Page images

not that passion of love, which Walpole somewhat
paradoxically endeavoured to impute to her, and
which, had she ever felt in her younger but mature
days, must have re-kindled, even in her old age,
some spark of affection for youthful error-must
have recalled to her thoughts some such beautiful
and appropriate language, as Shakspere has put
into the mouth of poor Ophelia :-
660, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!

The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword;
The glass of fashion, and the mould of form,
The observ'd of all observers !”

But her heart was hardened against him; and one unfortunate expression, as was thought at the time, gave the signal for his death-warrant. That Essex fully merited the sentence passed upon him cannot be doubted: his political offence was great, and was tainted with a great moral crime, yet it was not such as to exclude that " quality of mercy,which was granted to the Earl of Southampton, one of his principal instigators, and one who fully partook in his crime. It was his youth and high station, and his generous disposition, that made him an object of universal pity, in which his criminal conduct was almost forgotten. But his failings and his virtues are so justly and so eloquently described by Mr. Macaulay, that the present memoir cannot be better concluded, than as it was commenced, by an extract from his able pen :

“Nothing in the political conduct of Essex entitles him to esteem; and the pity, with which we regard his early and terrible end, is diminished by the consideration that he put to hazard the lives and fortunes of his most attached friends, and endeavoured to throw the whole country into confusion for objects purely personal. Still it is impossible not to be deeply interested for a man so brave, highspirited, and generous; for a man who, while he conducted himself towards his sovereign with a boldness such as was then found in no other subject, conducted himself towards his dependents with a delicacy such as has rarely been found in any other patron. Unlike the vulgar herd of benefactors, he desired to inspire, not gratitude, but affection. He tried to make those whom he befriended feel towards him as towards an equal. His mind, ardent, susceptible, naturally disposed to admiration of all that is great and beautiful, was fascinated by the genius and accomplishments of Bacon. A close friendship was soon formed between them-a friendship destined to have a dark, a mournful, a shameful end."*

Review of Bacon's Works, Edinburgh Review, July, 1837.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

In a recent, well-written, and detailed history of the life of this extraordinary man, we have the following abridgment of his character :“Sir Walter Raleigh belongs to that class of

great men who may be said rather to fashion or create than to reflect the character of the age. His individual story is indissolubly linked with the annals of his country; and he who reads of the danger and the glory of England during the reign of Elizabeth -of the humiliation of Spain, the independence of Holland, the discovery and wonders of the New World, and the progress of our naval and commercial prosperity-must meet with his name in every part of the record. If required to describe in a few words the most prominent features in his mind, I would say they were his universality and originality. A warrior both by sea and land, a statesman, a navigator, and discoverer of new countries-an accomplished courtier, a scholar, and eloquent writer-a sweet and true poet, and a munificent patron of letters: there is scarcely one of the aspects in which we view him where he does not shine with a remarkable brightness.”*

In most, indeed, if not all, of these aspects, abating somewhat of exaggeration, the majority of readers will agree; and an occasion will here be taken for a brief and passing view of the greater

part of them.

Walter Raleigh, the father of Sir Walter, was descended from an ancient family in Devonshire, and was thrice married. His third wife, the relict of Otho Gilbert, Esq., was Sir Walter's mother. By her first marriage she had three sons, Sir John, Sir Humphrey, and Sir Adrian Gilbert, all knighted by Queen Elizabeth for their public services. By her second she had two sons, the youngest of whom is the subject of the present Memoir. He was born at Hayes, near the coast of Devon, in the year 1552; was sent, when young, to Oriel College, where he remained but a short time, and left the University at seventeen years of age.

About this time Queen Elizabeth was eagerly extending her assistance to the Protestants of France against the tyranny of the Catholics; and a near relation of Raleigh, Mr. Champernon, obtained the royal permission to raise a troop of 100 gentlemen volunteers, among whom Raleigh was enrolled. They passed over to the Continent, and joined the Protestant army under the command of the Prince of Condé. After the murder of this great general, Raleigh served under Admiral Coligni; and at the conclusion of the peace in 1576, he returned to England, being then about twenty-three years of

* Fraser Tytler's Life of Raleigh, in a volume of that well-conducted and excellent work, the Edinburgh Cabinet Library.'

age. At this time the Queen, having made a treaty with the States of Holland, sent a large force of horse and foot to their assistance, under the command of Sir John Norris, with whom Raleigh is said to have served for some time; and on his return to England he embarked on a scheme that was well suited to his adventurous mind.

When Sir Humphrey Gilbert, the half-brother of Raleigh, was making preparations, in virtue of his patent, to occupy lands in North America, with the assistance of his friends, Raleigh cordially joined in the plan : but when all was ready for sea, nothing but the effects of mismanagement appeared, and great confusion had arisen among the adventurers, so that the whole project became a failure.' Sir Humphrey, however, it is said, with a few friends, adventured upon the voyage, but was speedily obliged to return home with the loss of a tall ship.* Raleigh did not put to sea with Sir Humphrey on this occasion; yet when the project was renewed in 1583, he not only gave his assistance, but supplied, at his own cost, a large ship bearing his own

* Hakluyt.

« EelmineJätka »