Copyright
Edward George Harman.

Edmund Spenser and the impersonations of Francis Bacon online

. (page 39 of 55)
Online LibraryEdward George HarmanEdmund Spenser and the impersonations of Francis Bacon → online text (page 39 of 55)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


it was the first and only rent that hath yet bynn payd by any
undertaker. But the Shirife did as he was cummanded, and
tooke away five hundred milch kine from the poor people ; sume
had but two, and sume three, to releve their poor wives and
children, and in a Strang country newly sett downe to builde and
plant. Hee hath forcible thrust mee out of possession of a
Castell, because it is in law between mee and his cousin VVinck-
feld, and will not here my atornes speake. Hee hath admitted a
ward, and geven it his man, of a Castell which is the Queen's,
and hath bynn by mee new built and planted with Inglishe, this
five years ; and to profitt his man with a wardship, looseth her
Majesties inheritance, and would plant the cussen of a rebell in
the place of Inglishe men, the Castell stanetinge in the most
dangerous place of all Munster.

Besids ther is a band of soldiers, which a base phello,
O'Dodall, hath in YohoU, which duth cost the Queen twelve
hundred pound a yeare, and hath not ten good men in it ;
but our porest people muster and serve hyme for threepence a
day, and the rest of his soldiers do nothing but spoyle the
country, and drive away our best tenants.

If the Queen be over rich, it may be mayntayned ; but I will,
att three days' warninge, rayse her a better bande, and arme it
better tenfold, and better men, whensoever shee shall need it.
And, in the mean tyme, it may either be imploycd in the North,
or discharged ; for ther is in Munster, besids, a band of horse,
and another of foot, which is more than needeth. In this, if
yow pleas to move it, yow may save her Majestye so mich in her
coffers. For the rest I will send my man to attend yow, although
I care not ether for life or lands ; but it will be no small
weakninge to the Queen in thos parts, and no small cumfort to
the ill-affected Irishe, to have the Inglishe inhabitants driven out

* Sir William Fitzwilliam.



XVI RALEGH'S CORRESPONDENCE AND POEMS 431

of the country, which are yet stronge enough to master the rest,
without her charge. — Yours, to do yow service,

W. Ralegh.i

Addressed : To my honorable frinde,
Sir R. Cicill, Knt., of Her Majesty's
most honorable Privy Councell.

To Sir Robert Cecil, from the Toiver, fuly 1592
[As printed by Murdin, from the original]

Sir — I pray send me the news of Ireland. I hear that there
are three thousand of the Burgks in arms, and young Odonell
and the sons of Shane Oneale. I wrote in a letter of Mr.
KiLLEGREEw's, ten days past, a prophesye of this rebellion,
which when the Queen read, she made a scorn at my conceat ;
but yow shall find it but a shoure of a farther tempest. If yow
please to sent me word of what yow hear, I will be laught at
again in my opinion touching the same, and be bold to write yow
my farther suspicion. Your cousen, the dotinge Deputy,- hath
dispeopled me, of which I have written to your father already.
It is a sign how my disgraces have past the seas, and have been
highly commended to that wise Governour, who hath used me
accordingly. So I leve to trouble yow at this time, being
become like a fish cast on dry land, gasping for breath, with
lame leggs and lamer loonges. — Yours, for the little while I shall
desire to do yow service, W. Ralegh.^

During the same period of imprisonment the capture
of the Madre de Dies was effected, and Ralegh was taken
down to Dartmouth under the guard of his keeper, Sir
George Carew, to assist the authorities, who apparently
could not do without him, in dividing the spoil. There is
an interesting report of an alleged conversation between
Ralegh and Bacon, just before Ralegh started on the ill-
fated expedition to Guiana by means of which he obtained
his release from the Tower in 16 17, which concisely sums
up his attitude in such affairs, and is typical of the
Elizabethan sea-rovers. As I have said, there was
probably much sympathy in ideas between the two men,
notably in the policy, advocated by Bacon and Ralegh
alike, of the destruction of the sea-power of Spain to

' Edwards, Life, ii. 48. ^ Sir William Fitzwilliam.

3 Edwards, Life, ii. 50.



432 SPENSER AND THE BACON IMPERSONATIONS chap.

make way for the development (not without profit to the
" adventurers ") of a greater Britain in the New World.
Bacon, however, was then Lord Chancellor and was acting
for the king, whose ideas were less expansive.

B. What will you do if, after all this expenditure, you miss
the gold mine ?

R. We will look after the Plate Fleet, to be sure,

B. But then you will be pirates !

R. Ah, who ever heard of men being pirates for millions ? ^

The capture of the great carrack in 1592, though
not effected by Ralegh in person, was probably due to
his organisation and dispositions. " My Lord," writes
Robert Cecil to Burghley, " there never was such spoil ! "
And of Ralegh's reception when he came down to Dart-
mouth in charge of his keeper — describing himself as
" still the Queen of England's poor captive " — Cecil
writes to the Vice-Chamberlain :

I assure you, Sir, his poor servants, to the number of a
hundred and forty goodly men, and all the mariners, came to
him with such shouts and joy, as I never saw a man more
troubled to quiet them in my life.^

The testimony is the more striking from the fact that
Ralegh was not a popular man. Ralegh always deferred
to Cecil, partly, no doubt, owing to his position, but the
deference is also that of the less educated to the more
trained, though not the greater, mind. Ralegh's power,
however, as a man of action seems to have fairly
astonished the great official, for in the same letter Cecil
continues :

But his heart is broken ; for he is very extreme pensive longer
than he is busied, in which he can toil terribly.^

Writing of Ralegh in i 597, Cecil, in a letter to Essex,
says :

For good Mr. Ralegh, who wonders at his own diligence
(because diligence and he are not familiars), it is true, etc.*

' Edwards, Life, i. 591. "^ Ibid. i. 153, 154.

3 Ibid. * Ibid. ii. 170.



XVI RALEGH'S CORRESPONDENCE AND POEMS 433

The two statements seem inconsistent, and Edwards
thought that the latter is ironical (meaning, that is, that
he wrote too much, not too little). This seems to me
very far-fetched. In the letter of 1592 Cecil, who was
a man of the desk, is expressing the surprise at what he
saw at Dartmouth. In such business Ralegh could " toil
terribly." In the letter of 1597 Cecil is replying to a
letter from Essex from Plymouth in which he says :

We wonder we have not a word from you. Sir Walter Ralegh
wrote on Monday and Tuesday^ and I sent Sir Thomas Gates on
Wednesday.

Cecil's reply shows irritation at being stirred up, and he
vents it in sarcasm on Ralegh ; the point, no doubt, being
that Ralegh thought he had done a great deal when he
had written a couple of letters : how would he like to
have to deal with Cecil's daily correspondence ? The
two men, in fact, were great in different spheres, and the
evidence here is that Ralegh was not fond of writing.

I must not go further into the life of this remarkable
man, attractive as the subject is, and I only wish to draw
attention to these points of character in order to illustrate
my proposition that Ralegh was not the kind of man to
labour in the difficult art of poetry. And for that matter
I do not believe that any man ever wrote good poetry
(except perhaps by accident, in an occasional piece dealing
with a simple idea, or prompted by a gust of feeling)
who did not, in his early life, devote himself seriously to
studies with that particular object. Ralegh had no such
opportunities, even if he had the inclination, of which
there is no evidence. He was altogether of the active
type ; and my belief is that he only took up writing after
1603 (and then not poetry) as a relief from the tedium
of his imprisonment.

A few more extracts from Ralegh's correspondence
must be given for purposes of comparison with the poems.
Among them the following letter to the Queen is
important. With regard to it Edwards remarks :

The scription of this letter, like its style, bears the charac-

2 F



434 SPENSER AND THE BACON IMPERSONATIONS chap.

teristic marks and stamp of Ralegh ; but its extreme precision
and neatness of hand — so entirely unusual with the writer at this
period of his life — are such as might excite at least a momentary
misgiving as to its genuineness. . . . On the whole, however,
there seems to be no ground for questioning its authenticity as
an original letter in Sir Walter's autograph.^

Edwards suggests 1602 for the date, but we have no
knowledge of Ralegh being in disfavour at that time, and
I think it is much more probable that it was written in
the period of his deprivation of access, say about 1594,
when the Queen was being strongly urged by Parliament
to name a successor.

To Queen Elizabeth
[From the original.]

I presumed to present your Majestye with a paper, contayninge
the dangers which might groe by the Spanish faction in Skotland.
How it pleased your majesty to accept thereof I know not. I
have since harde that divers ill-disposed have a purpose to speak
of Succession. If the same be suppresst, I am gladd of it ; yet,
fearinge the worst, I sett down sume reasons to prove the motive
meerly vayne, dangerus, and unnecessarye. And because I
durst not mysealf speak in any matter without warrant, I have
sent your Majestye thes arguments, which may perchance put
others in minde of somewhat not impertinent ; and who, beinge
graced by your Majesties favour, may, if need require, use them
amonge others more worthy. Without glory I speake it, that I
durst ether by writinge or speach satisfye the worlde in that
poynct, and in every part of their foolish consaytes, which, for
shortnes of time, I could not so amplely insert. This beinge,
after one hour's warninge, but one houre's work, I humblie
beseich your Majestye not to acquaynt any withall, unles
occasion be offred to use them. Your Majestye may perchance
speake hereof to thos seeminge my great frinds, but 1 find poore
effects of that or any other supposed ametye, for your Majesty
havinge left mee, I am left all alone in the worlde, and am sorry
that ever I was att all. What I have donn is out of zeale and
love, and not by any incoragement ; for I am only forgotten in
all rights, and in all affaires ; and myne enemis have their wills
and desires over mee. Ther ar many other things concerninge
your Majesty's present service, which meethincks are not, as the

^ Edwards, Life, ii. 258.



XVI RALEGFTS CORRESPONDENCE AND POEMS 435

ought, remembred ; and the tymes pass away unmesured, of
which more profitt might be taken. But I feare I have alreddy
presumed to mich, which Love stronger then Reason hath in-
coraged ; for my errors ar eternal, and those of other mortall,
and my labors thanckless, I mean unacceptable, for thancks
belongeth not to vassalls. If your Majestye pardon it, it is more
then to great a rewarde. And so most humblie imbracing and
admiringe the memory of thos celestial bewtyes, which with the
people is denied mee to revevv, I pray God your Majestic may
be eternall in joyes and happines. — Your Majesty's most humble
slave, W. R.1

Addressed : For the Queen's most Excelent Majestye,

This is another of the letters which I think may arise
out of some prompting by Bacon (see the remark on
this subject at p. 427).

Of the "paper" to which this letter refers Edwards
says (i. 296) that there is no certain evidence, but that
there is an anonymous paper among the State Papers at
Hatfield entitled " In Defence of the Queen's not nominat-
ing a Succession." It may be observed that this was, in
effect, the line taken by the writer (anonymous) of the book
published by Doleman (from Amsterdam), with a dedica-
tion to the Earl of Essex, in 1594, and it was probably
desired by those who disliked the prospect of a Scottish
succession, and by those who hoped to gain by fishing in
troubled waters.

To Sir Robert Cecil, \oth May 1593 '
I am my sealf here at Sherburne, in my fortun's folde.^

A somewhat bitter and contemptuous letter, owing to his
reverse of fortune and the weakness of the Government
in Ireland. The phrase quoted is found in the poem
beginning " Like truthless dreams," ^ which was first
published anonymously in the "Phoenix Nest," 1593.
The poem was printed in " Le Prince d'Amour," 1660,
over the initials W. R., with the title " Farewell to the
Court." On that authority, which Hannah thinks in-
sufficient (as evidently it is), the poem has been claimed

> Edwards, Life, ii. 259. - Ibid. ii. 80. ^ See p. 445, tiote.



436 SPENSER AND THE BACON IMPERSONATIONS chap.

for Ralegh. But Hannah regards the occurrence of the
above phrase in the poem as conclusive evidence of
Ralegh's authorship {Courtly Poets, p. 13 and note). I
do not agree with this.

To Sir Robert Cecil, from Sherborne, 13//? Nov. 1595

[Begging for the Queen's support for the colonisation of Guiana.
An example of Ralegh's imperialism and views of the
problem of home defence.]

Wee must not looke to mayntayne warr upon the revenews
of Ingland. If wee be once driven to the defencive, farr well
myght.^ But as God will so it shalbe — who governs the harts
of kings. ^

In a passage written towards the close of his life
Ralegh says :

If the late Queen would have believed her men of war as she
did her scribes, we had, in her time, beaten that great Empire in
pieces and made their kings kings of figs and oranges, as in old
times. But Her Majesty did all by halves, . . .^

To Secretary Sir Robert Cecil, dth July 1597

[From Weymouth. Preparations for the " Island Voyage " —
Richard the Second. From the original.]

I acquaynted the Lord Generall <* with your letter to mee, and
your kynd acceptance of your enterteynemente ; hee was also
wonderfull merry att your consait of Richard the Second. I hope
it shall never alter, and whereof I shall be most gladd of, as the
trew way to all our good, quiett, and advancement, and most of
all for Her sake whose affaires shall thereby fynd better pro-
gression. Sir, I will ever be yours ; it is all I can saye, and I
will performe it with my life, and with my fortune.

W. Ralegh.^

" The Earl of Essex.

A passage of great interest, from the reference (as I
think there can be no doubt) to Shakespeare's play.
Edwards notes that the play was not published till later

' "This reading is doubtful, the last word of the sentence being partly
defaced." (Note by Edwards.)

2 Edwards, Life, ii. iii. ^ Ibid. i. 245. * Ibid. ii. 169.



XVI RALECrrs CORRESPONDENCE AND POEMS 437

in this year, and then anonymously; that early in 1598
a new edition was published bearing Shakespeare's name ;
that neither of these editions contains the " Deposition
Scene," though there is ample reason to believe that the
scene was performed, though not printed, in Queen
Elizabeth's lifetime. It appeared first in print in the
edition of 1608. This was presumably the play (referred
to as " The Play of the Deposition of Richard the Second ")
which was performed by the Globe players at the request
of Sir Gilly Meyrick, one of the principal followers of
the Earl of Essex, the night before the Essex rising in
February 1601. It is recorded that in August of that
year the Queen exclaimed in conversation, " I am Richard
the Second, know you not that ? " adding that " That
tragedy was played forty times in open streets and
houses." Edwards justly observes that in the passage in
which the Duke of Hereford is described as " wooing
poor craftesmen with the craft of smiles," Shakespeare
might well have been painting the portrait from life and
have had the Earl of Essex as his sitter. The reference
in Henry V. (v. Chor.) to

the general of our gracious empress,
. . . from Ireland coming,
Bringing rebellion broached on his sword,

shows clearly that Shakespeare had the analogy in mind.
What exactly Ralegh had in mind in writing the passage
quoted above is a puzzle for which no solution can be
expected. But it appears to indicate that Essex, Cecil
and Ralegh were at that time on good terms, and that the
subject in question was the anxious one of the succession,
the future safety of the country, and their own prospects.
All Ralegh's letters show a belief in Cecil, so the last
words may be taken as sincerely meant.^

An excellent example of Ralegh's familiar style, and
showing the rougher side of his character, is a letter to
his nephew. Sir John Gilbert, but it is too long to quote.

1 See remarks by Edwards on this letter, Life, ii. 164-169.



438 SPENSER AND THE BACON IMPERSONATIONS chap.

To Secretary Lord Cecil, from the Tower, 1604

In my darck and dead winter.^

No expression of this kind appears in Ralegh's letters
before this date. This is possibly one of the reasons
which led Hannah to assign the poem " To Cynthia," in
which similar expressions occur, to this date. But, in my
opinion, it clearly belongs to the period of the breach
with Queen Elizabeth, ten years earlier. Yet the expres-
sion, though true in 1604, was quite inapplicable to the
Ralegh, newly married, of 1593. Similar expressions
occur in the " Epistle dedicatory to the Discovery of
Guiana," 1596. That introductory epistle, however, is
not in Ralegh's style, and, in my opinion (as I shall
explain later), was written for him by Bacon.

The last letter to which I have to direct attention is a
most inscrutable document, and one which has proved a
stumbling-block for biographers, at least for those who
recognise no middle course between the extremes of
eulogy and condemnation. The letter is evidence of the
intensity of the struggle for power at that time, and, read
with Mountjoy's letter to the Queen quoted at p. 420,
seems to furnish evidence that Ralegh, after the manner of
the public men at the Court, had been anxious to bring
down his rival by encouraging him to go to Ireland.
When he had failed there (as he was very likely to do),
there would be an end of his influence with the Oueen in
matters of State, and of his formidable military popularity
in the country. This is rendered the more probable by
the fact that the Queen wanted to send Mountjoy, but gave
way to the importunities of Essex. It is also important
to note that Essex received encouragement at the last
moment from Bacon in undertaking the enterprise, and
it is significant that Bacon seeks to exculpate himself from
what was evidently a matter of odium by a denial of this
in his " Apology " written after the accession of James.^
At this period, for reasons already given, I think it

• Edwards, Life, ii. 301. ^ See Spedding, Life, ii. 127, 129.



XVI RALEGH'S CORRESPONDENCE AND POEMS 439

probable that Bacon and Ralegh were working together,
and I must, in candour, make the suggestion, though
reluctant to do so, that Bacon assisted Ralegh in the
composition of this letter.^ The philosophic detachment
and power of generalisation and illustration of which it
gives evidence are foreign to the manner of Ralegh, as
may be seen from the other letters which I have quoted.
Instances of similar practices, as I regard them, are given
in Chapter VII., and I need not add to what I have
said there on this subject. In the present case, the
issues at stake were, of course, great, perhaps even (on
the death of the Queen) a coup d'etat which might have
placed Essex, or some one else, on the throne ; for there
were men (and Ralegh was one of them) who would have
risked much to keep out the Scottish King," and such
things had happened before. Cecil, however, was equal
to the occasion, and overcame, by some means, the pre-
judices of the King and his resentment at the execution
of " my martyr Essex," Ralegh was shut up for the rest of
his life,^ and Bacon put his services, with a good grace,
however reluctantly, at his cousin's disposal.

The following is the letter in question. Edwards
conjectures 1600 as the date of it, during the detention
of Essex after his unauthorised return from his Irish
command ; but it might have been written, as endorsed,
in 1 60 1 after the Earl's imprisonment, which followed
the rising of February,

To Secretary Sir Robert Cecil

[From the original, Cecil Papers (Hatfield). Holograph, undated.]

Sir — I am not wize enough to geve yow advise ; butt if you
take it for a good councell to relent towards this tirant, yow will
repent it when it shalbe too late. His mallice is fixt, and will
not evaporate by any your mild courses. For he will ascribe the
alteration to her Majesties pusillanimitye and not to your good
nature ; knowing that yow worke but uppon her humor, and not



1 Cf. pp. 427. 435-
* Cf. Donne, Satire vii., last lines, and Aubrey's notes on Ralegh.
3 Except for the expedition of 161 7, which ended in his execution.



440 SPENSER AND THE BACON IMPERSONATIONS chap.

out of any love towards hyme. The less yow make hyme,
the less he shalbe able to harme yow and your's. And if her
Majesties favor faile hyme, hee will agayne decline to a common
parson.

For after-revenges, feare them not ; for your own father was
estemed to be the contriver of Norfolk's ^ ruin, yet his son ^
foUoweth your father's son, and loveth him. Humors of men
succeed not ; ^ butt grow by occasions, and accidents of tyme
and poure. Summersett* made no revendge on the Duke of
Northumberland's heares. Northumberland,^ that now is,
thincks not of Hatton'si issew. Kelloway lives, that murderd
the brother of Horsey ; and Horsey lett hyme go by, all his
lifetime.

1 could name yow a thowsand of thos ; and therefore after-
fears are but profesies — or rather conjectures — from cawses
remote. Looke to the present, and yow do wisely. His soonne
shalbe the youngest Earle of Ingland butt on, and, if his father
be now keipt down, Will Cecill shalbe abell to keip as many
men att his heeles as hee, and more to. Hee may also mache
in a better howse then his ; and so that feare is not worth the
fearinge. Butt if the father continew, he wilbe able to break
the branches, and pull up the tree ; root and all. Lose not your
advantage \ if you do, I rede your destiney. — Your's to the end,

W. R.

[Written across the margin.] Lett the Q, hold Bothwell*'
while she hath hyme. Hee will ever be the canker of her estate

^ Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, beheaded in 1572 in connection with the
affairs of the Queen of Scots.

2 Lord Thomas Howard, afterwards Earl of Suffolk, half-brother of
Philip Arundel (see p. 93 above). ^ i.e. "are not inherited."

* Edward Seymour, son of the Protector Somerset, who was beheaded.
The Act of 5 and 6 Edward VI., passed by the influence of John Dudley, Duke
of Northumberland, deprived him of his titles and lands. Queen Elizabeth, in
the first year of her reign, created him Earl of Hertford. " The terms on
which he lived with the Earls of Leicester and Warwick led Ralegh to take
this case as an illustration of the doctrine that in the rivalry of political strife
hereditary feuds are little to be feared." — Edwards.

^ Henry Percy, ninth Earl, son of the Earl who was imprisoned in the
Tower on a charge of conspiring with the Guises for invading F^ngland and
setting free the Queen of Scots, and who was found dead in his bed, shot
with bullets, in 1585. Suspicion was cast upon a servant of Sir Christopher
Hatton, who had been charged with the custody of the Earl just before his
death. (See " IJlandamour," p. 93 above.)

^ By this name the Earl of Essex is intended, and the suggestion presum-
ably is that he would, if set free from restraint, prove as troublesome to the
Queen as Francis Stuart, Earl of Bothwell, had then recently proved to the
Scottish King.



XVI RALEGH'S CORRESPONDENCE AND POEMS 441

and sauftye. Princes ar lost by securetye ; and preserved by
prevention. I have seen the last of her good dayes,^ and all
ours, after his libertye.^

Addressed : " To the right honorabell Sir Roberte Cecyll,
Knight, Principall Secritory to her Alajestye." Endorsed, in Sir
Robert Cecil's hand, " Sir Walter Ralegh " ; and, in a later
hand, "1601."

Edwards prints a letter undated of 161 8 "alleged (by
T. Mathew or by J. Donne) to have been written by Sir
W. Ralegh to King James." ^ It is thus headed by Tobie
Mathew :

Sir Walter Rauleigh to King James ; which seemes rather to
acknowledge favours, than to desire them.

The letter ends as follows :

I must neverthelesse, in this little time in which I am to live,
acknowledge and admire your goodnesse, and in all my thoughts
and even with my last breath confesse that you have beheld my
affliction with compassion. And I am yet in nothing so miserable,



Online LibraryEdward George HarmanEdmund Spenser and the impersonations of Francis Bacon → online text (page 39 of 55)