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Amores Britannici

Epistles Historical and Gallant, In English Heroic Verse: From several of The Most Illustrious Personages of their Times. In Imitation of the Heroidum Epistolae of Ovid. With Notes explaining the Most Material Passages in every History [by John Oldmixon]

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The Earl of Essex having offended Queen Elizabeth, by coming from his Expedition in Ireland without her Permission, and the Earl in taking the Advice of my Lord Southampton, with other hot Men, his Friends, endeavouring to engage the People in his Defence—His Enemies the Lord Burleigh, and Sir Walter Raleigh, manag'd their Hate so well with the Queen, that they got him to be apprehended, try'd, and afterwards beheaded, while the Queen was in her Fury: Who, as 'tis said, heartily repented of it, and his death occasion'd hers, or at least shorten'd her Days. This Letter is suppos'd to be sent him the Day before his Tryal, and his Answer return'd a Day or Two after.

Queen Elizabeth to the Earl of Essex.

See Essex! see how weakly I maintain,
The former Glories of my Virgin Reign.


Betray'd, forsook, to write Thee, I descend,
And use Thee still, as thou wer't still my Friend,
To Thee, this Favour, like the rest will prove,
Despis'd perhaps, because it looks like Love.
Mistaken Pity, will thy Pride deceive,
Which rather shou'd confound Thee, than relieve.
But vain and haughty in thy latest Hour,
My Mercy thou'lt abuse, as once my Power.
Yet say, Ungrateful! what thy Arts can plead,
To save thy Honour, and thy forfeit Head.
The Lords, thy Judges, for thy Doom prepare,
Thy Crimes as heavy, as the Court severe.
Condemn'd already, by the general Voice,
Thy Friends forsake Thee, and thy Foes rejoice.
Cecill's base Envy, whom he fear'd reviles,

Cecill, Lord Burleigh; whose Envy of this Noble Earl and his Politicks too great for the generous open Temper of my Lord Essex, work'd him on to his Destruction.

And Raleigh, with malicious Pleasure smiles.

Sir Walter Raleigh; 'tis the blemish of his Life, that he concern'd himself in the Fate of our unfortunate Hero. The Mighty and Warlike Prince James I. return'd the hard Measure on him he dealt to this Earl in the House of Commons, of which he was then a Member.

Their Malice, with their Duty, they conceal,
'Tis the Queens Safety, and the publick Weal,


The worst of Treasons, to thy Charge is laid,
An Army famish'd, and a Trust betray'd.
They urge, a Nation by thy wast undone,
The Rebels pardon'd, and their chief Tyrone.
Thy Fears they tell me, did the Traytor save,
And scare will now allow thee to be brave,
Their brutal rage shou'd on themselves be spent,
Were Essex, what I wish him, Innocent.
So much confest, by one so much abus'd,
Thou'lt fancy nothing, will be next refus'd.
But know, Unhappy! if I wish Thee free,
'Tis more to vindicate my self, than Thee.
Thee, whom to rival Monarchs, I prefer'd,
To be the Queens, to be the Nations Guard!

Essex enter'd into a Treaty with the Rebel Tyrone, which his Commission, large as the Queens Favour, qualified him to do. This was a main Article against him at his Tryal.

The Creature of my Favour, Thee I chose,
To fight my Battles, and chastise my Foes.
Warm'd by my Smiles, and kindled into Man,
Thy Soul to feel Heroick Flames began:
Till then to Fortune, and to Fame, unknown,
Who since defended, and adorn'd the Throne.


Mine are thy Laurels, and Iberian-Spoils,
Thy Northern Conquest, and thy boasted Toils.
The vast Design, the Martial Spirit, mine,
The dull Mechanick Action only thine.
Thus form'd, the Hero I created, dares,
Insult his Queen, and raise Rebellious Wars.
My Court disturb'd with Faction and Allarms,
My Person threaten'd, and the Croud in Arms.
Oh Faithless! is it thus I am repay'd,
And thus thou justify'st the Choice I made.
What will the Nations; what will England say
Who dread my Anger, or my Laws obey.
If this unpunish'd, unreveng'd they see,
'Twere just they took my Crown, and gave it Thee.
So fierce thy Courage, and thy Soul so great,

'Tis said, the Earl's Carriage to the Queen at their last Enterview, was such, as provok'd her to strike him.

The Blow receiv'd, thov never canst forget.
Struck by a Queen, the Mighty Warriour raves,
Whose Rage had else been punish'd by her Slaves.


Affronted thus, thou think'st thy Honour lost,
A Fate too Glorious, and which Kings wou'd boast.
Think of thy Insolence, and thank thy Stars,
Thy Rudeness more advanc'd Thee, than thy Wars.
My boundless Fury, has enlarg'd thy Fame,
And more my Patience, than my Passion, blame.
Provok'd, to strike Thee, I abus'd the Throne,
To me, Dishonour, as to Thee, Renown.
Yet this, thy Folly, and thy Pride, proclaim,
With fruitless Threats, injurious to thy Name.
Rail on—thy Rage is impotent and base,
And shews thou ill deserv'dst a better Place.

My Lord of Essex was then in the Tower.

But that the Wretch who wrong'd me, I despise,
And scorn to triumph o'er the Man who dyes:
How might I now upbraid Thee, and expose,
A Picture, blacker, than thy vilest Foes?
What hinders that, thus injur'd, I forbear,
To leave Thee, to their Malice and Despair:


What in thy Actions hast thou left undone,
My Quiet to disturb, and shake my Throne.
I cannot, must not think of this again,
Nor, while I prosecute Revenge, complain.
By those, who follow'd and ador'd Thee, left,
Of Favour, Pity, and of Help bereft.
How easie might my Vengeance be pursu'd,
If thine wou'd please me, as thou seek'st my Blood.
None wou'd thy Merit, or thy Cause defend,
If Rutland were not faithful to her Friend.

The Countess of Rutland, fam'd for her Beauty and her Love for this Lord.

She sighs and mourns, and in her earnest Pray'rs,
Too much of Love, too much Concern appears.
Nor is her Friendship, or her Passion young,
'Tis fed with Hopes, and has been flatter'd long.
In this, if I discover thy Deceit,
Her Grief is not as certain as thy Fate.
If by thy Wiles, unlicens'd, thou hast strove,
To tempt her from her Duty, and to love.


New Guilt, and heavier, will increase thy Store,
And sink Thee deeper than thou wert before.
The Queen, by high Prerogative, decreed,
The Beauteous Orphan, to another Bed.
'Tis Treason, to divert her Virgin Vows,
Corrupt my Servants, and divide my House.
My Word engag'd, or what have I to care,
For what she thinks of thee, or thou of her.
A Heart so false, and such a faithless Tongue,
Will never be belov'd, or never long.
Oh hadst thou prov'd, as Loyal and Sincere,
As Eminent in Truth, as great in War.
Wert thou, as once I thought thou wou'dst have been,
True to thy Oaths, thy Duty and the Queen;
Did thy proud Heart pernicious Arts despise,
Nor sought without me, and too fast, to rise.
Cecill of Plots, and Treasons might complain,
And Raleigh curse his Rival, but in vain.


Their Spite discover'd, thou mightst laugh to see,
The Shame return'd on Them, they meant on Thee.
Safe in thy Innocence, thou needst not fear,
How Envy cou'd defame, or hurt Thee here.
Left by thy Friends, on me thou mighst depend,
While the Queen liv'd, thou shoud'st not was a Friend.
Willing to help, cou'd I my Help excuse,
To save the Life, which thou art fond to lose

The Earl of Leicester, my Lord Essex's Predecessor in the Queens good Graces.

An injur'd Monarch wou'dst thou else defie,

Philip II. King of Spain, Henry III. the French King and the King of Sweden, courted Queen Elizabeth.

But Penitent in Guilt, to Mercy fly,
Woudst thou so nigh Conviction, else arraign,
My Sov'reign Justice, and thy Wrongs maintain,
How art thou wrong'd, if 'tis not by the weight,
Of Honours, Wealth, and being made too great.
Advanc'd so high in Favour and in Pow'r,
That nothing but a Crown cou'd raise thee more.


Ev'n Kings, grew jealous of thy growing Pride,
And Leicester grieving at thy Fortune, dy'd.
Philip, and Henry, and the gallant Sweed,
With different Hopes, pretended to my Bed.
I scorn'd their Empires, and repeated Vows,
My People, I resolv'd, shou'd be my Spouse.
Nor wanted Heroes of consummate Worth,
To guide the State, and lead my Armies forth
Some in the Field, in Councel some excel,
The first in both was Essex, till he fell.
Young, and a Victor, yet in Fortune wise,
He early won our Hearts, he charm'd our Eyes,
Nor rose as fast as he deserv'd to rise.
Thus Loyal was he once, belov'd and brave,
Shall he now Perish, whom a Word wou'd save.
Tell me 'tis Cecill, who his Death contrives,
Or Raleigh, undistinguish'd, while he lives.
My Mercy thou may'st easily deceive;
Repent, and what thou pleasest, I'll believe.


Yet least thy Folly, and my Wrath return,
Or we too late, our cruel Councils mourn.
This, tho thy Judges shou'd thy Fate decree,
Ensures thy Safety, and will set thee free.
This Present use in thy extreamest want,
Whate'er with This is ask'd, I'll freely grant.

The Queen sent him a Ring, as part of the Story says, by the best Judges thought to be fabulous, but never the worse for a Poetical Fiction. She told him whenever he return'd the Ring, whatever he then demanded, she wou'd grant. The Lady Nottingham to be reveng'd on the Earl, for past ill usage, took the Ring of him, but never gave it the Queen, nor told her of it, till after the Earl's Death.


The Earl of Essex to Queen Elizabeth.

Fairest, and Greatest, of your Sex, believe,
Less for my Sentence, than your Hate, I grieve.
Oh! cou'd you pity me, if not forgive,
I then shou'd rather choose to die, than live.
To Sin, and die unpardon'd is my Curse,
But Life, and not to be forgiv'n, worse.
Nor Ax, nor Scaffold, wou'd my Fear create,
Nor Death, or what is terrible in Fate;
Wou'd my Queen pity my unworthy Doom,
And honour with a Tear, my happy Tomb;
My greedy Foes, unenvy'd, shou'd enjoy
The Pow'r, for which, your Essex they destroy.
I dare not on my Innocence relye,
My Queen offended, I deserve to die.
Else my past Service, and triumphant Wars,
My Wounds for England, and my frightful Scars.


Else Cales, by me, your Conquest I might plead,

The Earl of Essex, when my Lord Howard, Admiral at the Expedition of Cales, commanded him with a Squadron, of Men of War to begin the Attack, threw his Hat into the Sea for Joy, and did Wonders in that Action.

Dispute with this for Mercy, and succeed.
Young as I was, I won the doubtful Fight,
And forc'd the Spaniards to inglorious Flight.
The Darling of the People, I return'd,
By all then worship'd, as I now am scorn'd.
Enrich'd, the Soldiers, and their General came,
My Troops with Plunder, and my self with Fame.
Oh Essex! lost for ever, where are now,
The Crouds, which at thy Presence us'd to bow?
Where are the supple Slaves, who then ador'd,
The youthful Follies of the rising Lord?
Contemn'd, forgot, they leave me in my Shame,
And whom they flatter'd much, they much defame.
What are their Falshood, their Reproach or Scorn,
Light as their Praise, and easie to be born?
The Queen appeas'd again, they wou'd adore,
The Man they curse, and bless him as before.


My Queen's just Fury, I confess I fear,
Such Majesty enrag'd, I cannot bear,
But sink beneath my Sorrows, and despair.
Learn'd by Experience, and by Suffering, wise,
As others mine, their Fortune I despise,
Who hope, when Essex is remov'd, to rise.
For Envy, or their own Ambition, soon,
Will spoil the work, they think so well begun
Who shares his Prince's Bounty, wou'd have all,
And higher as he mounts, prepares his Fall.
My Error, this, in others I can see,
And that will ruin them, which ruin'd me.
Oh Essex! Happy once, belov'd, carest,
With the Queen's Favour, and the People's, blest.
Faln from thy Height, so miserably low,
Thy Foes then envy'd, whom they pitty now.
Ev'n Cecill, of Remorse and Pity void,
Weeps o'er the Wretch his jealousie destroy'd.
He weeps to view the cruel Turns of Fate,
And fearing for himself, repents his Hate.


My Queen, or thus, I flatter my Despair,
Believes my Judges, in my Cause, severe.
My Crimes were such, as Raleigh wish'd to see,

Sir Walter Raleigh succeeded the Earl of Essex in the Command of the Queens Guards.

Not what they were, but what he'd have 'em be.
Death was his aim, and nothing less wou'd do,
My Life he wanted, and my Honours too.
Cou'd Essex be so faithless, and so base,
He oft might have prevented this Disgrace.
The Power you gave him, had he ill employ'd,
Or joyn'd those Rebels, whom his Arms destroy'd.
My want of Faith, might then have fatal prov'd,
Which tempted much, you ever found unmov'd.
'Tis said, an Army, by my Conduct starv'd,
Convince the World, that I these Chains deserv'd.
My Treaty with Tyrone, my Trust betray'd,
My Troops by Famine, and Disease decay'd;
The sickly Soldiers, well might dread the Foe,
And fear to Combat, when they scarce cou'd go.
The Peace I gave, Necessity compell'd,
Content to conquer thus, who else must yield.


My Care had better in my Charge been try'd,
Had Cecill as he ought, the Camp supply'd.

'Twas reported by my Lord Essex's Friends, that Provisions were kept back by Cecill's means, then Minister of State, to bring his Army into streits, and ruin my Lord's Reputation.

To me, your Armies Losses, might be laid,
Cou'd I cure Sickness, or cou'd make 'em Bread.
Hard Fate of Heroes, who from Battle come,
To fall by Cowards, and their Arts at home.
These may their Princes, and their People guard,
If others Service, you like mine reward.
For who for Victory, or Fame will strive,
To die like Traytors, or like Slaves to live?
This the fair Crop, the Victor's Harvest brings,
The common Gratitude of jealous Kings.
They fear the Valour, which secures the Throne
And hate the Glories that eclipse their own,
So Fatal! to oblige or serve a Crown.
Who'll Court Commands, or venture with 'em far,
While trembling Ministers direct the War.
Their Councils still distracted by their Fear,
And Danger ever in their Fancy near.


Commissions, narrow as their Souls they grant,
And fatten, while the Soldier pines with want.
The General, when he fails, their Censure bears,
Whenever he succeeds, the Praise is theirs.
Their Wisdom then, the mighty Action rules,
And Soldiers are at best, but Statesmens Tools,
A dull, unthinking Herd of fighting Fools.
Fools; since to every wealthy plotting Knave,
'Tis folly to be Honest, or be Brave.
Burleigh be curst, for 'tis to him I owe,
These Horrors, and this Bitterness of Woe.
Curst be his Treasons, and his Plots, from them
This Prison, Sentence, and Dishonour came:
Than whom, there never in a State was known,
A Villain fitter, to betray a Crown.
His Temper, Cruelty; and Gold, his Lust;
To Vengeance only, and his Int'rest just.
For Him too soon, too late, Alass! for Me,
Whose Trust was executed best, you'll see.


'Tis time for Essex, dying, to forget,
The Joys and Sorrows of a Mortal State.
Short is the Scene which he's to act below,
And Heav'n commands him to forgive his Foe.
Forgive me Heav'n, if Humane Passion's frail,
And Nature suffering will to Death prevail.
Pardon, my beauteous Sov'reign, if my Rage,
Breaks out too fierce, before I quit the Stage.
The last rude Action of my Life forgive,
'Twas Madness, rather than Design, believe.
Sincere my Penitence, to Heav'n and You,
Whatever I was then, I now am true.
No Merit, by my Services, I claim,
Yet pray my Mistress to defend my Name.
Let not base Tongues, your Essex dead, revile,

The Earl jealous of Nottingham's Fidelity in returning the Ring.

Nor wrong the Man, on whom You deign'd to smile.
But Oh! what Words can move you to be kind,
To the dear Relict I must leave behind.


At last, it seems, the fatal Secret's known.
Tho sure our Loves were harmless to the Throne.
My own Misfortunes, I cou'd proudly bear,
Yet, my Soul shrinks, when I consider her.
For Her, and for our Infant, yet unborn,
And what for me they may endure, I mourn.
With this, tho you may never this receive,
I send the Present you were pleas'd to give.
'Tis my Lifes surety, and returns by Her,
Whom the Queen trusted, and yet whom I fear.
On my Knees bending, I your Gift restore,
And Favour only for my Wife implore.
Her Youth, her Beauty, and Distresses join,
To move your Pity, in itsself Divine.
Protect her Innocence from Cecill's Rage,
And her poor Infant in its helpless Age.
So may just Heav'n defend your sacred Head,
So may your Councils, so your Arms succeed.


A better Servant you perhaps may find,
Yet ne'er repent you were to Essex kind.

The Two Letters in Cabala of this Noble Earl's, are the best writ of any of the Kind in his Days.