Secret History of Sir Walter Rawleigh
RAWLEIGH exercised in perfection incompatible talents, and his character connects the opposite extremes of our nature! His “book of life,” with its incidents of prosperity and adversity, of glory and humiliation, was as chequered as the novelist would desire for a tale of fiction. Yet in this mighty genius there lies an unsuspected disposition, which requires to be demonstrated, before it is possible to conceive its reality. From his earliest days he betrayed the genius of an adventurer, which prevailed in his character to the latest; and it often involved him in the practice of mean artifices and petty deceptions; which appear like folly in the wisdom of a sage; like inaptitude in the profound views of a politician; like cowardice in the magnanimity of a hero; and degrade by their littleness the grandeur of a character which was closed by a splendid death, worthy the life of the wisest and the greatest of mankind!
The sunshine of his days was in the reign of Elizabeth. From a boy, always dreaming of romantic conquests; for he was born in an age of heroism, and formed by nature for the chivalric gallantry of the court of a maiden queen; from the moment he with such infinite art cast his rich mantle over the miry spot, his life was a progress of glory. All about Rawleigh was splendid as the dress he wore: his female sovereign, whose eyes loved to dwell on men who might have been fit subjects for the “Faerie Queen” of Spenser, penurious of reward, only recompensed her favourites by suffering them to make their own fortunes on sea and land; and Elizabeth listened to the glowing projects of her hero, indulging that spirit which could have conquered the world, to have lain the toy at the feet of the sovereign!
This man, this extraordinary being, who was prodigal of his life and fortune on the Spanish main, in the idleness of peace could equally direct his invention to supply the domestic wants of every-day life, in his project of “an office for address.” Nothing was too high for his ambition, nor too humble for his genius. Pre-eminent as a military and a naval commander, as a statesman and a student, Rawleigh was as intent on forming the character of Prince Henry as that prince was studious of moulding his own aspiring qualities by the genius of the friend whom he contemplated. Yet the active life of Rawleigh is not more remarkable than his contemplative one. He may well rank among the founders of our literature; for composing on a subject exciting little interest, his fine genius has sealed his unfinished volume with immortality. For magnificence of eloquence, and massiveness of thought, we must still dwell on his pages.1 Such was the man, who was the adored patron of Spenser; whom Ben Jonson, proud of calling other favourites his “sons,” honoured Rawleigh by the title of his “father;” and who left political instructions which Milton deigned to edit.
But how has it happened, that of so elevated a character, Gibbon has pronounced that it was “ambiguous,” and Hume has described as “a great but ill-regulated mind?”
There was a peculiarity in the character of this eminent man: he practised the cunning of an adventurer; a cunning, most humiliating in the narrative! The great difficulty to overcome in this discovery is, how to account for a sage and a hero acting folly and cowardice, and attempting to obtain by circuitous deception, what it may be supposed so magnanimous a spirit would only deign to possess himself of by direct and open methods.
Since the present article was written, a letter, hitherto unpublished, appears in the recent edition of Shakespeare, which curiously and minutely records one of those artifices of the kind which I am about to narrate at length. When under Elizabeth, Rawleigh was once in confinement, and it appears, that seeing the queen passing by, he was suddenly seized with a strange resolution of combating with the governor and his people; declaring that the mere sight of the queen had made him desperate, as a confined lover would feel at the view of his mistress. The letter gives a minute narrative of Sir Walter’s astonishing conduct, and carefully repeats the warm romantic style he talked of his royal mistress, and his formal resolution to die rather than exist out of her presence. This extravagant scene, with all its colouring, has been most elaborately penned by the ingenious letter-writer, with a hint to the person whom he addresses, to offer it to meet the eye of their royal mistress, who could not fail of admiring our new “Orlando Furioso;” and soon after released this tender prisoner! To me it is evident that the whole scene was got up for the occasion; the invention of Rawleigh himself: the romantic incident he well knew was perfectly adapted to the queen’s taste. Another similar incident, in which I have been anticipated in the disclosure of the fact, though not of its nature, was what Sir Toby Matthews obscurely alludes to in his letters, of “the guilty blow he gave himself in the Tower;” a passage which had long excited my attention, till I discovered the curious incident in some manuscript letters of Lord Cecil. Rawleigh was then confined in the Tower for the Cobham conspiracy; a plot so absurd and obscure, that one historian has called it a “state-riddle,” but for which, so many years after, Rawleigh cruelly lost his life.
Lord Cecil gives an account of the examination of the prisoners involved in this conspiracy. “One afternoon, whilst divers of us were in the Tower examining some of these prisoners, Sir Walter attempted to murder himself; whereof when we were advertised, we came to him, and found him in some agony to be unable to endure his misfortunes, and protesting innocency, with carelessness of life; and in that humour he had wounded himself under the right pap, but no way mortally, being in truth rather a CUT than a STAB, and now very well cured both in body and mind.”2 This feeble attempt at suicide, this “cut rather than stab,” I must place among those scenes in the life of Rawleigh, so mean and incomprehensible with the genius of the man. If it were nothing but one of those
“Fears of the Brave!”
we must now open another of the
“Follies of the Wise!”
Rawleigh returned from the wild and desperate voyage of Guiana, with misery in every shape about him. His son had perished; his devoted Keymis would not survive his reproach; and Rawleigh, without fortune and without hope, in sickness and in sorrow, brooded over the sad thought, that in the hatred of the Spaniard, and in the political pusillanimity of James, he was arriving, only to meet inevitable death. With this presentiment, he had even wished to have given up his ship to the crew, had they consented to have landed him in France; but he was probably irresolute in this decision at sea, as he was afterwards at land, where he wished to escape, and refused to fly: the clearest intellect was darkened, and magnanimity itself became humiliated, floating between the sense of honour and of life.
Rawleigh landed in his native county of Devon: his arrival was the common topic of conversation, and he was the object of censure or of commiseration: but his person was not molested; till the fears of James became more urgent than his pity.
The Cervantic Gondomar, whose “quips and quiddities” had concealed the cares of state, one day rushed into the presence of James, breathlessly calling out for “audience!” and compressing his “ear-piercing” message into the laconic abruptness of “piratas! piratas! piratas!” There was agony as well as politics in this cry of Gondomar, whose brother, the Spanish governor, had been massacred in this predatory expedition. The timid monarch, terrified at this tragical appearance of his facetious friend, saw at once the demands of the whole Spanish cabinet, and vented his palliative in a gentle proclamation. Rawleigh, having settled his affairs in the west, set off for London to appear before the king, in consequence of the proclamation. A few miles from Plymouth, he was met by Sir Lewis Stucley, vice-admiral of Devon, a kinsman and a friend, who, in communication with government, had accepted a sort of surveillance over Sir Walter. It is said (and will be credited, when we hear the story of Stucley) that he had set his heart on the ship, as a probable good purchase; and on the person, against whom, to colour his natural treachery, he professed an old hatred. He first seized on Rawleigh more like the kinsman than the vice-admiral, and proposed travelling together to London, and baiting at the houses of the friends of Rawleigh. The warrant Stucley in the meanwhile had desired, was instantly despatched, and the bearer was one Manoury, a French empiric, who was evidently sent to act the part he did,—a part played at all times, and the last title in French politics, that so often had recourse to this instrument of state, is a Mouton!
Rawleigh still, however, was not placed under any harsh restraint: his confidential associate, Captain King, accompanied him; and it is probable, that if Rawleigh had effectuated his escape, he would have conferred a great favour on the government.
They could not save him at London. It is certain that he might have escaped; for Captain King had hired a vessel, and Rawleigh had stolen out by night, and might have reached it, but irresolutely returned home; another night, the same vessel was ready, but Rawleigh never came! The loss of his honour appeared the greater calamity.
As he advanced in this eventful journey, everything assumed a more formidable aspect. His friends communicated fearful advices; a pursuivant, or king’s messenger, gave a more menacing appearance; and suggestions arose in his own mind, that he was reserved to become a victim of state. When letters of commission from the privy council were brought to Sir Lewis Stucley, Rawleigh was observed to change countenance, exclaiming with an oath, “Is it possible my fortune should return upon me thus again?” He lamented before Captain King, that he had neglected the opportunity of escape; and which, every day he advanced inland, removed him the more from any chance.
Rawleigh at first suspected that Manoury was one of those instruments of state, who are sometimes employed when open measures are not to be pursued, or when the cabinet have not yet determined on the fate of a person implicated in a state crime; in a word, Rawleigh thought that Manoury was a spy over him, and probably over Stucley too. The first impression in these matters is usually the right one; but when Rawleigh found himself caught in the toils, he imagined that such corrupt agents were to be corrupted. The French empiric was sounded, and found very compliant; Rawleigh was desirous by his aid to counterfeit sickness, and for this purpose invented a series of the most humiliating stratagems. He imagined that a constant appearance of sickness might produce delay, and procrastination might, in the chapter of accidents, end in pardon. He procured vomits from the Frenchman, and whenever he chose, produced every appearance of sickness; with dimness of sight, dizziness in his head, he reeled about, and once struck himself with such violence against a pillar in the gallery, that there was no doubt of his malady. Rawleigh’s servant, one morning entering Stucley’s chamber, declared that his master was out of his senses, for that he had just left him in his shirt upon all fours, gnawing the rushes upon the floor. On Stucley’s entrance, Rawleigh was raving, and reeling in strong convulsions. Stucley ordered him to be chafed and fomented, and Rawleigh afterwards laughed at this scene with Manoury, observing that he had made Stucley a perfect physician.
But Rawleigh found it required some more visible and alarming disease than such ridiculous scenes had exhibited. The vomits worked so slowly, that Manoury was fearful to repeat the doses. Rawleigh inquired, whether the empiric knew of any preparation which could make him look ghastly, without injuring his health. The Frenchman offered a harmless ointment to act on the surface of the skin, which would give him the appearance of a leper. “That will do!” said Rawleigh, “for the lords will be afraid to approach me, and besides it will move their pity.” Applying the ointment to his brows, his arms, and his breast, the blisters rose, the skin inflamed, and was covered with purple spots. Stucley concluded that Rawleigh had the plague. Physicians were now to be called in; Rawleigh took the black silk ribbon from his poniard, and Manoury tightened it strongly about his arm, to disorder his pulse; but his pulse beat too strong and regular. He appeared to take no food, while Manoury secretly provided him. To perplex the learned doctors still more, Rawleigh had the urinal coloured by a drug of a strong scent. The physicians pronounced the disease mortal, and that the patient could not be removed into the air without immediate danger. “Awhile after, being in his bedchamber undressed, and no one present but Manoury, Sir Walter held a looking-glass in his hand, to admire his spotted face,3 and observed in merriment to his new confidant, how they should one day laugh, for having thus cozened—the king, council, physicians, Spaniards, and all.” The excuse Rawleigh offered for this course of poor stratagems, so unworthy of his genius, was to obtain time and seclusion for writing his apology, or vindication of his voyage, which has come down to us in his “Remains.” “The prophet David did make himself a fool, and suffered spittle to fall upon his beard, to escape from the hands of his enemies,” said Rawleigh in his last speech. Brutus, too, was another example. But his discernment often prevailed over this mockery of his spirit. The king licensed him to reside at his own house on his arrival in London; on which Manoury observed, that the king showed by this indulgence, that his majesty was favourably inclined towards him; but Rawleigh replied, “They used all these kinds of flatteries to the Duke of Biron, to draw him fairly into prison, and then they cut off his head. I know they have concluded among them, that it is expedient that a man should die, to reassure the traffick which I have broke with Spain.” And Manoury adds, from whose narrative we have all these particulars, that Sir Walter broke out into this rant: “If he could but save himself for this time, he would plot such plots, as should make the king think himself happy to send for him again, and restore him to his estate, and would force the king of Spain to write into England in his favour.”
Rawleigh at length proposed a flight to France with Manoury, who declares that it was then he revealed to Stucley what he had hitherto concealed, that Stucley might double his vigilance. Rawleigh now perceived that he had two rogues to bribe instead of one, and that they were playing into one another’s hands. Proposals are now made to Stucley through Manoury, who is as compliant as his brother-knave. Rawleigh presented Stucley with “a jewel made in the fashion of hail powdered with diamonds, with a ruby in the midst.” But Stucley observing to his kinsman and friend, that be must lose his office of Vice-Admiral, which had cost him six hundred pounds, in case he suffered Rawleigh to escape; Rawleigh solemnly assured him that he should be no loser, and that his lady should give him one thousand pounds when they got into France or Holland. About this time the French quack took his leave: the part he had to act was performed: the juggle was complete: and two wretches had triumphed over the sagacity and magnanimity of a sage and a hero, whom misfortune had levelled to folly; and who, in violating the dignity of his own character, had only equalled himself with vulgar knaves; men who exulted that the circumventer was circumvented; or, as they expressed it, “the great cozener was cozened.” But our story does not here conclude, for the treacheries of Stucley were more intricate. This perfect villain had obtained a warrant of indemnity, to authorise his compliance with any offer to assist Rawleigh in his escape; this wretch was the confidant and the executioner of Rawleigh; he carried about him a licence to betray him, and was making his profit of the victim before he delivered him to the sacrifice. Rawleigh was still plotting his escape: at Salisbury he had despatched his confidential friend Captain King to London, to secure a boat at Tilbury; he had also a secret interview with the French agent. Rawleigh’s servant mentioned to Captain King, that his boatswain had a ketch of his own, and was ready at his service for “thirty pieces of silver;” the boatswain and Rawleigh’s servant acted Judas, and betrayed the plot to Mr. William Herbert, cousin to Stucley, and thus the treachery was kept among themselves as a family concern. The night of flight was now fixed, but he could not part without his friend Stucley, who had promised never to quit him; and who indeed, informed by his cousin Herbert, had suddenly surprised Rawleigh putting on a false beard. The party met at the appointed place; Sir Lewis Stucley with his son, and Rawleigh disguised. Stucley in saluting King, asked whether he had not shown himself an honest man? King hoped he would continue so. They had not rowed twenty strokes, before the watermen observed, that Mr. Herbert had lately taken boat, and made towards the bridge, but had returned down the river after them. Rawleigh instantly expressed his apprehensions, and wished to return home; he consulted King—the watermen took fright—Stucley acted his part well; damning his ill fortune to have a friend whom he would save, so full of doubts and fears, and threatening to pistol the watermen if they did not proceed. Even King was overcome by the earnest conduct of Stucley, and a new spirit was infused into the rowers. As they drew near Greenwich, a wherry crossed them. Rawleigh declared it came to discover them. King tried to allay his fears, and assured him that if once they reached Gravesend, he would hazard his life to get to Tilbury. But in these delays and discussions, the tide was failing; the watermen declared they could not reach Gravesend before morning; Rawleigh would have landed at Purfleet, and the boatswain encouraged him; for there it was thought he could procure horses for Tilbury. Sir Lewis Stucley too was zealous; and declared he was content to carry the cloak-bag on his own shoulders, for half a mile, but King declared that it was useless, they could not at that hour get horses, to go by land.
They rowed a mile beyond Woolwich, approaching two or three ketches, when the boatswain doubted whether any of these were the one he had provided to furnish them. “We are betrayed!” cried Rawleigh, and ordered the watermen to row back: he strictly examined the boatswain: alas! his ingenuity was baffled by a shuffling villain, whose real answer appeared when a wherry hailed the boat; Rawleigh observed that it contained Herbert’s crew. He saw that all was now discovered. He took Stucley aside; his ingenious mind still suggesting projects for himself to return home in safety, or how Stucley might plead that he had only pretended to go with Rawleigh, to seize on his private papers. They whispered together, and Rawleigh took some things from his pocket, and handed them to Stucley; probably more “rubies powdered with diamonds.”—Some effect was instantaneously produced; for the tender heart of his friend Stucley not only repeatedly embraced him with extraordinary warmth of affection, but was voluble in effusions of friendship and fidelity. Stucley persuaded Rawleigh to land at Gravesend, the strange wherry which had dogged them landing at the same time; these were people belonging to Mr. Herbert and Sir William St. John, who, it seems, had formerly shared in the spoils of this unhappy hero. On Greenwich bridge, Stucley advised Captain King that it would be advantageous to Sir Walter, that King should confess that he had joined with Stucley to betray his master; and Rawleigh lent himself to the suggestion of Stucley, of whose treachery he might still be uncertain; but King, a rough and honest seaman, declared that he would not share in the odium. At the moment he refused, Stucley arrested the captain in the king’s name, committing him to the charge of Herbert’s men. They then proceeded to a tavern, but Rawleigh, who now viewed the monster in his true shape, observed, “Sir Lewis, these actions will not turn out to your credit;” and on the following day, when they passed through the Tower-gate, Rawleigh turning to King, observed, “Stucley and my servant Cotterell have betrayed me. You need be in no fear of danger; but as for me, it is I who am the mark that is shot at.” Thus concludes the narrative of Captain King. The fate of Rawleigh soon verified the prediction.
This long narrative of treachery will not, however, be complete, unless we wind it up with the fate of the infamous Stucley. Fiction gives perfection to its narratives by the privilege it enjoys of disposing of its criminals in the most exemplary manner; but the labours of the historian are not always refreshed by this moral pleasure. Retribution is not always discovered in the present stage of human existence, yet history is perhaps equally delightful as fiction, whenever its perfect catastrophes resemble those of romantic invention. The present is a splendid example.
I have discovered the secret history of Sir Lewis Stucley, in several manuscript letters of the times.
Rawleigh, in his admirable address from the scaffold, where he seemed to be rather one of the spectators than the sufferer, declared he forgave Sir Lewis, for he had forgiven all men; but he was bound in charity to caution all men against him, and such as he is! Rawleigh’s last and solemn notice of the treachery of his “kinsman and friend” was irrevocably fatal to this wretch. The hearts of the people were open to the deepest impressions of sympathy, melting into tears at the pathetic address of the magnanimous spirit who had touched them: in one moment Sir Lewis Stucley became an object of execration throughout the nation; he soon obtained a new title as “Sir Judas,” and was shunned by every man. To remove the Cain-like mark, which God and men had fixed on him, he published an apology for his conduct; a performance which, at least, for its ability, might raise him in our consideration; but I have since discovered, in one of the manuscript letter-writers, that it was written by Dr. Sharpe, who had been a chaplain to Henry Prince of Wales. The writer pleads in Stucley’s justification, that he was a state agent; that it was lawful to lie for the discovery of treason; that he had a personal hatred towards Rawleigh, for having abridged his father of his share of some prize-money; and then enters more into Rawleigh’s character, who “being desperate of any fortune here, agreeable to the height of his mind, would have made up his fortune elsewhere, upon any terms against his sovereign and his country. Is it not marvel,” continues the personifier of Stucley, “that he was angry with me at his death for bringing him back? Besides, being a man of so great a wit, it was no small grief, that a man of mean wit as I should be thought to go beyond him. No? Sic ars deluditer arte. Neque enim lex justior ulla est quam necis artifices arte perire sud. (This apt Latinity betrays Dr. Sharpe.) But why did you not execute your commission bravely (openly)?—Why? My commission was to the contrary, to discover his pretensions, and to seize his secret papers,” &c.4
But the doctor, though no unskilful writer, here wrote in vain; for what ingenuity can veil the turpitude of long and practised treachery? To keep up appearances, Sir Judas resorted more than usually to court; where, however, he was perpetually enduring rebuffs, or avoided, as one infected with the plague of treachery. He offered the king, in his own justification, to take the sacrament, that whatever he had laid to Rawleigh’s charge was true, and would produce two unexceptionable witnesses to do the like. “Why, then,” replied his majesty, “the more malicious was Sir Walter to utter these speeches at his death.” Sir Thomas Badger, who stood by, observed, “Let the king take off Stucley’s head, as Stucley has done Sir Walter’s, and let him at his death take the sacrament and his oath upon it, and I’ll believe him; but till Stucley loses his head, I shall credit Sir Walter Rawleigh’s bare affirmative before a thousand of Stucley’s oaths.” When Stucley, on pretence of giving an account of his office, placed himself in the audience chamber of the lord admiral, and his lordship passed him without any notice, Sir Judas attempted to address the earl; but with a bitter look his lordship exclaimed, “Base fellow! darest thou, who art the scorn and contempt of men, offer thyself in my presence? Were it not in my own house I would cudgel thee with my staff for presuming on this sauciness.” This annihilating affront Stucley hastened to convey to the king; his majesty answered him, “What wouldst thou have me do? Wouldst thou have me hang him? Of my soul, if I should hang all that speak ill of thee, all the trees of the country would not suffice, so great is the number!”
One of the frequent crimes of that age, ere the forgery of bank-notes existed, was the clipping of gold; and this was one of the private amusements suitable to the character of our Sir Judas. Treachery and forgery are the same crime in a different form. Stucley received out of the exchequer five hundred pounds as the reward of his espionage and perfidy. It was the price of blood, and was hardly in his hands ere it was turned into the fraudulent coin of “the Cheater!” He was seized on in the palace of Whitehall, for diminishing the gold coin. “The manner of the discovery,” says the manuscript-writer, “was strange, if my occasions would suffer me to relate the particulars.” On his examination, he attempted to shift the crime to his own son, who had flown, and on his man, who being taken, in the words of the letter-writer, was “willing to set the saddle upon the right horse, and accused his master.” Manoury too, the French empiric, was arrested at Plymouth for the same crime, and accused his worthy friend. But such was the interest of Stucley with government, bought probably with his last shilling, and, as one says, with his last shirt, that he obtained his own and his son’s pardon, for a crime that ought to have finally concluded the history of this blessed family.5 A more solemn and tragical catastrophe was reserved for the perfidious Stucley. He was deprived of his place of vice-admiral, and left destitute in the world. Abandoned by all human beings, and most probably by the son whom he had tutored into the arts of villany, he appears to have wandered about an infamous and distracted beggar. It is possible that even so seared a conscience may have retained some remaining touch of sensibility.
———All are men,
Condemned alike to groan;
The tender for another’s pain,
THE UNFEELING FOR HIS OWN.
And Camden has recorded, among his historical notes on James I., that in August, 1620, “Lewis Stucley, who betrayed Sir Walter Rawleigh, died in a manner mad.” Such is the catastrophe of one of the most perfect domestic tales; an historical example not easily paralleled of moral retribution. The secret practices of this “Sir Judas” of the court of James I., which I have discovered, throw light on an old tradition that still exists in the neighbourhood of Aston, the residence of this wretched man, and which has been communicated to me by that elegant literary antiquary, Mr. Merivale. The country people have long had a notion that great treasures are concealed at the bottom of a well in his grounds, consisting of the gold which he received for his bribe; or perhaps the other gold which he clipped, and might have there concealed. This is a striking instance of the many historical facts which, though entirely unknown or forgotten, may be often discovered to lie hid, or disguised, in popular traditions.
1 I shall give in the article “Literary Unions” a curious account how “Rawleigh’s History of the World” was composed, which has hitherto escaped discovery.
2 These letters were written by Lord Cecil to Sir Thomas Parry, our ambassador in France, and were transcribed from the copy-book of Sir Thomas Parry’s correspondence, which is preserved in the Pepysian library at Cambridge.
3 A friend informs me, that he saw recently at a print-dealer’s a painted portrait of Sir Walter Rawleigh, with the face thus spotted. It is extraordinary that any artist should have chosen such a subject for his pencil; but should this be a portrait of the times, it shows that this strange stratagem had excited public attention.
4 Stucley’s humble petition, touching the bringing up Sir W. Rawleigh, 4to. 1618; republished in Somers’ Tracts, vol. iii., 1751.
5 The anecdotes respecting Stucley I have derived from manuscript letters, and they were considered to be of so dangerous a nature, that the writer recommends secrecy, and requests after reading “they may be burnt:” with such injunctions I have generally found that the letters were the more carefully preserved.
§ Five more footnotes are subjoined to this article in later editions of the Curiosities. First, upon its title:
Rawleigh, as was much practised to a much later period, wrote his name various ways. I have discovered at least how it was pronounced in his time—thus, Rawly. This may be additionally confirmed by the Scottish poet Drummond, who spells it (in his conversations with Ben Jonson) Raughley. The translation of Ortelius‘ “Epitome of the Worlde,” 1603, is dedicated to Sir Walter Rawleigh. See vol. ii. p. 261, art. “Orthography of Proper Names.” It was also written Rawly by his contemporaries. He sometimes wrote it Ralegh, the last syllable probably pronounced ly, or lay. Ralegh appears on his official seal.
Second, further to the phrase ‘his formal resolution to die rather than exist out of her presence:’
It is narrated in a letter to Sir Robert Cecil from Mr. (afterwards Sir) Arthur Gorges, and runs as follows:—“Upon a report of her majesty’s being at Sir George Carew’s, Sir W. Ralegh having gazed and sighed a long time at his study window, from whence he might discern the barges and boats about the Blackfriars stairs, suddenly brake out into a great distemper, and sware that his enemies had on purpose brought her majesty thither to break his gall in sunder with Tantalus’s torments, that when she went away he might see death before his eyes; and with many such like coceits. And, as a man transported with passion, he sware to Sir George Carew that he would disguise himself, and get into a pair of oars to ease his mind but with a sight of the queen, or else he protested his heart would break.“ This of course the gaoler refused, and so they fell to fighting, “scrambling and brawling like madmen,” until parted by Gorges. Sir Walter followed up his absurdity by another letter to Cecil, couched in the language of romance, in which he declares that, while the queen “was yet near at hand, that I might hear of her once in two or three days my sorrows were the less, but now my heart is cast into the depth of all misery.”
Third, upon the first sentence of the paragraph beginning ‘Rawleigh returned from the wild and desperate voyage of Guiana:’
He had undertaken the expedition immediately upon his release from the Tower in 1617. The king had never pardoned him, and his release was effected by bribing powerful court favourites, who worked upon the avarice of James I. By leading him to hope for the possession of Guiana, which, though discovered by the Spaniards, had never been conquered by them; and which Rawleigh promised to colonise.
Fourth, with regard to the death of Gondomar’s brother:
This occurred during the attack on the town of St. Thomas; a settlement of the Spaniards near the gold mines. It ended disastrously to Rawleigh: his ships mutinied; and he never recovered his ill-fortune; but sailed to Newfoundland, and thence, after a second mutiny, returned to Plymouth.
And, fifth, as a gloss on the word ‘ketch:’
A small coasting vessel, made round at stem and stern like the Dutch boats. The word is still used in some English counties to denote a tub.