[Sidenote: Fresh Accusations.]
At no period were his really formidable enemies inside the Tower. Waad himself would not have dared to harass and worry him, if he had not been confident that his tyranny would be approved at Court. His foes there were perpetually on the watch for excuses for tightening and perpetuating his bonds. He had to defend himself from a suspicion of complicity with the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. Commissioners, of whom Waad was one, were appointed to inquire. Lord Northumberland had been sent to the Tower by the Star Chamber for misprision of treason, on the flimsy pretext of his intimacy with Thomas Percy. He was questioned on his communications at the Tower with Ralegh. Ralegh was questioned on his with the Earl. One day the French ambassador's wife, Madame de Beaumont, came to visit the lions in company with Lady Howard of Effingham. She saw Ralegh in his garden. The Tower contained no lion as wonderful. She asked him for some balsam of Guiana. He forwarded the balsam to the ambassadress by Captain Whitelocke, a retainer of Northumberland's, who happened to have been in her train. Several Lords of the Council were deputed to examine him on his intercourse with Whitelocke, a spy having deposed that he had noticed Whitelocke in the Archduke's company during the summer of 1605. Ralegh had difficulty in persuading the Council that he had seen little either of the Captain, who came only on an ordinary visit, of Northumberland, since the Earl's confinement, or of the French ambassador and his wife. He prayed their Lordships in the name of 'my many sorrows and the causes, my services and love to my country, not to suspect me to be knowing this unexampled and more than devilish invention.' Some of them, with their master, were capable of thinking, or affecting to think, any incredible evil of him, and all belonging to him. It was accounted an alarming circumstance that in the September of 1605 Lady Ralegh, during a visit to Sherborne, had the old arms in the castle scoured.
[Sidenote: Lady Ralegh's Expulsion.]
In 1607 the Council instituted an inquiry into the manner in which Harvey had played the gaoler. Ralegh was brought before it, and interrogated. So was Edward or William Cottrell, described as 'alias Captain Sampson.' He was found to have been living for some time past at Sherborne, perhaps under his alias, on a pension granted him by Ralegh. In terror, or through an offer of better terms, he now confessed his part in the bygone transmission of messages between Ralegh, Keymis, and Cobham. Again, in 1610 some new and shadowy charges were brought against Ralegh. The Council sat at the Tower. On Cecil was thrown the task, we will hope, the very ungrateful task, of addressing to him a solemn rebuke. He was subjected to three months of close imprisonment, and his wife was obliged to leave the Tower. An order was served upon her: 'The Lady Raleighe must understand his Majesty's express will and commandment that she resort to her house on Tower Hill or ellswhere with her women and sonnes to remayne there, and not to lodge hereafter within the Tower.' Ralegh prayed earnestly that she might 'again be made a prisoner with me, as she hath been for six years last past, in this unsavoury place—a miserable fate for her, and yet great to me, who in this wretched estate can hope for no other thing than peaceable sorrow.' The offence for which he was censured and immured was never revealed to the public; for the excellent reason, it may be presumed, that to the public it would have appeared frivolous. His true criminality now and throughout is to be gathered from the testimony of Henry Howard in the year following. In July, 1611, fresh rumours of offences committed by him were spread. Howard, now Earl of Northampton and Lord Chamberlain, and another Privy Councillor, were commissioned to inquire. To Howard's taste, his spirit was not at all sufficiently subdued. In a letter to his notable accomplice and pupil, and the future husband of his great niece, Carr, Lord Rochester and Privy Seal, Howard expressed his spite: 'We had a bout with Sir Walter Ralegh, in whom we find no change, but the same boldness, pride, and passion, that heretofore hath wrought more violently, but never expended itself in a stronger passion. Hereof his Majesty shall hear when the Lords come to him. The lawless liberty of the Tower, so long cockered and fostered with hopes exorbitant, hath bred suitable desires and affections. And yet you may assure his Majesty that by this publication he won little ground.' He gained so little that, as he wrote in this year, he was, after eight years of imprisonment, as straitly locked up as he had been the first day.
[Sidenote: Search for Evidence of Guilt.]
When his imprisonment was most severe, it was moderate for his guilt if he were guilty. In its times of least oppressiveness it was an enormity, if he were innocent. To himself, who knew that he was guiltless of the treason imputed to him, and was convinced that his gaolers knew it, his imprisonment under any conditions appeared a monstrous iniquity. He could never desist from protesting against the wrong. It was the grievance as much of his enemies that they had him fast in prison, and could neither browbeat him into acknowledging the justice of his doom, nor prove its justice. They had obtained his condemnation rather than his conviction. They were incited by his appeals to redoubled efforts to establish his original guilt. Some, the King for example, may, from rooted prejudice, have believed him guilty. No less than his most malignant and unscrupulous foes they resented furiously their inability to demonstrate it. They regarded it as evidence merely of his abominable craft. The ordinary and extraordinary laxity of his confinement indicated their doubt of his fair liability to any. The intervals of rigour were meant to notify to the sceptical that the Government was at last on the track of evidence which would confirm the equity of everything from the beginning done against him. Constantly he had to stand on his defence against attempts to palliate the effrontery of the Winchester judgment by experimental accusations that he had been tampering with new conspiracies. For ten years the contest proceeded between him and the Court on that basis. He asseverated the right of an innocent man to freedom, and the Court went on searching for proofs of its right to put him into captivity. His adversaries might have been content with the degree of ruin they had wrought if he would have acquiesced in his fall. He insisted on regarding himself as living, though he could not deny that he was civilly dead. He looked forth from his prison on the world as a stage on which he still played a part, and might once more lead. He would keep digging up the buried past. He assumed the offensive against the majesty of the law. He was not patient of injustice because a court of justice was its source. He had the audacity to speak, think, and write, as if he were entitled to canvass affairs of State. From his gaol he became audible in the recesses of the Palace. He troubled the self-complacency of its master by teaching his consort and his heir-apparent to question his infallible wisdom.
[Sidenote: Queen Anne's Favour.]
[Sidenote: Cobham's Winchester Letter again.]
Queen Anne perhaps scarcely needed the lesson. She was fond of power, and 'bold and enterprising,' records Sully. Her husband appears to have stood in some awe of her criticisms. She commonly took a line of her own. Henry Howard, whose policy she had opposed before the death of Elizabeth, insinuated that she was a foolish, garrulous, and intriguing woman. She may not have been very wise, but she had generous emotions and courage. She disliked the Spanish connexion, of which she was at one period esteemed a supporter. She admired Ralegh's great qualities and great deeds. His faithful cousin George Carew, her Vice-Chamberlain, would remind her of them. Lady Ralegh, whom she is said on her first arrival from Scotland to have repulsed, had gained her ear and sympathy. She had, from the time of Ralegh's trial, tried to help him. By a medicine of his invention she believed herself subsequently to have been cured of a violent malady. In gratitude she is reported, or fabled, to have gained the King's consent to a re-examination of Cobham's charge against him. Reference has already been made to the story, as told by Sir Anthony Welldon. Cecil, Lenox, Worcester, Suffolk, Carew, and Julius Caesar are said to have been deputed to ask Cobham if he had not really accused Ralegh at Winchester. Cobham answered: 'Never, nor could I; but that villain Waad got me by a trick to write my name upon a piece of white paper, which I, thinking nothing, did; so that, if any charge came under my hand, it was forged by Waad by writing something above my hand.' Then returning to the King the rest chose Cecil for spokesman. He said: 'Sir, my Lord Cobham hath made good all that ever he wrote or said.' Altogether it is a most improbable tale. Waad disliked Ralegh; there is no ground for belief that he would have perpetrated a cold-blooded fraud to gratify his ill-will. He was arrogant and tyrannical, not criminal, as the circumstances of the loss of his Lieutenancy show. The presence of honest and friendly Carew as one of the royal commissioners, renders the account as it stands all but incredible. He certainly would not have been a party to a lying and wicked prevarication. Cecil would not, nor Sir Julius Caesar. But it is one of the many Ralegh myths, with a possible particle of truth in it, which cannot be sifted out of the mass of fiction.
[Sidenote: Ralegh on a Piedmontese Alliance.]
Ralegh built more hopes on the favour of the Prince of Wales than on that of his mother. Prince Henry was of a high spirit. He would have rejoiced in war at which his father shuddered. Through his mother he made Ralegh's acquaintance in his boyhood, and for him the prisoner was a hero. Everybody has heard his saying: 'Who but my father would keep such a bird in a cage!' Ralegh eagerly responded to the advances of one through whom he might become not only free but powerful. The Prince delighted in the company of Ralegh, who states that he had intended the History of the World for him; and he is said to have looked over the manuscript. He consulted Ralegh in 1611 on the proposal by Duke Charles Emmanuel I of Savoy for a double intermarriage. The Elector Palatine was negotiating for the hand of Princess Elizabeth. Spain and the whole Catholic party in Europe dreaded an alliance of the English royal family with German Protestantism. They tried to engage James to affiance Elizabeth to the Duke of Savoy's son, the Prince of Piedmont, and Henry to the Duke's daughter. Ralegh combated the scheme in two Discourses, printed long after his death. The first mainly discussed the plan of Elizabeth's marriage to 'a prince jesuited,' her removal far from her country to a family circle of another faith, a dependent now and ever, as Ralegh not prophetically declared, 'either upon France or upon Spain.' He foreboded how, in default of male heirs in England, 'a Savoyan, of Spanish race, might become King of England.' 'I do prize,' he declared, 'the alliance of the Palatine of the Rhine, and of the House of Nassau, more than I do the alliance of the Duke of Savoy.' In the second Discourse Ralegh argued against the Prince's alliance with Dukes of the blood of Spain, and servants of 'Spain, which to England is irreconcilable.' Such an alliance would increase the jealousy of the Netherlands, a country which was for England a necessary friend. He lamented the present weakness of England, 'through the detested covetousness of some great ones of ours. Whereas, in my time, I have known one of her Majesty's ships command forty Hollanders to strike sail, they will now take us one to one, and not give us a good morrow. They have our own ordnance to break our own bones withal.' Besides, the Prince was only about eighteen. So long as he continued unmarried all the eyes of Christendom were upon him. 'Let him for a while not entangle himself.' When he desired to wed he would find, Ralegh suggested, a French family alliance more honourable and advantageous than a Spanish.
His presumption in meddling with questions of State, and in answering them in a manner opposite to the King's inclination, may have had something to do with the unexplained chastisement inflicted upon him in the summer of 1611. Whatever their cause, rebukes and curtailments of privileges neither silenced him nor lost him the goodwill of his friend. The Prince not long after sought his assistance in the building of a model ship. The vessel was christened 'The Prince,' and it proved an excellent sailer. The prisoner of the Tower wrote about it as if he smelt the sea-breezes. Twenty-nine years earlier he had proved himself a master in the art of ship-building. In his time, as he has recorded, 'the shape of English ships had been greatly bettered.' Much of the credit of the reform is his due. Pett, the best naval architect in the kingdom, in whose family the post of Master Shipwright became almost hereditary, is reported to have been glad to gather hints from him. His communications with the Prince about the ship drew his thoughts back to maritime questions. Beside a letter, admirably terse and critical, to Prince Henry, he composed a treatise minutely practical, called a Discourse of the Invention of Ships, and also Observations concerning the Royal Navy and Sea Service. Both probably were intended for parts of an elaborate work on The Art of War by Sea, which the death of the Prince hindered him from completing. He alludes in the Observations to a Discourse of a Maritimal Voyage, as a previous product of his pen, which, unless it be the Discourse of the Invention of Ships, has disappeared. Had The Art of War by Sea come into systematic being, that might have stood as another of its chapters.
[Sidenote: Robert Cecil's Death.]
Prince Henry's death was the most cruel blow inflicted on him since his trial. The disappointment was the severer that it had been preceded six months earlier by another death on which his friends, and perhaps himself, founded expectations. On May 16, 1612, died Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, and Lord High Treasurer. He was hastening to Court, to countermine his underminers, from Bath, where he had been taking the waters. At the inn at Marlborough he found himself grievously ill. He was removed, it has been variously stated, either to the parsonage, or to the house of a Mr. Daniel, which had formerly been St. Margaret's Priory. There he expired.
[Sidenote: Dumb Enmity.]
A born statesman, Cecil had been condemned by a passion for affairs, and incapacity for dispensing with office, to serve a great sovereign in little ways, and to emphasize or dissemble a feeble sovereign's feebleness. As a friend he could relieve adversity so far as not to cancel it; but he could not pardon in a companion prosperity which threatened rivalry, or risk his share of sunshine by screening a victim of popular and regal odium. By no class was he profoundly lamented. Veteran and well-endowed officials seldom are. Ralegh, it is to be feared, was never among the mourners. He had received benefits from Cecil, and acknowledged them thankfully. He could not forgive an acquaintance, who must have known his innocence of treason, for letting his life be blasted by the charge. He could not understand that the statesman and potent courtier, whose fortunes at no time were visibly clouded, should be unable, or honestly think himself unable, to lift a persecuted comrade out of the mire. If Cecil did not come effectually to the rescue, he believed, at any rate at last, that it was because he would not. Cecil read his mind, had no faith in his gratitude, and accounted the duties of a dead friendship discharged by attempts to mitigate rather than to reverse his doom. Harassed by business and the toil of keeping his slippery footing, he would feel chiefly a dull irritation at the captive, whether guiltless or guilty, for the obstinacy of his dispute with accomplished facts. He ought, the Minister, like his avowed enemies, would think, to have acquiesced, and been still. Thus the two went on, mutually scornful and mistrustful, exchanging soft phrases which neither meant. The true condition of their hearts was not hidden from bystanders. They never confessed it one to the other, or frankly to themselves.
Historical scavengers, Aubrey and Osborn, have attributed to Ralegh's pen a coarse and truculent epigram on the dead statesman under the name of Hobbinol. John Shirley, Ralegh's honest but credulous biographer, in 1677, also alleges him to have been the author, 'on very good grounds,' by which probably is signified nothing better than common gossip. Aubrey vouches in support statements made to him by Mr. Justice Malet, who is not known to have had any especial means of procuring information. Mr. Edwards believes it to be genuine. I cannot, though King James's alleged expression of a 'hope that the writer of those lines might die before him,' of which he was so careful to secure the fulfilment, has to be discarded with it. The evidence for Ralegh's authorship is exceedingly weak; and the rude verses are marked by none of his elegance of style. But the attempt to father so wretched a foundling upon him is proof the more of the popular perception of the dissembled estrangement. In a less undignified shape than a scurrilous epitaph on a dishonest shepherd, the bitterness Ralegh felt was sometimes openly exhibited. It is not discernible merely in collective insinuations against men whose ascendency in the royal council had been his 'infelicity.' When he had an opportunity it found a vent in a formal written accusation against the dead Lord Treasurer of having violated his duty to the King and the Exchequer by diverting to his own use the mass of Cobham's forfeited wealth. Gradually, brooding over his wrongs, he had accustomed himself to think Cecil not only the egotist he was, but an unscrupulous plotter, who wished to keep under lock and key a man able to unmask his rapacity. The Minister's death would appear to him to have cleared the board for new and happier combinations in his favour.
[Sidenote: Prince Henry.]
[Sidenote: The Prince's Death.]
The Prince of Wales had at eighteen developed a will both resolute and impetuous, to which the death of a veteran statesman like Cecil was sure to have afforded freer scope. He did not disguise either his discontent at the policy of his father's favourite advisers, or his preference for ambitious projects such as Ralegh was known to cherish. Ralegh never had reason to doubt the sincerity of his admiration. There seemed no more ground for uncertainty as to the Prince's immediate influence on his behalf than as to the benefits to be derived from the youth's eventual accession to the throne. Henry was said to have extracted a promise from James of Ralegh's liberation at Christmas, 1612. November came, and the Prince lay dying of a raging fever. The Queen sent to the Tower for the medicine which had cured her. Ralegh despatched it with a letter, asserting that it would certainly heal this or any other case of fever, unless there were poison. A vehement debate followed among the Lords of the Council and the doctors, including the Genevese physician, Dr., afterwards Sir, Theodore Mayerne. Finally, the potion was administered. The patient, who had been speechless, revived sufficiently to speak. But it did not save his life. The populace and the Queen believed that it had been ineffectual because there had been poison. Forty years later, Carew Ralegh referred to the rumour as still credited. At the time it was repeated on the judicial bench. Sir Thomas Monson in 1615 was being tried for complicity in the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury. Coke, become Chief Justice, insinuated with his usual discretion and fairness at the trial that Overbury was poisoned from fear that he might, through hostility to Carr, divulge his guilty knowledge of a similar crime against 'a sweet Prince.'
Prince Henry's death blasted the prospect of Ralegh's ultimate restoration to royal favour, as well as to immediate liberty. It inflicted a less, but very vexatious, disappointment. After a protracted struggle he had been stripped of his Dorsetshire estate. Sherborne, he might have reckoned, was indefeasibly safe. Its enjoyment for his life was covered by the term for sixty years. The settlement of 1602 seemed to have set the inheritance out of danger. But in the course, perhaps, of the legal investigation with a view to the grant of the term for the benefit of Ralegh's wife and children, a flaw was detected in the conveyance of the fee. Little cause as Ralegh had to respect the impartiality of Popham and Coke in criminal procedure, he retained full confidence in their legal learning. To them in 1604, at his own earnest request, the deed of 1602 was submitted by Cecil. Their opinion on it was clear and fatal. They could have given no other. The essential words of a conveyance in trust, that the trustees shall stand thereof seised to the uses specified, had, Popham wrote to Cecil on June 7, 1605, been omitted. Popham believed the omission to have been due to the carelessness of the engrossing clerk. Through it the estate had remained wholly in Ralegh. Consequently, by his attainder it was forfeited. Lady Ralegh sought an audience of James. She prayed him not to take advantage of the forfeiture. With the facility which was compatible equally with generosity and with rapacious injustice, he promised. He directed Cecil to have a grant to her and her children prepared. It never was. At first the preposterous suspicion of Ralegh's sympathy with the Gunpowder Plot may have caused delay. Later the King discovered that he wanted the property for his own purposes. Alarmed at his own propensity for indulging the caprice of the moment, and mindful of the extent to which the Scottish Crown had been pauperized by royal improvidence, he had accepted a self-denying ordinance. By this he bound himself not to grant away the patrimony of the Crown. For the endowment of favourites he had to rely, therefore, on windfalls from attainders and escheats. Robert Carr now had to be provided for. Sherborne happened to suit his taste, and the Ralegh family had to be ejected.
[Sidenote: Lady Ralegh and the King.]
[Sidenote: Escheat of Sherborne.]
Proceedings were commenced in 1607 on the Attorney-General's Information to establish the claim of the Crown. Lady Ralegh again knelt before the King. She implored a waiver of the forfeiture in her and young Walter's favour. James rejected her petition either silently, or, according to Carew Ralegh, with the ejaculation, 'I mun have the land; I mun have it for Carr.' In a petition he addressed to the Long Parliament, Carew related that she fell down upon her knees, with her young sons beside her, and in the bitterness of her spirit invoked the vengeance of Heaven upon those who had so wrongfully exposed her and her poor children to ruin and beggary. James was used to her supplications for justice, and to repulsing them. In the previous autumn she had knelt to him at Hampton Court for her husband's liberty, and been passed without a word. Ralegh himself wasted upon Carr an eloquent prayer that he would not begin his first buildings upon the ruins of the innocent. He entreated him not to 'give me and mine our last fatal blow by obtaining from his Majesty the inheritance of my children and nephews, lost in law for want of words.' He made the attempt after his manner of neglecting no possibility. He can have put little trust in royal justice, and less in a worthless minion's magnanimity. Early in January, 1608, the Court of Exchequer decided against the validity of the conveyance. Chamberlain wrote on January 10, 1608, to Dudley Carleton: 'Sir Walter Ralegh's estate is fallen into the King's hands by reason of a flaw in the conveyance. He hath bestowed it on Sir Robert Carr. And though the Lady Ralegh hath been an importunate suitor all these holidays in her husband's behalf, yet it is past recall. So that he may say, with Job, Naked came I into the world, &c. But, above all, one thing is to be noticed: the error or oversight is said to be so gross that men do merely ascribe it to God's own hand that blinded him and his counsel.'
Apparently the case was too technically plain against the deed for it to be seriously defended. Ralegh before the formal judgment had assented, under protest, to a proposal for the conveyance of his wife's and son's interest during his life to the Crown for a sum of L5000 to be paid the next year. For the remainder in fee he and she both struggled a while longer. Finally, formal judgment having been given for the Crown on October 27, 1608, they agreed to convey absolutely the entire interest for an annuity of L400, to be paid for the lives of lady Ralegh and young Walter, in lieu of Lady Ralegh's right to jointure out of the estate, and for a capital sum of L8000. In this the L5000 was to merge. The annuity was often in arrear. Part of the L8000 was paid down, and Ralegh lent it on mortgage to the dowager Countess of Bedford. For the rest the Exchequer not very regularly paid interest. The rental of the Sherborne lands was L750. This at sixteen years' purchase was L12,000. Consequently, it has been urged, the Crown did not drive a hard bargain. They who thus argue confess to some perplexity how the property could shortly afterwards have been, as it was, valued against Carr himself at L20,000 or L25,000. They have forgotten that the L750 rental does not allow for the worth of the house Ralegh had built, and for its costly embellishments.
[Sidenote: Vicissitudes of Ownership.]
[Sidenote: Sale to Digby.]
Ralegh, with the certainty of a legal declaration of the forfeiture of the fee, had reluctantly assented to the compromise. He was weary and sick. He would be glad, he wrote, never to hear the place named thenceforth. Not so easily could he divorce himself from it. There was his old bailiff, whose insolent persecution tied him to the estate. In April, 1610, Meere had the effrontery to offer to prove by a letter, probably forged, that Ralegh had promised him L100 a-year to conceal a set of frauds. His own heart cherished a lingering hope of a restoration of the property after all. In 1612 it seemed to be on the point of returning to him. Prince Henry expressed his indignation that a place of so much strength and beauty should have been given away, and had begged it of his father in the summer. James consented, and compensated Carr with L25,000 or L20,000. Ralegh and his friends believed that the Prince meant to bestow it on him with his freedom. On the Prince's death in November it reverted to the Crown, which sold a lease of it to Sir Robert Phillips. The transaction was speedily cancelled, and James gave the place back to Carr for the sum of L20,000, which, if not more, he had received. Three years later Carr's attainder shifted it over once again. Villiers might have had it, and refused. He would not, he said, have his fortune built upon another man's ruins. His contemporaries thought he might have been influenced also by fear of Bishop Osmund's curse upon all who should take Sherborne from the bishopric. Had he accepted it, Felton's dagger would have been considered one of the curse's instruments. At all events, he did not lose by his generous sentiment. Eleven manors were bestowed upon him instead, as was recited in their grant, of the Manor of Sherborne intended for him. Thereupon the property was sold to Sir John Digby, subsequently Lord Digby of Sherborne and Earl of Bristol, for L10,000, supplemented by gratuitous diplomatic services in Spain. Long afterwards, as we shall see, Carew Ralegh tried to revive the hereditary claim. Ralegh himself ceased to prosecute it after Prince Henry's death.
SCIENCE AND LITERATURE (1604-1615).
[Sidenote: Chemical Researches.]
In prison as in freedom, if Ralegh failed in one effort for the reconstruction whether of his fortune, or of his career, he was always ready for another. He felt all the tedium of the uphill struggle. 'Sorrow rides the ass,' he exclaimed; 'prosperity the eagle.' Never for an instant was he dejected to the extent of faltering in the energy of his protests against the endeavours to suppress him. As Mr. Rossetti has noted in an exquisite sonnet, his mind remained always at liberty. His avocations and interests were enough to engage a dozen ordinary lives. He had always been interested in chemical experiments. He had studied the qualities of metals. In August, 1602, Carew mentioned to Cecil that he had been sending over to Ralegh from Munster 'many sorts of ore' to prove. Within his Tower garden he equipped an assaying furnace. Cecil occasionally visited it and him to inquire about the results. He is supposed to have written a Treatise of Mines and the Trial of Minerals. It has been thought he was associated with Sir Adrian Gilbert in working during Elizabeth's reign the ancient and neglected silver mines at Combe Martin. Long afterwards he agreed to join Boyle in working a Munster copper mine. Beside his furnace he had his laboratory at the foot of Bloody tower. He had always been fond of chemistry. A learned book on it had been dedicated to him as to an expert in the days of his grandeur. Oldys saw in Sir Hans Sloane's library a manuscript collection in Ralegh's own hand of Chemical and Medicinal Receipts. Now, in his enforced leisure, he threw himself ardently into the pursuit of experimental philosophy in many directions. He is said to have learnt how to cure common English tobacco in the Tower, so that he made it equal to American. The Royal Agricultural Society a few years since would have been grateful for his discovery. He is known to have discovered in the Tower the art of condensing fresh water from salt. He applied the process during his subsequent voyage to Guiana, though the secret was afterwards lost for two centuries. He was especially eager in the study of drugs. Waad wrote to Cecil in 1605 that he 'doth spend his time all the day in distillations in a little hen-house in the garden, which he hath converted into a still-house.' Sampson, a chemist, served him as operator for twelve years. Materials were brought to him by his old comrades and servants from all parts, and he experimented on their properties. He kept a stock of spices and essences, which sometimes he gave away, and sometimes sold. Great French ladies, we have seen, begged balms of him. A letter is preserved from one Zechelius of Nuremberg, complaining of his neglect to send some sassafras he had promised.
[Sidenote: The Great Cordial.]
His drugs gained fame for cures, and sometimes for the reverse. He had presented some to Overbury. Ill-natured gossip attributed the death of the Countess of Rutland on September 1, 1612, to pills of his composition. The wonder is that in neither case was any sinister motive charged. On the other hand, his Great Cordial or Elixir, which is not to be confounded with his Simple Cordial, was credited with astonishing virtues, and devoutly imbibed. His exact prescription for it is no longer extant. It is not clear whether he ever divulged the quantities as well as the ingredients. As specified by himself it might not have the air of quackery, which, it cannot be denied, surrounds the receipt handed down to posterity. Charles the Second's apothecary, Nicholas le Febre, or le Febure, compounded it for the royal use, and printed an account in 1664. Evelyn relates that he accompanied Charles to see the preparation in 1662. But le Febre, Kenelm Digby, and Alexander Fraser tampered with the original. It is acknowledged that Fraser added the flesh, heart, and liver of vipers, and the mineral unicorn. Other liberties, it may be apprehended, were taken. The receipt as drawn up by le Febre reads like a botanist's catalogue interpolated with oriental pearls, ambergris, and bezoardic stones, to add mystery. The old London Pharmacopoeia gave a simpler receipt, in which the ingredients were zedoary and saffron, distilled with crabs' claws, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom seeds, and sugar.
[Sidenote: Political Disquisitions.]
Physical science did not occupy all his leisure. He wrote much. At different periods of his imprisonment, which cannot be precisely fixed, he composed a variety of treatises. He discussed many questions of politics, theoretical and practical. In his Prerogative of Parliaments he undertook to prove by an elaborate survey of past relations between the Crown and the Legislature, that the royal power gains and does not lose through regular and amicable relations with the House of Commons. The Savoy Marriage is a demonstrative argument against the proposed double family alliance between Savoy and the House of Stuart. Of that, and of his Discourse of the Invention of Ships, his Observations concerning the Royal Navy and Sea Service, and the Letter to Prince Henry on the Model of a Ship, I have already spoken. He composed A Discourse on War in General, which is very sententious. From his notebooks he collected, in his Arts of the Empire and The Prince, better known as Maxims of State, a series of wise, almost excessively wise, thoughts which had occurred to him in the course of his eager reading. An essay on the Seat of Government, and Observations concerning the Causes of the Magnificency and Opulency of Cities, show equal exuberance of learning, chiefly classical, though they cannot be said to be very conclusive. The former reads as if it had been meant for an introduction to a contemplated ampler view of polity. He must have studied not merely general, but economic politics, if the Observations touching Trade and Commerce with the Hollander and other Nations be by him. That remains a matter of doubt. Both Oldys and a recent German writer ascribe the work, published under five varying titles, to John Keymer, the Cambridge vintner, who is said to have composed, about 1601, Observations upon the Dutch Fishery. Ralegh more commonly has the credit of it. The dissertation, first printed inaccurately, and under a different heading, in 1650, shows minute statistical information, though it propounds, as might be expected, not a few economic fallacies. Its aim is the not very generous one of abstracting the carrying trade from Holland. The author engages, if he should be empowered to inquire officially, to enrich the King's coffers with a couple of millions in two or three years.
[Sidenote: Moral and Metaphysical Essays.]
Ralegh is alleged to have written on the state, power, and riches of Spain. He has had attributed to him a Premonition to Princes; A Dialogue, in 1609, between a Jesuit and a Recusant; A Discourse on Spanish Cruelties to Englishmen in Havanna, and others on the relations of France, England, and Spain, and the meaning of the words Law and Right. He expatiated in the field of practical morals in his celebrated Instructions to his Son and to Posterity. The treatise makes an unpleasant impression with its hard, selfish, and somewhat sensual dogmatism. In extenuation it must be recollected that it was addressed to a hot and impetuous youth. He cultivated a taste for metaphysics. The Sceptic and A Treatise on the Soul are exemplifications of it. The former, as it stands, is an apology for 'neither affirming, nor denying, but doubting.' Probably the intention, not carried out, was to have composed an answer in defence of faith. It is affirmed, as matter beyond scepticism, that bees are born of bulls, and wasps of horses. The Treatise on the Soul is a performance of more mark. The profusion of its learning is enough to prevent surprise, whatever the quantity of knowledge displayed by the writer elsewhere. It is memorable for a fine burst of indignation at the denial by some men that women possess souls, and for several marvellous subtleties. For instance, the necessity of the theory that man begets soul as well as body, is alleged, since the contrary is said to involve the blasphemous absurdity that God assists adultery by having to bestow souls upon its fruits. In the Oxford edition of Ralegh's works, A Discourse of Tenures which were before the Conquest is also included. So versatile was Ralegh that he has thus been assumed to have even amassed the lore of a black-letter lawyer. Its authenticity nevertheless does not seem to have been questioned. That of the Life and Death of Mahomet has been, and on very sufficient grounds. The Dutiful Advice of a Loving Son to his Aged Father falls within a different category. It is not more likely than Steele's counterfeit letter in the Englishman to Prince Henry against the phrase 'God's Vicegerent,' or Bolingbroke's attacks, in Ralegh's name, upon Walpole in the Craftsman Extraordinary, to have been put forth with any notion that it would be believed to be his. Some editors have supposed it to be a libel upon him by an enemy. Any reader who peruses it dispassionately will see that it is sufficiently reverent pleading against the postponement of repentance to the hour of death, written by an admirer of Ralegh's style, with no purpose either of ridicule or of imposture.
[Sidenote: Posthumous Publications.]
Dissertations which were undoubtedly his circulated in manuscript, and were printed posthumously, if ever. A Report of the Truth of the Fight about the Isles of Azores, the Discovery of Guiana, and the History of the World, alone of his many prose writings appeared in his lifetime. The Prerogative of Parliaments in England was not published till 1628, and then first at Middleburg. Milton had the Arts of Empire printed for the first time in 1658, under the title of The Cabinet Council, by the ever-renowned Knight Sir Walter Ralegh. Dr. Brushfield, in his excellent Ralegh Bibliography, suggests that Wood may have meant this essay by the Aphorisms of State, to which he alludes as having been published in 1661 by Milton, and as identical with Maxims of State. Others of his writings have disappeared altogether. David Lloyd, in his Observations on the Statesmen and Favourites of England, published in 1665, states that John Hampden, shortly before the Civil Wars, was at the charge of transcribing 3452 sheets of Ralegh's writing. The published essays with his name attached to them do not nearly account for this vast mass. It may be suggested as a possible hypothesis that Hampden's collection comprised the manuscript materials for both parts of the History. Some compositions of his are known to have been lost. That has been the fate of his Treatise of the West Indies, mentioned by himself in the dedication of his Discovery of Guiana, and also of a Description of the River of the Amazons, if it were correctly assigned to him by Wood. Most of all to be regretted, if Jonson or Drummond is to be believed, is the life Jonson, at Hawthornden, alleged 'S.W.', that is, Sir Walter, to have written of Queen Elizabeth, 'of which there are copies extant.' As a writer of prose, no less than as a poet, he had little literary vanity. He wrote for a purpose, and often for one pair of eyes. When the occasion had passed he did not care to register the author's title.
[Sidenote: History of the World.]
The weightiness of thought, the enormous scope, the stateliness without pedantry or affectation, and the nobility of style, of one literary product of his imprisonment insured it against any such casualty. Of all the enterprises ever achieved in captivity none can match the History of the World. The authors of Pilgrim's Progress and Don Quixote showed more literary genius, and as much elasticity of spirit. Their works did not exact the same constancy and inflexibility of effort. Mr. Macvey Napier has well said: 'So vast a project betokens a consciousness of intellectual power which cannot but excite admiration.' Ralegh may himself not have commenced by realising the gigantic comprehensiveness of his undertaking. An accepted theory has been that his primary idea was a history of his own country, not of the world. It has been usual to cite a sentence of the preface in proof. The passage does not confirm the hypothesis. It runs: 'Beginning with the Creation, I have proceeded with the history of our world; and lastly proposed, some few sallies excepted, to confine my discourse within this our renowned island of Great Britain.' Here is no intimation that he had begun by setting before him for his text English history, and that the history of the world was an enlarged introduction. If his own words are to be believed, his survey of universal antiquity was as much part of his scheme as English history. Only, as he proceeded, the mass of details would necessarily thicken, and he would be compelled to narrow his inquiries. Having to choose, he naturally selected the nation which he regarded as the heir of successive empires, a race more valiant than the warriors, whether of Macedon or of Rome. But he distinctly preferred as a historical subject antiquity to recent times. As he says, 'Whosoever in writing a modern history shall follow truth too near the heels, it may haply strike out his teeth.'
[Sidenote: Breviary of the History of England.]
It has been conjectured that he had already, before the History received its final shape, experimented on the more contracted or concentrated theme to which he purposed ultimately to devote himself. Archbishop Sancroft possessed a short manuscript entitled a Breviary of the History of England under William the First. This was printed in 1693 without the Archbishop's consent, under the title An Introduction to the Breviary of the History of England, with the Reign of King William I, entitled the Conqueror. Sancroft, a good judge, considered the work in all its parts much like Ralegh's way of writing, and worthy of him. Though the language is more careless than Ralegh's, and the tone is less elevated, there is a resemblance in the diction. But much importance cannot be attached to a general similarity in the style of compositions belonging to the same age. Sancroft had the manuscript from an old Presbyterian in Hertfordshire, 'which sort of men were always the more fond of Sir Walter's books because he was under the displeasure of the Court.' Other manuscript copies also ascribe the authorship to Ralegh. The book, which shows research, but is not very accurate, is almost identical with the corresponding portion of the poet Samuel Daniel's Collection of the History of England, printed in 1618, and entered originally in the Register of the Stationers as a Breviary of the History of England. Daniel introduces his narrative with the words: 'For the work itself I can challenge nothing therein, but only the serving, and the observation of necessary circumstances with inferences.' Ralegh, though it is not very likely, may have given the fragment to Daniel for use in his history. Clearly he had formed a project of writing a history of England himself. In an undated letter from the Tower he asks Sir Robert Cotton to lend him thirteen authors, 'wherein I can read any of our written antiquities, or any old French history, wherein our nation is mentioned, or any else in what language soever.' It is not impossible that the Breviary, if in any way it were his, led him on to his gigantic enterprise, which by its expansion, unfortunately or fortunately, usurped all the leisure he had prospectively appropriated to his native annals. But the composition of an elaborate history by him was no accident, though the choice of the particular subject may have been.
[Sidenote: Studies for the History.]
Whatever the original design, the History in its final shape demanded encyclopaedic research and learning. Necessarily the preparation for it and its composition employed several years. The number is not known. Ralegh is alleged to have begun to collect and arrange his matter in 1607. The date is purely conjectural. Sir John Pope Hennessy imagines that the preliminary investigations may be traced much farther back. Ralegh quotes in his book Peter Comestor's Scholastica Historia, an abstract of Scripture history, which has been found, with other remnants of an old monastic library, in a recess behind the wainscot of Ralegh's bedroom, next to his study in the house at Youghal. Mr. Samuel Hayman, the historiographer of Youghal, writing in 1852, states that the discovery was made a few years before, and that the books had probably been 'hidden at the period of the Reformation.' Sir John conjectures that Ralegh may have been taking notes from the collection 'for the opus magnum during his frequent Irish exiles.' An objection is that, according to Mr. Hayman, the authority cited by Sir John, Comestor's volume, with its companions, must have been secreted before Ralegh resided at Youghal, and have remained concealed till he had been dead for two centuries. In one sense he had been in training for the enterprise during his whole life; in another the actual work doubtless was accomplished after he felt that he was destined to a long term of imprisonment. He had always been a lover of books. In the midst of his adversities he spared L50 as a contribution towards the establishment of the Bodleian Library. When he was most deeply immersed in affairs he had made time for study. As Aubrey says, probably with complete truth, he was no slug, and was up betimes to read. On every voyage he carried a trunk full of books. During his active life, when business occupied thirteen hours of the twenty-four, he is said by Shirley to have reduced his sleeping hours to five. He was thus able to devote four to study, beside two for conversation. He loved research; and his name is in a list of members of the Society of Antiquaries formed by Archbishop Parker, which, though subsequently dissolved, was the precursor of the present learned body bearing the name. In the Tower he could read without stint. He possessed a fair library. From the company of his books, writes Sir John Harington, he drew more true comfort than ever from his courtly companions in their chiefest bravery.
[Sidenote: Care for Accuracy.]
Formerly, his reading necessarily had been desultory. For his History it had to be concentrated. He distrusted the exactness of his information, and was willing to accept advice freely. For criticism, Greek, Mosaic, Oriental and remoter antiquities, he consulted the learned Robert Burhill. Hariot had since 1606 been lodging or boarding in the Tower at the charge of the munificent Earl of Northumberland. He, Hues, and Warner were the Earl's 'three magi.' For chronology, mathematics, and geography, Ralegh relied upon him. 'Whenever he scrupled anything in phrase or diction,' he would refer his doubt to that accomplished serjeant-at-law, John Hoskyns or Hoskins. Hoskyns, now remembered, if at all, by some poor little epigrams, belongs to the class of paragons of one age, whose excellence later ages have to take on trust. He is described by an admirer as the most ingenious and admired poet of his time. Wotton loved his company. Ben Jonson considered him his 'father' in literature: ''Twas he that polished me.' In the summer of 1614 he became, in consequence of a speech in the House of Commons, Ralegh's fellow prisoner. He is said to have revised the History before it went to press. Ralegh's intense desire to secure accuracy, his avowal of it, and its notoriety, have given occasion for charges against his title to the credit of the total result. Ben Jonson and Algernon Sidney are the only independent authorities for the calumny. But it has been caught up by other writers, especially by Isaac D'Israeli, who seems to have thought charges brought, as Mr. Bolton Corney showed, on the flimsiest evidence, of an impudent assumption of false literary plumage, in no way inconsistent with fervid admiration for the alleged pretender.
[Sidenote: Borrowed Learning.]
Ben Jonson was associated incidentally in the work. He prefaced it with a set of anonymous verses explanatory of an allegorical frontispiece. The manuscript of them was found among his papers. They have always been included in his Underwoods. Though the version there differs materially from that prefixed to the History, no reasonable doubt of his authorship of both exists. His omission openly to claim the lines is supposed, not unreasonably, by Mr. Edwards, to have been due to his fear of the prejudice his favour at Court might sustain from an open connexion with a fame so odious there as Ralegh's. But a year after Ralegh's death he boasted over his liquor to civil sneering Drummond at Hawthornden, of other 'considerable' contributions. He had written, he said, 'a piece to him of the Punic War, which Sir Walter altered and set in his book.' In general, the best wits of England were, he asserted, engaged in the production. Algernon Sidney, in his posthumous Discourses concerning Government, repeated this insinuation of borrowed plumes of learning. Ralegh, he stated, was 'so well assisted in his History of the World, that an ordinary man with the same helps might have performed the same thing.' This is all bare assertion, and refuted by the internal evidence of the volume itself, which in its remarkable consistency of style, method and thought, testifies to its emanation from a single mind. Ralegh had himself explained with a manly frankness, which ought to have disarmed suspicion, the extent to which alone he was indebted for assistance. In his preface he admits he was altogether ignorant of Hebrew. When a Hebrew passage did not occur in Arias Montanus, or in the Latin character in Sixtus Senensis, he was at a loss. 'Of the rest,' he says, 'I have borrowed the interpretation of some of my learned friends; yet, had I been beholden to neither, yet were it not to be wondered at; having had an eleven years' leisure to attain to the knowledge of that or any other tongue.' As a whole, the History must be recognised as truly his own, his not only in its multitude of grand thoughts and reflections, but in the narrative and general texture. It cannot be the less his that some of the 660 authors it cites may have been searched for him by assistants.
[Sidenote: Period of Publication.]
As early as 1611 he must have settled the scheme, and even the title, of the book. On April 15 in that year notice was given in the Registers of the Stationers' Company of 'The History of the World, written by Sir Walter Rawleighe.' Part may be presumed to have been by that time written, and shown to Prince Henry. Three years passed before actual publication. Camden fixes that on March 29, 1614. Though it is almost impossible to think Camden in error, yet, if the story of the perusal of the manuscript by Serjeant Hoskyns be true, and apply, as has been presumed, to the period of the Serjeant's imprisonment, the publication must have been half a year or more later. The later date would also accord better with a rumour of the suppression of the volume at the beginning of 1615. The publisher was Walter Burre, of the sign of the Crane in St. Paul's Churchyard. Burre published several works for Ben Jonson; and out of that circumstance has been constructed the statement that Jonson superintended the publication of the History for Ralegh. The form was that of a massive folio, at a price vaguely put by Alexander Ross at 'twenty or thirty shillings.' The edition was struck off in two issues, the errata of the first being corrected in the second. None of the extant copies of either issue possess a title-page, or contain any mention of the writer's name. The explanation may be the modesty or the pride which had led him habitually to neglect the personal glory of authorship, apprehension of the odium in which his name was held at Court, or a reason which will be mentioned hereafter. There is an engraved frontispiece by Renold Elstracke, the most elaborate of its kind known in English bibliography. A naval battle in the North Atlantic is depicted, and the course of the river Orinoko, with various symbolical figures. Ben Jonson's lines point its application. All the pages of the volume bear the heading, 'The First Part of the History of the World.'
For modern readers a defect of the work is the learning, which was the wonder and admiration of contemporaries. Since Ralegh's time the historical method, and historical criticism, have been entirely changed. The mass of historical evidences has been immensely increased, and their quality is as different as their quantity. Ralegh had studied the researches of his learned contemporaries. He had expended much thought on the reconciliation of apparent inconsistencies. From the point of view of his own time he was successful. Often he satisfied others better than himself. Thus, he acknowledges with vexation his inability to divide exactly the seventy years of the Jewish captivity among the successive kings of Babylon. Had he been not merely a disciple of the great scholars of his age, but himself a pioneer, his dissertations and conclusions would equally have been drowned in the flood of later knowledge. His information is become superannuated. The metaphysical subtleties which he loved to introduce no longer delight or surprise. With all this there is much in the work which can never be obsolete, or cease to interest and charm. He himself is always near at hand, sometimes in front. He does not shun to be discerned in the evening of a tempestuous life, crippled with wounds aching and uncured. He does not repress, he hails, opportunities for sallying outside his subject. He is easily tempted to tell of the tactics by which the Armada was vanquished, and how the battle might have had another issue had Howard been misled by malignant fools that found fault. He recollects how he won Fayal. He pauses in his narrative of Alexander's victories to glorify English courage. He does homage to the invincible constancy of Spain, and avows her right to all its rewards, if she would 'but not hinder the like virtue in others.' The story suddenly gleams with flashes of natural eloquence and insight. Nowhere is there stagnation. His characters are very human, and very dramatic. King Artaxerxes is shown wearing a manly look when half a mile off, till the Greeks, for whom the bravery was not meant, espied his golden eagle, and drew rudely near. Queen Jezebel is visible and audible, with her paint, which more offended the dogs' paunches than her scolding tongue troubled the ears of Jehu, struggling in vain with base grooms, who contumeliously did hale and thrust her. There Demetrius revels, discovering at length in luxurious captivity the happiness he had convulsed the world with travail and bloodshed to attain. Pyrrhus is painted to the life, flying from one adventure to another, which was indeed the disease he had, whereof not long after he died in Argos. Characters are drawn with an astonishing breadth, depth, and decision. Nothing in Tacitus surpasses the epitaph on Epaminondas, the worthiest man that ever was bred in that nation of Greece. Everywhere are happy expressions, with wisdom beneath. It is a history for the nurture of virtuous citizens and generous kings, for the confusion of sensuality and selfishness.
[Sidenote: The Moral.]
The narrative rises and falls with the occasion; it is always bright and apt. Charles James Fox bracketed Bacon, Ralegh, and Hooker, as the three writers of prose who most enriched the English language in the period between 1588 and 1640. The diction of the History establishes Ralegh's title to the praise. It is clear, flowing, elastic, and racy, and laudably free, as Hallam has testified, from the affectation and passion for conceits, the snare of contemporary historians, preachers, and essayists. If Pope, as Spence represents, rejected Ralegh's works as 'too affected' for one of the foundations of an English dictionary, he must have been talking at random. At all events, he contradicted his own judgment deliberately expressed in authentic verse. For style, for wit, mother wit and Court wit, and for a pervading sense that the reader is in the presence of a sovereign spirit, the History of the World will, to students now as to students of old, vindicate its rank as a classic. But its true grandeur is in the scope of the conception, which exhibits a masque of the Lords of Earth, 'great conquerors, and other troublers of the world,' rioting in their wantonness and savagery, as if Heaven cared not or dared not interpose, yet made to pay in the end to the last farthing of righteous vengeance. They are paraded paying it often in their own persons, wrecked, ruined, humiliated; and always in those of their descendants. At times it has seemed as if God saw not. In truth 'He is more severe unto cruel tyrants than only to hinder them of their wills.' Israelite judges, Assyrian kings, Alexander, the infuriate and insatiable conqueror, May-game monarchs like Darius, Rehoboam with his 'witless parasites,' so unlike wise, merciful, generous King James and his, Antiochus, 'acting and deliberating at once, in the inexplicable desire of repugnancies, which is a disease of great and overswelling fortunes,' Consul AEmilius, sacking all innocent Epirus to show his vigour, down to Henry the Eighth, 'pattern of a merciless prince,' none of them escaped without penalties in their households; none elude their condemnation and sentences, sometimes, as in the case of Alexander, it may be deemed, a little too austere, before the tribunal of posterity. On moves the world's imperial pageant; now slowly and somewhat heavily, through the domain of Scriptural annals, with theological pitfalls at every step for the reputed free-thinker; now, as Greek and Roman confines are reached, with more ease and animation; always under the conduct as if of a Heaven-commissioned teacher with a message to rulers, that no 'cords have ever lasted long but those which have been twisted by love only.' Throughout are found an instinct of the spirit of events and their doers, a sense that they are to be judged as breathing beings, and not as mummies, an affection for nobility of aim and virtuous conduct, a scorn of rapacity, treachery, selfishness, and cruelty, which account better for the rapture of contemporaries, than for the neglect of the History of the World in the present century.
[Sidenote: Popular Favour.]
It was hailed enthusiastically both by a host of illustrious persons and by the general public. The applause rolled thundering on. The work was for Cromwell a library of the classics. He recommended it with enthusiasm in a letter to his son Richard. Hampden was a devoted student of it, as of Ralegh's other writings. It was a text-book of Puritans, in whose number, Ralegh says, if the Dialogue with a Jesuit be his, he was reckoned, though unjustly. They had forgotten or forgiven under James his enmity to their old idol Essex. The admiration of Nonconformists did not deter Churchmen and Cavaliers from extolling it. Bishop Hall, in his Consolations, writes of 'an eminent person, to whose imprisonment we are obliged, besides many philosophical experiments, for that noble History of the World. The Tower reformed the courtier in him.' Montrose fed his boyish fancy upon its pictures of great deeds. Unless for a few prejudiced and narrow minds it, 'the most God-fearing and God-seeing history known of among human writings,' as Mr. Kingsley has described it, swept away the old calumny of its author's scepticism. All ranks welcomed it as a classic. That Princess Elizabeth made it her travelling companion is proved by the history of the British Museum copy of the 1614 edition, which formed part of her luggage captured by the Spaniards at Prague in 1620, and recovered by the Swedes in 1648. With the King alone it found no favour. Contemporaries believed that he was jealous of Ralegh's literary ability and fame. Causes rather less base for his distaste for the book may be assigned. Ralegh had endeavoured to guard in his preface against a suspicion that, in speaking of the Past, he pointed at the Present, and taxed the vices of those that are yet living in their persons that are long since dead. He had interspersed encomiums upon his own sovereign, the 'temperate, revengeless, liberal, wise, and just,' though 'he may err.' His doctrine was, as he has written in his Cabinet Council, that 'all kings, the bad as well as the good, must be endured' by their subjects. The murder even of tyrants is deprecated, as 'followed by inconveniences worse than civil war.' But posterity he did not think was debarred from judging worthless rulers; and he tried them in his History. In the eyes of James such freedom of speech, especially in Ralegh, was lese majeste. An explanation by himself of his ill-will to the book, which has been handed down by Osborn, has an air of verisimilitude. In his Memoirs on King James, Osborn relates that 'after much scorn cast upon Ralegh's History, the King, being modestly demanded what fault he found, answered, as one surprised, that Ralegh had spoken irreverently of King Henry the Eighth.' He would be more indignant on his own account than on that of King Henry, against whom, says Osborn, 'none ever exclaimed more than usually himself.' James discovered his own features in the outlined face of Ninias, 'esteemed no man of war at all, but altogether feminine, and subjected to ease and delicacy,' the successor of valiant Queen Semiramis, too laborious a princess, as Ralegh held, to have been vicious.
[Sidenote: Threatened Suppression.]
Commonly it has been believed that the King's sympathy with his caste provoked him to the monstrosity of an attempt to stifle its censor's volume. Chamberlain wrote to Carleton at Venice on January 5, 1615: 'Sir Walter Ralegh's book is called in by the King's commandment, for divers exceptions, but specially for being too saucy in censuring princes. I hear he takes it much to heart, for he thought he had won his spurs, and pleased the King extraordinarily.' The author of the Observations on Sanderson's History in 1656 writes to the same effect, but somewhat less definitely: 'It is well known King James forbad the book for some passages in it which offended the Spaniards, and for being too plain with the faults of princes in his preface.' There is no other evidence, and the majority of Ralegh's biographers have simply accepted the fact on the authority of Chamberlain's assertion. Yet it is almost incredible that so extreme an act of prerogative, carried out against so remarkable a work, should have been suffered to pass without popular protests. Ralegh and his wife never complained; and they were not given to suffering in silence. Copies of the first edition are extant in an abundance which, though not absolutely contradictory to the tale, renders it unlikely. Dr. Brushfield, who has made the history of the publication his especial study, conjectures that a compromise with the royal censorship was effected on the terms that a title-page, which he thinks the first, like all subsequent editions, originally contained, should be removed, leaving the volume apparently anonymous. The surmise is ingenious; but it is very hard to believe that such an arrangement, if made, would have excited no discussion. Chamberlain's language, moreover, implies that the book was already in circulation. It would be exceedingly strange if its previous purchasers had the docility to eliminate the title-page from their copies, in deference to an order certainly not very emphatically promulgated. The readiest explanation is that Chamberlain, in his haste to give his correspondent early information, reported to him a rumour, and perhaps a threat, upon which James happily had not the hardihood to act.
[Sidenote: Successive Editions.]
[Sidenote: Two Fables.]
At all events, the book weathered the storm of royal displeasure, however manifested. A second edition appeared in 1617. Down to the standard Oxford collection of Ralegh's works in 1829, which includes it, eight have been published since. The last folio edition appeared, with a biography by the editor, Oldys, in 1736. Gibbon commends it as the best which had to that time appeared, though it is open to charges of gross carelessness in the printer, and of arbitrary alterations by the editor, to the injury of the sense. The work was popular enough to attract epitomists. Alexander Ross, in 1650, condensed it into his Marrow of History, which is rather its dry bones. Philip Ralegh, Sir Walter's grandson, in 1698 printed an abridgment. The Tubus Historicus, or Historical Perspective, published in 1631, a brief summary of the fortunes of the four great ancient Empires, which bears Ralegh's name on the title-page, suggests rather the hand of a book-maker. For half a century from the time of the original issue it was an accepted classic. No folio of the period, it has been said, approached it in circulation. Its success tempted Alexander Ross to put forth in 1652 a second part, B.C. 160 to A.D. 1640. The popular favour was enough to have encouraged the author to continue his own design. Two explanations of his interruption of it have been invented. For the first, the eldest authority is W. Winstanley's English Worthies, published in 1660. Winstanley, whom Aubrey follows, relates that Ralegh, a few days before his execution, asked Burre how that work of his had sold. So slowly, answered Burre, that it had undone him. Thereupon Ralegh, stepping to his desk, took the other unprinted part of his work into his hand with a sigh, saying 'Ah, my friend, hath the first part undone thee? The second volume shall undo no man; this ungrateful world is unworthy of it.' Then immediately, going to the fireside, he threw it in, and set his foot on it till it was consumed. The story is impossible, if only for the circumstance that the publication notoriously was not a failure. At the period to which the fable is assigned a second edition had been printed. So rapid was its sale, furthered, it may be admitted, by the circumstances of the author's death, that a third edition appeared in 1621. As, moreover, has been with prosaic common sense observed, a manuscript of some 1000 printed pages would have taken very long to burn.
The other story is still more complicated, and, if possible, more insolently mythical. John Pinkerton, writing under the name of Robert Heron, Esq., in 1785, in his eccentric Letters on Literature, is its source. According to him Ralegh, who had just completed the manuscript of a second volume, looking from his window into a court-yard, saw a man strike an officer near a raised stone. The officer drew his sword, and ran his assailant through. The man, as he fell, knocked the officer down, and died. His corpse and the stunned officer were carried off. Next day Ralegh mentioned the affray to a visitor of known probity and honour. His acquaintance informed him he was entirely in error. The seeming officer, he said, a servant of the Spanish Ambassador, struck the first blow. The other snatched out the servant's sword, and with it slew him. A bystander wrested away the sword, and a foreigner in the crowd struck down the murderer, while other foreigners bore off their comrade's body. The narrator, to Ralegh's assurances that he could not be mistaken, since he had witnessed the whole affair as it happened round the stone, replied that neither could he be, for he was the bystander, and on that very stone he had been standing. He showed Ralegh a scratch on the cheek he had received in pulling away the sword. Ralegh did not persist in his version. As soon as his friend was gone, he cast his manuscript into the fire. If he could not properly estimate an event under his own eyes, he despaired of appreciating human acts done thousands of years before he was born. 'Truth!' he cried, 'I sacrifice to thee.' Pinkerton, whose judgment and veracity were not equal to his learning, led astray both Guizot and Carlyle. Carlyle talks of 'the old story, still a true lesson for us.'
[Sidenote: The Fact.]
Of the extent to which Ralegh had proceeded in the continuation of his work he had himself informed the public. In his preface he 'forbears to promise a second or third volume, which he intends if the first receives grace and good acceptance; for that which is already done may be thought enough and too much.' At the conclusion he wrote: 'Whereas this book calls itself the first part of the General History of the World, implying a second and third volume, which I also intended, and have hewn out; besides many other discouragements persuading my silence, it hath pleased God to take that glorious prince out of the world, to whom they were directed.' His language points evidently to the collection of 'apparatus for the second volume,' as Aubrey says. It may have comprised very possibly not a few such scattered gems of thought and rich experience as are the glory of the printed volume. A Ralegh Society, should it ever be instituted, might have the honour of disinterring and reuniting some of them. No less clearly he indicates that he had not advanced beyond the preliminary processes of inquiry and meditation.
[Sidenote: The Prerogative of Parliaments.]
The motive for his abandonment at this point of the thorough realization of his plan was probably a combination of disturbing causes, disappointment, hope, and rival occupations. Prince Henry's favour had brought liberty and restitution very close. With a nature like his the abrupt catastrophe did not benumb; it even stimulated; but it took the flavour out of many of his pursuits. He could no longer indulge in learned ease, and trust for his rehabilitation to spontaneous respect and sympathy. The near breath of freedom had set his nerves throbbing too vehemently for him to be able to settle down, as if for an eternity of literary leisure, to tasks like the History of the World, or the Art of War by Sea. He began working mines as busily as ever, but in new directions. He sought to make himself recognised as necessary either by the King or by the nation. With the sanguine elasticity which no failures could damp, he tried to storm his way as a politician into the royal confidence a few months after he is said to have experienced as a scholar an effect of the King's invincible prejudice. At some period after May, 1615, he wrote, and dedicated to James, an imaginary dialogue between a Counsellor of State and a Justice of the Peace. Under the title of The Prerogative of Parliaments in England it was published first posthumously in 1628, at Middleburg. In his lifetime it circulated in manuscript copies.
[Sidenote: Hallam's Misconception.]
A conspicuous instance of the misconceptions of which he was the habitual victim is the view taken of this treatise by Algernon Sidney, and by the judicious and fair-minded Hallam. Its object was to influence the King to call a Parliament. Ralegh's point of view of the royal prerogative was, it must be admitted and remembered, that of a Tudor courtier. It was very different from that which the Long Parliament learnt and taught. But it was liberal for his own day, according to a Tudor standard of liberalism. It was too liberal for the taste of the Court of James. Hallam has caught at some phrases couched in the adulatory style, 'so much,' Hallam allows, 'among the vices of the age, that the want of it passed for rudeness.' Ralegh told James in his dedication that 'the bonds of subjects to their kings should always be wrought out of iron, the bonds of kings unto subjects but with cobwebs.' Sidney had already protested against these obsequious phrases; and to Hallam they seem 'terrible things.' He is equally horrified by a statement in the dialogue that Philip II 'attempted to make himself not only an absolute monarch over the Netherlands, like unto the Kings of England and France, but Turk like to tread under his feet all their national and fundamental laws, privileges, and ancient rights.' The tenor of the essay itself only has to be equitably considered to enable its readers to place a more lenient construction than Hallam's even upon the former sentence. Ralegh merely was pursuing his object, with some carelessness, after his manner, as to form. Throughout he endeavoured to sweeten advice he knew to be unpalatable, by assurances that the King need not fear his prerogative would be permanently impaired by deference to the representatives of the people. The language is, for the nineteenth century, indefensible. Taken in connexion with the general argument, it resolves itself into a courtly seventeenth century solace to the monarch for an obligatory return to Parliamentary government.
[Sidenote: Not shared by James.]
For the second quotation such an excuse is scarcely requisite. The theories of the royal prerogative in France and in England were not originally dissimilar, profoundly unlike as was the practice. Since, as well as before, the Revolution of 1689, the absolute character of the English sovereignty has been a common theory of lawyers. Blackstone, writing in the reign of George the Third, asserts dogmatically that an English King is absolute in the exercise of his prerogative. Blackstone was able to find room beside an absolute prerogative for the national liberties and Parliamentary privileges. So was Ralegh able. His language seems now unconstitutional, when, in his Maxims of State, he distinguishes the English 'Empire' from a 'limited Kingdom'; or when, in this Prerogative of Parliaments, he declares that 'the three Estates do but advise, as the Privy Council doth.' To him, however, 'limited' meant more than now, and 'absolute' less. He saw no inconsistency between the theory of royal absolutism and the application of popular checks. Their reconciliation was the purpose of the essay of 1615. That was evident to many excellent patriots of the next reign, who circulated and gloried in a composition which proved the writer their fellow worker. It was too apparent, though not to Hallam, to James, for the dissertation to move him to any kindness. The basis and principle of the discussion affronted all his prejudices. He was not to be beguiled by admissions of his theoretical omnipotence into affection for a wise and constitutional policy, which recognised popular rights. He had no inclination to traverse the golden bridge Ralegh had built for his return within the lines, whether of the Constitution, or of personal justice. In all relations Ralegh was antipathetic to James without consciousness of it. He could declare his implicit belief, in consonance with strict constitutional orthodoxy, that the King loved the liberties of his people, and that none but evil counsellors intercepted the signs of his liberality. He could acknowledge the tender benignity of his sovereign to himself, and throw upon betrayers of the royal trust the shame of his persecution. He could be excessively deferential and grateful in words and demeanour. He could not but act and reason with a mental independence as hateful to James as to Henry Howard, and as condemnatory. Whether he discoursed on Assyrian or on English politics, or on his private wrongs, he sat visibly on the seat of judgment. Nothing but tame silence and spiritual petrifaction could have made his peace at the Stuart Court. It was the one kind of fealty he was incapable of rendering.
THE RELEASE (March, 1616).
[Sidenote: How his Fetters fell off.]
No merits of his, and no sense of justice to him, opened, or ever would have opened, his prison doors. But at length it was become inconvenient to keep him under duress. The gaolers who cared to detain him were gone. In their places stood others who had an interest in sending him forth, though with a chain on his ankle. He could never have been brought to trial on a fantastic charge, or been convicted without evidence, unless for the weight of popular odium, which enabled the new Court to trample upon the favourite of the old. Without that he could not have been kept for long years in prison. Gradually the nation forgot its habit of dislike, which never had much foundation. Englishmen remembered his mighty deeds. They honoured him as the representative of a glorious and dead past. His fetters were of themselves falling off. Special circumstances helped to shake him free of them. He had protested ineffectually in the name of right. He had pleaded to deaf ears for liberty to serve his country. At length an impression had been produced that the prosecution of his policy might bring money into other coffers beside his own.
He had never ceased to plan the establishment of English colonies in Virginia and Guiana. He regarded both countries as his, and as English by priority of discovery or occupation. From the fragments of his broken fortunes the captive of the Tower had managed to fit out or subsidize expeditions at intervals to both. Every few years the Guiana Indians in particular were reminded by messages from him that their deliverance from the Spaniards was at hand. To Englishmen ores and plants from Guiana recalled the riches of the land, and their title to it. Thus, in December, 1609, we hear that Sir Walter Ralegh had a ship come from Guiana laden with gold ore. His chase after freedom was stimulated by visions of himself once more a leader, and the founder of an empire. The thought grew to be a passion, and almost a monomania.
[Sidenote: Petitions to the Queen.]
To gain permission to hazard life, health, and reputation in the western seas, he was ready to subscribe to the most grotesque conditions, which, however, do not seem to have impressed contemporaries as extravagant. He had hoped that the Queen Consort might consent to be lady patroness of his project. In 1611 he solicited her formally. He proffered by letter his service in Virginia. It was his name for Guiana, in order not to alarm pro-Spanish jealousies. He had been suspected of a design to fly from England under cover of a voyage of discovery. The Queen had faith in him, and he entreated her to give her word for him to mistrustful Cecil. He was willing, if he should not be on his way to America by a day set, to forfeit life and estate. As a security against turning aside to some foreign European Court after his departure from England, he would leave his wife and two sons as his pledges. His wife, whom we can see stooping over him, and dictating the words, 'shall yield herself to death, if I perform not my duty to the King.' If this sufficed not, the masters and mariners might have orders, if he offered to sail elsewhere, to cast him into the sea. Again in 1611 he addressed the Queen. Previously he had propounded to Cecil a scheme for a Guiana expedition, of which he now sent her a copy. He besought her influence on its behalf. She would be acting for the King's sake, that 'all presumption might be taken from his enemies, arising from the want of treasure.' He was scarcely pleading, he said, for himself. 'My extreme shortness of breath doth grow so fast, with the despair of obtaining so much grace to walk with my keeper up the hill within the Tower, as it makes me resolve that God hath otherwise disposed of that business, and of me.'
[Sidenote: Golden Bait.]
At this time interest in Guiana and its precious metals had revived. Ralegh had some morsels of merquisite he had himself picked up assayed by a refiner. The man found gold in them. These, or other specimens of Guiana ores, Sir Amias Preston, his old adversary, had seen. Preston had extolled them to Cecil. Ralegh may have discussed their virtues with Cecil in the Tower at one of the interviews in the laboratory, when, he complains, the Minister would listen, inquire, talk of the assay, hold out hopes, and then retreat into an arriere boutique, in which he lay unapproachable. A letter to Cecil, with the uncertainty of date which breaks the hearts of Ralegh's biographers, says: 'I have heard that Sir Amias Preston informed your Lordship of certain mineral stones brought from Guiana, of which your Lordship had some doubt—for so you had at my first return—secondly, that your Lordship thought it but an invention of mine to procure unto myself my former liberty; suspicions which might rightly form into the cogitations of a wise man.' He assured Cecil that a mountain near the river contained 'an abundance sufficient to please every appetite.' Once he had thought the stones valueless, like other merquisite. He had been convinced of his error by the refiner, who was willing to go and be 'hanged there if he prove not his assay to be good.' To avert suspicion that he meant to become a runagate, Ralegh was ready not to command, but to ship as a private man. He repeated his strange offer to be cast into the sea if he should persuade a contrary course. The cost would be no more than L5000. 'Of that, if the Queen's Majesty, to whom I am bound for her compassion, and your Lordship will bear two parts, I and my friends will bear a third. Your Lordship may have gold good and cheap, and may join others of your honourable friends in the matter, if you please. For there is enough. The journey may go under the colour of Virginia. We will break no peace; invade none of the Spanish towns. We will see none of that nation, except they assail us.' His intention was to melt down the mineral on the spot into ingots, 'for to bring all in ore would be notorious.' In 1610 he had written to a trusted friend of James, John Ramsay, then Viscount Haddington, and later Earl of Holderness, with similar proposals. He would follow Ramsay as a private man, or others, and if he recommended a different course was willing to be drowned. Then, 'if I bring them not to a mountain, near a navigable river, covered with gold and silver ore, let the commander have commission to cut off my head there.' Or he would give a L40,000 bond to boot.
[Sidenote: Overtures to the Council.]
In 1611, or 1612, he alternated his overtures to the Queen with others to Lords of the Council, who, it may be gathered from a letter of his, agreed to become joint-adventurers with him. A plan had been started for sending Captain Keymis with two ships to Guiana, and enough men to defend him 'from the Spaniards inhabiting upon Orenoche, not that it is meant to begin any quarrel with them, except themselves shall begin the war.' Captain Moate, servant of Ralegh's friend, Sir John Watts, had come the last spring 'from St. Thome, where the Spaniards inhabit.' According to him Keymis might safely go the five miles from the river to his mountain. In this way he could bring from the mine 'half a ton of that slate gold ore, whereof I gave a sample to my Lord Knevett.' In default, all the charge of the journey should be laid upon himself. He was contented to adventure all he had but his reputation upon Keymis's memory. He warned the Lords, that 'there is no hope, after this trial made, to fetch any more riches from thence.' But he submitted to the wisdom of the King and their Lordships. 'Only, if half a ton be brought home, then I shall have my liberty, and in the meanwhile my free pardon under the Great Seal, to be left in his Majesty's hands till the end of the journey.' That precaution later he omitted, and paid the penalty of dealing in good faith with crowned and coroneted pettifoggers. At all events, the present proposal gave full notice to members of the Council of the existence of a Spanish settlement on the Orinoko, which subsequently Ralegh was accused of having perfidiously concealed from the King.
[Sidenote: Other Voyagers to Guiana.]
His projects, prayers, and expeditions came to nothing at the time. They were not without their effect. They kept the thought of Guiana before the nation. As James in his Declaration afterwards asserted, the confident asseveration of that which every man was willing to believe, enchanted the world. To a certain degree it influenced the King and Court. James was not of a nature to undervalue dignities and opportunities of wealth. While he imprisoned the explorer, he had asserted the title to Guiana acquired through him. He commissioned Captain Charles Leigh in 1604, and, after his death, Captain Robert Harcourt in 1608, to take possession of all from the Amazon to the Dessequebe, with the neighbouring islands. The result was a settlement on the Oyapoco. After three years the colonists abandoned the enterprise, and returned to England. Harcourt experienced the effect of the local renown of Ralegh, and of the success of his efforts to keep alive the recollection of the fealty once offered through him to England. Leonard the Indian, who had resided in England three or four years with Ralegh, obtained for Harcourt supplies he sorely needed. The help was rendered in the belief, says Ralegh, that Harcourt was a follower of his. The natives visited Harcourt's vessel dressed in European clothes, which Ralegh had sent them the year before. They were disappointed at not finding him in command. Leigh's and Harcourt's expeditions confirmed his assertions of the immense possibilities of the country. Harcourt expressly stated his 'satisfaction that there be rich mines in the country.' The actual fruits were so meagre as to demonstrate that supreme capacity was needed to extract its treasures.
Ralegh's adversaries, including James, were as persuaded as his friends of his unbounded ability. They hated him for it. They were covetous of gold and territory. They thought he might justify his boasts, and enrich them as well as himself, if he were let go. Failure, on the other hand, would, they calculated, blast his power to hurt. At all events, in the existing popular mood, it was easier to despatch him at his own expense for their contingent gain to America, than to confine him in the Tower. Their personal relations with Spain supplied rather a motive for his liberation for such a purpose than a fatal objection. James longed for a family league with the Escurial. Spain was reserved and proud, and responded coldly to his advances. He did not care what harm came to Ralegh, upon whom, as Mr. Gardiner says, he knew the Spaniards would fall wherever they found him. Meanwhile he hoped to warm his coy allies by letting loose upon the Spanish Main their and his inveterate aversion. Ralegh was a convenient firebrand to show Spain the harm England, if an enemy, could do. He was a scapegoat to immolate in proof of all England was prepared to sacrifice in return for Spain's love. Suddenly, for many mixed reasons, it was decided to free him. He was to be licensed to discover gold mines and affirm the English title to the Orinoko.
[Sidenote: Ralegh's Opportunity.]
[Sidenote: King Christian.]
He himself was at the moment in a strong position for demanding liberty and a commission. The arms and hands which had, according to his expression, abused their Sovereign's borrowed authority to fling stones at him, were now, as with doubtful discretion as well as taste he reminded James in the Prerogative of Parliaments, 'most of them already rotten.' Robert Cecil, though nowise to be ranked with Howard as demoniacally malevolent, had evinced no disposition to release him. Certainly he would, if only for Ralegh's own sake, not have abetted his wild quest of Guiana gold. But he too was dead. Robert Carr was worse than dead. The terrible exposure of his and his wife's crimes had made James and his counsellors peculiarly sensitive to public opinion. Hallam thinks it 'more likely than anything else that James had listened to some criminal suggestion from Overbury and Somerset, and that, through apprehension of this being disclosed, he had pusillanimously acquiesced in the scheme of Overbury's murder.' That is Hallam's deliberate view of the King who claimed the right to sit in judgment on Ralegh. The country entertained a similar suspicion. It might have been dangerous to hold a national hero confined under the same prison roof with the principals in the crime. Moreover, a sympathetic politician, Sir Ralph Winwood, was Secretary of State. Personally, Winwood was in high favour with the King, notwithstanding discrepancies in their estimates of the value of a Spanish alliance. Of that he and Archbishop Abbot both were vehement opponents. They thought Ralegh a likely instrument for bringing about a collision with Spain in the most advantageous circumstances. For the moment Winwood's admiration of Ralegh and dislike of Spain, and the King's contrary feelings, together with his general disposition to shift responsibility, worked to the same end. George Villiers was inclined to befriend Ralegh out of opposition to the Howards, who had been Carr's supporters. Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, had died in June, 1614. The credit of Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, the Lord Treasurer, was waning. The old Lord High Admiral Nottingham's naval administration had been unsuccessful and wasteful. King Christian, the Queen's brother, when recently in England, had warmly interceded for Ralegh, whom, if Sir Thomas Wilson's reports of subsequent conversations with Ralegh are to be believed, he would gladly have borrowed of James for the Danish navy. Ralegh believed the King had, on a previous visit, asked for his liberty. That is not certain. Carleton, writing to Chamberlain in August, 1606, stated that Christian had declined the office. In any case he exerted himself on his second visit. The fact must be set off for him against another, that he was a sot, and, as Harington shows, set an evil example of drunken bouts to the imitative English Court. Ralegh wrote to Winwood in January, 1616, on the wealth of Guiana: 'Those that had the greatest trust were resolved not to believe it; not because they doubted the truth, but because they doubted my disposition towards themselves, had I recovered his Majesty's favour and good opinion. Our late worthy Prince of Wales was extreme curious in searching out the nature of my offences; the Queen's Majesty hath informed herself from the beginning; the King of Denmark, at both times his being here, was thoroughly satisfied of my innocency. The wife, the brother, and the son of a King do not use to sue for mere suspect. It is true, sir, that his Majesty hath sometimes answered that his Council knew me better than he did; meaning some two or three of them; and it was indeed my infelicity. For had his Majesty known me, I had not been where I now am; or had I known his Majesty, they had never been so long where they now are. His Majesty's misknowing of them hath been the ruin of a goodly part of his estate; but they are all of them—some living, and some dying—come to his Majesty's knowledge. But to die for the King, and not by the King, is all the ambition I have in the world.'
[Sidenote: Gifts of Money.]
No further explanation of Ralegh's deliverance might seem to be required. Without the co-operation of these various coincidences which aided his claim to justice, and weakened the resistance to it, he must indeed have remained in prison. But the popular belief was that the immediate agency to which he owed his freedom was neither equity nor policy; it was the prisoner's own money. A half-brother of George Villiers, Sir Edward Villiers, and Sir William St. John, a kinsman of Sir Edward's wife, are alleged in the Observations on Sanderson's History of King James, to have procured Sir Walter Ralegh's liberty, and to have had L1500 for their labour. The story has been denied. Unfortunately it is by no means intrinsically improbable. It agrees with Ralegh's confident allusion at his death to the ease with which he could have bought his peace, even after his return from Guiana, if he had been rich enough. There is a miserable consistency in his imprisonment on a false charge of treason, and his release through a bribe to relatives of the King's favourite. He wrote to George Villiers: 'You have by your mediation put me again into the world.' The service cannot be questioned, but its motive.
[Sidenote: Ralegh's Fellow Prisoners.]
[Sidenote: Death of Cobham.]
On March 19, 1616, a royal warrant required the Lieutenant of the Tower to 'permit Sir Walter Ralegh to go abroad to make preparations for his voyage.' He then partially or entirely quitted the prison which had been his home for twelve years. Its population had undergone some recent and notable changes and exchanges. Sir George More was Lieutenant. Lord Grey of Wilton had died in July, 1614. To the end he had hoped to be, through the influence of Henry Howard and Carr, set free to serve Protestant Holland against Catholic Spain. More pitiable Arabella Stuart, or Seymour, had entered in 1611. She survived till September, 1615, ever weak, but guilty of no crime except her contingent birthright. Ralegh left in prison Northumberland. This splendid patron of letters, for the dozen years he inhabited the Tower, has been said to have invested it with the atmosphere of an university. He peopled it with students and inquirers, such as Thomas Allen, William Warner, Robert Hues, Torporley, and Hariot. Of an intelligence and capacity which won Sully's admiration, but wayward, scornful, and, for his own interests very little of the wizard he was reputed to be, he had been consigned thither for no guilt, unless, like Ralegh, that he may have consorted with the guilty. An injustice was not wholly fruitless which bestowed on Ralegh the comfort of a companionship of learning. Death, eight years before his release, had freed the last titular chieftain of the Fitzgeralds, whose spoils he had shared; but he left there an older antagonist, Florence McCarthy, the 'infinitely adored' Munster man, who in a neighbouring cell emulated his historical researches. He left Cobham. A rumour current at the commencement of 1616 that Cobham, like him, was to be freed, was not confirmed till 1617, and then only partially. In that year Cobham was allowed to visit Bath for the waters. He was on his way back to the Tower in September, when, at Odiham, he had a paralytic stroke. He was conveyed to London at the beginning of October, and lingered between life and death till January 12, 1619. Probably he expired in the Tower, though Francis Osborn, who had been master of the horse to Lord Pembroke, was told by Pembroke that he died half starved in the hovel of an old laundress in the Minories. The statement of his poverty is in conflict with the fact mentioned by Ralegh in the Prerogative of Parliaments, that the Crown allowed him L500 a year till his death for his maintenance. An explanation has been offered that the tale may have been founded on the delay in his burial. His wealthy wife and relatives tried to throw upon the Crown the liability for the cost of an obscure funeral by night at Cobham. But for some unknown reason he appears to have been in pecuniary straits. Camden speaks of his return to the Tower 'omnium rerum egentissimus,' and of his death 'miser et inops.' Certainly he had been, as he deserved to be, more harshly treated in respect of money than Ralegh. On his conviction his estates had been confiscated. Even his valuable library, which, in the Tower, he had retained, was claimed in 1618 for the King's use by the Keeper of State Papers. He had no wife to tend him as had Ralegh. Lady Kildare was more literally faithful than Sir Griffin Markham's wife, who, while he was in exile, wedded her serving man, and had to do penance for bigamy at St. Paul's in a white sheet. But she neglected her husband, whom she had once ardently loved, and allowed him to pine alone. Ralegh's admirers too cannot but despise him, though their feeling is less anger than impatience that so poor a creature should have warped the fate of one so great.