Sir Walter Raleigh and his Time from
Charles Kingsley

Part 2 out of 2

distrust Raleigh too much to put the kingdom into his hands.
However, she is gone now, and a new king has arisen, who knoweth not

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But not pardoned. No more return for him into that sinful world,
where he flaunted on the edge of the precipice, and dropped heedless
over it. God will hide him in the secret place of His presence, and
keep him in His tabernacle from the strife of tongues; and a new life
shall begin for him; a wiser, perhaps a happier, than he has known
since he was a little lad in the farmhouse in pleasant Devon far
away. On the 15th of December he enters the Tower. Little dreams he
that for more than twelve years those doleful walls would be his
home. Lady Raleigh obtains leave to share his prison with him, and,
after having passed ten years without a child, brings him a boy to
comfort the weary heart. The child of sorrow is christened Carew.

Little think those around him what strange things that child will see
before his hairs be gray. She has her maid, and he his three
servants; some five or six friends are allowed 'to repair to him at
convenient times.' He has a chamber-door always open into the
lieutenant's garden, where he 'has converted a little hen-house into
a still-room, and spends his time all the day in distillation.' The
next spring a grant is made of his goods and chattels, forfeited by
attainder, to trustees named by himself, for the benefit of his
family. So far, so well; or, at least, not as ill as it might be:
but there are those who cannot leave the caged lion in peace.

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

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

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

B. Zedoary and Saffron, each 0.5 lb.
Distilled water 3 pints.
Macerate, etc., and reduce to 1.5 pint.
Compound powder of crabs' claws 16 oz.
Cinnamon and Nutmegs 2 oz.
Cloves 1 oz.
Cardamom seeds 0.5 oz.
Double refined sugar 2 lb.
Make a confection.

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

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

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

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

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

In November 1612 Prince Henry falls sick.

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

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

* * *

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

'Still in his ashes live their wonted fire.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But no Nemesis followed James.

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

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

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

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

At least the ten thousand pounds cost Charles dear.

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


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

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

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

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


Back to Full Books