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seems still to smile upon us, to do gentle kindnesses, to succor with sweet charity, to soothe, caress, and forgive, to plead with the fortunate for the unhappy and the poor.
THE LIFE OF SIR WALTER RALEGH
[From the Dictionary of National Biography.]
RALEGH, SIR WALTER (1552?-1618), military and naval commander and author, was born about 1552 at Hayes or Hayes Barton, near Budleigh Salterton, South Devonshire (for description of birthplace see Trans. of Devonshire Association, xxi. 312-20). His father, Walter Ralegh (1496?-1581), a country gentleman, was originally settled at Fardell, near Plymouth, where he owned property at his death; he removed about 1520 to Hayes, where he leased an estate, and spent the last years of his long life at Exeter. He narrowly escaped death in the western rebellion of 1549, was church-warden of East Budleigh in 1561, and is perhaps the 'Walter Rawley' who represented Wareham in the parliament of 1558. He was buried in the church of St. Mary Major, Exeter, on 23 Feb. 1580–1. He married thrice: first, about 1518, Joan, daughter of John Drake of Exmouth, and probably first cousin of Sir Francis Drake; secondly, a daughter of Darrell of London; and, thirdly, after 1548, Katharine, daughter of Sir Philip Champernowne of Modbury, and widow of Otho Gilbert (d. 18 Feb. 1547) of Compton, near Dartmouth.
By his first wife the elder Ralegh had two sons: George, who is said to have furnished a ship to meet the Spanish armada in 1588, and was buried at Withycombe Ralegh on 12 March 1596-7, leaving issue believed to be illegitimate; and John, who succeeded to the family property at Fardell, and died at a great age in 1629. Mary, the only child of the second marriage, was wife of Hugh Snedale. By his third wife, Katharine (d. 1594), whose will, dated II May 1594, is in the probate registry at Exeter, the elder Ralegh had, together with a daughter Margaret and Walter, the subject of this notice,
SIR CAREW RALEGH (1550?-1625?), Sir Walter's elder brother of the whole blood. Carew engaged in 1578 in the expedition of his half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert [q. v.],1 and figured with Sir Walter and his two elder half-brothers, George and John, on the list of sea-captains drawn up in consequence of rumours of a Spanish invasion in January 1585-6. He sat in parliament as member for Wiltshire in 1586, for Ludgershall in 1589, for Downton both in 1603–4 and in 1621, and he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1601 at Basing House. For some time he was gentleman of the horse to John Thynne of Longleat, and on Thynne's death he married his widow, Dorothy, daughter of Sir William Wroughton of Broad Heighton, Wiltshire. On his marriage he sold his property in Devonshire, and settled at Downton House, near Salisbury. Until 1625 he was lieutenant of the Isle of Portland (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1608-25). Aubrey says of him that he had a delicate clear voice, and played skilfully on the olpharion' (Letters, ii. 510). His second son, Walter (1586-1646), is separately noticed.
Through his father and mother, who are both credited by tradition with puritan predilections, Walter Ralegh was connected with many distinguished Devon and Cornish families — the Courtenays, Grenvilles, St. Legers, Russells, Drakes, and Gilberts. Sir Humphrey Gilbert was his mother's son by her first husband. His early boyhood seems to have been spent at Hayes, and he may have been sent to school at Budleigh; Sidmouth and Ottery St. Mary have also been suggested as scenes of his education. It was doubtless by association with the sailors on the beach at Budleigh Salterton that he imbibed the almost instinctive understanding of the sea that characterises his writings. Sir John Millais, in his picture 'The Boyhood of Ralegh,' painted at Budleigh Salterton in 1870, represents him sitting on the seashore at the foot of a sunburnt sailor, who is narrating his adventures. He certainly learnt to speak with the broadest of Devonshire accents, which he retained through life. From childhood he was, says Naunton, 'an indefatigable reader.' At the age of fourteen or fifteen he would seem to have gone to Oxford, where he was,
1 The letters q. v. (quem vide) refer to other articles in the Dictionary of National Biography.
according to Wood, in residence for three years as a member of Oriel College. His name appears in the college books in 1572, but the dates and duration of his residence are uncertain.
In 1569 Ralegh sought adventures in France as a volunteer in the Huguenot army. With it he was present in the battle of Jarnac (13 March), and again at Moncontour (Hist. of the World, v. ii. 3, 8). It has been conjectured that on 24 Aug. 1572, the day of the massacre of St. Bartholomew, he was in Paris; it is more probable that he was in the south of France, where, according to his own testimony, he saw the catholics smoked out of the caves in the Languedoc hills (ib. IV. ii. 16). It is stated authoritatively that he remained in France for upwards of five years, but nothing further is known of his experiences there (OLDYS, p. 21). In the spring of 1576 he was in London, and in a copy of congratulatory verses which he prefixed to the 'Steele Glas' of George Gascoigne [q. v.], published in April 1576, he is described as 'of the Middle Temple.' It may be supposed that he was only 'a passing lodger;' he has himself stated that he was not a law student (Works, i. 669). In December 1577 he appears to have had a residence at Islington, and been known as a hanger-on of the court (Gosse, p. 6). It is possible that in 1577 or 1578 he was in the Low Countries under Sir John Norris or Norreys [q. v.], and was present in the brilliant action of Rymenant on 1 Aug. 1578 (OLDYS, p. 25); but the statement is conjectural.
In April 1578 he was in England (Trans. of the Devonshire Association, xv. 174), and in September he was at Dartmouth, where he joined his half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert in fitting out a fleet of eleven ships for a so-called voyage of discovery. After tedious delays, only seven, three of which were very small, finally sailed on 19 Nov. That the 'voyage of discovery' was a mere pretence may be judged by the armament of the ships, which according to the standard of the age, was very heavy. Gilbert commanded the Admiral, of 250 tons; Carew, Ralegh's elder brother, commanded the Vice-Admiral; Ralegh himself the Falcon of 100 tons, with the distinguishing motto, 'Nec mortem peto, nec finem fugio' (cf. State Papers, Dom. Elizabeth, cxxvi. 46, i. 49; cf. MCDOUGALL, Voyage of the Resolute, pp. 520-6). It is probable that Gilbert went south to the Azores,
or even to the West Indies. After an indecisive engagement with some Spaniards, the expedition was back at Dartmouth in the spring of 1579 (HAKLUYT, Principal Navigations, iii. 186).
A few months later Ralegh was at the court, on terms of intimacy at once with the Earl of Leicester, and with Leicester's bitter enemy and Burghley's disreputable son-in-law, the Earl of Oxford. At Oxford's request he carried a challenge to Leicester's nephew, Sir Philip Sidney, which Sidney accepted, but Oxford refused to fight, and, it is said, proposed to have Sidney assassinated. Ralegh's refusal to assist in this wicked business bred a coldness between him and Oxford, which deepened on the latter's part into deadly hatred (ST. JOHN, i. 48). But Ralegh's temper was hot enough to involve him in like broils on his own account. In February 1579-80 he was engaged in a quarrel with Sir Thomas Perrot, and on the 7th the two were brought before the lords of the council 'for a fray made betwixt them,' and 'committed prisoners to the Fleet.' Six days later they were released on finding sureties for their keeping the peace (ib. i. 50), but on 17 March Ralegh and one Wingfield were committed to the Marshalsea for 'a fray beside the tennis-court at Westminster' (Acts of Privy Council, xi. 421).
Next June Ralegh sailed for Ireland as the captain of a company of one hundred soldiers. The friendship of Leicester, and, through Sidney, of Walsingham, brought him opportunities of personal distinction. In August he was joined in commission with Sir Warham St. Leger for the trial of James Fitzgerald, brother of the Earl of Desmond, who was sentenced and put to death as a traitor. Ralegh expressed the conviction that leniency to bloodyminded malefactors was cruelty to good and peaceable subjects (ib. i. 38). When, in November, the lord deputy, Grey, forced the Spanish and Italian adventurers, who had built and garrisoned the Fort del Oro at Smerwick, to surrender at discretion, Ralegh had no scruples about carrying out the lord deputy's order to put them to the sword, to the number of six hundred (ib. i. 40) [see GREY, ARTHUR, fourteenth LORD GREY DE WILTON]. Although the exploit has the aspect of a cold-blooded butchery, it must be remembered that the Spaniards were legally pirates, who had without valid commissions stirred up the native Irish to rebellion, and
that English adventurers in the same legal position on the Spanish main [cf. OXENHAM, JOHN], although they were free from the added imputation of inciting to rebellion, had been mercilessly slain. The only fault found by the queen was that the superior officers had been spared (Cal. State Papers, Ireland, lxxix. 13). Edmund Spenser [q. v.], who was present at Smerwick, approved of Grey's order and of Ralegh's obedience (View of the Present State of Ireland, Globe edit. p. 656), and Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador in London, ventured on no remonstrance (FROUDE, Hist. of England, Cabinet edit. x. 582-91).
During the campaign Spenser and Ralegh were necessarily brought together, but it does not appear that any intimacy then sprang up between them, and in January Ralegh was sent into garrison at Cork, where, except for an occasional journey to Dublin to confer with Grey or a dashing skirmish, he lay till the end of July. He was then appointed one of a temporary commission for the government of Munster, which established its headquarters at Lismore, and thence kept the whole province in hand. It was apparently in November that Ralegh, on his way from Lismore to Cork with eight horse and eighty foot, was attacked by a numerous body of Irish. They could not, however, stand before the disciplined strength of the English, and fled. Ralegh, hotly pursuing them with his small body of horse, got in among a crowd of the fugitives, who turned to bay, and fought fiercely, stabbing the horses with their knives. Ralegh's horse was killed, and Ralegh, entangled under the falling animal, owed delivery from imminent danger to the arrival of reinforcements. This marked the end, for the time, of Ralegh's Irish service.
In the beginning of December 1581 he was sent to England with despatches from Colonel Zouch, the new governor of Munster, and, coming to the court, then at Greenwich, happened to attract the notice and catch the fancy of the queen. There is nothing improbable in the story of his spreading his new plush cloak over a muddy road for the queen to walk on. The evidence on which it is based (FULLER, Worthies) is shadowy; but the incident is in keeping with Ralegh's quick, decided resolution, and it is certain that Ralegh sprang with a sudden bound into the royal favour.