The Career of the Earl of Essex from the Islands Voyage in 1597 to His Execution in 1610

By Laura Hanes Cadwallader | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
CONDEMNATION AND DEATH

"And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures."

SHAKESPEARE, Julius Cæsar, Act IV, Sc. 3

The humble and eloquent letter of "Queen's day," 1600, remained unnoticed, and Essex, full of resentment at his failure to rekindle Elizabeth's affection, at length abandoned himself to rage and despair. His resentment broke out into offensive expressions against his enemies and even against the queen herself, of whom he said, "She was as crooked in her disposition as in her carcass."1 Sir John Harington relates how "he shifted from sorrowe and repentaunce to rage and rebellion so suddenlie" as to prove him "devoide of goode reason or righte mynde."2

Essex had many rivals at Court who sought his downfall. There was "a strong and subtile faction, which cared and consulted for his ruin, as a foundation they must build upon; and were intent to betray him abroad, and mis-interpret him at home."3 These enemies scattered around, in his name, libels against the state, "which libels were made by themselves. They set papers upon posts, to bring his innocent friends in question. . . . His letters to private men were read openly by the piercing eyes of an Atturnie's office, which warrantes the construction of every line in the worst sense against the writer."4

____________________
1
Reliquiæ Wottonianæ ( London, 1685), p. 192.
2
Nugæ Antiquæ, I, p. 179.
3
Reliquiæ Wottonianæ, p. 188.
4
Fulke Greville, Life of Sir Philip Sidney, Grosart's edition, 1870. p. 157.

-73-

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