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The

Poems of John Byrom.

VOL. II. PART II.

A POETICAL VERSION OF A LETTER FROM THE

EARL OF ESSEX TO THE EARL

OF SOUTHAMPTON.

[In Cogan's edition of Somers' Tracts, 1748, vol. iv. pp. 132 seqq., is printed " A precious and most divine letter from that famous and ever to be renowned Earl of Essex (father to the now Lord General his Excellence) to the Earl of South-Hampton in the latter time of Queen Elizabeth's reign, 1643.” This Letter is not inserted in the edition of the Tracts revised by Sir Walter Scott, and seems therefore worth reprinting here, which I am enabled to do by a transcript kindly made for me by Mr. W. A. Shaw from the British Museum copy of Cogan's edition. Although the Letter was not published till 1643, there seems no reason for doubting that it was actually written by Essex when under sentence of death in the Tower, at some time before the second signing of his death-warrant by Queen Elizabeth on February 24th, 1601, followed by his execution on the 25th. The paper reflects the crushed condition of mind to which, after persisting in vindicating his conduct as devoid of offence against God, Essex seems to have been at last reduced by the “menaces” of his chaplain Ashton (see LINGARD, History of England, vol. vi. chap. 9, p. 302, 6th edn., 1855), while its diction is tinged by the Puritanism habitual to the writer. Southampton had been reprieved before the execution of Essex, and although the Queen had refused to

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