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"Out of these Convertites
There is much matter to be heard and learned."
As You Like It, act v. se. iv.
HE fifteenth of this month, haunters of Taverns, vagabonds, and such kind of men, which lurked and flocked many of them daily into the city, greedily hearkening after rumours, gaping after tumults and pillage, were commanded forthwith to depart upon pain of death.
Na'th'less Englishmen will exercise their ears and tongues on national affairs; albeit (as her Grace saith) such do not concern private persons, but only Princes. And in the " Great Harry" were now convened many who were fain ease their consciences a little by venting some indignation.
'Tis well nigh fifteen years since we were first at this
pleasant ordinary. Here have met, once and again, Essex and Southampton, Sir Thomas and William Cheney, Drake, Shakspeare, the two Bacons, Camden, Cuffe, and many others more or less known. Time and circumstance had scratched some off the list, and writ some new names down; but there was ever the same free spirit here. Patriotism sat i' the chair o' top, and Charity on the stool a' bottom. To-night Clarencieux and poor pained Antony came; sorrowful enough, God wotteth!
Here had been held sage counsels while the recent troubles were afoot; and there were dark countenances now round the board, and some impetuous gestures too, when they came presently to speak of that act which had been ruled High Treason.
Some called it a " fear only :" others " an error :" they which censured it more hardly, termed it "an obstinate impatience and desire of (private) revenge;" and such as most heavily condemned it, would call it but " an inconsiderate rashness." There were none here—and very few without—which thought it a capital crime.
When one or two mooted hope of her Grace's clemency, some of the elders remembering Norfolk, Arundel,
Public Opinion on her Grace. 299
Babington and his sort, and the Scots' Queen herself, said they could lay small account on mercy. The Queen would be content enow to rid herself of that shame the world laid on her familiarities: That, as she plumed herself on being " Semper Eadem" so would she let fall the Axe on one as lief as on another, having, truly, no heart-affections to warp her judgement: That the Tudor Sovereigns were wont to cut away the nobles, great ones and those of old descent, seeking their own security in the savour of the people, over whom, in effect, they greatly tyrannised: That, seeing the Devereux had some Plantagenet strain, Elizabeth, though nearly seventy years of age, was jealous of his so remote claim—though only to succession; and that, having smeared her royal reputation in the blood of a Sister Queen, her near kinswoman and next heir, she would hold no scruple of drabbling her hands in a drop still farther off.
"The Scots embassadours," quoth one, " will they net pray her Grace forbearance?"
"Marry that, sir! they did gratulate her Majesty on the prompt suppression of so vile and wide-spread a rebellion!"
"'Twas rumoured they bare secret despatches from the King to the company at Drury-house?"
"And did, sir! Had the Plot succeeded, they had ta'eti another colour."
Then some asked what would the Secretary do? Whether was his spleen engaged? One answereth that rather was his honour touched; the accusations at the Barre that he favoured Spain having astonied him.
"Will he not relent?"
"'Tis more hoped than expected—more expected than believed."
"Nay! the poor Countess did beseech him in her letters"
"And he would not?"
"Neither despair nor hope. Simply, he would not move."
"E'en that is well!"
"So humbly eloquent, she prayed him,* as he desired of God that his own son never be made orphan by the untimely and unnatural death of his dear father, vouchsafe a relenting, to the not urging, if you may not to the hindering, of that fatal warrant for execution; which, if it once be signed, I shall never wish to breathe an hour after !'"
"Cecyl doth bear no love to Ralegh now, so Harrington told the Bishop; and on this account."
"Of a verity I believe it. He complaineth, too, the Secretary promised him the monopoly of the sweet wines."
"It would appear Sir Robert having, in his zeal or ipleen, o'erstiot himself last year, was of late content to let some others try the Bow."
"He kept his eye a' th' clout, though."
"No blame, sir! Is he not the Queen's minister?"
"So is not Ralegh."
"Nor would not so rest, neither. He'd rule all."
"He is too vindictive, Ralegh!"
"Too mercenary, methinks."
"Why, yes, sir! do you not know he shall make more of this attainder than of a voyage to the Indies?"
"I am at a loss, sir! How understand you it?"
"Marry, thus: and good Mr. Camden will avouch it. Ralegh getteth a sum of Baynham shall go far to it."
"Ten thousand pound, I hear!"
"In sad truth, sir, I would be loth to traduce the man;