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Monday, February 14, 2011

Walter Raleigh Myth

As the myth goes, the explorer (and sometimes pirate) Sir Walter Raleigh once stepped forth from a crowd, gallantly doffed his cloak, and threw it over a mud puddle to protect the feet of the passing queen. This is unfortunately pure fiction, and Sir Walter Scott repeats this old legend in his famous novel "Kenilworth"

'Accordingly, she fixed her keen glance on the youth, as she approached the place where he stood, with a look in which surprise at his boldness seemed to be unmingled with resentment, while a trifling accident happened which attracted her attention towards him yet more strongly. The night had been rainy, and just where the young gentleman stood a small quantity of mud interrupted the Queen's passage. As she hesitated to pass on, the gallant, throwing his cloak from his shoulders, laid it on the miry spot, so as to ensure her stepping over it dry-shod. Elizabeth looked at the young man, who accompanied this act of devoted courtesy with a profound reverence, and a blush that overspread his whole countenance. The Queen was confused, and blushed in her turn, nodded her head, hastily passed on, and embarked in her barge without saying a word."



Or as Thomas Fuller puts the story:

Captain Raleigh found the queen walking , till, meeting with a plashy place, she seemed to scruple going thereon. Presently Raleigh cast and spread his new plush cloak on the ground; whereon the queen trod gently, rewarding him afterwards with many suits.
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Thomas Fuller's 'Worthies'.

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