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business, but the dangers are over, and yet she always keeps a sword by her table. I obtained a short audience, at my first coming to court, when her highness told me, 'If ill counsel had brought me so far, she wished Heaven might mar the fortune which she had mended.' I made my peace on this point, and will not leave my poor castle of Kelstone, for fear of finding a worse elsewhere, as others have done. So disordered is all order, that her highness hath worn but one change of raiment for many days, and swears much at those that cause her griefs in such wise, to the no small discomfiture of all about her, more especially our sweet lady Arundel, that Venus pus quam venusta."1
On Sunday morning, February 8th, Essex had collected three hundred of his deluded partisans at his house, and had formed the plan of proceeding to Paul's Cross, in Cheapside, thinking to induce the lord mayor, sheriffs, and, in fact, the crowds of citizens and 'prentices who would attend the preaching there, to join his muster, and assist him in forcing his way to the presence of the queen. There was a traitor among his confidants-sir Ferdinando Gorges, who betrayed all his projects to Cecil. The lord mayor and his brethren received orders to keep the people within their own dwellings, and not to attend the preaching. The palace was fortified and doubly guarded, and every prudential measure taken to preserve the peace. About ten in the morning, the lord-chancellor Egerton, the lord chief justice, and some other officers of the crown, applied for admittance at Essex House. After a long parley they were admitted through a wicket. They demanded of Essex, in the name of the queen, the meaning of the tumultuous gathering of persons who were around him in the court, and commanded his followers to lay down their arms. Essex began to complain of his wrongs; and Southampton said "that his life had been attempted in the
1 Nugæ Antiquæ, vol. i. p. 317. This letter, though classed by the learned editor of Harrington, for October, 1601, certainly can allude to no other period than that of the Essex insurrection, and not as supposed to the state of Ireland. Harrington's allusions to his unlucky knighthood, and, saying “he would not leave his poor castle of Kelstone, for fear of finding a worse elsewhere, as others had done," bears reference to the imprisonment of Essex's partisans. The queen's angry insinuation, that ill counsel had brought him up to court, all points to his friendship with Essex, and proves the letter could have been written at no other period.
Strand by lord Grey, of Wilton, who had cut off his page's hand." The lords replied, "that Grey had been imprisoned; and if Essex had had wrong, the queen would redress his injuries." "You lose time," shouted the mob to Essex. "Away with them! They betray you. Kill them! Keep them in custody. Throw the great seal out of window." Essex actually impounded the chancellor and his company in his house, while he sallied forth into the streets like a madman, at the head of his equally frantic party, armed only with rapiers, and some few with pistols, and, dashing down Fleet Street, raised the cry, "England is sold to Spain by Cecil and Raleigh! They will give the crown to the Infanta. Citizens of London, arm for England and the queen!" "
All, however, was quiet; the streets were deserted, and he vainly waved his sword and continued to cry, "For the queen! for the queen!" He endeavoured to obtain arms and ammunition at the shop of an armorer, but was denied. The streets were barricadoed with chains and carts; but, on Ludgate Hill, he drew his sword, and ordered a charge, which his stepfather Blount executed, and, with his own hand, slew a man who had been formerly suborned by Leicester to assassinate him. Essex was shot through the hat: his followers began to desert. He had been proclaimed a traitor, in one quarter of the city by Garter King at Arms and Thomas Lord Burleigh; in another, by the earl of Cumberland. Desperate, but unsubdued, he forced his way across St. Paul's to Queenhithe, where he took boat, and, strange to say, succeeded in getting back to Essex House. The queen was at dinner when the noise of the tumult brought the news, that Essex was endeavouring to raise the city; nay, that he had succeeded; but she was no more disturbed than if she had been told there was a fray in Fleet Street. Her attendants were struck with consternation, not knowing whom to trust; and Elizabeth alone had the courage to propose going to oppose the insurgents, saying, "that not one of them would dare to meet a single glance of her eye. They would flee at the very notice of her approach." This was more consistent with the energy of her temper, than the tale, that she finished her dinner as calmly as if nothing had happened.
Lingard's note. Winwood.
When Essex returned to his house, he found his prisoners, whom he thought, at the worst, to keep as hostages for his own life, had all been liberated by the perfidious Gorges, who had taken them by water to the palace; and now all that remained to him was to defend his house, which was invested on every side. But when he beheld the great artillery and the queen's forces round about his house, being sore vexed with the tears and incessant shrieks of the ladies, he, after several parleys, from the leads of his mansion, with the assailing force below, surrendered his sword to the lord-admiral about ten o'clock at night, on promise of civil treatment for himself and his friends. The other lords and gentlemen who had adhered to his evil fortunes followed his example. That night they were lodged in Lambeth Palace; for the night was dark, and there was not sufficient water to shoot London Bridge. The next day they were taken by water to the Tower.
On the 12th, a soldier of fortune, named Thomas Lee, was reported to have said, "that if the friends of Essex meant to preserve his life, they should enter the queen's presence in a body, and petition for his pardon, and refuse to depart till it was granted." The same evening Lee was discovered, by the pursuivants, in the crowd, at the door of the presencechamber, during the queen's supper, and was arrested. In the morning he was indicted on a charge of intending to murder the queen, and was condemned, and suffered the death of a traitor.2
Essex and Southampton were arraigned, on the 19th, before the commissioners appointed for their trial. Even if the majority of the commissioners had not been the sworn foes of Essex, he must have been found guilty by the laws of the land, for he had committed overt acts of treason, which nothing but madness could excuse. The crown lawyers who pleaded against him were, Yelverton, who compared him to Catiline and a crocodile, and Coke, who added to the catalogue of his crimes the incompatible charges of atheism and popery, although Essex was a declared puritan, and told him that he who aspired to the kingdom of Robert the First should, of his earldom, be Robert the last ;" and when Essex asked him, "if he really believed any violence was intended to the queen ?" artfully replied, "You would have
1 Camden and contemporary document in Nichols.
treated her as Henry of Lancaster did Richard II.—gone to her as suppliants, and then robbed her of her crown and life." This was a base appeal to Elizabeth's absurd weakness touching Hayward's history of Henry IV. The worst pang for Essex was to see his former friend, Bacon, rise to refute his defence, and to extol the characters of Cecil, Raleigh, and Cobham. Essex bade him remember "that it was himself who had composed the eloquent letters which he had been advised to write to her majesty exposing their faults." The details of this interesting trial are, however, too diffuse for the limits of this work. Essex was, of course, condemned to death: when the sentence was pronounced, he said, "I am not a whit dismayed to receive this doom. Death is welcome to me as life. Let my poor quarters, which have done her majesty true service in divers parts of the world, be sacrificed and disposed of at her pleasure.'
This arraignment began about nine o'clock in the morning, and continued till six at night. "There was a world of people waiting to see the event. The news was suddenly divulged in London; whereat, many forsook their suppers, and ran hastily into the street to see the earl of Essex, as he returned to the Tower, with the edge of the axe carried towards him. He went a swift pace, bending his face towards the earth, and would not look upon any of them, though some spake directly to him."" His execution was appointed to take place on the 25th, Ash-Wednesday. Elizabeth signed the warrant; and it has been said that the tremor of her hand, from agitation, is discernible in that fatal autograph; but the fac-simile of the signature contradicts the fond tradition; for it is firmly written, and as elaborately flourished, as if she thought more of the beauty of her penmanship, than of the awful act, of giving effect to the sentence, that doomed the mangling axe of the executioner, to lay the head of her familiar friend and kinsman in the dust.3
The romantic story of the ring, which, it is said, the queen had given to Essex, in a moment of fondness as a pledge of her affection, with an intimation, "that if ever he forfeited her favour, if he sent it back to her, the sight
1 State Trials. Camden. * Contemporary tract in Nichols. 3 The fac-simile of this signature is engraved in Park's edition of Horace Walpole's Catalogue of Noble and Royal Authors, from the original in the Stafford Collection.
of it would ensure her forgiveness," must not be lightly rejected. It is not only related by Osborne, who is considered a fair authority for other things, and quoted by historians of all parties, but it is a family tradition of the Careys, who were the persons most likely to be in the secret, as they were the relations and friends of all the parties concerned, and enjoyed the confidence of queen Elizabeth. The following is the version given by lady Elizabeth Spelman, a descendant of that house, to the editor of her great-uncle Robert Carey's memoirs :
"When Essex lay under sentence of death, he determined to try the virtue of the ring, by sending it to the queen, and claiming the benefit of her promise; but knowing he was surrounded by the creatures of those who were bent on taking his life, he was fearful of trusting it to any of his attendants. At length, looking out of his window, he saw early one morning a boy, whose countenance pleased him, and him he induced by a bribe to carry the ring, which he threw down to him from above, to the lady Scroope, his cousin, who had taken so friendly interest in his fate. The boy, by mistake, carried it to the countess of Nottingham, the cruel sister of the fair and gentle Scroope, and as both these ladies were of the royal bed-chamber, the mistake might easily occur. The countess carried the ring to her husband, the lord-admiral, who was the deadly foe of Essex, and told him the message, but he bade her suppress both." The queen, unconscious of the accident, waited in the painful suspense of an angry lover for the expected token to arrive; but not receiving it, she concluded, that he was too proud to make this last appeal to her tenderness, and after having once revoked the warrant, she ordered the execution to proceed. It was not till the axe had absolutely fallen, that the world could believe that Elizabeth would take the life of Essex. Raleigh incurred the deepest odium for his share in bringing his noble rival to the block. He had witnessed his execution from the armory in the Tower, and soon after was found in the presence of the queen, who, as if nothing of painful import had occurred, was that morning amusing herself with playing on the virginals.
When the news was officially announced that the tragedy was over, there was a dead silence in the privy-chamber, but the queen continued to play, and the earl of Oxford,