Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

INTRODUCTION

TO THE

LETTERS OF RALEGH.

Of the one hundred and sixty-six letters, written by Sir WALTER RALEGH, which in this volume are now first collected, one hundred and twenty-five are printed from the originals. Of the forty-one letters for which only transcripts, more or less ancient, could be found, nineteen have been taken from manuscript sources, and twenty-two from printed sources. Of the letters taken from originals, many are now printed for the first time; and until now, many even of the best-known letters have never, it is believed, been printed correctly. Eighty-two of the original letters employed for Sources of

the Letters the text of the present volume are preserved in now

printed. the fine collection at Hatfield of Letters and State Papers of the Tudor and Stuart reigns, which belongs to the Marquess of SALISBURY, by whose most obliging and liberal permission they are here printed. Twenty-seven other originals are preserved among the national archives brought together of late years in the new Rolls House.

of the

These are found partly in the series of Domestic Correspondence, and partly in that of Irish Correspondence. Many of these Rolls House letters have never heretofore been used-probably were never looked at—by any biographer of RaLEGH. Eleven others of the original letters are scattered amongst the various groups of manuscripts, amassed by different collectors at different periods, which now, in their aggregate, form the Depart

ment of MSS.' in the British Museum. Dispersion Perhaps, few collections of Papers which—in a Cecil and special sense of the words—may be called • Family Burghley Papers. Papers,' have had so curious a history as the

CECIL PAPERS have had, if we take them integrally. Few collections illustrate so pointedly and pithily the diversitude of accidents—the chances of fire and flood—the perils amongst robbers, and the perils amongst the false brethren of collectorship-to which precious manuscripts are exposed. Lord Burghley formed a considerable collection at Theobalds, and bequeathed it to his second son, ROBERT, afterwards Earl of SALISBURY. Lord SALISBURY removed the collection from Theobalds to Hatfield, and took considerable pains to provide for its perpetuation there. But, long before the collection descended to its present noble possessor, a portion of it had suffered grievously from damp and from neglect. It was only by the accident of an odour, which could not be explained, coming into occupied rooms (built over cellarage), that

[ocr errors]

the existence of a heap of papers, amounting to several thousands in number, was discovered. The finding of this mass of documents to the place of deposit of which there was no reference, it seems, amongst the then known series-occurred within living memory: The discovery was sufficiently in time for the saving of a large proportion of the whole ; but some papers had, of course, decayed beyond recovery.

By the present Marquess of Salisbury measures were immediately taken for the careful arrangement, in its entirety, of a series of documents which is at once a noble memorial of family service to Britain, and a precious storehouse of the materials of British history.

Meanwhile, other portions of the vast CECIL collections had wandered far afield. Within but a few years of the lifetime of Lord BURGHLEY himself many of his papers had passed into the hands of Sir ROBERT COTTON. Some of these suffered mutilation in the fire at Ashburnham House, as this volume will testify. Others, after many adventures and many hairbreadth escapes from destruction, came in later days into the noble collection gathered by Robert Harley and EDWARD Harley, Earls of Oxford.

Another large series of Cecil Papers remained, until his death, in the hands of Sir MICHAEL HICKEs, who had been Secretary successively to

VOL. II.

d

Lord BURGHLEY and to Lord SALISBURY; and whose secretarial collections seem to have included, impartially, original papers as well as copies; for which, indeed, he had too much precedent. Part of Hickes' papers passed successively into the hands of STRYPE, the historian, and of James WEST, the well-known collector. This portion was eventually acquired by the first Marquess of LANSDOWNE, and, in due time, became part of the great national collection in the British Museum, as the Cotton Manuscripts and the Harleian Manuscripts had previously become.

But some of the Cecil or Burghley Papers,' known to have been once in the hands of John STRYPE, are not now to be found amongst the Lansdowne Manuscripts. They had strayed into out-of-way places. Many, in all probability, have been destroyed. A few found their way into the collection which was formerly one of the ornaments of Stowe, in Buckinghamshire, and are now, I believe, in Lord Ashburnham's library, in Sussex.

In like manner, during the bygone days of neglect at Hatfield, predatory hands were laid on some of the papers which had formed part of the old Theobalds collection. Some such have passed, by the ordinary channels of commerce, into private collections. A few have passed, occasionally, into the great national repository in Great Russell Street, and form part of different groups of documents variously acquired. Thus it is that the search for 'CECIL PAPERS' carries the searcher's inquiries, not only to the collections of the Family itself, as well as to the vast archives at the Rolls House, and to the well-known, and more or less well-catalogued, collections of Cotton MSS., Harleian MSS., and Lansdowne MSS. at the British Museum, but also to a series less easily consulted, because only partially catalogued,—that which bears the designation · Additional MSS.' in the same repository. It has also chanced that two volumes of transcripts, made in the lifetime of JAMES, Earl of SALISBURY (sixth of the Cecil Earls), have passed, by donation, into the same series; and of two or three of the papers contained amongst those transcripts the originals are not now, it seems, to be found at Hatfield. Hence it is that, in the RALEGH Letters hereinafter submitted to the reader from originals, Letters, all of which now belong to the British Museum, will be found described as taken from no less than five several groups

of

papers, gathered at various times and by different collectors; and a letter or two addressed by Ralesh to Sir ROBERT CECIL—and known to have been once kept at Hatfield—will be found to have been derived, as printed in these pages, from mere transcripts, instead of being drawn from the fountain-head. In several cases, parts of one and the same correspondence, on one special subject, have had to be sought for

« ForrigeFortsett »