaffection, if not perverseness, of the French (when there was question of recovery of the Palatinate), was thought fit not to be passed over and dissembled; since in this 10 most important affair, by acting the part sometimes of slack friends, and otherwhiles of lurking enemies, they had overthrown the whole frame of the business; yet that it belonged chiefly to the French to restore the Palatine. For though in consideration of affinity and match we seemed most obliged, yet in point of neighborhood (which among princes has ever been accounted of the greatest moment) as well as gratitude for good turns received, they more than any other were concerned; that this appeared sufficiently by the succor of men and money (not yet perchance satisfied) which was sent by the late Palatine of good memory to Henry ivth, when he was in extreme want of all things. That the other was no less manifest when they called to mind how the often eruptions of the northern people, and even of the first French, 11 (who gave them their name,) were chiefly made on that side, steep mountains or the main ocean stopping their borderers access almost on all other parts. Since therefore the Passage to France was open chiefly from thence, that it had been much better to have placed there an ancient and well-deserving confederate, than admitted to that nearness either a known enemy or a doubtful friend. Yet, lest this good turn should perchance redound to us, they had forborne to give assistance, even where it was most for their own advantage; with what ingenuity let them tell who examine things as they ought. This at least was not to be concealed, that the miserable estate of the Palatinate ought so much more to be reproached to them than us, by how much more proper and easy it was for them to give remedy. Besides that our 12 interest (being but of blood and alliance only) seemed private, whereas theirs being matter of state and public good did appertain even to their whole Nation; that therefore no obscure signs of vehement malignity appeared herein. Next, it was remembered that our auxiliary forces, accorded to Mansfelt, (to whom the French had promised passage through their territories) being miserably frustrated of their hopes, and so compelled to go for the low-countries before order could be taken for their relief, did through the French-men's fault first lose their way, and after in great part their lives.
Together with these motives, which seemed added only for an overcharge, two real causes of making war were examined and weighed. The one was, that, in full peace between the two crowns, about a hundred of our merchants' 13 ships, (near Bordeaux,) without any or at least a sufficient cause, were intercepted, and that not before they had paid for and stowed in their holds the wines and commodities of that place, as though it had not been enough to detain the ships, unless withal the chapmen had been defeated of their money. The other took his original from the afflicted condition of the reformed in France; for since in the Peace last made, by the consent of both parts, the most serene King Charles had rendered himself surety for observance thereof, they did now earnestly make their supplications to his Majesty that they might be vindicated from the injuries, both against the tenor of that Peace, as also the Edicts granted long since in their favor.
More than one cause concurring, therefore, war was resolved; my Lord Duke of Buckingham, 14 for that towardliness by which he seemed born and made to all that was extraordinary, being chosen chief leader. Hereupon presently there arose no little dispute concerning proclaiming this war, but arguments on both sides being at length discussed, it seemed incongruous that we should give the French so much honor, both that by detaining our ships they had first violated the league, as also that our resolution to assist the reformed (of which they could not be ignorant since the business was first agreed) did not seem so necessarily tied to a solemn and circumstantial proceeding, when they on the other side had altogether neglected it. 15
The next question was what province of France should be first attempted. Some gave opinion for the hither, others for the further part; at last it was resolved to undertake some such place in that kingdom as might be not far off from Spain, and for that purpose, together with a puissant fleet, to send a little army, which, by giving the enemy continual alarms and onsets, in several places successively, might first weary and after dispose him the sooner to a peace. To which end no coast seemed more commodious than the Isle of Rhé, both that it was adjoining to Rochelle (the chief strength of those of the religion), as also that the passage from thence to Spain was of no great length or 16 difficulty; for since, with extreme magnanimity, King Charles had at once made war with both nations, he might at that distance both infest the French and keep in the Spaniard: hereunto might be added, that the island, being once won, was easily to be kept, as long as we were stronger by sea, unless perchance, by restoring it again, some league for the common good of Christiandom might be entered into.
It being thus resolved to begin with Rhé, present order was taken to levy soldiers, and make ships ready. This yet was not performed with such secrecy but that it came to the notice of Lewis xiiith. Therefore, long before our men came, he caused diverse companies of horse and foot, from sundry parts of that kingdom, to assemble near the coast of Poitou, as Isnard says. Moreover, page 18, he affirms that 17 the king appointed a journey thither in person, together with his brother the Duke of Orleans, having sent before the Duke of Angoulesme and Marillac to prepare whatsoever should be needful; but because almost everywhere in this book there is occasion to meet with this author, I hold it fitting to take of some slanders urged in the beginning of his work, and to retort them, lest we should be thought to acknowledge those which we do not sufficiently repulse, whereof some are so extremely affronting and indefinitely offensive, that without making any difference they are poured out against the whole nation. That in the meanwhile his height and trivial objections, as being scarce considerable, or worthy any answer, may be passed by. That those things which concern the treaty of marriage between our 18 most serene king and queen, as being either secrets of state or domestic affairs, may be remitted to those whom they concern.
I shall at least examine his words, page 6, where, speaking of the cause of this war, he affirms that there was no other provocation to anger, no other kindler of dissension, than the ancient enmity of the transmarine people against the French, the English-Punic faith, and the ardent desire we had to break our League. As though it had not been enough for them to have done many such things unless they had reproached them as being done by us. But who will ever tax the English of ill affection that does but call to mind what we have formerly related concerning Henry ivth, what we can relate concerning this present king. But hereof sparingly, lest we should be thought to upbraid good turns 19 than which (since man's memory) neither more opportune nor more important have been afforded to any. Only we must not pass over in silence that no recompense of benefits in this kind has ever been demanded, or otherwise returned unto us again. But Isnard imputes to us the Punic Faith; is it perchance that he would reserve to himself the Greek, πιστον δ' Ελλας οιδεν ουδεν [the Greeks were never faithful to any]; but let him take both for us unless he measure the profitable by the honest; but we will not contend with Isnard in foul language, though he strive to impose those calumnies on the English as can hardly be repaired by any satisfaction. In the meanwhile, who does well consider and weigh the above mentioned fraud and deceit will certainly reject upon Isnard and his countrymen all those marks of injustice 20 which he would fasten upon us. Finally, Isnard says that we had an ardent desire to break our League. But how slowly, and as it were unwillingly, we took arms, let them judge who (out of that which is formerly alleged) call to mind how not only the league made between us, but even the law of nations was first broken and violated on their part. But Isnard contains not himself here, and therefore says the French in England were despised, ill treated, hurt and scorned, that no satisfaction was made for the injuries they received, that damages were not repaid, being about 30,000l. or 300,000l., and that thereupon in the beginning of the month of November, 1626, our ships being about a hundred were detained at Blaye (near Bordeaux) by the Duke of Luxembourg. But unless the French may be thought competent 21 judges in their own cause, must not all proceeding in this kind be injurious, for it does not suffice to bring in one gross and entire sum an account of this nature unless it be verified by the particulars; and this is done nowhere by Isnard. Lest, notwithstanding, I should be thought not to proceed so fairly in this business, I will confess ingeniously that before all those things above mentioned a French ship was detained here upon suspicion of being laden with Spanish goods, at that time when we were in war with that nation. Till, therefore this controversy were decided, no man that understands the law either of country or nations can aver the said detention to be unjust. But perchance other complaints (as for a show) may be produced; but since (to speak freely) they are unknown to me, the reader 22 must not here expect an answer to them.
This expedition being now preparing, the French authors report that this design upon the Isle of Rhé was not a little set forwards by the counsel and persuasion of Monsieur de Soubise, who having received an overthrow in the said island fled hither, and having thereupon diverse conferences with the Lord Duke, excited by his means our Sovereign's mind to war, insomuch that by his direction many things were undertaken; but that we may leave those things which were done by Soubise to their credit who know the truth, it appeared otherwise sufficiently that the advise of Soubise, if not his promises, operated much in this business, which yet that they took not such effect as might be expected, the success of affairs or our commentaries at least seem to manifest. 23
My Lord Duke of Buckingham having gotten together a navy of an hundred sail, (whereof ten were royal, the rest merchants' ships) in going first aboard the Admiral at Portsmouth gave warning of departure. This example, more than any persuasion, prevailed for the accelerating of our soldiers, who for the most part were raw and unexpert men; yet with packing up of bag and baggage so much time was consumed, that his Excellency was constrained to stay two days longer than he expected. At last meeting all together, and getting with much alacrity on shipboard, the departure was hastened so soon as the tide permitted. The wind was not very favorable; yet 24 occasion thereby was given of encountering with fourteen sail, which turning away faster than became those who would act the parts of friends or enemies, some of our lesser ships pursued. But the terrified commanders plying so much the faster away, and together with much diligence lightning their ships, at length escaped. It came so to pass that our fleet being divided, and losing the sight of each other in the night time, held a diverse course. But having at last doubled the point of the promontory of Little Britain, they came to the Isle of Rhé, the latest only arriving the next day after. In the mean while we ran no little danger by coming in that number upon a coast full of shoals: yet such was the care of our seamen that the ships having safe road arranged themselves in very good order before the island, leaving 25 behind them some lesser ships to give advertisement of any occurrence that might happen.
This could not long be hid from the vigilant Toiras, governor of that island, who, being timely warned of this expedition, had given order for all things requisite for defence, both of it and the citadels therein, which not only the nature of the place but art had much fortified. If yet we may give credit to Isnard, and the author of the book called la descente des Anglois, it was believed at first our ships were Dunkerkers, this opinion (it seems) being the sooner entertained that certain low-country merchants had cast anchor near that shore; yet the number and flags of our ships coming at last within sight, Toiras perceives his error, and thereupon puts his men in order.
My Lord Duke of Buckingham in the meanwhile (whose chief care was 26 to execute the commission delivered to him according to the strictest terms thereof) thought fit, for the sounding of the Rochellers' mind, to send Sir William Beecher to advertise them that the only cause of his coming thither was to discharge that trust which in the late-made peace was interposed, the rest being better known than that it should need the explication of words. Hereof therefore, as soon as he had got their resolution, that he should presently return. Thereupon Monsieur de Soubise, brother to the Duke of Rohan, and one of much authority among those of his religion, was sent unto them: his going indeed was under pretext of seeing his mother and sisters there, but really and in effect to induce the Rochellers to his purposes. Sir William Beecher returning now again in his company was not slighted as before, 27 but courteously used, and received into their senate, where, in a long oration, he inculcated all those things which might satisfy the Rochellers that the only cause of my Lord Duke of Buckingham's coming was to vindicate those of the religion from the injuries they had received, and to restore them to the right which formerly (under the benefit of their Edicts) they had enjoyed. Upon these terms, if we were welcome, that they should presently declare themselves; if otherwise, that there wanted not just occasion to employ our arms elsewhere.
The Rochellers minds being herewith somewhat settled, it was agreed among themselves to assist us with some forces, there being indeed such an opportunity offered that not so much as the dullest among them but desired to embrace it. Lest in the meanwhile my Lord Duke 28 of Buckingham should over hastily undertake anything, they sent a messenger back to exhort his Excellency to undertake nothing till Soubise with some auxiliary forces were joined with him. But my Lord Duke of Buckingham (to whom all delay was more hurtful than that it could be repaired by these means) answered that he could do no less indeed than congratulate the forwardness of their minds, yet that he was able to do always his Master's business with his Master's forces.
The straying ships were come by this time; my Lord Duke of Buckingham therefore gives order (without further delay) for the landing of the soldiers. Whereupon Sir John Burroughes, and Sir Alexander Brett, together with some veterans, did (though not without military emulation) first take land; Sir Edward Conway and Sir Charles Rich following presently 29 after, called together likewise and set forward their soldiers. But some whom the sea and a tedious passage had made sick, taking their arms more slowly than was requisite, others again being transported with eagerness to fight, and consequently landing without any order, gave my Lord Duke of Buckingham much occasion to go to and fro: being carried therefore in his barge, and commending some as well as checking others, he desires them in general to show themselves the worthy progeny of their brave ancestors. A promontory, called by the name of Samblanceau, (extended into [the] sea about one thousand paces,) and having a reasonable good road on either side, seemed to offer us a convenient landing place; but while all things were done in confusion and tumult there was no time to put the soldiers in order. This 30 being related by one of the French sentinels they thought good not to delay the fight any longer. To this end some choice bands of horse and foot (long before prepared) lay behind certain sand hills expecting a signal from Toiras (which was the letting fall of his handkerchief) to begin the fight. This being now given, the horse (being divided into seven troops) began to charge, whom all their foot companies were presently to second. They indeed being induced with very great hopes and promises, did bravely charge our men; the English, on the other side, to whom (after their tossing in the ships) no ground seemed terra firma enough, (especially such as was only loose dust and quicksand,) put all their confidence in coming close up to, and joining battle with the French troops, whereupon a sharp and 31 doubtful fight ensued on either part, neither did it appear for a good while who had the advantage, for all the French army falling on together, our foot alone (there being no time to land our horse) were obliged to the resistance of their entire forces, who fought desperately for their honor and country.
This unequal fight yet had so good a conclusion that almost all the French horse were either killed or taken prisoners. Isnard confesses, in his 36th page, that ten or scarce ten returned from the first onset. But, says he, that they might give on again; the second charge therefore being made, it seems probable that one or scarce one escaped us. The French foot having lost many, and at last being wholly routed, ran away faster than it was possible for us to follow: for since our horse were not yet landed, and the foot 32 much tired and wearied with their long navigation (and besides night did now draw on) our men took that time to make themselves lodgings on the shore that the Frenchmen employed in flying away to the towns and strong places adjoining. There is some controversy concerning the number, not of the courage of the Frenchmen, for that they were valiant and only inferior unto us we shall without difficulty confess. Isnard says, in his 33rd page, that 200 horse and 800 foot were present. But as the horse were of that kind whom the French call Maistres, so we believe that each of them (according to their modern custom and that they used in Cæsar's time) had two servants at least to accompany them; we doubt not also, but besides the entire regiment of Champagne, that many volunteers and inhabitants of that 33 island served under Toiras at this time. If, therefore, the French writers strive to conceal the greatness of their forces here, it can be out of no other reason, but that the diminishing something of their own numbers would abate so much of our glory, yet because they do not envy us the name of victory, neither let them envy this, that it was too bloody even in our opinion, it being the purpose of my Lord Duke of Buckingham not so much to destroy as to chastise the Frenchmen.
They that were of their part (as men of great note) are thus recounted by Isnard. Restinglieres the brother of Toiras, the Baron of Chantaile, Novailles, Causes, la Landes, le Tablier, Bussac the son, Montaigne, Sauvigny, Heurtebie, other noblemen and light horse 60 in number, as also 150 foot: Baranfac, being attainted with the shot of a great piece, died 34 3 days after. Of the regiment of Champagne were killed Boissomier, Condamines, captains; Tertre, a lieutenant; la Bastie, ensign; Maurillan and la Bavue, being hurt, died with in a few days after. Briefly, no commander, or any other of quality, escaped without greater or lesser hurt. Thus far Isnard, pages 37 and 38. In which, lest that there should be anything which might amuse the reader, I have thought fit to note that Isnard (who follows everywhere the credit of that book, who has his title, la descente des Anglois) calls them Ferentarii, which by that author are termed Chevaux Legers, and by Cæsar and other allowed writers Celeres; but the reader may, if he please, in the epistle see my opinion concerning Ferentarii. Moreover, that which the same author terms Coup de Canon, page 33, Isnard 35 interprets Tormentarium verber: but let Isnard see whether the word verber do not signify in the singular number, properly, some long and small instrument, such as a whip, scourge, lash, or the like, (concerning which let him for me take the correction of pedants,) though in the plural number it be taken every where as the marks they give. But this by the way, Isnard, and without stripes, now peace is made between both kingdoms.
On our part likewise many of no mean account were lost, diverse also received wounds of which they died shortly after, all whose names are here set down. Sir Thomas York, Sir William Heidon, Sir Thomas Thornax, Sir George Blunditt, Captains Courtney, Glinn, Heatly, Powell, Woodhouse, Goring, Blunditt, and with them six lieutenants and ensigns of the reformed; likewise among us 36 Samblancard was slain: of our common soldiers about 200, as well by water as the sword perished, whereof the far greatest part, while they strived improvidently to leap out of their boats, were intercepted in the sea and drowned. This true number of those who perished in this service, according to the relation I had from worthy persons, I thought good to lay down here, lest I should be thought unjust unto the memory of so well deserving persons. Among the hurt which after recovered, Sir Charles Rich, Sir Edward Conway, Captains Hawly, Greenfield, Abraham, Ransford, Welcom, Thorp, Markham, and Bennet are numbered. We must not in the meanwhile pass over in silence that Isnard gives here a false account: for he says that 500 or 600 of ours were slain or drowned. But it would scarce become him to speak even of his 37 own countrymen, it being certain that not only the place of victory, but the bodies of those that were killed on either part remained in our power. But what kind of man Isnard is we may gather hereby. For whilst in the 33rd page he says that 200 of their horse were at the charge, and after in the 36th page (as being little mindful of what he said before) he says that only ten noblemen and six light horse were slain; it remains that either about 120 horse were taken by us (which no man affirms) or that he be convinced of an untruth. But there is no occasion that the words of so false a person should scandalise us. Let it suffice than that this fellow does evermore discover his ill conditions, and that his own very contradictions do sufficiently destroy one another. 38
His Excellency having in one and the same day (after a sort) transcended all military degrees, while from a novice in the wars he becomes a victor, and only not a conqueror, commands a council to be held the next day. By decree whereof, for the rendering thanks to the God of Hosts, fortifying the shore, burying the dead, landing the living (who from the decks of their ships as from a theater beheld this fight) carrying forth of victuals and habiliments of war, 3 whole days almost were consumed. For since the Isle of Rhé was seperated from the continent of France by a little channel only, and the French army not far off, it was not thought convenient to proceed 39 hastily until we were certified what number they had in the island: Isnard, therefore, deals not ingenuously with us, while he attributes that unto fear which was done by good advise and counsel. For what man of understanding can suppose our 6000 foot, and one hundred horse, to be a sufficient number to hazard themselves against the whole forces of France which might be transported into that island? Or what wise commander would march into an enemies country without such ammunition, victuals, and other provision as might be necessary?
Our men, therefore, not without good cause and policy of war, contained themselves until all things requisite for their marching forwards were in readiness and order. Let not Isnard, therefore, either in this or any other kind, detract from a victory worthy indeed the ancient honor of our 40 nation. He must be very ignorant in the wars who thinks anything harder than to land an army where the enemy attends pied firme on the shore. But this language, in such an unexpected and talkative a companion as Isnard, may easily be passed over.
While these things were doing, a young gentleman, with a trumpeter before him, comes to demand, in the name of Toiras, that the bodies of the slain might be restored and buried; who being most courteously used (as Isnard himself confesses) was remanded with a gracious answer to his request, and a present of 30 Jacobus. In example whereof to his power Toiras sends back five English, on whom he bestowed fifty crowns. Monsieur de Ambleville comes shortly after to view the bodies of his countrymen, who, as being indeed worthy of much honor, were carried for the most part 41 into the citadel of Saint Martin's, and there with all military pomp interred.
These things being performed, my Lord Duke of Buckingham thought fit to set forth in the French tongue a well-penned manifesto, that so he might the better justify the equity of his cause. Notwithstanding, both Isnard, and before him the author of the book called La descente des Anglois, says it was written in a transmarine and northern style.… There is no occasion in the meanwhile that Isnard should think so meanly of us, the Northern air not so blasting our country, but that it enjoys a kind of everlasting Spring; why, therefore, should it not be more grateful than those Southern winds, which … 42 Cicero calls pestiferous? But should I wish Isnard, therefore, his own air? No, not for all his ill language; though I would have him know the proverb of such a malapert tongue as his. Mala in se attrahit, uti Cæcias nubes. The manifesto, together with the answer belonging to it (not ill translated of Isnard) let them read for me who have leisure. In the meanwhile, for the justifying our cause, let it suffice that the reasons set down in the beginning of the book contains both those and more weighty arguments.…
This shall not hinder me yet to confess freely that this expedition was undertaken wholly without my knowledge, and not disclosed before it was fully resolved. 43 How-so-ever, I must not deny that the cause was just; yet so as by the favor of my Lord Duke of Buckingham I should say elsewhere more just, I will not say yet more opportune. Neither should it have moved me that less motives have heretofore been causes of great victories. For not always from the past, but present and even future times (be it spoken in a good hour) judgments are to be taken where the whole frame of businesses are laid before us. I did, indeed, more than once foretell that which happened, although I will not deny but the undertaking fell out worse than I could imagine; for though our slender provision for so great an affair, and other concurring circumstances, seemed to promise no great success, yet that it should prove so dommeageable [detrimental] to those in whose behalf it was enterprised, appeared 44 sufficiently by no argument.
But as events do not always answer either the counsel or causes of war, however warrantable; so perchance, neither are those of the religion brought into those straits, but that in the condition they now are, under a favorable prince, they may be thought happier than heretofore, (when they made war at home) and the public security they now enjoy may be a better protection to them than their own private.
How little part in the meanwhile I had in this business will even thus appear: that I, who was in all the occasions of war that (from my younger years until my employment in France) were offered, did not yet embrace this. It seemed indeed no way suitable for me to draw my sword against those the acquisition of whose good will and favor was part not only of my late 45 king and master's commandment, but of my own particular disposition. This I speak the more confidently that the French are not ignorant what I am, whither they call to mind my actions either in their own state or the low-countries, I am confident they will believe it was not fear that detained me. It remains that they acknowledge the true cause; neither will it hinder that I have taken in hand the writing of this history. For the whole frame thereof will sufficiently show that I do not so much write against their nation as for ours. If in the meanwhile some things may be judged more bitter than they ought, I do therein either follow the credit of my commentaries, or beat down the insolent affronts of a most injurious author. 46
At the same time my Lord Duke of Buckingham published his manifesto, he prepared to march into the island, that so his arms might maintain the dignity of his words. His whole forces consisted only of 6000 foot and 100 horse, unless you except those who perished in the late action. These he ranged in seven divisions, of which every one contained almost 900 men, for so both Merc. Fr. tom. xiii, p. 80, and Monet the Jesuit, p. 77, relates. In a round number, therefore, it will amount to our reckoning.
With this little, and that no choice, army, (for it is certain that many were but the scum of our provinces) my Lord Duke of Buckingham's brave resolution was to invade an island capable 47 of the whole French army. Neither did it affright him, that certain subtle and suborned spies affirmed that the whole island was full of armed soldiers.
But we must first give the description. Not far from Rochelle the Isle of Rhé is situated, being divided from the continent one mile or league only, and 3 from the Isle of Oleron, as Isnard relates, who takes much pains to give it the form of a horse laid on his back; if so be, says he, we take away his tail and hinder legs. Be it so, and let the author have the benefit of his halting similitude. But why does he not say he was crop-eared, too? His curtail ought sure to have his ears cut as well as tail, yet certainly he shows none in his chorography. This, therefore, should not have been omitted: for there is no question to be made how good a ferrier he is that joins 48 the forelegs of his horse unto the body with a bridge, to which, if we may believe him, la Pointe Blanche gives the hoof. But lest these should trouble the reader I have thought fit to give the form of the island as Isnard himself exhibits it. Divert your eyes then a little, reader, and behold the prodigious figure. Tollunturque pedes; ubi tandem equimentum? But we dedicate this passage to the recreation of the reader; for neither it becomes me to be serious in so ridiculous a subject, or Isnard to take that ill that is spoken in merriment, as Plautus in his Amphitruo prettily notes.
This island is fruitful enough of a certain small wine, so that both of this and the year before there was found here much plenty. Here also is made great store of salt, whereby it has diverse villages, in all which my Lord Duke of Buckingham placed 49 garrisons to keep in the islanders. But whether this half-horse plot of Isnard (which he might have said Neptune's angry trident had struck out of the sea) be so fruitful that it is to be reckoned among the fortunate islands, may well be doubted of. For those of our men who went forth, either to get timber, corn, fuel, or any forage besides sour and unripe grapes, and the shreds of vine stalks, found little provision; yet to the merchants of Rochelle this island was of great use, both that they drew a great revenue thence, as that it was adjacent to them. Therefore they did always defend it with great care.
Not-with-standing, by the means of the brave-minded and nobly born Duke of Montmorency, it was two years since brought into the subjection of his king, who prudently thought this island no less proper for his 50 purpose. Therefore he caused two citadels, near that coast of the island which adjoins to the continent, to be built. The greater, which had the name of Saint Martin's, was a royal piece, and the less, called De la Prée, was of that moment that some of our ancient and well experienced soldiers thought fit to begin with it. But the pretenders to my Lord Duke of Buckingham's favor (who after so famous a victory would represent nothing impossible unto him) did on the other side allege that the greater being taken in, the less would not long hold out. In this opinion, therefore, the other colonels, though unwillingly, were concluded; who well considering how fit a place this was to land the enemy's forces, would have begun with it first.
A messenger from Toiras hastened our departure, (as bringing word) that he 51 would come and see his Excellency shortly. But because this was thought but a device to stay and retard our going on, by break of day my Lord Duke of Buckingham leads on his forces. The cannon, therefore, being placed in the front, and his few horse on the wings of his divisions, and the baggage in the void places, our men marched straight to the town of Saint Marie's, and from thence to La Flotte, where they passed that night with much security, the enemy not so much as stirring to disturb us. The next day we marched on directly to the town of Saint Martin's, as being the chiefest of the whole island; when we were now not far of, about 100 or 120 horse discovered themselves, three appearing a little before the rest; Sir William Cunningham presently taking notice hereof steps forth with as many, and in a loud voice challenges any of them to 52 single fight, but they instantly turning back withdrew themselves to their fellows. When my Lord Duke of Buckingham was now near the town the inhabitants hung out a flag in token of submission. For the soldiers appointed to defend this place being suddenly amazed at the sight of our men fled to the citadel. The townsmen said that they were near 4000, and quartered there with that intention, that they should defend the place. This seemed confirmed by some works they had lately cast up, for the guarding of which twenty iron pieces which we found in the town were provided. It seemed strange to my Lord Duke of Buckingham that a place capable of so great a garrison was so soon yielded up to him. But he remembered thereupon that it was the ancient manner of the French to be either too forward or too slack, 53 fear drawing them as many degrees backward as temerity brought them on.
My Lord Duke of Buckingham having got this town with the ordnance, took all care possible for the security of the dwellers there. This fell out so prosperously, that they confessed to have received less harm in the space of 3 months that our men stayed there, than in a few days from their own countrymen. A little before, Soubise, accompanied with a small troop, came thither to congratulate my Lord Duke of Buckingham's victory. They were indeed valiant, but in number far short of their promises. But because my Lord Duke of Buckingham thought a peace might so much the sooner be affected, they were welcomer so than in whole regiments. There came also some noblemen shortly after, (and as all the French almost of that sort are,) men of courage, 54 but so few that they little advanced our business.
But it is time to give a description of the citadel of Saint Martin's.
The citadel (says Isnard, page 64) being of a quadrate figure, with equal sides and angles, contained every way 80 fathoms; yet in the next place he says that the sides of the citadel or square, ordinarily called curtains, from one bastion to the other, or right angle of the wings, contained 45 fathoms. But these things seem not to cohere; for if the 4 sides every way contain 80 fathoms, how can 45 describe any of them? must not either the whole be greater or parts less? These things, therefore, must 55 be attributed to the unskillfulness of Isnard, which in all military affairs does sufficiently discover itself, unless perchance while he speaks of his Orgya or fathom, you would say he sacrificed to Bacchus his Orgia. But not in one place only, while he delineates the citadel, does the gross ignorance of Isnard manifest itself: also he uses the phrase of materiarius lapis, (page 65), although no good author understands by materia, in this kind, any thing but wood, and yet not firewood, but timber. But lest we should trouble the reader with these excursions, we will propose the description of the citadel in the form in which it exhibited itself to our view.
The citadel being of a quadrate rectangular figure in itself and at the points enlarged forth, with 4 bastions or bulwarks of a kind of triquettral form, and 56 compassed on every side with a deep ditch (but where the sea washed it), contained so much space between every bastion, as a musketeer can shoot point blank; at the furthest end whereof, either casements, or at least the places where they are usually made for covering their shot, gave them the advantage of flanking their works; these bastions, which had the name of the king, queen, of Toiras and of Antioch, were of that greatness or capacity as to receive some Regiments; on the top whereof a parapet being made and fenced with baskets of earth, defended the soldiers from our shot. At the bottom of the rampart (which was raised a great height), and near the ditch, a false bray compassing the citadel was another defence to hinder our passing. On the outside whereof a counterscarpe also was placed between us and our 57 approaches to the citadel, which was so much the stronger that it was defended not only by itself but the flanks of the citadel. Beyond all this again, in parallel lines to the bastion, certain outworks (in the form of an half moon) were raised, into which they might retire themselves when they were pressed by our men, between the spaces of which certain rivelins were raised, all which being compassed with their ditches, stored with great ordnance, and somewhere mined, did much strengthen the citadel; which that it was a royal fortification, and not finished in less than 13 months, and such in conclusion as might be thought strong enough both against our and the Rochellers' forces, Isnard himself confesses [pages 29. 61]. Hereunto was added great store of ammunition, as powder, match, bullets, 58 etc. and victuals for many months, and lastly a choice garrison, consisting of 3000 soldiers, over whom Toiras (a valiant person) commanded.
Let the reader then, if he please, take this description of the citadel in good part, wherein what I have done let those who are competent judges censure. This at least I must desire, that either they would agree concerning these or other apter terms if any may be found; for while they who have taken pains in this kind, have been for the most part ignorant of the war, I have observed them not only various in their descriptions, but much mistaken in them. The miserable readers being perplexed herewith do, for the most part, attribute this diversity of style to some diversity in fortifications, whereas perchance the difference is only in the writer's expression. How much in the meanwhile may be attributed 59 to those learned men, Hugo Grotius, Herman, Hugo Daniel Heinsius, I do well understand; yet because they (not sufficiently enough) for the dignity of the argument agree herein I continue my former opinion.
The investing this strong place (so near the coast of France, that one might even discern that numerous army they had levied) was yet resolved by my Lord Duke of Buckingham with his little forces. A council in the meanwhile being called, it was debated a while whether by force and arms or famishing and want the business should be undertaken. They who were of the former opinion alleged that the French had so lost their courage in the late overthrow, that, before they could recover it again, they might be forced; that an assault might be the more easily given, since the further part of the citadel was not 60 yet finished (if we might believe some who pretended to know it); before, therefore, they could put it in defence, or that succors might come to them, that the citadel might be taken. On the other side it was objected that no enemy was so poorly spirited but that they would defend themselves in a fortified place; that the citadel was stronger than to be taken thus; that this appeared sufficiently by the half moons and outworks before it, which alone might keep us from enterprising the further part of the citadel; that either, therefore, we should pillage the more hostile parts of the island, and from thence go to ——, or to make a circumvallation with good trenches and redoubts; yet that there was danger here, lest while he fought to enclose them he might be enclosed himself by the French army. Not-with-standing that he 61 needed so much less to apprehend this, if the seamen did but their duty as they promised, this latter opinion prevailed with my Lord Duke of Buckingham, both because certain runaways had informed my Lord Duke that the French were scanted of victuals, as also that his gentle disposition inclined rather to make the French sensible of their own errors than his punishment; and the rather that they were a nation out of whose regal stock the king his master had lately taken a queen of most gracious condition and virtuous behavior.
But of these considerations, therefore, he began a circumvallation, altogether unknown to the ancients, that is to say, both by sea and land, the outward part whereof was committed to certain of our great ships, which in good order did almost compasse the island. The inner girt was made with a dike towards 62 that part which was next the enemy, having redoubts at convenient distances. There were also diverse batteries raised with gabions to defend the ordnance. These were so disposed, that, as from a higher place, they might beat both the enemies works, and keep ships from coming in to succor them. Lastly, in the villages adjoining, my Lord Duke of Buckingham bestowed some small garrisons, taken out of his slender troops, by which he might not only keep in the islanders, but hinder the enemy from surprising him. My Lord Duke did indeed herein show the greatness of his mind (but not with such success as might answer it) from a prosperous beginning, thinking all would be suitable. But those whom immoderate hopes do flatter, some unprosperous accident does, for the most part, undeceive. Besides, for a man to be equally 63 excellent in the arts of the court and of war has seldom happened in any age. In this most innocent kind of war (on which about three months time were employed) my Lord Duke of Buckingham had no greater ambition than that his friends would sufficiently acknowledge that goodness and sweetness of disposition which not so much as an enemy could deny, yet, lest he should be thought to trifle, while the lines of his approaches were drawing his cannon did so roar from all parts, that now, as if every element had been turned to a thundering place, the French ducked under their fortifications, neither could any man safely so much as show his head. 64
While these things were doing, Louis xiii. becoming sick of a fever, his people were much afflicted; for, as he was reputed among them to be a prince of great spirit, and in his own nature prone to equity, so he was much esteemed among them. In the meanwhile the Cardinal of Richelieu had the administration of affairs. he, indeed, being an active man, and fit for businesses, did so watch over all that concerned the king, that whatsoever he managed seemed to prosper; besides, it is said that he proceeded ever in clear and overt terms. This seems sufficiently testified by the estate of those of the religion in France, the Cardinal having so behaved himself towards them, that, 65 through his true dealing they have been more brought under than by others false. For while the Cardinal (as being held a man of unquestionable faithfulness) removed all doubts and scruples out of their perplexed minds, they thought it better to trust to his words than their own strength. Hereupon at least they were divided, and therein occasion given to gain or suppress them the more easily; if yet any way he might be thought to have failed, either to himself or Country, it was no way more sure than that he did somewhat slight my Lord Duke of Buckingham in his solemn ambassage to the French Court. What occasion my Lord Duke of Buckingham might give hereof I will not dispute. Only this is most certain, that the generous mind of my Lord Duke took things in so ill part, that, the hate conceived at that time being 66 not sufficiently concocted, he meditated after how he might at once (both in point of revenge and honor) repair himself.
Laying aside therefore the ancient affection he bore to that nation (which myself being Ambassador in France can sufficiently testify), and having gotten a just cause, he lost no time for the performing his intentions. The whole frame of businesses in Europe being changed hereupon, this mal entendu, which was not contained either within their own or their countries bounds, dilated itself even to many foreign and remote nations. Of so much moment it was thought to be, that these powerful persons with their princes were in ill terms with each other.
The Cardinal in the meanwhile, whom it concerned for more than one reason to provide for the security of the state, intermitted nothing which might conduce to 67 that end. Therefore he sent to Havre de Grace to make ready some ships, which Isnard, page 73, calls Dragons; to Olon, Brouage, and the inhabitants adjoining, to provide corn for the besieged; to Monsieur de Fargis, Ambassador in Spain, that the auxiliary ships which that king had promised should presently be dispatched away. Briefly, there was no port of France or the allies to it out of which (by the care of the Cardinal) some ships were not borrowed, hired, or bought; among which certain ships (which were made both for sail and oars) bought at Bayone were of great use for transporting soldiers for relief of the citadel. Moreover those ships of ours which were taken at Blay were cut lower and fitted for oars, as Isnard himself witnesses, page 78, who yet forbears to mention the treachery and Punic faith by which 68 they were first arrested. To these were joined 30 pinnaces which Monsieur de Chalard bought at the Groin in Spain for ready money. Lastly, for the equipage of that fleet, were added an incredible company of fly boats, shallops, and barges. The care of accommodating the fleet with great ordnance was committed to Monsieur de Beaumont, (an officer of note in the king's house) and the providing of victuals to Marsillac the Abbot. Moreover a council of war for sea businesses was called, to which purposes Monsieur de Beaulieu, Courcelles, Chanteloup, were chosen, where speech was had concerning the burning our fleet. Ponpeo Targone also (famous for his engines at the siege of Ostende) offered some of his designs. Together with which by new messengers the departure of the fleet from Spain was accelerated: and that all these things might be 69 done the better, in one part money was raked together, in another returned by exchange; and every where almost soldiers levied.
all which, neither was
the sea thought safe, or the land
trusty enough; so much fear had
our 6000 foot and 100 horse alone
given to all France. This terror was
not a little increased by the means
of certain posts which running up
and down the several quarters of
that Country had filled all with clamor
and tumult, affirming one
while the English were before and
sometimes behind them, near the
shore, which Isnard himself in a
sort does seem to confess, page 33,
where he says:
Lest it be sufficient
to affirm it as a thing truer than
truth itself, that in one month's
space only there were dispatched
out of the Court into sundry parts,
both of the kingdom as well as
foreign nations, about 200 several
posts and messengers. That there
is no question to be made but our
small numbers were yet thought
sufficient to exercise all France, together
with their confederates.
While these things were doing in France, my Lord Duke of Buckingham addresses a battery against certain windmills in the citadel, they on the other side raising some counter-batteries, which at first took such effect: as our pieces were awhile withdrawn; but we on the other side leveling some other pieces against their Ordnance, did at last wholly dismount and break theirs, which Isnard himself confesses, page 84, where likewise he affirms many of the besieged were slain. The same Author shortly after also affirms Monsieur de Mantyn, a skillful sea man, was sent for the conducting the Spanish auxiliary fleet by a safer way 71 than the ordinary, so that it seems it was not thought enough that both those great Princes joined their sea forces against us, unless with all much prevention and slight had been used in the conducting of their maritime forces.
A great fleet being now assembled, the Abbot of Marsillac, according to his charge, resolves that something must be attempted in the favor of the besieged. Therefore he exhorts the friends and acquaintance of Toiras to pass that narrow channel. But their hearts failing them as soon as they had launched forth a little into the sea, they joined themselves to the Convoy of Beaumont, says Isnard, page 85. The same day 72 Monsieur de Chasival, accompanied with some horse and foot, was sent by Toiras to defend certain windmills near the citadel. But some of our men encountering him, he yielded presently both himself and company; yet such was my Lord Duke of Buckingham's courtesy, that, after his being retained 3 or 4 days only with all good usage, he gave him liberty to return to the Continent. The next day another convoy, by the procurement of the Abbot, was put in order for to be transported by certain galleys. But the forwardest of them falling into our hands, the rest returned to Equillon, and, as Isnard says, were added to the convoy which came after with Beaumont.
The earth being now opened for trenches and redoubts, (which were placed at that distance that they might be within musket shot of each other) the circumvallation, 73 which began near the town of Saint Martin's, did now, in the form of a kind of semicircle, reach to the further part of the citadel, near the sea: the enemy in the meanwhile making few or no sallies to disturb us. So that we received very little harm all the time we advanced our works. It seemed strange in the meanwhile to my Lord Duke of Buckingham that the French did so easily suffer themselves to be penned up, since they were not only in great number within the citadel, but that (as the runaways constantly affirmed) they were afraid of famine. Therefore they had long since sent the Baron of Saugeon to hasten succors, who coming about this time to the French Court, and giving an account of his dispatch, was so replied unto that he thought good to change his supplications and entreaties 74 to thanksgivings. For all things were so ordered for the relief of the besieged that nothing more could be required: only he was a suitor that the care of the sending of the convoy might be committed to Beaumont, as one much affected to Toiras.
But Monke, an Englishman, did with no less cunning and dexterity come to us. For insinuating himself secretly into the French camp before Rochelle, he after got from thence into the city, and so to my Lord Duke of Buckingham; where, after he had told all those things which were committed to him, he affirmed out of common report that a huge army of French was making ready, and about 300 ships to transport them. In the meanwhile, that the auxiliary navies of their confederate might be more magnificently received, the Baron of Chabans was dispatched into 75 little Britain, with command to the Marescall de Themines that they might be entertained with all military sea-pomp. Hither also some ships (which were built in the low-countries) were to be transported.
In the meanwhile some light skirmishes happened before the citadel, with various success, we sometimes and they at others having the better. The so often assayed traject to Rhé did at last succeed well to one of the many ships which were destined for that purpose; for turning a little out of the way, at the same time that his consorts were put to flight, it at last recovered the citadel. Another also crept to the Fort de la Prée, neither was it difficult in a dark night and at unusual hours, since that wind which was proper for them must be contrary to us. Some provision being brought in this ship, the besieged took heart 76 again, and therefore they sent out some 40 horse to bring in that which came to the Fort de la Prée. But these accidentally meeting with so many of ours, after a short resistance were beaten back all save one, who escaped into the Fort de la Prée. Here, as also on other occasions, the French report that diverse of our men were slain, whereas yet I can find no such thing in my commentaries, though when an enemy is prepared, and may take his own time to give on, it cannot seem strange if they have the present advantage of it.
Lewis the xiii about this time (being somewhat recovered of his fever) after he had approved all the Cardinal's proceedings, caused also (by a way of addition to the rest) two forts to be built near Rochelle. Isnard gives the reason hereof, page 95: That if perchance our men should get the 77 island, these forts yet might keep them from farther going into the continent. Besides he thought that the Rochellers, (as people whom he trusted not) what show soever they made, would be the better kept at his devotion. For they, who, for gaining time to gather in their harvest, did at first not seem so favorable to us, now they had finished, did (as the French writers report) furnish us with victuals and munition.
The fourth essay of passage was committed to the Baron Renie, Joüy, du Clos, Artagnan, Morissac, and other chosen persons of the French nobility. These, not cunningly as the other, but directly and plainly, bent their course towards the citadel, but so as to suffer the punishment due to their rashness; for some being slain and drowned, the rest almost all yielded themselves, among whom was the Baron Renie, 78 who yet was not kept so straitly but that within 8 days he found means to escape, as Isnard himself confesses, page 96. One might hereupon quickly frame to himself a judgment of my Lord Duke of Buckingham's disposition, since between the gentleness and easiness of it none yet were taken who had not means to escape.
The circumvallation being almost finished (the enemy in the meanwhile doing little, at hand, for the interrupting of it) the reformed among us used this stratagem to draw out the enemy to fight. For being sufficiently informed that a well near the citadel, whither the garrison came often to draw water, was of greater moment than to be neglected by them, they undertook to poison it, the Baron Sauignai (a Frenchman) leading them out. Here was a hot fight, some English coming in 79 presently for seconds. At length diverse being lost there was a retreat made on either side, among whom captain Shugborough, a very valiant gentleman, having the bone of his arm broken, died shortly after. This action may seem perchance even horrible among deadly enemies, and to speak truly, I would it had been forborne; for all the rest seemed but essays of valor on either side. But because, by the confession of Isnard, page 97, the besieged were in great want of water after this time, and consequently might the sooner be brought to yield to my Lord Duke of Buckingham's mercy, there was no such extraordinary sign of malignity. It may therefore be excused, both for that reason, as that it was done openly, and without treachery and secret mischief, and in spite of the garrison, which by this means was drawn forth to fight. 80
Another French fleet, stored with victuals and ammunition, waited at the entrance of Tranche for a convenient time of passage. But hearing some of our ships lay in wait for them, they retired up the river, as far as they could. It came so to pass that their preparations (even by the confession of Isnard) were frustrated. Monsieur Lingende, who was sent into Spain, being now returned, did marvelously comfort the French with hopes of succors, affirming the Spanish fleet, consisting of 40 ships of burden and 18 galleons and galisabres, was ready to set sail; (Isnard, p. 97). The certain report hereof being brought to my Lord Duke of Buckingham, who understood 81 likewise some Dunkerkers were to join with them; it is said he spake in this sense: Because his most honored king and master had given him commission to make war with the Spanish as well as the French, it should be very acceptable to him to come to a sea fight with them both. That his little land forces were indeed inferior to either of them, but that his navy was such as he would not refuse to give them the meeting. Howsoever the event proved, neither could their differences be sooner determined, nor a fair way opened to glory.
So far yet were they from this brave resolution, that they dared not so much as assail any one of our ships which lay at anchor, dispersed between the Island of Rhé and the continent on the one part, and the Isle of Oleron on the other. They yet who consider things as they ought will 82 find, according to reason of war, that it was not so hard severally to distress our ships, it being impossible to bring the more remote (as lying on another quarter of the island) to the help of the nearer, unless they imagined a wind wheeling about and changing itself according to the occasion. Besides that the French navy did as it were every day increase, which even their own writers confess, while they remember that 16 ships, conducted by Monsieur de Sauve, and others from sundry places were daily added to their number. So far were they yet from being more courageous or ready to fight, that now they apprehended a new fear lest the Isle of Oleron should be invaded. But how could our small forces, which were scarce sufficient to make the circumvallation of the citadel of Saint Martin's, be thought able to conquer 83 another island? Is not this fear, which Isnard himself confesses, altogether panic? Not-with-standing which for the keeping hereof, besides the inhabitants and 300 gentlemen and the Regiment of Plessis Praslin sent long since, some French troops, taken from the garrison about Anjou, were (on this reason sent thither). All which succeeded the better, that the care of the island by the king's command was committed to the active Cardinal.
It being now about a month since the siege began, Isnard reports that there happened a fight near the Bastion of Antioch, where he says 100 of our men were slain; but he is surely mistaken, for I can scarce find any mention of this action in our commentaries. This is most certain, that Isnard is deceived in the number, for though they might give us some little blow, so notable a 84 defeat as this would not have been concealed by those whose credit I have followed in this relation.
My Lord Duke of Buckingham now straitly pressing the besieged, says Isnard, to the intent he might yet more and more vex and famish them, caused all the orthodoxal wives, whose husbands were either in the citadel or island to be gathered together, and when they were not received into the citadel, to be driven, beaten, killed, with more than barbarous cruelty. But Isnard deals not ingenuously with us, while suppressing the proper appellation he calls those women orthodoxal, which even himself in another place, page 130, calls Catholic. Why therefore does he use two several 85 denominations? Did he perchance fear a double construction? But my Lord Duke of Buckingham was far from giving any such occasion, for with a notable document of piety he would have every one sent to her own husband; yet Isnard makes no difficulty here to rail at my Lord Duke of Buckingham. But what judge not merely venal would think him more worthy of blame who drives and compels this wife to go to her husband, or he who refuses and rejects her? Their return was desired by us, both as it was agreeable to my Lord Duke of Buckingham's intentions that all things should be done gently, as also that by a tender commiseration of their wives they might the sooner be brought to yield. The besieged on the other side, for a double reason opposed this, both as women were unuseful for persons besieged and incommodated, as also 86 that it would increase the famine. Among so many shot therefore of all sorts, which were sent from the citadel, it seems most probable that some one of the garrison killed that woman, whose death Isnard does elegantly recount. For if it had been the design of our men to kill those poor women, why should they labor to send them to their own husbands, why should they stay but one or two, why should so much as one escape? Away therefore with the foul mouth of Isnard.
The 12/22 August, says Isnard, was received a Sytale (he should have said a Scytale, as being worthy the σχυταλη [a Greek word signifying both a letter in cypher and a cudgel], while he rails against us) written in cypher from Toiras to Beaumont, in which he signified that the mills were destroyed, and that all the meal being consumed, the soldiers 87 ate biscuit, which would not last above ten days. Isnard himself confesses that this wrought much terror among them, page 104. For remedy whereof the Duke of Angoulesme, Marillac, Beaumont, Brese, Valance were commanded that at what price soever they should relieve Toiras. Whereupon Belesbat, a captain, was charged to bring 10 ships laden with all manner of necessaries to the besieged, who, that he might have a clearer passage, resolved to send 7 ships with fire works before him to free the way.
Briefly, the French employed all their endeavors not so much to chase the English from the island by force, (how-so-ever Isnard's book bears the title of Fuga Anglorum) as to relieve the fort. But diverse brave and expert commanders among the French alleged that in holding this course they did not only much 88 depart from the ancient honor of their nation, but offended even against the laws of military discipline. Therefore they persuaded the putting off all delay in this kind, since neither the English had ever so little an army in France, or the French (since man's memory) a greater. That their forces (consisting of 30,000 at least) were able both to drive away the enemy and to block up Rochelle. That this could be doubted of none that considered the strong and large circumvallation (fortified with redoubts every where) which was made before that town. That these therefore being well manned, the rest might be transported into the Island of Rhé. That so they might send an army triple in number to the English, to which those of the island and garrison yet might be added. That the execution hereof for diverse 89 reasons should be hastened, but for none more than lest the English might have time to reinforce themselves. That emulation for the late victory (gained at Samblancen), as well as hope of rich booty, would quickly draw more company: neither could they doubt it, the English being in speech already of sending a colony thither. Before therefore their new levies could arrive, that they should at one and the same time invade them both out of the continent, the Isle of Oleron, and the citadels adjoining. Neither could it hinder them that our ships rode at anchor about the island, since they were both much scattered, and no wind could blow whereby they might assemble all together. Besides, that the night was the fittest time for this enterprise: by the benefit whereof, especially in so short a cut, all might be done with that speed and 90 advantage that the English would not have leisure so much as to gather their spirits to them. That if they took any other resolution, that the supply which we daily expected would be brought in that number to the island that no power could expulse them, especially if those of the religion in France had time to take arms and join with the English.
This was, indeed, bravely spoken, and according to the true maxims of war, but little followed; for so much fear (I will not say terror, with Isnard, page 104) had invaded the French that they dared undertake nothing before we had voluntarily resolved a departure, and carried all our great ordnance on shipboard. Therefore pretending now one, and shortly after some other excuse, they lurked in their strong places for 3 months space together, which was never done by them in 91 any former age; but with what slackness and constraint let those heroes tell who do not envy us our glory. But Isnard says, page 105, that to perform so great an exploit, and to besiege Rochelle too, the king had not (to use his phrase) legitimas vires. But let the reader judge hereof, for we will not everywhere examine the author's solicisms.
About this time the Duke of Orleans, the king's only brother, came to the French army, to whom (it seems by Isnard, page 106) power was given to transport into Rhé 3000 soldiers out of Oleron; he speaks also a little before of 6000. Howsoever there was nothing done at that time for the relief of the besieged, the cause whereof neither does Isnard teach, nor myself require at his hands. Let it suffice that it was not through this generous Prince's fault if anything 92 that might be for the honor of France were omitted.
About this time a letter was delivered from the French king to Toiras, by which he marvelously comforted him with promises of help, and did as it were exhort those of the garrison by name to do their duties, whereof you may find more, Isnard, page 107 and 108. The Bishop of Nismes in the meanwhile, brother to Toiras, perceiving how slowly succors were transmitted by Beaumont and others who had charge thereof, hires Desplan with money to relieve his Brother, as Isnard relates, page 108; he writes also to Beaulieu, an expert sea captain, giving him hope of a very 93 great reward, if he transported victual to the island. The Cardinal also the same day sent an obligation or bond, signed with own name, wherein he covenants to give him 10,000 livres that would pass to the besieged with victuals. Neither was this the only time that the Cardinal used those means. For he had written before in the same sense (which Isnard calls aliud idem) to Beaumont, p. 109. Was it perchance that since prayers and threats availed not that his French might be induced with hope of gain? How-so-ever, it is very certain that nothing was undertaken in favor of the hungry garrison till a long while after.
The autumn now growing on, the earth was so moistened with frequent rains that the soldiers on either side had no ground but mire to do their duties in. This indeed was incommodious 94 for the garrison, unless they were covered with huts or planks, but altogether grievous to us; who, being of a more tender and delicate constitution, did hardly endure to watch in dirty places and the open air. Hence were engendered ill habits of their bodies, which had their conclusion in catarrhs, diseases of the lungs, burning fevers and dysenteries: our numbers hereupon were so diminished that they could scarcely be made up again by supplies sent afterwards both from England and Ireland. For our country so abounds with all manner of dainties, which either the soil brings forth or merchants bring in, that it hardly brooks the delicates of any one region. When therefore they come out of the temperate and mild air of their country they scantly endure the unequalities of other climes, unless perchance they be 95 born in the rougher parts of it. Let the reader, therefore, accept this as the true reason why our men were wanting in so great a number; for it is certain that but a few were killed by the French garrison; they being so far from making sallies, to this purpose, that for the most part they contained themselves within their fortifications.
Yet by the rules of war another course should have been held. For since they in the citadel were more than enough to defend the place, and besides stood in no little danger of famine, whether the loss had fallen on our side or the garrison's, it would have been no little for the Advantage of that king's affairs. Moreover, it seemed not difficult to surprise our men, it being in their power suddenly to assail us as often as they would; for since the proportion of the besiegers to the besieged should be at least 4 96 to 1, ours were hardly one-and-a-half. Hereto might be added that the garrison of the Fort de la Prée behind us, and some of the island on our sides, or rather on every part, laid wait for us. Let not the French, therefore, boast as if they proceeded so like brave fellows in every point.
Toiras, when the siege had now continued 5 weeks, says Isnard, page 110, and all the shallops had gone out happily which belonged to the Fort, sent certain counterfeit spies, whereof some were instructed with letters, others by word of mouth, who, though most faithful to their king, should yet affirm themselves runaways,among whom at this time, or certainly not long before, my commentaries say there was one sent to kill my Lord Duke of Buckingham, whereof yet there is no mention among the French writers, although the party 97 not only confessing the fact, but signing it with his hand, should not have been concealed by them. I must be so far yet from believing that he was hired for this purpose by Toiras, that I am confident his generous heart abhorred all such assassinates. In the meanwhile, let it suffice that this man discovered himself by his own testimony, who showing withal the knife wherewith he was to stab my L. Duke, left no occasion to doubt of the truth any longer. My Lord Duke of Buckingham did indeed escape at this time, but because among his own countrymen he suffered not long after in the same kind, it seemed this death was not so much taken away now as deferred, and that the omen was given only at this time.
Three soldiers were now persuaded by Toiras that they should swim over this narrow cut. One of them failing in his courage or 98 strength came to us, another being intercepted in the waves perished, the third swimming over arrived at the Fort near Rochelle half dead, from whence creeping along the ground, not unlike some vermin, he performed the rest of his journey; insomuch that coming at last to the army, he told his king the estate of the besieged, to whom, as well deserving both of king and country, was given an annual pension. That these messages yet were not answered Isnard himself testifies, p. 113. But might not the shallops which were sent by Toiras return the same way they went, especially the cut being so narrow as a soldier might swim it over? Let the ingenuous reader judge hereof. In the meanwhile, it was not without need that Toiras demanded help from his Master, for the meal being much perished, and the mills 99 put out of order or broken, it was not possible, says Isnard, page 103, to furnish daily 3,000 loaves of bread, which he calls dupondy (and is understood to serve a whole day at least) that thereupon we might conjecture the number of the garrison. Isnard, p. 103, striving to express this scarcity, as also the want of planks for making huts, among other arguments of their calamities, says he, there wanted even tiles for their tents. But what buffoon could have said anything more ridiculous? For he seems to infer that the tents should have tiles to cover them, when not so much as boards well joined together have need of them. Howsoever, that they were in far better state with their 5,000 planks (which Isnard can not deny, page 103) than our men that had nothing to defend them from ill weather, the reader will easily imagine.
The 100 runaways every day now more and more coming to my Lord Duke of Buckingham, he thought it not amiss to salute Toiras with an epistle in this sense:
Le desir que J'ay de tesmoigher en toutes occasions combien J'estime et prise les personnes de qualitè et merite, me fera tousjours proceder en leur endroit, avec toutes fortes de Courtesie. J'estime que je me suis comportè jusqu'icy en vostre endroit de cette forte, autant que la loy des Arms me l'a peu permettre. En continuation de quoy, avant que la fuitte des affairs m'oblige a prendre d'autres Conseils et changer de procedure, J'ay trouve bon de vous exhorter a la consideration de 101 vos necessites, lesquelles vous aves desjà endurè avec grande Patience, et vostre Courage vous pourroit porter a L'extremite, sous les vaines esperances de secours au prejudice de vour scureté. Pour ces causes et pour le regret que J'aurois de vous voir arriver plus grand desplaisir, nous avons jugè convenable de vous convier a vous rendre entre nos mains, avec ceux qui sont de vostre compagnie et sous vostre charge, ensemble les places par vous occupees, sous des conditions que vous ne deves esperer a l'advenir, si vous m'obliges a poursuivre les moyens que J'ay en mains pour accomplir mes desseins, et que vous portes les affairs à l'extremitè. Surquoy attendant vostre response Je demeure,
Monsieur, Vostre tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur,
That desire I have to witness upon all occasions how much I esteem and prize those who are persons of quality and merit will cause me likewise to proceed towards them ever with all manner of courtesy; I think that I have behaved myself so towards you until this time as far as the law of arms would permit. In continuation whereof, before the consequence of affairs obliges me to take other counsels, and change my proceeding, I have thought good to exhort you to take into your consideration those necessities you have already endured with great patience, and your courage may perchance bring you to extremities (under vain hope of succors) to the prejudice of your safety. For these causes, and for the grief I should have to see any greater misfortune arrive unto you, we have judged it convenient to invite you to render yourself unto us, 103 together with those who are of your company, and under your charge, as also the places held by you, (under those honorable conditions which you are not to expect hereafter) if you oblige me to use those means that are in my hands to accomplish my designs, and that you bring things to extremity. Whereupon attending your answer, I rest,
Your thrice humble and thrice obedient Servant,
The letter being received which, according to the copy printed in French, I have here exhibited, Toiras not staying long, writes after this manner:—
Vos courtesies sont cognues de tout le Monde, et estant faites avec le Jugement que vous y apportes, elles doibvent estre principallement 104 attendues de ceulx qui sont des bonnes actions. Or je n'en trouve point de meilleure que d'employer sa vie pour le service de son Roy. Je fuis icy pour cela, avec quantitè des braves gens, dont le moins resolu ne croiroit pas avoir satisfait a foy mesme, s'il n'avoit surmonte toutes sortes des difficultes pour ayder a conserver cette Place. Ainsi ni le desespoir de secours, ni la crainte d'estre mal traite en une extremitè, ne me scauroient fair quitter de si genereux dessein. Et je me sentirois indigne d'aucune des vos faveurs, si j'avois obmis un feul point de mon devoir en ceste Action, dont l'issue ne me peut estre que sort honnorable. Et d'autant plus que vous aures contribuè a cette gloire, d'autant plus seray Je oblige d'estre a toujours,
Monsieur, vostre tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur,
Your courtesies are known over all the world, and being done with that judgment which you bring, they ought to be attended chiefly of those who do good actions. Now I know none better than to employ one's life for the service of their prince. I am here for this purpose, with a number of brave fellows, the most irresolute of which would not believe he had done as he ought if he did not surmount all difficulties to conserve this place; so that neither despair of succors, nor fear of being ill-used in an extremity, can make me leave of so generous a design. And I should think myself unworthy your favors, if I omitted one only point of my duty in this action, of which the conclusion can not be but very honorable, and by how much more you shall contribute to 106 this glory, so much more shall I be obliged always to remain
Your thrice humble and thrice obedient servant,
These most courteous letters were seconded with many arguments of a kind of goodwill, so that the diligent author, Mer. Franc, tom. xiii. page 860, says that never war was more composed to civility and elegance of manners. To this purpose Isnard says, page 117, that Toiras demanded of my Lord Duke of Buckingham's messenger whether any melons (which Isnard, instead of Melopipones or Melipepones, calls only Mellones) were kept in the island, which my Lord Duke of Buckingham understanding sent him a dozen. Toiras, having received them, rewards the messenger with 107 20 crowns, and the next day sent 6 bottles of Citron flower water and 12 little boxes of powder de Cypres, who, lest he should be behind hand in liberality, gave the messenger 20 Jacobus. Briefly, businesses were then so carried, as somebody said, the friendship seemed serious, and war but for pastime and exercise only.
The supplies now coming out of England and Ireland, with Sir Rafe Bingley and Sir Piers Crosby brought, My Lord Duke of Buckingham did not yet think fit to change his opinion of winning this place by famine. There wanted not yet diverse commanders who thought fit to invest the Forte de la Prée, which one Monsieur Barriere defended; but because many of our soldiers were dead, and others sick, our numbers were thought insufficient for both purposes.
Therefore my Lord Duke of Buckingham continued his first 108 resolution. After therefore he had compassed the citadel with a trench and redoubts, he raised a kind of movable mount in the sea, made of the keels and bottoms of ships: this being fastened with Anchors, and 7 great pieces of ordnance placed on the top of it, with gabions to defend them, was conducted so towards the fort, as well for a shelter of our longbows as that it might with more advantage beat the sides of the auxiliary ships, which might be sent to relieve the citadel. This engine at first was thought to be of great moment for keeping the Enemy from our shore. But at last it being bruised and shattered with the winds and force of the waves, it came to nothing. Then my Lord Duke of Buckingham caused huge masts and long pieces of timber, fastened together with cables, to be extended to a great length, 109 between the citadel and the continent. But by the force of the sea this also was unjoined and broke in pieces. Then certain ships were tied one to another by ropes, which some empty barrels did so bouy as according to their motion they might either sink or swim. But because in stormy weather these were not thought to ride so safely, he commanded them with all speed to be separated and set loose. Lastly, our seamen sank some lesser ships, loaded with great stones, near the port, but not either in such quantity or number as that all passage was shut up from the enemy.
Sixteen ships about this time being gotten in Spain, and on their way to France, met first with six of our ships, and afterwards with four. They were yet so far from fighting with us, that, flying away first from these and afterwards from the other with more diligence, they escaped into a haven adjoining, without having received any great harm. The Abbot Marsillac, in the meanwhile, being mindful of his duty, prepares another fleet in favor of the besieged, committing the charge thereof to Valin. But what care soever he took he could scarce find any mariners. The reason hereof Isnard gives, page 125: There lay along all the coast many dead bodies of mariners 111 which the sea had cast up. These, having been taken by the English and thrown into the sea, had their arms and legs so tied together that they might not escape with swimming. The filthy carrion (says the same author) were such a terror to the Mariners, already corrupted by the inhabitants of Sable d'Olone, (being of the religion) that they could by no means be persuaded to go on shipboard. But neither here can we give entire credit to Isnard, at least if he pretend that this was our usual manner; for although the sea favors and spares none: though the low-countrymen hold no quarter with the Spaniard on that part: though it be the common custom of the French themselves to sacrifice unto the ocean those they take in it; yet that this was not done by us to all or everywhere is sufficiently known. For that many 112 captives and prisoners taken by sea being most gently used, had leave to return again, and others also deceiving their easy keepers, escaped away to the citadel, even the French authors themselves do not deny. As for the rest of that which Isnard says, it seems not very probable, for why should those of the reformed religion give gifts to those whom fear had already corrupted? Would not this appear like powdering of meat already rotten? But some of them being at last cast into bonds and fetters, the lesser fear it seems was exhausted by the greater, for of two wounds one receives the greater only is painful; with these, therefore, and 13 masters he undertakes the passage. Among those who accompanied him, the son of the Baron Sangeon, Taraub, Cursolles, Chanteloup, Salieres, Perontel, Besattes, Coimpes, 113 Du Lac, are reckoned, every one of which had the command of a ship.
But something is to be said before hand of our navy: it consisted in general either of great ships of burden, or of catches and long boats. The French ships, on the other side, (which were of a middle size, between both these, and made use both of sail and oar) had advantage on the first sort in swiftness, and of the latter in strength. Besides, in dark and unusual hours of night, and when the sea was somewhat rough (or at least in a great calm) the passage was for the most part undertaken, (a link which was kindled on the top of the citadel showing the way) using therefore both sail and oars, and fetching a compass sometime about our great ships which rode at anchor, and at other times being past them before they were aware, they did 114 strangely avoid us; while our little skiffs and long boats in vain pursued them that they could by no means overtake. It came so to pass that our cannon, in that dark season and high-grown sea, shot higher for the most part than to touch their ships. If, in the meantime, any of our ships weighed anchor, with intention to chase the French, they lost their labor, for they ever got into the haven before our ships could overtake them. There is no cause, therefore, that the reader should imagine the French did anything either hazardous or difficult, which may be urged by the example of Ostend; for at the siege of that town both the Low Countrymen and our ships, in full daylight (not-with-standing the opposition of Bucquoy, who had placed his cannon directly in the entry of the channel) brought relief to the 115 besieged; whereas the French never by daylight, no, nor by night neither, when there was any moonshine, attempted a passage.
This fleet of Valin's, having gotten a fit time for sailing, launches forth into the deep, Sangeon trying out the way a little before the rest. It happened that night, about the second watch, that there was some glimmering of light, by the benefit whereof Valin, being come somewhat near our ships, sees only 4 of his in consort; he thrice shows a light, says Isnard, to call on the rest, but not so much as one appearing, he retires to the entrance of the river Tranche, being little careful of Sangeon that went before him. Sangeon, again not seeing Valin, takes another way to return to the continent. This also was done by Cursolles not long after. At length Valin, meeting with 7 ships of his company, joins 116 them with his, and changing his course makes for the citadel by the way of the sea called Savage, being little uncertain of his steerage as long as the link burnt in the top of the citadel. Besides, it happened at that time there was few or no guards kept on that part, so that without receiving any great harm he arrived about the 2d hour of the 3d watch. But Sangeon did not so, for a few days after essaying the same way he came into our hands. The Garrison being by this means refreshed, and so becoming more cheerful in their duties, Toiras sent away with Valin the sick, wounded, and Catholic women, says Isnard, page 130, (who now suppresses the name of Orthodoxal) which the enemy had forced into the Citadel. Likewise Ambleville was sent to the Duke of Orleans; with the ebb therefore of the night 117 tide they departed with much silence, keeping all along the coast of the Island, till slipping by and escaping both our greater ships and long boats, they made their way for the continent. This supply was thought to be of great moment, not so much yet because it brought victuals and carried away the unuseful numbers, as because it discovered the way to the citadel; for so Isnard seems to say, page 131. And more hope was conceived hereof that Valin had not only told his countrymen that he could as oft as he pleased go to the Citadel, but named a day to Mr Hashburnham (of whom straitways) on which he said in despite of us he would bring another convoy. Our seamen being angry herewith looked a little better to their business, and therefore on the 2/12 August took certain ships laden with corn and provision, having first 118 killed or wounded all the soldiers or mariners in them.
All the provision which the island afforded being by this time almost consumed, victuals were not gotten but at a dear rate. Our soldiers therefore desired rather to have part of their allowance in meat than money. Businesses were now brought to that pass that the famine we had prepared for others was ready to fall on ourselves. The often demanded and more often promised supplies out of England were long since expected, but in vain, the winds, or men who had order to provide them being still adverse. Our new soldiers hereupon were neither so patient or stout-hearted 119 that they could either sufficiently obey or resist these necessities, whereupon some little grudgings of sedition and tumult appeared among them. My Lord Duke of Buckingham, that he might free himself from these difficulties, thinks fit to send Mr Hashburnham, his kinsman, into England, and that nothing might stay him a fair occasion seemed offered. For Toiras being encumbered in the same kind, desires leave that Monsieur de Sanfurin might pass from the citadel to the French court, and so return back, which, that he might obtain the more easily, he cunningly seemed to give some hope of yielding. My Lord Duke of Buckingham approves it, so that it might be lawful for his kinsman to take his journey through France, the passage to England from thence being so commodious that no wind could blow which would not serve 120 to bring him on our coast: that unless he might be assured hereof the agreement not to hold; for it was no reason they should prevail themselves of an advantage wherein there concurred no benefit to us.
These things being approved on, they both being carried in an English ship to the next port of the Continent, take post horse and ride together to Paris. Sanfurin hasting presently to the Court, delivers the state of affairs in the citadel; which being done, he told them the agreement concerning his journey and Mr Hashburnham's: with all, he says, that Mr Hashburnham might perchance say those things which would not be displeasing to the king. Hereupon a council was called about the receiving Mr Hashburnham, the king, queen mother, the Cardinal of Richelieu, and other prime persons of France 121 assisting. At last it was agreed, with one consent, that it was not for the dignity of France to hear anything from him as long as the English army remained in their coast. It was ordered besides that no man should see him unless he first obtained leave from the king. The French yet were not so negligent but that they thought good to sound his intentions. For which purpose they employed Monsieur de Botru, to whom, among other things, Isnard says he uttered these things: If they would make but one overture of ending the difference between both nations, that he would second it with a dozen, which he doubted not would be acceptable to the French king. Mr Hashburnham (who is my author in this relation) does not remember he said any such thing. But let it be granted; he did not yet so much propose a 122 peace in these words as inquire into the Frenchmen's disposition concerning it; for so the words sound, even as Isnard himself recites them. He therefore admits no beginning of Treaty which the French did not first project. Upon these terms, if equal conditions were offered, he promises fair, if otherwise, not so much as a word. His country's honor was dearer to him than that he would prostitute it upon any occasion.
But let that be granted too, that my Lord Duke of Buckingham desired peace (although so much can not be gathered out of Isnard's words) it was the end and scope of the war; yet was it not so much to us as to his own people that my Lord Duke of Buckingham wished that king to grant a peace. So that the civil wars of France might have a happy conclusion, he might say, there would be no further molestation 123 on our part; if therefore he desired favor, it was not in the behalf of the English, but of the French themselves. Why then should the vain orator break out in these words, page 135: That my Lord Duke desired among the French a less shameful color for his departure, and a more honest conclusion of the war by his kinsman? For when he left the island, he did with the small remainder of his slender forces (even by the Frenchmen's own confession) offer them battle.
Mr Hashburnham now, (according to agreement) lest he should be defrauded of his purposes, demands leave that he might go to England; but the French refuse. Then Mr Hashburnham disputes the point. At length all he could obtain was that he might have leave to return again with Monsieur Sanfurin into the Isle of Rhé. The reason of 124 this changed course Isnard seems to give in these words, page 136: Lest perchance by a rumor of peace the Frenchmen's might be somewhat slackened, and the eagerness to war in them should languish and decay. Perchance also they thought that if Mr Hashburnham went to England Sanfurin should not be admitted to return into the citadel. But there is no reason that for any, much less a slight cause, the public faith should be violated, even among enemies. In the meanwhile my Lord Duke of Buckingham was too much wronged even with this suspicion; yet cackling Isnard doubts not here again to lay to my Lord Duke of Buckingham's charge the English Punic faith, because, forsooth, he did not permit Sanfurin, who returned with Mr Hashburnham, to enter the citadel. But who, unless he were the most Punic of 125 Mankind, could think it just that Sanfurin, being not only instructed with all things necessary, but laden even with salves and unguents, (which he carried in the lining of his clothes) should have free passage to the citadel, and Mr Hashburnham, who lost his labor, and was besides affronted, should be kept back from his intended Journey. But Isnard complains that Monsieur Sanfurin was detained: but what kind of detention was it? Not that he should suffer the condign punishment of the violated agreement; but in a while after his coming to sit at my Lord Duke of Buckingham's table, to be treated nobly, gently, sumptuously; therefore let not Isnard with his foul language wrong the English, being such a man as I can not tell whether to call him a greater Halophant or Sycophant. Besides that telling his own 126 faults in others names, he seems to personate someone who is not only out of his proper outward habit but inward understanding.
Monsieur de Taraub (who Isnard says was dispatched about the 15 of September) coming near this time to the French Court, proposed, in conformity of Toiras's advice, that some forces might be sent to the Fort de la Prée, which through supine negligence remained all this while unattempted; that this being done, lines might be drawn and fortifications made (that way which led to our camp) which might lodge an army ten times greater than ours. That so breaking forth at once out of all parts, our men 127 might be killed, or at least chased out of the island. To this purpose that 200 ships should be brought together, in which both victuals and men might be carried to the Fort de la Prée, (for so says Isnard, page 138) for it was not to be suffered that our men should so long habituate themselves in this island. This was indeed bravely spoken, and like a soldier, but to such as little followed the advise. For though the equal reader may find the French ships were double in number to ours, (for we had but a hundred, as I related towards the beginning of this work) yet dared they hazard neither land nor sea fight with us.
This may seem the stranger, since if the French pontons (for so Cæsar calls these ships) were an under match to our ships of burden, why yet might they not serve to carry over the Army before Rochelle? 128 It being certain that (after the circumvallation with the redoubts, which was made before that town was finished) their army had little to do, especially since others again were added; so that it was now girt about with 13 great forts or scances, by which means all their sally-ports were so blocked up that it was impossible for the Rochellers to molest them. My Lord Duke could never, therefore, sufficiently wonder that this forward nation in all ages did so put of their business that they dared exploit nothing in the open field, until our ordnance was carried into the ships and our best men lost in the last assault; yet, if they examine the business as they ought, they will find the island was of greater consequence than that they should further it to be brought into that danger; for it being conquered it was not hard to 129 get Oleron, and from thence to make inroads in their country. Then the way to Rochelle also lay open. Besides, it might have been kept (as long as the English were stronger by sea) even in despite of France; and that it should be so kept, our merchants alone (so they might have enjoyed the benefit of the wines and salt) would have undertaken.
Not-with-standing which, if Valin had not beyond hope and fear by an unimaginable way come unto the citadel at the time he did, the island had been lost. Neither was this the only good fortune which happened to the French. For unless the ships which arrived after to the succor of the Fort, being got past our guards in that dark season, had been taken for ours, until they had made the haven of the citadel, even famine itself would have constrained Toiras to 130 yield. How slow or dull, therefore, his countrymen were all this 3 months space Isnard himself does seem to teach, page 83, who, being as it were transported beyond himself, says, in his pathetic manner, that an unexpected and incredible felicity had happened to the French at length; lest in the mean while the counsel of Toiras (of expelling our men by force) should utterly seem to be rejected, great store of planks for building of huts, mattocks, spades, shovels, etc., for entrenching their men, were brought to the Fort de la Prée from the continent; but for show and ostentation only, for that really the French did then intend no such thing the very interposed time convinces sufficiently, besides Isnard himself seems to confess it, page 143, while he says it was then only resolved that 500 soldiers, with a 131 new supply of victuals, should be sent to the citadel of Saint Martin's. And that this might be effected, Taraub was sent to the Duke of Angoulesme (a man inferior to none in his Country). More-over, Lewis xiii, being now recovered from his long sickness, to the intent he might give better order for his affairs, resolved to go to the leaguer before Rochelle. In the meanwhile he writes to Toiras that he would send him the names and surnames of all those who were with him in the citadel; this letter, dated St Germans, 6/16 September, 1627, least it should miscarry, was copied out, and delivered to two several messengers to carry, that at least one might be delivered: Isnard says both came.
The French having gotten courage now by the noise of the king's setting forth, attempted the passage to the citadel thrice in the space of 132 ten days, expert seamen I doubt not being chosen for this purpose: yet Isnard passes over their names, because being repulsed by our men they retired to the town and river of Saint Benoit, as he says, page 151. The joy for this happy success was allayed by the death of Sir John Bourroughes, for that valiant Colonel (particularly renowned at the siege of Frankenthal) while he viewed the soldiers' works, being shot with a musket bullet, was hardly brought to his lodging; my Lord Duke of Buckingham here upon comes to see him, being then near his death, and asks whether he desired anything of his king and master, either in his own or friends' name, but he replying only that he had cast away all care of human affairs died resolutely. The 3rd day after the last repulsed fleet, Maupas, the son of Richardier, being followed with 133 many ships, assays the passage again, and in the dead time of the night attempts a way unto the citadel; yet only Mesnil had the fortune of it; for whilst our men, who had driven away the rest, did in striving together hinder each other to take him prisoner, he escaping by the benefit of oars, got into the haven. The sea being now ebbed our men ran to the shore to set this ship on fire, the garrison sallying forth on the other side to defend it; upon which followed a sharp fight in a place much disadvantageous for us; at length, upon the part of the French, Montferrier, brother to Toiras, and diverse others were killed, some of good sort also among ours being slain. Neither could it be otherwise, for since all the sands lay open to the shot of the citadel, they had out of their defences a fair mark than that they 134 could miss, yet were our soldiers so exasperated by the death of Sir John Burroughes, that they had not easily retired but for the sea coming in. The 8th day after, another navy was sent, but the commanders' names are purposely omitted by Isnard; for though the French were beaten back very often, yet there was no repulse more notable than this, for of that great fleet, not only 7 were taken or burnt, (as our commentaries report) but the rest chased with that fury that our men, landing at Equillon, did in the sight of a troop of horse kill diverse of the French.
The English now breaking into the continent had cast that fear on the French that neither on the one side they dared hope, or on the other side send supplies; Toiras therefore thinks of yielding, and so much the rather that he foresaw bread would fail them within 4 days, (as Isnard out of his commentaries relates) though, says the same author, by testimonies publicly given, the letters which Toiras sent the king, and the supplies lately brought, it is not credible that things were at that pass. But there is no reason that Isnard should lay to the charge, even of his own countrymen, the Punic faith upon so slight conjectures. Therefore, we freely confess, the garrison was in 136 great want of all things. There came, indeed, in Mesnil's ship some provisions, but so little that it scarce satisfied the hunger they had gotten by their continual labors; we believe, therefore, this store was consumed in a few days, if not hours; there coming in the meanwhile to us (which Sir Henry Palmer brought) some provision, whereof Toiras was not ignorant, so that it hastened his determination of yielding.
In this state of affairs Toiras sends some who had charge to speak with my Lord Duke of Buckingham concerning making of a peace; but these having negotiated in vain, certify Toiras at their return, that my Lord Duke of Buckingham would admit no treaty, but only of yielding the citadel. There happened in the meanwhile a hot skirmish near an old wall between the town and citadel of Saint Martin's, 137 wherein some on either part were slain, among whom the Baron Renye (who, contrary to his promise of being a good prisoner, fled from us) was killed, as Isnard relates, page 154. Toiras now lay sick of a disease that had held him about a month; being thus unable to undergo his charge, he calls the colonels, captains, and soldiers, whose fainting and weak courages that he might a little sustain and quiet, he promised to yield, unless succors came within eight days, says Isnard in plain terms, page 155. It fell out so that when the king, the duke his brother, and Cardinal, did think of succoring the citadel the besieged thought of rendering it up, the time now coming (says Isnard, page 156) that Toiras was bound to yield by promise to the garrison, whose consternation and fear caused much trouble.
By his commandment, says 138 Isnard, Monsieur de Montand goes to my Lord Duke of Buckingham, and is said to have spoken in this sense: That my Lord Duke of Buckingham was such a person that the garrison ought not so much to make as receive the conditions of surrendering from him. That they might hope of better upon these terms from so noble a disposition as his, than even the law of arms would permit. Lastly, that I may use Isnard's words, page 156: he asked what conditions his Excellency did please to prescribe. It troubled my Lord Duke of Buckingham (being thus for the rest a victor) to be overcome with any ingenuity, and now that his arms had gotten him dignity enough, he a little envied the Frenchmen even their humility; composing himself therefore wholly unto clemency and elegance of manners, he thus replied, (as Isnard says in these words 139 following): That he nothing doubted but they were men of more courage in themselves and fidelity to their king, than that they would yield before extreme necessity compelled them; not-with-standing, because they were generous he would give them equal and worthy conditions, which the next day following as he thought most fitting he promised to declare unto them.
The space indeed was but short for both, especially for my Lord Duke of Buckingham; for while sometimes he thought it a brave thing to conquer and subdue, and then again it seemed no less glorious to spare the prostrate and reduce them to better sense, he was in no little perplexity how to behave himself, but how unseasonably, that I may not say carelessly, the event seemed to teach. For it seemed at that time neither of both ways was resolved. This may 140 be urged out of Isnard's words in the same page; for when the next day after (which was the Nones of October) Montand being sick, Soubran and Stanse were sent to receive from him the conditions on which they were to yield, as Isnard confesses clearly and without any evasion; the gentle and at that time over-facile Lord Duke of Buckingham, says Isnard a little after, replied that they should propose to him what they desired; that is to say, the conditions he had promised to declare, he did as it were restore back and redeliver unto their power. Our Lord Duke did perchance think the French were brought to that necessity that he had spare time to dally a little with them, for certainly he did not believe that forts could be taken with that language with which he would win affection and good will at some entry; Isnard therefore, not without 141 exultation, breaks forth into these words in the same page: The Supreme Arbiter of all things, that he might deliver the besieged from that great danger, so blinded the sense and mind of the enemy, that, in an affair so sudden and opportune, as nothing could be more hurtful than delay, he did yet seek occasion of deferring it. How much more readily had one more expert and wise presently set down the conditions of surrendering, and in one answer (if possible) brought so uncertain a business to a conclusion and certainty.
Isnard is not here much mistaken, for it seems the divine providence could not, or at least ought not, do more. For there was no want on that part if our desires took not effect. This time, therefore, being part, fate did as it were change itself, and instead of being favorable unto us, turned on the other side; 142 such is the vicissitude of things that those occasions we neglect others lay hold of; the slippery state of human affairs devolving (as it were) on others what-so-ever is not sufficiently held and appropriated by us. There is indeed one, but that for the most part a precipitate moment, allotted for the attaining our desires, which being past we in vain require. Lastly, the eternal counsels of things lie hid in the majesty of infiniteness, with which the will of man so complies that what to us yet unresolved seems indifferent, is so accepted before that tribunal, becoming then only necessary when our election has determined it, the inferior causes so conspiring with the superior: yet my Lord Duke of Buckingham, least he should seem to be slack, when he desired only to appear courteous, thought good a little to contract the 143 time; therefore he allowed 3 hours only for digesting their demands and bringing them to him, for we were not then ignorant of certain lights kindled in the continent of France and given by way of signal, nor of a wind which blew well for the bringing over supplies. Moreover Toiras, who with the changing of the wind seemed to change his resolution, that he might a little protract this time, sends a drum to tell my Lord Duke of Buckingham there were 4 sorts of men in the citadel, priests, voluntaries, soldiers, and islanders, that there was not time to capitulate for all these, therefore he desired to have respite till the next day.
But my Lord Duke of Buckingham thought this delay little agreeable to the protestations of the French, for he admitted no difference among them but such as his own indulgence might vouchsafe, 144 therefore he caused the cannon to be shot, and wild fire and grenades to be cast into the citadel. It troubled some of the garrison not a little to find my Lord Duke of Buckingham thus offended with them. Therefore, having complained awhile of their hard fortune they after not so much as muttered; for they feared to be taxed of discourtesy and ingratitude, and in that regard to receive a greater punishment. In the meanwhile, says Isnard,page 158, whither famine urged them or some grievous ill pressed them, the besieged were brought to that straight that they attended the next day after the Nones of October for making of conditions and yielding the Citadel, or, as it is more clearly set down in the margin of the book, the besieged against the next day meditated on the conditions of surrendering and the surrendering itself. They dared 145 now no more provoke the gentle disposition of my Lord Duke on peril of their lives.
But in this desperate and only not lost state of things, 29 ships, laden with soldiers and victuals, arrived to them. Isnard says here, in his pathetic manner, Deum adfuisse e Machina. But with Lucian he should have said more aptly, θεον εχ μη&chiανης επι τω χ&alphaρχησιω χαθεζομενον [I thought this one was chosen for me by fate as a god from the machine], unless perchance with Plato in his Cratylus, or Cicero de Naturâ Deorum, he had thought better to deride this proverb.
Of this opportune help, which may be termed επι θυρας ηχειν [on the door step], I have thought fit to set down the history. We may observe before that Maupas, the son of Richardier, being accompanied with many 146 ships, assayed the Passage. This skillful and expert seaman had taken such notice of all the corners and creeks of that coast, that the roads for their ships and whole managing of these affairs were ordered by him. Having, therefore, gotten together those things which might be of use, his design was in the night time with his navy to keep the shore, and so to slip by our guards, till at last having escaped them, with the benefit both of sail and oars he had attained the citadel; by this means, he supposed that presenting himself on the sudden before the body of our fleet, he might be taken for part of it, until he had made the haven, and brought his ships under the protection of the citadel. As for keeping his course there was no difficulty; lights being so kindled in the continent and citadel that each 147 of them appeared together; and that this might be done more securely, the winter season drawing on, afforded both longer and darker nights; by which means 12 hours might be allowed for a passage that was yet to be performed in one hour only. Lastly, lest he should be defective in policy and stratagem, he employed certain spies (under color of runaways from their side) to inform us that the way he meant to hold was on the other part; and that we might give more credit hereunto he permitted them to tell some truths.
things being done, his company
goes on shipboard. His Navy consisted
of 35 ships, 400 seamen,
300 soldiers, 60 chosen persons of
the nobility, among whom he calls
some Regiæ, others sacri comitatus
et aspectus ministri, and besides these
Desplan, Beaulieu, Persac, Launè,
Rasilles, Cusac, Alduin, and other
commanders, says the obscure and
somewhat pleasant author in this
point. Isnard, page 159: About 4
in the afternoon, the sun inclining
to set, the whole fleet began
to creep along the shore, but
either the wind or their courage so
failed them that they stayed all that
night and the following day, Alduin
only excepted, who by the force of
weather was carried to Sables de
Olone, says Isnard, in the same
page. The next night, which was
somewhat dark, their courages
being re-collected, and the word
Vive le Roy, passer ou
mourir, when it was almost eight at
night the fleet resolved to set sail;
yet here it lingered till about the
second watch for want of flood, says
Isnard; but sure he should have
said ebb, for they who set sail
expect not the coming in but
going out of the tide. At length,
about the beginning of the second
watch, they launched forth, Maupas
leading them, our men in the meanwhile
expecting in vain on another
part. It came so to pass that they
arrived without any resistance almost
to the citadel (when the day
was now ready to break) Beaulieu
and Launè only excepted, who, together
with the ship that carried
them, came unto our hands. There
wanted not yet some among us
(who on that part of the sea which
has his name of the whales) with
marvelous diligence attended this
fleet (which they accounted to
make a prey of) relying therein on
the runaways' credit, for whom
therefore in much silence they
watched. But the Earl of Lindsay
being in his long boat, and going
a little out of the way, was the only
man that discovered this fleet and
pursued it first; yet the sea being
high grown now, their ships, by
the benefit of oars, escaped.
Isnard produces many reasons why so much time was spent in passing this little cut; therefore he says the wind slackened and the fleet could not stir, and together with these supposes other causes, page 163. But ignorantly as he is wont, for what man that is skillful in maritime affairs does not know that (in narrow channels especially) the tide drives and oars set on such ships or galleys as theirs? But, if credit may be given to our commentaries, the sky was both overcast and sea rough all that night. Besides, he says that the French sought a way between a brazen shower of great ordnance and a leaden one of small shot, page 162. So in page 32 he says that our men shot brazen balls of fire. But what 151 a gross ignorance is this? For who will say that brazen balls or bullets are shot out of pieces? How much he exposes himself to scorn herein his own commanders must needs know. But it is no less absurd which Isnard relates of our gables and high ropes wherewith their ships were entangled. But if it were easy to cut those cables, why does he complain of the ropes? Is it because it was furtiva navigatio? page 162; yet the Merc. Franc, tom. xiv. p. 138, confesses that Beaulieu and Launè were carried by my Lord Duke of Buckingham to England, and most courteously used, which Isnard suppresses. There is no occasion that we should speak of 5 ships of the French which Isnard says forsook their course, for they did not so much as come to our light.
The day now began to break, when my Lord Duke of 152 Buckingham, who had watched all that night near the shore, perceived some ships making hast to the citadel: going therefore aboard his barge, together with Sir William Courtney, he opposes the whole fleet. But they without any delay withdrew themselves into the port adjoining, as fearing lest our fleet chased them; but it was not so easy for us to pursue as for them to escape. For the greatest part of our ships, following the doubtful credit of runaways, expected this fleet in another quarter. The English being thus deluded raged more than the sea itself; for they knew the whole mystery consisted in this point, that the garrison might be kept from relief at this time: if this were not that their turn was next. For the English were then in great want of all things, and chiefly of health; 153 lest yet anything should be omitted that might be to the purpose, a fire-ship, by the favor of the tide and wind, was set afloat, to fall into the navy: but it succeeded not; for before it could take effect it was drawn aside by the French and consumed in his own flames. The day at length clearing our men did beat this navy with their great shot, whereby what harm they received, by letters not long after intercepted, and now extant in Mr Mason's hand, (secretary to my Lord Duke of Buckingham) may be seen. Isnard says that 20 ships only were broken and spoiled, but others more, yet the English were not content with this. Therefore they ran to the sands in two divisions, with intention to draw out the French to fight in a place altogether advantageous to them. But the garrison was so busy in taking their provisions 154 out of their ships that it was not easy to provoke them; having therefore fought at a distance some while, our men retired themselves without receiving any great hurt.
Our men were much troubled now that the prey was thus taken out of their hands. They expected that day either that the citadel would render, (as Isnard himself confesses) or at least that the French navy would fight with them (as the runaways made us believe), for that they had 200 ships in readiness, (which Isnard mentions) besides auxiliaries, even common fame told. But whatsoever spies swear or forswear has still been suspected by me. Therefore I have continually thought it so dangerous 155 a thing to give any credit to their relations, that unless reason induce me, their persuasions never should.
The frame of businesses being now turned about, the French did also show their slippery disposition. For though the conditions of surrendering (lately in my Lord Duke of Buckingham's power) were therefore restored back, that being authorised and confirmed by the general vote of the garrison, they might be brought again and ratified to him, yet nothing was effected thereby, which Isnard seems to confess, page 188, in these terms: At the same hour that Stanse and Soubran promised to return to my Lord Duke of Buckingham, and bring in writing the conditions of yielding, by the coming of supplies the estate of businesses being changed into a far other condition than was hoped, the besieged began to show flagons of wine, turkeys, capons, 156 neats tongues, and other provision on the top of their pikes. To change counsel according to occasion, nay to break off one's promise cautiously, is no new thing among enemies; but to falsify an agreement, and to glory in that deceit was never thought well of, neither in enemy nor in any other person; wherefore then does Isnard so rejoice? Is it because he himself would be of the same opinion? But let him take heed, lest he be thought worse than they who profess the Punic and infidel faith: for I do not find in any author that nation yet did so glory in their deceits.
It grieved my Lord Duke of Buckingham now that he had showed this facility, for he knew at last clemency became a Commander, but not before the enemy was already overthrown. That he who should show it sooner was like him that took up a fugitive 157 viper and put it in his bosom, hoping thereby to make it more harmless; but it will presently manifest its condition; so that untimely mercy is worse than cruelty itself. Lest yet he should leave anything unattempted which might be to the purpose, my Lord Duke caused a mine to be sprung. But neither by this means was any great harm done to the besieged; for the mine being not wrought far enough, all went into smoke.
The night following my Lord Duke of Buckingham calls a council and deliberates concerning the main affairs. At length, reasons being discussed on both sides, it was resolved to quit the siege and to depart presently out of the Isle of Rhé. The arguments on both sides shall be severally set down hereafter, which therefore the reader may have recourse to, for I have not leisure to set things down twice. Certain 158 ladders, therefore, appointed for scaling the walls, and the palisade placed before our works for keeping of the enemy, being taken away and pulled up, were an argument to the enemy that we did now prepare to be gone. Besides, that night our cannons in many places were shipped. Lastly, order was taken that our sick soldiers should go aboard as soon as they could. Hereupon the Rochellers, and Monsieur de Soubise himself, who had been absent a good while, returns to my Lord Duke of Buckingham, and entreats him that he would not desist from his intentions, for that they were ready to assist him with all things necessary. But my Lord Duke replied, that it was resolved by a council of war that he should be gone: that the season of the year being far spent, and the want of lesser ships which might 159 overtake the French, admitted no other determination. They then called my Lord Duke's promises to witness, implored his compassion, and lastly offered some lesser ships for this purpose, together with a supply of soldiers. These entreaties were much strengthened by Dolbiers coming out of England; for he, assuring my Lord Duke of Buckingham that our men were in readiness to take ship, the siege was for a while restored.
Hereupon 14 of the lesser sort of our ships, being accompanied with as many more of the Rochellers, were commanded to stay before the haven of Saint Martin's (in that nearness they could for the ebb) thereby to hinder that the enemy might not come in without their knowledge. Besides, it was deliberated again concerning the sinking of certain ships, laden with great stones, in the mouth of 160 the Haven. Briefly, the Rochellers omitted nothing whereby their affairs might subsist, for though at our arrival they seemed negligent, now they were engaged in the business it was necessary for them not to leave it off; 8 days being thus past and no sail appearing from Great Britain, it was resolved again to level some works near the sea, and carry the rest of the great ordnance to our ships. The mutable state of affairs being thus often varied, King Lewis comes to Niorte.
Courage being hereby added to the French, the Abbot Marsillac causes a new fleet to be put in order; for though our departure was already voiced in the French Court, as well by the runaways as islanders, yet lest through the coming of my Lord of Holland we should again renew the siege, it was thought fit at worst to relieve the citadel. 161 This fleet consisted of 15 ships, 11 pinnaces, and 19 lesser boats, part whereof was sent to St Martin's, the rest to the Forte de la Prée. But, as they dared not easily provoke our seamen, (who were much angered at their last passage) so after they had begun to set sail, they crept, though not all of them, into their lurking holes; for some indeed came to the island, but not sooner than our men were gone thence, as Isnard himself confesses in the page following. That there is a destiny in things (but such a one as establishes the domination and power of Fortune) diverse ancient and famous authors believed; the fore runner of which they made necessity, and consequently inferred that the proportion necessity held to Fate, Fate had to fortune. We have not leisure now to examine this obscure and in some part erroneous doctrine. 162
Let it suffice to remember hereupon that a grievous necessity of departing did now press us. For to some there wanted victuals, to others health, and to many all things; when they had now, therefore, ceased about a fortnight from attempting the citadel, and had thrown down some batteries near the sea, by the testimony of Isnard, page 178, it was notorious to all men that we meant to depart; the quick fame hereof being transported by the islanders and runaways unto the continent, it was agreed again to send more forces to the Fort de la Prée. Hereupon, by the procurement of Beaumont, 7 ships, laden with soldiers, victuals, and ammunition, arrived thither safely, we being now intentive on our departure. But the return of Maupas from the citadel was not so fortunate (or, if you will) unpunished. 163 For whilst in the dead of the night he thought to slip by our men, he and all those with him were sunk. If the same Fortune had happened to him before, we had gotten together with the Isle of Rhé an advantageous peace; but at length though late, ευρε θεος τον αλιτρον [God has found out the guilty], if yet the Proverb may be thought to agree to a man so well deserving of his Country.
It was now manifest to the French that we did everywhere make ready for departure, and consequently that the way to the Forte de la Prée was open; therefore they presently ordered that the troops of Plessis Pralin (which were in Oleron) should be sent thither, whom those who were commanded by 164 Beaumont at Plambe should follow. These had charge so to fortify the grounds adjacent to the Fort that the king's Army, consisting of 6000 foot and 300 horse (as Merc. Franc, affirms, t. xiii. p. 148) might conveniently be lodged therein; and that these might want nothing, Meal, wine, saltmeats, hay, oats, wood, ammunition, biscuit, and shoes, were brought in great store and number, which may be an argument that the French did not so much think of forcing us away as of protracting the war and taking advantages: yet could they have done nothing unless the necessity of all things had every day more and more incommodated us.
In the meanwhile our late determination of going away was a little retarded now by some fresh hopes of my Lord of Holland's coming. For though my Lord Duke of Buckingham, by letters 165 written not long before to my Lord of Holland, had declared his purpose of departing, and consequently had rejected all supplies as unuseful at this time, yet in a later epistle he declared that his purpose (through the Rochellers' entreaties) was altered, and that he should be glad to see him; a flying report hereupon was raised that my Lord of Holland would arrive shortly: besides, the Rochellers, who had much exhausted their garners to assist us, entreated earnestly that they might not be forsaken in this calamitous time. For they said it would come to pass, that themselves being destitute of those provisions wherewith they furnished us must become a prey to the enemy that was lodged under their walls. To the intent in the meanwhile we might the better attend those supplies from Great Britain, they delivered for money a 166 great part of that store which remained; my Lord Duke of Buckingham being won with these helps and prayers of the Rochellers determines again to restore his men to their stations, and to beat the citadel with some few iron pieces which were left. But that he might involve himself in the fate of the Rochellers, or (if you will) them in his: for as they were not in so good intelligence at that time with their fellow confederates, so being frustrate of the expected help from thence they were brought to much extremity. But they ought to remember that it does ever happen so where neither the cause is approved by all, nor the same necessity equally binds.
My Lord Duke of Buckingham in the meanwhile, being not sufficiently constant to his first resolution, overthrows both his own and friends' affairs. It is 167 said of old, Αναγχη ουδε θεοι μαχονται [not even the Gods fight against necessity]: if his Excellency had thought well of this, or perchance some other thing more gentle, he would sure with the time of the year have withdrawn himself; for after this moment it seemed no occasion of doing anything well was offered. My Lord Duke of Buckingham being a little refreshed with this fatal help, (which did alike prejudice both parties) to the great wonder of the French, begins the siege again and makes new approaches; but with all thought of his departure, unless some timely help came from England; therefore he caused some works to be raised in the way he was to retire to his ships. Of which determination the French were not ignorant, as we may see in Isnard, page 180. Through a great mistaking in the meanwhile, that half moon, which should have been before the entrance 168 of the dike which leads to the Isle of L'oye, was raised at the farther end most preposterously; it came so to pass that neither on the one side we could conveniently fight nor handsomely retire on the other; what therefore in both kinds might have advanced our designs proved hurtful every way.
The garrison now was not a little afraid to see themselves more hardly pressed than before; for after they perceived some batteries leveled and the great ordnance carried away, they assured themselves my Lord Duke of Buckingham had no purpose to continue the siege; being therefore wittily fearful they suspected some stratagem. This suspicion did not a little increase that some of the French nobility, who were wholly intentive to send more forces to the Fort de la Prée, had now desisted for the space of 7 days, and attempted nothing. But Isnard 169 says the wind was contrary, page 184; yet if it were contrary to those who came from the continent, how could it not be favorable to Toiras sending thither? yet Isnard says no such wind blew for many days. I suspect, therefore, some contradiction herein. To clear these doubts, Toiras inquires among the soldiers if perchance any might be persuaded to run the hazard of breaking through our army, and going to the Fort de la Prée. For it appeared to him, by no obscure arguments, that some forces were arrived there a good while since; whereupon Samprevil, Langalier, and Rouvigny, freely offered themselves; to whom Ville Chartres (being a native of the island) was adjoined for choosing their way. At length the business was carried by a fine policy of war. For when they were ready to set forth, on the 170 one side the garrison pretended to make a sally; on the other side they were pursued with cries of tues, tues, as if they had been enemies, not friends; lastly, they shot towards them with their cannon (but over their heads) until they had past our guards. Our men at first knew not what to do, they appearing on those sands where many times both parts met to fight. Thinking it better, therefore, to spare an enemy than hurt a friend, they all escaped but Langalier, who by the fall of his horse came to our hands, they in the meanwhile who sallied forth retiring themselves within their fortifications.
My Lord Duke of Buckingham's determination of departure was not so secret but that, when the islanders and runaways said nothing, even his works at the Isle of L'oye did sufficiently publish it. But neither was the enemy ignorant of 171 the great want in which we stood, now that we had consumed the provisions with which the Rochellers furnished us, and consequently that we could not be supplied any more but to their utter ruin. My Lord Duke also considering this thought fit to obey the common necessity, and so to depart out of the island, unless perchance the French would fight with him, and hereof he conceived hope, since he heard some forces were arrived at the Forte de la Prée, for Samprevil, the runaways, and islanders, had so represented the weakness of our numbers, the demolishing our batteries, and the shipping of our cannons, that they thought fit to delay the time no longer. For though that nation has been often overthrown by us, yet to show itself so awed and affrighted that it dared not so much as endure the sight of our departing men was 172 never observed in any age. To take away this imputation, therefore, those troops, who had forborne now a great while upon the news of our stay to pass to the Fort de la Prée, were hastened away. Besides, Samprevil was sent to Toiras to confirm and strengthen the fainting hearts of the garrison with hope of supplies, and withal to inform him what might be most conveniently done by the garrison on either side for mutual support upon all occasions.
About this time D'Epesse, the French king's Ambassador in the Low Countries, when he had heard, by the means of certain treacherous spies, that Sir Sackville Trever was commanded, at his 173 return from Hamburg, to take certain French ships, built at Texel, from out of the harbor, thought fit to inform the Senate hereof; but the states replied, there was no danger in that part, they having besides 8 ships of war, which were in guard there perpetually, 6 other newly returned from a long voyage; that these were stronger and vigilanter than that our men could do any thing without their knowledge or consent. But Trever, without any apprehension hereof, when he drew near, meets by chance a low-country skiff, and desires the master (it being now towards sunset) to show him the French ships, but could not prevail so far. Then Sir Sackville threatened irons and manacles; not-with-standing which he could have effected nothing (as the same author affirmed to me) unless he had promised him a great 174 reward.
It was thought good here to begin with a great ship, which Toiras had built at his own charge. The master of this ship, who by the means of D'Epesse could not be ignorant of our designs, suspecting the approach of this unknown ship, shoots off his great ordnance first. But Trever forbears not for all this to draw near, and at last giving a broadside, shot the French ship through and through. Sir Sackville hereupon heard such a pitiful cry as he does not remember ever to have heard the like. This being appeased, the first articulate and distinct voice he could hear yielded itself, together with all the ship, to his mercy. These coming aboard our ship, others are sent to enter theirs, which being done, Sir Sackville determines to lay aboard the other ships, which were not far of. To this purpose he 175 caused some other ships which were in consort with him to draw near and assist him. But the French, who by the shooting could not be ignorant of what was done, having first lightened their ships, with great danger and difficulty passed over some shoals, and so at last escaped us.
As soon as D'Epesse knew that Toiras' ship was taken, he runs to the States and implores their promise first, and after their assistance, wittily strengthening his entreaties with many reasons conducing thereunto; finally, he adds some threats. But that fearless Senate could not be stirred with this kind of language. Becoming, therefore, more gentle, he obtains of the States that they would send one to Sir Sackville Trever to demand restitution. This being done, Trever remonstrates that war being now between both Nations it was 176 permitted to do so even by the law of arms: neither did it hinder that he had done this in a harbor of theirs, it being an article of the confederacy between both nations to go into each others ports and take ships from thence. Therefore, unless he might go away with this prize, that they should no more take any Dunkerkers out of our havens; while the States maturely considered these things, Trever, having gotten a fair wind, brings away with him this great ship, which was called Saint Esprit, and presents it to his Majesty. Together with this ship were taken 20 whole brass culverins, 2 demi culverins, 16 great iron pieces, and 2 lesser, which being all aptly disposed about this ship, argued it to be stronger than that it should be so easily taken. In the hold of the ship was found 2 great pieces, more 177 arms for about 2000 soldiers, 80 barrels of gunpowder, all which was brought into England.
A little before, also, other French ships were so frequently taken, that the states of France, by a public edict, dated 17th May the same year, provided that none of their ships should go far into the sea; but if they had occasion for the transporting of any commodities or merchandise from one part to another of their dominions, that they should carry them in small shallops, which coasting along the shore might escape to land before our men could reach them. Not-with-standing which both captain Pennington and diverse other of our seamen, as well in France as in Canada itself, did in despite of resistance enter their havens, and sunk or brought away all the ships they could meet with, not so much as one of our good 178 ships being lost in all that time. In the meanwhile Pennington alone got for his part 34 ships, furnished with great ordnance and laden with merchandise.
It is time now to set down the choice and number of those forces, which, upon notice of our departure, came to the Isle of Rhé, following herein the credit of the French writers. And first I shall remember Monsieur de Schomberg, both as he is an expert and brave soldier, as that the administration of all things was committed to him. He takes Marillac for his assistant, the king himself choosing the colonels, captains, and other officers; for that they [were] particularly and even (as it were) man by man picked out and selected by the king's own 179 hands the French Merc., does sufficiently declare, tom. 14. page 168; yet Isnard suppresses this, fearing perchance that what was but carefulness and providence in that king might be attributed to fear. But this was wisely done, for he did thereby add no little courage to his soldiers, which Isnard does as it were confess, page 190 and 191, while he represents the soldiers speaking thus: And why may not I, king, hazard myself and have leave to pass? But the king replied, what if all go to the island, shall I defend the continent alone and remain in the quarter? Besides, Isnard notes his vigilancy in these words, page 187: In the night season his cares denying him rest, he rose out of his bed and listened after the weather with his ears, (as the poet says) and by causing a lantern to be brought to the window over 180 against which a vane was placed, he observed the night wind that blew. The same author remarks also that he had with him continually a needle and compass after his arrival to the Army. All which I have the more willingly inserted, both that the vigilancy of that king might remain testified to posterity, as also that it may be an argument how our small and sickly companies, and those too but half armed ever since our cannon was shipped, were not despised, but that as much care was used to force them out of Rhé as if an huge army had been there. Besides, Isnard says that he had an Ichnographua (or Ichnographia) of all the havens in the island; but amiss; for ichnography signifies a ground plot, and infers something built or to be built thereupon. But neither is this to be omitted, which is affirmed by the 181 same author, page 191, while he makes his king designing forms of battles in diverse kinds, and that he was so well instructed in all places of the island, that he could tell how to take all advantages of us as perfectly as if he were personally present.
They who are said to have been in this service are accounted 4400, besides colonels, captains, and other officers, Merc. Fran. 169. The same author a little after mentions 150 horse, but of that sort which are called Maistres, and that they had their servants and spare horses is well known to all who are but a little versed in the affairs of France, therefore I doubt not but their cavalry consisted of 300 at least. Besides, the same author confesses as much, page 148. To these then were added all the voluntaries, who were choice and prime noblemen, and together with these 182 the garrisons, (which were at least 3000, as Samprevil is said by our commentaries to have acknowledged) were to be accounted, unless you except those whom sickness or weapon had destroyed. Lastly, the islanders might be reckoned, who, that they might recover the favor of their former masters, offered themselves in great number. Isnard himself is not far short of this account, unless perchance you say his expression is more intricate.
Our numbers compared with those will appear far short, for we were scarcely 3300 foot, scarce 60 horse, with grooms and all. Out of these again must be deducted those who were lost in the last assault, and who died by sickness, so that the French foot must be more than double in number to ours, and the horse quintuple, or five times more. I am not ignorant yet but that if soldiers 183 were reckoned by the colors that were flying, that not only the 6000 which came to the island, but some auxiliaries also might be accounted. For though the soldiers died, though their pay was kept back, there remained ever some captain, or lieutenant, or ensign. But how much this reckoning might deceive us may be gathered by this, that some had not twenty, others not so much as 12 in their companies. As for horse, though we might confess them indeed to be 60 yet were they so poor, for want of good hay and provender, that they seemed hide bound, and indeed could hardly support so much as their own burdens. Hereunto may be added the sickly and infirm estate of our men, which was such, that though many kept not their bed for it, yet none almost. were free from some attaints. In this miserable condition of 184 affairs, if the French yet had had the courage to have fought it out, we should not deny but that they might have had some color to glorify themselves. But how far they were from any such generous design the French authors or (if you will) the event itself shows. Let the impartial reader, therefore, judge what honor the French can justly arrogate to themselves.
Their names who were in this expedition being by others sufficiently declared, it shall be enough for us to deliver those only which the context of the history requires. A port of the continent, which they call Plomb, was thought most convenient for this transportation, as being the nearest to the citadel; here, therefore, the rendezvous was given by the Cardinal's commandment. But Monsieur Schomberg, for great reasons, thought best to go first to the Isle of 185 Oleron, and from thence to cross over to Rhé, as knowing there were but few guards on that part, especially since our men resolved a departure. Isnard says that this change of advise did much trouble the Cardinal, especially since there was a demand made of some more ships and victuals, page 192. These things being gotten together Schomberg goes to Oleron, where finding Marillac ready with 80 ships to set sail, he commands him to attend till he were ready to accompany him; but it seems strange, and in a sort impossible, which Isnard reports a little after; for, says he, they scarce began to set sail, when the wind being turned clean contrary, the Navy held a diverse course, and was either becalmed the space of 6 days and nights together, or rid at Anchor, not a whit advancing, bending now 186 to Brouage and then to Oleron, then to Charante, and after to the Isle of Aix. But why should not a wind that brought them such diverse ways not bring them to the Isle of Rhé, for which any side wind would sufficiently serve? Besides that the Navy for the most part was made of galleys, or at least such as go with oars. Skillful seamen, therefore, will suspect some other cause of stay; for the cut was short, and almost to be passed with any wind. While Monsieur Schomberg frees himself from these difficulties, command was given to Monsieur de Bassompierre (famous in the arts both of peace and arms) and to Monsieur de Hallier to prepare another navy; by which means 800 of the King's Guard, 400 of Beaumont's Regiment, and 30 great horse of the king's troops, furnished with victuals and ammunition, (and particularly 3 brass pieces) came to the 187 Fort de la Prèe; yet Monsieur de Schomberg was not come. The French Merc., also, page 174, and Isnard, 193, speaks of 100,000 loaves and great store of horse meat brought to the Isle of Rhé, which may sufficiently argue that their design was not so much to fight with us as to defend the Fort de la Prée, and make approaches towards our quarter out of it, especially if that provision which was brought before (as the same authors confess) be together accounted, for it seems they were provided for certain months. To him that thinks otherwise yet, it may be urged that their army was greater than is reported, and so much the rather that the same author affirms other forces were past over from Plomb and Brouage. 188
An undoubted report of the Frenchmen's coming being now brought to my Lord Duke of Buckingham, he thought fit to attempt something against them. For his generous disposition could not abide that any necessity of departure should be imposed on him by an enemy that had already resisted famine, sickness, and such unseasonable weather; selecting, therefore, out of his quarter and the villages adjoining 500 foot, (among whom some of the reformed were) and adding 40 horse, he determined to march straight to that coast of the island where the French were to land.
The French having notice given hereof (which Isnard acknowledges, page 195) prepare themselves with the garrison of de la Prée to encounter us, and 189 for this purpose put their men in order. But my Lord Duke of Buckingham, by the confession of the same author, came not sooner than two hours after. The cause hereof our commentaries reject, partly on the darkness of the night, and partly on that our companies were selected out of several and distant places; for it was not thought fit either to weaken our trenches so much, or to take all the soldiers out of every village, but to cut out some from diverse places. But because my Lord Duke thought a great part of the success of this action would consist in speed, he takes those only who were at hand.
At length, the
French hearing us coming in a
round march towards them, their
sentinels gave fire; we thereupon,
supposing the whole army was
near at hand, gave them a volley.
But they being afar off received
but little harm at this time. They
now taking this advantage begin
the fight, we on the other side receiving
them courageously though
double in number to us. The fight
continued a good while with shot
only, at length the pikes joined.
But the French being at last beaten
ran away to their fortifications, so
much terror invading them, says
Isnard, page 197, as he that saw it
confessed he never saw the like. It
seems, therefore, not improbable,
which a certain Englishman reported
who was in this action. For
when the French being routed, one
of the reformed religion followed
them with these words of tuez,
tuez, some one of those who fled
desired his fellow to take heart and
ces ne sont que des François. But
let the credit of this remain with
the author. This at least is not to
be concealed which Isnard reports.
That if our men had pursued their
point they had made a great slaughter
of the French. Isnard alleges
(perchance not without reason) the
cause of this terror which his countrymen
were in, to be the sudden
navigation, the tossing in their
ships, the ignorance of the place
where they encountered, and the
dark and horrible time of fighting
in the night season. But when he
says his countrymen being surprised
were constrained to fight, he
contradicts himself; for that they
were forewarned of our coming,
and stood in good order to receive us
for the space of 2 hours, Isnard
himself confesses, page 195. Lest
in the meanwhile it should seem
strange that his countrymen were
so routed, he excuses it by reason
some commanders and horse were
not landed; yet he confesses that
Monsieur de Canaples, Fourilles, and
Porcheux, and many others were on
shore and in this fight, and why not
the rest as well in those 2 hours
Lest posterity in the meanwhile should be ignorant why the French at this time were not wholly defeated and cut in pieces, let them take this reason out of my commentaries. For in the pursuit of the flying French our men, falling into a marshy deep ground, stuck there so fast that the enemy, being skillful of the ways, got into their fortifications before our men were able to free themselves from the mire. It can not therefore seem strange, in a dark night and unknown ways, if they escaped; this did not hinder our men yet, as soon as possible they could recover themselves, to run up the fort and provoke the garrison and new-come French to fight. 193 But they, keeping themselves within their hold, shot afar off at us. My Lord Duke of Buckingham in the meanwhile, who found this place of more difficulty than that his few men could take it, (and the rather that many appointed to be there were not yet come) the day now beginning to break, sounded a retreat; our men retiring thereupon received some harm, for they had so good aim now as it was not easy to miss. Isnard says 50 of our men were killed; Merc. F. 38; but our relation does not confess so many: of the Frenchmen's part, Mansan, Persemon, Barilles, Pensamont, are numbered, and others also sore wounded, whose names the French conceal from us. But as the enemy was much obscured by darkness of night and running away, so it can not seem strange if they labored for many 194 reasons to conceal their losses. My Lord Duke of Buckingham having gotten this glorious victory, returns to his quarter, and if with an intention to make a speedy departure, he had gone away famous for many brave actions; but his thoughts were far otherwise. For after he had heard the enemy was landed nothing seemed so tedious as delaying a fight: our soldiers also with the same alacrity desire it; so they might come to blows they promise to overcome hunger with patience, and sickness with any honorable death; but how seasonably will appear straitaway.
My Lord Duke of Buckingham, (who being come to his quarter) found the approaches near the Bastion of Antioch possessed by the enemy, commands Sergeant Major Standish to recover them. Here was a hot fight; for the French, who had leveled the trenches when we 195 were absent, defended this place with much vigor. Our men, on the other side, taking it ill that this piece of ground (bought at the price of some of their blood) should be thus taken away, repulsed the Frenchmen with that fortitude that they at last regained it. Many of the French were slain, among whom Bessac and Vassan are recounted by the French M. page 198. Some of our men also who were of note the cannon bullet from the citadel tore in pieces, but because we were repossessed of our trenches this loss was not much esteemed. 196
All our soldiers did not their duties before the Citadel of Saint Martin's, but some, as we showed before, were quartered in the villages adjoining. Among them my Lord Mountjoy and a little troop of horse guarded La Flotte. This troop (which Isnard absurdly calls emeritus, page 198, as he does his own, page 118) that it might be drawn into an ambush, the newly arrived French sent 6 horsemen, whom our guards perceiving chased even to the Fort de la Prée. But as soon as they perceived those who lay in wait for them, they retired themselves in good order, without receiving much harm.
The passage being now happily assayed many times, the French were no longer slow in sending of supplies, 197 whereupon, both from the continent and Oleron, there came those numbers that they molested us with continual incursions. The success here was various, inclining some time to our and other whiles to the French side, but our men thought it sufficient if they preserved their stations in those unfortified places, though when occasion was given they feared not likewise to sally forth. Among the many encounters which happened about this time Isnard says one was unfortunate to us, of which yet I find no mention in our commentaries. But, as far as I may conjecture, it was no other than that which by my Lord Mountjoy's relation happened thus. For whilst in a dark night our men chased the French, it happened they were so mingled together as that there was no means to discern each other, therefore they would neither 198 speak on the one side, to avoid discovering themselves to the enemy, nor strike on the other for fear of hurting their friends, till this doubtful pursuit had brought them within the fortification and power of the enemy.
The French being puffed up with this good success, and the numbers which continually flocked to the island, began now to appear abroad more frequently, especially where we kept no guards, and the rather that they heard from the inhabitants of La Flotte and Saint Marie's, as Isnard says, page 199, our men were taking ship; for businesses indeed were brought to that pass, that, whether victors or vanquished, there was a necessity of departing. For his Majesty's navy in a stormy season not riding safe, especially now their cables could scarce hold, were in danger of losing their anchors. But this was 199 worse yet that our ships were so foul that they felt not their rudders. Besides, our soldiers and mariners were all so weak with want of victuals, or cast down for want of health, that the best remedy for sickness was their scarcity of meat, and for scarcity of meat their sickness; the vicissitude of miseries being thus turned on ourselves. Besides, the French authors themselves report that our cannon was carried on shipboard. Briefly, now there was no occasion to stay but such as would have affrighted away any other; that is, my Lord Duke of Buckingham was ashamed to depart now the enemy drew near, and so much the rather as their number was greater, or the hope of fighting more assured.
After, therefore, he had expected certain days in vain a summons from some herald to fight, he resolves to give a general 200 assault to the citadel, (though intermitted all this while) as believing that if he could get in that he should have that provision in it which was lately brought, and there also might attend his slow supplies out of England; and that he might win it hope was given by certain runaways, who affirmed that many in the garrison languished, and others were dead of a dysentery, which Isnard himself confesses. Also he understood, from good part, that the walls were not yet finished on the further side of the citadel. Besides, those of the religion were earnest suiters that he would not leave of that which was easy to be done, and would gain him much honor, especially in a time when that garrison (who could little dream of any such intention) might be easily surprised. In the meanwhile, lest they should be thought to do any 201 thing wherein they would not themselves run the common danger, they offered that some of theirs should go before and conduct us through the byways and turnings that led to that place.
The assault being thus resolved, the French prisoners, of which there were many of good sort, being first sent to the ships, my Lord Duke of Buckingham commands long ladders and other necessaries for this purpose to be provided; yet this business was not so carried but the same thereof was brought to Toiras, and from him sent to the Fort de la Prée, which the author of the Merc. Franc, confesses, 184. The strangeness hereof did awhile astonish the garrison of either place; for it was manifest, besides other arguments of our departure, that diverse of our men were got on shipboard. But at last recollecting themselves, the one part 202 resolved to defend, the other to do all was possible for mutual succor. Toiras, therefore, the night before assigned the places which the small shot was to guard chiefly, and who were to make good the parapets, and pointed his cannon where it might be of most use. For he knew as soon as our ordnance had shot thrice that the signal of assault was given, which the Merc. F. confesses, page 185. But Monsieur de Canaples, with no less diligence (as having the conduct of all things in the absence of Monsieur de Schomberg) calls before him Beaumont, Plessis Pralin, Cominges, the Marquis of Montespan, and other noblemen which were now come to the Fort de la Prée, and desires their opinions of what was fittest to be done. At length it was agreed, with one consent, by break of day to put their men in order, and so to march to 203 the citadel of Saint Martin's (as soon as they should hear the signal) and force our men from their intended assault, for so the author of the French Merc. confesses plainly, page 185. Having, therefore, sent some spies towards our quarter, they found that from midnight things were preparing for this business; hereof, therefore, they thought good to advertise Toiras, and withal to assure him that they were in readiness to assist him.
The day beginning to break, those Frenchmen who were to show the way presented themselves; ladders also were brought, but much shorter than was requisite; for being applied to the walls they did not reach them. In this unfortunate 204 and unusual manner of assailing our men yet bravely attempted the citadel. Having, therefore, sung a Psalm, according to their wonted custom, they ran in two divisions and reared some 40 ladders against the out works and citadel, but finding them not come near the top by almost a fifth part in many places, they carried them to another; about 2000 of our men undertook those works which were next the Bastion of Toiras in this fashion; you would have said yet they did not so much pretend to victory as to a brave and honorable death. For when they almost attained the height of their ladders, and had no further means to go on, casting their threatening eyes about, they remained unmovable till they were shot and tumbled down. This hindered not their fellows yet to follow; but they also, when they had got up as high as 205 they could, and no other place appeared whither they might transport their ladders, falling down died likewise, but not with one wound only, for Isnard, page 204, confesses some were pierced with 5 or 6 bullets apiece. It is said, Toiras beholding this action pitied the condition of so valiant men, undertaking so impossible a work; such effects could virtue produce even in an enemy.
But the attempt of our men at the Bastion of Antioch fell not out so ill; for an assault being given on that side with eight hundred of our men, the garrison was beaten from their outwork (which had his ditch and other defences before that Bastion) into the counterscarpe and fortification of that citadel, not without loss of many on their part. But here the strength of the place barred all further access, it being in vain to go about to 206 pass a deep ditch or to rear short ladders against so high walls, where the enemy's shot flanked us; yet did our men slowly, and as it were unwillingly, and not for this cause only, retire themselves; for though in the heat of the fight the French guides forsook us, (as our commentaries report) and consequently, by the rules of war, we were not obliged to proceed any further, they did still insist, till my Lord Duke of Buckingham, being warned of the enemy's approach, commanded a retreat.
We related before how it was agreed between the garrison on either part to relieve each other. By the first dawning of the day, therefore, not only the garrison of the other fort, but the newly arrived French, marched towards us in this form of battle, which the author of the French Mercury exhibits. 207 For they were not ignorant now a good while what passed, yet they made no great haste; for coming to la Flotte they met a little troop of horse, which my Lord Mountjoy commanded, of whom part made speed to my Lord Duke, to give him warning of the enemies approach, the rest retreating by little and little and in very good order before these strong forces of the Enemy, entertained them so as their fellow soldiers might have more time to finish their businesses.
My Lord Duke of Buckingham understanding now that these forces drew near, calls his soldiers together and puts them in good order. This yet was not done so speedily but that the enemy was already come in sight. But finding our men ready to encounter them they made a stand, and a while after (as if they had changed opinion) withdrew themselves back towards 208 the Fort de la Prée. The author of the French Mercury, page 188, said that my Lord Duke followed them as far as la Flotte, but they were only 500 of our men, who thinking it enough to have chased the enemy away, and recover the village of la Flotte, permitted the French quietly to retire themselves to their quarter. The French Mercury desires to excuse this departure, that I may not say flight in any kind. For he says his countrymen stood in battle array at 30 paces distance only from our trenches a good half hour. But what can be more idle than this? For if there were no fortification on that side of our trenches, nor barricades to hinder them, why did they not assail? why did they not overthrow persons who were tired out with the fury of their own difficult attempt? why did not the garrison sally out on the other side? 209 what might not men (double in number to ours) perform in this kind? But the same author, though falsely, says the night drew on. But how then was the day spent? was it taken up wholly in passing this little quantity of ground, which might be gone over in the space of one or at most 2 hours only, for the 2 forts stood no further off? Will they not say perchance that the little troop of my Lord Mountjoy's, which was composed only of 35 horse, did so hinder them as it was not possible to break through, or make their way to our men who were weary with fighting, and hardly yet brought into good order? why, at least, did they not seize on la Flotte in their retreat? Did they perchance doubt the affection of the inhabitants?
This certainly could not seem so hard, when our best men were lost or wounded in this assault, of whom 210 147 were buried in the trenches before the Citadel, as he who had charge thereof assured me: some that were wounded then also died afterwards; but what men were they in whose dead faces even threats appeared? It grieved them that those only impediments stood in their way which neither force nor art could overcome; if this had been sufficiently manifest to my Lord Duke he would not so soon have accorded to the desire of the reformed, who persuaded this attempt. But there is no reason that persons who for the rest were valiant should for this action only suffer in their reputation. Isnard says of the besieged that Sardaigne, Grandevalle, and about 20 other were slain in this action, page 125. But our commentaries recite many more, which Isnard himself seems to confess, page 208, where he affirms that many in 211 the midst of this fight, without receiving any wound at all, their spirits failing them, did breath out their last.
My Lord Duke of Buckingham's determination to depart now was no longer questionable, for what the French could not do he did himself, giving order to level his approaches and fill up the trenches; yet here some stay was made through the prayers of the reformed, for, in the name of the Rochellers, they earnestly entreated that his Excellency would not depart the island till they had got in so much corn as might supply that wherewith they furnished us, otherwise that they must perish. The indulgent and gentle heart of my Lord Duke of Buckingham was much 212 perplexed hereat, to whom going away seemed grievous, and stay full of danger. But because through parsimony and sufferance he was assured that victuals might be made to last yet some few days, his departure was not so timely as it ought.
It came so to pass that the citadel seemed neither besieged enough nor set free. Monsieur de Canaples, to find out the reason of this strange proceeding, (for Monsieur de Schomberg was not yet come) sends to demand leave (says Isnard, page 209) that he might send 2 or 3 noblemen who were hurt in the last conflict unto the continent. The generous Duke answered (says Isnard a little after) that he would not only permit the sick and wounded, but the sound and whole, to have free passage shortly; that he was determined to leave the island and get aboard his ships before new forces came 213 thither; that he would not hazard his men, who were tired with a long siege, against fresh forces, lest they should glory they had chased him out of the island; but that the honor of having defended the citadel belonged to Toiras only, through whose invincible patience and courage (being above all constraint) he must confess himself overcome.
This also he is said by Isnard to have confessed to Toiras himself, by a noble person whom he sent to him the same day to bid him farewell, as being in readiness to retire himself, together with his army, unto his ships, and withal to congratulate the honor of defending the citadel and of his flight thence, which yet, as he unwillingly acknowledged, so he must envy to him. This last period is not in the book called la descente des Anglois; it is likely, therefore, that our recocted [reconstructionist] 214 scribe devised this of his own brains, for he everywhere follows that author, save where he adds his own false inventions, of which kind certainly this is one. For that my Lord Duke never thought nor spake in this sense I dare confidently affirm; for what person that knew my Lord Duke can believe that he would attribute this word flight to himself: 'Αλλ ουχ ενεστι σεχοφαντου δηγματος [roughly, there is no remedy for a slander.]. But the French Merc. gives a more succinct and probable relation of my Lord Duke's epistle to Monsieur de Canaples, page 188. That after 3 days he would give a free passage to all men. That his forces were so tired and weakened with a long siege that the French should have no great honor to fight with them. That sickness and Toiras' constancy (to whom all glory was due) had prevailed so far that he now thought of a retreat. Not 215 withstanding that he promised he would show them one sinrazon or paradoxal action more, which was, that nothing could be more acceptable to him than to see them with their arms in their hands in such a place as they might fight it out.
Thus far this author. But what more overt, what more glorious words could any man utter? he is so far from refusing fight that he demands it. Neither could a world of mischiefs now coming on defer him, of which before I related some part; yet this unreverent and impudent fellow makes no difficulty in the beginning of this book to place, as a frontispiece, Fuga Anglorum a Rea Insula. But can he call that a flight which after 3 months stay (unavoidable necessity at last compelling him) was but a military retreat? Is that a flight which was indeed but a marching 216 to such a place as was fit for combat? Such a marching, I say, as Isnard ought not to diminish or derogate anything even from the very majesty of it: for in good order, before a great and choice army for a whole day's space, our men withdrew themselves soft and fair, and not without ostentation, until despairing of fight they shut up themselves in such straits, before they were aware, as men who might be said 'Αχιλλειον πνεειν [to rage (literally, to pant) like Achilles], could not have resisted an enemy upon those terms; what besides was done we will straitways declare. How much more modestly did he write who called his book descent des Anglois? For he calls it not Fuitte des Anglois. Besides, in the very beginning, together with our misfortune under the word retraite, he acknowledges our voluntary departure; and that Isnard follows this author we have 217 often observed, save where he makes a writer who is adverse enough to us more injurious yet, sometimes by his vile translating, and other times by foolish comments on the text.
Now every day fresh troops of the French arrived; among these Meniere brings a brave party, composed of 300 foot and 22 cuirassiers, to whom 60 noblemen volunteers adjoined themselves, so that when other times were not accounted, yet at this alone that there came more horse than we had altogether the ingenious reader may observe. But because Monsieur Schomberg was not yet passed, Lewis xiiith was not a little troubled; therefore, says Isnard, he spent his time in 218 cares more than in sleep, in so much that his people feared lest it should prove to the detriment of his health. He calls Marillac, therefore, and gives him the conduct of the forces. In discharge whereof, having gotten together 30 Noblemen of remark and some of the king's musketeers, he setting sail from the entrance of Rochelle, arrived at Samblanceau in the space of between 2 and 3 hours at most. Neither could it hinder him, says Isnard, that the seas were rough or winds contrary, or that our guards lay in wait for him. But Isnard is not here cautious enough; for while he commends Monsieur de Marillac's diligence he does not a little reproach those who essayed the passage before him, for what could impeach them to do the like? If the angry seas, cross winds, or our men's vigilancy could not be obstacles now, what was 219 heretofore the cause? Why did they employ whole nights sometimes, otherwhile some weeks, that I may not say months, in so short a cut? Certainly, though Isnard hold his peace here the business will enough speak itself, that I may in the meanwhile pass over in silence: the seas were calm and the winds favorable for the most part; and this, says Isnard, page 214, was the 5th fleet that arrived to the island, now that our men were on their return; yet came their a sixth (and that by much the greatest) the next night, as the same author confesses.
This being composed of 54 ships, was conducted by Schomberg, a man very valiant; yet the same author says that 32 only came to the shore, in every of which about 100 foot, forty horse, and many of the prime nobility were carried. But this has in it somewhat of the 220 improbable; for though it were granted that 3200, besides the above mentioned nobility, were transported at this time, shall I therefore believe that 1280 horse came over (for so Isnard seems to compute). But I rather think that Isnard was deceived here, for those that were present assured me that their numbers were not so great. I know not, therefore, how Isnard will evade, unless he say that every of them singly had 100 foot, and all taken together had 40 horse, besides the above mentioned Noblemen: the remnant of this fleet the sea or dark night separated, says Isnard, omitting here the third cause; but the French Mercury says that 54 sail arrived, and that the rest were driven back. But that we may pass by these things, it is certain that a choice and well furnished army was assembled here together. These, using the silence of 221 the night, were landed between Chauvè and Samblanceau, a great way off from our men. Schomberg, presently ordering his soldiers in 4 divisions, and sending some wings of horse before, arrives at the Fort de la Prée before the day yet rose, which will seem less strange if we consider that our men were preparing to be gone in another quarter of the island. Marillac, in the meantime, having put his men in order, expected his coming.
Both armies being thus united, it was debated among them what they were chiefly to do; at length, reasons on both sides being examined, it was resolved for the present to go to La Flotte, and there to advise what was further to be acted; and to take that village could be no great difficulty, our men having already forsaken it. That there was but a little space between both 222 citadels we showed before; it being clear enough to all men, who understand these affairs, that they were made for mutual strength and support to each other. This village was about mid way; the French army, therefore, being arrived here, the distance was not further off than might be well passed in half an hour. They could not, therefore, be ignorant of that was done by us almost every moment; for the islanders, seeing us now departing, labored nothing more than how they might reconcile themselves to their ancient masters (as I have often told) by which means Monsieur de Schomberg had timely and frequent advertisement of all that passed, or when that were not, it is impossible to imagine that the departure of an army, which has on both sides of it an enemy, can be long kept secret.
Their army in the mean 223 while marched in this order, as Isnard relates, p. 217: The first division consisted of some of the King's Guards; the regiment of Navarre, Champagne, and Piemont. The next was of some other of Champagne, and those regiments which were commanded by Monsieur de Rambures and Beaumont. The third was composed of the regiments of Plessis Praslin and Meillere; at the side, or in the rear, as Isnard will have it, p. 218, certain voluntaries with halberds were appointed, whose duty it was to fall on our men in the flank while the pikes joined. Both the wings of this army their horse guarded, being divided into two great troops. Two hundred paces before the vanguard Bussy Lamet advanced, having with him 25 horse (whom Isnard absurdly calls emeriti) and many voluntaries, so that, says Isnard, page 218, of 4000 foot and 224 250 Maistres the whole army consisted. But to those who call to mind what we have set down before, it will appear (I conceive) that their Army was much greater; howsoever, even by this reckoning, it is manifest that their foot, joined together with the garrison, (without the islanders) must be in number double to ours, and the horse about quintuple or five-fold.
My Lord Duke of Buckingham was not now ignorant that Monsieur de Schomberg was arrived in the Isle of Rhé, and had seized on the village of La Flotte, which Isnard says, page 209, our men had let go or omitted. he was so far yet from being troubled more than ordinary, that it was somewhat far in the 225 day that my Lord Duke lay in bed as Colonel Hackluyt, who had then the guard, affirmed to me. He was waked indeed with the first messenger, but not clothed, much less armed, when news was brought him that the enemy appeared near the town of Saint Martin's; yet it is said some hours were interposed here: if any men yet accuse this as slothfulness in my Lord Duke, he may observe it much more in the enemy. But Isnard gives this reason for it, that Schomberg had sent certain horse to Toiras to tell him of his coming, and receive from him withal his opinion what further was to be done. These, therefore, coming to our quarter, my Lord Duke hastens his departure.
About 9 of the clock in the morning then, having ranged his soldiers (that were sick, and laden with some baggages for the most part) he 226 brings them into a fair place for fighting near certain windmills, and here that brave Duke dares them to battle. He hoped, indeed, that the often provoked French would at last fight as became soldiers; neither did it hinder him that his companions were so diminished that he had scarce 3000 foot and 58 horse with him. After, therefore, he had stood in battle array a good space, the enemy not so much as moving towards him, he retires himself again. Taking a view hereupon of his forces, and observing those worthy gentlemen, Sir Charles Rich and Sir John Ratcliffe, with many others who had been weakened with their long sickness, to be in the next ranks to the enemy, he exhorts them to withdraw themselves into some ships adjoining; but they, to whom nothing was more grievous than to 227 be absent at such a time, as they were to give proof of their courage, having obtained leave, and leaning on their pikes, resolved to take part with their fellows, my Lord Duke marching (as I said before) in 7 divisions, and placing his horse in two troops, (after that manner as might best sustain the first brunt, and if possible resist it) sees the enemy now following afar off. This yet did not make him go more disorderly, nor could induce him to put 4 drakes (which went in the midst of his Army) in the rear, or to turn them to the enemy.
Having thus approached near the village called Coarde, my Lord Duke offers them battle again, which Isnard at this time clearly confesses, page 227, as also the French Merc, p. 196; he also adds the cause, for that Marillac made a show of charging us, and our men 228 thereupon turned about. Thus far that author more ingenious. But Isnard forges a scurrilous and false reason, that the panting and weary spirits of our men, who were tired with their arms and journey, might be refreshed, page 227. But if it were so, why did not the French then charge, why did they not oppress those who groaned (as was thought) under their burdens? If our men were short breathed, were theirs wind broken? Were they faint hearted? Unless you give this cause, why was it omitted? For had it not been better to have slain in the open field our languishing and overwearied men than to have attempted us by unworthy and ignoble ways? But I stand too long upon refuting this false fellow's calumnies. The whole frame of the business teaches sufficiently that our men affected nothing more than to 229 try it out by battle. This also was deliberated by the French more than one time; for not only when we stood near the windmills a council was called what to do (as we may find in Isnard), but now, as also at the entrance into this village, where a fair occasion of investing our troops was offered. For those who passed it once could not, through the narrowness of the streets, return again to help their fellows that should be in fight on this side. It appears, therefore, that they had the same advantage here that they took at the dike shortly after.
Besides, Isnard reports that Toiras, calling into mind his 2 brothers slain in this war, and being made as it were fiercer with his close keeping, (for the space of 3 months together) spoke in this sense. That it was not to be suffered that those men should go out of the island 230 unfought with, which they therefore had invaded upon an unjust quarrel, that they might draw on them a just and necessary war from the French. Neither were we to be suffered to pretend to so much glory as to depart, in the sight of the king's army, without receiving a blow since we entered the country with giving them such a foil. That their hands and swords were to punish those at their going away who at their coming killed the French nobility with their weapon and brass of their ordnance. This and more we may find in Isnard. But I can scarce believe that Toiras spoke of the brass of ordnance in that sense which Isnard mentions. This is, therefore, the rolling eloquence of Isnard, who seems here to fall into the same error which I noted above, where he speaks of our brazen shot. As for the rest, 231 it is not unlikely Toiras spake in this manner: both that he had increased the French army with his garrison, as that he was willing to give us the same measure he had received. But that Marillac was of another mind, the same author witnesses, p. 223 and 224, who says he spake thus:
That they were sent by the king to raise the siege and drive the enemy out of the island. That they were sure of the one, the enemy having abandoned their trenches and quarter; that the other was no less probable, they going away of themselves. That, therefore, it were better (in imitation of Aristides at Salamine) to make them a golden bridge than to dispute the business with the sword; that to bring the success of so great an enterprise unto any doubtful trial had not in it so much of vanity as of crime; that if they were to fight they should 232 take order the encounter might be safe and victory undoubtful; that both these would ensue if the opportunity of place and time were observed, which happens for the most part where an enemy retreats in the presence of the adverse party; between the town and channel that divides the Isle of Rhé from L'Oye that they were to pass, where being divided and kept in through the narrowness of the place, they might easily be put to the worst.
This also and more you may find in Isnard, in whom, among other things, the reader will find that it was deliberated to retire to the Village of La Flotte, and make it good, if they were charged, lest (says Marillac) we should be driven to fight against our wills; and a little after, that if the English offered to fight that the French should avoid, or take some advantageous place for it. Besides, 233 Isnard says that Schomberg approved this advice; for, says he, it was resolved by him that we should not be compelled to fight, but entertained only and kept off till some occasion favored their design. he was not unmindful perchance that the English had got so many famous victories in lesser number.
That French army, therefore, that moved when we did, stood still also with us. But the French Mercury is to be heard, page 199. For he says it was determined that neither by any light skirmish of foot or charge of horse, or other provocation, our men were to be tempted to fight till they were shut up in some straits. Therefore, when Marillac seemed to charge, the same author recounts that a hollow and deep way (by the benefit of which Monsieur de Schomberg might defend himself) was interposed: such prevention did they use 234 then till they saw our colors turned the other way; and this was done as soon as we saw they would not fight. Hereupon the French army followed again at the same distance, so that you would have said, that, in a natural kind of order, they took a kind of beginning of motion and rest from us. When we had now passed over the plain between Saint Martin's and Coards, and were arrived to the village itself, we did again prepare ourselves to provoke and fight with the French, so says the French Mercury, page 196: A la entrée de Couards les ennemis presenterent une autre fois la bataille; [at the entrance of Couards, the enemy again turned for battle] which Isnard himself confesses in these words, p. 227: Eo simul ac pervenere, in ipso aditu rursus obversa acie subsistunt.
But the French had no mind as yet to fight; some space here therefore being interposed, our men 235 withdrew themselves through the middle of the village. To this end my Lord Duke placed some musketeers behind the old walls, closes, hedges, and ponds adjoining, who kept off the French till we were got through the Village. This also was not unknown to Marillac; he, therefore, turning back, hastens Schomberg, who insisting in our steps for the most part, came on but slowly. Our men had now passed more than half way, for this village, which was about 3 miles distant from Saint Martin's, was not altogether so far remote from L'Oye. Here, therefore, being put in order, they grew too confident that the French, who had attempted nothing at their marching through this village, would not in any other place invest them. Besides, the dike that leads to L'Oye was not now far off, which might be passed (as was thought) before 236 the enemy could overtake us; yet, through I know not what fatal and untimely procacity, our men made a stand now a fourth time. For as they saw the French then on the hither side the village of Coarde, so, lest they should be thought to be forced rather than led back, they thought it concerned them in honor to make a stand again. Therefore getting to the tops of certain sand hills, they not only presented battle to the enemy, but required them to fight, not without some affronts; but finding the French cold and slow, and the time drawing on now towards evening (for it was past four) they held on their way. Being hereupon too negligent and careless therefore, they passed towards that dike, without further delay, which leads to L'Oye. But we will set down the description thereof, together with the figure as it is given 237 us by Isnard, to the end the reader may more easily see the cause of our unavoidable misfortune.
The forementioned dike extended in length near 500 paces, in breadth not above 4. This on either side was environed (for the most part) with salt pits, which Isnard calls falsos lacus; about 300 paces the way seemed direct, at the end whereof appeared a little wooden bridge. This being past for about 80 paces, the same way led on, turning afterwards to the left hand in an angle, and again in another, until it came to the bridge made, without props, of small ships joined together, which being past the Isle of L'Oye was entered into. Here, at full sea, the water was 238 higher than to admit any ford; and yet this was more difficult that the banks in many places were steep, and such mud about the bridge as was not to be got through; yet in some places (at low water only) there was means to wade over. At the left hand of the dike, and near the entrance to it, was a little farm called Daviere, and before it a circuit of ground capable of one regiment put into order, which ditches filled with water on either side surrounded. On the right hand a kind of drowned country was seen a great way of; and this, for the most part, is the description of the dike. The bridge which joined both islands being passed over, that preposterous and perverse fortification mentioned before appeared, but neither so high nor firm as it could either defend our men or keep back an enemy, which 239 afterward proved much to our disadvantage: the rest the reader may find in the map. The French having contained themselves all day without giving any hope of fight, our men grew so careless and negligent that they gave diverse arguments both of scorn and derision. Briefly having put off, and as it were laid aside their courage, a kind of secure rashness invaded them. Therefore they neither marched in their open or close ranks, but in no order indeed to the dike. This brings Lucretius' verse into my mind, I know not in what order,
Filatim cum digreditur disperditur omnis. [(The color) is lost as, thread by thread, the cloth is unravelled.]
If yet in this confused and irregular manner they had but stood still till twilight (which now drew on) it seems there would have been no danger, for they who had not only forborne to fight all this while, but had intermitted so good an occasion 240 at the entrance of Coarde (which our men neither did or could pass in any order) it is probable would for ever have abstained from fighting, and though this were the last, it was not the only error yet was committed at that time. For though the half moon which was raised on the other side of the bridge ought to have been placed on this side, and consequently there was no good retreat for our men, yet by the rules of war it should have been thought on at this time; we should either therefore have made a stand here, or sent out some to skirmish with and entertain the enemy, until a half moon (proportioning to every pioneer a quantity of ground to cast up) had been made; so the Arch Duke Albertus heretofore escaped the French near Amiens. To confess freely, therefore, I should have given this advise (had I been present) 241 as the only means to remedy the former errors; for although when our men had stood in good order before the dike, one might have said there would have been no use of fortification, I should not yet have changed my opinion, lest either the French should have accused us for want of knowledge in martial affairs, or take it ill that themselves were so much slighted. For those enemies seem but little considerable who will not charge their adversaries being shut up in straits and divided from each other. But (which might be thought fatally ill for us) none of all those things were in the meantime done. The enemy was now not ignorant that two of our divisions, which were commanded by Sir Edward Conway, Sir Peregrine Barty, and Sir Henry Spry, were passed over the bridge and entered the Isle of L'Oye. That 3 other, commanded by Sir Charles Rich, Sir Alexander Brett, and Sir Thomas Morton's Lieutenant (he being then sick) were (together with 4 drakes) on the dike and in their way to the bridge, and consequently that they could expect no opposition but from those which remained, being commanded by Sir William Courtney, Sir Edward Hawley, and Sir Ralph Bingley. Of these two divisions (whereof each consisted of about 400 men) some part stood at the entrance of the dike (which scarce admitted 5 or 6 men in front) the other was placed at the side thereof not far from Daviere; our horse in the meanwhile being so disposed that one troop, (which was of thirty horse, and the other of 28) might receive the first charge. Among the foot some of the reformed religion closed up the divisions. It did sufficiently appear 243 to the French that the troops which were passed, as those also which were on the dike, could not succor each other. Marillac, therefore, going back to Monsieur de Schomberg, demands the signal for fight, which being given, Marillac determines not so much to charge us home as to fall upon the rear, and incommodate the next to him (for so a French gentleman of good account, who was present, confessed unto me) besides the very figure which Isnard exhibits seems to declare as much, page 230, for the French are represented not as charging us directly, but obliquely. The onset now given, they were valiantly received by our men, for so Isnard confesses, page 233. But being overcome with multitude, they underwent a diverse fortune; for some part was killed, among whom was that brave (and not unrevenged) Sir William 244 Cunningham; some part yielded, among whom my Lord Mountjoy being one was courteously used. Others by the shock and pressing of the enemy in a sloping ground were forced back and driven to flight; these running away in full speed, along the dike, cast our men on either side into the ditches and salt pits adjoining. The way being thus made open, the French followed with their wonted alacrity. And here our men received a great blow: for the French, with their pikes, did at their pleasure now kill those men (lying in the water and mud) whose eyes before they dared scarce behold. And here Isnard, who for the most part uses a poetical style, might remember that of Horace:
Summis verticibus dira Necessitas
Clavos. [If dread Necessity fixes her adamantine nails in your highest rooftops…]
For they who were thrown down 245 from the top of the dike, by our horsemen (to whom only they could give place) might be said to have perished in the like manner. Those divisions likewise which were placed at Daviere, next our horse, fought awhile also, but being (as the formerly mentioned) over-pressed with number, they were partly killed and partly put to flight. Among those, some of the reformed religion running along the known nooks and windings of the ditches, came to the further bridge, though not without much danger. These the enemy (following the same track) pursued hard, as resolving not to spare any that came to their hands. And here the greatest slaughter by much was made, for although my Lord Duke from the beginning of the combat exhorted them equally to maintain the reputation of their Country, yet a fit place to give proof of their valor 246 being wanting, all his speech was but in vain. But neither succeeded it well that our men did not seem all of one mind; for whilst some strive to run away, and others again hindered them, they mutually acted the parts of enemies to each other. Thus as in troops they labored to pass the bridge (which had no rails or fences on either side) one might observe these thrusting forward, and others putting them back, until their weapons falling out of their hands, and grappled together, they fell arm in arm into the sea. It is said that Sir Charles Rich and Sir Alexander Brett, together with many other noble persons, striving to make good this fatal bridge against all fugitives, were in this manner (after some resistance) drowned. In the meanwhile the French killed all they could overtake. 247
Sir Piers Crosby, with an Irish regiment had the charge of making good the half moon beyond the bridge; but being born away with a promiscuous torrent, both of those who ran away and pursued, he gave place awhile. Neither could it be otherwise where there was no means to distinguish friends from enemies. The French now, ad motum fortuna moventes, [(he regulates his) movements by those of fortune] (as Cæsar heretofore observed) and following the conduct of Marillac, did both in great numbers and with much fierceness pass the bridge and weak fortification adjoining to it. Sir Thomas Frier and Lieutenant Colonel Hackluyt kept the next guards, accompanied with about forty pikes and twenty shot; these bravely 248 between themselves resolved to keep back and repulse the French, and thereupon resolutely charged those who had (almost entirely) got the victory. Sir Piers Crosby having also by this time put his men in order, assists them. The French being herewith repulsed and beaten back with the same fury they came on, suffered the victory to be wrested out of their hands.
But lest these things should be thought to be spoken out of affection and partiality, let the French writers themselves be heard. The author of the book, cui titulus la descente des Anglois, page 232.
Une espovante se mit parmy nos soldats que malgre luy (Marillac) les rechassa jusques au pont. Cela donna aux enemies asses de cueur pour s'esbranler a les fuivre, et le firent piques basses. Mais la hardiesse de Saligny arrivè en mesme temps, avec quelques 249 musquettairs des Gardes, dont 3 estoient valets du pied du Roy, et celle de dessusdits, avec la presence du dit Sieur de Marillac, fut asses grande pour leur fair teste, encores qu'ils fussent en deux battaillons forms, et les arresterent tout court.
This Isnard seems to have translated thus, page 235:
The French being struck with a sudden fear, in spite of Marillac, (who labored to stay them) went back to the bridge. This fear added or rather restored so much courage to the enemies, as to move out of their place and charge us with their pikes; but the great valor of Saligny, coming opportunely with some of the King's Guard, whereof 3 were his footmen, and those Noblemen which (we said before) were in the front, and Marillac (himself in person) urging them, were sufficient to stand and resist the enemy, though 250 entire and in two bodies, in so much as we were equal to them coming on, and superior to them being repulsed.
But how ambiguously here and elsewhere, if not falsely, some things are translated, let them judge who understand both languages; for certainly there is nothing in the French which may infer they were superior to us repulsed. In the meanwhile it sufficiently appears by this that the French, which to the distance of 200 paces (for so the author of the French Mercury witnesses, page 199) ran on from the Isle of Rhé into the Isle of L'Oye, were driven back and beaten so many steps, even to the bridge itself. Yet here the French boast that their men stood still awhile and took that work which Sir Piers Crosby abandoned. Let it be so. But why did they not keep it then? For being 251 masters of the bridge, had they not free passage to the Isle of L'Oye? Were there not numbers enough already flocked thither? (see Isnard, page 238.) But the Author of the French Mercury says that the fight was hot in the Isle of L'Oye for the space of 2 hours, page 200. And Isnard tells us, page 238, their names who from time to time were placed and substituted in their rooms that quitted the fight; that, therefore, there is no color to say their men were called back, when by their own confession it appears they were repulsed; yet besides Porcheux, as a person of note, and some wounded, Monsieur de Schomberg's epistle does not mention any man of quality to the king: Isnard, page 240.
But because the French seems as it were obscure on purpose in this place, let the reader accept this reason out of my commentaries. For since 252 the fortification near the bridge, being on the side towards L'Oye unfenced, and consequently so open to our shot that the French could not easily make it good, and many fresh men (as we may find in Isnard) came into their succors, they resolved to beat us from our guards if possible. Charging us, therefore, fiercely they ran on in great number, but being received bravely also by our men, they were driven back with the loss of a commander and diverse soldiers. This did not impeach them yet to return to a fresh charge, but neither could it prevail so far as to keep them from being beaten back again. These encounters passing to and fro in this manner for diverse times, some of those troops who went over first returned. These, therefore, joining their forces together, and chasing the French, first to the half moon 253 before the bridge, and after over the bridge itself into the Isle of Rhé, returned vanquishers, having killed many of the enemy and brought back diverse of their fellow soldiers, who were sore wounded. Nimble victory being now turned on our side, it was advised concerning giving chase to the French. But because night was already entered, and we had no horse to follow, it was thought best to desist; if in the meanwhile we drive not the French sooner out of the Isle of L'Oye the scantiness of our numbers was the cause. Of their flight, therefore, who without any resting came to the village of Coarde, and even to Saint Martin's itself, we can not speak with that certainty, though more than common fame affirm it. But that industrious author of the French Mercury is to be heard likewise: Le retour mit tout en tel 254 desordre et fuitte, que le dit sieur de Marillac mesme fut renversè par les fuyards, et ny pour commandement, ny pour coup d'éspeè ne les peut arreter. That is in English: The return put all in that disorder and flight that the aforesaid Monsieur de Marillac was thrown down by the runaways, and neither through his command by word of mouth, or drawing his sword to stay them, was able to keep them in their duty. And here I take to witness posterity and all succeeding ages, that I produce the French authors themselves to witness. Why may not the victory, therefore, both now and for ever, be said to stand in this article, so much the more famous as that it was gotten with less difficulty? Neither will any deny this who calls to mind that victories ought not to be considered by their beginnings or middle, but by their 255 ends. But was this, perchance, that it might appear how little force was requisite to beat the enemy? So at the battle of Cressy, Poitiers, Agincourt, some maniples only of the English over threw great armies of the French. This will seem less strange who calls to mind the natural condition of this Nation in all ages. For it is so solemn and usual with them to consume all their fury in the first onset, that when they have none else to be afraid of they grow afraid of themselves, as apprehending that fierceness which precipitated them into so much hazard, and from themselves at last deriving the causes of their danger.
But lest yet I might be thought too unjust to the French, or too favorable to our own side, I may say that victory, which even the law of arms vindicates unto us, to be Cadmean and miserable. It had been better 256 not to have overcome on these terms. It will appear whither we will or no that a great blow was given us. Take, therefore, your trophies to you; we can not deny but a great slaughter was committed; but neither must you deny upon what kind of persons; that is to say, on such as being penned up in straits could neither stand to fight nor go away; on such as seeking a fit place to show their valor made a retreat like to a flight; and such as being of sickly and weak estate of body, were either resolved to die, or at least could not have lived much longer. What then? it seems none almost here died but such as it concerned to die; it would not have been so well with them if they had escaped.
But let this be granted too, that the French got a great victory. But may they not be ashamed of such a victory, as they dared not 257 attempt on even terms? Was it not more dishonorable to vanquish thus than to be vanquished? Certainly, if we look on the ancient examples of virtue and valor, it would have been thought an ignominious thing to kill an enemy that was fallen into a ditch, and the rather that this war was not made so much out of hatred as emulation, not so much against the French as for them . Who, therefore, would have killed men fallen down and sticking in the mud, nay who would not have helped them? An enemy that does not present himself in such a posture to fight as becomes a martial person seems scarce worthy death. But they will say, dolus an virtus! [(who questions whether) craft or courage?] neither do I demand it.
It is disputed yet concerning the number of those that perished in this conflict. Isnard says, page 240, they were 2000, but our men say that 258 about 500 only perished by weapon, and about 300 or at most 500 were drowned, with whom the French Mercury seems to accord, page 201, describing a number of about 500 or 600 (those who died on their part being comprised herein) lying on the ground. A less number than this is produced by some of our side, but a greater by none, that I could ever learn, yet the unworthy author, Isnard, says that 1300 of the French were clothed in the garments of the English. But either this is false, or ought to be understood thus, that the old clothes our men sold to the brokers of Saint Martin's, in that long time of 3 months that we stayed there, were bought or borrowed by the French soldiers for ostentation. But the same author says that 46 of our colors were gotten, concealing in the meanwhile that most of them were taken 259 away from dead and drowned persons, and that not sooner than the next day following. I heard only Monsieur de Bellingham commended for taking away bravely one of them. And here likewise, as before, was no little error committed by our men, for together with the great ordnance they should have shipped the multitude of our colors. For since, as I declared before, very few men marched under every ensign, it had been not only convenient to have avoided superfluous and unnecessary burdens (that the soldiers might fight with less encumber) but most requisite to carry away those marks of honor, which falling into the enemy's hands would have disparaged us. Besides, we had therein but imitated them . For both at this and the fight at Samblanceau the French brought with them few or no colors. How our numbers 260 were so diminished we may find above; let the reader, therefore, peruse those places. Besides, it is no new thing in all ages and countries that captains should bring an account of more men to receive pay for than they really have; yet do not we give this for a reason here. Let it suffice for the present that any 46 of our colors were so far from having above 1200 men to follow them, that some 46 there were who had not so much as 400 among them.
The French acknowledge very few to be killed on their side, but our men bring no small arguments to the contrary; for if it be granted by them that 2000 were buried, and 800 or 1000 only on our side lost, the remainder will quickly appear (1200 on their part). But that the French were killed in so great number seems to me so unlikely, that, without all ambiguity, I 261 should confess the greatest lost by much to have fallen on our side. It rests that those who buried the dead were deceived as having not leisure to make a just account; besides, it may be those of the religion in France who served on our side are not contained in this number.
The French being driven out of the Isle of L'Oye unto the Isle of Rhé, it was thought fit to make good that bridge, and fortify that half moon, which (the enemy being beaten thence) we had now recovered, for it was not possible to give chase to those who fled so fast, now the night was come in, and we had no horse to follow. Besides, it ought not be otherwise; for that which was resolved long 262 since to leave the Isle of Rhé, we had now obtained in despite of the French. As being constant, therefore, to their first intention, our men stayed here, Sir Piers Crosby in the meanwhile being restored to his charge of defending the bridge; and for this were alleged no impertinent reasons. For if, upon discovery of the smallness of our numbers, the enemy should return to fight, there was no place which we might with more advantage and security keep. My Lord Duke in the meanwhile, lest any hope should appear to our men, but that which their proper courage and virtue gave, causes all the long boats to be sent away, not so much as his own excepted. Moreover, he exhorts them to fight again if need were, giving the best order withal that possibly might be for the wounded, and so expects whether the enemy 263 would return to charge. But they were either run away, or at least lay hid from us. Our men then began to suspect some design herein; for they knew that about the second watch of the night (the sea being ebb) there were many passages to the Isle of L'Oye, especially near a certain Mill, which the French very well understood also; yet whither it were that they were glutted with their late butchery, and frighted with their repulse, or, which is more likely, that they apprehended lest by the coming in of the sea again they should be enclosed, and so constrained to fight upon fair terms with us, they desisted from any enterprise. Howsoever, it was certain we passed that night and diverse following days with all security; for some guards being placed at the end of the dike most remote from us, Schomberg, 264 together with those that remained, retired to Saint Martin's and the villages adjoining, for so says Isnard, page 239: he having placed one troop of horse and two companies of foot at that end of the dike that was furthest from us, and divided his horse in the villages adjoining, went himself with the rest of his army to Saint Martin's.
The enemy's departure being at this time both made known to us, and that hour being past in which through low water there was possibility of their coming over to us, my Lord Duke (it being now towards midnight) retires with the thin relics of his army to the village of L'Oye. Here again it was deliberated what to do, sundry advices to this purpose being given. But at last it was agreed to burn that fatal bridge, and so to ship our men. About the third watch of the night, therefore, 265 this command was given to Sir Piers Crosby, and that being done, to withdraw himself and soldiers to the rest of our forces. he without delay fires it, to which the pitch and tar of the Ships affording combustible matter enough, there arose a huge flame, in so much that some French sentinels shot at our men diverse times. But because they were not only few but placed at a great distance, and besides had no great mind to provoke those whom they knew were now enraged against them, they either missed on purpose, or, which is most likely, did not reach the mark, for we received no hurt, though they might shoot with as good aim as at noon day. Sir Piers Crosby having now very well acquitted himself of all that he had in charge (about the 4th watch of the night retiring himself and soldiers to L'Oye) passes the rest 266 of that night in much quietness.
The next day my Lord Duke musters his soldiers, and finding those only wanting whom I mentioned before, prepares to be gone. In the meanwhile he sent Sir Tho. Frier and Arthur Brett to demand the bodies of the slain, and Dolbier to treat concerning changing of prisoners. The former, finding Schomberg easily assenting, gave order to bury the dead. But when Dolbier delivered his message Schomberg replied he could do nothing therein without first acquainting the king his master. Diverse noble persons on both sides being brought away therefore, sojourned some while in their adversary's country, (being yet well used there) until, by the mutual clemency of their kings, without paying any ransom, they returned home.
The question now among the Colonels was who should last 267 go a shipboard, as taking this to be a special point of Honor. This controversy was ended by casting of lots, so much leisure had we now even for recreation and pastime. The business being thus determined, our men go now a shipboard without any to hinder them. For Monsieur de Schomberg employed himself in demolishing some of our works before Saint Martin's, where, as Isnard, page 240, relates, he determined to abide, so to advertise his king of the behavior and stay of the English in the Isle of L'Oye, as also to learn all he could concerning our taking ship and departure thence. Here, therefore, we stayed 8 whole days, which Isnard himself confesses, page 244, the enemy not so much as appearing before us. My Lord Duke in the meanwhile, being careful of the reformed, sent Sir Henry Hungate, that if any perchance were 268 near the shore to bring them away. But having coasted the whole Isle of L'Oye, besides the inhabitants he found neither friend nor enemy; for having met with some commodity for passage they were departed a little before.
It may seem strange to the reader now that my Lord Duke's mind was not yet sufficiently prepared to be gone, and that other cause than the contrary winds might be given of his stay. But they who knew well his inward disposition will easily afford belief to what shall be here set down. Having, therefore, called together a select council of worthy persons, he demands their opinion (as in a high point) whether they thought enough was 269 yet done for the dignity of his king and master in this expedition, and for this purpose desires them to speak their minds freely.
They who held the affirmative I should believe spake much to this purpose, for I have not been able to recover hither unto a perfect copy of all that passed at this time; yet, because the whole frame of the history infers the contents hereof, it is probable that someone having obtained leave spoke in this sense:
That the French had nothing to object against us but the late (in what manner soever) committed slaughter. But that such a poor and inglorious butchery could not be esteemed of that moment as to be paralleled with the many bravely achieved victories we had gotten since we came first to the island. That he, in the meanwhile, had brought no more forces with him then what the garrison and islanders 270 alone did abundantly equal. That the French had besides them a flourishing and chosen army. That all these could not hinder yet but the far lesser part of his infantry (being not yet fully recovered of a long navigation) did at Samblanceau, not only put to flight Toiras and his forces (though forewarned of this expedition) and killed almost all his cavalry (which was composed of some of the prime nobility of France), but had subdued an island capable of the whole French army, (which was almost in sight) and might have taken the citadels themselves, unless he had thought it better to reduce them by famine than conquer them by the sword.
That no sally in the meanwhile, or other attempt from the citadels or Isle of Oleron, or the continent itself was made, but the French were either slain or at least beaten back. 271 But not by land only, but by sea also, that he had sufficiently manifested what the English could do. That this appeared by the many subsidiary fleets which were chased away or sunk, by the many soldiers and mariners which were cast into the sea and drowned, insomuch that their floating carcases filled the inhabitants everywhere with terror.
But not with men only, but even with the inclemency of the weather, with famine and sickness, that he had struggled, and that not a short time, but 3 months space. That those difficulties yet could not prevail so far against him but that he continued victor all this while at a distance no farther remote from the Continent of France than what might be passed over in an hour and a half; as well in doing as in suffering, therefore, that there was given proof of the ancient Roman fortitude. 272
That he had in the meanwhile offered battle diverse times to the French both by land and sea, nay, that he had dared them to it often. That yet they were not so confident either in their own or confederates' forces (and those fetched from Spain itself) that they would hazard to fight with us. That when at last, being constrained by necessity (to which alone he could yield) he resolved to depart, that with a sharp challenge and countenance turned to the enemy he had often braved them. That the slack and dilatory French hereupon were so much contemned that his over-careless and confident soldiers had indeed received a blow, but in such a place as no courage could either well declare or sufficiently defend itself. For his sickly and weak companies being intercepted in straits, and thronged out of their arms by the 273 multitude of those who pressed on them, were so little able to resist that they were killed, more to the enemy's disgrace than their own. That this was so evident that when the like chance had happened to so many Philistines (that I may not say French) nothing could have hindered any little army of Pygmies (when yet their honor would suffer it) to put them to the worst. That with the firmer part of his forces he had yet extorted the victory (the French had almost gotten) out of their hands, and cast them out of L'Oye. That nothing more famous than this was ever done, or that could give us more reputation. For in despite of most eager and ravening enemies, that he had not only made good his purposes but frustrated the enemy's intentions. In this very title alone, that the moment and importance of victory itself consisted, 274 which not so much as a just enemy would deny. How much terror in the meanwhile this overthrow had brought on them was manifest even by this, that they dared not so much as endure to behold our sails, though now staying here for diverse days, by which means all the bordering shore (without any violence offered or garrison to defend it) was so cleared from the enemy that even posterity could not be ignorant how much was attributed to our fame and reputation. For that by the power and virtue of it alone, so much of the island as was then in prospect and view seemed his.275
That nothing more, therefore, was to be attempted, since whensoever he exceeded this, he would not only lose his labor while he went about to provoke an absent enemy that had no design to fight, but should in a sort abandon and cast away both his own and soldiers felicity.
Thus much he, who not much passing the bounds of those things that were done, desired yet to favor and set out the honor of his country.
But my Lord Duke, to whom it seemed grievous that in 3 whole months' space the French should have one so fortunate an hour as that they might pretend to victory, though but for so short a time, argued to the contrary in this manner:
That the French, by their slaughter of us, (howsoever committed) were grown so insolent that it was necessary a little to stoop and pull them down. That, therefore, he was resolved to go to Rochelle; there that he should not want occasion to acquit himself as he ought; for in a place apt for sallies the enemy could not so watch or keep him in, but that he might take his time to break out and prevail himself of diverse advantages 276 against them. Lastly, that he might there securely attend the coming of the Earl of Holland.
But then there wanted not some to whom the Rochellers' fidelity was not a little suspected, because they were now in speech for a peace which would prove much beneficial unto them, when, together with submitting and rendering themselves to their king, they would accept a garrison from him . That they might the sooner be induced hereunto, since by a public decree at Montalban and Castres, (Merc. Fr. T. xiii. p. 912) neither the cause of the Rochellers, nor the war undertaken by us, was approved. That he should do wisely, therefore, not to commit himself to the hands of those who were distracted among themselves. Besides, that it was the natural condition of those of the religion to study nothing more than, together with 277 their proper conservation, the rendering themselves gracious to their king. That it might, therefore, so fall out that some sudden tumult being raised, the laws not only of hospitality, but even of the faith and promise wherein they stood engaged to us, might be violated, and himself together become the common prey. That his wisdom was such as to understand sufficiently the meaning hereof. That, therefore, with his weak and thin forces, he should not put himself within those walls, where neither his lodging was secure nor liberty safe. That in such desperate cases as theirs men think all things lawful; when, therefore, he should attempt anything in this kind, that he should be so provided as to have no cause to apprehend anything, either within or without their walls.
Those reasons prevailed somewhat 278 with my Lord Duke (who, as Sir William Beecher told me,) was wonderfully affected to go to Rochelle. But the seamen and mariners also by this time cried out, their cables were broken, their sails torn, and ships much bruised and shattered. That, therefore, unless the wind turned quickly, that they were cast away. The eighth day being now past, and no enemy either by sea or land appearing, my Lord Duke sets sail, the wind serving well at that time, though presently after proving contrary.
The generous Earl of Holland, who had omitted nothing that might speed his voyage, and besides had run no little danger in passing to his ships in a little skiff, taking advantage hereof, makes haste to the Isle of Rhé. But the wind rising on a sudden, and a horrible tempest following thereupon, the sky and sea seemed so 279 intermixed together as if both had been converted to storms; scarce any element consisted unto itself, nor our ships unto their tackings; yet my Lord Duke in all this tossing wanted not the comfort of having brought away his majesty's navy from the shoals and unsafe roads near Rhé; for if the same accident had happened there, they must needs have fallen foul and perished among themselves. Some of our lesser ships. in the meantime, coming upon the blind rocks near the coast of lesser Brittany, were either wrecked and drowned, or brought not without great difficulty into the harbors adjoining. Three hundred bodies, says Isnard, were cast ashore; but our men confess not so many, though it can not be doubted but that they suffered a great loss at this time. The two Generals, after this manner being on their way 280 together, could not come to speech till the sea grew calmer and the winds appeased. At length, near our western coast, they saluted each other.
All the business concerning supplies being then brought into examination, it appeared that neither the first letters of my Lord Duke, in which he declared his purpose to leave the Isle of Rhé, and together forbid any men to be sent for the reinforcing his army; nor these latter letters, in which he advertised how, at the Rochellers' entreaty, his mind was changed, and thereupon required that the succors might be hastened away, were delivered to my Lord of Holland's hands. It was found out at last, also, that the difficulty was only in the not timely enough purveyance of victuals.
At length coming to Plymouth, my Lord Duke took post horse to go to Court, where, falling on his 281 knees before his gracious king and master, he was received not without the wonted testimonies of acceptance. The next question was of cashiering our men, which being done, those who outlived sickness and mischance returned home, where attending their hurts many recovered, some also, through tedious and chronic diseases, pined away. And this is the summary narration of the voyage of the Isle of Rhé, according to the relation given me, in which I protest to have written nothing out of partiality.
To you (whether brave or learned) French, I must now appeal awhile, and profess to have said nothing here with desire to offend you. The rash folly of Isnard indeed provoked me, so far as I 282 thought fit not to leave it uncorrected; and that it is lawful to repulse force with force, and hard with hard, is not by me first observed; what-so-ever, therefore, may be thought bitterer than it ought, let it fall on him for my part.
What a patron of your cause, in the meantime, how exact an historian you have got, may be perceived both by the above mentioned places, as also by this in the conclusion of his book. For while he strives to exalt the victory of his Countrymen the wrangler makes no difficulty to insert these words, page 249: Neither is any man so ignorant in martial affairs, but he must confess that the enemy both might and ought to overcome; since he had not only more numbers of fresh soldiers, but the advantage of opportune places to acquire the victory. But what a monstrous and absurd 283 speech is this? For who will say that we had fresh men at our departure, or can imagine the choice of places to belong to us? This is more impertinent than to deserve an answer.
Converting my speech to you again, therefore, I must say there was enough done for honor, too much for effusion of blood on either part. Let both Nations, therefore, have their due glory. It will perpetually renown you that you preserved both citadels; that you affected a safe rather than a doubtful victory, (as being that which argues best the providence of a general) besides that great slaughter you made of our men and taking away of our colors, may be reputed among the chiefest trophies and spoils you have ever gotten. But on the other side, that we obtained a famous victory by fine force in the open field at Samblanceau: 284 that we stayed in your island, and not out of the sight of your whole army, above the space of 3 months: that so many auxiliary fleets were either beaten back by us or sunk: that we offered to fight with you, both by sea and land, so many times: that with a handful of men we beat you again out of the Isle of L'Oye, when you had almost won the victory, will give us an everlasting fame. If any yet think we have not done enough herein, and demand thereupon whither we can produce any slaughter that may be laid in balance with that at the dike, let him account with himself, that those whom we killed in diverse encounters, and drowned in diverse sea fights, though not at any one, yet at sundry times, being collected and summed up together, will abundantly equal this number. Besides that, our victories 285 were masculine, glorious, and due to our virtue; that yours was only opportune, obnoxious, and momentary. For the 4 little Drakes you took they are not to be poised with 53 great pieces, whereof 20 were whole brass culverins, taken by Sir Sackville Trevor. Besides, the same year were taken by Captain Pennington 34 French ships, laden with merchandise and ordnance. The ensigns and colors only remain, which being hanged on the roof of the church of Nostre Dame at Paris, may dazzle our eyes. But if the pennants and flags, which our seamen took from you in these wars, were hanged about any of our churches, they would endanger the intercepting of our light from us. But this brag is so much less to be accounted for, both that so few of our men served under every Color, as that on your part either 286 one, or at least very few, were brought in competition against us. But lest these things should be repeated over to often, lest the reader (though partial) look back on that which is above laid down by us, or if that please not, let him turn over the French authors themselves, and he shall find that if in three months space we had one unfortunate hour, it will appear yet that the next ensuing did so repair it. That if it be granted that the French triumphed over the vanquished, it must not be denied but the English triumphed even over the victory itself, which, consequently, if they did not make use of, and pursue according to time and occasion, that the night coming on and defect of horse were the only obstacles.
This freely interposed judgment concerning the passages between both nations, that 287 you who are worthy-minded will not take ill is my desire, being ready with the same temper to hear yours. let it be lawful for every one to defend the dignity of his country, unlawful for any to sow or nourish the seeds of dissension. This, if it be approved by you, I shall little esteem all wranglers who, in my epistle to the reader, shall find their ready and perpetual answer.
Fare you well, in the meanwhile, and exercise all mutual testimonies of goodwill.