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Maria. The same year he was created earl of Bristol. During his absence, the favourite Buckingham sought in vain to shake the king's confidence in him; and, on finding the task a more difficult one than he had at first anticipated, he employed various arts and threats to prevent his return to England. But the earl was not to be intimidater, and, in spite of Buckingham's threats, hastened home to obtain an au• dience with the king. Immediately on landing at Dover, he was committed to the Tower by the favourite's order ; but a committee of lords having pronounced him free of all matter of impeachment, he was soon after restored to liberty.
On the accession of Charles, the earl fell into disgrace at court, and in May, 1626, was impeached for high treason. But he boldly recriminated, by preparing articles of impeachment against Buckingham ; and the king, to protect his favourite, was obliged to dissolve the parliament. For a time the earl sided with the leaders of opposition in the long parliament; but he at last withdrew into voluntary exile, and became a zealous adherent to the royal cause. He died at Paris on the 21st of January, 1653. He published some tracts, speeches, and verses, and, in the earlier part of his life, a translation of Peter du Moulin's Defence of the catholic faith.'
BORN A. D. 1599.-DIED A. D. 1657.
This distinguished English admiral was the son of a respectable merchant at Bridgewater, in the county of Somerset. He was born in August, 1599, and received the rudiments of education at the grammar school of Bridgewater. At the age of sixteen he was entered of Alban's ball, Oxford. Wood informs us that the young collegian occasionally amused himself with hunting and stealing swans,—an offence probably of no great culpability in those times. In 1619, he stood for a fellowship in Merton college, but was rejected by the warden, Sir Henry Saville, on the extraordinary ground of not being of sufficient stature for holding such an academical distinction! Probably the religious principles of his family, which were known to lean to Presbyterianism, was the real ground of the warden's opposition to young Blake ; but whatever occasioned his failure, he ultimately had no reason to regret the circumstance by which Providence seems to have given his professional views a totally new direction. He left the university in his 25th year, and took up his residence at Bridgewater, where he conducted himself with much prudence and discretion, so as to win general respect, while he openly professed his attachment to the nonconformist party and puritan principles. In the parliament which sat in April, 1640, he took his place as burgess for Bridgewater, an honour which he owed to the universal estimation in which he was held for integrity and independence of character. In the long parliament which succeeded he lost his election.
On the breaking out of the civil war, Blake unhesitatingly declared for the parliament, and raised a troop of dragoons, which he personally commanded. He was now in his fortieth year, and this was his first essay in arms, yet he soon discovered remarkable military talents, and the most indomitable courage in the field. At the siege of Bristol he was intrusted with the defence of a small fort on the lines, from which he continued to fire upon the royalists even after the surrender of the city by the officer in command, who had neglected to give him notice of the capitulation. He subsequently served in Somersetshire, and made a most successful defence of Lyme against Prince Maurice. In 1644, he was appointed governor of Taunton, the only place held by the parliament on that side of the island. Here he was besieged by Goring; and though the town was but poorly fortified, and few supplies could be thrown in, yet he made a most spirited and successful detence and refused to surrender the castle even after the royalists had made a breach on the defences, and were actually in possession of a part of the town. The assailants repeatedly pressed him to surrender, but he scouted the idea, and declared that he would eat his boots first. At last, the royalists were compelled to raise the siege, after they had lost 1000 men before and in the town. Another attempt, however, was soon afterwards made upon Taunton by the united forces of Lord Goring, Sir Richard Greenville, and Colonel Berkeley. The besieged were sorely straitened this time, but their heroic governor resolutely held out till relieved by the approach of Fairfax and Massey. Blake's successful defence of Taunton materially contributed to the final defeat of the royal cause; for the king, knowing well the importance of the place, was induced to employ a considerable portion of his forces in the attempt to reduce it, and consequently took the field at Naseby with a force considerably inferior to what he might otherwise have brought into that decisive action. It appears that when the trial of the king was finally determined on, amongst other precautionary measures, a part of the troops under Blake was disbanded. He was well known to disapprove of the more violent measures of the army, and to have leaned strongly to the side of mercy. This humane disposition, added to the high and generous feelings of his nature which raised him to an immeasurable height above mere partisanship, obtained for him the respect both of the republicans and royalists, while it kept him from taking any very active part in the perplexed and conflicting politics of the day. But Cromwell, while he reckoned him unfit or rather unsuitable for the council-board, was too quick-eyed and good a soldier himself not to know the worth and value of his man; and, accordingly, he soon found a sphere in which so highly gifted a patriot might render his talents most available to his country.
On the 12th of February, 1649, Colonels Blake, Deane, and Popham, were appointed commissioners of the navy, and nominated to the command of squadrons. With our ideas of naval service, it seems a violent and unnatural transition to pass without any professional preparation, from the command of a regiment of soldiers to that of a line-ofbattle ship; but strange as it may appear, it was nevertheless a common practice until towards the close of the second Charles' reign, and it succeeded so well, especially in the instance before us, as almost to justify and recommend such appointments. The truth seems to be that the naval tactics of that age were, compared at least with those of our own day, exceedingly rude and simple; and the qualities of courage, deci. sion, and promptitude, constituted nearly all the qualifications requisite for a naval command. These, we have seen, Blake possessed in an eminent degree ; and to them he likewise added a quickness of apprehension and fertility of genius which enabled him to adapt himself with great readiness to new and extraordinary situations. His first service was to blockade the royal squadron, having the Princes Rupert and Maurice on board, in Kinsale harbour. He kept them in close durance from the end of February, 1649, until the following October, when, despairing of relief, the princes resolved to force their way through the blockading squadron, which they effected with the loss of three of their ships, and steered for Lisbon, whither Blake followed them. On his arrival in the Tagus, he demanded the ships of Prince Rupert as belonging to the commonwealth of England. The requisition greatly embarrassed the Portuguese cabinet, but it was ultimately resolved to decline complying with it, and on Blake's attempting to force his way up the river to Rupert's anchorage, he was driven back by the fire from the batteries on shore. Blake, in junction with Popham, now made severe reprisals on the Portuguese merchant-men, until alarmed by the losses of his subjects, Don John compelled Rupert to quit the Tagus, and hastened to patch up a treaty with the commonwealth. From the Tagus, Rupert proceeded to Carthagena, and thence to Malaga, where he was inconsiderate enough to capture some English merchantmen. Informed of this transaction, Blake sailed immediately for Malaga, and having attacked the royal squadron, burnt or destroyed all but four or five ships, with which the two princes escaped to the West Indies. Prince Maurice, some time afterwards was cast away. Rupert got back to France, and sold his vessels and prizes, on behalf of Charles II., to the French government. Such was the fate of a fleet of twenty-five ships, which, on the execution of Charles I., had declared for his son.
| Howell's State Trials, p. 224.
Returning home, Blake encountered a French ship of forty guns, the commander of which, not having been apprised of the commencement of hostilities between France and England, cheerfully accepted an invitation to come on board Admiral Blake's ship. On being informed of the war, and asked if he would willingly resign his sword, the spirited Frenchman returned an instant answer in the negative; whereupon Blake, with equal gallantry, allowed him to return to his vessel and defend himself as he best could, which he bravely did for two hours, and then surrendered. His next service was the reduction of the Scilly islands, and of Jersey and Guernsey. The maritime rivalry of the English and Dutch nations was now assuming a warlike attitude. The navigation act, by which it was ordered that no goods, the produce of Africa, Asia, or America, should be imported into Britain but in English bottoms, had been passed and carried into execution. By this act, the Dutch, who had hitherto been the common carriers of Europe, beheld themselves suddenly stripped of one of their most lucrative branches of commerce. In addition to this source of irritation, letters of marque had been granted to several individuals, on the representation of certain merchants who conceived themselves to have been injured by the
· Life of Prince Rupert.- Heath, 275.
Dutch navy, and numerous prizes had been brought into the English ports. To protect their commerce, the States equipped a powerful Heet; but, at the same time, sent an embassy to London to negotiate for the repeal of the navigation act, and the pacific adjustment of differences. The ambassadors were received with all outward demonstrations of respect; but, instead of having their proposition listened to, had a formal demand made upon them for the payment of a sum of £1,700,000, as a reparation for injuries inflicted by the Dutch on Eng. lish merchants in Amboyna, Persia, Muscovy, Greenland, and other places. While the conferences were yet pending, a Dutch fleet of forty-five sail, under the celebrated Van Tromp, appeared in the Downs, and proceeded to take up an anchorage. Blake was immediately ordered to repair thither with such ships as were ready. When the English fleet appeared in sight, Van Tromp weighed anchor, and bore up without striking his flag,—an honour which had always been paid to England in the narrow seas. Blake reminded Van Tromp of his duty by firing a gun without ball, but the signal was scornfully answered by a single gun. Blake fired a second, and then a third gun, but Van Tromp cut the discussion short by pouring a broadside into the English admiral's vessel. A general tight ensued, which lasted from five o'clock until night. When the fleet separated, the English cut off two ships of thirty guns. It is now impossible to determine who was the aggressor in this first conflict betwixt the two rival naval powers. Van Tromp, in his official despatches, affirms that he backed his sails and lowered his flag to the British admiral, who nevertheless fired upon him; while Blake, on the other hand, states the contrary. Still the Dutch, unwilling to lose their fishing-trade and commercial advantages, manifested a strong desire to negotiate; but the demands of the commonwealth for complete and perfect indemnification were so inexorable and cxorbitant, that all hopes of reconciliation vanished, and both parties prepared for a struggle. The fleet of Blake was rapidly reinforced through the exertions of Cromwell and Bond; and Van Tromp sailed from the Texel with severity men of war. But the fleet of the latter was soon afterwards dispersed by a storm, and five of his vessels fell into the hands of the English. Returning to Holland, Van Tromp was received with reproaches by the populace, and, in consequence, resigned his commission, and was succeeded by De Ruyter and De Witt, who signally failed in their first action with Blake. Van Tromp was again prevailed upon to resume the command of the Dutch Heet. Blake was riding in the Downs with only thirty-seven sail, when he was surprised by the appearance of his old adversary, with a fleet of double that number; he, however, maintained an unequal contest for fourteen hours, and then ran up the Thames as far as Leigh. In about two months Blake was enabled to put to sea again, and sailed in search of his rival, whom he encountered returning up the channel from the isle of Rlié, with three hundred merchant ships under his convoy. A warm engagement followed, in which the Dutch lost eleven ships and thirty merchantmen. On the 2d of June, 1653, Van Tromp encountered the English squadron, under Monk and Deane, off the North Foreland. A sharp engagement ensued, which was resunied