Ralegh, Walter (1552?-1618) (DNB00)
RALEGH, Sir WALTER (1552?–1618), military and naval commander and author, was born about 1552 at Hayes or Hayes Barton, near Budleigh Salterton, South Devonshire (for description of birthplace see Trans. of Devonshire Association, xxi. 312–20). His father, Walter Ralegh (1496?–1581), a country gentleman, was originally settled at Fardell, near Plymouth, where he owned property at his death; he removed about 1520 to Hayes, where he leased an estate, and spent the last years of his long life at Exeter. He narrowly escaped death in the western rebellion of 1549, was churchwarden of East Budleigh in 1561, and is perhaps the ‘Walter Rawley’ who represented Wareham in the parliament of 1558. He was buried in the church of St. Mary Major, Exeter, on 23 Feb. 1580–1. He married thrice: first, about 1518, Joan, daughter of John Drake of Exmouth, and probably first cousin of Sir Francis Drake; secondly, a daughter of Darrell of London; and, thirdly, after 1548, Katharine, daughter of Sir Philip Champernowne of Modbury, and widow of Otho Gilbert (d. 18 Feb. 1547) of Compton, near Dartmouth.
By his first wife the elder Ralegh had two sons: George, who is said to have furnished a ship to meet the Spanish armada in 1588, and was buried at Withycombe Ralegh on 12 March 1596–7, leaving issue believed to be illegitimate; and John, who succeeded to the family property at Fardell, and died at a great age in 1629. Mary, the only child of the second marriage, was wife of Hugh Snedale. By his third wife, Katharine (d. 1594), whose will, dated 11 May 1594, is in the probate registry at Exeter, the elder Ralegh had, together with a daughter Margaret and Walter, the subject of this notice,
Sir Carew Ralegh (1550?–1625?), Sir Walter's elder brother of the whole blood. Carew engaged in 1578 in the expedition of his half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert [q. v.], and figured with Sir Walter and his two elder half-brothers, George and John, on the list of sea-captains drawn up in consequence of rumours of a Spanish invasion in January 1585–6. He sat in parliament as member for Wiltshire in 1586, for Ludgershall in 1589, for Downton both in 1603–4 and in 1621, and he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1601 at Basing House. For some time he was gentleman of the horse to John Thynne of Longleat, and on Thynne's death he married his widow, Dorothy, daughter of Sir William Wroughton of Broad Heighton, Wiltshire. On his marriage he sold his property in Devonshire, and settled at Downton House, near Salisbury. Until 1625 he was lieutenant of the Isle of Portland (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1608–25). Aubrey says of him that he ‘had a delicate clear voice, and played skilfully on the olpharion’ (Letters, ii. 510). His second son, Walter [q. v.] (1586–1646), is separately noticed.
Through his father and mother, who are both credited by tradition with puritan predilections, Walter Ralegh was connected with many distinguished Devon and Cornish families—the Courtenays, Grenvilles, St. Legers, Russells, Drakes, and Gilberts. Sir Humphrey Gilbert was his mother's son by her first husband. His early boyhood seems to have been spent at Hayes, and he may have been sent to school at Budleigh; Sidmouth and Ottery St. Mary have also been suggested as scenes of his education. It was doubtless by association with the sailors on the beach at Budleigh Salterton that he imbibed the almost instinctive understanding of the sea that characterises his writings. Sir John Millais, in his picture ‘The Boyhood of Ralegh,’ painted at Budleigh Salterton in 1870, represents him sitting on the seashore at the foot of a sunburnt sailor, who is narrating his adventures. He certainly learnt to speak with the broadest of Devonshire accents, which he retained through life. From childhood he was, says Naunton, ‘an indefatigable reader.’ At the age of fourteen or fifteen he would seem to have gone to Oxford, where he was, according to Wood, in residence for three years as a member of Oriel College. His name appears in the college books in 1572, but the dates and duration of his residence are uncertain.
In 1569 Ralegh sought adventures in France as a volunteer in the Huguenot army. With it he was present in the battle of Jarnac (13 March), and again at Moncontour (Hist. of the World, v. ii. 3, 8). It has been conjectured that on 24 Aug. 1572, the day of the massacre of St. Bartholomew, he was in Paris; it is more probable that he was in the south of France, where, according to his own testimony, he saw the catholics smoked out of the caves in the Languedoc hills (ib. IV. ii. 16). It is stated authoritatively that he remained in France for upwards of five years, but nothing further is known of his experiences there (Oldys, p. 21). In the spring of 1576 he was in London, and in a copy of congratulatory verses which he prefixed to the ‘Steele Glas’ of George Gascoigne [q. v.], published in April 1576, he is described as ‘of the Middle Temple.’ It may be supposed that he was only ‘a passing lodger;’ he has himself stated that he was not a law student (Works, i. 669). In December 1577 he appears to have had a residence at Islington, and been known as a hanger-on of the court (Gosse, p. 6). It is possible that in 1577 or 1578 he was in the Low Countries under Sir John Norris or Norreys [q. v.], and was present in the brilliant action of Rymenant on 1 Aug. 1578 (Oldys, p. 25); but the statement is conjectural.
In April 1578 he was in England (Trans. of the Devonshire Association, xv. 174), and in September he was at Dartmouth, where he joined his half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert in fitting out a fleet of eleven ships for a so-called voyage of discovery. After tedious delays, only seven, three of which were very small, finally sailed on 19 Nov. That the ‘voyage of discovery’ was a mere pretence may be judged by the armament of the ships, which according to the standard of the age, was very heavy. Gilbert commanded the Admiral, of 250 tons; Carew, Ralegh's elder brother, commanded the Vice-Admiral; Ralegh himself the Falcon of 100 tons, with the distinguishing motto, ‘Nec mortem peto, nec finem fugio’ (cf. State Papers, Dom. Elizabeth, cxxvi. 46, i. 49; cf. McDougall, Voyage of the Resolute, pp. 520–6). It is probable that Gilbert went south to the Azores, or even to the West Indies. After an indecisive engagement with some Spaniards, the expedition was back at Dartmouth in the spring of 1579 (Hakluyt, Principal Navigations, iii. 186.).
A few months later Ralegh was at the court, on terms of intimacy at once with the Earl of Leicester, and with Leicester's bitter enemy and Burghley's disreputable son-in-law, the Earl of Oxford. At Oxford's request he carried a challenge to Leicester's nephew, Sir Philip Sidney, which Sidney accepted, but Oxford refused to fight, and, it is said, proposed to have Sidney assassinated. Ralegh's refusal to assist in this wicked business bred a coldness between him and Oxford, which deepened on the latter's part into deadly hatred (St. John, i. 48). But Ralegh's temper was hot enough to involve him in like broils on his own account. In February 1579–80 he was engaged in a quarrel with Sir Thomas Perrot, and on the 7th the two were brought before the lords of the council ‘for a fray made betwixt them,’ and ‘committed prisoners to the Fleet.’ Six days later they were released on finding sureties for their keeping the peace (ib. i. 50), but on 17 March Ralegh and one Wingfield were committed to the Marshalsea for ‘a fray beside the tennis-court at Westminster’ (Acts of Privy Council, xi. 421).
Next June Ralegh sailed for Ireland as the captain of a company of one hundred soldiers. The friendship of Leicester, and, through Sidney, of Walsingham, brought him opportunities of personal distinction. In August he was joined in commission with Sir Warham St. Leger for the trial of James Fitzgerald, brother of the Earl of Desmond, who was sentenced and put to death as a traitor. Ralegh expressed the conviction that leniency to bloody-minded malefactors was cruelty to good and peaceable subjects (ib. i. 38). When, in November, the lord deputy, Grey, forced the Spanish and Italian adventurers, who had built and garrisoned the Fort del Oro at Smerwick, to surrender at discretion, Ralegh had no scruples about carrying out the lord deputy's order to put them to the sword, to the number of six hundred (ib. i. 40) [see Grey, Arthur, fourteenth Lord Grey de Wilton]. Although the exploit has the aspect of a cold-blooded butchery, it must be remembered that the Spaniards were legally pirates, who had without valid commissions stirred up the native Irish to rebellion, and that English adventurers in the same legal position on the Spanish main [cf. Oxenham, John], although they were free from the added imputation of inciting to rebellion, had been mercilessly slain. The only fault found by the queen was that the superior officers had been spared (Cal. State Papers, Ireland, lxxix. 13). Edmund Spenser [q. v.], who was present at Smerwick, approved of Grey's order and of Ralegh's obedience (View of the Present State of Ireland, Globe edit. p. 656), and Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador in London, ventured on no remonstrance (Froude, Hist. of England, Cabinet edit. x. 582–91).
During the campaign Spenser and Ralegh were necessarily brought together, but it does not appear that any intimacy then sprang up between them, and in January Ralegh was sent into garrison at Cork, where, except for an occasional journey to Dublin to confer with Grey or a dashing skirmish, he lay till the end of July. He was then appointed one of a temporary commission for the government of Munster, which established its headquarters at Lismore, and thence kept the whole province in hand. It was apparently in November that Ralegh, on his way from Lismore to Cork with eight horse and eighty foot, was attacked by a numerous body of Irish. They could not, however, stand before the disciplined strength of the English, and fled. Ralegh, hotly pursuing them with his small body of horse, got in among a crowd of the fugitives, who turned to bay, and fought fiercely, stabbing the horses with their knives. Ralegh's horse was killed, and Ralegh, entangled under the falling animal, owed delivery from imminent danger to the arrival of reinforcements. This marked the end, for the time, of Ralegh's Irish service.
In the beginning of December 1581 he was sent to England with despatches from Colonel Zouch, the new governor of Munster, and, coming to the court, then at Greenwich, happened to attract the notice and catch the fancy of the queen. There is nothing improbable in the story of his spreading his new plush cloak over a muddy road for the queen to walk on. The evidence on which it is based (Fuller, Worthies) is shadowy; but the incident is in keeping with Ralegh's quick, decided resolution, and it is certain that Ralegh sprang with a sudden bound into the royal favour. Fuller's other story of his writing on a window of the palace, with a diamond,
Fain would I climb, yet fear I to fall,
and of Elizabeth's replying to it with
If thy heart fails thee, climb not at all,
rests on equally weak testimony, and is inherently improbable. Naunton's story that Ralegh first won the queen's favour by the ability he showed in pleading his cause before the council has been satisfactorily disproved by Edwards (i. 49). It, in fact, appears that a handsome figure and face were his real credentials. He was under thirty, tall, well-built, of ‘a good presence,’ with thick dark hair, a bright complexion, and an expression full of life. His dress, too, was at all times magnificent, to the utmost limit of his purse; and, when called on to speak, he answered ‘with a bold and plausible tongue, whereby he could set out his parts to the best advantage.’ He had, moreover, the reputation of a bold and dashing partisan, ingenious and daring; fearless alike in the field and in the council-chamber, a man of a stout heart and a sound head.
For several years Ralegh belonged to the court, the recipient of the queen's bounties and favour to an extent which gave much occasion for scandal. He was indeed consulted as to the affairs of Ireland, and Grey's rejection of his advice was a chief cause of Grey's recall; but such service, in itself a mark of the queen's confidence, does not account for the numerous appointments and grants which, within a few years, raised him from the position of a poor gentleman-adventurer to be one of the most wealthy of the courtiers. Among other patents and monopolies, he was granted, in May 1583, that of wine licenses, which brought him in from 800l. to 2,000l. a year, though it involved him in a dispute with the vice-chancellor of Cambridge, on whose jurisdiction his lessee had encroached. In 1584 he was knighted, and in 1585 was appointed warden of the stannaries, that is of the mines of Cornwall and Devon, lord lieutenant of Cornwall, and vice-admiral of the two counties. Both in 1585 and 1586 he sat in parliament as member for Devonshire. In 1586, too, he obtained the grant of a vast tract of land—some forty thousand acres in Cork, Waterford, and Tipperary. The grant included Youghal, with manorial rights and the salmon fishery of the Blackwater, and Ralegh began building houses at both Youghal and Lismore. He was also appointed captain of the queen's guard, an office requiring immediate attendance on the queen's person. In 1587 he was granted estates in Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, and Nottinghamshire, forfeited by Babington and his fellow-conspirators.
Ralegh, however, was ill-fitted to spend his life in luxury and court intrigue, of which, as the queen's favourite, he was the centre. His jurisdiction of the stannaries marked an era of reform, and the rules which he laid down continued long in force. As vice-admiral of the western counties, with his half-brother Sir John Gilbert as his deputy in Devon, he secured a profitable share in the privateering against Spain, which was conducted under cover of commissions from the Prince of Condé or from the Prince of Orange. In 1583 he had a large interest in the Newfoundland voyage of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, fitting out a vessel of two hundred tons, called the Bark Ralegh, which he had intended to command himself, till positively forbidden by his royal mistress. After Gilbert's death he applied for a patent similar to that which Gilbert had held—to discover unknown lands, to take possession of them in the queen's name, and to hold them for six years. This was granted on 25 March 1584, and in April he sent out a preliminary expedition under Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlow, who, taking the southern route by the West Indies and the coast of Florida, made the land to the southward of Cape Hatteras. They then coasted northwards, entered the Oregon inlet, and in the queen's name took possession of Wokoken, Roanoke, and the mainland adjacent. To this region, on their return in September, the queen herself gave the name of Virginia, then, and for many years afterwards, applied to the whole seaboard of the continent, from Florida to Newfoundland.
Ralegh now put forward the idea, possibly conceived years before in intercourse with Coligny (Besant, Gaspard Coligny, chap. vii.), of establishing a colony in the newly discovered country; and, as the queen would not allow him to go in person, the expedition sailed in April 1585, under the command of his cousin, Sir Richard Grenville or Greynvile [q. v.], with Ralph Lane [q. v.] as governor of the colony, and Thomas Harriot [q. v.], who described himself as Ralegh's servant, as surveyor. The rules for its government were drawn up by Ralegh; but quarrels, in the first instance between Lane and Grenville and afterwards between the English settlers and the natives, rendered the scheme abortive, and in June 1586 the settlement was evacuated, the colonists being carried home by the fleet under Sir Francis Drake. Ralegh had meantime sent Grenville out with reinforcements and supplies; but, as he found the place deserted, he came back, leaving fifteen men on Roanoke. In the summer of 1587 another and larger expedition was sent out under the command of John White, who, when supplies ran short, came home, leaving eighty-nine men, seventeen women, and two children, including his own daughter and her child. Ralegh fitted out two ships in the following spring, but the captains converted the expedition into a privateering cruise, and, after being roughly handled by some Rochelle men-of-war, they came back to England. When, in 1589, a tardy relief was sent, the colonists had disappeared, nor was any trace of them ever recovered; and Ralegh, having spent upwards of 40,000l. in the attempt to found the colony, was compelled to abandon the project for the time. In after years he sent out other expeditions to Virginia, the latest in 1603. On his downfall in that year his patent reverted to the crown.
It is by his long, costly, and persistent effort to establish this first of English colonies that Ralegh's name is most favourably known; and, though the effort ended in failure, to Ralegh belongs the credit of having, first of Englishmen, pointed out the way to the formation of a greater England beyond the seas. But he had no personal share in the actual expeditions, and he was never in his whole life near the coast of Virginia. Among the more immediate results of his endeavours is popularly reckoned the introduction, about 1586, into England of potatoes and tobacco. The assertion is in part substantiated. His ‘servant’ Harriot, whom he sent out to America, gives in his ‘Brief and True Report of Virginia’ (1588) a detailed account of the potato and tobacco, and describes the uses to which the natives put them; he himself made the experiment of smoking tobacco. The potato and tobacco were in 1596 growing as rare plants in Lord Burghley's garden in the Strand (Gerard, Catalogus, 1596). In his ‘Herbal’ (1597, pp. 286–8, 781) Gerard gives an illustration and description of each. Although potatoes had at a far earlier period been brought to Europe by the Spaniards, Harriot's specimens were doubtless the earliest to be planted in this kingdom. Some of them Ralegh planted in his garden at Youghal, and on that ground he may be regarded as one of Ireland's chief benefactors. This claim is supported by the statement made to the Royal Society in 1693 by Sir Robert Southwell [q. v.], then president, to the effect that his grandfather first cultivated the potato in Ireland from specimens given him by Ralegh (G. W. Johnson, Gardener, 1849, i. 8). The cultivation spread rapidly in Ireland, but was uncommon in England until the eighteenth century. The assertion that Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake introduced the potato long before Ralegh initiated colonial enterprise appears to be erroneous. It seems that they brought over in 1565 some specimens of the sweet potato (convolvolus battata), which only distantly resembles the common potato (Alphonse de Candolle, Origin of Cultivated Plants, 1884; Clos, ‘Quelques documents sur l'histoire de la pomme de terre,’ in Journal Agric. du midi de la France, 1874, 8vo). With regard to tobacco, the plant was cultivated in Portugal before 1560, and Lobel, in his ‘Stirpium Adversaria Nova’ (pp. 251–2), declares that it was known in England before 1576. Drake and Hawkins seem to have first brought the leaf to England from America; but Ralegh (doubtless under the tuition of Harriot) was the first Englishman of rank to smoke it; he soon became confirmed in the habit, and taught his fellow-courtiers to follow his example, presenting to them pipes with bowls of silver. The practice spread with amazing rapidity among all classes of the nation (Camden, Annals, s.a. 1586; Tiedemann, Geschichte des Tabaks, 1854, pp. 148 sq.; Fairholt, Tobacco, 1859, pp. 50–1; cf. Gerard, Herbal, 1597, p. 289).
In March 1588, when the Spanish invasion appeared imminent, Ralegh was appointed one of a commission under the presidency of Sir Francis Knollys, with Lord Grey, Sir John Norris, and others—all land officers, with the exception of Sir Francis Drake—to draw up a plan for the defence of the country (Western Antiquary, vii. 276). The statement that it was by Ralegh's advice that the queen determined to fit out the fleet is unsupported by evidence (Stebbing, p. 65). The report of the commission seems to trust the defence of the country entirely to the land forces, possibly because its instruction referred only to their disposition. It nowhere appears that Ralegh had any voice as to the naval preparations. As the year advanced, he was sent into different parts of the country to hurry on the levies (Gosse, p. 38), especially in the west, where, as warden of the stannaries and lord lieutenant of Cornwall, it was his duty to embody the militia.
It is stated in every ‘Life’ of Ralegh that when the contending fleets were coming up Channel, Ralegh was one of the volunteers who joined the lord admiral and took a more or less prominent part in the subsequent fighting. Of this there is no mention in the English state papers or in the authentic correspondence of the time. Nor can any reliance be placed on the report that Ralegh took part in the naval operations mentioned in the ‘Copie of a Letter sent out of England to Don Bernardin Mendoza’ (1588, and often reprinted) (cf. A Pack of Spanish Lies). This doubtful authority also credits Robert Cecil with having joined the fleet—a manifest misstatement (Defeat of the Spanish Armada, i. 342).
In the early part of September Ralegh was in Cornwall; afterwards in London, and about the 19th he crossed over to Ireland in company with Sir Richard Grenville (State Papers, Dom. ccxv. 64, ccxvi. 28, Ireland, 14 Sept.; Sir Thomas Heneage to Carew, 19 Sept., Carew MSS.) By December he was again at court, and came into conflict with the queen's new favourite, Essex. The latter strove to drive Ralegh from court, and on some unknown pretext sent him a challenge, which the lords of the council prevented his accepting, wishing the whole business ‘to be repressed and to be buried in silence that it may not be known to her Majesty’ (State Papers, Dom. ccxix. 33) [see Devereux, Robert, second Earl of Essex]. The statement that in the early summer of 1589 Ralegh took part in the expedition to Portugal under Drake and Norris (Oldys, p. 119) is virtually contradicted by the full and authoritative documents relating to the expedition (cf. State Papers, Dom. ccxxii. 90, 97, 98, ccxxiii. 35, 55). In May 1589 Ralegh was in Ireland (ib. Ireland, cxliv. 27, 28), and possibly continued there during the summer; he was certainly there in August and September (Cal. Carew MSS. 5, 24 Aug.). To this period may be referred his intimacy with Edmund Spenser [q. v.], who bestowed on him in his poems the picturesque appellation of ‘The Shepherd of the Ocean.’ Ralegh returned to court in October, and, taking Spenser with him, secured for the poet a warm welcome from the queen. Ralegh's stay at court was short. His departure was apparently due to some jealousy of Sir William Fitzwilliam, lord deputy of Ireland, a friend of Essex, with whom he had quarrelled in Ireland. On 28 Dec. he wrote to Carew, ‘My retreat from the court was upon good cause. … When Sir William Fitzwilliam shall be in England, I take myself for his better by the honourable offices I hold, as also by that nearness to her Majesty which still I enjoy’ (Cal. Carew MSS.; cf. Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. iv. 3).
Court intrigues, his duties in Cornwall, the equipment of the various privateers in which he had an interest, seem to have occupied him through 1590. In the beginning of 1591 he was appointed to command in the second post, under Lord Thomas Howard, a strong squadron of queen's ships and others, to look out for the Spanish plate fleet from the West Indies. Ultimately, however, the queen refused to let him go, and his place afloat was taken by his cousin, Sir Richard Grenville, whose death he celebrated in ‘A Report of the Truth of the Fight about the Isles of the Açores this last Sommer, betwixt the Revenge, one of her Majesties Shippes, and an Armada of the King of Spaine.’ This, published anonymously in the autumn of 1591, was afterwards acknowledged in Hakluyt's ‘Principal Navigations,’ and forms the basis of a contemporary ballad by Gervase Markham [q. v.] and of Tennyson's well-known poem.
In the following year (1592) a still stronger squadron was fitted out, mainly at the cost of Ralegh, who ventured all the money he could raise, amounting to about 34,000l.; the Earl of Cumberland also contributed largely, and the queen supplied two ships, the Foresight and Garland. It was intended that Ralegh should command it in person, though the queen had expressed herself opposed to the plan, and as early as 10 March he wrote to Cecil, ‘I have promised her Majesty that, if I can persuade the companies to follow Sir Martin Frobiser, I will without fail return, and bring them but into the sea some fifty or three-score leagues; which to do, her Majesty many times, with great grace, bade me remember’ (Edwards, ii. 45). But in the early days of May, as the fleet put to sea, Ralegh received an order to resign the command to Frobiser and return immediately. He conceived himself warranted in going as far as Cape Finisterre. There dividing the fleet, he sent one part, under Frobiser, to threaten the coast of Portugal so as to prevent the Spanish fleet putting to sea; the other, under Sir John Burgh, to the Azores, where it captured the Madre de Dios, the great carrack, homeward bound from the East Indies with a cargo of the estimated value of upwards of half a million sterling. By the beginning of June Ralegh had arrived in London, and although on 8 June he was staying at his own residence, Durham House in the Strand, the ancient London house of the bishops of Durham, which he held since 1584 on a grant from the crown (ib. ii. 252 seq.), he was in July sent to the Tower.
His recall and imprisonment were due to the queen's wrath on discovering that the man whom she had delighted to honour and enrich, who had been professing a lover's devotion to her, had been carrying on an intrigue with one of her maids of honour, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Nicholas Throgmorton [q. v.], who, baptised at Beddington 16 April 1565, was 27 years old. In March it was rumoured that Ralegh had married the lady, but this, in a letter to Robert Cecil on 10 March 1592, Ralegh had denounced as a ‘malicious report.’ According to Camden, Ralegh seduced the lady some months before, an assertion which J. P. Collier needlessly attempted to corroborate by printing a forged 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 Advertisement written to a Secretarie of my L. Treasurers of Ingland by an Inglishe Intelligencer, 1592, p. 18). In May 1593 the coterie's proceedings were brought to the notice of the privy council. A warrant was issued for the arrest of Marlowe and another, but Marlowe died next month, before it took effect. Ralegh had doubtless returned to Sherborne after the dissolution of parliament on 10 April. But later in the year the lord keeper, Puckering, made searching inquiries into Ralegh's and his friends' relations with the freethinking dramatist. A witness deposed that Marlowe had read an atheistical lecture to Ralegh and others. On 21 March 1593–4 a special commission, headed by Thomas Howard, viscount Bindon, was directed to pursue the investigation at Cerne in Dorset, in the neighbourhood of Sherborne, and to examine Ralegh, his brother Carew, ‘Mr. Thynne of Wiltshire,’ and ‘one Heryott of Sir Walter Rawleigh's house’ as to their alleged heresies. Unfortunately the result of the investigation is not accessible (Harl. MS. 7042, p. 401) [see Kyd, Thomas; Marlowe, Christopher]. In June 1594 Ralegh spent a whole night in eagerly discussing religious topics with the jesuit John Cornelius [q. v.], while the latter lay under arrest at Wolverton (Foley, Jesuits, iii. 461–2).
But Ralegh was soon seeking with characteristic versatility somewhat less hazardous means of satisfying his speculative instinct. He had been fascinated by the Spanish legend of the fabulous wealth of the city of Manoa in South America, ‘which the Spaniards call Eldorado,’ and he desired to investigate it. Early in 1594 his wife, who deprecated the project, wrote to Cecil entreating him ‘rather to stay him than further him’ (Edwards, i. 160). Probably owing to his wife's influence, Ralegh delayed going out himself, and in the first instance sent his tried servant, Jacob Whiddon, with instructions to explore the river Orinoco and its tributaries, which intersect the country now known as Venezuela, but long called by the Spanish settlers Guayana or Guiana. Whiddon returned towards the end of the year without any definite information. Ralegh was undaunted. He had already resolved to essay the adventure himself, and on 9 Feb. 1594–5 he sailed from Plymouth with a fleet of five ships, fitted out principally at his own cost, Cecil and the lord admiral being also interested in the voyage, and with a commission from the queen to wage war against the Spaniard. On 22 March he arrived at the island of Trinidad, off the Venezuelan coast, where he attacked and took the town of San Josef. He seized Berreo, governor of Trinidad, who, stimulated by the appearance of Whiddon the year before, had written home suggesting the immediate occupation of the country adjoining the Orinoco. In fact an expedition for this purpose sailed from San Lucar about the same time that Ralegh sailed from Plymouth, but it did not arrive at Trinidad till April.
Ralegh's intercourse with his prisoner had meantime been most friendly, and Berreo showed Ralegh an official copy of a deposition made by one Juan Martinez, who, on the point of death, declared that, having fallen into the hands of the Indians of the Orinoco, he had been detained for seven months in Manoa, the richness and wonders of which he described at length. Ralegh, like the Spaniards, accepted the story, in which there is nothing improbable. ‘It is not yet proven that there was not in the sixteenth century some rich and civilised kingdom, like Peru or Mexico, in the interior of South America’ (Kingsley, Miscellanies, 1859, i. 44). The reports of dog-headed men, or of ‘men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders,’ may have originated in the disguises of the Indian medicine-men (ib. i. 45). Early in April, leaving his ships at Los Gallos, Ralegh started on his adventurous search for the gold-mine of Manoa, with a little flotilla of five boats, about one hundred men, and provisions for a month.
The equipment and the means at his disposal proved inadequate. Entering by the Manamo mouth from the Bay of Guanipa, and so into the Orinoco itself, near where San Rafael now is, the labour of rowing against the stream of the river in flood was excessive; and when, after struggling upwards for an estimated distance of four hundred miles, they turned into the Caroni, it was often found impossible to make more than ‘one stone's cast in an hour.’ They pushed on for forty miles further, when their provisions were nearly exhausted, and they were still without any prospect of reaching Manoa. Ralegh reluctantly decided to give up the attempt for the present, hoping to try again at some future time. Leaving a man and a boy behind with a tribe of friendly Indians, so that on his return he might find competent interpreters, or possibly even guides to Manoa, he and his companions rapidly descended the river with the current, and rejoined their ships. They carried with them sundry pieces of ‘white spar’ or quartz, ‘on the outside of which appeared some small grains of gold,’ and these, being afterwards assayed in London, were reported to contain pure gold in proportions varying from 12,000 to 26,900 pounds to the ton, the reference being apparently to the ‘assay pound’ of 12 grains (information from Professor Roberts-Austen). They are also said to have brought back the earliest specimens of mahogany known in England. From Trinidad Ralegh followed the north coast of South America, levied contributions from the Spaniards at Cumana and Rio de Hacha, and returned to England in August. But he had powerful enemies, some of whom declared that the whole story of the voyage was a fiction. It was to refute this slander that he wrote his ‘Discoverie of Guiana,’ 1596, 4to. At the same time he drew a map, which was not yet finished when the book was published. This map, long supposed to be lost (Schomburgk, p. 26 n.), has been now identified with a map in the British Museum (Add. MS. 17940A), dated about 1650 in the Catalogue, but shown to be Ralegh's by a careful comparison with the text of the ‘Discoverie’ and with Ralegh's known handwriting (Kohl, Descriptive Catalogue of Maps … relating to America … mentioned in vol. iii. of Hakluyt's Great Work; information from Mr. C. H. Coote). A facsimile of the map is in vol. ii. of ‘Hamburgische Festschrift zur Erinnerung an die Entdeckung Amerika's’ (1892).
Ralegh's accuracy as a topographer and cartographer of Guiana or the central district of Venezuela has been established by subsequent explorers, nor is there reason to doubt that the gold-mine which he sought really existed. The quartz which he brought home doubtless came from the neighbourhood of the river Yuruari (an affluent of the Caroni), where gold was discovered in 1849 by Dr. Louis Plassard, and has, since 1857, been procured in large quantities. The prosperous El Callão mine in this region was probably the object of Ralegh's search (C. Le Neve Foster, ‘Caratal Gold Fields of Venezuela,’ reprinted from Quarterly Jour. of Geolog. Soc. August 1869, and the same writer's ‘Ralegh's Gold Mine,’ in Brit. Assoc. Rep. 1869, pp. 162–3).
On his return in 1595 Ralegh retired to Sherborne, and, as lord lieutenant of Cornwall, prepared for the defence of the country against a threatened invasion from Spain. This prevented his personally undertaking a new voyage to Guiana; but in January 1595–1596 he sent out his trusty friend, Lawrence Kemys [q. v.], who brought back the news that the Spaniards, under orders from Berreo, had re-established themselves in force at San Tomás, near the mouth of the Caroni, where an earlier settlement had been abandoned (Hakluyt, iii. 672; Gardiner, iii. 444–5, where the position of San Tomás is discussed).
Meantime Ralegh took a brilliant part in the expedition to Cadiz in June 1596. He commanded the van—himself in the leading ship, the Warspite—as the fleet forced its way into the harbour, and, though severely wounded, he was carried on shore when the men landed for the storming of the town. By his commission as a general officer he had a voice in the councils of war, but his share in swaying the decision to attack, which we know only from his own narrative (Edwards, ii. 147–8), may easily be exaggerated, and is contradicted by Sir William Monson, the captain of Essex's ship, the Dieu Repulse (‘Naval Tracts’ in Churchill, Voyages, 1704, iii. 185). On his return Ralegh was again busied with the despatch of a vessel to push discovery in the Orinoco. She sailed from the Thames in October, but did not leave Weymouth till 27 Dec., and by the end of June 1597 she was back at Plymouth without having been able to gain any further intelligence (Hakluyt, iii. 692). As far as Ralegh was concerned, the project was dropped for the next twenty years, though others made fruitless attempts in the same direction [see Leigh, Charles, (d. 1605)].
Ralegh had been commended for his share in the taking of Cadiz; his friends believed that the queen's wrath was wearing itself out, and Essex was not hostile. In May 1597 Ralegh was in daily attendance at the court, and on 1 June he ‘was brought by Cecil to the queen, who used him very graciously and gave him full authority to execute his place as captain of the guard. In the evening he rid abroad with the queen, and had private conference with her’ (Edwards, i. 226). For the next few weeks he seems to have been on familiar, almost friendly, terms with Essex. Meantime the intelligence from Spain showed that Philip was preparing to take revenge for the loss he had sustained at Cadiz. Ralegh drew up a paper entitled ‘Opinion on the Spanish Alarum,’ in support of the contention that the cheapest and surest way to defend England was to strike beforehand at Spain. The idea had been forcibly urged by Drake ten years before, but the time was now more favourable and the advice accorded with the queen's inclinations. It had been intended to send out a squadron of ten ships under Lord Thomas Howard, with Ralegh as vice-admiral. The fleet was now increased, it was joined by a squadron of Dutch ships, and Essex, as admiral and general, took command of the whole. On 10 July it put to sea, but was dispersed in a gale and driven back with some loss. It could not sail again till 17 Aug., and then with a diminished force, a great part of the troops being left behind. Off Cape Finisterre the fleet was for the second time scattered by bad weather, and only by slow degrees was it collected at Flores, in the Azores, where it was determined to lie in wait for the Spanish treasure ships from the West Indies. But Essex had intelligence that it was doubtful if they would come at all, and that, if they did, they would take a more southerly route. He therefore resolved to wait for them at Fayal, and sailed thither, giving Ralegh orders to follow as soon as his ships had watered. Ralegh, following in haste, arrived at the rendezvous before Essex, and seeing that the inhabitants were putting the town in a state of defence, he landed and took it without waiting for Essex, who, on coming in, was exceedingly angry to find that he had been anticipated. He accused Ralegh of having disobeyed the instructions, by landing ‘without the general's presence or order.’ Ralegh appealed to the actual words, that ‘no captain of any ship or company … shall land anywhere without directions from the general or some other principal commander,’ he being, he maintained, ‘a principal commander, named by the queen as commander of the whole fleet in succession to Essex and Howard.’ Common sense justified Ralegh's action, and Essex was obliged to waive the point, though several of his friends are said to have incited him to bring Ralegh to a court-martial (ib. i. 242). The quarrel was healed for the time by the intervention of Howard, and the fleet kept at sea till the middle of October, making some valuable prizes and destroying many others. On its return the troops were distributed in the western garrisons, and Ralegh, in conjunction with Lord Thomas Howard and Lord Mountjoy, was occupied in preparations for the defence of the coast against any possible attempts on the part of Spain.
During the years immediately following, his time was, for the most part, divided between the court and the west country, with an occasional visit to Ireland. In 1597 he was chosen member of parliament for Dorset, and in 1601 for Cornwall. In the last parliament he defended monopolies, which were attacked with much heat in a debate of 19 Nov. 1601. He is reported to have blushed when a fellow-member spoke of the iniquity of a monopoly of playing-cards, and he elaborately explained his relations with the monopoly of tin, which he owned as lord warden of the stannaries, but he said nothing of his equally valuable monopoly of sweet wines (D'Ewes, Journals of Parliaments, p. 645). In July 1600, after the news of the battle of Nieuport, he, jointly with Lord Cobham, with whom he was now first intimately associated, was sent to Ostend with a gracious message from the queen to Lord Grey [see Brooke, Henry, eighth Lord Cobham; Grey, Thomas, fifteenth Lord Grey of Wilton]. In the following September he was appointed governor of Jersey, and at once repaired to the island, where he instituted a public registry of title-deeds, which is still an important feature of the insular land system, and he practically created the trade in fish between Jersey and Newfoundland (Pegot-Ogier, Iles de la Manche, p. 326; Falle, Jersey, ed. Durell, p. 397; Prowse, Hist. of Newfoundland, pp. 52, 76). But the old quarrel with Essex was still smouldering. In season and out of season, Essex and his partisans, especially Sir Christopher Blount [q. v.], were loud in their denunciations of Ralegh. Essex, writing to the queen on 25 June 1599, accused him of ‘wishing the ill-success of your majesty's most important action, the decay of your greatest strength, and the destruction of your faithfullest servants’ (Edwards, i. 254), and at the last he asserted that it was to counteract Ralegh's plots that he had come over from Ireland, and ‘pretended that he took arms principally to save himself from Cobham and Ralegh, who, he gave out, should have murdered him in his house’ (Cecil to Sir George Carew, ib. i. 255). It was untruthfully alleged that Ralegh had placed an ambuscade to shoot Essex as he passed on his way from Ireland to the lords of the council in London. Blount, pretending to seek a means of retaliating, shot four times at Ralegh; he had already vainly suggested to Sir Ferdinando Gorges that Ralegh's removal would do Essex good service (Oldys, p. 333).
Ralegh was not disposed to submit meekly to this active hostility. At an uncertain date—probably in 1601—he wrote of Essex to Cecil: ‘If you take it for a good counsel to relent towards this tyrant, you will repent it when it shall be too late. His malice is fixed, and will not evaporate by any your mild courses. … For after revenges, fear them not; for your own father was esteemed to be the contriver of Norfolk's ruin, yet his son followeth your father's son and loveth him’ (cf. St. John, ii. 38; and Devereux, Lives of the Devereux, ii. 177). When Essex was brought out for execution, Ralegh was present, but withdrew on hearing it murmured that he was there to feast his eyes on his enemy's sufferings. Blount afterwards admitted that neither he nor Essex had really believed that Ralegh had plotted against the earl's life; ‘it was,’ he said, ‘a word cast out to colour other matters;’ and on the scaffold he entreated pardon of Ralegh, who was again present, possibly in his official capacity as captain of the guard. His attitude towards Essex and his party seems to have led Sir Amyas Preston to send him, in 1602, a challenge, which he accepted. He arranged his papers and affairs as a precautionary measure, entailing the Sherborne estate on his son Walter; but for some unexplained reason the duel did not take place. About the same date he began negotiations for the sale of much of his Irish property to Richard Boyle, first earl of Cork; the transaction was not completed until 1604, after Ralegh's attainder, when Boyle secured all the Irish estates (cf. Lismore Papers, ed. Grosart, 1st ser. iv. 258; 2nd ser. ii. 38–49, 157–9, iii. 59–62, v. passim).
Meantime political intrigues centred round the king of Scots. For at least two years before the death of the queen, James was systematically informed that Ralegh was opposed to his claims, and was ready to proceed to any extremities to prevent his accession to the throne. The letters were written by Lord Henry Howard (afterwards Earl of Northampton) [q. v.], probably with the knowledge, if not the approval, of Cecil. The result, at any rate, was that James crossed the border with a strong prepossession against Ralegh; and when Ralegh, who had been in the west, hastened to meet him, he was received with marked discourtesy. A fortnight later he was deprived of his post of captain of the guard; he was persuaded or compelled to resign the wardenship of the stannaries and the governorship of Jersey; his lucrative patent of wine licenses was suspended as a monopoly; and he was ordered, ‘with unseemly haste,’ to leave Durham House in the Strand. Such measures were a sure presage of his downfall; but he still remained at court in occasional attendance on the king, hoping, it may be, to overcome the prejudice and win the royal favour. On or about 14 July he was summoned before the lords of the council, who examined him as to any knowledge he might have of the plot ‘to surprise the king's person’ [see Watson, William], or of any plot contrived between Lord Cobham and Count Aremberg, the Spanish agent in London. Of Watson's plot he most probably was entirely ignorant. With Cobham he was still on friendly terms, and Cobham had taken from his house a book by one Snagge, contesting James's title. Ralegh had once borrowed the work from Lord Burghley's library. Moreover he knew that Cobham had been in correspondence with Aremberg. This he denied before the council, but he afterwards admitted it, and his prevarication, joined to his known intercourse with Cobham and his reasonable causes for discontent, appeared so suspicious that on 17 July he was sent a prisoner to the Tower. ‘Unable to endure his misfortunes,’ he attempted to commit suicide (Edwards, i. 375).
During the following months he was repeatedly examined by the lords of the council, and on 17 Nov. was brought to trial at Winchester before a special commission, which included among its members Lord Thomas Howard, now earl of Suffolk, Sir Charles Blount, now earl of Devonshire [q. v.], Lord Henry Howard, the newly created Lord Cecil, Sir John Popham [q. v.], lord chief justice, and several others. Of these, only Suffolk could be considered friendly. Nothing was proved in a manner which would satisfy a modern judge or a modern jury; but the imputation of guilt attached at the time to every prisoner committed by the lords of the council for trial on a charge of treason, unless any convincing proof of his innocence were forthcoming. This Ralegh could not produce. He knew something of Cobham's incriminating correspondence, and to know of or suspect the existence or even the conception of a traitorous plot without revealing it was to be particeps criminis. The jury without hesitation brought in a verdict of guilty—guilty of compassing the death of the king, ‘the old fox and his cubs;’ of endeavouring to set Arabella Stuart on the throne; of receiving bribes from the court of Spain; of seeking to deliver the country into the hands of its enemy. Sentence was pronounced by Popham, but the commissioners undertook to petition the king to qualify the rigour of the punishment. The trial is a landmark in English constitutional history. The harsh principles then in repute among lawyers were enunciated by the judges with unprecedented distinctness, and as a consequence a reaction steadily set in from that moment in favour of the rights of individuals against the state (Gardiner, i. 138).
Two days before Ralegh's trial, Watson, George Brooke, and four others were tried and condemned; a week later, Cobham and Grey. Ralegh was ordered to be executed on 11 Dec., and, in full expectation of death, he wrote a touching letter of farewell to his wife. This was published in 1644 with a few other small pieces in a volume entitled ‘To-day a Man, To-morrow None,’ in the ‘Arraignment’ of 1648, and in the ‘Remaines’ of 1651 (cf. Edwards, ii. 284). But on 10 Dec. Ralegh, with Cobham and Grey, was reprieved; on the 16th the three were sent up to London and committed to the Tower. All Ralegh's offices were vacated by his attainder, and his estates forfeited, but his personal property was now restored to him. In 1602, when he had assigned the manor of Sherborne to trustees for the benefit of his son Walter, he reserved the income from it to himself for life. This life interest now fell to the king, but on 30 July 1604 a sixty years' term of Sherborne and ten other Dorset and Somerset manors was granted by the crown to trustees to be held by them for Lady Ralegh and her son. Soon afterwards a legal flaw was discovered in the deed of 1602 conveying Sherborne to the trustees of the son Walter. After much legal argument the judges in 1608 declared the whole property to be forfeited under the attainder, and the arrangement of 1604 to be void. Lady Ralegh, in a personal interview, entreated James to waive his claim, but withdrew her opposition on receiving a promise of 400l. a year for her life and that of her son, together with a capital sum of 8,000l. The Sherborne property, which was of the estimated rental of 750l., was thereupon bestowed on the king's favourite, Robert Carr, earl of Somerset. Shortly before Prince Henry's death in 1612 he begged it of James, who compensated Carr with 20,000l. The prince intended to restore the estate to Ralegh, but died before he could effect his design, and Carr retook possession, but on his attainder in 1616, Sherborne was sold to John Digby, earl of Bristol, for 10,000l. (Stebbing, pp. 244, 261–4; Carew Ralegh, Brief Relation, 1669).
Ralegh was treated leniently in prison. He had apartments in the upper story of the Bloody Tower, where his wife and son, with their personal attendants, also lived, at the rate, for household expenses, of about 200l. a year. But his health suffered from cold (Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. viii. 107), and frequent efforts were made by his enemies to concoct fresh charges of disloyalty against him. In 1610 they succeeded in depriving him for three months of the society of his wife, who was ordered to leave the Tower. In Prince Henry, however, he found a useful friend. The prince was mainly attracted by Ralegh's studies in science and literature, to which his enforced leisure was devoted. For the prince, Ralegh designed a model of a ship. Encouraged by him, he began his ‘History of the World,’ and for his guidance designed many political treatises. In a laboratory, or ‘still-house,’ allowed him in the Tower garden for chemical and philosophical experiments, he condensed fresh from salt water (an art only practised generally during the nineteenth century) (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1606–7), and compounded drugs, chief among which was his ‘Great Cordial or Elixir.’ Ralegh's own prescription is not extant, but Nicholas le Febre compounded it in the presence of Charles II on 20 Sept. 1662 (Evelyn, Diary, ii. 152), and printed an account of the demonstration in 1664. At the same time whatever books Ralegh chose to buy or borrow were freely at his disposal, and he interested himself in the scientific researches of his fellow-prisoner, Henry Percy, ninth earl of Northumberland [q. v.], into whose service he introduced Harriot, his old friend and fellow-worker.
As early as 1610, possibly earlier, Ralegh sought permission for another venture to the Orinoco. He was willing to command an expedition himself, or to serve as guide to any persons appointed. ‘If I bring them not,’ he wrote, ‘to a mountain covered with gold and silver ore, let the commander have commission to cut off my head there’ (Edwards, ii. 393). His proposal received some encouragement, and in 1611 or 1612 certain lords of the council offered to send Kemys with two ships, on condition that the charge should be borne by Ralegh if Kemys failed to bring back at least half a ton of gold ore similar to the specimens. Ralegh objected that it was ‘a matter of exceeding difficulty for any man to find the same acre of ground again in a country desolate and overgrown which he hath seen but once, and that sixteen years since.’ ‘Yet,’ he wrote, ‘that your lordships may be satisfied of the truth, I am contented to adventure all I have, but my reputation, upon Kemys' memory;’ the condition on the other side being ‘that half a ton of the former ore being brought home, then I shall have my liberty, and in the meanwhile my free pardon under the great seal, to be left in his majesty's hands till the end of the journey’ (ib. ii. 338–9). There can, however, be little doubt that Cecil, now earl of Salisbury, did not encourage the scheme, but the king yielded to the representations of Sir Ralph Winwood [q. v.], Ralegh's steadfast friend, and of Sir George Villiers (afterwards duke of Buckingham) [q. v.] The warrant for his release was dated 19 March 1615–16; but it appears that he was actually discharged from the Tower two or three days earlier, though he continued throughout the year under the guard of a keeper (ib. i. 563; ii. 341; Gardiner, ii. 381).
During the following months he was busy in preparations for the voyage. He had no support from the crown, and he and his wife adventured all they had, including the 8,000l., or as much of it as had been paid in compensation for the resumption of Sherborne, and some land of hers at Mitcham (cf. Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xi. 262, 2nd ser. ix. 331). The gentlemen volunteers who gathered round Ralegh subscribed the rest. Among these were Charles Parker, a brother of William Parker, fourth baron Monteagle [q. v.]; Captain North, brother of Dudley, third lord North [q. v.]; Sir Warham St. Leger, son of Ralegh's old comrade in Ireland; and George Ralegh, a son of Ralegh's brother George. With them were Kemys, Captain (afterwards Sir John) Penington [q. v.], and others of good repute as seamen or as soldiers; but as a rule the merchants of London, or Bristol, or Plymouth, like the seafaring folk of the west country, held aloof from the enterprise. His ships were thus filled up with ‘the world's scum.’ Even of the volunteers, many of them were ‘drunkards, blasphemers, and others such as their fathers, brothers, and friends thought it an exceeding good gain to be discharged of with the hazard of some thirty, forty, or fifty pounds, knowing they could not have lived a whole year so cheap at home’ (‘Apology for the Voyage to Guiana,’ Works, viii. 480).
As soon as the proposed voyage to the Orinoco was publicly spoken of, Sarmiento, the Spanish ambassador, vehemently protested against it. All Guiana (the modern Venezuela), he asserted, belonged to the king of Spain, and Ralegh's incursion would be an invasion of Spanish territory, but he thought it more probable that Ralegh meant to lie in wait for and attack the Mexican plate fleet, in practical disregard of the peace between the two countries. Ralegh protested that he had no intention of turning pirate; that the mine really existed, and added, according to Sarmiento, that it was neither in nor near the king of Spain's territories—a statement palpably false (Gardiner, iii. 39). Ralegh knew that the Spaniards had taken possession of the district (Edwards, ii. 338). Ralegh had stringent orders not to engage in any hostilities against the Spaniards, and was assured that disobedience would cost him his life (Gardiner, iii. 44 n.) This warning he treated as mainly intended to satisfy Sarmiento, and as an intimation of the possible result of failure. To Bacon he spoke openly of seizing the Mexican plate fleet, and to Bacon's objection that that would be piracy, he answered ‘Did you ever hear of men being pirates for millions?’ (ib. p. 48).
While the preparations were in progress another design occurred to him. Towards the end of 1616 war again broke out between Spain and Savoy, and Savoy turned to France and England for support. Genoa, nominally neutral, was rendering valuable aid to Spain. James was not unwilling to assist Savoy, but was destitute of the means, and Ralegh, understanding the situation from Winwood, suggested to the Savoyard ambassador in London that he should urge the king to divert the Guiana squadron to an assault on Genoa. James, after considering the proposal, declined to sanction a change in the destination of Ralegh's expedition (ib. pp. 50–2). Ralegh, however, was anxious to obtain some further security for his life in case of failure. With that view he entered into negotiations with the French ambassador in London, and with the admiral of France, hoping for the assistance of some French ships, and a safe retreat to France in the event of defeat. The confused evidence points to the conclusion that Ralegh had determined to attempt the capture of the Mexican plate fleet, to establish himself in force at the mine, and to seize the islands of Trinidad and Margarita as the keys of the position. He believed that success, in spite of his orders, would win the king's pardon, but, if not, that the treasure he would carry with him would insure him a favourable reception in France. He sailed from Plymouth with a squadron of fourteen ships on 12 June 1617.
The voyage was unfortunate from the first. Foul winds and storms drove him back, and afterwards scattered his fleet; one ship was sunk. Most of them, more or less disabled, put into the harbour of Cork. In July Ralegh paid a visit to Sir Richard Boyle, who lent him 100l., and next month he entered into a partnership with Boyle for the working of the copper mine at Balligarren (Lismore Papers, ed. Grosart, 1st ser. i. 158, 163, 2nd ser. ii. 86–6). He was not ready to sail again till 19 Aug. At the Canaries the Spaniards were sullenly obstructive; it was only after being refused at two of the islands that they were allowed to water at Gomera. From the Cape Verde Islands they were driven by a hurricane. Calms and foul winds followed; they lay for forty days in the Doldrums, short of water, a prey to scurvy and fever. Great numbers of the men, with several of the captains and superior officers, died. Ralegh himself was stricken with fever. The crews were mutinous. It was afterwards stated that Ralegh encouraged them with assurances of capturing the Mexican fleet if the mine failed (Gardiner, iii. 118). On arriving off the mouth of the Oyapok he hoped to be joined by Leonard, an Indian whom he had brought to England on his former voyage, and who had lived with him for three or four years. But Leonard was not there, and Ralegh moved his squadron, reduced by wreck or separation to ten ships, to the mouth of the Cayenne. There he was welcomed by friendly natives whose affection he had won twenty years before. ‘To tell you,’ he wrote to his wife on 14 Nov., ‘that I might be king of the Indians were but vanity. … They feed me with fresh meat and all that the country yields’ (Edwards, ii. 347). When the men were somewhat refreshed, and recovered from sickness, he moved to the Isle de Salut, and there prepared for the farther adventure. Five of the ships were small enough to cross the bar and go up the river, and in these he put four hundred men. He himself was too feeble from the effects of the fever to accompany them, and it was the general wish that he should remain behind. It was expected that a hostile Spanish fleet would arrive, with which Ralegh could best deal. ‘You shall find me,’ he told the expeditionary force, ‘at Punto Gallo, dead or alive; and if you find not my ships there, yet you shall find their ashes. For I will fire with the galleons if it come to extremity, but run away I will never’ (Gardiner, iii. 121).
The chief command of the expedition up the river he entrusted to Kemys; his nephew, George Ralegh, was to command the soldiers, among whom was his son Walter. Ralegh gave orders that they should land at a point agreed on, and march to the mine, said to be three miles distant. If they were attacked by the Spaniards in moderate force they were to repel them; but ‘if without manifest peril of my son,’ he said to Kemys, ‘yourself, and other captains, you cannot pass toward the mine, then be well advised how you land. For I know, a few gentlemen excepted, what a scum of men you have, and I would not for all the world receive a blow from the Spaniard to the dishonour of our nation’ (ib. p. 120). The expedition started on 10 Dec., but the settlement of San Tomás had been moved several miles lower down the river, and it was impossible to pass it without being seen, or to march to the mine without the danger of falling into an ambuscade. Kemys decided to attack the town, which was stormed and burnt, though with the loss of young Walter, Ralegh's son. The Spaniards took to the woods, and, in face of their opposition, Kemys judged it impossible to reach the mine. He accordingly returned, and rejoined Ralegh at Punto Gallo, only to kill himself in despair at the bitter reproach to which Ralegh gave vent. He had brought fresh evidence of the existence and wealth of the mine, and Ralegh wished to lead his men back for another attempt. But they shrank from the venture; he could neither persuade nor compel them; they were thoroughly disheartened. He proposed to them to look out for the Mexican fleet; they refused, the captains equally with the men. ‘What shall we be the better?’ they said; ‘for when we come home the king shall have what we have gotten, and we shall be hanged’ (ib. p. 127). Several of the ships parted company. Some of them went to Newfoundland, and thence, with a cargo of fish on their own account, to the Mediterranean. After touching at St. Kitts, whence he sent letters to England, Ralegh also went to Newfoundland. He had now only four ships with him, and though with these he would fain have kept the sea in hopes of capturing some rich prize, his men refused to follow him. He realised the danger that awaited him in England, and, as a penniless outcast, he would be scarcely more welcome in France. With much hesitation he went to meet his fate in England, and arrived at Plymouth about the middle of June 1618.
Already the news of the attack at San Tomás and of the failure of the expedition had reached the king, and the Spanish minister, now Conde de Gondomar, demanded satisfaction in accordance with James's promise that ‘if Ralegh returned loaded with gold acquired by an attack on the subjects of the king of Spain, he would surrender it all, and would give up the authors of the crime to be hanged in the public square of Madrid.’ James assured him that he would be as good as his word (ib. iii. 132). The council resented Gondomar's language to the king; but James, supported by Buckingham, convinced it that Ralegh ought to be punished. On 22 June James assured Gondomar that justice should be done, and Gondomar replied with a sneer ‘that Ralegh and his followers were in England, and had not been hanged.’ James, although stung to fury, agreed to propose to the council to send Ralegh and some dozen of his followers to Spain. Three days later he promised Gondomar that Ralegh should be surrendered, unless Philip expressly asked that he should be hanged in England (cf. ‘Documents relating to Ralegh's last voyages’ by S. R. Gardiner in Camd. Soc. Miscellany, 1864, vol. v.).
Shortly after his arrival at Plymouth Ralegh set out for London; but at Ashburton he was arrested by his cousin, Sir Lewis Stucley or Stukeley [q. v.], who took him back to Plymouth, where he was left much to himself. The opportunity suggested the advisability of escaping to France, but while he was still hesitating orders came for him to be taken to London. There also he was left at large, but, attempting to escape to a French ship at Gravesend, he was arrested, brought back, and lodged in the Tower. He had meantime drawn up his ‘Apology’ (Works, viii. 479), which is rather a justification of his conduct than a defence against the charge. ‘To James it must have appeared tantamount to a confession of guilt; to all who knew what the facts were it stamped him as a liar convicted by his own admission’ (Gardiner, iii. 141).
Commissioners were now appointed to inquire into what had been done. With Lord-chancellor Bacon at their head, they were all men of good repute, and there is no reason to doubt that they performed their duty conscientiously; Ralegh was examined, but his statements contradicted each other, till, ‘exasperated by the audacity of his lying, they came to the conclusion that there was not a single word of truth in his assertions; that his belief in the very existence of the mine was a mere fiction invented for the purpose of imposing upon his too credulous sovereign’ (ib. p. 142); and that his lies must be taken as an admission of his guilt. James accordingly gave orders for him to be brought to trial, but was told that, as Ralegh was already under sentence of death, he could not now be legally tried. If he was to be executed, it must be on the former sentence. On 22 Oct. Ralegh was brought for the last time before the commissioners, when, in the name of his colleagues, Bacon, after pronouncing him guilty of abusing the confidence of his sovereign, told him that he was to die. On 28 Oct. he was brought before the justices of the king's bench, when he argued that the Winchester sentence was discharged by his commission for the late voyage. He was told that, ‘unless he could produce an express pardon from the king, no argument that he could use would be admissible.’ In that case, he answered, he had nothing to do but throw himself on the king's mercy; whereupon the chief justice, Sir Henry Montagu (afterwards Earl of Manchester) [q. v.], awarded execution according to law (ib. p. 148). On the following morning, 29 Oct., he was brought to the scaffold erected in Old Palace Yard. He met his death calmly and cheerfully, and of his last words many have become almost proverbial. As he laid his head on the block some one objected that it ought to be towards the east. ‘What matter,’ he answered, ‘how the head lie, so the heart be right?’ than which, says Mr. Gardiner, no better epitaph could be found for him. An official ‘Declaration’ of his demeanour and carriage was issued a few days later and was frequently reprinted. His remains were delivered to his wife, and they were buried in the chancel of St. Margaret's Church, Westminster, in spite of Lady Ralegh's wish that he should be buried at Beddington; the head she caused to be embalmed, and she kept it by her in a red leather bag as long as she lived. It seems to have passed into the possession of her son Carew, but what ultimately became of it is uncertain. A memorial window was placed in 1882 by American citizens in St. Margaret's Church, with an inscription by James Russell Lowell.
The high position Ralegh had occupied, the greatness of his downfall, the general feeling that the sentence pronounced in 1603 was unjust, and that the carrying of it into execution in 1618 was base, all contributed to exalt the popular appreciation of his character. His enemies had denounced him as proud, covetous, and unscrupulous, and much evidence is extant in support of the unfavourable judgment. But the circumstances of his death concentrated men's attention on his bold exploits against his country's enemies, and to him was long attributed an importance in affairs of state or in conduct of war which the recital of his acts fails to justify. He was regarded as the typical champion of English interests against Spanish aggression, a view which found its most concentrated expression in the popular tract ‘Sir Walter Rawleigh's Ghost, or England's Forewarner,’ by Thomas Scott (Utrecht, 1626, and frequently reissued). Physical courage, patriotism, resourcefulness may be ungrudgingly ascribed to him. But he had small regard for truth, and reckless daring was the main characteristic of his stirring adventures as politician, soldier, sailor, and traveller. Ralegh acquired, however, a less ambiguous reputation in the pacific sphere of literature, and his mental calibre cannot be fairly judged, nor his versatility fully realised, until his achievements in poetry, in history, and political philosophy have been taken into account. However impetuous and rash was he in action, he surveyed life in his writings with wisdom and insight, and recorded his observations with dignity and judicial calmness.
It is difficult to reconcile the religious tone of his writings with the reputation for infidelity which attached to Ralegh until his death, and was admitted to be justifiable by Hume. The charges brought against Ralegh and Marlowe in 1593 were repeated in general terms within four months after his execution by Archbishop Abbot, who attributed the catastrophe to his ‘questioning’ of ‘God's being and omnipotence’ (Abbot to Sir Thomas Roe, 19 Feb. 1618–19). Such a charge seems confuted on almost every page of his ‘History of the World,’ in which he follows in the early chapters the Old Testament narrative with most confiding literalness, and earnestly insists throughout on God's beneficence. A similar sentiment finds repeated expression in his political essays. Nor in incidental references to the New Testament does he give any sign of incredulity (cf. Historie, bk. ii. chap. iv. sect. xi.), and nothing actually inconsistent with these views can be detected in two works in which he dealt with metaphysical speculation. The one ‘The Sceptic,’ first published in 1651, is a scholastic and inconclusive dissertation—Dr. Parr called it a ‘lusus ingenii’—in which it is argued that the endless varieties of physical formation, temperament, and capacity, discernible in living organisms, present insuperable obstacles to the universal acceptance among men of any one conception of truth. Doubt is therefore inevitable to man's reason; but no mention is made of religious belief, which, it seems clear from Ralegh's references to it elsewhere, he did not regard as dependent on man's reason. His ‘Treatise of the Soul’ (first published in the collected ‘Works,’ 1829) is a supersubtle and barren inquiry into the nature and function of the soul, mainly based on scriptural texts. The contemporary tone of religious orthodoxy generated reputations for infidelity on very slender provocation, and in Ralegh's case the evil report doubtless sprang from his known love of orally discussing religion with men of all opinions, and of thus encouraging freedom of speech. But his friend Sir John Harington affirmed that he personally kept within conventional bounds in such conferences. ‘In religion,’ Harington wrote in 1603, ‘he hath shown in private talk great depth and good reading, as I once experienced at his own house before many learned men’ (Nugæ Antiquæ, ii. 132).
Throughout his career Ralegh solaced his leisure by writing verse, much of which is lost. All that is positively known to survive consists of thirty short pieces, many of which were originally published anonymously, or under his initials in poetical anthologies, like the ‘Phœnix Nest,’ 1593; ‘England's Helicon,’ 1600; or Davison's ‘Poetical Rhapsody,’ 1608 (cf. England's Helicon and Davison's Poetical Rhapsody, both edited by Mr. A. H. Bullen). But the signature of ‘Sir W. R.’ or of ‘Ignoto,’ which he adopted occasionally, is not always conclusive testimony that the pieces to which those signatures are attached were from Ralegh's pen. Dr. Hannah has noted twenty-five poems which have been wrongly assigned to him on such grounds. Nor can reliance be placed on the pretension advanced in behalf of very many of his poems that they were penned ‘on the night before his execution.’
A fragment only remains of Ralegh's chief effort in verse, a poem called ‘Cynthia, the Lady of the Sea,’ which was probably written during his enforced withdrawals from court in 1589 and 1592–3. Gabriel Harvey described so much as was written before 1590 as ‘a fine and sweet invention.’ Puttenham doubtless referred to it in his ‘Arte of Poesie’ (1589), when he described Ralegh's ‘vein’ as ‘most lofty, insolent, and passionate.’ Edmund Spenser, who generously encouraged Ralegh's essays in poetry, wrote to him in 1590 of ‘your own excellent conceit of Cynthia,’ and thrice elsewhere referred to the work appreciatively, viz. in a sonnet to Ralegh prefixed to the first three books of the ‘Faerie Queene’ (1590), in the introduction of the third book, and in ‘Colin Clout's come home again,’ 1591. ‘The twenty-first and last Book of the Ocean to Cynthia,’ with a few verses of an unfinished twenty-second book, is alone extant; this remains among the Hatfield manuscripts, and has been printed by Dr. Hannah. But the latter erroneously styles it ‘Continuation of the lost poem “Cynthia,”’ and assigns it to the period of Ralegh's imprisonment in the Tower. The two short poems which were found by Dr. Hannah in the same manuscript, and are printed by him as introductory to the twenty-first book, do not appear to form any part of ‘Cynthia.’ ‘The twenty-first and last book’ portrays with much poetic fervour and exuberance the despair of Ralegh at his exile from the presence of ‘Cynthia,’ who clearly is intended for Queen Elizabeth. Ralegh refers to himself as ‘the Shepherd of the Ocean,’ an appellation that Spenser had conferred on him. The poem is in four-line stanzas, alternately rhymed. Among other attractive specimens of Ralegh's extant verse are a fine epitaph on Sir Philip Sidney (first printed anonymously in the ‘Phœnix Nest,’ 1593); two commendatory poems on the ‘Faerie Queene’ (in the 1590 edition of the first three books); ‘If all the world and love were young,’ the reply to Marlowe's ‘Come, live with me’ (in ‘England's Helicon,’ 1600, signed ‘Ignoto,’ but ascribed to Ralegh in Walton's Compleat Angler); ‘The Silent Lover,’ a lyric (signed ‘Sir W. R.;’ quoted by Lord Chesterfield in Letter 183; cf. Hannah, p. 20); ‘The Lie, or the Soul's Errand,’ beginning ‘Go Soul, the body's guest’ (written before 1593; printed in Davison's ‘Poetical Rhapsody,’ 1608 anon., and with feeble alterations and additional stanzas in Joshua Sylvester's ‘Posthumi,’ 1633 and 1641); ‘The Pilgrimage’ (probably written in 1603; cf. Notes and Queries, 1st ser. iv. 353), a remarkable proof of Ralegh's resigned temper in the presence of death, and a poem of somewhat lascivious tone, beginning ‘Nature that wash'd her hands in milk,’ which was first printed in full, from Harleian MS. 6917, f. 48, in Mr. Bullen's ‘Speculum Amantis,’ p. 76. The masterly concluding stanza (‘O cruel Time, which takes on trust’) of this last lyric was printed as a separate poem in the ‘Remaines.’ Among the books of his friend which Ralegh graced with prefatory verses were Gascoigne's ‘Steele Glas,’ 1576; Sir Arthur Gorges's ‘Pharsalia,’ 1614; and William Lithgow's ‘Pilgrims' Farewell,’ 1618. Many quotations from the classics are translated metrically in the ‘History of the World.’ Ralegh's poems were collected by Sir S. Egerton Brydges in 1814, but the best collection is that by Dr. Hannah, 1885.
Somewhat similar difficulties to those that attach to the identification of Ralegh's poetry beset his prose works. David Lloyd, in his ‘Statesmen of England,’ 1665, states that Hampden before the civil wars had transcribed at his cost 3,452 sheets of Ralegh's writings. The works remaining in manuscript or published under his name do not account for so bulky a mass. That much is lost is known. The missing works apparently include a ‘Treatise of the West Indies’ (cf. Discovery of Guiana, Ded.), a ‘Description of the River Amazon’ (Wood), a ‘Treatise of Mines and the Trial of Minerals,’ and, according to Ben Jonson, a ‘Life of Queen Elizabeth’ (Conversations with Drummond).
Only three prose works by Ralegh were published in his lifetime. The earliest was ‘A Report of the Truth of the Fight about the Isles of Azores,’ London (for William Ponsonby), 1591, anon. (reprinted under Ralegh's name by Hakluyt in 1595, and separately by Mr. Arber in 1871). It was followed by the ‘Discovery of the Empyre of Guiana’ (London, by Robert Robinson), of which two editions appeared in 1596 (copies of both are in the British Museum); this was reprinted in Hakluyt, iii. (1598), and immediately translated into Dutch (Amsterdam, 1605) and into Latin (Nuremberg, 1599, and also in Hulsius's ‘Collection’). The best edition is that published by the Hakluyt Society (1848), with introduction by Sir R. H. Schomburgk.
The last work that Ralegh printed was his ‘History of the World.’ Begun for the benefit of Prince Henry, who died before its completion, it was executed while Ralegh was in the Tower, between, it is said, 1607 and 1614. During his imprisonment he extended his learning in all directions, but he did not know Hebrew, and when he could find no Latin translation of a Hebrew work, which he deemed it needful to consult, he borrowed ‘the interpretation’ of some learned friend. He thus derived occasional aid from Robert Burhill [q. v.], John Hoskins (1566–1638) [q. v.], and Harriot; but there is no good reason to doubt that most of the 660 authors which he cited were known to him at first hand. Ben Jonson, who regarded Ralegh as his ‘father’ in literature, claims to have revised the ‘History’ before it went to press, and to have written ‘a piece of the Punic War;’ but even if Jonson's testimony be accepted, it does not justify Algernon Sidney's comment, in his ‘Discourses on Government,’ that Ralegh was ‘so well assisted that an ordinary man with the same helps might have performed the same thing.’ In this view Isaac D'Israeli unwarrantably followed Sidney. But the insinuation that Ralegh borrowed his plumage rests on no just foundation.
Ralegh's labours, which began with the creation, only reached to 130 B.C., the date of the conversion of Macedonia into a Roman province. He traced the rise and fall of the three great empires of Babylon, Assyria, and Macedon, and dealt exhaustively with the most flourishing periods of Jewish, Greek, and Roman history. As originally designed the work was to fill three volumes, and the published volume, consisting of five books, is called ‘The First Part.’ But Ralegh relinquished his task without doing more than amass a few notes for a continuation. In a desultory fashion he collected materials for an English section, and asked Sir Robert Cotton for works on British antiquities and ‘any old French history wherein our nation is mentioned.’ But the report that he completed a second volume, which he burnt, may be safely rejected. Winstanley, in his ‘English Worthies,’ 1660, who is copied by Aubrey, says that the publisher, Walter Burre, told Ralegh that the first part had failed to sell, whereupon Ralegh flung a second completed part into the fire. Another apocryphal anecdote (related in Robert Heron's ‘Letters on Literature,’ 1785, p. 213, and accepted by Carlyle) assigns the same act to Ralegh's despair of arriving at historic truth, after hearing a friend casually describe an incident that both had witnessed in terms that proved that it took in his friend's eyes a wholly different aspect from that which it took in his own.
The work had so far advanced by 15 April 1611 as to warrant the publisher, Walter Burre, in securing on that date a license for publication. ‘Sir Walter Rawleighe’ is mentioned as the author in the ‘Stationers' Register’ (Arber, iii. 357). It was published in 1614—Camden says on 29 March. In no extant copy of either of the two editions of 1614 is the author's name given, nor do they contain a title-page; but there is a frontispiece elaborately engraved by Reinold Elstracke, which is explained in some anonymous verses (‘The Mind of the Front’) by Ben Jonson. Of the two editions of 1614, the earlier supplies a list of errata, which are corrected in the later.
The work attained an immediate popularity. Hampden, Cromwell, Bishop Hall, and Princess Elizabeth, the Electress Palatine, were among its earliest readers and admirers. James I alone condemned it. He complained that Ralegh had in his preface spoken irreverently of Henry VIII, and he believed he could detect his own features in Ralegh's portrait of Ninus, the effeminate successor of Queen Semiramis. On 22 Dec. 1614 the archbishop of Canterbury wrote asking the Stationers' Company, by direction of the king, to call in and suppress ‘all copies of the book lately published by Sir Walter Rawleigh’ (Arber, Stationers' Register, vol. v. p. lxxvii). The reference is obviously to the ‘History of the World,’ and not, as Mr. Gardiner assumed, to Ralegh's ‘Prerogative of Parliaments,’ which was not begun before May 1615. Chamberlain, the letter writer, declared, on 5 Jan. 1615–16, that the ‘History’ ‘was called in by the king's commandment for divers exceptions, but specially for being too saucy in censuring princes.’ But the inhibition was apparently not persisted in. The book was permitted to continue in circulation after the publisher had contrived to cancel the title-page (Notes and Queries, 8th ser. v. 441–2). A second edition appeared in 1617 (with a title-page bearing Ralegh's name); others, in folio, are dated 1621, 1624, 1628, 1634, 1652 (two), 1666, 1671, 1677 (with a life by John Shirley), 1678, 1687, 1736 (the ‘eleventh’). An octavo reprint appeared in 1820 at Edinburgh in 6 vols., and it fills vols. ii.–vii. of the Oxford edition of Ralegh's works of 1829. ‘Tubus Historicus, or Historical Perspective’ (1631), a summary of the fortunes of the four great ancient empires, is a bookmaker's compilation from it rather than, what it professes to be, an independent production of Ralegh's. An excerpt, entitled ‘Story of the War between the Carthaginians and their own mercenaries from Polybius,’ was issued in 1657. Avowed abridgments, by Alexander Ross (called the ‘Marrow of History’) and by Lawrence Echard, are dated respectively 1650 and 1698. A brief continuation, by Ross, from 160 B.C. to A.D. 1640 appeared in 1652.
The design and style of Ralegh's ‘History of the World’ are instinct with a magnanimity which places the book among the noblest of literary enterprises. Throughout it breathes a serious moral purpose. It illustrates the sureness with which ruin overtakes ‘great conquerors and other troublers of the world’ who neglect law, whether human or divine, and it appropriately closes with an apostrophe to death of rarely paralleled sublimity. Ralegh did not approach a study of history in a critical spirit, and his massive accumulations of facts have long been superannuated. But he showed an enlightened appreciation of the need of studying geography together with history, and of chronological accuracy. His portraits of historical personages—Queen Jezebel, Demetrius, Pyrrhus, Epaminondas—are painted to the life; and the frequent digressions in which he deals with events of his own day, or with philosophic questions of perennial interest, such as the origin of law, preserve for the work much of its original freshness. Remarks on the tactics of the armada, the capture of Fayal, the courage of Englishmen, the tenacity of Spaniards, England's relations with Ireland, emerge in the most unlikely surroundings, and are always couched in judicial and dignified language. His style, although often involved, is free from conceits.
To Ralegh is also traditionally ascribed the history of the reign of William I in Samuel Daniel's ‘History of England’ (1618). This essay closely resembles ‘An Introduction to the Breviary of the History of England with the reign of King William I, entitled the Conqueror,’ which was printed in 1693 from a manuscript belonging to Archbishop Sancroft, who believed it to be by Ralegh. The authorship is not quite certain. ‘A Discourse of Tenures which were before the Conquest,’ by Ralegh, is printed in the Oxford edition of his works.
Numerous essays by Ralegh on political themes were circulated in manuscript in his lifetime, and manuscript copies are to be found in many private and public collections. The following, which were published after his death, may be assigned to him with certainty: 1. ‘The Prerogative of Parliaments in England,’ an argument, suggested by the proceedings against St. John in the Star-chamber in April 1615, in favour of parliamentary institutions, though overlaid with so much conventional adulation of James I as to obscure its real aim; 1628, 4to (title-pages are met with variously giving the place of publication as London, Hamburg, and Middleburg), dedicated to James I and the parliament; London, 1657, with a dedication to the parliament. 2. ‘Advice to his Son,’ London, 1632, two editions; 1636 (a collection of sensible, if somewhat worldly, maxims). 3. ‘The Prince, or Maxims of State, written by Sir Walter Rawley and presented to Prince Henry,’ London, 1642. 4. ‘To-day a Man, To-morrow None,’ London, 1644; containing the well-known letter to his wife. 5. ‘The Arraignement and Conviction of Sir Walter Rawleigh,’ with a few letters, 1648. 6. ‘Judicious and Select Essays and Observations upon the first Invention of Shipping, the Misery of Invasive War, the Navy Royal, and Sea Service, with his Apology for his Voyage to Guiana,’ London, 1650, and 1657. 7. A collection of tracts, including 1, 2, and 3 above, with his ‘Sceptick, an Apology for Doubt,’ ‘Observations concerning the Magnificency and Opulency of Cities,’ an apocryphal ‘Observations touching Trade and Commerce,’ and ‘Letters to divers persons of quality,’ published with full list of contents on title-page in place of any general title in 1651 and again in 1656 (with Vaughan's portrait); reissued in 1657, with the addition of ‘The Seat of Government,’ under the general title of ‘Remaines.’ 8. ‘The Cabinet Council, or the Chief Arts of Empire discabinated. By that ever-renowned knight Sir Walter Rawleigh,’ published by John Milton, 1658; reissued in same year as ‘Chief Arts of Empire’ (cf. Notes and Queries, 5th ser. iii. 302). 9. ‘Three Discourses: (i.) of a War with Spain; (ii.) of the Cause of War; (iii.) of Ecclesiastical Power;’ published by Philip Ralegh, his grandson, London, 1702. 10. ‘A Military Discourse, whether it would be better to give an invader battle or to temporise and defer the same,’ published by Nath. Booth of Gray's Inn, 1734. 11. ‘The Interest of England with regard to Foreign Alliances,’ on the proposed marriage alliances with Savoy, 1750.
‘A Relation of Cadiz Action in the year 1596,’ first printed in Cayley's ‘Life,’ 1805, chap. v., reappears, with many other previously unprinted pieces of smaller interest, including the metaphysical ‘Treatise of the Soul,’ in the only collective edition of Ralegh's works, Oxford, 1829, 8 vols. 8vo. ‘Choice Passages from the Writings and Letters of Sir Walter Raleigh’ was edited by the Rev. Dr. Grosart in 1892.
Some of the posthumous publications attributed to his pen are of doubtful authenticity. ‘Observations touching Trade and Commerce with the Hollands and other Nations’ (1650, and in ‘Remaines,’ 1651)—an account of a scheme for diverting the Dutch carrying trade into English hands, which is repeated in McCulloch's ‘Tracts,’ 1859—is more likely by John Keymer. ‘A Dialogue between a Jesuit and a Recusant in 1609,’ ‘The Life and Death of Mahomet’ (1637), ‘The Dutiful Advice of a loving Son to his aged Father’ (in Oxford edit.), may be safely rejected as obvious imitations of Ralegh's style. Two volumes attributed to Ralegh by Sir Henry Sheeres [q. v.], their editor, and respectively entitled ‘A Discourse on Sea Ports, principally on the Port and Haven of Dover,’ 1700–1 (reprinted in ‘Harleian Miscellany’), and ‘An Essay on the Means to maintain the Honour and Safety of England,’ 1701, are more probably by Sir Dudley Digges [q. v.]
The portraits of Ralegh are numerous. Among them is a full-length, probably by Zucchero, in the National Portrait Gallery, dated ‘1588 ætatis suæ 34,’ with a pair of compasses in the hand; another, in the Dublin Gallery, is assigned to the same artist (‘æt. 44, 1598’); a third, with his son Walter (anon. dated 1602), belongs to Sir John Farnaby Lennard, bart. (cf. Cat. Tudor Exhibition, 1890); a fifth belongs to the Marquis of Bath (cf. Cat. National Portraits at South Kensington, 1866, 1868); a beautiful miniature at Belvoir Castle, inscribed ‘æt. 65, 1618,’ forms the frontispiece to Mr. Stebbing's ‘Memoir,’ 1891; and a portrait by Isaac Oliver is described in the ‘Western Antiquary,’ 1881 (i. 126). There are engraved portraits by Simon Pass (prefixed to his ‘History of the World,’ 1621), by R. Vaughan (prefixed to his ‘Maxims of State’), by Houbraken (in Birch's ‘Lives’), and by Vertue (prefixed to Oldys's ‘Life,’ 1735).
The spelling Ralegh (pronounced Rawley) is that which he adopted on his father's death in 1581, and persistently used afterwards. In April 1578 he signed ‘Rauleygh’ (Trans. of the Devon Assoc. xv. 174); from November 1578 (State Papers, Dom. cxxvi. 46 I) till 1583 he signed ‘Rauley.’ His brother Carew signed ‘Raullygh’ in 1578 and ‘Raulligh’ in 1588 (ib. ccxvi. 48 I). Mr. Stebbing gives (pp. 30–1) a list of about seventy other ways in which the name has been spelt. The form Raleigh he is not known to have employed.
Lady Ralegh died in 1647. By her Ralegh had two sons, Walter and Carew. Walter, baptised at Lillington, Dorset, on 1 Nov. 1593, was probably born at Sherborne. He matriculated from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, on 30 Oct. 1607, and graduated B.A. in 1610, his tutor being Dr. Daniel Fairclough, alias Featley, who describes him as addicted to ‘strange company and violent exercises.’ In 1613 Ben Jonson accompanied him as his governor or tutor to France. Jonson declares he was ‘knavishly inclined,’ and reports a humiliating practical joke which young Ralegh played on him (Conversations with Drummond, p. 21). Attending his father in his latest expedition to Guiana, he was killed at San Tomás before 8 Jan. 1617–18, when Captain Kemys announced his death to his father.
The second son Carew Ralegh (1605–1666), was born in the Tower of London and baptised at the church of St. Peter ad Vincula on 15 Feb. 1604–5; Richard Carew [q. v.] of Antonie was his godfather. In 1619 he entered Wadham College, Oxford, as a fellow-commoner, matriculated on 23 March 1620–1, and his name remained on the books until 1623 (Gardiner, Reg. Wadham Coll. Oxford). He is said to have written poetry while at Oxford. Wood saw some sonnets of his composition; a poem by him beginning ‘Careless of love and free from fears’ was printed in Lawes's ‘Ayres and Dialogues,’ 1653 (p. 11). His distant kinsman William Herbert, third earl of Pembroke, brought him to court, but James I complained that he looked like his father's ghost, and, taking the hint, he spent a year in foreign travel. A bill restoring him in blood passed through the House of Lords in 1621 and through both houses of parliament in 1624, but James I withheld his assent, and, although it was submitted again in 1626, it did not receive the royal assent till 1628, when it was made a condition that Ralegh should resign all claim to the Dorset estates (Lords' Journals, vol. iii. passim; Commons' Journals, i. 755 sq.). In other respects Charles I treated him considerately, and in 1635 he became a gentleman of the privy chamber. In 1639 he was sent to the Fleet prison for a week and suspended from his attendance at court for drawing his sword on a fellow-courtier (cf. Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 294). But he nominally remained in the king's service until the king's escape to the Isle of Wight in 1645. According to Wood, Charles I ‘honoured him with a kind token at his leaving Hampton Court’ (cf. Lords' Journals vi. 186). He is said by Wood to have ‘cringed afterwards to the men in power.’ He had long set his heart on recovering his father's estates at Sherborne, and he presented to the House of Commons between 1648 and 1660 several petitions on the subject, one of which—largely autobiographical—was published in 1669 as ‘A brief Relation of Sir Walter Ralegh's Troubles’ (reprinted in Harl. Misc. and in Somers Tracts; cf. Commons' Journals, vi. 595, viii. 131 seq.; Lords' Journals, xi. 115 seq.). Wood chronicles a rumour that he defended his father's memory by writing ‘Observation upon some particular persons and passages [in William Sanderson's “Compleat History”], written by a Lover of the Truth,’ London, 1659, 4to. The pamphlet doubtless owed something to Carew's suggestions. He certainly expostulated with James Howell for expressing doubt in his ‘Epistolæ Hoelianæ’ of the existence of the mine in Guiana, and induced Howell to retract his suspicions in 1635 (cf. Epistolæ Hoel. ed. Jacobs, ii. 479 seq.). Meanwhile he took some active part in politics. He sat in parliament as member for Haslemere (1648–53); Carlyle is apparently in error in saying that he represented Callington in the closing years of the Long parliament (Notes and Queries, 6th ser. vol. xii. passim, 7th ser. vol. i. passim). In May 1650 he was committed to the Tower for a few days for ‘passionate words’ spoken at a committee (Commons' Journals, vi. 413, 416). On 10 Aug. 1658 John Evelyn dined with him in his house at West Horsley (Evelyn, Diary, ii. 102). He took his place in the restored Rump parliament on 7 May 1659, and sat regularly till the members were expelled on 13 Oct. He was reinstated with his fellow-members on 26 Dec., and attended the house till the dissolution in March (Masson, Milton, iv.). He zealously seconded Monck's efforts for the restoration, and through Monck's influence was appointed governor of Jersey on 29 Feb. 1659–60 (Whitelocke, p. 697), but it is doubtful if he visited the island. On Charles II's return he declined knighthood, and the honour was conferred upon his son Walter (15 June 1660). He owned property in Surrey; in 1629 the Earl of Southampton conveyed to him the manor of East Horsley, and he succeeded in 1643, on the death of his uncle Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, to the estate of West Horsley (Manning and Bray, Surrey, iii. 31; Brayley and Britten, Surrey, ii. 76). In December 1656 Ralegh settled the West Horsley property on his sons Walter and Philip, but the arrangement was voided by Walter's death, about 1663, and he sold the estate in 1665 to Sir Edward Nicholas for 9,750l. (Gent. Mag. 1790, i. 419). Ralegh's London house was in St. Martin's Lane, and, dying there in 1666, he was buried on 1 Jan. 1666–7 in his father's grave in St. Margaret's Church, Westminster. The register describes him as ‘kild,’ which has been interpreted as murdered. By his will he made his widow sole executrix (Gent. Mag. 1850, ii. 368). He married Philippa (born Weston), ‘the rich widow of Sir Anthony Ashley.’ His son Philip, of London and Tenchley in Surrey, was stated in 1695 to have four sons (Walter, Carew, and two others) and three daughters (Le Neve, Knights, p. 74); he edited in 1702 No. 9 in the list given above of his grandfather's tracts, and died in 1705. Carew's daughter Anne married Sir Philip Tyrrell of Castlethorpe (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 244).
The commonly repeated statement that Sir Walter Ralegh also left an illegitimate daughter rests apparently on a reference made by Ralegh ‘to my poor daughter to whom I have given nothing,’ in a letter which he is reputed to have addressed to his wife in July 1603. ‘Teach thy son,’ he adds, ‘to love her for his father's sake.’ The letter, the genuineness of which is doubtful, was first printed in Bishop Goodman's ‘Court of James I’ (ed. Brewer, 1839; cf. Edwards, ii. 383–387; Stebbing, pp. 195–8).
[The chief Lives of Ralegh are those by William Oldys, first published in 1736 (here referred to in the 8vo edition of 1829), by Thomas Birch, (1751), by Arthur Cayley (1805), by Patrick Fraser-Tytler (1833), by Edward Edwards (2 vols. 1868), by J. A. St. John (1868), and by Mr. William Stebbing (1891). Gibbon contemplated a Life of Ralegh, but abandoned the notion on reading that by Oldys. The Life by Edwards, which embodies numerous original letters and documents, is a rich quarry of material, but scarcely a connected or accurate narrative. Although no detailed references are given to original authorities by Mr. Stebbing, his biography is of all the most readable and best informed. That by Mr. Edmund Gosse (1886) is, like sketches by Macvey Napier and Charles Kingsley, an entertaining essay. For the history of Ralegh's parents and his early life, see pedigree in Howard's Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, ii. 155–7; and the invaluable papers by Dr. Brushfield of Budleigh Salterton in the Transactions of the Devonshire Association. But a good many points in Ralegh's Elizabethan career remain obscure. The most authentic sources for it are the State Papers, Domestic and Ireland; the Calendars both of the Carew MSS. and of the Cecil Papers now in course of publication by the Hist. MSS. Comm. The Privy Council Register throws little light on Ralegh's curious relations with Marlowe in 1592–3, which are here noticed for the first time. Sir John Pope-Hennessy's Sir Walter Ralegh in Ireland (1883); Sir Walter Ralegh and his Colony in America, by the Rev. Increase N. Tarbox, Boston (Prince Society), 1884, which reprints Harriot's Report, and Sir Robert Hermann Schomburgk's introduction to his edition of the Discoverie of Guiana (1848) are all useful. A complete account of Ralegh's public life from the accession of James I is given in the History of England by Mr. S. R. Gardiner, who, while utilising the labours of his predecessors, has corrected or illustrated them by his own researches among original documents both in England and in Spain. See also Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 235–9; John Ford's Linea Vitæ, 1620; Naunton's Fragmenta Regalia, 1641; Fuller's Worthies (1662); Lloyd's Worthies (1665); Notes and Queries, 8th ser. x. 211; Aubrey's Lives, and Spedding's Life of Bacon. For Ralegh's literary work the chief authorities are the introduction to Dr. Hannah's edition of his Poems (1885), Dr. Brushfield's Bibliography of Ralegh (Plymouth, 1886, new ed. Exeter, 1908), his Bibliography of the History of the World (1886), and his Sir Walter Ralegh and his History of the World (1887). The writers of this article owe to Dr. Brushfield some information which has not been accessible to Ralegh's earlier biographers.]