Sir Walter Raleich




“When the sobbing sea is squally,Then,—look out for Walter Raleigh!He’s the fellow whom Queen Bess is said to love.He’s a reckless, handsome sailor,With a ‘Vandyke’ like a tailor,He can coo fond words of loving like a dove.Faith! I like this gallant rover,Who has ploughed the wild seas over,Who has passed the grim and wild equator’s ring.And I cheer, whene’er I view him,For—my Boy—off Spain I knew himWhen he trimmed the Spanish cruisers, like a King.”

—Chant of the Plymouth Dock-Hand.

BOYS! You have all heard about the Square Deal. Well—Here is the story of a man who didn’t get one.

Walter Raleigh was a brave man; he was an able seafarer; his younger manhood was spent in the midst of the most brilliant Royal Court which England has known. He proved his courage and military prowess in more than one bitterly contested battle-field and naval conflict. His love of his own land and his hatred of his enemies was ardent.

He was also a fellow of wit, and, as an author, took rank with the great literary lights of the Elizabethan [Pg 56] Age. He was an adventurer, and, in middle life, as well as in old age, braved the great deep and perils of savage lands in the magnificent attempt to make discoveries and to settle English colonies in the New World. Chivalrous in actions and feeling; of handsome person; graceful manners and courtly address; it is no wonder that he had a host of enemies: those fellows who couldn’t do anything worth while themselves, and wanted to “pull the other fellow down.” There are plenty of them around, to-day, doing the same thing in the same, old way.

As an Englishman he loved England to such an extent, that—upon the return from one of his numerous voyages—he dropped upon one knee and kissed the sand.

“My men,” said he to his followers, “I love this land as nothing else on earth!”

The hostility of his rivals subjected him to harsh ill treatment. It did not dampen his love for England.

The silly caprices of Queen Elizabeth, who—like most women—was swayed, not by her reason, but by her sentiments, made him suffer imprisonment. Yet, it did not dampen his love for England.

The terrible and bitter dislike of King James—who succeeded the Virgin Queen—finally led to his trial for treason; his execution; and his death.

Yet, it did not dampen his love for England.

If England can produce men of such a mold, nowadays, she will continue to be a mighty world power.

Do you think that you could be as patriotic as Sir [Pg 57] Walter Raleigh? Particularly if you were treated as he was treated? Think it over!


One day, the ancient palace of Greenwich, which stood on the banks of the Thames—a few miles below London—presented a lively and brilliant scene. Courtiers, arrayed in gorgeous colors and glittering ornaments, walked about, chattering gaily,—like a flock of sparrows. Fine, young cavaliers were there, attired in rich velvets, sparkling with gems, armed with gold-hilted swords. Grave statesmen wandered around,—with beards as white as their ruffles. Stately dames, with heavy and gaily trimmed trains, peered at the beautiful belles, and said:

“My, isn’t she a fright!” or

“Goodness, what dreadful manners the Duchess so-and-so has!”

Just as they do to-day. Times do not change.

Trumpets blared a fan-fa-rade and lines of soldiers gave forth inspiriting sounds, with many musical instruments. There was a stir and flutter in the crowd; and some one called out:

“She’s coming! Hats off to the Queen!”

So all the men took off their hats,—for they were courtiers, and it was their business to do so, whenever Her Royal Highness came around. Many of them didn’t like to do it but if they hadn’t done so, some spy would have cried out “Treason!” And they would have been hustled off to the Tower. You just bet they took off their hats!

Descending the broad flight of steps, with proud [Pg 58] and majestic mien, the tall and slender figure of Elizabeth—the maiden Queen of England—was seen approaching.

She was then in the mature ripeness of middle age, but she still preserved not a few remnants of the beauty of her youth. Her form was straight and well proportioned. Her large, blue eyes were yet bright and expressive; her complexion was still wonderfully fair and smooth. Her well arranged hair was luxuriant and was of a light red. A large, fan-like collar of richest lace rose from her slender neck, above her head behind; and her tresses were combed high from her forehead. Jewels blazed from her dress. Her attire was far more splendid than that of any of the ladies of her court.

As it happened, a heavy shower had just passed over, and little puddles of water stood all around upon the gravelled paths. Bursting through the fast-vanishing clouds, the sun cast its rays upon the trees still dripping with glittering drops; and upon the smiling Queen, who—surrounded by a gay group of courtiers—set forth upon a promenade through the park. She chatted affably with all. They tried to make themselves as agreeable as possible, for he who was most agreeable received the best plums from the Royal Tree. Politics haven’t changed any since that day.

The Queen walked on, playing with a beautiful, white greyhound, and, pretty soon she came to a muddy spot in the path.

“Zounds!” said she (or it may have been something stronger, for historians say that she could “swear [Pg 59] valiantly”). “Zounds! Now I will spoil my pretty shoes!”

“And also your pretty feet,” interjected a courtier. He received a smile for this compliment and the Queen mentally made a note of it,—for future use in the distribution of Court Favors.

She hesitated, looked around aimlessly, and stood still.

At this instant a young noble—six feet tall and elegantly attired—stepped forward; and, throwing aside his richly embroidered cloak, spread it over the muddy pool.

“Prithee, pass onward!” said he, bowing low.

Elizabeth was delighted.

“Good Walter Raleigh,” said she, smiling. “You are truly a gallant knight!” And she tripped gaily across the embroidered mantlet. “I will reward you right well for this!”

But the courtiers, the Ladies, and the Statesmen glanced with undisguised envy at the young gallant who had so readily pleased their Mistress; and they scowled at him as Elizabeth kept him at her side during the rest of her promenade. “The Beggar’s outdone us all!” said one. “Down with him!”

But they could not down Sir Walter just then. After awhile they had “their innings.”

Rough, vain, whimsical Queen Bess was fond of handsome, and especially of witty and eloquent young men. She grew more attached to Sir Walter Raleigh every day. He rapidly rose in power and influence, and, as a poet, became well known. His verses were [Pg 60] read in the luxurious halls of the palace with exclamations of delight, while the tales of his military exploits were eagerly repeated from mouth to mouth; for Raleigh had fought valiantly in France and had helped to suppress an insurrection in Ireland.

And still the jealous courtiers murmured among themselves.

Raleigh was appointed “Warden of the Stanneries,” or mines, in Cornwall and Devonshire, from which he derived, each year, a large income. He was made Captain of the Queen’s Guard. He was created Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall and Vice-Admiral of Devon. He received vast estates in Ireland and many privileges and licenses, so that he was fast becoming a rich man. He was splendid and extravagant in his dress. He grew arrogant. He had, in fact, “too much Ego in his Cosmos.”

So, the jealous courtiers continued to murmur among themselves.

Elizabeth was fickle as well as sentimental. Her fancy passed lightly from one gallant to another. For some time Leicester (who had once been her sole favorite, and who desired to regain his position) had been growing jealous of Raleigh’s ascendency; and he had been delighted to see that Queen Bess had taken a violent fancy to the impetuous Earl of Essex. A quarrel took place between Raleigh and the Ruler of England. He was affronted before the whole court and retired to his chambers, overwhelmed with grief.


And all the jealous courtiers punched each other [Pg 61] beneath the ribs, and laughed “Ha! Ha! Ha! What did we tell you?”

It took the “Ego” out of Raleigh’s “Cosmos.”

But the gallant courtier had a half-brother—Sir Humphrey Gilbert—who had just returned from a voyage around the world in the good ship Golden Hind.

“Let’s fit out a small fleet,” said he to Raleigh, “and establish an English colony in Newfoundland.”

“I’m with you,” cried Sir Walter. “We’ll found another England in far distant America! On with it!”

Thus, an expedition of five ships sailed from Plymouth, in the early summer of 1583. Sir Humphrey boarded the Squirrel, and bade his kinsman an affectionate adieu.

“You must remain behind,” said he, “and regain our position at court!”

“That I will endeavor to do,” answered Raleigh. “Good luck and God speed.”

The expedition was a failure from the start. Scarcely had the shallops gone to sea, than one of them—the Raleigh—deserted its companions and put back. The rest reached Newfoundland, but the men were lawless and insubordinate.

“This is the Deuce of a cold place for a colony,” they said. “Home to Merrie England!”

Gilbert was forced to yield to their angry demands, and re-embarked.

“Don’t sail in that rattle-trap of a Squirrel,” said his officers to him. “She’ll founder!”

[Pg 62] But Sir Humphrey had that obstinacy which characterized General Braddock.

“No: I will not forsake the little company, going homeward,” said he. “I’ll stick to my ship.”

He stuck—and—when they hailed him one stormy night, he said:

“Be of good cheer, my friends: we are as near to Heaven by sea as by land!”

That night the Squirrel was sailing a little in advance of the other ships, and, as those on board the Golden Hind watched the frail barque, they saw her lurch, heave, and then sink from view. Thus the soul of brave Raleigh’s kinsman found a watery grave. He had paid for his obstinacy with his life.

Raleigh was overwhelmed with grief when he learned of the death of his heroic half-brother.

“I’ll yet found my Colony,” said he. “And I’ll go myself.”

This pleased the jealous courtiers more than ever, for they would now have him out of the way for all time.

With his ample wealth, the indefatigable adventurer found no difficulty in fitting out an expedition, and, in the year after the death of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, he sent forth two vessels to explore the coast of the Carolinas.

“I’m going to stay at home and face my enemies!” said the gay blade. “Again good luck and God Speed!”

They had a fortunate voyage, and, when they returned, the Captains told of the beautiful harbors, fine rivers, magnificent forests and abundance of game. [Pg 63] The Queen was delighted, and at once named the fair country for herself, with characteristic egotism. That men might know that this fruitful land was explored in the time of the Virgin Queen, it was called “Virginia.” Raleigh was wild with delight.

And the jealous courtiers looked dejected and sad.

A fleet of seven vessels—with one hundred colonists—was now sent to Virginia, under the command of one Grenville, who was eager to become suddenly rich: a disease as common now as in those venturous days. No sooner had the people landed, than they began to treat the savages with such harshness and rapacity—that they had to gain their own food, as the natives would have nothing to do with them. Dissensions tore the little community into shreds. So they were only too glad to return with the gallant old sea-dog, Sir Francis Drake, when he happened that way, with a large amount of booty which he had just taken from the Spaniards in the southern seas.

Another expedition was sent over by Raleigh; and yet another. They were failures. But there was one, single thing which was not a failure. This was the discovery of a herb called “Yppowoc,” or tobacco, the leaves of which—when dried—were smoked by the natives in long pipes.

Curious Sir Walter had a jeweller in London make him a silver pipe, after the fashion of those used by the native Virginians. In this he began to smoke the tobacco, and soon grew to like it very much; so much, indeed, that he was scarcely ever without this comforter, when enjoying the quiet of his home.

[Pg 64] One day he was sitting cosily by his fire with his Long Nine in his mouth, and the smoke was curling gracefully over his head. Just as he was puffing out a particularly thick cloud, one of his servants happened to enter the room with a tankard of ale, for the luncheon table.

“Ye Gods!” cried he. “My Master’s on fire!”


Over Sir Walter’s head went the ale, and the frightened lackey dashed down the steps.

“H-e-l-p! H-e-l-p!” cried he. “My Master is burning up! H-e-l-p!”

But Sir Walter did not burn up this time. Instead he near split his gallant sides with laughing.

Now, Boys, don’t smile! ’Tis said that good old Queen Bess tried, herself, to smoke a Long Nine. But—hush—“she became so dizzy and ill from the effects that she never ventured upon the experiment again!” (Keep this quiet! Very quiet! Will you!)

On one occasion she was watching Sir Walter blowing circles of smoke over his head, and said to him—

“Zounds! (or something stronger) Sir Walter! You are a witty man; but I will wager that you cannot tell me the weight of the smoke which comes from your pipe!”

“I can, indeed,” was the confident reply of the gallant courtier. “Watch me closely!”

At once he took as much tobacco as would fill his pipe and exactly weighed it. Having then smoked it up, he—in like manner—weighed the ashes.

[Pg 65] “Now, Your Majesty,” said he, smiling. “The difference between these two weights is the weight of the smoke.”

And again Queen Bess remarked “Zounds!” (or Eftsoons!). At any rate, she paid the wager, for—with all her frailties—she was a Good Loser.

Raleigh, in fact, shortly became reinstated in Royal favor, and, when he aided Drake and Hawkins—soon afterwards—in dispersing the Invincible Armada, he was again in the good graces of his sovereign.

There was, however, a pretty, young Maid-of-Honor at court, called Elizabeth Throgmorton, and no sooner had the bright eyes of Sir Walter fallen upon her, than he fell in love. In paying court to this amiable lady he was compelled to use great caution and secrecy, for jealous Queen Bess watched him narrowly, and with suspicion. In spite of her preference for Essex, Elizabeth was quite unwilling that Raleigh—her less favored lover—should transfer his affections to another. So, in making love to Elizabeth Throgmorton, the gay courtier was compelled to use the utmost care.

But Murder (or Love) will out!

It chanced one day, that the Queen discovered what was going on between her Maid-of-Honor and the cavalier. Her rage knew no bounds. She berated Raleigh before her ladies, and forbade him to come to court. She fiercely commanded the Maid-of-Honor to remain a prisoner in her room, and, on no account to see Raleigh again. So the venturous Knight turned his attention once more to wild roving upon the sea.

[Pg 66] Now the jealous courtiers fairly chuckled with glee. “Ha! Ha! Ha!” laughed they. “Ho! Ho! Ho! He! He! He!”

But Sir Walter engaged very actively in fitting out some squadrons to attack the Spanish ships.

“Egad! I hate a Spaniard!” he said. “They are my country’s special enemies and I intend to do them all the harm that I can!”

The Queen was glad enough to separate him from his lady love and not only consented to his project, but promised to aid him in it. Ere long fifteen vessels were anchored in the Thames—all ready to sail—but, before he set out, the gallant commander made up his mind that he would marry his beloved Maid-of-Honor. It was not difficult to find a clergyman who would splice him tighter than he ever spliced a rope aboard ship. The deed was done. He set sail. All was going propitiously.

“I’ll attack the Spanish ships in the harbor of Seville,” said Raleigh. “Then—off to the Spanish Main and sack the town of Panama.” He laughed,—but what was that?

Rapidly approaching from the coast of England came a swift pinnace. It gained upon the squadron in spite of the fact that all sail was hoisted, and, at last came near enough to give Raleigh a signal to “Heave to.” In a few moments her commander climbed aboard.

“The Queen has changed her mind about your expedition,” said he. “She has sent me—Sir Martin Frobisher—to tell you to come home.”

[Pg 67] Raleigh said things which made the air as blue as the sea, but he put back—for he could not disobey the Royal command. He was soon at court.

The Queen was furious with anger.

“You have disobeyed my commands,” said she. “I find you have secretly married my Maid-of-Honor. To the Tower with you! To the dungeons of the Tower!”

And all the jealous courtiers were so happy that they danced a can-can in the ante chamber.

What do you think of this? Thrown into prison because he loved a Maid and married her! Nowadays “all the World loves a Lover.” In those times all the world might have “loved a Lover” except Queen Bess,—and a number of courtiers hanging around within easy call: They kicked a Lover. And then they all got together and said:

“Fine! Fine! Now we’ve got him where he ought to be. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ho! Ho! Ho!”

But women relent; that is one of their chief characteristics. Queen Bess softened, grew lukewarm, finally became molten.

“Sir Walter Raleigh can go free,” said she.

The gallant courtier returned to his country estate, where—with his wife and children he enjoyed the luxuries and comforts of country life. And the jealous courtiers began to look strangely sober.

Still the sea called. The sea sang its old song, and, fired with the spirit of adventure, Sir Walter decided upon another expedition: this time to the coast of Guiana, in South America, where, it was said, “billets [Pg 68] of gold lay about in heaps, as if they were logs of wood marked out to burn.” With a large fleet at his command he soon started upon this expedition for plunder and for fame. This time no Sir Martin Frobisher sailed after him to bring him back to a dungeon in the Tower and he was able to reach his destination.

The expedition was a howling success. Whenever and wherever Sir Walter could inflict injury on the Spaniards, whom he so bitterly detested, he did so with eagerness. A Spanish ship was soon seen, chased, and—after a brief, hot fight—surrendered and was boarded.

“Egad!” cried Raleigh. “Here’s luck, for the cargo’s of fire arms. I’ll stow them away in my own vessel and let the captive go!”

Proceeding on his voyage, he not long afterwards encountered and captured another prize; a Flemish ship sailing homeward with a cargo of fine wine. Twenty hogsheads were transferred to the hold of Raleigh’s ship and the captured craft was allowed to sail on,—empty.

Things continued to go well. The Island of Trinidad (off Venezuela) was reached at last. The natives were friendly and told of vast deposits of gold far up the river Orinoco. “But would Raleigh not please besiege the Spanish town of St. Joseph?” said they, “and rescue some of their chiefs whom the Spaniards held prisoners—in chains.”

“I always strike a Spaniard when I can,” said Raleigh. “On, men, we’ll sack this proud city!”

St. Joseph speedily fell into his hands. The chiefs [Pg 69] were released. They were so gratified, that they paddled him far up the river, where they found glittering gold, which they tore out of rocks with their daggers. The Englishmen were delighted, and, collecting a mass of nuggets to show to those at home, they put back to the ships, set sail, and were soon in England again.

The people were astonished at this exploit, but the jealous courtiers did all they could to deprive Raleigh of the renown which was justly his due.

“What this fellow has told is a lie,” whispered they into the ears of good Queen Bess. “There is no such place as Guiana. Raleigh has been down upon the coast of Spain and hidden himself. He has not crossed the Atlantic at all.”

Which proves that no one can ever do anything adventurous without stirring up the hammers of the Envious: the Little Men. Is it not so to-day? Look around! You can hear the carping critic at any time that you may wish! Do something big, sometime. Then put your ear to the ground and listen!

But the sea called for the fifth time. A vast English fleet was hurled against the Spanish at Cadiz,—a great English fleet, accompanied by an army. England was bound to get even with the Spaniards for daring to launch the supposedly invincible Armada against them—and Sir Walter eagerly sailed for the coast of Spain.

The harbor of Cadiz was seen to be fairly jammed full of stately galleons and men-of-war. Arranged in compact rows, close to shore, just below the towering [Pg 70] and frowning castle of Cadiz; they were protected, on either side, by fortresses, whence heavy guns peeped forth to defend them. There were nearly sixty large vessels in all, four of which were galleons, and twenty of which were galleys: well-manned and well-armed with small cannon. There were many more ships than in the attacking fleet.

It was the evening of June the 20th, 1596. The British vessels rapidly sailed into the harbor, Raleigh leading, in the flagship, the Water Sprite; behind him the Mary Rose, commanded by his cousin, Sir George Carew; and the Rainbow under Sir Francis Vere. All were eager for the fray, and it was not long before their approach was observed by the Spanish fleet. Instantly a huge galleon, the Saint Philip—the largest in the Spanish Navy—swung out of her position, followed by the Saint Andrew, second only to her in size.

“They’re coming to meet me!” cried Raleigh—joyously.

Instead of that, the galleons sailed for a narrow strait in the harbor—followed by the rest of the Spanish fleet—and cast anchor just under the stout fortress of Puntal. They arranged themselves in close array and awaited the attack of the English.

The English fleet anchored, but at daybreak, the impetuous Raleigh bore down upon the formidable mass of hulking galleons. The sun rays streamed over the old, Spanish town, gilding the pinnaces and spires of the churches, shining brightly upon the flapping pennons of Britisher and Don. The white sails flapped, spars creaked and groaned, the sailors cheered, [Pg 71] and—in a moment—the cannon began to bark, like wolf hounds. The fight had begun.

Raleigh was the incarnation of battle. Passing rapidly from point to point upon the deck of his vessel, he encouraged and urged on his men, exposed himself as freely as the rest; and whenever a man faltered, there he appeared to urge the faint heart on with words of inspiration and hope.

Roar! Roar! Roar! Zoom! Zoom! Crash!

The arquebusses spittled and spat; cannon growled; and iron crashed into solid oak planking.

The orders were not to board until the fly-boats (long, flat-bottomed vessels with high sterns) came up, which were manned by Dutch allies. For three hours the battle raged, but the fly-boats did not arrive. The Earl of Essex—the commander of this expedition—now ordered his flagship to pass through the advance line of vessels, and make the way to the front. Raleigh was chafing with rage because the fly-boats did not come, yet, in spite of the danger of being shot, he jumped into a light skiff, and was rowed over to the galleon of Essex.

“I’ll board the Saint Philip,” cried he, “if the fly-boats do not soon arrive. Even though it be against the orders of the Admiral. For it is the same loss to burn, or to sink, and I must soon endure one or the other.”

“Go ahead!” yelled Essex, over the bow. “I’ll second you, upon my honor!”

Raleigh hastened with all speed to the deck of the Water Sprite, where his men were pounding away at [Pg 72] the Spanish galleons with all their might and main. No sooner had he mounted the poop, than he saw, with anger, that two vessels of his own squadron had forced themselves into a position in front of his own; for their commanders wanted to win first honors in this battle at sea.

Raleigh, himself, wished to have the honor, just like other sea captains in later battles. But,—that’s another story.

So, the gallant seaman ran the Water Sprite between the two other ships and took up his position as leader. Sir Francis Vere of the Rainbow was resolved to keep in front as well as Raleigh.

As the Water Sprite passed him he slyly cast a rope to a sailor, who tied it to her stern, and his own vessel thus kept abreast of the lumbering galley of his chief. “But,” writes Sir Walter, “some of my company advising me thereof, I caused the rope to be cast off, and so Vere fell back in his place, where I guarded him—all but his very prow—from the sight of the enemy. I was very sure that none would outstart me again for that day.”

The guns of the fort appeared to be silent and the big galleons lay apparently helpless in the face of the valiant enemy. Raleigh moved on, but, as he was about to clutch his splendid prize, it escaped him, for the Spaniards—finding that they would be captured—made haste to run the Saint Philip, and several of her sister ships, aground on the sand.

“Blow them up!” came the order.

The Spanish sailors and soldiers came tumbling out [Pg 73] of the ships into the sea in heaps—“as thick as if coals had been poured out of a sack into many pots at once.” Then a terrific roar boomed forth. The air was filled with flying splinters, canvas, iron, and lead. The portions of the galleons were now floating upon the waves and the water was alive with the struggling bodies of the Spaniards as they desperately endeavored to save themselves.

The spectacle was lamentable. Many drowned themselves. Many, half burned, leaped into the water; while others hung by the ropes’ ends; by the ships’ sides; under the sea, even to their lips. “If any man had a desire to see Hell, itself,” wrote Sir Walter, “it was there most lively figured!”

Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

The English sailors were cheering, for victory was theirs, and of all the gallant warriors of that day, Raleigh had been the most persistently daring and heroic.

“The Saint Andrew’s still afloat, good Sire!” cried one of his sailors at this moment.

“Then we’ll take her!” cried Raleigh.

She was boarded and captured with little difficulty, while yet another galleon—the Saint Matthew—fell into his hands. These were the only vessels of all that proud Spanish fleet which had escaped the flames.

Raleigh, himself, had been severely wounded in the leg, but he refused to release the command of his ship. He gave orders that all lives should be spared, and although these mandates were rigidly obeyed by the English soldiers, the Dutch cruelly slaughtered many [Pg 74] of their hapless prisoners, for their hatred of the Spaniards was bitter and savage.

Cadiz had not yet fallen and Raleigh was determined to go on shore with the troops and witness the taking of the town, in spite of his wound. A litter was prepared for him—he was lowered into one of the boats—rowed ashore, carried upon the shoulders of some of his faithful soldiers, and witnessed the furious struggle which now ensued. Cadiz fell. Although the lives of the people were spared; the castle, fortifications and the greater part of the town itself, were burned and demolished. If you go there, to-day, you will still find the marks of this great and stirring strife.

There was nothing left but to put the Spanish prisoners aboard the galleons, collect the plunder, and set sail for England. When the fleet again swung into the little harbor of Plymouth it was received by the people with wildest enthusiasm and delight. All England rang with the praise of the valor and courage of her heroes, for Spain had been stripped of her ability to injure her English rival and England’s power was supreme upon the sea. Raleigh and his comrades had done this,—and the descendants of Raleigh and his comrades have continued to uphold the supremacy. Hurrah for Raleigh!

But how about those jealous courtiers? They were still around—Oh, yes!—And Raleigh was greeted at court as coldly as when he had departed with the fleet. He had been deprived of his office of Captain of the Queen’s Guard, and even his bravery at Cadiz did not win this back for him. Nor did he receive any [Pg 75] of the spoil which had been won by himself and his comrades. Even Queen Bess was angry because her share of the booty taken from Cadiz was not as great as she had hoped for.

“What the Generals have got,” wrote Sir Walter, “I know least. For my own part, I have got a game leg, and am deformed. I have received many good words and exceedingly kind and regardful usage; but I have possession of naught but poverty and pain.”

Not long afterwards the old Queen was persuaded to write Sir Walter to come to court, and thus he and his wife, whom Elizabeth had also forgiven, appeared daily in the brilliant throng which clustered in the halls and corridors of the Royal Palace. He was restored to his old office of Captain of the Queen’s Guard and rode forth again in all the splendor of his uniform, at the side of the sovereign.

The rest of Sir Walter’s life can be briefly narrated. With Essex he took part in a successful expedition to the Azores, where they captured many ships, and with him divided much booty and fame. But Essex became too ambitious and started a conspiracy to place himself upon the throne of England. It was a failure. He was captured by the Queen’s soldiers—a part under Sir Walter himself—was tried, and executed for High Treason.

Queen Bess soon died and was succeeded by a man who disliked Sir Walter from the start. This was James the First of Scotland—a “dour” fellow—who charged the valorous knight with treason, for it was alleged that he had conspired, with Lord Cobham, [Pg 76] to place the youthful Arabella Stuart upon the throne. He was tried, convicted, and thrown into the Tower, where he lived for twelve long, tedious years. Think of it! A fellow of his venturesome and restless spirit forced to remain in a dungeon-keep for such a time! Weep for brave Sir Walter! This was fine treatment for a patriot!

But the jealous courtiers did not weep. Oh no! They laughed.

When gallant Sir Walter was thrown into the Tower (for he had not plotted against the King) he was a hale and stalwart cavalier of fifty-two. He was released—after twelve years—when his hair and beard were grizzled, his face worn and wrinkled, his body somewhat bent, and his features grave and sorrowful. With what tearful joy he clasped to his breast his ever faithful wife and his two sons! At sixty-four his brave spirit was still unshaken; his ardent and restless ambition was as keen as ever.

He went forth with the sentence of death still hanging over his head; for King James, although giving a grudging consent to his release, had refused to pardon him. And he went forth with the understanding that he should lead an expedition to the coast of Guiana in South America; there to attack the Spaniards and gain plunder, gold, and jewels. If successful he was to go free. If non-successful, he was to suffer punishment—perhaps death!

The expedition was a failure. The Spaniards and natives were well aware of his coming, for ’tis said that King James, himself, sent them news of the expedition.

[Pg 77] “If I go home it’s off with my head,” said Sir Walter. “But I’ll risk it.”

Don’t you think if you had been Sir Walter, instead of sailing to England where you knew that a headsman’s axe awaited you, you would have coasted by the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and dropped off quietly where is the home of the canvas-back and the terrapin! Just stepped into one of the jolly-boats and peacefully drifted ashore on a dark night?

I think that you would have been strongly inclined to do so,—but you are not Sir Walter Raleigh. He was a lion-hearted adventurer.

Opportunity after opportunity came to him to escape to the shores of France. He let them go by, but, when he found that his enemies demanded his trial for treason, he thought it high time to get away. He learned that a French envoy had arranged to get him to France and had a barque for this purpose. A certain Captain King had found a small boat commanded by one of Sir Walter’s old boatmen, which lay at Tilbury awaiting his orders. It was arranged by Raleigh’s guard—one Stukeley—that he should be rowed to the little lugger on the evening of Sunday, August the 9th, 1618. The latter was sent up the Thames river to Gravesend.

At the hour designated, Raleigh, Captain King, Stukeley and his son Hart, with a page, jumped into two small wherries in order to row to the lugger. They had just shoved off, when keen Sir Walter saw another boat push out from the bank and follow them.

“How’s this?” said he to Stukeley.

[Pg 78] But silent Stukeley did not answer.

The boat rowed fast, but the pursuing craft moved with equal speed. The tide was singing and gurgling in a mad flow, and it became doubtful whether the wherries could reach Gravesend under the protection of darkness, for day was breaking, and the whirling water made progress very slow.

At last—seeing that they could not get away—the shallops were forced to turn about and retrace their passage. The pursuing boat swung, also—like a shadow of the first. Sir Walter’s heart beat tumultuously.

When the fugitives reached Greenwich—Stukeley stood up and appeared in his true colors. Laying a hand upon the shoulder of faithful Captain King, he cried—

“I arrest you in the name of our Monarch, James First!”

Raleigh looked around in anger and dismay.

“Stukeley,” he said with heat, “you are a trait’rous cur. These actions will not turn out to your credit!”

But the knave laughed derisively,—so derisively that the common people dubbed him “Sir Judas Stukeley.” And it well suited him. Didn’t it?

The boatmen rowed directly to the Tower and the boat which had pursued the wherries—which contained a courtier named Herbert (to whom Stukeley had betrayed the projected escape)—followed them close. The soldiers in her (for they had been well hidden) escorted the dejected Sir Walter to the grim walls of the dungeon.

[Pg 79] There was now no hope for that gallant adventurer: the man had brought honor and renown to England. He was tried for Treason: condemned: executed.

As he stood waiting for the axe to fall, he said:

“I have many sins for which to beseech God’s pardon. For a long time my course was a course of vanity. I have been a seafaring man, a soldier, and a courtier; and, in the temptations of the least of these there is enough to overthrow a good mind and a good man. I die in the faith professed by the Church of England. I hope to be saved, and to have my sins washed away by the precious blood and merits of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.”

A quick shudder ran through the multitude when Sir Walter had ceased to live, and many groaned aloud at the horrible sight. One stout yeoman cried out angrily, “We have not had such another head to be cut off.”

The crowd separated slowly, muttering and crying out against the enemies of the valiant man; while his friends, who were present, parted with tears coursing down their cheeks.

And the jealous courtiers said: “Magnificent!” It was now their turn to shout. And they did it, too.


So, you see, Sir Walter Raleigh’s patriotism was paid for by death. The trouble with him was, he was too much of a man.

Nowadays—when a soldier or sailor does something for England—they give him a Hip! Hip! Hurray!

[Pg 80] He is appreciated. He is presented with titles, honors, and a warm reception.

Then, when a man did something for England, those in power gave him the cold shoulder; the icy stare.

That’s the reason why England’s sons will do something for her now. If she had kept treating them as she did Sir Walter Raleigh she wouldn’t have many of them around when it came to a fight. And, some day, she’ll need them all!

So when a fellow does something really great, don’t greet him with frozen silence. Cheer! He needs it! Besides,—it won’t hurt you!

Give a tiger and three times three!



Say, sailors, what’s happened to young Bill Jones?Jones of Yarmouth; the bright-cheeked boy?Jones who could handle a boat like a man,Jones, who would grapple a smack like a toy?

“Fell o’er the sea-end with Raleigh. Ahoy!”

Well, sea-dogs, where’s Thompson of Yarmouthport dock?The chap who could outwit old Hawkins, they say,The man with th’ knowledge of charts and of reefs,There wasn’t his equal from Prawle to Torquay.

“Fell o’er the sea-end with Raleigh, to-day!”

Where’s Rixey of Hampton; Smith of Rexhill?Who’d coasted and traded from London to Ryde,Huggins and Muggins, all seamen of worth,Who could jibe and could sail, sir, when combers were wide?

“Fell o’er the sea-end with Raleigh. Last tide!”

[Pg 81] Well, seamen, when that day shall come near,When the salt sea is moved from its bed,Some will there be, who can give us the news,Of all that brave band, whom Adventure has ledTo

“Fall o’er the sea-end with Raleigh, ’tis said

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