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Title: Great Ralegh
Author: Selincourt, Hugh de
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    [Illustration: SIR WALTER RALEGH]







          _High Cross_


This book has been written for the general reader. Caveat scholasticus.
My aim has been to make the character of Ralegh live again, and to draw
a picture of the times in as lively a manner as I see it. England in
Elizabeth's maturity touched greatness; in Elizabeth's old age and
during the reign of King James, England declined. Ralegh embodied the
greatest qualities of the great days, and survived to carry on the
Elizabethan tradition when the great Elizabethans had passed away.

The books to which reference has been made are too many to need mention
in a book of this kind: dramatists, poets, pamphleteers, memoirists have
been freely pillaged. But I should like to acknowledge here my extreme
indebtedness to the works of Major Martin Hume, Mr. T. N. Brushfield,
and the late Mr. Edward Edwards, and to thank again Miss Janet Wheeler
for her kind help, notably in that arduous task--the making of an Index.

                                                              H. DE S.


  BIRTH                                                           PAGE

  The spread of news--Birth--Influence of birthplace--His
  father--His mother                                                 1


  His early going to Oxford--Old Ascham on quick wit and
  education--Life at a University--The Queen at Oxford--To
  the wars in France--Henry Champernoun--Stories of the wars        11


  Friendship with George Gascoyne--Its importance--Ralegh
  in London--The arch-gossip Aubrey--Elizabethan London--
  Ralegh and Sir Humfrey Gilbert--The beginning of the great
  enterprise                                                        21


  In Ireland--The state of the country--Cruelty of the
  wars--At Rakele--Illustrative anecdotes--Smerwick--
  Ralegh's initiative--Lord Grey de Wilton--Exploit at
  Bally--In touch with the home authorities                         33


  Court life--The Queen's position--Her character--She takes
  notice of Ralegh--Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester--Sir
  Philip Sidney--Burghley, the Lord High Treasurer, and
  Walsingham--Robert Cecil--The dress of the courtier--The
  language of the courtier--The other side, and the other
  Queen--Mary, Queen of Scots--The great intrigue--Its
  discovery--Death of Queen Mary                                    44


  Scheme of colonization--Preparation--The sailing--Queen's
  interest--Death of Sir Humfrey Gilbert--Another charter
  obtained--King Wingina--Hospitality--Sir Richard
  Grenville--Difficulties of first colonists--Personal
  outfit--Misfortune                                                71


  The Stannaries--His grasp of detail--"Do it with thy
  might"--Estimate of squadron--Scheme of coast defence--
  The clash-mills of Mr. Crymes--Irish plans                        88


  Spain's enmity--The Armada--Ralegh's opinion of tactics--
  With Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Norreys--The privateers       97


  Rise of Essex--Ralegh retires to Ireland--At Kilcolman--
  At Youghal--Friendship with Spenser--Brings Spenser to
  Court--Their dreams                                              106


  Ralegh and the Puritans--John Udall--Blount--Ralegh's
  marriage--Queen's anger--In the Tower--His sincerity--The
  Episode in the "Faërie Queene"--_Madre de Dios_--Robert
  Cecil--Sherborne                                                 114


  Ralegh leaves England--Arrives at Trinidad--Taking of S.
  Joseph--Interviews with Berreo--Dealings with natives--
  Starts up the river in boats--Dangers overcome--
  Adventures--They reach River Amana--Indian village--
  Within sight of Guiana--Toparimaca--Beauty of the land--
  Falls of the Caroli--The return--Voyage home--Arrival in
  England                                                          127


  Division of command--Ralegh's delay--Unwillingness of men
  to serve--Disputes--Ralegh's wise plan of action--The
  attack--The sack--Ralegh wounded--His small share of
  spoil--Return home--Sends ship to Guiana--Death of Lady
  Cecil--Robert Cecil's policy--Expedition to Azores--
  Fayal--Quarrel with Essex                                        150


  Robert Cecil in power--Downfall of Essex--Ralegh's opinion
  of Essex--Governor of Jersey--Peril imminent                     167


  Possible successors to Elizabeth--Lord Henry Howard--
  Spies--Ralegh's position--The net is drawn round him--
  Letter of Cecil--Last illness and death of Elizabeth--
  Carey's ride to the North                                        178


  Arrival of James VI. of Scotland--Ralegh in immediate
  disfavour--Gondomar comments on James--Ralegh accused of
  treason--Cobham and Brooke--Ralegh attempts suicide--
  Cobham's retractions--November 17--And the trial's infamy        195


  Comments on Ralegh's fall--In the prison at Winchester--
  Ralegh begs mercy--His attitude explained--The King's own
  farce--Ralegh removed to London                                  227


  Ralegh's efforts to avert complete ruin--True greatness--
  Keeps in touch with life--First two years--The history--
  The first sentence--Reasons for incompleteness--James's
  dislike of the work--Its greatness                               238


  Ralegh's influence with Queen and Prince Henry--Death of
  Robert Cecil--Rise of Villiers--Liberty--The undying
  endeavour--Anecdote--Preparations for expedition--Delays
  and uncertainty--The King's treachery--The expedition
  starts--Further delays--Storms--Captain Bailey--Ralegh's
  illness--At Terra de Bri--His son's death--Return of
  Keymis--Suicide of Keymis--Mutiny--The return                    253


  His reception--Arrest--Journey from Plymouth--Stukeley
  and Manourie--The final scene                                    287

  INDEX                                                            305


  SIR WALTER RALEGH                                     _Frontispiece_

                                                           FACING PAGE

    _From a Photograph by F. Frith & Co., Ltd._

  FRANCIS BACON                                                     14

  MAP OF LONDON                                                     26
    _By kind permission of Dr. F. J. Furnivall_

  QUEEN ELIZABETH                                                   46

  WILLIAM CECIL, LORD BURGHLEY                                      54

  MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS                                               68

  A SAILING SHIP IN THE TIME OF RALEGH                              78

  GENERAL VIEW OF LONDON                                           100
    _From Thornton's "London_," 1784

  ROBERT CECIL                                                     124

  KING JAMES I.                                                    195

  COUNT ARENBERGH                                                  206

  HENRY PRINCE OF WALES                                            254

  PHILIP III. OF SPAIN                                             260

  SIR WALTER RALEGH                                                270
    _From an Engraving by Vaughan_

  TRAITOR'S GATE                                                   294




     The spread of news--Birth--Influence of birthplace--His
     father--His mother.

Life is a series of accidents more or less controlled; the play of
circumstances upon character infinitely various and infinitely involved.
Elizabethan life was superb for the reason that there were fewer men,
and they had the immense advantage of realizing their power and of
possessing scope for their energy. It was the age of discovery, not only
of new lands, but of discovery in every branch of life. Now, a man may
grow old before he has acquired an inkling of what has been found out,
before he has read what has been written finely. The world stands at
ease uneasily, and has time for shuffling and discontent. Vitality and
opportunity then worked in wonderful harmony. We are not less vital, but
our energy is apt to be stifled. Everything is so easy. We read day by
day what has happened throughout the world. There is nothing surprising
except our friends and ourselves--and they are apt to surprise us too
much. Effort begets effort, and effort, strength. The Elizabethan,
without railways, without posts, without telegraphs, was bound to rely
upon himself for everything.

Man brought news to man by word of mouth, without warning or previous
discussion, or the help of photography. An errand-boy can now know more
easily what is happening in the whole world than a wise man could then
know of what was happening in his county. You did not know of a battle
till you saw the wounded fighters.

They were shut out from the outside world, and from time to time
dramatically news fired their imagination and minds. And their minds
were trained so that they did not gape and wonder. Their minds were
stored with the wisdom of the Greeks and Romans, and were thrilled as
only trained minds can be thrilled, and roused to a veritable storm of
energy by the huge possibilities of life. The difficulties to be
overcome were material and romantic, and triumphs were more easily
attained. Life was as adventurous as the true tales of adventure that
were circulated at every fireside.

Nowhere were these tales more frequent or fresher than near the great
sea-ports in Devonshire, where Walter Ralegh was born. The farmhouse
still stands, at Hayes, near Budleigh-Salterton. The country-side has
remained strangely the same in its appearance, a little more populous,
and, after waking to the arrival of trains, has sunk back to its long,
prosperous sleep, contented. No longer do strange ships with stranger
tidings disturb its rest; they are watched for and quietly expected; the
sailors land to learn news, and can tell little but gossip in return. No
longer do horses carry messengers on the Queen's service with packets
marked "_Haste_," "_Post Haste_," "_For Life_," galloping to the Queen's
Chief Secretary, in London.

News was spread slowly; its effect must have been incredibly impressive.

In the year 1552 Walter Ralegh was born. He was the second son of his
father's third wife, and so the universal accident of birth seems in his
case to be intensified. It was the sixth year of Edward VI.'s reign, and
an astrologer has noted that year as "a year remarkable in our
chronicles, first, for that strange shoal of the largest sea-fishes
which, quitting their native waters for fresh and untasted streams,
wandered up the Thames so high, till the river no longer retained any
brackishness; and, secondly, for that it is thought to have been
somewhat stained in our annals with the blood of the noble Seymer, Duke
of Somerset--events surprisingly analogous both to the life of this
adventurous voyager, Sir Walter Ralegh, whose delight was in the
hazardous discovery of unfrequented coasts, and also to his unfortunate

It is not possible to determine exactly the effect of these largest "sea
fishes" on his after-life; their coming may have been mere coincidence,
or it may have been that the same element of an unknown power that sent
the fishes hurrying to untasted streams, made Ralegh restless as the
fish. The point lends itself to straining by its nature, though it is
staidly mentioned by the staid biographer who has been quoted.

The dominating influence of his life was not the date of his birth, but
his birthplace in the quiet of the country, and yet within the easiest
reach of the fabulous outside world. That influence cannot be

Old sailors, who, as young men, had sailed with Jaques Carthier, of St.
Malo, must have stirred the boy's mind with the stories of their
adventures up the river of Canada to Saguenay, where there was gold and
silver and red copper; how they visited the town of Hochelaga, their
captain very gorgeously attired; and how, when their guides had led them
to the midst of the town, they were saluted by the women first and then
by the men; and a comedy was rehearsed for their amusement until, borne
on ten men's shoulders, Agouhanna, the lord and king of the country,
wearing the skins of red hedgehogs in place of a crown, was brought in
and placed by the side of their captain, on a great stag's skin; and how
their captain, seeing the people's misery, read them in a loud, clear
voice the first chapter of St. John's Gospel. Tales, too, young Ralegh
would hear of other wild men and of their prodigious wealth, which they
knew not the value of; of rubies and of pearls bartered for iron and
toys; of the great creatures morses or sea-oxen, "which fish is very
big, and hath two great teeth, and the skinne of them is like Buffe's
leather, and they will not go away from their young ones." And at
Bristol was living Mr. Alexander Woodson, an excellent mathematician and
skilful physician, and he, writes Hakluyt, "shewed me one of these
beast's teeth which were brought from the isle of Ramea in the first
prize, which was half a yard long or very little less; and assured mee
that he had made tryall of it in ministring medicine to his patients,
and had found it as soveraigne against poyson as any Unicornes horne."

With only a little less eagerness and a wiser discrimination between
fact and fable would the elders of the great Devonshire families, with
many of whom the Raleghs were connected, hear the news and plan schemes
for outwitting their rivals on the sea--the Spaniards--and perhaps
foresee the great part their sons would play in gaining for their
country prestige in this unclosing of the outside world. They would
spare no pains to make the youngsters worthy to carry on the great
tradition of Devonshire gentlemen under the splendid new conditions,
which were daily becoming more apparent.

A fine stock were the Devonshire gentlemen who watched over the years of
Walter Ralegh's boyhood, whetting no doubt by their interest his
keenness in Latin and Greek, in fencing and riding, and training his
knowledge of men. Among the Gilberts and Champernounes and Raleghs and
Carews, there would be men as skilful in the handling of a ship as in
the proper management of a farm, and to all would young Ralegh listen
with his mind feverishly alert for information, and from all he would
learn what each could teach him.

Old John Hooker, who lived at Exeter, and helped to write the
continuation of Holinshed's chronicle, knew the boy and took an interest
in him; as is easy to see from his proud reference to the Raleghs'
illustrious descent--royal even he would have it in despite of Sir
William Pole--and from his fine warning to young Ralegh when he was
emerging into distinction to remain worthy of it. "These all," he
writes, "were men of great honour and nobility whose virtues are highly
recorded sparsim in the Chronicles of England. But yet, as nothing is
permanent in this life and all things variable under the sun, and Time
hath devoured and consumed greatest men and mightiest monarchs and most
noble communities in the world--according to the old country saying, 'Be
the day never so long, yet at length it will ring to even-song'--so
this honourable race ... continued in great honour, nobility and
reputation, yet in process of time seemed at length to be buried in

"Now it hath pleased God to raise the same even from the dead.... And
whereof cometh this that the Lord hath so blessed you, but only that you
should be beneficial and profitable to all men?" And he ends his
discourse, in which a note of almost fatherly concern is heard, with an
apt euphuism about the bee, to clinch his argument and perhaps to show
his knowledge of courtly style (did not he too go to London as member
for Exeter?) "As the bee is no longer suffered to have a place in the
hive than whiles he worketh, no more is that man to have place in the
public weal than whiles he doth some good therein."

His father, too, was a man to know and appreciate his son's worth. He
had led no uneventful life, though he was, for the most part,
sequestered in the country. He took a leading part in the affairs of the
little town of Budleigh-Salterton. In the great Rising of the West, in
1549, he came perilously near to losing his life. He was riding with
some mariners from Hayes to Exeter, when he came upon an old woman
telling her beads; he stopped to ask her why she defied authority by
telling beads, and the old woman, furious, rushed into the church of
Clyst St. Mary, and inveighed against the gentlemen who would burn the
houses of poor folk over their heads. Ralegh had ridden on towards
Exeter; a body of insurgents overtook him, and he was saved from being
murdered only by hastening into a chapel by the road-side. But he went
on his way again, and again fell into the hands of the rebels; and this
time he did not manage to escape, but was shut up in the tower of a
church at St. Sidwell's--a suburb of Exeter in the hands of the
rebels--until Lord Grey of Wilton won the great battle of Clyst Heath,
in which four thousand perished, and relieved the siege of Exeter. The
incident serves to show the calibre of the father.


But when young Ralegh was a boy, his father's adventurous days were
over; and in 1561 he is mentioned as churchwarden of East Budleigh
parish, and no doubt led his family regularly each Sunday to the family
pew, on which the family arms are still discernible, though much
disfigured--probably too at the command of King James I. of England, who
feared his too ambitious subject even after his death. Little the father
thought of that as he watched the little boy to see that he behaved with
propriety in church and did not sleep or play as little boys are wont to
do during a sermon. Old Ralegh, remembering the terrible reaction during
Mary's reign, would be specially punctilious in such matters; and
fathers then were not lenient to their children. Young Peter Carew, when
he played truant at Exeter Grammar School, was leashed to a great hound
by his father: and we are not told whether Peter and the dog were on
friendly terms. They may have become so; we will hope for Peter's sake
that they did. Certainly, with three young Gilberts, young Walter's
step-brothers--sons of Otho Gilbert--and a family of Raleghs of all
ages, there would be need for stern discipline in church as well as out
of church, and there is little reason for doubting of its existence,
though no account has been handed down of severity as ingenious as that
shown by Peter Carew's honest father. Probably, in young Walter's
upbringing, there was a touch of the ewe lamb, that would account in a
measure for the "naeve of pride" which was such a conspicuous feature of
his developed character. Not that he was spoiled; but his parents had a
soft place in their hearts for him, which he well would know of, and he
was not suppressed so rigorously as he would have been otherwise ... but
this is pleasant conjecture.

His mother was a woman of character: "a woman of noble wit, and of good
and godly opinions," writes John Foxe of her, and proceeds to tell how
she visited poor Agnes Prest when she was in prison for having
Protestant opinions (that was when Mary was on the throne, and Philip
of Spain was powerful in England), and conversed with her before she was
burned at the stake on Southernhay. "Mistress Ralegh came home to her
husband and declared to him that in her life she never heard any woman,
of such simplicity to see, to talk so godly and so earnestly; insomuch
that if God were not with her she could not speak such things. I was not
able to answer her: I, who can read, and she cannot."

The story does not relate what answer Mistress Ralegh wanted to give; it
does not necessarily show her a Catholic in sympathy, though she
probably did not sympathize with Agnes Prest's desire for martyrdom, and
wanted to prevent the old woman from losing her life in such a terrible
way. The story illustrates how inextricably religion was bound up with
patriotism, and what a quandary the ordinary peace-loving gentlefolk,
whose wish was to serve God and their country, must have been in, when
the interests of either changed with the sovereign. That was why
Elizabeth, by her policy of gradually cutting the ties that linked
England to the Pope and the countries under his authority, gave such
immense strength to the English; she united, as it were, the strength
drawn from patriotism and the strength drawn from religion, by forcing
England to rely on herself alone; and so she overcame the countries
weakened by the constant antagonism between the welfare of their
religion and the welfare of their state. She saw, as her father Henry
had seen, the value of religion as a political asset; and with cold
common sense she used that asset for all its peculiar worth. Her policy
is more praiseworthy than her religion. Never was woman less religious;
few women have been dowered with her state-craft. Religion and
patriotism became practically identical: their interests were no longer

The Pope and his followers became, for adventurous Englishmen,
comfortingly akin to the devil and the devil's workers, to have at whom
has always been the privilege of good men since the world began.
Moreover, in this case the powers of evil were wealthy and pompous, but
unwarlike; and wealth is a pleasant perquisite to virtue.

The time did not lend itself to contemplation. There was too much to be
done. It was a time of action. The material world, with all its
tremendous possibilities, was opening out before the astonished gaze of
Englishmen, and left but little time for the exploration of the
spiritual world. Men of action and men of art passed on their way
triumphantly, "if not to heaven--then hand in hand to hell."

Young Ralegh would accept his religion from his parents much as he
accepted his sword, resolved to keep both bright and becoming a
gentleman. He was a man of the world; and the world then was boisterous
and unruly. Men revelled in life like boys; their code of honour was as
chivalrous and strange as that of boys. They lived, and they relished

Into this world young Ralegh went to make his way. He was poor, but had
friends who had caused the spirit of life to thrive in him, who had
nurtured his own belief in himself, and showed him what the world had in
store for the courageous and skilful man. He was proud and ambitious,
and few men have had better reason for pride, or have carried out their
ambition with such success as he. He was always an aristocrat; so
distinguished that ostentation became him, which, on a meaner man, would
have passed into vulgarity. He was the most romantic figure of the most
romantic age in the annals of English history.

His life was fuller of great accidents than life is wont to be, and all
these accidents of good fortune and of bad he used to the full extent of
a man's power, and by so doing he controlled them and became the master
of his fate.



     His early going to Oxford--Old Ascham on quick wit and
     education--Life at a University--The Queen at Oxford--To
     the wars in France--Henry Champernoun--Stories of the wars.

Of Ralegh's early education little is known: it is uncertain whether he
was taught at home, or went to one of the Grammar Schools which Stowe
records with pride existed in nearly every country town. When he was
sixteen he went to Oriel College, Oxford, of which his kinsman, C.
Champernoun, was already a commoner, and sixteen was an early age, even
for an Elizabethan to go to the University.

His kinsman's presence accounts in a measure for this early going (he
started most of his life's enterprises under their shelter, though in
the end he grew to overtop them), but his quick wit was another and the
chief reason. Old Ascham begs the fond schoolmaster to modify his
propensity for caning, and to discriminate between "the harde witte and
the quicke witte. But this I will say, that even the wisest of your
great beaters do as oft punishe nature as they do correcte faultes. Yea,
many times the better nature is sorer punished; for if one by quicknes
of witte take his lesson readelie, another by hardnes of witte taketh it
not speedilie: the first is alwaies commended, the other is commonlie
punished, when a wise schoolmaster should ... not so much wey what
either of them is able to do now, as what either of them is likelie to
do hereafter." He will have none of the quick wit. Slow and sure is his
adage. To him quick wits are "even like over-sharpe tooles whose edges
be verie soone turned." And Ascham was the Queen's tutor, and was
striking out a new line in his theme, in his treatment of it and in his
language. For a scholar of his calibre to write of the education of
little boys, and to write of it in English (fine English it is, too,
with its balanced cadences), demanded profuse apologies, which he is not
slow to offer, and to offer at full length in his preface. No apology
would be necessary now, when Education Bills have been known to overturn
Governments, or even a very few years later than Ascham himself; but in
Ascham's actual day, Latin was regarded as the language of the learned,
and dignity, which Ascham never lost, an attribute of learning. His
remarks are always judicious, and his summing up of the temperament,
which he calls the quick wit, is brilliant if not final. It is in the
nature of generalization to be limited. For there are many wits where
quickness and hardness, which he distinguishes so sharply, are as
memorably, as in the case of young Ralegh, combined--"sharpe tooles"
whose edges be never turned. Such incontestably was Ralegh. His mind and
his character (the motive force) were on the same level of strength;
neither preyed on the other, and he lived in a time when the world
offered scope, as never perhaps in quite the same way before or since,
to the resistless energy of united strength.

But to return to Ascham, whose little treatise throws an invaluable
quiet light of its own upon the methods of the time, when he was old and
Ralegh was young, and upon the making of great men and the great need
of them--from its conception at the dinner party in the palace at
Windsor, to its finish, years later, when the old man turned once more
to the proper teaching of rudiments, doing his best for the younger
generation whose best would outstrip all that he had ever dreamed of in
his least scholastic moments. There is more than a touch of pathos in
his warnings, for all their staid wisdom, and in his fears lest the
young should be overcome by their "stout wilfulness"; blind as he could
not but be to the goal to which stout wilfulness alone could lead them.

With a schoolmaster's conscious effort at broad-mindedness he would not
have the young one sit all day at his studies. "To joyne learnyng with
cumlie exercises Conto Baldesoer Castiglione in his booke Cortegiane
doth trimlie teache: which booke advisedlie read and diligentlie
folowed, but one year at home in England would do a yong ientleman more
good, I wisse, then three yeares travell abrode spent in Italie." And he
passes by way of example "two noble Primeroses of nobilitie, the yong
Duke of Suffolk and Lord H. Matrevers" (such a two as "our tyme may
rather wishe than looke for agayne") on to his famous invective against
the Italianating of Englishmen, with that constant note of sadness at
the falling off of the present generation. His ears were deaf to such
names as Sidney, Gilbert, Champernoun, Ralegh, names which time has set
at their proper value, and against which Ascham's noble primroses sink
into their proper insignificance.

Ralegh was at Oxford only one year, and Anthony Wood writes: "His
natural parts being strangely advanced by academical learning, under the
care of an excellent tutor, he became the ornament of the juniors, and
was worthily esteemed a proficient in Oratory and Philosophy." He
seasoned his primer years at Oxford in knowledge and learning, a good
ground, as Hooker says, and a sure foundation to build thereupon good

Only one incident is recorded of that year of his life, and that is
recorded by the illustrious Bacon in his apothegms. "... When Ralegh was
a scholar at Oxford there was a cowardly fellow who happened to be a
very good archer; but having been grossly abused by another, he bemoaned
himself to Ralegh, and asked his advice what he should do to repair the
wrong that had been offered him. Why, challenge him, answered Ralegh, to
a match of shooting." It would be interesting to know how the repartee
came to Lord Bacon's knowledge.

[Illustration: FRANCIS BACON]

It is about in the proportion that Ralegh filled his life, compared with
the ordinary way of living, that he took in one year out of Oxford what
most men required seven years to take; for seven years was the usual
time for a full course, and often, as in Germany to-day, men went from
one University to another.

    "Ein jeder lernt das was man lernen kann
    Nur wer den Augenblick ergreifft das ist der rechte Mann."

Not that life at the University was restrained and dull. Far from it.
Listen to Thomas Lever, who spoke of the work some twenty years before
Ralegh's time. "From 5 to 6 a.m. there was common prayer with an
exhortation of God's word in a common chapel, and from 6 to 10 either
private study or common lectures. At 10 o'clock generally came dinner,
most being content with a penny piece of beef amongst four. After this
slender dinner the youths were either teaching or learning until 5 p.m.,
when they have a supper not much better than their dinner. Immediately
after they went either to reasoning in problems or unto some other study
until 9 or 10 of the clock, and then being without fire were fain to
walk or run up and down half an hour to get a heat on their feet before
they went to bed." This sounds splendidly strenuous, and shows what was
expected by the authorities, and the standard of the dons to which
doubtless many conformed. From Nash's trenchant pamphlets we see the
other side of the picture. Thomas Lever was a preacher: Thomas Nash was
not. It is while he is engaged in "pouring hot boiling ink on this
contemptible Heggledepeg's barrain scalp" (or as we should put it,
proving in controversy the errors of Gabriel Harvey) that he gives his
sudden glimpses of life and customs in town and university. "What will
you give me when I bring him uppon the Stage in one of the principallest
Colledges in Cambridge? Lay anie wager with me and I will: or if you
laye no wager at all, Ile fetch him aloft in Pedantius, that exquisite
Comedie in Trinitie Colledge: where under the cheife part from which it
tooke his name, as namely the concise and firking finicaldo fine
Schoolmaster, hee was full drawen and delineated from the soale of his
foot to the crowne of his head. The just manner of his phrase in his
Orations and Disputations they stufft his mouth with and no Buffianism
throughout his whole bookes but they bolstered out his part with ...
whereupon Dick came and broke the Colledge glasse windowes and Doctor
Perne (being then either for himself or Deputie Vice Chancellour) caused
him to be fetcht in and set in the Stockes till the Shew was ended and a
great part of the night after."

This tells a less sombre tale, and when Nash begins to be scurrilous
about John Harvey, the third brother, and records "the olde reakes hee
kept with the wenches in Queenes Colledge Lane" (how strangely places
retain their character!), the tale becomes less sombre still.

The Queen, too, would make journeys with royal visitors to the
University, as in 1566, when Stowe tells with pride that she made "on
the sodain an oration in Latin to the whole universitie of Oxford in the
presence of the Spanish ambassadors;" so that neither university would
be out of touch with the great world. Nor did the undergraduates keep at
the same respectful distance from royalty that they are wont to now, as
another delightful story of Nash about Harvey shows, who when the Court
was at Audley End came "ruffling it out huffty-tuffty on his suite of
velvet, to doo his countrey more worship and glory." He disputed with
the courtiers and maids of honour, and at last was brought to kiss the
Queen's hand, and the Queen was pleased to say that he looked like an
Italian, a compliment from which he never quite recovered.

So there would be much to occupy the thoughts and attention of an
ordinary boy of sixteen. But Ralegh in a year was ripe for other things,
and left Oxford for the wars in France. The opportunity came through his
kinsman, Henry Champernoun, son of John Champernoun of Modbury, his
mother's eldest brother, raising a company of gentlemen to fight on the
Huguenot side: and Ralegh took the opportunity of active service.

Very interesting are the steps in a great man's life. Chance seems to
play so small a part. The instinct to get the most out of his
personality becomes the conscious effort to which perhaps a great man
chiefly owes his greatness.

Precisely in this way is the boy the father of the man, and Ralegh's
life is a pregnant example of it. He had, of course, no serious motive
for leaving Oxford. He longed for fighting and adventures, and seized
without a thought on the reckless impulse that led him to the wars,
laughing probably at the sad head-shaking of his staid tutors. But he
had learned how to learn: and his passion for life never damped his
passion for knowledge, and impulse led him to the discipline which his
nature demanded. The stern discipline and hardship of war were wanted to
impress him, while still pliant, with the proper value of things by
showing him with war's crude force the bare facts of life and death and
human nature.

The strength and ability of the body told in those times, when man dealt
directly with man, and encountered nature at closer quarters than he
need now do, when her forces are fended off him and controlled for his
use in ways then only dreamed of. Being weaker, men were rougher and
more cruel.

That is manifest in the punishments of the Government. Executions were
public. There was no other means for making the punishment known than by
making the punishment visible. A man paid for trespass against the laws
by disfigurement of his body--by branding on the forehead or palm, by
loss of ear or hand: any one dangerous, or who threatened danger to the
order with such difficulty established, was hung and quartered, or
burned, or beheaded, and his execution was public and a sight not to be
missed. The limbs of malefactors were exposed conspicuously at the
Queen's pleasure.

Cruelty breeds fear, and fear breeds cunning. There was no longer the
shelter of the monastery for the timid or the thoughtful. Accordingly,
craftiness and conspiracy and secrecy prevailed in every corner of the

But there is the contrary side. The man who was able to be independent
of these circumstances of cruelty, rose above them to heights of
bravery and self-reliance and strength, which are almost unknown in more
peaceful times. There could be no monotony, or slackness of endeavour
when a mistake or a careless word, or even a foolish gesture, might
bring with it the consequence of death. A man was braced to continual
effort and unconquerable control, when a moment's lack of either might
mean life's actual ending, or a lifetime's long disgrace. There was no
place for mediocrity. Those were the days of heroes and nonentities;
soaring heroes, crawling nonentities.

Thus the chance which led Ralegh to the French wars, and Ralegh's
readiness to seize that chance (chance by itself does little), were
fortunate in the extreme for the best furtherance of his personality's

In France the religious wars between the Guisards and the Huguenots had
broken out in the year 1562; and as Hayward, a contemporary chronicler,
recounts, "In regarde to her owne person and state the Queen considered
that if the Duke of Guise should prevail these fires of France both
easilie might and readilie would cast dangerous sparkes over the ocean
into England." She could not give aid openly to the Huguenots: but
privately she sanctioned the enterprises of gentlemen who offered their
services in aid of the Huguenots. For the real danger was that if the
Huguenots were wiped out, a formidably close union between France and
Spain might result. It was thus convenient that France should remain in
a state of unrest until England should become properly strengthened and
solidified in her isolated position. Elizabeth's actions were ruled in
this case, as in all cases, not by religious faith or by sympathy with
the people who were suffering death for their faith, but wholly by
political expediency. Religion with her was only a piece in the game,
and she respected it as the most valuable piece. It is easy to cry
"Shame!" and "Treachery!" when modern power over time and space has
modified the rules of the diplomatic game; but game it remains, and
truth in it still plays, and will always play, the subservient part of a
nice convention or a fine pretext.

So those gallant gentlemen, who longed to fight and could find no more
excellent reason than faith for fighting, went with their companies to
France and fought their fill for the Huguenots. They realized the
unfortunate necessity to which the Queen of England was put in ordaining
that if they were taken prisoners a scroll should be pinned on their
breasts as they dangled from the gallows, on which it was declared that
they met their fate "for having come against the will of the Queen of
England to the help of the Huguenots." That, probably, only lent zest to
their endeavour. They would realize, too, that however the Queen of
England might be forced to act, Elizabeth in her woman's heart
sympathized deeply with the cause for which they fought; and Elizabeth,
be sure, with her woman's wit, did her utmost to encourage them in this
belief, and not without sincerity.

Henry Champernoun, of whose band of gentlemen volunteers, gathered
mostly from Devonshire, Camden asserts that Ralegh was a member, was
famous among these Huguenot supporters, though not so famous as his
cousin, Gawen Champernoun, a son of Katherine, Ralegh's younger brother,
Sir Arthur. Gawen progressed so far that he became son-in-law to the
celebrated Count of Montgomery. No doubt Ralegh the nephew looked up to
his uncles.

About his five or six years' absence in France (the date of his return
is uncertain) Ralegh is reticent, partly, as Edwards suggests, in
obedience to the maxim laid down in his "History of the World" which
runs, "Whosoever in writing a Modern Historie shall follow Truth too
near the heels it may haply strike out his teeth;" and partly, too, for
the reason that his experiences as a boy would be adventurous rather
than suggestive. He would have been too young to be enough behind the
scenes to know the motives of movements in which he took part, and the
motives would alone lend a broad or historical value to the adventures.
Among relations, youngness is commonly taken into full account. And
Ralegh, for all his ability, had not probably the opportunity given him
of seeing things other than as isolated incidents. As likely as not, he
was asked to leave the tent or the room when matters of moment were
about to be discussed.

But certain anecdotes he recalls in his "History of the World," one of
which is well worth telling in his own good words, because it shows the
manner of fighting that prevailed in these wars: "I saw in the third
Civil War of France certain caves in Languedoc which had but one
entrance, and that very narrow, cut out in the midway of high rocks,
which we knew not how to enter by any ladder or engine; till at last by
certain bundles of straw, let down by an iron chain, and a weighty stone
in the midst, those that defended it were so smothered as they rendered
themselves with their plate, money and other goods therein hidden."

He was not, however, always among the caves and hedgerows; almost
certainly he was in Paris in 1572, sheltering with Philip Sidney in the
house of the ambassador, Walsingham, when the terrible and famous
massacre took place during the night of St. Bartholomew's Eve, in which
the friends of the Duke of Guise boasted that more Protestants were
slain than in the whole of the twelve years of the war.



     Friendship with George Gascoyne--Its importance--Ralegh in
     London--The arch-gossip Aubrey--Elizabethan London--Ralegh and
     Sir Humfrey Gilbert--The beginning of the great enterprise.

Ralegh returned from France in 1575 or 1576; and there are three years
of his life--important years, from the age of twenty-three to
twenty-six--which contain little or no record of his doings. Some
authors, on the slenderest authority, maintain that he trailed a pike in
the Lowlands, under Sir John Norris. But this is unlikely. The time of
his possible presence there has been adroitly whittled down by William
Oldys to the early part of the year 1578, and quite recently a document
has been discovered bearing his signature, and the date of the deed is
April 11th, 1578. If the signature is genuine, and expert evidence
points to the fact that it is so, this is an additional, almost
conclusive, proof that during these three years he remained in England.

There is another matter, intrinsically small, but exceedingly important
because it throws a great light on his pursuits at this time. To George
Gascoigne's satirical poem "The Steele Glas" is appended, among other
commendatory verses, a poem by Walter Rawely, of the Middle Temple,
which runs as follows--

    "Swete were the sauce, would please ech kind of tast
      The life likewise, were pure that never swerved
    For spyteful tongs, in cankred stomaches plaste,
      Deeme worst of things, which best (percase) deserved:
    But what for that? this medcine may suffyse,
    To scorne the rest, and seke to please the wise.

    "Though sundry mindes in sundry sorte do deeme
      Yet worthiest wights yelde praise for every payne,
    But envious braynes, do nought (or light) esteeme
      Such stately steppes as they cannot attaine.
    For who so reapes, renowne above the rest,
    With heapes of hate, shal surely be opprest.

    "Wherefore to write, my censure of this booke
      This Glasse of Steele impartially doth shewe,
    Abuses all, to such as in it looke,
      From prince to poore, from high estate to lowe
    As for the verse, who lists like trade to trye,
    I feare me much, shal hardly reache so high."

Edwards thinks, and rightly, that the verses show an intimate friendship
with the poet in whose honour they were written; and "the poem itself to
me discovers," writes Oldys, with his own quaint charm, "in the very
first line of it a great air of that solid axiomatical vein which is
observable in other productions of Ralegh's muse. And the whole middle
hexastic is such an indication of his own fortune or fate, such a
caution against that envy of superior merit which he himself ever
struggled with, that it could proceed from no hand more properly than
his own."

And these conjectures are strengthened into fact when it is remembered
(and this point seems hitherto to have been passed over) that Gascoigne
was a close friend of Sir Humfrey Gilbert, and a kinsman to Martin
Frobisher. "Now it happened," writes Gascoigne ("in a letter from my
lodging, where I march among the Muses for lacke of exercise in martial
exploytes"), "now it happened that my selfe being one (amongst manie)
beholding to the said S. Humfrey Gilbert for sundrie curtesies did come
to visit him in Winter last past at his house in Limehouse, and beeing
verie bolde to demande of him howe he spente his time in this loytering
vacation from martial stratagems: he curteously tooke me up into his
studie and there shewed me sundrie profitable and verie commendable
exercises which he had perfected painefully with his own penne: And
amongst the rest this present Discourse. The which as well because it
was not long, as also because I understoode that M. Fourboiser (a
kinsman of mine) did pretend to travaile in the same Discouverie, I
craved at the said S. Humfreyes handes for two or three dayes to reade
and peruse. And hee verie friendly granted my request, but still seming
to doubt that thereby the same might, contrarie to his former
determination be Imprinted."

Ralegh would meet Gascoigne often at Sir Humfrey's house, and to
Gascoigne he probably owed his first impulse towards literature. For
George Gascoigne was the most considerable man writing at that time; and
though his work contained no actual greatness, it was very much on the
right lines, that is to say, he was steeped in Chaucer and Gower, and
acknowledged them his masters, rather than classical authors. Not that
he was ignorant of either Latin or Greek; on the contrary, he was
intimate with both, and his "Jocasta," which he adapted from an Italian
translation by Dolce of the "Phoenissæ" of Euripides, was not only one
of the first plays in blank verse, but also was the first known attempt
to produce translated tragedy upon the English stage.

And therein lies Gascoigne's chief quality. He was an innovator and
original, and that bespeaks force of character, a trait which must have
drawn young Ralegh to him. For like attracts like in a mysterious

Gascoigne holds an interesting place in the literature of the time.
Since the publication of "Tottel's Miscellany," in 1557, there had, for
some thirty years, been a distinct lull in the output of poetry, and the
work of Gascoigne was a prelude to the revival that came about the years
1579-1582, when Sidney, Spenser, Watson, and Lyly first made their
appearance, the true harbingers of the mighty tempest of song that broke
upon the world in 1590, and continued for some twenty amazing years.

He tried his hand, diffidently, as became a gentleman, at every form;
realizing and pointing out, as it were, the capacity of the great
instrument of the English language. "It is no mean feat," as an eminent
scholar says, "to rank in history as George Gascoigne ranks with fair
documentary evidence to prove his title as the actual first practitioner
in English of comedy in prose, satire in regular verse, short prose
tales, translated tragedy and literary animadversion" (in which word the
eminent scholar refers to a short technical account of the making of
English verse, prefixed to the "Steele Glas").

And apart from his writing, to which he devoted specially the last years
of his life, there would be much that he would have in common with young
Ralegh. Indeed, his life resembles in little the subsequent career of
Ralegh himself, and the device, "Tam Marti quam Mercurio," suited him as
nicely as it suited Ralegh who afterwards, by adopting the device, made
it famous. He was the son of a gentleman of Bedfordshire, Sir John
Gascoigne, and after going to Cambridge and being a member of Grays Inn,
he served in Holland fighting for the Dutch under William, Prince of
Orange, and had many strange adventures. On his return to London he had
some post at Court, the exact nature of which is not known, and he sat
twice as Member of Parliament for Bedfordshire. What is of special
interest is, that he was in close touch with the Earl of Leicester, and
Lord Grey de Wilton; for in 1575, when the Queen made her famous visit
to Kenilworth, it was Gascoigne who was commissioned to devise masks for
her entertainment; and it is Lord Grey de Wilton to whom he dedicates
the chief of his poems. Therefore it is extremely probable that young
Ralegh owed to him, if not his actual introduction to Leicester, at any
rate a great furtherance of Leicester's notice of Ralegh. It is surely
more than coincidence that Gascoigne's chief patrons should have also
been among Ralegh's principal helpers.

And Gascoigne's early death, at the age of forty, in 1577, would impress
his influence upon his young friend, and that influence is discoverable
in the directness and freedom from literary affectation of any kind,
which is very noticeable in the work of both. And it is interesting to
speculate whether, without Gascoigne, Ralegh would ever have possessed
knowledge and insight enough to realize later Spenser's worth, which the
scholar Harvey (no mean authority at that time) completely failed to
see. Be that as it may, the friendship of Gascoigne and Ralegh
anticipates pregnantly that friendship of his with Spenser which was of
importance to the literature of the world.

But Ralegh was no paragon of a young man continually engaged in staid
discourse with his elders. It is refreshing to have authority for a
different and delightfully human glimpse of his life. The authority is
Aubrey, and Aubrey loved gossip--and especially scandalous gossip--so
fervidly, that his stories bear the hall-mark of truth, apart from the
fact that they are too ridiculous to be worth even Aubrey's while to
fabricate. This is the tale, which Aubrey is careful to mention (his
solemnity in telling his gossip comes little short of genius), was
recounted to him by Dr. John Gell. "In his youthful time was one Charles
Chester, that often kept company in his acquaintance: he was a bold,
impertinent fellow, and they could never be at quiet for him; a
perpetual talker and made a noise like a drumme in a roome. So one time
at a taverne Sir W. R. beates him and seales up his mouthe (_i.e._ his
upper and neather beard) with hard wax." Probably Charles Chester took
this summary Elizabethan hint, but Aubrey throws no light on the hint's

[Illustration: MAP OF LONDON]

The little incident is typical, not so much of Ralegh, though it shows
his swift vigour, as of the times. Such a thing happening now would be
likely to cause a scandal which would be known to most of the civilized
world. Then the continents were being discovered which would now join in
the outcry of amazement or laughter.

London was small. St. Paul's was the centre of life: Chepeside was the
main and fashionable street; the streets were narrow and the houses were
chiefly built of wood. The Mermaid Tavern was in Friday Street. There
were large residences with gardens in the city, public gardens on Tower
Hill, and green graveyards round the churches. The river, crossed by one
bridge--London Bridge--was in constant use; and a wall ran round the
semicircle of the city. Temple Bar, Holborn Bar, Aldgate, Bishopsgate,
Aldersgate, the bar at Smithfield, the bar on the Whitechapel
highway--the gates and bars tell the city area, and outside the walls
clustered the Liberties, where vagrants had their quarters.

London was becoming crowded. In 1580 the Lord Burghley took measures to
stop the expansion of the city, and from his table of births and deaths
the population has been estimated at about ninety thousand. That figure
is only approximate. There was no actual census until some eighty years
later, when John Graunt, of Birchin Lane, at length succeeded in his

London was lively. Men lived much more in the streets. Merchants met
customers there, and lawyers conversed with their clients. "Newgate
Market, Cheapeside, Leaden Hall, and Gracechurch Street were
unmeasurably pestered with the unimaginable increase and multiplicity of
Market folkes, as well by carts as otherwise, to the great vexation of
all the inhabitants, annoyance of the streete trouble, and danger to all
passengers as well Coaches, Carts, etc. Horses as otherwise," writes
Howes, giving the reason why magistrates of the City, in 1615, reduced
the rude vast place of Smithfield into comely order for a market, and
the citizens began their new pavement of broad free-stone close to their
shops, and took down all the high causes in the Strand and Holborn. West
Smithfield was called Ruffian's Hall, because there the young men used
to fight with sword and buckler. Duelling was prevalent--one of the
sincerities of human life which bursts through the thickest quilted
formulas, as Carlyle ejaculates. Fighting was as common an amusement and
exercise as cricket and football are now. Every serving man, from the
base to the best, carried a buckler at his back. Rapier and dagger,
however, which began about this time, made fighting less common, for it
was far more dangerous than the manner of fighting with buckler and
sword. "It was usuall to have Frays, Fightes and Quarrels upon the
Sundayes and Holidayes, sometimes twenty, thirty and forty Swords and
Bucklers, halfe against halfe, as well by quarrells of appointment as by
chance: especially from the midst of Aprill untill the end of October by
reason that Smithfield was then free from dirte and plashes. And in the
winter season, all the high streetes were much annoyed and troubled with
hourely frayes of sword and buckler men who took pleasure in that
bragging fight. And although they made great shew of muche furie and
fought often, yet seldom any man hurt, for thrusting was not then in
use; neither would one in twentie strike beneath the waste by reason
that they held it cowardly and beastly."

Pageants and processions enlivened the streets. The Queen and her
courtiers could not hold aloof, and did not wish to. The Queen shared
her father's liking for being on terms of cheerful repartee with the
people. A courtier's arrival was a small event, for he travelled in
state with a large retinue. Young gentlemen attached themselves to a
great man, and wore his colours. And the great man needed a large number
of followers, for his only means of keeping in touch with affairs and
with friends was by messenger, and such messengers were necessarily
brave and trustworthy men.

Up the Thames came ships loaded, perhaps, with treasure from foreign
countries, and their men would land and spread news of battles in the
Netherlands or Spain; or they would have strange tales to tell of new
lands which they had found, of the manners of strange new peoples, of
adventures with bears or morses or Spaniards, tales of marvellous wealth
waiting for a daring hand to take, of countries where the sun never
set, of seas where meremaiden swam, and where the sound of the cracking
ice was loud as the crash of artillery. Small wonder that the poets
found inspiration in the London taverns, and that men lived almost in
the streets, where at any moment they might meet some fellow with a new
tale of the world's wonder that might very likely be true.

London was no place in which a man could easily remain inert. The
unexpected constantly occurred on account of the dramatic way that news
was inevitably brought. News came like vivid flashes of light on
darkness, and these flashes were continual.

Ralegh's energy had always been conspicuous, even in those times. He was
no slug, as Aubrey pithily puts it. And now it is that one of the great
ideas of his life came to him, perhaps the greatest. We hear of him as
connected with Sir Humfrey Gilbert's enterprise for discovering the
north-west passage. Sir Humfrey was instigated by his navigator's desire
to find a nearer passage to the East. But Ralegh widened in his mind the
scope of the scheme, with him it expanded into something immeasurably
greater. He saw the overcrowding of London beyond the limits of health
and of comfort, and this overcrowding was troubling the level head of
the great Burghley, who tried to cope with it by restricting the
building of new houses. Ralegh was a man whose nature always was "to
turn necessity to glorious gain." He saw the tremendous possibilities of
this superabundance of men, how, if they could be placed in these new
lands, they would prove of infinite value to the old country which, by
their presence, they were annoying. He knew that Spaniards had settled
in wild new lands, and lived there for a time like marauders, and
returned home with wealth which they had wrung from the natives. But his
idea was larger; it was the first proper plan of colonization, for his
imagination carried him far on into the future beyond the time of a
generation or two, beyond the seizing of immediate wealth. The vastness
of the scheme appealed to him; the difficulties he realized to be so
great that they were worth a man's while to grapple with.

And the scheme held him by its enthralling interest, not only because he
was ambitious (as all men worth anything are), and saw in it a means of
furthering his ambitions; not only because he was patriotic, and saw in
it a means of furthering his country's good, but primarily for the
scheme's own sake. The idea obsessed him as an idea quite apart from its
consequences, and whether the result would be good or bad; that would
only be proved by the event, and that doubtless added enormously to the
interest. But an inventor or a pioneer in any new field, who thinks
chiefly of the consequences, does not get far on his journey. That part
of any action is more profitably left to his friends and his advisers,
and they are never far to seek.

Those were not the days of specialization. Affairs were not so intricate
that an expert was needed to work out every branch of a subject. Less
was known too; and a man of average intelligence could learn all there
was to learn of most things without the standard of knowledge in each
making him appear ignorant of all.

In June, 1578, Sir Humfrey Gilbert who, as has been said, had been
busily engaged for many years in the discovery of a north-west passage,
obtained a royal charter for the greater purpose. "Elizabeth by the
grace of God, Queen of England, etc. To all people to whom these
presents shall come, greeting. Know that of our especial grace certaine
science and mere motion we have given and granted and by these presents
for us our heires and successours doe give and grant to our trustie and
well beloved servant Sir Humfrey Gilbert of Compton in our Countie of
Devonshire knight, and to his heires and assignes for ever free libertie
and license from time to time and at all times for ever hereafter to
discover, finde, searche out and view such remote heathen and barbarous
landes countries and territories, not actually possessed of any
Christian prince or people, as to him his heires and assignes and to
every or anie of them shall seem good: and the same to have hold, occupy
and enjoy...." run the letters patent with their royal paraphernalia of

And in September, 1578, Gilbert had overcome the initial difficulty of
collecting provisions sufficient to victual his eleven ships for a year,
and of picking the right men for the enterprise, two matters of enormous
importance. In the latter he was not successful. Sir Francis Knollys
owned some of the ships, and his son went on the expedition. This son
sowed dissension where unity was a vital necessity; he insulted Sir
Humfrey Gilbert, and at length deserted. Contrary winds delayed the
expedition, which became disorganized, and after a fight with the
Spaniards was recalled. Ralegh was captain of a ship named the _Falcon_,
and that was in all probability his first engagement at sea.

The expedition was on such a large scale that the Spanish authorities in
England clamoured for its recall; and there is ample evidence, as
Edwards remarks, to show that Ralegh was as much feared and hated in
1578 by the Spaniards, as ever he was at any later period of his
career. They tried always to thwart his great scheme of colonization,
the greatness of which they realized, seeing the danger of it to their
own possessions, and for a time they succeeded in their aims.

It is in connection with this expedition that Ralegh's name first
appears in the Council Book.



     In Ireland--The state of the country--Cruelty of the wars--At
     Rakele--Illustrative anecdotes--Smerwick--Ralegh's initiative--
     Lord Grey de Wilton--Exploit at Bally--In touch with the home

The scene changes to Ireland, where the continual fighting served as a
training-ground--with France and the Netherlands--for the energies of
the young gentleman of the period. Ireland seemed at this time to popish
powers a suitable starting-place from which to overset the rule of the
woman Elizabeth, who dared to establish again a Church independent of
Rome, and to put her woman's self at the head of it. But the popish
powers were mistaken in their choice. It is true that the Irish were
devoutly Catholic; they were better pleased however to fight out their
own feuds than to join together in any way for any cause. They were
lawless and savage; and not even their hatred of the invading English
could serve to concentrate them. They were far too impatient for serious
warfare. They liked to come upon a foe--a Butler on a Geraldine--like a
whirlwind, fight a terrific battle, and make off to their homes to
listen to the songs by their bards, chanted in praise of their undying
prowess, "as those Bardes and rythmers doe for a little reward or a
share of a stolen cow," until the man of prowess praised "waxed most
insolent and halfe madde with the love of himself and his own lewd
deeds. Of a most notorious thiefe ... one of their Bardes will say, That
he was none of the milkesops that was brought up by the fireside, but
that most of his dayes he spent in armes and valiant enterprises, that
he did never eat his meat until it was won by the sword, that he lay not
all night slugging under his mantle but used commonly to keep others
waking to defend their lives, and did light his candle at the flames of
their houses to bade him in the darknesse ... and finally that he died
not bewayled of many, but made many waile when he died, that dearly
bought his death."

Such men were not ripe for the burden of a great cause. But one Sanders,
an English Jesuit already past middle age, meeting with Fitzmaurice in
Spain, formed a capital project of passing over to Ireland, subduing it,
and passing from Ireland to England and driving out Elizabeth and her
nation of Protestants.

In May, 1579, they landed at Dingle, after having on their voyage taken
a small Bristol vessel, the sailors and captain of which they pitched
into the sea. The landing at Dingle was impressive as the ceremony,
which inaugurated the coming of the true religion, must needs be. "Two
friars stepped first on shore; a bishop followed, mitre on head and
crosier in hand, then Sanders, with the consecrated banner, and after
him Fitzmaurice."

But the expedition did not rise to the level of its inauguration. It
served only to stir up a savage rebellion in Munster, and to bring
devastation upon the country.

It was to help quell the insurrection that Ralegh came to Ireland as
captain of a company of one hundred foot-soldiers at the end of 1579, or
the beginning of 1580.

The war--if war it can be called--was carried on with savage cruelty on
both sides. Less could not be expected. The times were not gentle, when
little girls in London might see men hung and quartered, and limbs
stared down from the chief gates of most cities. Nor would mercy be
expected from generals who came to Ireland as Pelham came, and as Lord
Grey de Wilton came, regarding Ireland as the grave of reputation. To
Ralegh, too, the service was itself distasteful. He writes with
characteristic vigour of phrase to the Earl of Leicester, "I would
disdayn it as mich to keap sheepe. I will not trouble your honor with
the busyness of this loste land; for that Sir Warram Sentleger can best
of any man deliver unto your lordshipe the good, the bad, the mischief,
the means to amende, and all in all of this common welthe or rather
common woe."

The English soldiery regarded the Irish as savages who would not live at
peace, and must be exterminated, with the exception of the actual
tillers of the ground or churls as they were called. And this point of
view was encouraged by those in authority, who had neither men nor money
to spare for guarding and feeding prisoners. "Death," as Froude says,
"was the only gaoler their finances could support." Nothing can
extenuate cruelty; but it is well to face the fact that cruelty, and
cruelty not greatly less atrocious than this, was an absolute attribute
of the Elizabethan age. The one quality, which runs through all the
pages of every history of every man and every movement, is
vitality--intense, burning vitality; and this vitality illumined the
literature, chaotic as much of it is, and beat pulsing through the veins
of the nation, explaining its magnificent advance, and enthusiasm and
greatness, even as it explains its brutality. England was like a boy who
is suddenly conscious of being strong and of being free, with all the
capacity of some young Hercules and all his reckless faults.

When Ralegh joined the Irish service, Lord Justice Pelham was in the
position of Lord Deputy. Soon after his arrival, however, Pelham was
recalled, greatly to his pleasure, and Lord Grey de Wilton, Gascoigne's
patron and general in the Netherlands, undertook the command of the
forces, and the Earl of Ormond, an Irishman, was made Lieutenant of
Munster. These were Ralegh's chiefs; and his criticism of their methods
of management first brought him, as will be seen later, under the direct
notice of the great Burghley.

As an active soldier, however, his exploits are exciting and
adventurous, and they are not hidden in the obscurity which hid his
exploits in France. The same Hooker who has been already quoted, records
them with pride in his continuation of Holinshed's Chronicles.

Ralegh was once stationed with a troop of cavalry at Rakele under Lord
Grey. He was always a well-eyed man and observed that the Irish were in
the habit of hurrying down upon an encampment immediately it had been
abandoned. Accordingly, he made a plan to surprise them, and the plan
was successful. He captured a considerable number of prisoners. One of
the Irish carried a bundle of withies, and Ralegh went up to him and
asked him why he carried the withies. "To hang English churls with," was
the blunt answer. "Is that so?" said Ralegh. "They shall now serve for
an Irish kerne." And without more ado he bade his men hang him to the
nearest tree. The repartee was prompt and savage. It is typical of the
time that it should have happened; and intensely typical that a careful
record should have been made in contemporary history.

Another time we read that Ralegh, on a small expedition to a certain
Lord Barry, of Barry Court, in a fight against great odds, twice at his
own personal peril rescued one Henry Moyle, who twice was caught in the
soft bog. "He was unhorsed, and stood with his pistol and quarter-staff,
one man against twenty." History does not relate what he said to Henry
Moyle on his return to camp. The two stories stand well side by side. At
the tragic sacking of Smerwick Ralegh was one of the captains ordered to
carry out the last desperate instructions: the siege is illustrative not
only of that bad Irish campaign, but also shows what a personal part
high officers used to take in battles.

A second band of Papal soldiers, comprised of Italians, Spaniards and
Frenchmen, came to Ireland in 1580, and made Smerwick their
headquarters, a fort on the shore fully exposed to the Atlantic winds.
Here Lord Grey came upon them, but was obliged to wait eight days with
his men until Sir William Winter arrived in Ventry harbour with cannon
and ammunition, and at length joined Admiral Bingham in Smerwick Bay.
Lord Grey galloped down over the sands to welcome Winter. Speedily the
cannon were landed and placed in position before the fort, and the
bombardment began. The English crept nearer after the first day, until
the cannon were within a cable's length of the wall, and Sir William
Winter himself taking careful aim, brought down the enemy's chief piece,
and a man appeared on the ramparts waving a white hand-kerchief. The
firing ceased. Then Signor Jeffrey, an Italian, came to entreat grace
from the Lord Deputy, but grace was refused him. "Afterward their
Coronnel Don Sebastian came forth to intreate that they might part with
their armes like souldiers, at the least with their lives according to
the custome of war ... it was strongly denied him and told him by the
Lord Deputie himselfe that they could not justly pleade either custome
of warre or lawe of nations--for that they were not any lawfull
enemies...." The Pope sent them? asked Lord Grey de Wilton, and declared
himself surprised, the bitter old enthusiast, that gentlemen should
undertake a commission from "a detestable shaveling the right antichrist
and patron of the doctrine of devils." He would only agree to wait till
morning. So on the morning of the next November day, the garrison, seven
hundred men, piled their arms, and with a few women and children stood
waiting, while the great Atlantic waves beat coldly, sullenly on the
shore. "Then put I in certain bands who fell straight to execution,"
writes Grey, with grim brevity. Six hundred men in all were slain that
November morning, and Grey had the bodies stripped and laid in neat
lines upon the shore, and Grey looked at them without emotion, and
thought them "as gallant and goodly personages as ever I saw." So he
wrote to the Queen, informing her of the victory, and the Queen wrote
back thanking him, adding a postscript in her own hand (a special mark
of honour) warmly approving of his action: and Camden courteously lies
when he says that Grey shed tears and Elizabeth wished the cruelty had
been unnecessary. Captain of one of these "certain bands" was Walter
Ralegh. Edmund Spenser was at this time secretary to Lord Grey de
Wilton, and he writes in that scholarly graphic treatise in dialogue
form, which has been already quoted, namely the "View of the State of
Ireland"--"Whereupon the said Coronell did absolutely yeeld himselfe and
the fort, with all therein, and craved only mercy, which it being not
thought good to shew them, for danger of them, if, being saved they
should afterwards join with the Irish; and also for terrour to the Irish
who are much imboldened by those forraigne succours, and also put in
hope of more ere long: there was no other way, but to make that short
end of them as was made." Thus writes Edmund Spenser, the author of the
"Faërie Queen," a man not famous for his ferity.

Praise and blame are easy to dispense: but they are dangerous
commodities. They raise too freely the thick white dust of prejudice
which even dims eyes which are anxious to observe a neighbour, and
effectually blinds eyes that wish to peer into the recesses of a bygone
age. Let us be glad if we are more human and more humane, and avoid
hugging ourselves too closely on imagined superiority. Violent death
stalked down every alley of life; and violent death is not more dreadful
than the haggard existence in which millions are nursed to-day. Our
cruelty is a little less apparent, and more respectable. That is at any
rate something. Let us be thankful for that, and let us by all means
subscribe to the Home for Lost Cats.

But Ralegh was not content with the perils and excitement of active
service. He possessed initiative. He saw the masses of money that were
being spent, and saw that full value was not being obtained. The war in
his opinion was being mismanaged. He did not hesitate to write to the
authorities at home, stating in round terms what his opinion was. It is
not surprising that Lord Grey de Wilton was annoyed by the young man's
audacity. "I neither like his carriage," he writes to Walsingham, "nor
his company: and therefore other than by direction and commandment, and
what his right can require he is not to expect at my hands." Apart from
the administration of the war there was little in common between the two
men. Lord Grey was a staunch Protestant, unwavering in his religious
zeal, and blind in his hatred of Popery. He would have passed through
Ireland, had he had his will, with the sword gripped in one hand and the
Bible and the English Prayer-book clasped tightly in the other.

Ralegh was not that order of man. There was nothing grim and nothing
austere about him. He was a man of address. Lord Grey was stiff and
blunt, a Puritan a little before his proper time. Very characteristic is
the sentence in his letter to the Queen, telling of the death of young
Cheke. "So wrought in him God's spirit, plainly declaring him a child of
his; elected to be no less comfort of his good and godly friends than
great instruction and manifest motion of every other hearer that stood
by, of whom there was a good troop." He was inclined to regard most
things from the standpoint of religious experience. He was not addicted
to humanity.

The Irish were not only rebels against his country; they were what was
far worse--rebels against his own faith, and he sullenly objected to any
measures which might serve to bring them into line with English
interests. He wished to force his own salvation upon them rather than to
make them useful subjects of the Queen.

That must have been where Ralegh chiefly differed from him. And there is
an interesting example of this difference and of one of Ralegh's chief
powers, to wit his influence over men. For Ralegh was wise and politic.
He saw the state of affairs in Ireland and formed in his mind a definite
plan of action--to use Irish factions to English purpose, and not to
allow them to try and join under the cause of another religion. The most
dangerous enemies were the crafty instigators in the background; and one
of the most influential of these was an Anglo-Irish chieftain, named
Lord Roche, who lived at Bally, some twenty miles from Cork where Ralegh
was stationed. Ralegh convinced Lord Grey of the importance of bringing
this feeder of revolt as prisoner to Cork, and undertook to do so
himself with his small band of followers. And this he did by sheer
dexterity and daring in the teeth of overwhelming difficulty. For the
Seneschal of Imokelly, one Fitz-Edmonds, had wind of Ralegh's intention,
and lay in ambush for him with eight hundred men. But Ralegh outwitted
him by his speed and dashed with his small party through the ambuscade.
That was not all. Arrived at Bally, he was met by five hundred townsmen
and tenantry of Lord Roche. These men he held at bay with the larger
part of his band, and himself, with six chosen men, rode on to Lord
Roche's castle. At the gate he called out that he desired to speak with
Lord Roche, and was answered that he would not be permitted to enter
with more than two followers. But while he and the seneschal were
parleying, the six of them slipped into the gate, and gained admission
for another party which Ralegh had bidden follow him at a short
interval, the attention of the warders being engaged by Ralegh, so that
before the Irish knew what had happened, they found the castle courtyard
full of musketeers, armed and standing to attention. Ralegh meanwhile
was in the presence of Lord Roche, who was forced to treat the intruder
as a guest, and sturdily maintaining his loyalty to the Queen, ordered
his servants to bring in a banquet. Ralegh listened with all courtesy;
and said that it was the will of the Lord Deputy of Ireland to hear with
his own ears this noble confession of loyalty, and that he must beg
leave to escort Lord Roche and his family to Cork. Lord Roche demurred.
Ralegh insisted. It is difficult to decide whether the situation
appealed more strongly to his sense of humour or to his sense of power.
The Irish chieftain at his own table in the banqueting-hall of his own
castle, surrounded by his men and the young captain with his two
soldiers inside, some dozen in the courtyard and a few more dozen in the
town, twenty miles from any assistance! "Desperation begetteth courage
but not greater nor so lively as doth assured confidence," he wrote some
thirty years later. Now his courage was certainly backed by both.

Gradually Lord Roche came to realize the inflexible determination of the
young man; and agreed to what by Ralegh's inevitable personal strength
of will became his only possible course. He consented to go to Cork, and
went. The story does not end here. Not only did he go to Cork, but from
being the Queen's dangerous foe, he became, through Ralegh's influence,
the Queen's loyal supporter and staunch friend, and three of his sons
actually were slain fighting for the Queen's cause in Ireland. That was
one of Ralegh's triumphs. It shows the mettle of the man and his power
over others, and more than that it bears out strikingly a distinct line
of policy, which he formed then and expressed later, in dealing with the
disaffected. Minding these Irish experiences, it is interesting to read
what he says of Amilcar's treatment of the mercenaries in revolt.
"Against these inconveniences, Mercy and Severity, used with due
respect, are the best remedies. In neither of which Amilcar failed. For
as long as these his own soldiours were in any way likely to be
reclaimed by gentle courses, his humanitie was ready to invite them. But
when they were transported with beastly outrage beyond all regard of
honesty and shame, he rewarded their villainie with answerable
vengeance, casting them unto wilde beasts to be devoured."

Moreover, it is certain that Lord Burghley respected Ralegh's judgment,
for there is a remarkable paper extant written in the handwriting of
both, which shows that Burghley conferred privately with Ralegh about
the Irish rebellion. The document is dated October 25, 1582, and is
inscribed with the words, "The opinion of Mr. Rawley upon motions made
to hym for the meanes of subduyng the Rebellion in Monster." And in it
the point upon which Ralegh chiefly insists is the pressing need to win
over the Irish chieftains to the Queen's cause; as he had himself
already done conspicuously in the case of Lord Roche.

There is a story that Ralegh owed his first introduction to the Queen's
favour by his address in a conference before her, in which he proved his
opinion, man to man, against Lord Grey de Wilton, his superior; but
whether this story with all its dramatic possibilities is valid or not,
it is certain that his conduct in Ireland brought him into great notice:
and he was not the man easily to slip from any advantage he had gained.
We hear of him joining the Earl of Leicester in a state mission to the
Netherlands, and then he bursts into final brilliant prominence as
courtier and his Queen's favourite.



     Court life--The Queen's position--Her character--She takes
     notice of Ralegh--Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester--Sir Philip
     Sidney--Burghley, the Lord High Treasurer, and Walsingham--
     Robert Cecil--The dress of the courtier--The language of the
     courtier--The other side, and the other Queen--Mary, Queen of
     Scots--The great intrigue--Its discovery--Death of Queen Mary.

The Court was the brilliant feature of the time. The Court was not
confined to ceremonial functions and presentations--it was not a bath in
which a man or a woman must be dipped before he or she could lay any
real claim to distinguished respectability. The Court had a vivid
existence of its own. "It was the centre, not of government alone, but
of the fine arts: the exemplar of culture and civilization." The Court
held a lien on the gaiety and life of the time. Courtiers and merchants
(the two chief classes) were as distinct as a little later were town and
gown at the Universities. To be a proper courtier became a cult.

Three great books, extraordinarily typical of the Renaissance, were
written in almost identical years, books which pointed to new scope for
the State, for the Prince, and for the private man. In 1513 Machiavel
completed _The Prince_, in 1516 Sir Thomas More's _Utopia_ was
published, and in the same year Count Baldassare Castiglione finished
his _Book of the Courtier_.

The dream of the Utopia may never be realized; but in some seventy-five
years a close example of the Prince and of the Courtier were found in
Queen Elizabeth, and in many of the men who surrounded her. _The Book of
the Courtier_ was translated into all the languages of Europe, and
became the text-book of the cult. Its English translator was Thomas
Hoby, and his work, as has been seen, was commended by the judicious
Ascham. Castiglione was chaffed for moulding his own conduct precisely
on the model of the perfect courtier he portrays in his book; and he
could not but confess that the man of his imagination was the man he
would choose to be. And, indeed, it would be what every courtier would
aspire to be, as Wordsworth's Happy Warrior,

    "This is the happy Warrior, this is he
    That every man in arms should wish to be."

The Courtier must be gallant in the use of arms, proficient in all
exercises of the body, skilled in all exercises of the mind; he must be
ready and witty of tongue; he must be well-born and distinguished. But
his realm is beyond the mere enterprise of accomplishments and birth.
For the book ends with Bembo's great praise of Beauty--that Beauty
"which is the origin of all other beawtye, whiche never encreaseth nor
diminisheth always bewtifull and of itself ... most simple. This is the
beawtye unseperable from the high bountye, whiche with her voyce calleth
and draweth to her all thynges...," and an understanding of this
Heavenly Beauty must be the final trait of the Perfect Courtier.

And it is well to bear this in mind. For this feeling for beauty existed
in the Elizabethan courtier, just as it gave the finishing touch to
Castiglione's hero; and existed as really as the more conspicuous
qualities of gallantry and strength and intellect. Vitality, as has
been said again and again, was the keynote of the age; and it is
apparent in this aspiration towards beauty, just as it is apparent in
reckless cruelty. The compass of the age was immense. And every
instinct, every tendency of brute or god, raged with intense life, and
was expressed Nothing lay dormant. The centre of all this life, of all
this genius for living was the Court; and the illustrious head of the
Court was Queen Elizabeth.

Guy de Maupassant has written a story of a small band of French soldiers
who are at the last gasp with hunger and weariness and cold. They cannot
march any further. They are content to lie down in the snow and die. But
two fugitives come running to them, an old man and his grand-daughter, a
young girl. "Allons les camarades," cries the Sergeant Pratique, "faut
porter cette demoiselle-là ou bien nous n' sommes pu Français, nom d'un
chien." So the worn-out men forget their weariness and carry her; they
dare the cold and strip off their overcoats to keep her warm; they find
new courage and drive back a party of the enemy, and they reach the
French lines in safety. "What's that you're carrying?" asks a soldier.
"Aussitôt une petite figure blonde apparut, depeignée et souriante qui
répondit, 'C'est moi, monsieur.' Un rire s'éleva parmi les hommes et une
joie courut dans leurs coeurs. Alors Pratique agita son képi en
vociferant, 'Vive la France.'"

There in little is the exact nature of Elizabeth's influence, and her
influence was conscious and acted, not upon the immediate Court alone,
but upon England. De Maupassant does not give any details of the girl,
nothing of her character, not even her name. They are not relevant to
his purpose. She may have as many faults in her small way as Elizabeth
had in her great way. He does not mention them.

[Illustration: QUEEN ELIZABETH]

Such a mass of detail, however, is known about Elizabeth, and her
faults have been so relentlessly exposed in the interest of Truth--her
meanness, her avarice, her treachery, her wantonness, and what not--that
the whole picture of the woman who was learned enough to speak in public
impromptu in Latin and could converse in many languages, of the woman
who was great enough to cause her own worship to be the fashion, and the
sincere fashion, of the woman who was sufficiently beautiful and
sufficiently distinguished to shine like a diamond on the forehead of
that resplendent age,--is almost lost to view, so clouded with the dust
of detraction has that picture become.

She was the very epitome of the time. All the brutality and energy and
brilliance of that brutal, vital age found their counterpart in her. And
she was a woman, a fitting contemporary of Catherine de Medicis. But she
was too much a politician to be a good woman; and too much a woman to be
a good politician.

To all the power which a beautiful woman, and a woman strong in body and
intellect and passion, always has possessed and always will possess, she
added the prestige of being Queen of England. Whereas the passions of
her father threw Europe into confusion, the love affairs of Elizabeth,
less impetuously managed, often held the balance between nations and
brought every royal prince to England as suitor for her hand, and the
great English courtiers scowled or laughed at them, but were kept in
allegiance by their sovereign.

Wit, birth, and bearing found favour in her sight. There was no room at
her Court for a fool. She loved wit as she loved splendour.

The Queen had heard of Humfrey Gilbert's nephew from Humfrey Gilbert's
aunt, one of her intimate attendant women; and when Ralegh first came
into notice by his exploits in Ireland, she was inclined to favour him.
She was interested in his career, as a letter bears witness in which she
writes, "... for that our pleasure is to have our Servaunt Walter Rawley
treyned some longer tyme in that our realme for his better experience in
Martiall affaires, and for the special care we have to doe him good in
respect of his kyndred that have served us some of them (as you knowe)
neer aboute our Parson: theise are to require youe that the leading of
the said bande may be committed to the said Rawley."

Many stories are extant about his first meeting with Elizabeth. Truth
hides in all of them. Some say that the Queen was present when Lord Grey
de Wilton and young Ralegh were put face to face in a council chamber
before Lord Burghley, and that she was struck by the power and skill
with which he made good his case, proving the lack of judgment Lord Grey
had shown in conducting the affairs of the war. Old Thomas Fuller, that
worthiest of his own worthies (he had an eye for romantic effect,
steadfast as he was for truth in matters of importance), relates that
"Her Majesty, meeting with a plashy place, made some scruple to go on;
when Ralegh (dressed in the gay and genteel habit of those times)
presently cast off and spread his new plush cloak on the ground, whereon
the Queen trod gently over, rewarding him afterwards with many suits for
his so free and seasonable tender of so fair a footcloth. Thus an
advantageous admission into the notice of a prince is more than half a
degree to preferment." Industrious Fuller does not leave it at that; he
proceeds to tell how Ralegh wrote on a window in the Queen's presence,

    "Fain would I climb, but that I fear to fall,"

and how the Queen added with more grace than rhythm,

    "If thy heart fail thee, climb not at all."

Ralegh's heart did not fail him. He became the Queen's lover; and his
influence over the Queen was so recognized that Tarleton, the famous
comedian, dared, during a performance, to add point to the words, "See,
the knave commands the queen," by stretching out his hand towards
Ralegh, who stood by the Queen. And Elizabeth, it is recorded, frowned.
Swift was his ascent to fortune, came the first step how it may.

Elizabeth was too clever to try to lay aside her sex, though she was a
skilful markswoman, an able horse-woman. Even her staid Archbishop
Whitgift she used to tease, saying (as Isaac Walton gravely records as a
fair testimony of her piety) that "she would never eat flesh in Lent
without obtaining a License from her little black husband: and that she
pitied him because she trusted him."

She was so born a Queen that she was able to do and say the most
dangerous things without losing her distinction, or lessening her

And it is small wonder in those days when in England the whole force of
the Renaissance turned as it were to a rapture of patriotism that such a
Queen should be the visible emblem of the country, and be herself
worshipped. Men might rave at her whims, they were driven frantic by
them, but in their hearts they cherished her as Queen of themselves and
Queen of their country. Fortunately for herself, and fortunately for
England, her intellect mastered her passions, though that does not
prove that she was passionless: far from it. There is nothing to justify
that last scandal of a moral age which would damn her as a feelingless
flirt. Lord Bacon, the wise Baron of Verulam, summed the matter up
pithily, attaching its right value to the question, which, after all, is
a paltry one, when, in writing on the Fortunate Memory, he says: "She
suffered herself to be honoured and carressed and celebrated and
extolled with the name of Love; and wished it, and continued it beyond
the suitability of her age. If you take these things more softly, they
may not even be without some admiration, because such things are
commonly found in our fabulous narratives of a Queen in the Islands of
Bliss, with her hall and her institutes, who receives the
administrations of Love, but prohibits its licentiousness. If you judge
them more severely, still they have this admirable circumstance, that
gratifications of this sort did not much hurt her reputation, and not at
all her majesty; nor ever relaxed her government, nor were any notable
impediment to her State affairs." And it must be remembered that the
times were neither fastidious nor gentle, and that when Bacon says
licentiousness (_lasciviam_ is the Latin word he uses) he meant
licentiousness. Elizabeth was too sane, and too clever, and too busy to
have time to be licentious: just as she could not have retained her
control over men and control over herself, seen in the adroit way in
which she managed the foreign princes, if she had remained what is
called pure.

Masterly was her knowledge and treatment of men. Roughly speaking, they
were divided into two classes; those whom she liked, and those whom she
valued: but she kept them all imperiously to her will. The great
Burghley was her man of business; he and his son Robert Cecil were her
chief statesmen, and well she knew their value: capricious and exacting
as she might be, she respected their advice and gave way to it.
"Burghley," wrote Leicester, at the height of his arrogant power, "could
do more with her in an hour than others in seven years." And he wrote
concerning some political business. Never, when Leicester had most
influence with the Queen, did she ever allow him to control her
political actions, or in any way to supplant Cecil.

Robert Dudley, born about the year 1532, made Earl of Leicester in 1564,
enjoyed the Queen's good-will more continuously and more to his
advantage than any other of her lovers. He was regarded as the chief man
in England by the ambassadors of foreign princes: he was for a long time
the most magnificent. But Elizabeth kept always to her maxim, that
England should be a country with one mistress and no master; much to
Leicester's displeasure. His desire was to be master. He suggests a
comparison with Milton's Satan, "better to reign in Hell than to serve
in Heav'n," when he tried, and tried with conspicuous ill-success, to
become King of the Netherlands. By the old nobility, staunch Sussex and
proud Norfolk, he was hated. With the Duke of Norfolk, he on one
occasion came to blows, when, during a game of tennis, of which the
Queen was a spectator, he snatched her pocket-hand-kerchief to wipe the
sweat from his forehead. They thought him saucy and overweening. To the
Queen his insolence was not unpleasant. Cecil disliked him (he does not
appear a man to hate any one) and judiciously draws up papers
contrasting Leicester and other suitors, especially the Archduke
Charles, much to Leicester's disadvantage. But for all his glitter and
influence, he was hated by the English people. His name had an ill sound
ever since the untoward death of his wife, Amy Robsart. Though the
pamphlet _Leicester's Commonwealth_ is wholly unreliable, which among
other slanders, states that the Lady Amy was actually murdered at his
command, it is most probable that she committed suicide through misery
at her neglect. Well enough men knew what was meant when the husband in
the _Yorkshire Tragedy_ says, after he has thrown his wife down and
slain her:

    "The surest way to charm a woman's tongue
    Is--break her neck: a politician did it."

They thought of the stone staircase at Cumnor and shuddered. The people
did not like his way of cheapening their Queen's good name: they did not
like the man who caused scandals to arise round her. In 1560 Anne Dowe
of Brentford was imprisoned for asserting that Elizabeth was with child
by Robert Dudley; and she was the first of a long line of offenders who
were punished for the same assertion.

And just as men hated Dudley for his arrogance, and for his daring to
think even of setting himself beside their Queen, so they loved his
nephew, Sir Philip Sidney, for the grace which his hand brought to
everything which he touched. He fulfilled the ideal of Castiglione's
Courtier. He was the antithesis of the rough, unmannered Dudley. In
Dudley all the cruelty and ostentation and savage power of the time seem
to find expression; whereas in Philip Sidney, all its grace and skill
and poetry were manifest. Men vied with one another in his praises, men
fought for the right to call him friend, and a woman became immortal by
being "Sidney's sister." "Sidney, the Siren of this latter age," writes
Barnefield; "divine Sir Philip," Michael Drayton calls him; and Ben
Jonson, as though in defiance of the charge of exaggeration utters (you
can hear him say it), "the godlike Sidney." Even the ribald Nash lowers
his mad voice to the note of reverence, "Apollo hath resigned his Ivory
Harpe unto Astrophel and he, like Mercury, must lull you a sleep with
his musicke. Sleepe Argus, sleep Ignorance, sleep Impudence, for Mercury
hath Io and onely Io Paean belongeth to Astrophel. Deare Astrophel, that
in the ashes of thy Love livest againe like the Phoenix; o might thy
bodie (as thy name) live againe likewise here amongst us; but the
earthe, the mother of mortality hath snacht thee too soone into her
chilled cold armes, and will not let thee by any meanes be drawne from
her deadly imbrace; and thy divine Soule, carried on an Angels wings to
heaven, is installed in Hermes place sole prolocutor to the Gods." His
life was a poem, which all the men who lived with him, and all the men
who knew his name, were great enough to read and to appreciate; his
death is an example for all time. Fame with its common story cannot
sully the brightness of the superb sacrifice of that superb self.

Dudley expressed the presumptuous vitality of the Court, and Sidney its
vital poetry. A little aloof from the Court, which he was apt to regard
with kindly disdain at its frivolity, moved the staid figure of
Burghley, the Lord High Treasurer of England, Elizabeth's great man of
business, perhaps the finest political intelligence that has ever
thought out a way for a country through the most complicated
difficulties, at a time when disaster crouched ever ready to spring and
involve that country in ruin.

William Cecil had an absolute mastery over every detail; he possessed a
genius for arrangement. Nothing escaped his notice. He was a kind of
machine which attracted all the wild impulses of the time; they passed
into the machine's mouth disordered, unarranged; and they passed out
shaped, controlled by his slow inevitable will. As a statesman he
appears hardly human in his freedom from all personality; he seems a
mask hiding the brain of England, and regulating it to the only end
where success could be. Men rose to fame fiercely struggling, and did
brilliant acts or mad acts, and sank again or settled as the case might
be; but always at the supreme head, always alert, always careful,
impassive as some Eastern Buddha, sat the Lord Burghley, managing the
affairs of the state, managing even the state's impulsive, whimsical
mistress. His impassivity afflicted her at times, so that she played
pranks on him, vainly endeavouring to upset his restraint and his
dignity; but her pranks were hardly heeded. He was English to the solid
backbone, and resisted unequivocally the rage of fashion that went out
towards all that was foreign; and yet his foreign policy was unswerving
and level-headed; he looked upon war as the last terrible resource of
state-craft, in an age in which fighting was regarded as the highroad to
glory, and was loved for its own wild sake. Elizabeth showed her
knowledge of the right word when she called him her "spirit" and her
"oracle"; and the courtiers their discernment of the obvious, when they
called him "old fox." Together the two names describe him with some

At his right hand worked Sir Francis Walsingham, who was more astute,
but lacked Burghley's greatness of mind. Walsingham was an admirable
servant: he would never have been successful under the full weight of
responsibility. It was he who developed the system of espionage through
every country in Europe, and brought it to an uncanny perfection. That
system of secret messages was typical of the day; it was so easy to
keep facts hidden, and to pervert them advantageously when news
travelled so slowly, that it was a necessity to have reliable men on
every spot to check statements and to watch events and tendencies. When
Walsingham died in 1590, Burghley showed his indomitable energy by
mastering the intricate cyphers and details connected with the business;
he was then at the good age of seventy.


As his health failed, his son, Robert Cecil, took more and more of his
great father's responsibilities upon himself; and "The Little
Secretary," as the queen called him, became gradually the most important
man in the realm. He was craftier than his father, and more adaptable,
but he never rose to the greatness of Lord Burghley. His figure is not
so imposing; there was something under-hand about his conduct, which
does not appear in the slow, diplomatic wisdom of the older man.

There comes a strange interest in knowing that this great intelligence
of Burghley arranged not only the affairs of the State, but the details
of his household with the same impassive power. His steward writes to
him about a new gown which is wanted for his mother: "The gown that you
would make it must be for every day and yet because it comes from you
(except you write to her to the contrary) she will make it her holiday
gown, whereof she hath great store already, both of silk and cloth. But
I think, sir, if you make her one of cloth with some velvet on it, with
your letter to desire her for your sake to wear it daily, she would
accustom herself to it: so as she would forget to go any longer in such
base apparel as she hath used to have a delight in which is too mean for
one of a lower estate than she is."

And of Burghley's earlier days, Roger Ascham gives an attractive glimpse
in his introduction to _The Schoolmaster_, where he shows the man's
methodical life and wide interests; for the renewal of learning did not
at all pass Burghley by; he was an enthusiast about the proper
pronunciation of the Greek tongue, and in 1541 was hotly engaged in the
disputes. But to old Ascham: he writes about the important dinner, in
1563, at which the subject of his book was suggested to him: "M.
Secretary hath this accustomed manner though his head be never so full
of most weightie matters of the Realme, yet, at diner time he doth seeme
to lay them alwaies aside; and findeth ever fit occasion to taulke
pleasantly of other matters, but most gladly of some matter of learning:
wherein he will curteslie heare the minde of the meanest at his table."

It is refreshing to see how in his private life he was a simple-minded
man, who suffered from the gout and was plagued with quack remedies, all
of which he carefully docketed, having no doubt tried their efficacy
before he set them on one side.

Such were the chief figures when Ralegh came to the Court.

Nothing illustrates his rapid rise in favour so well as a letter which
Ralegh writes to Lord Burghley from the Court at Greenwich. The letter
shows that Burghley had asked for his help on behalf of his son-in-law,
the Earl of Oxford, who was bitterly hostile to Ralegh and had, as may
be gathered from the letter, gone out of his way to do him an injury. "I
delivered Her Your Lordship's letter. What I said further, how honorable
and profittabell it weare for Her Majestie to have regard to Your
Lordship's healthe and quiett, I leve to the witnesse of God and good
reporte of Her Highnesse. And the more to witnesse how desirous I am of
Your Lordship's favor and good opinion, I am contente, for your sake, to
laye the sarpente before the fire, as miche as in me lieth, that,
having recovered strengthe, myself may be moste in danger of his poyson
and stinge. For answere, Her Majestie would give me none other, but that
she woulde satisfye Your Lordship, of whom she ever had, and would ever
have, special regard.... I humblie take my lave. From Grenewiche this
present Friday, May 12, 1583."

Here is Lord Burghley using the help of the young man whose valour and
address in Ireland he had observed and whom he had helped to make.
Ralegh is now prominent among the courtiers; he takes a leading part in
the life of the Court, and the life of the Court is brilliant and
occupied. The town was too small and the streets of the town too narrow
for the courtiers to hold themselves aloof, as money allows the
fashionable to do now; no special quarter of the town was assigned to
them. They kept themselves distinct from the townspeople without the
help of locality or space. The laws helped them, however, in the matter
of dress. Curious sumptuary laws were still in force, which forbade any
one under the degree of baron to have more than three linings to his
breeches; which forbade any one whose income was less than £100 a year
to wear satin, damask, silk, camlet, or taffeta, and any one who was not
worth more than £200 to wear velvet or embroidery. "The English," writes
Van Meteron, a Dutch historian and contemporary, "dress in elegant light
and costly garments but they are very inconstant and desirous of
novelties, changing their fashions every year, both men and women. When
they go abroad riding or travelling, they don their best clothes,
contrary to the practice of other nations." And to this craze for
constant novelty in dress a contemporary poem bears amusing witness--

    "Hees Hatted Spanyard-like, and bearded to,
    Ruft Itallyon-like, pac'd like them also;
    His hose and doublet Frenche: his boots and shoes
    Are fashond Pole in heeles, but French in toes.
      Oh! hees complete: what shall I descant on?
      A compleate Foole? noe, compleate Englishe mon."

This fashion of dress lent wide scope to bad taste, and such books as
Dekker's delightful _Guls Hornbook_ show how hard gulls tried to be
gallants and how ridiculously they often failed. And it gave the genuine
courtier full scope for magnificence. Ralegh could wear white satin and

Not only in dress was the courtier distinct, but also in language.
Fashions in speech were constantly in vogue. None was more pronounced
than the fashion set by John Lyly, who wrote elegant court plays and the
novel _Euphues_. Of Euphues with his instructive letters and sound moral
tone Sir Charles Grandison is the direct descendant: Richardson owed as
much to Lyly, as Defoe to Thomas Nash or Fielding to Defoe. But that is
a literary by-path which leads to the history of fiction. His immediate
influence was on the speech of the courtiers and the language of the
Court. "That beautie in Court which could not parley Euphuisme was as
shee which now there speaks not French." John Lyly came to Court about
1577 and was helped by Lord Burghley; perhaps the rage of affectation
which he started, gave the stern Lord Treasurer a distaste for poets and
was one of the reasons which made him disinclined to favour Spenser
afterwards. Probably Lyly seemed innocuous enough at first, with his
modest desire to lie shut in a lady's casket rather than open in a
scholar's library. No one could have foreseen the frenzied fashion which
he inaugurated and which with its stilted periphrases must have been
sorely irritating to the great matter-of-fact man of business. No wonder
he looked askance at poets. Euphuism, as the jargon is called, has been
described many times; it was the first effort in English towards
ornament in speech. In itself it was wholly good; in its excess it was
wholly bad.

As a fashion of speech it must have been not a little wearisome. And
indeed that proved to be the case; for its place was taken about as soon
as dull people were beginning to obtain the knack of it by another
fashion, no less elaborate, but of a different manner of elaborateness
taken from Sir Philip Sidney's _Arcadia_. Here a jingle on one word was
the effect to be obtained, as for example, "Each senselesse thing had
sense of pity; only they that had sense were senselesse." This fashion
set by a writer upon the speech of the fashionable finds a modern
counterpart in the influence of Oscar Wilde, with this difference that
his pointed epigram becomes feeble nonsense and his genius for using the
right word degenerates into amiable talk about passionate neckties and
purple sin; whereas with Lyly's and Sidney's manner no imitation could
be feebler or more exaggerated than the original often is--not always.
Lyly has real wit and fancy, especially in his charming court plays, as
when he writes, "They give us pap with a spoon before we can speak, and
when we speake for that we love, pap with a hatchet"; there he is

The common task of dress and language was sufficiently elaborate to keep
a courtier of average intelligence busy. And when he was equipped in
mind and body there were countless ceremonies and functions at which his
presence was expected. The Queen was in continual progress, and every
progress was a pageant, whether by land or river, whether she were
journeying from one palace to another, or visiting a university to
encourage learning, a town or a noble subject to show her gracious
favour and to give her subjects the opportunity of proving by their
hospitality their loyalty. She kept in constant touch with her people.
And on her progresses she was accompanied by her principal courtiers,
who were themselves followed by a suite of gentlemen retainers. In this
excellent display of the superficial side of life--the very panoply of
existence--Ralegh by his wit and by his bearing was conspicuous. He was
as famous for his power of turning a neat phrase as he was famous for
his power of wearing with grace a fortune in one suit. Many men were
obliged to give all their attention to the brilliant outside of things
to keep pace at all with the changes of phrase and habit; and would
never be at ease in either. Ralegh owed his envied distinction in both
chiefly to the reason that he always held them at their proper value.
His nature was magnificent, and instinct led him naturally to a height
which others could not climb to with the greatest conscious effort. In
that he was like his mistress, Queen Elizabeth.

It is fitting that such life should be gorgeously caparisoned; there was
no homespun in its disposition.

But there is another side to the picture of this Court, a second party
in the Court and the country. For some fifteen years another woman had
been living under restraint in England--a woman who was the mother of a
king; who had been queen of two kingdoms and aspired to be queen of a
third; she was of great personal power though not so powerful as
Elizabeth. She was a devout Catholic and was called Mary, Queen of
Scots. A large number of gentlemen had remained faithful to their
religion. These Catholics were divided roughly into two classes, those
who were faithful to their religion and to their country, and those who
were primarily faithful to their religion and would stop at nothing to
establish Catholicism again in England They looked on Mary, Queen of
Scots, as their rightful head. The moderate Catholics wanted to make
sure that she would succeed Elizabeth; the fanatical Catholics wanted to
kill the usurper at once and let Mary reign in her stead.

As years passed by and Elizabeth remained unmarried and averse to the
mention even of a successor, the question became acute, not in England
only but throughout Europe. Spain and France were anxious to have a
Catholic sovereign in England; but neither wanted the other to have the
added strength of England as a dependency. Elizabeth kept playing them
off one against the other with her various matrimonial schemes; and Mary
was in correspondence with them, trying to exact promises of assistance.
Intrigue grew more and more involved. At last matters came to a head. It
became recognized, after the dismissal of the Duc d'Anjou as a suitor,
that Time itself would no longer permit a marriage for Elizabeth. The
Catholics in larger numbers resolved that her death was imperative and
the death of her strong supporters. Elizabeth with the fearlessness of
true strength had allowed Mary great freedom of correspondence in her
confinement. Now she cut her off from the outside world, until a
diplomatic necessity arose to know exactly how far foreign powers were
prepared to support Mary, how far they were speaking their true
intentions in their dealings with Elizabeth. Walsingham had spies in
every influential Catholic household in England, at all the Courts and
even the Jesuitical centres in Spain and France. But the information was
not yet sufficient. Nothing illustrates more effectively the
extraordinary difficulty of obtaining accurate news in those days of
slow travelling and messengers, than the elaborate method which
Walsingham and Elizabeth were obliged to arrange at this juncture. It is
a mistake to suppose it illustrates the treachery and deceitfulness of
the times. The times have changed not in moral tone but in quickness of
transit. Men are very much the same; but steam and electricity, the
telegraph, the telephone, and a postal system have altered the aspect of
affairs and the methods of conducting business or intrigue.

The plan they contrived was both ingenious and successful. With the help
of one Gilbert Gifford, trained in unscrupulous cunning by the Jesuits,
they encouraged Mary to open a correspondence with her confederates
abroad, and they tapped this correspondence at the fountain-head. Mary
was removed to Chartley, near the home of Gifford, whose family was
staunchly Catholic. A brewer at Burton supplied Chartley with beer. Into
the cask of specially good beer for Mary and her attendants and
secretaries was fitted a water-tight box, and in this box were placed
the letters. With the brewer was staying Walsingham's secretary
Phillipps, a thin red-haired man skilled in cypher, and he transcribed
all the letters at Burton before they were sent through an underground
post, which had been carefully arranged by the young and
innocent-looking Gilbert Gifford, to the Jesuit agency in London. Only
six people knew of the whole scheme. Elizabeth, Walsingham, Gifford,
Phillipps, Paulet, Mary's Puritan keeper, and the brewer of Burton. The
brewer was evidently a man whose business instinct was fully developed.
Not only did he receive large and complicated bribes from Elizabeth and
from Mary, but he demanded also a higher price for his beer. This demand
shocked the good Paulet unspeakably, and throws an interesting sidelight
upon the moral sense of the day, and proves that it worked as subtly
then as it works now.

From this correspondence Elizabeth learned, what her strange foresight
taught her to expect, that France and Spain were too frightened of each
other to take any resolute step against her in favour of Mary. But it
happened also that she learnt something quite unexpected and of extreme
importance, and that was the plot which is known as the Babington
conspiracy. She was able to thwart a national calamity and to preserve
her own life.

Among the most fanatical of the Catholic disaffected was a Jesuit, named
John Ballard. He had obtained a private bull from Gregory XIII.,
sanctioning the murder of Elizabeth, and was unremitting in his efforts
to find a man daring enough to undertake the task. He travelled through
England, disguised in blue velvet, as Captain Fortescue, rousing all the
Catholic gentlemen to concerted action, and convincing them that
Elizabeth's death was a papal necessity. Lord Arundel vouched that he
could answer for the Tower, though he was a prisoner within its walls;
his uncle, Lord Henry, would raise the eastern counties; Sir William
Courtenay promised to seize Plymouth; Lord Montague, Lord Vaux, Lord
Stourton, Lord Windsor, and many others, whose names on earth are dark,
swore a great oath to stand by the cause and by themselves. Everything
was in readiness for a general rising so soon as the blow should fall
which should rid England of Elizabeth. The letters of Mendoza, the
Spanish ambassador, show how confident he is of a complete revolution.
Certainly Elizabeth had need of staunch friends whom she was wise to
bind to herself by every tie her personality could fashion, and staunch
friends she possessed and held in her possession.

And now the men were found at last by Ballard who were ready to strike
the blow. They were men who waited upon the Queen's person. The chief
amongst them was Anthony Babington, of Dethick, in Derbyshire. He had
been a page at Sheffield when the Queen of Scots was first in charge of
Lord Shrewsbury, and, like many other men, young and old, who came under
the fascination of her influence, he was passionately devoted to her,
with all the strength of devotion that a beautiful woman in
distress--still more, a beautiful queen--must inevitably arouse. The
spirit of chivalry which the great rival Queens infuse into these plots
takes away the sordidness and pettiness which breathes from mere
political intrigue, and lends a poignant majesty to the terrible
dramatic end of it all. This Anthony Babington obtained the help of
Charles Tilney, one of Elizabeth's gentleman pensioners, of Edward
Abington, the son of her under-treasurer, of Jones, of Dunn, of Robert
Barnwell, who was an Irishman on a visit to the Court, and of other
young men. Walsingham and Elizabeth knew of them all, and watched them
continually. Elizabeth's bravery was magnificent Any moment she might
have met death at the hand of an assassin; but she remained undaunted.
Her fearlessness no doubt affected the conspirators, though quite
unconsciously. They did not know that their every action was watched.
Like many other young enthusiasts, they were reckless and self-confident
to the verge of lunacy, and as soon as they came to realize that their
plot was found out, they lost their heads completely. Abject fear took
the place of their courage. They saw the resistless power that was
ranged against them, waiting. They fled; but it was too late. The plot
was revealed to the public. Ignominy and shameful death awaited the men
who hoped to be welcomed as the saviours of their religion, the daring
knights of their queen-lady. Their names were proclaimed and the nature
of their intentions. Babington had fled to St. John's Wood, which was
then a "forest interspersed with farms," and from there he managed to
make his way to Harrow, where he with four others lay hid on haystacks
and in the straw of barns. But they did not remain long undiscovered.
Amid the ringing of bells and the wildest rejoicings they were taken
back to London. And very soon they were hung, drawn and quartered

How many knew of the Queen's imminent danger is not certain. Probably
she kept it from her most intimate friends. Her strength was equal even
to that. Nor is it known how much Ralegh knew of his mistress's danger;
it is not likely that he was entirely ignorant of it, for to him was
given the whole of Babington's estates, which were large and
remunerative. It is certainly a last proof of Queen Elizabeth's amazing
vitality, that in the midst of this dangerous turmoil of plot and
counterplot which surrounded her, she was able to find occasion for the
display of love and affection. For it was during these last desperate
endeavours of the Catholic party that she first drew Ralegh to herself.
She had seen to his advancement, and taken care that he was provided
with the wealth that he needed for his position at Court and that his
personal taste for magnificence desired. She had given him the Farm of
Wines, which, even allowing for the money that one Richard Browne
tricked him out of, brought him in a good income; and, in 1585, he
succeeded Francis, Earl of Bedford, as Lord Warden of the Stannaries,
and shortly afterwards became Lieutenant of the county of Cornwall, and
Vice-Admiral of the counties of Cornwall and Devon. The Queen had need
of staunch friends around her. And it is not due only to a woman's
whim, at which many have mocked, that she kept these men, her
favourites, at Court even sometimes against their will, as when she
prevented Sidney, in 1585, from heading the Virginian colonists, and, a
year or two later, sent Sir Robert Carey to fetch back the Earl of
Essex. Their presence became a necessity to her, because their presence
helped to vouch for her personal safety. It gave her an assurance of
security to see such men by her side, though doubtless their presence
flattered her vanity as well. Moreover, there seems to be something
exhilarating in a woman who could go in perpetual danger and known
danger of murder, and yet keep to the end her woman's desire for
admiration, which is the producer of many graces, and not at all in
itself a proof of pettiness. It depends upon what she considers to be

The Babington conspiracy by which Ralegh was ultimately enriched brought
about a crisis between the loyal and disaffected. The result of the
ingenuity of Walsingham and Elizabeth in contriving the plan by which
Mary, Queen of Scots betrayed herself, placed her intentions beyond all
question. It was clear that she intended to stop at nothing; that she
was anxious for Elizabeth's murder. It was certainly the easiest
solution to her difficulties, and she was the protectress of the true
religion, the head of which had sanctioned the murder. She was that most
dangerous of enemies, a sincerely religious woman of great cleverness
and no principles. Without discussing the ethics of murder and
execution, it is easy to understand Mary's position; and it is not easy
to understand Elizabeth's conduct. Mary was found guilty of high
treason, and the law of the land assessed the penalty for high treason
at death. But Elizabeth could not bring herself to sign the death
warrant. It is difficult to understand why. She was supported by the
authority of the kingdom, but she tried to avoid this last
responsibility. Her conduct illustrates the peculiar blend of craft and
sensitiveness which circumstances had developed in her character, and
which, be it noted, were conspicuous traits of many other great
characters of the time--conspicuously, for example, of Bacon and of
Ralegh. She tried to make Walsingham incur the responsibility and the
odium of the deed. She abused him when he demurred at her proposal. And
finally, when she had given her signature, she swore that it had been by
a mistake, and Walsingham, for ever impoverished by her displeasure,
retired indignant to his house at Barnelms. He became hateful to her,
and nothing could reinstate him in her favour. It was as though he were
a tool which she had cut herself in using, which she flung from her in
anger and without compunction.

But at length the day of Mary's death came. That was pre-eminently the
time of pageant and display--the display of gorgeous life in the great
Court functions; the display of dreadful death in the public executions.
Both were combined in dramatic intensity at this last scene of Mary's
life. Hers was a Queen's death.

In November of the year 1586 her sentence was passed. For three months
Europe was agitated by uncertainty whether the sentence would be carried
out, and what would be the result of her death, if it were. For three
months she held her ground as the martyr of her religion, an
unassailable position. For three months she decked her tragedy with the
robes of majesty and of pathetic grace. When Paulet tore down the regal
hangings from her room, saying that they no longer became a traitress,
she hung the crucifix in their place and pointed to it in silence when
he came to her again.

The day of her execution was the second Wednesday in February, 1587.
Three hundred knights were assembled in the hall of Fotheringay Castle.
When the Provost-Marshal and the Sheriff came to fetch her from her
room, they found her no longer dressed in the customary grey cloth, but
clothed in a robe of black satin. Her hand on the arm of one of the
guard, she passed tall and erect down the broad oak staircase to the
hall. At the end of the hall loomed the scaffold swathed in black; the
dancing flames of a great crackling wood fire moved light shadows across
its blackness, and flickered on the bright steel of the axe which was
leaning against the block. By the block stood the executioners, masked
and in black. She who was cousin to the Queen of England, who was a
married Queen of France and anointed Queen of Scotland, passed up the
hall, followed by her six friends. Her waiting women tried and tried
vainly to keep back their sobs--Elizabeth Kennedy and Barbara Mowbray.
She ascended the black scaffold and sat down--smiling. Beale read aloud
the sentence.

"Madam," said Lord Shrewsbury, "you hear what we are commanded to do."
"You will do your duty," was her reply. Then the Dean of Peterborough
endeavoured to play his accorded part, but three times he broke down in
addressing her. When he at length began to pray, Mary too prayed in
Latin, and at length her voice alone sounded through the hall. No longer
she prayed in Latin as she had prayed at first, she prayed in English
without a falter in her voice. With sublime audacity she prayed that God
might forgive and bless her son, James VI. of Scotland, and her cousin,
Elizabeth of England, and that He might avert His wrath from Elizabeth's
country. She finished; the black mutes stepped forward. The scaffold
creaked under their movement. They asked her forgiveness for what they
were going to do, according to the custom; and forgiveness was granted
them. "I forgive you," she said, "because now I hope that you will end
all my troubles." Her ladies, Elizabeth Kennedy and Barbara Mowbray,
mounted the steps of the black scaffold in order that they might help
her to make ready. They lifted the lawn veil carefully, not to
disarrange her hair. Swiftly they removed the black robe; swiftly they
took her arms from out the black jacket, slashed with velvet, and set
the jacket on one side. Dazzling in crimson satin she stood on the black
scaffold, revealed in red satin between the black mutes, as she drew
over her white arms crimson sleeves, which her ladies, now trembling,
handed to her. But she drew them on as a lady her gloves, without haste.
"Ne criez-vous, j'ai promis pour vous," she turned to them and said. She
knelt and laid her head on the block: it was hard to her soft neck, so
she put her hand underneath, murmuring the Psalm "In Te, Domine,
confido." But the headsman moved her hand away, fearing its softness
might hinder his business. Then he struck, but the blow fell lightly,
and fell on the knot of the hand-kerchief with which her eyes were
bound. He struck again, and had only to move the axe across the block to
cut the last shred of skin. "So perish all the enemies of the Queen,"
called out the Dean of Peterborough, as the executioner held out the
head at his arm's length. Only the strength of her vitality and her
cleverness had kept beauty in her face. The head that was thus held up
at arm's length was the head of an old and wrinkled woman. Death

[Illustration: MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS]

As they set about stripping the body, a lap-dog, hidden in her clothes,
howled and lay down crying out by the neck from which the blood was
flowing. It was carried away.

Then all her things--dress, beads, Paternoster, hand-kerchief--were
taken to the great wood fire which still burned merrily, and burned
before all the people. No relics must be left.

Henry Talbot, son of Lord Shrewsbury, was given the account of the
proceedings, and rode off with them post-haste from Fotheringay along
the bad roads to London.

So died Mary, Queen of Scots, and her death was one of the surest, most
definite steps that was ever taken towards cutting England off from
papal authority. Henceforward, England stood alone. Henceforward, the
force of patriotism and of religion were to be combined.

Such things happened in the time of Walter Ralegh. He may have been
present. If he were, the memory of it must have come to his mind some
thirty years later, when he touched the edge of another axe with his
thumb and approved of its sharpness.



     Scheme of colonization--Preparation--The sailing--Queen's
     interest--Death of Sir Humfrey Gilbert--Another charter
     obtained--King Wingina--Hospitality--Sir Richard
     Grenville--Difficulties of first colonists--Personal

Court life, for all its brilliance and excitement, did not monopolize
Ralegh's attention. He had gained wealth and position: he was near the
Queen. That did not suffice him. He was a man of imagination, who could
never rest content with the attainment which, as man of action, he had
achieved. Rarely have the two qualities been so often combined as they
were in the Elizabethan times, and rarely, even then, were they combined
with such force and in so high a degree as they were in great Ralegh. He
bent his energies on the scheme for colonization. The old idea was that
Paradise lay somewhere on the surface of the world; all through the
Middle Ages the dream existed. Columbus thought that the earth was
probably shaped like a pear, not spherical but elongated, and "on the
summit of the protuberance was situated the earthly Paradise, 'whither
no one can go but by God's permission.'"

That dream continued. It came to Marlowe and obsessed him. But Marlowe
dreamed of no mediæval Paradise.

    "Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed
    In one self-place; for where we are is hell
    And where hell is there must we ever be."

And his god was power; his demi-god, the man who, like Scythian
Tamburlaine, lived--

    "Threatening the world with high astounding terms
    And scourging kingdoms with his conquering sword."

There was no limit set to the enterprise of man's energy; his power was
measureless and divine. Only in the realm of beauty his step might
falter; beyond all achievement, and all the beauty of achievement, there
would always hover--

    "One thought, one grace, one wonder at the least
    Which into words no virtue can digest."

Marlowe wrote intoxicated with this elixir of infinite possibility. The
sea-dogs, men of action, seemed almost to be realizing his dreams,
fighting the next ship that met them, like Drake always sailing a little
further on, coming home with spoils and tales of wonder, and starting
out in search of fresh adventures; or there were men like Frobisher, who
combined the buccaneer with the spirit of the scientist, and who were
anxious to learn new geographical facts; or men like Gilbert, who were
serious-minded enough to be whole-hearted in the cause of science; or
men like Ralegh, in whom all these elements seem to have been
struggling. This paradise of unknown lands worked in all ways upon his
mind. Not Columbus before him, not Balzac after him, realized more
keenly the power of money. He saw, with Gilbert and the industrious
Hakluyt, the value of geographical knowledge, but what fired his
imagination was the vision of another Empire across the seas, and that
vision he was impatient to realize. He inspired the painstaking Hakluyt,
and he quietly made it his life's purpose to further the project. It was
Ralegh who grasped the true meaning of the vague aspirations and whose
personality was big enough to set the first slow forces at work. His
immediate schemes failed, but without those initial failures Captain
John Smith would never have succeeded, as he did succeed some fifteen
years later, in founding the colony of Virginia, from which has at
length grown, in the space of four hundred years, the present American
nation. So are our dreams of Paradise materialized into fact.

The attempt which Gilbert and Ralegh had made at colonization in 1578
had failed.

But Ralegh, in his influential position, saw a means of turning his
scheme to advantage. As has been seen, the unrest of the Catholic party
was becoming more and more acute, until it reached its climax in the
Babington conspiracy and the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. Ralegh
saw his opportunity. He knew as well as Walsingham that there were a
large number of Catholic gentlemen who were desirous of remaining loyal
to their country and loyal to their religion. The wish was as sane as it
was difficult to realize. Naturally (and rightly from their point of
view) the Jesuits and other Catholics, whose enthusiasm made them
fanatical, hated these moderate gentlemen, and called them Schismatics.
Ralegh saw how they might be employed to the advantage of his scheme,
just as a few years previously, when the overcrowding of London was
troubling Burghley, that overcrowding suggested the immediate material
of his scheme. He suggested to Walsingham a solution of the difficulty,
that these gentlemen should form a separate kingdom, should found the
colony in Virginia. In June, 1582, Sir George Gerrard and Sir Thomas
Peckham were empowered to do this. The new plan was set in motion in
spite of Papal warnings and even Papal veto. Two ships were sent to spy
out the land that summer, and in the spring of the following year all
was at length in readiness for actual sailing. Ralegh himself intended
to be vice-admiral,[A] but the Queen forbade him to join the expedition.
He had, however, constructed, on plans of his own devising, an immense
sailing-vessel of 200 tons, which was called the _Bark-Ralegh_ (not to
be confused with the flagship of the fleet which repulsed the Armada
five years later, called the _Ark-Ralegh_). The other vessels were the
_Delight_ alias the _George_, of 120 tons, "which was the Admirall;" the
_Golden Hinde_ of 40 tons, "which was the Reare Admirall;" the
_Swallow_, of 40 tons, and the _Squirrill_, of 10 tons. "We were in
number," writes Mr. Edward Hayes, gentleman, who sailed on the _Golden
Hinde_, "in all about 260 men: among whom we had of every faculty good
choice, as Shipwrights, Masons, Carpenters, Smithes and such like,
requisite to such an action: also Minerall men and Refiners. Besides for
solace of our people and allurement of the Savages, we were provided of
Musike in good variety: not omitting the least toyes, as Morris dancers,
Hobby horsse, and Maylike conceits to delight the savage people whom we
intended to winne by all faire meanes possible. And to that end we were
indifferently furnished of all petty haberdasherie wares to barter with
those simple people."

  [A] Professor Raleigh writes: "Ralegh, who never took kindly to
        a subordinate command, deserted the expedition for some
        reason unknown." But it is not at all probable that he
        ever started.--"The English Voyages," p. 58.

On June 11 the expedition sailed from Causon Bay. The day was Tuesday.
Misfortune came very soon upon them. On Thursday evening the news was
signalled from the _Bark-Ralegh_ that the captain and very many of the
men were fallen sick; and at midnight, "notwithstanding we had the wind
East, faire and good," the vice-admiral forsook them. The reason Mr.
Hayes could never understand, he says in his account, and adds, "Sure I
am, no cost was spared by their owner Master Ralegh in setting them
forth: Therefore I leave it unto God." Sir Humfrey Gilbert was not so
philosophic about the desertion; he wrote to his brother-admiral, Sir
George Peckham, in wrath: "The _Bark-Ralegh_ ran from me in fair and
clear weather, having a large wind. I pray you solicit my brother Ralegh
to make them an example to all knaves."

After this defection the _Golden Hinde_ took the place of the
Vice-Admiral, and hoisted her flag from the mizzen to the foretop. As
they sailed northward they were "incumbered with much fogge and mists in
maner palpable," so that great difficulty was experienced by the ships
in keeping in touch one with the other. The danger of separation always
threatened sailing vessels, and elaborate devices and instructions were
always prepared to lessen its likelihood and to face the emergency. But
on July 20 the _Swallow_ and the _Squirrill_ became separated from the
company, and were not discovered again until the Newfoundland coast was
reached on August 3. Soon after another misfortune occurred owing to the
unruliness of the men on the _Squirrill_, who could not be restrained
from plundering a fishing-boat. This bad act was sufficient to wreck the
success of the expedition, and caused much dissatisfaction among the
sailors, who were always superstitious. Moreover, the men's unruliness
was a serious danger on such an expedition, apart from the question of
God's wrath, which Mr. Hayes feared, and which fell upon the _Squirrill_
and requited the ill-doers with death.

On August 5 Sir Humfrey Gilbert took possession of the harbour of St.
John, and invested the Queen's Majesty with the title and dignity
thereof. The arms of England, engraved in lead, were fixed upon a pillar
of wood and erected. Men were sent to explore the land, and to make maps
of it, while the ships were being overhauled and repaired. The report
only survives; the maps were lost when the general died.

On August 27 they set sail again, and on the next day a great wind
arose, bringing with it rain and thick mist, and drove the vessels upon
the sands and flats. The _Admirall_ struck; her stern and hinder parts
were broken in pieces by the waves; the men leapt into the sea. "This
was a heavy and grievous event to lose at one blow our chiefe shippe
fraighted with great provision, gathered together with much travell,
care, long time, and difficultie. But more was the losse of our men
which perished to the number almost of a hundreth soules." Among the
drowned was Budaeus, a learned man who was minded to record in the Latin
tongue the gests and things worthy of remembrance; Daniel, a refiner of
metals; and Captain Maurice Brawn, a virtuous, honest, and discreet
gentleman. A few men, however, managed to keep afloat in a small boat
for six days, and though two of them died of starvation, the others were
rescued. This disaster brought dismay to the company and they lost
courage. Winter, too, was drawing on, provisions were becoming scant,
their clothes were worn out. Accordingly, Sir Humfrey Gilbert determined
to make for home. "Be content," he said to the men, "we have seen
enough: and take no care of expence past: I will set you forth royally
the next Spring if God send us safe home. Therefore I pray you let us no
longer strive here, where we fight against the elements." But calamity
did not forsake them. Sir Humfrey Gilbert did not reach home. Before the
expedition sailed in June, Elizabeth for her own reasons had persisted
in denying Sir Humfrey the right to accompany his expedition; but his
step-brother, Sir Walter Ralegh, had continued to use his influence to
obtain permission, and the requisite permission had at last been


       "I have sent you a token from her Majesty, an ancor guided by
     a lady, as you see; and further, her Highness willed me to sende
     you worde that she wished you as great good-hap and safty to
     your ship, as if her sealf were ther in parson; desiring you to
     have care of your sealf as of that which she tendereth; and
     therefore for her sake, you must provide for hit accordingly.

     "Farther, she commandeth that you leve your picture with me.
     For the rest I leve till our meeting, or to the report of this
     bearer, who would needs be the messengre of this good newse. So
     I committ you to the will and protection of God, who send us
     such life or death as He shall please or hath appointed.

                              "Richmonde this Friday morning.
                                              "Your treu brother
                                                           "W. RALEGH"

The letter shows the Queen's interest and concern--her attitude towards
the gentlemen who adventured their lives for the glory of her kingdom.
But good-hap and safety were not vouchsafed to Gilbert's ship. The will
and protection of God did not send life; death had been appointed.

They reached the Azores without mishap, except that the general caused
himself great pain and inconvenience by treading upon a nail. The last
conference took place on the _Golden Hinde_, on September 3, when he
made merry with the company on board; his hopes of success ran high for
the enterprise, he vowed to undertake once more the next spring. They
were now coming near to England and the end of their distresses. But
they met with foul weather, and terrible seas, breaking short and high,
pyramid-wise. "Men which all their lifetime had occupied the Sea, never
saw more outragious Seas." Upon the main-yard of the _Golden Hinde_
appeared an apparition of a little fire by night. The little fire is an
evil omen, and is called Castor and Pollux. "Munday the ninth of
September, in the afternoon, the Frigat was neere cast away, oppressed
by waves, yet at that time recovered: and giving forth signes of joy,
the Generall sitting abaft with a book in his hand, cried out unto us in
the Hinde (so oft as we did approach within hearing), 'We are as neare
to Heaven by sea as by land.' Reiterating the same speech,
well-beseeming a souldier, resolute in Jesus Christ, as I can testifie
he was."

Sir Humfrey Gilbert was seen no more. Sitting abaft with a book in his
hand--that was the last sight of him, and those were his last words,
the great saying of a great sailor. For at midnight the lights of his
vessel suddenly disappeared. The frigate was devoured and swallowed of
the sea. So died Sir Humfrey Gilbert in the prime of his manhood at the
age of forty-four.

The _Golden Hinde_ managed to reach the coast of England, and brought
the bad news of disaster to Sir Walter Ralegh, his step-brother, and to
Adrian Gilbert, his younger brother.

They wasted no time in grief or mourning. They paid proper respect to
the memory of the brave dead, and immediately made renewed efforts to
further the enterprise to which their brother had devoted his life.


Within six months Ralegh obtained another charter from the Queen with
larger powers. He and Adrian Gilbert and John Davies were incorporated
under the new charter as "The College of the Fellowship for the
Discovery of the North-west passage." That was the dream of the dead
navigator. Ralegh always had a greater purpose in view, and the charter
was later extended by clauses giving him powers to colonize. Directly
these first steps were taken, a month after the charter's final signing,
Ralegh despatched two captains, Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlow.

Captain John Smith gives an account of their voyage in his "History of
Virginia." (John Smith it was who, profiting by initial failures,
succeeded some years later in the fulfilment of the great scheme.) "The
27 of Aprill," he writes, "they set sail from the Thames, the tenth of
May passed the Canaries, and the tenth of June the West Indies: which
unneedful Southerly course (but then no better was knowne) occasioned
them in that season much sicknesse." His interpolation--then no better
was known--is significant. It throws a clear light on the difficulties
with which these early colonizers were called upon to cope; they had not
yet learned the best way even of reaching their destination.

However, on the 2nd of July the two captains arrived at Florida, "where
they felt a most delicate sweete smell, though they saw no land, which
ere long they espied, _thinking it the Continent: an hundred and twenty
miles they sailed not finding any harbour_." That again is significant,
taking into consideration the limited room on a sailing vessel for food
and other necessaries. When they came to land, they had not yet the
means of knowing anything about that land whatsoever. At length they
discovered that they were upon an island, the island of Wokokon. It was
fertile past all belief. Grapes grew in profusion right down to the
water's edge, that the very surge of the sea sometimes over-flowed them.
In the valleys tall cedars grew, and from the black cedars great cranes
flew in white flocks, when the men discharged their muskets, "with such
a cry as if an army of men had shouted together." The island was thickly
wooded with other trees of excellent smell and quality; and in the woods
there were conies and deere and fowle in incredible abundance. For three
days none of the people were seen. On the third day, in a little boat,
three of them appeared and showed no sign of fear. One of them stopped
and conferred with the sailors, who gave him a shirt and a hat, meat and
wine, which he liked. Then he went away; but soon returned with his boat
quite full of fish, which he gave to the sailors. He had come from the

Next day the king's brother visited the ships, with forty or fifty men,
"proper people and in their behaviour very civill." The king's brother's
name was Granganamen. Soon after the king himself, Wingina, came. A mat
was spread for him on the sea shore, and he sat down upon it. When the
sailors came to him, he stroked his head and breast, and he stroked
their heads and breasts, to express his love. He made a long speech, and
divers toys, "which he kindly accepted," were presented to him.
Especially a pewter pleased the king's fancy. He drilled a hole in it
and hung it round his neck. It made him a capital breastplate, for which
he was ready to give, and gave, twenty skin of deer, worth twenty
crowns. He was so pleased with his bargain and treatment that a few days
later he brought his wife and children on board. During all their stay
in his kingdom, which was called Wingandacoa, King Wingina sent them
almost every day a brace of bucks, conies, hares, fish and vegetables.
The soil was fertile, as the woods were plentifully stocked with
game--for the sailors put some peas in the ground, and in ten days they
had grown to the height of fourteen inches.

They had, indeed, found the Land of Promise; and the people who
inhabited the land were as friendly as their king. A party went on a
little expedition to the island of Roanoak, which was distant some seven
leagues. There the wife of the chief man, who was absent, welcomed them
with much courtesy. She had their clothes taken off and washed; she had
their feet bathed in warm water, while she herself attended to the
preparation of food. While they were eating, warriors entered the room
armed with bows and arrows. The sailors, fearful of treachery, grasped
their muskets. There was no need for alarm, however. The woman saw their
fear, and ordered the warriors immediately to snap their bows and arrows
across their knees.

Hospitality could go no farther. The whole account of the land
"luxuriant to the water's edge, and of their joyous reception by the
Indians, makes the dreams of the pastoral poets seem true," as Professor
Raleigh puts it. Indeed, the people were such as live after the manner
of the Golden Age. Such, too, the Burmese were found to be some three
hundred years later; they had the same childlike simplicity, the same
earnest kindliness; they, too, were unspoiled and happy. The Indians
were regarded as savages; they were not closely observed or
sympathetically described by these stout-hearted adventurers, as the
Burmese have been by Fielding Hall in his notable books. Their
subsequent history bears out the resemblance. The Indians, simpler, more
childish people--savages in fact--came into contact with a sterner
younger civilization. Their history is known. The history of the subject
Burmese is still in the making.

Captain Amadas and Captain Barlow returned in September. They brought
with them two of the natives, many skins, and pearls as big as peas,
which they duly delivered to Sir Walter Ralegh. He was overjoyed with
the success of their voyage, and he obtained permission from the Queen
to call his new land of Wingandacoa, Virginia, in her honour. He ordered
a new seal of his arms to be cut, engraved with the legend, "Propria
insignia Walteri Ralegh, militis, Domini et Gubernatoris Virginiae."

In the spring of the following year his colonizing fleet was ready. The
command of the expedition was given to Sir Richard Grenville, the
valiant, as John Smith calls him. The colony was to be under the
management of Captain Ralph Lane. Sir Richard Grenville was not the man
for the business, and the expedition would have had a very different
result had Sir Philip Sidney undertaken its command, as it was intended
that he should. Sir Richard was supreme as a fighter: his tactics were
to hit first, and to hit hardest, and never to give way. He was
indomitable, but more than sheer bravery was necessary for the
undertaking, and more than sheer bravery Sir Richard Grenville did not

The fleet of seven ships departed from Plymouth in April, and, without
any serious mishap, they arrived on May 12 at the Bay of Moskito in the
island of St. John's, where they cast anchor, and where in seven days
they were joined amidst great rejoicing by Master Candish, captain of
one of the ships which had been separated in a storm. The island of St.
John was in possession of the Spaniards. It is probable that Sir
Richard Grenville hated the Spaniards more than he loved the project of
colonization; for in St. John he stayed till the end of May. He built a
fort, and succeeded in capturing two Spanish frigates, one of which was
well freighted with treasure, and having ransomed the Spaniards of
account for good round sums, he went on his way to Isabella, on the
north side of Hispaniola. Here again they delayed, hoping, as it would
seem, for an opportunity to attack the Spaniards in possession; but the
Spaniards, overawed, as the writer thinks, by their numbers, exhibited
only the greatest courtesy. So they sailed on June 7, and eventually
arrived a fortnight later at Wokokon, after having narrowly escaped
complete shipwreck "on a breach called the Cape of Fear."

The colony was now on the verge of plantation. But the men did not see
the immense need of living at amity with the natives, that they might
win their support and trust, without which their task would be
insuperable in difficulty. They had hardly lived among them for two days
before strife broke out, in which, of course, the Englishmen were easily
victorious. For it appears that a silver cup was missed, and theft was
suspected. For this trivial reason the town of Aquascogok, which was
supposed to shelter the culprit, was burned, and all the neighbouring
cornfields were laid waste. Enmity was thus kindled, and the fire of
enmity cannot easily be extinguished.

After that Sir Richard Grenville sailed away with his convoy, and
passing on his way home a richly laden Spanish ship of three hundred
tons, he boarded her (note the prodigious daring of the fellow!) with a
boat made with boards of a chest, "which fell asunder and sunk at the
ship's side as soon as ever he and his men were out of it." That was on
the last day of August: on September 18 he sailed into Plymouth harbour,
well-contented with his prize, "and was courteously received by divers
of his worshipful friends."

But Ralph Lane was left behind in Virginia with his colonists, to the
number of some hundred house-holders, and the hostile natives. From the
New Fort he writes an enthusiastic letter, on September 3, to Master
Richard Hakluyt. His report of the fertility of the country is more
glowing even than the account of Amadas and Barlow, or than Ralegh
himself could have dared imagine in his brightest dreams. "It is the
goodliest and most pleasing territory of the world; for the continent is
of a huge and unknown greatness, and very well peopled and towned,
though savagely: and the climate is wholesome, that we had not one sick
since we touched the land here." Horses and kine and sufficient
Englishmen are alone needed, and no realm in Christendom would be
comparable with Virginia. The men set to work to build themselves a
settlement, making use of the equipment with which each man was

Captain John Smith, who succeeded, some thirty years later, in erecting
the colony on the ruins of these previous failures, gives an exact
outfit, with the cost of each article, which a colonist would require.
He could learn from the experience of others, and was wise enough to
tabulate his own experience in minute lists that others might learn from
him. Lane's colonists could not have been so well provided. They must
have lacked many little necessaries which the wisest forethought could
not have provided, they must have encumbered themselves with much that
was comparatively useless. Here are some articles of personal outfit
which John Smith--and John Smith knew--deemed indispensable. They read
quaintly with their prices:--

    A Monmouth Cap                              1_s._ 10_d._
    Three Shirts                                7_s._  6_d._
    One Waste Coat                              2_s._  2_d._
    One Suit of Canvase                         7_s._  6_d._
      "   "     Frize                          10_s._  0_d._
      "   "     Cloth                          15_s._  0_d._
    Three pair of Irish Stockings               4_s._  0_d._
    Four pair of shoes                          8_s._  8_d._
    One pair of garters                         0_s._ 10_d._
    One dozen of points                         8_s._  0_d._
    One pair of Canvase sheets                  8_s._  0_d._
    Seven ells of Canvase to make a bed a
      bolster to be filled in Virginia,
      serving for two men
    Five ells of coarse canvase to make a bed   5_s._  0_d._
    One Coarse rug to be used at sea for
      two men

Lane's colonists remained exactly one year in Virginia. Their life was
varied and exciting. At first the Indians, in spite of the silver cup
and the summary vengeance for its theft, were still inclined towards
friendliness. Their kings visited New Fort. Menatonou, King of
Chawanook, was especially well-disposed. He was a "man impotent in his
limbs, but otherwise, for a savage, a very grave and wise man, and of a
very singular good discourse in matters concerning the state, not only
of his own country and the disposition of his own men, but also of his
neighbours round about him as well far as near, and of the commodities
that each country yieldeth." Among other things, he told Lane where
pearls in large quantities could be found, and Lane devised a plan for
making an expedition to that river of Moratoc.

And from this plan, which Lane records in full in a subsequent letter to
Ralegh, peers out the mistake in judgment which brought disaster upon
this first enterprise. These colonists had too much the spirit of Sir
Richard Grenville. They were too adventurous, and esteemed the natives
of too little account. Instead of quietly settling and making their base
secure, while the Indians became gradually used to their presence, they
must needs be hurrying further inland in pursuit of immediate and
enormous wealth. Theirs was too much the spirit of the lion-hearted
freebooter and not enough the spirit of the determined settler.

Misfortune awaited them. For there lived an old king in this land of
fabulous wealth by the swift river of Moratoc or Moratico. Ensenore was
his name, and he was friendly to the English. Not so his son Pemisapan.
And at this crucial time Ensenore died and Pemisapan took his place at
the head of the province, and immediately began his endeavours to
undermine the little influence which the English had already gained
among the neighbouring peoples. The position of the colonists became one
of extreme danger in consequence. They found that they must not only
struggle against the elements to secure food and shelter, but also fight
for their lives against the inhabitants. They had expected support from
England in the spring, with reinforcements of every kind. None, however,
came, and probably the fear of isolation, brought about by events of
which they had heard nothing, was added to their other fears. Small
wonder then that, when Sir Francis Drake came to them with twenty tall
ships, they should clamour to leave the perilous spot and return to
England. They returned in June, Drake's fleet laden with the spoils he
had garnered from the sack of the Spanish cities, St. Iago, St. Domingo,
Carthagena, St. Anthony, and St. Helens. With them, too, they are said
to have brought, for the first time, specimens of the plant Nicotiana,
of which Ralegh discovered the sovereign virtues, and which, in despite
of King James from Scotland and his counterblast, has soothed many
millions of honest Englishmen.

A fortnight after the colonists departed, fearing that they were
forsaken, the ship of a hundred tons which Ralegh had stored with
provisions and other necessaries arrived, and a month after Sir Richard
Grenville came with three ships, and found neither colonists nor the
ship which Ralegh had sent out for their relief. Accordingly, after he
had searched long in vain and made certain explorations on his own
initiative, he landed fifteen brave men to retain possession of the
country for England and sailed home. Nothing more was heard of the
fifteen brave men.

So ended the first series of attempts to found an English colony in
Virginia, doubtless, efforts which themselves just failed of success,
but without which the final colonization of Virginia would have been



     The Stannaries--His grasp of detail--"Do it with thy
     might"--Estimate of squadron--Scheme of coast defence--
     The clash-mills of Mr. Crymes--Irish plans.

The Virginian enterprise did not engage all Ralegh's energy in affairs.
Undoubtedly it was his greatest scheme. Its eventual results were of no
less than world-wide importance, for they include the American nation,
they include tobacco; and without either commodity modern civilization
would surely be desolate. Ralegh had a capacity for business which
approached genius; and would have attained to genius had his imagination
not run a little in advance of his power over detail.

In his hands the posts which he obtained were no sinecures. Proper
arrangement of things in being fascinated him almost as deeply as the
possible development of the embryonic.

The various expeditions to Virginia involved a vast amount of work. But
during that time he was actively engaged in the management of lesser

As Lord Warden of the Stannaries his duties were to look after the
interests of the tin-miners in Devonshire and Cornwall. He was head of
the Stannary Courts in which justice was legally administered to the
tinners; and he would be obliged to see that his substitutes performed
their functions properly. For a privilege was granted to the tin-workers
to have their disputes settled upon the spot in their own court, in
order that they might not be drawn from their business during the long
time that a visit to another court would involve. All through the time
when he was engaged in great things at Court, or in great dreams of an
Eldorado in South America, he always paid proper attention to the
exacting little business of these tinners in Cornwall. In 1600 he writes
a minute account to the Lord Treasurer, Buckhurst, and Secretary, Sir
Robert Cecil, about the abatement of some tax on tin. He kept the
interests of the tinners always in mind. In the same year he enters into
the case of a gentleman, Mr. Crymes, who had erected certain clash-mills
upon Roxburgh Down "to worke the tynn which upon that place is gott with
extreame labour and charge out of the ground." But the townsmen of
Plymouth objected to the mills, because they said that the mills
diverted the course of their water. Ralegh went to view the clash-mills
on Roxburgh Down in person, though it was the autumn of the year, and
decided against the townsmen of Plymouth. If they had their way, as
according to the letter of the law only they should, countless tinners
would be thrown out of work. In reality no harm was done to the course
of the river.

Accordingly Ralegh asks Secretary Sir Robert Cecil to take the matter
from the Star Chamber, where the townsmen of Plymouth had sent it, and
to let it be tried, as it was fitting that such a matter should be
tried, in the Stannary Courts. "If this be suffered to proceed in the
Starre Chamber it will not be avaylable to speake of her Majesties late
imposicion or encrease of Custom, or to establish good laws among
Tynners; when others who can by a great purse or procuring
extraordinary meanes, diminish to their power her Majesties duties and
the common benefytt of the people."

_Do it with thy might_ was as sincerely his motto in little things as in
big; and this it is well to remember in protest against those who are
inclined to regard Ralegh merely as an unsuccessful dreamer of great

He was Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall. Among other duties which the post
entailed, was the important duty of keeping the county ready to ward off
an invasion, which was a very real danger all through his period of
office. His letters to Lord Burghley give ample evidence of his care and
wisdom. In 1587, one year before the Armada, he sent the Lord Treasurer
a letter in which he gave it as his opinion that a company of two
thousand foot and a troop of two hundred should be levied from the
counties of Cornwall and Devon, and should be trained to be ready for
defence at a moment's notice against surprise. The difficulties of his
plan he saw clearly. There was, in the first place, a feeling of rivalry
between the two Duchies which increased the difficulty of combination.
The Lord Lieutenant of Devonshire, the Earl of Bath, was not easily
brought to see the wisdom of the plan, though Sir John Gilbert and Sir
Richard Grenville, staunch Devon men, were its supporters. The merchants
of Exeter were not disposed to bear willingly any additional outlay in
the matter of defence, because they were obliged to pay heavily to
defend their merchandise against Barbary and other pirates. Ralegh
incloses a tabulated list in his letter, showing exactly how these
levies could be raised, and the exact cost of the raising. The payment
of the troop of horse is of much interest. The men were to receive
1_s._ a day (the pay of an infantry man was 8d.). The horsemen were to
be divided into four cornets: that would imply four captains at 5s.,
four lieutenants at 3_s._, four guidons at 2_s._ 6_d._, four clerks at
1_s._ 6_d._, four trumpetts at 1_s._ 6_d._ per day. He adds the charge
of ammunition. "There is allowed for each soldier for this service of
sixteen daies, tenn pounde of Powder at 12_d._ the pounde and is £500.
Ther is allowed of matche for each soldier at halfe a pounde the daye,
at 6_d._ the pounde and is £200. Of leade for each mann one pounde at
1½_d._ the pounde, and is £6 8_s._

The whole estimated cost of training and raising came to £2163 5_s._ and
unlike the majority of estimates, the one drawn up by Ralegh is as clear
as it is concise.

But his best contribution to the problem of defence is a letter, written
in the year 1595 to the Lords of the Council. It had been decided that
"mutual succour be gyven from the Counties of Devon and Cornwall to each
other," and the point of the letter is to show that Devonshire should be
supplied with reinforcements from Somerset rather than from Cornwall.
His reasons are well put and convincing. "If there shall any discent be
made by the enymye in either county by the waie of surprise, and that
the enymye doe but burne or sacke, and departe, then can nether be
releeved as aforesaid, bycause there wilbe no tyme given to unite the
forces of the same shere, where such attempt shalbe offered, much lesse
for the drawing in of any numbers from affarr; and for any such
enterpryze, where there is no purpose to hold and possesse the places
gotten, each shire with 4000 men shalbe able either to repel or to
resiste the same. But if the enymy dispose himself to fortyfye any part
in Cornewall or to strengthen any neck of land of advantage, and thereby
begyne to dryve us to a defensive warr, then there is noe country
adjoyneth to Cornwall but Devon from whence any spedy supplie maie be
had to impeach the begining of such a purpose. And if ought be attempted
in Devon--of which Plymouth is most to be feared, having, in one
indraught, two goodly harboroughes, as Cattwater and Aishewater--then it
is also very likely that the enymye will either assure Cornewall, or
seeke utterly to waste yt, because yt is next his supplies, both from
Spayne and Brittaine (Brittany); and hath divers ports and good rodes to
receive a fleete."

He proceeds to point out the length and narrowness of Cornwall, and the
extreme difficulty of sending succour to Plymouth. The river can only be
forded in two places, and that by small ferries at Stonehouse and Aishe,
which would be of little use for horses or ammunition. Moreover, the
enemy would bring "gallies" with them, which would enable them to
command the river Tamar. If four thousand men were taken from Cornwall,
the enemy would certainly become cognizant of the fact, and nothing
would be easier for them, in that event, than to lay waste the whole
shire, either by sending round a ship from Plymouth or across from
Brittany. Three hundred soldiers would be sufficient.

He points out that no county in England is so dangerously situated as
Cornwall, with the sea on both sides of it, and with sparse inhabitants.
It is so narrow that if the enemy were to possess any of two or three
straits, the men of the West would be quite cut off from the men of the
East, for between Mount's Bay and the sea entering within St. Tees, it
is but three miles and a half from sea to sea; between Truro and St.
Pirom but five miles. He concludes the letter by making manifest the
advantages of the position of Somerset, its breadth, its richness, and
lack of separating rivers.

And he set his mind to these details of his defence at the time when his
mind was eager to bring down to the realm of reality those high dreams
by which Guiana caused him to be obsessed. A few days afterwards he
writes to Sir Robert Cecil: "I beseich you lett us know whether wee
shalbe travelers or tinkers; conquerors or novices. For if the winter
pass without making provision there can be no vitling in the summer; and
if it be now fore-slowed, farewell Guiana for ever.... Honor and gold
and all good, for ever hopeless."

A great man, this Elizabethan, whose imperial dreams did not prevent him
from mastering the little businesses under his hand! Visions of Eldorado
did not blurr his view of Minnett or lessen his interest in the
clash-mills of Mr. Crymes.

Not only was Ralegh Lord Warden of the Stannaries and Lord Lieutenant of
Cornwall, but he was also what Edwards calls Captain of Industry in
Ireland. The work connected with these duties was what may be looked
upon as the _business_ of his life. Each entailed work and
responsibility which would suffice the energy of an ordinary man of
business, a little above the modern average of capacity. It was typical
of Ralegh's immense vitality that he dealt with them with as much
thoroughness and ease as he managed his own household, and always he
inspired them with new ideas and new life, even as his garden was the
first in which orange-trees were cultivated. His imagination made him an
originator. He was never content with the old way of doing things--he
found a better. He was always seeing old facts for the first time, as
though he had never seen them before, as all men of vigorous intellect
do. Consequently he trusted his own opinion, and he had good cause to
trust it.

Ralegh had first become prominent by his actions in Ireland, and very
soon after he had attained to eminence he was employed by the Crown in
their endeavour to bring some kind of prosperity to the country ravaged
to desolation by war. Solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant. Six hundred
thousand acres of land had been confiscated from the Earl of Desmond,
and probably at his own suggestion Ralegh undertook to plant an English
colony there. Others joined in the enterprise. Ralegh's share consisted
of some twelve thousand acres in the counties of Cork, Waterford, and
Tipperary, and he rented, in addition, Lismore Castle at the annual
charge of £13 6_s_. 8_d_., from Meyler Magrath, Bishop of the See of
Lismore and Archbishop of Cashel. His tenants he had taken from men of
Devon (the stamp of man he knew and approved), and his land was soon
recognized as the most prosperous among all the estates which these
"gentlemen under-takers," as they were called, were opening out.
Fertility did not satisfy him. His acres were well forested, and an idea
occurred to him by which he could turn the timber to good account. His
scheme was to construct pipe-staves and hogsheads and barrel boards, and
to transport them to the wine growers of Spain and France. It was a good
scheme and practical. But he found the utmost difficulty in obtaining a
licence from the Privy Council for their export. He was not in favour
with Sir William Fitzwilliam, Lord-Deputy of Ireland, nor the deputy's
cousin, one Richard Wingfield. By the time that sanction was obtained,
Ireland was again in too unsettled a state for prosperity in quiet
commerce, and Ralegh sold his estate to Richard Boyle, who afterwards
became Earl of Cork. He had planted many products, which his men had
brought from Virginia, on the land of his Irish estate, and among these
was the potato. He also tried to cultivate tobacco, but with less

Had Ralegh been supported during the last ten years of the Queen's
reign, he would have benefited Ireland considerably by his activity,
even though he was, at the same time, engaged in many other affairs,
naval, political, and commercial. But he was badly hampered in his
projects by loss of favour. His enemies were many, and they found
pleasure in vexing him in small matters. This enmity, while Elizabeth
lived, did not seriously injure his power or his reputation, but it set
obstacles in the way of his projects which were just sufficient to
thwart them.

Such were Ralegh's chief business activities, which were the groundwork
of his life, these and the duties of Captain of the Guard, which were
chiefly decorative. It is not easy to realize, in a time of great
splendour, the day to day existence of the men who made that time
splendid. The mind is apt to leap from dramatic moment to dramatic
moment, when mighty exploits mark out a time's history like
stepping-stones. When events are sufficiently great to stand prominently
forth, not only in the history of the reign, but in the history of all
time, the prosaic intervals of dull hard work are apt to be forgotten;
but they are the essential training, without which those events would
not have happened.

The life of the man is the life of the nation in little. Just as Ralegh
thought nothing beneath his notice, thought nothing to which he put his
hand too insignificant not to be done with his might, so England, under
her great Queen, was working and working to collect her strength, so
that, when the moment at last came to strike, she might strike with

Sir Walter Ralegh, Captain of the Guard, superb in pearls and silver,
whom magnificence became, did not disdain on occasion to ride for many
miles through the muddy roads of Devonshire to inspect the river at
Roxburgh Down, and found time to write at length to Secretary Sir Robert
Cecil, his opinion that the clash-mills of Mr. Crymes, the tinner, did
not harm the townsmen of Plymouth. That incident is as significant of
the time's energy as the defeat of the Spanish Armament.


From an oil-painting made, probably by Federigo Zuccaro, in 1586

Copyright, Emery Walker, London, E. C.]



     Spain's enmity--The Armada--Ralegh's opinion of tactics--With
     Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Norreys--The privateers.

Indeed Ralegh's immense energy is typical of the time. _Do it with thy
might_ could fitly have been the motto of the nation. Their capacity for
hard work was unequalled. The Armada was England's day of triumph. Men
applaud a prima-donna on the night of her success, and are apt to forget
the long years of training and privation and self-control that have
preceded the glory of the moment. It is even so with a nation. The
little hour of triumph is as nothing compared with the long years of
life which made that triumph possible; and only the greatest artist and
the greatest nation can bear the added burthen of success. England
lapsed after the impulse of that great action had died away. The nation
as a whole was too young and too boisterous with youth to support a
victory so overpowering in its magnificence.

The triumph itself was like few in the history of nations, and events
conspired to lend a vivid dramatic colour to its greatness.

The time had come when Philip the Second at last decided that the
insolence of England must be punished. The exploits of men like Hawkins
and Drake and Ralegh and Frobisher were becoming intolerable, and
though Elizabeth had at first given no sanction to their enterprises,
treating them much as she had treated the English supporters of the
Protestant cause in France, yet the knighthood of Drake on the deck of
his own ship at length declared the bent of her sympathy. The time had
come for action: and the time seemed specially favourable to Philip.
Sextus the Fifth was Pope, and he had created the league for the
subversion of heresy, and the arch-heretic of Europe must be put away.
The Prince of Parma was in the Netherlands ready to invade England. The
Catholics in England would be united by the execution of Mary, Queen of
Scots, and the Protestants themselves would be averse to the surrender
of the throne to her son and his Scotch followers. So Philip thought,
and slowly set the immense machinery of preparation to work.

Elizabeth possessed remarkable foresight and a remarkable dislike for
definite action. Her foresight was as uncanny as an instinct, or her
power of dissimulation, which is the art of diplomacy. Accordingly, it
is probable that her efforts for peace, and the treaty which she patched
up with the Prince of Parma, did not arise from any fear of war, but
were a clever design to increase the proud confidence of the enemy by
making him think that England was in reality in a state of panic, quite
unprepared for war. She knew well of the preparations, and of their huge
scale. Drake had sent news to Lord Burghley: "Assuredly," he wrote,
"there never was heard of or known so great preparations as the King of
Spain hath and daily maketh ready for the invasion of England." With
daring he sailed into the very harbour of Cadiz and damaged more than a
hundred tall ships. He was forbidden to do further damage. Spain's
enterprise was not destined to be strangled at home. Elizabeth's fear,
if her fear existed, allowed Philip to spend untold sums of money on his
fleet, and to adorn it with the flower of his nobility, and allowed
England to overcome her enemy in the full ostentation of his display.
Certainly Lord Howard of Effingham, Admiral of the Fleet, knew nothing
of Elizabeth's intentions, nor did Sir John Hawkins, the paymaster. They
wrote angry letters to Walsingham when the movements of their ships were
confined, and some of their men disbanded. "Never," wrote Lord Howard,
"never since England was England was there such a stratagem and mask
made to deceive us as this treaty." And Sir John Hawkins was even more
vehement: "We are wasting money, wasting strength, dishonouring and
discrediting ourselves by our uncertain dallying." Naturally they
desired to repeat Drake's exploit, to run every risk, like brave
Englishmen, and to crush the Spanish fleet in the Spanish harbours. But
they must wait. Elizabeth's fears or Elizabeth's diplomacy (conscious or
unconscious in its working a strange instinct for the good of England
was here) determined another course of action. "The Queen took upon
herself the detailed management of everything. Lord Howard's letters
prove that she and she only was responsible," as Froude, who accepts the
view of her perverseness and levity, declared.

Meanwhile the King of Spain's preparations were at length completed. The
galleons, "built high like castles," had been baptized each with the
name of a saint, St. Matthew, St. Philip, St. John, ceremonially, as it
was fitting that vessels about to fight for the Catholic cause should be
baptised. The one hundred and twenty-nine vessels of the Armada,
galleons and galleasses, set sail. They were strong only in pride and in
the sense of their cause's sacredness.

Their vessels were unwieldy and old-fashioned, their ammunition was
insufficient, and their admiral was high-born but incapable. For the
veteran Don Alvarez de Baçan, Marquis of Santa Cruz, had died suddenly,
and his place had been taken by the Duke of Medina Sidonia. On July 19
the Armada was reported off Plymouth. Beacons lit from hilltop to
hilltop flamed the news to London.

The English fleet was ready. "Their ships had warped out into the Sound
on the evening of the 19th: on the 20th they had plied out, to windward,
against a fresh south-westerly breeze; and the Armada running to the
eastward all night had, by daybreak on the 21st, given the English the
weather-gage for which they had been working."

On the afternoon of the 21st the battle began. The _Ark-Ralegh_, built
on Sir Walter's own design, in which was the Lord High Admiral, Howard
of Effingham, and three other ships sailed along the rear of the Spanish
line, sending quick volleys into the great vessels, and sailed back. The
Spaniards vainly tried to grapple with them: the English ships were too
swift and easily manoeuvred. And then, on the very opening of the long
battle, the Spaniards recognized their weakness, that their great
vessels were cumbrous, and so crank that their cannon sent their balls
on the weather side high into space, and on the lee side very nearly
plump into the water. For a week (there was little sleep for the men
during that week) the fleets fought down the Channel till the Spanish
fleet lay at last at Calais, but not for long. The English sent
fire-ships among them and drove them out. "This great preparation,"
writes Bacon, "passed away like a dream. The Invincible Navy neither
took any one barque of ours neither yet once offered to land; but after
they had been well beaten and chased, made a perambulation about the
Northern seas, ennobling many coasts with wrecks of mighty ships; and so
returned home with greater derision than they set forth with


Two things are specially worthy of notice about this great battle. The
first is the continued ignorance of the commanders of various English
ships as to the actual damage which had been inflicted upon the enemy.
They had, of course, only their unaided eyes to trust to, and great
difficulty in announcing news from ship to ship. Lord Howard writes as
late as August 8: "Although we have put the Spanish Fleet past the
Firth, and I think past the Isles, yet God knoweth whether they go to
the Nase of Norway or into Denmark or to the Isles of Orkney to refresh
themselves and so to return." And Drake, too, wrote on the evening of
the battle: "God hath given us so good a day in forcing the enemy so far
to leeward, as I hope in God the Prince of Parma and the Duke of Sidonia
shall not shake hands this few days."

And the second point is that though the English loss was small during
the actual days of the battle, yet the strain and the food and the
sanitation were such that directly they came to port, a frightful
epidemic broke out among the men, who died, we are told, by hundreds in

In the actual fighting Ralegh probably took no part. When the first news
came of the Armada's approach, he was in Ireland, attending to his
duties as Mayor of Youghal. With the utmost speed at that time possible
he sailed from Ireland and rode to the English coast. Certain it is,
however, that he arrived too late for any official post to be assigned
him, for the battle had been in progress for two days before his
arrival. But many private gentlemen joined the fleet in craft hastily
equipped for warfare, and it would be a thing to wonder at if Ralegh was
behindhand when such doings were happening. No positive information is,
however, forthcoming. Only it is known that the Lord High Admiral's ship
was built from designs which Ralegh had matured, and that he agreed
completely with the plan of the Lord High Admiral's attack. Many an
evening Drake and Effingham and Ralegh would have spent in discussing
the tactics of sea-battles, proud, as they well might be, of the
swiftness and ease with which an English ship could be manoeuvred in
comparison with the large unwieldiness of the carracks of Spain, who
still considered herself (God help her) mistress of the sea.

In his "History of the World" occurs a passage about the tactics
employed by the English against the Armada. There is a strong element of
pathos in the idea of the man shut up in the little room in the Tower of
London (he could watch the ships making their way down the Thames)
writing of this great action, which he had seen, and writing with
ardour, which nothing could extinguish. He had been recounting a fight
between Roman vessels, heavy and slow, and the swift African galleys.
Then he bursts out into this great paragraph of reminiscence, as though
once again he were convincing some obstinate fellow of the patent
rightness of the plan of attack.

"Certainly, hee that will happily perform a fight at sea must be skilful
in making choice of vessels to fight in: he must beleeve that there is
more belonging to a good man of war upon the waters, than great during;
and must know that there is a great deale of difference betweene
fighting loose or at large, and grapling. The guns of a slow ship pierce
as well, and make as great holes, as those in a swift. To clap ships
together without consideration, belongs rather to a madman than to a man
of warre: for by such an ignorant braverie was Peter Strozzi lost at the
Azores when he fought against the Marquesse of Santa Cruz. In like sort
had the Lord Charles Howard, Admirall of England beene lost in the year
1588, if he had not been better advised than a great many malignant
fooles were, that found fault with his demeanour. The Spaniards had an
armie aboord them; and he had none; they had more ships than he had and
of higher building and charging; so that had he intangled himself with
those great and powerfull Vessels, he had greatly endangered this
Kingdom of England.... But our Admirall knew his advantage, and held it:
which had he not done, he had not beene worthy to have held his head.
Heere to speake in generall of sea-fight (for particulars are fitter for
private hands than for the Presse) I say, That a fleete of twentie ships
all good sailers and goode ships have the advantage on the open Sea, of
an hundred as good ships, and of slower sayling. For if the fleete of an
hundred saile keep themselves neere together in a grosse squadron: the
twentie ships charging them upon any angle, shall force them to give
ground and to fall back upon their owne next fellowes: of which so many
as intangle, are made unserviceable or lost. Force them they may easily,
because the twentie ships, which give themselves scope, after they have
given one broad side of Artillerie, by clapping into the winde, and
staying, they may give them the other: and so the twentie ships batter
them in pieces with a perpetuall vollie; whereas those, that fight in a
troop, have no roome to turn and can alwaies use but one and the same
beaten side."

And this is precisely what had taken place in the Armada. It is
interesting to know that there was divergency of opinion about the
proper tactics to follow, and it would be still more interesting to know
who the "malignant fools" were, to whom Ralegh refers. Men who confuse
the strategy of war with their own idea of manliness, are common to all
times, and must indeed be the most desperate fellows for a proper
soldier to convince. You can hear them saying, with that dreadful
assumption of finality with which the pompous imbecile seems gifted,
those runaway tactics may be very well for buccaneers, but are they
seemly for the ships of the navy of England? Small wonder the memory of
them once more exasperated Ralegh in his prison-room to renewed anger.

Before the Armada there had been many privateering expeditions against
Spain on different waters; after the Armada these expeditions naturally
became even more numerous, when they possessed the prestige of the
Crown's authority.

Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Norreys were sent with a small fleet to
reinstate Don Antonio on the throne of Portugal which had lapsed into
the possession of Philip of Spain. Ralegh went on that expedition, which
failed to attain its object but captured sixty Hanseatic vessels, laden
with victual and ammunition, which report said, were intended to
provision a new Armada.

Reprisals against Spain became the vogue, into which Ralegh threw
himself with spirit. Every man whom money and opportunity favoured,
fitted out his ship to spoil the Egyptian. The Queen's person, forsooth,
was not to be harmed: she was to be conveyed to his Holiness the Pope at
Rome? Such things, men knew, were said with happy confidence before the
Armada, and such things, remembered and repeated, spurred Englishmen on
to activity in which the hope of personal gain was small in comparison
with the fury of personal resentment that their Queen should be so
lightly valued and thought to be so sorrily championed. Nor did they
always discriminate nicely between the nationality of ships which they
waylaid. Ralegh, as Vice-Admiral of Devon, often received instructions
to see to the restitution of ships to subjects of the French King; and a
ship of his own had taken "two barks of Cherbourg from two of the French
King's subjects." There is a wild recklessness in the exploits of these
years; these gentlemen of England, whose names sound through history,
exulted: and there is much in their exultation that resembles the
behaviour of schoolboys rejoicing in an unexpected half-holiday in
spring. The grave way in which their doings are recorded heightens by
contrast the similarity. Ralegh and his men are bidden be careful "to
minister no cause of grief unto any of the (French) King's subjects, in
respect of the good amity and correspondence between Her Majesty and the
French King, their realm and subjects." Austerely the records run;
austerely, too, is related her Majesty's desire that a certain perfect
waist-coat, the fame of which had reached her ears, should be put on one
side for her Majesty's personal use.

They had the godlike capacity of remaining young, these Elizabethans;
they did not outgrow their taste for splendid waistcoats. And the world
found them irresistible.



     Rise of Essex--Ralegh retires to Ireland--At Kilcolman--At
     Youghal--Friendship with Spenser--Brings Spenser to Court--
     Their dreams.

In 1588 Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, died. His influence with the
Queen had for some years been decreasing, and there is a report, which
bears the likelihood of truth, that he had summoned to Court his
step-son Robert, the young Earl of Essex, in order that he might
counteract the growing influence of Ralegh. Be that report true or
false, young Essex came to Court about the year 1587, and his youth and
spirit took the Queen's fancy mightily. Essex was as arrogant as his
stepfather. Elizabeth was now an old woman in years and in appearance.
She felt that her power as a woman was leaving her, and that drove her
to make a last effort to regain it, defying age then as she defied death
later. She cared for decorum less than she cared for life. That is the
pathetic side of her immense vitality, if the word pathetic can ever be
used of such a woman. She felt that she could take something of the
youth which had left her, from the boy: he was little more than a boy.
To his natural arrogance was added the arrogance of youth. He, too, was
capricious and wilful, even as the old Queen was capricious; but he
gained charm, and the Queen lost dignity thereby.

There was rivalry between Essex and Ralegh, who could not endure this
spoiled boy. His impertinence to the Queen was distasteful to one who,
like Ralegh, knew the meaning of reverence, and was able to understand
greatness. This abasement of his sovereign lady hurt him, and he had no
faith in Essex, neither in his character nor in his ability.

Small wonder, then, that Ralegh fell into disgrace, and in 1589 he went
to Ireland to attend to his Irish estates. Gossip said, My Lord of Essex
had chased him from the Court. The boy took his position with
intolerable seriousness: he had even challenged Ralegh to mortal combat,
and it was necessary to hush the matter up that the Queen might not hear
of it. Ralegh went. Destiny led him to Kilcolman Castle, where Edmund
Spenser was living.

But first he probably went to the Warden's house of the College of
Youghal: the house was dear to him because it resembled the manor-house
at Budleigh-Salterton, where he was born. The house was long and low;
and the rooms were lined with small panels of Irish oak.[B] A large
dining-room is on the ground floor, from which runs a subterranean
passage connecting the house with the old tower of St. Mary's Church. In
one of the kitchens the ancient wide arched fireplace remains. Sir
Walter Ralegh's study had fine dark wainscot, deep, projecting windows,
and a richly carved oak mantelpiece, which rose to the full height of
the ceiling. The cornice rested upon three figures--of Faith, Hope, and
Charity, and the rest of the structure was covered with dexterous
carving, circular-headed panels, and strangely wrought emblematical
devices. His bedroom adjoined the study: in it, too, was a carved
mantelpiece of oak, and in the fireplace Dutch tiles, four inches
square. Behind the wainscoting of this room was a recess, in which a
part of the old monkish library was hidden at the time of the
Reformation. Here Ralegh worked, taking notes, perhaps, for the great
history which he was to write later: here he read Peter Comestor's
"Historia Scolastica;" and a black-letter book, printed at Mantua in
1479, which tells of the events of the world from the Creation to the
days of the Twelve Apostles. It is pleasant to brood upon the change
from the turbulent Court life to the quiet of this monastic retreat at
Youghal--the little town in Ireland of which the illustrious courtier
was mayor. Not only in black-letter quartos was he interested, but also
in the garden. He planted great yellow wallflowers and cedars and
tobacco and Affane cherry trees: potatoes he introduced, and they were
cultivated all through Munster. You can read, too, in a _Gentleman's
Magazine_ of some ninety years ago: "Potatoes were first planted here
(that is, in Lancashire), having been brought from Ireland to England by
the immortal Ralegh." The writer must have had a tooth for potatoes, he
is spurred to such enthusiasm over the matter. _Il faut cultiver le

  [B] From the description by Rev. Samuel Hayman, historiographer
        of Youghal, 1852.

And at Kilcolman Castle Edmund Spenser was living, conscious of the
loneliness of the country.

    "One day (quoth he) I sat (as was my trade)
    Under the foote of Mole, that mountain hore
    Keeping my sheepe amongst the cooly shade
    Of the greene alders by the Mullaes shore:
    There a strange shepheard chaunst to find me out,
    Whether allured with my pipes delight,
    Whose pleasing sound yshrilled far about
    Or thither led by chaunce, I know not right:
    Whom when I asked from what place he came,
    And how he hight, himself he did ycleepe
    The Shepheard of the Ocean by name,
    And said he came far from the main-sea deepe.

    He sitting me beside in that same shade,
    Provoked me to plaie some pleasant fit;
    And when he heard the musicke which I made,
    He found himselfe full greatly pleased at it:
    Yet, oemuling my pipe, he took in hond
    My pipe, before that oemuled of many,
    And played thereon; (for well that skill he cond;)
    Himself as skilfull in that art as any.
    He piped, I sung; and, when he sung, I piped.
    By chaunge of turnes, each making other mery;
    Neither envying other, nor envied,
    So piped we, untill we both were weary."

That is Spenser's account--a very pretty account--of the time which he
spent with Ralegh. It is written in "Colin Clouts Come Home Againe."
They had, of course, met before, as young men and soldiers by Smerwick,
when Spenser was secretary to Lord Grey of Wilton. But now many years
had passed by: they met again, and knew that they were friends. The
movement of a leaf is enough to show the direction of a large wind: and
a phrase may point the attitude of a friendship between two men. A
sentence thus pregnant occurs in Spenser's dedication to his pastoral
account of his visit to London. With a whimsical humour, which is
characteristic of him, he writes to the right worthy and noble knight,
Sir Walter Ralegh, Captain of her Majesties Guard, Lord Warden of the
Stannaries, and Lieutenant of the County of Cornwall.


    "That you may see that I am not alwaies ydle as yee thinke,
    though not greatly well occupied, nor altogither undutifull,
    though not precisely officious, I make you present of this
    simple Pastorall...."

You can see Spenser smile, as he writes, to think of this "strange
shepheard's" terrific energy: how Ralegh came upon him when he was
oppressed with melancholy and high dreams, which this melancholy did not
allow him to express: how intercourse with Ralegh inspired him with new
life. He would brood, too, of many things, which the memory of those
days stirred up within him. For Ralegh, like Sidney, the friend of
Spenser's earliest youth, was a poet as well as a man of action; and
though Spenser was a bigger poet than either he was not a bigger man.
The poet in Ralegh would draw him in reverence near to Spenser; and then
he would break out into denunciation of the inertia which was inclined
to creep over Spenser, and hold him in its long tentacles. The dreamer
had a certain dependance on others. Yet almost against his will it would
be that he submitted to the journey to Court, catching Ralegh's glow of
admiration for his work--those three books of the "Faërie Queene," which
Gabriel Harvey had told him were rubbish, but which he loved himself. He
was ready to believe in their worth, too, though the dreamer could not
help smiling at his friend's so restless energy, which could not allow
him to sit and dream his life away, but which drove him always on to be
up and doing. Ralegh was the Shepherd of the Ocean, and the Ocean (God
wot) is--

    "A world of waters heaped up on hie
    Rolling like mountaines in wide wildernesse,
    Horrible, hideous, roaring with hoarse crie.
    And is the sea (quoth Coridon) so fearfull?
    Fearfull much more (quoth he) than hart can fear:
    Thousand wyld beastes with deep mouthes gaping direfull
    Therin stil wait poore passengers to teare."

And yet it was good for the dreamer to know that the world wanted to
listen to his dreams. The plaintive whimsical humour of his fancy, which
fascinated Ralegh, has fascinated poets down the generations (even old
Ben Jonson, though his honesty forced him to square those shoulders of
his and pronounce--Spenser, in copying the ancients, writ no language),
for any one who has heard the echo even of the music of the spheres,
hears it again as he reads the strange cadence of Spenser's verse. No
one can realize the homeliness of his insight and his boundless
imagination, without coming under the mysterious spell of the
combination: that homeliness indeed gives a magic strength to the wings
of his magic fancy.

The life of a dreamer is apt to be sad; if the world touches him, he
finds the touch heavy and hurtful. And Spenser could not free himself
from state duties which forced him to live for ever witness of the
misery and savageness of the peasants, and of the country's weird beauty
which made a terrible contrast to their misery. In Ireland he felt
solitary and neglected: but he had time and scope for his dreams. In
England he quickly felt the pettiness of the busy Court life, to which
he could not accustom himself. He never found the life which was most in
harmony with his spirit. He was not the man to grapple effectually with
circumstances: they hurt him. Those must have been halcyon days for him
when he was able to enjoy intercourse with a mind like Ralegh's, in the
peace and beauty of the country. Small wonder that he was encouraged to
proceed with his fairy fashioning of the perfect gentleman, which
Sidney's friendship had encouraged him to begin.

He went with Ralegh to the Court, and both were well received. Spenser
was given a small pension by Elizabeth. But the ways of the Court did
not please him. He had sat too long dreaming by the green alders of
Mulla's stream to take kindly to the bustle and ceremony and coarseness
of that life. He must have returned with gladness to Kilcolman, and to
the work which he now knew the world deemed excellent. But he ever bore
in mind one side of Court life which he describes with vividness,
remembering probably what Ralegh had told him in their first long talks

    "Cause have I none (quoth he) of cancred will
    To quite them ill, that me demeaned so well:
    But selfe-regard of private good or ill
    Moves me of each, so as I found, to tell
    And else to warne young shepheards wandring wit,
    Which, through report of that lives painted blisse,
    Abandon quiet home, to seeke for it,
    And leave their lambes to losse misled amisse.
    For sooth to say it is no sort of life
    For shepheard fit to lead in that same place,
    Where each one seeks with malice, and with strife,
    To thrust down other into foule disgrace,
    Himself to raise: and he doth soonest rise
    That best can handle his deceitful wit
    In subtil shifts, and finest sleights devise."

Ralegh knew this dark side of the Court life as well as Spenser knew it:
he knew how some men were ready to slander a well-deemed name by lies
and by forgery: how some men were pleased to creep into a man's secrecy
and betray him: he knew the frequency of

    "A filed toung furnisht with tearmes of art,
    No art of schoole, but courtiers schoolery."

For there were many impostors at the Court; men eager to touch a great
man's cloak-hem, and still more eager to raise the cry of _Treason_
which should send that great man to his ruin. Ralegh, when he was well,
was roused by these dangers to grapple with them: it stirred his
fighting instinct and his pride. It proved his knowledge of men and
tested his power of dealing with men. He liked to pass on his way with
his head erect, scorning the clamour of the little men, that he might
stoop the lower in reverence to his great Queen. But Spenser looked
upon this darker side of Court life, and turned away from it in disgust.
He had neither the power nor the instinct to overcome such
circumstances: they merely tired and offended him. He was king of the
land of dreams: a leader of men he could never be. And he did not
complain against his kingdom, though his waking hours were troubled by
care and sorrow.

It is uncommonly pleasant to linger over these quiet months of Ralegh's
life: it is pleasant to think of Ralegh, one of the greatest men that
have ever lived, finding that Edmund Spenser whom he remembered well
enough, was his friend: hearing him read those three books of the
"Faërie Queene," and finding that his new and gentle friend was a very
great poet. Each man had his dream of a kingdom: Spenser, the realm of
Faërie, where he would fashion the allegory of a perfect chivalry:
Ralegh, the kingdom of Guiana, which was to make his Queen mighty and
his country the greatest in the world. Neither dream was wrought out to
its end.



     Ralegh and the Puritans--John Udall--Blount--Ralegh's
     marriage--Queen's anger--In the Tower--His sincerity--The
     Episode in the "Faërie Queene"--_Madre de Dios_--Robert

Ralegh returned to Court in 1591, bringing the greatest poet who had yet
come to English literature with him. He was able after his respite to
manage circumstances once more, even that most trying circumstance of
all, young Essex, and joined with him in helping the Puritans who were
at that time being treated more hardly even than they deserved.

It is unlikely that their views influenced Ralegh in any way. He was
beyond the constraint of any fixed creed. But he saw sincere men and
honest men receiving injuries; and he exerted himself on their behalf.
He was called an atheist, naturally enough; that has always been the cry
against men who dared to think beyond the scope of sects' understanding.
Not even Shelley was less of an atheist, however.

One, John Udall, who was an eminent Hebrew scholar, had come under
ecclesiastical disgrace (dissenters are apt to be malignant to other
forms of dissent--witness the hues and cries raised lately against a new
Theology) by writing a book in which he pointed out the need of reform
in the reformed church. The book had the portentous name of "The
Demonstration of Discipline which Christ hath prescribed in His Word for
the government of the Church, in all times and places, until the World's
end." The English Church was in too shocking a state to allow such a
book to go quietly on its way. They laid hands on John Udall, put him in
a prison at Southwark, and sentenced him to death. Something about the
man's straightforwardness and sincerity seems to have appealed to
Ralegh. He advised Udall to draw up a schedule of his opinions, which he
promised to show to the Queen. These opinions had been twisted and
exaggerated into treasonable utterances by enemies, who had thus turned
the Queen against Udall; but Ralegh was convinced that he would be able
to change the Queen's mind by his own influence. Essex, too, was in
favour of Udall's release. Their efforts were so far successful that the
sentence was mitigated to one of banishment, but while the exact nature
of the sentence was under discussion, John Udall died in the prison at
Southwark. The bishops could not be hurried in their deliberations.
Rigorous repression begun thus early, strengthened the cause of the
Puritans beyond all reasonable necessity. There is nothing to show that
Ralegh was in any sympathy with their cause or with their hatred of
playhouses and dancing and games. He probably did not take them more
seriously than Spenser when he wrote of the Crab on which jolly June was

    "And backward yode, as bargemen wont to fare
    Bending their force contrary to their face
    Like that ungracious crew which faines demurest grace."

But John Udall was a scholar and an honest man; and Ralegh reverenced
scholarship and honesty, knowing the value of letters and the courage
that honesty required. Moreover he always favoured tolerance in dealing
with those whose consciences gave them peculiar views, as is seen by his
speech in Parliament a few years later, when he opposed the banishment
of the sect called Brownists.

Meanwhile Essex had not grown in any way less arrogant. About this time
a younger brother of Lord Mountjoy attracted the Queen's notice; his
name was Charles Blount, and Naunton described him as "brown-haired, of
a sweet face, and of a most neat composure tall in his person." The
Queen seeing him at dinner at Whitehall gave him her hand to kiss, and
afterwards a chessman as favour. Blount wore the piece on his sleeve,
and Essex remarking it and being told whose favour it was, said, "Ah! I
see every fool must have a favour now-aday." Blount challenged Essex.
They fought in what is now called Regent's Park, and Essex was wounded
in the thigh. "God's death," cried out Elizabeth when she heard of it,
"it was time that some one or other should take him down and teach him
better manners; otherwise there would be no rule with him."

And now an event of some importance occurred in the life of Sir Walter
Ralegh--his marriage. His behaviour has called down much censure upon
him. Macaulay invented a phrase which has had potent results, "the
disease of biographers." Every man seems fearful lest he should be
branded with the ignominy of the complaint; yet he must be a strange
fellow who can live again with a man like Ralegh in times like Ralegh's
times and not catch the fire of enthusiasm. But enough. At this point in
his career, writers are wont to show their breadth of judgment: "There
could have been no true nobility in the man ..." writes one of his
letter to the Queen. Fortunately ideas differ as to the nature of true
nobility. Now this is the basis of the censures levelled against him. Of
the facts of his courtship very little is known, and what is known is
strangely mingled with the business of reprisals against Spain, in which
Ralegh was actively engaged. This is the letter which he wrote to Sir
Robert Cecil:--


    "I received your letters this present day at Chattame
    concerninge the wages of the mariners and others. For myne own
    part, I am very willing to enter bonde, as you persuaded me, so
    as the Privey Seale be first sente for my injoyinge the third:
    but I pray consider that I have layd all that I am worth, and
    must do, ere I depart on this voyage. If it fall not out well,
    I can but loose all, and if nothinge be remayning, wherewith
    shall I pay the wages.... And farther I have promised Her
    Majestie that, if I can perswade the Cumpanies to follow Sir
    Martin Furbresher, I will without fail returne.... But, Sir,
    for mee then to be bounde for so great a sume, uppon the hope
    of another man's fortune, I will be loth: and besides, if I
    weare able, I see no privy seale for my thirds. I mean not to
    cume away, as they say I will, for feare of a marriage and I
    know not what. If any such thinge were, I would have imparted
    it unto yoursealf before any man livinge: and therefore I pray
    believe it not, and I beseich you to suppress, what you can,
    any such mallicious report. For I protest before God, ther is
    none on the face of the yearth that I would be fastned unto.
    And so in haste I take my leave of your Honor. From Chattame,
    the 10th of Marche.

                                     "Your's ever to be commanded,
                                                   "W. RALEGH"

Ralegh was anxious to stop this gossip about the relations between
himself and Elizabeth Throgmorton. What they were, was entirely his own
affair. At any rate he wanted Secretary Cecil to be quite clear that
they would in no way affect his willingness to work as he had always
worked for his country. And so little was he "fastned" to any on the
face of the earth that he relaxed no effort to forward his enterprise of
Guiana, and in three years' time he set sail for Guiana, though his
marriage was then an established fact.

It was for many reasons advisable to crush, if possible, the spread of
gossip, and especially because the Queen Elizabeth hated her favourites
to marry. As she grew old and began to lose her power as a woman, this
feeling increased in violence. Whether that feeling be good or bad, is
of no importance. It existed, and Ralegh knew well that it existed. Many
consider that his devotion (and that of most of her courtiers) was
merely based upon the advantages which he could get from the old woman:
that he really flattered and despised her; that his conduct was base and
unscrupulous. This view would seem to be at fundamental variance with
the facts of his nature, of the Queen's extraordinary power, and of the
whole tendency of the time. Not for nothing were love-sonnets the
fashion: though there are men who think that fashion sufficient to prove
once for all the coldheartedness and insincerity of the time.

When Ralegh returned, he was sent to the Tower, avowedly because he had
disobeyed orders in setting sail at all, really because the Queen looked
upon his marriage as a kind of personal treason. She detested marriage,
thinking it did not improve the efficiency of a man. And Ralegh, without
any treachery to his wife, whom he continued to love until the end of
his life, was thrown into misery by the Queen's anger. There are men
whose nature will not admit of more than one call upon their affection,
and that of a limited kind. You will find that they are apt to preen
themselves upon their loyalty, wisely enough. Ralegh was not made on
those lines. His feeling for the Queen was a real and vital feeling,
and was not swayed by every circumstance of his life. She was a woman
whom he had loved, and a great woman for all her caprices: she was his
Queen and an illustrious Queen: she was Queen of England, which under
her rule had crushed Spain's power. It would have been strange if her
fierce resentment of his action had not affected him. As it was he wrote
from the Tower--men, English men, were not then ashamed of their
feelings: they liked to try and express them--

     "My heart was never broken till this day, that I hear the Queen
     goes away so far off--whom I have followed so many years with
     so great love and desire, in so many journeys and am now left
     behind her, in a dark prison all alone. While she was yet nire
     at hand, that I might hear of her once in two or three dayes,
     my sorrows were the less: but even now my heart is cast into
     the depth of all misery. I that was wont to behold her riding
     like Alexander, hunting like Diana, walking like Venus, the
     gentle wind blowing her fair hair about her pure cheeks, like a
     nymph: sometime siting in the shade like a Goddess; sometime
     singing like an angell; sometime playing like Orpheus. Behold
     the sorrow of this world! Once amiss, hath bereaved me of all.
     O Glory that only shineth in misfortune, what is becum of thy
     assurance? Al wounds have skares, but that of fantasie, all
     affections their relenting, but that of womankind. Who is the
     judge of friendship but adversity? or when is grace witnessed
     but in offences? There were no divinety, but by reason of
     compassion; for revenges are brutish and mortall. All those
     times past,--the loves, the sythes, the sorrows, the desires,
     can they not way down one frail misfortune? Cannot one dropp of
     gall be hidden in so great heapes of sweetness? I may then
     conclude _Spes et fortuna valete_. She is gone in whom I
     trusted, and of me hath not one thought of mercy, nor any
     respect of that that was. Do with me now, therefore, what you
     list. I am more weary of life than they are desirous I should
     perish; which if it had been for her, as it is by her, I had
     been too happily born.

                              "Your's not worthy any name or like,
                                               "W. R."

There are some who see in this letter merely an artifice to play upon
the senile affections of a doting woman. They write nimbly of true
nobility: they describe the deterioration of an old woman's body; they
ask, could a man care for such a person? and assert that all Ralegh
desired was money and appointments. Their point of view is wearisome and
false: it leaves the bad taste that the report of divorce-court
proceedings leaves--with that pettiness and familiarity, which is

Meanwhile Ralegh remained in prison: and his enemies triumphed at his

It is refreshing to read Spenser's account of the story, written a
little after the event, as an episode of the "Faërie Queene." It clears
the air with its gentleness and that sweet mingling of humour and

Belphoebe has left the squire with Amoret, and comes back.

    "There she him found by that new lovely Mate
    Who lay the whiles in swoune, full sadly set,
    From her faire eyes wiping the deawy wet
    Which softly stild and kissing them atweene,
    And handling soft the hurts which she did get:...

    "Which when she saw with sodaine glauncing eye,
      Her noble heart, with sight thereof was fild
      With deep disdaine and great indignity,
      That in her wrath she thought them both have thrild
      With that selfe arrow which the Carle had kild:
      Yet held her wrathfull hand from vengeance sore:
      But drawing nigh, ere he her well beheld,
      'Is this the paith?' she said--and said no more
    But turned her face and fled away for evermore."

He smiles a little at the intensity of the squire's grief, but makes no
hint at his insincerity, and he could have done so quite easily without
injuring his friend, Ralegh. All through the character of Timias the
Squire, he dwells on the impetuosity of his feeling with kindly humour.
For Spenser must have often teased Ralegh on that terrible restless
energy which drove him from experience to experience, and from the
height of enthusiasm to the depth of despair. "Do it with thy Might" was
a singularly characteristic device.

    "And his faire lockes, that wont with ointment sweet
    To be embalm'd, and sweat out dainty dew,
    He let to grow and griesly to concrew,
    Uncomb'd, uncurl'd, and carelesly unshed."

His wife was a lady named Elizabeth Throgmorton, daughter of Sir
Nicholas Throgmorton. Much is not known of her: enough, however, is
known to prove that she was a woman of character and attainments. The
marriage, in spite of its inaugural storm, was a success.

Ralegh's imprisonment occurred when he was busily engaged in fitting out
expeditions against the Spaniards to command the trade-route through the
Azores. In 1591 a rough squadron had been despatched under Lord Howard;
but the enemy had got wind of it, and had sent a powerful fleet to
protect their vessels. Of this Lord Howard heard in time to avoid
disaster; he weighed anchor from Flores where he was anchoring, and
escaped. Sir Richard Grenville, however, refused to fly: with his small
ship the _Revenge_ he awaited the attack, and the full fury of the
Spanish Fleet fell upon him. His resistance was as gallant as his
disobedience had been audacious. Ralegh wrote a superb account of his
friend's undaunted valour, and his friend's death spurred him on to
renewed enterprise against the Spaniards.

In the following year, 1592, he took the chief part in an expedition
which, under his management, was far more successful. "Sir Walter
Ralegh," writes Hakluyt, "upon commission received from her Majesty for
an expedition to be made to the West Indies, slacked not his uttermost
diligence to make full provision of all things necessary, as both in his
choice of good ships, and sufficient men to performe the action
evidently appeared. For his shippes, which were in number 14 or 15,
those two of her Majesties, the _Garland_ and the _Foresight_ were the
chiefest; the rest either his owne or his good friends or adventurers in
London." Sir John Burrough was in command, and under him was the stern
Sir Martin Frobisher, whose rigour even the hardiest sailors disliked.
Contrary winds prevented the fleet from sailing for some weeks from the
western ports where they were anchored; and the Queen, disliking the
delay, recalled Ralegh. But Ralegh, being deeply involved in the
enterprise, did not obey her first summons. The wind at length became
favourable; and he set sail. But when they were, on May 11th, off Cape
Finisterre, "a tempest of strange and uncouth violence" arose, and Sir
Walter himself in the _Garland_ was in danger of being swallowed up by
the sea. The storm did much damage to the vessels. Moreover, they had
learned from two ships homeward bound for London, that no Spanish vessel
would move that year, and that the hope of plunder in the West Indies
was small. Accordingly, Ralegh determined to divide his fleet into two
squadrons, one under the command of Sir John Burrough, and one under the
command of Sir Martin Frobisher, and to lie in wait, the first at the
Azores, the second by the Spanish coast "to amuse the home fleet." He
himself then returned home, and forthwith on his arrival was imprisoned
in the Tower of London.

On August 3rd, an immense Spanish galleon, the _Madre de Dios_, was
sighted by Captain Thomson, in _The Dainty_. He immediately attacked,
and was beaten off with some loss, until Sir John Burrough came up with
the _Roebuck_, and the attack was resumed at close range. Still,
however, the galleon held her own: Sir R. Cross then sailed up in the
_Foresight_, and Sir John Burrough conferred with him as to the best
course to pursue. At all costs they must prevent the Portuguese from
taking her to shore and firing her, as they had fired the _Santa Cruz_,
a few months earlier. They decided to board the _Madre de Dios_. Their
first attack was repulsed: the galleon slowly kept on her way to the
island. Then Sir R. Cross encouraged his men to make a final attempt.
For three hours they fought on alone, when two ships of the Earl of
Cumberland arrived, and the galleon was at length taken.

Naturally there was considerable anger among the men of Ralegh's fleet,
when the Earl of Cumberland's captains demanded their share of the
spoils. Feeling ran high between both parties, and many valuables were
stolen, for the galleon was beyond all belief, rich in treasure. And
when, on the eighth of September, they arrived with the capture at
Dartmouth, and learned that Ralegh was in the Tower, the disorder grew
perilously near to mutiny. Ralegh's presence became a necessity, and he
was released. He went to the West as a State prisoner. Sir Robert Cecil
preceded him.

News of the treasure on the captured ship had spread far and wide: and a
proclamation was issued throughout the towns in Devon and Cornwall "that
all passengers should be stopped, and that all trunks, carriers, packs,
hampers, cloak-bags, portmanteaus, and fardells, that are likely to have
in them any part of the goods lately arrived in the ports of Dartmouth
or Plymouth in a Spanish carrock ... should be stayed and searched." For
the galleon, besides jewels and bullion, contained spices, drugs, silks,
calicoes, carpets and quilts, to the value of about £150,000.

So, Cecil writes in a letter to his father, that "Whomsoever I met by
the way within seven miles, that either had anything in cloak-bag, or in
mail, which did but smell of the prizes (for I assure your Lordship I
could smell them almost, such hath been the spoils of amber and musk
amongst them) I did, though he had little about him, return him with me
to the town of Exeter.... I have taken order to search every bag or mail
coming from the West.... My Lord, there never was such spoil! I will
suppress the confluence of these buyers, of which there are above two
thousand. And except they be removed there will be no good.... Fouler
ways, desperater ways, nor more obstinate people did I never meet
with.... Her Majesty's captive comes after, but I have outrid him."

And in a second letter, written a few days later, he describes Ralegh's
arrival, and the enthusiastic welcome which his men of Devon gave him:
"I assure you, Sir, poor servants to the number of a hundred and forty
goodly men, and all the mariners came to him with such shouts and joy,
as I never saw a man more troubled to quiet them in my life. But his
heart is broken, for he is very extreme pensive longer than he is
busied, in which he can toil terribly."

[Illustration: ROBERT CECIL]

Ralegh himself came very badly out of the division (probably through
the cleverness of Robert Cecil), and he did not scruple to write very
frankly to Lord Burghley his opinion of the business. "The Erle of
Cumberland is allowed £36,000, and his accompt came but to £19,000: so
as he hath £17,000 profytt, who adventured for himselfe; and we that
served the Queen and assisted her service, have not our own again.
Besides I gave my ship's sayles and cables to furnish the Caraque and
bring her home, or else she had perished: my ship first bourded her, and
onely staid with her; and brought her into harborough or else she had
perished uppon Silley. I was not present, and therefore had no
extraordinary profytt: I was the cause that all this came to the
Queene.... I that adventured all my estate, lose of my principall and
they have double...."

Robert Cecil was one of the few Elizabethan men with any pretence to
greatness who was before all else designing and crafty. He had a genius
for cold scheming. About this time he began to realize that Ralegh was
too impetuous, and too great to be a convenient friend. And so he
quietly set about to sap Ralegh's influence, though on the surface he
remained as friendly as he had ever been, and let his son stay with the
Raleghs at Sherborne. Robert Cecil was a politician and nothing else.

And now Ralegh made Sherborne, in the county of Dorset, his centre, from
which he transacted all the manifold business of his life. Here, as in
Youghal, he planted trees and flowers. He thought with Lord Bacon that
"God Almighty first planted a garden, and indeed, it is the purest of
human pleasures: it is the greatest refreshment to the spirits of a man;
without which buildings and handiworks are but gross handiworks:" even
as he would think with Bacon, "It is a poor centre of a man's actions,
himself. It is right earth; for that only stands fast upon his own
centre, whereas all things that have affinity with the heavens, move
upon the centre of another, which they benefit." For he was working
towards the realization of his great dream, which would bring prosperity
and wealth once for all to England and England's greatest Queen,
Elizabeth. He now had all the things which are wont to make for comfort
and contentment: but he was not a man for whom ease had any attraction.
He strained every effort, even amidst the peace and beauty of the
country which he loved, to the arduous enterprise which he had set
himself--to explore the little-known country of Guiana--an enterprise in
which many brave men were known to have lost their lives.



     Ralegh leaves England--Arrives at Trinidad--Taking of S.
     Joseph--Interviews with Berreo--Dealings with natives--
     Starts up the river in boats--Dangers overcome--Adventures--
     They reach River Amana--Indian village--Within sight of
     Guiana--Toparimaca--Beauty of the land--Falls of the
     Caroli--The return--Voyage home--Arrival in England.

Although travel was slow and involved great physical endurance, there
was never a time when men less loved their homes and firesides. The
scene again changes. Many things called Ralegh; the spirit of unrest was
always strong in him; he was always longing to get right away. The
little things of life pressed upon him, and drove him to seek respite
and quiet in the Unknown. And the Unknown held for him immense
possibilities; the kingdom he desired to establish haunted his
imagination more imperiously even than the actual release from the life
and surroundings which quickly to his spirit became dull and
commonplace. His nature was too high bred to endure with patience, until
it was confronted by the inevitable; and there was very little that to
his nature was inevitable. The barriers that would have stopped a
smaller nature were pushed on one side by him, and even when Fate held
him fast, he ultimately triumphed by turning his bondage to magnificent
account. The spirit of life was with him always stronger than his fear
of being called a coward, stronger even than his pride. And always when
he at length realized a thing to be inevitable, he faced it at his full

He had lived the life of the courtier, he had fought against Spain, he
had attended to the numberless duties in Devonshire, in Cornwall, in
Ireland; everything was becoming wearisome to him, and while he was
unconsciously losing interest in his life, he was also losing his power
over others. He was in disfavour. He was prouder than the proud men
amongst whom he lived, and in consequence he had many enemies, who
longed to humble his pride. He grew tired of the life; his imagination
moved ever in advance of the present, and kept him ever unsatisfied and
alert. In himself rather than in the influence of others lay the primary
reason for his loss of favour. It is almost invariably so with a great
personality even when he is himself unconscious of the cause.

He put all his energy into making preparations for carrying out his
project of founding a new kingdom in Guiana. If he were successful,
fortune would be remade, and favour would be regained. The prospect was
exciting, but more alluring than the excitement was the knowledge that
the sea and the unknown would bring to his soul immediate peace; that
new sights, new dangers, and new interests would soothe his mind,
fretted by the immanent pettiness of passing days. Change is the law of
life, and Ralegh was immensely alive. Such a nature as his must always
find expression for itself, must find scope and occupation for its
greatness, or the spirit preys upon itself and pines into uneasiness.
Whatever the force be from which vitality comes, brain or blood or soul,
that force is irresistible. Death alone can free a man from its

So Ralegh turned towards that kingdom in Guiana, towards "that great and
golden city which the Spaniards call El Dorado," and on Thursday,
February 6, 1595, he left England. The previous year he had sent his
servant, Jacob Whiddon, to get "knowledge of the passages," and he had
"some light from Captain Parker," but yet his journey's end was vaguely
known. Jacob Whiddon and Captain Parker only conjectured that the place
existed somewhere southward of the great bay Charuas, or Guanipa; and
their conjecture was incorrect by some six hundred miles. Information of
the kind was apt then to be inaccurate. Spaniards, indeed, knew
something of this vast empire of Guiana, but naturally they kept such
knowledge to their own use. That this destination was six hundred miles
farther inland than he had been led to believe, Ralegh did not discover
until he arrived at Trinidad, which he reached with no mishap other than
the usual one of separation.

One of the pieces of gossip which old Aubrey recounts, and which is
pleasant to believe, is that Ralegh was in the habit of taking many
books with him on a voyage, and of reading them assiduously in his
cabin. He knew Spanish well, and was conversant with the travel-lore of
Spain. Among his books would surely be the "large discourses" of Pedro
de Cieza and Francisco Lopez, recounting the marvels of the land to
which he was making and the adventures which the Spaniards endured in
conquering it.

All the terrible hardships of these first explorers had often fired his
imagination, but never as now, when every movement of the ship brought
him nearer to the actual scene of his endeavour. He would succeed where
they had failed. And his heart must have warmed to these brave
adventurers in spite of the fact that they were his enemies. He
remembered their hardships, and his own, when he wrote in his "History
of the World," "I cannot forbeare to commend the patient virtue of the
Spaniards. We seldome or never finde that any Nation hath endured so
many misadventures and miseries as the Spaniards have done in their
Indian discoveries.... Tempests and shipwrecks, famine, overthrowes,
mutinies, heat and cold, pestilence, and all manner of diseases, both
old and new, together with extreme povertie, and want of all things
needefull, have beene the enemies wherewith every one of their most
noble Discoverers, at one time or other hath encountered. Many yeeres
have passed over some of their heads in the search of not so many
leagues; yea, more than one or two have spent their labour, their wealth
and their lives in search of a golden Kingdom without getting further
notice of it than what they had at their first setting forth. All which,
notwithstanding the third, fourth, and fifth under-takers, have not been
disheartened. Surely they are worthily rewarded with those Treasuries
and Paradises which they enjoy; and well they deserve to hold them
quietly, if they hinder not the like virtue in others, which (perhaps)
will not be found." Men who lived through the same elemental perils have
something in common, and a man like Ralegh is able to realize and to
express the fact; he is able to rise above the claims of nationality at
a time when his nation struggled for its very life, and he with it,
against the rival nation of Spain.

He arrived at the island of Trinidad, and punished, after the manner of
the time, the treachery of the Spaniards against Jacob Whiddon; for the
year before Berreo, Governor of Trinidad, had broken his word of truce
to Whiddon, and having set an ambuscade for his men when they landed,
slew some eight of them. "So as both to be revenged of this wrong, as
also considering that to enter Guiana by small boats, to depart four or
five hundred miles from my ships and to have a garrison in my back
interested in the same enterprise, who also daily expected supplies out
of Spain, I should have savoured very much of the ass; and therefore,
taking a time of most advantage, I set upon the corp du gard in the
evening, and having put them to the sword, sent Captain Galfield onward
with sixty soldiers, and myself followed with forty more, and so took
their new city, which they called S. Joseph, by break of day; they abode
not any fight after a few shot, and all being dismissed but only Berreo
and his companion. I brought them with me aboard, and at the instance of
the Indians I set their new city of S. Joseph on fire."

And now Ralegh shows once more his extraordinary power over other men,
and shows it even more vividly than in the case of the Irish chieftain
whom he changed from a leader of rebels to a staunch servant of the
Queen. He wanted all the information he could obtain, and from Berreo he
obtained it, though he was bitterly opposed, as might be expected, to
the English and to Ralegh. A Boswellian record of their conversations
would be of value to all business men.

"Having Berreo my prisoner, I gathered from him as much of Guiana as he
knew. This Berreo is a gentleman well descended and had long served the
Spanish King in Milan, Naples, the Low Countries, and elsewhere, very
valiant and liberal, and a gentleman of great assuredness, and of a
great heart. I used him according to his estate and worth in all things
I could, according to the small means I had." Berreo well knew the
importance of such knowledge to Ralegh; for he had spread reports far
and wide among the Indians that the English meant them the deadliest
mischief, and he had announced that any native found to have had any
intercourse with the English would be forthwith hanged. But Berreo, an
old man, was constrained to give a full account of his journey; and
Ralegh's narrative of his own expedition is punctuated by what Berreo
saw and heard, and conjectured, and by repeated corroboration of
Berreo's statements. Ralegh must have smiled to himself when the old man
so far relented towards him as even to beg him not to venture his life
and the lives of the company in attempting a task which had proved too
much for his own capability. There must have been a singular mingling of
affection and cunning in the petition. "Berreo," writes Ralegh, "Berreo
was stricken into a great melancholy and sadness, and used all the
arguments he could to dissuade me, and also assured the gentlemen of my
company that it would be labour lost, and that they should suffer many
miseries if they proceeded." And he went on to explain the nature of the
difficulties, how the mouths of the rivers were sandy and full of flats,
which could only be entered in the smallest boats; how the current ran
swift and strong; how the natives were hostile, and how the kings of the
natives had decreed that none should trade with the English for gold,
"because the same would be their own overthrow, and that for the love of
gold the Christians meant to conquer and dispossess them of all
together." To which Ralegh adds drily, "Many and the most of these I
found to be true."

Naturally he did not let experience alone prove the truth of his valiant
prisoner's statements. He called all the captains of the island together
that were enemies to the Spaniards and conversed with them by means of

Indian interpreter whom he had brought out of England. "I made them
understand that I was the servant of a queen who was the great Cassiqui
of the north, and a virgin, and had more Cassiqui under her than there
were trees in their island; that she was an enemy to the Castellans in
respect of their tyranny and oppression, and that she delivered all such
nations about her as were by them oppressed; and having freed all the
coast of the northern world from their servitude had sent me to free
them also, and withal to defend the country of Guiana from their
invasion and conquest. I showed them Her Majesty's picture, which they
so admired and honoured as it had been easy to have brought them
idolatrous thereof.... They now call her Ezrabeta Cassipuna Aquerewana."

That was his policy always with the natives. The Spaniards desired
immediate wealth, which they wrung from the Indians by all means in
their power; Ralegh desired a new English kingdom, and knew that for his
purpose the aid of the Indians was invaluable. And accordingly wherever
he went he was always at the utmost pains to conciliate them with
presents and carefully sought expressions of regard and good will. The
Indian chieftains fell under the spell of his personality in the same
way as the Irish rebel and his Spanish prisoner, or, indeed, any one
over whom he sought from the first moment of acquaintance to exercise

To estimate at its proper value the gigantic proportions of the task
which Ralegh had sailed some thousand miles to achieve, it is necessary
to remember something of the geography of the country which is now
called Venezuela, and the innumerable rivers which there flow into the
sea, forming a complicated network.

Having at length discovered from Berreo and the natives as much as he
could about the lie of the land--that is to say, about a quarter of that
which an intelligent Council School teacher could have told him in ten
minutes at the present day--Ralegh started up the river to Guiana,
"resolving," as he puts it, "to make trial of all, whatsoever happened."
He sent ships to reconnoitre and take soundings. Captain Calfield in his
bark and the vice-admiral George Gifford in the _Lion's Whelp_ eastward
to the mouth of the river called Capuri; King, master of the _Lion's
Whelp_ in his ship's boat to try another branch of the river in the
bottom of the bay of Guanipa, and to see if there was water enough to
admit the passage of a small ship. This branch was called the Amana; but
it, like the other, presented the same difficulties. The rush of water
was dangerous for a small boat, and the shallowness prevented the use of
a ship. King could only make hurried investigations, because his Indian
guide assured him that the natives of Guanipa, who were cannibals, might
any moment attack them, and that the attack would be terrible, for they
paddled swiftly in canoes and shot poisoned arrows with deadly effect.

Nothing could deter Ralegh from his enterprise. He gave instructions to
his carpenters to cut down a gallego-boat, to draw five feet of water,
and to fit her with banks to row on. John Douglas was sent in his barge
to look after King, who had not returned, and to take careful soundings
in the bottom of the bay. For old John Hampton of Plymouth, and others
who had come from Trinidad, had told him dreadful stories of its danger.
"It hath been held for infallible that whatsoever ship or boat shall
fall therein can never disembogue again by reason of the violent current
which setteth into the said bay, as also for that the breeze and
easterly wind bloweth directly into the same."

John Douglas took with him an old cassique of Trinidad for a pilot, and
was successful. Four goodly entrances were found, whereof the least was
as big as the Thames at Woolwich, but only six feet deep. Ralegh
accordingly gave up hope of finding passage for his ship, and decided to
go on with the boats, and the gallego which he had prepared, and which
held sixty men. In the boat of _Lion's Whelp_ and in its wherry there
was room for twenty men, in Captain Calfield's wherry for ten, and in
Ralegh's barge for ten more. They carried victuals for a month. Among
the gentlemen were Ralegh's cousins Butshead Gorges and John Grenville,
his nephew John Gilbert, Captain Keymis and Captain Clarke. "We had as
much sea to cross over in our wherries as between Dover and Calais, and
in a great billow, the wind and current being both very strong, so as we
were driven to go in those small boats directly before the wind into the
bottom of the bay of Guanipa." Their pilot was an Arwacan, an Indian of
Barema, which is a river to the south of the Orinoco. Ralegh had caught
and pressed him into his service as he was paddling in his canoe to sell
bread at Marquerita; but now the Arwacan confessed himself quite
ignorant of the river up which they were rowing; he told them he had not
been on it for twelve years, "at which time he was very young and of no
judgment." The position of the adventurers was one of extreme danger;
they might have rowed in that labyrinth of rivers for a year without
finding a way either out or in, for they only discovered the Arwacan's
ignorance after four days. Ralegh realized their plight to the full, and
the extraordinary good fortune which drew them out of it. A small canoe
was espied in which three Indians were paddling. Ralegh, in his
eight-oared barge, immediately gave chase, and succeeded in overtaking
the canoe before it crossed the river ("which because it had no name we
called the river of the Red Cross, ourselves being the first Christians
that ever came therein"). Natives on the thickly wooded bank watched the
chase with eagerness, and the captain with anxiety, fearing what might
happen to their fellows. But when they saw that Ralegh treated the three
with deference, the people on the shore made friendly signs and showed
no fear as the eight-oared barge drew in, but offered to traffic in such
commodities as they possessed.

As the adventurers stopped there for a while at the mouth of a little
creek which came from the Indian village into the river, Ferdinando the
pilot, who came with them originally, and his brother, must needs go to
the village to drink the wine of the place, and upon him the chief men
of the village fell, threatening to punish them with death for having
thus brought white strangers into their midst. But Ferdinando, "being
quick and of a disposed body," escaped to the woods, and his brother
raced back to the barge, where he cried out panting that the Indians had
slain Ferdinando. Ralegh immediately laid hands on a very old man, who
was with him to serve as hostage, and if Ferdinando were indeed dead, to
take his place as pilot. Meanwhile the Indians were pursuing Ferdinando
with deer-dogs, and the woods sounded with their shouts; nor could the
old man stay them, though he called out as loudly as he could the sad
consequences in which they would involve him. At last Ferdinando reached
a part of the shore and climbed a tall tree which hung over the river,
and the barge happening to pass by, he plunged into the water and swam
to it, half dead with fear. "But our good hap was that we kept the other
old Indian, which we hand-fasted to redeem our pilot withal, for being
natural of those rivers we assured ourselves he knew the way better
than any stranger could; and, indeed, but for this chance, I think we
had never found the way either to Guiana or back to our ships; for
Ferdinando, after a few days, knew nothing at all nor which way to turn,
yea and many times the old man himself was in great doubt which river to

They rowed on through the maze of rivers and islands, which were
inhabited by the Ciawani and the Waraweete, goodly people, carpenters
for the most part of canoes, who dwell in little houses in the summer,
and, when the river rises (and it rises thirty feet, amazingly, as
Ralegh discovered), in the tops of trees. He relates their customs; how
some beat the bones of their chiefs into powder and the wives and
friends drink it all, that the bones may have a kindly resting-place;
how others take up the buried corpse of a dead chieftain, when the flesh
has departed from the bones, and hang the skeleton in his own house,
decking the skull with feathers and fitting his gold plates about the
bones of his arms and thighs and legs.

On the third day the gallego "came on ground and stuck so fast as we
thought that even there our discovery had ended and that we must have
left sixty of our men to have inhabited like rooks upon trees with those
nations; but the next morning, after we had cast out all her ballast,
with tugging and hauling to and fro we got her afloat."

Four days more they rowed on until they came into the river Amana, which
ran more directly, without windings and twistings, than the other, and
then a fresh difficulty met them. For the flood of the sea no longer
gave any help and "we were enforced either by main strength to row
against a violent current or to return as wise as we went out." The men
complained that the work was too much for them; but they consented to
pull on when Ralegh and the other captains and gentlemen offered to take
each his turn at the oar. Each spell of rowing lasted one hour. Thus
they proceeded slowly and with tremendous effort for three more days,
when the men began to despair; the current became each day stronger and
the river appeared interminable in length. "But we evermore commanded
our pilots to promise an end by next day, and used it so long as we were
driven to assure them from four reaches of the river to three, and so to
two, and so to the next reach." The men, too, were hungry; food was
giving out; the sun was scorching, and there was nothing to drink but
the thick and troubled water of the river. Sometimes they found fruits
on the trees that were good to eat; sometimes they shot birds. Birds
there were of every brilliant colour, "carnation, crimson, orange-tawny,
purple, green watchet, and of all sorts, both simple and mixt, as it was
unto us a great good passing of the time to behold them." But the men
were hungry and tired. Then a pilot, the very old man, whom they had
hand-fasted, said that he would bring them soon to a town of the
Arwacas, where they would find a store of bread, hens, fish, and the
wine of the country, if they would turn with their barge and wherries
down a branch of the river on the right hand. The men were cheered at
the prospect. Ralegh and Gifford and Calfield determined to make their
way to the town for food; so, leaving the majority of their men at the
river's entrance, they set out. They rowed three hours without seeing a
sign of human life, and they began to suspect that the pilot was playing
them false. It grew towards night, but still he kept assuring them that
the village lay only four reaches farther on. "When we had rowed four
and four we saw no sign, and our poor watermen even, heartbroken and
tired, were ready to give up the ghost; for we had now come from the
galleye near forty miles."

Then they determined to hang the very old man, their pilot. But the
river began to narrow. It became so narrow that the trees with which
either bank was thickly covered touched branches across the water, and
they were obliged to draw their swords and cut a passage through. "We
were very desirous to find this town, hoping of a feast, because we made
but a short breakfast aboard the galley in the morning, and it was now
eight o'clock at night and our stomachs began to gnaw apace." At last
they saw a light, heard the dogs of the village bark, and one hour after
midnight they arrived. The old pilot had not deceived them in any way.
They found good store of hens, bread, fish, and Indian drink.

Meanwhile the company which was left behind in the galley, fearing that
some mishap must have come to the wherries, sent out a party after them
in the ship's boat of the _Lion's Whelp_, under Captain Whiddon. But
Ralegh was so pleased with the prospect which the morning light
disclosed to his view, that he had rowed some forty miles farther on.
For no longer was the country beshrubbed with thorns and thickets and
closely growing trees. Great plains, twenty miles in length, covered
with fair green grass spread out before him, "and in divers parts groves
of trees by themselves (he writes with his keen eye for effects of
landscape), as if they had been by all the art and labour in the world
so made of purpose, and still as we rowed the deer came down, feeding by
the water's side, as if they had been used to a keeper's call." But all
was not beautiful and quiet. In the river swam fishes of a monstrous
size, and thousands of ugly serpents, called lagartos. A negro, a very
proper young fellow, leapt from Ralegh's barge to swim to the shore, and
in the sight of all the men, one of these lagartos ate him. Those
monstrous serpents are now called alligators.

They came back to the great river and resumed their course, pulling ever
with difficulty against the current. And again they were reduced to
hunger, and again they were on the brink of despair, when Captain
Gifford, who was a little in advance of the others seeking a place to
land and make a fire, saw four canoes, and with no small joy he urged
his men to try the uttermost of their strength to come up with them. At
last they overtook them, as they paddled up a creek off the main stream,
and found bread in two canoes, which they captured, and learned that
three Spaniards were in the other canoes, one a cavallero, one a
soldier, and one a refiner of metals. The bread roused the courage of
the hungry men, and "Let us go on!" they cried; "we care not how far!"
as they lit fires for the night's encampment. Immediately Ralegh sent
Captain Thyn and Captain Gifford in one direction, Captain Calfield in
another, to follow the men who had fled away. As he himself was creeping
through the bushes he saw an Indian basket which was insecurely hidden.
In the basket was a refiner's outfit, quicksilver, saltpetre, and other
things to test the quality of minerals, and the dust of ore which had
been refined. They could not, however, catch the Spaniards, but they
discovered some Arwacas concealed in the woods who had acted as pilots
to the Spaniards. Them they questioned, and one they took with them for
their own pilot.

Ralegh had no mining tools with him, nor had he come for small and
immediate gain. His purpose was no other than to open out the resources
of the whole country for England, not to snatch a cargo load of gold.
Moreover, a month had passed since they had seen the ships. Time was
precious; there was much to be done; "and to stay," he says pithily, "to
dig out gold with our nails had been _opus laboris_ but not _ingenii_."
He stayed only to survey the neighbourhood. During his short stay the
natives came in numbers to him, and with his usual policy he treated
them with elaborate kindness in contrast to the cruelty of the
Spaniards. He paid for everything which he used, and took every means to
prevent violence to their women, and theft. If the offender was
discovered he was punished before the Indians; and, more than that, if
an Indian complained of a theft which could not be laid to any man's
account, he was paid to the full amount of his loss.

Here Ralegh sent back Ferdinando and the very old man in a canoe with
presents for themselves and a message to deliver to the ships, and the
company rowed on their way, taking with them as pilot, Martin, the
native who was captured from the three Spaniards. But the next day the
galley ran aground, and "we were like to cast her away with all our
victual and provision and so lay on the sand one whole night, and were
far more in despair at this time to free her than before, because we had
no tide of flood to help us; and therefore feared that all our hopes
would have ended in mishaps. But we fastened an anchor upon the land,
and with main strength drew her off."

Then at last, to their great joy, the mountains of Guiana rose before
them, and in the evening of the same day a fresh northerly wind sprang
up, and before it they passed on till they were brought in sight of the
great river of Orinoco, "out of which the river descended wherein we
were." As their boats entered the Orinoco they espied three canoes
manned by natives, who, when they saw the English, paddled fast away
westward towards Guiana, thinking they were Spaniards. The boats, giving
chase, came up with one of the canoes, and explained by their
interpreter that they were not Spaniards but friends. Thereupon the
natives were cordial, gladly gave them fish and tortoise eggs, and
promised to bring their chief man to the boats in the morning. In the
morning the chief man, whose name was Toparimaca, came with some forty
followers, bringing presents of bread and fruit and wine. With him
Ralegh conferred about the nearest way to Guiana, and he escorted Ralegh
to his own port, and from his port escorted Ralegh and some of his
captains to the town, where the captains caroused until they were
"reasonable pleasant." The name of the town was Arowocai, and in it was
staying a stranger cassique with his wife and retainers. Of this wife
Ralegh gives a characteristic description: "In all my life I have seldom
seen a better favoured woman. She was of good stature, with black eyes,
fat of body, of an excellent countenance, her hair almost as long as
herself, tied up again in pretty knots, and it seemed that she stood not
in that awe of her husband as the rest, for she spake and discoursed and
drank among the gentlemen and captains and was very pleasant, knowing
her own comeliness, and taking great pride therein. I have seen a lady
in England so like her as, but for the difference of colour, I would
have sworn might have been the same." Toparimaca gave them a pilot, an
old man of great experience and travel, who knew his way by day or night
on the river, and they rowed on. Without him, mishap would have befallen
them, because the river is exceedingly broad, at places extending to
twenty miles, and its course is full of wonderful eddies, islands,
shoals, currents, and dangerous rocks.

They passed up the great river, sailing, for a wind rose up behind them,
along the shore of the island of Assapana, past the river Europa, which
poured its waters into the great river; they sailed on ever westward,
wide green plains spread out on the right hand, and the banks of the
river were a very perfect red. Now they must make all speed possible,
for the time was drawing near when the rain would fall, and the river
rising, would, by the violence of its current, hinder all further
progress. On they sailed, past the high mountains of Aroami and Aio,
past the great island Manoripano, until, on the sixth day, they reached
the land of that Morequito whom Berreo had slain. They anchored in the
port, and Ralegh despatched one of his pilots to the uncle of Morequito,
King of Aromaia. In the morning, before noon, the old king came with his
followers, walking the fourteen miles to the shore; he was one hundred
and ten years old. A little tent had been set up on the shore, and in it
the old king rested. When he was rested, Ralegh conversed with him by
means of an interpreter. He explained how he had been sent out by his
Queen specially to free the land from the tyranny of the Spaniards; he
dilated at large on "Her Majesty's greatness, her justice, her charity
to oppressed nations, with as many of the rest of her beauties and
virtues as either I could express or they conceive, all which being with
great admiration attentively heard and marvellously admired. I began to
sound the old man as touching Guiana." They talked for a long space of
time, the old king relating memories of his youth, how "there came down
into that large valley of Guiana a nation from so far off as the sun
slept (Ralegh liked that phrase and mentions it as the old king's own
expression), with so great a multitude as they could not be numbered nor
resisted; and that they wore large coats and hats of crimson; ... that
they had slain and rooted out so many of the ancient people as there
were leaves in the wood upon all the trees." When the Christians came,
however, they joined forces together and lived at peace, each one
holding the Spaniard as a common enemy. And as the old king talked,
Ralegh marvelled to find a man of such gravity and judgment and of so
good discourse that had no help of learning nor breed.

Then the old king "desired leave to depart, saying that he had far to
go; that he was old and weak and was every day called for by death."
Ralegh begged him to remain during the night, but he could not prevail
upon him to do so; and, though the weather was hot, the old king walked
back fourteen miles to his town, having promised to wait upon Ralegh on
his return. And that he did not fail to do. It was not for nothing that
he was held to be the proudest and the wisest of all the Oroonokoponi.

Still they sailed westward, eager to see the famous river Caroli, which
led to the frontiers of the people who were most hostile to Tuga, the
Emperor of Guiana, and anchored by the island Caiama. The next day they
came, after ten miles, to the mouth of the Caroli; when they were yet
far distant they heard the great roar and fall of the river. So violent
was the rush of the current that they were unable to make any headway up
the stream--not a stone's cast in an hour. Accordingly, a halt was made,
and messengers were sent inland to invite the native king to a parley.
The king came, and Ralegh discoursed with him about the purpose of his
coming and his Queen's goodness and beauty; and learned from him about
his people and country. By this time, all the rivers having risen five
feet and more, further progress became impossible; and Ralegh, dividing
his company into bands, sent them inland in every direction to explore.
He himself went to the top of the first hills of the plain adjoining the
river, and in the distance the celebrated falls of the Caroli were
visible. "There appeared some ten or twelve overfalls in sight, every
one as high over the other as a church tower, which fell with that fury
that the rebound of waters made it seem as if it had all been covered
over with a great shower of rain; and in some places we took it at the
first for a smoke that had arisen over some great town. For my own part
I was well persuaded from thence to have returned, being a very ill
footman, but the rest were all so desirous to go near the strange
thunder of waters, as they drew me on by little and little till we came
into the next valley where we might better discern the same." The men of
each band returned and brought with them stones and minerals, lustre,
marquesite crystal, and stones that resembled sapphire.

Ralegh, as he looked at the stones and heard the reports of the
wonderful fertility and resources of the land which lay in splendid
expanse around him, must have felt within him that his dream of El
Dorado was at last realized. Indeed, it seemed that he had only to come
out and take possession.

But now "the fury of Oroonoco began daily to threaten us with
dangers ... for no half day passed but the river began to rage and
overflow very fearfully and the rains came down in terrible showers, and
gusts in great abundance, and withal our men began to cry out for want
of shift, for no man had place to bestow any other apparel than that
which he wore upon his back, and that was thoroughly washed on his body
for the most part ten times in one day; and we had now been well near a
month, every day passing to the westward farther and farther from our
ships. We therefore turned towards the east and spent the rest of the
time in discovering the river towards the sea which we had not yet
viewed and which was most material."

The first day of their return they sped down the stream of the great
river against the wind one hundred miles, and anchored at the port of
Morequito; and immediately a messenger was sent to bid the old king
come. Once more Ralegh had a long conference with him concerning the
kingdom of Guiana, and once more he was impressed by the wisdom of the
old man's replies to his questions. Francis Sparrow and a boy, Harry
Gordon, were left to learn the language till Ralegh came next year,
equipped to conquer the land; and a young native was to go with them to

On their journey back to the sea they stayed several times to confer
with native kings and find out how they were disposed towards the
Spaniards and towards Tuga, the Emperor of Guiana. At the very end of
their expedition they found the greatest peril awaiting them. "When we
were arrived at the seaside, then grew our greatest doubt and the
bitterest of all our journey fore-passed, for I protest before God we
were in a most desperate estate.... There arose a mighty storm, and the
river's mouth was at least a league broad, so as we ran before night
close under the land with our small boats and brought the galley as near
as we could, but she had as much ado to live as could be, and there
wanted little of her sinking and all those in her.... The longer we
tarried the worse it was, and therefore I took Captain Gifford, Captain
Calfield, and my cousin Grenville into my barge, and after it cleared
up about midnight we put ourselves to God's keeping and thrust out into
the sea, leaving the galley at anchor, who durst not adventure out but
by daylight. And so being all very sober and melancholy, one faintly
cheering another to shew courage, it pleased God that the next day,
about nine of the clock, we descried the island of Trinidado, and
steering for the nearest part of it, we kept the shore until we came to
Curiapan, where we found our ships an anchor, than which there was never
to us a more joyful sight.

"Now it have pleased God to send us safe to our ships it is time to
leave Guiana to the sun whom they worship, and steer away to the north."

So Ralegh and his brave men set their sails for England. Many hours in
his cabin he must have enjoyed the luxury of rest, working out in his
mind the time and proper equipment for the great expedition which he
would lead back to the land which he had prospected. His imagination
would picture to him the careful opponents who would be ready to put
forward drawbacks and dangers; and he would answer them with such
conviction that the most careful would gradually catch a part of his
ardour. Guiana would be the topic of all Englishmen, and England's
ultimate glory. He would view again the beauty of the land and its
fertility, the broad plains and the thick woods, where birds of every
brilliant colour flew, he would see the deer coming to drink at the
water's edge, the refiner's basket, and the gold waiting to be worked
out of the ground, and the precious stones waiting to be cut; the
crystal, the sapphire, the lustre. He had his map, he had friends among
the natives, he had made all ready for the great occupation. "The common
soldier shall here fight for gold, and pay himself, instead of pence,
with plates of half-a-foot broad, whereas he breaketh his bones in other
wars for provant and penury. Those commanders and chieftains that shoot
at honour and abundance, shall find there more rich and beautiful
cities, more temples adorned with golden images, more sepulchres filled
with treasure than either Cortez found in Mexico, or Pizzaro in Peru,
and the shining glory of this conquest will eclipse all those so far
extended beams of the Spanish nation."

He arrived in England in August, 1595, having been absent not quite
seven months. On all sides he met with opposition and disbelief. Some,
the graver sort, considered it better to husband their forces, to repel
the threatened invasion of Philip, who had sworn "to avenge the
destruction of the Armada on Elizabeth, if he were reduced to pawn the
last candlestick on his domestic altar." Others were angry that Ralegh
had brought back no cargoes of gold and precious stones; others, again,
laughed at him, saying that he had never been to Guiana at all, but had
been lurking in Cornwall: that the whole thing was a cock and bull story
to regain favour at Court. He, sneered they, was too easeful and sensual
to endure the discomfort of so long a journey. Where were the riches
which he would have taken, as Drake took, had he really been to Guiana?
To which Ralegh answered proudly, "It became not the former fortune in
which I once lived to go journies of picory: and it had sorted ill with
the offices of honour, which, by her Majestie's grace I hold this day in
England, to run from cape to cape, and from place to place, for the
pillage of ordinary prizes."

His reception exasperated him; but he did not give way. In five months
he fitted out another expedition under Captain Keymis; and wrote a full
account of the voyage he had himself taken. But this second expedition
was too small to do anything else than keep in touch with the native
friends, and to find fresh information.

Ralegh's efforts were unavailing. To found the empire in Guiana became
his life's purpose, and he strove to attain it with all the resources of
his energy. But the course of events was too strong for him, and he
could not make men see far enough ahead of immediate gain. Many years
later his scorn at their apathy broke out again, when, in writing his
"History of the World," he is describing Roman energy in the founding of
colonies: "Such an offer, were it made in England, concerning either
Virginia or Guiana, it selfe would not overjoy the multitude. But the
Commonalty of Rome tooke this in so good part, notwithstanding all
danger, joined with the benefit, that Flaminius had ever after their
good will." There is something indescribably pathetic in this personal
touch--of the prisoner recording the fame of a man who had been honoured
for offering less to his people than the prisoner himself had offered,
and at less personal risk--Flaminius supported, Ralegh hindered--each by
the nation which he most desired to serve.

Edmund Spenser felt for him a friend's sympathy when he wrote in the
_Faërie Queene_--

      And shame on you, O Men, which boast your strong
      And valiant hearts, in thoughts lesse hard and bold,
      Yet quaile in conquest of that Land of Gold!
      But this to you, O Britons, most pertaines,
      To whom the right hereof itselfe hath sold,
      The whiche, for sparing little cost or paines,
    Loose so immortall glory, and so endless gaines.



     Division of command--Ralegh's delay--Unwillingness of men to
     serve--Disputes--Ralegh's wise plan of action--The attack--
     The sack--Ralegh wounded--His small share of spoil--Return
     home--Sends ship to Guiana--Death of Lady Cecil--Robert Cecil's
     policy--expedition to Azores--Fayal--Quarrel with Essex.

Ralegh did not long remain inactive. He found that a great adventure was
in course of preparation in which he must needs take his part. A year
before the Armada Sir John Hawkins had planned an attack on Spain's
chief harbour, Cadiz, and in this year of 1596 Lord Howard of Effingham,
High Admiral of England, determined to carry the plan into effect. The
Earl of Essex was put in command of the land forces, Effingham of the
fleet. Elizabeth invariably favoured the dangerous policy of divided
command, which Ralegh in his "History of the World" cannot censure too
strongly. The reason why such a clever woman continued to make this
mistake is not known. Probably she feared that one man by a conspicuous
victory would become too powerful for a subject. If this were the
reason, and it seems likely that it was, her fears would naturally
increase with her age. The same feeling, no doubt, prompted her strange
choice of the inexperienced Essex. He, at any rate, she would think,
would remain her loyal subject, and would not aspire to rebel against
his royal mistress.

The preparations were on an extensive scale. The fleet was divided into
four squadrons, which were led by Essex, by the Lord Admiral, by Ralegh,
and by Lord Thomas Howard. The total muster numbered seventeen Queen's
ships and seventy-six hired ships, which were chiefly used for
transport, besides pinnaces and small craft. They were assisted by a
Dutch squadron of twenty-four vessels. The men were nearly sixteen
thousand in all, land-soldiers and mariners.

Essex was waiting with the fleet at Plymouth for Ralegh, who had been
commissioned to find men for the expedition. Ralegh's delay was the
cause of much anxiety, and naturally there were not wanting men ready to
construe that delay into treachery. Gossip Bacon suggests that he was
endeavouring to undermine the position of Essex and get himself
nominated general of the land forces in his stead. The true reason of
his delay is, however, available. On May 4 he writes from Northfleet on
the Thames to Sir Robert Cecil, telling him of the difficulty he
experienced in obtaining ships and men for the service. "Mr. Pope presst
all the ships. Hee can also informe you how little her Majestie's
autoretie is respected. For as fast as wee press men one day they come
away another and say they will not serve." He recommends Mr. Pope to Sir
Robert Cecil for his keenness, and proceeds, "Here are at Gravesend ...
sume 22 saile. Thos above that ar of great draught of water cannot tide
it down, for they must take the high water and dare not make after an
houre ebb untill they be past Barking Shelf. And now the wind is so
strong as it is impossible to turne down, or to warpe down or to tooe
downe. I cannot writ to our generalls all this tyme; for the pursevant
found me in a countre villag, a mile from Gravend honting after runaway
marriners and dragging in the mire from ale-house to ale-house, and
could gett no paper, butt that the pursevant had this peece."

The unwillingness to serve on a foreign expedition was common in England
then: men began to weary of the hardships of fighting: they knew too
intimately the horrors of a sea-battle. Essex, too, found the men at
Plymouth ready to mutiny and desert. He immediately took stringent
measures: soldiers were tried by martial law, and two were executed
forthwith "on a very fair pleasant green called the Ho."

On June 1 the fleet at length put out to sea, and came to anchor on June
20 in the bay of St. Sebastians, which is half a league distant from
Cadiz. The voyage had been taken without any mishap, except that the
unwisdom of a divided command soon became apparent. From Dover Lord
Howard of Effingham wrote to Robert Cecil: "My commission in being
joined to the Earl is an idle thing; I am used but as a drag." But the
weather was favourable, and several prizes were taken. From St.
Sebastians Ralegh had instructions to sail with the ships under his
charge and the Dutch squadron to the Main, and to lie just outside the
harbour; he was bidden to take special care that the ships riding near
Cadiz did not escape, but not to fight, except in self-defence, without
further direction. "When I was arrived back again (which was two hours
after the rest) I found the Earl of Essex disembarking his soldiers; and
he had put many companies into boats, purposing to make his descent on
the west side of Cales; but such was the greatness of the billow, by
reason of a forcible southerly wind, as the boats were ready to sink at
the stern of the Earl; and indeed divers did so, and in them some of the
armed men; but because it was formerly resolved (and that to cast
doubts would have been esteemed an effect of fear) the Earl purposed to
go on until such time as I came aboard him, and in the presence of all
the collonels protested against the resolution; giving him reasons and
making apparent demonstrations that he thereby ran the way of our
general ruin, to the utter overthrow of the whole armies, their own
lives, and her Majesty's future safety. The Earl excused himself, and
laid it before the Lord Admiral, who (he said) 'would not consent to
enter with the fleet till the town were first possessed.' All the
commanders and gentlemen present besought me to dissuade the attempt,
for they all perceived the danger, and were resolved that the most part
could not but perish in the sea, ere they came to set foot on ground,
and if any arrived on shoar, yet were they sure to have their boats cast
on their heads; and that twenty men in so desperate a descent would have
defeated them all. The Earl hereupon prayed me to perswade my Lord
Admiral, who, finding a certain destruction by the former resolution,
was content to enter the port.

"When I brought news of this agreement to the Earl, calling out of my
boat Entramus, he cast his hat into the sea for joy and prepared to
weigh anchor."

In these words Ralegh tells how he saved England from a great disaster.
It is not known to whom he wrote this account, but it was found and
printed by his grandson, Philip Ralegh, just one hundred and three years
later. Probably Lord Howard took a negative attitude; he found, no
doubt, a grim satisfaction in seeing the impetuous young fool, Essex,
send the land force which he commanded to its inevitable destruction. He
would think that he could easily set matters right again with his fleet,
and Essex would be once for all humiliated, if not slain. Ralegh saved
the situation. He had the moral courage to disdain the charge of
cowardice, and the ability to prove in words the complete wrongness of
the plan of attack. That was not all. The situation was still perilous
to a degree. The day was drawing to a close; boats were filled in
disorder with men from different ships. They were an attacking force
with whom time was of the utmost value, and they were without a plan of
attack. Ralegh was indefatigable. All his powers were called into
play--his influence over men, his capacity of managing affairs, his
knowledge of tactics in sea-fighting and land-fighting--and he mastered
the crisis.

The men were disposed to their ships, and the ships were anchored at the
very mouth of the harbour, and probably Ralegh was at the pains to prove
to them that this retirement was no disgrace. Order was not restored
until ten o'clock at night, and then Ralegh drew up a full account of
the manner in which the attack should be conducted, full in every detail
of the arrangement of the ships and the precedence of the commanders.
His plan was accepted, and at his own request he was allowed the post of
honour, much coveted, as leader of the van. Lord Thomas Howard
especially coveted the foremost position; "he pressed the Generals to
have the service committed unto him, and left the _Meer Honour_ to Mr.
Dudley, putting himself in the _Nonpareill_. For mine own part, as I was
willing to give honour to my Lord Thomas, having both precedency in the
army, and being a nobleman whom I much honoured, so yet I was resolved
to give and not take example for this service; holding mine own
reputation dearest, and remembering my great duty to her Majesty. With
the first peep of day, therefore, I weighed anchor, and bare with the
Spanish fleet, taking the start of all ours a good distance."

Within the harbour the enemy were waiting in readiness and in force.
Great galleons and galleys, manned with oarsmen, were drawn up in front
of the forts, which opened fire upon Ralegh's ships; the men in the
galleys gripped their oars in readiness to row out and board any ship
which the cannon from the forts or the galleons might disable. Ralegh
sailed right into the harbour, disdaining to answer the fire from the
forts and the curtain with anything but a contemptuous blare from a
trumpet, and leaving the ships that followed him to scatter with their
fire the galleys. Ralegh sailed right into the harbour; "the _St.
Philip_, the great and famous Admiral of Spain, was the mark I shot at,
esteeming these galleys but as wasps in respect of the powerfulness of
the other; and being resolved to be revenged for the _Revenge_, or to
second her with mine own life." For on the _Revenge_ had perished his
gallant friend and kinsman, Sir Richard Grenville; and many times
through that day Grenville's dying words must have thrilled his mind,
those words that are the most illustrious requiem of a dying soldier,
spoken in the Spanish of his conquerrors, "Here die I, Richard
Grenville, with a joyful and quiet mind, having ended my life like a
true soldier that has fought for his country, his Queen, his religion,
and his honour." For three hours Ralegh, at anchor, kept up an incessant
cannonade against the galleons and the forts; the volleys of cannon and
culverin came as thick as if it had been a skirmish of musketeers. On
one side lay Lord Thomas Howard's ship, the _Lyon_; on the other lay the
_Mary Rose_ and the _Dreadnaught_. When Essex heard the tremendous roar
of the cannon he could no longer stop outside the harbour, but sailed in
the _Swiftsure_ as far to the van as he was able, regardless of battle
order. But "always I must without glory say for myself that I held
single in the head of all." At last the cannonade became too heavy.
Ralegh had been told not to board until fly-boats came from the fleet;
and no fly-boats came. Accordingly, in a little skiff, he was rowed to
the _Swiftsure_ and besought Essex to let him board with his own
ship--"for it was the same loss to burn or sink, for I must endure the
one." He convinced Essex, who promised upon his honour to second him in
whatsoever he did. Ralegh had been away from his ship for a quarter of
an hour; but during that quarter of an hour Sir Francis Vere, the
Marshal, and Lord Thomas Howard had pushed their ships quietly in front
of the _Warspite_. This Ralegh could not brook. "At my return, finding
myself from being the first to be but the third, I presently let slip
anchor, and thrust in between my Lord Thomas and the Marshal, and went
up further ahead than all them before and thrust myself athwart the
channel, so as I was sure none should outstart me again, for that day."
But though the battle continued to rage furiously and at close quarters,
Sir Francis Vere and Lord Thomas Howard could not rest content with
second places. Sir Francis Vere secretly caused a rope to be fastened to
the _Warspite_ that he might draw his ship ahead of her. But sailors
told Ralegh of this, and he ordered the rope to be severed.

Then Ralegh started to board. He laid out a warp by the side of the
_Philip_ "to shake hands with her," and the other English ships followed
suit. Fear seized the Spaniards. "They all let slip, and ran aground,
tumbling into the sea heaps of souldiers, so thick as if coals had been
powred out of a sack in many ports at once: some drowned and some
sticking in the mud.... The spectacle was very lamentable on their side;
for many drowned themselves; many, half-burnt, leapt into the water;
very many hanging by the ropes' ends by the ship's side under the water
even to the lips; many swimming with grievous wounds, strucken under
water and put out of their pain: and so huge a fire, and such tearing of
the ordnance in the great _Philip_ and the rest, when the fire came to
them, as, if any man had a desire to see Hell itself, it was there most
lively figured."

Then followed the capture and sack of Cadiz. In the assault Ralegh
received "a grievous blow in the leg interlaced and deformed with
splinters." But he was carried on shore on men's shoulders until a horse
was forthcoming, when he mounted. For an hour he remained in the town,
but then the pain of the wound became intolerable; the streets were
filled with jostling tumultuous soldiers, and they pressed against his
leg in their disorder, do what he would to prevent them. So he returned
to his ship to rest, while the sack raged in the town.

The plunder taken was immense in quantity and value: and as was
invariably the case, there was much ill-feeling as to its distribution.
The Queen quarrelled with the generals, thinking that they had much held
back, and the generals with each other, thinking that the share of each
was disproportionate. Ralegh especially fared ill. "For my own part I
have gotten a lame leg and a deformed. For the rest either I spake too
late, or it was otherwise resolved. I have not wanted good words, and
exceeding kind and regardful usance. But I have possession of naught but
poverty and pain." Ralegh was better able to win a first place in the
fighting-line, than in the prize list. This he resented with absolute
candour: but to deduce from his resentment that he cared only for gain
is totally to misunderstand the nature of the man.

The results of the victory, for which Ralegh was chiefly responsible,
were far-reaching and decisive. It crippled Spain's power more
effectually even than the Armada. Cadiz was razed to the ground; as the
Council of State decided that to raze the town was safer than to
garrison it for English purposes.

Ralegh gained the respect of his fellow soldiers for his genius and his
bravery; even men who, like Sir Anthony Standen, were hostile to him,
wrote in enthusiastic praise of his conduct. "Sir Walter Ralegh did (in
my judgment) no man better: and his artillery most effect. I never knew
the gentleman till this time, and I am sorry for it, for there are in
him excellent things, beside his valour. And the observation he hath in
this voyage used with my Lord of Essex hath made me love him." But at
the Court little had changed. Essex remained arrogant and hostile, and
for the time his influence appears to have been dominant.

Immediately on his return Ralegh busied himself in the preparation and
despatch of another ship to Guiana, to keep in touch with the natives
whose alliance he had on his own visit obtained. Mr. Thomas Masham
sailed in a pinnace called the _Wat_ on the 14th of October from
Limehouse upon the Thames. Ralegh never ceased from ardour in this great
enterprise of his; nothing drove it from his mind; he was convinced of
its ultimate success, believing in it as he believed in himself. But he
could not go in person, the time was not yet ripe. So he with his
wounded leg was glad to retire to Sherborne for a season to the quiet of
his Dorsetshire garden. In Sherborne was brought him the news of the
death of Lady Cecil, to whom Sir Robert was much devoted, and Ralegh's
letter of sympathy is beautiful in thought and expression, though, such
is the interesting divergency of human opinion, there are those who
think the letter crude, sententious and laboured.


    "Because I know not how you dispose of your sealf, I forbeare
    to visitt you, preferringe your plesinge before myne owne
    desire. I had rather be with you now then att any other tyme,
    if I could thereby ether take off frome you the burden of your
    sorrows, or lay the greater part thereof on myne owne hart....
    There is no man sorry for death it sealf, butt only for the
    tyme of death; every one knowing that it is a bonnd never
    forfeted to God.... If then we know the same to be certayne and
    inevitable, wee ought withall to take the tyme of his arrivall
    in as good part as the knowledge; and not to lament att the
    instant of every seeminge adversity, which we ar asured have
    byn on ther way towards us from the begininge.... I beleve it
    that sorrows are dangerus companions, converting badd into
    yevill and yevill into worse, and do no other service then
    multeply harms. They ar the treasures of weak harts and of the
    foolishe. The minde that entertayneth them is as the yearth and
    dust whereon sorrows and adversetes of the world do as the
    beasts of the field, tread trample and defile. The minde of man
    is that part of God which is in us, which, by how mich it is
    subject to passion, by so mich it is farther from Hyme that
    gave it us. Sorrows draw not the dead to life, butt the livinge
    to deathe...."

So Ralegh wrote; he was acquainted with grief, and familiar with death
in every horrid guise. Twenty years later he was to prove with his own
example the truth of what he wrote: "It apartayneth to every man of a
wize and worthy spiritt to draw together into sufferance the unknown
future to the known present; lookinge no less with the eyes of the
minde then thos of the body--the one beholdinge afar off and the other
att hand--that thos things of this worlde in which we live be not
strange unto us when they approach...."

But Sir Robert Cecil was playing a deep and subtle game which was to
make him the chief man in England during the few years that remained to
the Queen of life and after her death. Essex and Ralegh he feared. He
encouraged Essex to pass on his proud way to disaster, using Essex to
thwart the rise of Ralegh. And Essex needed small encouragement. He
coveted the popularity, which was to end in his utter undoing. Meanwhile
his star was in the ascendant. His pride had not yet outgrown his

Outwardly Cecil was friendly to Ralegh and hostile to Essex. He hated
Essex; the two men's _natures_ were in fierce opposition.

Ralegh was still suspended from his post of Captain of the Guard; but in
June he was brought by Cecil to the Queen's presence. The Queen received
him graciously, and reinstated him. Moreover, Ralegh and Essex were no
longer in open enmity. Mr. Rowland Whyte records that "Sir Walter Ralegh
hath been very often very private with the Earl of Essex and is the
mediator of a peace between him and Sir Robert Cecil." And again in a
letter dated April 9: "This day being Monday Sir Robert Cecil went in
coach with the Earl of Essex to his house where Sir Walter Ralegh came,
and they dined there together. After dinner they were very private all
three for two hours, where the treaty of peace was confirmed." Between
Ralegh and Essex there was something in common at certain moments; there
was a gallantry about both men, which, in spite of everything, each
could not fail to recognize in the other. This Sir A. Gorges noticed;
he wrote with much acumen: "Though the Earl had many doubts and
jealousies buzzed into his ears against Sir Walter Ralegh, yet I have
often observed that both in his greatest actions of service, and in the
times of his chiefest recreations, he would ever accept of his counsel
and company before many others who thought themselves more in his

Ralegh's rest was brief. Almost immediately after despatching the _Wat_
to Guiana, he was engaged in raising levies and supplies with Essex for
a new expedition against Spain. For the Spanish king was resolved to
revenge his bad defeat at Cadiz by another invasion of England. Ralegh
always believed that the surest manner of defence against such an
invasion was an immediate attack. And that was the step which the Lords
of the Council determined to take. About the time that Ralegh's ship,
the _Wat_, returned from Guiana with the news which its captain, Mr.
Thomas Masham, brought, the expedition was ready to put out to sea. The
fleet was divided into three squadrons; the first was commanded by the
Earl of Essex, who was Admiral and General-in-Chief; the second by Lord
Thomas Howard; the third by Sir Walter Ralegh, whose position was that
of Rear-Admiral, and in whose squadron sailed the great galleons, the
_St. Andrew_ and the _St. Matthew_, which he had captured at Cadiz. On
Sunday the 10th of July the fleet set sail. Their destination was
Ferroll in the Azores, where the Spanish fleet was reported to be
harbouring. Their instructions were firstly to attack the fleet, and if
it had gone away, to follow in pursuit; secondly, to intercept and
capture the homeward-bound fleets from the East and West Indies. The
expedition has passed into history under the name of the Islands

The very day after the fleet weighed anchor a storm beat upon the ships
with such violence that they were eventually forced to return to
whatsoever harbour each could make. Many came very near to sinking, so
high was the wind, so strong the waves, and there were sailors who died
of exhaustion on their return to shore. The damage done to the heavy
ships was very great, and time was necessary to refit them for the sea;
the delay involved the necessity of revictualling the ships. On the 26th
of July Ralegh reported from Plymouth, "Wee only attend the winde,
having repayred as much as we can our bruses. Butt we shall not bee in
any great corage for winter weather and longe nights, in thes ships."

The weather was unpropitious on their second venture, though they were
obliged to wait until the second week in August. Ralegh's squadron was
separated from the fleet, and was forced by the wind into the Bay of
Biscay, out of which he found the greatest difficulty in making his way.
Later in the voyage Sydney's flyboat foundered; but he and all his
soldiers were rescued. "I have notwithstanding," writes Ralegh,
"followed my Lord's order to cum to the Ilands, and I am now this 8 of
September, in sight of Tercera, having chosen rather to perishe than to
relinquishe the enterprize; and, the Lord douth know, in a torne shipp.
Butt her Majestye shall find that I valew not my life; although I hope
that her Majestye would not that I perishe in vayne. I hope after too
dayes to fynde my Lorde Generall and the fleet with whom, I thinke, all
the rest of her Majesties shipps ar, butt the _Mathew_ with poore Georg
Carew. It is a carfull and perelus tyme of the yeare for thes wayghty
shipps. The Lorde of Heaven send us all well to returne, and send us the
good hope to do her Majestie acceptable service; to performe which wee
have already suffered miche. For my particular, I have never dared to
rest since my wreacks, and God doth judge that I never for thes 10 dayes
came so mich as in to bedd or cabbin."

Ralegh's squadron did not join the fleet until Essex had been ten days
at Flores. Then it was determined to make a joint attack upon Fayal, as
they had heard that it was unlikely the Spanish ships from the Indies
would sail at all that year, and if they did sail, that they would avoid
Flores. Essex sailed first for Fayal, because Ralegh's squadron was
obliged to delay for repairs and revictualling. But Ralegh's squadron
arrived first at Fayal, and, having waited three days for Essex, Ralegh
at length, on the fourth day, attacked and captured Fayal by himself. He
writes in the "History of the World:" "There were indeede some which
were in that voyage who advised me not to undertake it: and I harkened
unto them, somewhat longer than was requisite, especially whilest they
desired me to reserve the title of such an exploit (though it were not
great) for a greater person. But when they began to tell me of
difficulty: I gave them to understand, the same which I now maintaine,
that it was more difficult to defend a coast then to invade it. The
truth is, that I could have landed my men with more ease than I did; yea
without finding any resistance if I would have rowed to another place,
yea even there where I landed if I would have taken more company to
helpe me. But, without fearing any imputation of rashnesse, I may say
that I had more regard of reputation in that businesse, than of safetie.
For I thought it to belong unto the honour of our Prince and Nation,
that a few Ilanders should not thinke any advantage great enough,
against a fleet set forth by Q. Elizabeth: and further I was unwilling
that some Low Countrie Captaines and others, not of mine own squadron,
whose assistance I had refused, should please themselves with a sweet
conceit ... that for want of their helpe I was driven to turne taile."

The passage is one of interest, larger than the mere description of an
engagement. It shows Ralegh's immense and correct confidence in his
judgment; and how his outlook always embraced much more than the actual
event in hand, though its outline was never blurred for that reason. The
theory he pronounced on the deck of his ship, and proved next day in the
engagement, he reiterates in his History in one of the most notable of
his digressions, that an island's only safe defence is her fleet. He
ends his remarks with the very typical sentence, "I hope that this
question shall never come to triall; his Majesties many moveable Forts
will forbid the experience. And thoughe the Englishe will no lesse
disdaine, than any Nation under heaven can doe, to be beaten upon their
owne ground or elsewhere by a forraigne enemy; yet to entertaine those
that shall assaile us with their own beefe in their bellies, and before
they eate of oure Kentish capons, I take it to be the wisest way. To doe
whiche, his Majesty, after God, will imploy his good ships on the Sea
and not trust to any intrenchment upon the shore."

But to the actual action. The men who foretold trouble from the greater
man spoke as truly as Ralegh proved his courage and foresight in the
event. The fort on the shore was quickly taken; but behind rose a high
hill, topped by another strong fort, and the men at the sight wavered to
withdraw. None were willing to reconnoitre. Ralegh was furious, and
swore that he would do scout's work himself. Sir Arthur Gorges and some
dozen personal followers would not suffer him to go alone. So they made
their way together up the hill under continual fire from the enemy.
Ralegh's clothes were torn by bullets. Gorges was shot in the leg. The
ascent impressed the enemy. When the final attack was made, the fort was
found to be deserted.

When Essex arrived, Ralegh was master of the island. Ralegh's enemies (a
great man seldom lacks such enemies) had long been trying to enflame the
antagonism between him and Essex, and now they insisted to Essex that
Ralegh's success was flat disobedience, and warranted a heavy penalty. A
court martial should be called, and should punish him with death. So
when Ralegh visited the Earl's vessel to give an official account of the
victory, he was surprised to meet with angry looks and the charge of a
breach of the orders. But he convinced Essex that he was within his
rights. "None should land any of the troops without the General's
presence or his order," said Essex. "There is an Article," replied
Ralegh, "that no captain of any ship or company, if he be severed from
the fleet shall land anywhere without directions from the General or
some principal commander upon pain of death. But I take upon myself to
be a principal commander under your Lordship, and therefore not subject
to that Article." And he proceeded to explain how the delay of Essex
made him think that he was adventuring upon some other enterprise, and
how his own company began to murmur and hint at fear. Essex was not
easily convinced. Weakness dreads to be slighted, where strength relies
upon its own authority. Monson observes in his narrative of the Island
Voyage, "The act was urged with that vehemency by those that hated Sir
Walter that if my Lord, who by nature was timorous and flexible had not
feared how it would be taken in England, I think Sir Walter had smarted
for it."

The incident illustrates Ralegh's address, a quality which was essential
at that time for any success in life; that was the time when man dealt
immediately with man. The mind must always be alive and on the alert.
Here was Ralegh, coming to report a successful and daring exploit,
suddenly obliged to defend himself against a trumped-up charge. If he
failed to take in the whole situation in a moment, and to stand his own
ground, death would result from the failure. Nor could he simply rely
upon justice; he must know the man with whom he was dealing, and the men
who were poisoning the General's mind. Ralegh's self-control is as
amazing as his address. He had need of both.

The General was an arrogant, spoiled youth, angry at the knowledge that
his subordinate was a better man, angry at his renewed success. A rash
word on Ralegh's part would have been his last. And Ralegh had much
cause to hate the young man. They were rivals for the love of a
magnificent woman whom they served; their rivalry would accentuate the
elder man's dislike of the younger's youth. But there is a dignity about
Ralegh's conduct and defence which shows no cringing before the reigning
favourite, but a superiority to all pettiness, a kind of freedom from
what may quickly become the fetters of personality.

Such was Ralegh's last great enterprise against Spanish power. Hereafter
the policy of England was to undergo a change, and in the new scheme of
things a man like Ralegh could find no place. He was too great to be
used by a small mind; pettiness is always full of fear and distrust and
envy of powers which are not within its little scope of understanding.



     Robert Cecil in power--Downfall of Essex--Ralegh's opinion of
     Essex--Governor of Jersey--Peril imminent.

With the fall of Fayal the naval war with Spain came to an end, for
Philip II. died in the early autumn of the following year, 1598, which
was the year of the great Lord Treasurer Burghley's death. His son, Sir
Robert Cecil, became the chief man in England.

Time and experience did not soften the arrogance of Essex. On his return
he set himself more than ever to the task of becoming supreme in the
kingdom. Always there has been a certain rivalry between the statesman
who manages affairs at home, and the successful soldier. Each is
inclined to underrate the value of the other's service. Essex naturally
thought the highest place in the government should be occupied by a
dashing soldier like himself. He had whatever prestige popularity gives,
and he had influence with the Queen, but not so much as he thought.
Robert Cecil knew his man, and quietly determined his downfall. Through
his mediation Lord Howard of Effingham was raised to the earldom of
Nottingham, which, combined with his position of Lord High Admiral, gave
him precedence of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex. This Essex, in his
arrogance, could not tolerate. He absented himself from Court, and all
Howard's efforts to pacify his anger were futile. But the Queen began
to weary at his absence. She asked Ralegh to try and make Howard waive
his right of precedence, but this Howard refused to do. Accordingly,
again at Ralegh's suggestion, who valued the Queen's happiness more
highly than his personal likes and dislikes, Essex was created Earl
Marshal of England, and Howard retired in his turn from Court.

On the return of Essex, Cecil began to play a game at which he was an
adept. He wanted Essex to feel that his importance was properly
recognized without admitting him into any State matters. So he arranged
long conferences with Essex, and with Ralegh, about projects which he
never had the least intention of bringing to any issue; and these
conferences about nothing were carefully attended by all the pomp of
formality. Essex would thereby be flattered, would grow in pride to his
own undoing, and would be likely to reveal the trend of his own scheme.
Essex, in spite of his almost childish arrogance, was a man to be
reckoned with. He had many friends of importance, the most distinguished
of whom was Francis Bacon. By means of his own spies he kept in touch
with foreign affairs that he might criticize the Queen's advisers; he
became friendly with King James of Scotland; he could rely on the help
of every one who was disappointed of office or reward by Burghley or his

But he was no match for the astute Sir Robert Cecil. And the very year
of Burghley's death, at one of the heated Council meetings, Essex had
weakened by his uncontrolled conduct his influence with the Queen. The
Queen had interfered on Burghley's behalf against Essex; and Essex in a
rage "turned his back on the Queen with a gesture of contempt, muttering
an unpardonable insult," as Mr. Sidney Lee has it.

He was not a safe person to leave idle. The office of Lord Deputy of
Ireland was vacant; it was offered him, and after some dissent on his
part was accepted. His ruin was now imminent. He felt his power grow
less; and on Ralegh in particular he looked with hatred as upon the
chief cause of his downfall. And small wonder if Ralegh hated the man
who had offered gross insult to the old Queen in public. "Why do I talk
of victory or success?" writes Essex from Ireland to the Queen. "Is it
not known that from England I receive nothing but discomforts and soul's
wounds.... Is it not lamented both there and here that a Cobham and
Ralegh ... should have such credit and favour with your Majesty...." But
without Ralegh, who, as his subordinate, had won him fame at Cadiz and
at Fayal, and warded off disaster, the enterprise of Essex in Ireland
was a failure. He wasted time and money, and achieved nothing. Then
Essex resolved upon an impetuous step characteristic of him. He
determined to return home, and to drive away by force the men who were
keeping him from his proper place of supremacy; he even enlisted the
support of James of Scotland, who was favourable to his scheme, but
temporized, saying that he would send messengers to the Queen to beg her
to restore Essex to her favour. What Essex needed for his mad project,
however, was an army, not messages. Essex returned from Ireland, but
Cecil was perfectly ready for him, and the people of London did not rise
at his protest against the Queen's ministers; they gaped and wondered,
as they would gape and wonder at a madman. Essex was arrested, was
impeached for high treason, and beheaded.

The impetuousness of Essex approached very near to madness, and a
dangerous form of madness. If any one has ever deserved death for
treason, Essex deserved it. Ralegh wrote his opinion quite frankly to
Sir Robert about him. The letter has raised much feeling against Ralegh.
But he had good reason to know the peril a nature like that of Essex
could bring to a nation or to anything with which he was connected, and
he was perfectly just and honest in the opinion he gave that Essex's
wings should be clipped. The letter runs as follows:--


    "I am not wize enough to geve yow advise; but if you take it
    for a good councell to relent towards this tirant, yow will
    repent it when it shalbe too late. His mallice is fixt, and
    will not evaporate by any your mild courses. For he will
    ascribe the alteration to her Majesties pusillanimitye and not
    to your good nature; knowing that yow worke but uppon her humor
    and not out of any love towards hyme. The less yow make hyme,
    the less he shalbe able to harme yow and your's. And if her
    Majesties favor faile hyme, hee will agayne decline to a common
    parson. For after-revenges, feare them not; for your own father
    that was estemed to be the contriver of Norfolk's ruin, yet his
    son followeth your father's son and loveth him. Humours of men
    succeed not; butt grow by occasions and accidents of tyme and
    poure.... I could name you a thowsand of thos; and therefore
    after fears are but profesies--or rather conjectures--from
    causes remote. Looke to the present, and yow do wisely. His
    sonne shalbe the youngest Earle of Ingland butt on, and, if his
    father be now keipt down Will Cecill shalbe abell to keip as
    many men att his heeles as hee, and more too. Hee may also
    mache in a better howse then his; and so that feare is not
    worth the fearinge. Butt if the father continew, he wilbe able
    to break the branches and pull up the tree; root and all. Lose
    not your advantage; if you do, I rede your destiney.

    "Let the Q. hold Bothwell while she hath hyme. Hee will ever be
    the canker of her estate and sauftye. Princes are lost by
    securetye; and preserved by prevention. I have seen the last of
    her good dayes, and all ours, after his libertye."

It is strange and it is memorable how the sentiment of the last sentence
but one, "Princes are lost by securetye," ran through the minds of men
at this time: again and again it occurs. The witches in Macbeth chant--

    Is mortals' chiefest enemy."

Spenser writes--

    "Little wist he his fatall future woe
    But was secure: the liker he to fall."

It is more than the turn of phrase (though great expressions were common
enough then--as for example, "millions of mischief" which Ralegh uses in
a letter and which arrests you in Julius Cæsar--

    "Men that smile have in their hearts I fear
    Millions of mischiefs.")

It is the trend of thought. It illustrates a feature of Elizabethan life
that was common to every rank, but most common in the highest. Men were
tremendously vital, but life was not valued for its own sake: life was
not looked upon as sacred; rather life was regarded as a possession to
hold which it was worth while fighting to the death.

During the rebellion--the word can hardly be applied to such a
ridiculous outburst--Ralegh sent for Sir Ferdinando Gorges at Durham
House. He wanted to warn Gorges, who had served under him, that his
arrest had been ordered. Gorges feared treachery, that their
conversation might be overheard or that he might be suddenly seized, and
consulting Essex, with whom he was staying, at length decided to meet
Ralegh in the one safe place--namely, on the river. They rowed out into
mid-stream, met, and conferred. In mid-stream their words were safe;
their bodies were not. Sir Christopher Blount, who was a partisan of
Essex, heard of the prospective meeting, and urged Gorges to kill Ralegh
and thus to rid the Earl of his chief enemy at a blow. Gorges was a man
of honour and refused. But Blount was strongly in favour of Ralegh's
death. As Ralegh was pulled to the place of conference, Blount fired
with a musket at him four times. Essex, Gorges, Blount, and other brave
men were beheaded, and Ralegh, as Captain of the Guard, was present at
their executions. On the scaffold Blount asked, "Is Sir Walter Ralegh
here?" Ralegh came forward. "Sir Walter Ralegh," said Blount, "I thank
God that you are present. I had an infinite desire to speak with you, to
ask your forgiveness ere I died. Both for the wrong done you and for my
particular ill-intent towards you, I beseech you forgive me."

"I most willingly," Ralegh replied, "and I beseech God to forgive you,
and to give you His divine comfort." He turned to those standing round:
"I protest before God that whatever Sir Christopher Blount meant towards
me, I, for my part, never bore him any ill-intent."

After the death of Essex, the boy who had recklessly thrown himself
against the astute Cecil to gain political power, men watched the
demeanour of Ralegh closely; he too was the favourite of his Queen; they
watched him and saw that sadness brooded on his face. There were many
things to create sadness.

The great Queen was growing old, and in her age had been forced to sign
the death-warrant of the young man who was dear to her and who had
presumed on her affection. The old Lord Treasurer was dead; Burghley,
whom the Queen tended with her own hand in his last illness, knowing the
worth of the man who had served his country well for forty years; his
son, the astute Cecil, had taken his place; but Robert Cecil played his
own game: he was too astute. He desired advantage for his country, but
that advantage must come through himself.

The great days were passing. Ralegh had seen the Queen ruling the nation
as only a woman and a woman of genius and of beauty could rule it; he
saw her when the power of her womanhood was declining and its weakness
was in evidence. Who could take her place? What man or what woman? And
must not the place itself be changed and its absolute authority be
modified? Time was converting the Queen into her country's encumbrance.
And who would succeed his Queen Elizabeth? Where were the men to carry
on the great traditions of Elizabeth? Robert Cecil was too astute....

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile Ralegh continued the duties of his own life, at Sherborne and
at Durham House. Lord Cobham's name is often found at this time in
association with Ralegh. Cobham was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and
often on his way to the coast he managed to make a short visit to the
Raleghs at Sherborne. He was a weak man, as the event proved. And Ralegh
liked him; a strong man is often led into liking a weak man, whom he is
able to render pliant to his will.

About this time, too, Ralegh was made Governor of Jersey, and
immediately he set about his new duties, which were many and various,
with his own energy. There is an interesting letter from Lady Ralegh to
Cecil; it tells not only of her husband's first journey to Jersey but
also of a fire at Durham House, and in the telling shows something of
Lady Ralegh's character.


    "Hit tis trew that your packet brought me the newes of the
    mischans of feeiar at Durram Houes, wher, I thanke God hit went
    noo fardar. Other wies, hit had rid ous of all our poour
    substans of plat and other thinges. Unly now the loos is of
    your cumpani and my Lord Cobham's wich I thinke by this menes
    wee cannot injoy this winter....

    "I ded heer from Sur Walter within too dayes after he landed at
    Jarsi: wher he was safly landed and rioly intertained with
    joye. But he was too dayes and too nites on the sea, with
    contrari windes, not withstanding hee went from Wamouthe in so
    fayer a wind and weether, as littell Wat and myselfe brought
    him abord the shipt. Hee writeth to me hee never saw a
    plesanttar iland; but protesteth unfannedly hit tis not, in
    valew, the veri third part that was reported, or inded hee
    beliffed. My cossin Will is heer, very will and louketh will
    and fat with his batheinge. This, wishing you all honnar and
    the full contentements of your hart, I ever rest

                                      "Your asured poour frind
                                                      "E. RALEGH

    "I am glad this mischans of feeiar cam not by ani neckelegans
    of ani sarvant of mine, but by me cossin Darci's sarvant,--a
    woman that delleth just under our logging, and anoyeth ous
    infenitly. I hope hee will now remoueve heer. I humbelly besuch
    you let this lettar heer inclosed be sent."

The little Will Cecil, who was well, and looked well and fat from his
bathing, grew up into the second Earl of Salisbury. We can only hope
that Darcy's servant, who was evidently a constant thorn in the flesh of
the orderly Lady Ralegh, was removed; no positive facts are known.

The letter discovers a side of Ralegh's life about which little has been
written, but which is none the less interesting and valuable. Little Wat
and little Will were bathing and getting fat by the sea-side, while
Essex was under sentence of death, while the great Queen was growing
old, and while huge disorders were pending in the kingdom on the event
of the Queen's death. Little things and big are jostled strangely
together in the course of a man's life.

Meanwhile Ralegh's new duties as Governor of Jersey were occupying his
attention. Always he entered a position untrammelled by what had been
done there before his coming, and determined to do the best possible. It
was so in his Governorship of Jersey. His changes were entirely for the
good. He found a compulsory system of defence which pressed heavily on
the inhabitants in what was called the Corps-de-Garde. He did away with
the Corps-de-Garde. While he pondered on the great issues which were
pending in England, he settled the small disputes of the islanders under
his rule; for he was supreme judge in civil and Crown causes. He was at
the pains to see to the proper fortification of the island, and to all
the many businesses that his office entailed.

During these years he travelled often backwards and forwards between
Durham House and Sherborne and the island of Jersey. He found on one
occasion that by some curious oversight the Duc de Biron, who had come
on an embassy from Henry of France, was at Crosby Hall, with not one
nobleman or gentleman to accompany or guide him. "I never saw so great
a person neglected," he writes to Sir Robert Cecil. "Wee have caried
them to Westminster to see the monuments; and this Monnday we
entertayned them at the Bear Garden, which they had great pleasure to
see.... I sent to and fro and have labored like a moyle to fashion
things so as on Wensday night they wilbe att Bagshoot and Thursday at
the Vine." The Queen was at this time staying with the Marquis of
Winchester at Basing, and to her the Duc de Biron rode, escorted by
Ralegh. From Basing Ralegh wrote to Lord Cobham telling him of the
Queen's wish for his attendance. He says that the French were only
stopping three days, and were all wearing black. "So as I have only made
mee a black taffeta sute to be in; and leave all my other sutes:" and he
adds to the letter a postscript, which shows how punctilious he was in
matters of dress: "I am yeven now going att night to London to provide
me a playne taffeta sute and a playne black saddell, and wil be here
agayne by Twesday night." He wrote late on Saturday night.

Little resulted from the Due de Biron's embassy. But he had the audacity
to question Elizabeth about the fate of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex,
and to express sympathy for him. Sully, the famous memoirist, reports
their conversation, and points out the singular resemblance between the
characters of Essex and of the Duc de Biron, and between the end each
met. The Duc de Biron was beheaded ten months later for treason. This is
the irony of things. Sully credits Elizabeth with the insight of knowing
how like Biron was to Robert Devereux, that she almost augured his
downfall, and warned him against his rash courses. The parallel between
the two men is remarkable.

So Ralegh went about his various business as Governor of Jersey, as
Captain of the Guard, transacted, too, the affairs of his own estates in
Munster, Sherborne, and Durham House, while he and every man of
influence in England kept pondering on the great question, vital to the
welfare of the country, vital to the welfare of each man, who should
succeed to the Queen Elizabeth? And Elizabeth was growing old.



     Possible successors to Elizabeth--Lord Henry Howard--Spies--
     Ralegh's position--The net is drawn round him--Letter of
     Cecil--Last illness and death of Elizabeth--Carey's ride to
     the North.

The position was one of acute interest. For Elizabeth had maintained her
father's tradition that the sovereign reigned by divine right, and by
her genius made the tradition credible. The responsibility of vesting
any man or any woman with such power was immense. The choice might bring
disaster to the nation, and it might bring disaster upon the men who
opposed the final choice, even upon the men who supported it. And
Elizabeth would not tolerate a mention even of her death, still less
would she help to appoint a successor. Peter Wentworth had proposed to
the House of Lords that a joint petition should be addressed to her,
requesting her humbly to consider the question. Peter Wentworth was
forthwith sent to the Tower, where he died after three years'
imprisonment. All the hints of her higher ministers she treated with
disdain. That she, Elizabeth, must die, it was impossible! But death was
slowly approaching.

Sir Robert Cecil watched the approach of death, and made his secret
preparations; for the greatest disaster of all would be that death
should find the country unprepared. Mystery, carefully planned against
the unravelling of chance or surprise, shrouds all the correspondence
of the time. No one can properly tell what letters are authentic, what
are written purposely to be discovered and to deceive. It was dangerous
for any man to trust any man with his solution to the great problem. But
Cecil was the political leader; in the Council he was informed of the
undercurrents of opinion at home and abroad. He kept his hold upon that
most important item--news, so difficult to acquire, so hard to test,
that that alone made his position strong; and he determined that King
James VI. of Scotland must succeed to the Crown. The accession of James
would ensure his own prosperity, and James, being manageable, would
ensure the prosperity of the country, for Cecil himself would continue
to govern. He secretly corresponded with James; he explained his
authority, and asserted his zeal on James's behalf.

Arabella Stuart and William Seymour, both of royal blood, were married
in 1603, and their claim to the throne was strong and supported by those
who desired the reintroduction of the Catholic religion. At one time
Philip of Spain was anxious that the Infanta should become Queen of
England. He thought that the Catholic party in England would welcome
her. But he had neither the money nor the power to enforce such a claim,
and the project was abandoned in favour of Arabella Stuart and William
Seymour, as James VI. of Scotland, though his mother was a Catholic and
he kept hinting that he was himself open to conversion, could not be
trusted. Cecil, however, succeeded in proving to James that only through
his own agency could he hope to wear the crown of England. Cecil's chief
helper in this was Lord Henry Howard. They corresponded at length with
James. Lord Henry Howard was an absolutely unscrupulous man, and he
hated Ralegh. Whether or not he influenced Cecil against Ralegh is not
known. Probably Cecil did not need much influence to see that Ralegh was
too powerful a man to be kept in a properly subordinate place, and to
work his undoing.

Lord Henry Howard stopped at nothing to poison James's mind against
Ralegh. He always referred to him as the arch-enemy, the most dangerous
man in England. James was ready to believe all that he was told. The
Earl of Essex he had at one time regarded as his chief supporter in
England; after his death James used to refer to him as "my martyr."
Therefore the rival of Essex, whom many men said had brought Essex to
the scaffold, was not one likely to be looked upon with favour by James.

Cecil saw that Essex and Ralegh were the only men considerable enough to
thwart his own project of supremacy. He had disposed of Essex; he had
urged him on to his ruin by appearing to favour his ambitions. Ralegh
remained. And Ralegh's overthrow was deliberately schemed, and quietly
carried into execution.

In Cecil's scheme the most unpleasant aspect of the time is apparent.
The acquisition of home and foreign knowledge was necessarily
accompanied by an intricate system of espionage. It was incumbent upon a
man in Cecil's position to use spies and agents at home and abroad, to
check and recheck all information that came to him. He must keep himself
in touch with the under-current of feeling, in order that he might be
prepared for emergency; and to a large extent upon this knowledge, which
he was bound to acquire, was based his own power, and on his power he
was perfectly justified in thinking that the safety of the country
rested. It is for the moralist to decide between what is under-hand and
what is politic. It would seem that the two were inextricably mingled,
not because of the depravity of the men living at that time, but simply
because of the extreme difficulty of acquiring exact information.
Morality has perhaps changed less than appears on the surface. Morality,
however, has been modified by the application of the powers of steam and
of electricity more perceptibly than by the spread of religion. The
character of life has changed rather than the character of men. Deceit
is a confession of weakness, either in the deceiver or in the deceived;
and the range of man's power was then limited by barriers which no
longer exist.

There was a demand for spies, and therefore, according to an unwritten
law, there was an ample supply. An undesirable class of man was
developed because the weakness of man in grappling with the problems of
time and space made that class a necessity. Continual contact with such
men infected the character of Cecil, as it influenced in a less degree
the character of all the greatest men of the time. Lord Henry Howard,
Cecil's right hand in his secret dealings with James, was the most
complete example of the species. Lord Henry Howard is the type of man on
whom it is pleasant to heap abuse. Abuse is a luxury. It relieves the
feelings. There is no term of abuse which is not applicable to him and
to his methods. But it is well to remember that, without Cecil, this
tool (however sharp) would have been powerless to do mischief.
Mischief--was what these two men accomplished mischievous to the
country? They were scheming primarily to bring in James VI. of Scotland
to the throne of England, and to do so without involving the country in
civil war. And they succeeded. James came to the throne, and civil war
did not break out until some years after their death. It is interesting
to know that the men who, as some think, freed England from tyranny were
deeply influenced by Ralegh's writings, and it is almost certain that
Ralegh was so far ahead of the thought of the time that he foresaw the
disaster that must come to the country if it were hampered by a
sovereign possessed with the prestige of divine right. His idea of
government was far more modern in conception. Rumour, which is apt to be
an exaggeration of the truth, relates that he was in favour of a
republic. Probably he wanted a form of government far nearer to that
which exists at the present day. He wanted a sovereign who was legally
bound to be guided by his Council of State and by the wishes of the
people. The days of Elizabeth's greatness showed the best features of
tyranny, the days of her decline its worst features. And the worst
feature is that undue power was placed in the hands of incompetent

After Elizabeth's death would have been the time to work the change
without bloodshed. But that would have meant for Cecil that he must have
shared his power with others. That was sufficient for Cecil. Always with
Cecil his own prestige came first and blinded him to the ultimate
benefit, which he sincerely wished might come to his country as it came
to him.

But the warnings of Elizabeth's decline were not taken, and the prestige
of her greatness was sufficient to carry on its tide the weight of her
declining years and the reigns of two incompetent kings. Then matters
came to such a point that only a bloody war could set them right, and
the Puritan element, grown strong by abuses, triumphed, and its triumph
swept away much that was valuable, and much that could ill be spared.

Sir Robert Cecil, however, and his tool, the Lord Henry Howard,
determined to carry on the old tradition, and to make James VI. of
Scotland King of England; and their scheme, as has been said, entailed
the overthrow of Ralegh. They considered his overthrow necessary to the
safety of their own position, and the safety of their own position was
necessary to the welfare of the country. As a man who sees a little
farther than the majority in matters of religion is apt to be called an
atheist--Ralegh was called an atheist--so a man who sees a little
farther in politics than the majority is apt to be called a
traitor--Ralegh was called a traitor.

In November, 1601, the Duke of Lennox came into contact with Ralegh and
Cobham. He had been sent by James to Henry IV. of France to win his
support for James's claim to the English throne. Howard was furious that
the Duke should be on terms of friendship with Ralegh; he wrote to the
Earl of Mar suspicions of the Duke's fidelity, and to James that Ralegh
and Cobham were his inveterate enemies. "Hell did never vomit up such a
couple." That was not all. Howard knew that Cobham was weak and
vacillating, he knew that many of Cobham's family were disposed to
favour the Catholic cause. It would be easy to magnify any move of
Cobham's in the Catholic direction into an absolute espousal of the
Catholic claim. And what would be more likely than that the weak Cobham
should be moved by the influence of his strong friend, Ralegh? In that
way Ralegh could easily be caught in the toils of a conspiracy. The
scheme was very subtle. To work its gradual fulfilment the Queen's mind
must be turned against them. So Howard wrote to Cecil: "Hir Majesty must
knowe the rage of their discontent for want of being called to that
height which they affect; and be made to taste the perill that grows out
of discontented minds.... So that roundly Hir Majestie must daily and by
divers meanes be let to know the world's apprehendinge hir deepe wisdome
in discerning the secret flawes of their affections. She must see some
advertisements from forrain parts of the grief which the Queene's
enemies doo take at their (_i.e._ Ralegh and Cobham) sittinge out,
hoping that their placinge in authority would so far alienate the
people's reverent affection as some mischief would succeed of it....
Rawlie that in pride exceedeth all men alive finds no vent for paradoxis
out of a Council board ... and inspireth Cobham with his own passions.
His wife as furious as Proserpina with failing of that restitution at
Court which flatterie had moved her to expect." Cecil was instructed to
inform the Queen of these things "that she may be more apt to receive
impressions of more important reasons when time serves with
opportunity." And then the crucial point of the deep plot to entrap
Ralegh is clearly stated: "You must embark this gallant Cobham by your
witt and interest, in some course the Spanish way as either may reveale
his weaknesse or snare his ambition.... For my own part I account it
impossible for him to escape the snares which wit may sett and weaknesse
is apt to fall into."[C]

  [C] Major Martin Hume gives an account of the scheme itself
        with admirable clearness; his quotations from the letters
        of the period I use.

It is evident that Ralegh had some suspicion of what was being wrought
against him; in sending a paper to the Queen against the proposals to
declare a successor--the paper has unfortunately been lost--he writes a
letter containing the following sentence:

"Your Majestye may, perchance, speake herof to thos seeminge my great
frinds, but I finde poore effects of that or any other supposed ametye.
For, your Majesty havinge left mee I am left all alone in the worlde,
and am sorry that ever I was att all. What I have donn is oat of zeale
and love, and not by any incorngement: for I am only forgotten in all
rights and in all affaires; and myne enemis have their wills and desires
over mee. Ther ar many other things concerninge your Majesty's present
service, which, meethinks are not, as they ought, remembered, and the
tymes pass away, unmesured, of which more profitt might be taken."

He may have known that Lord Henry Howard was mischievously inclined
towards him; Howard had always been his enemy. But it is unlikely that
he could have suspected Cecil, for Cecil was at the pains to show all
the appearance of friendship both to him and to Lady Ralegh.

Yet Cecil was, from the beginning of his own correspondence, working
against his friend. "Your Majestie," he writes to King James, "will
fynde it, in your case that a choyce election of a feaw in the present
wilbe of more use than any general acclamation of many." And in his
third letter he praises Howard for his fidelity, and refers bitterly to

"I do profess in the presence of Hym that knoweth and searcheth all
men's harts, that if I dyd not sometyme cast a stone into the mouth of
these gaping crabbs (i.e. Ralegh and Cobham) when they are in their
prodigall humour of discourses, they wold not stick to confess dayly how
contrary it is to their nature to resolve to be under your soverainty;
though they confess--Ralegh especially--that (_rebus sic stantibus_)
naturall pollicy forceth them to keep on foot such a trade against the
great day of mart. In all which light and soddain humours of his, though
I do no way chock him, because he shall not think I reject his freedome
or his affection, but alwaies ... use contestation with him that I
neyther had nor ever wold _in individus_ contemplate future idea, nor
ever hoped for more than justice in time of change; yet under pretext of
extraordinary care of his well-doing, I have seemed to disswade him from
ingaging himself to farr, even for himself; much more therefore to
forbeare to assume for me or my present intentions. Let me, therefore,
presume thus farr upon your Majesties favour that whatsoever he (_i.e._
Ralegh) shall take uppon him to say for me, uppon any new humor of
kyndnes,--wherof sometime he wilbe replete, uppon the recept of privat
benefite,--you will no more believe it, if it come in other shape, be it
never so much in my commendation--then that his own conscience thoght it
needfull for him to undertake to keep me from any humor of inanity;
when, I, thank God, my greatest adversaries and my owne sowle have ever
acquited me from that, of all other vices. Wold God I were as free from
ofense towards God in seeking for private affection to support a person
whom most religious men do hold _anathema_."

This is probably one of the most crafty letters that even the astute
Cecil ever wrote. He wants James to think badly of Ralegh, and he has no
reason which he can urge for this. He is afraid that James may suspect
his motives. He is afraid that James may hear from others of the
friendship between him and Ralegh, that Ralegh may speak well of him. So
he warns James against this: he hints that Ralegh will speak well of him
only to gain some private benefit, fearing Cecil's inanity or animosity.
Then, lest James should suspect him of such a defect, he hastens to
explain that animosity is quite foreign to his nature. Only men like
Ralegh would suspect him of it. Indeed, his heart is so kind that he
must needs have affection for Ralegh in spite of all, in spite even (and
this is a touch which would go far with the religious James) of the fact
that many godly men consider Ralegh anathema, indeed, little better than
an atheist.

On the surface nothing was changed. Ralegh continued to make efforts to
rouse fresh interest in his colonization schemes, both in Virginia and
in Guiana, but without success. He joined with Cecil in organizing
privateering enterprises. He wrote to Cecil about the threatened
invasion of Ireland by Spain, and warned him on no account to put trust
in the friendly protestations of Florence McCarthy, whom he well knew to
be a rebel. He continued to devote much energy to the duties which his
Governorship of Jersey entailed. And all the while Howard and Cecil were
watching him and planning his destruction. They were waiting for him to
fall into one of the snares which were set for him; it mattered not
whether the decoy was Arabella Stuart or the Infanta and her husband,
the Count Arembergh. Cobham about this time was in communication with
the Count, who was Archduke of the Netherlands, and who desired to make
a peace between England and Spain. James and Cecil too desired peace
with Spain, but did not wish it to come through any other channel but
their own. So they watched Cobham that they might surprise him in an
indiscretion, as they had watched him in his dealings with Arabella
Stuart. And once they held him they could easily lay hands on the friend
who had influenced the poor impressionable fellow to take a traitorous
step. It would be incredible to all that such a man as Cobham was known
to be could have taken such a step on his own initiative.

Failure is the cause of many crimes. While a great financier is
successful, everything is forgotten in the rush to make his acquaintance
and to make money. No one is indiscreet enough to inquire into his
methods. If he should fail to be successful, it fares ill with him. The
rush to leave him is as swift as the previous rush to be near him. His
methods are exposed relentlessly, and men blush with shame to think that
such a scoundrel could have been in their midst. The blush is the token
of innocence (easily paid) to morality. That was recognized to be the
position in all the various projects about the Succession. Whoever
failed became a traitor. Exactly what Ralegh did or did not do, is not
known. It is enough that he eventually got into the power of Cecil. He
failed, that is to say, he was not sufficiently alert to suspect the
intrigues of his friends against him.

The last years of the Queen's reign are as tragic as the last years of
the woman's life. The strength of the country was in a strange way bound
up with the strength of Elizabeth, and as her strength declined so did
the greatness of the country. Never has a woman used her power with such
magnificent results. England was the husband, for whom her life was
lived, and all the greatest men in England lived fiercely to win glory
and her smile of approval; and they strove the harder because within
them was the knowledge (such knowledge was an inspiration) that their
great Queen could also be a beautiful woman to the man who found favour
in her eyes. She lived greatly, and created almost an age of great men
with such puissance did she employ one side of a woman's creative power.
A child is not the only new life which a woman may produce, if she has
once outgrown the little limits of what is miscalled purity. Coarse, as
in many ways the Elizabethan age undoubtedly was, men did not fall into
the fantastic error of confusing celibacy with chastity. The body had
full scope, and in consequence the spirit throve untrammelled.

But Elizabeth was growing old. To the end she kept her grip on life; but
effort was necessary. In that effort alone weakness became apparent.
Strength was used not to plunder life as she had plundered it hitherto,
but to withstand its encroachments. She would not yield. There is
something great and yet something infinitely pathetic, childish even, in
her indomitable will to resist the slow inevitable power of Time.

At last illness, which she had always dreaded with superstitious horror,
and against which she had always defended herself with every charm which
superstition could devise, laid hold on her.

Sir Robert Carey, who was Lord Warden of the Border, came to the Court,
which was then at Richmond, in March, 1603, to see his friends and to
renew his acquaintance. He found the Queen ill-disposed. "I found her in
one of her withdrawing rooms sitting low upon her cushions. She called
me to her. I kissed her hand, and told her, It was my chiefest happiness
to see her in safety and health, which I wished might long continue.

"She took me by the hand, and wrung it hard, and said, 'No, Robin, I am
not well!' and then discoursed with me of her indisposition, and that
her heart had been sad and heavy for ten or twelve days: and in her
discourse, she fetched not so few as forty or fifty great sighs.

"I was grieved at the first to see her in this plight: for in all my
lifetime before, I never knew her fetch a sigh, but when the Queen of
Scots was beheaded.... I used the best words I could to persuade her
from this melancholy humour; but I found by her, it was too deep rooted
in her heart, and hardly to be removed. This was upon a Saturday night:
and she gave command that the Great Closet should be prepared for her to
go to Chapel the next morning."

But they waited in vain for her coming, she was not well enough to
attend the service. From that day her body grew weaker and weaker. She
felt that death was approaching, and grimly she welcomed the approach of
death. With a kind of fierce disdain she refused all food, and she
refused to leave the chair in which she sat waiting. Night and day in
silence she sat staring in front of her, face to face with death. Music
was played to her in the hope that it might dispel the black gloom which
had settled upon her. She did not hear the music. She sat motionless in
her chair staring in front of her, greater than Cleopatra, but without
the solace of the asp's quick kiss. Her eyes had no expression in them
now. Her waiting-women were terrified. Cecil came to her and told her
"to content the people she _must_ go to bed." Then she spoke, saying
that "_must_ was not a word fit to be used to princes;" she dismissed
Cecil from her presence, and as he went away she spoke again. "Little
man, little man," she said, "if your father had lived ye durst not have
said so much, but ye know I must die, and that makes ye so
presumptuous." Lord Admiral Howard, Earl of Nottingham, remained with
her. At last she spoke to him. "My lord, I am tied with a chain of iron
about my neck." He bade her have courage, but she answered in a low
voice, "I am tied, I am tied, and the case is altered with me."

Her waiting women were terrified. The powers of darkness seemed at play
in the Palace at Richmond. Lady Southwell affirms that the queen of
hearts was nailed under the Queen's chair, the nail through the
forehead; "they durst not pull it out remembering that the like thing
was used to the old Countess of Sussex and afterwards proved a
witchcraft for which certain persons were hanged as instruments of the
same." Lady Guildford left the Queen, as she thought, sleeping, but saw
her walking from one room to another; she hurried back, and there she
found the Queen still, as she thought, sleeping. Lady Guildford swore
that it must have been the Queen's ghost which she had seen, while the
Queen was yet living.

At length, after this long vigil of four days and four nights staring in
the face of death, she was constrained to lie down in her bed. But the
tired old woman might not die in peace; while she breathed she was Queen
of England.

"By signs she called for her Council: and by putting her hand to her
head," writes Sir Robert Carey, "when the King of Scots was named to
succeed her, they all knew he was the man she desired should reign after
her." It is easy to see how the astute Cecil would construe the dying
Queen's movements into the right meaning for his own schemes. There is
something fantastic in this solemn farce played round the great Queen's
death-bed, made more fantastic and more terrible by the fact that it
sprang from her own strange detestation of naming a successor. "Being
given over by all and at the last gasp keeping still her sense in
everything and giving apt answers, though she spake but seldom, having
then a sore throat, the council required admittance, and she wished to
wash her throat that she might answer freely to what they demanded which
was to know whom she would have for king. Her throat troubling her much
they desired her to hold up her finger when they named who she liked;
whereupon they named the King of France (this was to try her intellect),
she never stirred; the King of Scotland, she made no sign; then they
named Lord Beauchamp--this was the heir of Seymour ... and words came to
the dying lips, 'I will have--no rascal's son--in my seat--but
one--worthy--to be a king,'" The effort of speech convulsed her: she put
her hands to her head: her head was in pain: and Cecil pointed out how
evident it was that she meant, a crowned king should rule in her stead.
That is the irony of things: the State left: the Church entered.

"About six at night she made signs for the Archbishop, and her Chaplains
to come to her, at which time I went in with them; and sat upon my knees
full of tears to see that heavy sight.

"Her Majesty lay upon her back; with one hand in the bed, and the other

"The Archbishop kneeled down by her, and examined her first of her
faith: and she so punctually answered all his several questions by
lifting up her eyes and holding up her hand, as it was a comfort to all

"Then the good man told her plainly, What she was; and what she was come
to: and though she had been long a great Queen here upon earth, yet
shortly she was to yield an account of her stewardship to the King of

"After this he began to pray: and all that were by did answer him. After
he had continued long in prayer, till the old man's knees were weary, he
blessed her, and meant to rise and leave her.

"The Queen made a sign with her hand.

"My sister Scroope, knowing her meaning, told the Bishop, the Queen
desired he would pray still.

"He did so for a long half-hour after, and then thought to have left
her. The second time she made sign to have him continue in prayer. He
did so for half an hour more, with earnest cries to God for her soul's
health, which he uttered with that fervency of spirit as the Queen, to
all our sight, much rejoiced thereat: and gave testimony to us all of
her Christian and comfortable end. By this time it grew late; and every
one departed: all but her women that attended her."

That evening Queen Elizabeth died.

Every precaution had been taken that the news of her death might not
precede the Council's power of action. Every gate was locked; every
approach was guarded. But Sir Robert Carey, the dead Queen's kinsman,
realized, like many another, that all his means of life were now at the
disposal of the new king, whoever he might be, and so he determined to
be the bearer of the tidings to James of Scotland. He had quietly made
his preparations for the emergency, and his sister, Philadelphia Lady
Scroope, had in her possession a ring which would prove to James that
the news of the Queen's death was authentic. It was necessary to take
every precaution against treachery in such a crisis. How far Cecil knew
of Carey's complicity with James is not certain. Probably James had kept
it secret: he was not apt to trust any man wholly.

Carey found some difficulty in getting away, but he gave money to the
right men and succeeded. Lady Scroope had been unable to give him the
sapphire ring, "but waiting at the window till she saw him at the
outside of the gate she threw it out to him; and he well knew to what
purpose he received it." Efforts were made to detain him, but he managed
to evade them, and next night at ten o'clock he started his great ride
to the north, to bear the tidings to James at Edinburgh. That Thursday
night he rode to Doncaster, which is one hundred and sixty-two miles
from London.

"The Friday night I came to my own house at Widdrington (298 miles), and
presently took order with my Deputies to see the Borders kept in quiet;
which they had much to do; and gave order, the next morning, the King of
Scotland should be proclaimed King of England and at Morpeth and at
Alnwick. Very early on Saturday I took horse for Edinburgh and came to
Norham (331 miles) about twelve at noon. So that I might well have been
with the King at supper time: but I got a great fall by the way, and my
horse, with one of his heels, gave me a great blow on the head that made
me shed much blood. It made me so weak, that I was forced to ride a soft
pace after: so that the King was newly gone to bed by the time I knocked
at the gate."

The King received him immediately and at once asked him, on hearing of
the Queen's death, what message he brought from the Council. Sir Robert
Carey bore no message, but he gave the King the blue ring; and the King
said, "It is enough. I know by this that you are a true messenger."

Every attention was paid to the messenger, worn out by his great ride
and his fall. In four days he recovered and he was sworn one of the
gentlemen of the bedchamber; "and presently I helped to take off his
clothes and stayed till he was in bed.

"After this, there came, daily, Gentlemen and Noblemen from our Court;
and the King set down a fixed day for his departure towards London."

The day fixed was April 5th, 1603.

[Illustration: KING JAMES I.]



     Arrival of James VI. of Scotland--Ralegh in immediate
     disfavour--Gondomar comments on James--Ralegh accused of
     treason--Cobham and Brooke--Ralegh attempts suicide--
     Cobham's retractions--November 17--And the trial's infamy.

Slowly King James moved on his royal progress to London to the
acclamation of the people of all the towns through which he passed. "The
Council of State and the Nobility, no doubt assisted with the Spirit of
Truth, considering the infallible right of our Sovereign Lord, King
James, took such order that the news of the Queen's death should no
sooner be spread to deject the hearts of the people, but, at the
instant, they should be comforted with the Proclaiming of the King." The
people were intoxicated with the prospect of the new king coming
peaceably to reign over the kingdom, for the fear of a civil war had
been imminent and universal. The country burst into a salvo of welcome;
a new era of peace and prosperity was to be inaugurated. Scotland now
joined to England lessened the fear of invasion. "They now began duly to
think upon his unmatched virtues, which never the most malicious enemy
could impeach ... they now considered his affability mercy justice and
magnanimity." The hopes of every party ran high. The Catholics knew that
he was inclined towards friendliness; the Churchmen felt sure that they
who had been chief instigators in bringing him to the throne of
England, could rely upon his support. The Puritans had heard of his
godliness and his tolerance to their views. Each vied with the other in
sounding the praises of the new King. "But our King coming through the
North," writes Mr. Arthur Wilson, "(Banquetting and Feasting by the way)
the applause of the people in so obsequious and submissive a manner
(still admiring change) was checkt by an honest plain Scotsman ... with
a propheticall expression. _This people will spoil a gud King._ The King
as unused, so tired with multitudes, especially in his Huntinge (which
he did as he went) caused an inhibition to be published, to restrain his
people from hunting him. Happily being fearful of so great a concourse,
as this novelty produced, the old hatred betwixt the Borderers not yet
forgotten, might make him apprehend it to be of a greater extent: though
it was generally imputed to a desire of enjoying his recreations without

Few kings have received such a welcome; few kings have proved themselves
so unworthy as the event proved James. But the prestige of his welcome
and his rescue from the Gunpowder Plot hid his true character for many
years from the people under the obscuring cloud of sentiment.

    "Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits
    Sets all to hazard."

Every one connected with the Court and Court appointments hastened to
meet him and win his good will: and James was lavish in his treatment.
He created innumerable knights, and raised so many to the peerage that
"some unhappy fancy pasted up a Pasquil in Pauls, wherein he pretended
an art to help weak memories to a competent knowledge of the names of
the Nobility." Sir Robert Cecil was created Baron of Essingdon and soon
after Viscount Cranborn and Earl of Salisbury. Lord Henry Howard was
made Earl of Northampton.

During the Queen's last illness Ralegh was in Devonshire. Directly he
heard of the news of her death he hastened with Sir Robert Cross to pay
his respects to the new sovereign. Cecil advised him to spare himself
the trouble; but he did not listen to Cecil's advice. He came to the
King at Burghley House, trusting in his power to impress himself
favourably upon the King. But James had been too carefully primed
against him. Old Aubrey's gossip bears the stamp of truth; it is so
characteristic of James, that he should have met the great Ralegh with a
pun upon his name--"I have heard but rawly of thee." Ralegh spoke with
James about business connected with the Duchy of Cornwall; he wanted a
royal letter authorizing the continuance of legal process, and a warrant
to stop "the waste of woods and parks" which he said was due to Lord
Treasurer Buckhurst's heedlessness. James listened, and gave
instructions to his secretary, Sir Thomas Lake, to write the necessary
letters as quickly as possible, that he might be rid of the man whom he
feared and disliked. "Let them be delivered speedily that Ralegh may be
gone again."

James was not slow in compassing Ralegh's downfall. Two weeks passed by
and Ralegh was summoned to the Council Chamber, where the Lord President
informed him that James no longer desired his services as Captain of the
Guard; that the honour had been conferred upon the King's countryman,
Sir Thomas Erskine, to whom Ralegh was bidden to hand all appurtenances
of the office.

Ralegh had increased James's dislike of him by suggesting that articles
should be framed which should prevent the King's countrymen from
devouring the kingdom like locusts. The advisability of such a measure
became manifest to all later, when it was too late. Naturally the first
man to suffer was Ralegh himself. But the indignity was glossed
over--not for Ralegh's sake so much as to hinder unpleasant gossip about
the new appointment--by increasing Ralegh's salary as Governor of Jersey
by three hundred pounds per annum. Ralegh's loss was directly due to
Cecil, to whom James had given the disposal of the office, and who
gained new favour with James by electing a Scotchman. For seven weeks
Ralegh enjoyed the added emolument.

His last interview with James took place at Beddington Park, in Surrey,
which was the seat of his uncle, Sir Nicolas Carew. There Ralegh,
anxious to prove his loyalty to the King, gave him his "Discourse
touching a War with Spain, and of the protecting of the Netherlands,"
and offered to carry on his enterprises against Spain (he always had his
great Guiana scheme in the front of his mind) by offering "to carry two
thousand men to invade him without the King's charge." He could not have
made a more inauspicious suggestion to the timorous James; but Ralegh
did not realize how the King was influenced against him to such an
extent that he would be quick to think that the man who could raise so
many men to fight the Spaniard, could at less expense raise them to
fight his own Majesty. Moreover, James, from no high motives, but merely
from terror at the sight even of a drawn sword, hated war and fighting
of any kind, and distrusted, as is shown by his choice of favourites,
the quality of bravery in others. All Ralegh's grip of a situation, his
clearness of exposition, his courage would be against him in a
conference with James. The standard by which a man was judged had
changed, now that the great Queen was in her grave. The clever Gondomar
summed James up to a nicety when he wrote, without any need (for once)
of diplomacy, "James has a vanity so enormous that, in order to make him
play his adversary's game, you have simply to let James believe that it
is from himself that the adversary has learnt to know how to play." His
favourites were men who were more adroit in the use of poison than in
the use of the sword. It is easy to imagine what were the feelings of
James as Ralegh propounded his masterly exposition of the Spanish
situation, and offered his own services. There would be something
burlesque in this interview between the brave man and the coward, if
absolute power of life and death were not in the hands of the coward,
and if the coward had not already determined to use his power to the
detriment of the brave man.

The carefully planned toils were closing round Ralegh. Copley was
arrested in Sussex, and in consequence of his first examination, which
was dated July 12, George Brooke was arrested two days afterwards, and
orders were given for the arrest of Lord Grey and Sir Griffin Markham.
On the 14th or 15th, Cobham, George Brooke's brother, was examined by
the Council. They were accused of complicity with the "Treason of the
Priests." Now, treason at that time was formidable, and it was necessary
to treat it in a summary fashion. In every nation there must be a large
number of discontented people who would combine if there was a man of
sufficient influence to lead them in any way; very little was known in
spite of spies; man dealt with man; there was no proper way of gauging
public opinion; a spark might set all the disaffected into a dangerous
fire. Now discontent is aired in the newspapers; every one can read
what happens in Parliament. Treason is no longer a thing to dread. But
then it was a constant danger, and the least suspicion of treasonable
practices was sufficient to condemn a man to a death of horrible
ignominy. Justice was swift but not unerring. A man had not only to keep
clear of treason, but must have the wit to avoid even the suspicion. It
is easy to see how the power thus put into the hands of the Government,
though such power was essential to its safety and the welfare of the
citizens, could be abused. And there is probably no instance in history
where its abuse is more conspicuous than in the treatment of Ralegh.
Cecil feared Ralegh; James feared Ralegh. There is nothing so
unscrupulous, nothing so dangerous and so cruel as fear. The world lay
obscured by the dark cloud of Time and of Space; and terrible scope was
given to fear by the insuperable darkness.

The suspected man was shut up alone, and a Bishop or a Judge or a
Councillor was told off to examine him; and the man knew quite well that
his answers might be made more satisfactory by the help of the rack, and
that his examiner would earn reward and distinction by discovering
treason and his associates in treason. The promise, too, of a pardon was
often dangled before his eyes to loosen his tongue. Such promises were
not often kept. Brooke implicated Cobham, and Cobham implicated Ralegh.

George Brooke, Cobham's brother, was a light-hearted fellow, who was
drawn into listening to the priest's conspiracy, because he had been
disappointed of some small office upon which he had set his heart. To
Bishop Bancroft was assigned the task of examining him. Large rewards
were offered the Bishop if he were successful in finding out the
details of the conspiracy. "The only way to procure favour is to open
all that possibly you can" were the words with which the good Bishop
began his inquiry. And gradually he played upon the fears and hopes of
the prisoner to such an extent that the wretched man burst into a kind
of rapture of confession, stating all he knew and all he imagined to be
fact, about the treason against King James. Day after day the
examination was continued relentlessly; statements made by other
prisoners, or said to have been made, were told him; lists of written
questions were given him. It would have taken a man of extraordinary
strength and control to have kept his balance under such circumstances.
George Brooke was a very ordinary man. On July 17 he said: "The
conspirators among themselves thought Sir Walter Ralegh a fit man to be
of the action." The good Bishop did not leave such an important
statement undeveloped; under his careful management the statement by the
end of August had grown; Brooke was ready to swear that Ralegh and
Cobham had resolved to kill the King and his cubs.

Cobham, too, was examined in the same relentless manner. He was a little
stronger than his brother, George Brooke, but no match for the
examiners. He began by steadfastly denying everything; his nerves,
however, could not bear the terrible suspense. He had been suddenly
removed to solitary confinement; the horror of a dreadful death loomed
over him. He did not know who might be arrested, who might desire his
death. At length some of the confessions of his brother were disclosed
to him; but the examiners named Ralegh, not Brooke, as the authority;
and Cobham, knowing that Ralegh must have invented or guessed at such
things, broke into an outcry of disgust (who can blame him!), "Oh
traitor, oh villain! I will now tell you all the truth." And he said
that he had never entered into these courses but by Ralegh's
instigation, and that Ralegh would never let him alone. It was very
cleverly done by the examiner. Cobham was led into confessing, helped by
questions from George Brooke's statements, that "he had conferred with
Arenberg about procuring 500,000 or 600,000 crowns from the King of
Spain; and that nothing should be done with the money until he had
spoken with Sir Walter Ralegh, for distribution of the money to them
which were discontented in England." Then part of a letter from Ralegh
to Cecil--for Cecil knew much of the intercourse between Arenberg and
England in his official capacity--was shown to Cobham, in which it was
written, "If da Renzy were not secured, the matter would not be
discovered, for da Renzy would fly; yet if he were then apprehended, it
would give matter of suspicion to Lord Cobham." Naturally Cobham,
reading such words at the moment when they were shown him, constructed
them into his death sentence, and broke out into fury of denunciation
sufficient for the bad purpose of the examiners--to close the net round
Ralegh. Lord Henry Howard justly remarks in his "Adversaria," "It is an
old observation of jugglers to make others give fire to the piece after
they themselves have charged it, and thereby put them into the peril of
recoil or breaking, if any mischief follow." Lord Henry Howard may be
taken as an authority on this subject.

Immediately after Cobham's outbreak, Ralegh was arrested and sent to the
Tower, to await the slow, strange process of justice. His arrest took
place at the beginning of August. Almost immediately the Government of
Jersey was transferred to Sir John Peyton, Governor of the Tower. James
in his grant stated that the post was forfeited by Sir Walter Ralegh
through the grievous treason against the Crown. With the King thus
quickly convinced of his guilt, Ralegh knew that he had small chance of
proving his innocence. Dismay came upon him and despair. His hopes fell
from a great height and were broken. Suddenly shut closely in by four
stone walls, he was obliged to wait the slow approach of an ignominious
death--a death which would involve the ruin of his family, and the
immediate disgrace of his name. He was a man of action; he could not sit
and do nothing but think. Despair brought madness to him; he tried to
kill himself in a fit of impotent despair. This is the way in which
Cecil, once Ralegh's friend, writes of it. "Although lodged and attended
as well as in his own house, yet one afternoon, while divers of us were
in the Tower examining these prisoners, Sir Walter Ralegh attempted to
have murdered himself. Whereof, when we were advertised, we came to him
and found him in some agony, seeming to be unable to bear his
misfortune, and protesting innocency, with carelessness of life. In that
humour he had wounded himself under the right pap, but no way mortally;
being in truth rather a cut than a stab."

On August 13, Ralegh was examined about Cobham's negotiations with
Arenberg. His statement was: "Lord Cobham offered me 10,000 crowns of
the money, for the furthering of the Peace between England and Spain;
and he said that I should have it within three days. I told him, 'When I
see the money I will make you an answer.' For I thought it one of his
ordinary idle conceits, and therefore made no account thereof. But this
was as I think before Count Arenberg's coming over." And in a letter
written to the Lords of the Council a few days after this examination,
in which he proclaims his innocence of any treasonable practice, he
breaks out, after enumerating his exploits against Spain, in bitterness
at the irony of the charge. "Alas, to what end should we live in the
world if all the endeavours of so many testimonies shall be blown off
with one blast of breath, or be prevented by one man's charge."

Lord Cobham had made several retractions of his outburst against Ralegh,
both at Ralegh's instigation and on his own initiative. Sir George
Harvey, the Governor of the Tower, was discreet enough to keep back the
latter retraction until one month after the trial, when he showed Cecil
a letter in which Cobham wrote of his accusation, "God is my wittness,
it doth troble my contiens." Terror had unhinged Cobham's mind, he
accused Ralegh and retracted his accusations in such a way that one
retraction more or less mattered little; Sir George Harvey's sense of
duty, however, is significant.

The indictment was drawn up at Staines on the 21st of September. Three
months were allowed to elapse before the trial took place. Meanwhile,
Sir Francis Godolphin, High Sheriff of Cornwall, was authorized to take
the muster of the county, "the Commission of Lieutenancy granted to Sir
Walter Ralegh being become void and determined." In October Arenberg
left England for Flanders, overwhelmed with evidence of the King's
favour. The plague was raging in London, and accordingly the trial was
to be held at Winchester. Sir William Waad was ordered to bring Sir
Walter Ralegh to Wolvesey Castle--the episcopal palace of Winchester.
Waad wrote to Cecil, "It was hob or nob whether Ralegh should have been
brought alive through such multitudes of unruly people as did exclaim
against him. We took the best order we could in setting watches through
the streets, both in London and the suburbs. If one hare-brain fellow
amongst so great multitudes had begun to set upon him--as they were very
near to do it--no entreaty or means could have prevailed; the fury and
tumult of the people was so great." Ralegh was driven in his own
carriage; he faced the mob with disdain.

On the 17th of November the trial began; and the after comment of one of
"these my judges" was true: "That trial injured and degraded the justice
of England." The Commissioners were eleven in number: Thomas Howard,
Earl of Suffolk, who had fought with Ralegh at Cadiz; Charles Blount,
Earl of Devonshire; Lord Henry Howard; Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury;
Edward, Lord Wotton of Morley; Sir William Waad; Sir John Stanhope,
Vice-Chamberlain; the Lord Chief Justice of England, Popham; the Lord
Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, Anderson; Mr. Justice Gawdie and Mr.
Justice Warburton. Coke, as Attorney-General, conducted the prosecution,
and was assisted by Serjeant Hale. The Clerk of the Crown Office, having
read the commission of Oyer and Terminer, the prisoner was bidden to
hold up his hand, and then the indictment was read, the gist of which is
as follows:--

That he did conspire and go about to deprive the King of his government,
to raise up sedition within the realm, to alter religion, to bring in
the Roman superstition, and to procure foreign enemies to invade the
kingdom. That the Lord Cobham, the 9th of June last, did meet with the
said Sir Walter Ralegh, in Durham House, and then and there had
conference with him how to advance Arabella Stuart to the crown and
royal throne of this kingdom. And that then and there it was agreed
that Cobham should treat with Arenberg, ambassador from the Archduke of
Austria, to obtain of him 600,000 crowns to bring to pass their intended
treason. It was agreed that Cobham should go to the Archduke Albert to
procure him to advance the pretended title of Arabella. From thence,
knowing that Albert had not sufficient means to maintain his own army in
the Low Countries, Cobham should go to Spain, to procure the king to
assist and further her pretended title. It was agreed, the better to
effect all this conspiracy, that Arabella should write three letters,
one to the Archduke, another to the King of Spain, and a third to the
Duke of Savoy, and promise three things--

    First.--To establish a firm peace between England and Spain.

    Secondly.--To tolerate the popish and Roman superstition.

    Thirdly.--To be ruled by them in contracting of her marriage.

And further, that Cobham and his brother Brooke met on the 9th of June
last, and Cobham told Brooke all these treasons; to the which treasons
Brooke gave his assent and did join himself to all these. And after, on
the Thursday following, Cobham and Brooke did speak these words, _that
there would never be a good world in England till the King_ (meaning our
sovereign lord) _and his cubs_ (meaning the royal issue) _were taken

And the more to disable and deprive the King of his crown, and to
confirm the said Cobham in his intents Ralegh did publish a book falsely
written against the most just and royal title of the King, which book
Cobham after that received of him, and did deliver unto Brooke. And
further by the traitorous instigation of Ralegh, Cobham did incite
Brooke to move Arabella to write to the three forenamed princes to
procure them to advance her title. Further, Cobham, by the instigation
of Ralegh did write letters to the Count Arenberg for the obtaining of
the 600,000 crowns, which money by other letters Count Arenberg did
promise to perform the payment of. And then did Cobham promise to Ralegh
that when he had received the said money he would deliver 8000 crowns to

[Illustration: COUNT ARENBERGH]

To the indictment Sir Walter Ralegh pleaded NOT GUILTY. Sir Walter
Ralegh was then asked whether he would take exception to any of the
jury; and he made answer, "I know none of them; they are all Christians
and honest gentlemen. I except against none." He did not know that the
original jurymen had been changed; he did not know that the names of
three near servants to the Queen Elizabeth had been erased from the
panel overnight, being thought unsuitable for their purpose.

_Earl Suffolk._--You, gentlemen of the King's learned counsel follow the
same course as you did the other day.

_Ralegh._--My lord, I pray you I may answer the points particularly as
they are delivered, by reason of the weakness of my memory and sickness.

_Lord Chief Justice Popham._--After the King's learned counsel have
delivered all the evidence, Sir Walter, you may answer particularly to
what you will.

Then spake the King's Serjeant at Law, by name Hele; of this man Edwards
points out that "he was more notable as a brawler and a buffoon--and
also as a moneylender, in which capacity he hoped to win a very large
stake by the ruin of Lord Cobham--than as a lawyer." The tone of his
short speech may be gathered from this typical sentence at the
conclusion. "It appears that Cobham took Ralegh to be either a god or
an idol. Cobham endeavours to set up a new king, or governor: God forbid
mine eyes should ever see so unhappy a change! As for the Lady Arabella,
she, upon my conscience hath no more title to the crown than I have,
which before God I utterly renounce. Cobham, a man bred in England, hath
no experience abroad; but Ralegh, a man of great wit, military and a
swordman. Now whether these things were bred in a hollow tree, I leave
to them to speak of, who can speak far better than myself."

Sir Edward Coke, the King's Attorney, then rose to his feet. It is well
to remember that it was Coke's business, as the King's Attorney, to
prove Ralegh guilty of treason, and that as he had almost no evidence in
his support, his business was one of extreme difficulty. Cobham's
accusation was his only evidence, and that must be used with caution,
owing to Cobham's retractations. The trial was of the utmost importance;
his professional reputation was at stake; the very difficulty put him on
his mettle. He rose magnificently to the occasion. With such evidence at
his disposal he could not quietly prove Ralegh's guilt. His chief
weapons were the appeal to the jury's loyalty and abuse of the
prisoner--especially abuse, by which he hoped to brow-beat him. His
speech was long and learned. He began by dividing the mischief of
treason into three divisions--imitation, supportation, and defence, and
by enlarging upon the main conspiracy of the priests Watson and Copley,
with which, as Ralegh pointed out, he was in no way connected, even in
the indictment. Undeterred, Coke continued his oration. He gave
instances of treason, he defined treason at length, and then he suddenly
began to praise the character of King James, and, turning angrily to
Ralegh, exclaimed: "To whom Sir Walter did you bear malice? To the royal
children?" To which Ralegh answered: "Master Attorney, I pray you to
whom or to what end speak you all this? I protest I do not understand
what a word of this means, except it be to tell me news. What is the
treason of Markham and the priests to me?"

_Coke._ "I will then come close to you. I will prove you to be the most
notorious traitor that ever came to the bar."

_Ralegh._ "Your words cannot condemn me; my innocency is my defence.
_Prove_ against me any one thing of the many that you have broken, and I
will confess all the Indictment, and that I am the most horrible traitor
that ever lived."

_Coke._ "Nay I will prove all. Thou art a monster; thou hast an English
face, but a Spanish heart."

Then Coke proceeded to give a minute account of Cobham's plots in such a
way that, as Edwards notes, only the most unprejudiced and attentive
listener would fail to be trapped into thinking that he was relating the
plots of Ralegh. The device was clever, but it was unscrupulous. Ralegh,
in spite of his recent imprisonment and his imminent danger, remained
master of himself and of the situation. He withstood Coke's implications
as resolutely as he withstood Coke's abuse. "What is that to me?" he
asked the Court, after Coke had ended his clever recital of Cobham's
practices. "What is that to me? I do not hear yet that you have spoken
one word against _me_. Here is no treason of mine done. If my Lord
Cobham be a traitor, what is that to me?"

At this the King's Attorney broke into savage abuse. "All that he did
was by thy instigation, thou viper; for I _thou_ thee, thou traitor! I
will prove thee the rankest traitor in all England."

But Ralegh was not to be inveigled into losing his presence of mind by
Coke's insults, as Coke, of course, knowing Ralegh's temperament,
intended him to do. Never did Ralegh show greater proof of his power
than at this his trial, when circumstances were pressing most hardly
upon him; he answered--there is the suavity of strength in his
answer--"No, no, Master Attorney, I am no traitor. Whether I live or die
I shall stand as true a subject as ever the King hath. _You_ may call me
a traitor, at your pleasure; yet it becomes not a man of quality or
virtue to do so. But I take comfort in it. It is all that you can do,
for I do not yet hear that you charge me with any treason."

The Lord Chief Justice Popham was here obliged to come to the help of
the King's Attorney, who was finding the case more difficult than he
expected. It was important that the people present, by whom the news of
the trial would be spread through England, should not be impressed in
the prisoner's favour. He said, realizing that Coke's last _coup_ had
been a failure: "Sir Walter Ralegh, Master Attorney speaks out of the
zeal of his duty for the service of the King, and you for your life; be
patient, on both sides."

Then Coke proceeded: "I charge Sir Walter Ralegh with contriving and
conspiring all this that I have recited. And now I will read my proofs
for it." He did so. That is to say, he read the most incriminating of
the confessions which the distraught Lord Cobham had made. While Coke
read this Declaration, there was silence in the hall--certainly a
haunting silence. Then Ralegh spoke. "This is absolutely all the
evidence that can be brought against me. But now I beseech you, hear
me. I was examined at Windsor touching the Surprising Treason; next of
plotting for Arabella; thirdly of practices with the Lord Cobham. From
all which God knows I was free, for I never was privy to any of them. It
is true that I suspected that the Lord Cobham kept intelligence with
D'Arenberg. For I knew that long since--in the late Queen's time--he
held that course with him in the Low Countries, as was well known to my
Lord Treasurer, and to my Lord Cecil. La Renzi being a man also well
known to me, I, seeing him and the Lord Cobham together, thought that
was the time they both had been to Count D'Arenberg. I gave intimation
thereof. But I was willed by my Lord Cecil not to speak of this; because
the King, at the first coming of D'Arenbergh, would not give him
occasion of suspicion. Wherefore I wrote to the Lord Cecil that if La
Renzi were not taken, the matter would not be discovered. Yet if he were
then apprehended, it would give matter of suspicion to the Lord Cobham.
This letter of mine being presently showed to the Lord Cobham, he
presently entered into a rage against me and spake bitterly and
railingly of me; yet ere he came to the stairs'-foot, he repented him,
and, as I heard, acknowledged that he had done me wrong."

Ralegh paused: up till now he had been speaking to the Court and to the
jury, quietly replying to the charges that had been brought against him.
Now he turned to Sir Edward Coke, the King's Attorney, and made this
speech, magnificent in its effect even in the version of the reporter,
even after more than three hundred years, now when no one feels anything
but great friendliness towards Spain; you can see the man draw himself
up to his full height, the man who had risked his life for his
country--Spain's most dreadful enemy, as he faced the attorney whose
business it was to brow-beat him to ruin.

"Master Attorney, whether to favour or to disable my Lord Cobham you
speak as you will of him; yet he is not such a babe as you make him. He
hath dispositions of such violence, which his best friends could never
temper. But it is very strange that I, at this time, should be thought
to plot with the Lord Cobham knowing him a man that hath neither love
nor following; and myself, at this time having resigned a place of my
best command, in an office I had in Cornwall. I was not so bare of sense
but I saw that, if even this State was strong, it was now that we have
the kingdom of Scotland united whence we were wont to fear all our
troubles; Ireland quieted where our forces were wont to be divided;
Denmark assured whom before we were always wont to have in jealousy; the
Low Countries our nearest neighbours. And, instead of a Lady whom Time
had surprised, we had now an active King who would be present at his own
businesses. For me at this time to make myself a Robin Hood, a Watt
Tyler, a Kett, or a Jack Cade! I was not so mad! I knew the state of
Spain well--his weakness, his poorness, his humbleness at this time. I
knew that six times we had repulsed his forces: thrice in Ireland,
thrice at sea--once upon our coast, twice upon his own. Thrice had I
served against him myself at sea, wherein for my Country's sake, I had
expended of my own property forty thousand marks. I knew that where
beforetime he was wont to have forty great sails, at the least, in his
ports, now he hath not past six or seven. But for sending to his Indies,
he was driven to have strange vessels--a thing contrary to the
institutions of his ancestors who straitly forbade that, even in case
of necessity, they should make their necessity known to strangers. I
knew that of twenty-five millions which he had from his Indies, he had
scarce any left. Nay, I knew his poorness to be such at this time, as
that the Jesuits, his imps, begged at his church-doors; his pride so
abated that, notwithstanding his former high terms, he was become glad
to congratulate His Majesty and send unto him. Whoso knew what great
assurances he stood upon with other States, for smaller sums, would not
think he would so freely disburse to my Lord Cobham six hundred thousand
crowns! And, if I had minded to set my Lord Cobham awork in such a case,
I would have given him some instructions how to persuade the King. For I
knew Cobham no such minion that could persuade a King that was in want
to disburse so great a sum, without great reason and some assurance for
his money. I knew the Queen of England lent not her money to the States,
but she had Flushing, Brill, and other towns, in assurance for it. She
lent not money to the King of France without she had Newhaven for it.
Nay, her own subjects, the merchants of London, did not lend her money,
without they had their lands to pawn for it. And to show I am not
Spanish--as you term me--at this time I had writ a treatise to the
King's Majesty of the present state of Spain, and reasons against the

So spake Sir Walter Ralegh, summing up the whole question of policy
which was occupying the minds of all men, and drawing attention to the
great part which he had played in gaining naval supremacy for England.

He then went on to explain that the business which had brought him of
late years so much in Cobham's company was of a private nature,
concerning the improvement of Cobham's estate, and the purchase of a
fee-farm from the Duke of Lennox. He showed that Cobham was a wealthy
and prosperous man, not one who could easily be moulded to treason from
despair at his poverty.

Then another examination of Cobham was read, in which a second time he
had exclaimed, "O wretch, O traitor." The trickery is absurdly patent.
It resembles a game of chess in which one player as often as his black
queen is taken, hastily substitutes another black queen in its place. At
this juncture the foreman of the jury, Sir Thomas Fowler, was
ill-advised enough to ask a simple question. "I desire to understand of
the Court the time of Sir Walter Ralegh's first letter, and of the Lord
Cobham's accusation." The Court looked at him in amazement, and Lord
Cecil rose to his feet and immediately began a long and cunning speech.
"I am divided in myself and at great dispute what to say of this
gentleman at the bar. For it is impossible, be the obligations never so
great, but the affections of nature and love will show themselves. A
former dearness betwixt me and this gentleman tied upon the knot of his
virtues, though slacked since by his actions, I cannot but acknowledge;
and the most of you know it." The speech was cunning and involved. He
made no mention of time; he harped upon his personal sorrow in being
obliged to speak against a man whom he once loved; his personal loyalty,
which was stronger than his affection had ever been, alone compelled
him. Two dates were all that were wanted; they could not be given. So
Cecil gave vent to his sorrow. Hypocrisy could go no further.

Directly that Lord Cecil had finished, Sir Edward Coke, the King's
Attorney, continued his accusation, trying to turn Ralegh's great
outburst about the state of Spain to Ralegh's disadvantage, trying to
prove it only another instance of his treachery. "Methinks it would have
been better for you to have stayed in Guiana than to be so well
acquainted with the state of Spain. As to the six overthrows of the King
of Spain, I answer 'he hath the more malice' because repulses breed
desire of revenge. As for you writing against the Peace with Spain, you
sought but to cloak a Spanish traitor's heart," and more to the same

When he had finished Ralegh rose to make his last claim on justice. "My
lords," he said, "I claim to have my accuser brought here to speak face
to face. Though I know not how to make my best defence by law, yet,
since I was a prisoner, I have learned that by the Law and Statutes of
this realm in case of treason a man ought to be convicted by the
testimony of two witnesses. I will not take upon me to defend the matter
upon the Statute of the twenty-fifth of Edward the Third, though that
requires an overt act. But remember I beseech your Lordships, the
Statute of the first of Edward the Sixth which saith: 'No man shall be
condemned of treason, unless he be accused by two lawful accusers.' And
by the Statute of the fifth and sixth of Edward the Sixth, those
accusers must be brought in person before the party accused, at his
arraignment if living!" He continued to instance other laws; he pointed
out that Cobham was not only living but in the same town, in the same
palace. He called to mind the case of Fortescue, who had condemned a
woman to death on the witness of one man for the murder of her husband,
and who could never forgive himself for the injustice when the servant
of the man confessed at length to the murder. He drew instances from the
Bible, and the Canon of God, and concluded with this appeal for
justice: "If then by the Statute Law, by the Civil Law and by God's
Word, it be required that there be two witnesses, at the least, bear
with me if I desire one. Prove me guilty of these things by one witness
only, and I will confess the Indictment, I stand not upon the niceties
of the law. If I have done these things I deserve not to live; whether
they be treasons by the law or no. I beseech you then, my Lords, let
Cobham be sent for. Let him be charged upon his soul, upon his
allegiance to the King; and if he will then maintain his accusation to
my face, I will confess myself guilty." The Court were at first taken
aback by this unexpected knowledge of the law, but not for long. The
Lord Chief Justice Popham, who played the strange triple part of
assistant in the examination, of witness for the prosecution, and of
presiding judge, explained that such a course was quite out of the
question. "The statutes you speak of in cases of treason were found to
be inconvenient and were taken away by another law. Those of Edward the
Sixth are general, but were repealed by the first and second of Philip
and Mary, which you have mentioned, which Statute goes only to the
treasons therein comprised, and also appoints the trial of treasons to
be as before it was at the Common Law. Now the twenty-fifth of Edward
the Third makes declaration what the Common Law was. All is now
therefore put to the Common Law. And by the Common Law one witness is
sufficient and the accusation of confederates or the confession of
others is full proof." And Mr. Justice Warburton went one further in
making this point strong for the prosecution; he added the personal
touch of insult, which is characteristic of the trial. "I marvel, Sir
Walter," he said, "that you, being of such experience and wit, should
stand on this point. For many horse-stealers should escape, if they may
not be condemned without witnesses. By law a man may be condemned upon
presumption and circumstances without any witness to the main fact. As,
if the King, whom God defend, should be slain in his chamber and one be
shown to have come forth of the chamber with his sword drawn and bloody.
Were not this evidence both in law and opinion, without further

The point was discussed at some length, and then it became time again to
bring forward accusations of Cobham, which were accordingly read; this
time also depositions of Copley, Watson, and George Brooke were also
read to the effect that somebody had heard from somebody else how Cobham
and Ralegh stood for the Spanish faction. Again Ralegh pointed out that
this had nothing to do with his charge, and again asked, "Good, my
Lords, let my accuser come face to face and be deposed." But that was
not permitted.

_Coke._ "Now let us come to the words of destroying of the 'King and his

_Ralegh._ "O barbarous! if they like unnatural vilains spoke such words,
shall I be charged with them? I will not hear it! I was never false to
the Crown of England. I have spent £40,000 of mine own against the
Spanish faction for the good of my country. Do you bring the words of
those hellish spiders Clarke, Watson, and others against me?"

_Coke._ "Thou hast a Spanish heart and thyself art a spider of hell. For
thou confessest the King to be a most sweet and gracious prince, and yet
thou hast conspired against him."

The reading of Cobham's examination was continued, wherein Cobham said
he had a book "written against the title of the king which he had of
Ralegh, and that he gave it to his brother Brooke, and Ralegh said it
was foolishly written.

_Coke._ "After the king came within twelve miles of London, Cobham never
came to see him; and intended to travel without seeing the queen and the
prince. Now in this discontentment you gave him the book, and he gave it
his brother."

_Ralegh._ "I never gave it him, he took it off my table. For I well
remember a little before that time I received a challenge from Sir Amias
Preston, and for that I did intend to answer it, I resolved to leave my
estate settled, therefore laid out all my loose papers, among which was
this book."

_Ld. Howard._ "Where had you this book?"

_Ralegh._ "In the old Lord-Treasurer's study, after his death."

_Cecil._ "Did you ever show or make known the book to me?"

_Ralegh._ "No, my lord."

_Cecil._ "Was it one of the books which was left to me or my brother?"

_Ralegh._ "I took it out of the study in my Lord-Treasurer's house in
the Strand."

Then Cecil explained that after his father's death Ralegh was allowed to
search in the library for cosmo-graphical descriptions of the Indies.
Again he referred to his great love for Ralegh, and said he thought it a
little unkindly done on Sir Walter's part to remove the book without his
knowledge. It was a book in manuscript on which the Lord-Treasurer had
written, "_This is the book of Robert Snagg_." Brooke burned it; the
most was made of this incident.

Popham asked, "Wherefore should this book be burnt?"

_Ralegh._ "I burned it not."

_Serjeant Philips._ "You presented your friend with it when he was
discontented. If it had been before the queen's death it had been a less
matter, but you gave it him presently when he came from the king, which
was the time of his discontentment."

_Ralegh._ "Here is a book supposed to be treasonable; I never read it,
commended it, or delivered it, nor urged it."

_Coke._ "Why, this is cunning."

_Ralegh._ "Everything that doth make for me is cunning, and everything
that maketh against me is probable."

_The point was then raised_ about Captain Keymis, who had been
rigorously examined. He was well known to be friendly to Ralegh. He
proved, however, a faithful friend. Cobham said that Keymis came to him
with a letter torn. But of this nothing came; Keymis had been too
staunch to add anything to the truth, and the matter was dropped. More
testimony of Cobham was then read concerning letters to Arabella, and
again Ralegh insisted on Cobham's presence. "Let me speak for my life,"
cried Ralegh; "it can be no hurt for him to be brought; he dares not
accuse me. If you grant me not this favour, I am strangely used. Campian
was not denied to have his accusers face to face."

_Popham._ "Since he must needs have justice, the acquitting of his old
friend may move him to speak otherwise than the truth."

_Ralegh._ "If I had been the infuser of all these treasons into him--you
Gentlemen of the Jury, mark this, he said I have been the cause of all
his miseries, and the destruction of his house, and that all evil hath
happened unto him by my wicked counsel--if this be true, whom hath he
cause to accuse and to be revenged on, but on me? And I know him to be
as revengeful as any man on earth."

_Coke._ "He is a party, and may not come; the law is against it."

_Ralegh._ "It is a toy to tell me of law; I defy such law, I stand on
the fact."

_Cecil._ "I am afraid my often speaking (who am inferior to my lords
here present) will make the world think I delight to hear myself talk.
My affection to you, Sir Walter Ralegh, was not extinguished but slaked
in regard of your deserts. You know the law of the realm (to which your
mind doth not contest) that my Lord Cobham cannot be brought." The
King's Attorney, Sir Edward Coke, took up the thread of his
much-interrupted discourse, and this time he brought forward a witness,
one Dyer, a pilot. Dyer was accordingly sworn, and delivered this
evidence: "I came to a merchant's house in Lisbon to see a boy that I
had there, there came a gentleman into the house, and enquiring what
countryman I was, I said, an Englishman. Whereupon he asked me if the
King was crowned. And I answered, no, but that I hoped he should be so
shortly. Nay, saith he, he shall never be crowned; for Don Ralegh and
Don Cobham will cut his throat ere that day come."

Ralegh naturally asked, "What infer you from this?" And the King's
Attorney answered him, "That your treason hath wings." Ralegh had a
convincing reply, "Why did they name the Duke of Buckingham with Jack
Straw's treason, and the Duke of York with Jack Cade, but that it was to
countenance his treason?"

The King's Attorney was worsted in this point; and accordingly Serjeant
Philips came to his assistance by repeating, as usual, the gist of
Cobham's accusations. To which Ralegh answered, "If truth be constant
and constancy be in truth, why hath he forsworn that that he hath said?
You have not proved any one thing against me by direct proofs, but all
by circumstances."

Coke was becoming more and more impatient. "Have you done?" he cried.
"The King must have the last."

_Ralegh._ "Nay, Master Attorney, he which speaketh for his life must
speak last. False repetitions and mistakings must not mar my cause."

_Coke._ "The King's safety and your clearing cannot agree. I protest
before God, I never knew a clearer treason."

The Attorney's impatience grew so much that, in the words of one report,
he sat down in a chafe and would speak no more, until the commissioners
urged and entreated him. After much ado he went on, and made a long
repetition of all the evidence; and at the repeating of some things Sir
Walter Ralegh interrupted him, and said he did him wrong.

_Coke._ "Thou art the most vile and execrable traitor that ever lived."

_Ralegh._ "You speak indiscreetly, barbarously and uncivilly."

_Coke._ "I want words sufficient to express thy viperous treasons."

_Ralegh._ "I think you want words indeed, for you have spoken one thing
half a dozen times."

_Coke._ "Thou art an odious fellow; thy name is hateful to all the realm
of England for thy pride."

_Ralegh._ "It will go near to prove a measuring cast between you and me,
Master Attorney."

_Coke._ "Well, I will now make it appear to the world that there never
lived a viler viper upon the face of the world than thou." And he
proceeded to work up his speech to his last chief point of all--that was
the production of a letter from Cobham, which he read. He interspersed
his reading with exclamations of triumph. "I have thought fit to set
down this to My Lords, wherein I protest on my soul to write nothing but
the truth. I am now come near the period of my time, therefore I confess
the whole truth before God and his angels. Ralegh, four days before I
came from the Tower, caused an apple (Eve's apple, cried out the King's
Attorney) to be thrown in at my chamber window; the effect of it was to
entreat me to right the wrong I had done him, in saying, that I should
have come home by Jersey, which under my hand to him I have
retracted.... At Aremberg's coming Ralegh was to have procured a pension
of £1500 a year, for which he promised, that no action should be against
Spain, the Low Countries, or the Indies, but he would give knowledge
beforehand. (Ah! is not this a Spanish heart in an English body?) He
hath also been the cause of my discontentment; he advised me not to be
overtaken with preachers, as Essex was; and that the king would better
allow of a constant denial, than to accuse any."

"Oh! damnable atheist!" cried Coke. "He counsels him not to be
counselled by preachers as Essex was; he died the child of God. God
honoured him at his death."

_Ralegh._ "You have heard a strange tale of a strange man. Now he thinks
he hath matter enough to destroy me; but the king and all of you shall
witness, by our deaths, which of us was the ruin of the other. I bid a
poor fellow throw in the letter at his window, written to this purpose:
You know you have undone me, now write three lines to justify me. In
this will I die that he hath done me wrong."

Then Ralegh pulled a letter out of his pocket, which the Lord Cobham had
written to him, and desired my Lord Cecil to read it because he only
knew his hand. Cecil read the letter. "Seeing myself so near my end, for
the discharge of my own conscience, and freeing myself from your blood,
which also will cry vengeance against me, I protest upon my salvation I
never practised with Spain upon your procurement: God so comfort me in
this my affliction, as you are a true subject, for anything that I know.
I will say as Daniel, _Purus sum a sanguine hujus_. So God have mercy
upon my soul, as I know no treason by you!"

"Now I wonder," said Ralegh, "how many souls this man hath; he damns one
in this letter: another in that."

Such were Ralegh's last recorded words before the verdict was given. He
had said all that was to be said. He had stood his ground undismayed for
many hours, though the chief men in England and the cleverest lawyers in
England were set against him. He must gradually have realized that all
were resolute to condemn him: he must gradually have realized that all
his efforts were futile against such malignant opposition.

The King's Attorney alleged that the last letter was politicly and
cunningly urged from the Lord Cobham, and the first was simply the
truth. The Earl of Devonshire assured the Lord Chief Justice that Cobham
had written the first letter of his own free will, uninfluenced by any
hope or promise of pardon. A marshal was sworn to keep the jury private.
The jury retired. In less than a quarter of an hour the jury returned
and gave their verdict. The verdict was _GUILTY_. "Sir Walter Ralegh,"
said the Clerk of the Crown, "thou hast been indicted, arraigned, and
pleaded _not guilty_, for all these several treasons and for trial
thereof hast put thyself upon thy country, which country are these who
have found thee guilty. What canst thou say for thyself why judgment and
execution of death should not pass against thee?"

And Ralegh, now doomed, made answer, "My Lords, the jury have found me
guilty, they must do as they are directed. I can say nothing why
judgment should not proceed. You see whereof Cobham hath accused me: you
remember his protestations that I was never guilty...." And later he
said, "I submit myself to the king's mercy. I know his mercy is greater
than my offence. I recommend my wife, and son of tender years,
unbrought-up, to his compassion."

And then the Lord Chief Justice Popham rose to deliver judgment, which
he prefaced by a pompous and insulting speech. "I thought I should never
have seen this day, to have stood in this place to give sentence of
death against you; because I thought it impossible that one of so great
parts should have fallen so grievously. God hath bestowed on you many
benefits. You had been a man fit and able to have served the king in
good place--you have brought yourself into a good state of living.... It
is best for man not to seek to climb too high, lest he fall; nor yet to
creep too low lest he be trodden on....

"You have been taxed by the world with the defence of the most
heathenish and blasphemous opinions; which I list not to repeat because
Christian ears cannot endure to hear them, nor the authors and
maintainers of them be suffered to live in any Christian
commonwealth.... You shall do well before you go out of the world, to
give satisfaction therein, and not to die with these imputations on you.
Let not any devil persuade you to think there is no eternity in heaven.
For if you think thus you shall find eternity in hell-fire. In the first
accusation of my Lord Cobham I observed his manner of speaking: I
protest before the living God I am persuaded he spoke nothing but the
truth! You wrote that he should not in any case confess anything to a
preacher, telling him an example of my Lord Essex, that noble Earl that
is gone. Who if he had not been carried away with others had lived in
honour to this day among us. He confessed his offences, and obtained
mercy of the Lord; for I am verily persuaded in my heart he died a
worthy servant of God. Your conceit of not confessing anything is very
inhuman and wicked. In this world is the time of confessing that we may
be absolved at the day of judgment. You have shewed a fearful sign of
denying God in advising a man not to confess the truth. It now comes in
my mind why you may not have your accuser come face to face; for such an
one is easily brought to retract, when he seeth there is no hope of his
own life. It is dangerous that any traitors should have access to or
conference with, one another. When they see themselves must die, they
will think it best to have their fellow live that he may commit the like
treason again, and so in some sort seek revenge.

"Now it resteth to pronounce the judgment which I wish you had not been
this day to have received of me.

"For if the fear of God in you had been answerable to your other great
parts you might have lived to have been a singular good subject. I never
saw the like trial, and hope I shall never see the like again.

"But since you have been found guilty of these horrible treasons, the
judgment of this court is, that you shall be had from hence to the place
whence you came, there to remain until the day of execution; and from
thence you shall be drawn upon an hurdle through the open streets to the
place of execution, there to be hanged and cut down alive; and your body
shall be opened, your heart and bowels plucked out, and your privy
members cut off, and thrown into the fire before your eyes; then your
head to be stricken off from your body, and your body shall be divided
into four quarters, to be disposed of at the King's pleasure; and God
have mercy upon your soul!"



     Comments on Ralegh's fall--In the prison at Winchester--Ralegh
     begs mercy--His attitude explained--The King's own farce--
     Ralegh removed to London.

So ended the worst and greatest day of Ralegh's life. The Lord Cecil was
victorious. Ralegh was overthrown. But from despair so poignant that
reason yielded to its sway and he was driven to attempt madly to make
away with himself, he had risen to make a defence so admirable against
his accusers that men who heard and saw him at the trial, heard him with
wonder and watched him with astonishment. And well they might. The man
whose judgment had saved the situation at Cadiz from the reckless
inexperience of Essex, whose patience and courage had taken an
expedition far up the dangerous unknown rivers to Guiana, whose insight
had discovered the poet Spenser and made him known to the world, showed
the same insight and courage and patience and judgment at this trial
when he was standing for his life against the combined assault of the
cleverest brains in England, combined by the hope of future favours from
a new King to work his overthrow. When one tired or stumbled, another
was prompt to take his place; but always Ralegh remained alert and ready
and steadfast--alone.

Sir Dudley Carleton was present at the trial and wrote an account of it
to his friend, Mr. John Chamberlain. Carleton was at that time Secretary
to the Earl of Northumberland. This is how he describes Ralegh's
demeanour. "He answered with that temper, wit, learning, courage and
judgment that save it went with the hazard of his life, it was the
happiest day that ever he spent. And so well he shifted all advantages
that were taken against him, that were not _fama malum gravius quam
res_, and an ill-name half hanged, in the opinion of all men, he had
been acquitted."

Carleton proceeds to tell his friend of two others who were present and
who were the first to bring the news of the trial to the King at Wilton.
One was Roger Ashton. He said that never any one spoke so well in times
past nor would do in the world to come. The other was a Scotchman. He
said that whereas when he saw Ralegh first, he was so led with the
common hatred that he would have gone a hundred miles to have seen him
hanged, he would ere he parted, have gone a thousand to have saved his
life. And Carleton comments on this aptly enough: "In one word never was
a man so hated and so popular in so short a time."

Dudley Carleton was quite right in saying an "ill name is half hanged."
The trial was the merest farce. The judges were determined that Ralegh
must be condemned, as soon as Ralegh was arrested. They knew that such
was the King's will: and Ralegh's condemnation had become the King's
will owing to the astute management of Cecil. There were many reasons
for Cecil's line of action. Both James and he knew that there must be a
large number of people in England disaffected to the new sovereign. It
was advisable to open the reign by an illustrious example. Ralegh was a
powerful man, whose powers Cecil knew and feared. Moreover, Ralegh had
original ideas about government which fitted ill with Cecil's conception
of himself as the chief man in England under an absolute King. So Cecil
for a long time had been playing upon the King's fears, knowing well the
King's timorous nature. And then, when the time came, he showed his zeal
for the King by delivering Ralegh into his power. His known intimacy
with Ralegh, upon which he took every opportunity of harping at the
trial and elsewhere, would lend bright colour to his loyalty to the

The judges are as little to blame as the system of which they were a
part is much to blame. Here was Ralegh, whom Cecil, his friend and the
first man in England, thought guilty of treason, just at a crucial
moment in the history of the nation, when a new King was coming to the
throne from another country. Naturally they would do their utmost to
show their loyalty. The very vagueness and mystery of the charge
increased their anxiety to condemn him. Fear, too, played a prominent
part. Which of them could tell, if he showed any clemency to the
prisoner, whether it would not be his turn to be charged next for
complicity with the traitor? So they vied with one another in eagerness
to crush Ralegh. Cecil was well aware of this; he had made his
arrangements with infinite precaution. He was the first man in England,
partly because he was his father's son, but chiefly because of his
astuteness. His astuteness touched genius.

Ralegh was undoubtedly innocent of conspiring against King James. But
that he received money from foreign powers is probable, and so laid
himself open to the charge of treason. It is easy to exclaim against him
for this. But to do so is an error of judgment. It was a common practice
of the time. All the chief men in England were in the pay of some
foreign prince. It was part of an ambassador's duty to spend money in
this way; the custom resembles the custom, prevalent in commerce, of
giving presents to customers at Christmas. Lord Cecil is known to have
received money from Spain during all the years that he held office. The
custom has fallen into abeyance, not so much from the development of
morality, as from the improvements that have come about in the means of
travelling and communication. By knowledge man advances.

Ralegh was marked down by Cecil, and Ralegh fell. He knew that his
career was at an end, as he passed from the palace at Winchester to the
castle. His last request had been that his death might not be an
ignominious one. His life was filled with great schemes of absorbing
interest; he was at the height of his great powers. He had felt them in
full play as he withstood the charges. Nothing availed him any more. As
he sat in the prison-room of the castle awaiting the news and manner of
his death, a sudden furious passion to continue the life, over which he
had such mastery, seized and took possession of him. He must live. At
any cost he must live. There was so much that he had not yet done. The
immense vitality of the man rose within him and tortured him by its
resistless strength. He must make one last effort for life; and his wife
and child--they would be poor and shamed. He was famous throughout
England for his pride. Pride and vitality fought within him. For now his
only hope of reprieve lay in the King's mercy, and James liked the
consciousness of power that comes from a great man's supplication.
Vitality conquered. He supplicated the King for his life. He, who had
dared death in all death's guises, could not wait for death to come
slowly while still there remained one chance of life. The spirit of
life was too strong in him for that.

His letters to the King do not, as many have said, point to meanness of
spirit; they bear witness to the indomitable vitality, which was his
characteristic, and which would not allow him to rest. Be sure he knew,
with that amazing intellect, well enough the stress of his future life;
he knew well enough that it was no great boon for which he pleaded. His
youth was gone; his possessions had been taken away; his name was
sullied. He knew that the four walls of a prison would be his probable
horizon, he who desired to explore new countries. But the spirit of
life, which made him a great man, mastered him and forced him now to
plead for his life like a little man, which he could never be. "No
poltroon could have begged for life more abjectly than he did." So they
write of him. But his letters sound the deep note of tragedy. They do
not make Ralegh's name odious, but they stigmatize the name of the King
for whose benefit they could be composed and upon whom they could take
effect. Ralegh at last knew the man with whom he was dealing for his
life, and he brought all his power of intellect to bear upon making use
of the knowledge in this his ultimate emergency.

"I do therefore most humblie beseich my soverayne Lord not to beleve any
of thos, in my particuler, who under pretence of offences to kings, doe
easily work their particuler revenges. I trust that no man (under the
culler of making examples) shall perswade your Majesty to leve the word
'mercifull' out of your stile; for it will noe less profite your
Majesty; and becume your gretnes, than the word 'invincibell'.... I do
therefore, on the knees of my hart, beseich your Majesty to take
councell from your own sweet and mercifull disposition and to remember
that I have loved your Majesty now twenty yeares for which your Majestie
hath yett geven me no reward. And it is fitter that I should be indebted
to my soverayne Lord, then the King to his poore vassall. Save me,
therefore, most mercifull Prince, that I may owe your Majesty my life
itt sealf; then which ther cannot be a greter dett. Lend it me att lest,
my soverayne Lord that I may pay it agayne for your service when your
Majesty shall pleas."

Slowly time passed, and little by little all hope of reprieve died in
him. The spirit of life was, as it were, appeased at this his
effort--this supplication--and allowed him rest. He wrote farewell to
his wife.

    "You shall receave, dear wief, my last words in these my last
    lynes. My love I send you, that you may keepe it when I am
    dead; and my councell, that you may remember it when I am noe
    more. I would not with my last will present you with sorrowes,
    deare Bess. Lett them goe to the grave with and be buried in
    the dust. And seeing it is not the will of God that ever I
    shall see you in this lief, beare my destruccion gentlie, and
    with a hart like yourself.

    "First I send you all the thanks my hart cann conceive, or my
    penn expresse, for your many troubles and cares taken for me,
    which--though they may have not taken effect as you wished--yet
    my debt is to you never the lesse; and paye it I never shall in
    this world.

    "Secondlie, I beseich you, for the love you beare me living,
    that you doe not hide yourself many dayes, but by your travell
    seeke to help your miserable fortunes and the right of your
    poore childe. Your mourning cannot avayle me that am but

    "To what frind to direct thee I knowe not, for all mine have
    left mee in the true tyme of triall: and I plainly perceive
    that my death was determyned from the first day.... But God
    hath prevented all my determinations; the great God that
    worketh all in all. If you can live free from want, care for no
    more; for the rest is but vanity. Love God and beginne betymes
    to repose yourself on Him; therein shall you find true and
    lastinge ritches, and endles comfort. For the rest when you
    have travelled and wearied your thoughts on all sorts of
    worldly cogitacions, you shall sit downe by Sorrow in the

    "When I am gonne no doubt you shalbe sought unto by many, for
    the world thinks that I was very ritch; but take heed of the
    pretences of men and of their affections; for they last but in
    honest and worthy men.... I speak it (God knowes) not to
    disswad you from marriage,--for that wilbe best for you--both
    in respect of God and the world. As for me I am no more your's
    nor you myne. Death hath cutt us asunder; and God hath devided
    me from the world, and you from me.... And know itt (deare
    wief) that your sonne is the childe of a true man, and who, in
    his own respect, despiseth Death, and all his misshapen and
    ouglie forms.

    "I cannot wright much, God knowes howe hardlie I stole this
    tyme when all sleep; and it is tyme to separate my thoughts
    from the world.... I can wright noe more. Tyme and Death call
    me awaye.... My true wief, farewell. Blesse my poore boye, pray
    for me. My true God hold you both in His armes.

    "Written with the dyeing hand of sometime thy husband, but now
    (alasse!) overthrowne.

                        "Your's that was; but nowe not my owne
                                                       "W. RALEGH"

It is sad to remember how the thought of some passages in this letter
resembles those in the letter which he had written not quite seven years
before to Lord Cecil on the death of his wife. "I believe it," he wrote
then, "that sorrows are dangerous companions, converting badd unto
yevill and yevill in worse, and do no other service then multeply

The first week of December slowly approached. No hope came to the
prisoner. But underneath the windows carpenters began to set up a
scaffold: he was able to watch them at their work. Then he saw the two
priests, Watson and Clarke, led to execution. They were very bloodily
handled, writes an eye-witness; the same Carleton, who had written of
the trial, for they were both cut down alive. He may have heard Clarke's
wild-shouted words after he had been cut down. He saw Brooke beheaded.
When it would be his own turn, he was still ignorant.

At last the Bishop of Winchester came to him, at the King's express
order. The Bishop found Ralegh well settled for his conscience and
resolved to die a Christian: but resolute in the assurance of his
innocence. He would not yield to Cobham's accusations. The Bishop left
him. Through the rain that was quietly falling Ralegh saw from his
window on Friday morning Markham brought to the scaffold. He watched him
take leave of his friends, watched him at his last devotions. While he
was making ready for the executioner, the Sheriff was drawn aside: a man
was whispering--one John Gib, a Scotchman. The execution was stayed.
Markham was led away from the scaffold, and locked into the great hall
of the castle. Ralegh must have wondered. Then he watched Lord Grey
mount the scaffold, escorted by a troop of young courtiers. He had such
gaiety and cheer in his countenance that he seemed a dapper young
bridegroom. He, too, said farewell to his friends, made confession to
his God, and prepared himself for the executioner. The Sheriff again
came forward. He said it was the King's will for Cobham to die first.
Lord Grey was led away to the great hall of the castle. Cobham was
brought on to the scaffold. "The Lord Cobham, who was now to play his
part (writes the same eye-witness), and by his former actions promised
nothing but _matiere pour rire_, did much cozen the world; for he came
to the scaffold with good assurance and contempt of death." Again, just
as he was about to lay his head on the block, the Sheriff came forward
and stopped the execution. Grey and Markham were brought from the great
hall of the castle back once more to the scaffold. Ralegh, at his
window, must have wondered more than ever.

On the scaffold the Sheriff harangued the three men on the heinousness
of their crimes, while the rain continued to fall: and he at last
brought his harangue to an end with the words, "Now see the mercy of
your prince, who, of himself hath sent hither a countermand and given
you your lives."

The shouts of applause that greeted the unexpected finish, must have
revealed the meaning of the strange scene to Ralegh. The shouting was
taken up all through the town. Men loudly rejoiced in the clemency of
the new King.

So weak men in authority love to display their power. James had
carefully arranged this trivial cat's-play. Nearly it failed of its
effect. He forgot to sign the pardon. In Winchester too the messenger,
John Gib, the Scotchman, could not get near enough to speak with the
Sheriff, but was thrust out among the boys and was forced to call out to
Sir James Hayes or else Markham might have lost his neck. Ralegh was to
have been executed on Monday. News of his reprieve was brought him after
he had witnessed the singular farce on the scaffold, in which the King's
feline cruelty was shown.

At Wilton too, where the Court was being held (the plague still raged
in London) the new King enacted another farce. He signed the
death-warrants of Cobham, Grey, and Markham: Ralegh's sentence he
withheld in case more light was thrown upon his case by confessions on
the scaffold. He gave special instructions that no hope of pardon should
be given to any of the prisoners. He kept his intentions from his most
intimate ministers. Then he assembled the council, the day after the
execution was to have taken place. He began a complicated speech, which
puzzled his hearers, who were expecting a messenger every moment to
bring news of the execution. "He contrasted the ardent and resolute
spirit of Grey with the base and cowardly nature of Cobham; and then
asked if it were at all consistent with kingly justice to execute the
high-spirited Grey and to spare that pitiful creature, Cobham." He went
on to point out the insolence of Grey who disdained to entreat for his
life; the penitence of Cobham, who begged his life with humility. And so
he continued until the minds of all the men who heard him were
sufficiently muddled, and ended with what Edwards well calls, the
triumphant tag, "So I have saved the lives of them all."

Again loud applause broke out in recognition of his clemency. But such
applause, though it deafens the ears, does not last on in the hearts of
men. His showily arranged mercy captivated the unthinking multitude.
Wise men were not pleased that a King could stoop to such pettiness. It
boded ill for the country that supreme power should be vested in a man
who could behave in this manner. To them the action bore proof that the
King was a little cruel man. But the people shouted for joy. The action
made him popular: and when the Gunpowder Plot was dramatically
discovered the following year, and the King's life was saved by a
presentiment, his popularity increased a thousand-fold. Who could doubt
that in very truth King James was the Lord's anointed? Only as the years
went by, dark events happened. Why did the Prince die suddenly in the
prime of his vigorous youth? Who was Car that he should enjoy such
favour? Why was Gondomar the Spanish ambassador held in such esteem?
There was the scandal of Overbury's death. Men began to wonder and fear.
Men heard the bitterness spoken in Troilus and Cressida or in Timon, and
the bitterness began to find an answer in their hearts.

A week after the royal farce at Winchester Ralegh was removed to London:
first to the Tower, then to the Fleet, and finally to the Tower, where
he remained.

Thus Ralegh was overthrown, who, if the time had been ripe, might have
proved a Mirabeau to England, and saved the country from Civil War and
the destructive power of the Puritans, which eventually became necessary
to purge England from the mischief of weak rulers with absolute power,
kings who could not carry on the tradition of the great Elizabeth. In
very truth, with Elizabeth, as de Thou said of Catherine, not a woman
but royalty died.



     Ralegh's efforts to avert complete ruin--True greatness--Keeps
     in touch with life--First two years--The history--The first
     sentence--Reasons for incompleteness--James's dislike of the
     work--Its greatness.

Such things happened in actual life at the beginning of the seventeenth
century. There was the same fantastic blending in life of melodrama and
farce and poetry as was shown upon the stage. Beaumont and Fletcher,
wild and exaggerated as they often appear, gave as faithful a picture of
the life around them as Bernard Shaw gives of modern life; and in some
ways they gave a more faithful picture, for they had no principle which
they desired to inculcate, and a principle, though it is a fine
stimulant, is apt to be a sad distortioner. There exactly lies the
salient point of contrast between that century and modern times. Life
then was confined and intense--with limitless possibilities. The pageant
passed compact, and yet in gorgeous disarray. Art was informed by its
positive spirit; glowed with animation at its touch. Life has become
vast and voluminous; its horizon seems limited, as though for a time it
had outgrown its strength, and was sprawling. The pageant crawls by in
its interminable length, and yet in dully determined order. Art lives by
battling against its dreadful hold--the hold that slowly fastens and
stifles with its long, persistent tentacles. The apathy of convention
gradually settled, like an obscuring mist, but new knowledge is
scattering the mist like a wind, and knowledge brings new
responsibilities and fresh life and fresh light. The sun peers through
the clouds, and the sun will lend warmth and colour to the pageant.

But such things happened at the beginning of the seventeenth century in
actual life. That farce at the scaffold was the first manifestation that
King James gave in England of his royal power.

Ralegh was taken from Winchester to the Tower on December 16. His future
life was now dreadfully apparent to him. His lot was confinement. But
not yet was his indomitable spirit of life dead. Crushed he felt and
pinioned, but still he was obliged to strain every nerve to force all
that could be forced from the life that henceforward awaited him. He
could not submit in proud, becoming silence, as a fabled hero would
undoubtedly have done, and as the code of present honour would have him
submit--a code which, it is well to remember, is considerably assisted
in its conduct by the press.

The only possibility of living with any pretence of decency lay in the
favour of other men, who must on no account be permitted to forget him.
It is unwise to praise the work which he accomplished in captivity, and
to censure him for employing the only possible means in his power to get
that work accomplished.

Again he put all his strength into the only task left him, and he
succeeded in saving something from the ruin of his estates and the
complete curtailment of his liberty, by renewed supplication. Being a
man of vivid imagination, he entered so completely into the part which
was forced upon him--the part of supplicator--that his letters are the
letters of the broken man that he wished to appear, and that his future
work proved conclusively he was not. How little his spirit was broken is
seen from the tremendous work which he undertook, and from the personal
influence which he continued to exercise, and which his imprisonment did
not seem to lessen. The scope of his activity was limited, but his
activity did not abate.

His letters of supplication throw a light upon the nature of a great
man. They show something of that strange quality which men call
greatness. Ralegh was not a little man magnified by position or
circumstances. He was a great man. Not in success is greatness apparent,
not in attainment, but in effort, in vitality, in power of feeling and
in control--but essentially in power of feeling. That power broke even
the barrier of Ralegh's immense self-control--for a time only.

A great man does not walk exalted, like some demi-god to whom all things
are easy; he knows dismay, he knows weakness, and all the legion of
infirmities, but in spite of all, he wrests from life what life must
yield him.

Ralegh had lost the Governorship of Jersey, the Patent of the Wine
Office, the Wardenship of the Stannaries, the Rangership of Gillingham
Forest, and the Lieutenancy of Portland Castle, from which together he
drew an income of £3000 a year; men to whom he owed money fastened upon
his estate at Sherborne. It was to save Sherborne from them that he did
his utmost. Lord Cecil came to his assistance: "A secound effect of your
Lordship's great favor was the preservation of my moveabells, which the
ravenus Sherifs were in hand to have seised, and att my gates to have
rifled, if your Lordship's letters had not then cum to have
countermanded it; which it also pleased yow, soon after, to procure me."

But Ralegh's possession of Sherborne was temporary and uncertain. He
tried to save it entirely from the ruin of his fortune, that his wife
and children might have a place in which to live. On this subject he
writes continually to Cecil and Lord Cranborne. Sorrow sat by him as he
wrote, and for long and long he could not resign himself to the prospect
of captivity. "If I had a pardon, I may notwithstanding be restraynd or
confined. If I may not be here about London (which God caste my sowle
into hell if I desire, but to do your Lordship some kind of service) I
shalbe most contented to be confined within the Hundred of Sherburn; or
if I cannot be allowed so much I shalbe contented to live in Holland,
wher, I shall perchance gett some imployment uppon the Indies, or else,
if I be apoyncted to any bishope or other gentelman or nobelman, or that
your Lordship would lett me keep but a park of yours--which I will buy
from some one that hath it--your Lordship shalbe sure that I will never
break the order which you shall pleas to undertake for me. And, if I bee
any wher nire yow, yow shall find that in sume kind or other I shall do
your Lordship service. For God douth know that if I cannot go to the
Bathe this fall I am undun, for my health; and shalbe dead, or disabled
for ever."

He wrote to Viscount Cranborne, imploring his aid to preserve this
remnant of his fortune. "That life which cann be of no use to others and
is now also weery of mee, at parting putts mee in mind of thos whom
Nature and Charetie commands me not to neglect--a wife and a childe, and
a wife with childe, whom, God knowes, have nothing else to inherite then
my shame and ther own misery. How to healp it or to whom to complain, I
know not, whose fortune is over darck for the reason of the world to
peirce.... And while I know that the best of men are but the spoyles of
Tyme and certayne images wherwith childish Fortune useth to play--kisse
them to-day and break them to-morrow--and therefore can lament in my
sealf but a common destiney, yet the pitifull estate of thos who are
altogether healpless and who dayly wound my sowle with the memory of
their miseries, force mee in despite of all resolvednesse, bothe to
bewayle them and labor for them.... For my own tyme, good my Lord
consider that it cannot be calde a life, but only misery drawne out and
spoone into a long thride without all hope of other end then Death shall
provide for mee; who without the healp of kings or frinds, will deliver
me out of prison."

The humiliation of his position was forced upon his notice, for little
men began to cheat him in little ways, and he could find no redress. The
law knew him but as dead. He writes to Levinus Muncke, secretary to Lord
Cranborne.... "I solde of late two peeces of ordenance to one Mr.
Aloblaster, a marchant, whome you knowe. Hee that made the bargayne
between us was one Thomas Scott, a broker,--one that I have done much
for in my tyme, and one that, since I came back from Winchester, offred
to sell his howse for me, if I wanted, with protestations too shamless
to be dissembled. But having gotten my mony into his hands which Mr.
Aloblaster sent mee and five pound waight of tobacco, hath sold the
tobacco and reteyneth my money; finding mee now fitt for all men to
tread on."

The man jackal is more impatient than his animal brother. For nearly two
years Ralegh beat against the prison walls, bruising himself, unable to
give up hope that some measure of freedom might be his. His health
failed. The plague broke out in the Tower. A woman with the plague on
her slept in the next room to his eldest son, with only a partition of
paper between them. Every trouble and annoyance fell upon him.
Indifference could not come to him with its peace of apathy. He
continued to live and to resent and to suffer. A weaker man would have
broken down, would have given up this horrible struggle for existence
against such overwhelming odds. Ralegh did not. And slowly he emerged
from the struggle the conqueror even of these circumstances. He found
work and worked. At first he obtained permission to turn a little
disused hen-house that leant against a wall in the Tower into a
laboratory. He made lotions and a medicine, which remained in constant
use for very many years after his death. In modern times that alone
would have been sufficient to give him the prestige of millions, and
probably with a little discreet management, a peerage.

Few men have turned necessity to gain (that is the quality of the
warrior in life) so greatly as Ralegh, such constricting necessity to
such glorious gain. By sheer will power he kept in touch with the life,
from which he was excluded. He wrote pamphlets on questions that were
paramount in interest. His treatise on _The Prerogative of Parliaments_
shows him in the vanguard of the fighters for liberty of thought, before
that movement developed into a baser servitude. He wrote arguments
against an alliance by marriage with Spain. He wrote at Prince Henry's
request a treatise on the building and management of ships. In every
sphere his presence was felt. Ladies were eager to use his lotions for
the preservation of beauty. His medicine was famous. The Queen sent an
urgent messenger to the Tower when the Prince was dying, thinking to
save her son's life by its means. But it was too late. The medicine only
served to alleviate the agony of his last moments.

So Ralegh gradually came to arrange his life according to its new
limitations. And it came about that those years in the Tower were far
from being the unhappiest in his life. Ralegh, like his friend Spenser
who had died tragically a few years before his imprisonment, knew well
the value of Court life; and though he was not cut off from intelligent
society as completely in the Tower as Spenser was in Ireland; yet he was
cut off from much that had no attraction to Spenser. But in spite of his
disgrace, and in spite of the work he desired to do, he must surely have
found something of the same peace that comforted Spenser among the
savage Irish, before their outbreak took from him his wife and home and
all that was dear to him on earth. There is a strange analogy in what
life offered to the two men. Lady Ralegh was allowed to visit and stay
with her husband, until she offended Waad, who had become governor, by
driving into the courtyard of the Tower in her carriage. Then the
privilege was curtailed. Ralegh had many visitors. Men who had returned
from travels came to tell him their experiences; men who were starting
on some voyage, came to ask his advice and listen to his counsel. Ben
Jonson visited him, and other scholars and poets. Certainly gossiping
cheery Coryat, who amused himself by walking through all countries of
the world, would come and recount his experiences. The Odcombian leg
stretcher, as he liked to call himself, was hail-fellow-well-met with
every man in London and in the principal cities of Europe. A sort of
standing amiable joke was Tom of Odcombe. "There is no man but to enjoy
his company would neglect anything but business."

For two years he turned in prison as in a cage. Then he began to live.
His mind expanded beyond the limits of body and his discomfort and of
himself. Some sort of expression must be found for his mind's activity,
and his means of expression were limited. As health came to him while he
worked in his laboratory the proper expression for his mind's activity
evolved itself. During the months of his retreat in Ireland, in his
cabin as he made his way across the silent sea, he had read deeply and
thought deeply about the past; in his active life at the Court and
elsewhere he had known men who made history, and he had taken part in
events which were history. He had seen and conversed with men whom
civilization had not touched, he had known men of every country whom
civilization had shaped to its culminating point; and now as he lived in
the Tower from which he could see the ships sailing down the Thames to
the unknown lands, from which he could look down upon the busy men of
London, slowly there formed itself in his great mind a project. The
project was to write the history of the whole great world, from which he
was now cut off, from its very beginnings down to the days in which he
was living, aloof from the life around. He determined to write the
History of the World. That was the proper expression for his great
mind's activity. He felt unconsciously that in so doing he could express
himself. He set to work. He felt he had the grip of everything from the
creation of the world to his own birth and tempestuous life of more than
fifty years. We have burrowed more deeply into the mystery of things
than the great Elizabethan, as sublimely unaware of his ignorance, as
we are of ours; he had complete confidence in his knowledge. We
hesitate, we feel always on the brink of some great discovery, to which
acquired knowledge is leading us. He explored continents, feeling
limitless possibilities of the earth; and doubted not about the
spiritual world. We know the limits of the earth; and explore these
spiritual worlds, the mystery of existence. Therein lies the difference
between two ages; therein without a boast, lies the progress, even,
which has happened in the last three hundred years of man's existence.
The adventurous whom the Unknown attracts are not drawn to explore the
earth's surface; they turn towards the mystery of their own souls from
which comes much profitless self-searching and a little eternal gain;
they turn towards the mysteries of life and death and birth; they try to
unravel the skein which men were then living tempestuously to entangle.

So Ralegh began his great work, greatly conceived and greatly executed,
in the very spirit of the age to which he belonged--the age of
Elizabeth, and to which King James's little favourites, Car and the
rest, could never belong. Shut away from the bustle of the court and its
splendour, now sinking to ignoble display; shut away from the voice of
the nation, singing after the nation's deeds, as it had never sung
before and has not sung since, he dreamed his great dream and found
peace as he forced it to take shape and reality to his vision. From the
creation of the world to the death of his own great Queen
Elizabeth--everything that was--that was his subject; nothing less could
satisfy him. He set the huge machinery of his idea slowly to work. His
authorities were vast in number. He searched them all, and began to
write. As he wrote the first sentences, he felt the world lay before
his ken, outstretched with all its strange happenings, the rise and the
fall of dynasties, the rise and fall of kingdoms and nations. All were
within his knowledge and grip. And above he saw the God, who had called
the world into existence, and man into being. About that God he writes
his first paragraph, untroubled by any simian suspicions. The immense
power of the man overawes you as you begin his tremendous task. That is
the first impression, and the impression thrills, as every supreme
evidence of man's power must. Then you realize that his whole vision of
the world is wrong--is a myth, and you see the futility of man's
power--that is the second impression. The two are singularly vivid; they
clash splendidly--and the issue? You see limitless possibilities of life
for the brave man and the strong man, as they only can be seen, when two
ideas--two sincerities--have clashed splendidly.

    "And on through brave wars waged."

One is feign to cry out, when the dream of things has passed.

The first sentence of the History should be read aloud with a great
voice in a cathedral.

"God, whom the wisest men acknowledge to be a Power uneffable and vertue
infinite, a Light by abundant charitie invisible; an Understanding which
itself can only comprehend, an essence eternal and spiritual, of
absolute purenesse and simplicitie; was and is pleased to make himself
knowne by the work of the World: in the wonderful magnitude whereof (all
which Hee imbraceth, filleth, and sustayneth) we behold the Image of
that glorie which cannot be measured, and withall that one and yet
universal Nature, which cannot be defined. In the glorious Lights of
Heaven, we perceive a shadow of his divine Countenance; in his
mercifull provision for all that live, his manifold goodness, and lastly
in creating and making existent the World universall, by the absolute
Arte of his owne Word, his Power and Almightinesse; which Power Light
Vertue Wisdome and Goodnesse, being all but attributes of one simple
Essence and one God, we in all admire, and in part discern, per speculam
creaturaram, that is in the disposition, order, and varietie of
Celestiall and Terrestriall bodies: Terrestriall, in their strange and
manifold diversities: Celestiall in their beautie and magnitude; which
in their continuall and contrary motions are neither repugnant,
intermixt nor confounded. By these potent effects we approch to the
knowledge of the Omnipotent cause, and by these motions, their Almightie

The History is based upon a fallacy; but the History is written in great
prose--the prose of Ralegh. Even when the subject comes from remote
authorities on antedeluvian epochs, it is shaped and filled with
perpetual life by contact with the great living personality of Ralegh.
Error in life or art matters little. It is vitality that matters.

Mr. Edmund Gosse remarks that "the entire absence of humour is
characteristic.... The story of Periander's burning the clothes of the
women closes with a jest; there is, perhaps, no other occasion on which
the solemn historian is detected with a smile upon his lips." The remark
is almost as astounding as that of Mr. Edwards, who, after a careful
summary of the History, is obliged to say, "The three or four thousand
pages of the _History of the World_ contain, I believe, no line or word
within which there lies the tiniest spark of prurient suggestion." Mr.
Edwards is, of course, pleased at this; but there is no reason for Mr.
Gosse's lament. Ralegh did not write with the continual bubble of
humour which makes the Church History of Great Britain (of all
impossible subjects) endeavoured by that inimitable old Thomas Fuller,
one of the wittiest and most readable books in the language. Humour
constantly occurs. Two instances in one paragraph are quite
unforgetable. It is the fourth paragraph of the twenty-third chapter of
the second book of the first part of the History (what portentous
dimensions the book has!).

"Touching all that was said before of Phul Belosus, for the proving that
Phul and Belosus were not sundry Kings, Joseph Scaliger pities their
ignorance that have spent their labour to little purpose. Honest and
painefull men he confesseth that they were, who by their diligence might
have won the good liking of their Readers had they not by mentioning
Annius his Authors given such offence that men refused thereupon to
reade their Bookes and Chronologies. A short answere.

"For mine owne part, howsoever, I believe nothing that Annius his
Berosus, Metasthenes, and others of that stampe affirme, in respect of
their bare authority; yet am I not so squeamish, but that I can well
enough digest a good Booke, though I finde the wordes of one or two of
these good fellows alleaged in it: I have (somewhat peradventure too
often) already spoken my mind of Annius, his Authors.... Neither indeed
are those honest and painfull men (as Scaliger tearmes them, meaning if
I mistake him not; good silly fellowes) who set down the Assyrian Kings
from Pul forwards as Lords also of Babylon, taking Pul for Belosus and
Salmanassar for Nabonassar, such writers as a man should be ashamed or
unwilling to reade."

In such a passage even a student of Ralegh can see not only his lips
smile, but his eyes twinkle with humour, which is a characteristic of
their solemn historian. And he ends the paragraph by recounting a
singularly pertinent and amusing jest.

"Therefore the fictions (or let them be called conjectures) painted in
Maps doe serve only to mislead such discoverers as rashly beleeve them;
drawing upon the publishers eyther some angry curses or well deserved
scorne.... To which purpose I remember a pretie jest of Don Pedro de
Sarmiento, a worthy Spanish Gentleman who had been employed by his King
in planting a Colonie upon the Streights of Magellan; for when I asked
him being then my Prisoner, some question about an Island in those
Streights which me thought, might have done eyther benefit or
displeasure to his enterprise, he told me merrily that it was to be
called the Painters Wives Island; saying That whilest the fellow drew
that Map, his Wife sitting by, desired to put in one Countrey for her;
that she, in imagination might have an island of her owne. But in
filling up the blankes of old Histories, wee need not be so scrupulous.
For it is not to be feared that time should runne backward, and by
restoring the things themselves to knowledge, make our conjectures
appeare ridiculous...."

But the great work was never brought to an end. The first immense half
of it, however, was finished, and that half is equal in bulk to about
thirty modern novels. Many traditions survive as to the reason which
caused Ralegh to discontinue his task. One is that Burr, the publisher,
complained of the loss which the production of the first folio involved,
and that Ralegh instantly laid hands on the heap of manuscript which lay
on the table before him and, laying it on the fire, pushed it deep into
the red embers with his foot, saying that no man should be the loser
through his work. Another is (and this commends itself to the
imagination of M. Anatole France) that Ralegh saw from his window two
men fighting in the courtyard below; that he asked the cause of the
quarrel and that, when two eye-witnesses gave him two essentially
different accounts, he was so overcome with the mystery that must ever
surround all truth, that he thereupon destroyed the remaining manuscript
of his History. These stories are interesting but not authentic enough
to carry any weight against the reason which Ralegh himself gives for
leaving his work unfinished, though they may possibly be reckoned among
the discouragements which he mentions. For these are his words:

"Lastly whereas this book by the title it hath, calls itselfe, The first
part of Generall Historie of the World, implying a Second and Third
Volume; which I also intended and have hewne out; besides many other
discouragements perswading my silence; it hath pleased God to take that
glorious Prince out of the world, to whom they were directed, whose
unspeakable and never enough lamented losse hath taught mee to say with
Job _Versa est in luctum Cithara mea, et Organum meum in vocem

James did not like the History. He did not consider that Ralegh bated
his breath sufficiently when writing of kings, who obtained their power,
in his opinion, directly from a divine source. And he went farther in
his dislike. For into what Ralegh had written of kings and men, long
dead, he read criticisms against himself and his favourites; and these
he could ill brook. James, like most cruel men, was sensitive, but he
was "sensitive within alone, Inly only thrilling shrewd;" where others
were concerned, he was, as is seen in his treatment of Ralegh, hard,
"scaly as in clefts of pine."

James had no real cause to do this. Certain it is that Ralegh never
consciously committed the offence. But certain it also is that he, like
any other writer of his calibre, would write with greater feeling the
account of some happening or some character, with which the
circumstances of his own life brought into sympathy. And exactly because
his life and his knowledge of men was profound and varied, his history
gains in vitality. For always he keeps his relation in contact with
life--that is of course to say, his own experience of life--by which
each man is limited--and never does his work degenerate into a mere
recital of facts. Only when he is weighing authority against authority
is he lifeless, and almost necessarily lifeless, but even then--witness
the passage quoted a little earlier in this chapter--he is not often

All through the length of the history, passage after passage of deep
wisdom and insight occur, so that his work is still a comment upon that
greatest and most enthralling of all mysteries--life.



     Ralegh's influence with Queen and Prince Henry--Death
     of Robert Cecil--Rise of Villiers--Liberty--The undying
     endeavour--Anecdote--Preparations for expedition--Delays
     and uncertainty--The King's treachery--The expedition
     starts--Further delays--Storms--Captain Bailey--Ralegh's
     illness--At Terra de Bri--His son's death--Return of
     Keymis--Suicide of Keymis--Mutiny--The return.

Ralegh in the Tower managed to gain influence of a remarkable nature
over the Queen and over Prince Henry, who was the idol of the nation. It
availed him not, however. James was jealous of the immense popularity of
his son, and feared his high spirit. Gradually the tall white-haired man
in the Tower became the most talked of man in London. Round him centred
the tradition of Elizabeth, which was looked back upon with vain regret.
Men did not like the deference that was paid to Gondomar, the Spanish
ambassador; they did not like the rise and supremacy of Car. They looked
askance at Cecil. But Cecil and Car did not for many years lose their
hold on the King, whom they treated adroitly. Nor were James's fear and
hatred of Ralegh allowed by them to abate. Whenever the Queen or the
Prince sued for favour towards Ralegh, they would not fail to point out
the power and influence which caused such appeals to be made, and to
play on the King's timidity. Moreover, in spite of Lady Ralegh's
supplications and Prince Henry's frequent entreaties, the Sherborne
estates were handed over to Car at a price.

The position, however, suddenly changed. Cecil died. Car was sent to the
Tower for complicity in the poisoning of Overbury. Henry Howard, Earl of
Northampton died, the bitterest of Ralegh's enemies. Sir Ralph Winwood,
who was kindly disposed towards Ralegh and an honest man, became
Secretary of State. A new favourite of the same stamp as Car, one George
Villiers rose to power, and he, for his own reasons, hated the Howards.
Ralegh approached him in the usual way. He gave £750 each to his
brothers, and obtained in consequence the regard of George Villiers.

Through all the years of his imprisonment Ralegh had continued quietly
to urge--through the Prince, through the Queen, through Cecil--how
foolish it was to keep imprisoned a man like himself, who could fill the
treasury of England with gold from a mine in Guiana, of which he alone
knew the site. He persisted always upon the wealth of Guiana, so that
little by little it grew to be common talk. To Ralegh, as to Cecil
Rhodes, gold meant power; but, more than gold, he desired the sensation
of freedom on the wide sea, and the long journey to the unknown land.
More than gold, he desired the attainment of the great dream which had
become inextricably part of his life. That was his life's object, and
nothing could keep him from any possible means of its fulfilment. The
quiet labour in the Tower at his history and in the little laboratory
only served to lull the pain of captivity, and gave scope to but a part
of his great nature, though many men, and many by no means inferior men,
have spent their lives in doing work less excellent and less valuable
than Ralegh packed into the years of his imprisonment.


For twelve years Ralegh had been in prison. He was sixty-three years
old when he regained his liberty. Most men would have been content to
continue the quiet habit of work formed during his long imprisonment.
Ralegh's spirit was, however, undaunted; not even habit could deaden his
unconquerable vitality. His release had been gained that he might
arrange and lead an expedition to Guiana. Indeed, he was still under the
charge of a keeper, and his sole permitted business was to arrange the
detail for the fitting out of the expedition--ships, men, supplies and
so forth.

It would throw a light on all life if we could know what were Ralegh's
feelings as he left the Tower; if we could know how long the first
exhilaration of freedom held him, and when that exhilaration yielded to
intense unutterable consciousness of the stress and the pain of life;
for he must surely have felt as if he were beginning the whole business
of life again, and many moments must have come even to Ralegh when he
asked himself, "_Is_ it _good_ enough?" and looked back to the quiet of
his room in the Tower with active regret--the room where he had dreamed
and worked, had had the satisfaction of a persistent desire, and from
which he had watched great ships making their way down the Thames to the
sea. The same detail of his old life awaited him, in transacting the
manifold business which he knew so well--countless interviews with
innumerable men, endowed with the same amount of ignorance, or
astuteness, or malice, or knowledge, or good-will. In some ways the
world must have appeared to him to have remained very dully the same;
but its aspect must have changed amazingly. Different fashions were in
vogue; different favourites caught the public eye; new faces showed
everywhere. The streets had been widened; many were better paved. They
were more crowded with carriages than they were twelve years before. New
buildings had arisen, among which the New Exchange, close to Durham
House, and the Banqueting House at Whitehall were the most notable. The
first thing Ralegh did was to walk round London. In the twentieth
century, an active man might, by clever arrangement of train and tube
and electric tram, traverse the extent of London in a day without seeing
any of the sights, and but few of the streets. Ralegh could see
everything in London, poor walker as he was, in three or four hours,
less than three hundred years ago. For London clung to the banks of the
river which was the main way, and by which watermen thronged at
countless landing-stages with innumerable boats and barges. It must have
been a strange experience for Ralegh to notice the new fashions of the
Court, to pass among men unknown, himself almost unheeded, who had been
the great Queen's lover, and to see faces of new favourites, acclaimed
at their passing through the streets. For he had become to the people
little more than a name and a tradition; he would be recognizable at his
window in the Tower, but in the ordinary surroundings of life he would
be regarded with surprise rather than recognition. And men who
recognized would hesitate to notice his presence, not knowing whether
suspicion might not cling to them of treasonable intentions if they
appeared too glad at his release.

To this time belongs probably a story which Aubrey tells, and which,
like other stories of that inimitable gossip, bears the stamp of truth.
Its telling lightens the gloom that these first months of freedom, with
their terrible realization of time gone, inevitably raise. Aubrey had it
from his old friend, James Harrington, who was well acquainted with Sir
Benjamin Ruddyer, a friend of Ralegh's. In Aubrey's own delightful words
the story runs as follows: "Sir Walter Ralegh, being invited to dinner
to some great person where his son was to go with him, he sayd to his
son 'Thou art expected to-day at dinner to goe along with me, but thou
art such a quarrelsome affronting ... (Aubrey has forgotten the exact
word) that I am ashamed to have such a beare in my company.' Mr. Walter
humbled himself to his father and promised he would behave himself
mighty mannerly. So away they went, and Sir Benjamin I think with them.
He sate next to his father and was very demure at least halfe dinner
time. Then sayd he 'I this morning not having the feare of God before my
eyes but by the instigation of the devil went....' Sir Walter being
strangely surprised and put out of countenance at so great a table gives
his son a damned blow over the face. His son, as rude as he was, would
not strike his father, but strikes over the face the gentleman that sate
next him, and sayd 'Box about; it will come to my father anon.' Tis now
a common proverb."

The story is far too good to be false. Gossip needs no verification. It
stands or falls unsupported by the props which the stern matter of
history demands, like an authentic relic which has survived to please.

Meanwhile the business of the expedition went on apace. Ralegh had from
King James a commission which empowered him to voyage "to places in
South America, or elsewhere, inhabited by heathen and savage people,
etc." The commission was very similarly worded to others which he had
had from Queen Elizabeth, and Ralegh set no greater store by the clause
which forbade him to attack the subjects of any European king,
especially of the King of Spain, than he had done before. Ralegh did not
realize how much things had changed since his Queen ruled. He knew as
well as every one else that the Spaniards in Guiana would not allow him
to land and proceed quietly to the mine without a determined effort to
stop his progress. But he did not know what a hold Sarmiento, the
Spanish ambassador, had acquired over James, and how well-disposed James
had become towards Spain. He did not understand that he was the last man
in England who upheld the Elizabethan tradition, and that therefore he
was the man whom Spain best hated.

One month after Ralegh's release Sarmiento wrote to the King of Spain
warning him that another company was being prepared "for Guiana and the
river Orinoco, which is near Trinidad, the prime promoter and originator
of which is Sir Walter Ralegh, a great seaman.... I am informed that he
will sail in the month of October with six or eight ships of 200 to 500
tons, some belonging to himself, some to his companions, all well
provided. He will also take with him launches in which to ascend the
Orinoco, and he is trying to get two ships of very light draught to take
them as high up the river as possible. He has already been in the
country and assures people here that he knows of a mine that will swell
all England with gold." He urges the King of Spain to increase the navy
and not to allow any merchant to sail without a proper convoy; and
assures him that he in England will do all in his power to prevent the
expedition. Sarmiento's power was very great.

Sir Ralph Winwood, the Secretary of State, was the only man in authority
who was not in favour of a Spanish alliance. The King, as Major Martin
Hume points out, "was besotted with Gondomar and the Spanish power;
Digby and Cottington were humbly negotiating in Madrid for the marriage
of the Prince of Wales with the Infanta, and greedy Buckingham was
bribed by the Spaniards to his heart's content."

King James played with Ralegh. The King wanted money, and wanted the
friendship of Spain. There was a remote chance that Ralegh might obtain
the money. In that case the money would be useful and Ralegh could be
disposed of at his convenience, as an atonement to Spain. On the other
hand, if the expedition failed, Ralegh could even more easily be
disposed of, and his sacrifice would strengthen the tie between Spain
and England. In either case James saw carefully to it that he should
lose nothing and Ralegh everything.

The King's treatment of Ralegh is absolutely typical of him, and
illustrates his treacherous weak nature with decision.

Men did not believe that Guiana was the object of Ralegh's journey. The
whole scheme seemed incredible as affairs then stood. The general
opinion was that the mine was the merest blind; for how could a sane man
give, or a sane man accept, the conditions under which the search was to
be carried out? Some thought that Ralegh was taking any opportunity that
might lead to his freedom; that once he found the wide sea round him he
would not again return to England where he had been so badly handled.
Some thought that the expedition was intended not for Guiana but for a
sudden raid on Genoa; others thought that Ralegh was going to succour
the Huguenots at the King's wish. All the foreign ambassadors were
uneasy as to the real intent of the voyage, and had long conferences
with Ralegh and wrote long letters to their powers at home. Ralegh
alone, loyal to his traditions of Elizabeth, remained steadfast in his

James demanded from Ralegh the details of the expedition, the number of
ships and men and arms, promising on his honour as a king (what more
fragile pledge could he find?) not to divulge the secrets to any man.
But Sarmiento, the Spanish ambassador, had the exact measure of James.
He laughed at the story of the mine, and laughed at James for his
childishness in thinking that a man who was no fool would be gulled by
such a child's tale. The real motive of the expedition, Sarmiento
assured James with laughing suavity, he and all the world knew very well
was nothing else than to rob Spain at the distant source of her wealth
while keeping her off her guard by the show of friendliness at home.
James could not bear his ridicule and his assurance. He swore to
Sarmiento that if a hair on the head of one Spanish subject were
touched, Ralegh should be sent to Madrid in chains to be hanged in
Madrid's chief square. That was not all. To prove that Ralegh's end was
the mine, he handed over to Sarmiento all the secret papers of the
expedition. So Sarmiento gained his purpose; he had the papers carefully
copied and a special messenger was soon on his way to Spain bearing the
copy to the Spanish king, as has been seen.

James was friendly with Sarmiento. A weak man likes to deceive himself.
James wanted to be friendly with Spain, from fear of Spain's power. But
if Ralegh could break Spain's power at the risk only of his life, James
was quite content to accept the first place in Europe and then dispose
of Ralegh. It was not his nature, however, to face anything and strike
boldly. He kept up the illusion in his own mind that the mine was all he
wanted, and all that Ralegh intended to make for and, like the weak
creature he was, he allowed his personal dislike of Ralegh to hinder his
plan, and his fear of ridicule to render the whole scheme ridiculous.

[Illustration: PHILIP III. OF SPAIN]

Meanwhile Ralegh's arrangements were proceeding, and gradually the new
ship, the _Destiny_, which he had built, became a fashionable resort,
even as his destination was the common talk not only of the Court in
London, but also of many foreign Courts. Did England intend to support
Spain and the Catholics, or the Protestant cause? The diplomacy of James
was even more intricate and twisted than diplomacy is wont to be.

At length, at the beginning of April, Ralegh's small fleet of seven
vessels weighed anchor, and sailed down the Thames. Even at the very
moment of his sailing his purpose was not credited. Lionello, a Venetian
resident, wrote to the Senate of Venice, "I know very well that Sir
Walter Ralegh's only object in embarking in this enterprise was to free
himself from his imprisonment. He would gladly change this scheme for
any other. Many people know the fact as well as I."

But Ralegh was firm in his purpose. He was now an old man, if age be
counted in years; he was still vigorous and alert, if age be counted by
the measure of a man's vitality. Now, at the age when most men take to
the fireside and friendly counsel, Ralegh was glad to undertake a
desperate venture to win freedom and wealth for himself and for his
family, prosperity and greatness for his country.

The seven ships in the Thames weighed anchor. They were: the _Destiny_,
of 440 tons, carrying 36 pieces of ordnance; the _Jason_, of 240 tons,
carrying 25 pieces of ordnance, of which the commander was John
Pennington, "of whom to do him right," as Ralegh wrote, "I dare say he
is one of the sufficientest gentlemen for the sea that England hath";
the _Encounter_, of 160 tons, commanded at first by Edward Hastings and
afterwards by Whitney, carrying 17 pieces; the _Thunder_, of 180 tons,
commanded by Sir Warham St. Leger, carrying 20 pieces; the _Flying
Joan_, the _Husband_, alias the _Southampton_, and the _Page_, all
smaller vessels of 120, 80, and 25 tons respectively. The fleet was
joined before it left the coast of England by Keymis in the Convertine,
Wollaston in the _Confidence_, and Sir John Ferne in the _Flying Hart_.
The _Destiny_ was the flagship. It had been built at Sir Walter's own
charge, and his son Walter was placed in the position of captain. Of the
two hundred men on board, eighty were gentlemen volunteers, who were for
the most part friends or relations of Sir Walter.

But months of valuable summer weather elapsed before the fleet left the
coast of England. From the outset evil chance brooded over the
expedition. Captain Pennington put in to the Isle of Wight with the
_Jason_ to obtain provisions, and had not the needful money. He
accordingly was obliged to ride post haste to Lady Ralegh in London and
wait while she went through the business of a bond, on which the money
was raised. At Plymouth Captain Whitney had the same experience, and
Ralegh was obliged to sell his plate to the silversmith; Sir John Ferne
was also insufficiently supplied with money, and Ralegh borrowed £200
from two friends. The men began to feel that the expedition found no
favour, and that their commanders were not trusted. In consequence, they
grew uneasy and discontented. The delay lasted nearly three months,
their enthusiasm began to abate, their resolution to weaken. The proper
time of the year was passing.

While the fleet lay in Plymouth harbour Ralegh issued orders for the
conduct of his men to be observed by the Commanders of the Fleet and
Land Companies. He ordained that divine service should be read in every
ship twice every day: in the morning before dinner and at night before
supper; or at least, if there be interruption by foul weather, once the
day, praising God every night with singing of a psalm at the setting of
the watch. He ordained special care to be taken that God be not
blasphemed in the ships. The offender is to be admonished and then fined
out of his adventures, and then if no amendment be found the matter is
to be reported to Ralegh himself. For if it be threatened in the
Scriptures that the curse shall not depart from the house of the
swearer, much less shall it depart from the ship of the swearer. Two
captains of the watch must be chosen, and they shall pick two soldiers
every night to search between the decks that no fire nor candle-light be
carried about the ship, nor that any candles be burning in any cabin
without a lanthorn. "For there is no danger so inevitable as the ship's
firing which may as well happen by taking of tobacco between the decks,
and therefore forbidden to all men but aloft the upper deck."

The landsmen must be taught the names and places of the ropes in order
that they may assist the sailors in their labours upon the decks, though
they cannot go up to the tops and yards. And the sailors must learn the
art of land-fighting, otherwise the troops will be very weak when they
come to land without the assistance of the sea-faring men. No vessel
should be pursued or disfurnished in any way, except under compulsion of
absolute necessity, and then bonds shall be entered into for the repayal
of what was taken. "You shall every night fall astern the general's
ship, and follow his light, receiving instructions in the morning what
course to hold, and if you shall at any time be separated by foul
weather, you shall receive certain billets sealed up, the first to be
opened on this side of North Cape, if there be cause; the second to be
opened at the South Cape; the third after you shall pass twenty-three
degrees; and the fourth from the height of Cape de Verd." Minute
instructions were given for signalling in case of distress or attack, or
the sighting of a foreign vessel. In foul weather every man shall fit
his sails to keep company with the rest of the fleet and not run so far
ahead by day but that he may fall astern the admiral before night. He
gave full instructions to the captains how to fight their ships. They
are of exceptional interest. "In case we should be set upon by sea the
captain will appoint a sufficient company to assist the gunners, after
which if the fight require it, the cabins between the decks shall be
taken down, and all beds and sacks employed for bulwarks. The gunners
shall not shoot any great ordnance at other distance than point blank.
An officer or two shall be appointed to take care that no loose powder
be carried between the decks, or near any linstock or match in hand. You
shall saw divers hogheads in two parts and filled with water set them
aloft the decks. You shall divide your carpenters, some in the hold, if
any shot come between wind and water, and the rest between the decks,
with plates of lead, plugs, and all things necessary laid by them. The
master and boatswain shall appoint a certain number of sailors to every
sail, and to every such company a master's mate, boatswain, mate, or
quarter-master, so as when every man knows his charge and place, things
may be done without noise or confusion, and no man to speak but the
officers.... You shall take a special care for the keeping of the ship
clean between the decks, to have your ordnance in order, and not cloyed
with trunks and chests."

Then follow further instructions as to conduct, which forbid any man to
play at cards or dice, either for his apparel or arms, upon pain of
being disarmed and made a swabber. And whosoever shall show himself a
coward upon any landing or otherwise, he shall be disarmed and made a
labourer and carrier of victuals for the rest.

And finally a few essential points are mentioned for all fully to
realize when God shall suffer them to land in the Indies, namely, the
danger of sleeping on the ground, of eating unknown fruits, or any flesh
until it be salted, of bathing in rivers. Especial stress is laid upon
the necessity of treating the Indians with courtesy in order to win
their help and friendship. "For other orders on the land we will
establish them (when God shall send us thither) by general consent. In
the mean time I will value every man's honour according to their degree
and valour, and taking care for the service of God and prosperity of our

On the 12th of June the fleet at last set sail. But as in the Islands
voyage, just twenty years before, a great storm broke upon the ships and
drove some back to Falmouth harbour. The bad weather raged for weeks and
ended in a tempest that scattered the fleet and wrought fearful havoc
among all.

Ralegh was forced to take refuge with his fleet in Cork harbour, where
another long delay ensued. Delay was disastrous. It meant lack of
confidence among the men. And well Ralegh knew that his authority had
been lessened by the reports which had been industriously spread among
his company that his commission being granted to a man _non ens_ in law,
took from him both arms and actions: "it gave boldness to every petty
companion to spread rumours to my defamation and the wounding of my
reputation in all places where I could not be present to make them
knaves and liars."

Delay meant expenditure of money which was desperately wanted; and what
was most serious of all, delay meant loss of time, for only at the most
favourable season of the year could these heavily equipped vessels hope
to make their voyage with any likelihood of success, and only at the
most favourable season could they hope to carry out the great task which
awaited them at the end of their long voyage.

Ralegh was once again in Ireland, where he had started his career.
Thirty-six years before he had written to Robert Dudley, Earl of
Leicester, now long dead, "I have spent some time here under the Deputy
in such poore place and charge, as were it not that I knew him to be one
of yours, I would disdayne it as much as to keepe sheepe." Here, too, he
had spent those quiet months with Edmund Spenser, his friend, by Mulla's
shore; nearly twenty years had passed since rebels burned Spenser's
house to the ground and Spenser himself died of very grief. And here was
Ralegh still living, still in quest of the dream's fulfilment, of which
he had talked with the poet who was at rest, and still fretting at this
last delay which was quietly ravelling away the fabric of all his hopes.
Spenser had given the world his vision of the fairy realm into which his
spirit had now passed; Ralegh had written the first half of his great
History of the World, over which he desired to extend his country's

Richard Boyle was still at Cork. Boyle had bought Ralegh's estates in
Ireland and they were flourishing under his direction. Here as
elsewhere Ralegh broke the ground from which others reaped a rich
harvest. One Henry Pine of Mogelie was vexing Boyle as grievously as he
had in years gone by vexed Ralegh with whom he was connected in
industrial enterprises. So Boyle took advantage of Ralegh's visit to
Cork to question him concerning the terms of a lease, and Ralegh spoke
vigorously against the claims of Henry Pine, remembering well Pine's
former bad treatment of him. He spoke so vigorously that in the
following year, when he was reviewing all the many events of his great
life, his words came back to him. He was then on the threshold of
departure, and not wishing to think that any man had been harmed by him
unjustly, he expressed a strong desire that the terms of this lease
might be examined closely again. The action witnesses Ralegh's attention
to justice and to detail.

But at last a favourable wind sprang up, and on the 19th of August,
though late in the year for its enterprise, the fleet set sail from Cork
harbour. Nothing could deter Ralegh from his last venture. The wide sea
opened out before him once again, and far away the rich land of his
dreams, where wealth was waiting for him and greatness for his country.
Behind him he left his adventurous past life, and his soul was inclined
towards this new adventure.

From Cork they set sail for Cape St. Vincent, and presently four ships
hove in sight, to which Ralegh at once gave chase. The long delay made
it dangerous to allow ships to pass unheeded, for by this time Ralegh
must have known to some extent how much the Spaniards knew. Neither he
nor any man could have suspected the scope of King James's treachery.
The pursuit was long and stirring. Eventually the strange vessels were
overhauled. Their leader said that they were French vessels bound for
Seville. His tale bore small signs of truth. His vessels were so heavily
armed, their cut so questionable, that Ralegh's men affirmed that they
were merely pirates, and should be treated as pirates. But Ralegh was
not in a position to run any risk, which might bring down upon him the
King's anger afresh. Accordingly he took the four ships with him for a
length of time, sufficient to ensure the harmlessness of any
intelligence which they might carry, and treated them with courtesy. The
men grumbled. Why should they be expected to believe in a trumped-up
story, when the vessels were full of Spanish apparel and Spanish
merchandise and unmistakable pirates, and why should they be deprived of
their proper spoil? To them Ralegh answered that it was lawful for the
French to make prize of the Spaniards to south of the Canaries and to
west of the Azores. "And if it were not so, it is no business of mine to
examine the subjects of the French King." He bought commodities from
them--oil, a pinnace, a fishing-net--to the value of sixty crowns, and
let them go on their way. His scruples were well considered, but they
did not tend to mollify the feeling of discontent which the untoward
delays at the outset of the voyage had brought into existence among the
men. The ill-feeling was increased when a little afterwards a Spanish
vessel was encountered which had been pillaged by them.

On September 7 the fleet reaching the Canary Islands anchored off
Lanzarote, and at Lanzarote an event of importance occurred which
exposed the full treachery that was lying hid in the expedition, as well
as in its false launching. There is small doubt that the Spaniards on
the island had received news of the fleet, and had been advised as to
its proper treatment by Gondomar, the ambassador in London.
Circumstances lent a specious cover to their conduct. For a band of
Moorish pirates was known to be in the proximity of the Canaries, and
their presence justified the hostile reception which awaited Ralegh's
fleet. Nor would they easily believe that the vessels were English. They
demanded that two officers should land unarmed, except with rapiers, and
unaccompanied. Ralegh and an officer named Bradshaw landed and conferred
with them in a plain, sufficiently open to prevent any secret treachery.
Ralegh's demands were simple. All he desired was fresh water and food
for his company. The governor of the island consented to supply him, and
agreed to sell him the provisions by means of an English merchant, whose
ship was at anchor in the harbour. "I sent the English factor according
to our agreement, but the governor put it off from one morning to
another, and in the end sent me word that except I would embark my men
who lay on the seaside, the islanders were so jealous as they durst not
sever themselves to make our provisions. I did so: but when the one half
were gotten aboard two of our sentinels were forced, one slain, and the
English factor sent to tell me that he had nothing for us, whom he still
believed to be a fleet of the Turks who had lately taken and destroyed
Puerto Sancto. Hereupon all the companies would have marched toward the
town and have sacked it, but I knew it would not only dislike his
Majesty, but that our merchants having a continual trade with these
islands that their goods would have been stayed, and among the rest the
poor Englishman riding in the road having all that he brought thither
ashore, would have been utterly undone."

But sufficient had happened for the spy, Captain Bailey. He needed
little evidence for his pretty tale, and having asked and obtained from
Ralegh some ordnance and some ironbound casks, he weighed anchor in the
night, and set all sail for England, where his employers would listen
eagerly to his pretty tale, and pay him for it. It is sad to read all
that Ralegh could write of him afterwards in his apology, "what should
move Bailey to leave me as he did at the Canaries, from whence he might
have departed with my love and leave, and at his return to do me all the
wrong he could devise, I cannot conceive.... I never gave him
ill-language, nor offered him the least unkindness to my knowledge."

When the spy, Captain Bailey, arrived in England he despatched his
account of the proceedings at Lanzarote to Buckingham, and Buckingham
lost no time in acquainting King James. On October 22 Gondomar wrote
fully to the King of Spain about the expedition, and Philip was more
urgent than ever in pressing Sir John Digby and Lord Cottington and Lord
Roos, who had been sent to Madrid by James to arrange the terms of the
marriage between the Infanta and Prince Charles, that Ralegh might be
immediately recalled and punished. King James was abject in his apology,
and became more and more inclined to the sacrifice of Ralegh. But the
spy Captain Bailey's account was too carelessly prepared; Cottington
discovered divergences; Lord Carew, Master of the Ordnance, declared
"those who malice Sir Walter boldly affirm him to be a pirate, which for
my part I will never believe." Moreover "the poor Englishman riding in
the road," whose name was Reeks, arrived on the scene and told a
different story of the event. It was most unfortunate for the spy,
Captain Bailey, who was sent to the Gatehouse at Westminster.

[Illustration: SIR WALTER RALEGH]

His pretty story was proved to be an invention, but that mattered
little subsequently; the invention served its purpose.

Meanwhile Ralegh's fleet had arrived at Gomera, "one of the strongest
and best defenced places of all the islands, and the best port; the town
being seated upon the very wash of the sea." Guns were fired at the
ships at their first approach, and the ships answered. But as soon as
Ralegh came up in the _Destiny_ he gave orders that the firing should
immediately cease, and sent a Spaniard, whom he had taken on a bark
which came from Cape Blanc, to assure the governor of the town that he
intended no harm of any kind to the subjects of the Spanish King. The
governor replied that he had mistaken the fleet for the Turks who had
sacked Puerto Sancto, "but being resolved by the messenger that we were
Christians and English, and sought nothing but water, he would willingly
afford us as much as we were pleased to take, if he might be assured
that we would not attempt his town houses nor destroy his gardens and
fruits." Ralegh gave full assurance, vowing to hang up in the
market-place any man of his who should lay marauding hands on so much as
one orange or a grape. Their courtesies did not end here. The governor's
wife happened to be an English gentlewoman, and she sent Ralegh gifts of
fruits, of sugar, of rusks, and saw to it that his stay at the island
was agreeable. Sir Walter sent her presents of gloves and scent, and a
picture of Mary Magdalen which hung in his cabin. These days which he
spent at Gomera could have been the only time in this last great
adventure of which he could have a pleasant memory.

The governor too was kindly disposed towards Ralegh, and not realizing
how deeply his guest was disliked and feared by the authorities at
home, he sent a letter to Gondomar, the ambassador in London, in which
he stated how exemplary had been the conduct of Ralegh's men.

The respite from the stress of the voyage was short. On September 24,
three days after they left the Canary Islands, the sickness which had
been prevalent among the men during their fortnight's stay, broke out
with fury. On the evening of the 24th fifty men lay helpless on the
_Destiny_. The other ships were not exempt. Two captains and a
provost-marshal died on them. The chief surgeon and several officers
followed on the 31st. As the plague-stricken ships made for the Brava
roads a hurricane burst over them; the hurricane sank one ship and
inflicted terrible damage upon the others. The storm abated, but the
sickness continued. Four more officers died, and most of Ralegh's
personal servants, so that, though he was himself suffering from a
severe calenture, he was attended only by pages. The death of John
Talbot grieved him sorely. John Talbot was one of those completely
trustworthy old servants that a man of Ralegh's calibre is wont to have.
"He was my honest friend," wrote Ralegh, "an excellent general scholar
and as faithful and true a man as lived. I lost him to my inestimable
grief." John Talbot had shared Ralegh's imprisonment of his own free
will. He was as devoted to Ralegh as Keymis even himself. Pigott, the
Lieutenant-General of the land service, died on October 13.

It is finely typical of Ralegh that in spite of the calamities which
fell thickly upon him, the plague, the tempest, his own illness--he made
and recorded observations which, as Edwards points out, furthered
nautical science considerably.

On November 11 the fleet arrived at Cape Orange, which was then called
Cape Wiapoco, and on the 14th they sailed into the harbour, made by the
River Cayenne, which Ralegh calls Caliana. On this voyage every possible
disaster had fallen upon the fleet, and yet the full business of the
expedition had only now begun. Ralegh lay on a sick-bed, an old man, but
he did not falter, though all the weight of arrangement was upon him. As
soon as he arrived he wrote to Lady Ralegh. The bearer of the letter was
one Captain Alley, who was suffering from an infirmity in his head, and
obliged on that account to return home with all speed--"an honest,
valiant man," according to Ralegh's description.

"Sweetheart, I can write unto you but with a weak hand, for I have
suffered the most violent calenture for fifteen days that ever man did
and lived. But God, that gave me a strong heart in all my adversities,
hath also now strengthened it in the hell-fire of heat.... We are yet
two hundred men, and the rest of our fleet are reasonable strong. Strong
enough, I hope, to perform what we have undertaken, if the diligent care
at London to make our strength known to the Spanish King by his
ambassador have not taught the Spanish King to fortify all the entrances
against us." He tells her that their son is in excellent health, "having
had no distemper in all the heat under the line," and after recording
the names of those who had died, and the disasters which had fallen upon
the survivors, he ends the letter with this characteristic sentence: "To
tell you that I might be here King of the Indians were a vanity. But my
name hath still lived among them here. They feed me with fresh meat and
all that the country yields; all offer to obey me." He would always
rather be King even of the Indians than king only of his griefs.

The ship remained at anchor in the harbour of the river Cayenne until
December 4. The sick men were landed, the ships were washed, fresh water
was taken in; the barges and shallops which were brought out of England
in quarters were put together, ready for the inland voyage to the mine.
Ralegh reaped the full benefit of his courtesy to the Indians on his
previous visit. Well they remembered him, as he wrote to his wife, and
without their kindness it would have fared ill with the plague-stricken,
tempest-tossed company. As it was, the Indians tended the sick with
every attention possible, and helped the expedition by every means in
their power. Ralegh was still too ill to walk. He was carried about in a
chair, and in a condition in which most men would need all their
strength to fight disease and death, he superintended the arrangements
for the five ships which were to make their way up the great river to
the mine under Captain Keymis.

In the five ships were five companies, each of fifty men. The
Lieutenant-General of the land force, John Piggot, had died of fever on
the way out; Sir Warham St. Leger lay sick without hope of life; and
accordingly the command of the whole expedition was entrusted to
Ralegh's nephew, George Ralegh, "who had served long with infinite
commendation," but who was somewhat too young to have over the men the
absolute authority which his position required. The five companies were
separately commanded by Captain Parker and Captain North, "brethren to
the Lord Mounteagle and the Lord North, valiant gentlemen, and of
infinite patience for the labour, hunger and heat which they have
endured;" by Ralegh's son, Walter; by Captain Thornhurst of Kent, and by
Captain Chudleigh's lieutenant.

Ralegh himself stayed with the five larger ships at Puncto Gallo by
Trinidad. He was constrained to do so, partly because his health would
not allow him to undergo the hardships of the inland voyage, but
principally because, a Spanish fleet being expected, no one would
venture to pass up the river unless one whom they could trust remained
at the base in charge of the big ships. Ralegh vowed that they should
find him at Puncto Gallo on their return, dead or alive: "and if you
find not my ships there yet you shall find their ashes. For I will fire
with the galleons if it come to extremity, but run away will I never."

At last, on December 10, the five ships set sail, and Ralegh moved away
with the main fleet. They made Point Barimy on December 15; on the 17th
Point Hicacos, which is at the extreme south-west of the island of
Trinidad; and on the last day of the year 1617 they anchored at Terra de

At Terra de Bri Ralegh began his slow period of suspense. The success of
the whole scheme was hanging in the balance, the scheme which had been
his life's chief business to fulfil, and he was doomed to inaction--to
wait while others sought the final prize. Bitter must have been this
waiting for Ralegh, bitter all the reasons that combined to keep him
back, each in themselves paltry, and united, irresistible. For the first
time a bodily ailment hindered him; old age was creeping on. For the
first time the great commander found a lack of loyalty in his men; and
that lack of loyalty had been generated and nourished by the treachery
of his King. How could any man gain the confidence of his men, and have
power over them, when he was still under sentence of death for treason?
The men who served him were the scum of the earth, bent only on
plunder, such, verily, as an unpardoned man would attract to his
service. But Keymis, Keymis and his own son--and the few valiant
gentlemen--his heart lightened as he thought of them; they were brave
and greathearted; they were loyal and steadfast. And George Ralegh, he
was young, but nothing would turn him back. Still Ralegh waited. There
was no sign of the Spanish fleet, which was expected, and for which he
kept ever on the alert. Ah! why had His Majesty been pleased to hold
them at so little value as to command him upon his allegiance to set
down under his hand the country of his destination and the very river of
entry; to set down the number of his men, the burthen of his ships, and
the ordnance each ship was bearing! Why had it pleased His Majesty to
hand over the document to the Spanish ambassador and break his royal

Still Ralegh waited. No news came from the land force. He tried to break
the monotony of suspense by searching out botanical specimens, and
examining the chemical properties of the plants; he busied himself with
the preparing of balsams, he who pined to be exploring the wealth of the
land of his dreams. How could he trust any man's judgment but his own in
such an enterprise, at such a time, when success meant prosperity for
his country, wealth and freedom for himself and his family; when failure
meant ruin, disgrace, and death? Yet Keymis, Keymis was faithful, and
young Wat had his father's blood in him.

Still Ralegh waited. At length one day a little boat came in sight, and
as it drew nearer it was seen to contain an Indian pilot and a sailor,
who had been with the land force. His name was Peter Andrews. A letter
was handed to Ralegh, a letter from Keymis. He broke the seal and

    "All things that appertain to human condition, in that proper nature
    and sense that of fate and necessity belongeth unto them, being now
    over with your son, maketh me chuse rather with grief to let you
    know from the certain truth, than uncertainties from others. Which
    is, viz. that had not his extraordinary valour and forwardness
    (which with constant vigour of mind, being in the hands of death,
    his last breath expressed in these words, _Lord have mercy upon me
    and prosper your enterprise_) led them all on, when some began to
    pause and recoil shamefully, this action had neither been attempted
    as it was, nor performed as it is, with this surviving honour....
    We have the governor's servant prisoner that waited on him in his
    bedchamber and knows all things that concerned his master. We find
    there are four refiners' houses in the town; the best houses in the
    town. I have not seen one piece of coin or bullion, neither gold or
    silver; a small deal of plate only excepted.

    "Captain Whitney and Wollaston are but now come to us and now I
    purpose (God willing) without delay to visit the mine, which is not
    eight miles from the town. Sooner I could not go by reason of the
    murmurings, the discords and vexations, wherewith the sergeant major
    is perpetually tormented and tired, having no man to assist him but
    myself only. Things are now in some reasonable order, and so soon as
    I have made trial of the mine I will seek to come to Your Lordship
    by way of the river Macario.... I have sent Your Lordship a parcel
    of scattered papers (I reserve a cart-load), one roll of tobacco,
    one tortoise, and some oranges and lemons. Praying God to give you
    strength and health of body and a mind armed against all
    extremities, I rest ever to be commanded this 8th day of January

                                                "Your Lordship's

His son was dead. His men were unruly and murmuring ... but yet the four
refiners' houses, and they were the best houses. Keymis had the
governor's servant in his hands, Keymis was within eight miles of the
mine: gallant was the death his son had died.... (Would God he were
there in person within eight miles of the mine!) He turned to Peter
Andrews and the Indian pilot and began to question them eagerly. From
them he learned the details of the expedition, since their start on the
10th of December. They came in sight of Point Araya on New Year's Day,
and soldiers were landed before sunset. Ralegh frowned to hear that the
Spaniards at the newly raised village--San Thome they called it,--were
in readiness, and that an ambuscade had been prepared. Palomeque de
Acuna had been forewarned by despatch from Madrid--Ah! the accursed
delay and the still more accursed disloyalty of his King--Ralegh learned
of the treachery and the disaster--slowly, for his heart and mind were
heavy at the bad news of his son's death, and Peter Andrews was often
interrupted in his confused story by the impatience of his admiral. But
this is the gist of what had happened.

The Englishmen had encamped by the river bank. As soon as night fell on
the land, Geronimo de Grados led his men from their ambuscade in front
of the village down upon the English, who were taken completely at
unawares. The common sort were panic-stricken, and had not the captains
and some valiant gentlemen, among whom was one John Hampden (a staunch
admirer of Ralegh and famous in history), set a valiant example, the
whole company would have been cut to pieces. As it was, the Spaniards
were at last driven back. They were driven right back to the village of
St. Thomas, the position of which was not known. There the retreating
men of Geronimo de Grados were joined by a fresh force under Diego
Palomeque, the governor, and then the English were checked in their
pursuit. They began to waver. But young Walter Ralegh cried out
cheerily to the pikemen, who were ahead of the musketeers, to advance
after him, and waving his sword he led them to the fight afresh.
Straight for Palomeque, the governor, he dashed and slew him. A hand to
hand jabbing fight ensued, and muskets were fired at very close
quarters. Young Ralegh was wounded. He paid no heed to his wound; with
blood streaming from his wound he advanced against a Spaniard named
Erinetta. But his quickness had lessened, as his strength ebbed from
him. Erinetta swung his musket and the stock crashed on young Ralegh's
skull: but Erinetta could not recover himself and he was immediately
beaten to the ground. The Spaniards began to give way again. They fled.
They fled for refuge to a monastery of St. Francis; the soldiers under
George Ralegh and Keymis stormed the monastery and drove the Spaniards
into the woods, and finally for refuge into their last stronghold where
the women and children had been taken from St. Thomas. The battle was at
an end. But the new governor, Garcia de Aguilar, was a man of resource.
He gave orders that the survivors should form themselves into small
bands, should harass the English whenever an opportunity offered, and
fall upon all stragglers. While the funeral ceremony was being conducted
over the body of young Walter, Captains Whitney and Wollaston arrived,
and Peter Andrews and the Indian pilot were sent back, bearing their
tidings to the main body at Terra de Bri.

That was all Ralegh could learn. That his son was dead; that the
Spaniards were forewarned and keenly hostile; that his men were shaken.

The suspense became well-nigh intolerable for him as he settled to
endure the second long period of inaction--of waiting whilst with
others lay the excitement of finishing for good or ill the scheme of his
life's imagining. His son was dead. He could not bring himself to write
the bitter news to his wife. He himself, an old man, still lived--and
waited on the threshold of discovery. Keymis, however, was a trusted
man, and nothing would hinder George Ralegh from his purpose. Keymis
wrote that he was within some few hours of the mine. Perhaps even now
Keymis was on his way back again, his ships laden with gold--and if gold
were once found, there would be little difficulty in founding the colony
which would become England's great empire across the seas. No old man
could live to see that, but his son might ... if his son were not
already dead. He would wait to tell the bad news to his wife until he
had some good news--the news of prosperity--that she might know his
other son, Carew, though not of young Walter's mettle, would be able to
continue his father's tradition.

Still he waited--day after day, week after week, month after month, but
no fresh news came from Keymis, and no signs were anywhere apparent of a
Spanish fleet. He went on with his botanical studies as much as his
enfeebled strength would allow him. He studied the little plants that
renew their life each year.

    Bow down and worship; more than we
    Is the least flower whose life returns
    Least weed renascent in the sea.

For Ralegh was a poet and so lost his personal sense of loss in the
great mystery of things, which his personal griefs made more vivid to
his mind. He was a poet and saw much that he could not express. The idea
of Death fascinated him always. Death had slain the young Prince, the
hope of the nation; his friend, who would have helped him in his
project; had left untouched the father, King James, who had betrayed
him. And now Death had taken his son, who had only lived twenty-three
years, and left him an old man--once again waiting, as he waited those
long years in the Tower, waiting whilst others made or marred the
fulfilment of his dream. Why was he thus often doomed to inactivity?

Still he waited.... At twenty-three, the age at which his son met death
in a Spanish ambuscade on the eve of a great discovery, with a shining
future before him, he himself was fighting in Ireland, an obscure
soldier of fortune. The days of his past life appeared before him, his
Queen's favour, his Queen's displeasure, the high mark which he had
touched, the low place to which he had sunk, his captivity, his renewal
of hope through the gallant Prince who was dead, his freedom, and this
last tremendous effort to bring greatness to his country, prosperity to
his family; and he was still waiting, while Keymis and George Ralegh
took the last great step. He would tell his wife of their son's death
when he could console her with the knowledge of what he had himself
achieved. But no news came from Keymis. He could trust Keymis. He knew
the man well and cared for him. All through his captivity who had served
him as faithfully as Keymis? Who had believed in him so staunchly as
Keymis? Who had helped him even so well? Perhaps Keymis and all his men
were slain, or lost, or drowned.

Just before the middle of March Keymis returned. There was gladness on
his face to see his master alive, but the gladness did not continue. He
brought bad news. The faces of his men showed anger and discontent.
Keymis brought the worst news that any man could have brought to Ralegh
after his long days of waiting. The scheme had failed, failed beyond all
hope of recovery, and there was nothing to show for all the lives that
had been thrown away, all the dangers and difficulties that had been

For this is what had happened.

After the reinforcement of Captains Whitney and Wollaston, Captain
Keymis took two boats further up the Orinoco in search of the mine,
leaving the remainder of the company near St. Thomas. Their destination
was Seiba, a village on the banks of the river within a two hours' march
of the mine. The party made their way without mishap to the creek by the
landing-place. But there, too, the Spaniards were in readiness. As the
first boat neared the shore, a volley was fired, and nearly all the men
in the boat were hit. His force thus enfeebled, Captain Keymis decided
to return to St. Thomas for fresh soldiers. He found the company at St.
Thomas harassed by sickness and continual attacks of the Spaniards; but
they still had spirit enough to make one further effort. This time
George Ralegh with three boats made his way right up the Orinoco to
inspect the country from the point of view of colonization. He, too, was
struck by its richness and beauty. He returned and found the company
still more weakened by sickness and assault. The Spaniards made an
attempt to burn the English camp. This so infuriated the men that they
set upon St. Thomas and razed it to the ground. Captain Keymis
discovered from the Indians that in the neighbourhood of St. Thomas also
there were rich mines, which lack of labour alone prevented the
Spaniards from working; but no other attempt was made to locate them or
to test their richness. Then the whole expedition returned. The one
actual sign of their toils which they brought, were papers taken from
the governor at the sack of St. Thomas, and these papers were documents
from Madrid, proving how falsely King James had dealt with Ralegh.

Such was the report which Keymis gave to Ralegh. Ralegh was silent as he
listened to the account of the overthrow of all his hopes. When the sad
tale was finished, he asked Keymis why he had not obeyed his
instructions, why he had not opened the mine and brought back some
visible sign of its existence. Keymis gave his reasons at full length.
There were not enough men to hold the mine; young Ralegh was dead; his
master was ill, dying, nay, for all Keymis knew, he was dead. Why should
the mine be opened that others might reap the benefit? But still Ralegh
insisted, unwavering in dreadful firmness, on his question, Why had not
instructions been obeyed? There were many interviews; there were long
discussions that day and the next. Still Ralegh answered, "You should
have obeyed instructions." "When I was resolved to write unto your
Honour (wrote Ralegh to Sir Ralph Winwood, not knowing that his friend,
the Secretary of State, had been dead for five months) he prayed me to
joyne with him in excusing his not going to the mine. I answered him, I
would not doe it; that if himself could satisfy the King and the State
that he had reason not to open it, I should be glad of it; but for my
part, I must avow it that he knew it and that he might with little losse
have done it; other excuse I would not frame."

The position was a terrible one. Ralegh had been waiting for months,
trusting to the loyalty of Keymis to execute his great enterprise; and
it was Keymis's very loyalty to Ralegh which was the real cause of his
failure; for he would not open the mine unless he was quite sure that
his master alone should benefit. Keymis was wrong. But he could not bear
Ralegh to think that his conduct had been remiss; he could not bear to
think that he had injured the master for whom he would gladly have given
his life. Nor could he make Ralegh understand even the reason of his
action. "I know then, sir, what course to take," said Keymis, when he
found he could not move Ralegh from his attitude of censure, and he went
away "out of my cabin into his own, in which he was no sooner entered,
but I heard a pistol go off. I sent up to know who had shot a pistol.
Keymis himself made answer, lying on his bed, that he had shot it off
because it had long been charged, with which I was satisfied. Some
half-hour after this, the boy going into his cabin found him dead,
having a long knife thrust under his left pap through his heart, and his
pistol lying by him, with which it appeared that he had shot himself,
but the bullet lighting upon a rib, had but broken the rib, and went no

Such was the end of Ralegh's long period of waiting. The tragedy is
great and real. He had trusted to Captain Keymis implicitly; and Keymis,
through excess of loyalty, had failed him. The only fault in either is
that each was a little too true to his own character. Keymis's death
shook Ralegh to the depths of his nature. Now more than ever he had need
of men staunch as the dead Keymis.

For mutiny broke out among the men. Captains Whitney and Wollaston
deserted. The men declared that they had joined the expedition merely to
loot the Spaniards and plunder they would have. The mine had failed.
Well, they would turn pirates and attack the Spanish fleet on its way
home. They threatened to throw Ralegh into the sea if he persisted in
his resolution to return. He quieted them as much as lay in his power;
but at last his great power was shaken and enfeebled, by imprisonment,
by long sickness, by age, by the King's treachery, by disaster on
disaster. He had still sufficient power to keep to his resolution and to
force his men to some semblance of obedience, but in the old days no
mutiny would have happened. Sulkily the men set sail for home, and
Ralegh knew from the letters which Keymis had brought him from St.
Thomas, that he was returning to disgrace and death.

From St. Christopher's, on this sad journey back, he forced himself to
tell his wife the bad news of their son's death. He had no comfort for
her. He was inured to grief. "God knows I never knewe what sorrow meant
till now," he writes. "My braines are broken, and it is a torment for me
to write, and especially of misery." And in a postscript, "I protest
before the Majesty of God that as Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins
died hart broken when they failed of their enterprize, I could willingly
doe the like did I not contend against sorrow for your sake in hope to
provide somewhat for you, and to comfort and relieve you."

The remainder of the voyage back was as disastrous as had been the
outward voyage. Storms broke upon the ships and separated them. Some put
in at Ireland; Captain Pennington, who had ridden back at the last
moment to obtain money for supplies from Lady Ralegh, put in at Kinsale,
and his ship was immediately seized. The _Destiny_ arrived at Plymouth
on June 21 alone; and at Plymouth Ralegh met his wife, and there he
stayed until the second week of July.

In his last great enterprize he had failed, and he returned to give an
account of his failure, and to face the ignominy which his failure
entailed. He was resolved, however, to make one last effort to clear his
name, and to reinstate his family in some semblance of prosperity. He
was an old man now, and one who had been buffeted by misfortune, but the
spirit of life was still strong in him.



     His reception--Arrest--Journey from Plymouth--Stukeley and
     Manourie--The final scene.

Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, had been active during Ralegh's
absence to work his complete overthrow, but Ralegh remained some weeks
at Plymouth before he knew the exact nature of the reception which
awaited him.

Masterly was the way in which Gondomar handled James. He was about to
start for Madrid on leave, when the news arrived from the townspeople of
St. Thomas of the English attack. "Exaggerate as much as you can
Ralegh's guilt and try to get the King to make a great demonstration,"
wrote Philip from Madrid. "Do not," he went on, "threaten him; but make
him understand that I am offended, and that if a proper remedy be not
forthcoming at once, we shall make reprisals and seize English property
in Spain." Gondomar set about his task forthwith. He rushed into the
royal presence crying with uplifted hands, "Pirates! pirates! pirates!"
and urged James to remember his promise, that Ralegh should be sent in
chains to Spain to be hanged in the Plaza of Madrid. This was no time
for delay, for judicial examination: Ralegh should be despatched
immediately on his landing, with all his pirate followers. But James
could not, though he would, act thus uncompromisingly. Ralegh was too
considerable a man, and feeling towards him had changed very much since
the time of his first trial when he was hooted through the streets of
London as a traitor. There was a large party in the country who were
averse to James's wish of an alliance by marriage with Spain. For forty
years Spain had tried to humble England, and for forty years England had
more than held her own. And now was the King to be bullied into
sacrificing one of his greatest subjects, unheard, unjudged, at the
bidding of Spain's ambassador? Moreover, James felt that he was losing
the popularity which he had won at the beginning of his reign. His
favourites were disliked. The personal influence of Gondomar over him
was disliked. So James temporised--in his habitual way he temporized--so
that he might, like the weak man he was, enjoy the sense of power which
he felt as he slowly tightened the rope round Ralegh. "James wants peace
and must be frightened," wrote Gondomar. "The English have changed their
tone since I came and I have shown them that I will stand no nonsense."
And his boast was amply justified.

Sir Lewis Stukeley was sent to Plymouth to arrest Ralegh and take
possession of his ship and cargo. Ralegh had already started from
Plymouth with his wife and Captain King when he met Stukeley, near the
old stannary town of Ashburton on the edge of Dartmoor, twenty miles on
his way to London. Stukeley made him return with him to Plymouth: for
Stukeley was anxious to make as much as possible for himself out of
Ralegh's cargo on board the _Destiny_, for he was vice-admiral of Devon.

Sir Lewis Stukeley was a Devon man and kinsman of Ralegh, for he was
nephew to the valiant Sir Richard Grenville. He did not maintain the
traditions of his family or of his county. Ralegh stayed in Plymouth
some ten days at the house of Sir Christopher Harris. He was not yet
aware of the fate that awaited him, for Stukeley had only an order from
the King and no warrant from the Lords of the Council. And Stukeley too
was full of friendliness and soft words, partly to put Ralegh off his
guard and partly because it was easier for him to be agreeable to a man
like Ralegh, whom he could not bully. Lady Ralegh and Captain King were
full of grave fears for Sir Walter. They begged him, valuing his life as
they did, before everything else, to escape to France. They made all
necessary preparations: a barque was in readiness just outside the
harbour. Ralegh, still uncertain as to the best way of conducting the
little business of life that remained to him, listened to their
entreaties and actually went out in a small boat almost to the barque.
But he turned back at the last moment, determined to face every danger
that awaited him in order that he might clear his name in the eyes of
posterity from the slur of false charges that he knew would be made
against him. Exactly how that was to be compassed he did not yet know.
Now, as before, in the troubled periods of his life, a kind of apathy,
of weariness of life, closed in upon him; the apathy that comes from
uncertainty, and which in his case preceded a great and definite action.
His powers were slowly collecting for the last great moment of his life.

Towards the end of July a messenger arrived from the Privy Council,
bearing an urgent summons to Stukeley to bring Ralegh to their presence
without a moment's delay. "We command you," the message ran, "upon your
allegiance, that you do safely and speedily bring hither the person of
Sir Walter Ralegh, to answer before us such matters as shall be objected
against him in His Majesty's behalf."

The message was sent on July 21, and arrived four days later. On the
same day, July 25, Ralegh began his journey from Plymouth to London, as
Stukeley's prisoner.

Slowly in Ralegh's mind a plan of action matured. He knew that in London
he had with the King's enmity little hope of life. It remained for him
to clear his name of slander; his own life was now of small consequence
to him: he was considering how best to leave a fair name and some means
of decent living for his family. He saw that time was an essential to
him. He must take care not to be hurried to London, hurried before the
Council, and hurried to the scaffold before men were properly aware of
his presence, and aware of the importance of the event. He must contrive
to die greatly, as acquittal was beyond man's power. He knew that he was
innocent, he knew that James desired his death, and that innocence was
of small account when pitted against a King's wish. He lived long enough
not only to see but to experience the bad consequences which he had
foreseen of absolute monarchy under a weak King. Civil war fell on
England, and the rule of the Puritans before the policy which he had
thought out when Elizabeth was an old woman, became established. He
brooded long over many things on that sad journey from Plymouth--over
the roads which he knew so well. All the country-side was dear to him.
He had done with it all now.

He passed Sherborne, where he had lived and been happy; he spent the
night quite close to Sherborne at the house of his acquaintance Parham.
It was a melancholy home-coming. What now remained of his great hopes
and his great doings? In the eyes of the world he had failed. But he
must open the world's eyes to see his failure in its proper light.

At Salisbury, where they arrived the following day, his plan matured. It
would not do to come nearer London and his judges unprepared and
dreaming of his past life. Something still remained to be done. He must
gain time. He must be expected too, that all might be ready to hear what
he had to say. His device was brave and was pathetic. He determined to
feign illness.

Now, at Plymouth he had met a man named Manourie, a Frenchman who was
interested in chemistry. In Manourie Ralegh had the faith which a man is
inclined to have in a fellow-craftsman on other matters than his craft.
His confidence was unwise. Thinking over great matters, he was not
sufficiently alert and not sufficiently distrustful. Nor is it certain
that Manourie was false from the beginning. It is probable that he came
to realize how dangerous a business he had undertaken, and, becoming
alarmed, fell an easy prey to Stukeley's promises and suggestions.

Within sight of Salisbury Ralegh asked Manourie for a vomit. "It will be
good," he said, "to evacuate bad humours. And by its means I shall gain
time to work my friends and order my affairs; perhaps even to pacify His
Majesty. Otherwise, as soon as ever I come to London, they will have me
to the Tower, and cut off my head. I cannot escape it without
counterfeiting sickness."

They arrived in Salisbury a few days before King James and the Court
were expected. Ralegh strung himself to his pathetic part, and played it
so bravely that Stukeley and the whole retinue were convinced that a
deadly sickness was approaching. On entering the house where he was to
be lodged in Salisbury he staggered, as a man staggers who is overcome
by sudden sickness, and fell against a pillar in the doorway, bruising
his head. A delay was ordered. Lady Ralegh, with her retinue of servants
and Captain King, was sent on towards London. Hardly had they started
when a servant came to Stukeley's room, and said he, "My master is out
of his wits. I have just found him in his shirt, upon all fours, gnawing
at the rushes on the floor." Stukeley was amazed and perplexed. King
James and the Court were daily expected at Salisbury, and his special
instructions to hurry on the prisoner could only mean that the King was
anxious not to be in Salisbury at the same time as Ralegh. And yet the
prisoner must not be allowed to die. Moreover, pustules broke out all
over Ralegh's body, and Stukeley could not have then known that they
were produced by a cunning ointment which Manourie had given to Ralegh.
Stukeley went to Bishop Andrewes, the bishop sent physicians to Ralegh,
and they signed a certificate to say that he was not in a fit state of
health to travel further. Ralegh's point was gained. He set to work and
wrote his "Apology for the Voyage to Guiana," in which he stated his
good case to the world.

It has been remarked, almost with astonishment, by some that Ralegh was
not in the least ashamed of his action. But there was no reason why he
should be ashamed. He decided in his own mind that to gain time was a
necessity to him, and having done so he set about the business in the
only way that he could, and he succeeded. Afterwards he was reproached
for the lack of dignity he showed, and answered, "I hope it was no sin.
The prophet David did make himself a fool, and suffered spittle to fall
upon his beard, that he might escape the hands of his enemies; and to
him it was not imputed as a sin." Men like Ralegh have different values
from the values of ordinary men; in that, perhaps, chiefly lies their
greatness. Dignity is a thing which can very well be left to look after
itself; the dignity which needs any careful bolstering is not in itself
of great value.

Meanwhile King James and his Court arrived at Salisbury, and orders were
immediately issued that Ralegh should continue his journey to London. It
was probably about this time that Manourie learned the full importance
of the fellow-chemist whom he was assisting, and became afraid.
Hereafter Stukeley was informed of all the things which Ralegh said and
did, and of many things doubtless which he had never said and never

So Ralegh continued his journey with his two false friends. As they
neared London, the French resident in London, by name Le Clerc, and
David de Novion, Sieur de la Chesnaye, met the party. De Novion was
awaiting Ralegh's arrival at Brentford. He was empowered by the French
minister to offer Ralegh means of escape to France. Men in authority at
the French Court considered that such an enemy of Spain, whose head the
Spanish ambassador desired to fall as a tribute to Spain's power over
James, would be a useful man to save. But Ralegh appears to have
listened with no great eagerness to their proposals. He was no longer
anxious to continue his life in a strange country under a strange king,
to whom he was indebted. He needed all his strength for the last
achievement on which his heart was set--to clear his name from slanders,
and he was not sure that escape was the best means to his end; though
he listened later to the entreaties of his wife and Captain King, to
whom his very life was dear. But Ralegh must have listened with some
pleasure: the anxiety shown on his account, for whatever reason, must
have made it clear to him that now, at any rate, he could not be huddled
away to the Tower and to his death, unheard, as he had feared. He
desired publicity, that he might die, as he had lived--greatly.

On August 7 Ralegh reached London, and, instead of going to the Tower,
was allowed to go to his own house, which was in Broad Street. Captain
King was waiting for him. He had arrived some days previously, and had
wasted no time. A barque was in readiness at Tilbury to take his master
to France. Had Ralegh's whole mind been centred on escape, there is no
doubt that he could have escaped, in spite of Stukeley's treachery. But
his mind was divided. His own desire was to stay in England, and meet
whatever his fate might be; but his desire was, no doubt, obscured by
his wife's entreaties that he should seize any opportunity of life under
any conditions. He allowed himself to be rowed down the Thames. Stukeley
was actually with him, vowing that he wished his escape. A boat,
however, was seen to be in pursuit. The men at the oars grew suspicious;
they slackened their rowing, and at length turned back. At Greenwich
Stukeley declared himself, and arrested Captain King and his master.
Ralegh turned to Stukeley and said quietly, "Sir Lewis, these actions
will not turn out to your credit," and to Captain King, from whom he
took leave at the Tower gates, "You need be in fear of no danger. It is
I only that am the mark shot at."

[Illustration: TRAITOR'S GATE]

Once again Ralegh was in the Tower--the day he entered it was August
10. Manourie received £20 for his part of the treachery, Sir Lewis
Stukeley £965 _6s._ _3d._; the money was made up, for the most part, of
the price of jewels which were taken from Sir Walter's person on this
day of his last entry to the Tower. Among these jewels was the ring he
had always worn since it was put on his finger by Queen Elizabeth.

The attempt to escape had been encouraged by enemies who wished to
strengthen the case against Ralegh. That was clear enough to him, even
before he was brought face to face with the Lords of the Council at his
trial. They strove again, as they had striven before, to win the King's
favour by maligning him. They affirmed that the whole enterprise to
Guiana was a fraud, which Ralegh had invented to gain his freedom. For
two months they considered the most plausible means of bringing him to
execution. During that time Ralegh wrote letters to those in authority,
and especially a noteworthy letter to the King, thinking that there
might remain some spark of just feeling in him.

    "If it were lawfull," he wrote, "if it were lawfull for the
    Spanish to murther 26 Englishmen, tyenge them back to backe and
    then to cutt theire throtes, when they had traded with them a
    whole moneth, and came to them on the land without so much as
    one sword amongst them all; and that it may not be lawfull for
    your Majesties subjects, being forced by them, to repel force
    by force, we may justly say, 'O miserable English!'

    "If Parker and Mutton took Campeach and other places in the
    Honduraes seated in the hart of the Spanish Indies; burnt
    townes, killed the Spaniards; and had nothing sayed to them at
    their returne--and that my selfe forbore to looke into the
    Indies, because I would not offend, I may as justly say, 'O
    miserable Sir Walter Ralegh!'

    "If I had spent my poore estate, lost my sonne, suffred by
    sicknes and otherwise, a world of miseries; if I had resisted
    with the manifest hazard of my life the rebells and spoiles
    which my companyes would have made; if when I was poore I could
    have made my selfe rich; if when I had gotten my libertye which
    all men and Nature it selfe doth so much prise, I voluntarily
    lost it; if when I was master of my life, I rendred it again;
    if [though] I might elsewhere have sould my shipp and goods and
    put five or six thousand pounds in my purse, I have brought her
    into England; I beseech your Majestie to beleeve that all this
    I have done because it should not be sayed to your Majestie
    that your Majestie had given libertie and trust to a man whose
    ende was but the recovery of his libertie, and whoe had
    betrayed your Majesties trust."

It was to no purpose. Ralegh well knew by this time of what base fabric
was the King's mind. The Lords in Council only delayed sentence because
they could not determine on what grounds to execute their prisoner. At
last, on October 24, Ralegh was told that sentence of death had been
passed upon him. On October 28 he was summoned to Westminster, from his
room in the Tower. A sharp attack of ague lessened the strength that
still remained to him. He was old now and white haired as he stood
before his judges. The Attorney-General read the writ against him and
said: "My Lords, Sir Walter Ralegh, the prisoner at the bar, was fifteen
years since convicted of high treason, by him committed against the
person of His Majesty and the state of this kingdom, and then received
the judgment of death, to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. His Majesty
of his abundant grace hath been pleased to shew mercy upon him till now,
that justice calls upon him for execution. Sir Walter Ralegh hath been
a statesman, and a man who in regard of his parts and quality is to be
pitied. He hath been as a star at which the world hath gazed; but stars
may fall, nay, they must fall when they trouble the sphere wherein they
abide. It is, therefore, His Majesty's pleasure now to call for
execution of the former judgment, and I now require order for the same."

Ralegh listened to this pompous mockery and said, when asked what he
could say for himself why execution should not be awarded against him,
"My Lords, my voice is grown weak by reason of my late sickness, and an
ague which I now have; for I was now brought hither out of it." And the
Lord Chief Justice answered: "Sir Walter, your voice is audible enough."

Indeed, there was little to be said by Ralegh, or any man, against a
charge thus raked up from the past. The affair of this trial was a mere
form, and Ralegh reserved his strength for his last great avowal at the
supreme moment of his life.

He was taken away to the Gatehouse prison. Immediately the carpenters
set to work to erect the scaffold. His execution was fixed for an early
hour on the following morning. For on that day men's attention would be
turned from the happenings at Westminster; and towards the City where
the Lord Mayor's show would take place. Men's attention was not desired
for the morrow's deed at Westminster.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ralegh was a poet. A man cannot be a poet in his spare time. There is a
realm which Beauty rules--that Beauty which Castiglione celebrated, and
the understanding of which he made the last and chief attribute of his
Courtier, with that realm Ralegh was in communion. From it he drew
strength for his life. Such communion does unfit a man for the business
of life, but gives him power to cope with its difficulties by enabling
him to look a little beyond them. It raises him above the pettiness of
things, and makes him see more clearly because he sees things at their
proper value and in their right proportion. This perception--this
sensitiveness--made him suffer more acutely, but endowed him with the
power of detachment, the power to rise above his personal griefs.

Ralegh was a poet. He expressed himself in his life in a way strangely
akin to that in which he expressed himself in his actual poetry. He
resembles some knight in a Morris romance in his adoration for his
Queen, and in his love for his wife.

    But true love is a durable fire,
      In the mind ever burning,
    Never sick, never old, never dead,
      From itself never turning.

That spirit informed his life, and is linked with his every achievement.
"Schönheit geniessen heiss die Welt verstehn." And one of the most
memorable facts of the Russo-Japanese war was that the invincible
Admiral Togo wrote home asking for plum trees in flower to be sent to
him; he needed the strength which he drew from looking at their beauty.
Castiglione was right. This perception of beauty is the last quality of
the perfect courtier; from that alone can strength be gathered and
stored for this strange struggle of life.

And now Ralegh had reached the last day of his life. Early next morning
he was destined to solve the mighty problem with which poets and
philosophers have always wrestled in vain--the problem which is the
mightiest in life, which lends life colour and poignancy--the problem
of death. The excitement of knowing that in a few hours he would be
taken into that great mystery must have been overpowering. He no longer
needed consolation: fear was lost in eagerness to know. And a sense of
relief came to him that he would be driven no longer to fight on in the
long battle of life with the fierce energy that mastered him. He had
sufficient experience to be a little weary of life; he had sufficient
vitality to welcome death. He knew that he saw the sun set for the last
time; that for the last time he saw the approach of night, the familiar
faces of men, and all the surroundings of man's life. His consciousness
was coming to an end. "Do not carry it with too much bravery," said his
kinsman, Francis Thynne. "It is my last mirth in this world," answered
Ralegh. "Do not grudge it to me."

For the last time? Yet who can tell? What is man's knowledge when
confronted by the portentous fact of death?

Once more Ralegh was about to journey into the unknown, and his spirit
thrilled with excitement at this his last and most adventurous journey.
Dr. Tounson, the worthy Dean of Westminster, came to visit him in the
little room which was allotted to him in the Gatehouse prison. "When I
began to encourage him against the fear of death he seemed to make so
light of it that I wondered at him."

His body was weak; his spirit was strong. Sorrow he was leaving behind
him. And until the clock struck the hour of midnight he who was to meet
death in the morning of that very day sympathized and strengthened his
wife, who had many days more through which she must live.

At midnight Lady Ralegh left him, and for the last time he began to set
his affairs in order. He knew now how he could clear his name before the
world. His spirit was so alive that he never doubted his power to die as
he had lived--splendidly. He determined what he would say in the
morning--quietly, resolutely--and having done so, still there was some
time at his disposal. He opened the Bible that lay on the table and upon
the first blank page he wrote--

    Even such is time! who takes in trust
    Our youth, our joys, and all we have,
    And pays us but with earth and dust;
    Who in the dark and silent grave,
    When we have wandered all our ways,
    Shuts up the story of our days.
    But from that earth, that grave and dust
    The Lord shall raise me up, I trust.

And now the time had come for him to face the high ordeal of public
death, which was to be the last triumph of his great spirit. A goblet of
sack was brought him and he made his way to the scaffold. A crowd was
already assembled--waiting.

Ralegh walked to the scaffold with head erect, complete master of the
terrible situation. He noticed an old man standing in the front of the
crowd with uncovered head, and taking off the covering he wore under his
hat, he gave it to the old man, saying, "You need this, my friend, more
than I do." The crowd pressed upon Ralegh and the struggle to reach the
scaffold made his body, still weak from the ague, breathless. It is in
accordance with the irony of things that even this last path was not
clear for him. At last he stood upon the scaffold, erect and smiling.
The crowd listened for his death speech. The chief men in England were
there to hear his last words and to witness his death. Ralegh began to
speak. He said--

"I have had fits of ague for these two days. If therefore you perceive
any weakness in me, ascribe it to my sickness rather than to myself. I
am infinitely bound to God that He hath vouchsafed me to die in the
sight of so noble an assembly, and not in darkness, in that Tower where
I have suffered so much adversity and a long sickness. I thank God that
my fever hath not taken me at this time, as I prayed to God it might

His voice grew weak. He feared that the nobles who were in the balconies
would not hear him. So he asked them to come upon the scaffold. They
consented and came. Each shook Ralegh's hand, as he thanked them for
this last courtesy.

He continued his speech amidst the silence of the crowd. He defended
himself against the charges of complicity with France, of disloyalty to
the King, and then he said--

"For my going to Guiana many thought I never intended it, but intended
only to gain my liberty,--which I would I had been so wise as to have
kept. But as I shall answer it before the same God before whom I am
shortly to appear, I endeavoured, and I hoped to have enriched the King,
myself, and my partners. But I was undone by Keymis, a wilful fellow,
who seeing my son slain and myself unpardoned, would not open the mine,
and killed himself.

"It was also told the King that I was brought by force into England, and
that I did not intend to come back again. I protest that when the voyage
succeeded not, and that I resolved to come home, my company mutinied
against me. They fortified the gun-room against me, and kept me within
my own cabin; and would not be satisfied except I would take a corporal
oath not to bring them into England until I had gotten the pardons of
four of them,--there being four men unpardoned. So I took that oath. And
we came into Ireland, where they would have landed in the north parts.
But I would not, because there the inhabitants were all Redshanks. So we
came to the south, hoping from thence to write to his Majesty for their
pardons. In the meantime I offered to places in Devon and Cornwall, to
lie safe till they had been pardoned."

Ralegh now turned towards Lord Arundel, who was standing on the
scaffold. "I am glad that my Lord of Arundel is here. For when I went
down to my ship, his Lordship and divers others were with me. At the
parting salutation, his Lordship took me aside and desired me freely and
faithfully to resolve him in one request, which was, 'Whether I made a
good voyage or a bad, yet I should return again into England.' I made
you a promise and gave you my faith that I would."

Lord Arundel said in a loud voice, "And so you did. It is true that they
were the last words I spake unto you."

And Ralegh went on: "Other reports are raised of me, touching that
voyage which I value not.... I will yet borrow a little time of Master
Sheriff to speak of one thing more. It doth make my heart bleed to hear
such an imputation laid upon me. It was said that I was a persecutor of
my Lord of Essex, and that I stood in a window over against him when he
suffered, and puffed out tobacco in disdain of him. I take God to
witness that my eyes shed tears for him when he died. And as I hope to
look in the face of God hereafter, my Lord of Essex did not see my face
when he suffered. I was afar off, in the Armoury, where I saw him but he
saw not me. And my soul hath been many times grieved that I was not near
unto him when he died, because I understood that he asked for me, at his
death, to be reconciled to me. I confess I was of a contrary faction.
But I knew that my Lord of Essex was a noble gentleman, and that it
would be worse with me when he was gone. For those that set me up
against him did afterwards set themselves against me."

Ralegh knelt in prayer, asking the assembled crowd to pray with him. He
rose and the executioner knelt before him to ask his forgiveness. Ralegh
put his hand on the masked figure's two shoulders and said that he
forgave him with all his heart. "Show me the axe," he cried, "show me
the axe." Then he felt the edge with his thumb and approved of its
sharpness. "This gives me no fear. It is a sharp and fair medicine to
cure me of all my diseases." And presently, "When I stretch forth my
hands despatch me." He turned to all the people and said in a loud
voice, "Give me heartily your prayers."

His velvet cloak was taken off. He knelt in prayer. He laid his neck
upon the block and stretched out his hands. But the masked figure in
black, the executioner, was unmanned by the scene. He could not raise
the axe. Again Ralegh stretched out his hands. The man remained
motionless. Then Ralegh cried out, "What dost thou fear? Strike, man,
strike!" It was necessary for him to give the man courage to kill him.
At last the axe was lifted, and with two swift blows his neck was

So lived Sir Walter Ralegh, and so he died.

"O eloquent, just, and mighty Death! whom none could advise, thou hast
persuaded; what none hath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world
hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world and despised: thou
hast drawne together all the farre stretched greatnesse, all the pride,
crueltie, and ambition of man, and covered it all over with these two
narrow words--_Hîc jacet_."



  Abington, Edward, 64

  Agouhanna, 4

  Albert, Archduke of Austria, 206

  Alley, Captain, 273

  Aloblaster, Mr., 242

  Amadas, Philip, 79, 82, 84

  Anderson, Lord Chief Justice, 205

  Andrewes, Bishop, 292

  Andrews, Peter, 276, 278, 279

  Anjou, Duc d', 61

  Arenbergh, Count, 187, 202, 203, 204, 206, 207, 211, 222

  Armada, 97, 99, 100, 102, 104, 148

  Arundel, Lord, 63, 302

  Ascham, Roger, 11, 13, 55, 56

  Ashton, Roger, 228

  Aubrey, 25, 26, 29, 129, 197, 256, 257

  Azores, 77, 161, 268


  Babington, Antony, 63, 64, 65, 66, 73

  Bacon, Francis, Baron of Verulam, 14, 50, 67, 100, 125, 168

  Bailey, Captain, 270

  Ballard, John, 63, 64

  Balzac, H. de, 72

  Bancroft, Bishop, 200

  Barlow, Arthur, 79, 82, 84

  Barnefield, 52

  Barnwell, Robert, 64

  Barry, Lord, 36

  Bath, Earl of, 90

  Beale, Bishop, 68, 69

  Beauchamp, Lord, 192

  Beaumont, Francis, 238

  Bedford, Francis Earl of, 65

  Berreo, 130, 131, 132, 133, 143

  Bingham, Admiral, 37

  Biron, Duc de, 175, 176

  Blount, Charles, 116

  Blount, Sir Christopher, 172

  Boyle, Richard, Earl of Cork, 94

  Bradshaw, Captain, 269

  Bristol, 4

  Brooke, George, 199, 200, 201, 202, 206, 207, 217, 218, 234

  Brown, Richard, 65

  Brownists, 116

  Buckhurst, Lord Treasurer, 89, 197

  Budaeus, 76

  Budleigh Salterton, 2, 6, 107

  Burghley. _See_ CECIL, WILLIAM

  Burr, 250

  Burrough, Sir John, 122, 123

  Burton, 62


  Cadiz, 150, 152, 157, 158, 161, 169, 205, 227

  Calfield, Captain, 131, 134, 135, 138, 140, 146

  Camden, 19, 38

  Campian, 219

  Carew, George, 162

  Carew, Sir Nicholas, 198

  Carew, Peter, 7

  Carey, Sir Robert, 66, 189, 191, 193, 194

  Carleton, Sir Dudley, 227, 228, 234

  Caroli, Falls of, 144, 145

  Carr, Robert, 237, 246, 253

  Carthier, Jacques, 3

  Castiglione, 13, 44, 52, 297, 298

  Cecil, Lady, 158

  Cecil, Sir Robert, Earl of Salisbury, 50, 55, 89, 93, 96, 117, 123,
    124, 125, 151, 152, 158, 160, 167, 168, 169, 170, 172, 173, 174,
    176, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 190,
    191, 192, 193, 197, 198, 200, 202, 203, 204, 205, 211, 214, 218,
    220, 223, 227, 228, 229, 230, 233, 240, 241

  Cecil, William (son of Sir Robert), 170, 174, 175

  Cecil, William, Lord Burghley, 27, 29, 36, 42, 47, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57,
    58, 73, 90, 98, 125, 167, 168, 173

  Chamberlain, John, 228

  Champernoun, C., 11

  Champernoun, Gawen, 19

  Champernoun, Henry, 16, 19

  Champernoun, John, 16

  Charles, Archduke, 51

  Charles, Prince, 270

  Chartley, 62

  Chester, Charles, 26

  Chudleigh, Captain, 274

  Cieza, Pedro de, 129

  Clark, Captain, 135

  Clarke, 217, 234

  Clyst, St. Mary, 6

  Cobham, Lord, 169, 173, 174, 176, 183, 184, 185, 187, 188, 199, 200,
    201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213,
    214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 234,
    235, 236

  Coke, Attorney-General, 205, 208, 209, 210, 211, 214, 217, 218, 219,
    220, 221, 222, 223

  Columbus, Christopher, 71, 72

  Comestor, Peter, 108

  Copley, 199, 208, 217

  Cortez, 148

  Coryat, Thomas, 244, 245

  Cottington, Lord, 259, 270

  Courtenay, Sir William, 63

  Cranbourne, Lord, 241, 242

  Crosby Hall, 175

  Cross, Sir Robert, 123, 197

  Crymes, Mr., 89, 96

  Cumberland, Earl of, 123, 125


  Davis, John, 79

  Defoe, Daniel, 58

  Dekker, Thomas, 58

  Desmond, Earl of, 94

  De Thou, 237

  Devereux, Robert, Earl of Essex, 66, 106, 107, 114, 115, 116, 150,
    151, 152, 153, 155, 156, 158, 160, 161, 163, 165, 167, 168, 170,
    172, 175, 176, 180, 225, 227, 302, 303

  Devonshire, Earl of, 223

  Digby, Sir John, 259, 270

  Dingle, 34

  Douglas, John, 134, 135

  Dowe, Ann, 52

  Drake, Sir Francis, 72, 86, 97, 98, 101, 102, 104, 148, 285

  Drayton, Michael, 52

  Dudley, Mr., 154

  Dudley, Robert, Earl of Leicester, 25, 43, 51, 52, 53, 106, 266

  Dunn, 64

  Durham House, 171, 173, 174, 175, 177, 205, 256

  Dyer, 220


  Edward VI., 3

  Edwards, Edward, 19, 22, 31, 93, 207, 209, 236, 248, 272

  Elizabeth of Austria, 253

  Elizabeth, Queen of England, 8, 16, 19, 28, 38, 46-7, 52, 54, 60,
    etc., 68, 77, 98-9, 107, 111, 115-6, 118-9, 126, 150, 157, 163,
    168-9, 173, 175, etc., 182, 184, 188-9, 191, etc., 207, 237, 246,
    257, 281, 295

  Elizabethan Life, 1, 9, 17, 27, 44, 99, 245

  Erinetta, 279

  Erskine, Sir Thomas, 197

  Essex, Earl of. _See_ DEVEREUX, ROBERT

  Euphuism, 58, 59

  Exeter, 5, 6


  Fayal, 163, 167, 169

  Ferdinando, the pilot, 136, 137, 141

  Ferne, Sir John, 262

  Fielding, Henry, 58

  Fitzmaurice, 33

  Fitzwilliam, Sir W., 94

  Fletcher, John, 238

  Flores, 163

  Florida, 79

  Fortescue, Justice, 215

  Fortescue, Captain, 63

  Fotheringay Castle, 68

  Fowler, Sir Thomas, 214

  Foxe, John, 7

  France, Anatole, 251

  Frobisher, Martin, 22, 72, 97, 117, 122

  Froude, J. A., 35, 99

  Fuller, Thomas, 48, 249


  Garcia de Aguilar, 279

  Gascoyne, George, 21, etc.

  Gascoyne, Sir John, 24

  Gatehouse, The, 270, 297, 299

  Gawdy, Justice, 205

  Gell, John, 26

  Gerrard, Sir George, 73

  Gib, John, 234-5

  Gifford, George, 134, 138, 140, 146

  Gifford, Gilbert, 62

  Gilbert, Adrian, 78-9

  Gilbert, Sir Humfrey, 22-3, 29-30, 72-3, 75, etc.

  Gilbert, Sir John, 90, 135

  Gilbert, Otho, 7

  Godolphin, Sir Francis, 204

  Gomera, 271

  Gondomar, Count of, Sarmiento de Aguñar, 199, 237, 253, 258, 260,
    269-70, 272, 287-8

  Gordon, Harry, 146

  Gorges, Sir A., 161, 164-5

  Gorges, Sir Ferdinando, 171-2

  Gosse, Edmond, 248

  Granganamen, 80

  Gaunt, John, 27

  Gregory XIII., 63

  Grenville, John, 135, 147

  Grenville, Sir Richard, 82-3, 86-7, 90, 121, 155, 289

  Grey, Lord, 199, 234, etc.

  Grey de Wilton, Lord, 6, 25, 35, etc., 48, 109

  Guiana, 113, 118, 126, 128-9, 131, 133-4, 137, 141, etc., 146, etc.,
    158, 161, 187, 198, 215, 227, 254-5, 258-9, 295, 301

  Guanipa, Bay of, 129, 134-5

  Guildford, Lady, 191

  Guise, Duke of, 18, 20


  Hakluyt, 4, 72, 84, 122

  Hale, Serjeant, 205, 207

  Hall, Fielding, 81

  Hampden, John, 278

  Harrington, James, 256

  Harris, Sir Christopher, 289

  Harvey, Gabriel, 15-6, 25, 110

  Harvey, Sir George, 204

  Harvey, John, 15

  Harvey, Richard, 15

  Hastings, Captain Edward, 262

  Hawkins, Sir John, 97, 99, 150, 285

  Hayes, 2, 6

  Hayes, Edward, 74-5

  Hayes, Sir James, 235

  Hayman, Samuel, 107

  Henry IV. of France, 183, 192

  Henry, Prince, 243, 251, 253-4, 281

  History of the World, 20, 42, 102, 130, 149-50, 163, 245, 247, 249,

  Hochelaga, 3

  Holinshed, 5, 36

  Hooker, John, 5, 14, 36

  Howard, Lord Charles, of Effingham, 99, etc., 121, 150, 152, 153,
    167-8, 190

  Howard, Lord Henry, 179, etc., 183, 185, 187, 197, 202, 205, 218,

  Howard, Lord Thomas, Earl of Suffolk, 151, 154, etc., 161, 205, 207

  Howes, 27

  Huguenots, 16, 18, 259

  Hume, Major Martin, 184, 258


  Infanta, 179, 259, 270

  Ireland, 33

  Irish, 33

  Islands Voyage, 161, 165


  James I., King of England, 7, 68, 168-9, 179, etc., 183, etc., 191,
    etc., 203, 209, 228, etc., 235-7, 239, 246, 251-2, 259, 261, 267,
    270, 283, 287-8, 290-3, 295-7, 301-2

  Jersey, 173-4, 177, 187, 198, 203, 240

  Jones, 64

  Jonson, Ben, 52, 111, 244


  Kennedy, Elizabeth, 68-9

  Keymis, Captain, 135, 149, 219, 262, 272, 274, 276, 278, 280-2, 284,

  Kilcolman Castle, 107-8, 111

  King, Captain, 134, 288-9, 292, 294

  Knollys, Sir Francis, 31


  Lake, Thomas, 197

  Lane, Captain Ralph, 82, 84-5

  Languedoc, Caves of, 20

  La Renzi, 202, 211

  Le Clerc, 293

  Lee, Sydney, 168

  Leicester, Earl of. _See_ DUDLEY, ROBERT

  Lennox, Duke of, 183, 214

  Lever, Thomas, 14

  Lionello, 261

  London, description of, 26-7, 256

  Lopez, Francisco, 129

  Lyly, John, 58-9


  Macaulay, Lord, 116

  Manourie, Dr., 291, 295

  Mar, Earl of, 183

  Markham, Sir Griffin, 199, 209, 234-6

  Marlowe, Christopher, 71-2

  Mary, Queen of Scots, 60-4, 66-8, 70

  Masham, Thomas, 158, 161

  Maupassant, Guy de, 46

  McCarthy, Florence, 187

  Medicis, Catherine de, 47

  Medina Sidonia, Duke of, 100-1

  Menatonon, King, 85

  Mendoza, 63

  Meteren, Van, 57

  Milton, John, 51

  Mirabeau, 237

  Modbury, 16

  Moncke, Levinus, 242

  Monson, 165

  Montagu, Lord, 63

  Morris, William, 298

  Mountjoy, Lord, 116

  Mowbray, Barbara, 68-9

  Moyle, Henry, 37

  Munster, 34, 36, 177


  Nash, Thomas, 15, 53, 58

  Naunton, Sir T., 116

  Nicotiana, 87

  Norris, or Norreys, Sir John, 21, 104

  North, Captain, 274

  Novion, David de, 293


  Oldys, William, 21-2

  Orinoco, 141-2, 145, 258, 282

  Ormond, Earl of, 36

  Overbury, 237

  Oxford, 11, 16

  Oxford, Earl of, 56


  Palomeque d'Acuna, 278-9

  Parker, Captain, 129, 274

  Parma, Prince of, 98, 101

  Paulet, 62, 67

  Peckham, Sir Thomas, 73

  Pelham, Lord Justice, 35-6

  Pennington, John, 261, 285

  Peyton, Sir John, 203

  Philip II. of Spain, 8, 97-9, 104, 131, 148, 167, 179

  Phillips, 62

  Phillips, Serjeant, 219, 220

  Pigott, Captain John, 272, 274

  Pine, Henry, 267

  Pizzaro, 148

  Plymouth, 63, 151-2, 162, 262, 285, 289, 290-1

  Pole, Sir William, 5

  Pope, Mr., 151

  Popham, Lord Chief Justice, 205, 207, 210, 216, 218-9, 224

  Prest, Agnes, 7

  Preston, Sir Amias, 218


  Rakele, 36

  Ralegh, Carew, 280

  Ralegh, Lady, 174, 185, 253, 273, 285, 289, 292, 299

  Ralegh, George, 274, 276, 279, 280-2

  Ralegh, Sir Walter, _passim_.

  Ralegh, Walter (son of Sir Walter), 174-5, 256-7, 276-7, 279-80

  Raleigh, Professor, 74, 81

  Ramea, 4

  Reeks, 270

  Rhodes, Cecil, 254

  Richardson, Samuel, 58

  Roanoak, 81

  Robsart, Amy, 51-2

  Roche, Lord, 40-3

  Roos, Lord, 270

  Ruddyer, Sir Benjamin, 257


  Saguenay, 3

  St. Bartholomew's Eve, 20

  St. Leger, Sir Warham, 262, 274

  St. Thomas, 283, 285

  Sanders, 34

  Santa Cruz, Marquis of, 100, 103

  Sarmiento. _See_ GONDOMAR

  Savoy, Duke of, 206

  Scott, Thomas, 242

  Scroope, Lady, 193

  Sextus V., 98

  Seymour, William, 179

  Shaw, Bernard, 238

  Shelley, P. B., 114

  Sherborne, 125, 158, 173, 175, 177, 240-1, 290

  Shrewsbury, Lord, 64, 68

  Sidney, Sir Philip, 13, 20, 24, 52-3, 59, 66, 82, 110, 111

  Smerwick, or Smerthwick, 37, 109

  Smith, Captain John, 73, 79, 84-5

  Sparrow, Francis, 146

  Spenser, Edmund, 24-5, 58, 107, etc., 115, 120-1, 149, 171, 227, 244,

  Standen, Sir Anthony, 158

  Stanhope, Sir John, 205

  Stannaries, 88, 93, 109, 240

  Steele Glas, the, 21, 24

  Stourton, Lord, 63

  Stowe, 11, 16

  Strozzi, Peter, 103

  Stuart, Arabella, 179, 187, 205-8, 211, 219, 292, 294

  Stukeley, Sir Lewis, 288, etc., 294

  Sully, 176

  Sussex, Duke of, 51


  Talbot, Lord, 70

  Talbot, John, 272

  Terra de Bri, 275, 279

  Thames, 3, 28, 245

  Thomson, Captain, 123

  Thornhurst, Captain, 274

  Throgmorton, Elizabeth, 117, 121

  Throgmorton, Sir Nicholas, 121

  Thyn, Captain, 140

  Thynne, Francis, 299

  Tilney, Charles, 64

  Togo, Admiral, 298

  Toparimaca, 142

  Tounson, Dr., 299

  Trinidad, 129-30, 134-5, 147, 258, 275

  Trinity College, Cambridge, 15

  Tuga, Emperor of Guiana, 144, 146


  Udall, John, 114, 115


  Vaux, Lord, 63

  Vere, Sir Francis, 156

  Villiers, George, Duke of Buckingham, 254, 259, 270

  Virginia, 73, 80, 82, 87, 149, 187


  Waad, Sir William, 204, 205, 244

  Walsingham, Sir Francis, 20, 39, 54-5, 61-2, 64, 66-7, 73, 99

  Walton, Isaac, 49

  Warburton, Justice, 205, 216

  Watson, 208, 217, 234

  Wentworth, Peter, 178

  Whidden, Jacob, 129-30, 139

  Whitgift, Archbishop, 49

  Whitney, Captain, 262, 277, 279, 282, 284

  Whyte, Rowland, 160

  Wilde, Oscar, 59

  Wilson, Arthur, 196

  Winchester, 204, 230, 235, 237, 239, 242

  Winchester, Marquis of, 176

  Windsor, Lord, 63

  Wingandacoa. _See_ VIRGINIA

  Wingina, 80, 81

  Wingfield, Richard, 94

  Winter, Sir William, 37

  Winwood, Sir Ralph, 254, 258

  Wokokon, 80, 83

  Wollaston, Captain, 262, 277, 279, 282, 284

  Wood, Anthony, 13

  Woodson, Alexander, 4

  Wotton, Lord, 205


  Yorkshire Tragedy, the, 52

  Youghal, 101, 108, 125

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