[Sidenote: Ralegh's Versatility.]
Ralegh himself may not have been sufficiently careful to guard against a fable flattering to his charms, if injurious to his independence. He furthered malignant humours in his own time by his fondness for personal adornment. His lavish vanity seems to have been taken as proof of his and his Sovereign's amours. He must in any case, by no fault of his own, but by the excessive bounty of nature in heaping courtly graces upon him, have been exposed to the liability of misconstruction by later ages. Measured by his force of character and his acts he has as little as possible in common with a Leicester or a Hatton. Yet posterity, misled by tradition, has never been sure whether his distinctive vocation were not that of a fine gentleman. Contemporaries, partly from misapprehension, partly from admiration, and partly from jealousy, tried to fasten him to that. When the splendour of his exploits by sea and land demonstrated him to be more than a courtier, they ranked him as seaman or swordsman. His versatility lent itself to the error, and operated to the disappointment of his real aim. His constant effort was to be accepted and trusted as a serious statesman. He might have attained his end more completely if his absorption in it had dimmed the brightness of his marvellous intelligence, or deadened his delight in its gymnastics. But he had to live his life according to his nature. The multiplicity of his interests separates him from others of his mental level. He loved power, both the contest for it and its exercise. He coveted money for its uses, and equally for the inspiring experiences involved in its acquisition. He liked to act the patron, and was content in turn to play the client. He loved toil, and he could enjoy ease. He revelled in the strifes of statesmanship and the physical perils of battles and travel. He resembled his period, with its dangers and glories, its possibilities of Spanish dungeons and Spanish plunder, its uncertainties of theology and morality. He had a natural gift for deriving pleasure from his actual circumstances, a dull and brutal civil war, or a prison, though none could utter more dismal groans. By predilection he basked in a Court, where simultaneously he could adore its mistress and help to sway her sceptre.
[Sidenote: His Aspect.]
[Sidenote: Dates of Portraits.]
Hitherto his career had been run outside the verge of chronicles. Its early stages left few direct records. They have to be pieced together by retrospective allusions proceeding from himself or others, after he had already risen. The difficulties of his biographers are not at an end when he has mounted into the full blaze of publicity. His name thenceforth was in a multitude of mouths; yet much in his character, position, and motives always remains shadowy and uncertain. His appearance at the time it was winning an entrance for him at Court can only be conjectured. He was tall and well-proportioned, with thick curly locks, beard, and mustache, full red lips, bluish-grey eyes, and the high forehead and long bold face, remarked in a contemporary epigram. Aubrey describes him by report similarly, with the addition that he was sour eye-lidded. His characteristic features, and the 'general aspect of ascendency,' were the same in youth and in later life. They are vividly represented by several extant portraits, by Zucchero's, somewhat wanting in repose and dignity, at Longleat; by another of Zucchero's, now in the National Gallery of Ireland, the original of the print in Sir Henry Ellis's collection of letters, representing Ralegh at forty-four, with a map of Cadiz; by that at Knole, from which Vertue's print in Oldys's Life probably was engraved; by that of 1588, formerly in Sir Carew Ralegh's house at Downton, and now in the National Portrait Gallery; by one belonging to Mr. J.D. Wingfield Digby; by one, dated 1618, in the possession of Mr. T.L. Thurlow; and by the best, in Mr. George Scharf's decisive judgment, the picture in possession of Sir John Farnaby Lennard, at Wickham Court, Kent. The last, the original of Houbraken's engraving, was painted in 1602 for the Carews of Beddington. Young Walter, then eight years old, stands by Ralegh's side, a handsome boy, richly dressed, with features, as they remained in later life, like his father's, and the same air of command. A picture, described as by Cornelius Janssen, sold at Christie's rooms in December, 1890, represents a visage worn and sombre, the hair on the head thin. As the artist's first commonly acknowledged portraits taken in England are dated 1618, the work, if by Janssen, must have been executed after Ralegh's second Guiana expedition, and might naturally exhibit these traits. There are also several contemporary miniatures, one, in particular, at Belvoir Castle. This is of especial interest, on account of the age inscribed, sixty-five, and the year, 1618, which imply a belief that he was born later than 1552. From the date, 1618, and the representation of a battle, on the companion miniature of young Walter, apparently by the same hand, it may be inferred that the portrait of the father was, as that of the son must have been, painted after the second voyage to Guiana. Probably, to judge from the combination of Lady Ralegh's and her husband's initials on the back, it was executed for her. In it, to a degree even beyond the portrait attributed to Janssen, the hair of the head is pathetically white. Though elsewhere the marks of age have not been so openly betrayed, all the extant portraits, unless that in the National Portrait Gallery be an exception, were executed after he had reached middle life. He may be beheld in most of them as he appeared to his rivals and partisans, the veteran knight in magnificent apparel, pearls, and silver armour, haughty and subtle, tanned, hardened, and worn with voyages to the Spanish Main and fighting at Cadiz, 'Ralegh the witch,' the 'scourge of Spain,' the 'soldier, sailor, scholar, courtier, orator, historian, and philosopher.' We do not see the daredevil trooper of Languedoc and Munster, the duellist, the master of the roistering watch-beating Paunsfords. He is not visible as pictured to the vivid fancy of the author of Kenilworth, the youthful aspirant, graceful, eager, slender, dark, restless, and supercilious, with a sonnet or an epigram ever ready on his lips to delight friends and sting enemies.
[Sidenote: Spelling of Name.]
[Sidenote: Seventy-four Forms.]
The spelling of his name for the first thirty-two years of his life was as vague and unsettled as his acts. There was no standard of orthography for surnames till the latter part of the seventeenth century. Neither the owners, nor others, were slaves to uniformity. Posterity has used its own liberty of selection, often very arbitrarily. Robert Cecil, for instance, signed his name Cecyll, and nobody follows him, not even his descendants. For Ralegh's name his contemporaries never had a fixed rule to the end of him. Transcribers with the signature clear before them would not copy it; they could not keep to one form of their own. His correspondents and friends followed the idea of the moment. Lord Burleigh wrote Rawly. Robert Cecil wrote to him as Rawley, Raleigh, and Ralegh. A secretary of Cecil wrote Raweley and Rawlegh. King James, for whom in Scotland he had been Raulie, wrote once at any rate, and Carew Ralegh commonly, Raleigh. Carew's son Philip spelt his name both Raleigh and Ralegh. Lady Ralegh signed one letter Raleigh, but all others which have been preserved, Ralegh. The only known signature of young Walter is Ralegh. The Privy Council wrote the name Raleghe, Rawleighe, and Rawleigh. George Villiers spelt it Raughleigh, and Cobham, Rawlye. In Irish State Papers he is Rawleie. Lord Henry Howard wrote Rawlegh and Rawlie. The Lord Admiral called him Rawlighe. For some he was Raileigh, Raughlie, and Rauleigh. In a warrant he was Raleighe, and in the register of Stepney Church, Raylie. Naunton wrote Rawleigh and Raghley, and Milton, in a manuscript commonplace book, Raugleigh. Sir Edward Peyton in his book spelt the name Rawliegh. Stukely in his Apology spelt it Raligh. The name to his verses printed in Gascoigne's volume is Rawely, and in a manuscript poem it is Wrawly. In another manuscript poem it is Raghlie. Puttenham printed it Rawleygh. In the wonderful mass of manuscripts at Lambeth, collected by Sir George Carew, who kept every paper sent him, though his correspondents might beg him to burn their letters, the name, beside forms already given, appears spelt as Ralighe, Raule, Rawlee, Rauley, Rawleye, Raulyghe, Rawlyghe, and Ralleigh. In a letter from Sir Thomas Norreys in the equally wonderful, but less admirable, pile of Lismore papers, he is Raulighe. In the books of the Stationers' Company he is Rawleighe, and Rauleighe in the copy in the Harleian MSS. of the discourse of 1602 on a War with Spain. In Drummond's Conversations with Ben Jonson he is Raughlie. References occur to him in Mr. Andrew Clark's Oxford Register, as Rallegh, Rawlei, Rauly, Raughley, Raughly, Raughleigh, Raylye, and Rolye. Foreigners referred to him as Ralle, Ralle, Raleghus, Raleich, Raleik, Raulaeus, Rale, Real, Reali, Ralego, and Rhalegh. In addition, I have found in lists compiled by Dr. Brushfield the name spelt Raley, Raleye, Raleagh, Raleygh, Raleyghe, Ralli, Raughleye, Rauleghe, Raulghe, Raweleigh, Raylygh, Reigley, Rhaleigh, Rhaley, Rhaly, and Wrawley.
Ralegh himself had not kept the same spelling throughout his life. Down to 1583 his more usual signature had been the phonetic Rauley. But in 1578 he signed as Rawleyghe a deed which his father signed as Ralegh, and his brother Carew as Rawlygh. A letter of March 17, 1583, is the first he is known to have signed as Ralegh; and in the following April and May he reverted to the signature Rauley. From June 9, 1584, he used till his death no other signature than Ralegh. It appears in his books when the name is mentioned. It is used in a pedigree drawn up for him in 1601. Of the hundred and sixty-nine letters collected by Mr. Edward Edwards, a hundred and thirty-five are thus signed. Six signed Rauley, one Raleghe, and one Rauleigh, belong to an earlier date. The rest are either unsigned or initialled. The reason of his adoption of the spelling Ralegh from 1584, unless that it was his dead father's, is unknown. Of the fact there is no doubt. The spelling Raleigh, which posterity has preferred, happens to be one he is not known to have ever employed.
OFFICES AND ENDOWMENTS (1582-1587).
[Sidenote: Envoy and Counsellor.]
His promotion, when it commenced, was liberal; it was not meteoric. He had won his full entry at Court before he gained permanent offices and emoluments. For a time he continued dependent upon the long-suffering Irish Exchequer. In February he received an order for L200 upon the entertainment due to him in Ireland. That, however, seems to have been payment of arrears for previous and actual service. Notwithstanding an angry protest by the Lord Deputy, already alluded to, a fresh commission was issued to him in April, 1582, as Captain of the late Captain Appesley's band of footmen in Ireland. The reason assigned was that he might be required for some time longer in that realm for his better experience in martial affairs. He had leave to appoint a lieutenant, while he was 'for some considerations by Us excused to stay here.' He did not want for employment, though he was given no fixed duties. A system of personal government like that of the Tutors demanded extraordinary services of various degrees of importance. Any and all Ralegh could excellently render. Frequently he acted as the Queen's private secretary. Sometimes he had to escort a foreign envoy. Negotiations were pending for the marriage of Elizabeth to the Duke of Anjou. Leicester was jealous of the Duke and of Simier, his dexterous and personally fascinating agent. Simier was returning to France in the autumn of 1581. He had to be protected, it was rumoured, from Flushing pirates known to be in Leicester's pay. Ralegh's professed adhesion to Leicester did not prevent his appointment as one of the escort. In the publication by an anonymous contemporary, called Leicester's Commonwealth, it is related that the vessel containing the returning escort was chased for several hours: 'Master Ralegh well knoweth it, being there present.' Anjou himself quitted England in February, 1582, to assume the sovereignty of the Netherlands. Ralegh again was of the company sent to introduce the Duke to the Queen's allies. He stayed behind the rest, and was entrusted by the Prince of Orange with letters to the Queen. He has recorded that the Prince confided to him a private, if not very particular, message to her: 'Sub umbra alarum tuarum protegimur.' Probably that was only a text upon which the Prince's communications enabled him to enlarge. He was consulted much concerning Ireland, both by the Council and by the Queen. In March, 1582, articles were exhibited against Ormond for alleged indulgence in his government of Munster towards Irish rebels. He was suspected, for example, of having apprised the Seneschal of Imokelly that 'two choice persons' had stolen into the Seneschal's camp to murder him. Ralegh was named among those who were to be called upon to prove the charges. Burleigh himself, who did not approve of the fierceness of Ralegh's method of dealing with Irish turbulence, respected his experience. In October, 1582, the Lord Treasurer is said to have taken careful notes of his advice how to secure the adhesion of some Munster lords. Lord Grey's reception of a letter from the Treasurer in the preceding January citing an opinion of 'Mr. Rawley' on the mode of levying Irish taxes for the support of the English troops, has already been described. Use was made also of his engineering ability. There are references to reports by him on estimates for the repair of the fortifications of Portsmouth, and to his discussion of the question with Burleigh and Sussex in the Queen's presence. He is even found sitting on a commission with Sir Thomas Heneage to investigate a complaint against Lord Mayor Pullison, of having attached, to satisfy a debt to himself, the ransom of a Barbary captive.
[Sidenote: The Stannaries and the Guard.]
Not till after a probation of years did he obtain definite official rank. In 1584 he had been elected one of the members for Devonshire, with Sir William Courtenay. Apparently in the early part of the same year he was knighted; for in his colonizing patent of March, 1584, he is styled 'Mr. Walter Ralegh, Knight.' In 1585 he succeeded the Earl of Bedford as Warden of the Stannaries. He had as Warden to regulate mining privileges in Devon and Cornwall, to hold the Stannary Parliament on the wild heights of Crockern Tor, and judicially to decide disputes on the customs, which, though written, he has said, in the Stannary of Devon, were unwritten in Cornwall. Long after his death the rules he had prescribed prevailed. As Warden he commanded the Cornish militia. He had a claim, which was resisted by the Earl of Bath, the Lord Lieutenant of Devonshire, to military powers there also. His prerogatives were strengthened by his appointment shortly afterwards to the Lieutenancy of Cornwall, and to the Vice-Admiralty of the two counties. The Vice-Admiralty was a very convenient office for a dealer in privateering. He nominated as his deputies in the Vice-Admiralty Lord Beauchamp for Cornwall, and his eldest half-brother, Sir John Gilbert, for Devon. Beside his other offices, he is supposed to have held the post of a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. Later he received a more signal token than any of royal confidence. He was appointed Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard. For several years Sir Christopher Hatton had united the offices of Captain and Vice-Chamberlain. On April 29, 1587, by a preposterous exercise of royal patronage, he became Lord Chancellor. He had already ceased to command the Guard, though the actual date of his retirement is not specified. His immediate successor, appointed perhaps as a stop-gap, was Sir Henry Goodier. Sir Anthony Paulett also is sometimes mentioned in connexion with the post. But the office was permanently filled by the nomination of Ralegh in the early summer of 1586. The Captain's pay consisted of a yearly uniform. Six yards of tawney medley at 13s. 4d. a yard, with a fur of black budge rated at L10, is the warrant for 1592. The cost in the next reign was estimated at L14. Ralegh had to fill vacancies in his band of fifty. He was known to have a sharp eye for suitable recruits, young, tall, strong, and handsome. The regular duty was to guard the Queen from weapons and from poison; to watch over her safety by day and night wherever she went, by land or water. At the Palace the Captain's place was in the antechamber, where he could almost hear the conversations between her and her counsellors. To share them he had but to be beckoned within. Naturally the command seemed to be a stepping-stone to a Vice-Chamberlainship at least, if not to the Keepership of the Queen's conscience.
[Sidenote: Royal Parsimony.]
None of these offices were in themselves lucrative. A maintenance for the new favourite and the new public servant had otherwise to be found. His endowment came from the usual sources. Naunton says that, 'though he gained much at the Court, he took it not out of the Exchequer, or merely out of the Queen's purse, but by his wit and the help of the prerogative; for the Queen was never profuse in delivering over her treasures, but paid most of her servants, part in money, and the rest with grace.' He adds, it may be hoped, before October 29, 1618: 'Leaving the arrears of recompense due for their merit to her great successor, who paid them all with advantage.' Ralegh himself, after a similar compliment to James, laments in his History the Queen's parsimony to her 'martial men, both by sea and land,' none of whom, he remembers, 'the Lord Admiral excepted, her eldest and most prosperous commander,' did she 'either enrich, or otherwise honour, for any service by them performed.' Notices in official documents of pecuniary grants to himself are rare. An order in September, 1587, for a payment of L2000 to be spent according to her Majesty's direction appears to have been for works at Portsmouth. No meagre substitute was supplied by forfeitures, by enforced demises of collegiate, capitular, and episcopal estates, by monopolies, and by letters of marque.
[Sidenote: Farm of Wines.]
To All Souls College, Oxford, belongs the honour of having been the first to help to make his fortune. In April, 1583, he wrote to Egerton, then Solicitor-General, mentioning a grant of two beneficial leases of lands which the Queen had extorted from the college after her manner. On May 4, 1583, he received a more lucrative gift, the farm of wines. By his patent every vintner was bound to pay him for his life an annual retail licence fee of a pound. To save himself trouble, he underlet his rights to one Richard Browne for seven years at L700, or, according to another account, L800, a year. Browne promoted a large increase in the number of licensed taverners. Ralegh had reason to believe that he had not his fair share of profits. Egerton advised him that the demise was disadvantageous, but that it might be hard to terminate it without Browne's concurrence. Ralegh, to compel a surrender from Browne before the expiration of the term, obtained a revocation of his own patent in 1588. On August 9, 1588, a new patent for thirty-one years was granted. It does not seem to have freed him wholly from Browne's claims. This licence again he leased. The lessee was William Sanderson, the husband of his niece, Margaret Snedale. At a later period he had disputes with Sanderson also on the profits. By an account of 1592, he estimated them at a couple of thousand a year. It was never a very popular office to be chief publican. The year after the original grant, it involved Ralegh in a troublesome quarrel. He or Browne had licensed a vintner, John Keymer, at Cambridge, in defiance of the Vice-Chancellor's jurisdiction. The undergraduates loyally beat the intruder, and they frightened his wife nearly to death. The Vice-Chancellor sent him to gaol. The University also invoked the aid of its Chancellor, the Queen's Minister, against the Queen's favourite. Burleigh procured an opinion of the two Chief Justices against the licence. Ralegh was obliged in the end to give way to his assured loving friend the Vice-Chancellor. In the second patent the privileges of Oxford and Cambridge were expressly saved. In other respects it was wider. It allowed Ralegh a moiety of the penalties accruing to the Crown. The controversy with Cambridge may have been due only to Browne, and his eagerness for fees. In general, Ralegh appears to have exercised his powers moderately. A grantee who succeeded commended him for having 'ever had a special care to carry a very tender hand upon the business for avoiding of noise and clamour, well knowing it to be a thing extracted from the subject upon a nice point of a statute law.' A year after the first patent of wines he received a similar boon. This was a licence in March, 1584, to export for a twelvemonth woollen broadcloths. A payment to the Crown was reserved. In 1585, 1587, and 1589 the same privilege was conferred and enlarged. One grant authorized him to export overlengths. Burleigh protested. He declared the conditions too beneficial to the grantee. Probably they were. The privilege brought him into collision with several bodies of merchants. Soon after the earliest of the licences had been granted, in June, 1584, we read of a petition, backed by Walsingham, for the release of ships which had infringed his patent. The Queen would not consent unless upon the terms that the offenders compounded with him. In 1586 the Merchant Adventurers of Exeter obtained a commission of inquiry whether his officers did not levy excessive fees upon certificates. He is represented by a local antiquary as less popular in that city than elsewhere in Devonshire. His patent rights as well as his official duties caused ill-will between it and him.
[Sidenote: An Irish Seigniory.]
A gift in appearance much more magnificent, though the gains eventually were meagre, was the Irish grant of 1586. At last the Earl of Desmond's insurrection had been quelled, at the cost of the utter devastation of a province. The curse of God was, it was lamented, so great, and the land so barren, that whosoever did travel from one end to the other of all Munster, even from Waterford to Limerick, about six score miles, he should not meet man, woman, nor child, save in cities or towns, nor yet see any beast, save foxes and wolves, or other ravening creatures. The few survivors fed upon weeds and carrion, robbing the graves and gibbets of their dead. It was determined to repeople the 574,268 forfeited acres. Ralegh retained his Irish captain's commission. In 1587 his name occurs at the head of the list. He, Ormond, Hatton, and Fitton were among the principal Undertakers for the resettlement. By the scheme nobody was to undertake for more than twelve thousand acres. On each portion of that size eighty-six families were to be planted. In Ralegh's favour, by express words and warrant in a special letter from her Majesty, the Crown rent was fixed at a hundred marks, calculated subsequently as L60 13s. 4d.; and the limitation of acreage was relaxed. Seigniories varied in extent from twelve to four thousand acres. Possibly in order to avoid too gross an appearance of indulgence to him, Sir John Stowell and Sir John Clyston, according to the Boyle-Lismore papers, were associated or named with him as joint undertakers. A Privy Seal warrant in February, 1586, confirmed by letters patent in the following October, awarded to the three three seigniories and a half in Waterford, Cork, and perhaps Tipperary. A certificate of March, 1587, stated that, if the lands assigned to them and their tenants should not be found to amount to 'three seigniories of twelve thousand acres apiece, and one seigniory of six thousand acres, then other lands should be added.' The patronage of the Wardenship of Our Lady's College of Youghal was added to Ralegh's share with several other lucrative privileges. Three centuries afterwards the House of Lords decided that an exclusive salmon fishery in the tidal waters of the Blackwater was among them. The domain stretched along both banks of the river from Youghal harbour. The soil was rich; but the royal commissioners for the survey reported it waste from neglect. Generally it was overgrown with deep grass, and in most places with heath, brambles, and furze.
[Sidenote: English Forfeitures.]
In 1587 he added English estates to his Irish. The Babington conspiracy had been detected the year before. By a grant which passed the Great Seal without fee in March, 1587, he acquired much of the principal plotter's property. He obtained lands in Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, and Notts, together with all goods and personalty, except a curious clock reserved to the Queen's own use. According to modern taste, the pillage of confiscated estates is not an honourable basis for a great man's prosperity. In the reign of Elizabeth it was still the orthodox foundation. It was give and take, as Ralegh had to experience. That the unfortunate Babington had rested some hope of life on Ralegh's known Court influence is but a coincidence. He wrote on the 19th of September, 1586, the day before his execution, of 'Master Rawley having been moved for him, and been promised a thousand pounds, if he could get his pardon.' There was a traffic in pardons at Court. Odious and suspicious as was the practice, and liable to the grossest abuse, the presentation of money in return did not necessarily mean that the leniency had been bought. The Sovereign levied fines thus for the benefit of favourites on men too guilty to be let off scot-free, and not guilty enough to be capitally punished. Ralegh himself appears in after years to have received large sums from two pardoned accomplices of Essex, Sir Edward Bainham and Mr. John Littleton. From Littleton he is said to have had L10,000. But in the present instance no evidence has been discovered that Babington's overtures were countenanced in the least by Ralegh, or that he accepted money for urging them.
[Sidenote: Luxury and splendour.]
Five years separated the needy Munster Captain from the Lord Warden of the Stannaries, the magnificent Captain of the Queen's Guard, the owner of broad lands in England, and Irish seigniories. He had climbed high, though not so high as the insignificant Hatton. He had progressed fast, though another was soon to beat him in swiftness of advancement. He had gathered wealth and power. He was profuse in his application of both. Much of his gains went in ostentation. He was fond of exquisite armour, gorgeous raiment, lace, embroideries, furs, diamonds, and great pearls. As early as 1583 he must have begun to indulge his taste. On April 26 in that year the Middlesex Registers show that Hugh Pewe, gentleman, was tried for the theft of 'a jewel worth L80, a hat band of pearls worth L30, and five yards of damask silk worth L3, goods and chattels of Walter Rawley, Esq., at Westminster.' Pewe was enough of a gentleman to read 'like a clerk,' and thus save his neck. Later Ralegh was satirized by the Jesuit Parsons as the courtier too high in the regard of the English Cleopatra, who wore in his shoes jewels worth 6600 gold pieces. Tradition speaks, with exaggeration as obvious, of one court dress which carried L60,000 worth of jewels. He loved architecture and building, gardens, pictures, books, furniture, and immense retinues of servants. In his taste for personal luxury he resembled the entire tribe of contemporary courtiers. It was a sumptuous age everywhere. England, which had suddenly begun to be able to gratify a love of splendour, seemed in haste to make up for lost time. Elizabeth encouraged the propensity at her Court. Her statesmen, warriors, and favourites enriched themselves with sinecures, confiscations, and shares in trading and buccaneering adventures. They spent as rapidly. They were all extravagant, and mortgaged the future. Almost all were continually straitened for money. Impecuniosity rendered them rapacious. The Lord Admiral received, as Ralegh has intimated, enormous gains from the Queen and from prizes, and was perpetually in need. Robert Cecil had to supplement his vast legitimate revenues from illicit sources, and died L38,000 in debt. Essex, whose disinterestedness is eulogized, had L300,000 from the Queen, in addition to most lucrative offices. The whole was insufficient for his wants. All alike, old friends and old foes, fed on one another, when there was nobody else to spoil. Prodigality and greediness in money matters were, it is to be feared, common traits of Elizabethan heroes. They were far from perfect; their defects differed from those of their modern descendants in the ethical consequences; they did not make offenders ashamed of themselves, and afraid of being found out; they did not necessarily vitiate the substance of their characters, and destroy their self-respect.
[Sidenote: Gilbert and Ralegh.]
Ralegh was not freer from the faults of his class than the rest. Beyond the rest, he showed public spirit in his expenditure. By arguments, by his influence, by his example, he fanned the rising flame of national enterprise. From the first he devoted a large part of his sudden opulence to the promotion of the maritime prosperity of the nation. Among his earliest subjects of outlay was the construction in 1583 of the Ark Ralegh. It was, according to a probable account, of two hundred tons burden, and cost L2000. Mr. Payne Collier gives its burden as eight hundred tons, and its worth as L5000. None understood better than Ralegh the ship-building art. Ten years of prison, it will be hereafter noticed, did not deaden his instinct. Humphrey Gilbert was again preparing for a voyage to 'the Unknown Goal.' Two-thirds of the six years of his patent for discoveries had run out. He was anxious to utilize the residue. Ralegh would gladly have accepted his invitation to accompany him as vice-admiral. The Queen had tried to hold back Gilbert 'of her especial care, as a man noted of no good hap by sea.' By earnest representations that he had no other means of maintaining his family, he prevailed upon her, through Walsingham, to give him leave. In a letter from Ralegh, she sent him a token, an anchor guided by a lady, with her wish of as great good-hap and safety to his ship, as if herself were there in person. She prayed him to be careful of himself, 'as of that which she tendereth,' and to leave his portrait with Ralegh for her. Ralegh she peremptorily forbade to go. He had to content himself with lending his ship. It had not been more than two days out from Plymouth when a contagious sickness attacked the crew. It returned on June 13, 1583. Gilbert did not know the cause. He only saw the ship run away in fair and clear weather, having a large wind. So home he wrote denouncing the men as knaves. How he took possession of Newfoundland, and how, on his return, he died, with his memorable last words, are matters belonging to his history, though incidentally that crosses Ralegh's. But his companionship, example, and affection had contributed to form his brother, whom his courage fired, and his fate did not daunt.
[Sidenote: Ralegh's Patent.]
Ralegh immediately sought and obtained a royal licence corresponding to that bestowed on Gilbert. March 25, 1584, is an eventful date in the annals of colonization. On that day was sealed a patent for him to hold by homage remote heathen and barbarous lands, not actually possessed by any Christian prince, nor inhabited by Christian people, which he might discover within the next six years. A fifth of the gold and silver acquired was reserved to the Crown. His eyes were bent on the region stretching to the north of the Gulf of Florida, and of any settled Spanish territory. In 1562 a French Protestant settlement had been attempted in Florida. Laudonniere reinforced it a couple of years later. But the jealousy of Spain was aroused. Pedro Melendez de Avila pounced down in 1565. He captured the forts. Eight or nine hundred Huguenots he hanged on the neighbouring trees as heretics, not as Frenchmen. Dominique de Gorgues, of Gascony, avenged their fate by hanging their Spanish supplanters in 1567, not as Spaniards, but as assassins. There the experiment at colonization ended. Neither Spain nor France had repeated the attempt. The whole land was vacant of white men.
[Sidenote: The Discovery.]
Ralegh's fancy was inspired with visions, destined to be more than realized ultimately, of an English counterpart in the north to the Spanish empire in the south. He had already begun to equip a couple of vessels. He despatched them to America on April 27, 1584, under Captains Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlow. They took the roundabout route by the Canaries and West Indies. In July they were saluted with a most fragrant gale from the land they were seeking. Sailing into the mouth of a river they saw vines laden with grapes, climbing up tall cedars. On July 13 they proclaimed the Queen's sovereignty, afterwards delivering the country over to the use of Ralegh. It was the isle of Wokoken, in Ocracoke Inlet, off the North Carolina coast. In the neighbourhood were a hundred other islands. One of the largest was named Roanoke. They were visited by Granganimeo, father or brother to King Wingina, who lay ill of wounds received in war. The visit was returned by them. They bought of Granganimeo twenty skins, worth as many nobles, for a tin dish which he coveted as a gorget. His wife offered a great box of pearls for armour and a sword. After some stay with the friendly and timid people, they returned to England about the middle of September. They brought to Ralegh chamois and other skins, a bracelet of pearls as big as peas, and two Indians, Manteo and Wanchese.
Elizabeth herself devised for the virgin land discovered in the reign of a virgin queen the appellation of Virginia. Possibly the name was favoured by some resemblance to a native phrase Wynganda coia. This means, writes Ralegh, in the History of the World, 'You wear good clothes,' which the settlers supposed to be the reply to their question of the name of the country. The similarity of the king's name may have assisted the choice. Spenser entitles Elizabeth, in the dedication of his great poem, 'Queen of England, France, and Ireland, and of Virginia.' Ralegh had a seal of his arms cut, with the legend, 'Walteri Ralegh, militis, Domini et Gubernatoris Virginiae propria insignia, 1584, amore et virtute.' He hastened to realize his lordship, which was still somewhat in the air. He obtained a fair amount of support, though his brother, Carew Ralegh, could not prevail upon the Exeter merchants to become partners. They were not moved by his catalogue of the merchantable commodities which had been found. They stigmatized the undertaking as 'a pretended voyage,' which certainly it was not. On April 9, 1585, 'at the pleasant prime,' says Holinshed, a fleet of seven sail set forth from Plymouth, under Ralegh's cousin, Sir Richard Grenville, as general of the expedition. Mr. Ralph Lane was Governor of the colony, and Captain Philip Amadas was his Deputy. Lane had an Irish commission. Elizabeth ordered that a substitute should be found for him, that he might go to Virginia for Ralegh. Ralegh drew up rules, which have been lost, for the political government. Thomas Cavendish, a future circumnavigator of the globe, and Thomas Hariot, or Harriot, were among the colonists. Hariot, who describes himself as 'servant to Sir Walter Ralegh,' was commissioned to survey and report. He published a remarkable description of the territory in 1588. Manteo and Wanchese returned to America with the expedition. On the way out, by Hispaniola and Florida, Grenville took two Spanish frigates. He reached Wokoken in June, and visited the mainland. He was not happy in the conduct of the expedition, being reported by Lane, writing to Walsingham on September 8, 1585, to have exhibited intolerable pride and ambition towards the entire company. Already, on August 25, not a day too soon, he had sailed for England. He had, he reported at his return to Walsingham, peopled the new country, and stored it with cattle, fruits, and plants. He left Governor Lane and 107 colonists. On the homeward voyage a third Spanish ship was captured. Stukely, a kinsman both of Grenville and of Ralegh, was with Grenville on board the Tiger. For some unintelligible reason he thought himself entitled to L10,000 of the booty. According to his estimate, as reported by his mendacious son, Sir Lewis, the whole was worth L50,000. Much of the treasure consisted of a cabinet of pearls. Sir Lewis Stukely alleged that Ralegh charged Elizabeth with taking all to herself 'without so much as even giving him one pearl.' The Queen was as fond of large pearls as he.
Grenville had promised he would bring supplies by the next Easter at latest. Lane and his companions occupied themselves meanwhile with surveys of the goodliest soil under the cope of heaven, as they described it. They had planted corn, and perceived signs of pearl fisheries and mines. Hariot, observing the native use of tobacco, had tried and liked it. The nutritious qualities of the tubers of the potato had been discovered. Unfortunately the planters quarrelled with the natives, whom they found, though gentle in manner, cunning and murderous. Their friend, Granganimeo, died, and they slew King Wingina and his chiefs without warning, for alleged plots. At this crisis Sir Francis Drake arrived with a fleet of twenty-five sail, fresh from the sack of St. Domingo and Cartagena. He gave Lane a bark of seventy tons, pinnaces, and provisions, and lent him two of his captains. But a storm sank the bark. The colonists, losing courage, insisted on being taken home. On June 19, 1586, they set sail, on the eve of the arrival of a ship laden with provisions, which Ralegh had sent. A fortnight later came Grenville with three ships, also well stored. He could do nothing but leave fifteen men with supplies on Roanoke and return. Not even now was Ralegh disheartened. In the spring of 1587 he fitted out a fourth expedition. He had meant to conduct it himself. The Queen would not let him go. It comprised 150 householders. Some were married, and brought their wives with them. Agricultural implements were taken. Captain John White was in command. He and eleven others of the company were incorporated as the Governor and Assistants of the City of Ralegh in Virginia. Ralegh had fixed upon Chesapeake Bay as the site of the settlement. Roanoke was preferred. White could detect no trace of Grenville's fifteen men, and Lane's fort had been razed to the ground. Vainly the new colonists endeavoured to conciliate or awe the natives by baptizing and investing Manteo with the Barony of Roanoke. Jealousies arose between them and the tribes. They aggravated their difficulties by murdering in error a number of friendly Indians. Misfortunes of various kinds beset them. Supplies failed, and Governor White came home for more. At his departure the colony included eighty-nine men, seventeen women, and two children. Among them were White's daughter, Eleanor Dare, and her child. The time was inopportune. An embargo had been laid on all shipping, in expectation of the Spanish invasion. By Ralegh's influence it was raised in favour of a couple of merchantmen, equipped for a West Indian voyage, on condition that they transported men and necessaries to Virginia. They broke the compact. Though they embarked White, they took no colonists. They chased Spanish ships, fought with men-of-war from Rochelle, and came back to England shattered.
[Sidenote: Ralegh's persistency.]
Ralegh had other calls upon his resources. For the present he could do no more for Virginia. He reckoned he had spent L40,000 on the plantation. As Hakluyt wrote, 'it demanded a prince's purse to have the action thoroughly fulfilled without lingering.' Elizabeth was not willing to play the part of godmother in the fairy-tale sense. For a substitute, the founder, being in difficulties, had recourse to the very modern expedient of a company. In March, 1589, as Chief Governor, he assigned a right to trade in Virginia, not his patent, to Thomas Smith, John White, Richard Hakluyt, and others. He reserved a fifth of all the gold and silver extracted. The Adventurers were not very active. Ralegh still felt himself responsible for the colony, if it could be described as one. Such expeditions as sailed he mainly promoted. Southey's accusation that he 'abandoned the poor colonists' is ludicrously unjust. If, as has without due cause been imputed to Bacon, the charge in the essay on Plantations of the sinfulness of 'forsaking or destituting a plantation once in forwardness' refer to Ralegh, Bacon would be as calumnious. In 1590 White prosecuted the search for his daughter and grandchild, and the rest of the vanished planters. Ralegh despatched other expeditions for the same object, and with as little success. One, under Samuel Mace, with that purpose sailed in 1602 or 1603. By the time Mace returned, the Chief Governor was attainted, and his proprietorship of Virginia had escheated to the Crown.
[Sidenote: Reward of an idea.]
Ralegh never relinquished hope in his nursling. 'I shall yet live,' he wrote just before his fall, 'to see it an English nation.' In 1606 a new and strong colony was sent out, and his confidence was justified. From an old account of the career of his nephew, Captain Ralph Gilbert, a son of Sir Humphrey, it would seem he still considered in 1607 that his connexion with the country continued. In that year Ralph Gilbert is said to have voyaged to Virginia on his behalf. Though his direct exertions were confined to the region of the James and Potomac, his jurisdiction in the north was recognized. The term Virginia covered a very wide area. It included, not only the present Virginias, but the Carolinas and more besides. New England itself originally was supposed to be comprised. Captain Gosnold, Captain Bartholomew Gilbert, and others, when they planned the occupation of Martha's Vineyard in 1602, described it as 'the north part of Virginia,' and sought and obtained Ralegh's permission and encouragement. Posterity has rewarded his faith and perseverance. He never set foot anywhere in the country called generally Virginia. His expeditions by deputy were themselves confined to the part which is now North Carolina. All his experiments at the colonization of that were failures. His L40,000, his colonists, and the polity he framed for them, had disappeared before any white settlement took root. But he will always be esteemed the true parent of North American colonization. An idea like his has life in it, though the plant may not spring up at once. When it rises above the surface the sower can claim it. Had the particular region of the New World not eventually become a permanent English settlement, he would still have earned the merit of authorship of the English colonizing movement. As Humboldt has said, without him, and without Cabot, North America might never have grown into a home of the English tongue.
[Sidenote: Potatoes and Tobacco.]
Ralegh's Virginian scheme cost much money, and brought in little. It gave him fame, which he craved still more, and kept the town talking. His distant seigniory excited the English imagination. He was believed to have endowed his Sovereign with a new realm. He had the glory of having enriched his country with new fruits, plants, and flowers. The nature of the man was that he could touch nothing but immediately it appropriated itself to him. He is fabled to have been the first to import mahogany into England from Guiana. He set orange trees in the garden of his wife's uncle, Sir Francis Carew, at Beddington; and he has been credited with their first introduction. The Spaniards first brought potatoes into Europe. Hariot and Lane first discovered them in North Carolina. He grew them at Youghal, and they became his. Hariot discoursed learnedly on the virtues of tobacco, and Drake conveyed the leaf to England. Ralegh smoked, and none but he has the repute of the fashion. He gave the taste vogue, teaching the courtiers to smoke their pipes with silver bowls, and supplying them with the leaf. Sir John Stanhope excuses himself in 1601 from sending George Carew in Ireland any 'tabacca, because Mr. Secretary and Sir Walter have stored you of late.' Till he mounted the scaffold, having first 'taken tobacco,' the kingdom resounded with legends, doubtful enough, of his devotion to this his familiar genius. It was told how his old manservant deluged him at Sherborne with spiced ale to put out the combustion inside him; how he won wagers of the Queen that he could weigh vapours; how he smoked as Essex died. Society stared to see him take a pipe at Sir Robert Poyntz's. His gilt leather tobacco case was a prize for a Yorkshire museum. For words, ways, and doings, he was the observed of all observers. He was active in twenty different directions at once. He was always before the eyes of the world. His name was on every lip.
[Sidenote: Pioneer and Privateer.]
Among his constant motives of action was a fiery indignation at the spectacle of the Spanish monopoly of the New World. No sentiment could stir more of English sympathy. The people heartily shared his determination to rival Spain, and to pillage Spain. He had the Viking spirit, and he burnt with a freebooter's passion for the sea. But he had an intuition also of the national capacity for colonization, in which the purest patriot must have concurred. He was resolved to direct the maritime enthusiasm of his countrymen and their age to that definite end. He succeeded, though destined to the lot rather of Moses than of Joshua. His outlay on Virginia did not bound his expenditure in these ways. Adrian his half-brother, and his habitual associate, had resumed Sir Humphrey Gilbert's old project for the discovery of a North-West Passage to India and China. A patent was granted him in 1583. He established a 'Fellowship' to work it. Ralegh joined. Captain John Davys was appointed commander, and two barks were equipped. Davys discovered Davis's Straits. Mount Ralegh, shining like gold, he christened after one of his most celebrated patrons. Hakluyt in 1587 stated that Ralegh had thrice contributed with the forwardest to Davys's North-West voyages. From a mixture of patriotism, maritime adventurousness, and the love of gain, he employed his various opportunities to engage in privateering as a regular business. Privy Council minutes for 1585 mention captures by him, through his officers, of Spanish ships, with 600 Spaniards, at the Newfoundland fisheries. He sent forth in June, 1586, his ships Serpent and Mary Spark, under Captains Jacob Whiddon and John Evesham, to fight the Spaniards at the Azores. In a battle of thirty-two hours, against twenty-four Spanish ships, they failed to capture two great caracks which they coveted. They brought home three less valuable, but remunerative, prizes. Don Pedro Sarmiento de Genaboa, Governor of the Straits of Magellan, and other captives were worth heavy ransoms. Ralegh repeats in the History, 'a pretty jest' told him 'merrily' by the worthy Don Pedro, on whom he clearly did not allow thraldom to weigh heavily, how the draftsman of the chart of the Straits invented an island in them at his wife's instance, that she might have something specially her own in the chart. In the same year, 1586, he contributed a pinnace to a plundering expedition of the Earl of Cumberland's to the South Sea. Though he was not allowed to be often at sea in person, he vindicated by his eager promotion of maritime adventures a full right to be entered, as we find him in January, 1586, in an official list of 'sea captains.'
[Sidenote: Charges of Piracy.]
[Sidenote: His Defence.]
As Vice-Admiral of the South-West, he possessed advantages beyond most for private raids upon Spanish commerce. When he was not on the spot, his faithful and affectionate deputy in Devonshire, Sir John Gilbert, was at hand to look after his ships' stores. Doubtless outrages were committed under shelter of his Court favour. He joined the evil experiences of the sailor with those of the soldier and courtier in his dying regrets. Occasionally the Privy Council had to expostulate energetically. In 1589 a ship of his took two barks of Cherbourg. He and his officers were charged to minister no cause of grief to any of the French king's subjects. In the same year, Albert Reynerson was lodging complaints against Ralegh's captain of the Roebuck. Another of his captains, John Floyer, in 1592, was accused of having captured a ship of Bayonne with a load of cod, beside a waistcoat of carnation colour, curiously embroidered. Filippo Corsini sued him in that year for a ship his people had seized. In 1600 the Republic of Venice was aggrieved at the capture of a Venetian merchantman by Sir John Gilbert, junior, eldest son of Sir Humphrey, in command of one of Ralegh's vessels. At other times Venice claimed the surrender of Venetian goods in Spanish bottoms, though Ralegh stoutly argued against the claim. Sometimes the Government could not but interfere when neutrals had been pillaged. It was always reluctant to discourage the buccaneering trade, which it knew to be very lucrative. For instance, Ralegh and eleven other adventurers in 1591 equipped, at a cost of L8000, privateers which brought home prizes worth L31,150. The profit to the partnership was L14,952, which must be multiplied five times to express the present value. In high places no repugnance to the pursuit was felt. The Queen not rarely adventured, and looked for the lion's share of the spoil. Robert Cecil, after he had succeeded to his father's ascendency, was willing to speculate, if his association might be kept secret: 'For though, I thank God, I have no other meaning than becometh an honest man in any of my actions, yet that which were another man's Pater noster, would be accounted in me a charm.' Ralegh's views and character obliged him to no bashful dissimulation of the practice. To him privateering seemed strictly legal, and unequivocally laudable. He boasted in 1586 that he had consumed the best part of his fortune in abating the tyrannous prosperity of Spain. He acted as much in defence and retaliation as for offence. He stated in the House of Commons in 1592 that the West Country had, since the Parliament began, been plundered of the worth of L440,000. In 1603 he wrote that a few Dunkirk privateers under Spanish protection had 'taken from the West Country merchants within two years above three thousand vessels, beside all they had gotten from the rest of the ports of England.' He himself, as the State Papers testify, had often to lament losses of ships through Spanish and French privateers. Public opinion entirely justified the vigour with which he conducted his retaliation. If he were unpopular among his countrymen, or any section of them, the fact is not to be explained by the employment of his riches and influence in onslaughts upon foreign commerce. As he has written in his History, Englishmen never objected to the most fearful odds, when 'royals of plate and pistolets' were in view. They might have been expected to be grateful to a leading promoter of lucratively perilous enterprises; and in the West they were.
PATRON AND COURTIER (1583-1590).
In social and private as well as public life Ralegh was open-handed and liberal in kind offices. Those are not unpopular characteristics. He was a patron of letters. His name may be read in many dedications. Few of them can have been gratuitous. Martin Bassaniere of Paris inscribed to him very appropriately his publication of Laudonniere's narrative of the French expedition to Florida. Richard Hakluyt, junior, during his residence in France, had lighted upon Laudonniere's manuscript. From him Bassaniere received it. He translated the volume in 1587, and dedicated his version to Ralegh. Hakluyt had to thank Ralegh also for material assistance both with money and with advice in the compilation of his celebrated collection of voyages. The manuscript, for example, of the Portuguese narrative of de Gama's voyage in 1541 to the Red Sea had been bought for L60 by Ralegh, who presented it to him. Ralegh again was 'at no small charges' towards the production by the French painter, Jacques Morgues, of a series of coloured illustrations of Florida, whither he had accompanied Laudonniere. In 1586 the publisher of John Case's Praise of Music dedicated it to Ralegh, as a virtuoso. In 1588 Churchyard dedicated to him the Spark of Friendship. Hooker, the antiquary, introduced the continuation of the Irish history of Giraldus Cambrensis with a fervent encomium on the illustrious Warden of the Stannaries, who was 'rather a servant than a commander to his own fortune.' A medical treatise was inscribed to him as an expert. A list which has been preserved of his signs for chemical substances and drugs, shows that as early as 1592 he had paid attention to medicine. He appears to have kept amanuenses to copy interesting manuscripts. Thus, John Peirson who, in 1585, was in trouble in connexion with a tract entitled Reasons why the King of Scots is unacceptable to the People of England, deposed that he delivered one of the five copies he made to 'Sir Walter Ralegh, my master.'
Throughout life he befriended Hariot, the universal philosopher, as he has been called. Hariot has been credited with the invention of the system of notation in Algebra. He discovered the solar spots before, and the satellites of Jupiter almost simultaneously with, Galileo. Hariot, who numbered Bishops among his admirers, was accused by zealots of atheism, because his cosmogony was not orthodox. They discerned a judgment in his death in 1621 from cancer in the lip or nose. His ill repute for free-thinking was reflected on Ralegh who hired him to teach him mathematics, and engaged him in his colonizing projects. Ralegh introduced him to the Earl of Northumberland, who allowed him a liberal pension. But new ties did not weaken the old. Hariot and he remained constantly attached. Hariot was the friend whose society he chiefly craved when he was recovering from his wound in the Tower. During his long imprisonment Hariot was the faithful companion of his studies. Hariot brought to his notice another Oxford man, Lawrence Keymis. Keymis is described by Wood as well read in geography and mathematics. I am indebted to Professor Jowett for a confirmation from the Register of Balliol, which Keymis entered in 1579, graduating Master of Arts in 1586, of Wood's statement that he was elected a probationer Fellow in November, 1582. He was then nineteen years old, and an undergraduate. Five Bachelors of Arts were elected with him. To him also, of whom there will be much, too much, hereafter to say, Ralegh was a generous patron. Ralegh was equally ready to spend his court interest in the service of a pious theologian like John Udal the Hebraist. Udal in 1590 published of the Bishops, that they 'cared for nothing but the maintenance of their dignities, be it the damnation of their own souls, and infinite millions more.' He was tried for treason, since the Bishops, it was averred, governed the Church for the Queen. A jury convicted him of authorship of the book. The Judges iniquitously held that to amount to a conviction of felony. They therefore sentenced him to death. He prayed Ralegh to intercede with the Queen to commute his punishment to banishment, 'that the land might not be charged with his blood.' Ralegh accepted the office, and Essex combined with him. Retailers of court gossip conjectured that his kindness was policy. They imagined that he and Essex were secretly allied, and that Essex was employing him as 'an instrument from the Puritans to the Queen upon any particular question of relieving them.' A simpler and more generous motive is the more probable. He fought for Udal against the same lying spirit of legal casuistry which was to destroy himself. King James to his honour joined subsequently in mediating. Among them they saved the enthusiast's neck; but he died in the Marshalsea, pending a dispute whether he could safely be permitted to carry his anti-prelatic zeal and immense learning into a chaplaincy in Guinea.
[Sidenote: Good Offices.]
Other instances could be mentioned of Ralegh's disposition to pass his favour on. 'When, Sir Walter,' asked Elizabeth of him, as he came with a petition from a friend, 'will you cease to be a beggar?' 'When your gracious Majesty,' was the answer, 'ceases to be a benefactor.' He has had attributed to him, though obscurely, the project of an institution, described as an 'office of address,' a species of entrepot at which either information and useful services, or both, might be exchanged. Southey interprets it in the former sense, and regards it as an anticipation of the Royal Society. That was the view of Evelyn, who says that Ralegh put this 'fountain of communication in practice.' How is not remembered. At any rate, in the second sense he energetically applied the principle in his own conduct. Not less from kindness than from the wish to secure personal adherents, he was generally helpful. Now, his client was a poor wounded officer, whose arrears of pay he was praying the Treasury to discharge; partly, for love of him; partly, for honest consideration. Now, it was some prosperous placeman, his equal, or his superior in rank. As he boasts, in claiming a return from an Irish law officer, 'I assure you, on mine honour, I have deserved it at his hands in places where it may most stead him.' He used like language of the Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam. Before he rose he had ranked himself among Leicester's followers. Leicester speedily grew jealous of his prosperity. Sir Henry Wotton, who imputed the beginning of Ralegh's rise to Leicester, has stated in his Parallel between Essex and George Villiers, that the Earl soon found him such an apprentice as knew well enough how to set up for himself. Ralegh never withheld due marks of deference from his elder. Churchyard the poet described, or undertook to describe, a grand Shrovetide show prepared by Ralegh, in which the gentlemen of the Guard represented the Earl's exploits in Flanders. Ralegh was ever at pains to remove any specific grievance. On March 29, 1586, he writes to assure Leicester that he had urged the Queen to grant the request for pioneers in the Netherlands. He seems to have been accused, as he was to be accused seventeen years later, of intrigues on behalf of Spain, which he had constantly been attacking. He could not have had much difficulty in defending himself from the charge, about which he remarks he had been 'of late very pestilent reported.' It was not so clear that he recognized the Earl's paramount title as Queen's favourite. To disarm suspicion on that score he adds a postscript: 'The Queen is in very good terms with you, and, thank be to God, well pacified; and you are again her Sweet Robyn.' He cannot have esteemed Leicester. A stinging epitaph, attributed to him with the usual scarcity of evidence, may express his real view of the poor-spirited soldier, the deceitful courtier, the statesman and noble 'that all the world did hate.' But he was no backbiter. Elizabeth vouched for his claim to Leicester's friendliness. She bade Walsingham declare to Leicester, upon her honour, that the gentleman had done good offices for him in the time of her displeasure.
[Sidenote: The Earl of Oxford.]
He could be useful to the greatest; whether only great, or great and deserving too. He had been always solicitous of Burleigh's goodwill. As a rival at Court of Leicester, he had it. Burleigh loved no Court favourites. 'Seek not to be Essex; shun to be Ralegh,' was his warning to his son. Robert Cecil, awkward and deformed, was in no danger. Favourites represented a side of the Queen's nature which continually troubled the wise Minister. Their accomplishments were not his. They were costly. While he cannot have failed to perceive something admirable in Ralegh, he would not value the majority of his merits. The poetry and imaginativeness he despised. Still he always preserved amicable relations. He condescended to use Ralegh's personal influence as well as Hatton's. In the spring of 1583 he solicited the mediation of both those favourites with the Queen for his son-in-law, Edward Vere, Earl of Oxford. Oxford was in disgrace on the charge, not very heavy in those days as against an Earl, of having slain Long Tom, a retainer of Mr. Knyvett's. The Queen had rejected Burleigh's own intercession. She appears to have granted forgiveness at Ralegh's suit. Oxford's arrogance had provoked Sir Philip Sidney. It had not spared Ralegh, who, Aubrey says, had been 'a second with him in a duel.' Ralegh pretended no kindliness for the Earl; he avowed to Burleigh that as a mediator he acted for the Minister's sake alone: 'I am content to lay the serpent before the fire, as much as in me lieth, that, having recovered strength, myself may be more in danger of his poison and sting.' Eighteen years after, not that he cared, he found the venom was not exhausted.
[Sidenote: His Unpopularity.]
[Sidenote: An Excess of Capability.]
Ralegh did not hoard or keep to himself the wealth and power conferred upon him. His was an age of patronage. Other successful courtiers had, like him, their trains of dependants. He was at least as bountiful as any and as sympathetic. His followers believed in and worshipped him. Posterity he has captivated. Yet throughout his active career he aroused bitter hatred, unless in the West, and in his own home circle. The fact requires to be noted for the purpose of appraising contemporary comments upon his acts. Apologists and impartial chroniclers are as distinct as enemies in intimating that he was a constant mark for 'detraction' and 'envyings.' He was unpopular on account alike of his demeanour, of the Queen's favour, and of the monopolizing energy in the public service by which to posterity he has justified it. All students recollect Aubrey's description of him as one whose blemish or 'naeve it was that he was damnably proud.' In serious illustration of the charge, Aubrey repeats a tale related by an old attendant, who had seen the Lord High Admiral in the Privy Garden wipe with his cloak the dust from Ralegh's shoes 'in compliment.' Aubrey's description of Ralegh is all hearsay; since he was not born till 1627. He may have been told anecdotes by members of the family; for his grandfather was a Wiltshire neighbour of Sir Carew Ralegh, and he was himself a schoolfellow of Sir Carew's grandchildren. But he was utterly uncritical, and his bare assertion would carry little weight. The testimony of a sworn foe, like Lord Henry Howard, to Ralegh's extraordinary haughtiness, may be regarded even with more suspicion. An old acquaintance, however, and a political ally, the Earl of Northumberland, similarly describes Ralegh as 'insolent, extremely heated, a man that desired to seem to be able to sway all men's courses.' That this was the current opinion, due, as it was, more or less to misconception, is borne out by a mass of authority. Ralegh must have profoundly impressed all about him with a sense that he felt himself better fitted than themselves to regulate their lives. His air of conscious superiority silenced opposition, but was resented. Neither a mob, nor Howards and Percies pardoned his assumption of an infinite superiority of capacity. His gaiety and splendour were treated as proofs of arrogance. His evident contempt of 'the rascal multitude' added to the odium which dogged his course. He never condescended to allude to the subject in writing or in authenticated speech. Though he courted occasions for renown, he did not seek applause. His position as a Queen's favourite in any case must have brought aversion upon him. Tarleton, as he half acted, half improvised, is said to have shuffled a pack of cards, and pointed at him, standing behind the Queen's chair, an insolent innuendo: 'See, the knave commands the Queen.' The comedian, if the story be true, could reckon upon the support of a vast body of popular malevolence. Still, as a favourite, Ralegh only shared the lot of his class. The same privileged player is alleged to have proceeded to satirize Leicester as well. Hatton was a frequent butt for fierce sarcasms upon royal favouritism. The phenomenon in Ralegh's unpopularity is that proof absolutely irrefutable of the grandeur of his powers, and all the evidence of his exploits, should never have won him an amnesty for the original sin of his sovereign's kindness. Pride itself, it might have been thought, would have been pardoned at last in the doer of such deeds. His inexpiable offences really were his restless activity, and his passion for personal management. He was a born manager of men. Whatever was in hand, he saw what ought to be done, and was conscious of ability to arrange for the doing. He could never be connected with an enterprise which he was not determined to direct. He could endure to be a subordinate only if his masters would be in leading-strings.
ESSEX. THE ARMADA (1587-1589).
[Sidenote: Popularity of Essex.]
As a favourite Ralegh was certain to have originally been hated by the people. His favour might have been tolerated by courtiers, or by a sufficient section of them, if he had been content to parade and enjoy his pomps, and had let them govern. His strenuous vigour exasperated them as much as his evident conviction of a right to rule. They never ceased to regard him on that account as a soldier of fortune, and an upstart. So poor a creature as Hatton had his party at Court. When he retired to the country in dudgeon at a display of royal grace to Ralegh, his friends, as Sir Thomas Heneage, were busy for him so late as April, 1585. Elizabeth was persuaded by them to let them give him assurances on her behalf, that she would rather see Ralegh hanged than equal him with Hatton, or allow the world to think she did. When Hatton was out of date the courtiers combined to set up Essex against him, and had the assistance of the multitude in their tactics. The popular attitude towards Essex is the solitary exception to the rule of the national abhorrence of favourites. It is explained as much by the dislike of Ralegh as by Essex's ingratiating characteristics. Animosity against Ralegh stimulated courtiers and the populace to sing in chorus the praises of the stepson of the detested Leicester. No anger was exhibited at the elevation of a lad of twenty to the Mastership of the Horse. Stories of the Queen's supposed infatuation, how she 'kept him at cards, or one game or another, the whole night, and he cometh not to his own lodgings till birds sing in the morning,' amused, and did not incense. Meanwhile the approved soldier, the planter of Virginia, was in the same May, 1587, truthfully described as 'the best hated man of the world in Court, city, and country.'
[Sidenote: His Antipathy to Ralegh.]
For the crowd Essex may have had the merit of being of an ancient nobility, which needed no intricate demonstration by antiquaries and genealogists. He had enough patrimonial wealth to justify the Sovereign in showering largess upon him. He was not one of the irrepressible west countrymen who brought their nimble wits, comeliness, and courage to the market of the Court. He was more bright than stately. His petulance did not produce an impression of haughtiness. For the courtier class he possessed the yet higher virtue of willingness to be at once a centre and watchword and an instrument. From the first he was manipulated as an engine against Ralegh. In a letter to one of his many confidants he shows the readiness with which he accepted the office. In 1587 Elizabeth was on a progress, and was staying at North Hall in Hertfordshire. Ralegh, as Captain of the Guard, and Essex both attended her. Essex writes to his friend, Edward Dyer, that he reproached the Queen for having slighted his sister, Lady Dorothy Perrot, the wife of Ralegh's old antagonist, Sir Thomas. He declared to her 'the true cause of this disgrace to me and to my sister, which was only to please that knave Ralegh, for whose sake I saw she would both grieve me and my love, and disgrace me in the eyes of the world. From thence she came to speak of Ralegh, and it seemed she could not well endure anything to be spoken against him; and taking hold of the word "disdain," she said there was "no such cause why I should disdain him." This speech did touch me so much that, as near as I could, I did describe unto her what he had been, and what he was. I did let her know whether I had cause to disdain his competition of love, or whether I could have comfort to give myself over to the service of a mistress which was in awe of such a man. I spake, what of grief and choler, as much against him as I could, and I think he, standing at the door, might very well hear the very worst that I spoke of himself. In the end I saw she was resolved to defend him, and to cross me. For myself, I told her I had no joy to be in any place, but was loth to be near about her, when I knew my affection so much thrown down, and such a wretch as Ralegh highly esteemed of her.' When he called Ralegh a wretch the Queen expressed her disgust at the impertinence by turning away to Lady Warwick, and closed the interview.
[Sidenote: Ralegh's Decline.]
Essex spoke, and perhaps thought, thus of Ralegh in 1587. So the nation at large spoke and thought of him then, and for many years afterwards. If he had only been such as he had as yet shown himself, posterity might have found it difficult to prove the condemnation unjust. He had risen in virtue of a handsome person and a courtly wit. He had equipped expeditions of discovery, in which he took no share of the perils, and the whole of the glory. He had fought and spoiled the Spaniards, chiefly by deputy, risking his own person as little as 'the noble warrior' of his reputed epigram, 'that never blunted sword.' The hardships and dangers he had sturdily braved in France and Ireland were for his contemporaries simple myths, as they would have been for us, had he died at thirty-five. Had he retained the Queen's favour uninterrupted, had she not been capricious, had there been no Essex, had there been no Elizabeth Throckmorton, he might have died at sixty, at seventy, or at eighty, and a verdict hardly less severe been pronounced. It is not certain. Possibly in any event, the vigour inherent in the man, his curiosity, his instinct for stamping his will on the world outside, his eagerness to impel his nation to empire westwards, might have had their way. They might have mastered the contradictory ambition to be victorious in a contest of factions. While he was still absorbed in Court strifes, and in the seductive labour of building up a fortune, he had proved that he was no mere carpet knight. But it was well that his natural tendencies towards a life of action were braced by the experience of a chill in the ardour of royal benevolence. From 1587, as the star of Essex rose, and his was supposed to be waning, his orbit can be seen widening. It became more independent. As reigning favourite he had vicariously explored, colonized, plundered, and fought. Henceforth he was to do a substantial part of his own work.
Essex, at the period of the North Hall scene, was new to the Court. He must soon have discovered that Ralegh was not to be spurned as a clown, or to be stormed out of the Queen's graces by insolence. He did not grow therefore the less hostile. He rejected Elizabeth's inducements to him to live on terms of amity with a rival in all essential respects infinitely his superior. Persuaded that she could not dispense with himself, he persisted in putting her to her option between them. The rank and file at Elizabeth's Court had a keen scent for their Sovereign's bias. They foresaw the inevitable end, though they antedated by several years the actual catastrophe. In 1587 Arabella Stuart, a girl of twelve, was at Court. She supped at Lord Burleigh's. The other guests were her uncle, Sir Charles Cavendish, and Ralegh. Cavendish mentions the entertainment in a letter to a friend. He relates that Burleigh praised to Ralegh 'Lady Arbell,' who had been congratulating herself that 'the Queen had examined her nothing touching her book,' for her French, Italian, music, dancing, and writing. Burleigh wished she were fifteen years old. 'With that he rounded Sir Walter in the ear, who answered, it would be a very happy thing.' Cavendish goes on to observe that Sir Walter was in wonderful declination, yet laboured to underprop himself by my Lord Treasurer and his friends. He inferred from the contrast between Ralegh's former pride and his present too great humility, that he would never rise again. My Lord Treasurer and his friends were not given to the support of discarded favourites. Ralegh's presence at so intimate a gathering, and the confidence vouchsafed him, are signs that he was still potent. The stream of the royal bounty continued to flow. The Babington grant was in 1587. For several years to come other similar tokens of regard were accorded him. Towards the close of 1587 itself signal testimony was offered of the trust of the Queen and her counsellors in his wisdom and martial skill.
[Sidenote: A Council of War.]
In February, 1587, Queen Mary Stuart was executed. It is the one important event of the period with which Ralegh's name is not connected. He does not appear to have been consulted, nor to have spoken on the matter either in or out of Parliament. Its consequences concerned him. The act quickened the Spanish preparations for the invasion of England. King Philip had no thought of concealment. He published his designs to all Europe. The menaced kingdom had full notice. In November, 1587, a council of war was instructed to consider the means of defence. Its members were Lord Grey, Sir Thomas Knolles, Sir Thomas Leighton, Sir Walter Ralegh, described as Lieutenant-General of Cornwall, Sir John Norris, Sir Richard Grenville, Sir Richard Bingham, who had been Ralegh's early comrade in Ireland, Sir Roger Williams, and Mr. Ralph Lane. They advised that Milford Haven, the Isle of Wight, the Downs, Margate, the Thames, and Portland should be fortified against Spanish descents. They thought it improbable the King of Spain would venture his fleet far within the Sleeve before he had mastered some good harbour. Consequently they recommended the defence of Plymouth by strong works, and a garrison of 5000 men from Cornwall and Devon. Portland they reported should be guarded by 2700 from Dorset and Wilts. If the enemy landed, the country was to be driven so as to leave no victuals for the invader. Ralegh separately petitioned Burleigh for cannon for Portland and Weymouth. Thence some have inferred that he was now Governor of the former.
[Sidenote: The Armada.]
In December, 1587, he was employed, in concert with Sir John Gilbert and Lord Bath, in levying a force of 2000 foot and 200 horse in Cornwall and Devon. Exeter claimed exemption on account of its heavy expenses for the defence of its trade against Barbary corsairs. By the beginning of 1588 the immediate fear of attack had abated. The invasion was thought to have been put off. Ralegh took the opportunity to visit Ireland. There he had both public and private duties. He retained his commission in the army. Moreover, he was answerable, as a Crown tenant, for twenty horsemen, though his charges for them were refunded. Thus, in March, 1588, an order was made for the payment to him of L244 for the previous half year. Always he had his estate to put in order, and functions connected with it to perform. According to the local records, he served this year the office of Mayor of Youghal. During a considerable portion of the term he must have been an absentee. In Ireland the news reached him that the Armada had started or was starting. Hastening back he commenced by mustering troops in the West, and strengthening Portland Castle. But his own trust was in the fleet. In his History of the World he propounds the question whether England without its fleet would be able to debar an enemy from landing. He answers by showing how easily ships, without putting themselves out of breath, will outrun soldiers marching along the coast. The Spaniards in July, 1588, could, in his opinion, but for the English ships, have chosen a landing-place with no sufficient army at hand to resist them. The Armada might have failed, he admits, against the choice troops gathered about the Queen. He did not believe in the ability of the remainder round the coast to encounter an army like that which the Prince of Parma could have landed in England. His advice had its weight in inducing Elizabeth to fit out the fleet, which did noble service under Howard of Effingham.
[Sidenote: Against 'Grappling'.]
He acted upon his own doctrine. On July 21 the Defiance assailed a Spanish ship near the Eddystone. On the 23rd the Spaniards were over against Portland. Thereupon Ralegh gave over his land charge to others. With a body of gentlemen volunteers he embarked, and joined in the universal rush at and about the enemy. All day the battle raged. Ships started out of every haven, to the number of a hundred. All hurried to Portland, 'as unto a sea-field where immortal fame and glory was to be attained, and faithful service to be performed unto their prince and country.' It was for the Englishmen 'a morris dance upon the waters.' We may be sure he applied his principle of the worse armed but handier fleet, not 'grappling,' as 'a great many malignant fools' contended Lord Howard ought, but 'fighting loose or at large.' 'The guns of a slow ship,' he observes, 'make as great holes as those of a swift. The Spaniards had an army aboard them, and Howard had none; they had more ships than he had, and of higher building and charging; so that had he entangled himself with those great and powerful vessels he had greatly endangered this Kingdom of England. But our admiral knew his advantage, and held it; which had he not done he had not been worthy to have held his head.' Camden reports advice given to Howard by one of his officers to grapple on July 23. It has been surmised that Ralegh dissuaded him. It may be so; and Ralegh can be construed as wishing it to be so understood.
Next day the Spaniards lay by to breathe. The English had leisure to send ashore for powder and shot. These for the great guns had, he has recorded, been unduly stinted. On July 25 the battle was resumed, as the enemy sailed towards the Isle of Wight. A Portuguese galleon was captured. On moved both fleets to the Straits of Dover. Many fresh English volunteer ships kept streaming in till the English fleet numbered 140 sail. Here Camden alludes to Ralegh by name. So does a correspondent of Mendoza, describing him as 'a gentleman of the Queen's Privy Chamber.' He must have been at the decisive struggle before Calais; 'Never was seen by any man living such a battery.' He was present at the desperate stand of the Spaniards opposite Gravelines. He helped to hunt the enemy into the northern seas. In a passage, attributed by Strype to Drake, of his Report of the Truth of the Fight about the Isles of the Azores, he writes: 'The navy of 140 sail, was by thirty of the Queen's ships of war and a few merchantmen, beaten and shuffled together, even from the Lizard Point, in Cornwall, to Portland, where they shamefully left Don Pedro de Valdez with his mighty ship; from Portland to Calais, where they lost Hugo de Moncada, with the galleys of which he was captain; and from Calais, driven with squibs from their anchors, were chased out of the sight of England round about Scotland and Ireland; where, for the sympathy of their barbarous religion, hoping to find succour and assistance, a great part of them were crushed against the rocks; and those others who landed, being very many in number, were, notwithstanding, broken, slain, and taken, and so sent from village to village, coupled with halters, to be shipped into England; where her Majesty, of her princely and "invincible" disposition, disdaining to put them to death, and scorning either to retain or entertain them, they were all sent back again to their own country, to witness and recount the worthy achievements of their "invincible navy".'
[Sidenote: Retaliation on Spain.]
Ralegh had much to do with the preliminary arrangements for the repulse of the Armada. He advised on the manner in which the victory might be improved. Several of the noble Spanish prisoners were committed to his charge. A plan was formed, which the completeness of the Spanish overthrow rendered unnecessary, for the despatch of Sir Richard Grenville and him to Ireland for the suppression of any armed body of Spanish fugitives. His part in the actual Channel fighting had been that simply of one among many gallant captains. When next the State made a naval demonstration he continued to play a secondary character. In April, 1589, an expedition, under Drake and Norris, of six Queen's men-of-war and 120 volunteer sail, started to restore Don Antonio to the throne of Portugal. It was retaliation for the Armada. Ralegh sailed in a ship of his own, as a volunteer without a command. Lisbon was assailed and Vigo burnt. Otherwise the chief result of the attempt was spoil. In the Tagus 200 vessels were burnt. Many of them were easterling hulks laden with stores for a new invasion of England. Disease, arising from intemperate indulgence in new wine, crippled the fleet, and led to a quarrel between Ralegh and another Adventurer. Colonel Roger Williams had lent men to bring home one of Ralegh's prizes. Williams treated ship and cargo as therefore his in virtue of salvage. Ralegh, always tenacious of his rights, resisted, and the Privy Council upheld him. The expedition, which ended in June, though it did not gain much glory, was profitable. He, for example, effected some lucrative captures, and was paid L4000 as his share of the general booty.
THE POET. (1589-1593).
[Sidenote: Out of Favour.]
Ralegh would have been happier if he could have gone on fighting Spain instead of returning to the discord of Court rivalries. Before the summer was over he was again immersed in bickerings with Essex. The Earl was prone to take offence. After the defeat of the Armada he had challenged Ralegh to mortal combat. The unknown grievance was probably not more serious than the title to a ribbon of the Queen's, for which, a little later, he provoked a duel with Blount, Lord Mountjoy. Between him and Ralegh the Council interposed. It averted a combat, and endeavoured to suppress the fact of the challenge. The two could be bound over to keep the peace. They could not be reconciled. Too many indiscreet or malignant partisans were interested in inflaming the conflict. Elizabeth tried with more or less success to adjust the balance by a rebuff to each. She rejected Ralegh's solicitation of the rangership of the New Forest for Lord Pembroke. She gave the post to Blount, Essex's recent antagonist. Still, on the whole, there appears to have been some foundation for the gossip of courtiers that Ralegh was more really in the shade. Soon after his return from Portugal he had quitted the Court, first, for the West, and then for Ireland. Captain Francis Allen wrote, on August 17, 1589, to Francis Bacon's elder brother, Anthony, who subsequently conducted Essex's foreign correspondence: 'My Lord of Essex hath chased Mr. Ralegh from the Court, and hath confined him into Ireland.' The statement was not accurate. Ralegh was able practically to contradict it by his return, after a visit to Munster of a few months. In a letter of December, 1589, he assured his cousin Carew, 'noble George,' then Master of the Ordnance in Ireland: 'For my retreat from Court, it was upon good cause to take order for my prize. If in Ireland they think I am not worth the respecting, they shall much deceive themselves. I am in place to be believed not inferior to any man, to pleasure or displeasure the greatest; and my opinion is so received and believed as I can anger the best of them. And therefore, if the Deputy be not as ready to stead me as I have been to defend him—be it as it may. When Sir William Fitzwilliams shall be in England, I take myself for his better by the honourable offices I hold, as also by that nearness to her Majesty which I still enjoy.'
[Sidenote: At Youghal.]
He could truly deny any permanent manifestation of a loss of royal goodwill. He had been receiving fresh marks of it. He was about to receive more. His Irish estate afforded sufficient ground for absence from Court, though no less agreeable motive had concurred. He had rounded off his huge concession by procuring from the Bishop of Lismore, in 1587, a lease of Lismore Manor at a rent of L13 6s. 8d. He was building on the site of the castle a stately habitation, which his wealthy successors have again transformed out of all resemblance to his work. He had conceived an affection for the Warden's house attached to the Dominican Friary at Youghal, Myrtle Grove, or Ralegh's House, as it came to be styled. Its present owner, Sir John Pope Hennessy, who has made it the occasion of a picturesque but bitter monograph, thinks he liked it because it reminded him of Hayes Barton. Other observers have failed to see the resemblance. At present it remains much as it was when Ralegh sat in its deep bays, or by its carved fire-place. The great myrtles in its garden must be almost his contemporaries. He had his experiments to watch, his potatoes and tobacco, his yellow wallflowers, in the pleasant garden by the Blackwater. He had to replenish his farms with well affected Englishmen whom he imported from Devon, Somerset, and Dorset. In 1592 it is officially recorded that, beside fifty Irish families, 120 Englishmen, many of whom had families, were settled on his property. He was developing a mineral industry by the help of miners he had hired from Cornwall. He was conducting, at a cost of some L200 a year, a lively litigation with his Lismore neighbours, of which he wrote in a few months to his cousin: 'I will shortly send over an order from the Queen for a dismiss of their cavillations.' It was the short way of composing law proceedings against Court favourites. He was planning the confusion by similar means of the unfriendly Fitzwilliam's 'connivances with usurpers of his land.' Yet a cloud there seems to have been, if only a passing one. A memorable incident of literary history, connected with this sojourn in Ireland, verifies the talk of the Court, and lends it importance. It may even point to a relation between the haze dimly discernible now, and the tempest which burst three years later.
[Sidenote: Edmund Spenser.]
[Sidenote: The Faerie Queene.]
Edmund Spenser had been with Lord Deputy Grey when Ralegh was a Munster captain. But, if the poet be taken literally, they were not acquainted before 1589. His Irish services, as Ralegh's, were rewarded out of the Desmond forfeitures. He received 3028 acres in Cork, with Kilcolman Castle, two miles from Doneraile. The estate formed part of a wide plain, well watered, and, in the sixteenth century, well wooded. The castle is now a roofless ivy-clad ruin. The poet was turning it into a pleasant residence. Ralegh came to see it and him. Spenser has described the visit in the tenderest and least artificial of his poems. Colin Clout's Come Home Again, printed in 1595, was inscribed to his friend in 1591. The dedication was expressed to be in part payment of an infinite debt. The poet declared it unworthy of Sir Walter's higher conceit for the meanness of the style, but agreeable to the truth in circumstance and matter. Lines in the poem corroborate the hypothesis that Elizabeth had for a time, perhaps in the summer of 1589, been estranged from Ralegh:—
His song was all a lamentable lay Of great unkindness, and of usage hard, Of Cynthia, the Ladie of the Sea, Which from her presence faultlesse him debard.
They equally imply that, before Colin Clout's lay was indited, great Cynthia had been induced by his complainings to abate her sore displeasure—
And moved to take him to her grace againe.
The circumstances of Spenser's own introduction to Court indicate that Ralegh had recovered favour. He read or lent to Ralegh during the visit to Kilcolman the first three books of the Faerie Queene. According to Ben Jonson he also delivered to him now or later 'the meaning of the Allegory in papers.' The poem enchanted the visitor, who offered to become the author's sponsor to Elizabeth. Together, if Colin Clout is to be believed, they crossed the sea, and repaired to the Court. There—
The Shepheard of the Ocean—quoth he— Unto that Goddesse grace me first enhanced, And to my oaten pipe enclin'd her eare.
The first three books of the Faerie Queene were published early in 1590, with an expository letter from the most humbly affectionate author to the Right Noble and Valorous Sir Walter Ralegh. First of all the copies of commendatory verses prefixed to the poems stood two signed W.R.
Spenser, in Colin Clout, lauded Ralegh as a poet:—
Full sweetly tempered is that Muse of his, That can empierce a Princes mightie hart.
[Sidenote:Date of the Poem.]
Ralegh must have shown him part of a poem addressed to Elizabeth as Cynthia, and estimated to have contained as many as 15,000 lines when completed, if ever. This prodigious elegy was never published by Ralegh, and no entire manuscript of it is known to exist. Some years ago a paper was found in the Hatfield collection, endorsed as 'in Sir Walter's own hand.' The handwriting resembles that of Ralegh in 1603. It comprises altogether 568 verses. Two short poems, of seven and fourteen lines, come first; and the manuscript terminates with an unfinished poem of seven stanzas in a variety of terza rima. The body of the contents consists of 526 elegiac verses, described in the manuscript as 'The twenty-first and last book of the Ocean, to Cynthia.' Archdeacon Hannah, in his Courtly Poets from Ralegh to Montrose, concludes, with some hesitation, that the whole was composed as a sequel, between 1603 and 1612, to a much earlier poem. He sees in it allusions to the death of the Queen, which would more or less fix the date. Mr. Edmund Gosse, in the Athenaeum, in January, 1886, has contested that hypothesis. He thinks, in the first place, that the twenty-one lines which precede, and the twenty-one which follow, the so-called twenty-first book, have no relation to the poem of Cynthia. The rest he holds to be not a continuation of Cynthia, but an integral portion of the original work. That work, as a whole, he has convinced himself, was produced during the author's transient disgrace, between August, 1589, and its end, which may be taken to have been not later than December in the same year. That no part of Cynthia, as we have it, was written later than 1603 scarcely admits of doubt. Ralegh would not have sat down in the reign of James to write love ditties to Elizabeth. His repinings and upbraidings are manifestly all pointed at a dead heart, not at a dead queen. Mr. Gosse is, however, more successful in his argument that the main Hatfield poem was written in the lifetime of Elizabeth, than in his attempt to date it in 1589. He assumes that the poem was a finished composition when Ralegh read from it to Spenser. It is not likely that it ever was finished. Spenser's allusions to it point to a conception fully formed, rather than to a work ready for publication. In the latter case it is improbable, to the verge of impossibility, that Ralegh should not have communicated it to his circle. An initial objection to the view that the twenty-first book was penned in 1589 is its reference to the—