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PREFATORY NOTE TO LETTER LXVIII.-RALEGH AND
SIR ARTHUR SAVAGE.
PREFATORY NOTE TO LETTER LXVIII.
to Sir Robert Cecil, together with the despatches from the
Cecil Papers, cxxxv. fol. 86 (Hatfield). Printed in Correspondence of King James VI. &c. p. 43..
TO SECRETARY SIR ROBERT CECIL.
From the Original. MS. Cotton, OTHO, E ix. fol. 365, verso (formerly
numbered 334). (British Museum). Holograph. Mutilated ; having been partially burnt in the fire at Ashburnham House. Without date
or year. (The beginning of the letter-all that precedes the word 'burnt'-has been
so burned in the fire at Ashburnham House as to be irrecoverable.]
burnt. We had not means to ..
LXVIII. men, being both wasted in the , ... Ther is a very
1596. dangerous infection . . . . and siche, as with great
Aug. 6. difficultye was . . to the Port. I have
To Sir R. labored as to ...,
From she is now in the Port of . .; and with us my Lord Plymouth
Sound. Thomas 1 in the Honor, 2
.. both which
The came a litle before by reason of ... leakes, wherof
Victory my Lord Thomas was in great (peril]. The rest of the at Cadiz. Fleet will be here to-morrow in [my opin]ion, if the winde stand; for the second of August I left them, well, and the sixth I arrived. And they came above a dussen or twentye leaugs astern.
This gentleman, Sir ARTHUR SAVAGE, is dispatched by the Generalls. I know not the effect of his message. Butt, under pardon, I thincke it good for Her Majestye, if he be agayne returned with order for the Army which may, for the most, be returned into their countries from hence; which, the sooner it be done, the less charge
1 Lord Thomas Howard, afterwards Earl of Suffolk.
The ship Mer-Honour. 3 Meaning evidently came away.' • The words within brackets are words of which the fire has left some trace--more or less.
Her Majestye shall be att here, with continewance of her sea charge
Sir, may it please yow to beleve me, this bearer hathe deserved with the first and had the Poynt att the entrance of Calize. Butt he came, with others, in the rereguard of profitt and good fortune. And I assure your Honor, by the love I bear yow, that yow shall not favor any man more honest and valient. He can yield a good accompt of whatsoever hath past.
For my particular, I beseech yow, if it may be, that I may be pardoned for cumminge about by sea; for besids the great and dangerous infection, I am not well in health my sealf. My Lord Admiral will cum with the Fleet, and my Lord Thomas likewise. Sir, I hope her devin Majestye is well: the report wherof hath incountred us all with infinit joy.
From the port of Plymouth, cumming in, this 6th of
PREFATORY NOTE TO LETTER LXIX.- NARRATIVES OF
THE BATTLE IN CADIZ HARBOUR.
LETTER of it which I have seen in the old library known as “ Dr. Williams' Library” (formerly in Red Cross Street, London; now, temporarily, in Queen's Square), it is said
1596. against plain internal evidence-to have been addressed to the Earl of Northumberland. Other copies are, like Philip Ralegh's print of 1699, wholly without superscription. Fortunately, its great historical interest depends in no degree on the solution of that small question. It has, eminently, the qualities which Ralegh's writings so rarely lack,—force and clearness. It also combines fairness to his fellows with his wonted full justice to himself. In half a dozen clear and simple words, he brings vigorously before the reader that fearless courage and self-devotion, on the part of the Earl of Essex, which, in moments of excitement and of peril, did much towards redeeming very grave errors of judgment. When, in relation to this event, Ralegh has to touch on those errors, he touches them with a gentle hand. If, for example, the reader will compare his account with that of Sir William Monson (MS. Cotton, Titus, B viii.), he will find that the rival—whom Essex had so repeatedly and so bitterly attacked-deals more leniently with the faults of the brave but rash and inexperienced general, than does the declared follower and friend. Nor will it be found less interesting, or less instructive, to compare many of Ralegh's details, as to the doings and sufferings of the Spaniards, with their own contemporary accounts, as they have been recently collected from the Simancas archives and elsewhere, by the Continuators of the
Coleccion de Documentos inéditos para la Historia de España, so ably began by Navarrete.
Another collation has an interest more directly biographical. Thomas Carte is known to have had access to many original papers of the Elizabethan period, not all of which can now be traced Some, even, of the Burghley MSS. to which in his History of England he refers cannot, I believe, be discovered. Whatever may be thought of the colouring given to Carte's inferences by party feeling, his use of documents is admittedly honest. In his account of the Cadiz battle, he borrows much from the present letter; yet there are in that account some details, distinctly personal to Ralegh, which are not mentioned in Sir Walter's own letter, minute as it is. Whether, or not, these have been taken from correspondence not at present accessible, they are obviously founded on original testimony, and will be seen to have considerable interest. Here, to note them all,—or nearly all, -is impracticable. One or two points must suffice, by way of sample.
The victory at Cadiz was notoriously a great blow to the power and influence of Spain, but no one can study the documents which bear upon it without perceiving that it might, with little difficulty, have been made a much more effective and farther-reaching blow. The question, Whose was the neglect?' is, for students of English history, not at all an idle or superfluous question. Ralegh (in Letter LXIX.), Sir William Monson (in the Cotton MS. Titus, B viii.), and Carte's informant,--whosoever he may have been,--all give, or suggest, an answer. All were present. All, it is obvious, had access to the best sources of information, for what did not pass actually under their own eyes. Each, if listened to separately, gives, or seems to give, on this point a different answer. But, if collated, the conflict of testimony may, perhaps, be found to be much less than it, at first, appears