The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.I., Part D. - From Elizabeth to James I.
by David Hume
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Essex made next a disposition proper for intercepting the Indian galleons; and Sir William Monson, whose station was the most remote of the fleet, having fallen in with them, made the signals which had been agreed on. That able officer, in his Memoirs, ascribes Essex's failure, when he was so near attaining so mighty an advantage, to his want of experience in seamanship; and the account which he gives of the errors committed by that nobleman, appears very reasonable as well as candid.[**]

* Monson, p. 173.

** Monson, p. 174.

The Spanish fleet, finding that the enemy was upon them, made all the sail possible to the Terceras, and got into the safe and well-fortified harbor of Angra, before the English fleet could overtake them. Essex intercepted only three ships; which, however, were so rich, as to repay all the charges of the expedition.

The causes of the miscarriage in this enterprise were much canvassed in England, upon the return of the fleet; and though the courtiers took part differently, as they affected either Essex or Raleigh, the people in general, who bore an extreme regard to the gallantry, spirit, and generosity of ihe former, were inclined to justify every circumstance of his conduct. The queen, who loved the one as much as she esteemed the other, maintained a kind of neutrality, and endeavored to share her favors with an impartial hand between the parties. Sir Robert Cecil, second son of Lord Burleigh, was a courtier of promising hopes, much connected with Raleigh; and she made him secretary of state, preferably to Sir Thomas Bodley, whom Essex recommended for that office. But not to disgust Essex, she promoted him to the dignity of earl marshal of England; an office which had been vacant since the death of the earl of Shrewsbury. Essex might perceive from this conduct, that she never intended to give him the entire ascendant over his rivals, and might thence learn the necessity of moderation and caution. But his temper was too high for submission; his behavior too open and candid to practise the arts of a court; and his free sallies, while they rendered him but more amiable in the eyes of good judges, gave his enemies many advantages against him.

The war with Spain, though successful, having exhausted the queen's exchequer, she was obliged to assemble a parliament; where Yelverton, a lawyer, was chosen speaker of the house of commons.[*] [34]

* See note HH, at the end of the volume.

Elizabeth took care, by the mouth of Sir Thomas Egerton, lord keeper, to inform this assembly of the necessity of a supply. She said, that the wars formerly waged in Europe had commonly been conducted by the parties without further view than to gain a few towns, or at most a province, from each other; but the object of the present hostilities, on the part of Spain, was no other than utterly to bereave England of her religion, her liberty, and her independence: that these blessings, however, she herself had hitherto been able to preserve, in spite of the devil, the pope, and the Spanish tyrant, and all the mischievous designs of all her enemies; that in this contest she had disbursed a sum triple to all the parliamentary supplies granted her; and, besides expending her ordinary revenues, had been obliged to sell many of the crown lands: and that she could not doubt but her subjects, in a cause where their own honor and interests were so deeply concerned, would willingly contribute to such moderate taxations as should be found necessary for the common defence.[*] The parliament granted her three subsidies and six fifteenths; the same supply which had been given four years before, but which had then appeared so unusual, that they had voted it should never afterwards be regarded as a precedent.

The commons, this session, ventured to engage in two controversies about forms with the house of peers; a prelude to those encroachments which, as they assumed more courage, they afterwards made upon the prerogatives of the crown. They complained, that the lords failed in civility to them, by receiving their messages sitting with their hats on; and that the keeper returned an answer in the same negligent posture: but the upper house proved, to their full satisfaction, that they were not entitled, by custom and the usage of parliament, to any more respect.[**] Some amendments had been made by the lords to a bill sent up by the commons; and these amendments were written on parchment, and returned with the bill to the commons. The lower house took umbrage at the novelty: they pretended that these amendments ought to have been written on paper, not on parchment; and they complained of this innovation to the peers. The peers replied that they expected not such a frivolous objection from the gravity of the house; and that it was not material, whether the amendments were written on parchment or on paper, nor whether the paper were white, black, or brown. The commons were offended at this reply, which seemed to contain a mockery of them; and they complained of it, though without obtaining any satisfaction.[***]

An application was made, by way of petition, to the queen from the lower house, against monopolies; an abuse which had risen to an enormous height; and they received a gracious though a general answer; for which they returned their thankful acknowledgments.[****]

* D'Ewes, p. 525, 527. Townsend, p. 79.

** D'Ewes, p. 539, 540, 580, 585. Townsend, p. 93, 94, 95.

*** D'Ewes. p, 576, 577.

**** D'Ewes, p, 570, 573.

But not to give them too much encouragement in such applications, she told them, in the speech which she delivered at their dissolution, "that with regard to these patents, she hoped that her dutiful and loving subjects would not take away her prerogative, which is the chief flower in her garden, and the principal and head pearl in her crown and diadem; but that they would rather leave these matters to her disposal." [*] The commons also took notice, this session, of some transactions in the court of high commission; but not till they had previously obtained permission from her majesty to that purpose.[**]

* D'Ewes, p. 547.

** D'Ewes, p. 557, 558.

{1598.} Elizabeth had reason to foresee, that parliamentary supplies would now become more necessary to her than ever; and that the chief burden of the war with Spain would thenceforth lie upon England. Henry had received an overture for peace with Philip; but before he would proceed to a negotiation, he gave intelligence of it to his allies, the queen and the states; that, if possible, a general pacification might be made by common agreement. These two powers sent ambassadors to France, in order to remonstrate against peace; the queen, Sir Robert Cecil and Henry Herbert; the states, Justin Nassau and John Barnevelt. Henry said to these ministers, that his early education had been amidst war and danger, and he had passed the whole course of his life either in arms or in military preparations: that after the proofs which he had given of his alacrity in the field, no one could doubt but he would willingly, for his part, have continued in a course of life to which he was now habituated, till the common enemy were reduced to such a condition as no longer to give umbrage either to him or to his allies: that no private interests of his own, not even those of his people, nothing but the most invincible necessity, could ever induce him to think of a separate peace with Philip, or make him embrace measures not entirely conformable to the wishes of all his confederates: that his kingdom, torn with the convulsions and civil wars of near half a century, required some interval of repose, ere it could reach a condition in which it might sustain itself, much more support its allies: that after the minds of his subjects were composed to tranquillity and accustomed to obedience, after his finances were brought into order, and after agriculture and the arts were restored, France, instead of being a burden, as at present, to her confederates, would be able to lend them effectual succor, and amply to repay them all the assistance which she had received during her calamities: and that, if the ambition of Spain would not at present grant them such terms as they should think reasonable, he hoped that, in a little time, he should attain such a situation as would enable him to mediate more effectually, and with more decisive authority, in their behalf.

The ambassadors were sensible that these reasons were no feigned; and they therefore remonstrated with the less vehemence against the measures which, they saw, Henry was determined to pursue. The states knew that that monarch was interested never to permit their final ruin; and having received private assurances that he would still, notwithstanding the peace, give them assistance both of men and money, they were well pleased to remain on terms of amity with him. His greatest concern was to give satisfaction to Elizabeth for this breach of treaty. He had a cordial esteem for that princess, a sympathy of manners, and a gratitude for the extraordinary favors which he had received from her during his greatest difficulties: and he used every expedient to apologize and atone for that measure which necessity extorted from him. But as Spain refused to treat with the Dutch as a free state, and Elizabeth would not negotiate without her ally, Henry found himself obliged to conclude at Vervins a separate peace, by which he recovered possession of all the places seized by Spain during the course of the civil wars, and procured to himself leisure to pursue the domestic settlement of his kingdom. His capacity for the arts of peace was not inferior to his military talents; and in a little time, by his frugality, order, and wise government, he raised France from the desolation and misery in which she was involved, to a more flourishing condition than she had ever before enjoyed.

The queen knew that she could also, whenever she pleased, finish the war on equitable terms; and that Philip, having no claims upon her, would be glad to free himself from an enemy who had foiled him in every contest, and who still had it so much in her power to make him feel the weight of her arms. Some of her wisest counsellors, particularly the treasurer, advised her to embrace pacific measures; and set before her the advantages of tranquillity, security, and frugality, as more considerable than any success which could attend the greatest victories. But this high-spirited princess, though at first averse to war, seemed now to have attained such an ascendant over the enemy, that she was unwilling to stop the course of her prosperous fortune. She considered, that her situation and her past victories had given her entire security against any dangerous invasion; and the war must thenceforth be conducted by sudden enterprises and naval expeditions, in which she possessed an undoubted superiority: that the weak condition of Philip in the Indies opened to her the view of the most durable advantages; and the yearly return of his treasure by sea afforded a continual prospect of important, though more temporary successes: that after his peace with France, if she also should consent to an accommodation, he would be able to turn his whole force against the revolted provinces of the Netherlands, which, though they had surprisingly increased their power by commerce and good government, were still unable, if not supported by their confederates, to maintain war against so potent a monarch: and that as her defence of that commonwealth was the original ground of the quarrel, it was unsafe, as well as dishonorable, to abandon its cause till she had placed it in a state of greater security.

These reasons were frequently inculcated on her by the earl of Essex, whose passion for glory, as well as his military talents, made him earnestly desire the continuance of war, from which he expected to reap so much advantage and distinction. The rivalship between this nobleman and Lord Burleigh made each of them insist the more strenuously on his own counsel; but as Essex's person was agreeable to the queen, as well as his advice conformable to her inclinations, the favorite seemed daily to acquire an ascendant over the minister. Had he beer endowed with caution and self-command equal to his shining qualities, he would have so rivetted himself in the queen's confidence, that none of his enemies had ever been able to impeach his credit: but his lofty spirit could ill submit to that implicit deference which her temper required, and which she had ever been accustomed to receive from all her subjects. Being once engaged in a dispute with her about the choice of a governor for Ireland, he was so heated in the argument, that he entirely forgot the rules both of duty and civility, and turned his back upon her in a contemptuous manner. Her anger, naturally prompt and violent, rose at this provocation; and she instantly gave him a box on the ear, adding a passionate expression suited to his impertinence. Instead of recollecting himself, and making the submissions due to her sex and station, he clapped his hand to his sword, and swore, that he would not bear such usage, were it from Henry VIII. himself, and he immediately withdrew from court. Egerton, the chancellor, who loved Essex, exhorted him to repair his indiscretion by proper acknowledgments; and entreated him not to give that triumph to his enemies, that affliction to his friends, which must ensue from his supporting a contest with his sovereign, and deserting the service of his country: but Essex was deeply stung with the dishonor which he had received; and seemed to think, that an insult which might be pardoned in a woman was become a mortal affront when it came from his sovereign. "If the vilest of all indignities," said he, "is done me, does religion enforce me to sue for pardon? Doth God require it? Is it impiety not to do it? Why? Cannot princes err? Cannot subjects receive wrong? Is an earthly power infinite? Pardon me, my lord; I can never subscribe to these principles. Let Solomon's fool laugh when he is stricken; let those that mean to make their profit of princes, show no sense of princes' injuries: let them acknowledge an infinite absoluteness on earth, that do not believe an absolute infiniteness in heaven:" (alluding, probably, to the character and conduct of Sir Walter Raleigh, who lay under the reproach of impiety.) "As for me," continued he, "I have received wrong, I feel it: my cause is good, I know it; and whatsoever happens, all the powers on earth can never exert more strength and constancy in oppressing, than I can show in suffering every thing that can or shall be imposed upon me. Your lordship, in the beginning of your letter, makes me a player, and yourself a looker on: and me a player of my own game, so you may see more than I: but give me leave to tell you, that since you do but see, and I do suffer, I must of necessity feel more than you." [*] [35]

* See note II, at the end of the volume.

This spirited letter was shown by Essex to his friends, and they were so imprudent as to disperse copies of it; yet, notwithstanding this additional provocation, the queen's partiality was so prevalent, that she reinstated him in his former favor; and her kindness to him appeared rather to have acquired new force from this short interval of anger and resentment, The death of Burleigh, his antagonist, which happened about the same time, seemed to insure him constant possession of the queen's confidence; and nothing indeed but his own indiscretion could thenceforth have shaken his well-established credit. Lord Burleigh died in an advanced age; and, by a rare fortune was equally regretted by his sovereign and the people. He rad risen gradually from small beginnings by the mere force of merit; and though his authority was never entirely absolute or uncontrolled with the queen, he was still, during the course of near forty years, regarded as her principal minister. None of her other inclinations or affections could ever overcome her confidence in so useful a counsellor; and as he had had the generosity or good sense to pay assiduous court to her during her sister's reign, when it was dangerous to appear her friend, she thought herself bound in gratitude, when she mounted the throne, to persevere in her attachments to him. He seems not to have possessed any shining talents of address, eloquence, or imagination; and was chiefly distinguished by solidity of understanding, probity of manners, and indefatigable application in business; virtues which, if they do not always enable a man to attain high stations, do certainly qualify him best for filling them. Of all the queen's ministers he alone left a considerable fortune to his posterity; a fortune not acquired by rapine or oppression, but gained by the regular profits of his offices, and preserved by frugality.

The last act of this able minister was the concluding of a new treaty with the Dutch; who, after being in some measure deserted by the king of France, were glad to preserve the queen's alliance, by submitting to any terms which she pleased to require of them. The debt which they owed her was now settled at eight hundred thousand pounds: of this sum they agreed to pay, during the war, thirty thousand pounds a year; and these payments were to continue till four hundred thousand pounds of the debt should be extinguished. They engaged also, during the time that England should continue the war with Spain, to pay the garrisons of the cautionary towns. They stipulated, that if Spain should invade England, or the Isle of Wight, or Jersey, or Scilly, they should assist her with a body of five thousand foot and five hundred horse; and that in case she undertook any naval armament against Spain, they should join an equal number of ships to hers.[*] By this treaty, the queen was eased of an annual charge of a hundred and twenty thousand pounds.

* Rymer, vol. xvi. p. 340.

Soon after the death of Burleigh, the queen, who regretted extremely the loss of so wise and faithful a minister, was informed of the death of her capital enemy, Philip II., who, after languishing under many infirmities, expired in an advanced age at Madrid. This haughty prince, desirous of an accommodation with his revolted subjects in the Netherlands, but disdaining to make in his own name the concessions necessary for that purpose, had transferred to his daughter, married to Archduke Albert, the title to the Low Country provinces; but as it was not expected that this princess could have posterity, and as the reversion, on failure of her issue, was still reserved to the crown of Spain, the states considered this deed only as the change of a name, and they persisted with equal obstinacy in their resistance to the Spanish arms. The other powers also of Europe made no distinction between the courts of Brussels and Madrid; and the secret opposition of France, as well as the avowed efforts of England, continued to operate against the progress of Albert, as it had done against that of Philip.



{1599.} Though the dominion of the English over Ireland had been seemingly established above four centuries, it may safely be affirmed, that their authority had hitherto been little more than nominal. The Irish princes and nobles, divided among themselves, readily paid the exterior marks of obeisance to a power which they were not able to resist; but, as no durable force was ever kept on foot to retain them in their duty, they relapsed still into their former state of independence. Too weak to introduce order and obedience among the rude inhabitants, the English authority was yet sufficient to check the growth of any enterprising genius among the natives: and though it could bestow no true form of civil government, it was able to prevent the rise of any such form from the internal combination or policy of the Irish.[*]

* Sir J. Davies, p. 5, 6, 7, etc.

Most of the English institutions, likewise, by which that island was governed, were to the last degree absurd, and such as no state before had ever thought of, for preserving dominion over its conquered provinces.

The English nation, all on fire for the project of subduing France,—a project whose success was the most improbable, and would to them have proved the most pernicious,—neglected all other enterprises, to which their situation so strongly invited them, and which, in time, would have brought them an accession of riches, grandeur, and security. The small army which they maintained in Ireland, they never supplied regularly with pay; and as no money could be levied on the island, which possessed none, they gave their soldiers the privilege of free quarter upon the natives. Rapine and insolence inflamed the hatred which prevailed between the conquerors and the conquered: want of security among the Irish, introducing despair, nourished still more the sloth natural to that uncultivated people.

But the English carried further their ill-judged tyranny, instead of inviting the Irish to adopt the more civilized customs of their conquerors, they even refused, though earnestly solicited, to communicate to them the privilege of their laws and every where marked them out as aliens and as enemies. Thrown out of the protection of justice, the natives could find no security but in force; and flying the neighborhood of cities, which they could not approach with safety, they sheltered themselves in their marshes and forests from the insolence of their inhuman masters. Being treated like wild beasts, they became such; and joining the ardor of revenge to their yet untamed barbarity, they grew every day more intractable and more dangerous.[*]

As the English princes deemed the conquest of the dispersed Irish to be more the object of time and patience than the source of military glory, they willingly delegated that office to private adventurers; who, enlisting soldiers at their own charge, reduced provinces of that island, which they converted to their own profit. Separate jurisdictions and principalities were established by these lordly conquerors: the power of peace and war was assumed: military law was exercised over the Irish whom they subdued, and, by degrees, over the English by whose assistance they conquered; and, after their authority had once taken root, deeming the English institutions less favorable to barbarous dominion, they degenerated into mere Irish, and abandoned the garb, language, manners, and laws of their mother country.[**]

By all this imprudent conduct of England, the natives of its dependent state remained still in that abject condition into which the northern and western parts of Europe were sunk, before they received civility and slavery from the refined policy and irresistible bravery of Rome. Even at the end of the sixteenth century, when every Christian nation was cultivating with ardor every civil art of life, that island, lying in a temperate climate, enjoying a fertile soil, accessible in its situation, possessed of innumerable harbors, was still, notwithstanding these advantages, inhabited by a people whose customs and manners approached nearer those of savages than of barbarians.[***]

* Sir J. Davies, p. 102, 103, etc.

** Sir J. Davies, p. 133, 134, etc

*** See Spenser's Account of Ireland, throughout.

As the rudeness and ignorance of the Irish were extreme they were sunk below the reach of that curiosity and love of novelty by which every other people in Europe had been seized at the beginning of that century, and which had engaged them in innovations and religious disputes, with which they were still so violently agitated. The ancient superstition, the practices and observances of their fathers, mingled and polluted with many wild opinions, still maintained an unshaken empire over them; and the example alone of the English was sufficient to render the reformation odious to the prejudiced and discontented Irish. The old opposition of manners, laws, and interest was now inflamed by religious antipathy; and the subduing and civilizing of that country seemed to become every day more difficult and more impracticable.

The animosity against the English was carried so far by the Irish, that, in an insurrection raised by two sons of the earl of Clanricarde, they put to the sword all the inhabitants of the town of Athenry, though Irish, because they began to conform themselves to English customs, and had embraced a more civilized form of life than had been practised by their ancestors.[*]

The usual revenue of Ireland amounted only to six thousand pounds a year:[**] the queen, though with much repining,[***] commonly added twenty thousand more, which she remitted from England; and with this small revenue a body of a thousand men was supported, which, on extraordinary emergencies, was augmented to two thousand.[****] No wonder that a force so disproportioned to the object, instead of subduing a mutinous kingdom, served rather to provoke the natives, and to excite those frequent insurrections, which still further inflamed the animosity between the two nations, and increased the disorders to which the Irish were naturally subject.

In 1560, Shan O'Neale, or the great O'Neale, as the Irish called him, because head of that potent clan, raised a rebellion in Ulster; but after some skirmishes, he was received into favor, upon his submission, and his promise of a more dutiful behavior for the future.[v]

* Camden, p. 457.

** Memoirs of the Sidneys, vol. i. p. 86.

*** Cox, p. 342. Sidney, vol. i. p. 85, 200.

**** Camden, p. 542. Sidney, vol. i. p. 65, 109, 183, 184.

v Camden, p. 385, 391. 305

This impunity tempted him to undertake a new insurrection in 1567; but being pushed by Sir Henry Sidney, lord deputy, he retreated into Clandeboy, and rather than submit to the English, he put himself into the hands of some Scottish islanders, who commonly infested those parts by their incursions. The Scots, who retained a quarrel against him on account of former injuries, violated the laws of hospitality, and murdered him at a festival to which they had invited him. He was a man equally noted for his pride, his violence, his debaucheries, and his hatred of the English nation. He is said to have put some of his followers to death because they endeavored to introduce the use of bread after the English fashion.[*] Though so violent an enemy to luxury, he was extremely addicted to riot; and was accustomed, after his intemperance had thrown him into a fever, to plunge his body into mire, that he might allay the flame which he had raised by former excesses.[**] Such was the life led by this haughty barbarian; who scorned the title of the earl of Tyrone, which Elizabeth intended to have restored to him, and who assumed the rank and appellation of king of Ulster. He used also to say, that though the queen was his sovereign lady, he never made peace with her but at her seeking.[***]

Sir Henry Sidney was one of the wisest and most active governors that Ireland had enjoyed for several reigns;[****] and he possessed his authority eleven years; during which he struggled with many difficulties, and made some progress in repressing those disorders which had become inveterate among the people. The earl of Desmond, in 1569, gave him disturbance, from the hereditary animosity which prevailed between that nobleman and the earl of Ormond, descended from the only family, established in Ireland, that had steadily maintained its loyalty to the English crown.[v] The earl of Thomond, in 1570, attempted a rebellion in Connaught, but was obliged to fly into France before his designs were ripe for execution. Stukely, another fugitive, found such credit with the pope, Gregory XIII., that he flattered that pontiff with the prospect of making his nephew, Buon Compagno, king of Ireland; and, as if this project had already taken effect, he accepted the title of marquis of Leinster from the new sovereign.v He passed next into Spain; and after having received much encouragement and great rewards from Philip, who intended to employ him as an instrument in disturbing Elizabeth, he was found to possess too little interest for executing those high promises which he had made to that monarch.

* Camden, p. 409.

** Camden, p. 409. Cox, p. 324.

*** Camden, p. 321.

**** Cox, p. 350.

v Camden, p. 424.

v* Camden, p. 430. Cox, p. 354

He retired into Portugal; and following the fortunes of Don Sebastian, he perished with that gallant prince in his bold but unfortunate expedition against the Moors.

Lord Gray, after some interval, succeeded to the government of Ireland; and in 1579 suppressed a new rebellion of the earl of Desmond, though supported by a body of Spaniards and Italians. The rebellion of the Bourks followed a few years after; occasioned by the strict and equitable administration of Sir Richard Bingham, governor of Connaught, who endeavored to repress the tyranny of the chieftains over their vassals.[*] The queen, finding Ireland so burdensome to her, tried several expediants for reducing it to a state of greater order and submission. She encouraged the earl of Essex, father to that nobleman who was afterwards her favorite, to attempt the subduing and planting of Clandeboy, Ferny, and other territories, part of some late forfeitures; but that enterprise proved unfortunate; and Essex died of a distemper, occasioned, as is supposed, by the vexation which he had conceived from his disappointments. A university was founded in Dublin with a view of introducing arts and learning into that kingdom, and civilizing the uncultivated manners of the inhabitants.[**] But the most unhappy expedient employed in the government of Ireland, was that made use of in 1585 by Sir John Perrot, at that time lord deputy; he put arms into the hands of the Irish inhabitants of Ulster, in order to enable them, without the assistance of the government, to repress the incursions of the Scottish islanders, by which these parts were much infested.[***] At the same time, the invitations of Philip, joined to their zeal for the Catholic religion, engaged many of the gentry to serve in the Low Country wars, and thus Ireland, being provided with officers and soldiers, with discipline and arms, became formidable to the English, and was thenceforth able to maintain a more regular war against her ancient masters.

* Stowe, p. 720.

** Camden, p. 566.

*** Nanton's Fragmenta Regalia, p. 203.

Hugh O'Neale, nephew to Shan O'Neale, had been raised by the queen to the dignity of earl of Tyrone; but having murdered his cousin, son of that rebel, and being acknowledged head of his clan, he preferred the pride of barbarous license and dominion to the pleasures of opulence and tranquillity, and he fomented all those disorders by which he hoped to weaken or overturn the English government. He was noted for the vices of perfidy and cruelty, so common among uncultivated nations; and was also eminent for courage, a virtue which their disorderly course of life requires, and which, notwithstanding, being less supported by the principle of honor, is commonly more precarious among them than among a civilized people. Tyrone actuated by this spirit, secretly fomented the discontents of the Maguires, O'Donnels, O'Rourks, Macmahons, and other rebels; yet, trusting to the influence of his deceitful oaths and professions, he put himself into the hands of Sir William Russel, who, in the year 1594, was sent over deputy to Ireland. Contrary to the advice and protestation of Sir Henry Bagnal, marshal of the army, he was dismissed; and returning to his own country, he embraced the resolution of raising an open rebellion, and of relying no longer on the lenity or inexperience of the English government. He entered into a correspondence with Spain; he procured thence a supply of arms and ammunition; and having united all the Irish chieftains in a dependence upon himself, he began to be regarded as a formidable enemy.

The native Irish were so poor, that their country afforded few other commodities than cattle and oatmeal, which were easily concealed or driven away on the approach of the enemy; and as Elizabeth was averse to the expense requisite for supporting her armies, the English found much difficulty in pushing their advantages, and in pursuing the rebels into the bogs, woods, and other fastnesses to which they retreated. These motives rendered Sir John Norris, who commanded the English army, the more willing to hearken to any proposals of truce or accommodation made him by Tyrone; and after the war was spun out by these artifices for some years, that gallant Englishman, finding that he had been deceived by treacherous promises, and that he had performed nothing worthy of his ancient reputation, was seized with a languishing distemper, and died of vexation and discontent. Sir Henry Bagnal, who succeeded him in the command, was still more unfortunate. As he advanced to relieve the fort of Black Water, besieged by the rebels, he was surrounded in disadvantageous ground: his soldiers, discouraged by part of their powders accidentally taking fire, were put to flight; and, though the pursuit was stopped by Montacute, who commanded the English horse, fifteen hundred men, together with the general himself, were left dead upon the spot. This victory, so unusual to the Irish, roused their courage, supplied them with arms and ammunition, and raised the reputation of Tyrone, who assumed the character of the deliverer of his country, and patron of Irish liberty.[*]

The English council were now sensible, that the rebellion of Ireland was come to a dangerous head, and that the former temporizing arts, of granting truces and pacifications to the rebels, and of allowing them to purchase pardons by resigning part of the plunder acquired during their insurrection, served only to encourage the spirit of mutiny and disorder among them. It was therefore resolved to push the war by more vigorous measures; and the queen cast her eye on Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, as a man, who, though hitherto less accustomed to arms than to books and literature, was endowed, she thought, with talents equal to the undertaking. But the young earl of Essex, ambitious of fame, and desirous of obtaining this government for himself, opposed the choice of Mountjoy; and represented the necessity of appointing for that important employment, some person more experienced in war than this nobleman, more practised in business, and of higher quality and reputation. By this description, he was understood to mean himself;[**] and no sooner was his desire known, than his enemies, even more zealously than his friends, conspired to gratify his wishes. Many of his friends thought, that he never ought to consent, except for a short time, to accept of any employment which must remove him from court, and prevent him from cultivating that personal inclination which the queen so visibly bore him.[***]

* Cox, p. 415.

** Bacon, vol. iv. p. 512.

*** Cabala, p. 79.

His enemies hoped, that if by his absence she had once leisure to forget the charms of his person and conversation, his impatient and lofty demeanor would soon disgust a princess who usually exacted such profound submission and implicit obedience from all her servants. But Essex was incapable of entering into such cautious views; and even Elizabeth, who was extremely desirous of subduing the Irish rebels, and who was much prepossessed in favor of Essex's genius, readily agreed to appoint him governor of Ireland, by the title of lord lieutenant. The more to encourage him in his undertaking, she granted him by his patent more extensive authority had ever before been conferred on any lieutenant; the power of carrying on or finishing the war as he pleased, of pardoning the rebels, and of filling all the most considerable employments of the kingdom.[*] And to insure him of success, she levied a numerous army of sixteen thousand foot and thirteen hundred horse, which she afterwards augmented to twenty thousand foot and two thousand horse; a force which, it was apprehended, would be able in one campaign to overwhelm the rebels, and make an entire conquest of Ireland. Nor did Essex's enemies, the earl of Nottingham, Sir Robert Cecil, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Lord Cobham, throw any obstacles in the way of these preparations; but hoped that the higher the queen's expectations of success were raised, the more difficult it would be for the event to correspond to them. In a like view, they rather seconded than opposed those exalted encomiums, which Essex's numerous and sanguine friends dispersed, of his high genius, of his elegant endowments, his heroic courage, his unbounded generosity, and his noble birth; nor were they displeased to observe that passionate fondness which the people every where expressed for this nobleman. These artful politicians had studied his character; and finding that his open and undaunted spirit, if taught temper and reserve from opposition, must become invincible, they resolved rather to give full breath to those sails which were already too much expanded and to push him upon dangers of which he seemed to make such small account.[**] And the better to make advantage of his indiscretions, spies were set upon all his actions, and even expressions; and his vehement spirit, which, while he was in the midst of the court and environed by his rivals, was unacquainted with disguise, could not fail, after he thought himself surrounded by none but friends, to give a pretence for malignant suspicions and constructions.

* Rymer, tom. xvi. p. 366.

** Camden. Osborne, p. 371.

Essex left London in the month of March, attended with the acclamations of the populace; and, what did him more honor, accompanied by a numerous train of nobility and gentry, who, from affection to his person, had attached themselves to his fortunes, and sought fame and military experience under so renowned a commander. The first act of authority which he exercised after his arrival in Ireland, was an indiscretion, but of the generous kind, and in both these respects suitable to his character. He appointed his intimate friend the earl of Southampton, general of the horse; a nobleman who had incurred the queen's displeasure by secretly marrying without her consent, and whom she had therefore enjoined Essex not to employ in any command under him. She no sooner heard of this instance of disobedience, than she reprimanded him, and ordered him to recall his commission to Southampton. But Essex, who had imagined that some reasons which he opposed to her first injunctions had satisfied her, had the imprudence to remonstrate against these second orders;[*] and it was not till she reiterated her commands that he could be prevailed on to displace his friend.

Essex, on his landing at Dublin, deliberated with the Irish council concerning the proper methods of carrying on the war against the rebels; and here he was guilty of a capital error, which was the ruin of his enterprise. He had always, while in England, blamed the conduct of former commanders, who artfully protracted the war, who harassed their troops in small enterprises, and who, by agreeing to truces and temporary pacifications with the rebels, had given them leisure to recruit their broken forces.[**] In conformity to these views, he had ever insisted upon leading his forces immediately into Ulster against Tyrone, the chief enemy; and his instructions had been drawn agreeably to these his declared resolutions. But the Irish counsellors persuaded him that the season was too early for the enterprise, and that as the morasses, in which the northern Irish usually sheltered themselves, would not as yet be passable to the English forces, it would be better to employ the present time in an expedition into Munster. Their secret reason for this advice was, that many of them possessed estates in that province, and were desirous to have the enemy dislodged from their neighborhood;[***] but the same selfish spirit which had induced them to give this counsel, made them soon after disown it, when they found the bad consequences with which it was attended.[****]

* Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii p. 421, 451.

** Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 431. Bacon, vol. iv. 512.

*** Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 448.

**** Winwood, vol. i. p. 140.

Essex obliged all the rebels of Munster either to submit or to fly into the neighboring provinces: but as the Irish, from the greatness of the queen's preparations, had concluded that she intended to reduce them to total subjection, or even utterly to exterminate them, they considered their defence as a common cause; and the English forces were no sooner withdrawn, than the inhabitants of Munster relapsed into rebellion, and renewed their confederacy with their other countrymen. The army, meanwhile, by the fatigue of long and tedious marches, and by the influence of the climate, was become sickly; and on its return to Dublin, about the middle of July, was surprisingly diminished in number. The courage of the soldiers was even much abated: for though they had prevailed in some lesser enterprises against Lord Cahir and others, yet had they sometimes met with more stout resistance than they expected from the Irish, whom they were wont to despise; and as they were raw troops and unexperienced, a considerable body of them had been put to flight at the Glins by an inferior number of the enemy. Essex was so enraged at this misbehavior, that he cashiered all the officers, and decimated the private men.[*] But this act of seventy, though necessary, had intimidated the soldiers, and increased their aversion to the service.

The queen was extremely disgusted, when she heard that so considerable a part of the season was consumed in these frivolous enterprises; and was still more surprised, that Essex persevered in the same practice which he had so much condemned in others, and which he knew to be so much contrary to her purpose and intention. That nobleman, in order to give his troops leisure to recruit from their sickness and fatigue, left the main army in quarters, and marched with a small body of fifteen hundred men into the county of Ophelie against the O'Connors and O'Mores, whom he forced to a submission: but, on his return to Dublin, he found the army so much diminished, that he wrote to the English council an account of its condition, and informed them, that if he did not immediately receive a reenforcement of two thousand men, it would be impossible for him this season to attempt any thing against Tyrone. That there might be no pretence for further inactivity, the queen immediately sent over the number demanded;[**] and Essex began at last to assemble his forces for the expedition into Ulster.

* Cox, p. 421.

** Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 430. Cox, p. 421.

The army was so averse to this enterprise, and so terrified with the reputation of Tyrone, that many of them counterfeited sickness, many of them deserted;[*] and Essex found, that after leaving the necessary garrisons, he could scarcely lead four thousand men against the rebels. He marched, however, with this small army; but was soon sensible, that in so advanced a season, it would be impossible for him to effect any thing against an enemy who, though superior in number, was determined to avoid every decisive action. He hearkened, therefore, to a message sent him by Tyrone, who desired a conference; and a place near the two camps was appointed for that purpose. The generals met without any of their attendants; and a river ran between them, into which Tyrone entered to the depth of his saddle; but Essex stood on the opposite bank. After half an hour's conference, where Tyrone behaved with great submission to the lord lieutenant, a cessation of arms was concluded to the first of May, renewable from six weeks to six weeks; but which might be broken off by either party upon a fortnight's warning.[**] Essex also received from Tyrone proposals for a peace, in which that rebel had inserted many unreasonable and exorbitant conditions: and there appeared afterwards some reason to suspect that he had here commenced a very unjustifiable correspondence with the enemy.[***]

* Sydney's Letters, vol. ii. p. 112, 113.

** Sydney's Letters, vol. ii. p. 125.

*** Winwood, vol. i. p. 307. State Trials. Bacon, vol. iv. p. 514, 585, 537.

So unexpected an issue of an enterprise, the greatest and most expensive that Elizabeth had ever undertaken, provoked her extremely against Essex; and this disgust was much augmented by other circumstances of that nobleman's conduct. He wrote many letters to the queen and council, full of peevish and impatient expressions; complaining of his enemies, lamenting that their calumnies should be believed against him, and discovering symptoms of a mind equally haughty and discontented. She took care to inform him of her dissatisfaction: but commanded him to remain in Ireland till further orders.

Essex heard at once of Elizabeth's anger, and of the promotion of his enemy, Sir Robert Cecil, to the office of master of the wards, an office to which he himself aspired: and dreading that, if he remained any longer absent, the queen would be totally alienated from him, he hastily embraced a resolution which, he knew, had once succeeded with the earl of Leicester, the former favorite of Elizabeth. Leicester, being informed, while in the Low Countries, that his mistress was extremely displeased with his conduct, disobeyed her orders by coming over to England; and having pacified her by his presence, by his apologies, and by his flattery and insinuation, disappointed all the expectations of his enemies.[*] Essex, therefore, weighing more the similarity of circumstances than the difference of character between himself and Leicester, immediately set out for England; and making speedy journeys, he arrived at court before any one was in the least apprised of his intentions.[**] Though besmeared with dirt and sweat, he hastened upstairs to the presence chamber, thence to the privy chamber; nor stopped till he was in the queen's bed-chamber, who was newly risen, and was sitting with her hair about her face. He threw himself on his knees, kissed her hand, and had some private conference with her; where he was so graciously received, that on his departure he was heard to express great satisfaction, and to thank God that, though he had suffered much trouble and many storms abroad, he found a sweet calm at home.[***]

* Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 453.

** Winwood, vol. i. p. 118.

*** Sidney's Letters, vol. ii. p. 127.

But this placability of Elizabeth was merely the result of her surprise, and of the momentary satisfaction which she felt on the sudden and unexpected appearance of her favorite: after she had leisure for recollection, all his faults recurred to her; and she thought it necessary, by some severe discipline to subdue that haughty, imperious spirit, who, presuming on her partiality, had pretended to domineer in her councils, to engross all her favor, and to act, in the most important affairs, without regard to her orders and instructions. When Essex waited on her in the afternoon, he found her extremely altered in her carriage towards him: she ordered him to be confined to his chamber; to be twice examined by the council; and though his answers were calm and submissive, she committed him to the custody of Lord Keeper Egerton, and held him sequestered from all company, even from that of his countess, nor was so much as the intercourse of letters permitted between them. Essex dropped many expressions of humiliation and sorrow, none of resentment: he professed an entire submission to the queen's will; declared his intention of retiring into the country, and of leading thenceforth a private life remote from courts and business: but though he affected to be so entirely cured of his aspiring ambition, the vexation of this disappointment, and of the triumph gained by his enemies, preyed upon his haughty spirit, and he fell into a distemper which seemed to put his life in danger.

The queen had always declared to all the world, and even to the earl himself, that the purpose of her severity was to correct, not to ruin him;[*] and when she heard of his sickness, she was not a little alarmed with his situation. She ordered eight physicians of the best reputation and experience to consult of his case; and being informed that the issue was much to be apprehended, she sent Dr. James to him with some broth, and desired that physician to deliver him a message, which she probably deemed of still greater virtue, that if she thought such a step consistent with her honor, she would herself pay him a visit. The bystanders, who carefully observed her countenance, remarked, that in pronouncing these words her eyes were suffused with tears.[**]

When these symptoms of the queen's returning affection towards Essex were known, they gave a sensible alarm to the faction which had declared their opposition to him. Sir Walter Raleigh in particular, the most violent as well as the most ambitious of his enemies, was so affected with the appearance of this sudden revolution, that he was seized with sickness in his turn; and the queen was obliged to apply the same salve to his wound, and to send him a favorable message, expressing her desire of his recovery.[***]

{1600.} The medicine which the queen administered to these aspiring rivals was successful with both; and Essex, being now allowed the company of his countess, and having entertained more promising hopes of his future fortunes, was so much restored in his health as to be thought past danger. A belief was instilled into Elizabeth, that his distemper had been entirely counterfeit, in order to move her compassion;[****] and she relapsed into her former rigor against him. He wrote her a letter, and sent her a rich present on new-year's day, as was usual with the courtiers at that time: she read the letter but rejected the present.[v] After some interval, however, of severity, she allowed him to retire to his own house; and though he remained still under custody, and was sequestered from all company, he was so grateful for this mark of lenity, that he sent her a letter of thanks on the occasion.

* Birch's Memoirs, p. 444, 445. Sidney's Letters, vol. ii. p. 196.

** Sidney's Letters, vol. ii. p. 151.

*** Sidney's Letters, vol. ii. p. 139.

**** Sidney's Letters, vol. ii. p. 153

v Sidney's Letters, vol. ii. p. 155, 156.

"This further degree of goodness," said he, "doth sound in my ears, as if your majesty spake these words: 'Die not, Essex; for though I punish thine offence, and humble thee for thy good yet will I one day be served again by thee.' My prostrate soul makes this answer: 'I hope for that blessed day.' And in expectation of it, all my afflictions of body and mind are humbly, patiently, and cheerfully borne by me."[*] The countess of Essex, daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham, possessed, as well as her husband, a refined taste in literature; and the chief consolation which Essex enjoyed, during this period of anxiety and expectation, consisted in her company, and in reading with her those instructive and entertaining authors, which, even during the time of his greatest prosperity, he had never entirely neglected.

There were several incidents which kept alive the queen's anger against Essex. Every account which she received from Ireland, convinced her more and more of his misconduct in that government, and of the insignificant purposes to which he had employed so much force and treasure. Tyrone, so far from being quelled, had thought proper, in less than three months, to break the truce, and joining with O'Donnel and other rebels, had overrun almost the whole kingdom. He boasted that he was certain of receiving a supply of men, money, and arms from Spain: he pretended to be champion of the Catholic religion: and he openly exulted in the present of a phoenix plume, which the pope, Clement VIII., in order to encourage him in the prosecution of so good a cause, had consecrated, and had conferred upon him.[**]

* Birch's Memoirs, p. 444.

** Camden p. 617

The queen, that she might check his progress, returned to her former intention of appointing Mountjoy lord deputy; and though that nobleman, who was an intimate friend of Essex, and desired his return to the government of Ireland, did at first very earnestly excuse himself on account of his bad state of health, she obliged him to accept of the employment. Mountjoy found the island almost in a desperate condition; but being a man of capacity and vigor, he was so little discouraged, that he immediately advanced against Tyrone in Ulster. He penetrated into the heart of that country, the chief seat of the rebels; he fortified Derry and Mount-Norris, in order to bridle the Irish: he chased them from the field, and obliged them to take shelter in the woods and morasses: he employed, with equal success, Sir George Carew in Munster: and by these promising enterprises, he gave new life to the queen's authority in that island.

As the comparison of Mountjoy's administration with that of Essex contributed to alienate Elizabeth from her favorite, she received additional disgust from the partiality of the people, who, prepossessed with an extravagant idea of Essex's merit, complained of the injustice done him by his removal from court, and by his confinement. Libels were secretly dispersed against Cecil and Raleigh and all his enemies: and his popularity, which was always great, seemed rather to be increased than diminished by his misfortunes. Elizabeth, in order to justify to the public her conduct with regard to him, had often expressed her intentions of having him tried in the star chamber for his offences: but her tenderness for him prevailed at last over her severity; and she was contented to have him only examined by the privy council. The attorney-general, Coke, opened the cause against him, and treated him with the cruelty and insolence which that great lawyer usually exercised against the unfortunate. He displayed in the strongest colors all the faults committed by Essex in his administration of Ireland: his making Southampton general of the horse, contrary to the queen's injunctions; his deserting the enterprise against Tyrone, and marching to Leinster and Munster, his conferring knighthood on too many persons; his secret conference with Tyrone; and his sudden return from Ireland, in contempt of her majesty's commands. He also exaggerated the indignity of the conditions which Tyrone had been allowed to propose; odious and abominable conditions, said he; a public toleration of an idolatrous religion, pardon for himself and every traitor in Ireland, and full restitution of lands and possessions to all of them.[*] The solicitor-general, Fleming, insisted upon the wretched situation in which the earl had left that kingdom; and Francis, son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, who had been lord keeper in the beginning of the present reign, closed the charge with displaying the undutiful expressions contained in some letters written by the earl.

* Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 449.

Essex, when he came to plead in his own defence renounced, with great submission and humility, all pretensions to an apology;[*] and declared his resolution never, on this or any other occasion, to have any contest with his sovereign. He said, that having severed himself from the world, and abjured all sentiments of ambition, he had no scruple to confess every failing or error into which his youth, folly, or manifold infirmities might have betrayed him; that his inward sorrow for his offences against her majesty was so profound, that it exceeded all his outward crosses and afflictions, nor had he any scruple of submitting to a public confession of whatever she had been pleased to impute to him; that in his acknowledgments he retained only one reserve, which he never would relinquish but with his life, the assertion of a loyal and unpolluted heart, of an unfeigned affection, of an earnest desire ever to perform to her majesty the best service which his pool abilities would permit; and that, if this sentiment were allowed by the council, he willingly acquiesced in any condemnation or sentence which they could pronounce against him. This submission was uttered with so much eloquence, and in so pathetic a manner, that it drew tears from many of the audience.[**] All the privy counsellors, in giving their judgment, made no scruple of doing the earl justice with regard to the loyalty of his intentions. Even Cecil, whom he believed his capital enemy, treated him with regard and humanity. And the sentence pronounced by the lord keeper, (to which the council assented,) was in these words: "If this cause," said he, "had been heard in the star chamber, my sentence must have been for as great a fine as ever was set upon any man's head in that court, together with perpetual confinement in that prison which belongeth to a man of his quality, the Tower. But since we are now in another place, and in a course of favor, my censure is, that the earl of Essex is not to execute the office of a counsellor, nor that of earl marshal of England, nor of master of the ordnance; and to return to his own house, there to continue a prisoner till it shall please her majesty to release this and all the rest of his sentence."[***] The earl of Cumberland made a slight opposition to this sentence; and said, that if he thought it would stand, he would have required a little more time to deliberate; that he deemed it somewhat severe; and that any commander-in-chief might easily incur a like penalty.

* Sidney's Letters, vol. ii. p. 200.

** Sidney's Letters, vol. ii. p. 200, 201.

*** Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 454. Camden, p 626, 627.

"But however," added he, "in confidence of her majesty's mercy, I agree with the rest." The earl of Worcester delivered his opinion in a couple of Latin verses; importing, that where the gods are offended, even, misfortunes ought to be imputed as crimes, and that accident is no excuse for transgressions against the Divinity.

Bacon, so much distinguished afterwards by his high offices, and still more by his profound genius for the sciences, was nearly allied to the Cecil family, being nephew to Lord Burleigh, and cousin-german to the secretary: but notwithstanding his extraordinary talents, he had met with so little protection from his powerful relations, that he had not yet obtained any preferment in the law, which was his profession. But Essex, who could distinguish merit, and who passionately loved it, had entered into an intimate friendship with Bacon; had zealously attempted, though without success, to procure him the office of solicitor-general; and in order to comfort his friend under the disappointment, had conferred on him a present of land to the value of eighteen hundred pounds.[*] The public could ill excuse Bacon's appearance before the council against so munificent a benefactor; though he acted in obedience to the queen's commands: but she was so well pleased with his behavior, that she imposed on him a new task, of drawing a narrative of that day's proceedings, in order to satisfy the public of the justice and lenity of her conduct. Bacon, who wanted firmness of character more than humanity, gave to the whole transaction the most favorable turn for Essex; and, in particular, painted out, in elaborate expression, the dutiful submission which that nobleman discovered in the defence that he made for his conduct. When he read the paper to her, she smiled at that passage, and observed to Bacon, that old love, she saw, could not easily be forgotten. He replied, that he hoped she meant that of herself.[**]

All the world, indeed, expected that Essex would soon be reinstated in his former credit;[***] perhaps, as is usual in reconcilements founded on inclination, would acquire an additional ascendant over the queen, and after all his disgraces would again appear more a favorite than ever.

* Cabala, p. 78.

** Cabala, p. 83.

*** Winwood, vol i. p. 254., Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii p. 462.

They were confirmed in this hope, when they saw that, though he was still prohibited from appearing at court, he was continued in his office of master of horse, and was restored to his liberty, and that all his friends had access to him. Essex himself seemed determined to persevere in that conduct which had hitherto been so successful, and which the queen, by all this discipline, had endeavored to render habitual to him: he wrote to her, that he kissed her majesty's hands, and the rod with which she had corrected him; but that he could never recover his wonted cheerfulness, till she deigned to admit him to that presence which had ever been the chief source of his happiness and enjoyment: and that he had now resolved to make amends for his past errors, to retire into a country solitude, and say with Nebucidnezzar, "Let my dwelling be with the beasts of the field; let me eat grass as an ox, and be wet with the dew of heaven; till it shall please the queen to restore me to my understanding." The queen was much pleased with these sentiments; and replied, that she heartily wished his actions might correspond with his expressions; that he had tried her patience a long time, and it was but fitting she should now make some experiment of his submission; that her father would never have pardoned so much obstinacy; but that, if the furnace of affliction produced such good effects, she should ever after have the better opinion of her chemistry.[*]

The earl of Essex possessed a monopoly of sweet wines; and as his patent was near expiring, he patiently expected that the queen would renew it; and he considered this event as the critical circumstance of his life, which would determine whether he could ever hope to be reinstated in credit and authority.[**] But Elizabeth, though gracious in her deportment, was of a temper somewhat haughty and severe; and being continually surrounded with Essex's enemies, means were found to persuade her, that his lofty spirit was not yet sufficiently subdued, and that he must undergo this further trial, before he could again be safely received into favor. She therefore denied his request; and even added, in a contemptuous style, that an ungovernable beast must be stinted in his provender.[***]

* Camden, p. 628.

** Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 472.

*** Camden, p. 628.

This rigor, pushed one step too far, proved the final ruin of this young nobleman, and was the source of infinite sorrow and vexation to the queen herself. Essex, who had with great difficulty so long subdued his proud spirit, and whose patience was now exhausted, imagining that the queen was entirely inexorable, burst at once all restraints of submission and of prudence, and determined to seek relief by proceeding to the utmost extremities against his enemies. Even during his greatest favor, he had ever been accustomed to carry matters with a high hand towards his sovereign, and as this practice gratified his own temper, and was sometimes successful, he had imprudently imagined that it was the only proper method of managing her: [*] but being now reduced to despair, he gave entire reins to his violent disposition, and threw off all appearance of duty and respect. Intoxicated with the public favor which he already possessed, he practised anew every art of popularity; and endeavored to increase the general good will by a hospitable manner of life, little suited to his situation and circumstances. His former employments had given him great connections, with men of the military profession; and he now entertained, by additional caresses and civilities, a friendship with all desperate adventurers, whose attachment, he hoped, might, in his present views, prove serviceable to him. He secretly courted the confidence of the Catholics; but his chief trust lay in the Puritans, whom he openly caressed, and whose manners he seemed to have entirely adopted. He engaged the most celebrated preachers of that sect to resort to Essex House; he had daily prayers and sermons in his family; and he invited all the zealots in London to attend those pious exercises. Such was the disposition now beginning to prevail among the English, that, instead of feasting and public spectacles, the methods anciently practised to gain the populace, nothing so effectually ingratiated an ambitious leader with the public as these fanatical entertainments. And as the Puritanical preachers frequently inculcated in their sermons the doctrine of resistance to the civil magistrate, they prepared the minds of their hearers for those seditious projects which Essex was secretly meditating.[**]

* Cabala, p. 79.

** Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 463. Camden, p. 630.

But the greatest imprudence of this nobleman proceeded from the openness of his temper, by which he was ill qualified to succeed in such difficult, and dangerous enterprises. He indulged himself in great liberties of speech, and was even heard to say of the queen, that she was now grown an old woman and was become as crooked in her mind as in her body.[*] Some court ladies, whose favors Essex had formerly neglected, carried her these stories, and incensed her to a high degree against him. Elizabeth was ever remarkably jealous on this head; and though she was now approaching to her seventieth year, she allowed her courtiers,[**] and even foreign ambassadors,[***] to compliment her upon her beauty; nor had all her good sense been able to cure her of this preposterous vanity.[****] [37]

* Camden, p. 629. Osborne, p. 397. Sir Walter Raleigh's Prerogative of Parliament, p. 43.

** Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 442, 443.

*** Sidney's Letters, vol. ii. p. 171.

**** See note KK, at the end of the volume.

There was also an expedient employed by Essex, which, if possible, was more provoking to the queen than those sarcasms on her age and deformity; and that was, his secret applications to the king of Scots, her heir and successor. That prince had this year very narrowly escaped a dangerous, though ill-formed conspiracy of the earl of Gowry; and even his deliverance was attended with this disagreeable circumstance, that the obstinate ecclesiastics persisted, in spite of the most incontestable evidence, to maintain to his face, that there had been no such conspiracy. James, harassed with his turbulent and factious subjects, cast a wishful eye to the succession of England; and in proportion as the queen advanced in years, his desire increased of mounting that throne, on which, besides acquiring a great addition of power and splendor, he hoped to govern a people so much more tractable and submissive. He negotiated with all the courts of Europe, in order to insure himself friends and partisans: he even neglected not the court of Rome and that of Spain; and though he engaged himself in no positive promise, he flattered the Catholics with hopes that, in the event of his succession, they might expect some more liberty than was at present indulged them. Elizabeth was the only sovereign in Europe to whom he never dared to mention his right of succession: he knew that, though her advanced age might now invite her to think of fixing an heir to the crown, she never could bear the prospect of her own death without horror, and was determined still to retain him, and all other competitors, in an entire dependence upon her.

Essex was descended by females from the royal family and some of his sanguine partisans had been so imprudent as to mention his name among those of other pretenders to the crown; but the earl took care, by means of Henry Lee, whom he secretly sent into Scotland, to assure James, that so far from entertaining such ambitious views, he was determined to use every expedient for extorting an immediate declaration in favor of that monarch's right of succession. James willingly hearkened to this proposal, but did not approve of the violent methods which Essex intended to employ. Essex had communicated his scheme to Mountjoy, deputy of Ireland; and as no man ever commanded more the cordial affection and attachment of his friends, he had even engaged a person of that virtue and prudence to entertain thoughts of bringing over part of his army into England, and of forcing the queen to declare the king of Scots her successor.[*] And such was Essex's impatient ardor, that, though James declined this dangerous expedient, he still endeavored to persuade Mountjoy not to desist from the project; but the deputy, who thought that such violence, though it might be prudent, and even justifiable, when supported by a sovereign prince, next heir to the crown, would be rash and criminal if attempted by subjects, absolutely refused his concurrence. The correspondence, however, between Essex and the court of Scotland was still conducted with great secrecy and cordiality; and that nobleman, besides conciliating the favor of James, represented all his own adversaries as enemies to that prince's succession, and as men entirely devoted to the interests of Spain, and partisans of the chimerical title of the infanta.

* Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 471.

The infanta and the archduke Albert had made some advances to the queen for peace; and Boulogne, as a neutral town, was chosen for the place of conference. Sir Henry Nevil, the English resident in France, Herbert, Edmondes, and Beale, were sent thither as ambassadors from England; and negotiated with Zuniga, Carillo, Richetrdot, and Verheiken, ministers of Spain and the archduke: but the conferences were soon broken off, by disputes with regard to the ceremonial. Among the European states, England had ever been allowed the precedency above Castile, Arragon, Portugal, and the other kingdoms of which the Spanish monarchy was composed; and Elizabeth insisted, that this ancient right was not lost on account of the junction of these states, and that that monarchy in its present situation, though it surpassed the English in extent as well as in power, could not be compared with it in point of antiquity, the only durable and regular foundation of precedency among kingdoms as well as noble families. That she might show, however, a pacific disposition, she was content to yield to an equality; but the Spanish ministers, as their nation had always disputed precedency even with France, to which England yielded, would proceed no further in the conference till their superiority of rank were acknowledged.[*] During the preparations for this abortive negotiation, the earl of Nottingham, the admiral, Lord Buckhurst, treasurer, and Secretary Cecil, had discovered their inclination to peace, but as the English nation, flushed with success, and sanguine in their hopes of plunder and conquest, were in general averse to that measure, it was easy for a person so popular as Essex to infuse into the multitude an opinion, that these ministers had sacrificed the interests of their country to Spain, and would even make no scruple of receiving a sovereign from that hostile nation.

* Winwood's Memorials, vol. i. p. 186—226.

{1601.} But Essex, not content with these arts for decrying his adversaries, proceeded to concert more violent methods of ruining them; chiefly instigated by Cuffe, his secretary, a man of a bold and arrogant spirit, who had acquired a great ascendant over his patron. A select council of malecontents was formed, who commonly met at Drury House, and were composed of Sir Charles Davers, to whom the house belonged, the earl of Southampton, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, Sir Christopher Blount, Sir John Davies, and John Littleton; and Essex, who boasted that he had a hundred and twenty barons, knights, and gentlemen of note at his devotion, and who trusted still more to his authority with the populace, communicated to his associates those secret designs with which his confidence in so powerful a party had inspired him. Among other criminal projects, the result of blind rage and despair, he deliberated with them concerning the method of taking arms; and asked their opinion, whether he had best begin with seizing the palace or the Tower, or set out with making himself master at once of both places. The first enterprise being preferred, a method was concerted for executing it. It was agreed, that Sir Christopher Blount, with a choice detachment, should possess himself of the palace gates; that Davies should seize the hall, Davers the guard chamber and presence chamber; and that Essex should rush in from the Meuse, attended by a body of his partisans; should entreat the queen, with all demonstrations of humility, to remove his enemies; should oblige her to assemble a parliament; and should, with common consent, settle a new plan of government.[*]

* Camden, p. 630. Birch's Memoirs vol. ii. p. 464. State Trials Bacon, vol. iv. p. 542, 543.

While these desperate projects were in agitation, many reasons of suspicion were carried to the queen; and she sent Robert Sacville, son of the treasurer, to Essex House, on pretence of a visit, but, in reality, with a view of discovering whether there were in that place any unusual concourse of people, or any extraordinary preparations which might threaten an insurrection. Soon after, Essex received a summons to attend the council, which met at the treasurer's house; and while he was musing on this circumstance, and comparing it with the late unexpected visit from Sacville, a private note was conveyed to him, by which he was warned to provide for his own safety. He concluded, that all his conspiracy was discovered, at least suspected; and that the easiest punishment which he had reason to apprehend, was a new and more severe confinement: he therefore excused himself to the council on pretence of an indisposition; and he immediately despatched messages to his more intimate confederates, requesting their advice and assistance in the present critical situation of his affairs. They deliberated, whether they should abandon all their projects, and fly the kingdom; or instantly seize the palace with the force which they could assemble; or rely upon the affections of the citizens, who were generally known to have a great attachment to the earl. Essex declared against the first expedient, and professed himself determined to undergo any fate rather than submit to live the life of a fugitive. To seize the palace seemed impracticable without more preparations; especially as the queen seemed now aware of their projects, and, as they heard, had used the precaution of doubling her ordinary guards. There remained, therefore, no expedient but that of betaking themselves to the city; and while the prudence and feasibility of this resolution was under debate, a person arrived, who, as if he had received a commission for the purpose, gave them assurance of the affections of the Londoners, and affirmed that they might securely rest any project on that foundation. The popularity of Essex had chiefly buoyed him up in all his vain undertakings; and he fondly imagined, that, with no other assistance than the good will of the multitude, he might overturn Elizabeth's government, confirmed by time, revered for wisdom, supported by vigor, and concurring with the general sentiments of the nation. The wild project of raising the city was immediately resolved on; the execution of it was decayed till next day; and emissaries were despatched to all Essex's friends, informing them that Cobham and Raleigh had laid schemes against his life, and entreating their presence and assistance.

Next day, there appeared at Essex House the earls of Southampton and Rutland, the lords Sandys and Monteagle, with about three hundred gentlemen of good quality and fortune; and Essex informed them of the danger to which, he pretended, the machinations of his enemies exposed him. To some, he said that he would throw himself at the queen's feet, and crave her justice and protection; to others, he boasted of his interest in the city, and affirmed that, whatever might happen, this resource could never fail him. The queen was informed of these designs, by means of intelligence conveyed, as is supposed, to Raleigh by Sir Ferdinando Gorges; and having ordered the magistrates of London to keep the citizens in readiness, she sent Egerton, lord keeper; to Essex House, with the earl of Worcester, Sir William Knollys, comptroller, and Popham, chief justice, in order to learn the cause of these unusual commotions. They were with difficulty admitted through a wicket; but all their servants were excluded, except the purse-bearer. After some altercation, in which they charged Essex's retainers, upon their allegiance, to lay down, their arms, and were menaced in their turn by the angry multitude who surrounded them, the earl, who found that matters were past recall, resolved to leave them prisoners in his house, and to proceed to the execution of his former project. He sallied forth with about two hundred attendants, armed only with walking swords; and in his passage to the city was joined by the earl of Bedford and Lord Cromwell He cried aloud, "For the queen! for the queen! a plot is laid for my life;" and then proceeded to the house of Smith the sheriff, on whose aid he had great reliance. The citizens flocked about him in amazement; but though he told them that England was sold to the infanta, and exhorted them to arms instantly otherwise they could not do him any service, no one showed a disposition to join him. The sheriff, on the earl's approach to his house, stole out at the back door, and made the best of his way to the mayor. Essex, meanwhile, observing the coldness of the citizens, and hearing that he was proclaimed a traitor by the earl of Cumberland and Lord Burleigh, began to despair of success, and thought of retreating to his own house. He found the streets in his passage barricaded and guarded by the citizens under the command of Sir John Levison. In his attempt to force his way, Tracy, a young gentleman to whom he bore great friendship, was killed, with two or three of the Londoners; and the earl himself, attended by a few of his partisans, (for the greater part began secretly to withdraw themselves,) retired towards the river, and taking boat, arrived at Essex House. He there found that Gorges, whom he had sent before to capitulate with the lord keeper and the other counsellors, had given all of them their liberty, and had gone to court with them. He was now reduced to despair; and appeared determined, in prosecution of Lord Sandy's advice, to defend himself to the last extremity, and rather to perish like a brave man, with his sword in his hand, than basely by the hands of the executioner: but after some parley, and after demanding in vain, first hostages, then conditions, from the besiegers, he surrendered at discretion; requesting only civil treatment, and a fair and impartial hearing.[*]

The queen, who, during all this commotion, had behaved with as great tranquillity and security as if there had only passed a fray in the streets, in which she was nowise concerned,[**] soon gave orders for the trial of the most considerable of the criminals.

* Camden p. 632.

** Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 469

The earls of Essex and Southampton were arraigned before a jury of twenty-five peers, where Buckhurst acted as lord steward. The guilt of the prisoners was too apparent to admit of any doubt; and, besides the insurrection known to every body, the treasonable conferences at Drury House were proved by undoubted evidence. Sir Ferdinando Gorges was produced in court: the confessions of the earl of Rutland, of the lords Cromwell, Sandys, and Monteagle, of Davers, Blount, and Davies, were only read to the peers, according to the practice of that age. Essex's best friends were scandalized at his assurance in insisting so positively on his innocence, and the goodness of his intentions, and still more at his vindictive disposition, in accusing, without any appearance of reason, Secretary Cecil as a partisan of the infanta's title. The secretary, who had expected this charge, stepped into the court, and challenged Essex to produce his authority, which, on examination, was found extremely weak and frivolous.[*]

* Bacon, vol. iv. p. 530.

When sentence was pronounced, Essex spoke like a man who expected nothing but death; but he added, that he should be sorry if he were represented to the queen as a person that despised her clemency; though he should not, he believed, make any cringing submissions to obtain it. Southampton's behavior was more mild and submissive; he entreated the good offices of the peers in so modest and becoming a manner, as excited compassion in every one.

The most remarkable circumstance in Essex's trial was Bacon's appearance against him. He was none of the crown lawyers; so was not obliged by his office to assist at this trial: yet did he not scruple, in order to obtain the queen's favor, to be active in bereaving of life his friend and patron, whose generosity he had often experienced. He compared Essex's conduct, in pretending to fear the attempts of his adversaries, to that of Pisistratus the Athenian, who cut and wounded his own body, and, making the people believe that his enemies had committed the violence, obtained a guard for his person, by whose assistance he afterwards subdued the liberties of his country.

After Essex had passed some days in the solitude and reflections of a prison, his proud heart was at last subdued, not by the fear of death, but by the sentiments of religion; a principle which he had before attempted to make the instrument of his ambition, but which now took a more firm hold of his mind, and prevailed over every other motive and consideration. His spiritual directors persuaded him, that he never could obtain the pardon of Heaven, unless he made a full confession of his disloyalty; and he gave in to the council an account of all his criminal design, as well as of his correspondence with the king of Scots. He spared not even his most intimate friends, such as Lord Mountjoy, whom he had engaged in these conspiracies; and he sought to pacify his present remorse by making such atonements as, in any other period of his life, he would have deemed more blamable than those attempts themselves which were the objects of his penitence.[*] Sir Henry Nevil, in particular, a man of merit, he accused of a correspondence with the conspirators though it appears that this gentleman had never assented to the proposals made him, and was no further criminal than in not revealing the earl's treason; an office to which every man of honor naturally bears the strongest reluctance.[**] Nevil was thrown into prison, and underwent a severe persecution but as the queen found Mountjoy an able and successful commander, she continued him in his government, and sacrificed her resentment to the public service.

Elizabeth affected extremely the praise of clemency; and in every great example which she had made during her reign, she had always appeared full of reluctance and hesitation: but the present situation of Essex called forth all her tender affections, and kept her in the most real agitation and irresolution. She felt a perpetual combat between resentment and inclination, pride and compassion, the care of her own safety and concern for her favorite; and her situation, during this interval, was perhaps more an object of pity than that to which Essex himself was reduced. She signed the warrant for his execution; she countermanded it; she again resolved on his death; she felt a new return of tenderness. Essex's enemies told her, that he himself desired to die, and had assured her, that she could never be in safety while he lived: it is likely that this proof of penitence and of concern for her would produce a contrary effect to what they intended, and would revive all the fond affection which she had so long indulged towards the unhappy prisoner. But what chiefly hardened her heart against him was his supposed obstinacy, in never making, as she hourly expected, any application to her for mercy; and she finally gave her consent to his execution. He discovered at his death symptoms rather of penitence and piety than of fear; and willingly acknowledged the justice of the sentence by which he suffered. The execution was private in the Tower, agreeably to his own request. He was apprehensive, he said, lest the favor and compassion of the people would too much raise his heart in those moments, when humiliation under the afflicting hand of Heaven was the only proper sentiment which he could indulge.[***] And the queen no doubt, thought that prudence required the removing of so melancholy a spectacle from the public eye.

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