Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

fifteen years before, with Spain against England, such words as these : "With my last breath I confesse that You have beheld my affliction with compassion,” and “I am in nothing so miserable, as that I could never meet an occasion wherein to be torn in pieces for Your Majestie's service,” until I shall see those sentences under his hand; or, at all events, find better authority for them than that of Sir TOBIE MATHEW, or of King James' Dean of St. Paul's.

Among the missing letters, the lack of which Lost I especially regret, are to be mentioned a series addressed

by Ralegh -fourteen in number--that were addressed to to his

brothers RALEGH's half-brothers, Sir HUMPHREY and Sir and JOHN GILBERT, and to his nephew, the younger

nephew. Sir John GILBERT. These letters are known to have belonged to the eminent collector, Mr. BRANDE Hollis, towards the close of the last century; and all of them, there is reason to think, were in the possession of the late Mr. Macvey NAPIERformerly Editor of the Edinburgh Review--early in the present century. They passed to him, it seems, through the hands of the Edinburgh bookseller, ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE (the 'Old Crafty of Scott and Lockhart). Repeated inquiry has hitherto failed to elicit their fate. The following is a list of those letters, which I copy from a note addressed to CONSTABLE at the time when they were offered to him for purchase :-

No. 1. "To my very loving brother Sir HUMPHREY GILBERT,

Knight. Dated 4 April, 1592.
2. "To his nephew (Sir John GILBERT the younger).

1597.
3. “To the same. 14th July (no date of year).
4. “To the same. Without date.
5.

“To his brother. 1588.
6. “To Sir John GILBERT, Knight. 1591.
7. “To the saine. Addressed: - For Her Majesties

especyall affaires. To Sir John GILBERT, Knight, at Dartmouth. Hast, post, hast; hast with speed.

Without date. 8. “To his nephew, Sir John GILBERT the younger,

Governor of the Fort at Plymouth. Without date. 9. “To the same. Without date. 10. “To the same. Without date. *11. “To Sir HUMPHREY Gilbert, with a present from

Queen ELIZABETH. Dated 'Richmond, March 18,

1582.'
12. "To the same. Without date.
13. "To his nephew, Sir John Gilbert the younger.

Without date.
*14. "To Sir John GILBERT. Without date."

To this list its writer adds these words : “ All the above were received by me from the late BRANDE Hollis, Esq., F.R.S., S.A.” The list is unsigned, and undated. It is addressed : Mr. Constable.' Should it now chance to fall under the eye of any reader who may be acquainted with the whereabouts of any of the letters mentioned in it, a communication of such knowledge would be most gratefully received by the Editor of this volume.

All these Gilbert letters must needs possess some biographical value. Three, out of the fourteen, have become known to me,- in the course of the preparation of my book,—two of them from transcripts made for Dr. Thomas Birch, about a hundred years ago, when their originals were still at Plymouth, in the possession of the GILBERT family; and the third from a transcript made for Mr. NAPIER. They are here printed under the numbers VI., LII., and LXXXIII.

The fate of the remaining eleven letters is the more reasonably a subject of curiosity from the circumstance that another and most curious letter .-falsely, as it seems, ascribed to Ralegh himself by his brother's descendants—accompanied those of the letters in the above list which were shown to Dr. BIRCH; and I have now before me his transcript. It would seem to be simply inconceivable that so strange an incident as is recorded in that letter should have occurred to Sir WALTER RALEGH, without mention of it by any of his news-writing contemporaries or by any of his many enemies. Among the proceedings of the Court of Star Chamber of the year 1601 there is, however, this one small point of coincidence: Ralega's disgraced servant and bitter opponent, JOHN MEERE, in one of his pleadings about the Sherborne business, speaks of his master as having done a certain thing alleged “since the Queen's pardon.No other allusion to 'a pardon' is known to me. But, on the whole, the fair and obvious probability is that the letter now in question was written by one of the GILBERTS -in spite of its express but incredible endorsement: “ Letter of Sir Walter Ralegh, in the possession of Pomeroy Gilbert, Esq., Fort-Major of Plymouth, Descendent of Sir Humphrey.” Be that as it may, it is intrinsically deserving of publication.

The Gilbert family is now represented by W'ALTER Ralech Gilbert, Esq., of The Priory, near Bodmin. That gentleman has obligingly informed me that no papers are in his possession which throw light either on the letter now to be printed, or on that also remarkable) addressed to Sir John GILBERT the younger, which I have printed at page 193 of this volume.

Letter of a writer unknown, to a nobleman, or Privy Councillor, unnamed ; formerly ascribed to Sir W. Ralegh.

" Wheras it pleased your Lordshipp for his sake who while he lived did especially love and honor your Lordship to be a mean to her most excellent Majestie for my pardon, who out of her aboundant mercy and grace vouchsafyd the same, in whos service I shall be evermore reddy to yeild up and sacrifice that life which it pleased her Majestie to bestow upon mee at thys tyme : when I came to London to pled and take the benefitt of that her Majesties grace, I was notwithstanding so carefull and fearfull to give offence, as after I hurd of the Lord BURROS' returne I forbore to go abrode or to follow any busness of myne own in London, or elswhere; preparing as secreatly as I could to have pleaded the pardon and so to have returned ether to Irland, to have served her Majestie ther, or to have followed any other her Majesties service whersoever. Notwithstanding the Lord BURGH, contrary to the generall opinion which he seemeth to desire should be held of his valer and honorable dealing, lodged himselfe neare the place where I lay in the Strand, and abowt mydnight stole into the howse wher I was, in hope to have me in my chamber all alone, ether aslepe or utterly unprovided; when, because he found the dore of my chamber shutt and that he could not, without rumore, forc the same, he departed away; and the morning following stole to the howse again desguised, and comes to the chamber dore which, by sure securing ? not above half an houre before, I caused to be kept lockt; and finding hymself a second time disappointed, he knockt at the chamber dore, and counterfayting a voyce, sayd he was a frynd of myne and byd me open the dore. But by the

1 Thomas Burgh, fifth Lord Burgh, or Borough, K.G., summoned to Parliament from uth Jan. 1563 to 24th Oct. 1597. • So in transcript ; but the reading is questionable. VOL. II.

f

« ForrigeFortsett »