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6 Rememberest thou those lines of Virgil,” asked her majesty, “ beginning
Fortunate senex ! hic inter flumina nota
Et fontes sacros ?” “ How could I fail, please your majesty,” replied Sir Walter, “ seeing that they form one of the sweetest pieces of pastoral ever written by that truly famous poet, who hath for his epitaph
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.”
6 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."
66 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
εν τε βαθειαις
"Εν τε νεοτμάτοισι γεγαθότες oιναρέοισι. and so goeth on at considerable length." " I remember me," replied Sir Walter," where
66 the poet describeth the luxurious indolence of reclining on the soft branches of the vine and the Jentisk, 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 wellappointed 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 judgmentacknowledge me to be the properest man amongst them for seamnanship, 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 Spaniards—and 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 mea