IT is not every one, whose temerity and whose ambition are equal to the adventurous heroism of
“Macedonia’s Madman and the Swede;”
whose name is handed down to posterity. Many an Alexander, and many a Charles, have been known only to their few followers, and have displayed their daring spirit in limits too narrow to engage the attention of the historian. The character of such an adventurer is recorded by Fuller. With the pages of this writer, few of my readers are familiar; I shall therefore offer the picture of an Alexander, which, if not drawn as large as life, is at least a full length in miniature.
In the county of Devon he notices one Thomas Stuckley, of whom he says; “Were he alive, he would be highly offended to be ranked under any other topic than that of Princes. He was a younger brother of an ancient wealthy family, being one of good parts, but valued the less by others, because overprized by himself. Having prodigally mis-spent his patrimony, he entered on several projects, and first pitched upon the peopling of Florida, then newly found out in the West Indies. So confident was his ambition, that he blushed not to tell Queen Elizabeth, that he preferred rather to be the sovereign of a mole-hill, than the highest subject to the greatest king in Christendom; adding moreover, that he was assured he should be a prince before his death.—I hope (said Queen Elizabeth) I shall hear from you when you are stated in your principality.—I will write to you (quoth Stuckley.)—In what language? (said the Queen.) He returned—In the style of princes; To our dear sister.”
It appears, that his project of the Florida expedition failed for want of money, and, having been disappointed in some affairs in Ireland; he formed in his mind a treasonable conspiracy, to pursue which he passed over into Italy. He soon won the favour of Pope Pius the Fifth, and even persuaded him that with three thousand men he could beat the English out of Ireland. His holiness, whose infallibility (as Fuller archly observes) was doubted on this occasion, did all he could to encourage his adventurous spirit; but this chiefly consisted in bestowing on him the titles of the kingdom, which he had not yet conquered. At length he was furnished with eight hundred men, paid by the King of Spain, for the Irish expedition.
Our entertaining historian proceeds to tell us “In his passage Stuckley landed at Portugal; just when Sebastian, the King thereof, with two Moorish Kings, were undertaking a voyage into Africa. Stuckley was persuaded to accompany them. Some thought he gave up his Irish design, partly because he was loth to be pent up in an island, (the continent of Africa affording more elbow room for his atchievements) partly because, so mutable his mind, he ever loved the last project (as mothers the youngest child) best. Others conceived he took this African jaunt, in order to practise for his Irish design; such his confidence of conquest, that his breakfast on the Turks, would the better enable him to dine on the English in Ireland.”
To conclude; Sebastian, against the advice of Stuckley, would immediately give battle, though the army was in great need of refreshment. He and his friends were wholly defeated, and Stuckley, with his eight hundred men, perished, fighting courageously; on which Fuller writes two verses,
“A fatal fight, where in one day was slain,
Three Kings that were, and One that would be fain.”
It was thus a young Alexander was crushed, when he was just bursting from the shell. The following singular narrative may be added to this article. I transcribe it from Collier’s appendix to Moreri’s dictionary; it is to be found originally in the history of the Duke of Alva. The obscure hero, like another David, attacked and vanquished a Goliath.
“Martin Tamayo was a Spanish centinel, who served in Germany in the Emperor Charles Vth’s army. This man, in the year 1546, made himself famous by his bravery, and by a sedition, of which he was very near being the occasion. The Emperor’s troops being weaker than those of the protestants, commanded by the Landgrave of Hesse, was encamped before the enemy near Ingolstad. A rebel of a gigantic size, who took himself for the hero of the age, came strutting out every day between the two camps, with a halbert in his hand, and offered to fight single with the best man in the imperial army. Charles V. forbid all his men to undertake the challenge, upon pain of death. Not that he thought the fellow so formidable, but he was afraid, that in case one of his soldiers should be worsted, the rest might be intimidated, and draw some unlucky presage from the misadventure. This fanfaron came braving the army every day, and, coming up to the Spanish quarters, reproached them with cowardice, in very gross language. Tamayo, who was only a common soldier, in a regiment of his nation, could not bear the insolence of this new Goliath: he snatched a halbert from one of his comrades, and, edging along the entrenchments, attacked the challenger, and, without receiving a wound, drove his halbert into his throat, and laid him sprawling, and, drawing the vanquished man’s sword, cut off his head, and carried it into the camp. He likewise presented it to his majesty, and, falling at his feet, begged his life. The emperor had no regard to Tamayo’s bravery, and, considering nothing but the ill consequences of the example, ordered him to be shot. All the chief officers of the army interceded for this heroic man: they suggested to his majesty, that it was not advisable to raffle the main at this juncture, and especially not the Spaniards, who were the choice of his troops, and would be extremely out of temper in case any contempt should be put upon them; that it was dangerous to use severity as things stood, or to punish a noble exploit as if it was a crime; and that if brave people were treated with such rigour, the whole army would grow languid and negligent in their duty. The Prince of Hungary, the Cardinal Farnese, the Duke of Parma, &c. in a word, all those that had rank from birth, employment, or reputation, to give them liberty of speech, begged the emperor, though he might not reward this brave man, yet at least to pardon him. The emperor continued inexorable, and resolved on the execution of this unhappy person; who, either out of stomach, or greatness, refused to ask pardon any more, after sentence of death was pronounced against him. When he was led to the place of execution, he carried the challenger’s head in his hand, and, shewing it to his comrades, put them in mind of the crime for which he was to suffer. He likewise offered them the sword taken from the enemy, and desired them to run him through with it, that no loyal subject might reproach the Emperor with revenging the death of those heretics who had revolted against him. In short; when his cap was pulled over his eyes, and the minute for shooting him was come, the Spaniards, to the number of nine thousand, broke out into a mutiny, and threatened the Emperor with the last extremities, unless he gave his pardon to so brave a man. This seditious menacing affected Charles V. who referred the decision of this affair to his general the Duke of Alva; this Duke, rough-humoured as he was, was forced to give way to necessity; and pardon Tamayo; who then quitted the service, and returned to Spain.”