« ForrigeFortsett »
SIR WALTER RALEGH.
PREFATORY NOTE TO LETTERS I. TO V.—RALEGH'S
MILITARY SERVICE IN IRELAND.
PREFATORY NOTE TO
that the documents hitherto discovered in the Rolls House and elsewhere-do not afford the means of dating, with LETTERS
OF 1581. certainty, the commencement of Ralegh's service in Ireland. Letter I., when conjoined with some accounts relating to military pay,--preserved, like it, in the Irish series of State Papers Ireland:
Elizabeth, now collected at the Rolls House ; and entitled “Two vol. xcix. Reckonings of Captain Walter Rawley,'—ascertains the com- $84 (Rolls
House). mencement of the particular service therein referred to. But neither the letter nor the pay-account gives conclusive testimony that the campaign of 1580 was the first Irish campaign in which the writer and accountant served. It is quite probable that it was so ; but a probability only.
The 'Reckonings' relate to two distinct periods of service in the field. The first of them begins with the 13th July, 1580, and ends on the 30th of the following September. The second begins with the ist of April, 1582, and ends, in like manner, with the 30th of the following September. But, for reasons which have been adduced in the Life [Chap. ii. as above), the account of 1582 does not, of itself, afford evidence VOL. II.
PREFA- that Ralegh was actually present with the army in Ireland
during any part of that year.
1 Letter III. is especially remarkable for the contrast it draws between the methods severally adopted for the suppression of Irish insurrections by Sir Humphrey Gilbert and by the Earl of Ormond. The writer had an intimate knowledge of both commanders, and it is obvious, on the face of the documents, that his comparison of their exploits is coloured by personal feeling. The severe and sweeping censure of Ormond bears the aspect of some animosity to the man, hardly less conspicuously than the praises of Gilbert bear that of partial affection to the near relative and the early friend.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert's Irish service, referred to in Ralegh's letter, was performed in 1569. The spirit of the performance was described by Sir Humphrey himself, in a letter to Sir Henry Sydney, and in words as brief as they are expressive :“My manner of dealing was to show them all that they had more need of Her Majesty, than she of their service; neither yet that we were afraid of any number of them; our quarrel being so good. I slew all those from time to time that did belong to, feed, accompany, or maintain, any outlaws or traitors; and after my first summoning of a castle or fort, if they would not presently yield it, I would not afterwards take it of their gift, but won it perforce,-how many lives soever it cost; putting man, woman, and child of them to the sword.” It would have been strange, indeed, if Ormond, himself an Irishman, had exercised his command in Munster with like severity. But it is very notable that Sir Henry Sydney's immediate praise of Gilbert's acts and policy, as expressed in the despatches of the day, is quite as enthusiastic as Ralegh's was, in the retrospect, eleven years afterwards. For Sir Humphrey Gilbert,
wrote Sir Henry Sydney to Burghley, “I cannot say enough. Sydney to The highways are now made free, where no man might travel Burghley,
unspoiled. . . . Yet this is not the most, nor the best he 4 Jan.
hath done ; for the estimation that he hath won to the name
of Englishman there, before almost not known, exceedeth all PREFAthe rest.” That both Henry Sydney and Humphrey Gilbert NOTE TO possessed many noble qualities, and belong to the roll of the LETTERS
OF 1581. true Worthies of England, is among the uncontested facts of our history; but it needs to be brought to mind in dealing with documents such as those now under view.
The paper submitted by Ralegh to the Queen,—to which Lord Deputy Grey refers in his marginal note to Letter IV. as “ that platt which by Mr. Fent I have advertizement of, for the fynding of a certayne garrison gratis to Her Majestie,"—is not now to be found in the Irish Correspondence. But there is, in that series, a remarkable paper of later date (25 October, 1582), written partly in the hand of Lord Burghley, and partly in Ralegh's hand, and thus entitled (by Burghley) :-The Opinion of Mr. Rawley, upon motions made to hym for the meanes of subduyng the Rebellion in Monster. This document is obviously the minutes of a conference between the Lord Treasurer and the soldier from Ireland ; Burghley holding the pen, and then handing his record to Ralegh, for revisal, before submitting it to the Queen. The point on which Ralegh lays the main stress of his argument is the necessity of winning over some of the many minor Irish chieftains, who were known to have followed the Earl of Desmond into rebellion less from love than from fear. Some of these, he tells the Queen and her councillors, were men really well-affected to her rule, and men who had formerly served under English commanders; but who were now mainly influenced by two powerful impressions : they resented certain acts of violence committed by the English soldiery; and they believed that ultimately the Queen would both pardon the Earl of Desmond and restore him to his possessions and dignities. In that case, the Earl's enmity would be more formidable to them than the enmity of the English.
“Mr. Ralegh thinketh," writes Lord Burghley, “that the Queens Majesties forces alone, without an excessive charge by
an army that may prepare to lay garrisons in every country, will not subdue the rebellion ;”—for the enemy “shall be so relieved in every country where the English soldier cannot follow him, as, by fleeing from country to country, he will hold up his heart a long time. Therefore he thinketh it needful to have the help and concurrency of divers lords of particular countries.” And then Ralegh went on to show by what means many such lords might easily be won over. It is probable that these counsels were substantially the same with those for which Ralegh had obtained the Queen's ear some months earlier, to the great displeasure of the Lord Deputy, who, in the preceding January, had thus expressed his dissatisfaction to Lord Burghley : “Having lately received advertisement of a plott delivered by Captain Rawley unto Her Majestye for the lessening of her charges here in the province of Mounster, and the disposing of the garrisons according to the same; the matter at the first indeed offering a very plausible shewe of thrifte and commoditie might easily occasion Her Majestie to thinck that I have not so carefully as behoved looked into the state of that cause, and the search of Her Majesties proffitt. Wherefore, having with some of the best advised of the Councill here, entered into consideration thereof, and perceiving many inconveniences, and some impossibilities, in the accompt thereof, we have .... layd downe our judgments and opinions thereof; which, when it shall have come under your Lordship's deeper consultation, I doubt not but you will soone discerne a difference between the judgments of those which
with grownded experience and approved reason looke into the Ireland: Elizabeth, condicion of things, and those which upon no grownd but vol.
seeming fancies, and affecting creditt with proffitt, frame lxxxviii. $ 12. Plotts' upon impossibillities, for others to execute."
To Walsingham, Lord Grey wrote, nearly at the same time, a letter of most passionate complaint concerning alleged misrepresentations made at Court of his government and policy. In this letter he speaks of his traducer under the cypher *324,' which in the Calendar of the Irish Papers is interpreted
as designating Lord Burghley himself. Some of the allusions, PREFAhowever, appear to point to Ralegh, rather than to the Lord Treasurer. But. Burghley may have been won over to the
OF 1581. adoption and endorsement of Ralegh's views. At the end of March, Walsingham notified to the Deputy the Queen's pleasure that Captain Ralegh should succeed to the command of * Appesley's band.' [See Vol. I. p. 46.] Grey replies : “ As for Captain Rawley's assignment to the charge of Apsleie's band, which in your letter of the end of April you write to be signified unto me by a letter from Her Majestie, I have no letter which specifieth any such thing to me; and, for myne own part, I must bee playne : I nether like his carriage nor
Ireland: his company; and therefore, other then by direccion and Elizabeth, commandment, and what his right can require, he is not to vol. xcii.
§ 10 (Rolls expect at my hands." That the Council Book of this period House). gives no sanction to the statement (hitherto, so uniformly made by Ralegh's biographers) that the disputes between the Lord Deputy and the refractory captain of cavalry came to a hearing at the Council table, before the Queen herself, I have shown already. But, be that as it may, the dates which have now been established prove conclusively that no such hearing can possibly have been the occasion on which Ralegh first attracted the Queen's favourable notice.
To the results and the incidents, however, of this great rebellion in Ireland it is plain that Sir Walter Ralegh owed, alike, the beginnings of his military fame; his first initiation into the mysteries of statecraft; and the opening (whatever its precise character) which enabled the accomplished soldier and the fast-maturing statesman to show that he possessed also the glittering qualities of the thriving courtier. Irish service brought him, before he was thirty, into the Queen's closet, as well as into the Lord Treasurer's cabinet. Presently, it was to make him a great and an enterprising landowner. Already, it had laid the foundation of a friendship which nursed into rigorous growth those seeds of poetry which Nature had sown.