Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Sir Walter Raleigh and His Time
Author: Kingsley, Charles
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sir Walter Raleigh and His Time" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Transcribed from “Plays and Puritans and Other Historical Essays” 1890
Macmillan and Co. edition by David Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org



                   SIR WALTER RALEIGH AND HIS TIME {87}


‘TRUTH is stranger than fiction.’  A trite remark.  We all say it again
and again: but how few of us believe it!  How few of us, when we read the
history of heroical times and heroical men, take the story simply as it
stands!  On the contrary, we try to explain it away; to prove it all not
to have been so very wonderful; to impute accident, circumstance, mean
and commonplace motives; to lower every story down to the level of our
own littleness, or what we (unjustly to ourselves and to the God who is
near us all) choose to consider our level; to rationalise away all the
wonders, till we make them at last impossible, and give up caring to
believe them; and prove to our own melancholy satisfaction that Alexander
conquered the world with a pin, in his sleep, by accident.

And yet in this mood, as in most, there is a sort of left-handed truth
involved.  These heroes are not so far removed from us after all.  They
were men of like passions with ourselves, with the same flesh about them,
the same spirit within them, the same world outside, the same devil
beneath, the same God above.  They and their deeds were not so very
wonderful.  Every child who is born into the world is just as wonderful,
and, for aught we know, might, _mutatis mutandis_, do just as wonderful
deeds.  If accident and circumstance helped them, the same may help us:
have helped us, if we will look back down our years, far more than we
have made use of.

They were men, certainly, very much of our own level: but may we not put
that level somewhat too low?  They were certainly not what we are; for if
they had been, they would have done no more than we: but is not a man’s
real level not what he is, but what he can be, and therefore ought to be?
No doubt they were compact of good and evil, just as we: but so was
David, no man more; though a more heroical personage (save One) appears
not in all human records but may not the secret of their success have
been that, on the whole (though they found it a sore battle), they
refused the evil and chose the good?  It is true, again, that their great
deeds may be more or less explained, attributed to laws, rationalised:
but is explaining always explaining away?  Is it to degrade a thing to
attribute it to a law?  And do you do anything more by ‘rationalising’
men’s deeds than prove that they were rational men; men who saw certain
fixed laws, and obeyed them, and succeeded thereby, according to the
Baconian apophthegm, that nature is conquered by obeying her?

But what laws?

To that question, perhaps, the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the
Hebrews will give the best answer, where it says, that by faith were done
all the truly great deeds, and by faith lived all the truly great men who
have ever appeared on earth.

There are, of course, higher and lower degrees of this faith; its object
is one more or less worthy: but it is in all cases the belief in certain
unseen eternal facts, by keeping true to which a man must in the long run
succeed.  Must; because he is more or less in harmony with heaven, and
earth, and the Maker thereof, and has therefore fighting on his side a
great portion of the universe; perhaps the whole; for as he who breaks
one commandment of the law is guilty of the whole, because he denies the
fount of all law, so he who with his whole soul keeps one commandment of
it is likely to be in harmony with the whole, because he testifies of the
fount of all law.

I shall devote a few pages to the story of an old hero, of a man of like
passions with ourselves; of one who had the most intense and awful sense
of the unseen laws, and succeeded mightily thereby; of one who had hard
struggles with a flesh and blood which made him at times forget those
laws, and failed mightily thereby; of one whom God so loved that He
caused each slightest sin, as with David, to bring its own punishment
with it, that while the flesh was delivered over to Satan, the man
himself might be saved in the Day of the Lord; of one, finally, of whom
nine hundred and ninety-nine men out of a thousand may say, ‘I have done
worse deeds than he: but I have never done as good ones.’

In a poor farm-house among the pleasant valleys of South Devon, among the
white apple-orchards and the rich water-meadows, and the red fallows and
red kine, in the year of grace 1552, a boy was born, as beautiful as day,
and christened Walter Raleigh.  His father was a gentleman of ancient
blood: few older in the land: but, impoverished, he had settled down upon
the wreck of his estate, in that poor farm-house.  No record of him now
remains; but he must have been a man worth knowing and worth loving, or
he would not have won the wife he did.  She was a Champernoun, proudest
of Norman squires, and could probably boast of having in her veins the
blood of Courtneys, Emperors of Byzant.  She had been the wife of the
famous knight Sir Otho Gilbert, and lady of Compton Castle, and had borne
him three brave sons, John, Humphrey, and Adrian; all three destined to
win knighthood also in due time, and the two latter already giving
promises, which they well fulfilled, of becoming most remarkable men of
their time.  And yet the fair Champernoun, at her husband’s death, had
chosen to wed Mr. Raleigh, and share life with him in the little
farm-house at Hayes.  She must have been a grand woman, if the law holds
true that great men always have great mothers; an especially grand woman,
indeed; for few can boast of having borne to two different husbands such
sons as she bore.  No record, as far as we know, remains of her; nor of
her boy’s early years.  One can imagine them, nevertheless.

Just as he awakes to consciousness, the Smithfield fires are
extinguished.  He can recollect, perhaps, hearing of the burning of the
Exeter martyrs: and he does not forget it; no one forgot or dared forget
it in those days.  He is brought up in the simple and manly, yet
high-bred ways of English gentlemen in the times of ‘an old courtier of
the Queen’s.’  His two elder half-brothers also, living some thirty miles
away, in the quaint and gloomy towers of Compton Castle, amid the
apple-orchards of Torbay, are men as noble as ever formed a young lad’s
taste.  Humphrey and Adrian Gilbert, who afterwards, both of them, rise
to knighthood, are—what are they not?—soldiers, scholars, Christians,
discoverers and ‘planters’ of foreign lands, geographers, alchemists,
miners, Platonical philosophers; many-sided, high-minded men, not without
fantastic enthusiasm; living heroic lives, and destined, one of them, to
die a heroic death.  From them Raleigh’s fancy has been fired, and his
appetite for learning quickened, while he is yet a daring boy, fishing in
the gray trout-brooks, or going up with his father to the Dartmoor hills
to hunt the deer with hound and horn, amid the wooded gorges of Holne, or
over the dreary downs of Hartland Warren, and the cloud-capt thickets of
Cator’s Beam, and looking down from thence upon the far blue southern
sea, wondering when he shall sail thereon, to fight the Spaniard, and
discover, like Columbus, some fairy-land of gold and gems.

For before this boy’s mind, as before all intense English minds of that
day, rise, from the first, three fixed ideas, which yet are but one—the
Pope, the Spaniard, and America.

The two first are the sworn and internecine enemies (whether they pretend
a formal peace or not) of Law and Freedom, Bible and Queen, and all that
makes an Englishman’s life dear to him.  Are they not the incarnations of
Antichrist?  Their Moloch sacrifices flame through all lands.  The earth
groans because of them, and refuses to cover the blood of her slain.  And
America is the new world of boundless wonder and beauty, wealth and
fertility, to which these two evil powers arrogate an exclusive and
divine right; and God has delivered it into their hands; and they have
done evil therein with all their might, till the story of their greed and
cruelty rings through all earth and heaven.  Is this the will of God?
Will he not avenge for these things, as surely as he is the Lord who
executeth justice and judgment in the earth?

These are the young boy’s thoughts.  These were his thoughts for
sixty-six eventful years.  In whatsoever else he wavered, he never
wavered in that creed.  He learnt it in his boyhood, while he read ‘Fox’s
Martyrs’ beside his mother’s knee.  He learnt it as a lad, when he saw
his neighbours Hawkins and Drake changed by Spanish tyranny and treachery
from peaceful merchantmen into fierce scourges of God.  He learnt it
scholastically, from fathers and divines, as an Oxford scholar, in days
when Oxford was a Protestant indeed, in whom there was no guile.  He
learnt it when he went over, at seventeen years old, with his gallant
kinsman Henry Champernoun, and his band of a hundred gentlemen
volunteers, to flesh his maiden sword in behalf of the persecuted French
Protestants.  He learnt it as he listened to the shrieks of the San
Bartholomew; he learnt it as he watched the dragonnades, the tortures,
the massacres of the Netherlands, and fought manfully under Norris in
behalf of those victims of ‘the Pope and Spain.’  He preached it in far
stronger and wiser words than I can express it for him, in that noble
tract of 1591, on Sir Richard Grenville’s death at the Azores—a Tyrtæan
trumpet-blast such as has seldom rung in human ears; he discussed it like
a cool statesman in his pamphlet of 1596, on ‘A War with Spain.’  He
sacrificed for it the last hopes of his old age, the wreck of his
fortunes, his just recovered liberty; and he died with the old God’s
battle-cry upon his lips, when it awoke no response from the hearts of a
coward, profligate, and unbelieving generation.  This is the background,
the keynote of the man’s whole life.  If we lose the recollection of it,
and content ourselves by slurring it over in the last pages of his
biography with some half-sneer about his putting, like the rest of
Elizabeth’s old admirals, ‘the Spaniard, the Pope, and the Devil’ in the
same category, then we shall understand very little about Raleigh;
though, of course, we shall save ourselves the trouble of pronouncing as
to whether the Spaniard and the Pope were really in the same category as
the devil; or, indeed, which might be equally puzzling to a good many
historians of the last century and a half, whether there be any devil at
all.

The books which I have chosen to head this review are all of them more or
less good, with one exception, and that is Bishop Goodman’s Memoirs, on
which much stress has been lately laid, as throwing light on various
passages of Raleigh, Essex, Cecil, and James’s lives.  Having read it
carefully, I must say plainly, that I think the book an altogether
foolish, pedantic, and untrustworthy book, without any power of insight
or gleam of reason; without even the care to be self-consistent; having
but one object, the whitewashing of James, and of every noble lord whom
the bishop has ever known: but in whitewashing each, the poor old flunkey
so bespatters all the rest of his pets, that when the work is done, the
whole party look, if possible, rather dirtier than before.  And so I
leave Bishop Goodman.

Mr. Fraser Tytler’s book is well known; and it is on the whole a good
one; because he really loves and admires the man of whom he writes: but
he is sometimes careless as to authorities, and too often makes the wish
father to the thought.  Moreover, he has the usual sentiment about Mary
Queen of Scots, and the usual scandal about Elizabeth, which is simply
anathema; and which prevents his really seeing the time in which Raleigh
lived, and the element in which he moved.  This sort of talk is happily
dying out just now; but no one can approach the history of the
Elizabethan age (perhaps of any age) without finding that truth is all
but buried under mountains of dirt and chaff—an Augæan stable, which,
perhaps, will never be swept clean.  Yet I have seen, with great delight,
several attempts toward removal of the said superstratum of dirt and
chaff from the Elizabethan histories, in several articles, all evidently
from the same pen (and that one, more perfectly master of English prose
than any man living), in the ‘Westminster Review’ and ‘Fraser’s
Magazine.’ {95}

Sir Robert Schomburgk’s edition of the Guiana Voyage contains an
excellent Life of Raleigh, perhaps the best yet written; of which I only
complain, when it gives in to the stock-charges against Raleigh, as it
were at second-hand, and just because they are stock-charges, and when,
too, the illustrious editor (unable to conceal his admiration of a
discoverer in many points so like himself) takes all through an
apologetic tone of ‘Please don’t laugh at me.  I daresay it is very
foolish; but I can’t help loving the man.’

Mr. Napier’s little book is a reprint of two ‘Edinburgh Review’ articles
on Bacon and Raleigh.  The first, a learned statement of facts in answer
to some unwisdom of a ‘Quarterly’ reviewer (possibly an Oxford
Aristotelian; for ‘we think we do know that sweet Roman hand’).  It is
clear, accurate, convincing, complete.  There is no more to be said about
the matter, save that facts are stubborn things.

The article on Raleigh is very valuable; first, because Mr. Napier has
had access to many documents unknown to former biographers; and next,
because he clears Raleigh completely from the old imputation of deceit
about the Guiana mine, as well as of other minor charges.  With his
general opinion of Raleigh’s last and fatal Guiana voyage, I have the
misfortune to differ from him _toto coelo_, on the strength of the very
documents which he quotes.  But Mr. Napier is always careful, always
temperate, and always just, except where he, as I think, does not enter
into the feelings of the man whom he is analysing.  Let readers buy the
book (it will tell them a hundred things they do not know) and be judge
between Mr. Napier and me.

In the meanwhile, one cannot help watching with a smile how good old
Time’s scrubbing-brush, which clears away paint and whitewash from church
pillars, does the same by such characters as Raleigh’s.  After each fresh
examination, some fresh count in the hundred-headed indictment breaks
down.  The truth is, that as people begin to believe more in nobleness,
and to gird up their loins to the doing of noble deeds, they discover
more nobleness in others.  Raleigh’s character was in its lowest nadir in
the days of Voltaire and Hume.  What shame to him?  For so were more
sacred characters than his.  Shall the disciple be above his master?
especially when that disciple was but too inconsistent, and gave occasion
to the uncircumcised to blaspheme?  But Cayley, after a few years,
refutes triumphantly Hume’s silly slanders.  He is a stupid writer: but
he has sense enough, being patient, honest, and loving, to do that.

Mr. Fraser Tytler shovels away a little more of the dirt-heap; Mr. Napier
clears him (for which we owe him many thanks), by simple statement of
facts, from the charge of having deserted and neglected his Virginia
colonists; Humboldt and Schomburgk clear him from the charge of having
lied about Guiana; and so on; each successive writer giving in generally
on merest hearsay to the general complaint against him, either from fear
of running counter to big names, or from mere laziness, and yet absolving
him from that particular charge of which his own knowledge enables him to
judge.  In the trust that I may be able to clear him from a few more
charges, I write these pages, premising that I do not profess to have
access to any new and recondite documents.  I merely take the broad facts
of the story from documents open to all; and comment on them as every man
should wish his own life to be commented on.

But I do so on a method which I cannot give up; and that is the Bible
method.  I say boldly that historians have hitherto failed in
understanding not only Raleigh and Elizabeth, but nine-tenths of the
persons and facts in his day, because they will not judge them by the
canons which the Bible lays down—by which I mean not only the New
Testament but the Old, which, as English Churchmen say, and Scotch
Presbyterians have ere now testified with sacred blood, is ‘not contrary
to the New.’

Mr. Napier has a passage about Raleigh for which I am sorry, coming as it
does from a countryman of John Knox.  ‘Society, it would seem, was yet in
a state in which such a man could seriously plead, that the madness he
feigned was justified’ (his last word is unfair, for Raleigh only hopes
that it is no sin) ‘by the example of David, King of Israel.’  What a
shocking state of society when men actually believed their Bibles, not
too little, but too much.  For my part, I think that if poor dear Raleigh
had considered the example of David a little more closely, he need never
have feigned madness at all; and that his error lay quite in an opposite
direction from looking on the Bible heroes, David especially, as too sure
models.  At all events, let us try Raleigh by the very scriptural
standard which he himself lays down, not merely in this case unwisely,
but in his ‘History of the World’ more wisely than any historian whom I
have ever read; and say, ‘Judged as the Bible taught our Puritan
forefathers to judge every man, the character is intelligible enough;
tragic, but noble and triumphant: judged as men have been judged in
history for the last hundred years, by hardly any canon save those of the
private judgment, which philosophic cant, maudlin sentimentality, or fear
of public opinion, may happen to have forged, the man is a phenomenon,
only less confused, abnormal, suspicious than his biographers’ notions
about him.’  Again I say, I have not solved the problem: but it will be
enough if I make some think it both soluble and worth solving.  Let us
look round, then, and see into what sort of a country, into what sort of
a world, the young adventurer is going forth, at seventeen years of age,
to seek his fortune.

Born in 1552, his young life has sprung up and grown with the young life
of England.  The earliest fact, perhaps, which he can recollect is the
flash of joy on every face which proclaims that Mary Tudor is dead, and
Elizabeth reigns at last.  As he grows, the young man sees all the hope
and adoration of the English people centre in that wondrous maid, and his
own centre in her likewise.  He had been base had he been otherwise.  She
comes to the throne with such a prestige as never sovereign came since
the days when Isaiah sang his pæan over young Hezekiah’s accession.
Young, learned, witty, beautiful (as with such a father and mother she
could not help being), with an expression of countenance remarkable (I
speak of those early days) rather for its tenderness and intellectual
depth than its strength, she comes forward as the champion of the
Reformed Faith, the interpretress of the will and conscience of the
people of England—herself persecuted all but to the death, and purified
by affliction, like gold tried in the fire.  She gathers round her, one
by one, young men of promise, and trains them herself to their work.  And
they fulfil it, and serve her, and grow gray-headed in her service,
working as faithfully, as righteously, as patriotically, as men ever
worked on earth.  They are her ‘favourites’; because they are men who
deserve favour; men who count not their own lives dear to themselves for
the sake of the queen and of that commonweal which their hearts and
reasons tell them is one with her.  They are still men, though; and some
of them have their grudgings and envyings against each other: she keeps
the balance even between them, on the whole, skilfully, gently, justly,
in spite of weaknesses and prejudices, without which she had been more
than human.  Some have their conceited hopes of marrying her, becoming
her masters.  She rebukes and pardons.  ‘Out of the dust I took you, sir!
go and do your duty, humbly and rationally, henceforth, or into the dust
I trample you again!’  And they reconsider themselves, and obey.  But
many, or most of them, are new men, country gentlemen, and younger sons.
She will follow her father’s plan, of keeping down the overgrown feudal
princes, who, though brought low by the wars of the Roses, are still
strong enough to throw everything into confusion by resisting at once the
Crown and Commons.  Proud nobles reply by rebellion, come down southwards
with ignorant Popish henchmen at their backs; will restore Popery, marry
the Queen of Scots, make the middle class and the majority submit to the
feudal lords and the minority.  Elizabeth, with her ‘aristocracy of
genius,’ is too strong for them: the people’s heart is with her, and not
with dukes.  Each mine only blows up its diggers; and there are many dry
eyes at their ruin.  Her people ask her to marry.  She answers gently,
proudly, eloquently: ‘She is married—the people of England is her
husband.  She has vowed it.’  And yet there is a tone of sadness in that
great speech.  Her woman’s heart yearns after love, after children; after
a strong bosom on which to repose that weary head.  More than once she is
ready to give way.  But she knows that it must not be.  She has her
reward.  ‘Whosoever gives up husband or child for my sake and the
gospel’s, shall receive them back a hundredfold in this present life,’ as
Elizabeth does.  Her reward is an adoration from high and low, which is
to us now inexplicable, impossible, overstrained, which was not so then.

For the whole nation is in a mood of exaltation; England is fairyland;
the times are the last days—strange, terrible, and glorious.  At home are
Jesuits plotting; dark, crooked-pathed, going up and down in all manner
of disguises, doing the devil’s work if men ever did it; trying to sow
discord between man and man, class and class; putting out books full of
filthy calumnies, declaring the queen illegitimate, excommunicate, a
usurper; English law null, and all state appointments void, by virtue of
a certain ‘Bull’; and calling on the subjects to rebellion and
assassination, even on the bedchamber—woman to do to her ‘as Judith did
to Holofernes.’  She answers by calm contempt.  Now and then Burleigh and
Walsingham catch some of the rogues, and they meet their deserts; but she
for the most part lets them have their way.  God is on her side, and she
will not fear what man can do to her.

Abroad, the sky is dark and wild, and yet full of fantastic splendour.
Spain stands strong and awful, a rising world-tyranny, with its
dark-souled Cortezes and Pizarros, Alvas, Don Johns, and Parmas, men
whose path is like the lava stream; who go forth slaying and to slay, in
the name of their gods, like those old Assyrian conquerors on the walls
of Nineveh, with tutelary genii flying above their heads, mingled with
the eagles who trail the entrails of the slain.  By conquest,
intermarriage, or intrigue, she has made all the southern nations her
vassals or her tools; close to our own shores, the Netherlands are
struggling vainly for their liberties; abroad, the Western Islands, and
the whole trade of Africa and India, will in a few years be hers.  And
already the Pope, whose ‘most Catholic’ and faithful servant she is, has
repaid her services in the cause of darkness by the gift of the whole New
World—a gift which she has claimed by cruelties and massacres unexampled
since the days of Timour and Zinghis Khan.  There she spreads and
spreads, as Drake found her picture in the Government House at St.
Domingo, the horse leaping through the globe, and underneath, _Non
sufficit orbis_.  Who shall withstand her, armed as she is with the
three-edged sword of Antichrist—superstition, strength, and gold?

English merchantmen, longing for some share in the riches of the New
World, go out to trade in Guinea, in the Azores, in New Spain: and are
answered by shot and steel.  ‘Both policy and religion,’ as Fray Simon
says, fifty years afterwards, ‘forbid Christians to trade with heretics!’
‘Lutheran devils, and enemies of God,’ are the answer they get in words:
in deeds, whenever they have a superior force they may be allowed to
land, and to water their ships, even to trade, under exorbitant
restrictions: but generally this is merely a trap for them.  Forces are
hurried up; and the English are attacked treacherously, in spite of
solemn compacts; for ‘No faith need be kept with heretics.’  And woe to
them if any be taken prisoners, even wrecked.  The galleys, and the rack,
and the stake are their certain doom; for the Inquisition claims the
bodies and souls of heretics all over the world, and thinks it sin to
lose its own.  A few years of such wrong raise questions in the sturdy
English heart.  What right have these Spaniards to the New World?  The
Pope’s gift?  Why, he gave it by the same authority by which he claims
the whole world.  The formula used when an Indian village is sacked is,
that God gave the whole world to St. Peter, and that he has given it to
his successors, and they the Indies to the King of Spain.  To acknowledge
that lie would be to acknowledge the very power by which the Pope claims
a right to depose Queen Elizabeth, and give her dominions to whomsoever
he will.  A fico for bulls!

By possession, then?  That may hold for Mexico, Peru, New Grenada,
Paraguay, which have been colonised; though they were gained by means
which make every one concerned in conquering them worthy of the gallows;
and the right is only that of the thief to the purse, whose owner he has
murdered.  But as for the rest—Why the Spaniard has not colonised, even
explored, one-fifth of the New World, not even one-fifth of the coast.
Is the existence of a few petty factories, often hundreds of miles apart,
at a few river-mouths to give them a claim to the whole intermediate
coast, much less to the vast unknown tracts inside?  We will try that.
If they appeal to the sword, so be it.  The men are treacherous robbers;
we will indemnify ourselves for our losses, and God defend the right.

So argued the English; and so sprung up that strange war of reprisals, in
which, for eighteen years, it was held that there was no peace between
England and Spain beyond the line, _i.e._, beyond the parallel of
longitude where the Pope’s gift of the western world was said to begin;
and, as the quarrel thickened and neared, extended to the Azores,
Canaries, and coasts of Africa, where English and Spaniards flew at each
other as soon as seen, mutually and by common consent, as natural
enemies, each invoking God in the battle with Antichrist.

Into such a world as this goes forth young Raleigh, his heart full of
chivalrous worship for England’s tutelary genius, his brain aflame with
the true miracles of the new-found Hesperides, full of vague hopes, vast
imaginations, and consciousness of enormous power.  And yet he is no
wayward dreamer, unfit for this work-day world.  With a vein of song
‘most lofty, insolent, and passionate,’ indeed unable to see aught
without a poetic glow over the whole, he is eminently practical,
contented to begin at the beginning that he may end at the end; one who
could ‘toil terribly,’ ‘who always laboured at the matter in hand as if
he were born only for that.’  Accordingly, he sets to work faithfully and
stoutly, to learn his trade of soldiering, and learns it in silence and
obscurity.  He shares (it seems) in the retreat at Moncontour, and is by
at the death of Condé, and toils on for five years, marching and
skirmishing, smoking the enemy out of mountain-caves in Languedoc, and
all the wild work of war.  During the San Bartholomew massacre we hear
nothing of him; perhaps he took refuge with Sidney and others in
Walsingham’s house.  No records of these years remain, save a few
scattered reminiscences in his works, which mark the shrewd, observant
eye of the future statesman.

When he returned we know not.  We trace him, in 1576, by some verses
prefixed to Gascoigne’s satire, the ‘Steele Glass,’ solid, stately,
epigrammatic, ‘by Walter Rawley of the Middle Temple.’  The style is his;
spelling of names matters nought in days in which a man would spell his
own name three different ways in one document.

Gascoigne, like Raleigh, knew Lord Grey of Wilton, and most men about
town too; and had been a soldier abroad, like Raleigh, probably with him.
It seems to have been the fashion for young idlers to lodge among the
Templars; indeed, toward the end of the century, they had to be cleared
out, as crowding the wigs and gowns too much; and perhaps proving noisy
neighbours, as Raleigh may have done.  To this period may be referred,
probably, his Justice done on Mr. Charles Chester (Ben Jonson’s Carlo
Buffone), ‘a perpetual talker, and made a noise like a drum in a room; so
one time, at a tavern, Raleigh beats him and seals up his mouth, his
upper and nether beard, with hard wax.’  For there is a great laugh in
Raleigh’s heart, a genial contempt of asses; and one that will make him
enemies hereafter: perhaps shorten his days.

One hears of him next, but only by report, in the Netherlands under
Norris, where the nucleus of the English line (especially of its
musquetry) was training.  For Don John of Austria intends not only to
crush the liberties and creeds of the Flemings, but afterwards to marry
the Queen of Scots, and conquer England: and Elizabeth, unwillingly and
slowly, for she cannot stomach rebels, has sent men and money to the
States to stop Don John in time; which the valiant English and Scotch do
on Lammas day, 1578, and that in a fashion till then unseen in war.  For
coming up late and panting, and ‘being more sensible of a little heat of
the sun than of any cold fear of death,’ they throw off their armour and
clothes, and, in their shirts (not over-clean, one fears), give Don
John’s rashness such a rebuff, that two months more see that wild meteor,
with lost hopes and tarnished fame, lie down and vanish below the stormy
horizon.  In these days, probably, it is that he knew Colonel Bingham, a
soldier of fortune, of a ‘fancy high and wild, too desultory and
over-voluble,’ who had, among his hundred and one schemes, one for the
plantation of America as poor Sir Thomas Stukely (whom Raleigh must have
known well), uncle of the traitor Lewis, had for the peopling of Florida.

Raleigh returns.  Ten years has he been learning his soldier’s trade in
silence.  He will take a lesson in seamanship next.  The court may come
in time: for by now the poor squire’s younger son must have
discovered—perhaps even too fully—that he is not as other men are; that
he can speak, and watch, and dare, and endure, as none around him can do.
However, there are ‘good adventures toward,’ as the ‘Morte d’Arthur’
would say; and he will off with his half-brother Humphrey Gilbert to
carry out his patent for planting _Meta Incognita_—‘The Unknown Goal,’ as
Queen Elizabeth has named it—which will prove to be too truly and fatally
unknown.  In a latitude south of England, and with an Italian summer, who
can guess that the winter will outfreeze Russia itself?  The
merchant-seaman, like the statesman, had yet many a thing to learn.
Instead of smiling at our forefathers’ ignorance, let us honour the men
who bought knowledge for us their children at the price of lives nobler
than our own.

So Raleigh goes on his voyage with Humphrey Gilbert, to carry out the
patent for discovering and planting in _Meta Incognita_; but the voyage
prospers not.  A ‘smart brush with the Spaniards’ sends them home again,
with the loss of Morgan, their best captain, and ‘a tall ship’; and _Meta
Incognita_ is forgotten for a while; but not the Spaniards.  Who are
these who forbid all English, by virtue of the Pope’s bull, to cross the
Atlantic?  That must be settled hereafter; and Raleigh, ever busy, is off
to Ireland to command a company in that ‘common weal, or rather common
woe’, as he calls it in a letter to Leicester.  Two years and more pass
here; and all the records of him which remain are of a man valiant,
daring, and yet prudent beyond his fellows.  He hates his work, and is
not on too good terms with stern and sour, but brave and faithful Lord
Grey; but Lord Grey is Leicester’s friend, and Raleigh works patiently
under him, like a sensible man, just because he is Leicester’s friend.
Some modern gentleman of note—I forget who, and do not care to
recollect—says that Raleigh’s ‘prudence never bore any proportion to his
genius.’  The next biographer we open accuses him of being too
calculating, cunning, timeserving; and so forth.  Perhaps both are true.
The man’s was a character very likely to fall alternately into either
sin—doubtless did so a hundred times.  Perhaps both are false.  The man’s
character was, on occasion, certain to rise above both faults.  We have
evidence that he did so his whole life long.

He is tired of Ireland at last: nothing goes right there:—When has it?
Nothing is to be done there.  That which is crooked cannot be made
straight, and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.  He comes to
London and to court.  But how?  By spreading his cloak over a muddy place
for Queen Elizabeth to step on?  It is very likely to be a true story;
but biographers have slurred over a few facts in their hurry to carry out
their theory of ‘favourites,’ and to prove that Elizabeth took up Raleigh
on the same grounds that a boarding-school miss might have done.  Not
that I deny the cloak story to be a very pretty story; perhaps it
justifies, taken alone, Elizabeth’s fondness for him.  There may have
been self-interest in it; we are bound, as ‘men of the world,’ to impute
the dirtiest motive that we can find; but how many self-interested men do
we know who would have had quickness and daring to do such a thing?  Men
who are thinking about themselves are not generally either so
quick-witted, or so inclined to throw away a good cloak, when by much
scraping and saving they have got one.  I never met a cunning, selfish,
ambitious man who would have done such a thing.  The reader may; but even
if he has, we must ask him, for Queen Elizabeth’s sake, to consider that
this young Quixote is the close relation of three of the finest public
men then living, Champernoun, Gilbert, and Carew.  That he is a friend of
Sidney, a pet of Leicester; that he has left behind him at Oxford, and
brought with him from Ireland, the reputation of being a _rara avis_, a
new star in the firmament; that he had been a soldier in her Majesty’s
service (and in one in which she has a peculiar private interest) for
twelve years; that he has held her commission as one of the triumvirate
for governing Munster, and has been the commander of the garrison at
Cork; and that it is possible that she may have heard something of him
before he threw his cloak under her feet, especially as there has been
some controversy (which we have in vain tried to fathom) between him and
Lord Grey about that terrible Smerwick slaughter; of the results of which
we know little, but that Raleigh, being called in question about it in
London, made such good play with his tongue, that his reputation as an
orator and a man of talent was fixed once and for ever.

Within the twelve months he is sent on some secret diplomatic mission
about the Anjou marriage; he is in fact now installed in his place as ‘a
favourite.’  And why not?  If a man is found to be wise and witty, ready
and useful, able to do whatsoever he is put to, why is a sovereign, who
has eyes to see the man’s worth and courage to use it, to be accused of I
know not what, because the said man happens to be good-looking?

Now comes the turning-point of Raleigh’s life.  What does he intend to
be?  Soldier, statesman, scholar, or sea-adventurer?  He takes the most
natural, yet not the wisest course.  He will try and be all four at once.
He has intellect for it; by worldly wisdom he may have money for it also.
Even now he has contrived (no one can tell whence) to build a good bark
of two hundred tons, and send her out with Humphrey Gilbert on his second
and fatal voyage.  Luckily for Raleigh she deserts and comes home, while
not yet out of the Channel, or she surely had gone the way of the rest of
Gilbert’s squadron.  Raleigh, of course, loses money by the failure, as
well as the hopes which he had grounded on his brother’s Transatlantic
viceroyalty.  And a bitter pang it must have been to him to find himself
bereft of that pure and heroic counsellor just at his entering into life.
But with the same elasticity which sent him to the grave, he is busy
within six months in a fresh expedition.  If _Meta Incognita_ be not
worth planting, there must be, so Raleigh thinks, a vast extent of coast
between it and Florida, which is more genial in climate, perhaps more
rich in produce; and he sends Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlow to look for
the same, and not in vain.

On these Virginian discoveries I shall say but little.  Those who wish to
enjoy them should read them in all their naive freshness in the
originals; and they will subscribe to S. T. Coleridge’s dictum, that no
one nowadays can write travels as well as the old worthies who figure in
Hakluyt and Purchas.

But to return to the question—What does this man intend to be?  A
discoverer and colonist; a vindicator of some part at least of America
from Spanish claims?  Perhaps not altogether: else he would have gone
himself to Virginia, at least the second voyage, instead of sending
others.  But here, it seems, is the fatal, and yet pardonable mistake,
which haunts the man throughout.  He tries to be too many men at once.
Fatal: because, though he leaves his trace on more things than one man is
wont to do, he, strictly speaking, conquers nothing, brings nothing to a
consummation.  Virginia, Guiana, the ‘History of the World,’ his own
career as a statesman—as dictator (for he might have been dictator had he
chosen)—all are left unfinished.  And yet most pardonable; for if a man
feels that he can do many different things, how hard to teach himself
that he must not do them all!  How hard to say to himself, ‘I must cut
off the right hand, and pluck out the right eye.  I must be less than
myself, in order really to be anything.  I must concentrate my powers on
one subject, and that perhaps by no means the most seemingly noble or
useful, still less the most pleasant, and forego so many branches of
activity in which I might be so distinguished, so useful.’  This is a
hard lesson.  Raleigh took just sixty-six years learning it; and had to
carry the result of his experience to the other side of the dark river,
for there was no time left to use it on this side.  Some readers may have
learnt the lesson already.  If so, happy and blessed are they.  But let
them not therefore exalt themselves above Walter Raleigh; for that lesson
is, of course, soonest learnt by the man who can excel in few things,
later by him who can excel in many, and latest of all by him who, like
Raleigh, can excel in all.

Few details remain concerning the earlier court days of Raleigh.  He
rises rapidly, as we have seen.  He has an estate given him in Ireland,
near his friend Spenser, where he tries to do well and wisely,
colonising, tilling, and planting it: but like his Virginia expeditions,
principally at second hand.  For he has swallowed (there is no denying
it) the painted bait.  He will discover, he will colonise, he will do all
manner of beautiful things, at second hand: but he himself will be a
courtier.  It is very tempting.  Who would not, at the age of thirty,
have wished to have been one of that chosen band of geniuses and heroes
whom Elizabeth had gathered round her?  Who would not, at the age of
thirty, have given his pound of flesh to be captain of her guard, and to
go with her whithersoever she went?  It is not merely the intense
gratification to carnal vanity—which if any man denies or scoffs at,
always mark him down as especially guilty—which is to be considered; but
the real, actual honour, in the mind of one who looked on Elizabeth as
the most precious and glorious being which the earth had seen for
centuries.  To be appreciated by her; to be loved by her; to serve her;
to guard her; what could man desire more on earth?

Beside, he becomes a member of Parliament now; Lord Warden of the
Stannaries; business which of course keeps him in England, business which
he performs, as he does all things, wisely and well.  Such a generation
as this ought really to respect Raleigh a little more, if it be only for
his excellence in their own especial sphere—that of business.  Raleigh is
a thorough man of business.  He can ‘toil terribly,’ and what is more,
toil to the purpose.  In all the everyday affairs of life, he remains
without a blot; a diligent, methodical, prudent man, who, though he plays
for great stakes, ventures and loses his whole fortune again and again,
yet never seems to omit the ‘doing the duty which lies nearest him’;
never gets into mean money scrapes; never neglects tenants or duty; never
gives way for one instant to ‘the eccentricities of genius.’

If he had done so, be sure that we should have heard of it.  For no man
can become what he has become without making many an enemy; and he has
his enemies already.  On which statement naturally occurs the
question—why?  An important question too; because several of his later
biographers seem to have running in their minds some such train of
thought as this—Raleigh must have been a bad fellow, or he would not have
had so many enemies; and because he was a bad fellow, there is an _à
priori_ reason that charges against him are true.  Whether this be
arguing in a circle or not, it is worth searching out the beginning of
this enmity, and the reputed causes of it.  In after years it will be
because he is ‘damnable proud,’ because he hated Essex, and so forth: of
which in their places.  But what is the earliest count against him?
Naunton, who hated Raleigh, and was moreover a rogue, has no reason to
give, but that ‘the Queen took him for a kind of oracle, which much
nettled them all; yea, those he relied on began to take this his sudden
favour for an alarm; to be sensible of their own supplantation, and to
project his; which shortly made him to sing, “Fortune my foe.”’

Now, be this true or not, and we do not put much faith in it, it gives no
reason for the early dislike of Raleigh, save the somewhat unsatisfactory
one which Cain would have given for his dislike of Abel.  Moreover, there
exists a letter of Essex’s, written as thoroughly in the Cain spirit as
any we ever read; and we wonder that, after reading that letter, men can
find courage to repeat the old sentimentalism about the ‘noble and
unfortunate’ Earl.  His hatred of Raleigh—which, as we shall see
hereafter, Raleigh not only bears patiently, but requites with good deeds
as long as he can—springs, by his own confession, simply from envy and
disappointed vanity.  The spoilt boy insults Queen Elizabeth about her
liking for the ‘knave Raleigh.’  She, ‘taking hold of one word disdain,’
tells Essex that ‘there was no such cause why I should thus disdain him.’
On which, says Essex, ‘as near as I could I did describe unto her what he
had been, and what he was; and then I did let her see, whether I had come
to disdain his competition of love, or whether I could have comfort to
give myself over to the service of a mistress that was in awe of such a
man.  I spake for grief and choler as much against him as I could: and I
think he standing at the door might very well hear the worst that I spoke
of him.  In the end, I saw she was resolved to defend him, and to cross
me.’  Whereupon follows a ‘scene,’ the naughty boy raging and stamping,
till he insults the Queen, and calls Raleigh ‘a wretch’; whereon poor
Elizabeth, who loved the coxcomb for his father’s sake, ‘turned her away
to my Lady Warwick,’ and Essex goes grumbling forth.

Raleigh’s next few years are brilliant and busy ones; and gladly, did
space permit, would I give details of those brilliant adventures which
make this part of his life that of a true knight-errant.  But they are
mere episodes in the history; and we must pass them quickly by, only
saying that they corroborate in all things our original notion of the
man—just, humane, wise, greatly daring and enduring greatly; and filled
with the one fixed idea, which has grown with his growth and strengthened
with his strength, the destruction of the Spanish power, and colonisation
of America by English.  His brother Humphrey makes a second attempt to
colonise Newfoundland, and perishes as heroically as he had lived.
Raleigh, undaunted by his own loss in the adventure and his brother’s
failure, sends out a fleet of his own to discover to the southward, and
finds Virginia.  One might spend pages on this beautiful episode; on the
simple descriptions of the fair new land which the sea-kings bring home;
on the profound (for those times at least) knowledge which prompted
Raleigh to make the attempt in that particular direction which had as yet
escaped the notice of the Spaniards; on the quiet patience with which,
undaunted by the ill-success of the first colonists, he sends out fleet
after fleet, to keep the hold which he had once gained; till, unable any
longer to support the huge expense, he makes over his patent for
discovery to a company of merchants, who fare for many years as ill as
Raleigh himself did: but one thing one has a right to say, that to this
one man, under the providence of Almighty God, do the whole of the United
States of America owe their existence.  The work was double.  The colony,
however small, had to be kept in possession at all hazards; and he did
it.  But that was not enough.  Spain must be prevented from extending her
operations northward from Florida; she must be crippled along the whole
east coast of America.  And Raleigh did that too.  We find him for years
to come a part-adventurer in almost every attack on the Spaniards: we
find him preaching war against them on these very grounds, and setting
others to preach it also.  Good old Hariot (Raleigh’s mathematical tutor,
whom he sent to Virginia) re-echoes his pupil’s trumpet-blast.  Hooker,
in his epistle dedicatory of his Irish History, strikes the same note,
and a right noble one it is.  ‘These Spaniards are trying to build up a
world-tyranny by rapine and cruelty.  You, sir, call on us to deliver the
earth from them, by doing justly and loving mercy; and we will obey you!’
is the answer which Raleigh receives, as far as I can find, from every
nobler-natured Englishman.

It was an immense conception: a glorious one: it stood out so clear:
there was no mistake about its being the absolutely right, wise,
patriotic thing; and so feasible, too, if Raleigh could but find ‘_six
cents hommes qui savaient mourir_.’  But that was just what he could not
find.  He could draw round him, and did, by the spiritual magnetism of
his genius, many a noble soul; but he could not organise them, as he
seems to have tried to do, into a coherent body.  The English spirit of
independent action, never stronger than in that age, and most wisely
encouraged, for other reasons, by good Queen Bess, was too strong for
him.  His pupils will ‘fight on their own hook’ like so many Yankee
rangers: quarrel with each other: grumble at him.  For the truth is, he
demands of them too high a standard of thought and purpose.  He is often
a whole heaven above them in the hugeness of his imagination, the
nobleness of his motive; and Don Quixote can often find no better squire
than Sancho Panza.  Even glorious Sir Richard Grenvile makes a mistake:
burns an Indian village because they steal a silver cup; throws back the
colonisation of Virginia ten years with his over-strict notions of
discipline and retributive justice; and Raleigh requites him for his
offence by embalming him, his valour and his death, not in immortal
verse, but in immortal prose.  The ‘True Relation of the Fight at the
Azores’ gives the keynote of Raleigh’s heart.  If readers will not take
that as the text on which his whole life is a commentary they may know a
great deal about him, but him they will never know.

The game becomes fiercer and fiercer.  Blow and counterblow between the
Spanish king, for the whole West-Indian commerce was a government job,
and the merchant nobles of England.  At last the Great Armada comes, and
the Great Armada goes again.  _Venit_, _vidit_, _fugit_, as the medals
said of it.  And to Walter Raleigh’s counsel, by the testimony of all
contemporaries, the mighty victory is to be principally attributed.
Where all men did heroically, it were invidious to bestow on him alone a
crown, _ob patriam servatam_.  But henceforth, Elizabeth knows well that
she has not been mistaken in her choice; and Raleigh is better loved than
ever, heaped with fresh wealth and honours.  And who deserves them
better?

The immense value of his services in the defence of England should excuse
him from the complaint which one has been often inclined to bring against
him,—Why, instead of sending others Westward Ho, did be not go himself?
Surely he could have reconciled the jarring instruments with which he was
working.  He could have organised such a body of men as perhaps never
went out before or since on the same errand.  He could have done all that
Cortez did, and more; and done it more justly and mercifully.

True.  And here seems (as far as little folk dare judge great folk) to
have been Raleigh’s mistake.  He is too wide for real success.  He has
too many plans; he is fond of too many pursuits.  The man who succeeds is
generally the narrow mall; the man of one idea, who works at nothing but
that; sees everything only through the light of that; sacrifices
everything to that: the fanatic, in short.  By fanatics, whether
military, commercial, or religious, and not by ‘liberal-minded men’ at
all, has the world’s work been done in all ages.  Amid the modern cants,
one of the most mistaken is the cant about the ‘mission of genius,’ the
‘mission of the poet.’  Poets, we hear in some quarters, are the anointed
kings of mankind—at least, so the little poets sing, each to his little
fiddle.  There is no greater mistake.  It is the practical, prosaical
fanatic who does the work; and the poet, if he tries to do it, is certain
to put down his spade every five minutes, to look at the prospect, and
pick flowers, and moralise on dead asses, till he ends a _Néron malgré
lui-même_, fiddling melodiously while Rome is burning.  And perhaps this
is the secret of Raleigh’s failure.  He is a fanatic, no doubt, a true
knight-errant: but he is too much of a poet withal.  The sense of beauty
enthrals him at every step.  Gloriana’s fairy court, with its chivalries
and its euphuisms, its masques and its tourneys, and he the most charming
personage in it, are too charming for him—as they would have been for us,
reader: and he cannot give them up and go about the one work.  He
justifies his double-mindedness to himself, no doubt, as he does to the
world, by working wisely, indefatigably, and bravely: but still he has
put his trust in princes, and in the children of men.  His sin, as far as
we can see, is not against man, but against God; one which we do not
nowadays call a sin, but a weakness.  Be it so.  God punished him for it,
swiftly and sharply; which I hold to be a sure sign that God also forgave
him for it.

So he stays at home, spends, sooner or later, £40,000 on Virginia, writes
charming court-poetry with Oxford, Buckhurst, and Paget, brings over
Spenser from Ireland and introduces Colin Clout to Gloriana, who loves—as
who would not have loved?—that most beautiful of faces and of souls;
helps poor puritan Udall out of his scrape as far as he can; begs for
Captain Spring, begs for many more, whose names are only known by being
connected with some good deed of his.  ‘When, Sir Walter,’ asks Queen
Bess, ‘will you cease to be a beggar?’  ‘When your Majesty ceases to be a
benefactor.’  Perhaps it is in these days that he set up his ‘office of
address’—some sort of agency for discovering and relieving the wants of
worthy men.  So all seems to go well.  If he has lost in Virginia, he has
gained by Spanish prizes; his wine-patent is bringing him in a large
revenue, and the heavens smile on him.  Thou sayest, ‘I am rich and
increased in goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou
art poor and miserable and blind and naked.’  Thou shalt learn it, then,
and pay dearly for thy lesson.

For, in the meanwhile, Raleigh falls into a very great sin, for which, as
usual with his elect, God inflicts swift and instant punishment; on
which, as usual, biographers talk much unwisdom.  He seduces Miss
Throgmorton, one of the maids of honour.  Elizabeth is very wroth; and
had she not good reason to be wroth?  Is it either fair or reasonable to
talk of her ‘demanding a monopoly of love,’ and ‘being incensed at the
temerity of her favourite, in presuming to fall in love and marry without
her consent?’  Away with such cant.  The plain facts are: that a man
nearly forty years old abuses his wonderful gifts of body and mind, to
ruin a girl nearly twenty years younger than himself.  What wonder if a
virtuous woman—and Queen Elizabeth was virtuous—thought it a base deed,
and punished it accordingly?  There is no more to be discovered in the
matter, save by the vulturine nose which smells carrion in every
rose-bed.  Raleigh has a great attempt on the Plate-fleets in hand; he
hurries off from Chatham, and writes to young Cecil on the 10th of March,
‘I mean not to come away, as some say I will, for fear of a marriage, and
I know not what . . . For I protest before God, there is none on the face
of the earth that I would be fastened unto.’

This famous passage is one of those over which the virtuosity of modern
times, rejoicing in evil, has hung so fondly, as giving melancholy proof
of the ‘duplicity of Raleigh’s character’; as if a man who once in his
life had told an untruth was proved by that fact to be a rogue from birth
to death: while others have kindly given him the benefit of a doubt
whether the letter were not written after a private marriage, and
therefore Raleigh, being ‘joined unto’ some one already, had a right to
say that he did not wish to be joined to any one.  But I do not concur in
this doubt.  Four months after, Sir Edward Stafford writes to Anthony
Bacon, ‘If you have anything to do with Sir W. R., or any love to make to
Mistress Throgmorton, at the Tower to-morrow you may speak with them.’
This implies that no marriage had yet taken place.  And surely, if there
had been private marriage, two people who were about to be sent to the
Tower for their folly would have made the marriage public at once, as the
only possible self-justification.  But it is a pity, in my opinion, that
biographers, before pronouncing upon that supposed lie of Raleigh’s, had
not taken the trouble to find out what the words mean.  In their virtuous
haste to prove him a liar, they have overlooked the fact that the words,
as they stand, are unintelligible, and the argument self-contradictory.
He wants to prove, we suppose, that he does not go to sea for fear of
being forced to marry Miss Throgmorton.  It is, at least, an unexpected
method of so doing in a shrewd man like Raleigh, to say that he wishes to
marry no one at all.  ‘Don’t think that I run away for fear of a
marriage, for I do not wish to marry any one on the face of the earth,’
is a speech which may prove Raleigh to have been a fool, and we must
understand it before we can say that it proves him a rogue.  If we had
received such a letter from a friend, we should have said at once, ‘Why
the man, in his hurry and confusion, has omitted _the_ word; he must have
meant to write, not “There is none on the face of the earth that I would
be fastened to,” but “There is none on the face of the earth that I would
_rather_ be fastened to,”‘ which would at once make sense and suit fact.
For Raleigh not only married Miss Throgmorton forthwith, but made her the
best of husbands.  My conjectural emendation may go for what it is worth:
but that the passage, as it stands in Murdin’s State Papers (the MSS. I
have not seen) is either misquoted, or mis-written by Raleigh himself, I
cannot doubt.  He was not one to think nonsense, even if he scribbled it.

The Spanish raid turns out well.  Raleigh overlooks Elizabeth’s letters
of recall till he finds out that the King of Spain has stopped the
Plate-fleet for fear of his coming; and then returns, sending on Sir John
Burrough to the Azores, where he takes the ‘Great Carack,’ the largest
prize (1600 tons) which had ever been brought into England.  The details
of that gallant fight stand in the pages of Hakluyt.  It raised Raleigh
once more to wealth, though not to favour.  Shortly after he returns from
the sea, he finds himself, where he deserves to be, in the Tower, where
he does more than one thing which brought him no credit.  How far we are
justified in calling his quarrel with Sir George Carew, his keeper, for
not letting him ‘disguise himself, and get into a pair of oars to ease
his mind but with a sight of the Queen, or his heart would break,’
hypocrisy, is a very different matter.  Honest Arthur Gorges, a staunch
friend of Raleigh’s, tells the story laughingly and lovingly, as if he
thought Raleigh sincere, but somewhat mad: and yet honest Gorges has a
good right to say a bitter thing; for after having been ‘ready to break
with laughing at seeing them two brawl and scramble like madmen, and Sir
George’s new periwig torn off his crown,’ he sees ‘the iron walking’ and
daggers out, and playing the part of him who taketh a dog by the ears,
‘purchased such a rap on the knuckles, that I wished both their pates
broken, and so with much ado they staid their brawl to see my bloody
fingers,’ and then set to work to abuse the hapless peacemaker.  After
which things Raleigh writes a letter to Cecil, which is still more
offensive in the eyes of virtuous biographers—how ‘his heart was never
broken till this day, when he hears the Queen goes so far off, whom he
followed with love and desire on so many journeys, and am now left behind
in a dark prison all alone.’ . . . ‘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,’ and so forth, in a style in
which the vulturine nose must needs scent carrion, just because the roses
are more fragrant than they should be in a world where all ought to be
either vultures or carrion for their dinners.  As for his despair, had he
not good reason to be in despair?  By his own sin he has hurled himself
down the hill which he has so painfully climbed.  He is in the
Tower—surely no pleasant or hopeful place for any man.  Elizabeth is
exceedingly wroth with him; and what is worse, he deserves what he has
got.  His whole fortune is ventured in an expedition over which he has no
control, which has been unsuccessful in its first object, and which may
be altogether unsuccessful in that which it has undertaken as a
_pis-aller_, and so leave him penniless.  There want not, too, those who
will trample on the fallen.  The deputy has been cruelly distraining on
his Irish tenants for a ‘supposed debt of his to the Queen of £400 for
rent,’ which was indeed but fifty marks, and which was paid, and has
carried off 500 milch kine from the poor settlers whom he has planted
there, and forcibly thrust him out of possession of a castle.  Moreover,
the whole Irish estates are likely to come to ruin; for nothing prevails
but rascality among the English soldiers, impotence among the governors,
and rebellion among the natives.  Three thousand Burkes are up in arms;
his ‘prophecy of this rebellion’ ten days ago was laughed at, and now has
come true; and altogether, Walter Raleigh and all belonging to him is in
as evil case as he ever was on earth.  No wonder, poor fellow, if he
behowls himself lustily, and not always wisely, to Cecil, and every one
else who will listen to him.

As for his fine speeches about Elizabeth, why forget the standing-point
from which such speeches were made?  Over and above his present ruin, it
was (and ought to have been) an utterly horrible and unbearable thing to
Raleigh, or any man, to have fallen into disgrace with Elizabeth by his
own fault.  He feels (and perhaps rightly) that he is as it were
excommunicated from England, and the mission and the glory of England.
Instead of being, as he was till now, one of a body of brave men working
together in one great common cause, he has cut himself off from the
congregation by his own selfish lust, and there he is left alone with his
shame.  We must try to realise to ourselves the way in which such men as
Raleigh looked not only at Elizabeth, but at all the world.  There was,
in plain palpable fact, something about the Queen, her history, her
policy, the times, the glorious part which England, and she as the
incarnation of the then English spirit, were playing upon earth, which
raised imaginative and heroical souls into a permanent exaltation—a
‘fairyland,’ as they called it themselves, which seems to us fantastic,
and would be fantastic in us, because we are not at their work, or in
their days.  There can be no doubt that a number of as noble men as ever
stood together on the earth did worship that woman, fight for her, toil
for her, risk all for her, with a pure chivalrous affection which has
furnished one of the most beautiful pages in all the book of history.
Blots there must needs have been, and inconsistencies, selfishnesses,
follies; for they too were men of like passions with ourselves; but let
us look at the fair vision as a whole, and thank God that such a thing
has for once existed even imperfectly on this sinful earth, instead of
playing the part of Ham and falling under his curse,—the penalty of
slavishness, cowardice, loss of noble daring, which surely falls on any
generation which is ‘banausos,’ to use Aristotle’s word; which rejoices
in its forefathers’ shame, and, unable to believe in the nobleness of
others, is unable to become noble itself.

As for the ‘Alexander and Diana’ affectations, they were the language of
the time: and certainly this generation has no reason to find fault with
them, or with a good deal more of the ‘affectations’ and ‘flattery’ of
Elizabethan times, while it listens complacently night after night ‘to
honourable members’ complimenting not Queen Elizabeth, but Sir Jabesh
Windbag, Fiddle, Faddle, Red-tape, and party with protestations of
deepest respect and fullest confidence in the very speeches in which they
bring accusations of every offence short of high treason—to be
understood, of course, in a ‘parliamentary sense,’ as Mr. Pickwick’s were
in a ‘Pickwickian’ one.  If a generation of Knoxes and Mortons, Burleighs
and Raleighs, shall ever arise again, one wonders by what name they will
call the parliamentary morality and parliamentary courtesy of a
generation which has meted out such measure to their ancestors’ failings?

‘But Queen Elizabeth was an old woman then.’  I thank the objector even
for that ‘then’; for it is much nowadays to find any one who believes
that Queen Elizabeth was ever young, or who does not talk of her as if
she was born about seventy years of age covered with rouge and wrinkles.
I will undertake to say that as to the beauty of this woman there is a
greater mass of testimony, and from the very best judges too, than there
is of the beauty of any personage in history; and yet it has become the
fashion now to deny even that.  The plain facts seem that she was very
graceful, active, accomplished in all outward manners, of a perfect
figure, and of that style of intellectual beauty, depending on
expression, which attracted (and we trust always will attract) Britons
far more than that merely sensuous loveliness in which no doubt Mary
Stuart far surpassed her.  And there seems little doubt that, like many
Englishwomen, she retained her beauty to a very late period in life, not
to mention that she was, in 1592, just at that age of rejuvenescence
which makes many a woman more lovely at sixty than she has been since she
was thirty-five.  No doubt, too, she used every artificial means to
preserve her famous complexion; and quite right she was.  This beauty of
hers had been a talent, as all beauty is, committed to her by God; it had
been an important element in her great success; men had accepted it as
what beauty of form and expression generally is, an outward and visible
sign of the inward and spiritual grace; and while the inward was
unchanged, what wonder if she tried to preserve the outward?  If she was
the same, why should she not try to look the same?  And what blame to
those who worshipped her, if, knowing that she was the same, they too
should fancy that she looked the same, the Elizabeth of their youth, and
should talk as if the fair flesh, as well as the fair spirit, was
immortal?  Does not every loving husband do so when he forgets the gray
hair and the sunken cheek, and all the wastes of time, and sees the
partner of many joys and sorrows not as she has become, but as she was,
ay, and is to him, and will be to him, he trusts, through all eternity?
There is no feeling in these Elizabethan worshippers which we have not
seen, potential and crude, again and again in the best and noblest of
young men whom we have met, till it was crushed in them by the luxury,
effeminacy, and unbelief in chivalry, which are the sure accompaniment of
a long peace, which war may burn up with beneficent fire.

But we must hasten on now; for Raleigh is out of prison in September, and
by the next spring in parliament speaking wisely and well, especially on
his fixed idea, war with Spain, which he is rewarded for forthwith in
Father Parson’s ‘Andreæ Philopatris Responsio’ by a charge of founding a
school of Atheism for the corruption of young gentlemen; a charge which
Lord Chief-Justice Popham, Protestant as he is, will find it useful one
day to recollect.

Elizabeth, however, now that Raleigh has married the fair Throgmorton and
done wisely in other matters, restores him to favour.  If he has sinned,
he has suffered: but he is as useful as ever, now that his senses have
returned to him; and he is making good speeches in parliament, instead of
bad ones to weak maidens; so we find him once more in favour, and
possessor of Sherborne Manor, where he builds and beautifies, with
‘groves and gardens of much variety and great delight.’  And God, too,
seems to have forgiven him; perhaps has forgiven; for there the fair
Throgmorton brings him a noble boy.  _Ut sis vitalis metuo puer_!

Raleigh will quote David’s example one day, not wisely or well.  Does
David’s example ever cross him now, and those sad words,—‘The Lord hath
put away thy sin, . . . nevertheless the child that is born unto thee
shall die?’

Let that be as it may, all is sunshine once more.  Sherborne Manor, a
rich share in the great carack, a beautiful wife, a child; what more does
this man want to make him happy?  Why should he not settle down upon his
lees, like ninety-nine out of the hundred, or at least try a peaceful and
easy path toward more ‘praise and pudding?’  The world answers, or his
biographers answer for him, that he needs to reinstate himself in his
mistress’s affection; which is true or not, according as we take it.  If
they mean thereby, as most seem to mean, that it was a mere selfish and
ambitious scheme by which to wriggle into court favour once more—why, let
them mean it: I shall only observe that the method which Raleigh took was
a rather more dangerous and self-sacrificing one than courtiers are wont
to take.  But if it be meant that Walter Raleigh spoke somewhat thus with
himself,—‘I have done a base and dirty deed, and have been punished for
it.  I have hurt the good name of a sweet woman who loves me, and whom I
find to be a treasure; and God, instead of punishing me by taking her
from me, has rendered me good for evil by giving her to me.  I have
justly offended a mistress whom I worship, and who, after having shown
her just indignation, has returned me good for evil by giving me these
fair lands of Sherborne, and only forbid me her presence till the scandal
has passed away.  She sees and rewards my good in spite of my evil; and
I, too, know that I am better than I have seemed; that I am fit for
nobler deeds than seducing maids of honour.  How can I prove that?  How
can I redeem my lost name for patriotism and public daring?  How can I
win glory for my wife, seek that men shall forget her past shame in the
thought, “She is Walter Raleigh’s wife?”  How can I show my mistress that
I loved her all along, that I acknowledge her bounty, her mingled justice
and mercy?  How can I render to God for all the benefits which He has
done unto me?  How can I do a deed the like of which was never done in
England?’

If all this had passed through Walter Raleigh’s mind, what could we say
of it, but that it was the natural and rational feeling of an honourable
and right-hearted man, burning to rise to the level which he knew ought
to be his, because he knew that he had fallen below it?  And what right
better way of testifying these feelings than to do what, as we shall see,
Raleigh did?  What right have we to impute to him lower motives than
these, while we confess that these righteous and noble motives would have
been natural and rational;—indeed, just what we flatter ourselves that we
should have felt in his place?  Of course, in his grand scheme, the
thought came in, ‘And I shall win to myself honour, and glory, and
wealth,’—of course.  And pray, sir, does it not come in in your grand
schemes; and yours; and yours?  If you made a fortune to-morrow by some
wisely and benevolently managed factory, would you forbid all speech of
the said wisdom and benevolence, because you had intended that wisdom and
benevolence should pay you a good percentage?  Away with cant, and let
him that is without sin among you cast the first stone.

So Raleigh hits upon a noble project; a desperate one, true: but he will
do it or die.  He will leave pleasant Sherborne, and the bosom of the
beautiful bride, and the first-born son, and all which to most makes life
worth having, and which Raleigh enjoys more intensely than most men; for
he is a poet, and a man of strong nervous passions withal.  But,—

    ‘I could not love thee, dear, so much,
    Loved I not honour more.’

And he will go forth to endure heat, hunger, fever, danger of death in
battle, danger of the Inquisition, rack, and stake, in search of El
Dorado.  What so strange in that?  I have known half a dozen men who, in
his case, and conscious of his powers, would have done the same from the
same noble motive.

He begins prudently; and sends a Devonshire man, Captain Whiddon—probably
one of The Whiddons of beautiful Chagford—to spy out the Orinoco.  He
finds that the Spaniards are there already; that Berreo, who has
attempted El Dorado from the westward, starting from New Granada and
going down the rivers, is trying to settle on the Orinoco mouth; that he
is hanging the poor natives, encouraging the Caribs to hunt them and sell
them for slaves, imprisoning the caciques to extort their gold,
torturing, ravishing, kidnapping, and conducting himself as was usual
among Spaniards of those days.

Raleigh’s spirit is stirred within him.  If ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ fiction
as it is, once excited us, how must a far worse reality have excited
Raleigh, as he remembered that these Spaniards are as yet triumphant in
iniquity, and as he remembered, too, that these same men are the sworn
foes of England, her liberty, her Bible, and her Queen?  What a deed, to
be beforehand with them for once!  To dispossess them of one corner of
that western world, where they have left no trace but blood and flame!
He will go himself: he will find El Dorado and its golden Emperor; and
instead of conquering, plundering, and murdering him, as Cortez did
Montezuma, and Pizarro Atahuallpa, he will show him English strength;
espouse his quarrel against the Spaniards; make him glad to become Queen
Elizabeth’s vassal tributary, perhaps leave him a bodyguard of English
veterans, perhaps colonise his country, and so at once avenge and protect
the oppressed Indians, and fill the Queen’s treasury with the riches of a
land equal, if not superior, to Peru and Mexico.

Such is his dream; vague perhaps: but far less vague than those with
which Cortez and Pizarro started, and succeeded.  After a careful survey
of the whole matter, I must give it as my deliberate opinion, that
Raleigh was more reasonable in his attempt, and had more fair evidence of
its feasibility, than either Cortez or Pizarro had for theirs.  It is a
bold assertion.  If any reader doubts its truth, he cannot do better than
to read the whole of the documents connected with the two successful, and
the one unsuccessful, attempts at finding a golden kingdom.  Let them
read first Prescott’s ‘Conquests of Mexico and Peru,’ and then
Schomburgk’s edition of Raleigh’s ‘Guiana.’  They will at least confess,
when they have finished, that truth is stranger than fiction.

Of Raleigh’s credulity in believing in El Dorado, much has been said.  I
am sorry to find even so wise a man as Sir Robert Schomburgk, after
bearing good testimony to Raleigh’s wonderful accuracy about all matters
which he had an opportunity of observing, using this term of credulity.
I must dare to differ on that point even with Sir Robert, and ask by what
right the word is used?  First, Raleigh says nothing about El Dorado (as
every one is forced to confess) but what Spaniard on Spaniard had been
saying for fifty years.  Therefore the blame of credulity ought to rest
with the Spaniards, from Philip von Huten, Orellano, and George of
Spires, upward to Berreo.  But it rests really with no one.  For nothing,
if we will examine the documents, is told of the riches of El Dorado
which had not been found to be true, and seen by the eyes of men still
living, in Peru and Mexico.  Not one-fifth of America had been explored,
and already two El Dorados had been found and conquered.  What more
rational than to suppose that there was a third, a fourth, a fifth, in
the remaining four-fifths?  The reports of El Dorado among the savages
were just of the same kind as those by which Cortez and Pizarro hunted
out Mexico and Peru, saving that they were far more widely spread, and
confirmed by a succession of adventurers.  I entreat readers to examine
this matter in Raleigh, Schomburgk, Humboldt, and Condamine, and judge
for themselves.  As for Hume’s accusations, I pass them by as equally
silly and shameless, only saying, for the benefit of readers, that they
have been refuted completely by every one who has written since Hume’s
days; and to those who are inclined to laugh at Raleigh for believing in
Amazons and ‘men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders’ I can only
answer thus—

About the Amazons, Raleigh told what he was told; what the Spaniards who
went before him, and Condamine who came after him, were told.  Humboldt
thinks the story possibly founded on fact; and I must say that, after
reviewing all that has been said thereon, it does seem to me the simplest
solution of the matter just to believe it true; to believe that there
was, about his time, or a little before, somewhere about the Upper
Orinoco, a warlike community of women.  Humboldt shows how likely such
would be to spring up where women flee from their male tyrants into the
forests.  As for the fable which connected them with the Lake Manoa and
the city of El Dorado, we can only answer, ‘If not true there and then,
it is true elsewhere now’; for the Amazonian guards of the King of
Dahomey at this moment, as all know, surpass in strangeness and in
ferocity all that has been reported of the Orinocquan viragos, and thus
prove once more that truth is stranger than fiction. {138}

Beside—and here I stand stubborn, regardless of gibes and sneers—it is
not yet proven that there was not, in the sixteenth century, some rich
and civilised kingdom like Peru or Mexico in the interior of South
America.  Sir Robert Schomburgk has disproved the existence of Lake
Parima; but it will take a long time, and more explorers than one, to
prove that there are no ruins of ancient cities, such as Stephens
stumbled on in Yucatan, still buried in the depths of the forest.  Fifty
years of ruin would suffice to wrap them in a leafy veil which would hide
them from every one who did not literally run against them.  Tribes would
die out, or change place, as the Atures and other great nations have done
in those parts, and every traditional record of them perish gradually;
for it is only gradually and lately that it has perished: while if it be
asked, What has become of the people themselves? the answer is, that when
any race (like most of the American races in the sixteenth century) is in
a dying state, it hardly needs war to thin it down, and reduce the
remnant to savagery.  Greater nations than El Dorado was even supposed to
be have vanished ere now, and left not a trace behind: and so may they.
But enough of this.  I leave the quarrel to that honest and patient
warder of tourneys, Old Time, who will surely do right at last, and go on
to the dogheaded worthies, without necks, and long hair hanging down
behind, who, as a cacique told Raleigh, that ‘they had of late years
slain many hundreds of his father’s people,’ and in whom even Humboldt
was not always allowed, he says, to disbelieve (so much for Hume’s scoff
at Raleigh as a liar), one old cacique boasting to him that he had seen
them with his own eyes.  Humboldt’s explanation is, that the Caribs,
being the cleverest and strongest Indians, are also the most imaginative;
and therefore, being fallen children of Adam, the greatest liars; and
that they invented both El Dorado and the dog-heads out of pure
wickedness.  Be it so.  But all lies crystallise round some nucleus of
truth; and it really seems to me nothing very wonderful if the story
should be on the whole true, and these worthies were in the habit of
dressing themselves up, like foolish savages as they were, in the skins
of the Aguara dog, with what not of stuffing, and tails, and so forth, in
order to astonish the weak minds of the Caribs, just as the Red Indians
dress up in their feasts as bears, wolves, and deer, with foxtails, false
bustles of bison skin, and so forth.  There are plenty of traces of such
foolish attempts at playing ‘bogy’ in the history of savages, even of our
own Teutonic forefathers; and this I suspect to be the simple explanation
of the whole mare’s nest.  As for Raleigh being a fool for believing it;
the reasons he gives for believing it are very rational; the reasons Hume
gives for calling him a fool rest merely on the story’s being strange: on
which grounds one might disbelieve most matters in heaven and earth, from
one’s own existence to what one sees in every drop of water under the
microscope, yea, to the growth of every seed.  The only sound proof that
dog-headed men are impossible is to be found in comparative anatomy, a
science of which Hume knew no more than Raleigh, and which for one marvel
it has destroyed has revealed a hundred.  I do not doubt that if Raleigh
had seen and described a kangaroo, especially its all but miraculous
process of gestation, Hume would have called that a lie also; but I will
waste no more time in proving that no man is so credulous as the
unbeliever—the man who has such mighty and world-embracing faith in
himself that he makes his own little brain the measure of the universe.
Let the dead bury their dead.

Raleigh sails for Guiana.  The details of his voyage should be read at
length.  Everywhere they show the eye of a poet as well as of a man of
science.  He sees enough to excite his hopes more wildly than ever; he
goes hundreds of miles up the Orinoco in an open boat, suffering every
misery, but keeping up the hearts of his men, who cry out, ‘Let us go on,
we care not how far.’  He makes friendship with the caciques, and enters
into alliance with them on behalf of Queen Elizabeth against the
Spaniards.  Unable to pass the falls of the Caroli, and the rainy season
drawing on, he returns, beloved and honoured by all the Indians, boasting
that, during the whole time he was there, no woman was the worse for any
man of his crew.  Altogether, we know few episodes of history so noble,
righteous, and merciful as this Guiana voyage.  But he has not forgotten
the Spaniards.  At Trinidad he payed his ships with the asphalt of the
famous Pitch-lake, and stood—and with what awe such a man must have
stood—beneath the noble forest of Moriche fan-palms on its brink.  He
then attacked, not, by his own confession, without something too like
treachery, the new town of San José, takes Berreo prisoner, and delivers
from captivity five caciques, whom Berreo kept bound in one chain,
‘basting their bodies with burning bacon’—an old trick of the
Conquistadores—to make them discover their gold.  He tells them that he
was ‘the servant of a Queen who was the greatest cacique of the north,
and a virgin; who had more caciqui under her than there were trees on
that island; that she was an enemy of the Castellani (Spaniards) in
behalf 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.’  After which perfectly true and rational speech, he
subjoins (as we think equally honestly and rationally), ‘I showed them
her Majesty’s picture, which they so admired and honoured, as it had been
easy to have brought them idolaters thereof.’

This is one of the stock charges against Raleigh, at which all
biographers (except quiet, sensible Oldys, who, dull as he is, is far
more fair and rational than most of his successors) break into virtuous
shrieks of ‘flattery,’ ‘meanness,’ ‘adulation,’ ‘courtiership,’ and so
forth.  One biographer is of opinion that the Indians would have admired
far more the picture of a ‘red monkey.’  Sir Robert Schomburgk,
unfortunately for the red monkey theory, though he quite agrees that
Raleigh’s flattery was very shocking, says that from what he knows—and no
man knows more—of Indian taste, they would have far preferred to the
portrait which Raleigh showed them—not a red monkey, but—such a picture
as that at Hampton Court, in which Elizabeth is represented in a
fantastic court dress.  Raleigh, it seems, must be made out a rogue at
all risks, though by the most opposite charges.  The monkey theory is
answered, however, by Sir Robert; and Sir Robert is answered, I think, by
the plain fact that, of course, Raleigh’s portrait was exactly such a one
as Sir Robert says they would have admired; a picture probably in a
tawdry frame, representing Queen Bess, just as queens were always painted
then, bedizened with ‘browches, pearls, and owches,’ satin and ruff, and
probably with crown on head and sceptre in hand, made up, as likely as
not, expressly for the purpose for which it was used.  In the name of all
simplicity and honesty, I ask, why is Raleigh to be accused of saying
that the Indians admired Queen Elizabeth’s beauty when he never even
hints at it?  And why do all commentators deliberately forget the
preceding paragraph—Raleigh’s proclamation to the Indians, and the
circumstances under which it was spoken?  The Indians are being murdered,
ravished, sold for slaves, basted with burning fat; and grand white men
come like avenging angels, and in one day sweep their tyrants out of the
land, restore them to liberty and life, and say to them, ‘A great Queen
far across the seas has sent us to do this.  Thousands of miles away she
has heard of your misery and taken pity on you; and if you will be
faithful to her she will love you, and deal justly with you, and protect
you against these Spaniards who are devouring you as they have devoured
all the Indians round you; and for a token of it—a sign that we tell you
truth, and that there is really such a great Queen, who is the Indian’s
friend—here is the picture of her.’  What wonder if the poor idolatrous
creatures had fallen down and worshipped the picture—just as millions do
that of the Virgin Mary without a thousandth part as sound and practical
reason—as that of a divine, all-knowing, all-merciful deliverer?  As for
its being the picture of a beautiful woman or not, they would never think
of that.  The fair complexion and golden hair would be a sign to them
that she belonged to the mighty white people, even if there were no
bedizenment of jewels and crowns over and above; and that would be enough
for them.  When will biographers learn to do common justice to their
fellow-men by exerting now and then some small amount of dramatic
imagination, just sufficient to put themselves for a moment in the place
of those of whom they write?

So ends his voyage, in which, he says, ‘from myself I have deserved no
thanks, for I am returned a beggar and withered.’  The only thing which,
as far as I can find, he brought home was some of the delicious scaly
peaches of the Moriche palm—the _Arbol de Vida_, or tree of life, which
gives sustenance and all else needful to whole tribes of Indians.  ‘But I
might have bettered my poor estate if I had not only respected her
Majesty’s future honour and riches.  It became not the former fortune in
which I once lived to go journeys of piccory’ (pillage); ‘and it had
sorted ill with the offices of honour which, by her Majesty’s grace, I
hold this day in England, to run from cape to cape and place to place for
the pillage of ordinary prizes.’

So speaks one whom it has been the fashion to consider as little better
than a pirate, and that, too, in days when the noblest blood in England
thought no shame (as indeed it was no shame) to enrich themselves with
Spanish gold.  But so it is throughout this man’s life.  If there be a
nobler word than usual to be spoken, or a more wise word either, if there
be a more chivalrous deed to be done, or a more prudent deed either, that
word and that deed are pretty sure to be Walter Raleigh’s.

But the blatant beast has been busy at home; and, in spite of Chapman’s
heroical verses, he meets with little but cold looks.  Never mind.  If
the world will not help to do the deed, he will do it by himself; and no
time must be lost, for the Spaniards on their part will lose none.  So,
after six months, the faithful Keymis sails again, again helped by the
Lord High Admiral and Sir Robert Cecil.  It is a hard race for one
private man against the whole power and wealth of Spain; and the Spaniard
has been beforehand with them, and re-occupied the country.  They have
fortified themselves at the mouth of the Caroli, so it is impossible to
get to the gold mines; they are enslaving the wretched Indians, carrying
off their women, intending to transplant some tribes and to expel others,
and arming cannibal tribes against the inhabitants.  All is misery and
rapine; the scattered remnant comes asking piteously why Raleigh does not
come over to deliver them?  Have the Spaniards slain him, too?  Keymis
comforts them as he best can; hears of more gold mines; and gets back
safe, a little to his own astonishment; for eight-and-twenty ships of war
have been sent to Trinidad to guard the entrance to El Dorado, not
surely, as Keymis well says, ‘to keep us only from tobacco.’  A colony of
500 persons is expected from Spain.  The Spaniard is well aware of the
richness of the prize, says Keymis, who all through shows himself a
worthy pupil of his master.  A careful, observant man he seems to have
been, trained by that great example to overlook no fact, even the
smallest.  He brings home lists of rivers, towns, caciques, poison-herbs,
words, what not; he has fresh news of gold, spleen-stones, kidney-stones,
and some fresh specimens; but be that as it may, he, ‘without going as
far as his eyes can warrant, can promise Brazil-wood, honey, cotton,
balsamum, and drugs, to defray charges.’  He would fain copy Raleigh’s
style, too, and ‘whence his lamp had oil, borrow light also,’ ‘seasoning
his unsavoury speech’ with some of the ‘leaven of Raleigh’s discourse.’
Which, indeed, he does even to little pedantries and attempts at
classicality; and after professing that himself and the remnant of his
few years he hath bequeathed wholly to Raleana, and his thoughts live
only in that action, he rises into something like grandeur when he begins
to speak of that ever-fertile subject, the Spanish cruelties to the
Indians; ‘Doth not the cry of the poor succourless ascend unto the
heavens?  Hath God forgotten to be gracious to the work of his own hands.
Or shall not his judgments in a day of visitation by the ministry of his
chosen servant come upon these bloodthirsty butchers, like rain into a
fleece of wool?’  Poor Keymis!  To us he is by no means the least
beautiful figure in this romance; a faithful, diligent, loving man,
unable, as the event proved, to do great deeds by himself, but inspired
with a great idea by contact with a mightier spirit, to whom he clings
through evil report, and poverty, and prison, careless of self to the
last, and ends tragically, ‘faithful unto death’ in the most awful sense.

But here remark two things: first, that Cecil believes in Raleigh’s
Guiana scheme; next, that the occupation of Orinoco by the Spaniards,
which Raleigh is accused of having concealed from James in 1617, has been
ever since 1595 matter of the most public notoriety.

Raleigh has not been idle in the meanwhile.  It has been found necessary
after all to take the counsel which he gave in vain in 1588, to burn the
Spanish fleet in harbour; and the heroes are gone down to Cadiz fight,
and in one day of thunder storm the Sevastopol of Spain.  Here, as usual,
we find Raleigh, though in an inferior command, leading the whole by
virtue of superior wisdom.  When the good Lord Admiral will needs be
cautious, and land the soldiers first, it is Raleigh who persuades him to
force his way into the harbour, to the joy of all captains.  When
hotheaded Essex, casting his hat into the sea for joy, shouts
‘_Intramos_,’ and will in at once, Raleigh’s time for caution comes, and
he persuades them to wait till the next morning, and arrange the order of
attack.  That, too, Raleigh has to do, and moreover to lead it; and lead
it he does.  Under the forts are seventeen galleys; the channel is
‘scoured’ with cannon: but on holds Raleigh’s ‘Warspite,’ far ahead of
the rest, through the thickest of the fire, answering forts and galleys
‘with a blur of the trumpet to each piece, disdaining to shoot at those
esteemed dreadful monsters.’  For there is a nobler enemy ahead.  Right
in front lie the galleons; and among them the ‘Philip’ and the ‘Andrew,’
two of those who boarded the ‘Revenge.’  This day there shall be a
reckoning for the blood of his old friend; he is ‘resolved to be revenged
for the “Revenge,”’ Sir Richard Grenvile’s fatal ship, or second her with
his own life’; and well he keeps his vow.  Three hours pass of desperate
valour, during which, so narrow is the passage, only seven English ships,
thrusting past each other, all but quarrelling in their noble rivalry,
engage the whole Spanish fleet of fifty-seven sail, and destroy it
utterly.  The ‘Philip’ and ‘Thomas’ burn themselves despairing.  The
English boats save the ‘Andrew’ and ‘Matthew.’  One passes over the
hideous record.  ‘If any man,’ says Raleigh, ‘had a desire to see hell
itself, it was there most lively figured.’  Keymis’s prayer is answered
in part, even while he writes it; and the cry of the Indians has not
ascended in vain before the throne of God!

The soldiers are landed; the city stormed and sacked, not without mercies
and courtesies, though, to women and unarmed folk, which win the hearts
of the vanquished, and live till this day in well-known ballads.  The
Flemings begin a ‘merciless slaughter.’  Raleigh and the Lord Admiral
beat them off.  Raleigh is carried on shore with a splinter wound in the
leg, which lames him for life: but returns on board in an hour in agony;
for there is no admiral left to order the fleet, and all are run headlong
to the sack.  In vain he attempts to get together sailors the following
morning, and attack the Indian fleet in Porto Real Roads; within
twenty-four hours it is burnt by the Spaniards themselves; and all
Raleigh wins is no booty, a lame leg, and the honour of having been the
real author of a victory even more glorious than that of 1588.

So he returns; having written to Cecil the highest praises of Essex, whom
he treats with all courtesy and fairness; which those who will may call
cunning: we have as good a right to say that he was returning good for
evil.  There were noble qualities in Essex.  All the world gave him
credit for them, and far more than he deserved; why should not Raleigh
have been just to him; even have conceived, like the rest of the world,
high hopes of him, till he himself destroyed these hopes?  For now storms
are rising fast.  On their return Cecil is in power.  He has been made
Secretary of State instead of Bodley, Essex’s pet, and the spoilt child
begins to sulk.  On which matter, I am sorry to say, historians talk much
unwisdom, about Essex’s being too ‘open and generous, etc., for a
courtier,’ and ‘presuming on his mistress’s passion for him’; and
representing Elizabeth as desiring to be thought beautiful, and
‘affecting at sixty the sighs, loves, tears, and tastes of a girl of
sixteen,’ and so forth.  It is really time to get rid of some of this
fulsome talk, culled from such triflers as Osborne, if not from the
darker and fouler sources of Parsons and the Jesuit slanderers, which I
meet with a flat denial.  There is simply no proof.  She in love with
Essex or Cecil?  Yes, as a mother with a son.  Were they not the children
of her dearest and most faithful servants, men who had lived heroic lives
for her sake?  What wonder if she fancied that she saw the fathers in the
sons?  They had been trained under her eye.  What wonder if she fancied
that they could work as their fathers worked before them?  And what shame
if her childless heart yearned over them with unspeakable affection, and
longed in her old age to lay her hands upon the shoulders of those two
young men, and say to England, ‘Behold the children which God, and not
the flesh, has given me!’  Most strange it is, too, that women, who ought
at least to know a woman’s heart, have been especially forward in
publishing these scandals, and sullying their pages by retailing
pruriences against such a one as Queen Elizabeth.

But to return.  Raleigh attaches himself to Cecil; and he has good
reason.  Cecil is the cleverest man in England, saving himself.  He has
trusted and helped him, too, in two Guiana voyages; so the connection is
one of gratitude as well as prudence.  We know not whether he helped him
in the third Guiana voyage in the same year, under Captain Berry, a north
Devon man, from Grenvile’s country; who found a ‘mighty folk,’ who were
‘something pleasant, having drunk much that day,’ and carried bows with
golden handles: but failed in finding the Lake Parima, and so came home.

Raleigh’s first use of his friendship with Cecil is to reconcile him, to
the astonishment of the world, with Essex, alleging how much good may
grow by it; for now ‘the Queen’s continual unquietness will grow to
contentment.’  That, too, those who will may call policy.  We have as
good a right to call it the act of a wise and faithful subject, and to
say, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children
of God.’  He has his reward for it in full restoration to the Queen’s
favour; he deserves it.  He proves himself once more worthy of power, and
it is given to him.  Then there is to be a second great expedition: but
this time its aim is the Azores.  Philip, only maddened by the loss at
Cadiz, is preparing a third armament for the invasion of England and
Ireland, and it is said to lie at the islands to protect the Indian
fleet.  Raleigh has the victualling of the land-forces, and, like
everything else he takes in hand, ‘it is very well done.’  Lord Howard
declines the chief command, and it is given to Essex.  Raleigh is to be
rear-admiral.

By the time they reach the Azores, Essex has got up a foolish quarrel
against Raleigh for disrespect in having stayed behind to bring up some
stragglers.  But when no Armada is to be found at the Azores, Essex has
after all to ask Raleigh what he shall do next.  Conquer the Azores, says
Raleigh, and the thing is agreed on.  Raleigh and Essex are to attack
Fayal.  Essex sails away before Raleigh has watered.  Raleigh follows as
fast as he can, and at Fayal finds no Essex.  He must water there, then
and at once.  His own veterans want him to attack forthwith, for the
Spaniards are fortifying fast: but he will wait for Essex.  Still no
Essex comes.  Raleigh attempts to water, is defied, finds himself ‘in for
it,’ and takes the island out of hand in the most masterly fashion, to
the infuriation of Essex.  Good Lord Howard patches up the matter, and
the hot-headed coxcomb is once more pacified.  They go on to Graciosa,
where Essex’s weakness of will again comes out, and he does not take the
island.  Three rich Caracks, however, are picked up.  ‘Though we shall be
little the better for them,’ says Raleigh privately to Sir Arthur Gorges,
his faithful captain, ‘yet I am heartily glad for our General’s sake;
because they will in great measure give content to her Majesty, so that
there may be no repining against this poor Lord for the expense of the
voyage.’

Raleigh begins to see that Essex is only to be pitied; that the voyage is
not over likely to end well: but he takes it, in spite of ill-usage, as a
kind-hearted man should.  Again Essex makes a fool of himself.  They are
to steer one way in order to intercept the Plate-fleet.  Essex having
agreed to the course pointed out, alters his course on a fancy; then
alters it a second time, though the hapless Monson, with the whole
Plate-fleet in sight, is hanging out lights, firing guns, and shrieking
vainly for the General, who is gone on a new course, in which he might
have caught the fleet after all, in spite of his two mistakes, but that
he chooses to go a roundabout way instead of a short one; and away goes
the whole fleet, save one Carack, which runs itself on shore and burns,
and the game is played out and lost.

All want Essex to go home, as the season is getting late: but the wilful
and weak man will linger still, and while he is hovering to the south,
Philip’s armament has sailed from the Groyne, on the undefended shores of
England, and only God’s hand saves us from the effects of Essex’s folly.
A third time the Armadas of Spain are overwhelmed by the avenging
tempests, and Essex returns to disgrace, having proved himself at once
intemperate and incapable.  Even in coming home there is confusion, and
Essex is all but lost on the Bishop and Clerks, by Scilly, in spite of
the warnings of Raleigh’s sailing-master, ‘Old Broadbent,’ who is so
exasperated at the general stupidity that he wants Raleigh to leave Essex
and his squadron to get out of their own scrape as they can.

Essex goes off to sulk at Wanstead; but Vere excuses him, and in a few
days he comes back, and will needs fight good Lord Howard for being made
Earl of Nottingham for his services against the Armada and at Cadiz.
Baulked of this, he begins laying the blame of the failure at the Azores
on Raleigh.  Let the spoilt naughty boy take care; even that ‘admirable
temper’ for which Raleigh is famed may be worn out at last.

These years are Raleigh’s noon—stormy enough at best, yet brilliant.
There is a pomp about him, outward and inward, which is terrible to
others, dangerous to himself.  One has gorgeous glimpses of that grand
Durham House of his, with its carvings and its antique marbles, armorial
escutcheons, ‘beds with green silk hangings and legs like dolphins,
overlaid with gold’: and the man himself, tall, beautiful, and graceful,
perfect alike in body and in mind, walking to and fro, his beautiful wife
upon his arm, his noble boy beside his knee, in his ‘white satin doublet,
embroidered with pearls, and a great chain of pearls about his neck,’
lording it among the lords with an ‘awfulness and ascendency above other
mortals,’ for which men say that ‘his næve is, that he is damnable
proud’; and no wonder.  The reduced squire’s younger son has gone forth
to conquer the world; and he fancies, poor fool, that he has conquered
it, just as it really has conquered him; and he will stand now on his
blood and his pedigree (no bad one either), and all the more stiffly
because puppies like Lord Oxford, who instead of making their fortunes
have squandered them, call him ‘jack and upstart,’ and make impertinent
faces while the Queen is playing the virginals, about ‘how when jacks go
up, heads go down.’  Proud?  No wonder if the man be proud!  ‘Is not this
great Babylon, which I have built?’  And yet all the while he has the
most affecting consciousness that all this is not God’s will, but the
will of the flesh; that the house of fame is not the house of God; that
its floor is not the rock of ages, but the sea of glass mingled with
fire, which may crack beneath him any moment, and let the nether flame
burst up.  He knows that he is living in a splendid lie; that he is not
what God meant him to be.  He longs to flee away and be at peace.  It is
to this period, not to his death-hour, that ‘The Lie’ belongs; {155}
saddest of poems, with its melodious contempt and life-weariness.  All is
a lie—court, church, statesmen, courtiers, wit and science, town and
country, all are shams; the days are evil; the canker is at the root of
all things; the old heroes are dying one by one; the Elizabethan age is
rotting down, as all human things do, and nothing is left but to bewail
with Spenser ‘The Ruins of Time’; the glory and virtue which have
been—the greater glory and virtue which might be even now, if men would
but arise and repent, and work righteousness, as their fathers did before
them.  But no.  Even to such a world as this he will cling, and flaunt it
about as captain of the guard in the Queen’s progresses and masques and
pageants, with sword-belt studded with diamonds and rubies, or at
tournaments, in armour of solid silver, and a gallant train with
orange-tawny feathers, provoking Essex to bring in a far larger train in
the same colours, and swallow up Raleigh’s pomp in his own, so achieving
that famous ‘feather triumph’ by which he gains little but bad blood and
a good jest.  For Essex is no better tilter than he is general; and
having ‘run very ill’ in his orange-tawny, comes next day in green, and
runs still worse, and yet is seen to be the same cavalier; whereon a
spectator shrewdly observes that he changed his colours ‘that it may be
reported that there was one in green who ran worse than he in
orange-tawny.’  But enough of these toys, while God’s handwriting is upon
the wall above all heads.

Raleigh knows that the handwriting is there.  The spirit which drove him
forth to Virginia and Guiana is fallen asleep: but he longs for Sherborne
and quiet country life, and escapes thither during Essex’s imprisonment,
taking Cecil’s son with him, and writes as only he can write about the
shepherd’s peaceful joys, contrasted with ‘courts’ and ‘masques’ and
‘proud towers’—

       ‘Here are no false entrapping baits
       Too hasty for too hasty fates,
          Unless it be
          The fond credulity
    Of silly fish, that worlding who still look
    Upon the bait, but never on the hook;
          Nor envy, unless among
       The birds, for prize of their sweet song.

       ‘Go! let the diving negro seek
       For pearls hid in some forlorn creek,
          We all pearls scorn,
          Save what the dewy morn
    Congeals upon some little spire of grass,
    Which careless shepherds beat down as they pass
          And gold ne’er here appears
       Save what the yellow Ceres bears.’

Tragic enough are the after scenes of Raleigh’s life: but most tragic of
all are these scenes of vain-glory, in which he sees the better part, and
yet chooses the worse, and pours out his self-discontent in song which
proves the fount of delicacy and beauty which lies pure and bright
beneath the gaudy artificial crust.  What might not this man have been!
And he knows that too.  The stately rooms of Durham House pall on him,
and he delights to hide up in his little study among his books and his
chemical experiments, and smoke his silver pipe, and look out on the
clear Thames and the green Surrey hills, and dream about Guiana and the
Tropics; or to sit in the society of antiquaries with Selden and Cotton,
Camden and Stow; or in his own Mermaid Club, with Ben Jonson, Fletcher,
Beaumont, and at last with Shakspeare’s self to hear and utter

       ‘Words that have been
    So nimble, and so full of subtle flame,
    As if that every one from whom they came
    Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest.’

Anything to forget the handwriting on the wall, which will not be
forgotten.  But he will do all the good which he can meanwhile,
nevertheless.  He will serve God and Mammon.  So complete a man will
surely be able to do both.  Unfortunately the thing is impossible, as he
discovers too late: but he certainly goes as near success in the attempt
as ever man did.  Everywhere we find him doing justly and loving mercy.
Wherever this man steps he leaves his footprint ineffaceably in deeds of
benevolence.  For one year only, it seems, he is governor of Jersey; yet
to this day, it is said, the islanders honour his name, only second to
that of Duke Rollo, as their great benefactor, the founder of their
Newfoundland trade.  In the west country he is ‘as a king,’ ‘with ears
and mouth always open to hear and deliver their grievances, feet and
hands ready to go and work their redress.’  The tin-merchants have become
usurers ‘of fifty in the hundred.’  Raleigh works till he has put down
their ‘abominable and cut-throat dealing.’  There is a burdensome
west-country tax on curing fish; Raleigh works till it is revoked.  In
Parliament he is busy with liberal measures, always before his
generation.  He puts down a foolish act for compulsory sowing of hemp in
a speech on the freedom of labour worthy of the nineteenth century.  He
argues against raising the subsidy from the three-pound men—‘Call you
this, Mr. Francis Bacon, _par jugum_, when a poor man pays as much as a
rich?’  He is equally rational and spirited against the exportation of
ordnance to the enemy; and when the question of abolishing monopolies is
mooted he has his wise word.  He too is a monopolist of tin, as Lord
Warden of the Stannaries.  But he has so wrought as to bring good out of
evil; for ‘before the granting of his patent, let the price of tin be
never so high, the poor workman never had but two shillings a week’; yet
now, so has he extended and organised the tin-works, ‘that any man who
will can find work, be tin at what price soever, and have four shillings
a week truly paid . . . Yet if all others may be repealed, I will give my
consent as freely to the cancelling of this as any member of this house.’
Most of the monopolies were repealed: but we do not find that Raleigh’s
was among them.  Why should it be if its issue was more tin, full work,
and double wages?  In all things this man approves himself faithful in
his generation.  His sins are not against man, but against God; such as
the world thinks no sins, and hates them, not from morality, but from
envy.

In the meanwhile, the evil which, so Spenser had prophesied, only waited
Raleigh’s death breaks out in his absence, and Ireland is all aflame with
Tyrone’s rebellion.  Raleigh is sent for.  He will not accept the post of
Lord Deputy and go to put it down.  Perhaps he does not expect fair play
as long as Essex is at home.  Perhaps he knows too much of the ‘common
weal, or rather common woe,’ and thinks that what is crooked cannot be
made straight.  Perhaps he is afraid to lose by absence his ground at
court.  Would that he had gone, for Ireland’s sake and his own.  However,
it must not be.  Ormond is recalled, and Knollys shall be sent: but Essex
will have none but Sir George Carew; whom, Naunton says, he hates, and
wishes to oust from court.  He and Elizabeth argue it out.  He turns his
back on her, and she gives him—or does not give him, for one has found so
many of these racy anecdotes vanish on inspection into simple wind, that
one believes none of them—a box on the ear; which if she did, she did the
most wise, just, and practical thing which she could do with such a
puppy.  He claps his hand—or does not—to his sword, ‘He would not have
taken it from Henry VIII.,’ and is turned out forthwith.  In vain
Egerton, the Lord Keeper, tries to bring him to reason.  He storms
insanely.  Every one on earth is wrong but he: every one is conspiring
against him; he talks of ‘Solomon’s fool’ too.  Had he read the Proverbs
a little more closely, he might have left the said fool alone, as being a
too painfully exact likeness of himself.  It ends by his being worsted,
and Raleigh rising higher than ever.  I cannot see why Raleigh should be
represented as henceforth becoming Essex’s ‘avowed enemy,’ save on the
ground that all good men are and ought to be the enemies of bad men, when
they see them about to do harm, and to ruin the country.  Essex is one of
the many persons upon whom this age has lavished a quantity of
sentimentality, which suits oddly enough with its professions of
impartiality.  But there is an impartiality which ends in utter
injustice; which by saying carelessly to every quarrel, ‘Both are right,
and both are wrong,’ leaves only the impression that all men are wrong,
and ends by being unjust to every one.  So has Elizabeth and Essex’s
quarrel been treated.  There was some evil in Essex; therefore Elizabeth
was a fool for liking him.  There was some good in Essex; therefore
Elizabeth was cruel in punishing him.  This is the sort of slipshod
dilemma by which Elizabeth is proved to be wrong, even while Essex is
confessed to be wrong too; while the patent facts of the case are, that
Elizabeth bore with him as long as she could, and a great deal longer
than any one else could.  Why Raleigh should be accused of helping to
send Essex into Ireland, I do not know.  Camden confesses (at the same
time that he gives a hint of the kind) that Essex would let no one go but
himself.  And if this was his humour, one can hardly wonder at Cecil and
Raleigh, as well as Elizabeth, bidding the man begone and try his hand at
government, and be filled with the fruit of his own devices.  He goes;
does nothing; or rather worse than nothing; for in addition to the
notorious ill-management of the whole matter, we may fairly say that he
killed Elizabeth.  She never held up her head again after Tyrone’s
rebellion.  Elizabeth still clings to him, changing her mind about him
every hour, and at last writes him such a letter as he deserves.  He has
had power, money, men, such as no one ever had before.  Why has he done
nothing but bring England to shame?  He comes home frantically—the story
of his bursting into the dressing-room rests on no good authority—with a
party of friends at his heels, leaving Ireland to take care of itself.
Whatever entertainment he met with from the fond old woman, he met with
the coldness which he deserved from Raleigh and Cecil.  Who can wonder?
What had he done to deserve aught else?  But he all but conquers; and
Raleigh takes to his bed in consequence, sick of the whole matter; as one
would have been inclined to do oneself.  He is examined and arraigned;
writes a maudlin letter to Elizabeth.  Elizabeth has been called a fool
for listening to such pathetical ‘love letters’: and then hardhearted for
not listening to them.  Poor Lady! do what she would, she found it hard
enough to please all parties while alive; must she be condemned over and
above _in æternum_ to be wrong whatsoever she did?  Why is she not to
have the benefit of the plain straightforward interpretation which would
be allowed to any other human being; namely, that she approved of such
fine talk as long as it was proved to be sincere by fine deeds: but that
when these were wanting, the fine talk became hollow, fulsome, a fresh
cause of anger and disgust?  Yet still she weeps over Essex when he falls
sick, as any mother would; and would visit him if she could with honour.
But a ‘malignant influence counteracts every disposition to relent.’  No
doubt, a man’s own folly, passion, and insolence has generally a very
malignant influence on his fortunes; and he may consider himself a very
happy man if all that befalls to him thereby is what befell Essex,
namely, deprivation of his offices and imprisonment in his own house.  He
is forgiven after all; but the spoilt child refuses his bread and butter
without sugar.  What is the pardon to him without a renewal of his
licence of sweet wines?  Because he is not to have that, the Queen’s
‘conditions are as crooked as her carcase.’  Flesh and blood can stand no
more, and ought to stand no more.  After all that Elizabeth has been to
him, that speech is the speech of a brutal and ungrateful nature.  And
such he shows himself to be in the hour of trial.  What if the patent for
sweet wines is refused him?  Such gifts were meant as the reward of
merit; and what merit has he to show?  He never thinks of that.  Blind
with fury, he begins to intrigue with James, and slanders to him, under
colour of helping his succession, all whom he fancies opposed to him.
What is worse, he intrigues with Tyrone about bringing over an army of
Irish Papists to help him against the Queen, and this at the very time
that his sole claim to popularity rests on his being the leader of the
Puritans.  A man must have been very far gone, either in baseness or in
hatred, who represents Raleigh to James as dangerous to the commonweal on
account of his great power in the west of England and Jersey, ‘places fit
for the Spaniard to land in.’  Cobham, as Warden of the Cinque Ports, is
included in his slander; and both he and Raleigh will hear of it again.

Some make much of a letter, supposed to be written about this time by
Raleigh to Cecil, bidding Cecil keep down Essex, even crush him, now that
he is once down.  I do not happen to think the letter to be Raleigh’s.
His initials are subscribed to it; but not his name and the style is not
like his.  But as for seeing ‘unforgiveness and revenge in it,’ whose
soever it may be, I hold and say there is not a word which can bear such
a construction.  It is a dark letter: but about a dark matter and a dark
man.  It is a worldly and expediential letter, appealing to low motives
in Cecil, though for a right end; such a letter, in short, as statesmen
are wont to write nowadays.  If Raleigh wrote it, God punished him for
doing so speedily enough.  He does not usually punish statesmen nowadays
for such letters; perhaps because He does not love them as well as
Raleigh.  But as for the letter itself.  Essex is called a ‘tyrant,’
because he had shown himself one.  The Queen is to ‘hold Bothwell,’
because ‘while she hath him, he will even be the canker of her estate and
safety,’ and the writer has ‘seen the last of her good days and of ours
after his liberty.’  On which accounts, Cecil is not to be deterred from
doing what is right and necessary ‘by any fear of after-revenges’ and
‘conjectures from causes remote,’ as many a stronger instance—given—will
prove, but ‘look to the present,’ and so ‘do wisely.’  There is no real
cause for Cecil’s fear.  If the man who has now lost a power which he
ought never to have had be now kept down, then neither he nor his son
will ever be able to harm the man who has kept him at his just level.
What ‘revenge, selfishness, and craft’ there can be in all this it is
difficult to see; as difficult as to see why Essex is to be talked of as
‘unfortunate,’ and the blame of his frightful end thrown on every one but
himself: the fact being that Essex’s end was brought on by his having
chosen one Sunday morning for breaking out into open rebellion, for the
purpose of seizing the city of London and the Queen’s person, and
compelling her to make him lord and master of the British Isles; in which
attempt he and his fought with the civil and military authorities, till
artillery had to be brought up and many lives were lost.  Such little
escapades may be pardonable enough in ‘noble and unfortunate’ earls: but
readers will perhaps agree that if they chose to try a similar
experiment, they could not complain if they found themselves shortly
after in company with Mr. Mitchell at Spike Island or Mr. Oxford in
Bedlam.  However, those were days in which such Sabbath amusements on the
part of one of the most important and powerful personages of the realm
could not be passed over so lightly, especially when accompanied by
severe loss of life; and as there existed in England certain statutes
concerning rebellion and high treason, which must needs have been framed
for some purpose or other, the authorities of England may be excused for
fancying that they bore some reference to such acts as that which the
noble and unfortunate earl had just committed, as wantonly, selfishly,
and needlessly, it seems to me, as ever did man on earth.

I may seem to jest too much upon so solemn a matter as the life of a
human being: but if I am not to touch the popular talk about Essex in
this tone, I can only touch it in a far sterner one; and if ridicule is
forbidden, express disgust instead.

I have entered into this matter of Essex somewhat at length, because on
it is founded one of the mean slanders from which Raleigh never
completely recovered.  The very mob who, after Raleigh’s death, made him
a Protestant martyr—as, indeed, he was—looked upon Essex in the same
light, hated Raleigh as the cause of his death, and accused him of
glutting his eyes with Essex’s misery, puffing tobacco out of a window,
and what not—all mere inventions, so Raleigh declared upon the scaffold.
He was there in his office as captain of the guard, and could do no less
than be there.  Essex, it is said, asked for Raleigh just before he died:
but Raleigh had withdrawn, the mob having murmured.  What had Essex to
say to him?  Was it, asks Oldys, shrewdly enough, to ask him pardon for
the wicked slanders which he had been pouring into James’s credulous and
cowardly ears?  We will hope so; and leave poor Essex to God and the
mercy of God, asserting once more that no man ever brought ruin and death
more thoroughly on himself by his own act, needing no imaginary help
downwards from Raleigh, Cecil, or other human being.

And now begins the fourth act of this strange tragedy.  Queen Elizabeth
dies; and dies of grief.  It has been the fashion to attribute to her, I
know not why, remorse for Essex’s death; and the foolish and false tale
about Lady Nottingham and the ring has been accepted as history.  The
fact seems to be that she never really held up her head after Burleigh’s
death.  She could not speak of him without tears; forbade his name to be
mentioned in the Council.  No wonder; never had mistress a better
servant.  For nearly half a century have these two noble souls loved each
other, trusted each other, worked with each other; and God’s blessing has
been on their deeds; and now the faithful God-fearing man is gone to his
reward; and she is growing old, and knows that the ancient fire is dying
out in her; and who will be to her what he was?  Buckhurst is a good man,
and one of her old pupils; and she makes him Lord Treasurer in Burleigh’s
place: but beyond that all is dark.  ‘I am a miserable forlorn woman;
there is none about me that I can trust.’  She sees through Cecil;
through Henry Howard.  Essex has proved himself worthless, and pays the
penalty of his sins.  Men are growing worse than their fathers.  Spanish
gold is bringing in luxury and sin.  The last ten years of her reign are
years of decadence, profligacy, falsehood; and she cannot but see it.
Tyrone’s rebellion is the last drop which fills the cup.  After fifty
years of war, after a drain of money all but fabulous expended on keeping
Ireland quiet, the volcano bursts forth again just as it seemed
extinguished, more fiercely than ever, and the whole work has to be done
over again, when there is neither time nor a man to do it.  And ahead,
what hope is there for England?  Who will be her successor?  She knows in
her heart that it will be James: but she cannot bring herself to name
him.  To bequeath the fruit of all her labours to a tyrant, a liar, and a
coward: for she knows the man but too well.  It is too hideous to be
faced.  This is the end then?  ‘Oh that I were a milke maide, with a
paile upon mine arm!’  But it cannot be.  It never could have been; and
she must endure to the end.

‘Therefore I hated life; yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken
under the sun; because I should leave it to the man that shall be after
me.  And who knows whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he
have rule over all my labour wherein I have showed myself wise, in
wisdom, and knowledge, and equity . . . Vanity of vanities, and vexation
of spirit!’  And so, with a whole book of Ecclesiastes written on that
mighty heart, the old lioness coils herself up in her lair, refuses food,
and dies.  I know few passages in the world’s history more tragic than
that death.

Why did she not trust Raleigh?  First, because Raleigh, as we have seen,
was not the sort of man whom she needed.  He was not the steadfast
single-eyed statesman; but the many-sided genius.  Besides, he was the
ringleader of the war-party.  And she, like Burleigh before his death,
was tired of the war; saw that it was demoralising England; was anxious
for peace.  Raleigh would not see that.  It was to him a divine mission
which must be fulfilled at all risks.  As long as the Spaniards were
opposing the Indians, conquering America, there must be no peace.  Both
were right from their own point of view.  God ordered the matter from a
third point of view.

Besides, we know that Essex, and after him Cecil and Henry Howard, had
been slandering Raleigh basely to James.  Can we doubt that the same
poison had been poured into Elizabeth’s ears?  She might distrust Cecil
too much to act upon what he said of Raleigh; and yet distrust Raleigh
too much to put the kingdom into his hands.  However, she is gone now,
and a new king has arisen, who knoweth not Joseph.

James comes down to take possession.  Insolence, luxury, and lawlessness
mark his first steps on his going amid the adulations of a fallen people;
he hangs a poor wretch without trial; wastes his time in hunting by the
way;—a bad and base man, whose only redeeming point—if in his case it be
one—is his fondness for little children.  But that will not make a king.
The wiser elders take counsel together.  Raleigh and good Judge Fortescue
are for requiring conditions from the newcomer; and constitutional
liberty makes its last stand among the men of Devon, the old county of
warriors, discoverers, and statesmen, of which Queen Bess had said that
the men of Devon were her right hand.  But in vain; James has his way;
Cecil and Henry Howard are willing enough to give it him.

So down comes Rehoboam, taking counsel with the young men, and makes
answer to England, ‘My father chastised you with whips; but I will
chastise you with scorpions.’  He takes a base pleasure, shocking to the
French ambassador, in sneering at the memory of Queen Elizabeth; a
perverse delight in honouring every rascal whom she had punished.  Tyrone
must come to England to be received into favour, maddening the soul of
honest Sir John Harrington.  Essex is christened ‘my martyr,’ apparently
for having plotted treason against Elizabeth with Tyrone.  Raleigh is
received with a pun—‘By my soul, I have heard rawly of thee, mon’; and
when the great nobles and gentlemen come to court with their retinues,
James tries to hide his dread of them in an insult; pooh-poohs their
splendour, and says, ‘he doubts not that he should have been able to win
England for himself, had they kept him out.’  Raleigh answers boldly,
‘Would God that had been put to the trial.’  ‘Why?’  ‘Because then you
would have known your friends from your foes.’  ‘A reason,’ says old
Aubrey, ‘never forgotten or forgiven.’  Aubrey is no great authority; but
the speech smacks so of Raleigh’s offhand daring that one cannot but
believe it; as one does also the other story of his having advised the
lords to keep out James and erect a republic.  Not that he could have
been silly enough to propose such a thing seriously at that moment; but
that he most likely, in his bold way, may have said, ‘Well, if we are to
have this man in without conditions, better a republic at once.’  Which,
if he did say, he said what the next forty years proved to be strictly
true.  However, he will go on his own way as best he can.  If James will
give him a loan, he and the rest of the old heroes will join, fit out a
fleet against Spain, and crush her, now that she is tottering and
impoverished, once and for ever.  But James has no stomach for fighting;
cannot abide the sight of a drawn sword; would not provoke Spain for the
world—why, they might send Jesuits and assassinate him; and as for the
money, he wants that for very different purposes.  So the answer which he
makes to Raleigh’s proposal of war against Spain is to send him to the
Tower, and sentence him to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, on a charge
of plotting with Spain.

Having read, I believe, nearly all that has been written on the subject
of this dark ‘Cobham plot,’ I find but one thing come brightly out of the
infinite confusion and mystery, which will never be cleared up till the
day of judgment, and that is Raleigh’s innocence.  He, and all England,
and the very men who condemned him, knew that he was innocent.  Every
biographer is forced to confess this, more or less, in spite of all
efforts to be what is called ‘impartial.’  So I shall waste no words upon
the matter, only observing that whereas Raleigh is said to have slandered
Cecil to James, in the same way that Cecil had slandered him, one passage
of this Cobham plot disproves utterly such a story, which, after all,
rests (as far as I know) only on hearsay, being ‘spoken of in a
manuscript written by one Buck, secretary to Chancellor Egerton.’  For in
writing to his own wife, in the expectation of immediate death, Raleigh
speaks of Cecil in a very different tone, as one in whom he trusted most,
and who has left him in the hour of need.  I ask the reader to peruse
that letter, and say whether any man would write thus, with death and
judgment before his face, of one whom he knew that he had betrayed; or,
indeed, of one who he knew had betrayed him.  I see no reason to doubt
that Raleigh kept good faith with Cecil, and that he was ignorant till
after his trial that Cecil was in the plot against him.

I do not care to enter into the tracasseries of this Cobham plot.  Every
one knows them; no one can unravel them.  The moral and spiritual
significance of the fact is more interesting than all questions as to
Cobham’s lies, Brooke’s lies, Aremberg’s lies, Coke’s lies, James’s
lies:—Let the dead bury their dead.  It is the broad aspect of the thing
which is so wonderful; to see how

    ‘The eagle, towering in his pride of place,
    Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed.’

This is the man who six months ago, perhaps, thought that he and Cecil
were to rule England together, while all else were the puppets whose
wires they pulled.  ‘The Lord hath taken him up and dashed him down;’ and
by such means, too, and on such a charge!  Betraying his country to
Spain!  Absurd—incredible—he would laugh it to scorn: but it is bitter
earnest.  There is no escape.  True or false, he sees that his enemies
will have his head.  It is maddening: a horrible nightmare.  He cannot
bear it; he cannot face—so he writes to that beloved wife—‘the scorn, the
taunts, the loss of honour, the cruel words of lawyers.’  He stabs
himself.  Read that letter of his, written after the mad blow had been
struck; it is sublime from intensity of agony.  The way in which the
chastisement was taken proves how utterly it was needed, ere that proud,
success-swollen, world-entangled heart could be brought right with God.

And it is brought right.  The wound is not mortal.  He comes slowly to a
better mind, and takes his doom like a man.  That first farewell to his
wife was written out of hell.  The second rather out of heaven.  Read it,
too, and compare; and then see how the Lord has been working upon this
great soul: infinite sadness, infinite tenderness and patience, and trust
in God for himself and his poor wife: ‘God is my witness, it was for you
and yours that I desired life; but it is true that I disdain myself for
begging it.  For know, dear wife, that your son is the son of a true man,
and one who, in his own respect, despiseth death and all his ugly and
misshapen forms . . . The everlasting, powerful, infinite, and omnipotent
God, who is goodness itself, the true life and light, keep thee and
thine, have mercy upon me, and teach me to forgive my persecutors and
accusers, and send us to meet in His glorious kingdom.’

Is it come to this then?  Is he fit to die at last?  Then he is fit to
live; and live he shall.  The tyrants have not the heart to carry out
their own crime, and Raleigh shall be respited.

But not pardoned.  No more return for him into that sinful world, where
he flaunted on the edge of the precipice, and dropped heedless over it.
God will hide him in the secret place of His presence, and keep him in
His tabernacle from the strife of tongues; and a new life shall begin for
him; a wiser, perhaps a happier, than he has known since he was a little
lad in the farmhouse in pleasant Devon far away.  On the 15th of December
he enters the Tower.  Little dreams he that for more than twelve years
those doleful walls would be his home.  Lady Raleigh obtains leave to
share his prison with him, and, after having passed ten years without a
child, brings him a boy to comfort the weary heart.  The child of sorrow
is christened Carew.  Little think those around him what strange things
that child will see before his hairs be gray.  She has her maid, and he
his three servants; some five or six friends are allowed ‘to repair to
him at convenient times.’  He has a chamber-door always open into the
lieutenant’s garden, where he ‘has converted a little hen-house into a
still-room, and spends his time all the day in distillation.’  The next
spring a grant is made of his goods and chattels, forfeited by attainder,
to trustees named by himself, for the benefit of his family.  So far, so
well; or, at least, not as ill as it might be: but there are those who
cannot leave the caged lion in peace.

Sanderson, who had married his niece, instead of paying up the arrears
which he owes on the wine and other offices, brings in a claim of £2000.
But the rogue meets his match, and finds himself, at the end of a
lawsuit, in prison for debt.  Greater rogues, however, will have better
fortune, and break through the law-cobwebs which have stopped a poor
little fly like Sanderson.  For Carr, afterwards Lord Somerset, casts his
eyes on the Sherborne land.  It has been included in the conveyance, and
should be safe; but there are others who, by instigation surely of the
devil himself, have had eyes to see a flaw in the deed.  Sir John Popham
is appealed to.  Who could doubt the result?  He answers that there is no
doubt that the words were omitted by the inattention of the
engrosser—Carew Raleigh says that but one single word was wanting, which
word was found notwithstanding in the paper-book, _i.e._ the draft—but
that the word not being there, the deed is worthless, and the devil may
have his way.  To Carr, who has nothing of his own, it seems reasonable
enough to help himself to what belongs to others, and James gives him the
land.  Raleigh writes to him, gently, gracefully, loftily.  Here is an
extract: ‘And for yourself, sir, seeing your fair day is now in the dawn,
and mine drawn to the evening, your own virtues and the king’s grace
assuring you of many favours and much honour, I beseech you not to begin
your first building upon the ruins of the innocent; and that their
sorrows, with mine, may not attend your first plantation.’  He speaks
strongly of the fairness, sympathy, and pity by which the Scots in
general had laid him under obligation: argues from it his own evident
innocence; and ends with a quiet warning to the young favourite not to
‘undergo the curse of them that enter into the fields of the fatherless.’
In vain.  Lady Raleigh, with her children, entreats James on her knees:
in vain again.  ‘I mun ha’ the land,’ is the answer; ‘I mun ha’ it for
Carr.’  And he has it; patching up the matter after a while by a gift of
£8000 to her and her elder son, in requital for an estate of £5000 a
year.

So there sits Raleigh, growing poorer day by day, and clinging more and
more to that fair wife, and her noble boy, and the babe whose laughter
makes music within that dreary cage.  And all day long, as we have seen,
he sits over his still, compounding and discovering, and sometimes
showing himself on the wall to the people, who gather to gaze at him,
till Wade forbids it, fearing popular feeling.  In fact, the world
outside has a sort of mysterious awe of him, as if he were a chained
magician, who, if he were let loose, might do with them all what he
would.  Certain great nobles are of the same mind.  Woe to them if that
silver tongue should once again be unlocked!

The Queen, with a woman’s faith in greatness, sends to him for
‘cordials.’  Here is one of them, famous in Charles the Second’s days as
‘Sir Walter’s Cordial’:—

B. Zedoary and Saffron, each        ½ lb.
Distilled water                     3 pints.
Macerate, etc., and reduce to       1½ pint.
Compound powder of crabs’ claws     16 oz.
Cinnamon and Nutmegs                2 oz.
Cloves                              1 oz.
Cardamom seeds                      ½ oz.
Double refined sugar                2 lb.
               Make a confection.

Which, so the world believes, will cure all ills which flesh is heir to.
It does not seem that Raleigh so boasted himself; but the people, after
the fashion of the time, seem to have called all his medicines
‘cordials,’ and probably took for granted that it was by this particular
one that the enchanter cured Queen Anne of a desperate sickness, ‘whereof
the physicians were at the farthest end of their studies’ (no great way
to go in those days) ‘to find the cause, and at a nonplus for the cure.’

Raleigh—this is Sir Anthony Welden’s account, which may go for what it is
worth—asks for his reward, only justice.  Will the Queen ask that certain
lords may be sent to examine Cobham, ‘whether he had at any time accused
Sir Walter of any treason under his hand?’  Six are sent.  Cobham
answers, ‘Never; nor could I: that villain Wade often solicited me, and
not so prevailing, got me by a trick to write my name on a piece of white
paper.  So that if a charge come under my hand it was forged by that
villain Wade, by writing something above my hand, without my consent or
knowledge.’  They return.  An equivocation was ready.  ‘Sir, my Lord
Cobham has made good all that ever he wrote or said’; having, by his own
account, written nothing but his name.  This is Sir Anthony Welden’s
story.  One hopes, for the six lords’ sake, it may not be true; but there
is no reason, in the morality of James’s court, why it should not have
been.

So Raleigh must remain where he is, and work on.  And he does work.  As
his captivity becomes more and more hopeless, so comes out more and more
the stateliness, self-help, and energy of the man.  Till now he has
played with his pen: now he will use it in earnest; and use it as few
prisoners have done.  Many a good book has been written in a dungeon—‘Don
Quixote,’ the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’: beautiful each in its way, and
destined to immortality: Raleigh begins the ‘History of the World,’ the
most God-fearing and God-seeing history which I know of among English
writings; though blotted by flattery of James in the preface: wrong: but
pardonable in a man trying in the Tower to get out of that doleful
prison.  But all his writings are thirty years too late; they express the
creed of a buried generation, of the men who defied Spain in the name of
a God of righteousness,—not of men who cringe before her in the name of a
God of power and cunning.  The captive eagle has written with a quill
from his own wing—a quill which has been wont ere now to soar to heaven.
Every line smacks of the memories of Nombre and of Zutphen, of Tilbury
Fort and of Calais Roads; and many a gray-headed veteran, as he read
them, must have turned away his face to hide the noble tears, as Ulysses
from Demodocus when he sang the song of Troy.  So there sits Raleigh,
like the prophet of old, in his lonely tower above the Thames, watching
the darkness gather upon the land year by year, ‘like the morning spread
over the mountains,’ the darkness which comes before the dawn of the Day
of The Lord; which he shall never see on earth, though it be very near at
hand; and asks of each newcomer, ‘Watchman, what of the night?’

But there is one bright point at least in the darkness; one on whom
Raleigh’s eyes, and those of all England, are fixed in boundless hope;
one who, by the sympathy which attracts all noble natures to each other,
clings to the hero utterly; Henry, the Crown Prince.  ‘No king but my
father would keep such a bird in a cage.’  The noble lad tries to open
the door for the captive eagle; but in vain.  At least he will make what
use he can of his wisdom.  He asks him for advice about the new ship he
is building, and has a simple practical letter in return, and over and
above probably the two valuable pamphlets, ‘Of the Invention of Ships,’
and ‘Observations on the Navy and Sea Service’; which the Prince will
never see.  In 1611 he asks Raleigh’s advice about the foolish double
marriage with the Prince and Princess of Savoy, and receives for answer
two plain-spoken discourses as full of historical learning as of
practical sound sense.

These are benefits which must be repaid.  The father will repay them
hereafter in his own way.  In the meanwhile the son does so in his way,
by soliciting the Sherborne estate as for himself, intending to restore
it to Raleigh.  He succeeds.  Carr is bought off for £25,000, where Lady
Raleigh has been bought off with £8000; but neither Raleigh nor his widow
will ever be the better for that bargain, and Carr will get Sherborne
back again, and probably, in the King’s silly dotage, keep the £25,000
also.

In November 1612 Prince Henry falls sick.

When he is at the last gasp, the poor Queen sends to Raleigh for some of
the same cordial which had cured her.  Medicine is sent, with a tender
letter, as it well might be; for Raleigh knew how much hung, not only for
himself, but for England, on the cracking threads of that fair young
life.  It is questioned at first whether it shall be administered.  ‘The
cordial,’ Raleigh says, ‘will cure him or any other of a fever, except in
case of poison.’

The cordial is administered; but it comes too late.  The prince dies, and
with him the hopes of all good men.

* * *

At last, after twelve years of prison, Raleigh is free.  He is sixty-six
years old now, gray-headed and worn down by confinement, study, and want
of exercise: but he will not remember that.

    ‘Still in his ashes live their wonted fire.’

Now for Guiana, at last! which he has never forgotten; to which he has
been sending, with his slender means, ship after ship to keep the Indians
in hope.

He is freed in March.  At once he is busy in his project.  In August he
has obtained the King’s commission, by the help of Sir Ralph Winwood,
Secretary of State, who seems to have believed in Raleigh.  At least
Raleigh believed in him.  In March next year he has sailed, and with him
thirteen ships, and more than a hundred knights and gentlemen, and among
them, strange to say, Sir Warham St. Leger.  This is certainly not the
quondam Marshal of Munster under whom Raleigh served at Smerwick
six-and-thirty years ago.  He would be nearly eighty years old; and as
Lord Doneraile’s pedigree gives three Sir Warhams, we cannot identify the
man.  But it is a strong argument in Raleigh’s favour that a St. Leger,
of a Devon family which had served with him in Ireland, and intimately
connected with him his whole life, should keep his faith in Raleigh after
all his reverses.  Nevertheless, the mere fact of an unpardoned criminal,
said to be _non ens_ in law, being able in a few months to gather round
him such a party, is proof patent of what slender grounds there are for
calling Raleigh ‘suspected’ and ‘unpopular.’

But he does not sail without a struggle or two.  James is too proud to
allow his heir to match with any but a mighty king, is infatuated about
the Spanish marriage; and Gondomar is with him, playing with his hopes
and with his fears also.

The people are furious, and have to be silenced again and again: there is
even fear of rioting.  The charming and smooth-tongued Gondomar can hate,
and can revenge, too.  Five ’prentices who have insulted him for striking
a little child, are imprisoned and fined several hundred pounds each.
And as for hating Raleigh, Gondomar had been no Spaniard (to let alone
the private reasons which some have supposed) had he not hated Spain’s
ancient scourge and unswerving enemy.  He comes to James, complaining
that Raleigh is about to break the peace with Spain.  Nothing is to be
refused him which can further the one darling fancy of James; and Raleigh
has to give in writing the number of his ships, men, and ordnance, and,
moreover, the name of the country and the very river whither he is going.
This paper was given, Carew Raleigh asserts positively, under James’s
solemn promise not to reveal it; and Raleigh himself seems to have
believed that it was to be kept private; for he writes afterwards to
Secretary Winwood in a tone of astonishment and indignation, that the
information contained in his paper had been sent on to the King of Spain
before he sailed from the Thames.  Winwood could have told him as much
already; for Buckingham had written to Winwood, on March 28, to ask him
why he had not been to the Spanish Ambassador ‘to acquaint him with the
order taken by his Majesty about Sir W. R.’s voyage.’  But however
unwilling the Secretary (as one of the furtherers of the voyage) may have
been to meddle in the matter, Gondomar had had news enough from another
source; perhaps from James’s own mouth.  For the first letter to the West
Indies about Raleigh was dated from Madrid, March 19; and most remarkable
it is that in James’s ‘Declaration,’ or rather apology for his own
conduct, no mention whatsoever is made of his having given information to
Gondomar.

Gondomar offered, says James, to let Raleigh go with one or two ships
only.  He might work a mine, and the King of Spain would give him a safe
convoy home with all his gold.  How kind.  And how likely would Raleigh
and his fellow-adventurers have been to accept such an offer; how likely,
too, to find men who would sail with them on such an errand, to be
‘flayed alive,’ as many who travelled to the Indies of late years had
been, or to have their throats cut, tied back to back, after trading
unarmed and peaceably for a month, as thirty-six of Raleigh’s men had
been but two or three years before in that very Orinoco.  So James is
forced to let the large fleet go; and to let it go well armed also; for
the plain reason, that otherwise it dare not go at all; and in the
meanwhile letters are sent from Spain, in which the Spaniards call the
fleet ‘English enemies,’ and ships and troops are moved up as fast as
possible from the Spanish main.

But, say some, James was justified in telling Gondomar, and the Spaniards
in defending themselves.  On the latter point there is no doubt.

    ‘They may get who have the will,
    And they may keep who can.’

But it does seem hard on Raleigh, after having laboured in this Guiana
business for years, and after having spent his money in vain attempts to
deliver these Guianians from their oppressors.  It is hard, and he feels
it so.  He sees that he is not trusted; that, as James himself confesses,
his pardon is refused simply to keep a hold on him; that, if he fails, he
is ruined.

As he well asks afterwards, ‘If the King did not think that Guiana was
his, why let me go thither at all?  He knows that it was his by the law
of nations, for he made Mr. Harcourt a grant of part of it.  If it be, as
Gondomar says, the King of Spain’s, then I had no more right to work a
mine in it than to burn a town.’  An argument which seems to me
unanswerable.  But, says James, and others with him, he was forbid to
meddle with any country occupate or possessed by Spaniards.  Southey,
too, blames him severely for not having told James that the country was
already settled by Spaniards.  I can excuse Southey, but not James, for
overlooking the broad fact that all England knew it, as I have shown,
since 1594; that if they did not, Gondomar would have taken care to tell
them; and that he could not go to Guiana without meddling with Spaniards.
His former voyages and publications made no secret of it.  On the
contrary, one chief argument for the plan had been all through the
delivery of the Indians from these very Spaniards, who, though they could
not conquer them, ill-used them in every way: and in his agreement with
the Lords about the Guiana voyage in 1611, he makes especial mention of
the very place which will soon fill such a part in our story, ‘San Thomé,
where the Spaniards inhabit,’ and tells the Lords whom to ask as to the
number of men who will be wanted ‘to secure Keymish’s passage to the
mine’ against these very Spaniards.  What can be more clear, save to
those who will not see?

The plain fact is that Raleigh went, with his eyes open, to take
possession of a country to which he believed that he and King James had a
right, and that James and his favourites, when they, as he pleads, might
have stopped him by a word, let him go, knowing as well as the Spaniards
what he intended; for what purpose, but to have an excuse for the tragedy
which ended all, it is difficult to conceive.  ‘It is evident,’ wisely
says Sir Robert Schomburgk, ‘that they winked at consequences which they
must have foreseen.’

And here Mr. Napier, on the authority of Count Desmarets, brings a grave
charge against Raleigh.  Raleigh in his ‘Apology’ protests that he only
saw Desmarets once on board of his vessel.  Desmarets says in his
despatches that he was on board of her several times—whether he saw
Raleigh more than once does not appear—and that Raleigh complained to him
of having been unjustly imprisoned, stripped of his estate, and so forth;
and that he was on that account resolved to abandon his country, and, if
the expedition succeeded, offer himself and the fruit of his labour to
the King of France.

If this be true, Raleigh was very wrong.  But Sir Robert Schomburgk
points out that this passage, which Mr. Napier says occurs in the last
despatch, was written a month after Raleigh had sailed; and that the
previous despatch, written only four days after Raleigh sailed, says
nothing about the matter.  So that it could not have been a very
important or fixed resolution on Raleigh’s part, if it was only to be
recollected a month after.  I do not say—as Sir Robert Schomburgk is very
much inclined to do—that it was altogether a bubble of French fancy.  It
is possible that Raleigh, in his just rage at finding that James was
betraying him and sending him out with a halter round his neck, to all
but certain ruin, did say wild words—That it was better for him to serve
the Frenchman than such a master—that perhaps he might go over to the
Frenchman after all—or some folly of the kind, in that same rash tone
which, as we have seen, has got him into trouble so often already: and so
I leave the matter, saying, Beware of making any man an offender for a
word, much less one who is being hunted to death in his old age, and
knows it.

However this may be, the fleet sails; but with no bright auguries.  The
mass of the sailors are ‘a scum of men’; they are mutinous and
troublesome; and what is worse, have got among them (as, perhaps, they
were intended to have) the notion that Raleigh’s being still _non ens_ in
law absolves them from obeying him when they do not choose, and permits
them to say of him behind his back what they list.  They have long delays
at Plymouth.  Sir Warham’s ship cannot get out of the Thames.
Pennington, at the Isle of Wight, ‘cannot redeem his bread from the
bakers,’ and has to ride back to London to get money from Lady Raleigh.
The poor lady has it not, and gives a note of hand to Mr. Wood of
Portsmouth.  Alas for her!  She has sunk her £8000, and, beside that,
sold her Wickham estate for £2500; and all is on board the fleet.  ‘A
hundred pieces’ are all the ready money the hapless pair had left on
earth, and they have parted them together.  Raleigh has fifty-five and
she forty-five till God send it back—if, indeed, He ever send it.  The
star is sinking low in the west.  Trouble on trouble.  Sir John Fane has
neither men nor money; Captain Witney has not provisions enough, and
Raleigh has to sell his plate in Plymouth to help him.  Courage! one last
struggle to redeem his good name.

Then storms off Sicily—a pinnace is sunk; faithful Captain King drives
back into Bristol; the rest have to lie by a while in some Irish port for
a fair wind.  Then Bailey deserts with the ‘Southampton’ at the Canaries;
then ‘unnatural weather,’ so that a fourteen days’ voyage takes forty
days.  Then ‘the distemper’ breaks out under the line.  The simple diary
of that sad voyage still remains, full of curious and valuable nautical
hints; but recording the loss of friend on friend; four or five officers,
and, ‘to our great grief, our principal refiner, Mr. Fowler.’  ‘Crab, my
old servant.’  Next a lamentable twenty-four hours, in which they lose
Pigott, the lieutenant-general, ‘mine honest frinde, Mr. John Talbot, one
that had lived with me a leven yeeres in the Tower, an excellent general
skoller, and a faithful and true man as ever lived,’ with two ‘very fair
conditioned gentleman,’ and ‘mine own cook Francis.’  Then more officers
and men, and my ‘cusen Payton.’  Then the water is near spent, and they
are forced to come to half allowance, till they save and drink greedily
whole canfuls of the bitter rain water.  At last Raleigh’s own turn
comes; running on deck in a squall, he gets wet through, and has twenty
days of burning fever; ‘never man suffered a more furious heat,’ during
which he eats nothing but now and then a stewed prune.

At last they make the land at the mouth of the Urapoho, far south of
their intended goal.  They ask for Leonard the Indian, ‘who lived with me
in England three or four years, the same man that took Mr. Harcourt’s
brother and fifty men when they were in extreme distress, and had no
means to live there but by the help of this Indian, whom they made
believe that they were my men’; but the faithful Indian is gone up the
country, and they stand away for Cayenne, ‘where the cacique (Harry) was
also my servant, and had lived with me in the Tower two years.’

Courage once more, brave old heart!  Here at least thou art among
friends, who know thee for what thou art, and look out longingly for thee
as their deliverer.  Courage; for thou art in fairyland once more; the
land of boundless hope and possibility.  Though England and England’s
heart be changed, yet God’s earth endures, and the harvest is still here,
waiting to be reaped by those who dare.  Twenty stormy years may have
changed thee, but they have not changed the fairyland of thy prison
dreams.  Still the mighty Ceiba trees with their wealth of parasites and
creepers tower above the palm-fringed islets; still the dark mangrove
thickets guard the mouths of unknown streams, whose granite sands are
rich with gold.  Friendly Indians come, and Harry with them, bringing
maize, peccari pork, and armadillos, plantains and pine-apples, and all
eat and gather strength; and Raleigh writes home to his wife, ‘to say
that I may yet be King of the Indians here were a vanity.  But my name
hath lived among them’—as well it might.  For many a year those simple
hearts shall look for him in vain, and more than two centuries and a half
afterwards, dim traditions of the great white chief who bade them stand
out to the last against the Spaniards, and he would come and dwell among
them, shall linger among the Carib tribes; even, say some, the tattered
relics of an English flag, which he left among them that they might
distinguish his countrymen.

Happy for him had he stayed there indeed, and been their king.  How easy
for him to have grown old in peace at Cayenne.  But no; he must on for
honour’s sake, and bring home if it were but a basketful of that ore to
show the king, that he may save his credit.  He has promised Arundel that
he will return.  And return he will.  So onward he goes to the ‘Triangle
Islands.’  There he sends off five small vessels for the Orinoco, with
four hundred men.  The faithful Keymis has to command and guide the
expedition.  Sir Warham is lying ill of the fever, all but dead; so
George Raleigh is sent in his place as sergeant-major, and with him five
land companies, one of which is commanded by young Walter, Raleigh’s son;
another by a Captain Parker, of whom we shall have a word to say
presently.

Keymis’s orders are explicit.  He is to go up; find the mine, and open
it; and if the Spaniards attack him, repel force by force: but he is to
avoid, if possible, an encounter with them: not for fear of breaking the
peace, but because he has ‘a scum of men, a few gentlemen excepted, and I
would not for all the world receive a blow from the Spaniards to the
dishonour of our nation.’  There we have no concealment of hostile
instructions, any more than in Raleigh’s admirable instructions to his
fleet, which, after laying down excellent laws for morality, religion,
and discipline, go on with clause after clause as to what is to be done
if they meet ‘the enemy.’  What enemy?  Why, all Spanish ships which sail
the seas; and who, if they happen to be sufficiently numerous, will
assuredly attack, sink, burn, and destroy Raleigh’s whole squadron, for
daring to sail for that continent which Spain claims as its own.

Raleigh runs up the coast to Trinidad once more, in through the Serpent’s
Mouth, and round Punto Gallo to the lake of pitch, where all recruit
themselves with fish and armadillos, ‘pheasant’ (Penelope), ‘palmitos’
(Moriche palm fruit?), and guavas, and await the return of the expedition
from the last day of December to the middle of February.  They see
something of the Spaniards meanwhile.  Sir John Ferns is sent up to Port
of Spain to try if they will trade for tobacco.  The Spaniards parley; in
the midst of the parley pour a volley of musketry into them at forty
paces, yet hurt never a man; and send them off calling them thieves and
traitors.  Fray Simon’s Spanish account of the matter is that Raleigh
intended to disembark his men, that they might march inland on San
Joseph.  He may be excused for the guess; seeing that Raleigh had done
the very same thing some seventeen years before.  If Raleigh was
treacherous then, his treason punished itself now.  However, I must
believe that Raleigh is not likely to have told a lie for his own private
amusement in his own private diary.

On the 29th the Spaniards attack three men and a boy who are ashore
boiling the fossil pitch; kill one man, and carry off the boy.  Raleigh,
instead of going up to Port of Spain and demanding satisfaction, as he
would have been justified in doing after this second attack, remains
quietly where he is, expecting daily to be attacked by Spanish armadas,
and resolved to ‘burn by their sides.’  Happily, or unhappily, he escapes
them.  Probably he thinks they waited for him at Margarita, expecting him
to range the Spanish main.

At last the weary days of sickness and anxiety succeeded to days of
terror.  On the 1st of February a strange report comes by an Indian.  An
inland savage has brought confused and contradictory news down the river
that San Thomé is sacked, the governor and two Spanish captains slain
(names given) and two English captains, nameless.  After this entry
follow a few confused ones, set down as happening in January, concerning
attempts to extract the truth from the Indians, and the negligence of the
mariners, who are diligent in nothing but pillaging and stealing.  And so
ends abruptly this sad document.

The truth comes at last—but when, does not appear—in a letter from
Keymis, dated January 8.  San Thomé has been stormed, sacked, and burnt.
Four refiners’ houses were found in it; the best in the town; so that the
Spaniards have been mining there; but no coin or bullion except a little
plate.  One English captain is killed, and that captain is Walter
Raleigh, his firstborn.  He died leading them on, when some, ‘more
careful of valour and safety, began to recoil shamefully.’  His last
words were, ‘Lord have mercy upon me and prosper our enterprise.’  A
Spanish captain, Erinetta, struck him down with the butt of a musket
after he had received a bullet.  John Plessington, his sergeant, avenged
him by running Erinetta through with his halbert.

Keymis has not yet been to the mine; he could not, ‘by reason of the
murmurings, discords, and vexations’; but he will go at once, make trial
of the mine, and come down to Trinidad by the Macareo mouth.  He sends a
parcel of scattered papers, a roll of tobacco, a tortoise, some oranges
and lemons.  ‘Praying God to give you health and strength of body, and a
mind armed against all extremities, I rest ever to be commanded, your
lordship’s, Keymish.’

‘Oh Absalom, my son, my son, would God I had died for thee!’  But weeping
is in vain.  The noble lad sleeps there under the palm-trees, beside the
mighty tropic stream, while the fair Basset, ‘his bride in the sight of
God,’ recks not of him as she wanders in the woods of Umberleigh, wife to
the son of Raleigh’s deadliest foe.  Raleigh, Raleigh, surely God’s
blessing is not on this voyage of thine.  Surely He hath set thy misdeeds
before Him, and thy secret sins in the light of His countenance.

Another blank of misery: but his honour is still safe.  Keymis will
return with that gold ore, that pledge of his good faith for which he has
ventured all.  Surely God will let that come after all, now that he has
paid as its price his first-born’s blood?

At last Keymis returns with thinned numbers.  All are weary,
spirit-broken, discontented, mutinous.  Where is the gold ore?

There is none.  Keymis has never been to the mine after all.  His
companions curse him as a traitor who has helped Raleigh to deceive them
into ruin; the mine is imaginary—a lie.  The crews are ready to break
into open mutiny; after a while they will do so.

Yes, God is setting this man’s secret sins in the light of His
countenance.  If he has been ambitious, his ambition has punished itself
now.  If he has cared more for his own honour than for his wife and
children, that sin too has punished itself.  If he has (which I affirm
not) tampered with truth for the sake of what seemed to him noble and
just ends, that too has punished itself; for his men do not trust him.
If he has (which I affirm not) done any wrong in that matter of Cobham,
that too has punished itself: for his men, counting him as _non ens_ in
law, will not respect or obey him.  If he has spoken, after his old
fashion, rash and exaggerated words, and goes on speaking them, even
though it be through the pressure of despair, that too shall punish
itself; and for every idle word that he shall say, God will bring him
into judgment.  And why, but because he is noble?  Why, but because he is
nearer to God by a whole heaven than others whom God lets fatten on their
own sins, having no understanding, because they are in honour, and having
children at their hearts’ desire, and leaving the rest of their substance
to their babes?  Not so does God deal with His elect when they will try
to worship at once self and Him; He requires truth in the inward parts,
and will purge them till they are true, and single-eyed, and full of
light.

Keymis returns with the wreck of his party.  The scene between him and
Raleigh may be guessed.  Keymis has excuse on excuse.  He could not get
obeyed after young Raleigh’s death: he expected to find that Sir Walter
was either dead of his sickness or of grief for his son, and had no wish
‘to enrich a company of rascals who made no account of him.’  He dare not
go up to the mine because (and here Raleigh thinks his excuse fair) the
fugitive Spaniards lay in the craggy woods through which he would have to
pass, and that he had not men enough even to hold the town securely.  If
he reached the mine and left a company there, he had no provisions for
them; and he dared not send backward and forward to the town while the
Spaniards were in the woods.  The warnings sent by Gondomar had undone
all, and James’s treachery had done its work.  So Keymis, ‘thinking it a
greater error, so he said, to discover the mine to the Spaniards than to
excuse himself to the Company, said that he could not find it.’  From all
which one thing at least is evident, that Keymis believed in the
existence of the mine.

Raleigh ‘rejects these fancies’; tells him before divers gentlemen that
‘a blind man might find it by the marks which Keymis himself had set down
under his hand’: that ‘his case of losing so many men in the woods’ was a
mere pretence: after Walter was slain, he knew that Keymis had no care of
any man’s surviving.  ‘You have undone me, wounded my credit with the
King past recovery.  As you have followed your own advice, and not mine,
you must satisfy his Majesty.  It shall be glad if you can do it: but I
cannot.’  There is no use dwelling on such vain regrets and reproaches.
Raleigh perhaps is bitter, unjust.  As he himself writes twice, to his
wife and Sir Ralph Winwood, his ‘brains are broken.’  He writes to them
both, and re-opens the letters to add long postscripts, at his wits’ end.
Keymis goes off; spends a few miserable days; and then enters Raleigh’s
cabin.  He has written his apology to Lord Arundel, and begs Raleigh to
allow of it.  ‘No.  You have undone me by your obstinacy.  I will not
favour or colour your former folly.’  ‘Is that your resolution, sir?’
‘It is.’  ‘I know not then, sir, what course to take.’  And so he goes
out, and into his own cabin overhead.  A minute after a pistol-shot is
heard.  Raleigh sends up a boy to know the reason.  Keymis answers from
within that he has fired it off because it had been long charged; and all
is quiet.

Half an hour after the boy goes into the cabin.  Keymis is lying on his
bed, the pistol by him.  The boy moves him.  The pistol-shot has broken a
rib, and gone no further; but as the corpse is turned over, a long knife
is buried in that desperate heart.  Another of the old heroes is gone to
his wild account.

Gradually drops of explanation ooze out.  The ‘Sergeant-major, Raleigh’s
nephew, and others, confess that Keymis told them that he could have
brought them in two hours to the mine: but as the young heir was slain,
and his father was unpardoned and not like to live, he had no reason to
open the mine, either for the Spaniard or the King.’  Those latter words
are significant.  What cared the old Elizabethan seaman for the weal of
such a king?  And, indeed, what good to such a king would all the mines
in Guiana be?  They answered that the King, nevertheless, had ‘granted
Raleigh his heart’s desire under the great seal.’  He replied that ‘the
grant to Raleigh was to a man _non ens_ in law, and therefore of no
force.’  Here, too, James’s policy has worked well.  How could men dare
or persevere under such a cloud?

How, indeed, could they have found heart to sail at all?  The only answer
is that they knew Raleigh well enough to have utter faith in him, and
that Keymis himself knew of the mine.

Puppies at home in England gave out that he had killed himself from
remorse at having deceived so many gentlemen with an imaginary phantom.
Every one, of course, according to his measure of charity, has power and
liberty to assume any motive which he will.  Mine is simply the one which
shows upon the face of the documents; that the old follower, devoted
alike to the dead son and to the doomed father, feeling that he had, he
scarce knew how, failed in the hour of need, frittered away the last
chance of a mighty enterprise which had been his fixed idea for years,
and ruined the man whom he adored, avenged upon himself the fault of
having disobeyed orders, given peremptorily, and to be peremptorily
executed.

Here, perhaps, my tale should end; for all beyond is but the waking of
the corpse.  The last death-struggle of the Elizabethan heroism is over,
and all its remains vanish slowly in an undignified, sickening way.  All
epics end so.  After the war of Troy, Achilles must die by coward Paris’s
arrow, in some mysterious, confused, pitiful fashion; and stately Hecuba
must rail herself into a very dog, and bark for ever shamefully around
lonely Cynossema.  Young David ends as a dotard—Solomon as worse.
Glorious Alexander must die, half of fever, half of drunkenness, as the
fool dieth.  Charles the Fifth, having thrown all away but his follies,
ends in a convent, a superstitious imbecile; Napoleon squabbles to the
last with Sir Hudson Lowe about champagne.  It must be so; and the glory
must be God’s alone.  For in great men, and great times, there is nothing
good or vital but what is of God, and not of man’s self; and when He
taketh away that divine breath they die, and return again to their dust.
But the earth does not lose; for when He sendeth forth His Spirit they
live, and renew the face of the earth.  A new generation arises, with
clearer sight, with fuller experience, sometimes with nobler aims; and

    ‘The old order changeth, giveth place to the new,
    And God fulfils himself in many ways.

The Elizabethan epic did not end a day too soon.  There was no more life
left in it; and God had something better in store for England.  Raleigh’s
ideal was a noble one: but God’s was nobler far.  Raleigh would have made
her a gold kingdom, like Spain, and destroyed her very vitals by that
gold, as Spain was destroyed.  And all the while the great and good God
was looking steadfastly upon that little struggling Virginian village,
Raleigh’s first-born, forgotten in his new mighty dreams, and saying,
‘Here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein.’  There, and not in
Guiana; upon the simple tillers of the soil, not among wild reckless
gold-hunters, would His blessing rest.  The very coming darkness would
bring brighter light.  The evil age itself would be the parent of new
good, and drive across the seas steadfast Pilgrim Fathers and generous
Royalist Cavaliers, to be the parents of a mightier nation than has ever
yet possessed the earth.  Verily, God’s ways are wonderful, and His
counsels in the great deep.

So ends the Elizabethan epic.  Must we follow the corpse to the grave?
It is necessary.

And now, ‘you gentlemen of England, who sit at home at ease,’ what would
you have done in like case?—Your last die thrown; your last stake lost;
your honour, as you fancy, stained for ever; your eldest son dead in
battle—What would you have done?  What Walter Raleigh did was this.  He
kept his promise.  He had promised Lord Arundel to return to England; and
return he did.

But it is said his real intention, as he himself confessed, was to turn
pirate and take the Mexico fleet.

That wild thoughts of such a deed may have crossed his mind, may have
been a terrible temptation to him, may even have broken out in hasty
words, one does not deny.  He himself says that he spoke of such a thing
‘to keep his men together.’  All depends on how the words were spoken.
The form of the sentence, the tone of voice, is everything.  Who could
blame him, if seeing some of the captains whom he had most trusted
deserting him, his men heaping him with every slander, and, as he
solemnly swore on the scaffold, calling witnesses thereto by name,
forcing him to take an oath that he would not return to England before
they would have him, and locking him into his own cabin—who could blame
him, I ask, for saying in that daring off-hand way of his, which has so
often before got him into trouble, ‘Come, my lads, do not despair.  If
the worst comes to the worst, there is the Plate-fleet to fall back
upon’?  When I remember, too, that the taking of the said Plate-fleet was
in Raleigh’s eyes an altogether just thing; and that he knew perfectly
that if he succeeded therein he would be backed by the public opinion of
all England, and probably buy his pardon of James, who, if he loved Spain
well, loved money better; my surprise rather is, that he did not go and
do it.  As for any meeting of captains in his cabin and serious proposal
of such a plan, I believe it to be simply one of the innumerable lies
which James inserted in his ‘Declaration,’ gathered from the tales of men
who, fearing (and reasonably) lest their heads should follow Raleigh’s,
tried to curry favour by slandering him.  This ‘Declaration’ has been so
often exposed that I may safely pass it by; and pass by almost as safely
the argument which some have drawn from a chance expression of his in his
pathetic letter to Lady Raleigh, in which he ‘hopes that God would send
him somewhat before his return.’  To prove an intention of piracy in the
despairing words of a ruined man writing to comfort a ruined wife for the
loss of her first-born is surely to deal out hard measure.  Heaven have
mercy upon us, if all the hasty words which woe has wrung from our hearts
are to be so judged either by man or God!

Sir Julius Cæsar, again, one of the commission appointed to examine him,
informs us that, on being confronted with Captains St. Leger and
Pennington, he confessed that he proposed the taking of the Mexico fleet
if the mine failed.  To which I can only answer, that all depends on how
the thing was said, and that this is the last fact which we should find
in Sir Julius’s notes, which are, it is confessed, so confused, obscure,
and full of gaps, as to be often hardly intelligible.  The same remark
applies to Wilson’s story, which I agree with Mr. Tytler in thinking
worthless.  Wilson, it must be understood, is employed after Raleigh’s
return as a spy upon him, which office he executes, all confess (and
Wilson himself as much as any), as falsely, treacherously, and
hypocritically as did ever sinful man; and, _inter alia_, he has this,
‘This day he told me what discourse he and the Lord Chancellor had about
taking the Plate-fleet, which he confessed he would have taken had he
lighted on it.’  To which my Lord Chancellor said, ‘Why, you would have
been a pirate.’  ‘Oh,’ quoth he, ‘did you ever know of any that were
pirates for millions?  They only that wish for small things are pirates.’
Now, setting aside the improbability that Raleigh should go out of his
way to impeach himself to the man whom he must have known was set there
to find matter for his death, all, we say, depends on how it was said.
If the Lord Chancellor ever said to Raleigh, ‘To take the Mexico fleet
would be piracy,’ it would have been just like Raleigh to give such an
answer.  The speech is a perfectly true one: Raleigh knew the world, no
man better; and saw through its hollowness, and the cant and hypocrisy of
his generation; and he sardonically states an undeniable fact.  He is not
expressing his own morality, but that of the world; just as he is doing
in that passage of his ‘Apology,’ about which I must complain of Mr.
Napier.  ‘It was a maxim of his,’ says Mr. Napier, ‘that good success
admits of no examination.’  This is not fair.  The sentence in the
original goes on, ‘so the contrary allows of no excuse, however
reasonable and just whatsoever.’  His argument all through the beginning
of the ‘Apology,’ supported by instance on instance from history, is—I
cannot get a just hearing, because I have failed in opening this mine.
So it is always.  Glory covers the multitude of sins.  But a man who has
failed is a fair mark for every slanderer, puppy, ignoramus, discontented
mutineer; as I am now.  What else, in the name of common sense, could
have been his argument?  Does Mr. Napier really think that Raleigh, even
if, in the face of all the noble and pious words which he had written, he
held so immoral a doctrine, would have been shameless and senseless
enough to assert his own rascality in an apology addressed to the most
‘religious’ of kings in the most canting of generations?

But still more astonished am I at the use which has been made of Captain
Parker’s letter.  The letter is written by a man in a state of frantic
rage and disappointment.  There never was any mine, he believes now.
Keymis’s ‘delays we found mere delusions; for he was false to all men and
hateful to himself, loathing to live since he could do no more villany.
I will speak no more of this hateful fellow to God and man.’  And it is
on the testimony of a man in this temper that we are asked to believe
that ‘the admiral and vice-admiral,’ Raleigh and St. Leger, are going to
the Western Islands ‘to look for homeward-bound men’: if, indeed, the
looking for homeward-bound men means really looking for the Spanish
fleet, and not merely for recruits for their crews.  I never
recollect—and I have read pretty fully the sea-records of those days—such
a synonym used either for the Mexican or Indian fleet.  But let this be
as it may, the letter proves too much.  For, first, it proves that
whosoever is not going to turn ‘pirate,’ our calm and charitable friend
Captain Parker is; ‘for my part, by the permission of God, I will either
_make a voyage_ or bury myself in the sea.’  Now, what making a voyage
meant there is no doubt; and the sum total of the letter is, that a man
intending to turn rover himself accuses, under the influence of violent
passion, his comrades of doing the like.  We may believe him about
himself: about others, we shall wait for testimony a little less
interested.

But the letter proves too much again.  For Parker says that ‘Witney and
Woolaston are gone off a-head to look for homeward-bound men,’ thus
agreeing with Raleigh’s message to his wife, that ‘Witney, for whom I
sold all my plate at Plymouth, and to whom I gave more credit and
countenance than to all the captains of my fleet, ran from me at the
Grenadas, and Woolaston with him.’

And now, reader, how does this of Witney, and Woolaston, and Parker’s
intentions to ‘pirate’ separately, if it be true, agree with King James’s
story of Raleigh’s calling a council of war and proposing an attack on
the Plate-fleet?  One or the other must needs be a lie; probably both.
Witney’s ship was of only 160 tons; Woolaston’s probably smaller.  Five
such ships would be required, as any reader of Hakluyt must know, to take
a single Carack; and it would be no use running the risk of hanging for
any less prize.  The Spanish main was warned and armed, and the Western
Isles also.  Is it possible that these two men would have been insane
enough in such circumstances to go without Raleigh, if they could have
gone with him?  And is it possible that he, if he had any set purpose of
attacking the Plate-fleet, would not have kept them, in order to attempt
that with him which neither they nor he could do without each other.
Moreover, no ‘piratical’ act ever took place; if any had, we should have
heard enough about it; and why is Parker to be believed against Raleigh
alone, when there is little doubt that he slandered all the rest of the
captains?  Lastly, it was to this very Parker, with Mr. Tresham and
another gentleman, that Raleigh appealed by name on the scaffold, as
witnesses that it was his crew who tried to keep him from going home, and
not he them.

My own belief is, and it is surely simple and rational enough, that
Raleigh’s ‘brains,’ as he said, ‘were broken’; that he had no distinct
plan: but that, loth to leave the New World without a second attempt on
Guiana, he went up to Newfoundland to re-victual, ‘and with good hope,’
as he wrote to Winwood himself, ‘of keeping the sea till August with some
four reasonable good ships,’ probably, as Oldys remarks, to try a trading
voyage; but found his gentlemen too dispirited and incredulous, his men
too mutinous to do anything; and seeing his ships go home one by one, at
last followed them himself, because he had promised Arundel and Pembroke
so to do; having, after all, as he declared on the scaffold, extreme
difficulty in persuading his men to land at all in England.  The other
lies about him, as of his having intended to desert his soldiers in
Guiana, his having taken no tools to work the mine, and so forth, one
only notices to say that the ‘Declaration’ takes care to make the most of
them, without deigning, after its fashion, to adduce any proof but
anonymous hearsays.  If it be true that Bacon drew up that famous
document, it reflects no credit either on his honesty or his ‘inductive
science.’

So Raleigh returns, anchors in Plymouth.  He finds that Captain North has
brought home the news of his mishaps, and that there is a proclamation
against him, which, by the bye, lies, for it talks of limitations and
cautions given to Raleigh which do not appear in his commission; and,
moreover, that a warrant is out for his apprehension.  He sends his men
on shore, and starts for London to surrender himself, in company with
faithful Captain King, who alone clings to him to the last, and from whom
we have details of the next few days.  Near Ashburton he is met by Sir
Lewis Stukely, his near kinsman, Vice-Admiral of Devon, who has orders to
arrest him.  Raleigh tells him that he has saved him the trouble; and the
two return to Plymouth, where Stukely, strangely enough, leaves him at
liberty and rides about the country.  We should be slow in imputing
baseness: but one cannot help suspecting from Stukely’s subsequent
conduct that he had from the first private orders to give Raleigh a
chance of trying to escape, in order to have a handle against him, such
as his own deeds had not yet given.

The ruse, if it existed then, as it did afterwards, succeeds.  Raleigh
hears bad news.  Gondomar has—or has not—told his story to the king by
crying, ‘_Piratas_! _piratas_! _piratas_!’ and then rushing out without
explanation.  James is in terror lest what had happened should break off
the darling Spanish match.

Raleigh foresees ruin, perhaps death.  Life is sweet, and Guiana is yet
where it was.  He may win a basketful of the ore still, and prove himself
no liar.  He will escape to France.  Faithful King finds him a Rochelle
ship; he takes boat to her, goes half way, and returns.  Honour is
sweeter than life, and James may yet be just.  The next day he bribes the
master to wait for him one more day, starts for the ship once more, and
again returns to Plymouth—so King will make oath—of his own free will.
The temptation must have been terrible and the sin none.  What kept him
from yielding but innocence and honour?  He will clear himself; and if
not, abide the worst.  Stukely and James found out these facts, and made
good use of them afterwards.  For now comes ‘a severe letter from my
Lords’ to bring Raleigh up as speedily as his health will permit; and
with it comes one Mannourie, a French quack, of whom honest King takes
little note at the time, but who will make himself remembered.

And now begins a series of scenes most pitiable; Raleigh’s brains are
indeed broken.  He is old, worn-out with the effects of his fever, lamed,
ruined, broken-hearted, and, for the first time in his life, weak and
silly.  He takes into his head the paltriest notion that he can gain time
to pacify the King by feigning himself sick.  He puts implicit faith in
the rogue Mannourie, whom he has never seen before.  He sends forward
Lady Raleigh to London—perhaps ashamed—as who would not have been?—to
play the fool in that sweet presence; and with her good Captain King, who
is to engage one Cotterell, an old servant of Raleigh’s, to find a ship
wherein to escape, if the worst comes to the worst.  Cotterell sends King
to an old boatswain of his, who owns a ketch.  She is to lie off Tilbury;
and so King waits Raleigh’s arrival.  What passed in the next four or
five days will never be truly known, for our only account comes from two
self-convicted villains, Stukely and Mannourie.  On these details I shall
not enter.  First, because one cannot trust a word of them; secondly,
because no one will wish to hear them who feels, as I do, how pitiable
and painful is the sight of a great heart and mind utterly broken.
Neither shall I spend time on Stukely’s villanous treatment of Raleigh,
for which he had a commission from James in writing; his pretending to
help him to escape, his going down the Thames in a boat with him, his
trying in vain to make honest King as great a rogue as himself.  Like
most rascalities, Stukely’s conduct, even as he himself states it, is
very obscure.  All that we can see is, that Cotterell told Stukely
everything: that Stukely bade Cotterell carry on the deceit; that Stukely
had orders from headquarters to incite Raleigh to say or do something
which might form a fresh ground of accusal; that, being a clumsy rogue,
he failed, and fell back on abetting Raleigh’s escape, as a last
resource.  Be it as it may, he throws off the mask as soon as Raleigh has
done enough to prove an intent to escape; arrests him, and conducts him
to the Tower.

There two shameful months are spent in trying to find out some excuse for
Raleigh’s murder.  Wilson is set over him as a spy; his letters to his
wife are intercepted.  Every art is used to extort a confession of a
great plot with France, and every art fails utterly—simply, it seems to
me, because there was no plot.  Raleigh writes an apology, letters of
entreaty, self-justification, what not; all, in my opinion, just and true
enough; but like his speech on the scaffold, weak, confused—the product
of a ‘broken brain.’  However, his head must come off; and as a last
resource, it must be taken off upon the sentence of fifteen years ago,
and he who was condemned for plotting with Spain must die for plotting
against her.  It is a pitiable business: but as Osborne says, in a
passage (p.108 of his Memoirs of James) for which one freely forgives him
all his sins and lies, and they are many—‘As the foolish idolaters were
wont to sacrifice the choicest of their children to the devil, so our
king gave up his incomparable jewel to the will of this monster of
ambition (the Spaniard), under the pretence of a superannuated
transgression, contrary to the opinion of the more honest sort of
gownsmen, who maintained that his Majesty’s pardon lay inclusively in the
commission he gave him on his setting out to sea; it being incongruous
that he, who remained under the notion of one dead in the law, should as
a general dispose of the lives of others, not being himself master of his
own.’

But no matter.  He must die.  The Queen intercedes for him, as do all
honest men: but in vain.  He has twenty-four hours’ notice to prepare for
death; eats a good breakfast; takes a cup of sack and a pipe; makes a
rambling speech, in which one notes only the intense belief that he is an
honest man, and the intense desire to make others believe so, in the very
smallest matters; and then dies smilingly, as one weary of life.  One
makes no comment.  Raleigh’s life really ended on that day that poor
Keymis returned from San Thomé.’

And then?

As we said, Truth is stranger than fiction.  No dramatist dare invent a
‘poetic justice’ more perfect than fell upon the traitor.  It is not
always so, no doubt.  God reserves many a greater sinner for that most
awful of all punishments—impunity.  But there are crises in a nation’s
life in which God makes terrible examples, to put before the most stupid
and sensual the choice of Hercules, the upward road of life, the downward
one which leads to the pit.  Since the time of Pharaoh and the Red Sea
host, history is full of such palpable, unmistakable revelations of the
Divine Nemesis; and in England, too, at that moment, the crisis was
there; and the judgment of God was revealed accordingly.  Sir Lewis
Stukely remained, it seems, at court; high in favour with James: but he
found, nevertheless, that people looked darkly on him.  Like many
self-convicted rogues, he must needs thrust his head into his own shame;
and one day he goes to good old Lord Charles Howard’s house; for being
Vice-Admiral of Devon, he has affairs with the old Armada hero.

The old lion explodes in an unexpected roar.  ‘Darest thou come into my
presence, thou base fellow, who art reputed the common scorn and contempt
of all men?  Were it not in mine own house I would cudgel thee with my
staff for presuming to speak to me!’  Stukely, his tail between his legs,
goes off and complains to James.  ‘What should I do with him?  Hang him?
On my sawle, mon, if I hung all that spoke ill of thee, all the trees in
the island were too few.’  Such is the gratitude of kings, thinks
Stukely; and retires to write foolish pamphlets in self-justification,
which, unfortunately for his memory, still remain to make bad worse.

Within twelve months he, the rich and proud Vice-Admiral of Devon, with a
shield of sixteen quarterings and the blood-royal in his veins, was
detected debasing the King’s coin within the precincts of the royal
palace, together with his old accomplice Mannourie, who, being taken,
confessed that his charges against Raleigh were false.  He fled, a ruined
man, back to his native county and his noble old seat of Affton; but Até
is on the heels of such—

    ‘Slowly she tracks him and sure, as a lyme-hound, sudden she grips
    him,
    Crushing him, blind in his pride, for a sign and a terror to
    mortals.’

A terrible plebiscitum had been passed in the West country against the
betrayer of its last Worthy.  The gentlemen closed their doors against
him; the poor refused him—so goes the legend—fire and water.  Driven by
the Furies, he fled from Affton, and wandered westward down the vale of
Taw, away to Appledore, and there took boat, and out into the boundless
Atlantic, over the bar, now crowded with shipping, for which Raleigh’s
genius had discovered a new trade and a new world.

Sixteen miles to the westward, like a blue cloud on the horizon, rises
the ultima Thule of Devon, the little isle of Lundy.  There one outlying
peak of granite, carrying up a shelf of slate upon its southern flank,
has defied the waves, and formed an island some three miles long,
desolate, flat-headed, fretted by every frost and storm, walled all round
with four hundred feet of granite cliff, sacred only, then at least, to
puffins and pirates.  Over the single landing-place frowns from the cliff
the keep of an old ruin, ‘Moresco Castle,’ as they call it still, where
some bold rover, Sir John de Moresco, in the times of the old Edwards,
worked his works of darkness: a gray, weird, uncanny pile of moorstone,
through which all the winds of heaven howl day and night.

In a chamber of that ruin died Sir Lewis Stukely, Lord of Affton, cursing
God and man.

These things are true.  Said I not well that reality is stranger than
romance?

But no Nemesis followed James.

The answer will depend much upon what readers consider to be a Nemesis.
If to have found England one of the greatest countries in Europe, and to
have left it one of the most inconsiderable and despicable; if to be
fooled by flatterers to the top of his bent, until he fancied himself all
but a god, while he was not even a man, and could neither speak the
truth, keep himself sober, nor look on a drawn sword without shrinking;
if, lastly, to have left behind him a son who, in spite of many
chivalrous instincts unknown to his father, had been so indoctrinated in
that father’s vices as to find it impossible to speak the truth even when
it served his purpose; if all these things be no Nemesis, then none fell
on James Stuart.

But of that son, at least, the innocent blood was required.  He, too, had
his share in the sin.  In Carew Raleigh’s simple and manful petition to
the Commons of England for the restoration of his inheritance we find a
significant fact stated without one word of comment, bitter or otherwise.
At Prince Henry’s death the Sherborne lands had been given again to Carr,
Lord Somerset.  To him, too, ‘the whirligig of time brought round its
revenges,’ and he lost them when arraigned and condemned for poisoning
Sir Thomas Overbury.  Then Sir John Digby, afterwards Earl of Bristol,
begged Sherborne of the King, and had it.  Pembroke (Shakspeare’s
Pembroke) brought young Carew to court, hoping to move the tyrant’s
heart.  James saw him and shuddered; perhaps conscience stricken, perhaps
of mere cowardice.  ‘He looked like the ghost of his father,’ as he well
might, to that guilty soul.  Good Pembroke advised his young kinsman to
travel, which he did till James’s death in the next year.  Then coming
over—this is his own story—he asked of Parliament to be restored in
blood, that he might inherit aught that might fall to him in England.
His petition was read twice in the Lords.  Whereon ‘King Charles sent Sir
James Fullarton, then of the bed-chamber, to Mr. Raleigh to command him
to come to him; and being brought in, the King, after using him with
great civility, notwithstanding told him plainly that when he was prince
he had promised the Earl of Bristol to secure his title to Sherborne
against the heirs of Sir Walter Raleigh; whereon the earl had given him,
then prince, ten thousand pounds; that now he was bound to make good his
promise, being king; that, therefore, unless he would quit his right and
title to Sherborne, he neither could nor would pass his bill of
restoration.’

Young Raleigh, like a good Englishman, ‘urged,’ he says, ‘the justness of
his cause; that he desired only the liberty of the subject, and to be
left to the law, which was never denied any freeman.’  The King remained
obstinate.  His noble brother’s love for the mighty dead weighed nothing
with him, much less justice.  Poor young Raleigh was forced to submit.
The act for his restoration was passed, reserving Sherborne for Lord
Bristol, and Charles patched up the affair by allowing to Lady Raleigh
and her son after her a life pension of four hundred a year.

Young Carew tells his story simply, and without a note of bitterness;
though he professes his intent to range himself and his two sons for the
future ‘under the banner of the Commons of England,’ he may be a royalist
for any word beside.  Even where he mentions the awful curse of his
mother, he only alludes to its fulfilment by—‘that which hath happened
since to that royal family is too sad and disastrous for me to repeat,
and yet too visible not to be discerned.’  We can have no doubt that he
tells the exact truth.  Indeed the whole story fits Charles’s character
to the smallest details.  The want of any real sense of justice, combined
with the false notion of honour; the implacable obstinacy; the contempt
for that law by which alone he held his crown; the combination of
unkingliness in commanding a private interview and shamelessness in
confessing his own meanness—all these are true notes of the man whose
deliberate suicide stands written, a warning to all bad rulers till the
end of time.  But he must have been a rogue early in life, and a needy
rogue too.  That ten thousand pounds of Lord Bristol’s money should make
many a sentimentalist reconsider—if, indeed, sentimentalists can be made
to reconsider, or even to consider, anything—their notion of him as the
incarnation of pious chivalry.

At least the ten thousand pounds cost Charles dear.

The widow’s curse followed him home.  Naseby fight and the Whitehall
scaffold were surely God’s judgment of such deeds, whatever man’s may be.



FOOTNOTES


{87}  _North British Review_, No. XLV.—1.  ‘Life of Sir Walter Raleigh.’
By P. Fraser Tytler, F.R.S.  London, 1853.—2.  ‘Raleigh’s Discovery of
Guiana.’  Edited by Sir Robert Schomburgk (Hakluyt Society), 1848.—3.
‘Lord Bacon and Sir Walter Raleigh.’  By M. Napier.  Cambridge, 1853.—4.
‘Raleigh’s Works, with Lives by Oldys and Birch.’  Oxford, 1829—5.
‘Bishop Goodman’s History of his own Times.’  London, 1839.

{95}  I especially entreat readers’ attention to two articles in
vindication of the morals of Queen Elizabeth, in ‘Fraser’s Magazine’ of
1854; to one in the ‘Westminster’ of 1854, on Mary Stuart; and one in the
same of 1852, on England’s Forgotten Worthies, by a pen now happily well
known in English literature, Mr. Anthony Froude’s.

{138}  Since this was written, a similar Amazonian bodyguard has been
discovered, I hear, in Pegu.

{155}  It is to be found in a MS. of 1596.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sir Walter Raleigh and His Time" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home