Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 11, 1601. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1906.
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The year 1601—as we now account it—had not proceeded far upon its course when the citizens of London were startled by a sensational occurrence. On the second Sunday of February, the 8th day of the month, some time about noon, when the sermon was just over at Paul's Cross, there was heard in the immediate neighbourhood a noise of tumult, cries of “Murder! Murder!” “God save the Queen!” “My Lord of Essex should be murdered in his bed by Sir Walter Ralegh and his confederates!” “Saw! saw! saw! tray! tray!” and other confused shoutings. The city was for a time in a state of great commotion. But not for long. Resolute action soon subdued the tumult. Before nightfall calm was restored, and the authors of the disorder were all “dispersed, apprehended and committed.”
This, the Earl of Essex's mad outbreak, was in truth a miserable failure : ill conceived, ill executed, easily suppressed : serious in its character chiefly by reason of the consequences which it entailed upon the authors and abettors. But it occurred at a time when there was no playing at treason, and when men were held to intend the consequences of their acts and to suffer accordingly.
The papers in this volume relative to this event are numerous, and from them may be gathered many details of the history of that “dismal day,” for so it appeared to the actors in retrospect (pp. 99, 100). Among the rest, Sir John Leveson's story of the manner in which he, coming by accident upon the scene, kept Ludgate against Lord Essex and his company, is exceedingly interesting (p. 59).
The excitement over, there were early found those who hastened to explain that their part in the proceedings was wholly the result of casual misfortune. Of this number was the Earl of Bedford, who represents (p. 51) that on that Sunday morning he was suddenly summoned to Essex House by Lady Rich—carried off, unknown to his family, from their very midst when they were assembled in a room of his house for the duty of the day, “prayer being ended and a sermon begun”—and who, as soon as he understood what was afoot, “presently desired to convey himself away.” In similar case was Francis Manners, who going to find his brother at Essex House “was carried with the sway into London” (p. 35); Lord Cromwell also, “who most pitifully moveth his misery and protesteth ignorance of the attempt” (p. 37); Sir Francis Knollys (p. 100); and others of humbler station (pp. 38, 99). But the majority could not so excuse themselves, and, however great the wonder may seem that responsible men could be moved by the “fables and foolish lies”—as they were soon seen to be—to risk everything, liberty, fortune and even life, at the call and for the benefit of a leader like the Earl of Essex, many such there undoubtedly were. They were led, some by overweening affection like Sir Ferdinando Gorges (p. 283), and some by the “blindness of ignorance,” like Lord Monteagle (p. 122), and some were carried away by the thought that the great Earl was undoubtedly a “religious, honest, gent.” and that there must be something of reality behind the cry of “so many earls, barons, knights and gent.” (p. 30).
By whatever considerations influenced, however, as their action led swiftly to their undoing, so repentance followed with equal swiftness. There was scarcely any interval between the noisy shouting of rebellion, and, in most cases, almost abject appeals for mercy. The “mild and penitent spirit” remarked in one of the conspirators (p. 127) was not confined to him alone. The few, indeed, who could not escape the extreme penalty faced death with dignity, but those who were spared made many appeals and brought many influences to bear, including the “doleful cry of wife and children” (pp. 33, 237, 313). Nevertheless, the punishment was severe, and we seem to hear the sighs of the prisoner who begs that “his bolts might be taken off” (p. 101), and of him who, after months in the Gatehouse, moans that his “misery is very great,” while the monetary fines imposed upon those whose lives were granted to them crippled them and their families for many a long day.
“discharged his duty exceedingly well, and delivered to the people the whole matter of the arch traitor, according to the instructions . . . . The auditory was great (though the Lord Mayor and his brethren were absent), and the applause for her Majesty's deliverance from the mischiefs intended exceeding great, loud and joyous. The traitor is now laid out well in colours to every man's satisfaction that heard the sermon, as I suppose or could judge by men's countenances. The preacher (named Mr. Hayward, a man very gracious in the City); his text was II. Sam. 21, 17, in thesew ords : 'Then David's men sware unto him, saying, thou shalt go no more out with us to battle lest thou quench the light of Israel,' and he handled it exceedingly well, being a most fit text for the present occasion.”
“Sir Christopher Blunt, when he came last to London, brought with him the Countess of Leicester his wife's best jewels, and amongst them a clock or watch set with diamonds worth above 400l. I know not where any of them are; but do suppose that if some person of credit with the Countess (such a man as you might trust) were sent unto him as from her, to understand what he had done with them, they might so be got.”
This action, it may be, was intended for the benefit of the Countess herself; but there is no doubt whatever about the motive of the Earl of Lincoln, who had his eye on two stones brought from Cadiz by Sir Gelly Meyrick, “too fair to make pillars for a traitor's tomb” (pp. 38, 41); or Edward Standen, who desired for a reasonable consideration a term of years in Drury House, which he opined might be in Sir R. Cecil's “honourable disposition” by Sir Charles Danvers' fall; or Herbert Croft, who fancied a gelding belonging to Sir Gelly Meryick; or John Dorrington, who would fain have had “some one of those places returned to Her Majesty's disposing by the fall of those traitorous rebels” (p. 74); or John Lyly, the Euphuist, who characteristically expresses his desires thus :—
“I would be an humble suitor to her Majesty to have something out of the lands, leases, goods or fines, that shall fall unto her Highness by the true fall of these false, desperate and disloyal traitors. I am not so impudent as to entreat your Honour a motioner, but a favourer, if haply it be moved, that after thirteen years' service and suit for the revels, I may turn all my forces and friends to feed on the rebels.”
The Earl of Essex.
As regards the chief figure in these stormy scenes, the Earl of Essex himself, there is no great body of information and nothing of a novel character. There are previous parts of this calendar where his name occurs on page after page, disputing in this respect the pre-eminence with Sir Robert Cecil. But that is now entirely changed. In the present volume one letter only is addressed to him. It has nothing to do with plots and alarms. In it the Rev. William Barlow discourses of the variation of the compasses and the use of the celestial and terrestrial globes, and foretells a “pleasing contentment of mind” to be derived from their study under the efficient guidance of Edward Wright, the Mathematician and Hydrographer (p. 4).
But passing to papers in which reference is made to the Earl of Essex, we have Sir Gelly Merrick writing towards the end of January that he has no news “conformable to his desire” (p. 19) to give Sir Arthur Chichester in Ireland—“only this, his lordship is in health, and we expect better news, which God send.” Better news! it is but the short space of a fortnight between that Monday and another when Essex was found lodged in the Tower under the charge of Sir John Peyton, and arrangements were being made for his passable comfort in his gloomy chamber there (p. 39). Another period of time of similar length and we find his friend Lord Thomas Howard seeking Sir Robert Cecil's direction whether he shall yield to the condemned Earl's importunity that he would receive the Sacrament in conjunction with himself and his gaoler, “avowing his reason to be only to satisfy the world by leaving behind him with us what he hath done and said is all true” (p. 81); and then on the last Wednesday in February, “about 8 of the clock in the morning,” was to be witnessed the final pathetic scene in the courtyard of the Tower. After speech to the people, acknowledgment of his error, confession of his faith, and audible prayer—discarding his gown of wrought velvet, the little ruff about his neck, and his satin doublet, thus appearing in a scarlet waistcoat—he laid himself down flat along the board, his arms stretched out, his head set to the block, then uttered these last words—“Lord Jesus, receive my soul!” Whereupon the axe fell, “the first blow deadly, and absolutely depriving sense and motion” (p. 83).
Thus the chief actor passed away, but the weak and suffering widow and three helpless children remained, for whose maintenance and education their hapless mother learned “when she had recovered a little under the weight of God's finger and was pressed to look a little into their weak estate,” that there was not 40l a year left. “Good Mr. Secretary,” she adds in a postscript (p. 157),
“bear with me that I write not all in mine own hand. I began it, but my weak sinews would not suffer me to proceed to the third line, but enforced me to use another's help in writing what my distempered brain did confusedly digest.”
In the month of June, Lady Essex was at her mother's house at Barn Elms, from whence she wrote to Cecil a “worthless tribute of verbal thanks,” delayed in its despatch by reason of that ailment probably common to all the centuries—a “violent headache.”
“To return only paper and ink for such essential benefits, I confess holds no proportion : yet when I look into mine own fortune, I find little therein of better value : and when I call to my remembrance how oft you have been pleased to accept of such shadows instead of better substance, I resemble the desperate aged debtor that being once engaged beyond ability of satisfaction, seeks to run further into his creditor's books, in hope that either a short life will cancel a long debt, or that his honest creditor, knowing him to be void of all power of repayment, will never rest till he have put him into some course that in likelihood may repair the ruins of his long despaired estate.”
It was Cecil's action with regard to the evil deeds of one John Daniell, the husband of the Countess's gentlewoman who had stolen a casket of her letters, that elicited this letter of thanks, which is one of many testimonies to his kindness of heart.
The Earl of Southampton.; Lady Southampton.
No more interesting figure perhaps appears among the partisans of the Earl of Essex than Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. There would seem to be little doubt that a letter undated, addressed to his wife (p. 35), was written just when the certainty that the foolish plot had utterly miscarried had been made abundantly clear to his mind. He writes tenderly, in a philosophic spirit, recommending to her an attitude of patience under “God's will” and the strokes of “Destiny,” as though the “misfortune” which had befallen himself and his friends were divorced from any action of their own. No such spirit of stoicism, however, could his young wife, Elizabeth Vernon, long display. She writes to Sir Robert Cecil (p. 70) :—
“Longer I could not, and live, suffer the sorrow . . . in not showing some effects of my infinite love unto him; therefore have I adventured hither, having no other meaning but prayers to God and humble petitions to His Holy anointed, prostrate at her feet if it might be, to beg some favour and . . . move you to pity me the most miserable woman of the world by my Lord's miserable state.”
And again, to Sir Robert Cecil, she appeals (p. 71) in her “most amazed distress” at the woful news of her Lord's condemnation—as the “only likely means to yield her comfort”—to help her to gain access
“unto her sacred Majesty, that I may by her divine self be permitted to come to prostrate myself at her feet, to beg for mercy for my Lord.”
“God of heaven knows I can scarce hold my hand steady to write, and less hold steady in my heart how to write, only for what I know, which is to pray mercy to my miserable son. Good Mr. Secretary, let the bitter passion of a perplexed mother move you to plead for her only son. . . . . I have examined, and do believe will be found true, he had not xls. about him, nor in his store, yet, upon sale of land lately before, he might have received a far greater sum, which he refused, and willed it should be paid to his creditors, a thing I think no man would have done that had such a business in hand and at hand. O good Mr. Secretary! as God hath placed you near a prince, so help to move her Majesty to do like a God whose mercy is infinite. . . . Nothing is fitter than her safety, nor any virtue can better become her place and power than mercy.”
His imprisonment in the Tower, intended to be for life, did not continue so long, but did outlast the life of the Queen. It began early to be grievous. His “keeper” found it to be irksome when not many months had passed, chiefly because—“out of sight out of mind”—his time and service so spent with Lord Southampton in the Tower, “little better than a prisoner,” might avail nothing for his own preferment (p. 205). When the month of August was reached the prisoner himself had begun to feel the effects of his confinement. Sir John Peyton writes to the Privy Council (p. 349) :—
“My Lord of Southampton (by reason of his close imprisonment and want of all manner of exercise) being grown weak and very sickly, has desired me to send unto you his letters of petition here enclosed; upon which occasion I have prepared for him another lodging. But without some exercise and more air than is convenient for me to allow without knowledge from your Honours of her Majesty's pleasure, I do much doubt of his recovery.”
Another unfortunate sufferer, “blinded in judgment by affection, and drawn by fair pretences of danger unto the Earl of Essex,” but soon, as he maintained, to be “in remorse of conscience, tormented at his disloyalty” (p. 109), was William Lord Sandys. He too had a pertinacious pleader on his behalf in the person of his wife. To them, as to others, Sir Robert Cecil proved himself to be a helpful friend. She had endeavoured to excite his pity with the description of herself as (p. 139)
“great with child, near her deliverance, sickly long, and most sorrowful.”
And not in vain. Lord Sandys was ready, therefore, to acknowledge himself bound to Cecil “in double bands of thankfulness”—first, for his commiseration of the wife, and then for his mediation of the Queen's mercy to himself. On another occasion he writes (p. 146)—
“Your favour towards me in my distressed estate, I must ever acknowledge as proceeding from your noble nature. My merit is nothing, and my fault is in a high nature proceeding from mine ignorance of his intention who led me into this unadvised mischief.”
“And I would to God I could make you know how much honour, love and service I vow to you above all other. My trust is in you only. I send some time to others, but the least word of comfort it pleaseth you to send me is more comfort to me than the greatest any other can send me, so highly do I esteem you above all the rest.”
“I could not sleep to-night, I was so much troubled for fear my messenger troubled you.”
“my Lord being very ill with a pain in his stomach, he is fallen into so great a melancholy as he refuses his meat. I know he will not take physic or complain to any but myself. He hath been many times dangerously sick since I was his wife, but by my troth he never took 'meddisins' of any but of me.”
“I beseech you, as you have been the means of saving my life, to clear me from the imputation of backwardness towards the payment of my fine.”
“Your favours to me in my late affliction shall ever bind me to you. I acknowledge her Majesty's mercy, and will never refuse any hazard in her service.”
The Earl of Rutland.
The young Earl of Rutland, whose life was not for long, if indeed at any moment, seriously in danger, and whose punishment was limited to a heavy fine and personal restraint, first in the Tower and then in the house of his uncle Roger Manners at Uffington, was early after the outbreak among the very penitent. He seems to have made no direct complaint, even of the magnitude of the fine imposed upon him. He regarded it (p. 230) as
“a small sacrifice for so great an offence. All that I have I hold by her Majesty's grace and ever shining mercy, both livelihood and being. And I were not worthy to live at all, if I did not so acknowledge it.”
“But if every tree on my land were Indian gold, I would lay all at her Majesty's feet, with as great willingness and joy as I embraced her most princely mercy, and will in all humbleness content myself to live of that her Majesty leaves me. Yet shall I never take comfort in my life until her Highness shall please to forget my rash and heady fault, and believe that I will be ever honest and loyal, and that no man desires more willingly to sacrifice his life in her Majesty's service than I.”
“I would I could as well leave you assured of my ever continuing love to you as I can easily make appear how plainly I discern the dangers I have passed and the means (next under God and her Majesty) of my present safety. I may not attribute that to any but to you alone, and therefore must acknowledge my bond so great for your loving care to me and my poor house in me, as I shall still think that what is in me or mine of right must belong to you and yours.”
He was kept in the Tower, “which is now very hot” (p. 283), until July, then entrusted to the care of his uncle, Roger Manners. The latter found the office of gaoler troublesome after a few weeks (p. 413), and provision for his nephew's wants, “proportioned but for six weeks” (p. 448), in course of time, almost impossible :
“especially want of wood and firing can no way be helped, because it can no ways be here provided.”
“the want of provisions to sustain me and my small family in this hard winter; the season of the year past to make supply but with great difficulty and at excessive charge; the trouble laid on my poor tenants, that daily bring my fuel and other necessaries 17 or 18 miles through a foul country, do much straiten me and weary them,”
Sir Henry Neville.
Another unfortunate man implicated in the ill-starred plot, although, apparently, he did not take part in the rising itself, and certainly was not among those apprehended on the day, was Sir Henry Neville, then the Queen's Ambassador to the King of France, but at the moment in England. He also was of the number of those who turned to Sir Robert Cecil for assistance in the time of their distress. For a fortnight or so he escaped notice. With his wife and children and his retinue he had reached Dover on his way back to resume his duties in Paris, but before he could take ship the blow fell. At Dover letters of recall from Sir Robert Cecil reached him, and he returned to the Court, taking horse “on the sudden,” and leaving wife and children and retinue behind. Sir Thomas Fane at Dover devised precautions to prevent the success of any ruse which might lurk in this proceeding—
“I have sent Captain Windebank and one of my servants in post to observe him and such course as he shall take; which if the same be direct, then to pass as unknown persons; otherwise to make stay of him by force of your warrant.”
These precautions were, however, unnecessary. Neville duly presented himself, and was lodged with the other conspirators in the Tower. He attempted no concealment and made no excuse. He writes (p. 88)—
“I have set down in writing the substance of that I can call to mind to have understood touching this late wicked practice. I do but stay the writing it out again to send it unto your Honour and to my Lord Admiral, to whose compassion, next to God's mercy and her Majesty's, I do most humbly recommend my distressed estate.”
“I acknowledge a great fault, only I would be glad it might be conceived that there was more misfortune than malice in it; misfortune I mean, both in being by abuse brought to hear that I never thought to hear, and in being prevented in the purpose I had to discharge my duty.”
“I beseech you to take compassion upon my poor wife and children, and let not my folly be their utter overthrow. I wish the whole punishment might light upon myself, for I only have deserved it, and they are innocent.”
“The fine, as it is now imposed, is double more than my estate in my whole land (which is only for life) is worth; and if the rigour of law had been prosecuted I could have forfeited no greater an estate than I had in it. My offices are all taken away, my moveables are of very small value, and those I had, as my plate and other things, of best value, I have been forced to sell since my trouble, to pay my debts and to disengage my friends that stood bound for me, as became an honest man.”
His imprisonment in the Tower outlasted the period of the year with which this volume is concerned. He made a continuous effort for the mitigation of his fine, urging that his service for the Queen in France had forced him to sell land to the value of 4,000l. (p. 371). He offered what his estate for life might be worth, or, if his fine were reduced to 6,000 marks, proposed arrangements for its payment.
“If it is denied, he must endure what is laid upon him, for other means he has none : and his mind is so prepared already for misery, that nothing can be much more welcome to him than that which is the end of all misery.”
“My argument of writing can be nothing else but to give thanks for your goodness shewed to Mr. Nevill hitherto, and to beseech you to take pity of us both and our poor children, so that we may have a good issue of his trouble. His nature was never to be false to anybody, much less to the Queen and the State,”
“I hope you will pardon me for not attending on you at the Court, for I am so deaf that I should be very cumbersome unto you.”
“If Mr. Nevill may but taste of the same favour, and be restored to me and his poor children, though we live poorly together, I shall think myself happy and have cause to pray for you.”
“I beseech you also to grant leave to my wife to come to me, that I may confer and take some order with her about my poor estate, and likewise about suing and soliciting for me, as her infirmity will permit her.”
Sir Robert Cecil.
One marked result of the disappearance from the scene of the Earl of Essex, Sir Robert Cecil's “main opposite,” was the enhancement of the position and power of the latter. His elder brother, Lord Burghley, tells him (p. 294) that “now your voice is freer,” and that “the world is informed you carry most sway in these matters of highest nature.” Before Essex's death there had been divided worship on the part of many men, though of so jealous a humour was Essex and so apparent was the opposition between them (p. 179), that there was no possibility of combining any sort of active allegiance to both. Sir Ferdinando Gorges says (p. 179)—
“I vow to God that I did endeavour by what means I was able, the reconciliation of your Honour and him; but he answered me that he would receive no good from you or by your means.”
Dr. John Duport.
Essex gone, however, there was little hesitation on the part of men in general to acclaim his former rival. An instance of this is presented by Dr. John Duport, Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, to whom Cecil's “wisdom” had become, as Chancellor of the University, “the voice of an oracle” (p. 119). This eminent divine draws a portrait of himself in “these lamentable times” (p. 104)—
“Being servant to that unfortunate gentleman that now, I hope, is with God, I did honour and love him with such entire zeal and affection, as since the first news of his disloyal downfall, I have found no peace in my bones. And much less since the sentence of death passed against him. A matter so very burdenous unto me as I must confess ten times I took pen and paper into my hands with an obstinate resolution by my letters, even prostrate at your Honour's feet, to have begged mediation to her Majesty for him, or rather for a general amnesty of all offences. And ten times forsooth, a shivering fear of such imputation from your Honour's sacred and reverend wisdom as my soul abhorreth, enforced me to cast both away from me again. Yet so as I will not deny that my mind was still busied with these passionate thoughts till the very moment wherein I heard of that fatal blow which cut asunder the thread of his life and of my hope. . . . Now forsooth, being plunged in such a sea of restless cogitations, whither may I (my duty to God and my Prince above all things foreprized)—whither may I cast my eyes with more comfort, than to the contemplation of your Honour's so often experienced goodness towards me? And so much the rather for that with a most thankful heart I must confess the sum of my best fortunes, since the time of my first looking abroad, by God's Providence, wholly to have flowed from your honourable house. The which things considered, who shall joy in your Honuur's so high advancement in the favour of the Prince and of all true hearted subjects, and that in regard of your Honour's most reverend and divine wisdom, if I shall not?”
“Coming up to the city about a month since, I was dismayed to hear of myself being called a temporizer . . . I was so terrified that for 20 days I forbore to show myself in your presence, and when I did venture to approach you, the issue sorted out so contrarious to my mind that I have since been a prey to most insupportable griefs. . . . When you both were prosperous, I honoured you both in simplicity of heart, not knowing of any contestations between you, while you both continued in due allegiance; but when one forfeited his honour, then I betook me to the other.”
Sir R. Cecil.
Of those who were directly concerned in the Essex Rebellion, or who were most nearly allied to such, not a few, as we have seen, turned to Sir Robert Cecil for aid in their extremity. In addition to those to whom reference has already been made, Dr. Fletcher, “enlarged by your good means” (p. 142); Lord Monteagle, made “happy by your favours” (pp. 156, 296); Sir John Davis (pp. 161, 361); Sir Ferdinando Gorges (p. 179); Edward Blount, acknowledging Cecil's “most Christian and charitable commiseration of his unfortunate brother (p. 298); and Lord Cromwell—all had occasion, as appears by their letters, to give testimony of the good results of the action of the Queen's Chief Secretary.
His connexion with the University of Cambridge calls forth a few letters. Other letters refer to the offerings made to him, evidently numerous, but so far as this volume contains evidence, not of any great value in themselves. During this year he was pressed into service as godfather on more than one occasion. There are hints of his building operations, and particulars of the profits arising from his private mercantile adventures. His son is mentioned in affectionate terms. Sir Robert Cecil's name may have been canvassed in loose talk in taprooms, but he received ample tokens of the esteem and affection in which he was held by serious-minded men. There are a larger number of drafts of letters emanating from himself than in any previous volume, including a portion of the correspondence with George Nicolson, the English agent in Scotland. An interesting personal letter is that to the parishioners of St. Martin's in the Fields (p. 321), in which, out of his “great love for that quarter where I had my birth and breeding,” he promises to contribute to the cost of certain necessary alterations in “the street for the ease of passengers and making the street fairer and sweeter on both sides the way,” and urges their execution before the beginning of term.
Dowager Lady Russell.
The series of familiar correspondence from Sir Robert Cecil's kinswoman, the Dowager Lady Russell, continues in this volume. The “poor lady,” his “desolate wronged aunt” or “desolate unfortunate aunt,” as the case might be, was ever ready to call for his aid in order to redress her grievances against others, and he himself, on one occasion, when a footman of hers had been “enticed” from her service “by some secretary of yours and promised 7l. by year and four suits of apparel” (p. 331), was enjoined not to break the Tenth Commandment. Hers was a relationship which he must undoubtedly have occasionally found to be of a somewhat troublesome character.
Despite the evidence of the Essex outbreak it may be said that there was at this epoch very little disposition among the Queen's subjects to dispute or derogate from her personal supremacy. Her throne and person were, in the eyes of the vast majority of them, “sacred.” “One thing,” remarked the Primate (p. 361), “we must all rejoice in, that, so far as can be conceived by all external actions and tokens, she hath the love of her people.” It would be nowadays more than a matter of passing interest if “the medalia of her sacred Majesty's shadow in gold,” which was submitted for Sir Robert Cecil's “view and approvement” (p. 176), could be traced, but unfortunately neither the name of the maker nor that of the owner is given, and the thing itself, in all probability, has as surely disappeared as did that other “picture in metal” found in a box and eaten into by a kind of mercury sublimate, which was later the subject of investigation (pp. 404, 406).
The Earl of Lincoln.
It was said of the Queen in the course of the year that in health she was “never better” (p. 381). She moved about freely; and it was seldom, we may be sure, that on her journeys, whether long or short, such a contretemps occurred as that which happened when she was riding abroad in the spring weather, accompanied by the Scottish Ambassador. Being at Chelsea, as the Earl of Lincoln was afterwards told (p. 184) by the shocked Lord Admiral and Chief Secretary,
“she was very desirous to have gone into your house and gardens, from whence she was kept out in so rude a fashion as we protest unto you, your enemies wanted not a colour to say it was by your direction. For after a great knocking at both gates, some of your people did not only show themselves within, but some of them looked out of the house and over the walls.”
His informants, concerned for the Earl's credit, and in order to remove any suspicion from the Queen's mind that it was done of purpose, undertook, unauthorised, to be his lordship's “stewards for a dinner and anything that belongs to it.” And as he did not return in time to invite her himself—the Queen meanwhile pressing
“that we would bring her hither, and the rather before the Ambassador's departure, that he (for these were her own words) that saw her kept out, may see her also let in”—
“We have even adventured to make good our offer, and so upon Saturday next her Majesty will dine there, where we will moderate expenses as if it were for ourselves, and we will also find out some present, such as we presume you will not think too much, and when you come up you shall see it, whereby we hope you shall not have cause to believe that we have gained of you by any brokage.”
Their action on his behalf was duly approved by Lord Lincoln (p. 189), but not many weeks were to elapse before he was found inditing a “desperate letter” (p. 211), called forth by certain “bitter threats” emanating apparently from Sir Robert Cecil, one of the two friends who had so lately stood between him and the Queen's disfavour.
“a gown and jewel, whatsoever you shall think fit, and rather to be above the sum your Honour mentioned than under, for I would give that which shall be acceptable, whatsoever it cost.”
“Her Majesty, God be praised, liketh her journey, the air of this soil and the pleasures and pastimes shewed her in the way, marvellous well.”
During its course she received, at Basing, the Duc de Biron, sent over on a mission by the French King, accompanied by the Comte d'Auvergne, formerly the Grand Prior of France (p. 381). On a later day, Wednesday, the 23rd of September, she moved from Farnham to Guildford, but, nevertheless, found time for some of the ordinary business of State (p. 394).
“This day, before the remove from Farnham, her Majesty hath signed the letters for the levies, some before dinner and some after, but all before her own dinner.”
William, Earl of Pembroke.
Anything relating to William Herbert, the third Earl of Pembroke, has an interest of its own. His father, the second Earl, was, at the beginning of the year 1601, at the point of death, and it was at that critical moment that the son, in close attendance at the sick bed, was disturbed by a message from a “very friend” (p. 3),
“to come post to the Court, and not to fail of being there to wait on Tuesday at dinner : a sentence of little more comfort than hanging . . . for if I cannot obtain her Majesty's favour to remain with my Lord in his weakness, I shall quite overthrow my fortune. His physician tells me he cannot live out this winter, nothing now supporting his body but his mind : so fond of my presence, that one day in my absence he gave away 1,000 marks, and, though to him to whom I can afford anything, yet I could have been contented to have had it left to my own discretion. The sight of me only prevents many of the like.”
The receiver of the benefaction alluded to was, perhaps, Sir Robert Sydney, who, notwithstanding the Queen's displeasure incurred by his coming down, was likewise at Wilton in a spirit of devotion to the dying man, “to whom of all men, my father and elder brother alone excepted, I am most bound” (p. 9).
“It is no news for me to receive benefits from you; I would I were as well acquainted with the means to deserve them.”
“I can say nothing of the Earl [of Pembroke], but my daughter is confident in her claim before God, and wishes my Lord and she might but meet before indifferent hearers. But for myself, I expect no good from him that in all this time has not showed any kindness. I count my daughter as good a gentlewoman as my Lord, though the dignity of honour be greater only in him, which has beguiled her, I fear, except my Lord's honesty be the greater virtues.”
The half-dozen letters from the Earl of Pembroke subsequent to this from Sir Edward Fitton contained in this volume make little allusion to this affair, but are chiefly filled with extravagant statements of his distress at being banished from the Queen's presence and appeals for permission to travel abroad. Of the expression of his sentiments towards the Queen, the following is an example (p. 240) :—
“For do you account him a freeman that is restrained from coming where he most desires to be, and debarred from enjoying that comfort in respect of which all other earthly joys seem miseries, though he have a whole world else to walk in? In this vile case am I, whose miserable fortune it is to be banished from the sight of her, in whose favour the balance consisted of my misery or happiness, and whose incomparable beauty was the only sun of my little world, that alone had power to give it life and heat. Now judge you whether this be a bondage or no. For mine own part, I protest I think my fortune as slavish as any man's that lives fettered in a galley.”
“I have not yet been a day in the country, and I am as weary of it as if I had been prisoner there seven year. I see I shall never turn good justice of peace. Therefore I pray, if the Queen determine to continue my banishment, and prefer sweet Sir Edward before me, that you will assist me with your best means to get leave to go into some other land, that the change of the climate may purge me of melancholy : for else I shall never be fit for any civil society.”
“If the Queen continue her displeasure a little longer, undoubtedly I shall turn clown, for justice of peace I can by no means frame unto, and one of the two a man that lives in the country must needs be. If you mean to have a gamester of me, you were best by some means to get me from hence : for here there is no game known but trump; primero is held a conjuring word. Pray, if I write idly, pardon me, for I have as little to do here as any man living.”
“I know not how to be sufficiently thankful for so a great favour bestowed on me, in getting the Queen's consent for my going beyond the seas, but you may assure yourself that while I live I will ever remain wholly devoted to do you service.”
Ecclesiastical matters are but meagrely illustrated in this volume. Among the few is the case of Mr. Stephen Egerton, incumbent of St. Ann's, Blackfriars, a divine with strong puritan leanings, and therefore not a favourite of his Diocesan. A sermon preached on the day of the Essex Rebellion did not meet with that Diocesan's approval, and Mr. Egerton was consequently restrained from his week-day exercises. From the fact of popularity. “a wonderful concourse of people to his church above others,” the Bishop also “argued a schism.” Sir Robert Cecil was appealed to on Mr. Egerton's behalf by a sympathiser (p. 148), possibly one of the “well affected,” who desired not to be deprived “of the blessing they weekly receive from him.” That a hearing would be given to such an appeal was inferred from the fact that
“two speeches have passed from you of late, whereof the world hath taken great hold; one at your board, showing how much you desired to have your son thoroughly instructed in the true grounds of religion; the other, at the arraignment of the late rebels, declaring that among all those malcontents papists and atheists that assisted those misled Earls, not one of those called Puritans did offer to lift a hand against her Majesty.”
The appeal did not fail to have an effect. To an enquiry, the Bishop of London replied with details of Mr. Egerton's history, culled from an acquaintance of thirty years and more (p. 154), sending also notes of the text and offending sermon, “taken from him in writing by a Bachelor of Divinity whom I sent to observe him.”
“In my visitation three years ago, the ministers of London did greatly complain of many of their parishioners leaving their own pastors and flocking after Mr. Egerton.”
“If he can satisfy your Honour concerning his loose dealing in such a high matter of state, I am after a sort for quietness, so as you undertake for him. I think he should publicly clear her Majesty's justice, and I would have him reprove such fanciful or seditious persons as leave their own pastors to follow him, so that the parishioners of Blackfriars may have room, and not be compelled to absent themselves from church as many have done.”
“First, I never in my life so much as inclined to any such opinion that the people might and ought to reform things amiss in church or commonwealth without the authority and approbation of the Christian magistrate, but have endeavoured both by preaching and disputation to prove the flat contrary. . . .
“2. Touching any glancing or girding at the present government or governors of this Church, I thank God, before I came out of Cambridge, I made a covenant with my own heart that I would rather never preach than I would come unto the pulpit with any private or humane affection. I confess I have, in the fear of God, upon good occasion, sometime taxed the avarice, idleness and ambition, as of other callings, so of the ministry, which I hope cannot be counted glancing against the governors. . . . Touching the late Earl, I protest I never had so much as any purpose or thought to justify either his action or his intention, yea rather, my purpose and endeavour was in express terms to condemn both. . . . Touching the concourse of people, it is a thing that in so populous a city can hardly be avoided, and is endured at worser exercises, and is far greater after some whom my Lord of London seemeth to like and love. I shall be ever ready, as heretofore I have been, to repress it so far as in me lieth.”
Several documents noticed in this volume relate to the University of Cambridge. Sir Robert Cecil in this year succeeded the Earl of Essex as Chancellor of this University, and to him, “upon whom depended the good and happy estate of their weak body,” its authorities turned for support when, as they averred, they were “almost trodden under foot through the unstayed headiness of their evil affected neighbours” (p. 488). The causes of complaint against these neighbours, to wit, the townsmen of Cambridge, are set out on pp. 186–188. An alderman of Cambridge, “a turbulent and factious townsman against our University” (p. 454), also invaded their privileges in connexion with purchases of provisions at Stourbridge fair made by one of the Queen's purveyors. Sir Robert Cecil interfered (p. 318) with the advice that they should forbear to maintain their action in the matter, “considering that that which was done was only for Her Majesty's service,” but they, strongly of opinion that the “stomach” of the offending alderman was “too stout,” and that he was using Cecil's letters prejudicially, still desired permission to call him to answer in Court, being at the same time willing to refer the taxation or full remission of his sentence to their Chancellor.
The Provost and Fellows of Dublin University College also made known their desire to make Sir Robert Cecil their Chancellor, and to place themselves under his “honourable protection” (p. 257). They conclude their appeal :—
“Moreover, our University College being as a graft of the famous University of Cambridge, we have good hope that as that whole orchard and paradise of learning receives this favour and comfort from you, so the same would not be denied to our little branch, yet indeed small, young, and tender, but by the blessing of God, if this comfort of your favour be vouchsafed, it may in time bring forth some store of good fruit that may cause the hearts of many in that land to rejoice.”
The Catholics in England.
The present volume, like those preceding it, yields some information with regard to the fortunes and position of the adherents of the Roman Catholic Faith in England. Two priests, by name Middleton and Hunt, were executed after trial at the Lancaster Assizes (p. 165), having previously been sent up to London (p. 109). The county of Lancaster was one of the strongholds of the older form of religion. The Bishop of Chester complains that in his efforts to “reform that most infected parish of Garstang,” he had met with great resistance and “but small assistance from the justices and officers, whose coldness and slackness have been my greatest hindrance” (p. 123). Lancaster gaol, as then governed, was not a place of strait imprisonment, recusants being allowed by their gaoler “to hunt and hawk abroad at their pleasures, and to walk the town and country with their guns and weapons, to the terror of the well-affected subjects.”. But this is the Bishop's view of the matter. There were preachers specially appointed to promote, by their ministrations in that county, religion as approved at headquarters, and one of these preachers reports :—
“Of the circuit wherein I am placed, there is an outward indifferent, although not a perfect general, reformation. For the most part, albeit they retain some dregs of their superstitious opinions, yet they are grown to be Church comers in such measure that our congregations here are nothing inferior to any in the best professing countries. There are nevertheless not a few obstinate, and most of them not of the worst sort, who had need be compelled by more sovereign authority.”
Further North, the Bishop of Carlisle (p. 310) intimates the presence in his diocese of a “whole pack of most dangerous persons,” meaning thereby the recusants and their supporters, and he breaks out into the exclamation—
“God knows what heart's grief hath come unto me since my first coming into this woeful and broken country.”
The Bishop of London had his own opinion of the views and intentions of the recusants, and, moved by the rumours of an impending attack from the Spaniards, felt called upon to utter a warning in Sir Robert Cecil's ear (p. 318) :—
“I do find by the priests themselves that the recusants amongst us are grown to be of another spirit than they were wont; and that they were never so like to join with the enemy as they are now, if opportunity serve. Parsons you know is as vile a traitor to her Majesty as any man living; and (as the case yet stands) he directs all the Catholics almost that are in England, by his wicked and treacherous instruments, Blackwell, the archpriest (whom the Catholics do wholly follow, some few excepted), and Garnet, the Provincial of the Jesuits, who leads and commands Blackwell as he list. So as the Jesuitical humour doth now reign amongst all that generation, which is a disposition to entertain all manner of traitorous designments against her Majesty and their country, for the promoting of the Spaniard, and consequently, as they are taught, of the Pope's religion. . . . If any man shall inform you to the contrary of the premises, I do very humbly beseech you not to believe him, as I know you will not. For I write not at random.”
On the other hand, those professing the Roman creed in Yorkshire were, a little earlier, taking heart. Lord Burghley says, apropos of “the mercy showed of late to the offenders in these late actions of rebellion” (p. 295) :—
“There is much talk hereof amongst the Papists as a persuasion to the government here to carry a sweeter hand over them. If her Majesty dealt so mercifully with them that were in the predicament of treason, why should there be so hard a course taken against her faithful subjects (as they term themselves) for their consciences only. Thus you see how the application is made, but vivimus legibus non exemplis.”
A description of the Archpriest Blackwell's personal appearance is given (p. 365) by one John Byrde, an informer, who furnishes a lengthy account of the proceedings of priests ranging “as wolves amongst sheep about the city and countries without keepers;” he himself being desirous of employment in the service of apprehending these offenders.
“the malice of the world, wherein none will wrong him but traitorous papists and atheists, or such as countenance them for gain or policy.”
“a base clown, of a cowardly disposition, dwelling amongst wild mountains, but daring to sting with his tongue the sacred fame even of her Majesty.”
“When I have apprehended him, and have him in my house, I mean that, with mild usage (I hope), he will utter the truth of all things needful, and that then more testimony will spring up.”
“I shall then be strongly armed against this vaunting slanderer, or any such monstrous viper, among those mountains in the Peak, if he lurk within the devil's den; and against the traitorous lawyer, against whom I have proof of disloyal persuasions; or against such as Petty. There are in the parish where this clown dwells, above a hundred persons, none of them known to be christened, all horn since the beginning of the Queen's reign, where there have been harboured above fifty seminary priests and Jesuits whom I can name. If it be needful to root up some one proved weed in this winter season, for example's sake, such as this clown, or Petty, or others, then, when I have my commission, I am apter and readier to adventure any danger than to follow any Christmas delights or other pleasures.”
“It is reported in and about the city that one Napper, a Scot, now prisoner in the Clink or some other prison about the town, being a Jesuit, hath been described to you as a great master in Alchemy, as holding in possession that great wonder which we call the Philosopher's stone. It is said that some of her Majesty's household servants have enquired after him, pretending your commandment therein.”
Parliament was summoned to meet in October, 1601, after an interval of some four years. The first intimation of this intention in this volume appears on p. 352, in a letter from the Lord Keeper, written in the month of August, reminding Sir Robert Cecil that if “the purpose hold for a parliament,” the preparations for it must not be put aside even for the business of the Queen's progress.
“Time slips fast away, and will spend, in the framing the warrant, and making the writs (which are many, and of sundry kinds) and the delivering of them.”
By the end of September these preliminaries were accomplished, and the writs issued. Of the members of the House of Lords, there were several who desired to be excused from attending, chiefly on account of bodily infirmity. One peer found himself in a peculiar dilemma. The Earl of Rutland received at one and the same moment a writ of summons to attend and a letter from the Privy Council to forbear and not to stir outside the bounds prescribed to him (p. 396). His connexion with the events of the eighth of February is sufficient explanation.
“Through want of Parliament robes, which on the sudden I can by no means either buy or borrow, I am brought by an unavoidable necessity to offend this day somewhat like unto him in the parable, who sat down amongst the guests not having on his wedding garment; or as the other did, who when they were called, came not. I request your favour in procuring her Majesty's pardon of this fault, which I can no way avoid, and beseech you to signify by this servant whether it will be less offensive if I absent myself this day from the Parliament house when her Majesty shall be present, or be there in my rochet alone, all the other bishops being there in their robes.”
With regard to the lower House, we have aspirants like Dr. Christopher Parkins (p. 390) and Henry Lok (p. 391), who desired nomination to serve as burgesses, and one instance at least where a knight was elected unwillingly (p. 441). There are numerous instances where the nomination of representatives was left to the choice of Sir Robert Cecil, which he exercised in one case by designating for the vacancy an ecclesiastic. He is told (p. 442) :—
“You have made good choice of Mr. Dean of Carlisle to be a burgess for Ripon. He is known to be a wise and worthy man.”
Of the proceedings of Parliament during its session, which terminated in December, there are scarcely any particulars. There is a record (p. 484) of the views of members in Committee “upon the bill of levying treasure for the defence of the realm.” The notes of the Archbishop of Canterbury against the Bill touching pluralities are merely referred to in a covering letter (p. 494). So of researches among the Exchequer Records showing “how the King did charge the maritime shires by way of contribution, and sometime by way of taxation” (p. 513), and of a speech in course of preparation (p. 544).
In two directions did it become necessary during this year to send a military force across the seas—East to the Low Countries, West to Ireland, “the principal places whereunto our State carrieth an eye”—as Lord Burghley puts it (p. 294), while at the same time deprecating the beginning again of war “when every man desired and gaped after peace.” Hence arises considerable information concerning the levying, apparelling and arming of soldiers, both foot and horse, and the character of the men raised; and also concerning the methods of transporting and victualling them. For service in Ireland, the men were drawn from all parts of the country, each county providing its quota of footmen, as fixed by the Privy Council, and the duty of furnishing horsemen being laid upon individuals. These burdens, which had now been continued at intervals over a period of 30 years, were, no doubt, felt to be grievous. “I assure you it breedeth a great discouragement in people's minds,” says Lord Burghley to his brother (p. 295) in this connexion. Nevertheless they were for the most part apparently cheerfully borne in view of the necessity arising on account of the landing of the Spanish force at Kinsale in September. Some complaints, however, there were. For example, on behalf of the “little county of Rutland, containing about 45 parishes, hamlets and villages, many of them standing in barren and hardy soils,” it is represented that it was charged to furnish (p. 430) half the number demanded from Cheshire, a county five times as big. From individuals who were called upon to supply horsemen, complaints of inequity or excuses of want of ability were more numerous. The Privy Council was not always well informed before making its demands. In Lincolnshire, so it was stated (p. 439), one of the gentlemen charged had been dead for a couple of years, while some of “small living were burdened, and others of the greatest ability altogether spared.” Again, it is urged, for part of an excuse, that the writer was upon his journey to Parliament, “whereunto I am elected, God knows, much against my will.” But cases such as these were exceptions, and the calls for horsemen, however burdensome, were at any rate met, the Clergy not being exempt. The Archbishop of York writes (p. 442) :—“I am sending light horses to Chester for Ireland—viz., for myself, two; the clergy of my diocese, six; the Bishop and diocese of Durham, three; Chester, three; and Carlisle, one.” The clergyman's horse was, however, not always up to the mark, even an Archdeacon being able to supply, as it would seem, nothing better than one “lean, old, having splint and spavin and wounded on the near leg behind.”
Some light is thrown on the character of the soldiery and the classes from which they were drawn. The Lord Mayor of London was authorised by the Privy Council, when men were wanted for service in Ostend, “to offer to idle and vagrant persons in and about the city” an opportunity of avoiding “the danger of the law” by engaging for that service. In addition, he desired to have a warrant to “take up” for the same purpose “loose persons,” of whom a great number of all sorts were about the city, who upon the first notice of former imprests had conveyed themselves away, but had subsequently returned, to the great annoyance of the respectable citizens. He promised (p. 331) that “no man of honest sort” should be troubled. It appears that previously this condition had not been complied with, for Captain Holcroft, who had taken a contingent over to Ostend, writes (p. 315) :—
“It seemeth there had been great abuses in the levying of them, for besides that there are divers simple men of more than sixty years old and many boys unfit for service, there are also some sent over who have her Majesty's grant of places in hospitals under her hand and signet, but our general is very careful to send them back again.”
“That same Ryder, by reason his uncle is Mayor of London, hath been an ordinary conductor this year, and, as I hear, was clapt by the heels at Chester for chopping and changing of those men which were committed to his charge.”
For the more national service in Ireland a better class of men was in the main recruited. Of the thousand men brought to Barnstaple, the most were declared to be (p. 443) “very tall men, and well armed and willing to serve,” fearing nothing more than the misfortune of arriving too late to fight the Spaniards. At Chester, from Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Anglesea and some part of Denbighshire, were gathered “for the most part very able men” (p. 473), but as regards the men from “the rest of Wales,” the condemnation passed is severe; and it was at Chester that there was “great running away of soldiers.” The testimony is given that three hundred men out of Yorkshire were “absolutely the best men” that came to that city.
When it was necessary to complete the companies or to make up deficiencies in the numbers sent, some more doubtful sources were tapped. Even a gaol, however, seems sometimes to have yielded “very proper men” (p. 339). Again, the Suffolk levies being thirty-seven short of their proper number, it was suggested that their quota should be made up at Rochester by means of a warrant for impressing in Kent “tapsters, ostlers, chamberlains, wherein the county now aboundeth, and other idle persons that shall pass to and fro in Gravesend barge” (p. 441).
The duty of the counties included the provision of apparel and armour for the men. It might either be found locally or commuted for by a payment of thirty shillings per man. The contingent from Anglesea arrived (p. 474), “very well apparelled, with caps, cassocks, doublets, breeches, netherstocks, shoes and shirts,” to the envy of the residue of the soldiers, who showed signs of their discontent, and put the worthy mayor of the city and his fellow-commissioners to some trouble. It is alleged that the money payments for clothing gave the captains of companies, on occasion, opportunities for manipulation of the funds to their personal profit, but this is an allegation only (p. 535).
The ports of embarkation for Ireland were Chatham on the East coast, and Barnstaple, Bristol and Chester on the West. The soldiers were crowded into the ships; fighting ships being also used on this emergency for transport purposes, but not without some protest (p. 449). Some of the transports did not escape experiences of a November storm, “so great as the like hath not been seen by the mariners and seamen” (p. 473), but, doubtless, the latest storm always seems the worst; and there was Milford Haven for a safe harbour of refuge. Ultimately all seem to have been landed at their destination. Against Chester there is an interesting letter of complaint from the neighbouring town of Liverpool, which reads strangely at the present day. The Mayor sets forth at length the
“abuses wherewith Liverpool hath for a few years, in the latter time of these last wars of Ireland, been pressed by our too near neighbours of Chester.”
“that when any service for transporting her Majesty's forces, either foot or horse, shall be appointed for these parts, it might please you to direct your letters, as heretofore hath been accustomed, unto the mayor of this town, who (God willing) shall undertake for a thousand foot and fifty horse at all times that shall be sent from time to time unto these parts, and to be as well and at as easy rates here passed as the citizens of Chester shall do for so many as shall be assessed upon them, so that you grant us commission that we may place some of them in the country towns near here adjoining, because we cannot well lodge within our town above 700 men at one time. Otherwise, if they of Chester may command us as for these four years past they have done (which we durst not withstand in respect of the present necessity of service), they will so insult over us as now they term us to be a member of Chester, and by that means challenge a superiority over us, where it is evident that this is the chiefest port between us and the Land's End of England (Milford only excepted).”
The Campaign in the Low Countries.
The military events in the Low Countries are minutely described in lengthy letters from the seat of war, written to Sir Robert Cecil, from one part of the field by the Earl of Northumberland, and from another by captains of English companies employed there, among whom Capt. John Ogle, afterwards Sir John Ogle, Captain Holcroft, Captain Wigmore and Captain Ridgeway were the chief correspondents.
The Earl of Northumberland attached himself to the fortunes of Count Maurice of Nassau. His first letter is written from Utrecht in February, at a time when it was expected that the army would take the field in the following month, Count Maurice being desirous “to do something” before the enemy could receive the reinforcement of Spanish and Italian troops which were coming. That “something” resolved itself, in the month of June, into the siege of Rheinberg, undertaken with the object of diverting and drawing the enemy out of Flanders. This result, however, it failed to accomplish. “The enemy stirs not yet for all this” (p. 221). There are detailed accounts of the incidents of this siege (pp. 249, 266) and of the methods of procedure.
“Great works are performed by the spade both for strength and for deepness of ground. . . . His Excellency hath shown himself in this siege a greater captain than ever : all the soldiers do confess that never was the like art used in a siege since these wars began. . . . He is master in his faculty, his scholars shall make profit by him if they will but observe, and he is willing to open himself to any that will learn.”
Such is the Earl of Northumberland's enthusiastic testimony (p. 265). Towards the end of July Rheinberg fell. This was followed, in August, by possession being taken of Moeurs, and, after some intermediate operations, at the end of October, Count Maurice sat down before Bois-le-Duc.
In the meanwhile at Ostend had begun the famous siege which was to outlast the Queen's life, contrary to the expectation of both besiegers and besieged. Of the occurrences of this struggle the accounts are many and graphically told in the letters of the captains of the English companies, whose names have been already mentioned. At the earnest solicitation of the States General, Sir Francis Vere undertook the direction of the defence of the place, although, in consequence of the want of proper preparations, there was “nothing left to dispute but the wall,” and although experience had taught him, he said, that such employments should, of all others, be shunned “by reason that commonly much travail and hazard in them draweth no good success” (p. 252). On the besiegers' side there was a confident expectation of an early capture of the town, even a day being named (p. 284), St. James's day, the 25th July—dictated by a “superstitious humour and particular devotion to that Saint”—on or before which it must be taken; while as regards onlookers, “great wagers were laid that the Cardinal would win it” (p. 254). But, although Ostend did ultimately fall, that event did not happen yet awhile.
In the operations artillery played a great part. To the ears of a listener on the sea shore at Dover came the noise of “the impetuous thundering of the artillery, in a manner without intermission” (p. 271). A little later, stormy days compelled the same man, now a close observer, to spend idle hours outside the harbour of Ostend, where he occupied the time by counting the cannon-shot as they were sent into the town, “which ordinarily are six or seven hundred in a day.” It is the same writer who recounts, a month or so afterwards, how (p. 335)
“the enemy's artillery and muskets from the East and West, both by day and night, do pour continual storms into the town, and this their artillery they have placed with that advantage that there is not any one part of the town which is free from the fury thereof, for the soldiers which are lodged half under the ground and under cover of the rampiers are killed in their cabins, sometimes two and three at a shot. . . . As for the bulwarks, they stand firmly, still though branded with innumerable marks of the Cardinal's displeasure, and do ordinarily return unto him three and four hundred cannon shot within the compass of twenty-four hours. For the night serveth their turn as well as the day, which is done by the advantage of a 'mortesse' piece, that sendeth forth a bullet as great as a reasonable man is in the waist. This bullet, which will not miss to fall in the enemy's trenches, will there burn, sending forth infinite small shot with continual flames the whole space of half an hour, by the light whereof the cannoneers within the town do level their pieces at those troops of the enemy whom they have seen, and do make a wonderful butchery of them.”
To aid in the defence, a body of troops was sent from England in addition to the English companies already on the spot in the pay of the States General. In connexion with their transport to the scene of operations some interesting side-lights are thrown on methods and manners, both English and Dutch. In the case of a detachment of 800 men, the men themselves were landed without delay; but when it came to the arms which accompanied them it was a different matter. The story is begun thus :—
“The next day I purposed to have landed the arms, but to this hour I have been so swaddled with storms or extreme foul weather, as these sufferings have in a manner cancelled the memory of whatsoever else I have endured in the whole course of my life. The perverse dealing of this proud insolent colt of an Admiral hath added no small weight to the burden of my afflictions, from whom I could draw no assistance for the landing of those arms but such as was extorted as if I had suited a matter of extraordinary benefit; besides his unrespective speeches and regard of her Majesty's proceedings in these affairs, which do so much import them. Justinus Nassawe having quitted the Admiralty of Zealand, this youth, called Myne Here van Obdam, is, by the Admiral of Holland, thrust into a managing of these affairs, during the time of his own employment in the narrow seas and elsewhere, in hope to draw the succession of that place upon this stripling, who is his nephew.”
The continuation of the story is of interest, and may be read on pp. 334, 335. Early in the course of the siege Sir Francis Vere was wounded in the back of the head by the bursting of part of a gun. The wound proved to be troublesome, and for a time he had to withdraw into Zealand in order to ensure his recovery. This took longer than the ten or fourteen days which Vere himself calculated would suffice—
“for wounds in the head are not so soon recovered. The state whereof must have been desperate had he stayed two days longer in Ostend, for when he was dressed, at the only noise of the cannon, fresh blood issued abundantly, not only from his wound but also out of both his ears.”
In due time, however, he returned, and acting upon the maxim that all is fair in war, devised and executed the various schemes for the overthrow of the enemy outside and the traitor inside, of which details may be read in the letters themselves. In frustrating the designs of the traitor inside, who proved, strangely enough, to be a man sent over by Cecil himself (p. 458), Vere used as “bait to catch the gudgeon” one “Wicked Will,” a personage who seems to step out of these pages ready made to the hand of the novelist (p. 452). The “delaying parley” with which Vere “entertained the enemy” late in the year, thereby gaining time to strengthen the weak places and to receive reinforcement, but which gave rise to “strange interpretations in the world,” is fully described in a letter from Captain Ogle (p. 522). There is also an account of this “stratagem,” told from the besiegers' point of view, on p. 534.
The Principality of Wales was connected in a special way with the fortunes of the Earl of Essex, and rumour had it that his plot was known in Wales a month before it was carried out (pp. 43, 107). In this case, however, it is extremely doubtful whether rumour did not lie. But it was not inherently improbable since (p. 82)
“the Earl of Essex was greatest in South Wales, because he had lands in Pembrokeshire and Herefordshire, and some land or farm in Carnarvonshire, and some iron works not far from this town [Ludlow] in the confines of Shropshire and Herefordshire, where it is informed me he had some stock of iron, and that he had some colts, horses, and cattle (but of no great value) in his parks and lands in Herefordshire and Pembrokeshire.”
His henchman, Sir Gelly Meyrick, too, was the son of a Welsh Bishop, and Sir John Vaughan, of Golden Grove, was Sir Gelly's son-in-law. Nevertheless, Sir Robert Cecil was assured by Justice Lewkenor, of the Council of Wales, that
“the fall of the Earl, in those parts where he was greatest, is not grieved at, because I do generally hear that he was (and the rather by Sir Gelly Merrick his means) often very chargeable and burdensome unto them; and Sir Gelly Merrick himself lived by such oppression and overruling over them that they do not only rejoice at his fall but curse him bitterly.”
“both throughout Wales and the marches thereof, the people thereof are generally very quiet, without any stirs, mutinies, or spreaders of rumours or news, for which and for wandering and straggling wayfaring men, we have caused good watches to be set in all towns and parishes where common passages are.”
“By whose greatness the Judges of assize of that circuit could not as yet at any time get him indicted, albeit they endeavoured their uttermost, in such awefulness he holdeth the people, and so strongly was he countenanced by the Earl of Essex, through the means of Sir Gelly Merrick, who (as is supposed) made his gain 100l. a year of him.”
By the death of the Earl of Pembroke a vacancy occurred in the Presidency of the Council of Wales. The Earl of Oxford and Lord Sheffield (p. 243) were both ambitious of filling the office, but it was bestowed upon the Earl of Worcester. A list of the members of the re-constituted Council is given on p. 567.
“one Sir Lewes Devett, a priest and soothsayer of the country, [who] would often say that none of her Majesty's enemies should prevail against her until after 42 years of her reign; and if she escaped that 5 years, she should reign long in her kingdom.”
“I am bold still to solicit you, now in the Parliament, or otherwise by conference with the bishops of these parts, to take some course for the stay of the increasing humour of papistry and recusancy in these countries of Wales and the Marches; or else to set some course how her Majesty may be better answered of the forfeitures due to her Highness for their disobedience.”
The Borders of Scotland.
North Country matters do not yield many papers. Lord Willoughby de Eresby, who died in the course of this year while occupying the posts of Warden of the East March and Governor of Berwick, was treated by the Queen with a respect and consideration of his sensibilities which is somewhat unusual. Some “unkindness” had arisen between himself and Sir Robert Carey, Warden of the Middle March, on account of certain action on the part of Lord Willoughby which Sir Robert Carey conceived to be an “infinite touch to his reputation.” Sir Robert Cecil, in discussing the question in a letter to Lord Willoughby (p. 15), is careful to state the Queen's desire that his lordship, “who she knows is wise and temperate,” should “interpret the best of Sir Robert Carey's action,” and adds :—
“To conclude, I have not known her Majesty take a service better this seven years, which ought to be accounted of more by you than all those petty crosses and thoughts which one man receives of another, according to their passions; wherein I know your lordship will use more moderation than some of them, which cannot but increase your reputation in all wise men's minds.”
Relations were also strained between Lord Willoughby and Sir John Carey, the Marshal of Berwick, but for the earlier part of the year peace was preserved between them, no less by the Marshal's absence from Berwick than by the charge straitly laid upon him by the Queen to respect Lord Willoughby as the Governor in all things appertaining to his position (p. 140); and before Sir John had returned to his post Lord Willoughby was no more. With regard to the state of Berwick, Lord Willoughby received the following admonition (p. 140) :—
“Give strict order that no excess of resort of Scots be suffered in that garrison, but that, excepting the commerce upon market days and such like for the necessary support of the place, it may be used as frontier towns ought to be, in which your experience teaches you best that all wise commanders held those places only well governed where most jealousy is used. Which is quite contrary there, if it be as is reported by the Scots themselves, who do not stick to say that they may as freely come into Berwick, by one device or another, as into Edinburgh. Next, we do require you to see that your government there be not slandered by the error of those who for private gain do make that place a sanctuary for bankrupts and outlaws rather than a town of war, nor that any person married with the Scots be suffered to have place there.”
“Lastly, we pray you to believe that we are very sorry to understand of your indisposition of body, and the rather because we know how apt you are to hurt yourself by overmuch care and labour in our service, wherein we would have you spare yourself as much as you may, for we would be loth your health should be overthrown by these occasions, considering how long it is before men of service be bred in this age. And now, by the way, we will only touch this much of that whereof we are sure an angel of heaven could hardly have made you a believer, that it appeareth now by one's example, more bound than all or any others, how little faith there was in Israel.”
“Thus is he and my cousin Wyllughby, my nearest kinsman, gone; I shall follow them ere long, being now very sick. I beseech you be a father to my eldest son when I am dead. I commend him to you, as to a friend in whom I chiefly repose myself. You shall find my estate far otherwise than the world thinks, but your love and wisdom will perfect what is wanting.”
It is doubtful whether the letter (p. 245) from the Council, attributed to about the 22nd June—if that date be correct—ever was read by Lord Willoughby, because he died on the 25th of this month (see Cal. of Border Papers), so that there was an end to the quarrel between him and Sir John Carey, who had been sent down to Berwick to his assistance.
The second Lord Burghley, at this time President of the Council of the North, and resident at York, was much concerned with regard to the state of affairs on the Scottish Borders. He writes (p. 235) :—
“Truly. Sir, there must be presently some speedy order taken to remedy the deformity of the West Border, or else by reason of the many divisions that is amongst them, there will be no place for justice to punish nor force left to defend the good subject. The cause whereof is that every party findeth a strength and a maintainer. They which are the strongest party are the Grymes and Carltons, which by reason of their late marriage together, and alliance to Lowther, do what they list, and forget they are subjects to the Crown of England, or at least to the Queen of England. They must be brought in by a strait hand of justice, and justice must be planted by force; which if it be not done speedily, her Majesty will see her true subjects driven away and all that Border become Scottish in her own time. The Grymes have been so long cockered as they think the State dare not offend them, and are become insolent and so merely Scottish, as if the Scot durst attempt anything, they would be the first to follow him. For so far they affect Scotland as most of their sons are put to serve divers noblemen there and wear their liveries.”
“Sir, be a mean with speed to haste the remedy of these Borders which at this present is more spoiled by a private faction than it could be by a foreign enemy.”
He had in his custody two of the Carltons—men young in years, yet guilty of so many murders and burnings of towns and houses (p. 235) “as a man would think their age was not able to perform, the eldest of them not being above 22 years.”
“The two Carltons, whom I wrote unto you I had deferred from being arraigned at the last gaol delivery, since my coming, until the next assizes, I find it so dangerous for fear of their escape, receiving daily intelligences of divers plots that are laid for their delivery, as I mean very shortly to call a private gaol delivery for them, and yet if you saw their personages, with their youth and valiantness, you would pity them to die, or her Majesty to lose two such brave personages, were it not the many and odious outrages they have committed, which, considering the looseness of the West Borders as they stand at this present, were not to be allowed of. Yet the elder of them, which is the goodliest personage of them both, promises, upon hope of his reprieval, to detect many, which I fear is but to gain time in hope to break the prison, as I hear fifteen great malefactors have done lately at Carlisle.”
“I have since my last letters executed the two Carltons. I never heard of so high offenders so good and godly an end made; and it fell out so much to the comfort of the best sort that two brothers dying at one time for the same fault, and divided at the hour of their death in opinion of religion, the Protestant brother, before six thousand people at the least, made so rare a persuasion to his brother to die in the true faith and to forsake the Romish opinions, showing such humility and a religious confession of his sins, as it was rare in a person that was not learned and of so young years, and of so evil a profession in his life time. The other died nothing in that humble sort, but I write this for that it fell out so as a great example was made of it, as though God had made a demonstration by the manner of their two deaths of the allowance, as it were, of our profession before theirs.
“They offered, during their imprisonment, to have done very great services to have redeemed their lives, whereof one was the killing of Tyrone, and yet never saw Ireland, nor yet, I think, any Irish man, but all was to win time. They have, by the means of a preacher that took great pains to persuade their consciences, confessed of many of the chief receivers and bringers in of the Scots : which confession I mean to send to the Lord Scroope; whereby he may perhaps, if it be secretly handled, apprehend divers of those offenders.”
The chief feature of the papers in this volume connected with the affairs of the Kingdom of Scotland is that they include a larger portion than before of the correspondence carried on between Sir Robert Cecil and George Nicolson, the English agent there. The designs of the Master of Gray, the dealings with Powrie Ogilvie, and the embassy of the Earl of Mar are among the matters discussed in lengthy letters. The apprehension which had been excited in the King's mind that the Queen had it in purpose (p. 23)
“to do injury to others and to bring infamy upon her own actions and counsels by seeking to bequeath her crown and people to be governed hereafter by a branch of that root whereof the whole kind is odious to all Englishmen”
is dismissed by Sir Robert Cecil as manifestly “unjust and absurd.” In another letter he relates the substance of Earl Huntly's advances to himself, and the nature of his replies (p. 138), and in the last letter of this correspondence in this volume sets out the terms offered by the Queen for the levies of men in Scotland for service in Ireland (p. 524).
“for your assumption in my behalf, that I was never so foul nor so foolish as to traffic with the Spaniards, either by your means or by any earthly creature. God hath forgiven his soul, I hope, who was the author of that poor invention.”
“When either practice or error have wrought exile in princes' minds, I never found but that subject which could procure access doth commonly recover favour.”
“Surely there will always be found interruptions to cross the quietness intended, especially by such as are cunning to fish in troubled waters [who] will ever be blowing the coal between them.”
A letter to Lord Scrope (p. 344) sketches the policy which the Queen would have him pursue towards Scotland, “so as to carry things in their right sense,” and concludes with a hint as to the manner of government of the Wardenry with which she would be best pleased.
“It would be a great commendation to you if you could govern that Wardenry without fetching every day direction from hence : and surely for that, Sir Robert Cary takes a very good course, for he goes on with that which is best for the service, advertises when it is done, and in his proceeding with the opposite, whensoever he sees he does his best, he takes it de bene esse, and so keeps all good correspondency : a liberty which the Queen does willingly leave to you, being one of whom she is so well persuaded, and the fewer questions you ask (so it be not for very extraordinary matters) the better she is pleased.”
Correspondence between King James and Lord Scrope (p. 398) shows the latter as a man not easily overborne where he thought himself to have right on his side—an attitude for which he gained the Queen's approval (p. 414).
“Her Majesty hath read both the letter directed to you and your answer, wherein although it is true that the letter directed to you was well and respectively written, both to her and her estate, yet would she have me tell you that when she perceiveth by your answer upon what terms you are able to stand to justify your action, she cannot but very highly commend the style of your letter, both for discretion, stoutness and all other circumstances incident to such a matter.”
The number of papers bearing upon the history of Ireland is comparatively small, and for the first half of the year particularly so. Advice how to govern Ireland and explanation “of the pride and present strength of the mere Irishry and of the weakness of the nobility and gentry of the English race of Ireland” was offered to Sir Robert Cecil (p. 8). Mr. Hugh Cuffe sets out in a petition, presented with the object of compelling the undertakers in Munster to fulfil their duties, measures to be adopted for re-settling the lands wasted by war, but is frank in the avowal (p. 94)—
“I must confess I never more intend to dwell in Ireland, having had so many crosses. Nevertheless, I shall not fail to perform in my two daughters and my bailiff, who are there settled upon my lands, the re-inhabiting of my seigniory.”
In a letter written in August to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Robert Cecil explains the situation of affairs as regards Ireland, and the reasons for preparing provisionally for the sending of a force to Ireland in view of the fact that a Spanish fleet had been seen at sea with an army of four or five thousand men, purposely directed for that kingdom (p. 353). The Spanish landing, long foreseen, actually took place on the 25th of September at Kinsale. This gave rise to much press of business (p. 425), but to no great alarm. “I doubt not,” writes Cecil (p. 405), “but such shall be her Majesty's fortune as Munster shall prove their sepulchre;” and again (p. 414)—
“This new accident of the Spaniards' landing in Ireland in the Province of Munster hath given us a world of business, though I hope in God they are come to provide themselves a sepulchre rather than to be able to effect their designs.”
This confident hope was in the main realised, but the present volume has little to tell concerning the manner in which it was brought to pass, except as regards the levying and transport of the forces sent over to reinforce the Lord Deputy.
Information of the Spanish preparations which culminated in the landing in Ireland had come to hand from time to time during the previous part of the year, and among other communications is a long letter of intelligence (p. 553) from an English Catholic who was among the number of those in Spain who desired (p. 555)
“to return home with liberty of our consciences, to show our duty to her Majesty, our love to our country, and the little affection we bear unto Spaniards or their proceedings.”
Though Spain, perhaps, might still be regarded as the aggressor in the contest which had so long been waging between the two countries there was at this time in England no fear of the result : it was only in question to discover the best means to bring that result about.
“it is much more honourable for the Queen and safe for the State to maintain a fleet upon the coast of Spain than to stand upon the defensive at home.”
“As to the point of profit, the greatest hopes that now offer are the carackes outward bound from Lisbon, and the West Indian fleet homeward bound from the Havana. March being the ordinary time for carackes to sail, they may be departed before the wind suffers us to arrive upon that coast; but if we do arrive, the carackes either will not come out at all, or come strongly guarded with the King's forces. If the former, the Queen will lose that advantage, but the Spanish merchant will be punished with the loss of one year's profit, and the King will sustain dishonour and contempt when it is found an English fleet can keep his greatest ships in his best frequented harbours; and the Queen may assume to herself, by challenge, to be mistress of the ocean. If the latter, if they be not resolutely fought with as the proportion and means will allow, let our commanders at their return bear both the blame and the shame.”
“a great storm took it at sea before it had doubled the North Cape and dispersed the smaller ships. Being, after the Spanish manner, packed full of men, they were forced to return to some port in Biscay.”
But the plan of attack was not therefore laid aside. Twice before the Spaniards had landed in September (p. 381), and so it happened again, with the result that they were caught and held fast as in a trap.
Foreign visitors to England during the course of the year included the Duke of Bracciano, nephew of the Grand Duke of Tuscany; the Duc de Nevers; the Baron de Dona, from Bohemia; and the Duc de Biron, who came on a mission from the King of France. Particulars as to the manner in which the last was entertained may be gathered from several letters. As has been already mentioned, he rendered his homage to the Queen at Basing, and a hint of the difficulties attendant on his journey from London thither through Staines and Bagshot may be gathered from the letter of the Earl of Cumberland on the subject (p. 383). A Scottish noble who also was among the visitors on his way from France was the Duke of Lennox. He was made the medium of conveyance of letters from the Queen to the King of Scotland (p. 508).
Students of naval matters, voyages and travels may turn for material to letters of Sir Thomas Fane, Richard Staperr, Captain Charles Leigh, William Stallenge, Sir Anthony Sherley, Sir John Gilbert, and others. The last named, Sir John Gilbert, as Governor of Plymouth Fort, engaged in a pretty quarrel with Mr. William Parker, the Mayor of the town, which occasioned several strongly-worded letters. Parker, to Sir John's view, was a “fool of four and twenty” (p. 488), by whom he had been “insufferably abused” (p. 481). Sir John Gilbert, on the other hand, is portrayed by the Mayor as “a furious and young Governor, having in his fury his rapier out on the sudden” (p. 490). So peace was not very well kept at this time between the civil and military parties in this famous Devonshire town. There was a fear also in the minds of the civic authorities there of a combination among “some gentlemen their neighbours,” designed
“with the assistance of Sir Walter Raleigh to overthrow the act made concerning, the water that runneth to this town, or at the least command the same at their pleasures, so as we shall be little the better for it. Which their pretence, grounded only upon malice without any just cause, if it should take place, must needs be the overthrow of this town and harbour.”
There are many other subjects which continue to receive illustration in this instalment of the Calendar : for example, the relations of England with European countries in addition to Spain, France and the Netherlands. There are news letters containing intelligence from Rome and Venice, while the affairs of Denmark, Sweden, Russia and the Empire are dealt with in letters from James Hyll, Matthew Greensmith, Francis Cherry, Dr. William Bruise, Sir Richard Lee, John Allsop, and others.
“considering that the best education of such children hath always been in the houses of the most reverend and grave persons of your Lordship's quality, where they may be seasoned with a true sense of religion and virtue and inured to a fashion of living fit for the nobility of their birth, . . . understanding of your well governed family and plentiful housekeeping, and of some more fitness in yourself than in others of your calling; and because of the weak estate and small means that his late father left him, the condition of the child, which were great pity to be tainted with any unworthy education, and his quick and extraordinary spirit, apt either to be raised and improved to a rare goodness, or to decline to the contrary according to the discipline and usage it shall receive; wherein that he may not be over burdensome to you, it is only meant that he shall be attended with a careful servant to look to him and a schoolmaster to teach him. The servant shall be provided by my Lady his mother, but for the schoolmaster, her Majesty expects that you should select some such honest and learned person, either chaplain of your own or some other out of the University or elsewhere, as to you shall seem meetest, that being one of the principal cares wherewith her Majesty means to charge you. There shall be order taken for the apparel of the child and all other necessaries, so as that shall be no burden;”
The “thirst” of the townsmen of Bury, “being mechanical and tradesmen,” for a corporation, and the consequences which opposers thought were likely to ensue if the townsmen's desire were granted (pp. 351, 396);
“four times employed in her Highness' service out of the realm, once ambassador, thrice as agent and special messenger from her Highness, without any recompense or allowance from her Majesty;”
The alarm caused by the great numbers of “negars and blackamoores” which had “crept into the realm”—“mostly infidels without understanding of Christ and his gospel,”—and the method employed for collecting them and getting them out of the country (p. 569); and
The present volume has been edited and passed through the press on behalf of the Historical Manuscripts' Commissioners by Mr. R. A. Roberts, the ;Secretary of the Commission. The abstracts of the letters and papers included in it were prepared in the first instance from the originals by Mr. E. Salisbury, the late Mr. A. Hughes, Mr. C. G. Crump, and Mr. J. V. Lyle, all of the Public Record Office, and Mr. R. T. Gunton, Private Secretary to the Marquis of Salisbury, the last named having also rendered most valuable assistance during the passing of the volume through the press. The Index has been compiled by Miss Maud H. Roberts.