from John Aubrey's Brief Lives: Sir Walter Ralegh

Sir Walter Ralegh was of Oriel College. Mr. Child's father of Worcestershire was his chamber-fellow and lent him a gown, which he could never get, nor satisfaction for it. -- From Mr. Child.

He was the first that brought tobacco into England and into fashion. -- In our part of North Wilts, e.g. Malmesbury hundred, it came first into fashion by Sir Walter Long.

I have heard my grandfather Lyte say that one pipe was handed from man to man round about the table. They had first silver pipes; the ordinary sort made use of a walnut shell and a straw.

It was sold then for its weight in silver. I have heard some of our old yeomen neighbors say that when they went to Malmesbury or Chippenham market, they culled out their biggest shillings to lay in the scales against the tobacco.

Sir W. R., standing in a stand at Sir Robert Poyntz's part at Acton, took a pipe of tobacco, which made the ladies quit till he had done.

Within these 35 years 'twas scandalous for a divine to take tobacco.

Now the customs of it are the greatest his Majesty hath--Rider's Almanac (1682, scilicet)--"Since tobacco brought into England by Sir Walter Ralegh, 99 years, the custom whereof is now the greatest of all others and amounts yearly ... Mr. Michael Weeks of the Royal Society assures me out of the custom-house books that the custom of tobacco over all England is £400,000 per annum.

He [Sir Walter] was a tall, handsome and bold man; but his name was that he was damnable proud. . . . His beard turned up naturally.--I have heard my grandmother say that when she was young, they were wont to talk of this rebus, viz.,

	The enemy to the stomach and the word of disgrace
	Is the name of the gentleman with a bold face.

Old Sir Thomas Malett, one of the justices of the King's Bench tempore Caroli I et II, knew Sir Walter; and I have heard him say that, notwithstanding, his so great mastership in style and his conversation with the learnedest and politest persons, yet he spake broad Devonshire to his dying day. His voice was small as likewise were my schoolfellows', his grand-nephews.

Sir Walter Ralegh was a great chemist; and amongst some MSS. receipts I have seen some secrets from him. He studied most in his sea voyages, where he carried always a trunk of books along with him, and had nothing to divert him.

A person so much immersed in action all along and in fabrication of his own fortunes, till his confinement in the Tower, could have but little time to study but what he could spare in the morning. He was no slug; without doubt had a wonderful waking spirit and great judgment to guide it.

An attorney's father (that did my business in Herefordshire before I sold it) married Dr. Burhill's widow. She said that he [Burhill] was a great favorite of Sir Walter Ralegh's and, I think, had been his chaplain; but all the greatest part of the drudgery of his book [Ralegh's The History of the World] for criticisms, chronology, and reading of Greek and Hebrew authors was performed by him for Sir Walter Ralegh, whose picture my friend has as part of the Doctor's goods.

I have heard old Major Cosh say that Sir W. Ralegh did not care to go on the Thames in a wherry boat; he would rather go round about over London Bridge.

My old friend James Harrington, Esq., was well acquainted with Sir Benjamin Ruddyer, who was an acquaintance of Sir Walter Ralegh's. He told Mr. J. H. that Sir Walter Ralegh, being invited to dinner to some great person where his son was to go with him, he said to his son, "Thou art expected today at dinner to go along with me, but thou art such a quarrelsome, affronting ... that I am ashamed to have such a bear in my company." Mr. Walter humbled himself to his father and promised he would behave himself mightily mannerly. So away they went (and Sir Benjamin, I think, with them). he sat next to his father and was very demure at least half dinner time. Then said he, "I, this morning, not having the fear of God before my eyes but by the instigations of the Devil, went ... [lines suppressed]." Sir Walter, being strangely surprised and put out of countenance at so great a table, gives his son a damned blow over the face. His son, as rude as he was, would not strike his father, but strikes over the face the gentleman that sat next to him and said, "Box about! 'twill come to my father anon." 'Tis now a common-used proverb.

He loved . . . , one of the maids of honor (quaere J. Ball who? 'Twas his first lady) . . . . She proved with child, and I doubt not but this hero took care of them both as also that the product was more than an ordinary mortal.

He was prisoner in the Tower . . . (quaere) years; quaere where his lodgings were. He there, besides his compiling his History of the World, studied chemistry. The Earl of Northumberland was a prisoner at the same time, who was the patron to Mr. . . . Harriot and Mr. Warner, two of the best mathematicians then in the world, as also Mr. Hues [author of] De Globis. Serjeant Hoskins, the poet, was a prisoner there too. I heard my cousin Whitney say that he saw him [Ralegh] in the Tower. He had a velvet cap laced and a rich gown and trunk hose.

He took a pipe of tobacco a little before he went to the scaffold, which some formal persons were scandalized at, but I think 'twas well and properly done, to settle his spritis.

		Even such is time, which takes in trust
		Our youth, our joys, and all we have
		And pays us but with age and dust.
		Within the dark and silent grave,
		When we have wandered all our ways,
		Shuts up the story of our days.
		But from which grave and earth and dust
		The Lord will raise me up I trust.

These lines Sir Walter Raleigh wrote in his Bible the night before he was beheaded and desired his relations with these words, viz. "Beg my dead body which living is denied you; and bury it either in Sherburne or Exeter Church."


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(copyright: Seventeenth-Century Prose and Poetry, 2nd ed., Witherspoon and Warnke)


Four entries in the diary of John Evelyn:

September 3, 1658: Died that arch-rebel, Oliver Cromwell, call Protector.

October 22. 1658: Saw the superb funeral of the Protector. He was carried from Somerset House in a velvet bed of state drawn by six horses housed with the same; the pall held by his new lords; Oliver lying in effigy in royal robes and crowned with a crown, scepter, and globe, like a king. The pendants and guidons were carried by the officers of the army; the imperial banners, achievements, etc., by the heralds in their coats; a rich caparisoned horse embroidered all over with gold; a knight of honor armed cap-a-pie; and, after all, his guards, soldiers, and innumerable mourners. In this equipage they proceeded to Westminster. But it was the joyfullest funeral I ever saw; for there were none that cried but dogs, which the soldiers hooted away with a barbarous noise, drinking and taking tobacco in the streets as they went.

May 29, 1660: This day his Majesty Charles the Second came to London, after a sad and long exile and calamitous suffering both of the King and the church, being seventeen years. This was also his birthday, and with a triumph of above 20,000 horse and foot, brandishing their swords and shouting with inexpressible joy; the ways strewed with flowers, the bells ringing, the streets hung with tapestry, fountains running with wine; the Mayor, aldermen, and all the companies in their liveries, chains of gold, and banners; lords and nobles clad in cloth of silver, gold, and velvet; the windows and balconies all set with ladies; trumpets, music, and myriads of people flocking, even so far as from Rochester, so as they were seven hours in passing the city, even from two in the afternoon till nine at night.

I stood in the Strand and beheld it and blessed God. And all this was done without one drop of blood shed and by that very army which rebelled against him; but it was the Lord's doing, for such a restoration was never mentioned in any history, ancient or modern, since the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity; nor so joyful a day and so bright ever seen in this nation, this happening when to expect or effect it was past all human policy.

January 30, 1660/1: This day--O stupendous and inscrutable judgments of God!--were the carcasses of those arch-rebels, Cromwell, Bradshaw, the judge who condemned his Majesty, and Ireton, son-in-law to the Usurper, dragged out of their superb tombs in Westminster among the kings to Tyburn and hanged on the gallows there from nine in the morning till six at night and then buried under that fatal and ignominious monument in a deep pit; thousands of people who had seen them in all their pride being spectators. Look back at October 22, 1658, and be astonished! and fear God and honor the King' but meddle not with them who are given to change!

November 26, 1661: I saw Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, played; but now the old plays began to disgust this refined age, since his Majesty's being so long abroad.


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(copyright: Seventeenth-Century Prose and Poetry, 2nd ed., Witherspoon and Warnke)


Six entries in the diary of Samuel Pepys (for more, see the excerpts in Norton):

September 25, 1660: I did send for a cup of tea, a China drink, of which I never had drank before.

September 13, 1660: I went out to Charing Cross to see Major-General Harrison [one of the judges in the treason trial of Charles I] hanged, drawn, and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition. He was presently cut down, and his head and heart shown to the people, at which there was great shouts of joy. It is said that he said he was sure to come shortly at the right hand of Christ to judge them that now had judged him; and that his wife do expect his coming again. Thus it was my chance to see the king beheaded at Whitehall and to see the first blood shed in revenge for the King at Charing Cross. Setting up shelves in my study.

October 31, 1663: To my great sorrow find myself £43 worse than I was the last month, which was then £760, and now it is but £717. But it hath chiefly arisen from my layings-out in clothes for myself and wife; viz., for her about £12 and for myself £55, or thereabouts; having made myself a velvet cloak, two new cloth shirts, black, plain both, a new shag gown, trimmed with gold buttons and twist, with a new hat, and silk tops for my legs, and many other things, being resolved henceforward to go like myself. And also two periwigs, one whereof cost me £3 and the other 40s. I have worn neither yet, but will begin next week, God willing. . . .

June 7, 1665: This day, much against my will, I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors and "Lord have mercy upon us!" writ there; which was a sad sight to me, being the first of that kind that, to my remembrance, I ever saw. It put me into an ill conception of myself and my smell, so that I was forced to buy some roll-tobacco to smell to and chaw, which took away the apprehension. by water home, where weary with walking and with the mighty heat of the weather and for my wife's not coming home, I stayed walking in the garden till twelve at night, when it begun to lighten exceedingly through the greatness of the heat.

August 12, 1665: People die so that now it seems they are fain to carry the dead to be buried by daylight, the nights not sufficing to do it in. And my Lord Mayor commands people to be within at nine at night all, as they say, that the sick may have liberty to go abroad for air. There is one also dead out of one of our ships at Deptford, which troubles us mightily--the Providence, fire-ship, which was just fitted to go to sea; but they tell me today no more sick on board.

August 31, 1665: The plague having a great increase this week, beyond all expectation, of almost 2,000, making the general bill 7,000, odd 100; and the plague above 6,000. thus this month ends with great sadness upon the public through the greatness of the plague everywhere through the kingdom almost. Every day sadder and sadder news of its increase. In the city died this week 7,496 and of them 6.102 of the plague. But it is fear that the true number of the dead this week is near 10,000; partly from the poor that cannot be taken notice of, through the greatness of the number, and partly from the Quakers and others that will not have any bell ring for them.


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(copyright: Seventeenth-Century Prose and Poetry, 2nd ed., Witherspoon and Warnke)