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earnestness, he protested that his heart was free from all malice against her, and called God to witness, that in his private character he had never done any thing unbecoming an honest man, nor in his public capacity
for the satisfaction of your consciences toward God, and the discharge of your credit and reputation toward the world, as the oath of the association, which you have both so solemnly taken and vowed; especially the matter, wherewith she standeth charged, being so clearly and manifestly proved against her: and therefore she taketh it most unkindly, that men, professing that love toward her that you do, should in a kind of sort, for lack of the discharge of your duty, cast the burthen upon her; knowing as you do, her indisposition to shed blood, especially of one of that sex and quality, and so near to her in blood as the said Queen is. These respects we find do greatly trouble her Majesty, who we assure you hath sundry times protested, that if the regard of the danger of her good subjects and faithful servants did not more move her than her own peril, she would never be drawn to assent of the shedding of her blood. We thought it very meet to acquaint you with these speeches, lately passed from her Majesty, referring the same of your good judgement; and so we commit you to the protection of the Almighty.
"Your most assured friends,
At London, 1st Feb. 1586.'
Secretary Davison, in a letter of the same date, is said to have this passage: I pray you, let both this and the inclosed be committed to the fire; which measure shall be likewise met to your answer, after it hath been communicated to her Majesty for her satisfaction.'
In a letter from Mr.Secretary Davison, of the third of February, 1586, we are told there is this postscript: I entreated you in my last letters to burn both the letters sent unto you, for the arguments' sake, which by your answer to Mr. Secretary (which I have seen) appeareth not to be done. I pray you let me entreat you to make heretics both of the one and the other, as I mean to use yours after her Majesty hath seen it.' the postscript-I have done with my letters, because they are
And, in the end of
any thing unworthy of his station. He owned, indeed, that out of his great care for the personal safety of his royal mistress, and the security of her realm, he had curiously endeavoured to search and sift out all plots and designs against both.'* And he added that in this view, if Ballard, though an accomplice with Babington, had offered him his service in the discovery of the plot, he would not only have accepted it, but also have rewarded him for it.' Mary seemed to
not fit to be kept, that I may satisfy her Majesty therein, who might otherwise take offence thereat; and, if you entreat this postscript in the same kind, you shall not err a whit.'
A few animadversions upon these postscripts are necessary. Secretary Davison's capacity makes no very great figure in history: but we are sure it is quite inconsistent with Sir Francis Walsingham's known cautiousness, cunning, or call it what you please, to trust a dangerous letter out of his hands, and stand to the chance of having it burnt, or otherwise destroyed, by those to whom it was sent; when he might as effectually have conveyed his orders or directions by a written message, which should have been brought back to him by the messenger. This latter part is more consistent with his character. However, the most effectual way of determining this point is to examine the pretended original letter, and see whether it is signed by Sir Francis Walsingham's own hand, which is well known, there being so many letters of his extant in different places. It is certain, that Sir Francis was not ready to order the Queen of Scots to be clandestinely destroyed: for when the Earl of Leicester was for taking her off by poison, as above stated, Walsingham protested 'he was so far from consenting that any violence should be done to her, that he had of late crossed Morton's counsel, who advised that she should be sent back into Scotland, and put to death in the very frontiers and borders of both kingdoms.'
* The Queen of Scots' letters were all carried to him by her own servant, whom she trusted, and decyphered to him by one Philips, as they were sealed again by one Gregory; so that neither she, nor her correspondents, ever perceived either the seal defaced, or the letters delayed, to her dying day.
be satisfied with this vindication of himself, and expressed her concern, that she should have credited idle reports to his disadvantage.'
In 1587, the King of Spain having made vast preparations, which kept all Europe in suspense, as not knowing on what nation the storm would break, Walsingham employed his utmost endeavours to discover this important secret. At last, he received intelligence from Madrid, that the King had informed his council of his having despatched an express to the Supreme Pontiff, acquainting his Holiness with the true design of his preparations, and begging his blessing upon it; which design however, for some particular reasons, he could not disclose to them till the courier's return. The secret being thus traced to it's recess, Walsingham, through a Venetian priest retained at Rome as his spy, procured a copy of the original letter, which was stolen out of the Pope's cabinet. After this, by his dexterous management he caused the Spanish bills to be protested at Genoa, and thus happily retarded the menaced invasion for an entire year.
This seems to have been the last public transaction, in which he was concerned; and of his private life no interesting anecdotes have been preserved. It remains only to add, that every attempt to promote the trade and navigation of England met at his hands protection and encouragement. By him Hakluyt's voyages and discoveries in foreign parts, and Gilbert's settling of Newfoundland, were promoted; and he assisted these adventurers from his private purse. He, likewise, founded a Divinity-Lecture at Oxford, and a Library at King's College, Cambridge.
Upon his death (which happened April 6, 1590) a remarkable proof was given, how far he had pre
ferred the public to his own interest; for though, in addition to his post of Secretary of State, he held the office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, he died so poor, that his friends were obliged to bury him by night in St. Paul's Church, lest his body should be arrested for debt! The want of generosity, and even of justice, manifested by Queen Elizabeth, as deducible from this circumstance, reflects no honour upon her character.
By his lady, who was of the family of St. Barbe, he left only one daughter, who (as it has been stated in a former Memoir) was married, successively, to Sir Philip Sidney; to Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex; and to Richard Bourke, Earl of Clanrickarde in Ireland. By the first she had one daughter, married to Roger Earl of Rutland; by the second, a son and two daughters; and by the last, a son and a daughter.
His Negotiations, or State-Papers, were collected by Sir Dudley Digges, Master of the Rolls, and published in folio, in 1655. A work is likewise ascribed to him entitled, Arcana Aulica, or Walsingham's Manual of Prudential Maxims,' which has been often printed; but it is not probable, that he was it's author. Howell, however, in his edition of Sir Robert Cotton's Posthuma,' 1651, has published a small tract under the name of Honesty, Ambition, and Fortitude anatomised,' 1590, which he expressly attributes to his pen; and which, being short and not very commonly met with, is subjoined to this Memoir.
'What it is directly that I will write, I know not. For, as my thoughts have never dwelt long upon one thing, and so my mind hath been filled with the
imagination of things of a different nature, so there is a necessity that this offspring of so uncomposed a parent must be mishaped, answerable to the original whence it is derived. Somewhat I am resolved to write, of some virtues, and some vices, and some indifferent things. For knowing that a man's life is a perpetual action, which every moment is under one of these three heads, my imaginations have ever chiefly tended to find out the natures of these things, that I might (as much as my frailty, the inseparable companion of man's nature, would give me leave) wear out this garment of my body, with as little inconvenience to my soul as I could, and play this game of conversation (in which every one, as long as he lives, makes one) with the reputation of a fair ster, rather than of a cunning one.
'And, first, I will write of Honesty; not in it's general sense (in which it comprehends all moral virtue) but in that particular, in which (according to our phrase) it denominates an honest man. There is required in an honest man, not so much to do every thing he would be done unto, as to forbear any thing that he would not be content to suffer: for the essence of honesty consists in forbearing to do ill; and to do good acts is a proper passion, and no essential part of honesty. As chastity is the honesty of women, so honesty is the chastity of men. Either of them, once impaired, is irrecoverable. For a woman that hath lost her chastity may as easily recover it, as a man that hath once taken liberty of being a knave, can be restored to the title of an honest man. For honesty