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on them but an heire of her body; which yet had not been wanting, according to report, but supplied by a cushion ; but that the generosity of the Spaniard, and the perswasion of a better successe from your imbraces, (which his hopes flattered him with,) did for the present make him to detest it: the cause it was after voyced to be a false conception.” All which I have heard often, and read some where, though the author hath escaped my memory: nor could Lecester' render his bed vacant to a more
* It was generally believed, that Leicester caused his · first wife, Anne Robart, to be murdered, thinking that
she stood betwixt him and the chance of marrying Queen Elizabeth. She died at Conmore, or CumnorHall, in Berkshire, 8th September, 1560, of a fall, as was said, over a staircase. But the author of that virulent satíre, entitled, “ Leicester's Commonwealth," , takes the following view of the subject : ' .
“For, first, his lordship hath a speciall fortune, that, when he desireth any woman's favour, then what person soever standeth in his way, hath the luck to die quickly for the finishing of his desire. As for example, when his lordship was in full hope to marry her majesty, and his own wife stood in his light, as he supposed, he did but sènd her aside to the house of his servant, Forster
thriving end, (as he is rumor’d to have done,) than to make soome for the greatest and
of Cumnor, by Oxford, where, shortly after, she bad the chance to fall from a paire of staires, and so to break her neck; but yet without hurling of her hood that stood upon her head. But Sir Richard Varney, who, by commandment, remained with her that day alone, with one man only, and had sept away, per force, all her servants from her lo a market, two miles off; he, (I say,) with his man, can tell how she died : which man, being taken afterward for a fellony, in the marches of Wales, and offering to publish the manner of the said murder, was made away privily in the prison : and Sir Richard himself dying about the same time in London, cried pitiously, and blasphemed God: and said to a gentleman of worship of mine acquaintance, not long before his death, that all the devils in hell did teare him in pieces. The wife also of the Bald Butler, kinsman to my lord, gave out the whole fact a little before her death. But to return unto my purpose, this was my lord's good fortune to have his wife dye at that time when it was like to turne most to his profit.”
The fate of this unfortunate lady is often alluded to in the plays and satires of the time. The author of the. Yorkshire Tragedy, imputed to Shakespeare, thus hints at it:
The surest way to charm a woman's tongue,
At her funeral sermon, preached at Oxford, Leicester's chaplain, meaning to say, “This poor lady, so pitiful-) ly killed," stumbled on the unhappy phrase, “ so piti
most fortunate princes the sun ever looked upon, without blushing, in relation to oppression or blood : This may be allowed upon the score of probability, that his lordship would hardly have been so rampant and uncivill, without some extraordinary invitation, as to draw a blow in her presence from an other privy-counsellor, more zealous possibly than discreet, to whom, when the queen sayd, he had forfeited his hand; his reply was, he hoped she would suspend that judgment, till the traytor had lost his head, who did better deserve it: But this accident, bordering so neere the confines of her honor, did admit no farther debate; it being no other than she in a lesse sprightfull humor might have given him her selfe, none being more flexible to all kind of jollities than the mindes of princes when unbent from publique affaires. Now, whether these amorosities were naturall, or meerely poeticall and personated, I leave to conjecture, that may ever find imployment in the actions of kings. This I am sure of, these gaudy gleams of favour shone not long upon any single person, but were soone eclipsed upon the apparition of a fresh sparke. And here to conclude any farther discourse of Lecester, he was a man of eminency for person, but branded by his enemies (of which he had not a few) for a defect in wisdom or integrity during his aboad in the Netherlands, where with no good successe he executed the place of the queens
fully murdered,” which made a strange impression on the hearers.
The fate of Leicester's first wife is the theme of a beautiful ballad, entitled, “ Cumnor Hall,” probably written by Julius Mickle. It is published in' Evans Collection of Old Ballads.
20. This princess used never 'to precipi
??" He was sent governor by the queene (says Naun. ton) to the revolted states of Holland, where we reade not of his wonders ; for they say, he had more of Mercury than he had of Mars, and that his devise might have beene, without prejudice to the great Cæsar, Ve. ni, vidi, redivi." Sir Robert Carey, who went to serve under him as a volunteer, only observes how ill a brave war assorted with a poor-spirited commander..
tate a retaliation in reference to forraine injuries : by which her enemies had leasure given them to consider of a reparation, no lesse than her selfe of revenge in case of contumacy, and time to put her strength in the better array; manifest throughout her whole expedition into Scotland, where, though she had fomented such a party of the nobility of that nation as were able to receive and secure a force of her own, which upon their intercession she sent, yet was it without commission to fight or take notice of the crowne of France, from whom the Scotch queen was immediately assisted, but only against the house of Guise, that were meerely instrumentall in behalfe of their sister Mary. Contrary to the most ordinary practice of our lesse advised monarches, who, to gratify the clainor of a few imbargoed merchants, and to vindicate an honor capable of diminution, but from a totall neglect, or visible incapacity of being ever able to right it selfe, doe, like inconsiderate bees, in a rash and passionate distemper,