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ablest of their officers. In 1649, he was appointed, in conjunction with Colonel Deane and Colonel Popham, to command the fleet; and being ordered to sail with a squadron of men of war in pursuit of Prince Rupert, he blocked him up for four months in Kinsale Harbour. At last the Prince, despairing of relief by sea, and perceiving that Cromwell was on the point of taking the town by land, forced his way through Blake's squadron with the loss of three of his ships, and took refuge at Lisbon. Thither he was followed by Blake; but the Portuguese Monarch refusing him the privilege of attacking his foe, he took five Brazil vessels richly laden, and at the same time sent his Majesty notice that, unless he ordered the Prince's ships out of the Tagus, he would seize the rest of that fleet.' After various exertions and achievements, he pursued the Prince to the port of Carthagena, where he lay with the remainder of his ships; and instantly despatched a messenger to the Spanish Governor, informing him that 'an enemy to the State of England was in his port, whom as the King of Spain was in amity with the parliament, he desired leave to attack. The Governor refusing his compliance, and Rupert escaping to Malaga, Blake followed him thither with the utmost expedition, and nearly destroyed his whole fleet.
In February 1651, he also took a French man of war of forty guns, and upon his return to England received the thanks of the parliament, and was made Warden of the Cinque Ports. His next service was the reducing of the Isles of Scilly, which were held for the King. He then sailed for Guernsey, and after a more stubborn resistance brought it under the
power of parliament. For these exertions, he was elected one of the Council of State.
In 1652, broke out the memorable war between the two Commonwealths of England and Holland, in which nothing less was contested than the dominion of the sea, and which was waged with a degree of animosity and resolution proportioned to the importance of the dispute. The chief commanders of the Dutch fleets were Van Trump, De Ruyter, and De Witt, the most celebrated names in their annals. The States General having carried on their trade without opposition, and almost without rivalry, not only throughout the inactive reign of James I. but also during the turbulent years of his successor, had åttained great power and wealth; and with power and wealth, arrogance is but too commonly associated. Having recently equipped a large, fleet, without any apparent subject of alarm for themselves, or any avowed design of attacking their neighbours, they were not beheld by the English without jealousy: and care was accordingly taken to fit out an armament, which might secure their trade from interruption, and their coasts from insult. Of this, Blake was constituted Admiral for nine months.
Thus situated, the two nations remained without hostilities on either side till the eighteenth of May, 1652, when Van Trump appeared in the Downs with forty five men of war. Blake, who had then but twenty three under his command, saluted him with three single shot, requiring that he should strike his flag :' upon which Van Trump, in contempt, fired on the contrary side. Blake fired a second and a third gun, which the Dutch Admiral answered with a broadside. The English Commander therefore, perceiving his intention to fight, detached himself from the rest of the fleet with the view of preventing, if possible, a national quarrel. On his approach the next day he was received, contrary to the law of nations, with whole broadsides. Exasperated by this unexpected and unwarrantable treatment, and curling his whiskers, he commanded his men to answer the assailants in their own way, and for some time stood alone against the whole Dutch fleet; till, the rest of his squadron coming up, after an engagement of some hours the enemy retired with the loss of two ships. It was remarkable, that the English lost not a single vessel, nor more than fifteen men. Most of these were on board the Admiral, who, as he wrote to the parliament, was himself engaged for four hours with the whole hostile squadron, being the mark at which they aimed,' and having received (as Whitlocke relates) above a thousand shot. In this letter, he acknowledges the particular blessing and preservation of God, and ascribes his success to the justice of his
Blake now harassed the enemy, by capturing their merchant-ships, in which he had great success. After a successful cruize to the northward, from which he returned with six Dutch men of war and nine hundred prisoners, he stood over for the coast of Holland; and discovering the enemy about noon, though he had only three of his own ships with him, Vice Admiral Penn with his squadron being at some distance, and the rest a league or two astern, he bore down upon them; and, had not night intervened, it was thought not a single Dutchman would have escaped. The next day at day-break, he spied them to the north-east about two leagues off: but not having the wind, he could not reach them; and being in want of provisions, he was compelled to return home. Having been obliged at this time to make large detachments from his fleet, Van Trump, with eighty men of war, resolved to seize the opportunity of attacking him in the Downs. Blake, receiving intelligence of this, called a Council of War, in which it was resolved to fight, though with so great a disadvantage. The engagement began on the twenty ninth of November about two in the morning, and lasted till near six in the evening. Blake himself was on board the Triumph; which with the Victory and the Vanguard suffered most, having been engaged at one time with twenty of the enemy's best ships. The Admiral, finding that the Dutch had the advantage of the wind, drew off his fleet during the night into the river Thames. In this engagement the Garland and Bonaventure were taken by the enemy, a small frigate was burnt, three sunk, and almost all the remaining ships considerably shattered. But Trump bought his victory dearly, one of his flag-ships being blown up, and his own vessel with that of De Ruyter being both disabled for service. The Dutch, however, were exceedingly elated by their success; and sent their Admiral through the Channel with a broom at his main-topmast, to signify that he had swept the seas. In the mean time Blake having repaired his fleet, and Monk and Dean being united in commission with him, on the eighth of February, 1653, he sailed from Queenborough with sixty men of war, which were soon joined by twenty more from Portsmouth; and ten days afterward discovered Van Trump with seventy ships of the line, and three hundred merchantmen under his convoy. Blake, with twelve vessels, engaged this whole squadron: his own, the Triumph, received no less than seven hundred shot in her hull, and would probably have gone down, if she had not received timely relief from Lawson in the Fairfax. The Admiral, though grievously wounded in the thigh, continued the fight till night; when the Dutch, who had lost six men of war, retired. Blake, after putting on shore his wounded men at Portsmouth, pursued the enemy the following day, and renewed the engagement. The Dutch continued retreating toward Boulogne. On the third day the two fleets had a third encounter, when the wind blowing favourably for the enemy, they secured themselves on the flats of Dunkirk and Calais. În these successive actions, in which the Dutchlost eleven men of war, thirty merchant-ships, and one thousand five hundred men; the English lost only one ship, the Samson, but not fewer men than the enemy.
In the month of April, Cromwell tyrannically dissolved the parliament, and shortly afterward assumed the supreme power. From this measure the States General expected great advantages; but they were disappointed. Blake merely observed to his officers, “ It is not for us to mind state-affairs, but to keep foreigners from fooling us.”
On the fourth of June, he gained another splendid victory over his pertinacious opponents; and if they had not again saved themselves on Calais sands, their whole fleet would have been sunk or taken. Cromwell having called the “Little Parliament,' Blake took his seat in the House, and received it's solemn thanks for his numerous and faithful services. The