Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Sir Walter Raleigh and his Time from by Charles Kingsley

Part 1 out of 2

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

This etext was produced from the 1890 Macmillan and Co. "Plays and
Puritans and Other Historical Essays" edition by David Price, email


by Charles Kingsley

'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 Tyrtaean
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 Augaean 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.' {2}

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

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 paean
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

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

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 Conde,
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

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

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 a 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 Neron malgre lui-meme,
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 pounds 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 pounds 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 'Andreae 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

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. {3}

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 Jose, 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

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

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 naeve 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; {4} 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 aeternum
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

Book of the day: