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Raleigh By Edmund Gosse Characters: 48270

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

Raleigh was in the west when the Queen died, and he had no opportunity of making the rush for the north which emptied London of its nobility in the beginning of April. King James had reached Burghley before Raleigh, in company with his old comrade Sir Robert Crosse, met him on his southward journey. It was necessary that he should ask the new monarch for a continuation of his appointments in Devon and Cornwall; his posts at Court he had probably made up his mind to lose. One of the blank forms which the King had sent up to be signed by Cecil, nominally excusing the recipient from coming to meet James, had been sent to Raleigh, and this was of evil omen. The King received him ungraciously, and Raleigh did not make the situation better by explaining the cause of his disobedience. James, it is said, admitted in a blunt pun that he had been prejudiced against the late Queen's favourite; 'on my soul, man,' he said, 'I have heard but rawly of thee.' Raleigh was promised letters of continuance for the Stannaries, but was warned to take no measures with regard to the woods and parks of the Duchy of Cornwall until further orders. After the first rough greeting, James was fairly civil, but on April 25 privately desired Sir Thomas Lake to settle Raleigh's business speedily, and send him off.

In the first week of May, Sir Walter Raleigh was informed by the Council that the King had chosen Sir Thomas Erskine to be Captain of the Guard. It was the most natural thing in the world that James should select an old friend and a Scotchman for this confidential post, and Raleigh, as the Council Book records, 'in a very humble manner did submit himself.' To show that no injury to his fortunes was intended, the King was pleased to remit the tax of 300l. a year which Elizabeth had charged on Raleigh's salary as Governor of Jersey. There does not seem to be any evidence that Raleigh was led into any imprudent action by all these changes. Mr. Gardiner appears to put some faith in a despatch of Beaumont's to Villeroi, on May 2, according to which Raleigh was in such a rage at the loss of one of his offices, that he rushed into the King's presence, and poured out accusations of treason against Cecil. I cannot but disbelieve this story; the evidence all goes to prove that he still regarded Cecil, among the crowd of his enemies, as at least half his friend. On May 13, Cecil was raised to the peerage, as a sign of royal favour.

Lady Raleigh had always regretted the carelessness with which her husband expended money upon Durham House, his town mansion, without ever securing a proper lease of it. Her prognostications of evil were soon fulfilled. James I. was hardly safe on his throne before the Bishop of Durham demanded the restitution of the ancient town palace of his see. On May 31, 1603, a royal warrant announced that Durham House was to be restored to the Bishop-'the said dwellers in it having no right to the same'-and Sir Walter Raleigh was warned to give quiet possession of the house to such as the Bishop might appoint. Raleigh, much incommoded at so sudden notice to quit, begged to be allowed to stay until Michaelmas. The Bishop considered this very unreasonable, and would grant him no later date than June 23. In this dilemma Raleigh appealed to the Lords Commissioners, saying that he had spent 2,000l. on the house, and that 'the poorest artificer in London hath a quarter's warning given him by his landlord.' It is interesting to us, as giving us a notion of Raleigh's customary retinue, that he says he has already laid in provision for his London household of forty persons and nearly twenty horses. 'Now to cast out my hay and oats into the streets at an hour's warning,' for the Bishop wanted to occupy the stables at once, 'and to remove my family and stuff in fourteen days after, is such a severe expulsion as hath not been offered to any man before this day.' What became of his chattels, and what lodging he found for his family, is uncertain; he gained no civility by his appeal. That he was disturbed by the Bishop, and busily engaged in changing houses all through June, is not unimportant in connection with the accusation, at the trial, that he had spent so much of this month plotting with Cobham and Aremberg at Durham House.

It was plain that he was not judicious in his behaviour to James. At all times he had been an advocate of war rather than peace, even when peace was obviously needful. Spain, too, was written upon his heart, as Calais had been on Mary's, and even at this untoward juncture he must needs thrust his enmity on unwilling ears. It is hardly conceivable that he should not know that James was deeply involved with promises to the Catholics; and though the King had said, in the face of his welcome to England, that he should not need them now, he had no intention of exasperating them. As to Spain, the King was simply waiting for overtures from Madrid. Raleigh, who was never a politician, saw nothing of all this, and merely used every opportunity he had of gaining the King's ear to urge his distasteful projects of a war. On the last occasion when, so far as we know, Raleigh had an interview with James, they were both the guests of Raleigh's uncle, Sir Nicholas Carew, at Bedingfield Park. It would seem that he had already placed in the royal hands the manuscript of his Discourse touching War with Spain, and of the Protecting of the Netherlands, and he offered to raise two thousand men at his own expense, and to lead them in person against Spain. James I. must have found this persistence, especially from a man against whom he had formed a prejudice, exceedingly galling. No doubt, too, long familiarity with Queen Elizabeth in the decline of her powers, had given Raleigh a manner in approaching royalty which was not to James's liking.

In July the King's Catholic troubles reached a head. Watson's plot, involving Copley and the young Lord Grey de Wilton, occupied the Privy Council during that month, and it was discovered that George Brooke, a younger brother of Lord Cobham's, was concerned in it. The Brookes, it will be remembered, were the brothers-in-law of Cecil himself, but by this time completely estranged from him. It is more interesting to us to note that Cobham himself was the only intimate friend left to Raleigh. With extraordinary rapidity Raleigh himself was drawn into the net of Watson's misdoings. Copley was arrested on the 6th, and first examined on July 12. He incriminated George Brooke, who was arrested on the 14th. Cobham, who was busy on his duties as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, was brought up for examination on the 15th or 16th; and on the 17th,[9] Sir Walter Raleigh, who, it is said, had given information regarding Cobham, was himself arrested at Windsor.

Raleigh was walking to and fro on the great terrace at Windsor on the morning of July 17, 1603, waiting to ride with the King, when Cecil came to him and requested his presence in the Council Chamber. What happened there is unknown, but it is plain amid the chaos of conflicting testimony that Cecil argued that what George Brooke knew Cobham must know, and that Raleigh was privy to all Cobham's designs. What form the accusation finally took, we shall presently see. When it was over Raleigh wrote a letter to the Council, in which he made certain random statements with regard to offers made to Cobham about June 9 by a certain attendant of Count Aremberg, the ambassador of the Archduke Albert. From the windows of Durham House he had seen, he said, Cobham's boat cross over to the Austrian's lodgings in St. Saviour's. He probably felt himself forced to state this from finding that the Council already knew something of Cobham's relations with Aremberg. Still, in the light of later events, the writing of this letter may seem to us a grave mistake. It was instantly shown, on the very next day, to Cobham, and doctored in such a way as to make the latter suppose that Raleigh had gratuitously betrayed him.

On the day that Raleigh was arrested, July 17, George Brooke said in examination that 'the conspirators among themselves thought Sir Walter Raleigh a fit man to be of the action.' This did not amount to much, but Brooke soon became more copious and protested a fuller tale day by day. Nothing, however, that could touch Raleigh was obtained from any witness until, on the 20th, Lord Cobham, who had been thoroughly frightened by daily cross-examination, was shown the letter, or part of the letter, from Raleigh to Cecil to which reference has just been made. He then broke out with, 'O traitor! O villain! now will I tell you all the truth!' and proceeded at once to say that 'he had never entered into those courses but by Raleigh's instigation, and that he would never let him alone!' This accusation he entirely retracted nine days later, in consequence of some expostulation from Raleigh which had found its way from one prisoner to the other, for Raleigh was by this time safe in the Tower of London.

It is most probable that he was taken thither on July 18, immediately after his arrest. On the 20th, after Cobham's formal accusation, he was evidently more strictly confined, and it must have been immediately after receiving news of this charge that he attempted to commit suicide. He would be told of Cobham's words, in all likelihood, on the morning of the 21st; he would write the letter to his wife after meditating on the results of his position, and then would follow the scene that Cecil describes in a letter dated fifteen days later:

Although lodged and attended as well as in his own house, yet one afternoon, while divers of us were in the Tower, examining these prisoners, Sir Walter Raleigh attempted to have murdered himself. Whereof when we were advertised, we came to him, and found him in some agony, seeming to be unable to endure his misfortunes, and protesting innocency, with carelessness of life. In that way, he had wounded himself under the right pap, but no way mortally.

There is no reason whatever for supposing that this was not a genuine attempt at suicide. We can have no difficulty in entering into the mood of Raleigh's mind. Roused to fresh energy by misfortune, his brain and will had of late once more become active, and he was planning adventures by land and sea. If James did oust him from his posts about the Court in favour of leal Scotchmen, Raleigh would brace himself by some fresh expedition against Cadiz, some new settlement of Virginia or Guiana. In the midst of such schemes, the blow of his unexpected arrest would come upon him out of the blue. He could bear poverty, neglect, hardships, even death itself; but imprisonment, with a disgraceful execution as the only end of it, that he was not at first prepared to endure. He had tasted captivity in the Tower once before; he knew the intolerable tedium and fret of it; and the very prospect maddened him. Nor would his thoughts be only or mainly of himself. He would reflect that if he were once condemned, nothing but financial ruin and social obloquy would attend his wife and children; and this it was which inspired the passionate and pathetic letter which he addressed to Lady Raleigh just before he stabbed himself. This letter seems to close the real life of Raleigh. He was to breathe, indeed, for fifteen years more, but only in a sort of living death. He begins thus distractedly:

Receive from thy unfortunate husband these his last lines: these the last words that ever thou shalt receive from him. That I can live never to see thee and my child more! I cannot! I have desired God and disputed with my reason, but nature and compassion hath the victory. That I can live to think how you are both left a spoil to my enemies, and that my name shall be a dishonour to my child! I cannot! I cannot endure the memory thereof. Unfortunate woman, unfortunate child, comfort yourselves, trust God, and be contented with your poor estate. I would have bettered it, if I had enjoyed a few years.

He goes on to tell his wife that she is still young, and should marry again; and then falls into a tumult of distress over his own accusation. Presently he grows calmer, after a wild denunciation of Cobham, and bids his wife forgive, as he does:

Live humble, for thou hast but a time also. God forgive my Lord Harry [Howard], for he was my heavy enemy. And for my Lord Cecil, I thought he would never forsake me in extremity. I would not have done it him, God knows. But do not thou know it, for he must be master of thy child, and may have compassion of him. Be not dismayed, that I died in despair of God's mercies. Strive not to dispute, but assure thyself that God has not left me, nor Satan tempted me. Hope and despair live not together. I know it is forbidden to destroy ourselves, but I trust it is forbidden in this sort-that we destroy not ourselves despairing of God's mercy.

After an impassioned prayer, he speaks of his estate. His debts, he confesses, are many, and as the latest of them he mentions what he owes to an expedition to Virginia then on the return voyage, the expedition in which Cecil had a share. Then his shame and anger break out again:

What will my poor servants think, at their return, when they hear I am accused to be Spanish who sent them, at my great charge, to plant and discover upon his territory! O intolerable infamy! O God! I cannot resist these thoughts. I cannot live to think how I am divided, to think of the expectation of my enemies, the scorns I shall receive, the cruel words of lawyers, the infamous taunts and despites, to be made a wonder and a spectacle!... I commend unto you my poor brother Adrian Gilbert. The lease of Sandridge is his, and none of mine. Let him have it, for God's cause. He knows what is due to me upon it. And be good to Keymis, for he is a perfect honest man, and hath much wrong for my sake. For the rest I commend me to thee, and thee to God, and the Lord knows my sorrow to part from thee and my poor child. But part I must.... I bless my poor child; and let him know his father was no traitor. Be bold of my innocence, for God-to whom I offer life and soul-knows it.... And the Lord for ever keep thee, and give thee comfort in both worlds.

There are few documents of the period more affecting than this, but he suffered no return of this mood. The pain of his wound and the weakness it produced quieted him at first, and then hope began to take the place of this agony of despair. Meanwhile his treason was taken for granted, and he was stripped of his appointments. He had been forced to resign the Wardenship of the Stannaries to Sir Francis Godolphin, and the wine patent was given to the Earl of Nottingham, who behaved with scant courtesy to his old friend and comrade. Sir John Peyton, after guarding Raleigh for ten days at the Tower, was released from the post of Lieutenant, and was given the Governorship of Jersey, of which Raleigh was deprived. On the next day, August 1, Sir George Harvey took Peyton's place as Lieutenant of the Tower, the last report from the outgoing officer being that 'Sir Walter Raleigh's hurt is doing very well.' It was evidently not at all severe, for on the 4th he was pronounced cured, 'both in body and mind.' On the 3rd, De Beaumont, the French ambassador, had written confidentially to Henry IV. that Raleigh gave out that this attempt at suicide 'was formed in order that his fate might not serve as a triumph to his enemies, whose power to put him to death, despite his innocence, he well knows.'

On August 10 there had still been made no definite accusation linking Raleigh or even Cobham with Watson's plot. All that could be said was that Raleigh and Cobham were intimate with the plotters, and that they had mutually accused each other, vaguely, of entering into certain possibly treasonable negotiations with Austria. On that day De Beaumont was inclined to think that both would be acquitted. It does not seem that James was anxious to push matters to an extremity; but the Government, instigated by Suffolk, insisted on severity. On August 13, Raleigh was again examined in the Tower, and this time more rigorously. A distinct statement was now gained from him, to the effect that Cobham had offered him 10,000 crowns to further a peace between Spain and England; Raleigh had answered, '"When I see the money I will make you an answer," for I thought it one of his ordinary idle conceits.' He insisted, however, that this conversation had nothing to do with Aremberg. All through the month of September the plague was raging in London. In spite of all precautions, it found its way into the outlying posts of the Tower. Sir George Harvey sent away his family, and Wood, who was in special charge of the State prisoners, abandoned them to the Lieutenant. On September 7 we find Harvey sending Raleigh's private letters by a man of the name of Mellersh, who had been Cobham's steward and was now his secretary. Raleigh and Cobham had become convinced that, whatever was their innocence or guilt, it was absolutely necessary that each should have some idea what the other was confessing.

On September 21, Raleigh, Cobham, and George Brooke were indicted at Staines. The indictment shows us for the first time what the Government had determined to accuse Raleigh of plotting. It is plainly put that he is charged with 'exciting rebellion against the King, and raising one Arabella Stuart to the Crown of England.' Without going into vexed questions of the claim of this unhappy woman, we may remind ourselves that Arabella Stuart was James I.'s first cousin, the daughter of Charles Stuart, fifth Earl of Lennox, Darnley's elder brother. Her father had died in 1576, soon after her birth. About 1588 she had come up to London to be presented to Elizabeth, and on that occasion had amused Raleigh with her gay accomplishments. The legal quibble on which her claim was founded was the fact that she was born in England, whereas James as a Scotchman was supposed to be excluded. Arabella was no pretender; her descent from Margaret, the sister of Henry VIII., was complete, and if James had died childless and she had survived him, it is difficult to see how her claim could have been avoided in favour of the Suffolk line. Meantime she had no real claim, and no party in the country. But Elizabeth, in one of her fantastic moods, had presented Arabella to the wife of a French ambassador, as 'she that will sometime be Lady Mistress here, even as I am.' Before the Queen's death Arabella's very name had become hateful to her, but this was the slender ground upon which Cobham's, but scarcely Raleigh's, hopes were based.

The jury was well packed with adverse names. The precept is signed by Raleigh's old and bitter enemy, Lord Howard of Bindon, now Earl of Suffolk. The trial, probably on account of the terror caused by the ravages of the plague, was adjourned for nearly two months, which Raleigh spent in the Tower. Almost the only remnant of all his great wealth which was not by this time forfeited, was his cluster of estates at Sherborne. He attempted to tie these up to his son, and his brother, Adrian Gilbert, and Cecil appears to have been a friend to Lady Raleigh in this matter. It was so generally taken for granted that Raleigh would be condemned, that no mock modesty prevented the King's Scotch favourites from asking for his estates. In October Cecil informed Sir James Elphinstone that he was at least the twelfth person who had already applied for the gift of Sherborne. Fortunately Raleigh, as late as the summer of 1602, had desired the judge, Sir John Doddridge, to draw up a conveyance of Sherborne to his son, and then to his brother, with a rent-charge of 200l. a year for life to Lady Raleigh. For the present Cecil firmly refused to allow anyone to tamper with this conveyance, and Sherborne was the raft upon which the Raleighs sailed through the worst tempest of the trial. Cecil undoubtedly retained a certain tenderness towards his old friend Lady Raleigh, and for her sake, rather than her husband's, he extended a sort of protection to them in their misfortune. She appealed to him in touching language to 'pity the name of your ancient friend on his poor little creature, which may live to honour you, that we may all lift up our hands and hearts in prayer for you and yours. If you truly knew, you would pity your poor unfortunate friend, which relieth wholly on your honourable and wonted favour.' Cecil listened, and almost relented.

At first Cobham was not confined in the Tower, and before he came there Raleigh was advised by some of his friends to try to communicate with him. According to Raleigh's account, he wrote first of all, 'You or I must go to trial. If I first, then your accusation is the only evidence against me.' Cobham's reply was not satisfactory, and Raleigh wrote again, and Cobham then sent what Raleigh thought 'a very good letter.' The person who undertook to carry on this secret correspondence was no other than young Sir John Peyton, whom James had just knighted, the son of the late Lieutenant of the Tower. Sir George Harvey seems to have suspected, without wishing to be disagreeable, for Raleigh had to hint to Cobham that the Lieutenant might be blamed if it were discovered that letters were passing. Cobham shifted from hour to hour, and changed colour like a moral chameleon; Raleigh could not depend on him, nor even influence him. Meanwhile Cobham was transferred to the Tower, and now communication between the prisoners seemed almost impossible. However, the servant who was waiting upon Raleigh, a man named Cotterell, undertook to speak to Cobham, and desired him to leave his window in the Wardrobe Tower ajar on a certain night. Raleigh had prepared a letter, entreating Cobham to clear him at all costs. This letter Cotterell tied round an apple, and at eight o'clock at night threw it dexterously into Cobham's room; half an hour afterwards a second letter, of still more complete retractation, was pushed by Cobham under his door. This Raleigh hid in his pocket and showed to no one.

Thus October passed, and during these ten weeks the popular fury against the accused had arisen to a tumultuous pitch. On November 5, Sir W. Waad was instructed to bring Raleigh out of the Tower, and prepare him for his trial. As has been said, the plague was in London, and the prisoner was therefore taken down to Winchester, to be tried in Wolvesey Castle. So terrible was the popular hatred of Raleigh, that the conveyance of him was attended with difficulty, and had to be constantly delayed. 'It was hob or nob whether he should have been brought alive through such multitudes of unruly people as did exclaim against him;' and to escape Lynch law a whole week had to be given to the transit. 'The fury and tumult of the people was so great' that Waad had to set watches, and hasten his prisoner by a stage at a time, when the mob was not expecting him. The wretched people seemed to forget all about the plague for the moment, so eager were they to tear Raleigh to pieces. When he had reached Winchester, it was thought well to wait five days more, to give the popular fury time to quiet down a little. A Court of King's Bench was fitted up in the castle, an old Episcopal palace, not well suited for that purpose.

On Thursday, November 17, 1603, Raleigh's trial began. In the centre of the upper part of the court, under a canopy of brocade, sat the Lord Chief Justice of England, Popham, and on either side of him, as special commissioners, Cecil, Waad, the Earls of Suffolk and Devonshire, with the judges, Anderson, Gawdy, and Warburton, and other persons of distinction. Opposite Popham sat the Attorney-General, Sir Edward Coke, who conducted the trial. It was actually opened, however, by Hale, the Serjeant, who attempted, as soon as Raleigh had pleaded 'not guilty' to the indictment, to raise an unseemly laugh by saying that Lady Arabella 'hath no more title to the Crown than I have, which, before God, I utterly renounce.' Raleigh was noticed to s

mile at this, and we can imagine that his irony would be roused by such buffoonery on an occasion so serious. There was no more jesting of this kind, but the whole trial has remained a type of what was uncouth and undesirable in the conduct of criminal trials through the beginning of the seventeenth century. The nation so rapidly increased in sensitiveness and in a perception of legal decency, that one of the very judges who conducted Raleigh's trial, Gawdy, lived to look back upon it with horror, and to say, when he himself lay upon his death-bed, that such a mode of procedure 'injured and degraded the justice of England.'

When Hale had ceased his fooling, Coke began in earnest. He was a man a little older than Raleigh, and of a conceited and violent nature, owing not a little of his exaggerated reputation to the dread that he inspired. He was never more rude and brutal than in his treatment of Sir Walter Raleigh upon this famous occasion, and even in a court packed with enemies, in which the proud poet and navigator might glance round without meeting one look more friendly than that in the cold eyes of Cecil, the needless insolence of Coke went too far, and caused a revulsion in Raleigh's favour. Coke began by praising the clemency of the King, who had forbidden the use of torture, and proceeded to charge Sir Walter Raleigh with what he called 'treason of the Main,' to distinguish it from that of George Brooke and his fellows, which was 'of the Bye.' He described this latter, and tried to point out that the former was closely cognate to it. In order to mask the difficulty, nay, the impossibility, of doing this successfully on the evidence which he possessed, he wandered off into a long and wordy disquisition on treasonable plots in general, ending abruptly with that of Edmund de la Pole. Then, for the first time, Coke faced the chief difficulty of the Government, namely, that there was but one witness against Raleigh. He did not allow, as indeed he could not be expected to do, that Cobham had shifted like a Reuben, and was now adhering, for the moment, to an eighth several confession of what he and Raleigh had actually done or meant to do. It was enough for Coke to insist that Cobham's evidence, that is to say, whichever of the eight conflicting statements suited the prosecution best, was as valuable, in a case of this kind, as 'the inquest of twelve men.'

Having thus, as he thought, shut Raleigh's mouth with regard to this one great difficulty, he continued to declaim against 'those traitors,' obstinately persisting in mixing up Raleigh's 'Main' with the 'Bye,' in spite of the distinction which he himself had drawn. Raleigh appealed against this once or twice, and at last showed signs of impatience. Coke then suddenly turned upon him, and cried out, 'To whom, Sir Walter, did you bear malice? To the royal children?' In the altercation that followed, Coke lost his temper in earnest, and allowed himself to call Raleigh 'a monster with an English face, but a Spanish heart.' He then proceeded to state what the accusation of Sir Walter really amounted to, and in the midst of the inexplicable chaos of this whole affair it may be well to stand for a moment on this scrap of solid ground. Coke's words were:

You would have stirred England and Scotland both. You incited the Lord Cobham, as soon as Count Aremberg came into England, to go to him. The night he went, you supped with the Lord Cobham, and he brought you after supper to Durham House; and then the same night by a back-way went with La Renzi to Count Aremberg, and got from him a promise for the money. After this it was arranged that the Lord Cobham should go to Spain and return by Jersey, where you were to meet him about the distribution of the money; because Cobham had not so much policy or wickedness as you. Your intent was to set up the Lady Arabella as a titular Queen, and to depose our present rightful King, the lineal descendant of Edward IV. You pretend that this money was to forward the Peace with Spain. Your jargon was 'peace,' which meant Spanish invasion and Scottish subversion.

This was plain language, at least; this was the case for the prosecution, stripped of all pedantic juggling; and Raleigh now drew himself together to confute these charges as best he might. 'Let me answer,' he said; 'it concerns my life;' and from this point onwards, as Mr. Edwards remarks, the trial becomes a long and impassioned dialogue. Coke refused to let Raleigh speak, and in this was supported by Popham, a very old man, who owed his position in that court more to his age than his talents, and who was solicitous to be on friendly terms with the Attorney. Coke then proceeded to argue that Raleigh's relations with Cobham had been notoriously so intimate that there was nothing surprising or improbable in the accusation that he shared his guilt. He then nimbly went on to expatiate with regard to the circumstances of Cobham's treason, and was deft enough to bring these forward in such a way as to leave on the mind of his hearers the impression that these were things proved against Raleigh. To this practice, which deserved the very phrases which Coke used against the prisoner's dealings, 'devilish and machiavelian policy,' Raleigh protested again and again that he ought not to be subjected, until Coke lost his temper once more, and cried, 'I thou thee, thou traitor, and I will prove thee the rankest traitor in all England.' A sort of hubbub now ensued, and the Lord Chief Justice again interfered to silence Raleigh, with a poor show of impartiality.

Coke, however, had well nigh exhausted the slender stock of evidence with which he had started. For a few minutes longer he tried by sheer bluster to conceal the poverty of the case, and last of all he handed one of Cobham's confessions to the Clerk of the Crown to be read in court. It entered into no particulars, which Cobham said their lordships must not expect from him, for he was so confounded that he had lost his memory, but it vaguely asserted that he would never have entered into 'these courses' but for Raleigh's instigation. The reading being over, Coke at last sat down. Raleigh began to address the jury, very quietly at first. He pointed out that this solitary accusation, by the most wavering of mortals, uttered in a moment of anger, was absolutely all the evidence that could be brought against him. He admitted that he suspected Cobham of secret communications with Count Aremberg, but he declared that he knew no details, and that whatever he discovered, Cecil also was privy to. He had hitherto spoken softly; he now suddenly raised his voice, and electrified the court by turning upon Sir Edward Coke, and pouring forth the eloquent and indignant protest which must now be given in his own words.

Master Attorney, whether to favour or to disable my Lord Cobham you speak as you will of him, yet he is not such a babe as you make him. He hath dispositions of such violence, which his best friends could never temper. But it is very strange that I, at this time, should be thought to plot with the Lord Cobham, knowing him a man that hath neither love nor following; and, myself, at this time having resigned a place of my best command in an office I had in Cornwall. I was not so bare of sense but I saw that, if ever this State was strong, it was now that we have the Kingdom of Scotland united, whence we were wont to fear all our troubles-Ireland quieted, where our forces were wont to be divided-Denmark assured, whom before we were always wont to have in jealousy-the Low Countries our nearest neighbour. And, instead of a Lady whom time had surprised, we had now an active King, who would be present at his own businesses. For me, at this time, to make myself a Robin Hood, a Wat Tyler [in the inadvertence of the moment he seems to have said 'a Tom Tailor,' by mistake], a Kett, or a Jack Cade! I was not so mad! I knew the state of Spain well, his weakness, his poorness, his humbleness at this time. I knew that six times we had repulsed his forces-thrice in Ireland, thrice at sea, once upon our coast and twice upon his own. Thrice had I served against him myself at sea-wherein, for my country's sake, I had expended of my own property forty thousand marks. I knew that where beforetime he was wont to have forty great sails, at the least, in his ports, now he hath not past six or seven. And for sending to his Indies, he was driven to have strange vessels, a thing contrary to the institutions of his ancestors, who straitly forbade that, even in case of necessity, they should make their necessity known to strangers. I knew that of twenty-five millions which he had from the Indies, he had scarce any left. Nay, I knew his poorness to be such at this time that the Jesuits, his imps, begged at his church doors; his pride so abated that, notwithstanding his former high terms, he was become glad to congratulate his Majesty, and to send creeping unto him for peace.

In these fiery words the audience was reminded of the consistent hatred which Raleigh had always shown to Spain, and of the services which he himself, now a prisoner at the bar, had performed for the liberties of England. The sympathies of the spectators began to be moved; those who had execrated Raleigh most felt that they had been deceived, and that so noble an Englishman, however indiscreet he might have been, could not by any possibility have intrigued with the worst enemies of England.

But the prisoner had more to do than to rouse the irresponsible part of his audience by his patriotic eloquence. The countenances of his judges remained as cold to him as ever, and he turned to the serious business of his defence. His quick intelligence saw that the telling point in Coke's diatribe had been the emphasis he had laid on Raleigh's intimate friendship with Cobham. He began to try and explain away this intimacy, stating what we now know was not exactly true, namely that his 'privateness' with Cobham only concerned business, in which the latter sought to make use of his experience. He dwelt on Cobham's wealth, and argued that so rich a man would not venture to conspire. All this part of the defence seems to me injudicious. Raleigh was on safer ground in making another sudden appeal to the sentiment of the court: 'As for my knowing that he had conspired all these things against Spain, for Arabella, and against the King, I protest before Almighty God I am as clear as whosoever here is freest.'

After a futile discussion as to the value of Cobham's evidence, the foreman of the jury asked a plain question: 'I desire to understand the time of Sir Walter Raleigh's first letter, and of the Lord Cobham's accusation.' Upon this Cecil spoke for the first time, spinning out a long and completely unintelligible sentence which was to serve the foreman as an answer. Before the jury could recover from their bewilderment, this extraordinary trial, which proceeded like an Adventure in Wonderland, was begun once more by Coke, who started afresh with voluble denunciation of the defendant, for whom, he said, it would have been better 'to have stayed in Guiana than to be so well acquainted with the state of Spain.' Coke was still pouring out a torrent of mere abuse, when Raleigh suddenly interrupted him, and addressing the judges, claimed that Cobham should then and there be brought face to face with him. Since he had been in the Tower he had been studying the law, and he brought forward statutes of Edwards III. and IV. to support his contention that he could not be convicted on Cobham's bare accusation. The long speech he made at this point was a masterpiece of persuasive eloquence, and it is worth noting that Dudley Carleton, who was in court, wrote to a friend that though when the trial began he would have gone a hundred miles to see Raleigh hanged, when it had reached this stage he would have gone a thousand to save his life.

The judges, however, and Popham in particular, were not so moved, and Raleigh's objection to the evidence of Cobham was overruled. Coke was so far influenced by it that he now attempted to show that there was other proof against the prisoner, and tried, very awkwardly, to make the confessions of Watson and George Brooke in the 'Bye' tell against Raleigh in the 'Main.' Raleigh's unlucky statement, made at Windsor, to the effect that Cobham had offered him 10,000 crowns, and an examination in which Raleigh's friend Captain Keymis admitted a private interview between Cobham and Raleigh during Count Aremberg's stay in London, were then read. In the discussion on these documents the court and the prisoner fell to actual wrangling; in the buzz of voices it was hard to tell what was said, until a certain impression was at last made by Coke, who screamed out that Raleigh 'had a Spanish heart and was a spider of hell.' This produced a lull, and thereupon followed an irrelevant dispute as to whether or no Raleigh had once had in his possession a book containing treasonable allusions to the claims of the King of Scotland. Raleigh admitted the possession of this volume, and said that Cecil gave him leave to take it out of Lord Burghley's library. He added that no book was published towards the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign that did not pass through his hands. It would be interesting to know whether he meant that he exercised a private censorship of the press, or that he bought everything that appeared. At all events, the point was allowed to drop.

Raleigh now gave his attention to the evidence which Keymis had given under threat of the rack. That this torture had been threatened, in express disobedience to the King's order, staggered some of the commissioners, and covered Sir William Waad with confusion. The eliciting of this fact seems to have brought over to Raleigh's side the most valuable and unexpected help, for, in the discussion that ensued, Cecil suddenly pleaded that Raleigh should be allowed fair play. The Attorney then brought forward the case of Arabella Stuart, and a fresh sensation was presented to the audience, who, after listening to Cecil, were suddenly thrilled to hear a voice at the back of the court shout, 'The Lady doth here protest, upon her salvation, that she never dealt in any of these things.' It was the voice of the Earl of Nottingham, who had entered unperceived, and who was standing there with Arabella Stuart on his arm. Their apparition was no surprise to the judges; it had been carefully prearranged.

The trial dragged on with irrelevant production of evidence by Coke, occasional bullying by the Lord Chief Justice, and repeated appeals for fairness from Cecil, who cautiously said that 'but for his fault,' he was still Raleigh's friend. Posterity has laughed at one piece of the Attorney's evidence:

There is one Dyer, a pilot, that being in Lisbon met with a Portugal gentleman, which asked him if the King of England was crowned yet. To whom he answered, 'I think not yet, but he shall be shortly.' 'Nay,' said the Portugal, 'that shall he never be, for his throat will be cut by Don Raleigh and Don Cobham before he be crowned.'

A prosecution that calls for evidence such as this has simply broken down. The whole report of the trial is so puerile, that it can only be understood by bearing in mind that, as Mr. Gardiner says, the Government were in possession of a good deal of evidence which they could not produce in court. The King wished to spare Arabella, and to accept Aremberg's protestations with the courtesy due to an ambassador. It was therefore impossible to bring forward a letter which Cecil possessed from Cobham to Arabella, and two from Aremberg to Cobham. The difficulty was not to prove Cobham's guilt, however, but to connect Raleigh closely enough with Cobham, and this Coke went on labouring to do. At last he laid a trap for Raleigh. He induced him to argue on the subject, and then Coke triumphantly drew from his pocket a long letter Cobham had written to the commissioners the day before, a letter in which Cobham disclosed all the secret correspondence Raleigh had had with him since his imprisonment, and even the picturesque story of the letter that was bound round the apple and thrown into Cobham's window in the Tower.

At the production of this document, Sir Walter Raleigh fairly lost his self-possession. He had no idea that any of these facts were in the hands of the Government. His bewilderment and dejection soon, however, left him sufficiently for him to recollect the other letter of Cobham's which he possessed. He drew it from his pocket, and, Cobham's writing being very bad, he could not, from his agitation, read it; Coke desired that it should not be produced, but Cecil interposed once more, and volunteered to read it aloud. This letter was Raleigh's last effort. He said, when Cecil had finished, 'Now, my masters, you have heard both. That showed against me is but a voluntary confession. This is under oath, and the deepest protestations a Christian man can make. Therefore believe which of these hath more force.' The jury then retired; and in a quarter of an hour returned with the verdict 'Guilty.' Raleigh had, in fact, confessed that Cobham had mentioned the plot to him, though nothing would induce him to admit that he had asked Cobham for a sum of money, or consented to take any active part. Still this was enough; and in the face of his unfortunate prevarication about the interview with Renzi, the jury could hardly act otherwise. For a summing up of both sides of the vexed question what shadow of truth there was in the general accusation, the reader may be recommended to Mr. Gardiner's brilliant pages.

Raleigh had defended himself with great courage and intelligence, and the crowd in court were by no means in sympathy with the brutal and violent address in which Popham gave judgment. On the very day on which Raleigh was condemned, there began that reaction in his favour which has been proceeding ever since. When the Lord Chief Justice called the noble prisoner a traitor and an atheist, the bystanders, who after all were Englishmen, though they had met prepared to tear Raleigh limb from limb, could bear it no longer, and they hissed the judge, as a little before they had hooted Coke. To complete the strangeness of this strange trial, when sentence had been passed, Raleigh advanced quickly up the court, unprevented, and spoke to Cecil and one or two other commissioners, asking, as a favour, that the King would permit Cobham to die first. Before he was secured by the officers, he had found time for this last protest: 'Cobham is a false and cowardly accuser. He can face neither me nor death without acknowledging his falsehood.' He was then led away to gaol.

For a month Raleigh was retained at Winchester. He found a friend, almost the only one who dared to speak for him, in Lady Pembroke, the saintly sister of Sir Philip Sidney, who showed veteris vestigia flamm?, the embers of the old love Raleigh had met with from her brother's family, and sent her son, Lord Pembroke, to the King. She did little good, and Raleigh did still less by a letter he now wrote to James, the first personal appeal he had made to his Majesty. It was a humble entreaty for life, begging the King to listen to the charitable advice which the English law, 'knowing her own cruelty, doth give to her superior,' to be pitiful more than just. This letter has been thought obsequious and unmanly; but it abates no jot of the author's asseverations that he was innocent of all offence, and, surely, in the very face of death a man may be excused for writing humbly to a despot. Lady Raleigh, meanwhile, was clinging about the knees of Cecil, whose demeanour during the trial had given her fresh hopes. But neither the King nor Cecil gave any sign, and in the gathering reaction in favour of Raleigh remained apparently firm for punishment. The whole body of the accused were by this time convicted, Watson and all his companions on the 16th, Raleigh on the 17th, Cobham and Gray on the 18th. On the 29th Watson and Clarke, the other priest, were executed. Next day, the Spanish ambassador pleaded for Raleigh's life, but was repulsed. The King desired the clergy who attended the surviving prisoners to prepare them rigorously for death, and the Bishop of Winchester gave Raleigh no hope. On December 6, George Brooke was executed. And now James seems to have thought that enough blood had been spilt. He would find out the truth by collecting dying confessions from culprits who, after all, should not die.

The next week was occupied with the performance of the curious burlesque which James had invented. The day after George Brooke was beheaded, the King drew up a warrant to the Sheriff of Hampshire for stay of all the other executions. With this document in his bosom, he signed death-warrants for Markham, Gray, and Cobham to be beheaded on the 10th, and Raleigh on the 13th. The King told nobody of his intention, except a Scotch boy, John Gibb, who was his page at the moment. On December 10, at ten o'clock in the morning, Sir Walter Raleigh was desired to come to the window of his cell in Wolvesey Castle. The night before, he had written an affecting letter of farewell to his wife, and-such, at least, is my personal conviction from the internal evidence-the most extraordinary and most brilliant of his poems, The Pilgrimage. By this time he was sorry that he had bemeaned himself in his first paroxysm of despair, and he entreated Lady Raleigh to try to get back the letters in which he sued for his life, 'for,' he said, 'I disdain myself for begging it.' He went on:

Know it, dear wife, that your son is the child of a true man, and who, in his own respect, despiseth Death, and all his misshapen and ugly forms. I cannot write much. God knows how hardly I stole this time, when all sleep; and it is time to separate my thoughts from the world. Beg my dead body, which living was denied you; and either lay it at Sherborne, if the land continue [yours], or in Exeter Church, by my father and mother. I can write no more. Time and Death call me away.

From his window overlooking the Castle Green, Raleigh saw Markham, a very monument of melancholy, led through the steady rain to the scaffold. He saw the Sheriff presently called away, but could not see the Scotch lad who called him, who was Gibb riding in with the reprieve. He could see Markham standing before the block, he could see the Sheriff return, speak in a low voice to Markham, and lead him away into Arthur's Hall and lock him up there. He could then see Grey led out, he could see his face light up with a gleam of hope, as he stealthily stirred the wet straw with his foot and perceived there was no blood there. He could see, though he could not hear, Grey's lips move in the prayer in which he made his protestation of innocence, and as he stood ready at the block, he could see the Sheriff speak to him also, and lead him away, and lock him up with Markham in Arthur's Hall. Then Raleigh, wondering more and more, so violently curious that the crowd below noticed his eager expression, could see Cobham brought out, weeping and muttering, in a lamentable disorder; he could see him praying, and when the prayer was over, he could see the Sheriff leave him to stand alone, trembling, on the scaffold, while he went to fetch Grey and Markham from their prison. Then he could see the trio, with an odd expression of hope in their faces, stand side by side a moment, to be harangued by the Sheriff, and then suddenly on his bewildered ears rang out the plaudits of the assembled crowd, all Winchester clapping its hands because the King had mercifully saved the lives of the prisoners. And still the steady rain kept falling as the Castle Green grew empty, and Raleigh at his window was left alone with his bewilderment. He was very soon told that he also was spared, and on December 16, 1603, he was taken back to the Tower of London. Such was James's curious but not altogether inhuman sketch for a burlesque.

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