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nobleman for his marriage; he had treated with Tyrone when she had ordered him to fight; and he had exercised a privilege of making knights, which, though in strict accordance with the laws of chivalry, she wished to be confined exclusively to the sword of the sovereign. She wrote stern and reproachful letters to him. He presumed to justify himself for all he had done and all he had left undone, and demanded reinforcements of men and munitions of war, for his forces were reduced by desertion, sickness, and the contingencies of war. The queen was infuriated, and was, of course, encouraged by her ministers to refuse everything. Unable to cope with Tyrone, from the inefficiency of his forces, he was glad to meet on amicable grounds in a private interview, where many civilities were exchanged, and he promised to convey the conditions required by the chief to the queen. Though those conditions were no more than justice and sound policy ought to have induced the sovereign to grant, Elizabeth regarded it as treason, on the part of Essex, even to listen to them, and she expressed herself in that spirit to her unfortunate viceroy. The fiery and impetuous earl was infuriated, in his turn, at the reports that were conveyed to him, of the practices against him in the English cabinet. He was accused of aiming at making himself king of Ireland, with the assistance of Tyrone; nay, even of aspiring to the crown of England, and that he was plotting to bring over a wild Irish army to dethrone the queen. Elizabeth's health suffered in consequence of the ferment in which her spirits were kept, and the agonizing conflict of her mind between love and hatred. She removed to her fairy palace of Nonsuch for a change of air; and hearing, soon after, that a rumour of her death had got into circulation, she was somewhat troubled, and would often murmur to herself, "Mortua sed non sepulta,"-" dead, but not buried.""
Elizabeth suffered from needless anxiety at this period: the new king of Spain, Philip III. had, indeed, sent a formidable expedition to sea, with the declared purpose of attempting a descent on some part of her dominions. Ireland was the weak point, which the disaffection, produced
'Camden. Birch. Lingard.
Sidney Papers, vol. ii. p. 114.
by misgovernment, rendered vulnerable, and it was artfully insinuated to her majesty, that Essex was a traitor at heart; but with such an admiral, as the earl of Nottingham, she had no cause to fear the Spanish fleet, and the treasons of Essex, existed only in the malignant representations of sir Robert Cecil, Raleigh, and Cobham. She wrote, however, in so bitter a style to Essex, that he fancied her letters were composed by Raleigh. He perceived that his ruin was determined by the powerful junta of foes, who guided the council, and had poisoned the royal ear against him.
In an evil hour, he determined to return and plead his own cause, to his royal mistress, in the fond idea, that her own tenderness would second his personal eloquence. At first, he is said to have resolved to bring a body of troops with him for the security of his own person; but from this unlawful purpose, he was dissuaded by sir Christopher Blount, his mother's husband, and his more prudent advisers. On the 28th of September, he arrived in London, and learning that the queen was at Nonsuch, he hastily crossed the ferry at Lambeth, attended by only six persons, and seized for his own use the horses of some gentlemen, which were waiting there for their masters. He learned from one of his friends, that his great enemy lord Grey, of Wilton, was on the road before him, and that he was posting to Cecil, to announce his arrival. It was this adverse circumstance which precipitated the fate of Essex, who, urged by the natural impetuosity of his character, spurred on, through mud and míre, at headlong speed, in the vain hope of overtaking his foe, that he might be the first to bring the news of his return to court. Grey had the start of him, and being probably better mounted, won the fierce race, and had already been closeted a full quarter of an hour with Cecil, when Essex arrived at the palace.
It was then about ten o'clock in the morning, and the rash Essex, without pausing for a moment's consideration, rushed into the privy-chamber to seek the queen; not finding her there, he determined at all hazards to obtain an interview before his enemies should have barred his access to her presence, and all breathless, disordered, and travel-stained, as he was, his very face being covered with spots of mud, he burst unannounced into her bed-chamber, flung himself on his knees before her, and covered her hands with kisses. The
queen, who was newly risen, and in the hands of her tirewomen, with her hair about her face, and least of all dreaming of seeing him, was taken by surprise, and moved by his passionate deportment, and his caresses, gave him a kinder reception than he had anticipated; for when he retired from the royal penetralia to make his toilet, he was very cheerful, and, "thanked God, that after so many troublous storms abroad, he had found a sweet calm at home."
The wonder of the court gossips was less excited at the unauthorized return of the lord-deputy of Ireland, than that he should have ventured to present himself before the fastidious queen in such a state of disarray. All were watching the progress of this acted romance in breathless excitement, and when the queen granted a second interview, within the hour, to the adventurous earl, after he had changed his dress, the general opinion was, that love would prevail over every other feeling in the bosom of their royal mistress. The time-serving worldlings then ventured to pay their court to him, and he discoursed pleasantly with all but the Cecil party.
In the evening, when he sought the queen's presence again, he found her countenance changed; she spoke to him sternly, and ordered him to answer to her council, who were prepared to investigate his conduct, and in the meantime, bade him confine himself to his apartment. The following day, at two o'clock in the afternoon, the earl was summoned to go through his first ordeal. When he entered, the lords of the council rose, and saluted him, but reseated themselves while he remained standing, bare-headed at the end of the board, to answer to the charges that were exhibited against him by Mr. Secretary Cecil, who was seated at the other end,-to wit "his disobedienceto her majesty's instructions in regard to Ireland-his presumptuous letters written to her while there-his making so many idle knights -his contemptuous disregard of his duty in returning without leave and last, (not least,) his over-bold going to her majesty's presence in her bed-chamber."" This was, indeed, an offence not likely to be forgiven by a royal coquette of sixty-eight, who, though painfully conscious of the ravages of time, was ambitious of maintaining a reputation for
1 Sidney Papers. Camden. Birch.
perennial beauty, and had been surprised by him, whom, in spite of all his offences, she still regarded with fond, but resentful passion-at her private morning toilet, undighted and uncoifed, in the most mortifying state of disarray, with her thin grey locks, dishevelled and hanging about her haggard countenance, ere she had time to deliberate in which of her eighty wigs, of various hues, it would please her to receive the homage of her deceitful courtiers that day.
That incident certainly sealed the fate of the luckless Essex, though the intrigues of his enemies, and his own defective temper, combined, with many other circumstances, to prepare the way for his fall. After the lords of the council had communicated their report to the queen, she sent word "that she would pause and consider his answers." He continued under confinement while his enemies dined merrily together. On the following Monday, he was committed to the lord-keeper's charge, at York-house, and the queen removed to Richmond. She openly manifested great displeasure against Essex, and when the old lady Walsingham made humble suit to her, that she would please to give him leave to write to his lady, who had just given birth to an infant, in this season of fear and trembling, and was much troubled that she neither saw nor heard from him; her majesty would not grant this request, so much was her heart hardened against him.
"His very servants," says Rowland Whyte, "are affrayed to meet in any place, to make merry, lest it might be ill taken. At the court, my lady Scroope is alone noticed to stand firm to him; she endures much at her majesty's hands, because she doth daily do all the kind offices of love to the queen, in his behalf. She wears all black; she mourns, and is pensive, and joys in nothing, but in a solitary being alone, and 'tis thought she says much that few but herself would venture to say."
Elizabeth did not confine her anger to Essex; her godson, Harrington, whom she had sent out to be a spy on him, instead of fulfilling her wishes, in that respect, had lived on terms of the most affectionate confidence with the luckless lord-deputy; had gone with him to confer with Tyrone; had presented a copy of his translation of Ariosto to the youthful heir of that valiant rebel chief; had re
1 Sidney Papers.
ceived knighthood from the sword of the lord-deputy, and finally attended him on his unauthorized return to England. The first time Harrington entered her majesty's presence, after his return, she frowned, and said, "What did the fool bring you, too? Go back to your business." His description of her demeanour, in a letter to another friend, reminds one of that of an angry lioness, "such, indeed, as left no doubt," he slily observes, "whose daughter she was. She chafed much," says he, "walked fastly to and fro, looked, with discomposure in her visage, and, I remember, she catched my girdle, when I kneeled to her, and swore, By God's Son, I am no queen!—that man is above me! Who gave him command to come here so soon? I did send him on other business.' It was long before more gracious discourse did fall to my hearing, but I was then put out of my trouble, and bid go home. I did not stay to be bidden twice. If all the Irish rebels had been at my heels, I should not have made better speed, for I did now flee from one whom I both loved and feared."
"I came to court," writes he, to another friend, "in the very heat and height of all displeasures. After I had been there but an hour, I was threatened with the Fleet. I answered poetically,' that coming so late from the land-service, I hoped I should not be pressed to serve her majesty's fleet in Fleet-street." After three days, every man wondered to see me at liberty, but though, in conscience, there was neither rhyme nor reason to punish me for going to see Tyrone, yet if my rhyme had not been better liked than my reason, when I gave the young lord Dungannon an Ariosto, I think I had lain by the heels for it. But I had this good fortune, that after four or five days the queen had talked of me, and twice talked to me, though very briefly. At last she gave me a full and very gracious audience, in the withdrawing-chamber, at Whitehall, where, herself being accuser, judge, and witness, I was cleared, and graciously dismissed. What should I say? I seemed to myself like St. Paul, rapt up to the third heaven, where he heard words not to be uttered by men, for neither must I utter what I then heard. Until I come to heaven, I shall never come before a statelier judge again, nor one that can temper
1 This witticism affords proof, that the custom of manning the navy, by the means of impressment, was the custom in the reign of Elizabeth.