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CHAPTER VI.

"Confess

What Treason there is mingled with your love?"
Merch. Ven., act in. sc. n.

"Marry this, fir, is proclaimed through all our host,
That HeElor, by the first hour of the sun,
Will, with a trumpet, twixt our Tents and Troy,
To-morrow morning call some knight to arms
That hath a stomach; and such an one that dare
Maintain I know not what! His tra/kl"

Tr. and Cr., act i. sc. iv.

ARTHA, Martha, attendis ad plurima, unum sifficit. Win the Queen," quoth wise Master Francis Bacon, " If this be not the beginning, of any other course I can see no end." And some very politic maxims else did he lay down for my Lord's guidance; some of which, to speak truly, Essex was of too noble and free a condition to use. Yet after a while one could see that the Earl had been tutored, but whether by his late sickness or by the respects his mind had entertained during the same, or through the philosophies of Master Cuffe, or howsoever, so it was. Essex was a sad man now. Grave yet irritable, often morose, and courting solitude.

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The Court moved to Richmond. The Earl was daily in attendance; for matters were urgent with the Privy Council, and instructions for the expedition against Ireland occupied their care.

By her Grace's bedside, ere she arose, my Lord sat as had been his wont. The fair hand he used to press and kiss lay on the coverlid, and anon he took it into his own. Then the royal lady, disengaging it, drew from beneath his ruff that long lock of hair my Lord ever wore, toying with it. There may have been some restraint and awkwardness at first. But people fall into old ways soon. And Elizabeth spake of her heart's affections; and how the cares of rule militated against happiness. How she had been better fitted for a private station than for the Queen of a great realm. How she would have enjoyed domestic peace, rather than state broils. And her Grace sighed heavily. Then Essex Royal Confidence. 89

essayed to comfort her with this word, that Providence had found her Majesty fit for^hat high estate. That she was a chosen vessel or Ark in which this nation had been preserved, while the whole world else lay deluged in Popery. That there were as many sorrows and fewer joys in private families. And that, if the married state had its comforts, so a virgin had peculiar blessings.

And the Queen stroked the Earl's cheek; and the Earl took the Queen's other hand and kissed it fervently (for she had turned towards him; looking very soothly at him). And Elizabeth sighed again, saying, " Alas, my country! what will come of it when it shall please God to take me?"

And Essex answered, " May it please Him to spare your Highness long!"

And Elizabeth said, " I have sat upon this throne now one-and-forty years!"

And Essex answered, "God preserve your Majesty as many more!"

And the Queen began to call to mind many who had served her faithfully, and were now dead. She seake of Thomas Ratcliffe Earl of Sussex, of Thomas Clinton Earl of Lincoln, of William Hastings Earl of Huntingdon, of Walter Devereux Earl of Essex. Then of Robin Dudley. And she sighed as a widow sighs when after many years she remembereth the husband of her youth. And she presently spake of Hatton; and a faint smile passed over her pale cheek. And anon she dropped a tear for Philip Sidney. Essex, too, grew mournful, reflecting how the glory of this world passeth away; and how the young and the gallant, the chivalrous and the good, and the loved and the hopeful, go to their unremembered graves, while the mischiefs of the wicked, and the selfish, and the base survive.

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And they sate silently, both musing. And her Majesty's watch lay on the stand, and its tickings sounded solemnly. And there was a noise behind the bed, as of some one clearing the throat. And my Lord, ere one could think, clapped his rapier through the Arras; and then there was certainly a motion behind as of one escaping. "Who's there !" cried he passionately, "A rat?" But, the ladies of the bedchamber coming in from the other side with her Grace's aired linen, the Queen said, " How long wilt keep to thy foining?" signing that she would now be alone with her women.

And it came to pass after some days, that there were A Tilt in Honour of her Majesty. 91

jousts i' the Park, and lists set out, and a very gay company assembled over and above the Court: for her Majesty presided as the Queen of beauty, having a raised throne in the very centre of the barriers.

There were many nobles and knights who ran their courses, but none came with more display than Sir Walter Ralegh. With his whole meiny, he and they clade in Tawny, and at the flourish of clarions, he galloped into the lists. But lo! my Lord the Earl of Essex enters the other end, himself and a large retinue, all in Tawny too. And his pursuivant, bearing his shield, cried with a loud voice— "Here standeth Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, Viscount Hereford, Lord Ferrers of Chartley, Bourchier, and Louvaine, Lord Marshal of England, Master of the Ordnance, Master of the Horse, Knight of the most noble order of the Garter, prepared to break a launce in honour of our Sovereign Lady Elizabeth, of these realms Queen, Defender of the Faith, and so forth!" Anon my Lord trotteth round the lists, the trumpets clanging sharply; thus joining his men with Sir Walter's. Folk thought 'twas but one cavalcade, all wearing orange-tawny plumes. But my Lord ran foully: and, had the Lady's beauty hung on the

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