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all the superlative accomplishments of the nine inmortal daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne, lo unite with them the exquisite truth and modesty of the goddess Veritas and the Vestals--and how could those villanous traducers, whoever they be, give utterance to so notorious a calumny, unless it were, that I should reap disadvantage thereby; but relying on your majesty's noble qualities and proper sense of what is due to your own dignity, I feel convinced, that the paltry trick will be regarded with the contempt it doth deserve-only awailing your majesty's pardon, without which I am naught, to release me from this right painful and unhappy posture.”
“Rise, Sir Walter Raleigh-thy pardon is granted thee, and there is our hand upon it,” said the queen, in her most gracious manner giving him her hand, the which he did again press to his lips, but in a style more respectful than before, “We'll think no more of these paltry tricksters—but will shew them how little we can be affected by their villanous yet most contemptible slanders." Then did she very kindly raise him from the ground, and return to the withdrawing room conversing with him all the way. on matters relating to his projected voyage in a way, the friendliness whereof, he had rarely experienced.
Ambition is a vulture vile
That feedeth on the heart of pride,
And finds no rest when all is tried;
Against bad tongues goodness cannot defend her
Sir JOHN HARRINCTON.
“My Lord of Essex, you may account me your true friend in this business,” said a dwarfish and ill favoured person soberly clad, to a handsome and gorgeously dressed gallant-having remarkable dark eyes, and a rich glossy beard very full at the bottom-as they sat over against each other in a chamber hung round with abundance of ancient armour.
“I think I may, Sir Robert Cecil,” replied he, addressed as the Earl of Essex, looking moodily all the time, as is there was something that mightily vexed him. “She hath quarrelled with me at primero, only because I did drop something that to her appeared to call in question her skill with the cards; and she hath spoke to me never a
word since. 'Sblood l one had need be a beggar's dog as put up with such humours.”
“Nay, but the queen is a most bounteous mistress," observed the other in a tone of apology; "and though at times she be easily displeased, yet is she quickly moved to make amends if undeserved disadvantage come of it.”
“But she is too prone to such capriciousness, and I'll stomach it no longer;" exclaimed his companion, his brilliant eyes flashing very haughtily as he kept playing with the jewelled pommel of his dagger. “What I shall it be said that the Lord Essex is fit for nothing better than to play the pet falcon with, to be whistled to, and driven off, as it suiteth a woman's idle fantasies ?”
“Fie on you, my lord !" cried Gecil, with an exceeding grave countenance. “I would not the queen should hear of this for as much as your earldom.”
“Let her-I care not;" said the Lord Essex sharply.
“Now, look you there, was ever obstinate man so bent on his own destruction ?” exclaimed the other. “But I will do you a service as far as my poor ability goeth; for sure am I, that you have no friend so earnest to advance your interests as Robert Cecil, if you will only look upon him as such.”
“I thank you, heartily,” replied his companion; but in no way relaxing the frown that had settled on his brows.
“Nay, I seek no thanks,” rejoined Sir Robert “for, inasmuch a my honoured father hath been your guardian—to say naught of the noble qualities I do behold in you-have I ever felt disposed to do you a service. Believe me, I would do good for the good's sake. Now, my lord, in this matter, he advised by me; for though seek I in no way to push forth my judgment before one that is so ripe as your own, yet, as your lordship is somewhat apt to get heated at these things, being touched by them more nearly than another, I, having more coolness, which is the greatest help to reflection, may be considered better qualified to form an unbiassed opinion; therefore, I do beseech you, in all true friendship, be advised of me.”
“What counsel you, Sir Robert Cecil ?” enquired his lordship.
“Mark you Sir Walter Raleigh ?” asked the other. : “What hath he to do with it?" said my Lord Essex, very proudly.
“Truly he is a noble gentleman,” replied his companion ; " he is one that hath many commendable parts, being in outward shew right manly to look upon; the which he doth put to great advantage, by apparelling himself very daintily. Indeed, though I be no judge of these things, I have heard it said by others, that for the fashioning of a doublet, he hath not his peer. For mine own part, I envy him not such an accomplishment, thinking that it more becometh a tailor than a gentleman. Nevertheless he is doubtless to be praised for it, seeing that it sheweth his great anxiety to please her majesty, who, it is well known to him, taketh exceeding delight in beholding such braveries; the which he continually turneth to his profit. But he hath other gifts that do the more recommend him to the queen's favour; he hath held himself valiantly in the wars, and hath the reputation of the most experienced soldier in the queen's service;
though I for one do think there be his betters not far off. Then-s0 it be said, though I know not how true it be,--his knowledge of seamanship is inferior to none; which hath not only enabled him to exhibit his valour against the enemy with great effect; but hath given him marvellous facilities in the discovery of strange lands. Besides which, they that take upon themselves to know this phænix, do give out that he is a very Solomon for wisdom, and is wonderfully quick at penning a stanza."
"And what hath all this to do with the matter ?” haughtily enquired my Lord Essex, who, though he could not help admiring the character of Sir Walter Raleigh, liked not to hear of his praises so conspicuously.
“Much more, my good lord, than it doth appear to you,” replied Cecil, in a tone, and with a manner of great meaning. "Mark me! I do not blame this valiant gentleman for wishing to make the most of his qualifications, for it is natural for a man to advance his fortunes as well as he can; but if he, standing upon the opinion some have of him, which in all honesty seemeth to me strangely over-rated, seek to gain the first place at court, and poison the queen's ear against the absent”
At this moment my Lord of Essex, who had exhibited signs of great impatience during the speech of his companion-with his handsome countenance hugely disturbed-leaped suddenly upon his feet, and exclaimed,
“By God's wrath, if he hath slandered me, I'll make him rue it."
“ Nav, I said not that, my good lord,” observed the crafty Cecil, with a shew of sincerity. “ Indeed, far be it from me to give you so ill an opinion of one who, beyond all dispute, hath signalized himself very honourably; but your absence doth throw great temptation in his way.-I pray you be seated, my lord :--and there are some men-such is the perversity of human nature-who think it no discredit to them to build their rise by working at the fall of their betters.--I would you would not stand, my lord:-not that I think Sir Walter Raleigh is of such kind, but being the captain of the guard, in constant attendance on the queen, where he hath many opportunities to drop hints to your disadvantage, which in charity Í do not think he would :-I would say, perhaps he night, as the only way of dispossessing you of that high seat in the queen's grace you so worthily fill, be induced to increase her majesty's displeasure against you as much as lay in his power. But be seated, I pray you, my lord.”
"If he attempt it, were he twenty Sir Walter Raleighs, he should have his deserts,” said the proud noble, evidently much disturbed by what he had heard; then, smiling contemptuously, added, "but he dare not,” and quickly resumed his seat.
" There are we of the same opinion,” observed Cecil, who, with an upmoved countenance, had all the time kept a careful scrutiny of the features of his companion. “When I consider that he is nothing better than a simple knight, whilst you, my good lord, are known to be connected with the powerfulest families in the kingdom, and even stand in some relationship with the queen's majesty, I do conceive that he hath more wit than to attempt such a mad scheme as the driving you away from the court, that he might supply your place; nevertheless, speaking from the love I bear you, I do advise that you keep with the queen as much as may be possible; thereby shall you hinder all foolish speculations of the kind, that may be built upon your absence, and notice for yourself whether this Sir Walter Raleigh be inclined to push himself forward at your expense, as some say; though for mine own part, I do not think of his disposition so badly, having, in all my intercourse with him, found him to be a gentleman of very excellent integrity. Allow me also to hope, that what my zeal for you hath emboldened me to say, you will not take in ill part, assuring you that, of all men living, is there not one I hold in so much respect as yourself.”
“ I am greatly beholden to you, and will think of your advice,” replied my Lord Essex, rising, with considerable assumption of dignity, from his chair, as he began putting on his embroidered gloves,“ but where is my Lord Burghley ?”
“My father hath not long returned from the council,” said his companion: “ he is greatly fatigued, and hath gone to rest, desiring not to be disturbed. I pray you, my good lord, excuse seeing him to
“ In truth I have no particular business with him,” said his lordship, carelessly, as he arranged a costly silk cloak he wore upon his shoulder;“ commend me to him, Sir Robert, and, ifit be not displeasing to you, I will see you again on this matter at a fitting hour."
“ I shall feel proud of the honour you will do me, my good lord,” replied Cecil, as with much shew of respect he followed his visitor out of the door, when he had put on his hat, which was of a high crown, with a precious jewel in the front; and made the serving men, some of whom were straggling about the hall, hasten to open the gates, where he kept bowing to my Lord Essex very courteously, who received his salutations with a haughty inclination of the head, before he moved away from Exeter House, to cross to the river where he had left his barge; and then the other came back, seemingly in a very thoughtful mood, to the armoury, and fastened himself in.
He had sat himself down therein scarcely a minute, when he was aware of a gentle tapping at the wainscot; which as soon as he heard, a smile of peculiar meaning passed over his grave features, and going directly to a place where hung a suit of Saracen mail, he did presently open a concealed door, and there entered thereat Lord Henry Howard.
“ Hast any news ?” asked Sir Robert, eagerly.
“ From the Scottish king, eh, my good lord?” said the other, in a whisper.
“ No, i' faith—it hath not travelled so far: 'tis English news;news of our incomparable captain of the guard.”
“Ha! what doth he seem inclined to take the bait, and quarrel with Essex ?” enquired the other.
“ I doubt it much,” responded his companion; “ I moved him a little, but not sufficient to ground any such hopes upon."
" Tis enough,” exclaimed Cecil, “ each is jealous of the other, and very small things will suffice to increase their mutualill will. I have had Essex here, and have just succeeded in stirring up his ancient animosity against Raleigh, and I will take good heed it shall not go out for want of fuel. See you my object ?”
“ To ruin both in good time, I hope,” said Lord Howard.
“True;—but more immediately to play one against the other, that we may take advantage of their disunion; for were they strict friends, they would be too strong for us; or were either to be allowed to proceed in his course without molestation of a rival, he would soon have too firm a seat for us to shake him out. We will set them by the ears. and I doubt not we shall find our profit in it. But what news have you of Raleigh ?”.
“What think you of a dainty intrigue now with one of the maids of honour?”
“No!” cried the other, incredulously.
“ Just ripe for a discovery—a private marriage about to take place, to hide the unwelcome consequences.”
" To whom—where is she-what is her name?” hastily enquired Cecil, shewing by the earnest expression of his countenance, the interest he took in the intelligence.
“ She is no other than the right modest daughter of old Sir Nicholas Throckmorton.”
“ The fool's ruined,” exclaimed Sir Robert;“ but how know you this ? how can it be proved ? ”
" I was informed of it by my Lady Howard of Walden,” said the other. " Her ladyship, as it seemeth to me, having been slighted by this Raleigh, I know not why, for truly she is rather a dainty piece of goods to look upon;-and suspecting from certain observations she had made, that he was the welcome lover of the virtuous Elizabeth, impelled by jealousy, did conceal herself in Mistress Throckmorton's chamber, and heard the whole of the precious secret-and now her indignant ladyship is burning to tell it to the queen.”
“ She must be stopped awhile--she will spoil all else,” cried his companion, eagerly. “This is a delicate ailair, my good lord, and requireth very careful handling, or else mischief will come of it.”.
“I thought it of consequence, and bade her stay the discovery till I had seen you on the subject, which she hath promised me. But the best of the jest is, whilst we were in earnest conversation on this very matter, along one of the walks in the park, the queen, who was on the other side of the fence near which we stood, without our knowledge of it, overheard us, as I suppose; for we presently recognised her voice very loud, calling upon Sir Walter Raleigh to arrest us; the which put us both in such a fright, that each of us did suddenly run for it as if our lives depended on our speed of foot. Never ran I half so fast in all my days; and as for my fair cousin-by this light, there never was such a racer. It would have done your heart good to have seen us, like two Spanish galeasses, cutting before the wind with all sai), to get out of the reach of an English frigate. Thanks to the