Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 6, 1596. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1895.
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In the Introduction to Part V. of this Calendar attention was directed to the increase in the number of papers belonging to the last few years of Queen Elizabeth's reign as compared with those of earlier date, and this feature is still more marked in this the succeeding volume, which covers only a period of 12 months, namely, January to December, 1596. The character of the papers continues much the same, a large proportion having reference to foreign relations, illustrating the part which England played on the stage of European affairs, and, in regard to one notable action in particular, furnishing many details of an enterprise marked by British dash and daring, and in its immediate results crowned with success.
It may be remembered that at the close of the year 1595 the King of France was pressing the Queen for aid against the common enemy, which she, mistrusting his intentions, was extremely reluctant to grant; that there were many rumours of actively hostile action on the part of the King of Spain, whose ships and forces were gathering for a descent upon, as it was surmised, either Ostend or Calais; and that the King of France had undertaken the task of reducing the town of La Fere in Picardy. When the year 1596 opened, the plans of the King of Spain were still undisclosed, and the King of France was still engaged in carrying on his siege. It was at this juncture that a special ambassador was despatched to Henry IV., in order at once to convey and excuse the Queen's unsatisfactory reply to his appeal, and to conduct further negotiations. This ambassador was Sir Henry Unton, chosen for this reason, among others, that he was personally acceptable to the Sovereign to whom he was accredited.
Unton himself fully realised the ungracious nature of his mission, and had no liking for it. Rumour also had it that his reception was not altogether of an agreeable character (p. 13). But the King distinguished between Unton's public and private capacity, (fn. 1) and in the latter aspect treated him cordially and familiarly, paying him marked personal attention when, as the months proceeded, it seemed likely that his journey would have a fatal termination. When the King's physicians would have dissuaded him from visiting the sick ambassador on account of the dreaded danger of coutagion, his reply was, that “He had not hitherto feared the harquebuse shot and did not now apprehend the purples' (p. 102), and so saying, he betook himself to the bedside of his dying friend.”
Such of Unton's letters as have not hitherto been printed in Murdin's Collection of State Papers are abstracted fully in this Calendar, but for those so set out the student is referred to that volume, with a note of the few misreadings there to be found.
The correspondence of this ambassador and others in France, which forms a great part of the first 130 pages of this Calendar, gives numerous details of the course of events in France, and some gossip of a personal character relating to the King and those around him. Among the incidents so related is an account (p. 83), furnished by the King himself to Unton, of the capture of Marseilles, “for the strangeness of the success almost incredible.”
The story of Sir Henry Unton's mission, sickness, and death is a sad one. To begin with, his errand, as stated above, was not only personally disagreeable to himself, but occasioned him real depression and distress of mind (p. 17). Misfortune supervened. After he had been in attendance on the King for some two months he met with an accident by a fall from his horse, when he was badly hurt and partially deprived of the use of one of his arms. At this moment (p. 80) he was full of dread lest the French King, moved by “our cold comfort and others' liberal offers,” should be influenced in a direction dangerous to England, and was much perplexed by his ill-success. Then almost immediately came the severe attack of sickness already alluded to, during the course of which, nevertheless, he continued his business conferences with the King and dictated despatches home. Edmondes, who was at his side, writes at the foot of one letter (p. 103), “We have been forced for the authority of this dispatch to make my lord ambassador act more the whole man than truly he is; but I assure your lordship he is yet in very great peril, having his fever continually upon him, which hath brought him to great weakness, and doth not suffer him to take any kind of rest.” A letter (p. 112), describing the symptoms and treatment of the “malignant hot fever,” is an interesting contribution to the history of medicine. The sickness began with violent headache, “and about the seventh day his utterance failed him; but this accident was no sooner cured by the careful learned skill of the King's physician, but purple spots appeared about his heart, whereupon, with the advice of the other physician, they gave him confectio alcarmas, compounded of musk, amber, gold, pearl, and unicorn's horn, with pigeons applied to his side, and all other means that art could devise, sufficient to expel the strongest poison, and he be not bewitcht withall.” The seventeenth day of his sickness was the worst. The writer continues:—“This present Monday is the one and twentieth day of his disease, in which space he hath not slept to their seeming which watch about him; his food is only jelly and such nutritive extracted matter, and albeit his body be brought so low that nature seemeth altogether spent, yet his memory and speech serve him perfectly, though to little use.” A fatal termination came a day or two afterwards amidst general grief.
Meanwhile, in England, ambitious schemes were being planned “to terrify and ruin the great adversary” (p. 91), and in furtherance of the preparations directed to this end, Sir Francis Vere was summoned from the scene of his command in Holland to return to England. He left the Hague on an early day of February. His stay at home was not protracted. Within three weeks from the time of his arrival he was on his way back (p. 67), charged with the mission of engaging the States General to render aid in men and ships, a day and a rendezvous having been fixed for his re-appearance at the head of the Dutch force (p. 87). What the purpose in view precisely was Vere did not know, but he knew enough to surmise that some part of Spain itself was to be the point of attack, and in a long letter (p. 86) he discusses the bearings of such an attempt and the means to be adopted if the results to be obtained were to be other than temporary.
The “great adversary” on his part was not idle, and presently, early in April, the Cardinal Archduke Albert, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, made a move. This proved to be the bold project of the siege of Calais, a project which, though not unexpected, caused, when actually carried into execution, something like consternation on those of the opposite side, and burst upon them as a surprise. “We all are amazed,” writes Sir Francis Vere to Essex (p. 140), “with this siege of Calais, those of the country for the harm they shall receive by the loss thereof, and those who are to attend your Honour this voyage with the doubt that the same shall not go forward.”
At once preparations were made in England to succour the city, and levies of men ordered, which were to be placed under the Earl of Essex's command, but they were soon laid aside, to Lord Burghley's disgust, who writes to his son (p. 141): “I am heartily sorry to perceive her Majesty's resolution to stay this voyage, being so far forward as it is; and surely I am of opinion that the citadel being relieved the town will be regained; and if for want of her Majesty's succours it shall be lost, by judgment of the world, the blame will be imputed to her.” Four days before (p. 135) he had been comforted with the hope Essex had given him of being able to carry aid to the besieged place. But by the middle of April the town was in the hands of the Spaniards and their purpose achieved.
The documents in this volume which furnish information with regard to this expedition, and its results and remoter consequences, are numerous, and although in the earlier stages hints only of the course of events are to be obtained from them, and for a complete account other sources must also be consulted, yet they supply enough for a lucid as well as vivid history of the affair. The expedition was under the joint command of the Earl of Essex and the Lord Admiral, with the common title of Lords Generals, and upon them also rested the burden of a great part of the expense; but it was the Earl of Essex who was the heart and soul of the enterprise, and who was the chief source of the enthusiasm which prevailed. The force was intended to consist (p. 162) of 12 of the Queen's ships, 12 from the City of London, and 20 from the Low Countries, with 5,000 men raised in the counties of England and Wales, whilst almost every English port was invited to furnish a vessel to transport the land forces. Among the subordinate leaders were most of the men of approved valour, Lord Thomas Howard, Sir George Carew, Sir Francis Vere, Sir Walter Ralegh (newly returned from his Guiana voyage), Sir John Wingfield, Sir Conyers Clifford, Sir Matthew Morgan, and a host of others, kindred spirits, all eager for battle with the Spaniard. Preparations took a considerable time, and Essex was indefatigable. Not content with the official communications for the levying and furnishing of suitable men and arms, he wrote numerous private letters entreating “honourable furtherance.” The papers here calendared (p. 164) show him at Plymouth early in May (fn. 2) overwhelmed with business, having “not an hour's breathing time:” lodging the army and providing means to victual and pay it: aided indeed by the Lord Admiral and the council of war, but taking the heaviest share of the burden upon himself: “setting down every man's place and degree for avoiding of quarrels and setting down what doth belong to every man's place and office; also to make order for the well governing of the army and lists wherein we do give every captain his number of men, and every regiment his number of companies, in disposing of which I do mingle the old soldiers and the new that one may help to discipline the other.” Sir Walter Ralegh was at this time in the Thames with his squadron, delayed by adverse winds, pressing reluctant men, “hunting after runaway mariners and dragging in the mire from alehouse to alehouse,” while his presence at Plymouth was eagerly desired by Essex, who was “praying for a good wind,” and promising to do him as much honour and to give him as great contentment as he could, “for this is the action and the time,” he writes, “in which you and I shall be both taught to know and love one another.” At this point comes in the Queen's characteristic part, her “unkind dealing,” as Essex ventures to describe it to herself, which, though of a sort “to stick very deeply in his very heart and soul,” was yet not sufficient to prevent him from going upon this service with comfort and confidence. In a letter to Sir Robert Cecil (p. 172) he “deals somewhat freely” with this matter. Says he, “I have undertaken and hitherto proceeded with a greater work than ever any gentleman of my degree and means did undergo. I have asked her Majesty no money to levy, no authority to press, nor no allowance to carry the troops from the places of their levies to this general rendezvous; but here I have our full numbers and here I keep them without spending our sea victuals or asking allowance or means from her Majesty. I am myself, I protest, engaged more than my state is worth; my friends, servants, and followers have also set up their 'restes'; my care to bring a chaos into order and to govern every man's particular unquiet humours possesseth my time both of recreation and of rest sometimes. And yet am I so far from receiving thanks as her Majesty keepeth the same form with me as she would do with him that through his fault or misfortune had lost her troops. I receive no one word of comfort or favour by letter, message, or any means whatsoever. When I look out of myself upon all the world I see no man thus dealt withal; and when I look into myself and examine what that capital fault should be that I had committed, I find nothing, except it be a fault to strive to do her Majesty more service than she cares for.”
Five days afterwards, on the 12th of May, he writes again. Anxiously awaiting Ralegh and the rest of the fleet, he was by this time a little impatient by reason of many things. Ralegh, however, though Essex did not know it, was experiencing rough weather in the Downs. Essex himself was still without instructions, having not touched one penny of her Majesty's money, and spent infinite sums of his own: —“I pray you, therefore,” he begs Cecil, “in friendship resolve me whether it be decreed by her Majesty that I only shall be undone and the service fall to the ground, to the end that I with it might be ruined; for except her Majesty had given out some words to show her mislike or neglect of our going on, this slackness of all hands could not be used. I pay lendings to above 5,000 soldiers, I maintain all the poor captains and their officers, I have a little world eating upon me in my house, am fain to relieve most of the captains and gentlemen and many of the soldiers that came from the Indies; and yet I complain not of charge, but of want of direction and certainty in your resolutions above. Therefore, I do conjure you to deal freely with me in answering this letter, and to let me have answer quickly.”
His patience was to be tried still further: the two leaders received letters of recall. This produced a general remonstrance from Lord Thomas Howard, Sir George Carew, Sir Francis Vere, and others (p. 188), and an additional separate remonstrance from Vere (p. 189), as one that had “cause to feel the grievousness of the change,” he having been nominated to take Essex's place in the command of the land forces. They all deprecated the Queen's proceeding with the most forcible arguments they could adduce. Essex's state of mind is reflected in his letter to Cecil on the occasion (p. 190). “I pray you to rid me of this hellish torment I am in while we dwell in this uncertainty, and make me from this army if I must not go with it. For the recompense of my noble companion you must all in honour solicit; for me take no care, for my recompense shall be without her Majesty's care or trouble, only, I desire to cast out with Jonas into the sea that the storm may cease.”
But the uncertainty did not last long. A few days later the Queen's letters for the “dismission of the journey without further delay” were received, and enthusiasm revived. Anthony Ashley, coming at this moment upon the scene (p. 194), was struck, so he says, in common with all observers, by “the mutual love” of these two honourable generals, while the review of a large number of the troops, some 3,000 men, who were taught “to march, advance, retire, file, and unfile,” and did it with such dexterity that “the raw ploughman vying with the old soldier, all shewed themselves very sufficient and able men”, tended as much to his own satisfaction as it did to “the contentment of the gentlemen and country people who came to see them.” It is a curious commentary on the “mutual love” to which this witness testifies that on the same day Essex explains in a letter to Cecil (p. 195) the cause of the mutilation of the sheet whereon the “lovers'” joint letter to the Queen was written, namely, that it was due to her “unruly admiral,” who cut out Essex's name because he would have none so high as himself. Essex, however, though he states the circumstance, gives no sign of consequent ill-humour. He is aboard his ship—that suffices—and he shares “the joy in all the fleet, both of soldiers and mariners.”
Meanwhile Ralegh had been plying up towards Plymouth with his squadron, and by this time had reached it. Some days still elapsed, nevertheless, before the expedition made a start. The constitution and numbers of the force as given at the last moment (p. 201) were, “soldiers from Wales and elsewhere, besides those of the Low Countries, 6,200, and out of the fleet 1,200 English and 60 Dutch mariners; the Queen's ships 15, of London and the coast towns 77, and from the Low Countries 28.”
The last message from the Queen, a “devout prayer divinely conceived,” was received by those on whose behalf it was composed “cheerfully and thankfully,” and was ordered to be recited “at fit times as a prayer and invocation unto the Lord purposely indited by his Spirit in His anointed Queen, His instrument in this action.” The last day of May saw them all embarked and ready to be gone (p. 202), “strong enough to abide the proudest fleet that ever swam”; the army the ships carried, “both in numbers and gallant men, of strength sufficient to march and retreat in safety from a more puissant enemy than we are like to find; for in his own country, by the wisest, he is held to be weakest.” Such at least is Sir George Carew's estimate of the expeditionary force of which he was a member. The desire to take a part in this “glorious fleet and army,” which animated so many, is illustrated by the action of Sir Edward Hoby (p. 202), who bade farewell to no one save Lord Burghley, not even to his own wife, “until she over dearly sought him out,” lest the Queen might prevent his going, and who, though he was the eldest knight in the army, took an inferior place “to show what was in him.”
In such confident frame of mind, then, with spirits as buoyant as the ships (not all too well found, by the way) which bore them, and with high hopes of both glory and profit, the expedition, after knocking about Plymouth Sound for a couple of days, finally on the 3rd of June passed out of sight of those on shore, not to be heard of for many weeks.
When news did arrive; however, it was of a kind to gratify the pride of all Englishmen, for it told of the capture of Cadiz (p. 229). A description of the action, (fn. 3) dated at Madrid on the 28 June (O. S.), will be found on p. 226. It gives a favourable account of the behaviour of the English soldiery under the strict orders of Essex. Sir George Carew, dating his letters in a triumphant state of mind from “Her Majesty's city of Cadiz, not in fancy, but won and yet held by her soldiers' swords” (p. 229), launches forth into loud praise of the valour of the lords generals (Essex in particular) and Sir Walter Ralegh, time not permitting him “to discourse of all who in this service have merited extraordinary honour.” Even at this early moment, however, the first resolution to hold the town for the Queen and to despatch Sir Anthony Ashley into England “to that purpose,” had been altered on a survey of the state of the provisions, and a determination come to to quit the place with as much expedition as possible. It was, in the event, held for fourteen days, then abandoned and in part burnt (p. 250). Sir George Carew, from whose letters—written in a hand which, he naively confesses, “at best leisure is naught, but in haste” bad beyond comparison,—these details are taken, testifies that the town was rich, but adds, “rich towns taken in fury and not by composition run all to spoil, as well appeared in this city, which was pillaged to a farthing, yet many nothing the better of it, amongst which number myself is one, not having— God is my judge—one piece of coin, any jewel, or more than one piece of plate not worth 50s.” In Elizabethan days it was held without question that to the victors belonged the spoils, and if none were secured there was a sense not only of keen disappointment, but also that the justice of the case had somehow not been met. Some of Carew's comrades were “more happy,” their coffers being full. But even though in particular instances the material profits were not equal to deserts, yet for everyone concerned, and primarily for Her Majesty, “the glory” of the one day's victories by land and sea was ample, and the damage and annoyance to the enemy equally satisfactory. Carew notes a new “precedent” set, that the English captives in the Spanish galleys were released and sent to their victorious countrymen; and points out the most grievous blow of all to the King of Spain, namely, “to have his weakness so much discovered which heretofore was so fearful to all the nations of Europe.”
On the way home the expedition again landed (p. 268) on the enemy's coast, but there was no fighting, only a long wearisome march to the city of Faro, which was abandoned on the approach of the English troops, the people taking their goods (fn. 4) with them to the mountains; then, two days later, the city having been first delivered to the flames, a march of a like kind back to the ships, “the day extreme hot and the ground deep sand which was painful unto us,” Essex going afoot both ways, “having no more ease than other captains.”
The fleet was thence steered along the coast of Portugal in the direction of home. Sir Anthony Ashley and others had been despatched home previously, but on 24 July Essex despatched another messenger, possibly Sir Arthur Savage (p. 310), in front of the main body to report the state of the fleet and army. His success notwithstanding, Essex is fain to beg Cecil (p. 282) “to plead for your poor friends in their absence if anything be informed to make Her Majesty to mislike our carriage,” and in a letter written the next day, after the same manner (p. 285) prays Cecil “to be my good angel in pleading for me to her that is more mistress of me than of any man or anything in this world,” as though he entertained a feeling that the achievements after all were not quite of a nature to ensure the Queen's entire satisfaction. The last port of call was the Groyne (p. 310), whence “they sent in to see what was in Ferrol,” but finding no shipping there, and the proposal to visit the other ports betwixt that point and France having been negatived by the council of war called to discuss it, they set sail straight for England, “sorry,” so Essex and the Lord Admiral write to the Queen, “that we are at an end of doing your Majesty service, but glad to think we shall so soon come to see your fair and sweet eyes.”
One opportunity of inflicting still greater damage upon the enemy the expedition missed. This was the intercepting of the West India fleet now nearing its destination, “the thing by all men looked for by their lordships to have been put in practice” (p. 322). Rumour assigned a reason not too creditable. Stallenge gives expression to it in a letter (p. 315) written from Plymouth after the return of the first arrivals. “I doubt not,” he writes, “the Lord Generals are very willing to attend their coming, but their companies having got so much pillage, as is reported, I fear will hardly be kept any longer at the seas, but will allege any wants without cause whereby to return home.” Sir F. Gorges gives confirmation to the rumour (p. 322) on the evidence of one who had taken part in the expedition, “that through the plenty that is amongst the greater number of them, and the present good success of their late enterprise, they cannot by any reasons or persuasions suffer themselves to condescend to the perfect finishing of the wars for a long season.” Essex's plans and desires in this connexion are well known, though no evidence of them appears in this volume. On August 8 (p. 327) the whole fleet came into Plymouth, Essex at once landing and proceeding to report himself to the Queen, and the Lord Admiral taking the ships on to Portsmouth. So ended this gallant enterprise, surely, in its results better than Sir Francis Vere prophesied it might chance to be, “of no other use than of one summer's bravery,” but yet hardly having secured that end, “the laying a foundation of a great work,” which at its setting out was hoped for. From the moment when the ships touched land in England there would seem to have arisen a great struggle; on the one hand by those who had taken part in the expedition to secure for themselves as large a share of the spoils as by concealment or dissipation was in any way possible; on the other hand by the Queen's commissioners to discover and appropriate her due share. Many suspicions were aroused, some justly, as in the case of Sir Anthony Ashley, who found a lodging in the Fleet in consequence; some unjustly, as in that of Sir George Carew, who indignantly (p. 326) maintains his innocence. The latter portion of the volume contains numerous papers illustrating this somewhat sordid side of the temper of the age. The issues of the expedition are summed up by a correspondent of the King of Scots thus (p. 372)—“The prosperous success as this late action of Cales hath been so strangely carried by bad advice of late, some ransacking the vessels for the Queen's advantage, some accusing their companions for their own advancement, the Queen complaining of want of care in the generals to conserve the treasure, the generals excusing themselves by impossibility in so great confusion, upon the sudden taking of a town, and part of the Spanish fleet arriving safe and rich, that might easily have been met withal if the ships had made some ten days longer stay, while the last adventurers are disputing and quarrelling about the loose ends, the profit of the voyage is exceedingly spent, if not lost in the chiefest part, and the world rather inclined to find fault with that which was left undone than to praise that which was done.”
Arising out of this Cadiz voyage in particular—but also in other connexions—the present instalment of the Calendar yields considerable information relative to British naval and mercantile history. The chief English port towns were called upon to furnish and fit out ships for this service and to bear the expense. Certificates of the amounts thus expended were afterwards demanded by the Council. Newcastle-upon-Tyne sent one ship of 160 tons; Hull and York combined, also one; Lynn, one of 160 tons, hiring it from Yarmouth; Yarmouth, one of 140 tons carrying 70 men; Ipswich sent two ships of 200 tons burthen each; London was “deeply engaged,” to the amount of 19,000l.; on the south coast Southampton furnished a vessel carrying 65 men; Weymouth and Melcombe Regis one carrying 30 men, while from Plymouth came a vessel of 120 tons burthen, another having been at first engaged but subsequently dismissed. Exeter also sent one vessel, hiring it from Topsham. Bristol was second to London, supplying three ships, two of 250 tons and the third of 200 tons burthen, but receiving contributions towards the cost from Bridgwater (50l.), Worcester (40l.), Shrewsbury (40l.), Cardiff (29l. 11s.), and Gloucester and Tewkesbury (200l.). It was, nevertheless, a matter of difficulty to exact the residue from its own citizens on account of their “poor estate.” Hull and York, contributing inter se in the proportion of three to four, made strenuous effort for power to claim contribution also from the cloth towns, Halifax, Wakefield, and Leeds, and succeeded in getting the Council to direct the justices to “levy some reasonable sum” (p. 424); but the justices there even then were not complaisant in the matter. Hull was unfortunate also in having to meet increased demands when their ship (with a new captain put in by the Lord Admiral) returned (p. 356). Incidentally it may be noticed that on the occasion of their seeking Sir Robert Cecil's aid for their relief, they were careful to send him his fee as high steward of the town. King's Lynn expecting contribution from Norwich (p. 272) had “good words” to begin with but “dilatory answers” only to follow. Weymouth and Melcombe Regis would seem to have made the greatest show of spirit and enthusiasm, London, perhaps, excepted; they claimed to have borne the whole cost of their ship and its complement and in addition to have furnished 130 men, volunteers and pressed men. Southampton, finding the burden laid upon its citizens great, and the contributions received from the inland counties small, while divers of their neighbours (“of good means and ability”) charged to the taxation failed to make good the sums they were appointed to pay (p. 287), sought from Lord Burghley some special order with authority to compel the payment.
The case of London merits a paragraph to itself. At the close of the year, months after the return of the Cadiz expedition, the city received the Queen's commands to fit out anew ten ships to aid the navy in defence of the country from an apprehended attack on the part of the old and now doubly incensed enemy. Thereupon, the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonalty addressed a grave remonstrance to the Privy Council (p. 534). They represented that the charges for sea service alone within the few previous years, including 1588, amounted to the sum of 100,000 marks, and averred that their ability to meet demands of this nature had greatly diminished, partly on account of these very charges, but more especially on account of the great dearth of the previous three years and the three years' plague still earlier, “which hath so impoverished the general estate of this whole city, that many persons, before known to be of good wealth, are greatly decayed and utterly disabled for all public service, being hardly able by their uttermost endeavours to maintain the charges of their private families in very mean sort.” As evidence of the great poverty prevailing throughout the city, they instance the result of an effort made by the Lord Mayor, on the entry of corn “brought from the eastern parts,” to induce “the commons to buy so much corn, every man for his own use, as might well serve for the expense of his private family,” an effort which failed absolutely. But there was something behind this, namely, “great discontentment and utter discouragement of the common people, touching their adventure in the late voyage to the town of Cales, which albeit it was performed with so happy success that the enemy was greatly weakened, the army enriched, and such store of treasure and other commodities (besides that which was there embezzled) brought safe home as was sufficient to defray the charges of that whole voyage; yet, as neither their principal nor any part thereof was restored unto them, contrary to the meaning of the contract set down in writing under the signatures of two noble persons in her Highness's name, they are made hereby utterly unfit and indisposed for the like service hereafter; the rather for that their whole adventure being to the sum of 19,000l. or thereabouts, there is yet uncollected 11,000l., the rest of that sum being taken up in the meanwhile upon several bonds given by the city upon charge of interest, which ourselves, knowing the great difficulties of the said collection, upon good advice have thought good hitherto to forbear, rather than to collect with the hazard of so great trouble of the vulgar sort like to ensue.” Moreover, these taxations had begun to induce something besides complaint of the burdens thus laid upon the people, who “enter into consideration by what authority the said payments are imposed upon them by the governors and other ministers of this city.” It is added, “The like want is in the chamber and common treasure, which, being indebted the sum of 14,000l. or there-abouts, is utterly unable at this present time to supply this want of the common people within this city, for the payment of the said debt of 11,000l., or for any other public uses”; and the remonstrance concludes with something more than a suggestion that the Queen ought to be content “if in these services, intended for the public defence of the whole realm, the like proportion be yielded by us for this present service as is performed by all other her Highness's subjects.” These sentiments, given tongue to in the last month of the year, may be contrasted with the disposition shown by them in the first (p. 6). At that time there had come committees with a “full declaration of their readiness to provide twelve good ships and two pinnaces,” and the Queen, taking cognisance of their “willingness and freedom of spirit” in making the grant, and hearing from the Lord Admiral with how good and substantial an equipage the ships were to be fitted out, was fain to “confess that the manner hereof doth so much please us as we are desirous that by this our own writing notice may be taken of our gracious acceptation, and thanks returned to you all.”
Several letters refer to the ill-fated expedition which had sailed in 1595 under Drake and Hawkins. Ere news of the result had been received the Lord Admiral, describing his own indefatigable labours in the preparations for the Spanish enterprise, incidentally reveals (p. 86) the popular views with regard to these two leaders by the remark, “It will be said that if Sir F. D. and Sir Jo. Hawkins had been here this would have been better expedited.” However, as he was to learn not long after, their rivalry was never more to be feared by him. The first authentic news about them was brought by Capt. Troughton (p. 152) who reached Milford Haven with his ship the Elizabeth Bonaventure on April 22. The first communication (p. 173) from Sir Thomas Baskervile, who had succeeded to the chief command after their death, came more than a fortnight later from the neighbourhood of the Scilly Isles. It was but a fragment of the original squadron which he had kept together until then, “three of Her Majesty's ships and one merchant.” He had likewise but a melancholy story to tell. “The success of this action hath contraried all expectation, for in it we have lost both the generals, Sir Nicholas Clifford, my brother, and many other worthy gentlemen, and gotten no great matter. Some pearl and silver there is which, I fear, will hardly bear the charge of this voyage.” He did bring with him, nevertheless, what were perhaps of more value than he was disposed at the moment to claim for them—“plats and papers I have gotten of the description of the Indies, ports, havens and fortresses, with the ways from the North to the South sea, and riches and commodities of many of those countries.” Captain Troughton was the bearer of a death-bed message (p. 163) from Sir John Hawkins to the Queen, which will show the views then prevailing in loyal men's minds of the comparative force of duty to the sovereign as against duty to family, wife included. Troughton was “willed” (to use the suggestive word then so commonly employed) to acquaint the Queen with Sir John Hawkins's “loyal service and good meaning even to his last breathing; and, forasmuch as, through the perverse and cross dealings of some in that journey, who, preferring their own fancy before his skill, would never yield but rather overrule him, whereby he was so discouraged, and as himself then said his heart even broken, that he saw no other but danger of ruin likely to ensue of the whole voyage, wherein in some sort he had been a persuader of your Majesty to hazard as well some of your good ships as also a good quantity of treasure, in regard of the good opinion he thought to be held of his sufficiency, judgement and experience in such actions, willing to make your Majesty the best amends his poor ability would then stretch unto, in a codicil as a piece of his last will and testament, did bequeath to your Highness two thousand pounds, if your Majesty will take it; for that, as he said, your Highness had in your possession a far greater sum of his which he then did also release; which 2,000l., if your Majesty should accept thereof, his will is shall be deducted out of his Lady's portion and out of all such legacies and bequests as he left to any his servants and friends or kinsfolk whosoever.”
It is to be feared that the Queen had no scruples about taking it, for the disconsolate widow appeals to Her Majesty in connexion with a demand for that very sum, though she does not refer to it as a bequest. She writes in her distress to the Queen herself, from whom she had received gracious messages, “It pleased your Highness to give Mr. Hawkins leave to adventure 5,000l. in this late unfortunate voyage, which I can very well prove he hath disbursed and above 5,000l. more. All this being utterly lost besides the loss of his life which I account the greatest only for very grief and sorrow that he could not effect that which he had undertaken for your Majesty's benefit, is not by some thought sufficient, but they come to me now in your Highness's name for 2,000l. more towards the satisfaction of such as are yet unpaid; insomuch as in this world I see there is nothing but one affliction and misery heaped upon another, so as, next under God, I receive no worldly comfort in anything but only in the continuance of your most gracious and merciful inclination towards me. If it be your pleasure to impose this charge upon me I must and will sell all that ever I possess, leave myself a beggar, put away my servants and sojourn with my friends, rather than leave it unperformed and have your displeasure. But yet I doubt not but your Majesty will deal the more graciously with me for Mr. Hawkins's sake, who, besides the loss of his life, and the greatest part of his substance therewith in your service, received many former losses in his lifetime”—some of which she proceeds to specify. This letter the Queen (p. 282) read over and over, but this Calendar does not disclose what her final answer was. The great sailor's widow was not, however, in any case relieved from financial demands (see pp. 393, 400).
The condition of the rank and file in this expedition after their return was distressing enough to excite Sir John Fortescue's pity, “200 poor miserable wretches hanging at my gate who neither have meat nor clothes” (p. 213). These maintained that they were engaged in the Queen's name, and that consequently they were deprived of their share of such pillage as had been secured; they, therefore, claimed wages, which three centuries ago stood at 6s. 8d. a month, the then equivalent of a bushel of wheat (p. 427).
The letters of the Earl of Essex's correspondents in the Low Countries—Bodley, Gilpin, Norreys, Vere, Sir Robert Sydney, and others—tell the history of the negotiations with the States General of the United Provinces and the progress of events generally on the other side of the North Sea. Bodley's letters run to great length, describing in detail the difficulties which attended his mission, notwithstanding the aid received, unknown to his own Dutch countrymen, from M. Barneveldt. The States General was a ticklish body to deal with, and Bodley was heartily sick of the business. “In truth,” he writes (p. 111), “to speak of myself and mine own contentation (wherein God is my witness I speak unfeignedly unto you), if it were in my option to endure a year's imprisonment or two such other months' toil, my mind would account it a far better bargain to lose a year's liberty with some further discommodity.” In the end he came over to England with certain articles which the States General were brought to the point of proposing for the Queen's acceptance, by impulses and persuasions originating in a quarter they little suspected; these were (p. 109) a full release of her auxiliary charges, the payment of 20,000l. sterling annually on her birthday till the end of the wars, and then immediately after for four years 400,000l. in four equal portions. In regard to them, however, they would pledge themselves to the Queen personally only, and could not be induced to extend their engagements to her successors. Deputies from their own body followed Bodley in the autumn (p. 364). The particulars of the progress of their negotiations in England must be sought for elsewhere than in the following pages. There is little other information here than that M. Noel de Caron, the Dutch Agent in England, feasted them at Streatham when they first arrived (p. 467), and later begged a doe from Cecil that he might treat them to venison on a similar occasion at his quarters in London. Of Dutch diplomacy Bodley had had quite enough, and when towards the end of the year it was proposed that he should return to the Hague he absolutely refused (p. 537).
With regard to the Spanish campaign directed against the Dutch and their allies, the chief event, after the taking of Calais already referred to, was the capture of Hulst in August (p. 344), weakly surrendered to the Cardinal Archduke Albert of Austria by Count Solms.
Border and North Country papers are somewhat numerous. They consist chiefly in communications from Dr. Tobie Matthew, Bishop of Durham, a zealous representative of the Queen's authority, and from the Archbishop of York and the Council of the North. This Council in December of the previous year had suddenly and unexpectedly lost by death its President, the Earl Huntingdon. Three months later his body was, strange to relate, still unburied (p. 93). By the Council's direction it had been embalmed and enclosed in a lead coffin, but nothing further was done, and the body had remained in the bedchamber in which death had taken' place, attended nightly by four servants, “without hearse or any other funeral rites,” awaiting the widowed Countess's further directions. But she would seem to have been indifferent what became of it. After some delay, she refused administration of her late husband's effects. Thus was presented the spectacle (p. 95) of “so noble a man and so worthy a governor forsaken of friends, of brethren, and of wife whom he so tenderly loved,” a spectacle not unnaturally giving “occasion to the Papists to speak many things.” At the end of the month of March matters in this respect were not advanced, the Archbishop still awaiting (p. 123) “some resolution concerning the burial of this noble man.”
The Bishop of Durham's letters are decidedly interesting. The business in which he was earliest concerned in the year now under consideration was that connected with the supersession of the aged warden of the Middle Marches, Sir John Forster. His somewhat difficult duty in this connexion the Bishop would seem to have discharged delicately and sympathetically.
Towards the Recusants in his diocese he bore himself with quite a different spirit. He reported (p. 62) that Cleveland on the East, Richmondshire on the West, were “exceedingly poisoned” with professing Catholics, and he was not lacking in endeavour to catch the “dangerous priests and Jesuits” who were coming and going amongst them. One person in particular excited his apprehensions, Nicholas Tempest of Stella, dwelling at Newcastle with his wife, “a famous, or infamous, recusant.” Tempest himself, “a cunning, scoffing merchant, as much of a Church Papist as any in England, a man of a pestilent wit, and as dangerous as any the worst subject” in the North, the Bishop would willingly have had “touched to the quick,” but the people of Newcastle, a town “of great privilege and small trust in these affairs,” barred the way. There was a doubt whether the High Commission was in force since his own promotion, he being named in it as Dean of Durham, and proceedings under it, therefore, had been in abeyance since the autumn of the previous year. But he was eager to have its powers renewed without the shadow of a doubt, and its members also to be “not numbered but weighed.” He adverts to a certain anonymous pamphlet or “pasquil” which “touched himself deeply,” and others in authority also (p. 64), written, he suspected (p. 73), either by Dr. Favour, vicar of Halifax, chaplain to the late Lord President, or one Sampson Lever, son to old Mr. Thomas Lever, his lordship's servant, a poor man, but zealous not according to knowledge, dwelling upon a small farm a mile from Durham. But although he suspected he could actually charge neither with the authorship. In a subsequent letter (p. 168) he quotes an interesting remark of the King of Scotland, made to one William Whithed, “one of a shrewd head and hath drunk of many waters,” who reported to the Bishop that when the King and he were hunting together upon Berwick bounds, his Majesty remarked that the “governor needed not to make the town so sure against him with watch and ward, for he never meant to hazard the Tower of London for the town of Berwick.”
An enclosure in one of the Bishop's letters (p. 179) incidentally discloses a state of manners among the writer's parishioners, who “consecrated Sunday to Bacchus,” which in their pastor's eyes at least was too shocking to be tolerated. The good man writes: “Upon Sunday we had a hopping. For the Sunday after St. Elen's day is our day of disorder; it is a day of feasting and dancing. I . . . sent for Richard Colson, a constable . . . I told him that whereas many pipers and minstrels would be in the town and they are all by our statute laws rogues if they have not licences, he should either cause them to void the town, or else, if they would needs play here, he should as rogues carry them to some justice of peace to be committed or used as he thought fit. The constable seemed not to mislike this, but when the time came he suffered them not only to play, but even in service time, and so until night; for at evening prayer most of the youths were dancing after their pipes when they should have been at the church, and yet not one of these have their licences. I speak as much as I can against such things, especially in these days rather of mourning than of mirth, but my people are as in a dead sleep or a trance, past sense of feeling.” “I would I could obtain that the constable for neglect of his duty were well fined,” adds the grieved vicar, and the ominous marginal note, “Let a warrant go for him presently,” would seem to point to a probable gratification of his desire.
Some eighteen letters fall under the head of Scotland. Of these two from the Queen to the King, and one from the King to her Majesty, have been already printed, with others, by the Camden Society. Of the rest, four are more or less lengthy communications from Richard Douglas to his uncle Archibald Douglas, chiefly concerned with the subject of the former's endeavours to promote his uncle's reconciliation with the King, endeavours frustrated from time to time by hostile persons of influence in the Scotch Court, seconded apparently by Bowes, the English Ambassador in Scotland. Another lengthy communication (p. 370) advises the King as to the policy he should pursue with regard to the Queen and her ministers, and then proceeds to describe passing events at the English Court. A quotation from this letter has been already given (see p. xii, ante). When postulating the principles that seemed to actuate the Queen's ministers in respect to his master, the writer states that the “princely and kind offices” performed by the King to the Queen and her State were imputed to a kind of awe rather than to the force of his affection. “Wherefore,” he continues, although it be most certain that England and Scotland being at this day as it were the bark and the tree, it is not possible for any man to love either of the realms faithfully and loyally that wisheth not a perfect union of both, yet in my heart I could desire that proportions of correspondency were more evenly kept and measured between your Majesty and the Queen than they are, and thus she might out of good ground assure herself that, notwithstanding all her leagues and treaties round about, yet no prince in the earth at this “day doth so surely settle her in her estate as your Majesty's self, nor any combination as your neighbourhood.”
The number of papers having reference to Ireland is not large, but they include three or four lengthy letters from Sir William Russell, the Lord Deputy, setting forth the unfavourable state of affairs in that country, deploring the expenditure of the Queen's treasure to little purpose, and asking for additional forces. New levies were raised for service there (p. 350). On p. 543 is a list of the forces in Ireland, showing how they were disposed.
The few letters that appear here from the governors and others connected with Jersey and Guernsey relate chiefly to measures for the defence of the islands, or to information received of the movements of the Spaniards, and do not call for special remark.
A fair proportion of the contents of this volume relate to matters ecclesiastical, but the greater number of such documents have to do with other than spiritual interests. The newly appointed Bishops of Winchester and Bangor were concerned for an early restitution of temporalities; the latter bishopric was estimated not to yield 50l. per annum during the two years when first fruits would be paid to her Majesty. Dr. Day, Bishop of Winchester, complains pathetically (p. 64) of having been “taken from his former living and not restored to his present state,” and anticipates, unless relieved, extreme penury, and being made to repent that ever he was made bishop, wishing rather that he had ended his days in lower estate with quietness than, in his old age, in higher place, with grief and vexation of mind. His days were soon to end. He did not live to see the year out, but during the short time he occupied the see (p. 408) he established a reputation for “great housekeeping, painfulness in preaching, and diligence in executing his duty in all sorts under Her Majesty.” He experienced some unpleasantness in connexion with the appointment of a warden of Winchester College after the elevation of Dr. Bilson to the see of Worcester. Armed with the Queen's warrant under the great seal, he proceeded to admit Mr. Cotton, the person first nominated to the office, but the sub-warden and fellows openly resisted him (p. 300), and shut the gates in their aged Bishop's face. This appointment of a successor to Dr. Bilson proved to be troublesome. There were three candidates, Mr. Harmar, a fellow, Mr. Cotton, who was not a fellow, and Dr. Tucker. An attempt was made to induce one of the fellows, “a poor old man,” to resign in Mr. Cotton's favour (p. 180), but this proceeding being found to be contrary to the oath taken by the fellows, and “evident and apparent perjury,” he revoked his resignation, with “great terror of conscience.” In this step he was supported by the remainder of the fellows, and neither threats nor persuasions would seem to have had any effect upon their resolution. A number of letters refer to this business. There are two letters written in a very humble frame of mind from Dr. Fletcher, the Bishop of London, who was using every endeavour (p. 134) “to find again the taste of that which of all Her Majesty's virtues hath ever been the most admirable, to wit, her clemency.” The Bishop of St. David's got into serious trouble over a sermon preached by him at Richmond (p. 139), the offensive part of which lay in the suggestion that the Queen was growing old. The Queen's wrath was great, and he discovered to his cost that his method of “encouraging her in well-doing” (p. 140) was not appreciated. The new Bishop of Worcester presented (p. 265) a report painted in dark colours of the state of his diocese, “as dangerous a place as any that I know.” In that small circuit nine score recusants of note, besides retainers, wanderers, and secret lurkers, dispersed in forty several parishes, and six score and ten households whereof about forty are families of gentlemen that themselves or their wives refrain the church, and many of them not only of good wealth but of great alliance, as the “Windsors, Talbots, Throgmortons, Abingtons, and others.” Excommunication being the only bridle given by the law to the Bishop, and that being ineffectual because despised, the Bishop suggested that he and others should be trusted with the commission ecclesiastical, when he promised to endeavour “to serve God and Her Majesty” in the shire, “first, by viewing their qualities, retinues, abilities, and dispositions; next, by drawing them to private and often conferences, lest ignorance make them perversely devout; thirdly, by restraining them from receiving, succouring, or maintaining any wanderers or servitors that feed their humours; and lastly, by certifying what effects or defects were the cause of so many revolting.” A list (p. 266) of the “wealthier sort of recusants in Worcester diocese” is annexed to his letter.
Allusions occur from time to time to some of the diseases afflicting humanity and their remedies. The treatment then customary in the “purples” has already been shown in connexion with the fatal illness of Sir Henry Unton. A course of physic would seem to have been regarded almost as a solemn duty which might give place to nothing less than the Queen's affairs. So Lord Buckhurst, having forborne for the space of a month or more to resort to physic taking (p. 194), at last, feeling himself altogether distempered and filled with humours, secures an all too short week for the purpose. Ague, as is well known, was a common complaint. Sir Richard Barkeley puts forward (p. 196) an “extreme fit,” lasting 24 hours, as an excuse for absence from Court. W. Waad was a sufferer from the same disease (pp. 209, 210). So likewise was Lord Sheffield (p. 360). Sir W. Fitzwilliam records “joints much amended since May ended,” with obvious reference to a rheumatic affection, and Lord St. John testifies to the skilful practice of Dr. Gyfford in his treatment of palsy, but asks, nevertheless, for licence (p. 244) to travel into Germany to use the baths about Strasburg.
The year of this volume was an important one for Sir Robert Cecil personally, in that during its course he received the title of Chief Secretary, “whereof he had the employment and substance before” (p. 245). A week or two later he received the offer of the High Stewardship of Doncaster, “with the simple fee of 5l.,” a place vacated by the death of Lord Hunsdon. He was the recipient of several presents. Colchester sent him oysters (p. 74); Sir John Gilbert, a “parakito,” which, “if well taught, will speak anything.” The directions for this creature's “entertainment” are to this effect. “He will eat all kinds of meat, and nothing will hurt him except it be very salt. If you put him on the table at meal-time he will make choice of his meat. He must be kept very warm, and after he hath filled himself he will set in a gentlewoman's ruff all the day. In the afternoon he will eat bread or oatmeal groats, drink water or claret wine. Every night he is put in the cage and covered warm.” Another gift was a tame pheasant hen with her young (p. 278); another a book (p. 279). Sir W. Russell sends him from Ireland a cast of hawks and an Irish nag. Mr. W. Cycyll, of Alltyrynys, who proposed to leave his inheritance to Lord Burghley and Sir Robert Cecil (p. 316), sends the latter (p. 454) a pair of table knives, four cases of fruit trenchers, and two dozen meat trenchers, of what material is not stated. Dr. W. Tooker, one of the Queen's Chaplains, looking for preferment and depending upon Sir Robert to secure it, promises the farm of Piddle Trenthide, or “other terms of gratitude equivalent or better.” Robert Cecil's elder half-brother, Thomas, was still among the unsuccessful aspirants for a good place (p. 275), “forsaken,” so he says, “of a father and brother.” A nephew, William Cecil, regards his uncle Robert “as most fortunately raised by God to strengthen our house.” It will be perceived from this short summary that the materials for the private history of the Cecil family contained in this portion of the Calendar are somewhat meagre.
A letter from Sir Matthew Arundell, to which attention was called in the introduction to the last volume (Part V., p. 480) exhibited an unusual kind of anxiety on the part of a parent. The aged father had deprecated the premature return of his son Thomas from the wars in Hungary, whither he had sent him in order to remove him from his “studious solitary life of Southampton House,” and it may be remembered that the son's wife was held by the father blameable in a high degree for the not unnatural desire for her husband's return. In the present volume there are a number of papers connected with the son's actual reappearance not without peculiar interest. Arundell's stay in the camp of the Emperor, to whom he had been warmly accredited by letters from the Queen, had been productive of high personal honour, the Emperor having conferred upon him the dignity of an “Earl of the Empire.” Bringing with him the Emperor's grant, attested with the usual guarantee of authenticity, the Emperor's seal, and also a letter from the Emperor to the Queen, the new Imperial noble adventured upon “the long, tedious, and dangerous voyage” to England (p. 43), with the expectation of a warm welcome at the least, being probably unaware of his father's sentiments of disapproval. But good fortune which had so befriended him abroad deserted him when in the winter weather he approached the English coast. For, shipwrecked, having lost apparel, linen, horses, money, and all else he possessed, including the precious instrument which proclaimed his new nobility (p. 129), he reached at last terra firma and his own country with nothing save “an extreme cold gotten by tumbling into the sea for the safety of his life.” Nor did his misfortunes end here. For no sooner had he announced his arrival and his new dignity than he discovered that his acceptance of it without the Queen's privity (p. 49) was held to be an offence of the worst kind, which involved committal to the Fleet Prison. Here he remained for some months, and when released it was only to be dismissed into the country in disgrace, under the burden of which this volume shows him to have sunk deeper as the months revolved. In August he writes (p. 358) in a bitter spirit of complaint to his kinsman, Sir Robert Cecil, “honourable in all things but in this unkind”: “Have I not already suffered crosses enough: my shipwreck, my imprisonment, my disgrace known to all men, my father's disinheriting of me and the general malice that is borne me, but that yourself (the only person of honour by whom I hoped to receive comfort) must not only forsake but persecute me ?”
Some account was given in the introduction to Part V. of this Calendar of the circumstances connected with the flight and exile of the brothers Sir Charles and Sir Henry Davers. A few papers in this part carry on their story. A long letter from Sir Henry Davers (p. 56) communicates to Essex the reasons by which the Due d'Èpernon in Provence justified himself in the posture of antagonism which he had assumed towards the King of France, and describes the forces which he had at his command. A letter from the Attorney-General (p. 69) informs Sir Robert Cecil of the payment of 2,000l. to the Receipt at Westminster to the Queen's use, arising from Sir Henry's attainder. Sir Charles Davers takes occasion of the Duke of Bouillon's mission to England (p. 163) to renew his petition for pardon. In June (p. 224) he replies to a letter from Cecil, who had requested him, during the interval when no Ambassador would be in France, to furnish information of the course of events there, and to give his opinion of the long talked of treaty between Spain and France. In this letter he also gives particulars of a meeting at Paris during the previous winter with the Earl of Bothwell, who imparted to him the courses he had run, his present fortune and estate, and the desire he had to live under her Majesty's protection, or as her secret pensioner in France, affirming his ability to do her extraordinary service. “He pretended likewise to be able to discover from time to time all the proceedings of the Earls of Huntley and Arroll, who lie at Liege, by means of one Sir James Linsey, brother to the Earl of Crawford, who is in Paris and holdeth ordinary correspondence with them.” But Davers had “very little affiance in his pretended intelligences.” A letter from Lady Davers (p. 267) seeks to show that the balance of injuries as between her family and that of the slain Harry Long was now in the latter's favour, recalls some of the origins of the quarrel, and hints at her willingness to make payment of some “reasonable composition,” if that might help to bring to a practical issue her Majesty's good inclination to mercy, with which she had been made acquainted. In the autumn (p. 451) both brothers write to Essex, the one to secure his aid against Sir Anthony Mildmay, who, “now publicly armed,” began to make some show of private malice; the other to say that Lord Shrewsbury would be the bearer of a letter from the King of France to the Queen on his behalf. In December Edward Wilton tells Essex (p. 523) that Charles Davers was discontented at the non-acceptance of his service in the Cadiz expedition, and was now “wholly for the Treasurer, who, finding his sufficiency, maketh no small account of his service, and hath sent him to the frontier of Savoy to attend and advertise him of the designs of that Prince and the King of Spain.”
Not a few documents noticed in this volume give clear evidence that in the day it deals with the situation of an ambassador was not always a desirable employment, nor nomination to such an office invariably welcomed. For example, Thomas Edmondes, who had long served the Queen in France, having in this year come home and received a place (p. 193), expressed a wish to be excused from returning, and consequently exposed himself to the “chastisement” of Sir Robert Cecil. Incidentally may be noticed the description which he gives of the necessary equipment of a person in his situation, in order to “follow the King”: a horse for himself, another for a servant that writes under him, another for one who goes before with the harbinger to procure lodging and provision and dress his “poor diet,” another to carry a couple of trunks containing his clothes and bed, another to carry provisions for the kitchen and servants' necessaries, and often oats; two grooms, with a horse for one of them; a lacquey to attend on himself, and another to run with his servant to assist in taking lodging; the “mernest secretary belonging to any man” being provided in at least as ample a manner as this. If, as is most likely the fact, his representations of his “wracked estate” were true, one is inclined to accept with some suspicion of its honesty the fervid assertion made to the Queen, “I know how great a happiness I have (being so unworthy a wretch) to be employed in the service of so rare and perfect wisdom,” seeing also that it was made when he was pleading that a grant bestowed upon him might not be withdrawn.
Lord Zouche was another who put forward excuses (p. 195), confessing “to his own shame” that he “had no manner of language wherein to treat of any matter,” having passed his youth in little searching for knowledge and in that time spent his patrimony. Another reluctant nominee for an ambassador's post was Sir Anthony Mildmay (p. 260), who was designated to be resident ambassador in France. He pleaded ill-health, insufficiency of income, and want of knowledge of the language and country, which he had not visited for twenty-one years. Eventually, however, he undertook the duty, accompanying the Earl of Shrewsbury, sent as special ambassador to ratify on the Queen's behalf the treaty with the King of France. For the duty thus devolved upon Lord Shrewsbury, the Earl of Northumberland would seem to have been first chosen (p. 260), but he successfully evaded it, advancing as reasons for his refusal, deafness and poverty. What absurdities it must beget, he urged, when he must force a king to speak with often repetitions and to strain his voice above ordinary; how ill fitted for the performance of his duty when he would not be able to understand distinctly “by reason of the quickness of the French pronunciation, and the unacquaintedness of their accent.” He adds a further consideration which amounts to a reflection upon French politeness: “how disgraceful the end may be to me, considering the scoffing and scornful humours of them to all of other nations in whom they discover the least imperfection, and how soon they may lay upon me the reputation of a fool, and so by consequent and out of boldness grace me with some such disgrace as hath happened to others before me.” In addition to all this, he paints a most melancholy picture of the state of his finances. When the Earl of Shrewsbury had instead been chosen for this special embassy, Sir Edward Dymoke received the Queen's commands to accompany him (p. 314), but he is yet another who prays to be excused, for the reason that an indisposition of body, which had attacked his lower limbs, prevented him from travelling otherwise than by coach.
Lord Rich, who did accompany Lord Shrewsbury in this mission, is a lively correspondent, as is shown by one of the two letters of his (p. 415) found in this collection. He has something to say of the lady who at the time engrossed the affections of the King of France, and whom some of the English gentlemen of the ambassador's retinue had been bold enough to visit in her bedchamber, ungallantly reporting her to be “adorned with more beauty of jewels than especial features of good favour or fairness.” Shrewsbury himself is also (p. 417) fain to mention this important personage and her interesting condition (which had likewise attracted Lord Rich's observation), and to tell an anecdote in which the King and she were the principal actors. There is, however, but a small portion of the correspondence pertaining to this embassy found among the Cecil papers.
Another special embassy despatched during this year was that sent to the Landgrave of Hesse, of which the Earl of Lincoln was the head, and Sir Richard Fenys his companion. It started in July from Yarmouth, after some delay and being twice beaten back by tempestuous weather (p. 289), and having accomplished its object, returned early in October (p. 425).
In the preparation of this volume the Commissioners have had the assistance of Mr. R. Arthur Roberts, Mr. Robert F. Isaacson, Mr. E. Salisbury, and Mr. Robert H. Brodie, all of the Public Record Office, and of Mr. R. T. Gunton, Private Secretary to the Marquis of Salisbury. The index has been compiled by Mr. Giuseppi, also of the Public Record Office.