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honouring him with the Order of the Garter."* On Leicester's death, which happened the 4th of September, 1588, just at the close of the defeat and dispersion of the '“ Invincible Armada," Essex was competitor with Sir Christopher Hatton, as successor to Leicester in the office of Chancellor of the University of Oxford ; but on account of his youth, and of his being generally considered as a patron of the Puritan party, the interest of the Vice-Chamberlain Hatton prevailed, and the election was carried against the young Earl.
So sudden an elevation to the highest pitch of royal favour might be expected to excite that impetuosity of spirit that was natural to the Earl of Essex; and instances occurred of that uncontrolled temper, which led him sometimes to conduct himself petulantly to the Queen herself, who did not admit, while she sometimes provoked, freedoms of that kind from certain of her subjects; he had yet to learn, what Bolingbroke so truly said of her“She had private friendships, she had favourites ; but she never suffered her friends to forget she was their queen; and when her favourites did, she made them feel that she was so.” On one occasion, when in this state of temper, he insulted Sir Charles Blount, on a jealousy of the Queen's partiality. Sir Charles, afterwards Earl of Devonshire, a very comely young man, having distinguished himself at a tilt, her Majesty sent him a chess-queen of gold enamelled, which he tied upon his arm with a crimson riband. Essex perceiving it, said, with affected scorn, “ Now I perceive every fool must have a favour.” On this Sir Charles challenged and fought him in Marybone Park, disarmed and wounded him in the thigh. “Instead of a sentimental softness,” says Walpole, “ the spirit of her father broke out on that occasion; she swore a round oath, that unless some one or other took him down, there would be no ruling him.'"* But she assisted in réconciling the combatants, who continued good friends as long as they lived.
* Birch's Memoirs.
Though his supposed tendency towards a particular and powerful sect lost him the chancellorship, Essex had nothing of the Puritan in sentiment or conduct: liberal in the former, and generous in the latter, he was always ready to afford assistance, whether in person or in purse, to the distressed and deserving. It was mainly owing to this feeling of generosity, congenial at the same time with his activity of mind, as well as from the hatred he bore to the Spaniards, that he engaged in the expedition to Portugal, under Drake and Norris, to establish the exiled Antonio in the government of that kingdom; and this was done without her Majesty's consent or even knowledge. It would appear, however, from the following letter to his honourable friend * Royal and Noble Authors.
the Vice-Chamberlain, that the embarrassed state of his finances may have had some influence over the intended adventurous undertaking:
SIR,—What my courses may have been I need not repeat, for no man knoweth them better than yourself. What my state is now I will tell you : my revenue no greater than it was when I sued my livery; my debts at the least two or three-and-twenty thousand pounds. Her Majesty's goodness hath been so great, as I could not ask more of her. No way left to repair myself but my own adventure, which I had much rather undertake than to offend Her Majesty with sutes, as I have done heretofore. If I speed well I will adventure to be rich; if not I will never leiev to see the end of my poverty; and so wishing that this letter, which I have left for you, may come to your hands, I commit you to God's good protection. From my study, some few days before my departure. Your assured friend,
When the Queen was informed of his intention to go with Drake as a volunteer, she gave orders to the two commanders of the expedition to find him out, wherever he might be, and send him to the court. Drake, in reply to the Lord High Chancellor, says“ This cawse of the Erll of Essexe hath been, and is a very great truble unto us, for that we hyere continewally that his Lordship’s abyding is uncertaine in any one partyculler place.” The Queen herself also addressed to the Earl a very angry and severe
* Burleigh’s State Papers.
letter, which he probably never received; and the expedition sailed without hearing anything further of his Lordship. But on Drake leaving Corunna for the Tagus, he unexpectedly fell in with the Earl of Essex, bringing with him some ships which he had taken laden with corn. He was accompanied by his brother, Walter Devereux, Sir Roger Wil. braham, Sir Philip Butler, and Sir Edward Wingfield.
These gentlemen joined Sir John Norris, when he landed at Peniche to march overland to Lisbon. Two troops were immediately placed under the command of Essex, who in the course of the march endeared himself to the whole army. “ Divers of the men,” says Captain Fenner, “fainted by the way with heat, and divers died for want of food, and many, who would otherwise have died, were saved by the Earl of Essex, who commanded all his stuff to be cast out of his carriages, and these to be filled with the sick men and gentlemen who had fainted.”* The True Discourse of a foreign gentleman, originally written to a friend on the continent, and published in London both in Latin and English, thus speaks of Essex's joining—“Summo omnium applausu et lætitia excipitur; est enim propter virtutes animi, corporisque dotes, generis et familiæ nobilitatem, et in re militari scientiam, et industriam, nobilis longe gratissimus.” He further says that “after coming into the fleet, to the great rejoicing of us all, he demanded of the General that he might always have the leading of the van-guard, which he readily yielded to, as being desirous to satisfie him in all things, but especially in matters so much tending to his honour."*
* Birch's Memoirs.
It is remarkable that an army should have marched overland to the very gates of Lisbon, before which it arrived without cannon or ammunition--not having a field-piece even with which they might have blown down one of the gates. Indeed it is stated, in one of the narratives of the expedition, that “not only did Essex pursue the Spaniards to the very gates of Lisbon, but was with difficulty prevented from rushing through in the thick of them, and would have fearlessly forced himself in, beyond a doubt, had not his friend, Sir Roger Wilbraham, held him back by main force. On another occasion the Earl of Essex knocked at the gates of the city, wherein it was said there were not above 700 Spaniards to guard it."
On their retreat it was reported to Norris that a certain Peter Henry de Guzman-called in the Latin · Discourse? Comes de Fontibus (Conde de Fuentes)—was close upon him with 6000 foot and 500 horse, proclaiming everywhere that the English were put to flight. Norris, indignant at this, sent a trumpet with a letter to this person, informing
* Ephemeris Expeditionis, or True Discourse.