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Sir Walter Raleigh 'Letter to James after his Condemnation (1604)'

British Library, Additional MS 22601, ff. 17r-18r

17r {gap: elision}

Enuseth the l[ett]re of S[i]r Walter Rawleigh to the Kinge after his Arraignm[en]t


The life w[hi]ch I had moste mighty Prince the lawe hath taken from me, and I am nowe but the same Earth & duste, of whiche I was made: yf my offence had any quantity w[i]th yo[u]r Ma[jes]ties vnmeasurable goodnes, I mighte hope; but yet yo[u]r great Ma[jes]tie must Iudge both & not I. Anie bloud, gentility, birth or Estate I haue none, no not so muche as a beinge, no not so muche as vita plante : I haue only a penitent Sowle in a bodie of Iron whiche moueth towards the Loadestone of death, and cannot be w[i]th-held from touchinge it, except your Ma[jes]ties mercy turne the point towards me w[hi]ch expelleth it. Lost I am for hearinge a vaine man, for hearinge only, and neuer belieuinge or acceptinge, and so little accompt I made of that speache of his w[hi]ch was my condemnat[i]on, as the liuinge God doth truly witnes yt I neuer remembred any suche thinge vntill it was at my triall obiected against me: So did he repaye my Care, who cared to make him good, w[hi]ch I see no care of man can effect. But for my offence to him yt layed this heauy burthen on me miserable and vnfortunate wretch yt I am, but not for 18r louinge you my Soueraigne, hath God layed this sorrowe on me: For God knoweth, with whom[m]e I may not dissemble, that I honored, yo[u]r Ma[jes]tie by fame, and loued & a admired yo[u]r Ma[jes]ty by knowledge; so as whither I dy or liue, your Ma[jes]ties true and louinge Seruaunt I will die or liue. If I nowe write what doth not become me? (moste mercifull Prince) vouchesaue to ascribe it to [th]e Counsell of a dead hart w[hi]ch sorrow hath broken: but [th]e more my miserie is, the more is yo[u]r Ma[jes]ties great mercy, if you please to behold it; and [th]e less I can deserue, the more liberall is yo[u]r guifte: God only, yo[u]r Ma[jes]ty shall im[m]itate herein, both by giuinge freely to suche a one, fro[m] whom[m]e there can be no retribut[i]on, but only a desire to paie againe a lent life with the same greate loue w[hi]ch the same great goodnes shall pleas to bestowe it. This beinge the first l[ett]re w[hi]ch euer yo[u]r Ma[jes]ty receiued from a dead man, I humbly submitt my selfe to the will of my supreame Lorde and shall willingly & paciently suffer, whatsoeuer shall please yo[u]r Ma[jes]ty to laye on me./


No introduction.


British Library, Additional MS 22601, ff. 17r-18r,

Languages: English, Latin

Creation date: 1604


Other Witnesses

Seventeenth Century Print Exemplars

  • Arraignment and Conviction of Sr Walter Rawleigh (1648) [Wing A3744], pp. 35–36

Modern Print Exemplars

  • Somers Tracts (2nd ed.), vol. 2, pp. 442–443

Selected Criticism

No bibliography

Keywords (Text Type)

  • letter

Keywords (Text Topics)

  • Sir Walter Ralegh

Transcribed by:

No transcription details