Page images

Essex; who becoming wanton from his late successe, though after moderated by some lesse happy, he grew into such heats and insolences towards any his jealousy had marked for enemies, that the queene, to keep even the scales betweene him and those of the Cecilian party, not only forbore to pamper him with new favours, but did not seldome frowne upon him ; though he had yet so true a friend of her affection, that, upon the least semblance of submission, and promise of returne to a better temper, it did mediate for him: Love, like a bone, becoming more strong by breaches ; he being certaine, upon every reconciliation, to receive from her double the value of that her anger had cost him ; till these frequent repetitions of his faults and her forgivenesse had swelled him into such a confidence of his owne mediation, that he looked upon all as enemies, that in their words or actions acknowledged not his friendship, or, which was very ordinary in respect of his profuse liberality, did not weare some badge of his


[merged small][ocr errors]

favour. And amongst a number of these, Sir Francis Bacon was one, who, in an apology he printed to vindicate his fame from the imputation of ingratitude to Essex, confesseth him farre richer in obligations then payments ; the fate of all that set too high a value upon friends purchased by any other coyne, then what beares the impresse of an interest depending upon a future hope ; it being the policy of courtiers, if not the nature of love, to conclude where it begins, which is for the most part in expectation. Now, because the generality of such as desired his ruine might think that the favour his mistress shewed him proceeded from a nearer familiarity then I have been informed it did, by such as reported her apter both in her selfe and others to kindle the flames of love, then quench them, they placed Blunt,' a gallant gentleman, and of an ho

* Sir Charles Blunt, successively Lord Mountjoy and Earl of Devonshire, was, according to Morrison,“ of a brown hair, a sweet face, a most neat composure, and tall in his person," qualities which soon recommended

nourable extraction, in the ball of her hoping by his application to draw from her heart the affection they thought mortall to them and their designes : but the whole result concluding in a duell, did rather inflame then abate the former account she made of him ; the opinion of a champion being more splendid (in the weak and romantick sense of women, that admit of nothing fit to be made the object of a quarrell but themselves,) and farre, above that of a captaine or generall : So, as Sir Edinund Cary, brother to the Lord Hunsden, then chamberlaine, and near kinsman to the queene (from whose mouth I have most of this,) told me, that though she chid them both, nothing pleased her better then a conceit she had, that her beauty (of which her fatterers had bred in her a higher esteeme then an impartiall eare or eye can think due from others report or her owne pictures) was the subject of this quarrell; when, God knowes, it grew from the stock of honour, of which then they were very tender, and some meane expressions Essex used of Blunt, about his being employed in Ireland, and not her amorous caresses, which age,


him to the notice of the virgin queen. Having distinguished himself by his address at a tilting, the queen sent him a golden chess, richly enamelled, which he wore en cavalier, in the presence-chamber, attached to his arm with a crimson ribband. Essex taking offence at this ostentation, said openly, “ I see every fool must have a favour;" words which occasioned the duel mentioned in the text. They fought near Mary-bone, and Essex was wounded in the thigh, and disarmed. When the queen learned the incident, she swore by God's death, it was time some one should take Essex down, or there would be no rule with him. The two combatants became intimate friends; and as the better star of Mountjoy had predominated in the duel, he was afterwards equally successful in the enterprise against Tyronè, in which Essex lost reputation, and became obnoxious to that persecution which occasioned his insurrection and death. See FRAGMENTA REGALIA, under the articles Essex and MOUNTJOY.

and in a manner an universall distribution of them had by this time rendered tedious, if not loathsome; intimated in a modest expression, uttered in my hearing by Sir Walter Rawley, none of her least respected servants, who, upon some discourse of the Duke of Buckingham, said to this

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

purpose, Tbat minions were not so happy aš vulgar judgments thought them, being frequently commanded to uncomely, and sometimes unnaturall imployments."

8. But his enemies finding all complaints made to his disadvantage, though true, neglected, or hung upon the file amongst such as she resolved at her better 'leasure to inquire into the proofes of, and reniaining as

obstinate in a resolution to destroy him as | she did yet appeare in his preservation ; did indeavour, as a last refuge, to actuate his destruction, by accumulating upon him such high favours and honours as they observed most sutable to his humour, and fortunes of the sword-men, through whose counsells they found him the most easy to be led, and amongst whom many were placed neere his person by themselves; and

? Osborne seems to strain this passage in extending its meaning to the favourites of Elizabeth. Raleigh obviously spoke of the minions of James, and enough occurs in these volumes to vindicate the meaning which it conveys.

« PreviousContinue »