Unseen Hand in British History - Ian D. Colvin




III. Jack and the Giant

The policy of England was, as we have seen, a national policy. It was born of the determination of Englishmen to be no longer "under the thumb" of the foreigner. It was carried out, not by the Government alone, nor alone by the Merchant Adventurers, but by both working in harmony together. Let us now see how this policy came into conflict with a vast Continental Power, and brought England through in safety and with honor.

We might call it the story of Jack and the Giant. England, at the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, had Scotland and Ireland against her, and was almost without an Army and a Navy and the means to build and arm them. Her chief assets were a brave Queen, wise Ministers, a strong and adventurous Mercantile Marine, a cloth manufacture founded on the best wool in the world, and the spirit of the English people.

On the other side lay the vast dominions of the House of Hapsburg. Our history books teach us that England fought Spain; but in truth the conflict was with something far bigger than Spain. It was with an Imperial Power and an Imperial mercantile system which at that time controlled most of the wealth and the military and naval resources of the world.

Before Spain discovered the West and Portugal the East Indies Germany controlled the treasure and the trade of the world. In trade the power of "the Society of German Merchants of the Holy Roman Empire" extended from Bergen to Venice, from Novgorod to London.

"It was," says Janssen in his great History of the German People, "in the fifteenth century that the Hanseatic League attained the summit of its power. Its commercial authority extended into Russia, Denmark, Norway, England, Scotland, France, Spain, and Portugal; into the interior of Germany, Lithuania, and Poland. Russia and the Scandinavian countries were completely subject to it, in a commercial sense; and England itself, at the close of the fifteenth century, stood in the same position to Germany with regard to trade as Germany later, up till within a short time ago, stood to England."

As to treasure, we shall not hesitate to assert," says Fischer, "that Germany was formerly the Mexico and Peru of Europe." That "joylly gentleman," the Count of Mansfeld, who tried to entrap Sir Thomas Gresham, owned a copper mine of almost inexhaustible wealth. We have already seen how the mediaeval Metallgesellschaft, the tribe of Hochstetter, cleaned out the mines of the Tyrol. The Hapsburgs derived an income of 300,000 gold florins from the mines of Schwatz alone. The gold mines in the region of Bergreichenstein kept 350 mills busy, and yet they were poorer than the gold mines of the Riesengebirge. The silver mines of the Erzgebirge furnished ores so rich that the Syndic had tables and chairs made of the metal, and it was on the command of silver, the standard of currency, that the Easterlings founded their financial power.

Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama between them changed the financial and commercial system of the world. Compared with the treasure of the Aztecs the mines of Germany were what our South African friends call "a low-grade proposition," and Venice, which depended on the caravan routes from the Gulf and the Red Sea, could not compete with the s eaborne traffic by way of the Cape of Good Hope.

But the Germans were strong in their funded capital and organized trade, and they set about at once to get control of the new commerce.

"The North Germans," says Janssen, "took a lively interest in the Portuguese discovery, and the Hansa sent many of their vessels by the new route; Vasco da Gama was assisted by a German in his first voyage to the Indies."

In 1503 the Welsers and other German merchants founded a commercial house at Lisbon. Dom Emanuel gave them privileges "exceeding indeed those given to his own subjects." They had "precedence in Indian commerce. All spices, Brazilian woods, and other goods coming from India or the newly discovered islands" they could buy and transport free of duty, and they were allowed to establish their own Court of Justice in Lisbon. German vessels sailed with the Royal Fleets. Three of Francisco de Almeida's greatest ships for the Indian Expedition of 1505 were German, and it is calculated that the German merchants reaped from that adventure a profit of no less than 175 percent. This is all according to Janssen, and according to Wheeler the Hanseatic merchants financed the Spanish voyages.

The ships of the Hanseatic League carried the spices and treasure to Flanders, Hamburg, and the Baltic, and returned to Spain with manufactured goods, munitions, marine stores of all kinds, and corn. In this scheme of commerce England was designed to play a subordinate part. Her wool and half-finished cloth were carried to Flanders in Hanseatic bottoms, and there woven, or finished and dyed, for the Spanish and Imperial markets. The Italian possessions of the House of Hapsburg, and the subordination of Venice, Naples, Florence, and the Pope, completed the circle of the Imperial system.

It was against this old, majestic, rich, and embattled system that Elizabethan England rose in revolt. To the faint-hearted if faint hearts there were in Elizabethan England it might well seem a hopeless prospect; but there were certain weak points in the imposing fabric, certain joints in the giant's armor. Charles V had never been able to unite his Empire into a political whole. He had, in fact, divided it into two on one side the old German Empire, and on the other Burgundy, Spain, and Italy. These two political divisions had no common factor save the House of Hapsburg, and this House, politic and able as it was, was not master of a statesmanship to unite such varied and conflicting interests.

The Empire of Germany itself had no central Power strong enough to keep it together. Attempts had been made; but they failed through lack of means and the jealousies of States and of interests.

At the Diet of Nuremberg in 1522-1523 the Princes put forward a scheme intended to unite and strengthen the Empire. "A general Customs duty," says Janssen, "both on exports and imports, was to be levied on all goods not included in the absolute necessaries of life, and this duty was to be at the rate of 4 percent, on the marketing price of the commodities."

The project at once divided Imperial politics into two parties, on the one side the Princes and the agricultural interest, on the other the forces of Commerce and Finance. The Free Trade case was put with great force by the Hanseatic League. In a petition of grievances of February 2, 1523, the cities urged that the tariff would be "the ruin of all trade and would provoke the people to fatal sedition." And again: "All artisans and good workmen would be driven by it into other countries and Germany would be utterly beggared." The Tariff Reformers, on their side, maintained that

"this new tax would not fall heavily on the common people," as food and raw material were not to be taxed, but "only such goods as came under the head of luxuries and non-essentials." Other nations had adopted such tariffs "and even higher taxes on all articles of commerce," yet "trade and business had by no means diminished in consequence." Besides, the foreigner would pay: ". . . this Customs duty only affected foreign countries, such as Bohemia, Hungary, Poland, England, whence the taxable goods were imported."

The Hanseatic League, hard pressed by these arguments, sent a treasonable delegation to the King of France at Lyons, and the King, being at war with the Emperor, had no hesitation in advising his subjects that they were cruelly wronged. At the same time they sent a patriotic deputation to the Emperor at Valladolid.

"The sole result of such a measure," the Emperor was told, "would be complete ruin of all trade, wholesale and retail, large, small, or medium, and the emigration of all mercantile people from Germany into foreign lands." And these Free Traders, who had just been practicing with the Emperor's enemies, were not ashamed to urge that the tariff "would incite the common people, who, as it was, were already showing many signs of insubordination, to still worse revolt and seditiousness."

Although Martin Luther had been assisting the cities in their agitation, they assured the Emperor that his books had been denounced, forbidden, and confiscated. Nor did they neglect more practical arguments. The tax, they said, would yield little to the Emperor: such taxes were easily diverted into other pockets, and the Emperor would lose the support of those patriotic financiers who had always been willing to lend him money for his wars at from 8 to 12 percent. The unseen hand was not altogether absent from these negotiations:

"The Imperial Councillor Hannart received 500 guilders; each of the other three councillors with whom the envoys had dealings were promised 200 guilders," and Hannart thereupon promised the towns "that he would be a favorable and ready advocate with the Emperor and estates in all their complaints."

These lofty and potent arguments prevailed; the Emperor threw his influence on the Free Trade side, and the Imperial Customs duty was "in a lamentable manner allowed to remain in abeyance . . . a result by no means conducive to the welfare of the Empire."

In this policy of wealth before unity and trade before production the German cities persisted through the rest of the century, and when Elizabeth came to the throne their complaint against England was not that its cheap cloth was injurious to the weavers of the Empire, but that this cloth was being carried in English and not in German ships, and sold by English and not by German merchants.

But before we come to the conflict with England we might quote a little further from the excellent Janssen to show the effect of this commercial system upon Germany. He gives us a picture of mingled wealth and discontent. German manufacturers were already in a bad way:

"Everything is scamped; every journeyman wants to be a master . . . they all aim at injuring one another; the work is finished off in a hurry and with regard to outward appearances only; the purchasers on their side think only of cheapness and not of the quality of the goods."

In all ranks of life foreign goods and new fashions were in vogue.

"Extravagance in dress," wrote another contemporary, "has impoverished the German nobility; they desire to make the same show as the rich city merchants; heretofore they were the leaders in fashion; but now they do not draw from their estates a twentieth part of what the merchants earn. . . I fear all this will bring much evil to Germany."

"Fashions changed completely every year." Gailer von Kaiserberg exclaims at the scandal that "women wear hats with ears . . . and . . . aureoles like saints in churches. . . . Their whole bodies are full of folly, under the belt, over the belt, inside and outside . . . the names of their fashions is legion. . . . The Government ought to forbid the abominably short dresses." Even the peasants and their wives "are beginning to buy the most costly foreign goods, and to dress themselves in velvet and silk as if they belonged to the nobility."

The old manufacturers were decaying; the new wealth destroyed old trades. The merchants blamed the Church for her extravagance; the Church blamed the merchants for their usury. Every class, every interest, every State, was in a ferment of jealousy and ripening for revolt. The huge dividends drawn from foreign trade; the wild speculations in metals and pepper; the company promoting and commodity cornering all these activities brought wealth of a sort but neither tranquility nor unity to the Empire.

As Germany was given over to commerce, so Spain was concentrated on spoil and glory. She neglected her manufactures and used her manhood for her fleets and her armies. Despite her treasure she was beggared by great wars and applied to her German creditors in a continual state of neediness. Almost everything she required was imported, and the gold she brought from abroad went into the pockets of other nations. Her economic life, as it depended on distant and risky operations, was both splendid and insecure. To Flanders she looked for cloth; to Germany for ships and corn. Without German supplies, said Burghley after the Armada, "Spain is not able to make a Navy ready to carry the meanest Army that can be imagined."

Elizabeth was hardly upon the throne before her national policy was in conflict with this vast and unwieldy system.

In 1560 she was approached by an embassy from the German cities with a list of insolent demands.

  1. "That their former privileges may remain whole.
  2. "That they have a confirmation of these in the usual form, as granted by the Queen's progenitors.
  3. "That whenever the English subjects shall be relieved from paying a larger toll and custom, the Hansa merchants shall also be relieved from the same."

If these proposals did not please the Queen, the Germans suggested that a third person the Emperor or King Philip for choice should arbitrate between them.

"Or if this does not please her, to stand a trial at law before some indifferent Kings or Princes or Universities, they (the German merchants) to pay, pending judgment, the same custom as her own subjects."

These conditions did not please the Queen. Her commissioners had been so weak as to agree to "a trial-at-law at Bruges, Ghent, or Louvain," as to one part of the dispute; but the Queen swept it aside as an outrage on her royal dignity. The German merchants were informed that they would have to pay:

"similar toll and custom as the English subjects of this kingdom . . . provided they carry none of the said cloths to Antwerp or any of the Imperial cities of Brabant, Flanders, Holland, or Zealand, nor transport the cloths called kersies out of the Hanseatic cities into Italy."

Queen Elizabeth, it is clear, was determined to keep her chief cloth market for her own merchants; but she did not feel herself strong enough to sweep away all the Hanseatic privileges. The Germans were to pay 1d. less in the pound on imports and exports than other foreigners, and on cloths 12d. less in the pound. They were also to be granted licensses to export a certain limited quantity of cloth to "Antwerp and elsewhere."

The Germans were fain to accept, but were by no means content with these terms. Throughout the reign they never ceased to work petition and "practice" for the restoration of their "obsolete privileges," as the English contemptuously called them. Their persistence was so inveterate that even the deep and patient Burghley so far forgot himself as to become "rude."

As for the Queen, she never forgot the insult of the proposed arbitration. Long after, in a broadside which she wrote in terse, vigorous Latin, she referred to it. "They even wished," she wrote, to the great prejudice of her royal dignity, "to call their disputed privileges to judgment before the Princes." Yet the English Government was careful not to break with the Hanse: licensses to export "whites" were dangled before it, and it may be regarded as one of the master-strokes of Elizabethan policy that almost to the end of the reign the cities still cherished hopes of the English Government.

Encouraged by her success in the cloth trade, Elizabeth struck another blow for English industry. In the preamble of an Act of 1562 it is set forth that the

"girdlers, cuttlers, saddlers, glovers, pointmakers, and such-like craftsmen," as well as "their wives and families" had "sustentation" by these trades, which were also "a good education of a great part of the youth of this realm in good art and laudable exercise." These trades, however, had been "utterly impoverished by the abundance of foreign wares," dumping, in fact "the exquisite knowledges thereof" were decayed and "divers cities and towns within the realm of England much thereby impaired," and "the whole realm greatly endamaged."

On these excellent grounds the importation of "girdlers, rapiers, knives, sheaths, hilts, pummels, lockets, chapes, scabbards, horse furniture of all kinds, gloves, points, stirrups, bits, leather, lace, and pins " was, therefore, to be prohibited "from or after the feast of St. John Baptist now next ensuing."

It is plain from the list that the Queen was not only seeking to protect her artisans, but had a special care for the small arms industry. However that may be, the Act was bitterly resented in Flanders. No doubt the Hanse, which was strong in Bruges and Antwerp, poured oil on the fire.

"These regulations," says Anderson, "greatly alarmed the Netherlander; and the citizens of Antwerp more especially became quite enraged to see the English taking such large strides towards a universally extensive commerce. Moreover, the raising of the custom on cloth exported to the Netherlands, and of merchandise imported from thence into England, had given great offence to the Netherlander. All these considerations now induced the Duchess of Parma, governess of the Netherlands, to issue her proclamation prohibiting the exportation of any materials for the above manufactures to England. Moreover, by way of retaliation, but under pretext of the plague, which at this time raged in England, she prohibited the importation of English woolen goods into the Netherlands.

"In this year, therefore, the English Company of Merchant Adventurers were obliged to carry their woolen cloths to Embden, in East Friesland, where for a while they kept their staple, entirely deserting the Netherlands. Whereupon Philip II of Spain absolutely prohibited all his subjects from trading with the English at Embden. Yet in the end the steadiness of Elizabeth got the better of all opposition; for Philip, knowing that the true interest of his Netherland subjects required peace and commerce with England, found himself obliged to revoke all his prohibitions, and to admit the English to trade with the Netherlands as formerly on the bottom of the Intercursus Magnus"

Here was another victory for the Queen and her Merchant Adventurers. But the fight was only beginning. In 1566 an Act was passed "for the better employment and relief of great multitudes of the Queen's Majesty subjects using the art and labor of clothworking." For every nine unwrought cloths exported, the exporter was to ship one cloth "wrought and dressed, that is to say rowed, barbed, first-coursed, and shorn from the one end to the other," and the export of unwrought Kent and Suffolk cloth was totally forbidden. In 1567 the Merchant Adventurers succeeded in detaching Hamburg from the Hanseatic League. For ten years they maintained themselves there; but at the end of that time Hamburg was forced by the other cities to expel them. The Hanse agitated in successive Imperial Diets for the total banishment of the "monopolish" Merchant Adventurers from the Empire. Queen Elizabeth, I grieve to say, replied by bribing the Count of East Friesland and the Duke of Brunswick with pensions, and by supporting the "outlying towns" of the Netherlands in their revolt against Spain and the Hanseatic League.

The Merchant Adventurers moved again to Emden: driven from there by "the Spanish Party," they settled "in a heap" in the decayed Hanseatic town of Stade.

At the Diet of Augsberg in 1582 the Hanse succeeded in obtaining an Imperial decree for the expulsion of the English Merchant Adventurers. The decree was found very difficult to enforce, nevertheless some four years later the situation looked very black for England.

"This great matter of the lack of vent," Burghley wrote to Hatton, "not only of cloths, which presently is the greatest, but of all other commodities, which are restrained from Spain, Portugal, Barbary, France, Flanders, Hamburg, and the States, cannot but in process of time work a great change and dangerous issue to the people of the realm, who heretofore in time of outward peace lived thereby, and without it must either perish for want or fall into violence to feed and fill their lewd appetites with open spoil of others."

And a Spanish spy in London writes gleefully to Philip in 1586:

"The whole country is without trade and knows not how to recover it: the shipping and commerce here having mainly depended upon the communication with Spain and Portugal. They feel the deprivation all the more now with the loss of the cloth trade with Germany, which they formerly carried on through Holland and up the Rhine, but have now been deprived of by the capture of Nutz on that river. If Berck be taken also, which please God it will be, now that the neighbouring places have fallen, they will not be able to send any cloths at all, and this is causing much dissatisfaction all over the country. The rest of their trade with the other German ports and Muscovy is a mere trifle, as all they brought from those places was sent by them to Spain, and their Spanish trade being now gone, the other is of no use to them, as they do not know what to do with the merchandise they bring hither."

This was on the eve of the Armada; the alarm of Burghley and the glee of the Spaniard help us to realize how important a part this economic conflict played in the war, of which the Spanish Armada was an incident more picturesque but hardly more important.

How the Germans and Spaniards worked together in the preparation of the great fleet I briefly described in my last volume. Let me quote here only one clinching piece of additional evidence.

"The Easterlings," says Burghley in a note of 1591, "had covertly in their great hulks, outwardly fraughted with peaceable merchandise, during the space of two years, conveyed into Spain the greatest part of all the masts, cables, cordage, saltpetre, and powder that served to furnish the said Navy. Besides the furniture of the Spanish ships with such provisions, there were no greater nor stronger ships in that Army (the Armada) than was a great number of the Hanse towns."

Burghley laughed at the mere idea that the Germans were forced to fight. It could not have been done, he said, unless they had gone to Spain "furnished as ships of war"; and if it had not been for their help "Spain is not able to make a Navy ready to carry the meanest Army that can be imagined."

The German merchant ships, it may be explained, at this time usually sailed unarmed in their commercial ventures, relying on the amity of the Spaniards for protection. And this is an important point, for it illustrates how cheapness may be defeated by strength, a point altogether forgotten by the Free Traders.

"If Her Majesty," says a contemporary Englishman who was no doubt a Merchant Adventurer, "revokes her decree against the Hansa merchants, it is to be considered that they may prejudice the trade of the English merchants at Stade; if they of the Hansa Steads carry English goods as freely to Hamburg as the English merchants to Stade, by reason of their shipping in hoyers, sailing with three or four men and a boy, the largeness of their stowage and their amity with the Spaniard, and the English passing with ships of other building, many mariners, much munitions and provisions of defence, by reason of the hostility of the Spaniards, the Hanses by this means should be able to afford English commodities better cheap than the English merchants to the decay of them and their navigation, and many English thereby drawn to trade at Hamburg, and by degrees the trade now at Stade overthrown, and finally disappointing of this realm both of their trade and navigation."

When the cloth fleets of the Merchant Adventurers sailed to Hamburg or to Stade, they were not only armed to the teeth, but were escorted by Her Majesty's ships of war. If the course of trade had depended upon pure economics, the English mercantile marine would have been driven off the sea by the "hoyers" of the Hanseatic League. But pure economics never did, and probably never will, determine such questions. For what England sought was not the cheapest way of carrying her cloth; but that way which might best serve her end of strength and independence.

Yet if the question could be argued on those narrow grounds of profit and loss, we might find that the Elizabethans set the profit derived by their own control of the cloth markets of Europe against the loss sustained by the more expensive system of carriage. Thus, for example, Janssen:

"The English cloths and English wool," the Hanse represented to the Imperial Estates in 1582, "had become at least half as dear again, and of the 200,000 pieces which were exported by Englishmen, three-quarters at least came to Germany; the German cloth manufacturers were reduced to such extremity that numbers of towns, which had before counted many hundreds of cloth-workers and journeymen innumerable, were now either entirely without master-workmen or else had very few, and these few were obliged to content themselves with making inferior cloth. At the fairs of Frankfort it was principally English cloth that was sold . . . there was now scarcely a single servant or peasant girl who did not have some of her wearing apparel made of English cloth."

If we consider this passage, we see that despite the cost of well-manned and well-armed ships, the English clothier was able to drive German cloth out of the German market. He was then able to raise the price of his cloth, and he was besides able to secure the profits of shipping and marketing for his own countrymen. The mercantile marine which he created artificially, the Free Traders would say helped to maintain his national freedom and security, matters of more consequence than gold. The cloth fleet of London helped the Dutch to blockade Parma when Drake was fighting the Armada. These are considerations which cannot be computed upon the mathematical systems of our Free Trade economists; but they were well enough understood by the men who laid the foundations of England's greatness.

And we perceive also, in the longer voyages of our Elizabethan sailors, this underlying conception of a national policy. Everywhere the same ideas are at work: the Adventurers seek "a well-grounded dependence," a supply whether of gold or ships' stores or dyestuffs or spices free from the control of their possible enemies, and a vent for English cloth.

The Muscovy Company was founded, as I showed in The Germans in England, to secure an independent supply of all things necessary to shipping. Its foundation coincided with the attempt to break the power of the Hanseatic League in London, and our merchants realized that the power of the League was based on a monopoly of the Russian and Baltic trades. Hence the development of the circuitous Archangel route.

But our Elizabethans found that the Germans were strong in Muscovy, so they fell upon the contemplation of still longer voyages. Christopher Carlile debates the question in the pages of Hakluyt. This Elizabethan sea-captain seeks to persuade

"the merchants of the Muscovian Company and others" to put up capital for a "voyage to the hithermost parts of America." "Great gifts," he argues, are necessary to maintain the Russian trade. And "the Dutchmen (i.e. the Germans) are there so crept in as they daily augment their trade thither, which may well confirm that uncertainty of the Emperor's disposition to keep promise with our nation." The Archangel voyage was only possible once in a year, and if they went through the Sound, the King of Denmark is like to enforce a tribute on us."

"Moreover, "the bad dealings of the Easterlings are sufficiently known to be such towards our merchants of that trade, as they do not only offer them many injuries overlong to be written, but do seek all the means they can to deprive them wholly of their occupying that way: and to the same purpose have of late clean debarred them their accustomed and ancient privileges in all their great towns."

The hostility of Spain was equally dangerous in the Mediterranean. Let us therefore try North America. There we would find all the commodities of the Baltic and Russia:

". . . as pitch, tar, hemp and thereof cordage, masts, losshe (reindeer) hides, rich furs and other such like without being in any sort beholden to a King of Denmark or other prince or State that shall be in such sort able to command our ships at their pleasure as those do at this day by means of their strait passages (i.e. the Sound and Gibraltar) and strong shipping."

In the west and south parts of North America they might even expect to grow wine and oil, and if they planted colonies and civilized the natives, the country might become "a very liberal utterance of our English cloths." As the new land was "bigger than all Europe" and "bending to the northward," the inhabitants would have "wonderful great use of our said English cloths after they shall come once to know the commodity thereof."

Our fishermen had long been supreme on the Newfoundland Banks. Both Spaniards and French who went there for whale and cod acknowledged the English to be "lords of the harbors where they fish," as the Dutch were masters of the Greenland whale fisheries. And it was thought that Newfoundland might become the Baltic of the English.

"There is nothing," says Edward Hales, in his journal of Sir Humphrey Gilbert's voyage, "which our east and northerly countries of Europe, but the like also may be made in them as plentifully by time and industry, namely, rosen, pitch, tar, sope-ashes, deal-board, masts for ships, hides, furs, flax, hemp, corn, cables, cordage, mien-cloth, metals, and many more. . . . The trees for the most part all yielding gum and turpentine."

As to Virginia, Ralph Lane writes to Hakluyt on September 3, 1585, from

"the new fort," that "what commodities soever Spain, France, Italy, or the East Parts (the Baltic) do yield unto us, in wines of all sorts, in oils, in flax, in rosens, pitch, frankincense, currants, and such like, these parts do abound with the growth of them all." Moreover, "the people naturally are most courteous and very desirous to have cloths." There were also dyes: "the tree that beareth the masticke," "shoemake . . . used in England for black," and various trees including a bark called by the natives Tangomockonomindge, "which dyes are for divers sorts of red" although "their goodness for our English cloth remains yet to be proved."

Gold was, of course, a principal object of these voyages: a Saxon metallurgist named Daniel went down with Humphrey Gilbert in the Delight when she sank in a breaking sea amongst flats and sands in thick and hazy weather between Cape Race and Cape Breton on August 29, 1583. But even Raleigh in his treasure hunt to Guiana does not forget to report "towards the south part of the river great quantities of Brasil wood and diverse berries that dye a most perfect crimson and carnation."

And Hakluyt himself in his "Epistle dedicatorie to Sir Robert Cecil," sets down "our chief desire" as being "to find out ample vent of our woolen cloth, the natural commodity of this our realm," and to this end mentions as "fittest places" the "manifold islands of Japan and the northern parts of China" because they are reported to have a cold climate like Flanders.

The quest of ivory, gold, spices, and grains of Paradise took the Merchant Adventurers to the west coast of Africa in 1553; the intrigues of Spain in Venice and the Mediterranean generally led our grocers and Italian merchants to equip James Lancaster's voyage to the East Indies for spices in 1593. But the main set of the Elizabethans was to the north-east and north-west, to find an uncontrolled source of ships' stores and a free market for English woolens.

And now having made the circuit of English policy, let me summarize once more its main character and purpose. It was to make England independent in all things of the Imperial system, from the shepherd on the Downs to the merchant on the sea. English wool was to be carded with English combs made of English brass; woven into English cloth finished with English alum and dyed with English dyes; English cloth was to be carried in English ships manned by English sailors and armed with English guns and marketed by English merchants in ports kept open and friendly by English policy. Such essential commodities as could not be naturalized were to be planted in English colonies.

Whether this policy was designed by one head or by many it is possible at least to surmise. There is evidence that it sprang from the close association between the English Government and the Merchant Adventurers. The Government looked to the merchants for money and intelligence; the merchants to the Government for diplomatic support and armed protection. Both fought the same enemy: hence the swiftness and felicity which mark all Elizabeth's strokes of policy.

Tom Thumb is intelligent and alert because he has a single purpose: the giant is slow and uncertain because his interests are divided. The German merchant and the Spanish statesman are forever working at cross-purposes: the Germans supply the Spaniards with bad stores and munitions; the Spaniards despise and detest the Germans. Bribery and corruption on the one side, a smouldering hatred on the other blazing up on occasion to the Fury of Antwerp characterize the ungainly combination of German and Spaniard. The King of Spain for all his wealth is badly and expensively served. Elizabeth has a Navy made for her by her merchants and her sailors. Philip tries to buy both sailors and Navy and finds that everything crumbles like touchwood in his hands. Elizabeth, despite her poverty, is well supplied and well equipped; Philip, despite his wealth, is inefficient and unready.

"Just look at Drake!" said the Pope to the Venetian Ambassador. "Who is he? What forces has he? And yet he burned twenty-five of the King's ships at Gibraltar. He has robbed the flotilla and sacked San Domingo. . . . We are sorry to say it; but we have a poor opinion of this Spanish Armada and fear some disaster."

And how is this contrast to be explained? In both Germany and Spain industries are neglected, everything is sacrificed, in the one to commerce, in the other to the search for gold: in England industries are cherished, and those "exquisite knowledges" on which the strength of the State depends are nourished and protected. Elizabeth has a national policy founded on production; by that policy she conquers, by the lack of that policy Spain is defeated and Germany destroyed.