« PreviousContinue »
Sir WALTER RALEIGH's Letter to the KING
. the Night before his Death,
THE Life which I had, Most Mighty Prince,
I the Law bath taken from me, and I am now but the same Earth and Duft, out of which I was made. If my Offence had any Proportion with your Majesty's Mercy, I might despair, or if my Deserving had any Quantity with your Majesty's unmeasurable Goodness, 1 might yet have Hope ; but it is you that must judge, and not I. Name, Blood, Gentility, or Estate, I have none ; no not so much as a Being, no. not so much as a Vitam planta : I have only a penitent Soul in a Body of Iron, which moveth towards the Loadstone of Death, and cannot be withheld from touching it, except your Majesty's Mercy turn the point towards me that expelleth, Loft I am for hearing of vain Man, for hearing only, and never believing nor accepting : And so little Account I made of that Speech of his, which was my Condemnation (as my forfaking him doth truly witness) that I never remembred any such thing, till it was at my Tryal obje&ted against me. So did he repay my Care, who cared to make him Good, which I now see no Care of Man can effe&t. But God (for my Offence to him) hath laid this heavy Burden on me, miserable and unfortunate Wretch that I am. But for not loving you (my Sovereign) God hath not laid this Sorrow on me ; for he knows (with whom I am not in case to lie) that I honoured your Majesty by Fame, and loved and admired you by Knowledge ; so that whether I live or die, your Majesty's loving Servant I will live and die. If now I write what seems not well-favoured (Most mer
ciful Prince) vouchsafe to ascribe it to the Counsel of i a dead Heart, and to a Mind that Sorrow hath con
founded. But the more my Misery' is, the more is your Majesty's Mercy: (if you please to behold it) and the lefs I can de serve, the more liberal your Majesty's Gift shall
be : Herein you shall only imitate God, giving free Life: And by giving to such a one from whom there can be no Retribution, but only a Desire to pay a Lent-life with the same great Love, which the same great Goodness shall bestow on it. This being the first Letter that ever your Majesty receiv'd from a dead Man: I humbly submit my self to the Will of God, my supreme Lord, and hall willingly and patiently suffer whatsoever it shall please your Majesty to oMixt me withal.
The Copy of Şir WALTER RALEICH's Let
ter to his Wife, the Night before his Dearh.
V OU shall now receive (any dear Wife) my last
1 Words in these my last Lines My Love I send you, that you may keep it when I am dead, and my Counfel, that you may remember it when I am no more. I would not by my Will present you with Sorrows (Dear Befle) let them go into the Grave with me, and be buried in the Duft. And seeing that it is not God's Will that I should see you any more in this Life, bear it patiently, and with a Heart like thy self. First I send you all the Thanks which my Heart can conceive, or my Words can rehearse, for your many Travails, and Care taken for me ; which'tho' they have not taken Effect as you wished, yet my Debt to you is not the less ; but pay it I never shall in this World. Secondly, I beseech you, for the Love you bare me living, do not hide your self many Days, but by your Travels Seek to help your miferable Fortunes, and the Right of your poor. Child. T hy mourning cannot avail me, I am bùt Duftoi Thirdly, You shall understand that my Land was conveyed bona fide to my Child : The Writings were drawn at Midsummer was twelve Months, my honeft Cousin Brett çan- testify so much, and Dolberry too can remember Jorne what therein. And I trust my Blood will quench
their Malice that have cruelly murder'd me, and that they will not seek also to kill thee and thine with extreme Poverty. To what Friend to dire&t thee I know not, for all mine have left me in the true time of Tryal. And I perceive that my Death was determin'd from the first Day. Most sorry I am, God knows, that being thus surpriz'd with Death I can leave you in no better Estate. God is my Witness, I meant you all my Office of Wines, or all that I could have purchased by selling it, half my Stuff, and all my Jewels, but some one for the Boy ; but God hath prevented all my Resolutions. That great God that ruleth all in all; but if you can live free from Want, care for no more, the rest is but Vanity. Love God, and begin betimes to repose your self upon him, and - therein shall you find true and lasting Riches, and endless
Comfort : For the rest, when you have travelled and · wearied your Thoughts over all sorts of worldly Cogita* tions, you shall but sit down by Sorrow in the end. Teach
your Son also to love and fear God whilft he is yet young, that the Fear of God may grow with him ; and then God will be a Husband to you, and a Father to him ; - a Husband and a Father which cannot be taken from you.
Baily oweth me 200 l. and Adrian 600 l. in Jersey. I also have much owing me besides. The Arrearages of the Wines will pay your Debts. And bowsoever you do, for my Soul's sake, pay'all poor Men. When I am , gone, no doubt you shall be fought to, for the World thinks that I was very rich. But take heed of the Prem
tences of Men, and their Affections, for they last not but · in honest and worthy Men ; and no greater Misery can
befall you in this Life than to become a Prey, and afterwards to be despised. I Speak not this (God knows) to disuade you from Marriage, for it will be best for you both in refpečt of the World and of God. As for me, I am no more yours, nor you mine, Death hath cut us aSunder ; and God hath divided me from the World, and you from me. Remember. your poor Child for his Fa- ther's sake, who chofe you, and loved you in his happiest
Times. Get those Letters (if it be possible) which I writ to the Lords, wherein I sued for my Life : God is my Witness, it was for you and yours that I defir'd Life; but it is true that I disdain d my self for begging of it : For know it (my dear Wife) that your Son is the Son of a true Man, and who, in his own respect, despiseth Death and all his mishapen and ugly Forms, I cannot write much, God he knows how hardly I steal this time while others sleep, and it is also time that I should separate my Thoughts from the World. Beg my dead Body, which living was denied thee ; and either lay it at Sherburne (and if the Land continue) or in ExeterChurch by my Father and Mother. I can say no more, Time and Death call me away, the everlasting, powerful, infinite, and omnipotent God, that Almighty God, who is Goodness it felf, the true Life and true Light keep thee and thine, have Mercy on me, and teach me to forgive my Persecutors, and Accusers, and send us to meet in his glorious Kingdom. My dear Wife farewel.
Bless my poor Boy. Pray for me, and let my good God · hold you both in his Arms. Written with the dying · Hand of sometimes thy Husband, but now alas over- thrown... ..
. WALTER RALEIGH, Sir WALTER's Family and CHARACTER. · Sir Walter Raleigh, youngest Son of Walter Ra- Jeigh Esq; by Catherine his Wife, Daughter of Sir Philip Champernoon Knt, was born at Budely in De vonshire; in a House, which his Family had long posless'd, call's Hays : He was educated at Oriel College in Oxon, from whence he remov'd to the Inns of Court: But thinking it more easy to fight than talk' himself into Reputation : And those active Times, and a busy warlike Princess pointing him out the way to the Temple of Honour ; the
Sword he judg’d, with Alexander, the readiest Inftrument to dissolve all Knots and tedious Obstacles to Greatness. Collier's Hift. Di&tionary. Life of Sir Walter. Cambden's Eliz.
The first Campaign he made was in France, being one of those Gentlemen who compos'd that Troop of one hundred Volunteers, commanded by Henry Champernoon, Anno 1569. The Motto in their Colours was, Finem det nobis Virtus. Here it was his Valour first made him taken notice of; He serv'd also in the Low Countries, and afterwards in Tieland, in Quality of a Captain, Anno 1580. Where some Differences arising between him and the Lord Grey, they were both sent for over, and heard before the Council-Table, where Raleigh .manag'd his Cause with that Address, that the Queen took particular Notice of him. The Gentleman, who writes the History of his Life, informs us, that coming from Ireland on this Occasion, and being equip'd in a very good Habit, which it seems was the greatest Part of his Estate (and which, he well observes, is one of the best Means of introducing a Man into the World whose Worth is unknown) as the Queen was walking in the Park, and coming to a watry Place, where the found some Difficulty to get over, Sir Walter immediately pulls off a new plush Coat he had on, and lays it down for her Majesty to tread on, which the Queen was extremely pleas'd with, and soon after took Occasion to requite : To such lucky Accidents sometimes do Men owe their Success : The greatest Merit is often defeated by a kind of Criminal Modesty, or a want of Opportunity to discover it self, while the forward and bold, tho? the most empty worthless things in Nature, often arrive at the highest Preferments ; but this was not the Case of Sir Walter. He was a Gentle
mati . . man