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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
* Fraser Tytler's Life of Raleigh, in a volume of that well-conducted and excellent work, the · Edinburgh Cabinet Library.'
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 theno about twenty-three years of 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 abliged 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.
name; but the master reporting a contagious distemper to have broken out in two days after putting to sea, she returned into harbour.
Nothing dispirited, Raleigh, in conjunction with Sir Richard Grenville, Mr. William Sanderson, and others, projected an expedition to the eastern coast of North America, and he found the means of procuring for himself and heirs all such lands as he should discover. In the first voyage an attempt was made to settle on that part of the coast to which Raleigh, who did not himself proceed, gave the name of Virginia, in honour of the Virgin Queen. Four other voyages were made with numbers of settlers, but colonization at this time not being understood, and no consideration and kind treatment of the natives being observed, all attempts failed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; yet these simple people were stated to be affable, kind, and good-natured. Sir Walter went once with a single ship, but did not land; he found employment better suited to his genius at home.
The rebellion in Ireland was a theatre on which Raleigh felt he could act a distinguished part, encouraged by the command of a company which had been conferred on him. He performed under Ormond and Lord Grey very eminent services in the suppression of the rebels and the defeat of the Spaniards who had been introduced into Ireland. This aspiring soldier, active and persevering in detecting and reducing the seditious designs of the rebel leaders, soon gained the confidence of the government, and was employed in various situations of great responsibility; so that, on the return of Ormond to England, the government of Munster was committed to the charge of Raleigh, and he also held the chief command in the city of Cork. On the suppression of the rebellion he returned to England, “ with a reputation for valour and experience well known to those whom he had served, but which was lost at court amidst the dazzling brilliancy of superior rank and power.”* • An incident, however, is said to have occurred which brought him to the immediate and favourable notice of Queen Elizabeth :—“Captain Raleigh," says Fuller, “coming out of Ireland to the English court in good habit (his cloaths being then a .considerable part of his estate), found the Queen walking where, meeting with a plashy place, she seemed to scruple going thereon. Presently Raleigh cast and spread his new plush cloak on the ground, whereon the Queen, trode gently, rewarding him afterwards with many suits, for his so free and seasonable tender of so fair a foot-cloath. Thus an advantageous admission into the first notice of a prince is more than half a degree to preferment.”+
This anecdote, which has become a matter of tradition, and though generally believed, rests perhaps on no better authority than that of the facetious
* Fraser Tytler. † Fuller's Worthies.
Fuller; but the compliment is quite as likely to have been paid by this Worthy' to Queen Elizabeth, as that, in imitation of it, when the old gentlemen of Southampton recently paid a similar compliment to Queen Victoria.
But Fuller does not thus leave his Worthy. He further says that “ Raleigh, thus admitted to the court, found some hopes of the Queen's favours reflecting on him, and this made him write on a glass window, obvious to the Queen's eye-Fain would I climb, yet fear I to fall.' Her Majesty, either espying or having been shown it, did underwrite“If thy heart fails thee, climb not at all.?”* His biographer adds, that the incident of the cloak almost proves itself to be true, by. evincing Raleigh's knowledge of the character of Elizabeth. “Her predilection for handsome men, and her love of splendid apparel, were well known; while, in his sacrifice of the gorgeous cloak, and the air of devoted admiration, which none knew better how to assume, he displayed that mixture of generous feeling and high-flown gallantry, not unlikely indeed to meet the ridicule of the graver sort, yet fitted to surprise and delight the princess to whom it was addressed.” +
The account given by the Virginian adventurers of a country so full of amenity and beauty, the softness and fragrance of the air, and the innocence of * Fuller's Worthies.
+ Tytler's Life.