Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

attachment to the doctrines of Calvinism; an attachment which seems to have procured for him the friendship of archbishop Abbot. At the negotiations for a truce between Spain and the United States, he assisted as joint-commissioner for the king of Great Britain ; and on the completion of this important business he obtained his recall. By the interest of the earl of Somerset, which he probably purchased, Winwood was appointed secretary of state in 1614; sir Thomas Lake being nominated his coadjutor some time afterwards. In this situation, the embarrassments of the government and the grievances of the country forced themselves upon his daily notice and filled his mind with melancholy bodings. To his friend sir Thomas Edmonds, then ambassador in France, he appears to have opened his heart without reserve on these subjects : “I am ashamed,” says he on one occasion, “to write what is the extremity of our penury; for which my grief is the greater, because, I profess, I see no remedy or reliefa.” The remarks of Edmonds were equally desponding. Such were the observations confidentially communicated to each other by the public servants of king James, who witnessed with indignation, profusion in the prince and rapacity in his minions which no efforts of theirs could regulate or control; and who beheld with alarm the daily aggravation of popular grievances under a system which excluded the only constitutional mode of redress, the assem

a Birch's Negotiations, p. 375.

bling of a parliament! Winwood's friendship for sir Edward Coke and his hostility to Bacon have been already noticed; both may be regarded as tokens of an attachment to the ancient liberties of his country which was likely to draw upon him the displeasure of his sovereign, and which ought to secure to his memory the respect of posterity.

The valuable and able dispatches of sir Ralph Winwood during his employment in Holland, may be read in the “ Memorials” which bear his name; and numerous extracts from his correspondence, as secretary of state, with sir Thomas Edmonds, have been given to the world in the “Negotiations” of Dr. Birch.

CHAPTER

CHAPTER XVII.

1618.

Liberation of Raleigh.-Occurrences during his imprison.

ment.-His expedition to Guiana.-Return,-imprisonment,--death.-King's antipathy to young Raleigh.-Declaration by authority of the motives for putting Raleigh to death.-Proof that he was sacrificed to Spain.-Reform of the royal expenditure.-Condemnation of the lord trea.

surer for corruption. AFTER a tedious imprisonment of more than twelve years, the ill-treated Raleigh had obtained in an evil hour the liberty which he had so long solicited in vain ; and it now becomes necessary to resume the thread of his disastrous story.

Nothing in the whole life of this illustrious person reflects so much true glory on his memory as the manner in which he had occupied his time and his thoughts during the long period of his involuntary seclusion from the world.

66 Then active still and unrestrained, his mind

Explored the long extent of ages past,

And with his prison-hours enriched the world.” That admirable work, the period and circumstances of the writer considered, the “ History of the world,” and several occasional pieces, were the valuable products of this season of adversity: he also found spirits for the pursuits of chemistry and me

dicine,

dicine, sciences which had long shared his attention, and the former of which he had the advantage of cultivating in common with his fellow prisoner the earl of Northumberland and the little

group

of natural philosophers whom this nobleman was permitted to assemble around him within the precincts of the Tower. The fortitude which in such a situation rendered Raleigh complete master of the excellent abilities with which nature had endowed him, appears the more admirable from the peculiar cruelty of a fortune which seemed never weary of pursuing him with fresh injuries and disappointments.

It has been mentioned, that at the time of Raleigh’s conviction, the property of Sherborne castle, his principal estate, had been preserved to his heirs by a conveyance of it to his eldest son, which had been ex-. ecuted under the former reign. After his attainder, also, the king had been pleased to grant him his lifeinterest in it: pecuniary distress therefore, and the ruin of his family, were not at first added to the weight of his afflictions. But two or three years afterwards, the rapacious scrutiny of some of the courtiers had discovered a flaw in this conveyance, and chief-justice Popham, the same judge who presided at Raleigh's trial and sanctioned all its atrocious iniquity, gave it as his judgement that the instrument was bad in law, though the error was nothing more than the accidental omission of a word by the transcriber. Carr, then in the plenitude of his favour and insolence, petitioned the king to grant him this estate, the only remaining support of a wretched

prisoner,

prisoner, and the bread of his unhappy children; and Raleigh as a last resource was induced to address to the unfeeling minion the following letter of eloquent expostulation :

“Sir,--After some great losses and many years sorrows, (of both which I have cause to fear I was mistaken in the end,) it is come to my knowledge that yourself, whom I know not but by an honorable fame, hath been persuaded to give me and mine our last fatal blow, by obtaining from his majesty the inheritance of my children and nephews, lost in the law for want of a word. This done, there remaineth nothing with me but the name of life, despoiled of all else but the title and sorrow thereof. His majesty, whom I never offended, (for I hold it unnatural and unmanlike to hate goodness,) stayed me at the grave's brink; not, as I hope, that he thought me worthy of many deaths, and to behold all mine cast out of the world with myself, but as a king who, judging the

poor in truth, hath received a promise from God that his throne shall be established for ever.

“ And for yourself, sir, seeing your fair day is but now in the dawn, and mine drawn to the evening, your own virtues and the king's grace assuring you of many favors and much honor, I beseech you not to begin your first building upon the ruins of the innocent; and that their sorrows, with mine, may not attend your first plantation. I have been ever bound to your nation, as well for many other graces, as for the true report of my trial to the king's majesty : against whom had I been found malignant, the

hearing

« AnteriorContinuar »