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his American expeditions. James Morgues, a French painter, seems also to have experienced his patronage during his residence in London, and at the time of his greatest troubles. He contributed fifty pounds toward improving the infant Bodleian Library. Of his encouragement of Hakluyt, the naval historian, we have several testimonies; and it appears, lastly, that he was a member of a society of antiquaries existing in his time.
On that remarkable incident in Sir Walter's history, observes Mr. Cayley, commonly called his • Conspiracy,' I am inclined to concur with the opinion of Dr. Welwood, in his ingenious notes upon Wilson's History. Though James forgot the death of his mother, he seems never to have forgiven the enemies of Essex; of which Cecil and Ralegh were probably both aware, but took contrary measures to avoid his resentment. While Cecil maintained his correspondence with James, Ralegh trusted in the justice of his conduct; and content with the favour of Elizabeth, which he enjoyed to her death, took no steps to conciliate her successor. Knowing Cecil to have been at least equally concerned with himself in the fall of Essex, his great mind perhaps could not brook the distinction made by their new master on his accession; especially, when heightened by the frowns of Cecil upon his once intimate friend. With a temper impatient of injuries, and unequal (notwithstanding his excellent qualities) to a reverse of fortune like this, Sir Walter was thus probably brought acquainted with others discontented like himself, though of different religions and interests; and, perhaps, more conversations than one might arise about solicit
ing foreign powers to amend their fortunes, and even Arabella Stuart might be named by Ralegh as one who had a near title to the crown.
That he ever entered into the designs imputed to him at his trial, no person of competent judgement, at that time or since, has believed. It is much more probable, that the malice of his enemies effected his ruin, by taking advantage of the people's terror and indignation, and connecting a pretended with a real plot; a purpose, in which they were highly favoured by Ralegh's unfortunate intimacy with Lord Cobham, the brother of Brooke.
In a word, singular talents, with great success in their application, gained him the distinction, which might have been expected in the reign of Queen Elizabeth ; not, however, as might likewise have been expected, without a host of opposition amid the various interests of her court. Although fortunate enough to combat that host with considerable success, yet Essex, the favourite of both the monarchs under whom Ralegh lived, was not sacrificed by the former of them without a memorable impression upon the latter. In the reign of the second, the ascendency which the party adverse to Sir Walter had gained by intrigue was able to bring him to a legal trial for high treason, and even procured his condemnation without proof of guilt. Too timorous either to execute him unjustly, or to allow his innocence and grant his freedom, that, base-spirited monarch made him suffer more than death by his long imprisonment. Released at last, in the hope that his country should be benefited by his experience and his spirit of enterprise, he was upon the failure of his expedition sacrificed, by a mean and corrupt court, to a foreign power holding an absolute ascendant over the true interests of the nation.
By the paintings extant of Sir Walter Ralegh, his stature was about six feet, and his person well proportioned. His profusion in dress, on particular occasions, was perhaps in conformity with the custom of his age. We are told that, in Queen Elizabeth's reign, he . possessed a suit of clothes beset with jewels to the value of 60,0001.; and the Jesuit Drexelius informs us, that the precious stones on his court-shoes exceeded 6,600 pieces of gold in value.
Elizabeth, the only wife of Sir Walter, appears by an extant portrait of her to have been a lady of considerable beauty. She is supposed to have been about eighteen years younger than her husband. Two sons, Walter and Carew, are the only fruits of their marriage, with which posterity are acquainted. The latter died in 1666. Sir Henry Wotton calls him, a * gentleman of dexterous abilities ;' and honourable mention of him is made by other writers: but “ far, God wot (observes Wood) was he from his father's parts, either as to the sword or pen.” .
For extent of knowledge and variety of talent, Ralegh was undoubtedly the greatest man of his age. That he did not attain first-rate eminence as a poet, arose probably from his having devoted his extrordinary powers to more important pursuits. For ditty and sonorous ode,' his contemporary Puttenham pronounces his vein to have been “ most lofty, insolent, and passionate.” His mind, indeed (Sir Egerton Brydges remarks) appears to have been generally
characterised by boldness, and freedom from nice scruples either in thought or action. He was, as Lodge says of Sydney, a poet rather by necessity than inclination; he only indulged in speculation, when he was shut out from action : for his head was restless and turbulent. When no overwhelming passions or interests misled him, he was generous, and perhaps even feeling.
Difficulties and disappointments gave a plaintive sort of moral cast to his occasional effusions.
He possessed all the various faculties of the mind in such ample degrees, that to whichever of them he had given exclusive or unproportionate cultivation, in that he must have highly excelled. There are so many beautiful lines in the poem prefixed to Spenser's · Fairy Queen, beginning “ Methought I saw,” &c., that it is clear he was capable of attaining a high place among poetical writers.
The mere ascent to greatness in the state, from such a private condition as that of Ralegh, could not have been effected in those days without some extraordinary powers of intellect and of spirit: unless per. haps through the slow intrigues of gradually-improving office, where daily presence and daily opportunity might find room for the incessant activity of a selfish cunning; a mode, by which the elevation of many statesmen may too probably be accounted for. But such was not the spirit of Ralegh: while climbing up the steep and perilous heights of ambition, he must undoubtedly have met with numerous scarcely-supportable insults, as well as thrusts. Essex was of a generous temper; but he was puffed up by intemperate aristocratical prejudices. Incalculably inferior in all the powers of the understanding, in age, experience, and exercised wisdom, that nobleman by the occasional insolence, which his unreserved and haughty temper was likely to betray, must have created in a character like Ralegh's (inspired, as it was, by the most animated consciousness of pre-eminence, both in natural and acquired endowments) feelings of mingled abhorrence, resentment, and disdain, that were not likely to subside without finding some means to discharge themselves on their object. Sir Robert Cecil, always actuated by a crooked and selfish policy, saw and seized this occasion, that he might turn it into an instrument of injury in conducting his own malignant rivalry toward the imprudent Essex.
Ralegh is held in no mean regard as an historian; his History of the World' * being, to this day, respected by the ablest critics. f
* It was first published, in 1614, in folio: a second edition was printed in 1617.
+ In this work, which “ for the exactness of it's chronology, curiosity of it's contexture, and learning of all sorts,” Wood pronounces an exquisite Minerva' that seems to be the work of an age,' occurs the following passage against the Sectaries, who by their puritanical zeal and inordinate desire of change (palliated, and disguised, under the name of reformation) endeavoured to debase and vilify the house of God: “ The reverend care which Moses, the prophet and chosen servant of God, had in all that belonged even to the outward and least parts of the Tabernacle, Ark, and Sanctuary, witnessed well the inward and most humble zeal borne toward God himself. The industry used in the framing the roof, and every and the least part thereof; the curious workmanship thereon bestowed; the exceeding charge and expense in the provisions; the dutiful ob