|Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916.|
Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
|The Absence of the Queen|
|By Sir Walter Raleigh (1554?1618)|
From A Letter to Sir Robert Cecil
MY heart was never broken till this day, that I hear the Queen goes away so far off, whom I have followed so many years with so great love and desire, in so many journeys, and am now left behind her in a dark prison all alone. While she was yet nigher at hand, that I might hear of her once in two or three days, my sorrows were the less: but even now my heart is cast into the depth of all misery. I, that was wont to behold her riding like Alexander, hunting like Diana, walking like Venus, the gentle wind blowing her fair hair about her pure cheeks, like a nymph, sometime sitting in the shade like a goddess, sometime singing like an angel, sometime playing like Orpheus; behold the sorrow of this world! once amiss hath bereaved me of all. O glory, that only shineth in misfortune, what is become of thy assurance! all wounds have scars, but that of fantasy; all affections their relenting, but that of womankind. Who is the judge of friendship but adversity, or when is grace witnessed but in offences? There were no divinity but by reason of compassion; for revenges are brutish and mortal. All those times past, the loves, the sighs, the sorrows, the desires, can they not weigh down one frail misfortune? Cannot one drop of gall be hidden in so great heaps of sweetness? I may then conclude, spes et fortuna, valete. She is gone in whom I trusted, and of me hath not one thought of mercy, nor any respect of that that was. Do with me now therefore what you list. I am more weary of life than they are desirous I should perish, which if it had been for her, as it is by her, I had been too happily born.