[Sidenote: Friendly Chiefs.]
On the fifteenth day they discovered afar the Guiana mountains. Towards evening they entered the main channel of the Orinoko. No Englishman had preceded them. Consequently Captain Keymis afterwards re-named the river, after his commander, Raleana. Now they were in a more populous region. But the natives did not obstruct their advance. Ralegh had the art of impressing them with faith and admiration. Hard as it was, he hindered his men from robbing the villagers, insulting their women, or, like the Spaniards in Peru, ransacking their hallowed graves for treasure. A border prince, Toparimaca, regaled Ralegh's captains with pine-apple wine till some of them were 'reasonable pleasant.' He also lent his elderly brother for pilot. Under his guidance a branch of the river, edged with rocks of a blue colour, like steel ore, was explored. On the right bank were seen the plains of the Sayma, reaching to Cumana and Caraccas, 120 leagues to the north. There dwelt the black smooth-haired Aroras, accustomed to use poisoned arrows. No Spaniard knew how to cure hurts from urari, which seems to be strychnine. 'Yet they taught me,' writes Ralegh, 'the best way of healing as well this as all other poisons.' Humboldt speaks of the Guaikas, who still use poisoned darts, and by the terror of them have repelled intruders.
[Sidenote: Indigenous Marvels.]
On they voyaged as far as Aromaia and its port, Morequito, 300 miles from the sea. Here Ralegh was visited by wise Topiowari, King of Aromaia, 110 years old. His nephew and predecessor, Morequito, had been murdered by the Spaniards. He himself had been dragged for seventeen days in a chain, like a dog, till he ransomed himself with a hundred plates of gold and several chains of spleen stones. The old chief, who walked to and fro, twenty-eight miles, brought a present of flesh, fish, fowl, Guiana pine-apples, the prince of fruits, declares Ralegh, bread, wine, parakeets, and an armadillo, which Ralegh afterwards ate. Ralegh told him he had been sent by his Queen to deliver the Indians from Spanish tyranny. Thence he would have ascended the Caroni, but his men could not row a stone's throw in an hour. So he pushed on by land to view the falls, ten or a dozen in number, each as high above the other as a church tower. Deer flitted across every path. Birds at evening sang a thousand different tunes. Cranes and herons, white, crimson, carnation, perched on the banks. Fresh easterly breezes blew. Every stone they stooped to take up promised either gold or silver by its complexion. A Captain George, who had been captured with Berreo, had told them a rich silver mine was near the Caroni. Topiowari's only son, Caworako, informed him of the Carolians. He said they were foes to the Spaniards. They had a feud also with the Epirumei, subjects of the Inca of Manoa, who abounded in gold. The Carolians and three tribes at the head of the Caroni, he asserted, would help Ralegh against both Spain and the Inca. He spoke too of the Ewaipanomas, with eyes in their shoulders and mouths in their breasts, living on the Caora. He was sure of the eyes and mouths, for they had lately fought and slain many hundreds of his father's people. Ralegh vouches neither for the Amazons in the province of Topago, nor for these Ewaipanomas, 'For my part I saw them not, but am resolved that so many people did not all combine, or forethink to make the report.' Nineteen years later he took occasion in his History to justify by the Greek belief in Amazons 'mine own relation of them, which was held for vain and improbable.'
[Sidenote: Sparrow and Goodwin.]
By this time the summer was over. Winter in the Tropics is the rainy season. It shows itself less by any sensible change of vegetation than by floods, gusts, thunder and lightning. The streams rose and raged; the men were wetted to the skins ten times a day, and had no dry clothes to put on. The fleet was some hundred miles away. Ralegh set his face homewards. The boats glided down the Orinoko at a rate, though against the wind, of little less than 100 miles a day. On his arrival at Morequito Topiowari came on a parting visit. He brought a plentiful supply of provisions, which Ralegh bought at fair prices. Every day, said the old man, had death called for him; but he was animated by a sagacious anxiety for his country, which the Spaniards threatened. Ralegh's noble courtesy was as unstinted to the patriarchal savage as to the Queen of England. He had infused the like temper into his officers, and Topiowari's confidence was won. Already they had talked freely on the politics and nature of Guiana, and how to obtain access to its heart. Now the chief definitely offered to join in a march upon golden Manoa if Ralegh would leave fifty Englishmen to defend him from the vengeance of the Inca and Spain. Ralegh was timid for his men. He compromised by engaging to return next year. Topiowari sent with him his son, who was christened in England Gualtero. Ralegh left in Aromaia Francis Sparrow, or Sparrie, to sketch and describe the country and travel to Manoa with merchandise. Sparrow trafficked in Indian slaves. At last the Spaniards captured him and forwarded him to Spain, from which he made his way home in 1602. A boy, Hugh Goodwin, remained by his own wish to learn the language. Ralegh found him at Caliana in 1617. He had almost forgotten his native tongue. When these arrangements were being made Ralegh steadfastly purposed to come back shortly. For the moment his plan rather was to lay the foundation of friendships, and to acquire information, than to conquer territory or open mines. For example, he gave away, he states, more money's worth in gold guineas than he received in gold plates. He had seen enough to be persuaded the region was a land of gold. He was shown specimens of gold wrought by the Epirumei, and the process had been explained to him. In Aromaia itself he observed all the hills spread with stones of the colour of gold and silver. At first he had conjectured they were marquesite. He tested them and ascertained they were el madre del oro. Where that is, the presence of gold below was supposed to be indicated. He remarked also the outside of many mines of white spar, from which he drew as flattering a conclusion.
[Sidenote: Keymis's Gold Mine.]
From Aromaia a cacique Putijma accompanied him towards Mount Iconuri, which contained a gold mine. 'Being a very ill footman,' he soon gave in. He sent Keymis on, arranging that they should meet at the Cumaca. Putijma conducted Keymis to the mine. On his own route Ralegh passed many rocks like gold ore, a round mountain of mineral stone, and a mountain of crystal. The crystal mountain he did not find crowned with the diamond, which, according to Berreo, blazed afar. Its true diadem was a mighty river, rushing down with a noise as of a thousand enormous jangling bells. Near Mount Roraima the natives were solemnizing a festival, 'all as drunk as beggars.' They pressed upon the strangers abundance of delicate pine-apple wine. On the Cumaca Keymis rejoined Ralegh. They bade adieu to sorrowing Putijma. They were themselves downcast. 'Their hearts were cold to behold the great rage and increase of Orinoko,' 'the sea without a shore,' as Humboldt has termed its mouth. The Cano Manamo too, by which they had entered Guiana, was now violently in flood. They had to follow the Capuri branch. At its mouth a fierce gale was blowing, and the galley was near sinking. Ralegh, embarking in his barge with Gifford, Caulfield, and his cousin, Grenville, thrust into the sea at midnight. The galley he left to come by day. 'Thus, faintly cheering one another in show of courage, it pleased God about nine o'clock the next morning we descried the Isle of Trinidad.' The ships were riding at anchor at Curiapan on the south-west of the island. 'Never was there to us a more joyful sight.' Only one man had perished, a very proper young negro, who, leaping into the river of Lagartos to swim, was instantly devoured before them all by a crocodile. The rest, in spite of wet, heat, want of sleep, clean clothes, and shelter, and a diet of rotting fruit, crocodile, sea-cow, tapir, and armadillo, all survived. They had suffered from no pestilence. Schomburgk thinks Ralegh coloured too highly the mineral riches of Guiana. He attests the veracity of the praises both of its prodigious vegetable and animal fruitfulness, and of its healthiness away from the malaria of the coast. His opinion was formed on an experience of eight years of exploration.
[Sidenote: Voyage Homewards.]
Ralegh had intended to sail to Virginia, and endeavour to relieve his settlers. Extremity of weather forced him to abandon the design. He demanded supplies at Cumana, where he left Berreo, at St. Mary's, and at Rio de la Hacha. Being refused them, he sacked and burnt all three. Incidentally he mentions that he found 'not a real of plate.' But he had punished the settlements for their churlishness, not for the sake of booty. He did not care to look out for spoil. 'It would have sorted ill,' he wrote, 'with the offices of honour which by her Majesty's grace I hold this day in England, to run from cape to cape for the pillage of ordinary prizes.' On July 13, off Cuba, Preston and Sommers met, as states their chronicler, the Honourable Knight Sir Walter Ralegh returning from his painful and happy discovery of Guiana, and his surprise of the Isle of Trinidad. Their two ships and his three remained in company for twenty days. In August, 1595, he is understood to have been back in England, 'a beggar,' as he expressed it, 'and withered.' His wife had been watching over his interests. Her letter to Cecil of March 20, 1595, is pleasantly characteristic. She explained in it her urgency in a suit against Lord Huntingdon: 'I rather choose this time to follow it in Sir Walter's absence, that myself may bear the unkindness, and not he.' The subject of the proceedings was a refusal by the Earl to surrender for Ralegh's use Lady Ralegh's portion, which was in his hands, and had become payable through her mother's death.
[Sidenote: Ralegh's Book on Guiana.]
[Sidenote: Vindication of his Veracity.]
The return did not excite much popular sensation. Cecil seems to have doubted the genuineness or value of the minerals. He cannot have profited by his investment in the adventure, and was not disposed to be fervent in its praise. Hakluyt remarks how careful the cold Secretary of State was not to be overtaken with any partial affection for the planting of Guiana. Even in Devonshire there seem to have circulated 'slanderous and scoffing speeches touching Sir Walter's late occasion at sea.' His enemies before he went predicted he would never return, but would become 'a servant to the Spanish King.' Now that he was back, they depreciated the importance of the enterprise, and especially his part in it. Very absurdly they contended that he was too easeful and sensual to have undertaken a journey of so great travail, and had been hiding in Cornwall. Some gold he had helped to dig out with his own dagger. A London alderman persuaded an officer of the Mint to report this worthless; but Westwood, a refiner of Wood Street, and Dulmar Dimoke, and Palmer, Controllers of the Mint, pronounced it very rich. Calumniators, taking up a different position, alleged that the whole had been imported from Barbary into Guiana. Ralegh himself wrote to Cecil on November 21, 1595: 'What becomes of Guiana I much desire to hear, whether it pass for a history or a fable.' He had to take pen in hand, and defend himself from slanders by his Discovery of the large, rich, and beautiful Empire of Guiana, with a relation of the great and golden city of Manoa. The volume was published in 1596, with a grateful dedication to his friends in adversity, his kinsman, the Lord Admiral, and Cecil. Hume characterizes the account as 'full of the grossest and most palpable lies.' The sole apparent ground for the accusation is that Ralegh quoted Indian tales of strange creatures, giving the Indian narrators as his authorities. It is not necessary to deny that he may have been prone to believe in them too. The legend of a nation of Amazons is of venerable antiquity. His was an age of faith in portents, in witches, and wizards. If he did not sternly refuse credence even to the shoulder-eyed Ewaipanomas, it must be remembered that a world of 'stranger things than are to be seen between London and Staines,' as he has said, was being opened up to wondering Europe. Ralegh's personal evidence, as I have mentioned, Schomburgk has tested; and he certifies that it is not open to Hume's condemnation. Humboldt concurs. In particular, the geographical knowledge exhibited in Ralegh's narrative has been proved to be, for the period, curiously wide and accurate. His observations on the natural phenomena of the region are equally faithful and sagacious. The trust he reposed in its metallic riches is being now demonstrated to have been more solidly founded than even Sir Robert Schomburgk thought it. International disputes have recently arisen out of the discovery of gold in the country still known as Guiana. Of the gold field in Venezuela, which was comprised in Ralegh's Guiana, a Government Inspector of Mines stated in 1889 that he believed we had in it Sir Walter's el Dorado itself.
Contemporaries were captivated by the charm of the narrative. It suffered from no dearth of readers at home. Abroad it was admired almost more warmly. Four German editions appeared between 1599 and 1602, the first three being published at Nuremberg. It was translated into Dutch in 1598, and again in 1605, 1617, 1707, 1727, and 1747. Latin versions were issued at Nuremberg and Frankfort in 1599. Ralegh's comrade, Keymis, glorified the author and discoverer in Latin verse. George Chapman sang the exploit in English. The Queen continued obdurate. Ralegh's friends in vain interceded for his recall to Court. In vain he waited for a summons, 'living about London,' as was said in December, 1595, perhaps at Mitcham or Mile End, 'very gallant.' He would not have minded his toil had it brought his pardon. If he could thereby have appeased the Queen's 'so powerful displeasure,' he would for a year more have 'held fast his soul in his teeth.' But he imagined himself not at all advanced towards forgiveness by his feat. Elizabeth, he complained, persisted in 'the ungrateful custom of making one failing eclipse the merit of many virtuous actions.' Personal resentment, he supposed, closed her ears to his eloquent entreaties that she should keep a small army afoot in Guiana marching towards Manoa. In that event, he was certain, the Inca would yield to her Majesty so many hundred thousand pounds yearly as should both defend her from all enemies abroad and defray all expenses at home. She would have the means of foiling the wiles by which, through his American gold, Philip 'crept into councils, and set loyalty at liberty in the greatest monarchies.'
[Sidenote: The Gold of Guiana.]
Guiana contained, he asserted, all things precious. Its lord would possess as many diamonds as the princes of India, and more gold, a more beautiful empire, more cities and people than either the King of Spain or the Great Turk. He understood the temper of his age. He was aware that 'where there is store of gold, it is in effect needless to remember other commodities for trade.' Therefore he dilated on the gold and diamonds of Guiana rather beyond measure, though not without reason. But he had a quick eye for its other and more permanent advantages. Throughout his career, to its end, and in all his writings, he differed from other Elizabethan statesmen and explorers in regarding war with Spain not merely in its retaliatory, defensive, and plundering aspects, but as a means of enlarging the national boundaries. He desired to endow England with a colonial empire. He pointed out that the new country had everything which could render it habitable for Europeans. It was only a six weeks' voyage from England. It was free from white occupants, and had escaped spoliation. It was a region in which, he was convinced, Englishmen could thrive and be happy. With his military instinct he had truly discerned how easily it might be guarded by a couple of forts on sites commanding the entrance into the Orinoko.
[Sidenote: Spanish Plantation of San Thome.]
[Sidenote: Another of Keymis's Gold Mines.]
He trusted she who was the lady of ladies would be inspired to accept the direct dominion. If not, he was ready to judge those men worthy to be its kings who by her grace and leave should undertake the task of themselves. Unlicensed Undertakers were not wanting, much to his disgust. He wrote to Cecil in November, 1595, that he heard Mr. Dudley and others were sending ships. He besought that none be suffered to soil the enterprise, and that he should be thought worthy to govern the country he had discovered. The whole duty of sovereignty properly, he held, appertained to the State. If it could not afford the requisite funds, he expounded in an unpublished essay how a few hundred English artificers might teach the Indians to arm themselves against the Spaniards. By an able and generous argument he reconciled the indefeasible right of the natives to their territory with the industrial colony he was planning. As the State could in no shape be induced to interest itself, he maintained the English connexion with Guiana at his private charge. In the January of 1596 he despatched Keymis with the Darling and Discovery. They were laden with merchandise to comfort and assure the people that they should not yield to any composition with other nations. Burleigh and Robert Cecil were joint adventurers with Ralegh. Burleigh advanced L500, and his son lent a new ship bravely furnished. Keymis learnt they had been forestalled. King Philip, perturbed by the tidings of Ralegh's enterprise, had granted Berreo's application by de Vera for troops. On May 16, 1595, before Ralegh's own return, Sir John Gilbert heard from a Frenchman that the King had sent forces to el Dorado. A powerful force for the conquest of Manoa arrived in Trinidad in 1596. Finally, it is true, the majority miserably perished, and the expedition effected nothing. But a village had already been planted near the port of Topiowari, who, Keymis heard, was dead. This settlement, known as San Thome, Santo Thome, San Tome, Santo Tomas, or St. Thomas, did not owe its actual beginning to Berreo. It was first founded by Jesuits in 1576, close to the confluence of the Caroni and Orinoko. At the period of Ralegh's voyage it had become deserted. Berreo reoccupied the site; and Keymis found the mouth of the Caroni blocked, and guarded by a battery. 'Thus,' wrote Lady Ralegh indignantly to Cecil, on Keymis's return, Ralegh being away in Spain, 'you hear your poor absent friend's fortune, who, if he had been as well credited in his reports and knowledges as it seemeth the Spaniards were, they had not now been possessors of that place.' Keymis had to alter his route. His passage to the mine from which the ores and white stones had been taken the year before was intercepted. He went in the direction of Mount Aio. Putijma had pointed out a gold mine in that neighbourhood to a pilot. Even this mine, however, he did not actually reach, though he was within fifteen miles of it. He was afraid, he said, that he and his men might be cut off in the attempt, and the secret of the treasure be buried with them. He was content to foster the amity of the Indians, to remark additional signs of gold and spleen stones, and to discover above fifty fresh rivers and tribes. After an absence of five months, he arrived off Portland at the end of June. In a published narrative of his expedition he apologised for having emptied Ralegh's purse in the prosecution of patriotic designs thwarted by 'envy and private respects.'
CADIZ. THE ISLANDS VOYAGE. (1596-1597).
[Sidenote: A Policy of Offence.]
Ralegh, like his wife and Keymis, may have thought his labour and his money thrown away. They had not been. Guiana, after all, rehabilitated him. His advice that England should not let herself be constrained to a defensive war by the power of the Indian gold of Spain, was followed. Again he emerged into official prominence as a warrior. He had never ceased to carry himself as one who owed it to the State to counsel and to lead. In November, 1595, he was warning Cecil of a fleet of sixty sail preparing in Spain for Ireland. He was urging the necessity for the quality, 'not plentiful in Ministers,' of despatch. 'Expedition in a little is better than much too late. If we be once driven to the defensive, farewell might.' Within the same month he was admonishing the Council by letter of the imminent danger of a Spanish invasion of England from Brittany. Disasters themselves favoured his advice and projects. An expedition conducted by Hawkins and Drake against Panama had been unsuccessful. The commanders died, Hawkins in November, 1595, Drake in the next January; both, Ralegh has written, broken-hearted from disappointment and vexation. Spain was encouraged by the failure. A Spanish league with the Earl of Tyrone frightened and exasperated Elizabeth. She equipped ninety-six sail, and the Dutch added twenty-four. They carried 14,000 Englishmen, 1000 being gentlemen volunteers, and 2600 Dutchmen.
[Sidenote: Distribution of Commands.]
Lord Admiral Howard and Essex were joint Generals. They had a council of war of five members. Lord Thomas Howard and Ralegh served for the seas. Sir Francis Vere and Sir Coniers Clifford represented the troops. The fifth on the council was Sir George Carew. All five were charged, as they would answer before God, to give their counsels to both Generals without any private respect to either, for love or fear. The English fleet was divided into four squadrons. Ralegh commanded twenty-two ships, manned by 1352 mariners and 1875 soldiers. As usually happened, the expedition was detained by cross weather, which caused Ralegh, he declared, deeper grief than he ever felt for anything of this world. His anguish did not wholly occupy him. Some of his enforced leisure he employed in petitioning for the appointment to the bishoprics of Lismore and Waterford of the very learned Hugh Broughton. The ground partly was the comfort Broughton would be to all the English nation thereabouts. Partly, he wished to requite old Archbishop Magrath, who was usurping the two sees, for having dealt badly with him touching divers leases and lands. He was less successful in pleading for learning than for folly. Broughton was not given the mitre. But four years later Cecil, writing to Carew of a nominee for the Kerry Bishopric, described him significantly as 'another manner of man than Sir Walter Ralegh's last silly priest.' Now Ralegh was busy also begging a grant of 'concealed lands' in Ireland for a former servant, and an Exeter prebend for Mr. William Hilliard. He was inducing Cecil to be 'bound for me for the L500, which I stand in danger to the Widow Smith for.' At last the wind became more accommodating. Ralegh, whom carping gouty Anthony Bacon pretended to suspect of having contributed to the delay from underhand motives, collected the truant ships and seamen. On June 1, 1596, the armament quitted Plymouth.
[Sidenote: Ralegh's Strategy.]
Until the fleet was at sea its destination had been kept secret. On June 20 it anchored half a league from Cadiz. A council was held from which Ralegh was absent, being engaged in intercepting runaway Spanish ships. It was resolved to attack the town first. On his return, he found Essex in the act of putting soldiers in boats on a stormy sea. One barge had sunk. First he dissuaded the Earl from prosecuting that plan. Next, he won over the Lord Admiral. When he came back from Howard's ship, crying out 'Entramos! Entramos!' Essex in exultation threw his plumed hat into the water. Again by Ralegh's counsels, the attack was postponed till the morning for the sake of the light. He drew up a scheme of operations and sent it to the Lord Admiral, who and Essex, he says, were willing to be 'advised by so mean an understanding.' His project was to batter the galleons first, and to appoint to each two great fly-boats to board afterwards. The Generals were to stay with the main body of the fleet. Ralegh obtained permission to lead the van in the Warspright, which had a crew of 290. He was to be seconded by five other ships. Carew commanded the Mary Rose, named after the ill-fated ship which foundered at Portsmouth in the presence of Henry the Eighth, with its crew and captain, another Sir George Carew, the present George's cousin. Marshal Vere was in the Rainbow, Southwell in the Lion, Conyers Clifford in the Dreadnought, and Lord Thomas Howard in the Nonparilla. An anonymous contemporary writer, supposed to be Sir William Monson, who, it must be admitted, says little of Ralegh's extraordinary prominence in the action, states that Lord Thomas Howard challenged the leadership of the van by right of his place as Vice-Admiral, and was granted it. Ralegh was in this, at all events, not to be thwarted.
[Sidenote: The Attack.]
At dawn he started, well in advance of all. Thereupon the St. Philip, St. Matthew, St. Andrew, and St. Thomas, all mighty galleons, sailed into the strait of the harbour towards Puerto Real. They moored under the fort of Puntal, with a fringe of galleys, three about each, to assist. The Warspright was cannonaded on her way by the fort and by the galleys, which she esteemed but as wasps in respect of the powerfulness of the others. She made no answer except by 'a blare with a trumpet to each discharge.' Sailing on she anchored close against the St. Philip and St. Andrew, the biggest ships in the Spanish navy. They had overpowered Grenville's ship at the Azores. Ralegh determined 'to be revenged for the Revenge, or to second her with mine own life.' He at once cannonaded them while waiting for the fly-boats, which were to board. The five supporting ships were at hand, but behind. Essex in his flagship now came up. He was eager to join, and anchored beside him. After a struggle of three hours the Warspright was near sinking. Ralegh was rowed to Essex's ship. He told the Earl he meant, in default of the fly-boats, to board from his ship: 'To burn or sink is the same loss; and I must endure one or the other.' 'I will second you upon my honour,' cried Essex. Ralegh, on his return after a quarter of an hour's absence, found that the Nonparilla and the Rainbow had headed the Warspright. Thomas Howard had on board his ship the Lord Admiral. Nevertheless, Ralegh would not yield precedence, 'holding mine own reputation dearest, and remembering my great duty to her Majesty.' Determined to be 'single in the head of all,' he pushed between the Nonparilla and Rainbow, and 'thrust himself athwart the channel, so as I was sure none should outstart me again for that day.' Vere pulled the Rainbow close up by a hawser he had ordered to be fastened to the Warspright's side. But Ralegh's sailors cut it; and back slipped into his place the Marshal, 'whom,' writes Ralegh, 'I guarded, all but his very prow, from the sight of the enemy.' At length he proceeded to grapple the St. Philip. His companions were following his example, when a panic seized the Spaniards. All four galleons slipped anchor, and tried to run aground, 'tumbling into the sea heaps of soldiers, so thick as if coals had been poured out of a sack.' The St. Matthew and the St. Andrew, of ten to twelve hundred tons burden, were captured before there was time for their officers to burn them. In his wonderfully vivid letter, undated and unaddressed, known as A Relation of Cadiz Action, he does not name the captor. But a note in his own hand, in his copy of a French account, Les Lauriers de Nassau, affirms, 'J'ay pris tous deux.' The St. Philip and the St. Thomas were blown up by their captains. A multitude of the men were drowned, or horribly scorched. 'There was so huge a fire, and such tearing of the ordnance, as, if any man had a desire to see Hell itself, it was there most lively figured.' The English, Ralegh says, spared the lives of all after the victory; the Flemings, who did little or nothing in the fight, slaughtered mercilessly, till Ralegh first, and then the Lord Admiral, beat them off. Towards the close of the three hours' struggle, Ralegh received from a spent shot a grievous wound, 'interlaced and deformed with splinters,' in the leg.
[Sidenote: Occupation of Cadiz.]
So stunned were the Spaniards by the naval disaster that the English troops when they landed had an easy victory. They routed eight hundred horsemen who met them. Then, hotly pursuing, they forced their way in under Essex along with the fugitives. Before 8 o'clock that night the English were masters of the market-place, forts, town, and all but the castle. It held out till break of day. Ralegh was carried ashore on his men's shoulders; but his wound was painful, and he was anxious for the fleet. That was practically deserted. The superior officers had all run headlong to the sack. So he retired on board. A promise was made him of a full share of the spoil. He wrote on his copy of Les Lauriers that the engagement was not kept. Cadiz agreed to pay a hundred and twenty thousand crowns as ransom for the persons of the citizens. All the rich merchandise in the town, and forty thousand ducats in cash, were spoil of war. A grander booty might have been gained if the Generals had been guided by him, though Sir William Monson arrogates to himself the honour of the suggestion. At daybreak he had sent his step-brother, Sir John Gilbert, and his brother-in-law, Sir Arthur Throckmorton, who were in his ship, to ask authority to follow the Indian fleet into Puerto Real road. The cargoes were worth eight million crowns. The Generals demurred. He says in their excuse that 'the confusion was great; it was almost impossible for them to order many things at once.' They declined also an offer by the Cadiz and Seville merchants in the afternoon to redeem the ships for two million ducats. Ralegh himself preferred capture first, and ransom afterwards. Essex desired to take the vessels; but he wished to employ his land officers, Blount and others, not Ralegh and his sailors. The Lord Admiral was against any composition. 'We came,' he said, 'to consume them, and not to compound with them.' The Spanish commander, the Duke of Medina, settled the difficulty. On the following morning, June 23, he set fire to the whole, galleons, frigates, and argosies. Among them were several ships which had been fitted out for Guiana. The galleys escaped both Spanish and English fury.
[Sidenote: The Spoil.]
To the English leaders were allotted many rich prisoners. 'Some,' wrote Ralegh, 'had for them sixty-six, or twenty, thousand ducats, some ten thousand, beside great houses of merchandise.' Had it not been for his wound, he avows with candour that he also should have possessed himself of 'some house.' As it was, his part of the spoils was 'a lame leg and deformed. I have not been wanting in good words, or exceeding kind and regardful usage, but have possession of nought but poverty and pain.' His complaint was an exaggeration. It is inconsistent with the report of the royal commissioners. They drew up an inventory subsequently at Plymouth of the spoil appropriated by the chiefs, except Essex and the two Howards. In their tables Ralegh's plunder is valued at L1769, which he was allowed to keep. But he fared ill in comparison, for example, with Vere, who secured an amount of L3628. He appears also to have been disappointed in an expectancy he had of L3000 prize-money from the proceeds, among other booty, of those two well-furnished Apostles aforesaid, as he familiarly terms the St. Matthew and St. Andrew. Another and more generous grievance was the inferiority of the gains of his seamen to those of the soldiers. With other principal officers of the fleet he offended Vere by backing the sailors in their demand for a search of the soldiers' chests. Throughout there had been ill-will between Vere and him. Before they set out they disputed precedence. The contention was compromised on the terms that Vere should have priority on land, and Ralegh on water. During the voyage the strife was inflamed by Sir Arthur Throckmorton's hot temper. On the return to England a fresh outburst of professional jealousy fretted the sore.
[Sidenote: Return of the Expedition.]
Essex was for holding Cadiz; and Vere engaged for its retention if he might keep four thousand men. But it was known the measure would be disliked at Court. The owners of booty, moreover, wanted to convey it home. Consequently, most of the town was demolished, and its fortifications were dismantled. As Ralegh writes in the History of the World, describing Cadiz as one of the three keys of the Spanish Empire, bequeathed by Charles the Fifth to Philip: 'We stayed not to pick any lock, but brake open the doors, and, having rifled all, threw the key into the fire.' On July 5 the army embarked. A descent was made upon Faro; and the noble library of Bishop Osorius was taken. It became the nucleus of the commencing Bodleian. Then the fleet set off homewards. This was against the wishes of Essex, but accorded with those of Ralegh. Provisions were scarce. In his own ship sickness had broken out, and his wound troubled him. Sir William Monson adds an insinuation gratuitous and baseless in respect of him, that 'riches kept them who got much from attempting more.' Preceding the rest he reached Plymouth Sound on August 6. He went up to London, whither his praises had preceded him. Sir George Carew had written to Cecil on June 30: 'Sir Walter Ralegh's service was so much praiseworth as those which were formerly his enemies do now hold him in great estimation; for that which he did in the sea service could not be bettered.' As warm testimony was furnished by friends of Essex. Sir Anthony Standen, a very close adherent of the Earl's, who, however, in the next reign was one of Ralegh's fellow-prisoners, had looked upon him with extreme suspicion. At the commencement of the expedition he had written to an acquaintance: 'Sir Walter Ralegh's carriage to my Lord of Essex is with the cunningest respect and deepest humility that ever I saw.' He could not resist the evidence of Ralegh's conduct. He wrote to Burleigh from Cadiz on July 5: 'Sir Walter Ralegh did in my judgment, no man better; and his artillery most effect. I never knew the gentleman until this time, and I am sorry for it, for there are in him excellent things beside his valour; and the observation he hath in this voyage used with my Lord of Essex hath made me love him.'
[Sidenote: Ralegh's real reward.]
Ralegh murmured at the scantiness of his spoil. His real reward was his restoration at Court. He sent a letter by Sir Anthony Ashley to Cecil on July 7. After extolling Essex for having behaved both valiantly and advisedly in the highest degree, without pride and without cruelty, he expressed a hope that her Majesty would take his own labours and endeavours in good part. His prayer was granted. Elizabeth finally was induced to abate her wrath. It can never have been vindictive, or she would have deprived him of his Captaincy. He was reported in May, 1597, to be daily at Court, and to be likely to be admitted to the execution of his office before he should go to sea. The rumour was well founded. His deeds at Cadiz gave the Queen an excuse for showing indulgence, of which she would be glad to avail herself on another account also. She felt an obligation to him for his part in smoothing the relations between her young favourite and her young Minister. Already, in February, 1597, Essex and Ralegh were known to be holding frequent conferences. Ralegh was acting as a mediator between the Earl and Cecil. Their reconciliation was an object ardently desired by Elizabeth. He succeeded, and they combined to requite him.
[Sidenote: On Guard.]
On June 1, 1597, Cecil obtained leave to bring him to the Palace. Elizabeth, writes a courtier, Whyte, used him very graciously, and gave him full authority to execute his place as Captain of the Guard. This he immediately undertook, and swore many men into the void places. In the evening he rode abroad with the Queen, and had private conference with her. From that time, the same indefatigable observer noted, he came boldly to the Privy Chamber, as he had been wont. Though on June 1 Essex was away from Town, it is especially remarked by Whyte that the re-establishment of Ralegh was due to a large extent to him. Ralegh, he, and Cecil were in league to gain the consent of the Queen to a fresh foray upon Spain and its commerce. That was a main object of the consultations which stirred the wonder of courtiers. The victualling of the expedition was confided to Ralegh. He contracted to provision 6000 men for three months at the rate of ninepence a head. He complained that he was out of pocket, which was not believed, though it was acknowledged that the work was very well done. It was sure to be. He appreciated fully Coligny's advice, as quoted by himself, that 'who will shape that beast war must begin with his belly.' If he made a good bargain with the State, he executed its conditions honestly. Not all of the profit could he retain on this, or probably on other occasions. He had to supply Essex with much for his private consumption. None of Elizabeth's courtiers objected to such irregular gains. But Essex was chiefly anxious for the glory he expected from the enterprise. His mind was said to be 'full of conquering and overcoming the enemy;' and he had learnt at Cadiz the value of Ralegh as a colleague. The triumvirate, it was noticed, dined together one day at Essex House and conversed for three hours after. Another day, early in July, Cecil was host. In return Essex again, and Ralegh, entertained Cecil. An allusion to this festivity in a letter of Ralegh's has furnished his biographers with a pet puzzle. 'I acquainted the Lord General,' wrote Ralegh to Cecil on July 6, 1597, 'with your kind acceptance of your entertainment; he was also wonderful merry at your conceit of Richard the Second. I hope it shall never alter, and whereof I shall be most glad of, as the true way to all our good, quiet, and advancement, and most of all for Her sake, whose affairs shall thereby find better progression.' Commentators have been tempted to discern some shadow before of the fatality four years later, when the patronage by Essex and his partisans of the play of Henry IV at the Globe Theatre became an article of indictment. The passage forms a conundrum to which the clue has not yet been found. If the reference be to Shakespeare's drama which Essex, Cecil, and Ralegh may have seen acted in this July, it constitutes the only ascertained association of the hand which could do all and the brain which could conceive all.
[Sidenote: The Islands Voyage.]
Evidence of the amity of the three was afforded by the liberal scale of the expedition, which started on July 10. A fleet of 120 vessels sailed from Plymouth. Twenty were Queen's ships. Ten were contributed by the Low Countries. The rest were volunteers. Essex commanded in chief, as lieutenant-general and admiral. Lord Thomas Howard was vice-admiral. Ralegh was rear-admiral. Lord Mountjoy was lieutenant of the land forces. Vere was marshal, and George Carew master of the ordnance. The serjeant-major was Sir Ferdinand Gorges. Sir Arthur Gorges was captain of Ralegh's flagship. Essex feared that Vere and Ralegh might harbour a mutual grudge on account of the strife over the Cadiz spoil. He persuaded them to shake hands at Weymouth. 'This,' chronicles Vere, 'we both did, the more willingly because there had nothing passed between us that might blemish reputation.' Ralegh, in the History of the World, has spoken in the same spirit of Vere, as constituting with Sir John Norris 'the most famous' pair of captains by land, and is indignant that he should have left behind him neither title nor estate.
The object of the expedition was to destroy the navy a Ferrol, and capture the Indian treasure ships. It was intended also to take and garrison Terceira, and any others of the Azores. Hence it has been known as the Islands or Island Voyage. The enterprise commenced ill. Four days of storm drove the armament back to Plymouth. There it lay for a month. Essex was in despair. Ralegh suggested to Cecil that the Queen might send a comforting message. A truer man, he said, there could not be upon the earth; but God having turned the heavens with such fury against the fleet, it was a matter beyond human power, valour, or wit to resist. The programme had to be revised. Essex and Ralegh rode post to Court to consult the Queen and Council. The decision was that all the soldiers but a thousand Dutchmen should be disbanded. The attack on Ferrol was to be limited to an attempt by Ralegh to fire the ships in the harbour. Essex was forbidden to participate, whether from regard for his safety, or to secure to his subordinate a free hand. The modification was in conformity with Ralegh's advice. He had expressed to Cecil his doubt of the prudence of prosecuting the original design. The Spanish force at Ferrol he thought too strong, and the season too advanced. He and Essex returned together to Plymouth, where the Earl was his guest on board the Warspright. 'Her Majesty may now be sure his Lordship shall sleep the sounder, though he fare the worse, by being with me; for I am an excellent watchman at sea,' wrote Ralegh. The fare would not be extremely rough. Ralegh could bear hardships, if necessary, anywhere. He was ready at any moment, and in any weather, to go to sea, though, like Lord Nelson, he was liable to visitations of sea-sickness. But at sea, as elsewhere, he liked comfort, refinement, and even luxury, if compatible with duty. He had many servants. He took chests of books. He hung his walls with pictures, and furnished his cabin sumptuously. Among the treasures of the Carews of Beddington was a bedstead, reputed to have been part of his ship furniture, with upholstery of green silk, and with gilt dolphins for legs. The stately chair, which was in the late Mr. Godwin's collection of the chairs of great men, may have been its companion.
At Plymouth the fleet delayed weather-bound till August 18. It had not been five days at sea before another tempest arose off Cape Ortegal. Carew in the St. Matthew was driven into Rochelle. Eventually he had to return to Plymouth. The wind blew out of Ferrol, and the curtailed scheme for an assault on it, and on Terceira too, had to be abandoned. All that remained was to intercept the Indian ships. The fleet was divided by stress of weather. Ralegh wrote to Cecil on September 8 that in ten days he had never come so much as into bed or cabin. He did not rejoin the main body till Essex had been ten days at the Island of Flores. Essex 'seemed to be the joyfullest man living for our arrival,' says Arthur Gorges. Some had tried to persuade him that Ralegh had kept away intentionally with the victuallers; but Essex told Ralegh he saw through 'their scandalous and cankered dispositions.' Gorges believed he spoke sincerely; 'for though the Earl had many doubts and jealousies buzzed into his ears against Sir Walter, yet I have often observed that both in his greatest actions of service, and in the times of his chiefest recreations, he would ever accept of his counsel and company before many others who thought themselves more in his favour.'
[Sidenote: Attack on Fayal.]
At Flores it was determined at a council of war that Essex and Ralegh should lay waste Fayal. Essex sailed away. Ralegh following arrived first. The forts fired; and the islanders began carrying off their goods to the interior. Ralegh still paused. The officers, except a few of Essex's sycophants, like Sir Guilly Meyricke, chafed. Delay, as Monson, no admirer of Ralegh, has intimated in his narrative of the affair, might have enabled the Spaniards to provide themselves better. Ralegh's own patience was not inexhaustible. He cannot have been sorry to be afforded a reasonable pretext for separate action. He states in the History of the World that his delay was in deference to the desire of some in the company who would have 'reserved the title of such an exploit, though it was not great, for a greater person.' When the difficulty of the enterprise was urged, he felt bound to prove by example that the 'defence of a coast is harder than its invasion.' On the fourth day he landed. He took no soldiers, but only 260 seamen and gentlemen volunteers, with some ordnance, in pinnaces. They were met by double the number of Spaniards, and by a sharp fire. So staggered were his men that Ralegh had to order his own barge to be rowed full upon the beach. Other boats followed. Landing, the invaders waded through the water, clambered over rocks, and forced their way up to and through the narrow entrance. The town itself, called Villa Dorta, was four miles off, and a fort guarded it. Up to the front deliberately marched Ralegh, with his leading staff in his hand. He wore no armour except his collar. His men were less serenely indifferent to the shot, especially the Low Countries soldiers, who were now come ashore to his help. The garrison, driven from the lower works, mounted to the higher. Ralegh, perceiving a disinclination in his force to go on, preceded with Gorges and eight or ten servants. Amidst a hail of ball and stones, he in his white, and Gorges in his red, scarf, presented excellent marks. They discovered the best passage, and then their men came up. But by the time they reached the fort and town both had been deserted.
[Sidenote: Essex's Jealousy.]
Early next morning, September 22, the rest of the fleet, which had been roving after the treasure ships, was descried bearing in. Essex was grievously disappointed at having missed the one opportunity of glory on this unlucky expedition. Pernicious counsellors like Blount, Shirley, and Meyricke, recommended him to bring Ralegh before a court-martial. Some actually asserted he deserved to be executed. Not unconscious of the Earl's mood he paid him a state visit in his barge. He was at once taxed with breach of discipline. He was reminded of an article that none, on pain of death, should land any of the troops without the General's presence or his order. His reply was that the provision was confined to captains. It could not apply to him, a principal commander, with a right of succession to the supreme command, in default of Essex and Thomas Howard. Most of all, he protested against orders which he heard had been given for the arrest of the officers who accompanied him in the landing. He insisted that whatsoever his Lordship conceived to be misdone he must take it wholly on himself to answer, being at that time commander-in-chief. Essex seemed so far impressed by his arguments as to visit him at his lodgings, though he graduated the return to good humour by declining to stay and sup. In the morning he paid Essex a second visit, though not without hesitation. At one moment the prospect of ill treatment was so threatening that he was disposed to go off to his squadron and prepare to repel force. Lord Thomas Howard hindered extremities by pledging his honour to make himself a party if wrong or violence were offered. Essex could not overcome his mortification. He evinced it in a puerile manner by omitting all mention of the capture of Fayal from his official reports. Monson, who was with the expedition, expresses an opinion that if Essex, being 'by nature timorous and flexible, had not feared how it would be taken in England, Sir Walter Ralegh would have smarted for it.' In appearance the Earl ultimately allowed himself to be pacified by a solemn discussion of Ralegh's conduct, and a severe censure voted by a majority of the principal officers. According to one incredible account, Ralegh was gravely declared on the occasion to have rendered himself, by his assumption of independent power, liable to a capital penalty. Posterity will be inclined to transfer the actual condemnation to the commander-in-chief, whose freakish pique stopped only short of an outrage. But Essex had the fortune or misfortune to have all his errors popularly accounted virtues. In relating this occurrence, for instance, Vere, though he admits the matter was 'grievously aggravated by the most,' speaks of Ralegh's act as a 'crime,' which it was very good of the General to visit simply 'with a wise and noble admonition.' Sir Henry Wotton later mentions, as if it were an act of heroic self-denial, that the Earl replied to advice to send Ralegh before a court-martial: 'I would if he were my friend.'
[Sidenote: Caracks captured and missed.]
[Sidenote: Historian of the Expedition.]
To cement the hollow reconciliation, Villa Dorta was burnt, after the kindly usage, and the fleet went prize hunting. Three Spanish ships from the Havannah were captured. The largest, of 400 tons, was laden with gold, cochineal, indigo, civet, musk, and ambergris, beside many valuable passengers. Enough of cochineal and indigo was taken 'to be used in this realm for many years,' according to an official report. Ralegh was its captor. He expressed his pleasure either magnanimously or contemptuously: 'Although we shall be little the better, the prizes will in great measure give content to her Majesty, so that there may be no repining against this poor lord for the expense of the voyage.' They missed forty India-men, which escaped into the strong harbour of Terceira. The colonels bragged they were ready to storm the forts. Howard and Ralegh, who thought the enterprise impracticable, offered as a test of the sincerity of the soldiers to back them with 3000 seamen. Thereupon the project was dropped. At St. Michael's, Essex, according to Gorges, who it must be remembered was Ralegh's officer, wasted precious days at Villa Franca. He let his men revel in fruit and wine, and lost the moment for surprising the capital. Ralegh meanwhile, in the road, took a Brazil ship, which, when sold in England, paid the wages of the whole of the 400 sailors and soldiers of the Warspright. Through a Dutch captain's over-haste, an 1800 ton carack 'of infinite wealth, laden with the riches of the East and West,' eluded him. She ran herself aground, and was burnt by her crew. He in his barge crossed the furious surf too late to put out the flames. Very speedily she was all over thunder and lightning. Her ordnance discharged from every port, and the clouds exhaled from her spicy entrails perfumed the air for many hours. By this time autumn was come. Not too soon, the fleet, which had assembled off Villa Franca, set sail. The town was spared the customary flames, for causes unknown to Gorges. After suffering from want of water, and from tempests, in which the skill of John Davys, Essex's famous pilot, proved inferior to that of Broadbent, who was Ralegh's, St. Ives was reached. Ralegh's return rejoiced Cornwall, which had been alarmed by descents of Spanish caravels. The whole tale was set forth vividly by Sir Arthur Gorges in his Relation of the Island Voyage, written in 1607, and printed, it is said, at the request of Prince Henry.
FINAL FEUD WITH ESSEX (1597-1601).
[Sidenote: A Busy Life.]
The Islands Voyage was the last for many years of Ralegh's personal adventures at sea. After it he found enough, and too much, to occupy him at home. He speaks of himself as 'mad with intricate affairs and want of means.' As soon as he returned he had to take precautions against an expected attack on Falmouth by a Spanish fleet of 110 or 160 sail. Only the tempest which had troubled Essex and him prevented its arrival while he was away. He was arranging for the journey into Spain of a spy, who had a pass from Philip, whereby he might safely look into the ports. He was urging on the Council the despatch of light warships against the Spanish treasure fleet. He represented it as a complement to the preceding expedition, less hazardous and likely to be much more lucrative. The squadron would be absent only in the dead of winter, and could be back by spring, 'sufficient timely to answer any attempt from Spain.' He was provisioning Western ports, paying their garrisons, and reckoning the cost of maintenance of captive Spaniards. He was scolding a presumptuous nephew, John Gilbert. He was upholding the ancient tenures of the Duchy of Cornwall, and resisting the exaction of obsolete licences for drying and packing fish. He was relieving miners from extortions by merchants. He was advocating an Irish policy of terrorism, in the course perhaps of a visit to Munster, as Mr. Payne Collier has inferred from the language of his letter itself, rather more confidently than it warrants, though a current rumour that he was out of heart at the moment with his Court prospects favours the hypothesis of self-banishment. At any rate, in October, 1598, he was writing to shame-faced Cecil in defence, it is sad to say, of official connivance at the assassination of Irish rebels: 'It can be no disgrace if it were known that the killing of a rebel were practised. But, for yourself, you are not to be touched in the matter.' In his History he condemns lying in wait privily for blood as wilful murder. In return for his activity and his fierceness he was recognised as both hostile and important enough to be singled out as a mark for the Ultramontane fury which kindled and fed Irish revolts. That at times assumed strange forms. His name is joined in 1597 with those of Cecil and the Lord Admiral as among the Englishmen whom Tempest the Jesuit destined to destruction. The instrument was a poison, for which the sole antidote was the utterance of the word Eguldarphe three times before drinking. Then the glass would break, or the wine, if in a silver cup, would froth and fume.
[Sidenote: Counsellor and Debater.]
Public affairs and private affairs, small things and great, filled Ralegh's life to overflowing. They were all transacted at high pressure. Everything he did he did with his whole might. He always 'toiled terribly.' He sat in the House of Commons in the winter of 1597-8, and his name often occurs in reports of debates and committees. He spoke on the infesting of the country by pretended soldiers and sailors, on the cognate subject of sturdy vagabonds and beggars, on the fruitful topic of the Queen's debts. He took part in the burning controversy whether the Lords were entitled to receive, seated, Members sent by the Lower House to confer on a Bill, instead of coming down to the bar. He was being consulted by the Privy Council on the right way of dealing with Tyrone's Ulster rising. He was praying a licence for a translation from the Italian of a history of King Sebastian's and Thomas Stukely's invasion of Morocco, on the ground that he had perused and corrected something therein. He was soliciting and obtaining a Governorship. He was seeking the enlargement out of prison of his cousin Henry Carew's 'distressed son.' He was nursing at Bath his ailments, of which their Lordships of the Council were very sorry to hear, and wished him speedy recovery. He was, through Cecil, and with the Queen's leave, applying pressure to Bishop Cotton of Salisbury, at the end of 1598, for the change of his lease of Sherborne into the fee. He was building there a new mansion. He was playing primero at the Palace with Lord Southampton, and doubtless as eagerly, though he did not, like the Peer, threaten to cudgel the Royal Usher who told them they must go to bed. He was exclaiming at the supineness which suffered Spain to prepare expeditions against Flanders or Ireland, capture 'our small men-of-war,' and send safe into Amsterdam 'the ship of the South Sea of Holland, with a lantern of clear gold in her stern, infinite rich—and none of yours stayed her!'
[Sidenote: The Rivalry with Essex.]
[Sidenote: Attempts at Friendship.]
Never was there a busier existence, or one apparently more evenly occupied. But at this period it had really a single engrossing care, and that was the rivalry with Essex. Once it had looked as if the two might become friends. Before the Islands Voyage, Essex had been closely allied both with him and with Cecil. Afterwards, on an alarm of a Spanish invasion in 1596, Essex and he seem to have been jointly directed to advise on a system of coast defence. Essex drew up a series of questions, to which Ralegh categorically replied. He expressed an opinion that it was not worth while to attempt to fortify aught but 'the river of Thames.' He thought it unwise either to hazard a battle, or to store much ammunition anywhere but in London. His reason was that 'we have few places guardable, Portsmouth excepted.' Essex and he hoped apparently to be given another foreign command. In October, 1597, Ralegh was prompt to report to Cecil the testimony of a Plymouth captain just come from abroad, that 'the Earl our General hath as much fame and reputation in Spain and Italy as ever, and more than, any of our nation had; and that for an enemy he is the most honoured man in Europe.' He appeared to nurse no anger for the reproaches and menaces used at Flores and Fayal. Those were reported by Whyte to Sir Robert Sidney to have been greatly misliked at Court, where Ralegh was 'happy to have good and constant friends able by their wisdom and authority to protect and comfort him.' He did not take advantage of his influence there to direct attention to his commander's blunders at St. Michael's. On the contrary, he seized every opportunity, with seeming sincerity, of dwelling upon his courage and capacity. He exhibited friendliness in various ways. In December, 1597, he had accepted a mission from the Queen to compromise a question of precedence between Essex and the Lord High Admiral. Towards the beginning of 1598 he, Essex, and Cecil again met often at Essex House and Cecil House in secret conclave. Cecil in February, 1598, was sent to France on a mission to dissuade Henry IV from concluding a separate peace with Spain. His journey was made an occasion for special demonstrations of goodwill among the rival courtiers. Entertainments were given him in which Ralegh with Lady Ralegh, and members of the Essex party, like Lord Southampton and Lady Walsingham, equally participated. Essex accepted favours from Ralegh and Cecil. Ralegh offered him a third of the prizes he had captured. Cecil procured him a grant of L7000 from the sale of the cochineal belonging to the Crown. He was believed to have reciprocated the kindness of each by promising Cecil that in his absence nothing disagreeable to him should be done, and Ralegh, that he would join Cecil in having him appointed a Privy Councillor, if not Vice-Chamberlain. But the show of cordiality was deceptive, and Essex chose to imagine himself continually aggrieved. The Islands Voyage had been a failure. The Queen told him it had been. She blamed him for having accomplished nothing at Ferrol. She reproached him with the escape of the plate fleet. He was discontented with himself. His flatterers consoled him by assurances that others were in fault rather than he. They pointed at Ralegh; and the old jealousy revived with redoubled violence.
[Sidenote: Tolerance of Disappointments.]
Ralegh was no longer an object for generosity. He was become again a power at Court. He was perpetually consulted on maritime and Irish affairs. Conferences were held between him and the Council in 1599 concerning Ireland, and his advice for the victualling of the garrisons was adopted in the January of the same year. His Western command, at a time when Spanish incursions were from moment to moment possible, brought him into peculiar prominence. When his hopes in 1598 either of the Vice-Chamberlainship, or of a seat at the Privy Council, were frustrated, he was disappointed; unlike his adversary, he could bear disappointment. He was at once the most patient and the most impatient of men. His was the healthy form of disappointment, which, if an outlet in one quarter be closed, incites to the discovery of another. The gossip of the town reported in October, 1598, that he was meditating a voyage to Guiana in company with Sir John Gilbert: 'He is discontented he thrives no better.' It was one of a Court life's passing clouds, and he treated it so that it should pass. To the diseased mind of Essex he appeared prosperous and triumphant at all points, and beyond all deserving. Even the few laurels of the late expedition had been gathered by him. When they had been at variance, Ralegh had put him in the wrong. Ralegh could not tolerate an insolent superior. Essex could endure no equal. He was ever sulking at Wanstead, or raging. Ralegh's name was the established text for his outbursts of wrath. An anecdote told by the anonymous author, said to be Lord Clarendon, of The Difference between George Duke of Buckingham and Robert Earl of Essex, is supposed to illustrate the humiliations to which his temper exposed him. On the Queen's birthday, November 17, 1598, the accustomed tournament was being held in the Tilt-yard before her Majesty. Ralegh, not brooding on late rebuffs, led a gallant retinue in orange-tawny plumes. Essex had heard of Ralegh's preparations. He entered with his visor down, at the head of a larger and more magnificent troop flaunting 2000 feathers of the same colour. It must be admitted that, as Horace Walpole remarks, 'the affront is not very intelligible at present.' Apparently, he wished to produce an impression by his 'glorious feather triumph' that Ralegh and his followers were a company of esquires or pages. But the two bodies tilted, and Essex 'ran very ill.'
[Sidenote: Essex in Ireland.]
In chagrin, and almost despair, Essex at the end of March, 1599, went over to Ireland as Lord Deputy. The vacancy had been a theme of much dispute at Court. In 1598, Ralegh, Sir Robert Sidney, and Sir Christopher Blount, Essex's step-father, had been mentioned by rumour for the appointment. In March, Rowland Whyte had written positively to Sir Robert Sidney that it had been decided to nominate either Sir William Russell or Ralegh, but Russell had absolutely declined, and 'the other doth little like it.' Perilous as the post was, 'a fair way to destruction,' as Whyte described it, a refusal of it by Ralegh, had the choice been given him, is incredible. Essex in any case preserved enough influence to have hindered his nomination. At last, to exclude others, and to keep himself before the world, Essex consented to be appointed. As soon as he had landed in Ireland he began to bemoan his 'banishment and proscription into the cursedest of all islands.' So loud was his discontent as to give rise to extraordinary popular fancies. London was in the August of 1599 barricaded for a fortnight. A fleet was put in commission under Lord Thomas Howard as Admiral. Ralegh was Vice-Admiral, and 'took leave at Court of all the ladies' about August 18. He stayed in the Downs for three weeks or a month. The ostensible, and doubtless the true, reason was the threat of a Spanish descent upon the Isle of Wight. But not a few believed that it was a precaution, less against the Spaniard than against an apprehended invasion by Essex from Ireland. Wild as was the rumour, it was favoured by the reckless talk of Essex and his companions. Sir Christopher Blount on the scaffold confessed to Ralegh that some had designed the transport of a choice part of the army of Ireland to Milford, and a march upon London.
[Sidenote: Attacks on Ralegh.]
Essex before this, on June 25, 1599, had been writing to Elizabeth: 'Is it not lamented by your Majesty's faithfullest subjects, both there and here, that a Cobham and Ralegh—I will forbear others for their places' sakes—should have such credit and favour with your Majesty, when they wish the ill success of your Majesty's most important action, the decay of your greatest strength, and the destruction of your faithfullest servants?' His fury against Ralegh seems too excessive to have been genuine. In part it may be explained by his knowledge, on which Sir John Pope Hennessy has laid inordinate stress, that Ralegh was the most strenuous opponent of his Irish policy. He would detect the voice and hand of Ralegh in all the hindrances to, and in every criticism upon, his measures. He would imagine he heard him arguing adversely at sittings of the Council, to which he was informally admitted, and in the Queen's chamber. Sympathy may reasonably be felt now both with his special difficulties, and with his general tendencies in Irish administration, rather than with his rival's doctrines. His, however, were only tendencies. His conduct both in Ireland and in England proves that he thought of Irish administration as a weapon of combat for Court ascendency, not as a means of correcting the wrongs of ages. The tone of his tirades upon his condemnation to residence in Ireland is wholly inconsistent with the romantic theory that he had undertaken the government as a humanitarian mission of peace and benevolence to the Celt.
[Sidenote: Despair and Cabals.]
His abrupt return was but the climax in a series of extravagances which had terrified the Queen. He was indignant at any delay in a restoration of the old royal kindness. At first he condescended to a few overtures for forgiveness. His friends could not believe that he would not be welcomed back. They were persuaded that, if Elizabeth saw him, all would be as it had been. Leave was importuned for him to run again in the ring at Whitehall on the Queen's birthday. He was induced to affect penitence. It was noted hopefully that the royal favour to Ralegh was not without breaks. He had wished to be a Commissioner for the peace negotiations with Spain at Boulogne. The Queen refused, as his appointment would have confirmed his title to a Privy Councillorship. In June he was said to have been scolded worse than cat and dog, and dismissed into the country bag and baggage. Obediently he went over to his Cork estate, where he aided Carew in his Munster Presidency with his 'strong counsel' in July. As before, he kept his temper, and the Queen relented. She sent comforting messages when he fell ill from vexation, as was said, and recalled him to Court. Essex was not content to work upon her compassion. He grew contemptuously impatient. He was much more resentful than grateful when his pardon came without a renewal of his farm of sweet wines. Everybody has heard of his rude taunt thereupon at Elizabeth, that 'her conditions were as crooked as her carcase.' Ralegh in his Prerogative of Parliaments applies it as an illustration how 'undutiful words of a subject do often take deeper root than the memory of ill deeds.' He asserts that the saying 'cost the Earl his head, which his insurrection had not cost him, but for that speech.' Essex did not stop at sneers. He caballed with persecuted Papists and Puritans alike, and with various desperados. He alarmed King James with fantastic accounts of conspiracies for the Infanta's succession. In the plot were, he intimated, Ralegh potent in the West and Channel Islands; Cobham, Warden of the Cinque Ports; the Lord Treasurer; the Lord Admiral; Burleigh, Cecil's brother, President of the North; and Carew, President of Munster. All were persons, he alleged, well affected to the King of Spain. He urged James to require a public recognition of his title. He 'pretended,' wrote Cecil to Carew, 'an intention to remove me from the Queen, as one who would sell the kingdom of England to the Infanta of Spain, with such other hyperbolical inventions.' He desired to replace Ralegh in the Captaincy of the Guard by Sir William Russell.
[Sidenote: Gorges and Blount.]
On Sunday, Feb. 8, 1601, came the explosion. Very little secrecy had been preserved, and the guard at Court was doubled. In the morning Ralegh invited Sir Ferdinando Gorges, Governor of Plymouth Fort, to come by water to him at Durham House. Essex was willing Gorges should meet Ralegh on conditions: he must take a couple of companions for his protection, and the meeting must be on the river, not at Ralegh's lodgings. Ralegh consented. Gorges, some time later, during his confinement at the Gate-house, on June 14, 1601, wrote an account of the interview. At his examination by several Privy Councillors he had stated that Sir Christopher Blount tried to persuade him to seize or kill Ralegh. He refused, 'unless Sir Walter had given me the first occasion by violent deeds or unkind words, for either of which I was both resolved and prepared.' He admitted the 'intent was particular against Sir Walter Ralegh and others.' He thought this a proof that 'it was no matter of treason against her Majesty, but rather a manifestation of the contrary.' Essex gave out that his rising was prompted by a discovery that there was an ambuscade of musketeers placed upon the water by the device of Lord Cobham and Ralegh, to murder him in the way as he passed. Blount, at his trial, confessed there was no foundation for the allegation. In reply to Cecil, who asked if he thought Cobham and Ralegh had projected the murder of the Earl, he said he did not believe they ever meant any such thing, nor that the Earl himself feared it; only it was a word cast out to colour other matters. Essex himself subsequently made a similar admission with respect to his charges against Ralegh and Cobham of treason to the Queen and State. Blount, it is said, being unable to induce Gorges to commit the crime, himself from a boat fired four shot at Ralegh. Ralegh was present officially at his execution, and interposed on his behalf when the Sheriff would have forbidden him to go on speaking. Blount reciprocated the courtesy by asking Ralegh's forgiveness, 'both for the wrong done you, and for my particular ill intent towards you.' Ralegh was a witness at the trial of Essex, on February 19. When he was called, Essex rudely cried: 'What booteth it to swear this fox!' He insisted upon the oath being administered upon a folio, not upon a small, Testament. Ralegh was not to be irritated into retorting angrily. He calmly explained that on the river Gorges said this would be the bloodiest day's work that ever was, and wished Ralegh would speed to Court for the prevention of it. Gorges admitted the accuracy of the account. Essex denied its agreement with the report made by Gorges to him at Essex House.
[Sidenote: Ralegh's Demeanour towards Essex.]
Essex was a popular idol. Ralegh, till his fall, never was. A contemporary said that Essex's reverses endeared him, and Ralegh's successes seemed to deepen the public dislike. The populace deluded itself with the fancy, absolutely groundless, that Essex's ruin was due to Ralegh, and that Ralegh must have exulted at it. Malignant anecdotes were current of his demeanour at his rival's last moments. He was said to have snatched at the pleasure of conveying to the Lieutenant of the Tower the instructions for the execution. He was described as, on February 25, standing in a window over against the scaffold, and puffing out tobacco smoke in defiance. After his own death, Sir Lewis Stukely alleged him to have said that the great boy died like a calf, and like a craven; to have vaunted to one who asked if in the Islands Voyage the Earl had not brought him to his mercy, that he trusted they were now quits. Against such gross tales Ralegh needs no defence. He could not have behaved like a boorish ruffian to an adversary in the death agony. He could not have spoken unmannerly words of his dead Cadiz comrade. He had been present at the Earl's trial as Captain of the Guard. In spite of taunts, he had given his evidence with dignity and moderation. As Captain of the Guard he had escorted several of the insurgents, though not Essex himself, to prison. In his official capacity he carried the order for the execution. In the same character he was present in the Tower. At first he had stood near the scaffold, supposing that Essex might wish to speak to him. To avoid misconstruction by lookers-on he soon withdrew. He stationed himself in the distant Armoury, where he could see without being seen. Afterwards he was sorry, he said, for it; since he heard that the Earl had inquired for him, desiring to have been reconciled.
[Sidenote: His Part in the Catastrophe.]
His aspect is reported to have been sad and gloomy, as he was rowed back to Durham House. With his nature, and his gifts of imagination, he could not but have been awed by the consummation he had witnessed of a tragic doom. Later he believed he had always lamented the fate of Essex as the beginning of a new peril to himself from those who before had needed his support against a powerful rival. He may already have had a presentiment. He could rightly declare that the death was not his work. Essex was his own undoer. A time had been at which Ralegh would gladly have become his firm friend. His emphatic concurrence, recorded by Rowland Whyte, with Lady Ralegh's wish that there were 'love and concord amongst all' was not hypocritical. In all sincerity he had written twice in that spirit in the spring of 1600 to Lady Essex. He had found it of no use; and a period came when he rejoiced in an inveterate enemy's discomfiture. It is fanciful to affirm that he would have been pleased to assist in turning aside the final shock of ruin. His sentiments towards Essex at the end, unhappily, are too certain for the precise meaning of his enigmatical undated letter to Cecil, discovered among the Hatfield papers, to be of much consequence. Of its authenticity there is no real doubt, though Mr. Charles Kingsley, whose enthusiasm for Ralegh is delightful and unmixed, chooses to question it on the slender ground that it is signed by initials, and that the style is, to his taste, unlike Ralegh's. Its exact meaning is much more open to dispute. Here it is:—
[Sidenote: Advice to Cecil.]
'I am not wise enough to give you advice; but if you take it for a good counsel to relent towards this tyrant, you will repent it when it shall be too late. His malice is fixed, and will not evaporate by any your mild courses. For he will ascribe the alteration to her Majesty's pusillanimity, and not to your good nature: knowing that you work but upon her humour, and not out of any love towards him. The less you make him, the less he shall be able to harm you and yours. And if her Majesty's favour fail him, he will again decline to a common person. For after revenges fear them not; for your own father, that was esteemed to be the contriver of Norfolk's ruin, yet his son followeth your father's son and loveth him. Humours of men succeed not, but grow by occasions and accidents of time and power. Somerset made no revenge on the Duke of Northumberland's heirs. Northumberland, that now is, thinks not of Hatton's issue. Kelloway lives that murdered the brother of Horsey; and Horsey let him go by all his lifetime. I could name you a thousand of those; and therefore after-fears are but prophecies, or rather conjectures, from causes remote. Look to the present, and you do wisely. His son shall be the youngest Earl of England but one, and if his father be now kept down, Will Cecil shall be able to keep as many men at his heels as he, and more too. He may also match in a better house than his; and so that fear is not worth the fearing. But if the father continue, he will be able to break the branches, and pull up the tree, root and all. Lose not your advantage; if you do, I rede your destiny. Yours to the end, W.R. Let the Queen hold Bothwell while she hath him. He will ever be the canker of her estate and safety. Princes are lost by security; and preserved by prevention. I have seen the last of her good days, and all ours, after his liberty.' By Bothwell is meant Essex. The real Bothwell was a natural son of James V. of Scotland, who had plotted against the reigning king, and been pardoned, and had plotted again.
[Sidenote: Difficulties of Construction.]
On the date of the letter depends whether it signify doing to death, or grinding into obscurity. It is endorsed in Cecil's hand, 'Sir Walter Ralegh,' and in a later hand, '1601.' That is hardly a possible date. The civil, ecclesiastical, and legal year in England, by which a secretary at Hatfield is likely to have reckoned, closed on March 24. Consequently '1601' had not begun when Essex was already dead. The only question is, when in the legal year 1600 the letter was written. If at the end, when judgment had been pronounced, its object would be the accomplishment of the capital sentence. If it were written early in 1600 its more probable purpose would be to induce Cecil to urge the Queen to strip Essex of all his dignities and offices. Ralegh's apologists can adduce for the less bloodthirsty interpretation the passage: 'If her Majesty's favour fail him, he will again decline to a common person.' The words naturally refer to disgrace, not to death. It has been imagined that the plan was to incapacitate him by law for employment, and to hold him a State prisoner. The remark, 'His son shall be the youngest Earl of England but one,' remains equally puzzling on either construction. Advocates of that which treats the letter as a plea for imprisonment and disqualification for office have to show how he could have been kept a State prisoner for life for offences he had committed before the rising of February, and, moreover, how the imprisoned living father was to make way in his peerage for the son. On the other theory which presumes it to have been an argument for sending Essex to the scaffold, it is as unintelligible how the father's fate, with its necessary attainder of blood, could legally transmit his dignity.
The inherent inconsistencies of the document are scarcely more perplexing than the circumstances of its origin. It has been suggested that the idea of the letter was Cecil's, and that he plotted to deceive posterity by inducing Ralegh to hold the pen. In the crude shape, that is an incredible hypothesis. But Cecil was of a nature to discuss questions of policy with his confidants, and extract their views, while he revealed only half his own. Very possibly the letter may have arisen out of a conversation in which the Minister had canvassed the question of acting with prudent magnanimity towards the fallen favourite. He may have requested Ralegh to repeat in writing objections urged orally by him to such a course for the exposition of the case on both its sides. At all events, it would be convenient for Cecil to have the document if in future it should be doubted which of the confederates had been the more vindictive. Ralegh could easily be drawn to try his hand, between fancy and earnest, at an academic theme on the lines of fashionable Italian state-craft. If the paper be indeed nothing but an exercise in pleading, the author deserves to be applauded for the artistic assumption of an air of sincerity which chills the reader's blood.
THE ZENITH (1601-1603).
[Sidenote: Lord Oxford.]
From Essex's execution to the death of Elizabeth, on March 24, 1603, is a period of two years wanting a month. It constitutes another stage in Ralegh's career. No more fascinating Court favourite, no Leicester, Essex, or mere Hatton, stood now in his way. If even Elizabeth's vivacious temperament may have ceased to require attentions as from a lover, she never grew insensible to wit, grace, versatility, and valour like his. The jealousy he continued to arouse was a tribute to his power. To this time belongs the story, contained in Bacon's Apophthegms, of Lord Oxford's insolence. The malicious Earl had returned, the Mirror of Tuscanismo, from his seven years' self-inflicted exile at Florence. He had gone thither to spite his father-in-law, Burleigh, by deserting his wife, and squandering his estate. The Queen was playing on the virginals before him and another nobleman, while Ralegh was on duty near at hand. The ledge in front happened to have been taken away, so that the jacks were seen. Oxford and his companion smiled and whispered. Elizabeth inquired the reason. They were amused, answered Oxford, to see that when jacks went up heads went down. The point of the sarcasm is presumed to have been the connexion of Ralegh's influence with the decapitation of Essex. That the reference was to Ralegh might have seemed rather dubious had not Bacon taken it for granted. The fact of the favour of the Queen is certain.
[Sidenote: Sully and Biron.]
Courtiers wrote to one another how 'good his credit with the Queen had lately grown.' He had a multiplicity of Court duties thrown upon him. His acquaintance with other lands and their languages brought him forward whenever intercourse had to be held with foreigners. As Sir John Harington said of him, he was 'especially versed in foreign matters, his skill therein being always estimable and praiseworthy.' When Prince Maurice was endeavouring to relieve Ostend, which the Archduke and Infanta were besieging, Ralegh and Cobham paid his camp a visit. They were stated by Cecil to have no charge, and to have 'stolen over, having obtained leave with importunity to see this one action.' The English envoy wrote to Cecil that the two gallants had been entertained with much honour and extraordinary respect, but had seen little. Sir Henry Neville, however, told Winwood their journey was not for curiosity only. They 'carried some message, which did no harm.' In March, 1601, Ralegh, by the Queen's order, had been escorting a Spanish envoy, sent to negotiate a truce, round London. Later, during the Queen's summer progress to Dover, he, with Cobham and Sidney, received Sully. As Captain of the Guard he playfully took Sully into custody, and conducted him to the Queen. The great Minister had been privately sent over by King Henry, who was at Calais. On September 5, the Duc de Biron arrived, to announce to Elizabeth the marriage of Mary de Medici to Henry. Several noblemen had been directed by the Council to provide for the Marshal's solemn reception in London. By some accident they were absent. Ralegh, who had not been especially commissioned, happened to be in town. Apparently Sir Arthur Savage and Sir Arthur Gorges, who spoke French fluently, came to his help. Among them they amused the Frenchmen till horses were ready to convey them to Hampshire. The Queen was at Basing House. Ralegh wrote to Cecil: 'We have carried them to Westminster to see the monuments; and this Monday we entertained them at the Bear Garden, which they had great pleasure to see. I sent to and fro, and have laboured like a mule.' On the Wednesday he rode with the Marshal and his numerous company to the Vyne. The fair and large house of Lord Sandys has formed the subject of an interesting volume by its present owner, Mr. Chaloner Chute. It had been furnished from the royal apartments at the Tower, Hampton Court, and neighbouring country houses, for the accommodation of the foreign visitors. The Hampshire gentry lent seven score beds. Not when Ralegh had seen all housed were his cares over. He told Cobham, 'The French wear all black, and no kind of bravery at all.' His wardrobe, plentiful as assuredly it was, had not been equipped in unison with such demureness. So, 'this Saturday night, late,' he wrote on September 12 to Cobham from Basing, 'I am now going to London to provide me a plain taffeta suit, and a plain black saddle.' Elizabeth rewarded his exertions in rendering the stay of the Frenchmen agreeable by knighting his brother, Carew Ralegh, on her departure from Basing House. Mr. Benjamin Tichborne received the same honour.
[Sidenote: The Mermaid.]
Ralegh was a patron of literature, and had to devote evenings to the wits. To him has been ascribed the institution, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, of the Mermaid Tavern meetings in Bread Street, Shakespeare's, Jonson's, Beaumont's, Fletcher's, Selden's, Cotton's, Camden's, and Donne's club. It is very likely; so likely that the intrinsic probability of the fact might be a motive for a fiction. Whether as founder or guest it is more than likely he would take occasional part in the wit combats of which Beaumont has sung. We may lament that there was no Boswell, or even a Drummond, to report an encounter between Ralegh and Shakespeare. Ralegh abhorred drunkenness. 'It were better,' he has said, 'for a man to be subject to any vice than to drunkenness.' But teetotalism had not been invented in the days of Elizabeth. Not wholly unconnected with the social evenings at the Mermaid may have been the frequent trouble he experienced from bodily ailments. On September 19, 1601, he pronounced himself too grievously ill to be able to travel to Bath for his annual cure. His ailments did not prevent him from warning Cecil of a powerful Spanish fleet held ready, with 6000 or 7000 soldiers, to descend either upon Ireland or the Low Countries. Fresh intelligence, which on September 26 he despatched to Cecil for transmission to the Lord Admiral, led him to believe the expedition was designed for Cork or Limerick. He inferred from the presence of many women on board that a 'Plantation' was meant. It was no false alarm. He announced to Cecil, on October 13, 1601, the landing of a strong body of Spaniards, and their intrenchment, as he had prognosticated, outside the town of Kinsale. His readiness to accept responsibility was met in the same spirit, particularly when Ireland was concerned. Later, Cecil admitted that Ralegh, though no Privy Councillor, was often invited to confer with the Council. Only three months before Elizabeth was seized with her mortal sickness, in 1602, he, with Cecil, was consulted by her on the treatment of Cormac McCarthy, Lord of Muskerry. Cecil was for leniency. Ralegh advised that no mercy should be shown, Cormac McCarthy's country being worth the Queen's keeping. Elizabeth accepted his frankly selfish advice.
[Sidenote: In Parliament.]
He sat as senior member for the County of Cornwall in the Parliament which met on October 27, 1601. He had been previously a Cornish representative, as member for Michell, in the House which was elected in 1593. In November, 1601, he obtained the rejection of a Bill to compel the sowing of hemp for cables and cordage. 'I do not like,' he said, in a spirit much in advance of his age, 'this constraining of men to manure or use their ground at our wills; but rather let every man use his ground to that which it is most fit for, and therein use his own discretion.' The Tillage Act he held up for a warning. It ordered every man to plough a third of his land, often to great loss. The land, 'if unploughed, would have been good pasture for beasts.' Later in the Session he supported a motion for the repeal of that Statute. He pleaded for a subsidy. The Queen wanted it urgently, having in vain raised money by the sale of her own jewels, by loans, and by savings out of her purse and apparel. He argued for its equal payment by every class. The burden he acknowledged was not the same to all, as Bacon had contended, dulcis tractus pari jugo. 'Call you this par jugum,' cried Ralegh, 'when a poor man pays as much as a rich, and peradventure his estate is no better than it is set at, while our estates are L3 or L4 in the Queen's books, and it is not the hundredth part of our wealth?' But he knew all must be taxed, in order that the necessary sums might be levied. In his Prerogative of Parliaments he mentions that he once moved an exemption 'by commandment of Queen Elizabeth, who desired much to spare the common people.' On calculation, it was found that the exemption reduced the subsidy to a trifle. He delivered a 'sharp speech' in his own defence, in a debate against monopolies. The Crown in May, 1599, had arrogated a right of preemption of tin in the Duchy of Cornwall, and had committed the management of the business to the Warden of the Stannaries. Deliverance of the miners from the oppression of the merchants was alleged as the motive. The real object was popularly believed to be the increase of Ralegh's emoluments. In Parliament he took the other ground. Previously, whether tin were 17s. or 50s. a hundred, the workman, he argued, had only 'two shillings a week, finding himself.' Since the grant of his patent, every miner, be tin at what price soever, had 4s. a week truly paid. Yet, if other patents were cancelled, he would, he said, freely consent to the abrogation of his. A great and uncommon silence is reported to have followed this speech. Other patentees in the House were probably not inclined to be as self-denying. He supported a proposal to prohibit the exportation of ordnance, notwithstanding the rise, under the existing law, of the duty to L3000 a year. He said: 'I am sure heretofore one ship of her Majesty's was able to beat ten Spaniards; but now, by reason of our own ordnance, we are hardly matched one to one.' He supported the continuance of the tax for the improvement of Dover harbour. The amount was 1000 marks a year. Mr. Swale objected that the port was never the better. Ralegh thought it one of the best and most necessary harbours in England. The debate might have been held in any of the last dozen Sessions, with as much practical effect. He obtained the rejection, by 106 to 105, of a Bill against recusants. The measure was designed to enforce a more regular attendance in Church on Sundays. Its loss vexed Cecil, who gibed at very flexible consciences.
[Sidenote: Governorship of Jersey.]
Whatever the work in hand, legislation, public administration, or private maritime enterprise, he laboured at it as zealously as if it were his sole business. All his desire was for more and more work. He was not always disappointed in that pursuit. Though his frequent hopes of appointment to the Vice-Chamberlainship or a seat at the Privy Council were constantly foiled, he had been consoled in 1600 with the Governorship of Jersey. On Sir Anthony Paulett's death, the post was conferred upon him, with the lordship of St. Germain. Out of the emoluments he had to pay a rent of L300 to the Crown for the benefit of Lord Henry Seymour. Seymour had been a rival candidate for the Governorship. Ralegh's appointment was one of the irritations of Essex, who befriended another suitor. He speedily visited the island. The passage from Weymouth took him two days and nights at sea. The islanders 'royally entertained him with joy,' wrote Lady Ralegh in October to Cecil. He had told her, she said, that he never saw a pleasanter island; but he protested unfeignedly his post was not in value the very third part that was reported, or that indeed he believed. Without delay he undertook the completion of the fort Isabella Bellissima, 'for the name sake,' he wrote from the island to Cecil on October 15, 1600. He would not think of 'any penny receipt till that piece of work were past the recovery of any enemies.' He deprecated the demolition of Mont Orgueil, 'a stately fort of great capacity,' which had cost more than 20,000 marks. He had left, he said, some men in it at his own charge. He criticised the late Governor's 'immeasurable reckoning' of her Majesty's moneys. In July, 1602, he went again over, and spent several weeks. He saw that the castles were defensible enough, and the country reasonably well provided. The tradition is that he promoted a profitable trade between Jersey and Newfoundland. With Newfoundland he had a near family connexion through Humphrey Gilbert. He instituted a register of Jersey lands, and abolished compulsory service of the inhabitants of the district in the Mont Orgueil garrison. During his visits he sat as judge in the island Court. Faculties and energy with him were elastic. He always had leisure for new labours.
[Sidenote: Maritime Enterprises.]
Above all, his schemes of colonization were never intermitted. Down to 1603 he went on sending expeditions to Virginia. He was as solicitous for Guiana. In October, 1596, he had despatched from Limehouse his pinnace, the Watt, under Captain Leonard Berry. Mr. Thomas Masham's account of the voyage is in Hakluyt. Berry further explored the country. He collected fresh evidence of its fertility, salubrity, and riches, and of the goodwill of the natives towards Englishmen. He returned in June, 1597. His departure from Guiana was accelerated by the importunities of his Indian friends for an alliance with them against a hostile tribe. He feared such a league might prove embarrassing on Ralegh's next visit. Before the Queen's death Ralegh equipped yet another expedition, under Captain Samuel Mace, to look after both his potential dominions of Virginia and Guiana. It effected nothing; but the failure was powerless to impair Ralegh's faith in the value and feasibility of his discoveries.
[Sidenote: Irish Pipe Staves.]
[Sidenote: Sale of Lismore.]
In addition to his many public or semi-public toils, he was busy with a host of private affairs. Until a short time before the Queen's death he owned an extensive Irish as well as an English estate. Property was always for him an incentive to labour. While he had his Irish property he developed it in every possible way. Lismore Castle, which he rented from the See and Chapter of Lismore, he rebuilt. In 1589 he had written to George Carew: 'I pray, if my builders want, supply them.' His factory employed a couple of hundred men in the fabrication of hogsheads. By his influence with the Privy Council he often obtained, in favour of ships which he freighted, a waiver of the restraint of 'the transportation of pipe staves out of the realm of Ireland into the Islands,' that is, the Canaries, and to Seville. The thinnings, he said, of his vast woods sufficed for the supply of materials. He denied that he denuded the land of timber. Against that wasteful and impoverishing practice he constantly remonstrated. There had not been taken, he stated to the Lords of the Council, the hundredth tree. Sir John Pope Hennessy holds a different view, and asserts that no man cut down more timber, to the irreparable hurt of the land. His principle of moderation may, it is possible, have been observed by himself, and not by his agents. Latterly he founded a company to work the property. With his chief partners, Bathurst, and a foreign merchant, Veronio Martens, he complained in 1601 to the English Council that the Undertakers were being robbed by the managing director, Henry Pine or Pyne. A sum of L5000 had, it was affirmed, been expended. Not half had been returned in profits, though Ralegh had received no payment for his wood. The Privy Council listened to the prayer of 'our loving friend, Sir Walter Ralegh,' and instructed Carew, the President of Munster, to forbid Pine to export more pipe staves. Ralegh had other disputes with Pine. At one time he even questioned if Pine had not conspired with his Sherborne bailiff to palm off a forged lease for a long term of the lands of Mogelly. He was involved also in endless disputes with other farm tenants, as an absentee landlord might have expected to be. Ultimately he resolved, by the advice of Carew and of Cecil, to free himself from the burden. In December, 1602, he sold his interest in all, except the old castle of Inchiquin Ralegh. Of that, Katherine, dowager Countess of Desmond, fabled to have been born in 1464, was, and remained till 1604, tenant for life. Boyle, since distinguished as the Great Earl of Cork, bought the rest, lands, castles, and fisheries, with Ralegh's ship Pilgrim thrown in as a make-weight. The amount paid, according to Boyle's assertion, fifteen years later, in reply to Lady Ralegh, and thirty years later, in reply to Carew Ralegh, was a full price for a property at the time, it is admitted, woefully dilapidated. Boyle declared that it was not worth nearly the amount he paid. He complained of having been forced to an expenditure, for which the vendor was liable, of L3700 to clear the title. So shrewd a man of business would hardly have thus defrauded himself. He is sure to have had an excellent bargain. But it does not follow that the arrangement was unfair to a speculative absentee like Ralegh. In his hands the land was notoriously unprofitable. Lady Ralegh's estimate of it as worth L2000 a year at the time cannot be accepted.
[Sidenote: Sherborne Castle.]
Ralegh never parted with a scheme before he had another ready to occupy him. Sherborne more than replaced Lismore as an object of affection, and as a subject of care and anxiety also. He had not spared trouble and outlay on it since the Queen in the height of his favour first gave him a foothold as a lessee. We have seen how, to develop his term into the fee, he created and transplanted Bishops. His assiduity was rewarded in 1598 by Bishop Cotton's accommodating acceptance of a surrender of the lease, and grant of the fee to the Crown, subject to the old rent of L260. From the Crown the fee was conveyed to him. The transfer comprised the lordship of the Hundred of Yetminster, with the manor of Sherborne, five other manors in Dorset and Somerset, and the Castle, lodge, and parks of Sherborne and Castleton. Ralegh added to the estate by buying out leases with his own money, and by the purchase of several adjacent properties. Then he set himself seriously to the perfecting of the whole. He did not stint his expenditure. Sir John Harington says that with less money than he bestowed in building, drawing the river into his garden, and buying out leases, he might, without offence to Church or State, have compassed a much better purchase. He had begun by trying to improve the existing castle. In 1594 he altered his plan, and designed a new house at some distance. Only the centre of the present Sherborne Castle, a four-storied edifice with hexagonal towers at the ends, was erected by him. Aubrey described it as a delicate lodge of brick, not big, but very convenient for the bigness, a place to retire to from the Court in summer time, for contemplation. Digby, when he became its owner, added four wings with a tower to each. Pope visited Lord Bristol there, and has sketched the place in one of his graceful letters to Miss Blount. He dwells particularly on the lofty woods clothing the amphitheatre of hills, the irregular lovely gardens, the masses of honeysuckle, the ruins of the old fortress, the sequestered bowling-green, and the grove Ralegh planted, with the stone seat from which he overlooked the town and minster, and dreamt and smoked. The spirit of Ralegh still dominates Sherborne, after all the efforts of the first Lord Bristol to lay it by swelling the lodge into a sumptuous castle, and of the sixth by turning Capability Brown loose into his pleasure grounds.