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Mantua me genuit, Calabri rapuere, tenet nunc
Parthenope, cecini pascua, rura, duces.”
“ If our judgment do not fail, they are most happily chosen," continued the queen. “How well he describeth the cool deliciousness of that pleasant place, out of the scorching heat of the sun, where the bees suck the dainty flowers, whilst the cooing of the dove and the plaint of the turtle are hushed, that the sojourner therein might be wooed to repose.”
“Indeed it is a marvellous refreshing landscape, and your majesty doth shew that inimitable appreciation of its excellence, which hath delighted me so oft when discoursing upon other of the ancient writers, either Greek or Latin.”
“There is another picture, which maketh a fine contrast to the foregoing,” said her majesty—who did mightily delight to shew her learning, of which she was very bountifully gifted; and more especially took great pleasure in receiving the praises of so fine a scholar as her captain of the guard—“it is given in Theocritus his Idyls, and commenceth
άν τε βαθειαις
Εν τε νεοτμάτοισι γεγαθότες oιναρέοισι. and so goeth on at considerable length.” A “I remember me,” replied Sir Walter, “where the poet describeth the luxurious indolence of reclining on the soft branches of the vine and the lentisk, whilst above, the foliage of poplars and elms spreads a most grateful shade, and the murmuring stream flowing below gives coolness to the air: shrill grasshoppers are chirruping pleasantly in the green sward, the sweet honey-sucking bees are humming amid the fragrant blossoms-Philomel pouring out her melancholy song, concealed in the grove—and the turtle dove cooing dulcetly, doth add a softer music to the tuneful pipe of the small birds: as, to charm the eye equally with the ear, the luscious fruits of summer and autumn are heaped all about, shewing piles of rosy cheeked apples and pears, and the branches of the velvet plum overloaded bending to the ground. In truth, 'tis a most enticing picture; and the reference to it is another instance of your majesty's unrivalled familiarity with the treasures of classic song; and of that miraculous fine taste which preferreth what is most admirable, that giveth me such frequent cause of infinite wonder and delight.”
The queen did look exceeding pleased at this discourse, fanning herself all the time very prettily as she walked along, and regarding, the noble form and handsome attire of the speaker with an eye of favour; till coming to a place where, beneath the shade of a wide-spreading beech, just where the walk, screened on the side by a thick fence of hawthorn, took a sudden turn that shut them out from view, a commodious seat was placed, and her majesty did rest herself thereon. She then, more at leisure, did scan the rich habiliments of the gallant Sir Walter Raleigh as he stood before her, which seemed to give her ample satisfaction, though she said never a word: he gazing upon her all the while with a wonderful shew of respectful admiration, as much as to say that if his tongue dared speak his thoughts, his heart would make them right eloquent.
“What sayest thou concerning the voyage thou wert speaking of ?" at last she enquired in her most gracious tone.
Starting suddenly, as if recovering from a trance, he replied, “I humbly pray your majesty's pardon, for indeed 'tis a most notable truth that none but the eagle can gaze on the sun without being dazzled.”
Her majesty did infinitely relish such conceits, and her eyes twinkled with an evident pleasure as she observed her attendant suddenly let fall his looks to the ground, as if the gazing upon her were too much for his humanity.
“But of the voyage I will speak,” continued he. “May it be known to your majesty, that there are certain of my former companions in arms, with other valiant gentlemen, who are desirous of serving your majesty, and of giving free scope to their courageous spirits by doing damage against the Spaniard, have clubbed with me divers large sums of money, for the purpose of procuring a sufficiency of well-appointed ships for an expedition against Panama, combined with an intention of intercepting the Plate fleet, the riches whereof is almost incredible. They have funds enough for thirteen ships of war, of the which, in consideration that I have sunk the whole of my private fortune in the scheme, and that they do-doubtless without proper judgment-acknowledge me to be the properest man amongst them for seamanship, acquaintance with the Spaniards, and knowledge of the art of war, seek me for to be their admiral, which, if it be the good pleasure of your majesty, whose poor soldier I am, I am in no wise unwilling to be: but to make the consequence we seek the more sure, I would humbly pray of your majesty such assistance in men, money, and ships, as would put all thought of misadventure out of the question, the granting of the which I feel assured would tend greatly to the complete crippling of your most notorious enemies, the addition of abundance of glory to your reign, and the vast enrichment of your exchequer.”
"Thou speakest us fair, Sir Walter Raleigh,” said the queen, who had paid very strict attention to what he had advanced; but however partial she might be upon occasion, she was rarely to be drawn away from a consideration of her own advantage. “Thou speakest us fair, and were we not as well acquainted with thee as we are, having recollection of services done by thee against the boasted armada, which by God's good help we utterly discomfited, and at other times against those empty praters and wretched villains the Spaniardsand remembering also thy skill in discovering strange lands, do put some confidence in thy assertions; nevertheless, it is necessary we be informed what share of the spoil shall be ours in case we afford such assistance as thou requirest ?”
Sir Walter, in no way disconcerted at this, as he knew her majesty's disposition, answered with a very becoming humility, “Far be it from me to endeavour to make a bargain with my sovereign ; but your majesty's condescension is so great, and your liberality I have experienced in so bountiful a measure, I am emboldened to say, that according to the amount of the service rendered shall your majesty partake of the treasures gained.”
“How many ships dost require ?” asked the queen.
“As many as your majesty can generously assist us with,” replied Sir Walter.
“If we allow thee half a dozen, properly equipped and provided for with all the munitions of war, we shall expect to share one half of the spoil."
“Your majesty's generosity exceeds my expectations," exclaimed Raleigh; though, is the truth may be told, he did feel a little put out at the unfairness of the bargain.
“ Then if those conditions be accepted, we do appoint thee admiral of the fleet,” continued the queen, “and will shee that thou hast proper warrant for it, with power to officer thine own ships as it pleaseth thee-reserving to ourself the right of appointing a viceadmiral, to officer our ships as we think proper."
“Never had servant so bounteous a mistress!” cried Sir Walter, as he knelt at the feet of the queen, seemingly in a transport of gratitude. “In truth, if I am not allowed to pour out the overflowings of my most grateful spirit, I must be dumb ever after. Oh, where shall the most passionate lover that ever sought to do noble deeds in honour of her whom he served, find such absolute cause for the impelling of his valour as that which moveth me? Had Arthur and all his right famous Knights of the Round Table lived in these more fortunate days, to have beheld the peerless Elizabeth, what chivalrous doings would have been enacted, that are lost to the world! But then how much have I reason to congratulate myself that I, who am nothing except in the eyes of the divine Parthenia, whom it is my happiness to serve-the very sovereign of beauty and queen of my heart's best affections, should not only live in the time which her existence hath made glorious, but should be allowed to breathe in her presence and bask in the imperial sunshine of her eyes-nay, honour never to be too highly prized,” continued he with more vehemence, taking her hand, as he observed that the stateliness of the queen was sinking before the vanity of the woman, “that out of her exceeding condescension and wonderful goodness, she sometimes enricheth my soul with her most moving smiles, and vouchsafest me the supreme happiness of pressing my lips upon her ivory hand.”
“Nay, Sir Walter, thou wilt devour it sure!” exclaimed the queen, coyly attempting to withdraw her hand, which he then impressed with a hundred eager caresses; but she was too well pleased with the action, and too much delighted in seeing so noble a gentleman at her feet, to use any great degree of force, and the hand continued to be caressed as passionately as at first.
“Oh, might I but be allowed to ask one favour-one sweet-one precious favour!” said Raleigh, gazing in her face with as much apparent rapture as if she had been a young and blooming Hebe, instead of much nearer resembling a superannuated Diana of some sixty years or so. The queen kept her peace, looking very bashful, not knowing but something might be required of her it would be scarcely proper for her virgin modesty to grant; when Sir Walter continued
_“When I am doing furious battle with the enemy, I know of nothing which would so much strengthen my resolution, and afford me consolation in all the delays I may meet with during my scarcely endurable absence from my absolute and incomparable Angelica, as a lock of that golden hair, which to me seemeth brighter than are the beams of Phoebus topping the eastern hills : deign then to satisfy your majesty's humble and truly devoted slave, and pardon the deep yet most respectful adoration that doth seek so invaluable a gift."
“In very truth, Sir Walter, if thou seekest only so simple a thing of us, we see no harm in its disposal,” replied her majesty very graciously. “Therefore set thy mind at ease. Thou shalt have it by a trusty messenger before thou leavest our shores.”
“Ah!" exclaimed he with a passionate look, as he pressed the hand he held to his heart. “Your majesty's unexampled goodness hath already made my poor heart bankrupt in thanks.”
“Hush !” cried the queen, suddenly snatching away her hand and putting her finger to her lip. “Who are these that dare to intrude upon our privacy?
Just at that moment footsteps were heard approaching along the walk on the other side of the fence, and voices of two persons in conversation were distinguished. They spoke low, but the words “Raleigh”-“ Elizabeth,” and “intrigue,” were distinctly audible.
“Now, by God's wounds, we'll not suffer this !” exclaimed the queen, starting up with a face crimsoned with rage. “Arrest them, Sir Walter Raleigh, whoever they be.”
“Let me entreat of your Majesty'
“What, are we not obeyed ?” cried the queen, quickly, interrupting him, and casting on him a look of terrible menace when she observed that he hesitated to obey her command. “On the knees of my heart, let a faithful servant”
“Away, traitor!" fiercely exclaimed her majesty to her kneeling favourite, as she brushed by him; and with haughty steps strode towards the turning in the walk which would give her a view of the spot whence the sounds had proceeded: but behold! when she had there arrived, no one person was visible--at which she marvelled greatly. She looked among the trees, but could see nothing; and much chafed thereat, returned to where she had left Sir Walter, as it may be said with considerable shew of truth, trembling in his shoes at the imminent peril of his situation : but he knew the character of his mistress thoroughly, and his alarm soon giving way, set him upon putting forward a stroke of policy which should re-awaken all the influence he had lost; so that when her majesty came back to the place she had left, sweeping along, frowning majestically, and with a mind filled with thoughts of inflicting the most complete disgrace upon her captain of the guard, she beheld a sight so piteous, that all the dread sovereign did give place to the sympathising woman-for there knelt Sir Walter Raleigh exactly where he had before kneeled, as if he was chained unto the spot, gazing upon vacancy with a look so despairing and woe-begone, that it would have melted a heart of adamant. To her exceeding astonishment, he noticed not her appearance before him-albeit he saw her well enough-but continued with a fixed and glassy gaze to stare into the empty air like unto one utterly bereft of reason; and being moved with pity to behold so gallant a man, and one withal, who was the best dressed gentleman in all her court, in so sorry a plight, she presently went up to him and placed her hand upon his shoulder, saying kindly, “Sir Walter! what aileth thee?" whereupon, with a long drawn sighi that seemed to come from the very bottom of his heart, he listed up his eyes to her face, and then, as if struck with a sudden recollection, he sunk down his head, and did hide his face in his palms, with a groan so hollow and sepulchral, that her majesty thought he was about to give up the ghost.
“ Nay, nay, take not on so--take not on so, Sir Walter. We mean thee no harm, be assured,” said the queen, now in a very trepidation, which assurance was comfortable enough to her forlorn captain of the guard; but who, nevertheless, with a most pitiful accent exclaimed
“Let me die at your majesty's feet, for I am unworthy to live, having angered so good a mistress.”
“Odds pittikins, man, think not of dying,” replied the queen in her most gracious tone.
“In sad truth, if I be deprived of the most delectable happiness of gazing on such exquisite perfection as hath so oft delighted mine eyes, I am utterly undone. I have no desire to live," continued he very movingly. At which the queen was not a whit displeased, for, it is out of all contradiction, she had vanity enough to believe, that the deprivation of the beholding her charms would produce so fatal an effect.
“Despair not-and if we find that thou still deservest our esteem, thou shalt have no cause for fear," said her majesty in a manner she thought likely to put him into some hope. "Rise, Sir Walter Raleigh, and return with us to the palace-we will enquire into this matter."
“I am rooted to the earth,” replied he, in the most sorrowful voice that ever was heard. “The fear of your majesty's displeasure hath fixed me to the ground. I have no power to move. How much would those wretched traitors rejoice who, to get me into disgrace, envying me your majesty's good opinion, that I prize as Jason did his Medea, and which, as she taught him to tame the brazen footed bulls, and cast asleep the watchful dragon that guarded the golden fleece, hath inspired me to like honourable and famous deeds,-to witness the very piteous straight to which I am reduced by the effect of their contemptible trick to slander the most excellent, chaste, and beauteous princess that ever did adorn this sublunary world.”
“Dost think'twas a trick ?” enquired she earnestly.
“How could it be else, please your majesty ?” replied Sir Walter, albeit he knew all the time, having, from a better sense of hearing, heard more than the queen, that the conversation alluded to his amour with Mistress Elizabeth Throckmorton, though he could not distinguish to whom the voices belonged; but seeing that her majesty had fancied that it was in allusion to her, was resolved to take advantage of that mistake, “Is not your majesty well known, with