Twelve years entire I wasted on this war,
that war being his struggle for the affection of Elizabeth. This Mr. Gosse ingeniously, but not satisfactorily, appropriates as the main support of his chronology. In the Paunsford recognizance Ralegh is set down as of the Court in 1577. On no other evidence Mr. Gosse infers that he was laying siege to Elizabeth's heart before he went to Ireland. Thus the dozen years of the campaign would be conveniently over by the autumn of 1589. A simpler solution seems to be to assign the rough-hewing of the entire project of Cynthia, and its partial accomplishment, to the term of Ralegh's short occultation in 1589. He might well have disclosed to Spenser his project, and read out passages. They would be melancholy for their sorrow's crown of sorrow, their recalling of former undimmed felicity—
Of all which past the sorrow only stays.
They would exaggerate royal unkindness. They would hardly have descanted on the tenderness as absolutely extinct. Even before Spenser extolled the Cynthia in Colin Clout in 1591, the harshness was softened, and had melted back to the playing at love in which Elizabeth was wont to indulge with her courtiers. When he resumed the theme on his banishment from Court in 1592, he would feel that he had solid cause for lamentation. By 1594 his disgrace seemed definite; the royal kindness won by years of devotion—
Twelve years of my most happy younger days—
appeared to have been utterly killed; and he was preparing to sail away into space. The twenty-first book might have been written at any time between 1592 and 1595, and its most dismal groans be fairly explicable. Looking back to his regrets in 1589 for an episode of neglect, he could wonder at himself—
At middle day my sun seemed under land, When any little cloud did it obscure.
Had Spenser seen the twenty-first book of Cynthia in 1591, with its real or unreal blackness of despair, he would not have spoken of Ralegh as basking in the renewed radiance of happy prospects. So Cynthia, as far as it was ever composed, may be considered one poem, to which the extant twenty-first book essentially belongs. There is not, therefore, necessarily any hope, or fear, that the whole exists, or ever existed, in a perfect shape. Ralegh would nurse the idea for all the years in which the Queen's withdrawal of the light of her countenance gave him comparative leisure. The twenty-first book itself would be written with the direct purpose of softening his mistress's obduracy. The explanation of its preservation among the Hatfield papers may be that, on the eve of his departure, forsaken, withered, hopeless, for Guiana, it was confided, in 1594 or 1595, to Cecil, then a good friend, for seasonable production to the Queen. Viewed as written either in 1589, or in the reign of James, much of the twenty-first book is without meaning. Its tone is plain and significant for the years 1592 to 1595. If traced to that period, it tells both of the bold coming adventure of 1595,
To kingdoms strange, to lands far-off addressed,
and of the irresistible power of 'her memory' in 1592
To call me back, to leave great honour's thought, To leave my friends, my fortune, my attempt; To leave the purpose I so long had sought, And hold both cares and comforts in contempt.
Concurrent testimony in favour of a date for the book later than 1589, though much prior to 1603, is afforded by the use in it of the name Belphoebe:
A queen she was to me—no more Belphoebe; A lion then—no more a milk-white dove; A prisoner in her breast I could not be; She did untie the gentle chains of love.
Belphoebe was a word coined apparently by Spenser. To the poem of Cynthia Spenser had said he owed the idea of the name, implying that it was of his coinage. It was fashioned, he stated, 'according to Ralegh's excellent conceit of Cynthia, Cynthia and Phoebe being both names of Diana.' Ralegh, by the introduction of the name into his Cynthia, at once has dated the canto in which it occurs as not earlier than 1591, or, perhaps, than 1595, and indicated his desire to link his own verses to the eventful meeting
among the coolly shade Of the green alders, by the Mulla's shore.
[Sidenote: Ralegh's Sonnet.]
Spenser referred again to the poem of Cynthia, and to Ralegh's poetic greatness, in the most beautiful of the sonnets offered to his several patrons at the end of his surpassing romance and allegory:
To thee, that art the Summer's Nightingale, Thy Sovereign Goddess's most dear delight, Why do I send this rustic Madrigal, That may thy tuneful ear unseason quite? Thou only fit this argument to write, In whose high thoughts Pleasure hath built her bower, And dainty Love learned sweetly to indite. My rhymes I know unsavoury and sour, To taste the streams that, like a golden shower, Flow from the fruitful head of thy Love's praise; Fitter perhaps to thunder martial stowre, Whenso thee list thy lofty Muse to raise; Yet, till that thou thy Poem wilt make known, Let thy fair Cynthia's praises be thus rudely shown.
It was his return for tribute in kind. By the side of Ralegh's sonnet its flattery hardly seems extravagant:—
Methought I saw the grave where Laura lay, Within that temple where the vestal flame Was wont to burn; and passing by that way, To see that buried dust of living fame, Whose tomb fair Love and fairer Virtue kept, All suddenly I saw the Fairy Queen, At whose approach the soul of Petrarch wept; And from thenceforth those graces were not seen, For they this Queen attended; in whose stead Oblivion laid him down on Laura's hearse. Hereat the hardest stones were seen to bleed, And groans of buried ghosts the heavens did pierce: Where Homer's spright did tremble all for grief, And cursed the access of that celestial thief.
[Sidenote: Poetic Gifts.]
Before this, or Spenser's eulogy on him, was printed, Ralegh had acquired the reputation at Court of a poet. Puttenham, a critic of high repute, had, in The Art of English Poesy, printed in 1589, pronounced 'for ditty and amorous ode, Sir Walter Ralegh's vein most lofty, insolent, and passionate.' By 'insolent,' not 'condolent,' as Anthony Wood quotes, Puttenham meant original. His first public appearance as a poet was in 1576, when in grave and sounding lines he maintained Gascoigne's merits against envious detractors, as if with a presentiment of his own fate—
For whoso reaps renown above the rest, With heaps of hate shall surely be oppressed.
His flow of inspiration never dried up till his head rolled in the dust. But the years between 1583 and 1593 seem, so far as dates, always in Ralegh's career distracting, can be fixed, to have been the period of his most copious poetic fruitfulness.
[Sidenote: Their Limitations.]
Throughout his life he won the belief of men of letters and refinement in his poetic power. Their admiration has never failed him in the centuries which have followed. He has not been as fortunate in gaining and keeping the ear of the reading public. For that a poet has not only to be born, but to be made. Ralegh had a poet's gifts. He had music in his soul. He chose to think for himself. He possessed the art of the grand style. The twenty-first book of the Cynthia errs in being overcharged with thought. It abounds in noble imagery. There is pathos as well as dignity. Its author, had he lived in the nineteenth century, in default of new worlds to explore, or Armadas to fight, might have written an In Memoriam. In previous English poetry no such dirge is to be found as his Epitaph on Sir Philip Sidney. A couple of stanzas will indicate its solemn music:—
There didst thou vanquish shame and tedious age, Grief, sorrow, sickness, and base fortune's might; Thy rising day saw never woeful night, But passed with praise from off this worldly stage.
What hath he lost that such great grace hath won? Young years for endless years, and hope unsure Of fortune's gifts for wealth that still shall dure: O happy race, with so great praises run!
He had as light a touch. He understood how to play with a conceit till it glances and dances and dazzles, as in his, for probably it is his, Grace of Wit, of Tongue, of Face, and in Fain would I, but I dare not. Praed was not happier in elaborate trifling than he in his Cards and Dice. Prior might have envied him The Silent Lover. His Nymph's Reply to the Passionate Shepherd, if it be his, as Izaak Walton without suspicion assumes, and, if it did not compel comparison with Marlowe's more exquisite melody, would assure his place among the poets of the age. He was able to barb a fierce sarcasm with courtly grace. How his fancy could swoop down and strike, and pierce as it flashed, may be felt in each ringing stanza of The Lie—
Say to the Court, it glows And shines like rotten wood; Say to the Church, it shows What's good, and doth no good: If Church and Court reply, Then give them both the lie.
His fancy could inspire in his Pilgrimage one of the loftiest appeals in all literature to Heaven from the pedantry of human justice or injustice. He could match Cowley in metaphysical verse, as in A Poesy to prove Affection is not Love. But the Court spoilt him for a national poet, as it spoilt Cowley; as it might, if it had been more generous, have spoilt Dryden. He desired to be read between the lines by a class which loved to think its own separate thoughts, and express its own separate feelings in its own diction, sometimes in its own jargon. He hunted for epigrams, and too often sparkled rather than burned. He was afraid not to be witty, to wrangle, as he himself has said,
In tickle points of niceness.
[Sidenote: Disputed Authorship.]
Often he refined instead of soaring. In place of sympathising he was ever striving to concentrate men's regards on himself. Egotism is not inconsistent with the heat of inspiration, when it is unconscious, when the poet sings because he must, and bares his own heart. Ralegh rarely loses command of himself. He is perpetually seen registering the effects his flights produce. Apparently he had no ambition for popular renown as a poet. He did not print his verses. He cannot be said to have claimed any of them but the Farewell to the Court. His authorship of some, now admitted to be by him, has been confidently questioned. A critic so judicious as Hallam, for reasons which he does not hint, and a student as laborious as Isaac D'Israeli, have doubted his title to The Lie, otherwise described as The Soul's Errand, which seems to demonstrate his authorship by its scornful and cynical haughtiness embodied in a wave of magnificent rhythm. Verses, instinct with his peculiar wit, like The Silent Lover, have been given away to Lord Pembroke, Sir Robert Ayton, and others. Its famous stanza—
Silence in love bewrays more woe Than words, though ne'er so witty; A beggar that is dumb, you know, Deserveth double pity!
was in the middle of last century boldly assigned to Lord Chesterfield. His compositions circulated from hand to hand at Court. They were read in polished coteries. So little did they ever become a national possession that, complete or incomplete, the most considerable of them has vanished, all but a fragment. Small as is the whole body of verse attributed to him, not all is clearly his. Dr. Hannah, and other ardent admirers of his muse, have been unable to satisfy themselves whether he really wrote False Love and True Love, with its shifting rhythm, and its bewitching scattered phrases; the Shepherd's fantastically witty Description of Love, or Anatomy of Love—
It is a yea, it is a nay;
or the perfect conceit, which Waller could not have bettered in wit or equalled in vivacity, with the refrain—
What care I how fair she be!
Twenty-seven other poems, among them, the bright sneering Invective against Women, have been put down to him on no other ground than that they cannot be traced to a different source. He might have been the author of the graceful Praise of his Sacred Diana. He might have sighed for a land devoid of envy,
Unless among The birds, for prize of their sweet song.
From him might have come the airy melody of the charming eclogue Phyllida's Love-call to her Corydon, which invites the genius of a Mendelssohn to frame it in music. He might have penned in his prison cell the knell for the tragedy of human life, De Morte. He might have been the shepherd minstrel of the flowers—
You pretty daughters of the earth and sun.
But, unfortunately, the sole pretext for affirming his title, as the editors of the 1829 collection of his works affirmed it, is that the poems are found in the Reliquiae Wottonianae, in Davison's Poetical Rhapsody, or in England's Helicon, and are there marked 'Ignoto.'
[Sidenote: Carelessness of Literary Renown.]
The assignment, often, as Mr. Bullen shows in his editions of England's Helicon, and A Poetical Rhapsody, without the slightest authority or foundation, of poetic foundlings of rare charm and distinction to Ralegh is a token of the prevalent belief in the unfathomed range of his powers. At the same time it implies that he had never been adopted, and identified, by the contemporary public specifically as a poet. He would not be discontented with the degree and kind of the poetic fame conceded to him. Had he coveted more he would have been at more pains to stamp his verses. His poetic gift he valued merely as a weapon in his armoury, like many others. It held its own and a more important place in his career. Imagination, which might have made a poet, elevated and illuminated the captain's and the courtier's ambition and acts. If it put him at a disadvantage in a race for power with a Robert Cecil, it carried him to Guiana, and gave him the palm in the glorious struggle at the mouth of Cadiz harbour; it inspired him in the more tremendous strife with judicial obliquity; it supported him on the scaffold in Palace Yard.
THE REVENGE. (September, 1591).
[Sidenote: Sir Richard Grenville.]
Long after Ralegh began to be recognized in his new circle as a poet, he first showed himself a master of prose diction. The occasion came from his loss of an opportunity for personal distinction of a kind he preferred to literary laurels. The hope and the disappointment alike testify that, whatever had been the Queen's demeanour in 1589, she frowned no longer in 1591. Essex's temporary disgrace, on account of his marriage with Lady Sidney in 1590, had improved Ralegh's prospects. So much in favour was he that, in the spring of 1591, he had been commissioned as Vice-Admiral of a fleet of six Queen's ships, attended by volunteer vessels and provision boats. Lord Thomas Howard, second son of the Duke of Norfolk beheaded in 1572, commanded in chief. The object of the expedition was to intercept the Spanish plate fleet at the Azores. Ralegh's cousin and friend, the stern and wayward but gallant Sir Richard Grenville, finally was substituted for him. There is no evidence that the change was meant for a censure. Much more probably it was a token of the Queen's personal regard. He sent with the squadron his ship, the Ark Ralegh, under the command of Captain Thynne, another of his innumerable connexions in the West. The English had to wait for the plate galleons so long at the Azores that news was brought to Spain. A fleet of fifty-three Spanish sail was despatched as convoy. Ralegh was engaged officially in Devonshire. The Council directed him in May to send off a pinnace to tell Howard that this great Spanish force had been descried off Scilly.
[Sidenote: The Fight.]
The warning arrived too late. The Spaniards surprised the fleet on September 10, when many of its men were ashore. Grenville in the Revenge covered the embarkation. Thus he lost the wind. He mustered on board his flagship scarce a hundred sound men. Soon he was hemmed in. The Foresight stayed near him for two hours, and battled bravely, but finally had to retire. For fifteen hours he fought the squadron of Seville, five great galleons, with ten more to back them. Crippled by many wounds, he kept the upper deck. Nothing was to be seen but the naked hull of a ship, and that almost a skeleton. She had received 800 shot of great artillery, some under water. The deck was covered with the limbs and carcases of forty valiant men. The rest were all wounded and painted with their own blood. Her masts had been shot overboard. All her tackle was cut asunder. Her upper works were razed and level with the water. She was incapable of receiving any direction or motion, except that given her by the billows. Three Spanish galleons had been burnt. One had been run aground to save her company. A thousand Spaniards had been slain or drowned. Grenville wished to blow up his shattered hulk. A majority of the handful of survivors preferred to accept the Spanish Admiral's terms. They were that all lives should be spared, the crew be sent to England, and the better sort be released on payment of ransom. Grenville was conveyed on board a Spanish galley, where he was chivalrously treated. He lingered till September 13 or 14 in sore pain, which he disdained to betray. Jan Huygen van Linschoten, a Dutch adventurer, who was at the time in the island of Terceira, heard of the struggle both from the Spaniards and from one of the English prisoners. He describes it briefly in a diary he kept. He was told how the English admiral would amaze the Spanish captains by crushing wine-glasses between his teeth, after he had tossed off the contents. The fragments he swallowed, while the blood ran out of his mouth. It is Linschoten, not Ralegh, who has preserved Grenville's dying words: 'Here die I, Richard Grenville, with a joyful and quiet mind, for that I have ended my life, as a true soldier ought, that hath fought for his country, Queen, religion, and honour.'
[Sidenote: Ralegh's Narrative.]
[Sidenote: An Indictment of Spain.]
Ralegh might have met Grenville's fate. He took up the pen to celebrate his kinsman's heroism, and to point the moral for England of the feats valour like his could accomplish against Spain. His Report of the Truth of the Fight about the Isles of Azores was first published anonymously in November, 1591. Hakluyt reprinted it, as 'penned by Sir Walter Ralegh,' in his Collection of Voyages in 1599. Few finer specimens of Elizabethan prose diction exist. It is full of grandeur, and of generosity towards every one but Spaniards. Of the commander-in-chief, Thomas Howard, he spoke with especial courtesy. Ralegh's relations to the Howards, though always professionally intimate, were not always very friendly, either now or hereafter. About the period of Grenville's death, in particular, there had been some sharp dispute with the High Admiral. A letter written in the following October by Thomas Phelippes to Thomas Barnes, alludes to a quarrel and offer of combat between Ralegh and him. Ralegh was only the more careful on that account to do justice to a member of the family. Howard, it seems, had been severely criticised for a supposed abandonment of his comrade. Ralegh vindicated him from the calumny. The admiral's first impulse had been to return within the harbour to succour Grenville. It was a happy thing, in Ralegh's judgment, that he suffered himself to be dissuaded. 'The very hugeness of the Spanish fleet would have crushed the English ships to atoms; it had ill sorted with the discretion of a General to commit himself and his charge to assured destruction.' But the real aim of the narrative was to preach a crusade against Spanish predominance in the Old and New Worlds. Towards Grenville personally the behaviour of the Spaniards, it could not be denied, was magnanimous. Ralegh saw nothing but perfidy in their conduct otherwise. They broke, he declares, their engagement to send the captives home. Morrice FitzJohn of Desmond was allowed to endeavour to induce them to apostatize and enter the service of their enemy. That was the Spanish system, he exclaims: 'to entertain basely the traitors and vagabonds of all nations; by all kinds of devices to gratify covetousness of dominion,' 'as if the Kings of Castile were the natural heirs of all the world.' Yet 'what good, honour, or fortune ever man by them achieved, is unheard of or unwritten.' 'The obedience even of the Turk is easy, and a liberty, in respect of the slavery and tyranny of Spain. What have they done in Sicily, Naples, Milan, and the Low Countries?' 'In one only island, called Hispaniola, they have wasted three millions of the natural people, beside many millions else in other places of the Indies; a poor and harmless people, created of God, and might have been won to his knowledge, as many of them were.' 'Who, therefore, would repose trust in such a nation of ravenous strangers, and especially in these Spaniards, who more greedily thirst after English blood than after the lives of any other people in Europe;' 'whose weakness we have discovered to the world.' Historians, with whom Ralegh has never been a favourite, treat as merely dishonest rhetoric the compassion he now and again expressed for the millions of innocent men, women, and children, branded, roasted, mangled, ripped alive, by Spaniards, though as free by nature as any Christians. There is no just reason to think him insincere. The pity gave dignity and a tone of chivalry to his more local feeling, Protestant, political, commercial, of hatred and jealousy of Spain. Spain, he declared, was ever conspiring against us. She had bought the aid of Denmark, Norway, the French Parliament-towns, the Irish and Scotch malcontents. She threatened the foundations of English liberty of thought. She tried to starve the rising English instinct for territorial expansion. He summoned Englishmen eager for foreign trade to protest against the Spanish embargo, which everywhere they encountered. He pointed out to them, as they began to feel the appetite for wealth, the colonial treasury of Spain glittering in full view before them.
A multitude of Englishmen, especially in Ralegh's own country of the West, were conscious of all this. Ralegh gave the sentiment a voice in his story of his cousin's gallant death. Henceforth he never ceased to consecrate his energies and influence directly to the work of lowering the flag of Spain, and replacing it by that of England. From the beginning of his career he had been a labourer in this field. He now asserted his title to be the champion of his nation. Previously he had usually striven by deputy. Now he was to display his personal prowess as a warrior and a great captain. For years he was to be seen battling with Philip's empire by sea and land, plundering his merchantmen, storming his strongholds, bursting through his frontiers, and teaching Englishmen to think that sheer usurpation which for Spaniards was right divine. His own countrymen did not at first accept his leadership. They affirmed his principle, but preferred that others than he should have the primary honour of applying it. Gradually competitors dropped off; and he remained. Through popular odium, popular curiosity, and, finally, popular enthusiasm, he grew to be identified with the double idea of English rivalry with Spain and of English naval supremacy. The act in which he appears challenging the right to be its representative is about to open. But previously the curtain has to fall upon the courtier. The conqueror at Cadiz, the explorer of Guiana, steps from behind a veil of darkness and disgrace which would have overwhelmed other men utterly, and served him as a foil.
[Sidenote: Proposed Expedition to Panama.]
[Sidenote: Sails and returns.]
Philip replied to Lord Thomas Howard's unfortunate expedition by the equipment of a fleet of sixty ships. Plymouth was understood to be their object. Ralegh persuaded the Queen to parry the blow by striking at Panama, and at the plate fleet which would be gathered in its harbour. Elizabeth contributed the Garland and Foresight. Ralegh provided the Roebuck, and his elder brother, Carew Ralegh, the Galleon Ralegh. Two ships were equipped by the citizens of London. Lord Cumberland had been arranging for an independent cruise. Ultimately he joined with six vessels. The Queen also invested L1800 in the adventure, and London L6000. Ralegh had been named General of the Fleet. He exhausted all his resources to ensure success. 'I protest,' he wrote, 'both my three years' pension of the Custom-house, and all I have besides, is in this journey.' He had borrowed L11,000 at interest; and in addition was heavily in debt to the Crown. In part discharge of his obligations, he assigned to the Queen the Ark Ralegh at the price of L5000. Calumny asserted that the apparent sale was a mere pretext for a present from the Treasury to him. The preparations were still incomplete in February, 1592. He travelled to the West for additional stores. When all was ready for departure westerly winds set in. For many weeks the fleet was weather-bound in the Thames. Some time before it was able to move his own relation to it was become uncertain. Elizabeth, he was aware, wished to keep him at Court. He was not unwilling to consent to a compromise. He wrote to Robert Cecil from Chatham on March 10: 'I have promised her Majesty, if I can persuade the companies to follow Sir Martin Frobisher, I will, without fail, return, and bring them but into the sea some fifty or threescore leagues, though I dare not be known thereof to any creature.' Certainly he meant to embark. In May he was angrily complaining of 'this cross weather.' 'I am not able to live to row up and down with every tide from Gravesend to London.' At length on the 6th of May, 1592, the fleet was under sail with him on board. On the 7th, he was overtaken by Frobisher with orders to come back. He was to leave Sir John Burgh, Borough, or Brough, and Frobisher to command as his lieutenants. Choosing to construe the orders as optional in date, Ralegh proceeded as far as Cape Finisterre. Thence, after weathering a terrific storm on May 11, he himself returned. Before his departure he arranged the plan of operations. Half the fleet he stationed under Frobisher off the Spanish coast to distract the attention of the Spaniards. The rest he sent to watch for the treasure fleet at the Azores. For an attack on Panama the season was too late.
IN THE TOWER. THE GREAT CARACK. (1592).
[Sidenote: Elizabeth Throckmorton.]
Immediately on his return, if not before, he understood the reason of his recall. He had written to Cecil on March 10: 'I mean not to come away, as they say I will, for fear of a marriage, and I know not what. If any such thing were, I should have imparted it unto yourself before any man living; and therefore, I pray, believe it not, and I beseech you to suppress, what you can, any such malicious report. For, I protest, there is none on the face of the earth that I would be fastened unto.' As soon as he reached London in June, he was thrown into the Tower. He had seemed before to be enjoying the plenitude of royal favour. So lately as in January it had been shown by the grant of a fine estate in Dorset. No official record is discoverable of the cause of his imprisonment. Disobedience to the order to quit the fleet would have been a sufficient pretext. It was not mentioned. The imprisonment was a domestic punishment within her own fortress-palace, inflicted by the Queen as head of her household. The true reason was his courtship of Elizabeth, daughter to the Queen's devoted but turbulent servant and confidant, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton. He had died in 1571, at the age of fifty-seven, in Leicester's house. His eldest son, Nicholas, was adopted by a maternal uncle, the last Carew of Beddington, and became Sir Nicholas Carew. Elizabeth Throckmorton, who had as many cousins in high positions as Ralegh, was appointed a maid of honour. Her portrait proves her to have been handsome. She was tall, slender, blue-eyed and golden-haired. Her mental qualities will be in evidence during the rest of Ralegh's life. Never were written more charming letters than hers, in more unembarrassed phonetic spelling.
[Sidenote: Scantiness of Testimony.]
[Sidenote: Hard to believe.]
The Captain of the Guard and she attended on the Queen together. He made her an exception to his rule as to maids of honour, that, 'like witches, they can do hurt, but no good.' He found her only too amiable. Camden, in his Annals, published in 1615, explains Ralegh's crime and punishment: 'honoraria Reginae virgine vitiata, quam postea in uxorem duxit.' Wood says the same in his Latinized English, merely translating Camden. A letter from Sir Edward Stafford to Sir Anthony Bacon, with the impossible date, July 30, couples Ralegh's and Miss Throckmorton's names in a burst of exultation, natural to Essex's friends: 'If you have anything to do with Sir Walter Ralegh, or any love to make to Mrs. Throckmorton, at the Tower to-morrow you may speak with them; if the countermand come not to-night, as some think will not be, and particularly he that hath charge to send them thither.' Stafford does not specify the offence. The sole independent testimony is the single sentence of Camden's. Yet posterity has had no option but to accept the account. The error, if other courtiers had been the culprits, would have excited little surprise. Elizabeth's maids of honour were not more beyond suspicion than Swift asserts Anne's to have been. Essex's gallantries at Court, after as before his marriage, were notorious and many. Lord Southampton and his bride were the subjects of a similar tale a few years later. Palace gossip treated it as a very ordinary peccadillo. Cecil in February, 1601, tells Carew of the 'misfortune' of one of the maids, Mistress Fitton, with Lord Pembroke, as if it were a jest. Both the culprits, he remarks, 'will dwell in the Tower a while.' His phrases show none of the horror they breathed when he spoke of Ralegh, and the Queen was likely to read them. The English Court was pure in the time of Elizabeth for its time. It degenerated greatly under her successor. Harington contrasts manners then with the previous 'good order, discretion, and sobriety.' But no little licence was permitted, and the tales of it commonly excite small surprise. As told of Ralegh, and yet more of Elizabeth Throckmorton, the story startles still. No evidence exists upon which he can justly be pronounced a libertine. How she, refined, faithful, heroic, should have been led astray, is hardly intelligible. She must have now been several years over twenty, probably twenty-eight or twenty-nine, and in her long after-life she bore herself as entitled to all social respect. She was allowed it by every one, except her Mistress, who never restored her to favour. By the Cecils she was treated with unfailing regard. In the whole of her struggle, by her husband's side, and over his grave, for his and her son's rights, not a whisper was heard of the blot on her fair fame. If Camden had not spoken, and if Ralegh and she had not stood mute, it would have been easy to believe that the imagined liaison was simply a secret marriage resented as such by the Queen, as, two years before, she had resented Essex's secret marriage to Sidney's widow. That seems to have been asserted by their friends, at the first explosion of the scandal. A letter, written on the eve of Ralegh's committal to the Tower, by one who manifestly did not hold the benevolent opinion, says, after a spitefully prophetic comparison of Ralegh with his own
Hermit poor in pensive place obscure:
'It is affirmed that they are married; but the Queen is most fiercely incensed.'
[Sidenote: Harder to disbelieve.]
That the royal anger had a better foundation than the mere jealousy of affection or of domination, it is to be feared, is the inevitable inference from the evidence, however concise and circumstantial. Had contradiction been possible, Camden would have been contradicted in 1615 by Ralegh and his wife. Cecil alluded to Ralegh's offence in 1592 as 'brutish.' With all his zeal to indulge the Queen's indignation, he could not have used the term of a secret marriage. The prevailing absence of Court talk on the occurrence is not traceable to any doubt of its true character. Courtiers simply believed it dangerous to be outspoken on a matter affecting the purity of the Virgin Queen's household circle. Her prudery may indeed go some way towards accounting for, if not excusing, the fault. It was dangerous for one of her counsellors to be suspected of an attachment. So late as March, 1602, Cecil was writing earnestly to Carew in repudiation of a rumour that he was like to be enchanted for love or marriage. Almost borrowing Ralegh's words to himself of ten years earlier, he declares upon his soul he knows none on earth that he was, or, if he might, would be, married unto. In Elizabeth's view love-making, except to herself, was so criminal that at Court it had to be done by stealth. Any show of affection was deemed an act of guilt. From a consciousness of guilt to the reality is not always a wide step. In Ralegh's references and language to his wife may be detected a tone in the tenderness as though he owed reparation as well as attachment. The redeeming feature of their passion is that they loved with true love also, and with a love which grew. His published opinions, as in his Instructions to his Son, on wives and marriage, like those of other writers of aphorisms in his age, ring harshly and coldly. But he did not act on frigid fragments of sententious suspiciousness. He was careful for his widow's worldly welfare. With death, as it seemed, imminent, he trusted with all, and in everything, his 'sweet Besse,' his 'faithful wife,' as scoffing Harington with enthusiasm called her. His constant desire was to have her by his side, but to spare her grieving.
[Sidenote: A Rhapsody.]
[Sidenote: A Comedy in the Tower.]
When and where they were married is unknown. So careful were they to avoid publicity that Lady Ralegh's brother, Arthur Throckmorton, for some time questioned the fact, though his suspicions were dissipated, and he became an attached friend of the husband's. Probably the ceremony was performed after the imprisonment and not before. If the threat of detention in the Tower, mentioned by Stafford, were carried into effect against the lady, Ralegh at all events betrayed no consciousness that she was his neighbour. In his correspondence at the time he never speaks of her. His business was to obtain his release. He understood that allusions to the partner in his misdeed would not move the Queen to kindness. Like Leicester, and like Essex, he continued, though married, to use loverlike phrases of the Queen, whenever they were in the least likely to reach her ear. The Cecils were his allies against Essex. In July, 1592, under cover of an account for the Yeomen's coats for an approaching royal progress, he burst into a wonderful effusion to, not for, Robert Cecil: 'My heart was never broken till this day, that I hear the Queen goes away so far off—whom I have followed so many years with so great love and desire, in so many journeys, and am now left behind her, in a dark prison all alone. While she was yet nigher at hand, that I might hear of her once in two or three days, my sorrows were the less; but even now my heart is cast into the depth of all misery. I that was wont to behold her riding like Alexander, hunting like Diana, walking like Venus, the gentle wind blowing her fair hair about her pure cheeks, like a nymph; sometimes sitting in the shade like a Goddess; sometimes singing like an angel; sometimes playing like Orpheus. Behold the sorrow of this world! Once amiss, hath bereaved me of all. O Glory, that only shineth in misfortune, what is become of thy assurance? All wounds have scars, but that of fantasy; all affections their relenting, but that of womankind. Who is the judge of friendship, but adversity? Or when is grace witnessed, but in offences? There were no divinity but by reason of compassion; for revenges are brutish and mortal. All those times past—the loves, the sighs, the sorrows, the desires—can they not weigh down one frail misfortune? Cannot one drop of gall be hidden in so great heaps of sweetness? I may then conclude, Spes et fortuna, valete. She is gone in whom I trusted, and of me hath not one thought of mercy, nor any respect of that that was. Do with me now, therefore, what you list. I am more weary of life than they are desirous I should perish; which, if it had been for her, as it is by her, I had been too happily born.' Did ever tailor's bill, though for the most resplendent scarlet liveries bespangled with golden roses, inspire a like rhapsody! By one writer on Ralegh it has been characterized, so various are tastes, as 'tawdry and fulsome.' To most it will seem a delightful extravagance. To contemporaries the extravagance itself would appear not very glaring. Elizabeth aroused both fascination and awe in her own period which justified high flights. After her goodness and wrath were become alike unavailing this is how a cynic like Harington spoke of her: 'When she smiled it was a pure sunshine that every one did choose to bask in if they could; but anon came a storm, and the thunder fell in wondrous manner on all alike.' Ralegh doubtless was sincere in repining for the radiance as in deprecating the scowls, though he overrated his ability to conjure that back, and these away. In the same July, apparently, on July 26, he played a little comedy of Orlando Furioso,—not the approach to a tragedy of eleven years after. His chamber in the Tower was the scene. The spectators were his Keeper and cousin, Sir George Carew, and Arthur Gorges. Gorges was still, like Carew, his friend in 1614, and was sung by him then as one
Who never sought nor ever cared to climb By flattery, or seeking worthless men.
He now wrote to Cecil that Ralegh, hearing the Queen was on the Thames, prayed Carew to let him row himself in disguise near enough to look upon her. On Carew's necessary refusal he went mad, and tore Carew's new periwig off. At last they drew out their daggers, whereupon Gorges interposed, and had his knuckles rapped. 'They continue,' he proceeds, 'in malice and snarling. But, good Sir, let nobody know thereof.' He adds in a more veracious postscript: 'If you let the Queen's Majesty know hereof, as you think good, be it.'
[Sidenote: The Brick Tower.]
Ralegh thought he understood his royal Mistress, of whom he had written not very respectfully to Carew himself two or three years before: 'The Queen thinks that George Carew longs to see her; and, therefore, see her.' Like others he perceived her weaknesses; he did not appreciate her strength. To his surprise she remained offended; and none can blame her. His conduct had been treason to her sovereign charms. Her indignation on that ground may be ridiculed. But she had a sincerer love for purity of manners than posterity has commonly believed. Ralegh had set an ill example. He had broken his trust; the seduction of a maid of honour was a personal affront to his sovereign; he properly suffered for it, and not in excess of the offence. His confinement was not rigorous. George Carew since February, 1588, had been Master of the Ordnance in Ireland. He was acting as Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance for England in August, 1592; being confirmed in the post in 1603, and made Master-General in 1609. In virtue of his office he had now as well as later apartments in the Brick tower, which was considered to be under the charge of the Master of the Ordnance. To the Brick tower Ralegh had been sent, and he was committed to Carew's easy custody. He had his own servants, whom he was allowed to lodge on the upper floor of the tower. His friends were granted liberal access to him. From his window he could see the river and the country beyond. The old Tower story that he was shut up in a cell in the crypt, is a fiction. Not even his offices or their emoluments were taken away. He could perform the duties by deputy. But from June to December he was in confinement; and for long afterwards he was forbidden to come into the royal presence.
[Sidenote: Anger against the Irish Lord Deputy.]
[Sidenote: New Combinations.]
He chafed at the light restraint. He affected indignation at the severity of the penalty with which his 'great treasons,' as he called them in mockery, were visited. He did not attempt to dispute its legality, more than questionable as that was. Almost from the first he evinced the extraordinary elasticity of nature, which was to be tried a hundredfold hereafter. While he protested against the inevitable he carved his life to suit it. From his gaol issued messages of despair and of business in the strangest medley. He was much exercised about his Irish estate; and he cast his burden upon Cecil: 'Your cousin, the doting Deputy,' Fitzwilliam, he wrote, had been distraining on his tenants for a supposed debt from himself as Undertaker. A sum of L400 for arrears of rent was demanded, though all Munster had scarce so much money in it. The same Fitzwilliam, he alleges, had been mulcting the Queen L1200 a year for a band of worthless soldiers in Youghal, under 'a base fellow, O'Dodall.' Perhaps his estimate of the Captain may not be unbiassed. A Sir John Dowdall seems to have disputed his title to, and, two years later, to have ejected him from possession of, the manor of Ardmore and other lands demised to him in 1592 by Bishop Witherhead of Lismore. He was aggrieved by Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam's slowness to aid him in his litigations. He thought it, as it was, 'a sign how my disgraces have passed the seas.' At least his warnings of a rising of the Burkes, O'Donells, and O'Neales need not have been neglected. 'I wrote,' he complained, 'in a letter of Mr. Killigrew's ten days past a prophecy of this rebellion, which when the Queen read she made a scorn of my conceit.' Not that it was anything in reality to him. He cared not either for life or lands. He was become, he declared with some zoological confusion, 'like a fish cast on dry land, gasping for breath, with lame legs and lamer lungs.' Still, he felt bound to point out the pity of it. Then too, he reminded the High Admiral, there was the Great Susan, 'which nobody but myself would undertake to set out.' It could hardly be more profitable to punish him than that he 'should either strengthen the fleet, or do many other things that lie in the ditches.' Among them, for instance, was the business of keeping in order, as he alone could, the soldiers and mariners 'that came in the prize.' They ran up and down, he says, exclaiming for pay. So, again, in vain he knew of the warships of the French League lying in wait for English merchantmen, and threatening to make us a laughing-stock for all nations. His information and his zeal were fruitless, through 'this unfortunate accident,' of which neither he nor his correspondents ever state the nature. 'I see,' he cries to the High Admiral, who appears to have been mediating, 'there is a determination to disgrace me and ruin me. Therefore I beseech your Lordship not to offend her Majesty any farther by suing for me. I am now resolved of the matter. I only desire that I may be stayed not one hour from all the extremity that either law or precedent can avow. And if that be too little, would God it were withall concluded that I might feed the lions, as I go by, to save labour. For the torment of the mind cannot be greater; and, for the body, would others did respect themselves as much as I value it at little.' He was always impatient, inordinately despairing in misfortunes, till the last extremity. He was always astonished that the world pretended to go on without him, and certain it could not. As constantly he was framing new combinations and keeping straight the old. He let not a clue slip from his crippled hands. Throughout the long interval of disgrace he was as active as in his sunniest prosperity, perhaps more so.
[Sidenote: The Prize.]
An accident freed him in September from actual duress. His disposition of the fleet of which he continued titular 'General,' though Frobisher and Burgh had royal commissions, proved successful. Already a Biscayan of 600 tons burden, the Santa Clara, had been captured and sent to England. This was the prize of which, and its prize crew, Ralegh wrote to the High Admiral. The squadron under Frobisher deceived and perplexed the Spaniards. Sir John Burgh slipped by and made for the Azores. His ships spread themselves six or seven leagues west of Flores. They were disappointed of the Santa Cruz, of 900 tons, which on July 29 her officers burnt. On August 3 the great Crown of Portugal carack, the Madre de Dios, came in sight. Three engaged her, and she was prevented from running ashore. She was of 1600 tons burden, had seven decks, and carried 800 men. The struggle lasted from 10 a.m. to 1 or 2 a.m. next morning. The captors hotly debated their rival merits. Lord Cumberland argued that the Roebuck and Foresight were both disabled, and that his soldiers boarded and took the ship. Burgh accused Cumberland's people of plundering. All agreed on the magnificence of the prize. Burgh wrote: 'I hope, for all the spoil that has been made, her Majesty shall receive more profit by her than by any ship that ever came into England.' The purser of the Santa Cruz deposed that the Madre de Dios contained precious stones, pearls, amber, and musk worth 400,000 crusados. She brought two great crosses and a jewel of diamonds, presents from the Viceroy to the King. She had 537 tons of spices. The pepper alone was represented by Burleigh as worth L102,000. It fell to the Crown's share. She carried fifteen tons of ebony, beside tapestries, silks, and satins.
After a stormy voyage she reached Dartmouth on September 8. At once the eagles rushed upon the carcase. The ports of arrival looked like Bartholomew Fair, said an eye-witness. The Council ordered the search of all trunks and bundles conveyed from Plymouth or Dartmouth. It sent Robert Cecil post-haste to hinder more plundering. Sir John Hawkins, next chief adventurer after Ralegh, had written already to Burleigh to say that for the partition of the spoil 'Sir Walter Ralegh is the especial man. I see none of so ready a disposition to lay the ground how her Majesty's portion may be increased as he is, and can best bring it about.' Ralegh was permitted to quit the Tower. After a stay of two days in London, he was despatched westwards. He travelled as a State prisoner in charge of a keeper, Blount. As he went, he wrote, on September 17, of London jewellers who had been buying secretly the fine goods: 'If I meet any of them coming up, if it be upon the wildest heath in all the way, I mean to strip them as naked as ever they were born. For it is infinite that her Majesty hath been robbed, and that of the most rare things.' Cecil was in front, and on September 19 reached Exeter. He had turned back all he met on the road from Dartmouth or Plymouth. He could smell them almost; such had been the spoils of amber and musk among them. 'I fear that the birds be flown, for jewels, pearls, and amber; yet I will not doubt but to save her Majesty that which shall be worth the journey. My Lord, there never was such spoil! I will suppress the confluence of the buyers, of which there are above 2000.' He adds: 'I found an armlet of gold, and a fork and spoon of crystal with rubies, which I reserve for the Queen. Her Majesty's captive comes after me, but I have outrid him, and will be at Dartmouth before him.'
[Sidenote: At Dartmouth.]
Ralegh never grudged praise. He testified freely to Cecil's zeal. He wrote on September 21 from Dartmouth: 'I dare give the Queen L10,000 for that which is gained by Sir Robert Cecil coming down, which I speak without all affection, or partiality, for he hath more rifled my ship than all the rest.' Cecil in turn, though in a more qualified tone, commended Ralegh's exertions, in a very interesting letter to Sir Thomas Heneage: 'Within one half hour Sir Walter Ralegh arrived with his keeper, Mr. Blount. I assure you, Sir, his poor servants, to the number of 140 goodly men, and all the mariners, came to him with shouts of joy; I never saw a man more troubled to quiet them. But his heart is broken, as he is extremely pensive, unless he is busied, in which he can toil terribly. The meeting between him and Sir John Gilbert was with tears on Sir John's part. But he, finding it is known that he has a keeper, whenever he is saluted with congratulations for liberty, doth answer, "No, I am still the Queen of England's poor captive." I wished him to conceal it, because here it doth diminish his credit, which I do vow to you before God is greater among the mariners than I thought for. I do grace him as much as I may, for I find him marvellous greedy to do anything to recover the conceit of his brutish offence.'
[Sidenote: Division of the Spoil.]
Cecil, Raleigh, and William Killigrew were appointed joint commissioners. They examined even Burgh's chests. They paid the mariners their wages. They gave 20s. in addition to each from whom they had taken pillage. On August 27, Ralegh and Hawkins had jointly written to the High Admiral, asking for convoy for the carack. They computed it worth L500,000. About the middle of September Ralegh wrote to Burleigh from the Tower, that its value he estimated at L200,000. It turned out to be L141,000. Whatever it was, the general rule for distributing the value of privateer prizes was a third to the owner, a third to the victuallers, a third to the officers and crew. Elizabeth contributed 1100 tons of shipping out of 5000, and L1800 out of L18,000. So she was entitled to a tenth, that is, from L20,000 to L14,000. Ralegh was ready, after negotiation with Sir George Carew, to add L80,000 for the Queen. 'Four score thousand pounds is more than ever a man presented her Majesty as yet. If God have sent it for my ransom, I hope her Majesty of her abundant goodness will accept it. If her Majesty cannot beat me from her affection, I hope her sweet nature will think it no conquest to afflict me.' Finally L36,000 was allowed to Ralegh and Hawkins, who between them had, they said, spent L34,000. To Lord Cumberland, who had spent only L19,000, was awarded L36,000, and L12,000 to the City of London, which had spent L6000. Ralegh, who was, he boasted, 'the greatest adventurer,' grievously complained to Burleigh. He asserted also that, while he had deprived Spain in 1591 of L300,000, he had lost in Lord Thomas Howard's voyage L1600. He reckoned up, besides, the interest he had been paying on L11,000 since the voyage began. The Queen was grasping in such matters. So, too, was her Lord Treasurer. Sir John Fortescue, Chancellor of the Exchequer, had to remonstrate: 'It were utterly to overthrow all service if due regard were not had of my Lord of Cumberland and Sir Walter Ralegh, with the rest of the Adventurers, who would never be induced to further adventure if they were not princely considered of.' He added in a courtly strain: 'And herein I found her Majesty very princely disposed.'
AT HOME; AND IN PARLIAMENT. (1592-1594).
[Sidenote: Negotiation for Hayes.]
Ralegh generally could hold his own, even in a bargain with his Queen. In 1592 his hands were tied. He had to use his prize, as he said himself, for his ransom; and it effected his purpose. Once more he was a free man, and he had much to render liberty precious and delightful. He had a bride beautiful, witty, and devoted; and in 1594 a son was born to him, whom he named Walter. He had many pursuits, and wealth which should have been abundant, though all Elizabeth's courtiers were impecunious. An important addition had been made to his possessions shortly before his disgrace. For some time after his rise he had intended to fix his country residence in Devonshire. He is said to have had a house in Mill-street, Ottery St. Mary. In 1584 he had asked Mr. Duke, of Otterton, to sell him Hayes. His written request, which Aubrey copied, with omissions and inaccuracies due to the creases and stains undergone by the paper through careless handling, is, on uncertain authority, said to have been at one time preserved at the farmhouse. Subsequently, if not from the first, it was kept at the residence of the Duke family, Otterton House, between two and three miles off. Polwhele saw it at Otterton House shortly before 1793. Afterwards it disappeared. Dr. Brushfield found the original, as he believes, at Plymouth, in the 1888 collection of Armada and Elizabethan relics. It is the property of Miss Glubb, of Great Torrington. The letter was written from the Court, on July 26, 1584, by Mr. Duke's 'very willing frinde in all I shal be able, W. Ralegh,' and runs as follows: 'Mr Duke—I wrote to Mr Prideux to move yow for the purchase of hayes a farme som tyme in my fathers possession. I will most willingly geve yow what so ever in your conscience yow shall deeme it worth: and if yow shall att any tyme have occasion to vse mee, yow Shall find mee a thanckfull frind to yow and yours. I have dealt wth Mr Sprinte for suche things as he hathe at colliton and ther abouts and he hath promised mee to dept wth the moety of otertowne vnto yow in consideration of hayes accordinge to the valew, and yow shall not find mee an ill neighbore vnto yow here after. I am resolved if I cannot 'ntreat yow, to build att colliton but for the naturall disposition I have to that place being borne in that howse I had rather seat my sealf ther then any wher els thus leving the matter att large unto Mr Sprint I take my leve resting reedy to countervail all your courteses to the vttermost of my power.'
[Sidenote: Colaton Ralegh.]
His offer was not accepted, the Dukes, it is conjectured by Polwhele, not choosing to have so great a man for so near a neighbour. According to a local tradition, he carried out his alternative project of building at Colaton Ralegh, on land which he may be presumed to have bought of his father or eldest brother. In the garden of the Place he is said to have planted, as elsewhere, the first potatoes grown in England. But himself he never rooted there, though he was described as 'of Colaton Ralegh' in a deed of 1588. The royal bounty soon tempted him away; and he sold any property which had entitled him to that designation. The estate of Sherborne, which is inseparably connected with his memory, consisted of an ancient castle and picturesque park, together with several adjacent manors. It had belonged to the see of Salisbury since the time of Bishop Osmund, who cursed all who should alienate it, or profit by its alienation. Ralegh was not deterred by the threat. He is rumoured to have been impressed by the charms of the domain as he rode past it on his journeys from Plymouth to London. Towards the close of 1591 the bishopric of Salisbury, which had been vacant for three years, was filled by the appointment of Dr. Coldwell. Dean Bennett of Windsor, and Dr. Tobias Matthew, or Matthews, afterwards Bishop of Durham and Archbishop of York, father to the wit and letter-writer, Sir Toby, had declined it on account of a condition that the new Bishop must consent to part with Sherborne. Ralegh subsequently declared that he had given the Queen a jewel worth, L250 'to make the Bishop.' He not rarely concerned himself about vacant bishoprics for his own purposes. His present fit of ecclesiastical zeal was explained by Dr. Coldwell's execution of a lease to the Crown in January, 1592, of Sherborne and its dependencies for ninety-nine years. A rent was reserved to the see of L260, which, according to the Bishop, was not regularly paid. The Queen at once assigned the lease to Ralegh. The manor of Banwell, which lay conveniently for the property, belonged to the see of Bath and Wells. Elizabeth demanded this of Bishop Godwin. The Bishop in his gouty old age had contracted a marriage which offended the Queen's notions of propriety, with a rich city widow. This was employed as a lever to oblige him to one of the forced exchanges for Crown impropriations which, though not illegal, friends of the Church styled sacrilege. Sir John Harington, Elizabeth's witty godson, writing in the reign of James, is fond of the term. He admits that he himself conveyed one of the sharp messages by which Elizabeth tried to obtain Banwell. Finally a compromise was effected. Godwin courageously clung to Banwell, but redeemed it by the grant in Ralegh's favour of a ninety-nine years' lease of Wilscombe.
[Sidenote: Sherborne Castle.]
Ralegh found occupation at Sherborne. We know something of his life there. We know, though not nearly enough, much more of it than when Gibbon assigned the absence of the 'details of private life' as a principal reason for the abandonment of his original decision to take Ralegh for his literary theme. It was varied and animated. He pursued amusement and business with equal earnestness. In his Farewell to the Court, which foreshadows the sentiment of this period, though probably written earlier, he mourns for his 'sweet spring spent,' his 'summer well-nigh done;' but he had energy for other matters than repining at 'joys expired like truthless dreams.' He built. He planted. He diverted himself with rural pastimes, especially with falconry. Throughout his career he always was ready for a hawking match or a bargain for falcons. He once offered the reversion in fee of an Irish leasehold for a goshawk. An incident of his Munster estate, which doubtless he valued highly, was his title to half the produce of an eyrie of hawks in the wood of Mogelly. Amidst the anxieties of his final expedition he found spirits and strength for a trial of hawks at Cloyne. The leisure and opportunities of Sherborne stimulated his ardour for the sport. Cecil kept falcons. In August 1593, Ralegh wrote to him from Gillingham Forest, of which he and his brother Carew were joint rangers: 'The Indian falcon is sick of the backworm, and therefore, if you will be so bountiful to give another falcon, I will provide you a running gelding.' He chased another sort of game than herons. In April, 1594, he boasted that he had caught in the Lady Stourton's house a notable stout villain, with his copes and bulls. 'He calls himself John Mooney; but he is an Irishman, and, I think, can say much.' Both his wife and he soon grew fond of Sherborne, 'his fortune's fold,' as he called it alike in verse and in a letter of 1593 to Cecil. Thither they always gladly returned, though they were often called elsewhere. The plague dislodged the family in 1594. It was, he wrote in September, 1594, raging in the town of Sherborne 'very hot.' 'Our Bess,' he added, 'is one way sent, her son another way; and I am in great trouble therewith.' Less alarming occasions were constantly taking him away. He had to be in Devonshire and Cornwall, discharging the duties of his Wardenship and Lieutenancy. Every year he went to Bath for the waters. He resorted to Weymouth for sea bathing for his wife and child. He was much at all seasons in London.
[Sidenote: Durham House.]
[Sidenote: Mile End and Islington.]
Though banished from the Court he went on frequenting its neighbourhood. He had more than one London residence. As a student of the law, he may have lived in Lyon's Inn and the Middle Temple. In the early period of his attendance on the Queen he had been lodged in the Palace, at Greenwich, Whitehall, Somerset House, St. James, and Richmond. Since 1584 he possessed a London house of his own. The Church supplied him, as at Sherborne and Lismore. Durham House, strictly called Duresme Place, was the town house of the see of Durham. It covered nearly the whole site of Adelphi Terrace, and the streets between this and the Strand. In the reign of Edward VI the Crown seized it, and granted it successively to the Princess Elizabeth and to Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. There, the year after Ralegh's birth, Lady Jane Grey had been wedded to Dudley's son. Mary restored it to Bishop Tunstall. Elizabeth resumed it. In 1583 or 1584 she gave the use of a principal part of the spacious mansion to Ralegh. The remainder she permitted Sir Edward Darcy to inhabit. At Durham House the famous Dr. Dee, mathematician, astrologer, and spiritualist, who, in his diary for 1583, mentions him gratefully, records that he dined with him in October, 1593. There he held on various occasions his Court as Lord Warden of the Stannaries, and heard important suits. Aubrey speaks of Ralegh as living there 'when he came to his greatness.' He knew well his study, in a little turret looking over the Thames, with a prospect now, as in Aubrey's day, 'as pleasant perhaps as anything in the world.' Ralegh is reported to have owned other dwellings also in and about London. Probably he already possessed, though, till he left Durham House, he is not likely to have occupied, a house in Broad Street. It may be presumed to have been part of his wife's share in the Throckmorton property. Several residences have been put down to him, without sufficient evidence. Ralegh House, at Brixton Rise, has been assigned to him, in mistake perhaps for his nephew, Captain George Ralegh, who lived in Lambeth parish. Because he visited his wife's relatives at Beddington Park, he is alleged to have occupied the mansion. He is rumoured to have lived at West Horsley, which his son, Carew Ralegh, first acquired in 1643 from the Carews of Beddington. On testimony so far more substantial that Lady Ralegh had inherited a small estate in the parish from her father, he is said to have lived at Mitcham. The house his wife owned seems to have been Ralegh House, at the corner of Wykford Lane, though two other houses at Mitcham have pretended to the honour. More certainly he lived in a villa at Mile End in 1596. That is known through the entry of the burial at Stepney of a manservant who died at Mile End in 1596, and from the addresses of two letters of his dated within two and four months of the same time. Dr. Brushfield thinks the house may have been hired for a season for the sake of country air. Mile End is described in 1597 as a common where penny-royal grew in great abundance. Ralegh would find its vicinity to Stepney, the general resort of seamen, convenient. The publication of the Middlesex Registers has corroborated the tradition, which gave him a suburban abode at Islington, on a site possibly afterwards occupied by the Pied Bull. For the local belief that he built, or patronized, and smoked in, the Old Queen's Head, Dr. Brushfield considers there is no foundation. His choice of any part of Islington for residence would have been determined by its contiguity to the vast royal chase in which the Queen delighted to hunt. But his occupancy of a house there commenced before the days of his grandeur, and probably had ceased before them.
[Sidenote: In Parliament.]
His dwellings were not more numerous than his avocations. Never was his activity more various than during this interval of royal disfavour. He overflowed with public spirit. He had been sitting in the House of Commons in the spring of 1592. He was a frequent and effective speaker. His voice is reported to have been small. That would be after sickness, toil, and imprisonment had enfeebled him. He omitted no opportunity of proclaiming his hostility to Spain. Before his disgrace he had argued for a declaration of open war. He knew, he said, of many who held it not lawful in conscience, as the time was, to take prize from the Spaniards. Of those weak brethren he was never one. After his liberation from the Tower, when the House met he again attended. He was not so strangely in advance of his protectionist age as not to support a Bill for prohibiting Dutch and German aliens from retailing foreign wares in England. His view of Dutchmen would have satisfied Canning: 'The nature of the Dutchman is to fly to no man but for his profit. They are the people that maintain the King of Spain in his greatness. Were it not for them he were never able to make out such armies and navies by sea.' While politically he was attached to Holland, he was persistently jealous of her commercially. In the next reign he drew up an elaborate plan for abstracting her lucrative carrying trade. On questions of liberty of thought he was far beyond his time. He stoutly opposed a cruel capital measure against the Brownists: 'That law is hard that taketh life, and sendeth into banishment, when men's intentions shall be judged by a jury, and they shall be judges what another means.' He prevailed to have the Bill handed for revision to a Committee of Members. On the Committee his name stands first. His disgrace had left him sufficiently prominent to be thought worth libelling by Robert Parsons the Jesuit, 'Andraeus Philopater.' Parsons described him as keeping a school of atheism, wherein the Old and New Testaments were jested at, and scholars taught to spell God backwards.
[Sidenote: Irish Policy.]
In the shade though he was, he would abide no wrong to his official authority. In February, 1592, before his disgrace, he had found leisure in the midst of the preparations for his expedition to reprove the Devon justices of the peace for the application of their 'foreign authority' to compel his tinners to contribute to the repair of a private bridge. Still under a cloud in May, 1594, he was not afraid to protest highly to Lord Keeper Egerton against an encroachment by the Star Chamber on his Stannary jurisdiction. A year later the county magistrates do not seem to have thought his continuing obscuration exonerated them from defending themselves against the charge of 'intermeddling' with his prerogatives. He regarded himself as holding a commission to watch and warn against all danger by sea. In June, 1594, he was informing the Lord High Admiral that Spain had an armed fleet in the Breton ports. He prayed the Admiral to ask her Majesty's leave that his 'poor kinsman' might serve as a volunteer soldier or mariner in an attack upon it. Apparently he had his wish and was allowed to embark. But his advice had been followed tardily. He writes from the Foreland on August 25, that the season was too late. The only hope was that the enemy might approach the Thames. When he was not at sea he was contracting for the victualling and equipment of ships of war. That was among his frequent occupations. At all periods he had his eye upon Ireland. Neither royal coldness nor bodily ailments could force him to be silent on Irish affairs. In May, 1593, sick, and 'tumbled down the hill by every practice,' he would go on exclaiming against the administrative blunders which had let England be baffled and 'beggared' by a nation without fortifications, and, for long, without effective arms. 'The beggarly, the accursed kingdom,' had cost a million not many years since. 'A better kingdom might have been purchased at a less price, and that same defended with as many pence, if good order had been taken.' Though he was not admitted to the Queen's presence, she seems to have read memorials he drew up on the subject of Ireland. It is impossible not to reprobate his sentiments on the treatment of the native Irish. His correspondence with Cecil shows, that he was as willing to connive at their treacherous murder as other contemporary English statesmen, though not Burleigh, or perhaps Burleigh's son. But he believed honestly in the rectitude of his doctrines. He was patriotic in insisting upon their application for the benefit of a Government which, he thought, persecuted him. It may even be acknowledged that the resolute and consistent despotism he advocated might have been more tolerable, as well as more successful, than the spasmodic and fitful violence which discredited the Irish policy of the reign. He was indisputably right in condemning a system under which the island was 'governed neither as a country conquered nor free.'
[Sidenote: Continuance of Disgrace.]
[Sidenote: A Project, and its Motive.]
Had not history preserved the memory of Ralegh's exile from Court, his public life was so animated that the displeasure of the Queen need hardly have been remarked. To himself the blight on his prospects was always and dismally visible. The Queen had raised him from obscurity, and afforded his genius scope for shining. Well as he understood the value of his powers, he knew they derived still from her, as ten or a dozen years before, their opportunity of exercise. He was not blind to the jealousy of competitors, or to popular odium. As by an instinct of life, of the working life which alone he prized, he was continually striving to retrieve his fall by the ordinary devices of courtiers, and not without gleams of hope. Nicholas Faunt had been private secretary to Walsingham, and was therefore naturally of the Essex faction. He wrote to Anthony Bacon in January, 1594, that Ralegh was expecting to be nominated a Privy Councillor: 'And it is now feared of all honest men that he shall presently come to the Court; yet it is well withstood. God grant him some further resistance!' The further resistance came, whether from rivals, or from the rankling anger in Elizabeth's breast. Nowhere does it appear that he had speech of her. He continued to be forbidden to perform in person the duties of Captain of the Guard. Between 1592 and 1597 they seem to have been discharged by John Best, described as Champion of England. His disappointment was fortunate for his fame, if not for his future tranquillity. In his enforced retirement he brooded on schemes of maritime adventure. He determined to prove the impossibility of suppressing him. His Panama project had been imputed to his discovery that 'the Queen's love was beginning to decline.' That could not then have been truly asserted. Naunton has similarly explained the Guiana expedition:—'Finding his favour declining, he undertook a new peregrination to leave that terra infirma of the Court for that of the wars, and by declining himself, and by absence, to expel his and the passion of his enemies; which in Court was a strange device of recovery, but that he knew there was some ill office done him, that he durst not attempt to mend any other ways than by going aside, thereby to teach envy a new way of forgetfulness, and not so much as to think of him; howsoever, he had it always in mind never to forget himself; and his device took so well, that, at his return, he came in, as rams do by going backwards, with the greater strength; and so continued to the last in the Queen's grace.' Nothing, it is certain, ever was farther from Ralegh's thoughts than a wish to be forgotten, whether by enemies or by friends; yet Naunton's theory is true at bottom. The persistency of the shadow at Court was as plain to Ralegh as to others. Its own merits might else have recommended to him the Guiana expedition. But at this especial juncture it was his engine for storming his way back into his Sovereign's kindness.
Guiana had one important merit as a field for enterprise. It was known to be free from European occupation, as well as reputed to be rich. Camden describes it as 'aurifera Guiana ab Hispanis decantata.' Many Spanish expeditions, from the year 1531 onwards, had been fitted out to find the King el Dorado, who loved to anoint his body with turpentine, and then roll in gold dust. Neither he nor his city, called by the same name, had been discovered. Attempts to penetrate into the interior had all failed. The Indians were warlike and united; the country was a jungle, environed with vast waters not easily navigated; and the invaders had quarrelled among themselves. The latest effort had been made in 1582 by Don Antonio de Berreo. Berreo was son-in-law to Quesada, who had annexed New Grenada to Spain. Berreo alleged that he spent 300,000 ducats, and journeyed 1500 miles, before he arrived within Guiana. He seems never to have actually entered. From a tribe on the confines he received gifts of gold images and ornaments which he sent to King Philip by his officer Domingo de Vera. But other Indians on the borders blocked further progress by firing the savannahs. He was forced to retire to Trinidad, of which he was appointed Governor. From Trinidad he concerted raids on the mainland. One of his captains ascended the Orinoko for some distance, and on April 23, 1593, took formal possession of the country for Spain. Ralegh's own subsequent experience proved that individual Spaniards had stolen in, searching for gold. He questioned seamen who had been in or near this wonderful land. He studied every published narrative which touched upon it. A treatise, never printed, and now lost, which he had himself composed on the West Indies, may have embodied the results of his enquiries. The information he collected filled him at once with admiration for the invincible constancy, as he described it, of the Spaniards, and with hatred of their rapacity and cruelty. He abhorred their barbarous treatment of the native owners of the New World. As always, he could not comprehend by what right they claimed a monopoly of its sovereignty for themselves against the rest of Europe.
Lady Ralegh perceived the bent of his thoughts. She wrote in February, 1594, to invoke the aid of Cecil, in diverting her husband from the perilous temptation. I reproduce her letter in the original spelling: 'I hope for my sake you will rather draw sur watar towardes the est then heulp hyme forward touard the soonsett, if ani respecke to me or love to him be not forgotten. But everi monthe hath his flower and everi season his contentement, and you greate counselares ar so full of new councels as you are steddi in nothing; but wee poore soules that hath bought sorrow at a high price desiar, and can be plesed with, the same misfortun wee hold, fering alltarracions will but multiply misseri, of wich we have allredi felte sufficiant. I knoo unly your parswadcions ar of efecke with him, and hild as orrekeles tied to them by Love; therfore I humbelle besiech you rathar stay him then furdar him. By the wich you shall bind me for ever. As yet you have ever geveng me caus.'
[Sidenote: A Royal Commission.]
If Cecil tried dissuasion, he did not succeed. In the course of 1594 Ralegh sent out as a pioneer his 'most valiant and honest' old officer, Captain Whiddon, to explore the Orinoko and gather information. Whiddon sailed to Trinidad. There Berreo received him amicably, as it seemed, though Whiddon thought the imprisonment of some of his crew implied treachery. Berreo, with the assistance of de Vera in Spain, was promoting an expedition of his own, and was not likely to be communicative. Whiddon was back before 1595. Ralegh forthwith began preparations for an expedition to be conducted by himself. He procured a Royal Commission to 'our servant Sir Walter Ralegh,' neither 'trusty' nor 'well-beloved,' to offend and enfeeble the King of Spain and his subjects in his dominions to the uttermost; to discover and subdue heathen lands not in the possession of any Christian prince, nor inhabited by any Christian people; to resist and expel by force of arms all persons who should attempt to settle within 200 leagues of the place where he or his people might fix their habitations within the six following years; and to capture all ships trading within the limits aforesaid. He speedily equipped several ships. The cost was such that, as he said at his trial, if he had died in Guiana, he had not left 300 marks a year to his wife and son. Captain Laurence Keymis was in command of a galley. Captain Whiddon sailed again, to his grave as it happened in Trinidad. Believers in Ralegh assisted. Thus, the High Admiral lent the Lion's Whelp, which Anthony Wells King commanded. Two barks joined the expedition, one under Captain Crosse, the other under Captain Caulfield. There were 100 officers, gentlemen volunteers, and soldiers. In the number was John Gilbert, Sir Humphrey's son. He was a close ally of Ralegh's in maritime adventures, notwithstanding occasional disagreement on their respective proportions of the profits. Cecil contributed money. Two ships, under Captains Amias Preston and Sommers, or Summers, which were expected to unite in the undertaking, never came. The squadron when collected was detained by contrary winds. Ralegh boasted to Cecil that he was indifferent to good fortune or adversity. But in another letter he confessed: 'This wind breaks my heart.' The delay was the more exasperating that other ships had run out, 'bound to the wars, a multitude going for the Indies.' He was afraid the chiefest places of his enterprise might be attempted, and he should be undone. Others would reap no advantage; for he knew 'they would be beaten, and do no good.'
[Sidenote: The Voyage.]
[Sidenote: Capture of Berreo.]
However, at last, on February 6, 1595, he was off. He had bequeathed to Cecil the charge of staying litigation against him. He was especially afraid of a suretyship suit instituted by Widow Smith. The widow 'hath a son that waits on the keeper, and a daughter married to Mr. Wilkes, so it will be harder to clear.' He captured a Spanish ship at the Canaries with firearms, and a Fleming with wine. At Teneriffe he paused in vain for Preston and Sommers. They had assumed that he would have quitted Teneriffe before they could arrive. At least that was their explanation. So they were gone on an adventure of their own. Finally Ralegh set sail. He reached Trinidad on March 22. He stayed a month for the Lion's Whelp, and also for Preston and Sommers. He employed his leisure in a careful survey of the coast. On the shore he found clumps of mangroves bearing oysters. He satisfied his mind that the Indian fig-tree is not the Tree of Knowledge, its only fruit being oysters, which adhere to its pendulous fibres. Terrible tales were told him of the Spanish habit of chaining and torturing native chiefs. He heard also that five months before Berreo had sent to Spain for reinforcements. It seemed dangerous to leave an enemy behind him. He had, moreover, a grievance for the maltreatment of Whiddon's men the year before. A combination of motives induced him to lead a hundred of his company in a night attack on Berreo's new city of St. Joseph. By dawn he took it. He burnt it down, having first released from a dungeon five caciques fastened together with a single chain. The proceeding was high-handed and summary. Now it would be criminal. It did not bear that character then. Lingard has stigmatised Ralegh as a murderer, on account of the Spanish lives lost during the assault. Berreo and the Spanish Government were less particular. They saw nothing in his conduct adverse to the laws of war and nations. If their soldiers had arrived in time, they would have anticipated him in the aggression. Throughout this whole period Spaniards and Englishmen, on the ocean and in the Indies, fought or fought not, as suited not merely their mutual, but their several, convenience. Neither side held it treachery to be assailed without a solemn declaration of war. Berreo, as there is no real reason to doubt, though Southey has questioned it, was captured in the town. Ralegh speaks of him as a well descended gentleman, of great assuredness, and of a great heart. He had his defects. He tortured natives, and was so ignorant as not to know east from west. These blemishes of feeling and education did not prevent Ralegh from behaving as a polished English gentleman to a polished Spanish hidalgo. They lived together in great amity, and conversed much. Berreo was so far from showing rancour that he told all he knew of previous attempts upon Guiana. He did not under-rate the difficulties, partly because he had reason to believe in them, partly from a wish to put his captor off a project he hoped hereafter to accomplish himself. Among other impediments to an entrance he mentioned that the main land was 600 miles farther from the sea than Whiddon had understood it to be. Ralegh concealed the disquieting fact from his men.
[Sidenote: A Maze of Waters.]
He assembled a conclave of island chiefs. His Sovereign, a virgin Queen, he informed them, had commissioned him to free them from the Castilian yoke. Then he set forth from Curiapan in an old gallego boat cut down to draw but five feet of water. It was fitted with banks of oars. Sixty officers and gentlemen volunteers embarked with him. A boat, two wherries, and a barge carried forty more. They were victualled for a month. The ships anchored near los Gallos in the Gulf of Paria. Twenty miles of sea were crossed 'in a great billow' to Guanipa Bay, where dwelt savages who shot poisoned arrows. Then the expedition was entangled in a labyrinth of rivers. These were the eight branches of the Orinoko. 'All the earth,' wrote Ralegh, 'doth not yield the like confluence of streams.' That is hardly an exaggerated statement about the Orinoko, which is fed by more than 436 rivers, and a couple of thousand rivulets. A young Indian pilot, whom Ralegh had brought, named Ferdinando, became bewildered. The boats might have wandered a whole year had not, partly by force, and partly by good treatment, the services of an old native been secured. Though often sorely perplexed, he piloted them along a succession of narrow reaches of the Cano Manamo. By Ralegh's orders he and the other Indian promised an outlet by every next day, to cheer the crews. All were, however, on the verge of utter despair, when suddenly the tangled thickets on the banks opened up into a lovely champaign country. It was a paradise of birds and beasts. The turf was diversified by groves of trees, disposed in order as if by all the art and labour in the world. Still as the oarsmen rowed the deer came down feeding by the water's side, as if they had been used to a keeper's call. On an excursion off the route they were following they overtook two canoes laden with bread. Among the bushes they found a refiner's basket. In it were quicksilver and saltpetre, prepared for assay, and the dust of ore which had been refined. It belonged to some Spaniards who escaped; but the natives, their companions, were caught. One of them, called Martino, proved a better pilot than Ferdinando and the old man. Naturally the refining apparatus suggested a hunt after gold. Ralegh was of a different opinion. The attempt, he considered, would give notice to other nations of the riches of the country. To the present expedition it could not have been very profitable from lack of tools. He had no mind to dig with his nails. Had he wanted gold he might, he says, have obtained much in actual bullion from the Indians. But he 'shot at another mark than present profit.' He decided to advance, his men being of good courage, and crying out to go on, they cared not how far.