Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/198

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news-letter on the topic (Archæologia, xxxiv. 160–70). The queen showed no more mercy to Mistress Throgmorton than to her lover, and she also was imprisoned in the Tower. In a letter addressed to Sir Robert Cecil in July Ralegh affected frenzied grief and rage at being debarred from the presence of the queen, whose personal attractions he eulogised in language of absurd extravagance (Edwards, ii. 51–2). In his familiar poem ‘As you came from the Holy Land,’ he seems to have converted into verse much of the flattering description of Elizabeth which figured in this letter to Cecil (Poems, ed. Hannah, pp. 80–1). But, despite these blandishments, he continued a close prisoner till the middle of September, when, on the arrival of the great carrack, the Madre de Dios, at Dartmouth, he was sent thither with Cecil and Drake, in the hope that by his local influence he might be able to stop the irregular pillage of the prize. He arrived in charge of a Mr. Blunt (State Papers, Dom. ccxliii. 17), perhaps Sir Christopher Blount [q. v.], the stepfather and friend of the Earl of Essex. On going on board the carrack his friends and the mariners congratulated him on being at liberty, but he answered ‘No, I am the Queen of England's poor captive.’ Cecil, his fellow-commissioner, treated him respectfully. ‘I do grace him,’ wrote Cecil, ‘as much as I may, for I find him marvellous greedy to do anything to recover the conceit of his brutish offence’ (ib.) By 27 Sept. the commissioners had reduced the affairs of the carrack to something like order (Edwards, ii. 73), and eventually the net proceeds of the prize amounted to about 150,000l., of which the queen took the greatest part. Ralegh considered himself ill-used in receiving 36,000l., being only 2,000l. more than he had ventured, while the Earl of Cumberland, who had ventured only 19,000l., also received 36,000l. (ib. ii. 76–8). But her majesty, gratified, it may be, by her share of the booty, so far relented as to restore Ralegh his liberty.

It is probable that Ralegh and Elizabeth Throgmorton were married immediately afterwards. Being forbidden to come to court, they settled at Sherborne, where in January 1591–2 Ralegh had obtained a ninety-nine years' lease of the castle and park (ib. i. 463). He now busied himself with building and planting, ‘repairing the castle, erecting a magnificent mansion close at hand, and laying out the grounds with the greatest refinement of taste’ (St. John, i. 208). But he did not wholly withdraw himself from public life. Early in 1593 he was elected for Michael in Cornwall, and took an active part in the proceedings of the house. On 28 Feb. he spoke in support of open war with Spain. On 20 March he strenuously opposed the extensions of the privileges of aliens, and his speech was answered by Sir Robert Cecil. On 4 April he spoke with much ability and tact in favour of the Brownists, or rather against religious persecution (D'Ewes, Journals, pp. 478, 490, 493, 508–9, 517; Edwards, i. 271).

New difficulties followed his sojourn in London during the session. Passionately devoted to literature and science, he associated in London with men of letters of all classes and tastes. He was, with Cotton and Selden, a member of the Society of Antiquaries that had been formed by Archbishop Parker and lasted till 1605 (Archæologia, I. XXV), and to him is assigned the first suggestion of those meetings at the Mermaid tavern in Bread Street which Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and many lesser writers long graced with their presence. He made valuable suggestions to Richard Hakluyt, when he was designing his great collection of ‘Voyages’ (cf. History of the World, bk. ii. cap. iii. sect. viii.). But it was not only literary and archæological topics that Ralegh discussed with his literary or antiquarian friends. Although he did not personally adopt the scepticism in matters of religion which was avowed by many Elizabethan authors, it attracted his speculative cast of mind, and he sought among the sceptics his closest companions. Thomas Harriot, who acknowledged himself to be a deist, he took into his house, on his return from Virginia, in order to study mathematics with him. With Christopher Marlowe, whose religious views were equally heterodox, he was in equally confidential relations. Izaak Walton testifies that he wrote the well-known answer to Marlowe's familiar lyric, ‘Come, live with me and be my love.’

There is little doubt that Ralegh, Harriot, and Marlowe, and some other personal friends, including Ralegh's brother Carew, were all in 1592 and 1593 members of a select coterie which frequently debated religious topics with perilous freedom. According to a catholic pamphleteer writing in 1592, and calling himself Philopatris, the society was known as ‘Sir Walter Rawley's School of Atheisme.’ The master was stated to be a conjuror (doubtless a reference to Harriot), and ‘much diligence was said to be used to get young gentlemen to this school, wherein both Moyses and our Sauior, the old and the new Testaments are iested at and the schollers taught among other things to spell God backwards’ (An Ad-