Percy's Reliques - The Winning of Cales.

The Winning of Cales.

The subject of this ballad is the taking of the city of Cadiz (called by our sailors corruptly Cales) on June 21, 1596, in a descent made on the coast of Spain, under the command of the Lord Howard, admiral, and the Earl of Essex, general.

The valour of Essex was not more distinguished on this occasion than his generosity. The town was carried sword in hand, but he stopt the slaughter as soon as possible, and treated his prisoners with the greatest humanity, and even affability and kindness. The English made a rich plunder in the city, but missed of a much richer, by the resolution which the Duke of Medina, the Spanish admiral, took, of setting fire to the ships, in order to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy. It was computed, that the loss which the Spaniards sustained from this enterprise, amounted to twenty millions of ducats.-- See Hume's History.

The Earl of Essex knighted on this occasion not fewer than sixty persons, which gave rise to the following sarcasm:--

"A gentleman of Wales, a knight of Cales,
And a laird of the north country;
But a yeoman of Kent with his yearly rent
Will buy them out all three."

This ballad is printed, with some corrections, from the Editor's folio manuscript, and seems to have been composed by some person who was concerned in the expedition. Most of the circumstances related in it will be found supported by history.

LONG the proud Spaniards had vaunted to conquer us,
Threatning our country with fyer and sword;
Often preparing their navy most sumptuous
With as great plenty as Spain could afford.
Dub a dub, dub a dub, thus strike their drums:
Tantara, tantara, the Englishman comes.

To the seas presentlye went our Lord admiral,
With knights couragious and captains full good;
The brave Earl of Essex, a prosperous general,
With him prepared to pass the salt flood.
Dub a dub, &c.

At Plymouth speedilye, took they ship valiantlye,
Braver ships never were seen under sayle,
With their fair colours spread, and streamers ore their head,
Now bragging Spaniards, take heed of your tayle,
Dub a dub, &c.

Unto Cales cunninglye, came we most speedilye,
Where the kinges navy securelye did ryde;
Being upon their backs, piercing their butts of sacks,
Ere any Spaniards our coming descryde.
Dub a dub, &c.

Great was the crying, the running and ryding,
Which at that season was made at that place;
The beacons were fyred, as need then required;
To hyde their great treasure they had little space.
Dub a dub, &c.

There you might see their ships, how they were fyred fast,
And how their men drowned themselves in the sea;
There might you hear them cry, wayle and weep piteously,
When they saw no shift to scape thence away.
Dub a dub, &c.

The great St. Phillip, the pryde of the Spaniards,
Was burnt to the bottom, and sunk in the sea;
But the St. Andrew, and eke the St. Matthew,
Wee took in fight manfullye and brought away.
Dub a dub, &c.

The Earl of Essex most valiant and hardye,
With horsemen and footmen marched up to the town;
The Spanyards, which saw them, were greatly alarmed,
Did fly for their savegard, and durst not come down.
Dub a dub, &c.

"Now," quoth the noble Earl, "courage my soldiers all,
Fight and be valiant, the spoil you shall have;
And be well rewarded all from the great to the small;
But looke that the women and children you save."
Dub a dub, &c.

The Spaniards at that sight, thinking it vain to fight,
Hung upp flags of truce and yielded the towne;
Wee marched in presentlye, decking the walls on hye,
With English colours which purchased renowne.
Dub a dub, &c.

Entering the houses then, of the most richest men,
For gold and treasure we searched eche day;
In sme places w did find pyes baking left behind,
Meate at fire rosting, and folkes run away.
Dub a dub, &c.

Full of rich merchandize, every shop catched our eyes,
Damasks and sattens and velvets full fayre;
Which soldiers measur'd out by the length of their swords;
Of all commodities eche had a share.
Dub a dub, &c.

Thus Cales was taken, and our brave general
March'd to the market-place, where he did stand:
There many prisoners fell to our several shares,
Many crav'd mercye, and mercye they fannd.
Dub a dub, dub a dub, thus strike their drums:
Tantara, tantara, the Englishman comes.

When our brave general saw they delayed all,
And wold not ransome their towne as they said,
With their fair wanscots, their presses and bedsteds,
Their joint-stools and tables a fire we made;
And when the town burned all in a flame,
With tara, tantara, away wee all came.

 

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