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For one year after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, Raleigh resisted with success, or overlooked with equanimity, the determined attacks which Essex made upon his position at Court.  He was busy with great schemes in all quarters of the kingdom, engaged in Devonshire, in Ireland, in Virginia, in the north-western seas, and to his virile activity the jealousy of Essex must have seemed like the buzzing of a persistent gnat.  The insect could sting, however, and in the early part of December 1588, Raleigh’s attention was forcibly concentrated on his rival by the fact that ‘my Lord of Essex’ had sent him a challenge.  No duel was fought, and the Council did its best to bury the incident ’in silence, that it might not be known to her Majesty, lest it might injure the Earl,’ from which it will appear that Raleigh’s hold upon her favour was still assured.

A week later than this we get a glance for a moment at one or two of the leash of privateering enterprises, all of them a little under the rose, in which Sir Walter Raleigh was in these years engaged.  An English ship, the ‘Angel Gabriel,’ complained of being captured and sacked of her wines by Raleigh’s men on the high seas, and he retorts by insinuating that she, ’as it is probable, has served the King of Spain in his Armada,’ and is therefore fair game.  So, too, with the four butts of sack of one Artson, and the sugar and mace said to be taken out of a Hamburg vessel, their capture by Raleigh’s factors is comfortably excused on the ground that these acts were only reprisals against the villainous Spaniard.  It was well that these more or less commercial undertakings should be successful, for it became more and more plain to Raleigh that the most grandiose of all his enterprises, his determined effort to colonise Virginia, could but be a drain upon his fortune.  After Captain White’s final disastrous voyage, Raleigh suspended his efforts in this direction for a while.  He leased his patent in Virginia to a company of merchants, on March 7, 1589, merely reserving to himself a nominal privilege, namely the possession of one fifth of such gold and silver ore as should be raised in the colony.  This was the end of the first act of Raleigh’s American adventures.  It may not be needless to contradict here a statement repeated in most rapid sketches of his life.  It is not true that at any time Raleigh himself set foot in Virginia.

In the Portugal expedition of 1589 Raleigh does not seem to have taken at all a prominent part.  He was absent, however, with Drake’s fleet from April 18 to July 2, and he marched with the rest up to the walls of Lisbon.  This enterprise was an attempt on the part of Elizabeth to place Antonio again on the throne of Portugal, from which he had been ousted by Philip of Spain in 1580.  The aim of the expedition was not reached, but a great deal of booty fell into the hands of the English, and Raleigh in particular received 4,000_l._ His contingent, however, had been a little too zealous, and he received a rather sharp reprimand for capturing two barks from Cherbourg belonging to the friendly power of France.  It must be understood that Raleigh at this time maintained at his own expense a small personal fleet for commercial and privateering ends, and that he lent or leased these vessels, with his own services, to the government when additional naval contributions were required.  In the Domestic Correspondence we meet with the names of the chief of these vessels, ‘The Revenge,’ soon afterwards so famous, ‘The Crane,’ and ‘The Garland.’  These ships were merchantmen or men-of-war at will, and their exploits were winked at or frowned upon at Court as circumstances dictated.  Sometimes the hawk’s eye of Elizabeth would sound the holds of these pirates with incredible acumen, as on that occasion when it is recorded that ’a waistcoat of carnation colour, curiously embroidered,’ which was being brought home to adorn the person of the adventurer, was seized by order of the Queen to form a stomacher for his royal mistress.  It would be difficult to say which of the illustrious pair was the more solicitous of fine raiment.  At other times the whole prize had to be disgorged; as in the case of that bark of Olonne, laden with barley, which Raleigh had to restore to the Treasury on July 21, 1589, after he had concluded a very lucrative sale of the same.

In August 1589 Sir Francis Allen wrote to Anthony Bacon:  ’My Lord of Essex hath chased Mr. Raleigh from the Court, and hath confined him to Ireland.’  It is true that Raleigh himself, five months later, being once more restored to favour, speaks of ’that nearness to her Majesty which I still enjoy,’ and directly contradicts the rumour of his disgrace.  This, however, is not in accordance with the statement made by Spenser in his poem of Colin Clout’s come home again, in which he says that all Raleigh’s speech at this time was

    Of great unkindness and of usage hard
        Of Cynthia, the Lady of the Sea,
    Which from her presence faultless him debarred,

and this may probably be considered as final evidence.  At all events, this exile from Court, whether it was enforced or voluntary, brought about perhaps the most pleasing and stimulating episode in the whole of Raleigh’s career, his association with the great poet whose lines have just been quoted.

We have already seen that, eight years before this, Spenser and Raleigh had met under Lord Grey in the expedition that found its crisis at Smerwick.  We have no evidence of the point of intimacy which they reached in 1582, nor of their further acquaintance before 1589.  It has been thought that Raleigh’s picturesque and vivid personality immediately and directly influenced Spenser’s imagination.  Dean Church has noticed that to read Hooker’s account of ’Raleigh’s adventures with the Irish chieftains, his challenges and single combats, his escapes at fords and woods, is like reading bits of the Faery Queen in prose.’  The two men, in many respects the most remarkable Englishmen of imagination then before the notice of their country, did not, however, really come into mutual relation until the time we have now reached.

In 1586 Edmund Spenser had been rewarded for his arduous services as Clerk of the Council of Munster by the gift of a manor and ruined castle of the Desmonds, Kilcolman, near the Galtee hills.  This little peel-tower, with its tiny rooms, overlooked a county that is desolate enough now, but which then was finely wooded, and watered by the river Awbeg, to which the poet gave the softer name of Mulla.  Here, in the midst of terrors by night and day, at the edge of the dreadful Wood, where ‘outlaws fell affray the forest ranger,’ Spenser had been settled for three years, describing the adventures of knights and ladies in a wild world of faery that was but too like Munster, when the Shepherd of the Ocean came over to Ireland to be his neighbour.  Raleigh settled himself in his own house at Youghal, and found society in visiting his cousin, Sir George Carew, at Lismore, and Spenser at Kilcolman.  Of the latter association we possess a most interesting record.  In 1591, reviewing the life of two years before, Spenser says: 

    One day I sat, (as was my trade),
      Under the foot of Mole, that mountain hoar,
    Keeping my sheep among the cooly shade
      Of the green alders, by the Mulla’s shore;
    There a strange shepherd chanced to find me out;
      Whether allured with my pipe’s delight,
    Whose pleasing sound yshrilled far about,

(the secret of the authorship of the Shepherd’s Calender having by this time oozed out in the praises of Webbe in 1586 and of Puttenham in 1589,)

      Or thither led by chance, I know not right, ­
    Whom, when I asked from what place he came
      And how he hight, himself he did ycleepe
    The Shepherd of the Ocean by name,
      And said he came far from the main-sea deep;
    He, sitting me beside in that same shade,
      Provoked me to play some pleasant fit,

(that is to say, to read the MS. of the Faery Queen, now approaching completion,)

    And, when he heard the music which I made,
      He found himself full greatly pleased at it;
    Yet aemuling my pipe, he took in hond
      My pipe, ­before that, aemuled of many, ­
    And played thereon (for well that skill he conned),
      Himself as skilful in that art as any.

Among the other poems thus read by Raleigh to Spenser at Kilcolman was the ‘lamentable lay’ to which reference had just been made ­the piece in praise of Elizabeth which bore the name of Cynthia.  In Spenser’s pastoral, the speaker is persuaded by Thestylis (Lodovick Bryskett) to explain what ditty that was that the Shepherd of the Ocean sang, and he explains very distinctly, but in terms which are scarcely critical, that Raleigh’s poem was written in love and praise, but also in pathetic complaint, of Elizabeth, that

        great Shepherdess, that Cynthia hight,
    His Liege, his Lady, and his life’s Regent.

This is most valuable evidence of the existence in 1589 of a poem or series of poems by Sir Walter Raleigh, set by Spenser on a level with the best work of the age in verse.  This poem was, until quite lately, supposed to have vanished entirely and beyond all hope of recovery.  Until now, no one seems to have been aware that we hold in our hands a fragment of Raleigh’s magnum opus of 1589 quite considerable enough to give us an idea of the extent and character of the rest.

In 1870 Archdeacon Hannah printed what he described as a ’continuation of the lost poem, Cynthia,’ from fragments in Sir Walter’s own hand among the Hatfield MSS.  Dr. Hannah, however, misled by the character of the handwriting, by some vague allusions, in one of the fragments, to a prison captivity, and most of all, probably, by a difficulty in dates which we can now for the first time explain, attributed these pieces to 1603-1618, that is to say to Raleigh’s imprisonment in the Tower.  The second fragment, beginning ‘My body in the walls captived,’ belongs, no doubt, to the later date.  It is in a totally distinct metre from the rest and has nothing to do with Cynthia.  The first fragment bears the stamp of much earlier date, but this also can be no part of Raleigh’s epic.  The long passage then following, on the contrary, is, I think, beyond question, a canto, almost complete, of the lost epic of 1589.  It is written in the four-line heroic stanza adopted ten years later by Sir John Davies for his Nosce teipsum, and most familiar to us all in Gray’s Churchyard Elegy.  Moreover, it is headed ’the Twenty-first and Last Book of The Ocean to Cynthia.’  Another note, in Raleigh’s handwriting, styles the poem The Ocean’s Love to Cynthia, and this was probably the full name of it.  Spenser’s name for Raleigh, the Shepherd, or pastoral hero, of the Ocean, is therefore for the first time explained.  This twenty-first book suffers from the fact that stanzas, but apparently not very many, have dropped out, in four places.  With these losses, the canto still contains 130 stanzas, or 526 lines.  Supposing the average length of the twenty preceding books to have been the same, The Ocean’s Love to Cynthia must have contained at least ten thousand lines.  Spenser, therefore, was not exaggerating, or using the language of flattery towards a few elegies or a group of sonnets, when he spoke of Cynthia as a poem of great importance.  As a matter of fact, no poem of the like ambition had been written in England for a century past, and if it had been published, it would perhaps have taken a place only second to its immediate contemporary, The Faery Queen.

At this very time, and in the midst of his poetical holiday, Raleigh was actively engaged in defending the rights of the merchants of Waterford and Wexford to carry on their trade in pipe-staves for casks.  Raleigh himself encouraged and took part in this exportation, having two ships regularly engaged between Waterford and the Canaries.  Traces of his peaceful work in Munster still remain.  Sir John Pope Hennessy says: 

The richly perfumed yellow wallflowers that he brought to Ireland from the Azores, and the Affane cherry, are still found where he first planted them by the Blackwater.  Some cedars he brought to Cork are to this day growing, according to the local historian, Mr. J. G. MacCarthy, at a place called Tivoli.  The four venerable yew-trees, whose branches have grown and intermingled into a sort of summer-house thatch, are pointed out as having sheltered Raleigh when he first smoked tobacco in his Youghal garden.  In that garden he also planted tobacco....  A few steps further on, where the town-wall of the thirteenth century bounds the garden of the Warden’s house, is the famous spot where the first Irish potato was planted by him.  In that garden he gave the tubers to the ancestor of the present Lord Southwell, by whom they were spread throughout the province of Munster.

These were boons to mankind which the zeal of Raleigh’s agents had brought back from across the western seas, gifts of more account in the end than could be contained in all the palaces of Manoa, and all the emerald mines of Trinidad, if only this great man could have followed his better instinct and believed it.

Raleigh’s habitual difficulty in serving under other men showed itself this autumn in his dispute with the Irish Deputy, Sir William Fitzwilliam, and led, perhaps, to his return early in the winter.  We do not know what circumstances led to his being taken back into Elizabeth’s favour again, but it was probably in November that he returned to England, and took Spenser with him.  Of this interesting passage in his life we find again an account in Colin Clout’s come home again.  Spencer says: 

When thus our pipes we both had wearied well, ... and each an end of singing made, He [Raleigh] gan to cast great liking to my lore, And great disliking to my luckless lot;

and advised him to come to Court and be presented to ‘Cynthia,’

Whose grace was great and bounty most rewardful.

He then devotes no less than ninety-five lines to a description of the voyage, which was a very rough one, and at last he is brought by Raleigh into the Queen’s presence: 

            The shepherd of the ocean ... 
    Unto that goddess’ grace me first enhanced,
      And to my oaten pipe inclined her ear,
    That she thenceforth therein gan take delight,
      And it desired at timely hours to hear,

finally commanding the publication of it.  On December 1, 1589, the Faery Queen was registered, and a pension of 50_l._ secured for the poet.  The supplementary letter and sonnets to Raleigh express Spenser’s generous recognition of the services his friend had performed for him, and appeal to Raleigh, as ’the Summer’s Nightingale, thy sovereign goddess’s most dear delight,’ not to delay in publishing his own great poem, the Cynthia.  The first of the eulogistic pieces prefixed by friends to the Faery Queen was that noble and justly celebrated sonnet signed W. R. which alone would justify Raleigh in taking a place among the English poets.

Raleigh’s position was once more secure in the sunlight.  He could hold Sir William Fitzwilliam informed, on December 29, that ’I take myself far his better by the honourable office I hold, as well as by that nearness to her Majesty which still I enjoy, and never more.’  The next two years were a sort of breathing space in Raleigh’s career; he had reached the table-land of his fortunes, and neither rose nor fell in favour.  The violent crisis of the Spanish Armada had marked the close of an epoch at Court.  In September 1588 Leicester died, in April 1590 Walsingham, in September 1591 Sir Christopher Hatton, three men in whose presence, however apt Raleigh might be to vaunt his influence, he could never have felt absolutely master.  New men were coming on, but for the moment the most violent and aggressive of his rivals, Essex, was disposed to wave a flag of truce.  Both Raleigh and Essex saw one thing more clearly than the Queen herself, namely, that the loyalty of the Puritans, whom Elizabeth disliked, was the great safeguard of the nation against Catholic encroachment, and they united their forces in trying to protect the interests of men like John Udall against the Queen’s turbulent prejudices.  In March 1591 we find it absolutely recorded that the Earl of Essex and Raleigh have joined ’as instruments from the Puritans to the Queen upon any particular occasion of relieving them.’  With Essex, some sort of genuine Protestant fervour seems to have acted; Raleigh, according to all evidence, was a man without religious interests, but far before his age in tolerance for the opinions of others, and he was swayed, no doubt, in this as in other cases, by his dislike of persecution on the one hand, and his implacable enmity to Spain on the other.

In May 1591, Raleigh was hurriedly sent down the Channel in a pinnace to warn Lord Thomas Howard that Spanish ships had been seen near the Scilly Islands.  There was a project for sending a fleet of twenty ships to Spain, and Raleigh was to be second in command, but the scheme was altered.  In November 1591 he first came before the public as an author with a tract in which he celebrated the prowess of one of his best friends and truest servants, Sir Richard Grenville, in a contest with the Spaniard which is one of the most famous in English history.  Raleigh’s little volume is entitled:  A Report of the Truth of the Fight about the Iles of the Acores this last Sommer betwixt the ‘Reuenge’ and an Armada of the King of Spaine.  The fight had taken place on the preceding 10th of September; the odds against the ‘Revenge’ were so excessive that Grenville was freely blamed for needless foolhardiness, in facing 15,000 Spaniards with only 100 men.  Raleigh wrote his Report to justify the memory of his friend, and doubtless hastened its publication that it might be received as evidence before Sir R. Beville’s commission, which was to meet a month later to inquire into the circumstances of Grenville’s death.  Posterity has taken Raleigh’s view, and all Englishmen, from Lord Bacon to Lord Tennyson, have united in praising this fight as one ’memorable even beyond credit, and to the height of some heroical fable.’

The Report of 1591 was anonymous, and it was Hakluyt first who, in reprinting it in 1599, was permitted to state that it was ’penned by the honourable Sir Walter Ralegh, knight.’  Long entirely neglected, it has of late become the best known of all its author’s productions.  It is written in a sane and manly style, and marks the highest level reached by English narrative prose as it existed before the waters were troubled by the fashion of Euphues.  Not issued with Raleigh’s name, it was yet no doubt at once recognised as his work, and it cannot have been without influence in determining the policy of the country with Spain.  The author’s enmity to the Spaniard is inveterate, and he is careful in an eloquent introduction to prove that he is not actuated by resentment on account of this one act of cruel cowardice, but by a divine anger, justified by the events of years, ’against the ambitious and bloody pretences of the Spaniard, who, seeking to devour all nations, shall be themselves devoured.’  The tract closes with a passionate appeal to the loyalty of the English Catholics, who are warned by the sufferings of Portugal that ’the obedience even of the Turk is easy and a liberty, in respect of the slavery and tyranny of Spain,’ and who will never be so safe as when they are trusting in the clemency of her Majesty.  All this is in the highest degree characteristic of Raleigh, whose central idea in life was not prejudice against the Catholic religion, for he was singularly broad in this respect, but, in his own words, ’hatred of the tyrannous prosperity of Spain.’  This ran like a red strand through his whole career from Smerwick to the block, and this was at once the measure of his greatness and the secret of his fall.

It was formerly supposed that Raleigh came into possession of Sherborne, his favourite country residence, in 1594, that is to say after the Throckmorton incident.  It is, however, in the highest degree improbable that such an estate would be given to him after his fatal offence, and in fact it is now certain that the lease was extended to him much earlier, probably in October 1591.  There is a pleasant legend that Raleigh and one of his half-brothers were riding up to town from Plymouth, when Raleigh’s horse stumbled and threw him within the precincts of a beautiful Dorsetshire estate, then in possession of the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury, and that Raleigh, choosing to consider that he had thus taken seisin of the soil, asked the Queen for Sherborne Castle when he arrived at Court.  It may have been on this occasion that Elizabeth asked him when he would cease to be a beggar, and received the reply, ‘When your Majesty ceases to be a benefactor!’ His first lease included a payment of 260_l._ a year to the Bishop of Salisbury, who asserted a claim to the property.  In January 1592, after the payment of a quarter’s rent, Raleigh was confirmed in possession, and began to improve and enjoy the property.  It consisted of the manor of Sherborne, with a large park, a castle which had to be repaired, and several farms and hamlets, together with a street in the borough of Sherborne itself.  It is a curious fact that Raleigh had to present the Queen with a jewel worth 250_l._ to induce her ‘to make the Bishop,’ that is to say, to appoint to the see of Salisbury, now vacant, a man who would consent to the alienation of such rich Church lands as the manors of Sherborne and Yetminster.  John Meeres, afterwards so determined and exasperating an enemy of Raleigh’s, was now appointed his bailiff, and Adrian Gilbert a sort of general overseer of the works.

Raleigh had been but two months settled in possession of Sherborne, with his ninety-nine years’ lease clearly made out, when he passed suddenly out of the sunlight into the deepest shadow of approaching disfavour.  The year opened with promise of greater activity and higher public honours than Raleigh had yet displayed and enjoyed.  An expedition was to be sent to capture the rich fleet of plate-ships, known as the Indian Carracks, and then to push on to storm the pearl treasuries of Panama.  For the first time, Elizabeth had shown herself willing to trust her favourite in person on the perilous western seas.  Raleigh was to command the fleet of fifteen ships, and under him was to serve the morose hero of Cathay, the dreadful Sir Martin Frobisher.  Raleigh was not only to be admiral of the expedition, but its chief adventurer also, and in order to bear this expense he had collected his available fortune from various quarters, stripping himself of all immediate resources.  To help him, the Queen had bought The Ark Raleigh, his largest ship, for 5,000_l._; and in February 1592 he was ready to sail.  When the moment for parting came, however, the Queen found it impossible to spare him, and Sir John Burrough was appointed admiral.

It is exceedingly difficult to move with confidence in this obscure part of our narrative.  On March 10, 1592, we find Raleigh at Chatham, busy about the wages of the sailors, and trying to persuade them to serve under Frobisher, whose reputation for severity made him very unpopular.  He writes on that day to Sir Robert Cecil, and uses these ambiguous expressions with regard to a rumour of which we now hear for the first time: 

I mean not to come away, as they say I will, for fear of a marriage, and I know not what.  If any such thing were, I would have imparted it to yourself, before any man living; and therefore, I pray, believe it not, and I beseech you to suppress, what you can, any such malicious report.  For I protest before God, there is none, on the face of the earth, that I would be fastened unto.

Raleigh was now in a desperate embarrassment.  There was that concealed in his private life which could only be condoned by absence; he had seen before him an unexpected chance of escape from England, and now the Queen’s tedious fondness had closed it again.  The desperate fault which he had committed was that he had loved too well and not at all wisely a beautiful orphan, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, a maid of honour to the Queen.  It is supposed that she was two or three and twenty at the time.  Whether he seduced her, and married her after his imprisonment in the Tower, or whether in the early months of 1592 there was a private marriage, has been doubted.  The biographers of Raleigh have preferred to believe the latter, but it is to be feared that his fair fame in this matter cannot be maintained unsullied.  Among Sir Walter Raleigh’s children one daughter appears to have been illegitimate, ’my poor daughter, to whom I have given nothing, for his sake who will be cruel to himself to preserve thee,’ as he says to Lady Raleigh in 1603, and it may be that it was the birth of this child which brought down the vengeance of Queen Elizabeth upon their heads.

His clandestine relations with Elizabeth Throckmorton were not in themselves without excuse.  To be the favourite of Elizabeth, who had now herself attained the sixtieth summer of her immortal charms, was tantamount to a condemnation to celibacy.  The vanity of Belphoebe would admit no rival among high or low, and the least divergence from the devotion justly due to her own imperial loveliness was a mortal sin.  What is less easy to forgive in Raleigh than that at the age of forty he should have rebelled at last against this tyranny, is that he seems, in the crisis of his embarrassment, to have abandoned the woman to whom he could write long afterwards, ’I chose you and I loved you in my happiest times.’  After this brief dereliction, however, he returned to his duty, and for the rest of his life was eminently faithful to the wife whom he had taken under such painful circumstances.

There is a lacuna in the evidence as to what actually happened early in 1592; the late Mr. J. P. Collier filled up this gap with a convenient letter, which has found its way into the histories of Raleigh, but the original of which has never been seen by other eyes than the transcriber’s.  What is certain is that Raleigh contrived to conceal the state of things from the Queen, and to steal away to sea on the pretext that he was merely accompanying Sir Martin Frobisher to the mouth of the Channel.  He says himself that on May 13, 1592, he was ’about forty leagues off the Cape Finisterre.’  It was reported that the Queen sent a ship after him to insist on his return, but such a messenger would have had little chance of finding him when once he had reached the latitude of Portugal, and it is more reasonable to suppose that after straying away as far as he dared, he came back again of his own accord.  On June 8 he was still living unmolested in Durham House, and dealing, as a person in authority, with certain questions of international navigation.  Three weeks later the Queen seems to have discovered, what everyone about her knew already, the nature of Raleigh’s relations with Elizabeth Throckmorton.  On July 28 Sir Edward Stafford wrote to Anthony Bacon:  ’If you have anything to do with Sir Walter Raleigh, or any love to make to Mrs. Throckmorton, at the Tower to-morrow you may speak with them.’  It was four years before Raleigh was admitted again to the presence of his enraged Belphoebe.

Needless prominence has been given to this imprisonment of Raleigh’s, which lasted something less than two months.  He was exceedingly restive under constraint, however, and filled the air with the picturesque clamour of his distress.  His first idea was to soften the Queen’s heart by outrageous protestations of anxious devotion to her person.  The following passage from a letter to Sir Robert Cecil is remarkable in many ways, curious as an example of affected passion in a soldier of forty for a maiden of sixty, curious as a piece of carefully modulated Euphuistic prose in the fashion of the hour, most curious as the language of a man from whom the one woman that he really loved was divided by the damp wall of a prison: 

My heart was never broken till this day, that I hear the Queen goes away so far off, whom I have followed so many years with so great love and desire, in so many journeys, and am now left behind her, in a dark prison all alone.  While she was yet nigher at hand, that I might hear of her once in two or three days, my sorrows were the less; but even now my heart is cast into the depth of all misery.  I that was wont to behold her riding like Alexander, hunting like Diana, walking like Venus, the gentle wind blowing her fair hair about her pure cheeks, like a nymph; sometime sitting in the shade like a goddess; sometime singing like an angel; sometime playing like Orpheus.  Behold the sorrow of this world!  Once amiss, hath bereaved me of all.  O Glory, that only shineth in misfortune, what is become of thy assurance?  All wounds have scars, but that of fantasy; all affections their relenting, but that of womankind.  Who is the judge of friendship, but adversity? or when is grace witnessed, but in offences?  There were no divinity, but by reason of compassion for revenges are brutish and mortal.  All those times past, the loves, the sights, the sorrows, the desires, can they not weigh down one frail misfortune?  Cannot one drop of salt be hidden in so great heaps of sweetness?  I may then conclude, Spes et fortuna, valeté!  She is gone in whom I trusted, and of me hath not one thought of mercy, nor any respect of that that was.  Do with me now, therefore, what you list.  I am more weary of life than they are desirous I should perish.

He kept up this comedy of passion with wonderful energy.  One day, when the royal barge, passing down to Gravesend, crossed below his window, he raved and stormed, swearing that his enemies had brought the Queen thither ‘to break his gall in sunder with Tantalus’ torment.’  Another time he protested that he must disguise himself as a boatman, and just catch a sight of the Queen, or else his heart would break.  He drew his dagger on his keeper, Sir George Carew, and broke the knuckles of Sir Arthur Gorges, because he said they were restraining him from the sight of his Mistress.  He proposed to Lord Howard of Effingham at the close of a business letter, that he should be thrown to feed the lions, ’to save labour,’ as the Queen was still so cruel.  Sir Arthur Gorges was in despair; he thought that Raleigh was going mad.  ‘He will shortly grow,’ he said, ’to be Orlando Furioso, if the bright Angelica persevere against him a little longer.’

It was all a farce, of course, but underneath the fantastic affectation there was a very real sentiment, that of the intolerable tedium of captivity.  Raleigh had been living a life of exaggerated activity, never a month at rest, now at sea, now in Devonshire, now at Court, hurrying hither and thither, his horse and he one veritable centaur.  Among the Euphuistic ‘tears of fancy’ which he sent from the Tower, there occurs this little sentence, breathing the most complete sincerity:  ’I live to trouble you at this time, being become like a fish cast on dry land, gasping for breath, with lame legs and lamer lungs.’  There was no man then in England whom it was more cruel to shut up in a cage.  This reference to his lungs is the first announcement of the failure of his health.  Raleigh’s constitution was tough, but he had a variety of ailments, and a tendency to rheumatism and to consumption was among them.  In later years we shall find that the damp cells of the Tower filled his joints with pain, and reduced him with a weakening cough.  But long before his main imprisonment his joints and his lungs were troublesome to him.

Meanwhile the great privateering expedition in which Raleigh had launched his fortune was proceeding to its destination in the Azores.  No such enterprise had been as yet undertaken by English adventurers.  It was a strictly private effort, but the Queen in her personal capacity had contributed two ships and 1,800_l._, and the citizens of London 6,000_l._, but Raleigh retained by far the largest share.  Raleigh had been a week in the Tower, when Admiral Sir John Burrough, who had divided the fleet and had left Frobisher on the coast of Spain, joined to his contingent two London ships, the ‘Golden Dragon’ and the ‘Prudence,’ and lay in wait under Flores for the great line of approaching carracks.  The largest of these, the ‘Madre de Dios,’ was the most famous plate-ship of the day, carrying what in those days seemed almost incredible, no less than 1,800 tons.  Her cargo, brought through Indian seas from the coast of Malabar, was valued when she started at 500,000_l._ She was lined with glowing woven carpets, sarcenet quilts, and lengths of white silk and cyprus; she carried in chests of sandalwood and ebony such store of rubies and pearls, such porcelain and ivory and rock crystal, such great pots of musk and planks of cinnamon, as had never been seen on all the stalls of London.  Her hold smelt like a garden of spices for all the benjamín and cloves, the nutmegs and the civet, the ambergris and frankincense.  There was a fight before Raleigh’s ship the ‘Roebuck’ could seize this enormous prize, yet somewhat a passive one on the part of the lumbering carrack, such a fight as may ensue between a great rabbit and the little stoat that sucks its life out.  When she was entered, it was found that pilferings had gone on already at every port at which she had called; and the English sailors had done their share before Burrough could arrive on board; the jewels and the lighter spices were badly tampered with, but in the general rejoicing over so vast a prize this was not much regarded.  Through seas so tempestuous that it seemed at one time likely that she would sink in the Atlantic, the ‘Madre de Dios’ was at last safely brought into Dartmouth, on September 8.

The arrival of the ‘Madre de Dios’ on the Queen’s birthday had something like the importance of a national event.  No prize of such value had ever been captured before.  When all deduction had been made for treasure lost or pilfered or squandered, there yet remained a total value of 141,000_l._ in the money of that day.  The fact that all this wealth was lying in Dartmouth harbour was more than the tradesmen of London could bear.  Before the Queen’s commissioners could assemble, half the usurers and shopkeepers in the City had hurried down into Devonshire to try and gather up a few of the golden crumbs.  Raleigh, meanwhile, was ready to burst his heart with fretting in the Tower, until it suddenly appeared that this very concourse and rabble at Dartmouth would render his release imperative.  No one but he could cope with Devonshire in its excitement, and Lord Burghley determined on sending him to Dartmouth.  Robert Cecil, writing from Exeter to his father on September 19, reported that for seven miles everybody he met on the London road smelt of amber or of musk, and that you could not open a bag without finding seed-pearls in it.  ‘My Lord!’ he says, ‘there never was such spoil.’  Raleigh’s presence was absolutely necessary, for Cecil could do nothing with the desperate and obstinate merchants and sailors.

On September 21, Raleigh arrived at Dartmouth with his keeper, Blount.  Cecil was amazed to find the disgraced favourite so popular in Devonshire.  ‘I assure you,’ he says, ’his poor servants to the number of one hundred and forty, goodly men, and all the mariners, came to him with such shouts and joy as I never saw a man more troubled to quiet them in my life.  But his heart is broken, for he is extremely pensive longer than he is busied, in which he can toil terribly, but if you did hear him rage at the spoils, finding all the short wares utterly devoured, you would laugh as I do, which I cannot choose.  The meeting between him and Sir John Gilbert was with tears on Sir John’s part; and he belike finding it known he had a keeper, wherever he is saluted with congratulation for liberty, he doth answer, “No, I am still the Queen of England’s poor captive.”  I wished him to conceal it, because here it doth diminish his credit, which I do vow to you before God is greater among the mariners than I thought for.  I do grace him as much as I may, for I find him marvellously greedy to do anything to recover the conceit of his brutish offence.’

Raleigh broke into rage at finding so many of his treasures lost, and he gave out that if he met with any London jewellers or goldsmiths in Devonshire, were it on the wildest heath in all the county, he would strip them as naked as when they were born.  He raved against the commissioners and the captains, against Cecil and against Cross.  As was his wont, he showed no tact or consideration towards those who were engaged with or just above him; but about the end of September business cooled his wrath, and he settled down to a division of the prize.  On September 27, the Commissioners of Inquiry sent in to Burghley and Howard a report of their proceedings with respect to the ’Madre de Dios’; this report is signed by Cecil, Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake, and three other persons.  They had carried on their search for stolen treasure so rigorously that even the Admiral’s chests were examined against his will.  They confess their disappointment at finding in them nothing more tempting than some taffetas embroidered with Chinese gold, and a bunch of seed-pearl.

Sir Walter Raleigh now married or acknowledged Elizabeth Throckmorton, and in February 1593 Sir Robert Cecil procured some sort of surly recognition of the marriage from the Queen.  For this Lady Raleigh thanks him in a strange flowery letter of the 8th of that month, in which she excuses her husband for his denial of her ­’if faith were broken with me, I was yet far away’ ­and shows an affectionate solicitude for his future.  It seems that Raleigh’s first idea on finding himself free was to depart on an expedition to America, and this Lady Raleigh strongly objects to.  In her alembicated style she says to Cecil, ’I hope for my sake you will rather draw for Walter towards the east than help him forward toward the sunset, if any respect to me or love to him be not forgotten.  But every month hath his flower and every season his contentment, and you great councillors are so full of new councils, as you are steady in nothing, but we poor souls that have bought sorrow at a high price, desire, and can be pleased with, the same misfortune we hold, fearing alterations will but multiply misery, of which we have already felt sufficient.’  The poor woman had her way for the present, and for two full years her husband contented himself with a quiet and obscure life among the woods of Sherborne.

For the next year we get scanty traces of Raleigh’s movements from his own letters.  In May 1593 his health, shaken by his imprisonment, gave him some uneasiness, and he went to Bath to drink the waters, but without advantage.  In August of that year we find him busy in Gillingham Forest, and he gives Sir Robert Cecil a roan gelding in exchange for a rare Indian falcon.  In the autumn he is engaged on the south coast in arranging quarrels between English and French fishermen.  In April 1594 he captures a live Jesuit, ‘a notable stout villain,’ with all ‘his copes and bulls,’ in Lady Stourton’s house, which was a very warren of dangerous recusants.  But he soon gets tired of these small activities.  The sea at Weymouth and at Plymouth put out its arms to him and wooed him.  To hunt ‘notable Jesuit knaves’ and to sit on the granite judgment-seat of the Stannaries were well, but life offered more than this to Raleigh.  In June 1594 he tells Cecil that he will serve the Queen as a poor private mariner or soldier if he may only be allowed to be stirring abroad, and the following month there is a still more urgent appeal for permission to go with the Lord Admiral to Brittany.  He has a quarrel meanwhile with the Dean and Chapter of Sarum, who have let his Sherborne farms over his head to one Fitzjames, and ’who could not deal with me worse withal if I were a Turk.’  But a month later release has come.  The plague has broken up his home, his wife and son are sent in opposite directions, and he himself has leave to be free at last; with God’s favour and the Queen’s he will sail into ‘the sunset’ that Lady Raleigh had feared so much, and will conquer for England the fabulous golden cities of Guiana.