Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 9, 1599. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1902.
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The bulk of the Cecil Manuscripts at Hatfield for the closing years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth and the opening years of her successor is such that the calendar of them for this period will probably fall into a convenient arrangement of twelve months to a volume. At any rate, the present volume, like its immediate predecessors, deals with this space of time, setting forth the contents of the papers of the year 1599, January to December, according to the modern reckoning.
It will be remembered that what is known as the Winwood Collection of State Papers commences, as regards its main con tents, with documents of this year, and it may therefore be well to state at once that none of those connected with Sir Henry Neville's mission to France there printed will be found in this volume. The only letters from Sir Henry Neville are two or three preliminary to his departure. As to other collections of contemporary papers, it may suffice again to name the State Papers (Domestic, Ireland and Foreign), in the Public Record Office, and for the first time to refer to the manuscripts of Mr. Savile Foljambe which have been reported upon by the Historical MSS. Commission. Among the last are some which, having been set out in that Report at length, when also found at Hatfield in duplicate, have received only such notice in this calendar as is necessary to identify them.
The Irish Expedition.
With regard to the events of the year 1599, it is safe to say that, had there then existed any agency similar to the modern daily newspaper, whose business it was to keep the English nation informed of the progress of such events as were of greatest general interest, the topic which, throughout the year, would have held the first place—except, perhaps, for one short interval in the month of August—would have been the military expedition under the command of the Earl of Essex sent to reduce the Earl of Tyrone and his followers in Ireland to subjection. Special interest would, we think, have been taken in the story of the fortunes of its commander, both during the campaign in Ireland and afterwards, when his sudden return to England proved to be the first step of his descent to an ignominious end.
This Irish expedition was, however, a matter affecting all classes, and in no small degree the humblest. From the counties of England and Wales, North and South, East and West, from town and village, considerable bodies of men were suddenly withdrawn from their ordinary labour, in most cases hastily trained, or even not trained at all, and forthwith shipped to Ireland, there to meet an alert enemy and to endure great hardships; there also, numbers of them, to lay down their lives. And although, among individuals—chiefly the young “gallants” and officers professionally trained to arms—there was plenty of eagerness to serve under the Earl of Essex, who received numberless applications for posts in his army from old men and young, from men at home and men abroad, yet it is also evident that the ordinary countryman or villager, suddenly and compulsorily turned into a soldier in order to be sent across the Irish Sea, did not enter upon the service always with alacrity or enthusiasm. Nor, even in the case of men trained to arms, was the desire for service out of the country invariably to be relied upon. For instance, a writer, now anonymous, from a northern Border county (p. 43), charges certain of his fellows who had volunteered to serve with their trained bands under the Earl of Essex in Ireland, with having made the offer rather to fill their own pockets than to show their affection for his service. The writer continues :—
This county stands ever in readiness for defence. We have 600 trained soldiers divided into bands with captains over them, and 500 more, likewise divided into bands with their captains, which we term Scottish bands, to be in readiness for defence of that nation. The captains are gentlemen of very good haviour, and the soldiers are of the richest farmers' and best freeholders' sons of the whole shire. We have been at great charges of training and furnishing them, and they were promised when chosen that they should never be pressed to any foreign service. I assure you there is not one man of them but; before he will go to Ireland, will give his captain £20, £30 or £40 to put another in his room. What a charge and discontentment that would breed here you can well conceive. I hope you will make a stay if any such matter be attempted; or, that if companies must go from this shire to Ireland, such men as are fittest may be pressed, but our trained bands may be kept for the purpose for which they were tirst chosen.
And, moreover, from Essex's own county, Hereford, comes the complaint (p. 420):—
The continuance of the Irish wars makes us in these parts to fear that our countries are like to feel the burden ere long of levying more soldiers, with which we have been for these many years exceedingly afflicted, by reason that my Lord of Essex hath not gone any journey but that, out of a pretended interest of the affection of this county of Hereford unto his Lordship, he has ever drawn a charge upon us such as we groan under but know not how to remedy.
But, whatever individual men's sentiments may have been, willingly or unwillingly, pressed into military service large numbers of them were; were then mustered and put into some sort of martial order; were “habited (fn. 1) ” —, as regards the horsemen, in long horsemen's coats of strong cloth of orange-tawny “colour with white lace and white lining throughout,” and armed with curates, open head pieces, long pistols and “swords”—and having been supplied with conduct money, were then marched hundreds of miles to the port of embarkation, Bristol or Chester or Liverpool, as the case might be. From Chester or Liverpool, two thousand six hundred men, brought in this way to their rendezvous at the former place—all in good case “except eleven of the men raised in Norfolk, whose coats were coarse, who wanted altogether both hose and shoes, and of whom some had no swords” (p. 108)—were in the month of March (p. 113) embarked for Dublin with a favourable wind. Eight hundred more were despatched about the same time from the same quarter for Waterford (p. 113).
To Waterford also were sent from Bristol, a little earlier in the same month, certain companies of horse under the command of Sir Thomas Brooke and Sir Anthony Cooke, who suffered much ill-fortune on the way (p. 101). Windbound for several days after going on board-ship, they at last set sail, and after six days at sea (p. III), made shift to reach Ilfracombe. From Ilfracombe, on a fair Monday evening, they again put out, a small flotilla of ships with boats to aid and speed them on their way, “thinking that tide to get to Lundy Island.” But worse misadventures were still to come. A bark in which Sir Anthony Cooke had sixteen men and horse and his cornet and goods, “came first foul of Sir John Brooke's great ship, whereby they were constrained to cut divers of their tacklings.” If the master of the bark had then let fall an anchor, “as he was called unto and willed” by many stentorian voices of masters and pilots—no doubt in language of appropriate forcibleness—all had been well. But, deaf to advice and entreaty, the master omitted to do this; out of mere wilfulness it was supposed, and the bark was cast upon the rocks. “So,” Sir Anthony's tale continues,—
we were constrained to help to save our men. The night being then come upon us, and the tide being by that time half spent, we were constrained to put in again into that harbour. In putting in together, Sir John Brooke's own ship fell foul of my great ship, whereby they were both in great danger, insomuch as Sir John Brooke's master of his ship willed the soldiers all to shift for themselves, but; in the end, both the ships being forced to cut and let slip their tackling, they were forced on shore, the tide being then half-ebb. In coming in Sir John's ship did strike two sundry times upon two rocks, which by great help was freed again, and so came safe into harbour. All that night we bestowed in helping to save such goods as we could, and with the aid of the town and my men's travail, we had only six horses drowned. The next day we both stayed in town, Sir John to repair his ship again of such tacklings as were cut the night before, and myself to hire a new ship in the harbour to serve my turn, which I have done, and furnished her with all things necessary for man and horse at my own charges. This present Thursday morning we are put to sea again, the wind being fair, with the morning tide, hoping you shall shortly hear of our arrival in Ireland.
Stories, like the above, are of course, of no great historical importance, but they serve to bring home to later generations some of the circumstances of a voyage to Ireland with troops three centuries ago.
Sir Henry Davers who, with his troop of a hundred horsemen, also sailed from Bristol (p. 96), had, it may be presumed, better luck on the way.
Troops from the Low Countries.
The army for Lord Essex's command was made up not only of recruits, raw or otherwise, from England, but also of a number of more seasoned troops who had already served abroad. It had been determined at the close of the previous year, in spite of the protests against the measure by the States General and the Count Maurice (see Pt. VIII., pp. 493, 502), that two thousand men from the English companies serving in the Low Countries should be withdrawn for service in Ireland. At the first intimation of the Earl of Essex's employment, Sir Henry Docwra (then at the Hague) had offered his services (Pt. VIII., pp. 499, 507, 508), which were accepted, to his “unspeakable contentment” (p. 22), notwithstanding his “fine prospects of advancement” (p. 21) where he was. He it was who was now appointed to conduct these troops to Ireland. It was intended that they should be seasoned men, but their quality was more than doubtful. What Essex expected to have was a force of “old soldiers all, and of the best”; what he obtained are described as “of the worst men and worst armed” (p. 36), “far inferior in their experience and readiness” to his expectation (p. 42). Instead of sending whole companies with their officers, the States General sent only men of the “broken companies” (p. 42), (that is, the companies latterly turned out of the Queen's pay), Count Maurice presuming that Essex would accept this in good part “seeing he (the Count) hath need of men, having so mighty an enemy to deal withal” (p. 40). To take the place of the men thus withdrawn, the Queen sent over to Holland twenty companies under the command of Sir Thomas Knollys. The States General took the men but refused the officers sent with them, who, being thus stranded, all volunteered for service under Essex in Ireland. After considerable difficulties in completing the numbers and making good the defects of this Low Country force (pp. 42, 59), Sir Henry Docwra reached Dublin with it about the last day of February (p. 93).
The Earl of Essex.
Turning now from the composition of the army, we pass to its commander, and to the consideration of his situation in the face of a task which, in a letter to his cousin (p. 4), he describes as the hardest that any gentleman could be entrusted with, and in a letter to his friend Lord Willoughby (p. 9), as “a breakneck employment.” It may be observed that one thing Essex never failed to do : to magnify himself and anything that concerned himself, and (it must be added) to “complain of his tools” and his treatment, and to depreciate his rivals. He writes (p. 4):—
If you wonder that now in this time of general offerings you hear not from me, you must wonder also that, in the eve of the last year, the Queen having destined me to the hardest task that ever any gentleman was sent about, she has yet [thought] to ease her rebels in Ireland of some labour by breaking my heart. When my soul shall be freed from this [prison] of my body, [she] will then see her wrong to me and her wound given to herself; and the faults of those whom now she [favours] will revenge all my unkindnesses. But this, I protest, doth more afflict me than the hardness or the unworthiness of mine own destiny. For if I might, with my death, either quench the great fire of rebellion in Ireland, or divert those dangers which from foreign enemies are threatened, I should joy to be such a sacrifice. But how much soever her Majesty despiseth me, she shall know she hath lost him who for her sake would have thought danger a sport and death a feast; yea, I know I leave behind me such a company as were fitter to watch by a sick body than to recover a sick State. And all the world shall witness that it is not the breath of me—which is but wind—or the love of the multitude—which burns as tinder—that I hunt after, but either to be valued by her above them that are of no value, or to forget the world and to be forgotten by it.
About the same time he unburdens himself to Lord Willoughby (p. 10), whom he accounted his other self, exposing to that friend's eyes alone his “private problems and nightly disputations,” and explaining how it was that he had accepted the duty which would seem to have been so obnoxious :—
Into Ireland I go. The Queen hath irrevocably decreed it : the Council do passionately urge it; and I am tied to my own reputation to use no tergiversation. And as it were indecorum to slip collar now, so were it minime tutum, for Ireland would be lost, and though it perished by destiny, yet I should only be accused for it, because I saw the fire burn, was called to quench it, and yet gave no help.
The response of Lord Willoughby, then Governor of Berwick, is of a character to satisfy the most ardent thirst for flattery. As one day in heaven is better than a thousand, so one letter like this of yours may stand for a thousand. . . . . I would willingly follow your baggage in the camp in a horse litter and be your carriage master. Would God I had so exchanged my government! . . . . You should take all your followers to die happily with you in Egypt, rather than unhappily leave them to “live in the dearth of Canaan behind you”—this is the kind of salve which he administers to Essex's wounded and offended spirit. And there is more of a similar sort, “scribbled lamely from Berwick,”—as for example the following (p. 35):—
When I turn myself to your great work, I am enchanted with your sweet harmony of discords, admire your forecasts, and bemoan myself to be divided from such a fortress of fortitude, whereunto I am in mind so morticed as I desire of God to stand and fall withall. Who flowed so much as could supply to this your project, might well be held another ocean, whereof our world hath but one. You have made already the conquest your own, you have encountered evil itself, subdued it to your virtuous self, the other conflicts are but light skirmishes, your trophy is already advanced, and death itself is fallen at your feet. Hanno is subdued alive, Hannibal from the senate throws his trifling enemy to the stairs' foot, Cato his poison ends himself, you, victorious, shall see these new acted. But glory and safety! Though Ireland calls you, satyrs can hear that England cries out for you. Is peril present there in eye? It is here imminent in heart. But must you needs go, yet, noble lord, bestride us down, firm one foot there but rest the other here, that, when you step to us again, it may be without slipping. For fear of it, you are sure to have the hands and hearts of honest men. I, though I be minimus apostolorum, will pray my part, with the widow ever ready to pay my mite.
Here may be noted the kindly action of another well-wisher, William Harborn, not long returned from his mission as the Queen's resident agent in Turkey, who presents Essex (p. 57) with an Italian History of the World, in four volumes, doubtless obtained on his journey home from Constantinople, to be Essex's companion in Ireland, there, “at times vacant,” to recreate his “most heroical mind, wearied with the manifold cares of that very honourable, great action.”
As is well known, three months of the year were allowed to elapse before Essex actually started. He himself, the task under taken, was sympathetically remembered in private (p. 41) and public prayers, the “Church of the Strangers” in London being the first to commence in their public services this godly exercise (p. 127), but their pious example being soon followed by the churches generally, for whom a form of prayer was provided by the Archbishop of Canterbury.' The overland journey to Beaumaris accomplished, Essex and his suite were detained there for several days, waiting for a favourable wind (p. 134). The passage over was tedious and perilous. When they reached the coast of Ireland, they landed at a point eight miles from Dublin “about one of the clock after midnight on the thirteenth” of April. The landing was not effected without adventure (p. 134). Some of the party “miscarried” on a rock; “but,” writes William Temple to Edward Reynolds (p. 134), “God mercifully preserved our worthy Lord, who in hasting to reach unto such of us his helping hand who were like to have been overwhelmed by means of the rock, fell himself several times upon another rock, but it pleased God to clear the boat from the same, and to save us from the other, which turned featly upon its side before we were free from it.”
Essex in Ireland.
On the 15th, Essex, as Lord Lieutenant, “took the sword and sway of this unsettled kingdom into his hand” in Dublin Cathedral after a “grave sermon” preached by the Bishop of Meath. The ceremonies were of “exceeding magnificence” (p. 144). “The service on St. George's Day passed all the service that ever I saw done to any prince in Christendom,” writes Sir Anthony Standen (p. 144), but he hastens to explain, “all to her Majesty's honour,” moved thereto by the thought that “malice might hew” something sinister out of the circumstances.
The papers in this volume relating to the subject are not such as set forth a complete history of Essex's proceedings in Ireland during the next five months, but there is a good deal of information of one kind and another bearing upon it, and many intimations of the views and opinions of people on the spot. It is to be noted that from the first there was no great confidence of success, and, firmly fixed in the minds of those engaged, the sentiment that the difficulties of the task were not properly appreciated in England. Of the journey into Munster, undertaken instead of the more serious campaign against Tyrone in Ulster which was first designed, one of Essex's secretaries writes, ere yet it was commenced (p. 157):—“We hope the best and you are like to hear the worst.” It was reported that the number of the rebels was greatly in excess of the troops to be led against them (p.. 150), but “my Lord meaneth to leave us in the place or soundly to beat them.” The object of this “progress” was (p. 161) “to discover the humour and intent of the rebel, the affection of the subject, and the country's ability to furnish provision and carriages,” and to gather some intelligence for the greater and subsequent expedition into Ulster. At its close, those who took part in it were pleased enough with what had been accomplished, although the march to Waterford was “purposed” for three weeks and took seven (p. 212), and although the list of casualties which occurred in its course (p. 213) contained names of “the best sort.” In July, Essex had to report, in a hasty, confused letter written as his cousin Carey was on the .point of embarking, among items of news of a more favourable character, that which had come from Offaly (p. 231), “where,” he writes, “there being placed by me 750 men well victualled and provided for, they have laid still like drones without doing service, and now have been beaten hard under the fort, and lost about 50 men, the soldiers showing extreme cowardice, and the officers neither courage nor judgment.” In Leix, however, the garrison, though less in numbers, had done better. As to the condition of things generally in Ireland at this time, Temple tells Reynolds (p. 233), “the rebel is mighty in forces, and strong in advantages; as also grown to that height of pride and confidence in his hopes, as he fears he shall rather want a subject wherein to show his obstinate and malicious resolution, than variety of means to strengthen his proceedings. There has been opinion in England of facility to subdue him, and to range the country to obedience, but the knowledge here, and experience of his courses and means for lengthening the life of his rebellion, will easily check that opinion.”
The next event in chronological order is Essex's ten days' journey into Offaly (p. 263), “so harmful to the rebels, that what with the blows they received, the burning their corn and taking a thousand milch kine, besides passing their greatest strengths whereby they bragged the Queen's army durst not attempt to enter, they are all now come into one humour to resist no further.” And then, late in the season, at last comes the preparation for the northern journey into Ulster, deprecated nevertheless by those in Ireland, on the ground that it must leave Leinster undefended against “these strong rebels which are in all places much stronger than England imagines them to be.” The letter from the Council in Ireland setting forth the reasons against this undertaking, the reply to which is among the State Papers, Ireland, in the Public Record Office, is printed here (pp. 263–267). Here, too, is the story of the achievements of Essex and his army from the 9th of May till the 3rd of August (p. 267), as told, no doubt, to correct the view taken in England that they in Ireland had “done nothing but gone a progress.” Far from that, maintains one of Edward Reynolds's correspondents (p. 270), “we have gone thorough paces, we have victualled forts, we have taken castles, we have set houses on fire, we have placed garrisons, and have made many knights.” There is, perhaps, a stroke of irony in the last item of accomplishment; but anyhow, the writer, who is William Cholmley, one of Essex's immediate followers, declared that the critics in England, with whom it always went well “howsoever it go with us in Ireland,” if they had been in Ireland, even with 5,000 men, and undergone the same experience, might have “lost their heads.” “In England,” says he, “there is no rebels spoken of but Terron, but he is like a tree that to one body hath many branches which is spread over all Ireland, for there are some that march among us that, where they find opportunity, will as soon cut our throats as the rebels that fight against us.” The erroneous views held at home of the actual facts in Ireland are continually referred to. Robert Osborne, another of Reynolds's correspondents, speaking of “these strong rebels”, tells him (p. 294): “In England they say they be but naked rogues, but we find them as good men as those which are sent us, and better. You shall hear of greater killing than you have.” While, as regards the comparative quality of the English soldiery, Captain Robert Constable reports to Reynolds (p. 301), in view of the expected “journey to the North,” that is, to Ulster, in August : “Assure yourself, these troops which must of necessity join with us will cause (through their possessed scare) a many throats to be cut; besides, all our troops are weakened through sickness, our gallants are returned home, and when we fight, the whole brunt of the danger is like to lie of [on] the hands of few of us, so much are our ordinary spirits failed, for the supplies which were sent are such, many lame and so base fellows, that they are not worth their clothing.”
The feeling engendered in the minds of those actually engaged in the task of combating the rebellion in Ireland, by the talk of the stay-at-home critics, is goodhumouredly expressed by Cholmley, in the letter from which quotation has already been made, thus : “If in Ireland our actions succeed well, they keep us poor, lest we grow great; and if it succeed ill, then are we overthrown, horse and foot;” and more indignantly by Sir Gelly Meyrick, who bursts out, also in the ears of Reynolds : —“The scorns we receive from England hinder her Majesty's service more in a year than any money will repair. Let Ra : and Carey prate. They are infamous here for their service.”
One other quotation from Cholmley's letter will serve to show at what personal expense Essex was accustomed to carry on a campaign (p. 273) :—“As touching the state of our house, we are at least 400 persons, beside 40 or 50 persons that sit at my Lord's table. Our expenses betwixt £35 and £40 per diem in meat and drink, beside the charges of the stable, servants' wages and liveries, and money that flies daily out of my Lord's purse, which I do esteem to be as much as the charge of meat and drink. Considering the prices of provisions that have been heretofore in Ireland, they are now at a very dear rate, a cow 60s., a mutton 10s., a veal 20s., a hen 12d., a chicken 6d., a lb. butter 6d., a pig 2s. 6d., a bushel of wheat 4s., a field pigeon 4d.; so that I pray God we may return conquerors, for sure I am we shall return beggars.”
While the preparations for the journey into Ulster were going forward, though not too eagerly pressed, and when the month of August had not far advanced, there arose occasion (p. 289) to send news to England—as suddenly despatched as the cause was unexpected—of a disaster in Connaught, by which Sir Corners Clifford, Sir Alexander Radcliffe, and others of less note, to the number of “well nigh two hundred,” lost their lives. “Presaged” in some mysterious manner by Essex himself in private talk ere yet the journey was undertaken, it still seemed, when it had come to pass, as one of the “things fatal,”—foreseen and feared, but unavoidable—and then, when it had happened, Essex could “breathe nothing but revenge.” It fell to the Lord Chamberlain's lot to acquaint the Queen with this “unfortunate news of the accursed kingdom of Ireland” (p. 302). Lord Hunsdon tells Cecil of the manner in which it was received. “It seemeth that she expected no good success could accompany him there that would follow no good direction here, yet, like a prince, will show no sorrow where it shall be too late and remediless,” and the ill news was not allowed to interfere with her “disport a hunting” next day.
Essex a prisoner.
There is but one allusion in the papers in this volume, and that the slightest, late in the year, to the Earl of Essex's sudden return to England, and none whatever to any of the sensational circumstances connected with it. So far as this volume goes, there is a blank in the history of events which concern him during a period comprised within the latter half of August and the whole of September. When next he appears, it is as the prisoner of his friend Sir Thomas Egerton, the Master of the Rolls and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, at York House, a broken man in body, mind and fortune. “He did eat nothing,” reports the Lord Keeper, “and this night hath rested little, being troubled with a great looseness, which enforced him to rise often, and other distemperatures both in his stomach and head.” The heroic figures of the history books were after all intensely human, a truism which an intimate acquaintance with the contents of a collection of papers such as these at Hatfield very clearly enforces. “For his private estate, which he complaineth to be weak and broken, . . . he desireth humbly that two of his servants . . . may have access unto him to receive instructions to deal with his creditors, which be many and earnest, and violent to take advantage of forfeitures of mortgages and bonds wherein himself and others for him stand deeply engaged.” The office of gaoler was not one that Egerton filled with much satisfaction to himself. He, however, takes the Secretary's “grace and friendly admonition and advice” in this connexion (p. 368), “with more contentment in this your kind and loving dealing with me than I can well express, and I will ever cherish your favour and good opinion as that which I prize and esteem very dear and precious.” As regards his attitude towards Essex, he claimed to be discretion's self. “For myself I have learned and observed silentii tutum præmium. If I hear any speech, my answer is so sparing as for the most part it is no more but Cor regis in manu Domini, and that I wish and hope that all will be well, and her Majesty's counsel guided to an honourable and good end.” Egerton himself was very much of an invalid at the time, “fitter for the physician and apothecary than for any good use” (p. 372). The death, a few months before, of his son in Ireland serving under Essex, had been a great sorrow (p. 349). With respect to his prisoner at this moment, a letter (p. 392) stating the views current in Ireland, “the ordinary discourse of the country,” on the subject of Essex's restraint and possible return, is interesting. It ends : “The full cry of our poor remnant of friends is, 'Essex or none!' 'Essex out of hand or all is lost!'” The letter from Francis Bacon to Lord Henry Howard, and the latter's reply (pp. 405–407), on the subject of the “tale shaped in London forge” about the former's action with regard to Essex's cause, is an old and well-known story. Of more personal interest are the continued accounts of Essex's demeanour at York House. For example (p. 410):—
He taketh great comfort . . . . . in every circumstance that proceedeth from her Majesty, from whom only he expecteth all comfort of mind, howsoever his body were. In this suit of his wife's, he commendeth her care, but placeth no contentment nor comfort in secondary causes. For his soul, God; for his mind, her sacred Majesty's immediate comfort, must relieve him. He is tired with physic and patching up an overthrown and decayed body. His conference with physicians is wearisome and loathsome. His delight is in spiritual meditations and exercises. Mr. Hopkins, his preacher, with long attendance and extraordinary pains, is grown weak and falling into some extreme and dangerous sickness, in regard whereof his Lordship desireth to have in his stead Mr. D. Sharp to attend him, that whilst he liveth, he may enjoy the exercise and heavenly comfort of God's Word.
Occasionally there is a suggestion of bathos, as when the grave Lord Keeper chronicles (p. 412): “He hath taken physic this morning,” and follows the statement with the aspiration, “God bless it with good effect!”
But by this time we have reached the period of the closing weeks of the year. Egerton now reports (p. 413), “There seemeth to me great weakness and declination in him. He desired this morning to speak with me. The matter was, that the two gentlemen, Wyseman and Tracye, that are allowed to attend him, are overwatched and tired out with their long and continual pains. He desireth that for their ease some other two might be permitted to watch with him in the night, to come at 9 and to depart at 7 or 8 in the morning, so that thereby these that be with him might be somewhat relieved, and better enabled to perform their service.”
It is not irrelevant to recall the fact, in order to show at how great a pace life had been lived, that Essex at this time was still a young man as to years, only thirty-two.
In a letter quoted above there is an allusion to his wife's solicitude on his behalf. There are three letters from Lady Essex herself in this volume. The first (p. 166) was written not long after her husband's departure for Ireland, and is addressed to his friend the Earl of Southampton, who was evidently accustomed to correspond with her. Now she writes in confident strain and “but infinitely longs to hear of her lord's happy proceedings against the proud rebels.” She is at the moment in good spirits, and must add a jocular postscript, imputing her friend Sir Henry Davers's silence to his desire to write in Irish, “which is more eloquent than the English.” The next is written from a sick-bed, some months later, to her “dear Lord” himself, after she had had the “good fortune” to receive two letters from him, “the joy of which did deliver me out of a fever.” It is tender and pathetic. “None that sees me now would believe I were with child, for I am less than I was two months ago. Your son Roben is better than ever he was. I fear I shall never receive so great comfort of my other little one unless I quickly mend.” The third is still later, in the last month of the year, written under the weight of the sorrow of her husband's misfortune, tendering to “good Mr. Secretary” “the slender recompense of simple thanks,” for his kindness in procuring the Queen's consent “for her infinitely wished access to her weak lord.” She expresses herself prettily in offering him what she modestly calls “so beggarly a tribute.” “Beeleeve, Sr, I pray you, that as pitty only and no merritt of mine was the true motive of your honorable mediacion on my behalf : so no time or fortune shall ever extingwish in my lord and mee a thankfull memory and due acknowledgment of so undeserved a benefitt, from him whom this frendly favour assures mee will never bee proved my lord's maliceious enemy. The respect of your manifold busines makes me forbeare to trouble you longer with my scribled lines, but in thankfullest manner to rest your exceedingly beeholdinge frend, Fra : Essex” (p. 411).
Next in interest to the Earl of Essex himself, and from some points of view even more interesting, is the group of secretaries and immediate followers whom he gathered round him, to wit, Edward Reynolds, William Temple, Henry Wotton, Henry Cuffe, William Cholmley and others. All those named, except the first, accompanied him to Ireland, there, “poor scribes,” to be “tired out with infinity of several services,” while Reynolds, left behind in England to look after his master's interests at home, was envied as able to follow his “contentments in Court and City.” Reynolds—“Honest Ned,” “Good Ned,” the man of many friends—was the correspondent of them all, and also the recipient of sundry barrels of Irish “usquebach,” the peculiar quality of which renowned liquor the English invaders were clearly not slow to appreciate.
There are a number of letters from Cuffe and Temple. The former was largely employed in making transcripts of letters for his master, and it is Temple who represents himself as one of the poor wearied scribes (p. 161). Cuffe was clearly a very busy man. On the first arrival in Ireland, his “brain-pan” is said to be (p. 144) “wonderfully shaken by the importunity, or rather sauciness of the indiscreet martial sort,” and later, in excuse of an important omission of a line in one of Essex's despatches copied by him, he himself pleads (p. 237) “exceeding haste and overmuch watching (for I assure you I wrote it after midnight).” When the course of events in Ireland assumed an unpropitious aspect, he tells Reynolds (p. 270) that he was sometimes threatened by Essex to be employed in another role—“to be sent into England to argue and apologise for his virtue and true worth against those who so maliciously and sycophantlike detract from his honourable and noble endeavours,” a task from which he shrank, the times being so bad and the humours surly. But as regards Essex himself, Cuffe had made his choice : “Jacta est alea. I would rather lose with him than gain with his opposites,” says he. An ominous and prophetic statement!
The Spanish Alarm.
There was one short space during the summer of 1599 when the attention of the nation was sharply arrested by an alarm of danger, supposed to be near at hand, though there was complete uncertainty where the blow might be looked for, whether by way of the Thames, or at some spot of the south-west coast, or in the remote district of the extreme point of South Wales. The idea had long been prevalent that “the enemy”—the name had no meaning in England at this epoch save as applied to Spain—would seize the opportunity of the pre-occupation in Ireland, to take her old foe at a disadvantage, and strike a blow to some purpose. Sir Thomas Leighton, from Guernsey, in the very first month of the year (p. 20), reported a rumour of a great army preparing for Ireland and the Channel Islands. This was followed by vague intelligence of a similar character as the year proceeded, as also of the building of new great ships and of the assembling of a fleet at the Groyne, better known as Corunna, and other preparations there, set on foot by the Adelantado of Castile, “now the man that governeth Spain” (p. 132). Sir Francis Godolphin from “her Majesty's little fort in Scilly,” “so much undervalued” (p. 171), was also a diligent transmitter of “advertisements,” and in particular, of the Spaniards' vaunt that they were coming to England in the summer, knowing the country's chief strength to be in Ireland. In May, there were Spanish ships off the Cornish coast, one of which boarded an English ship near the Lizard, but was “put off again” (p. 172), not, however, without causing the loss of two of the English sailors killed and more wounded. Sir Alexander Clifford, on the look out for the Dunkirkers on the East Coast, who were constantly troublesome at the seasons of the dark moon, communicated—only, however, to discredit it—the story of “a bark of Newcastle,” the master of which reported a fleet of 100 sail, “thought to be Spaniards.” The good man could not be persuaded to agree with Clifford's suggestion to him that they were fishermen, and that “his early stirring in the morning, being, as he said, at 4 of the clock, dimmed his eyesight that he could not justly discern them.” A few days later, early in July, Sir Nicholas Parker, from Pendennis Castle, sent intelligence (p. 223) of a great fleet of ships athwart the Manacles, which must either be the Flemings or the enemy, sounding the alarm in case they should prove to be the latter, that proper preparations might be made against any landing. This, however, turned out to be no other than a peaceful fleet of Flemish merchantmen, which subsequently put into Plymouth, a man-of-war of their company striking sail “in dutiful sort” before her Majesty's island (p. 230). Just at this juncture the Dutch fleet created a diversion by taking the Great Canaries (p. 249). But, nevertheless, at the end of July, in consequence of information of the assembly of a Spanish force at Brest and Conquet (p. 322), there was real and universal alarm, as the result of which the Lord Treasurer stopped all payments (p. 253), the train-bands were called out, and soldiers summoned from Flushing for the defence of the country. In London, three thousand men were levied (p. 259), the same city also furnishing twelve ships (p. 280). The Archbishop of Canterbury suggested the use of a special form of prayers “in this expected time of troubles” (p. 262) on the model of those used in. 1688, which “could not be bettered.” The Earl of Nottingham, the Lord High Admiral, was put in supreme command of the forces of defence, occupying the position filled by the Earl of Leicester in 1588. In the West of England, the Earl of Bath had control of the defensive operations. Part of his duty was to impress mariners at Plymouth (pp. 269, 274) for the Queen's ships as far away as Chatham. His proceedings and dispositions are set out in a letter from him of the 6th of August (p. 274). Schemes were propounded for the defence of the Thames (pp. 274, 281), one of which, the sinking of ships to bar the channel at Barking Shelf, was strongly opposed by the aldermen, merchants and shipowners, for reasons which they set out and which no doubt appeared adequate to prevent its adoption (p. 282). In connexion with the levies of men in London, estimates are given of the population of the city which are of interest. The Lord Mayor writes (pp. 280, 281):—“For the whole number of persons fit to bear arms within this city, I understand that certain of my brethren the Aldermen, who attended you a few days since, have informed you, upon conjecture, that this city is able to afford and furnish 50,000 persons; wherein, lest you should conceive otherwise than the truth is, and be disappointed of that strength and number which you might expect, I thought it my duty to remember you that in 1588, when like occasion did enforce the like choice and levy of men, at what time also (being then Term) there were conversing within this city divers gentlemen, lawyers and others, with their attendants (upon whom the levy was likewise extended), there were found in all of able men, fit to bear arms, betwixt the age of 16 and 60, not above the number of 22,000, the city at that time being more populous and better replenished with inhabitants than it is at this time.”
The sort of “strange and fearful rumours” current in London at the moment, “as much amazing the people as if the invasion were made,” may be gathered from a letter to Sir Robert Cecil, which gives as examples (pp. 282,283): that the Spaniards's fleet is 150 sail of ships and 70 gallies; that they bring 30,000 soldiers with them, and shall have 20,000 from the Cardinal; that the King of Denmark sends to aid him 100 sail of ships; that the King of Scots is in arms with 40,000 men to invade England, and the Spaniard comes to settle the King of Scots in this realm : which is so creditably bruited as a preacher, in his prayer before his sermon, prayed to be delivered from the mighty forces of the Spaniard, the Scots and the Danes; that my Lord Scroope was slain, with 200 men more, by the Scots; that Sir William Bowes was turned out of Scotland by the King with great disdain; that the Adilantado has taken the sacrament to come to London Bridge, and brings his wife and two daughters with him. Upon Tuesday at night last, it went for certain the Spaniards were landed at Southampton, and that the Queen came at ten of the clock at night to St. James's in all post; and upon Wednesday, it was said the Spanish army was broken, and no purpose of their coming hither : with 100 other strange and “fearful rumours.” The writer thought that the very propagation of these rumours was in itself “a dangerous plot to amaze and discourage our people, and to advance the strength and mighty power of the Spaniard, working doubts in the better sort, fear in the poorer sort, and a great distraction in all.”
The alarm was at its height about the 11th of August (p. 289). Notwithstanding the imperfect state of the preparations for resisting a landing, the levies at this date having not yet all assembled under the Lord Admiral, and being likely to be “wonderful raw, for in all the shires there are very few of the trained men left,” yet there was some confidence that the Spaniards, if they came, would be “better beaten than ever they were.” Come, however, at this time, in fact, they did not; and in the height of the preparations, before even these had reached finality, the alarm began to grow cold. Barks were sent out along the south coast (p. 291) but they could “learn nothing of these beggarly Spaniards.” Information came through the French Ambassador (p. 295), that there was no reason to think that the Spanish vessels seen in the bay of Brest carried any troops, as the Adelantado was known to have been a short time before at Lisbon. Yet, even as late as the 14th of August (p. 296), Henry Lok, who, stationed at Bayonne, was a source of information, sends intimation of suspicious preparations. Soon, however, reports of an eye-witness from Brest itself (p. 307) proved the absence of any Spanish army there, and by the 20th of August the real state of affairs was sufficiently well known to make it possible for the Lord General, the Earl of Nottingham, to be authorised to “dismiss the Queen's loving subjects” who had been assembled for defence of the realm. The Earl of Nottingham made haste to carry this proceeding into effect, making an effort thereby “to save her Majesty a day or two's pay” (p. 317), and to send the men all homeward before the end of the week. He also suggested arrangements by which the troops from Flushing, when they reached the English coast, should be sent back without disembarking (p. 318).
So the danger, if in any way real, passed away. But if, indeed, it had been otherwise, and an assault, sudden and unexpected as to the place of delivery, had in fact been made, the least of the results might have been “much confusion and mighty disorders.” The Lord Admiral, upon whom the “heavy burden” of organising the defence had been laid (p. 338), before it was certainly known that there was no sufficient cause of alarm, was exceedingly anxious to receive tidings of Sir Francis Vere's arrival with his men from the Low Countries. In the so-called trained men at home he had little confidence. “There was never prince,” he writes, “so deceived as her Majesty has been with this word of trained men, for I am surely persuaded there is not in these shires nominated to this service, and many stewards named, not one thousand trained men, or that can so much as march in good and just order; and where the count was of Sussex of 4,000, there is but 2,000. These deceits are good to lose a realm.” Nor was the state of things better in the Western counties, according to the testimony of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who was stationed at Plymouth. When danger was over, he wrote (p. 323), so that the “reports of ignorant people” might not deceive :—“First, for the gentry, they are in faction, and divided amongst themselves, so as whatsoever the one would make, the other will endeavour to mar, and in truth ignorant what they ought to do; the most of them of a disposition to please the people about them without a sound consideration of the public good; the people themselves (I mean the men appointed to arms) a raw multitude, without either use of their arms or knowledge of any order. So as, however we made show of ourselves, if we had been suddenly attempted, you would have heard of much confusion and mighty disorders. For here was no one captain nor officer, more than I had of my own, that understood anything.” His recommendation was that his little force of 300 men at Plymouth should be kept there until the following year, as in themselves of more value than four times the number brought there “upon a sudden,” and as a means to hold some of the officers together—to her Majesty a great certainty and to the undoubted safety of the place and the neighbourhood.
The Spaniards had, it subsequently transpired, been at the Groyne in force, and their objective had been some point of the English coast (p. 328), but the diversion-caused by the attack made on the Canary Islands by the Dutch fleet, and the rashness of the Adelantado had frustrated their design; so the Adelantado sailed away to the South, leaving behind him the big galleys in a state of great misery. The main part of the English fleet at sea under Lord Thomas Howard was consequently recalled (p. 328), but directions were given that an effort should be made to catch the galleys left behind, six of which were heard of near Cape La Hogue. It is amusing to read the somewhat simple stratagem which was concocted in London when the Lord Admiral, the Lord Chamberlain and Sir Robert Cecil laid their wise heads together. They appear to have thought that they had hit upon a very pretty ruse indeed in the suggestion they diffidently make of a method by which “these baggages might be catched or canvassed”(p. 332):—“G. Fenner, you are a wise man and have experienced how to use stratagems. It will not be amiss, if you think good, to lay a bait for them in this sort; that some league before you, some barque may be sent, and take in her ordnance as though she were no man-of-war, which peradventure may entice them from the shore to come off and take her, but this we do but remember unto you, leaving all things to your discretion. Expedition is now all, and resolution. If you light on them, you will find good store of treasure in them.”
As regards countries of Europe other than Spain, the present volume has but little to say. Taking such papers as relate to France, the first to be noted is a long letter from Thomas Edmondes, the English resident or agent in that country. It is an unsigned duplicate or copy, the signed original of which is among the hitherto uncalendared State Papers in the Public Record Office. The letter was written from Paris in the month of January, and has for its subject the measures proposed in France to restrain the import of foreign manufactures for the benefit of native interests, “to set their people at work and keep their money in the country,” proposals which Edmondes endeavoured to combat as being directly against the ancient treaties of confederacy between the Crowns of England and France. The letter also deals with the toleration extended to the carrying of corn into Spain. Edmondes, in this despatch, urges the necessity of the sending by the Queen of a minister of greater authority than himself, a suggestion which was carried out later in the person of Sir Henry Neville. Three letters only of Neville's, however, will be found in these pages, two relative to his preparations, the third, from Dieppe, of no interest. But the contents of his ambassadorial correspondence is, of course, very well known, made public, as it has been for so many years, in Sawyer's “Memorials of Affairs of State,” &c., taken from the original papers of Sir Ralph Winwood. Nor is there here any letter of importance from Edmondes other than that above referred to. With respect to other correspondents, in March, report is made of the arrival of five hundred Frenchmen from Rochelle at Plymouth on their way to Count Maurice, a large emigration in those days, which, it was said, was to be followed by another of the same number. A copy of the French King's letter to the Governor of “Newhaven,” or Havre-de-Grace, forbidding the admission into the harbour of men-of-war for refitting and refreshment, by which they were the better able to make piratical attacks on merchantmen, and a communication from the Recorder of London on the subject of a fray originating in a boy of the Ambassador's household “and a butcher and a baker miscalling one another,” with a few others, make up the meagre list of papers which can be included under the head of France.
Sir Francis Vere.
In connexion with the Low Countries, on the very first day of the year, Sir Francis Vere and George Gilpin announce the success of their negotiations with the States-General, and note a common resolve on the part of all the provinces to “maintain their own, both by defending and offending the enemy.” Then come from various pens accounts of the arrangements connected with the withdrawal of English troops for service in Ireland, already adverted to, demands which (p. 13) “the present strength of the enemy made them [the States-General and Count Maurice] digest grievously.” In February, there are two letters from Gilpin to the Earl of Essex, chronicling such events as had happened, and testifying again to a growing determination on the part of the Dutch people “to make and maintain a good war.” He also gives information (p. 81) of an intention to forbid trade with Spain to their own people and to arm a certain number of ships to lie on the Spanish coast to hinder any others who might be disposed to take advantage of their abstention. Later on in the year these Dutch armed vessels, so sent forth, made a successful descent upon the Canary Islands, where they secured great booty, and took revenge on the Inquisition and the clergy there, sparing none of them (pp. 247, 301). By the year 1599, Sir Francis Vere had become, in Holland, a personage of great influence and authority, a position resented by other English soldiers, as, for example, Sir Thomas Knollys and Sir Henry Docwra. The former grumbles (p. 123) that Vere's “authority and maintenance from the States” was so great and absolute since he had been appointed by them their General of all the English in the field, that he made small account of the Queen's town and government of Briel, “being wholly addicted unto the States and their proceedings.” Knollys had an eye on the command of Briel himself, thinking it too much for one man to be “Lord General for the States in the field and Lord Governor of the Brill for her Majesty.” Knollys considered the latter post so desirable that he declared that, if he could but obtain it, he would then regard himself as fully recompensed for all the miseries and misfortunes he had endured by sea and land, and that he would then have cause never to cease praying for the Queen's “most flourishing estate, and that God might number her most happy years, joyful days and prosperous hours with the stars of heaven, the sands of the shore and the drops of the sea.” As to Docwra, the illfeeling between Vere and himself would have ended in a personal encounter (p. 363) but for the interference of the Earl of Nottingham and Sir Robert Cecil. Vere's reputation was without doubt great—“reverenced of strangers in a high degree” (p. 252), and by the English in the field, “as no living soldier more.”
Of the military operations on the Bhine during the year, the amount of information is comparatively small.
Other countries, such as Bussia, Sweden, Venice, Turkey, etc., yield a few papers, the nature of which the index will sufficiently show.
Coming now to England itself, and in particular to the northern parts of the country, it may be of interest to summarise the information forthcoming in this volume relating to the Roman Catholics and Recusants, whose strength lay in Lancashire and Yorkshire; to the plots and schemes devised in connexion with the Scottish pledges immured in York Castle; to the defence of the Yorkshire coast from the attacks of the marauding “Dunkirkers;” and to the constitution and proceedings of the body known as the Council of the North.
The Council at York.
The Northern counties were then too remote from the central government to be easily administered except through the medium of some local authority with large powers, and the necessary powers were vested in the hands of the President and Council of the North, whose headquarters were at York. The vigour of this instrument of government seems, however, to have declined after the death, in 1595, of the former President, the Earl of Huntingdon, the functions of this office having been discharged by the aged Archbishop of York until the appointment, in August, 1599, of the second Lord Burghley, Cecil's elder half-brother. In January, 1599, the Northern Council reported (p. 31) that, in the main, the country was “in very good peace,” but that many persons having “gone back” in religion, advantage had been taken of a gaol delivery held in this month to indict a great number of them for not coming to church. The “backwardness” of the northern parts incited Sir T. Posthumus Hoby to illustrate, by means of an example of one parish on the northern corner of the Yorkshire coast, the measure according to which “those dangerous persons”—apparently Roman Catholic emissaries—“had mightily increased since the death of the late Lord President.” It was to be feared, he continues, that a longer interim would give them the opportunity to increase daily. This “advertisement” was sent in February, but the “interim” was yet to continue for several months longer. In July, Lord Burghley was writing to his brother (p. 236), “I receive daily letters from my friends in the North with the title of President : they go too fast, and they from whom the titles should come, go too slow; and in the meantime I remain as a man that dreams he is awake.” Her Majesty's determination to appoint him to the post had, however, already been made known (p. 214), and towards the end of August (p. 317) the Archbishop of York was formally apprised of his discharge from the office of President and of his successor's appointment thereto. On the 1st of September, Lord Burghley, installed at York, writes to his brother (p. 843) to tell him what had been his chief matters of concern since his arrival at the place of his charge. The two subjects which he had thought most necessary to be taken up were “the state of the country for recusancy,” and the condition of the country forces. An examination of the circumstances of the great riots which had occurred before his coming had also been begun, but this being a matter which had been so long forborne in cold blood, he found it difficult to “come by” any of the principals. As to the future, he confidently asserts : “I dare promise her Majesty that she shall be obeyed either with their purses (I mean of them that be recusants) or with their full obedience and loyalty.”
Scottish Pledges at York.
Imprisoned in the Castle at York at this time were some sixteen of the Scottish nation, one but a child of 12 years of age, some of the rest, “men of action and good living,” others obscure persons, all remaining there as pledges for good behaviour on the West and Middle Marches. In the previous year the laird of Cessford, in an interview with Sir William Bowes, had interested himself in the condition of these unfortunate persons, who had themselves to bear the expense of subsistence in their “strait imprisonment” and were deeply in debt to their gaoler on this account. Towards the end of 1598, Essex had received information of a scheme for their escape in which Cessford and Sir Robert Kerr were personally to take part, the intention of Cessford and Kerr being, so it was reported, to come by sea to Bridlington in order to second and further the attempt. In the meanwhile the prisoners themselves made humble petition that, “being Christians,” they might not be suffered to perish (p. 17), but that they might be redeemed and delivered into their own country by bail, or that four of them might have permission to return for a time to their own neighbourhoods—the “spacious countries” of Liddesdale and Teviotdale—there to make provision for their own support and the support of those left at York, whose lot they promised to return to share. But this prayer met with no success, and consequently, though Cessford's and Sir Robert Kerr's personal interference fell through or was laid aside, an attempt to break prison was made by the “pledges” themselves early in March, 1599. Of this attempt, and the manner in which it was frustrated, there is a lengthy and graphic account in a letter from Edward Stanhope (p. 104). The Scottish men's design was known beforehand, and the services of an English prisoner named Can by—a “tall fellow,” charged with murder—were enlisted to “feel their minds,” to offer to join in the escape and become their guide, and of course to reveal their plan of operations to the authorities. Elaborate preparations were made, not to prevent the attempt to escape, but to catch the runaways in the act, and this counter-plot was, as may be supposed under the circumstances, successful. The story will bear quotation in part. It runs :—
The Scottish men were so eager of their purpose, as not expecting the dead time of the night, before 9 o'clock got all together to the window where they meant to break out, being above four fathoms from the ground; which broken, they leapt freshly down one after another, to the number of 6, whereof Canby was one. But being so timely of the night, the rest of the prisoners of the Castle not being in bed made noise, so as the laird of Whitto, being behind, and other six, having broken two doors, they ran to the other side of the Castle and there leapt over the wall, where Whitto broke his leg and there he lay. When Canby, who came forth with the first company; saw them down and that no more followed that way, he gave some inkling; whereupon Mr. Redhead, with those our people that were at St. George's, issued forth, and making towards them drove some of them into the water at the Castle dyke, and the others that leapt over the wall with Whitto fled up along the Castle banks. But seeing themselves beset and pursued with our men without hope of escape, and Canby (who seemed to be one of their company) ready also to apprehend him, yielded, and were all taken without any hurt doing; saving that the countrymen which were on the other side of the Castle bridge with Mr. Redmaine, hearing the noise, came in amongst them with their bills, and not knowing our company from the Scots, some of the ruder sort of them hurt one of my men in the hand and wounded one of my lord Grace's men very sore in the face. But light being then presently brought out of the Castle, all was appeased without more hurt, and these twelve false pledges undernamed brought in again and surely laid up in irons, saving Whitto who was fain to be brought into the Castle of one of our men's backs of his broken leg beneath the knee.
Roman Catholics and Recusants.
The present volume affords some illustration of the circumstances that attended the situation of the Roman Catholic and Recusant, such as inhabited the northern counties chiefly, but also of other parts. On p. 153 will be found a letter from Ferne, the Secretary of the Council of the North, detailing how an attempt, made apparently at Cecil's direction and without the knowledge of the Archbishop of York, to surprise a gathering of Roman Catholics at a house near York, where Campion once “kenelled,” had to be deferred in consequence of “the act of God” :
For all things were ready, the guide was come disguised, with a certain knowledge that they were all at the house and would be there all the night of the third of May (celebrated by them as the Invention of the Cross); when there fell a very great rain all the night and up to nine the next morning, whereby the Esk, which runs at the foot of the cliff on which the house stands, was so swelled that the men who should take the house could not have passed over, but would have been drowned. And all agree that unless the river can be forded, none coming from York can take the orchard which adjoins the house and the river. And if the river and orchard be not taken, those within can escape by their conveyances in the orchard, or by a boat, out of a vault of the house into the river, it being in flood; and so escape into great woods. This was the impediment, as knoweth the Lord God, which prevented me setting men forward, lest their coming near the place and not being able to pass the river but by going six miles about by a bridge in the face of diverse towns—which could not have been done before broad daylight—should have driven these foxes to seek new kennels. But the plot shall be laid again on Trinity, Corpus Christi or St. John's Evening.
In the same letter Feme mentions “a mason dwelling near the great house, a maker of all conveyances, vaults and lurking holes for these foxes,” who ought also, he thought, to be taken and examined “with some small tortures or threatening thereof,” which, however, the Northern Council had no authority to “minister.” Heavy contributions were taken from Recusants towards the expense of the levies for the army in Ireland. Recusant wives played a not inconsiderable part in the matter of religion. In one case the definite appointment to be the captain of the county petronels was held over (p. 177), though the sheriff considered the husband to be a Protestant, because the wife was a Recusant. Another husband who, though he confessed (p. 187) to have been “sometimes addicted that way,” had since “abjured their irreligious and damnable courses against the State,” bemoaned his wife's obstinacy “in a dangerous course touching religion;” and Sir Arthur Throckmorton, in the moment of the Spanish alarm, advocated the restraint and disarming not only of professed Recusants but also of those whose wives refused to go to church, who were more dangerous than the known, “saving their livings and liberties by their feigned faiths.” “Such here have a common saying that the unbelieving husband shall be saved by the believing wife.”
There are notices of a number of persons whose religion was a main factor which led to their arrest on suspicion. In this connexion may be mentioned Humfrey Alsop, of the town of Derby, “a gentleman, a landed man and seldom from his house,” a house where, it was said (p. 318), he had received John Radford, a known seminary priest.
A long, anonymous letter (p. 202) sets forth the sentiments of the secular priests who were “towards peace with their prince,” and who deprecated the action of Father Parsons, the “Archpriest” Blackwell and the Jesuits. An instance of the smuggling in of a barrel of “papistical books,” in this case in a hogshead of salt, appears on page 326.
With regard to individuals, the volume is, of course, full of information—a good deal as regards some, very little as regards others, but even in the latter case it may be decisive of what hitherto has .been doubtful. For example, the question of the county of origin of John Norden, the topographer, which the National Dictionary of Biography leaves unsettled, is here answered (p. 433). He declares himself to be a Somersetshire man, born in that county, and distinguishes himself from another of the same name, a Kentish man. Of the rest, selecting those as to whom information is most copious, or who may be supposed to be important or interesting personages, attention may first be drawn to what there is relative to Sir Robert Cecil.
Sir Robert Cecil.
His name is of constant occurrence, but singularly little is to be gathered concerning himself personally or his private affairs. There is an echo of high words which passed between him and others at Court in a letter from his aunt Lady Russell, who offers to come thither to do him any possible good offices, on such conditions, however, as to lodging as would obviate any danger of “wet of feet or legs” which, she said, invariably gave her “rheum” in the “pate,” and made her dull of hearing and a disagreeable companion. Of this high-spirited, strong-willed lady, more will be said later. Circumstances arose which caused her to place herself in strong opposition to the fulfilment of the wishes of her powerful nephew.
Returning to Cecil; to him as an avowed “lover of books,” esteeming them, indeed, “more than gold” (p. 8), a grateful bishop sends a Bible (p. 13), in the hope that he was “like God, of whom it is written : 'If there be a willing mind, it is accepted 'according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath 'not.'” From which it may be inferred that there were some who held him to be also a lover of compliments. An important step in his career was his appointment to the Mastership of the Court of Wards. With regard to this appointment, hint of any disappointment elsewhere there is none, nor, on the other hand, much evidence of “common applause,” though one correspondent who “must needs show some sign of gladness” on the occasion, alludes (p. 185) to the existence of a general feeling of the kind. Ecclesiastical personages in high office held Cecil in great esteem. Quotations from the letters of two such have already been made. Bancroft, Bishop of London, may be adduced as a third. His congratulations in connexion with this appointment are indeed expressed in a manner unexaggerated and dignified enough, while he makes it an opportunity of disinterestedly pleading the cause of the heir of his old good lord and master, the late Lord Chancellor—“who remaining in Cambridge, and being her Majesty's ward, had nevertheless, during the seven years which had elapsed since his father's death, received from the Queen not one penny for his maintenance.” But later on, when the bishop had a favour to ask for himself, he claimed a foremost place among Cecil's “well-willers.”
Elizabeth, lady Russell.
The interest of the communications from Cecil's maternal aunt, the widow of John Lord Russell, mentioned above, and to whom, as a vigorous letter writer, attention was called in the introduction to a former volume of this Calendar, is purely personal, and reveals her as a sensitive but far from silent defender of what she held to be the honour of her deceased husband. The offence appears in this case to have proceeded from her own daughters (of whom she speaks with some bitterness) and her powerful nephew, the “bitterest brunt” of whose displeasure she was prepared to bear (p. 359) rather than “part with Russell House out of the name whereby my dead husband's name shall be wronged and weeded up by the roots.” It is in another mood that she appears under the influence of alarm produced by the rumour of the Spanish invasion, when she pleads with Mr. Secretary “to procure her a lodging in the Court in this time of misery,” describing herself as a desolate widow without husband or friend to defend her. She proceeds to make a somewhat curious “promise”—if, as she says, “God should deliver me out of this plunge of danger and misery alive,”—in these words : “Though I be both blind, deaf, and a stark beggar, yet will I . . . take to me a mischief and marry, to avoid the inconvenience of being killed by villains.” Like educated ladies of her time, she could point her remarks with Latin quotations.
Thomas Arundell, Lord Arundell of Wardour in the next reign, the progress of whose career as a “fortune stricken wight,” has been somewhat fully traced in former parts of this Calendar, makes but few appearances in this. One of these few is, however, characteristic and interesting. It is that in which, in a letter to Cecil (p. 80), he presses “his most unworthy self” on the acceptance of the Queen as part of the legacy bequeathed to her by his father, and craves the Secretary's help to “present his never faulty faith” to his “never enough admired Princess.” He is not peculiar among his contemporaries in his fondness for rhapsodical writing in connexion with the Queen. Restoration to her favour is, indeed, to work marvellous effects. “So shall I,” he declares, “whose spirit is dead with disgraces and whose life is even buried in the solitary thought of my darkened estate, be again restored to life and light; so shall I be made blessed with her countenance (grace of the graces, and only memorable work of nature!) . . . so shall I again have liberty to admire those high, heroical virtues which no pen nor tongue can fully blaze, only a silent admiration may in part express . . . and so shall those gracious eyes which have been often glorious by comforting the living, become now miraculous by reviving the dead.” As it may be doubted whether these moving sentences were ever read by the gracious eyes in question, or were even written in the expectation that they would be, it seems impossible to escape from the conclusion that they represented, though in a highly coloured way, the sincere views of the writer. And as Cecil and his fellow courtiers could and did write in similar strain, and could not all have been abject lip-service hypocrites, it follows that her aged Majesty still had the power of inspiring sentimental devotion.
The Earl of Southampton.
It may be remembered that during the year 1598, Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, was one of those who fell under the Queen's displeasure. The present year did not restore him to favour. Going to Ireland with Lord Essex, he was there made “Lord General of the Horse,” in direct opposition to the Queen's wish. Sir Charles Davers, then in England, tells him (p. 197) that his friends “found her Majesty possessed with a very hard conceit,” and urges him to use the influence most powerful to hasten the return of her favour, that is to say, the pleading of his own pen. Similar advice is again pressed upon him later by Davers (p. 246), on the ground that an alteration of the Queen's mind in the matter and her consent to his retaining his command would be much more easily effected “if you would 'be moved to use your own pen in such a style as is no less fit for this time than contrary to your disposition, it being apparent that her Majesty's ill conceit is as much grounded upon the sternness of your carriage as upon the foundation of any other offence.” It may be remarked in passing that a request to burn the letter from which the preceding passage is taken is still not complied with, though more than three hundred years have elapsed since itr was written.
The alteration of the Queen's mind which Southampton's friends desired, and urged him to make an effort to effect, did not come about. “Against that supreme force that wieldeth actions by sovereign predominance, opposition availeth not,” writes Lord Henry Howard (p. 341), and tells how the matter which concerned Southampton
was disputed here as forcibly and pithily as the very conscience and honour of the cause did require. They that wanted credit spake reason; some used both their credit and their reason to make the Queen behold the horror of the case, and yet I do persuade myself that some others, though invisible, were willing to strain all their faculties in riveting into the Queen's own resolution a moveless negative. Mr. Secretary [Cecil] commanded the messenger to linger five days after the Queens first severe injunction in hope that time would qualify the sharpness of her humour, but it fell out otherwise. I took the fit advantage of that interim to send Udall away to my lord [Essex], which expedition took small effect; for though my end were to have prepared him before the blow, yet as I perceive by Mr. Bushell, Udall was not with my dear lord at his setting out, which proves him to have been strangely crossed by the winds and holden off with hard weather. What course my lord will take is disputed here; the likeliest conjecture is that he will suspend the decree till he have advertised the reasons that should stay proceeding in a matter of great moment without any reasonable cause against a person of your quality. I doubt not, if this course be taken, but her Majesty upon good consideration will rather relent in rigour than discourage her most faithful ministers. England is not so furnished at this day with forward hopes that those of the better sort should in this manner be dejected into forlorn destinies. But the truth is, howsoever flaws be coloured, the main blow is not stricken at yourself. The most worthy gentleman that lives is pierced through your side, and many here that hear, observe and understand, do likewise sympathize in their affections. This fury began first upon the speeches between my Lord Grey and your lordship, which makes men more sorry that, since right was on your side, revenge should be the reward of good consideration. Be patient, noble lord, and the rather because your worth doth shine more brightly by the confront of accidents. They are rather to be pitied than complained of, as a wise man says, that strive to please their humours with the prejudice of their own particular. To those that aim by appearances, this charge hath mali speciem; but to the wiser sort that look into your carriage and formally compare it with the cause of anger, it seems to be seges gloria.
The Earl of Rutland.
In connexion with the expedition to Ireland, the Queen's displeasure was not confined to the Earl of Southampton : Roger Manners, Earl of Rutland, also shared it. “The Queen begins to storm exceedingly at my Lord of Rutland's incorporation into Jason's fleet, and means, she says, to make him an example of contemning princes' inhibitions to all that come after him,” is one of Lord Henry Howard's items of gossip in a letter to Lord Southampton (p. 438). The volume, however, contains but little information on the subject of Lord Rutland; but there was in the end no “golden fleece of honour” of which he could have his share, as was the friendly wish expressed on his behalf. In this case, however, the Queen's ill humour did not last, and a letter from Lord Rutland himself (p. 217) exists to testify to his gratitude to his sovereign who, in the month of June (p. 217), had sent her own sergeant-surgeon to attend him.
The outlawed Scottish Presbyterian Divine, John Colville, had in the course of 1598, as will be seen by referring to the preceding part of this calendar, established relations with the Earl of Essex in the capacity of agent for obtaining information abroad, and towards the end of the year had pressed upon him a scheme for the betrayal into English hands of a fortified place in the neighbourhood of Calais, a place which is not more definitely alluded to than as the “piece of merchandise.” Some further letters now follow in this part on the same subject, but the enterprise was not undertaken. Colville was made by the Earl of Essex the intermediary of communications between himself and the Mayor of Boulogne, who testifies (p. 46) to Colville's zeal and devotion. These both send information of a scheme of Earl Bothwell's to raise and lead a hostile force under Spanish auspices, first to Caithness, thence to the Orkney Islands. Some of the smaller of these islands, it was thought Bothwell could easily seize. Then, having established a garrison and depot there for stores and munitions from the East Countries, and made the islands “a receptacle for their hurt and deceased persons,” he proposed to “lift” men speaking the Irish tongue and make for Ireland, to the aid of Tyrone. Bothwell was reported by both to have been in Paris, where he had “debauched” c sundry Scottishmen to go with him, among whom, however, was not wanting one of that nation to reveal the scheme beforehand to Colville. The man was also willing (with Essex's concurrence) to accompany Bothwell and keep Colville, and therefore of course Essex, further informed of Bothwell's proceedings. Both Colville and the Mayor of Boulogne, too, speak of information of Spanish designs against the life of Essex, but neither offers any real evidence of the fact. Later on in the year, Colville is found (p. 123) in correspondence with “Lord” (no doubt, Archibald) Douglas. Among other gossip which he details is some further news of Bothwell and his schemes. The latter was now in great credit. “Alas! therefor,” says Colville, not for any harm I wish him, but because he will lose his honour in the company he is in. He has been very ill. He amasses men and promises great matter, but it will end in smoke. And he will soon discredit himself, for it is not shadow that feeds the Spaniard. They have seen his projects in Holland effectless : his other intent was divulged too soon, and if this “fail which he now broaches, he will be again put to his A B C.” Colville goes on to add, to all appearances in a Christian spirit of forgiveness, “I shall always be ready to serve him, albeit he hath put out men to assassinate me. . . . . He may kill me but shall not shame me, as I told him in Paris.” Archibald Douglas's intimacy with Colville raised infinite prejudice against Douglas in the mind of his sovereign the Scottish King James, to whom, as well as to almost all others in Scotland, “Mr. John” was exceedingly odious (p. 285), and this intimacy was said to have materially interfered with Douglas's restoration to the King's employment. It is with some reason therefore that Colville denominates Scotland his “step-mother” country. As to his own condition, he declared himself to be in great extremity for the reason that he was neither Spanish nor popish.
In July of this year, Colville announces to Cecil his arrival in England (p. 240), with information ready to be communicated when called upon to give it. He was also the bearer of letters (p. 241) from Mr. Peregrine Willoughby to his father Lord Willoughby. Colville fell into the son's company on the way to Paris, and was quite ready to accompany him further had the young man so desired, but apparently Colville's company was declined. Colville's last appearance in the pages of the present volume occurs at the end of the month of July, when he informs Cecil of an interview with the French Ambassador in London, whom he found very desirous of information as to Scottish affairs, and to whom, therefore, he had “deduced the King's proceedings from his birth without partiality.” This ambassador, he says, he found to be a person “more apt to receive true information nor any Catholic” he had ever dealt with.
Among others who may be singled out is Lord Sheffield, whom the stirs caused by the Spanish alarm roused from the “quiet course” into which he had retreated from the “vain and ambitious course of the world”(p. 294), leading him to offer “to be employed publicly or privately as should please the Queen.” In order to carry out his loyal resolution in this respect he started for London, and proceeded as far on the journey as Grantham (p. 310). He had previously been suggested as a new member of the Council of the North, a position which it was thought would have the effect of again drawing him in publicum (p. 257). When Lord Burghley arrived in York to take up the office of Lord President, Lord Sheffield came thither to do honour to “Cecil's brother,” and writing from there and assuring Cecil of his affection, prognosticates a time when Cecil might find from experience the usefulness of a “religious friend” (p. 395) like himself. There are one or two indications, however, that he himself was again beginning to take greater interest in secular matters.
There are letters also from Lord Zouche in his retirement in Guernsey, who had occasion to speak for his kinsman Tresham, now repentant for “chis foolish running away for religion”: from Sir Thomas Sherley, whose son, Sir Thomas Sherley the younger, was arrested for debt at the moment almost of his starting on his voyage, and for whose release Cecil's aid was invoked (p. 371): from William Jones, Bishop of Meath, to whom John Udall communicated the intelligence of Sir Christopher Blount's reconciliation in Ireland to the Church of Home : from John Norden, whose topographical labours were interrupted by his having been mistaken for another man of the same name; and from and relative to others, to whose names the index will be a sufficient guide.
In the preparation of this volume, the Commissioners have had the assistance of Mr. R. A. Roberts, Mr. E. Salisbury, Mr. A. Hughes, and Mr. C. G. Crump, all of the Public Record Office, and of Mr. R. T. Gunton, private secretary to the Marquis of Salisbury, the first named being responsible for editing it and passing it through the press, and for the introduction and index.