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That on the unnumbered idle pebbles chafes,
Edg:-Hadst thou been ought but gossamer, feathers,
Which thou had'st perpendicularly fell :
Look up a-height; the shrill-gorged lark so far
SIR HENRY WOTTON,
BORN 1568.-DIED 1639,
On earth he travelled often, not to say
(Cowley's Elegy on Sir H. Wotton.)
Thanks to the laudable zeal of the excellent Isaac Walton, we have ample materials before us respecting the life and character of this Kentish worthy. Posterity has not duly paid the debt of gratitude it owes the memory of this good man for the artless effusions of his honest pen. In simple language, but bearing the genuine impress of truth, he has furnished us with memorials of exemplary characters, who might otherwise, as far as their personal history is concerned, hare sunk into the grave
Walton published under the title of “Reliquiæ Wottonianæ," a memoir of Sir Henry Wotton, and a collection of his literary essays, state papers, letters, and poems. From the fourth edition of this volume, with such collateral aid, as can be obtained, the following account is collected, and wherever it is practicable for obvious reasons, the words of the original writer are retained.
The family of Wotton flourished in the county of Kent nearly three centuries, commencing with Sir Nicholas Wotton,, Lord Mayor of London, who obtained possession of Bocton Malherb, by marriage, in 1337, and expiring with the subject of the present article in 1639.
Sereral individuals of this family obtained distinguished rank and employment under various sovereigns, but it is most remarkable for having produced Nicholas Wotton, the first Dean of Canterbury, distinguished more as a politician than a divine. This supple ecclesiastic, who may have been the original of the Vicar of Bray, contrived so to suit his religious opinions to the fluctuating times in which he lived, as to retain a seat in the privy councils of Henry the Eighth, Edward the Sixth, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, by all of whom he was highly esteemed and confidentially employed. The monumental inscription to his memory, informs us that he was sent as ambassador to various powers, no less than nine different times, besides hold ding other high temporary employments. He was a
modest as well as a prudent man, having repeatedly refused his proposed election to the ecclesiastical bench; ard as he died poor after having witnessed the plugdering of the monasteries, there is every reason to presume that he was also honest and conscientious in temporal affairs.
Sir Edward Wotton, another distinguished individual, was Comptroller of the Household to Queen Elizabeth, who employed him as her embassador at the court of James the First, when King of Scotland.” This man," says Dr. Robertson, "was gay, well-bred, and entertaining; he excelled in all the exercises for which James had a passion, and amuseď the young king by relating the adventures which he had met with, and the cbservations he had made during a long residence in foreign countries; but under the veil of these superficial qualities, he concealed a dangerous and intrigueing spirit. He soon grew into high favour with James, and while he seemed attentive only to pleasure and diversions, he acquired influence over the public councils, to a degree which was indecent for a stranger to pos
.” At the accession of James the First to the English crown, Sir Edward Wotton, was advanced to the peerage, by the title of Baron Wotton, of Merley, in Kent; which title became extinet by his death without male issue.
Of Sir Henry Wotton, the third distinguished individual of his family, it is our busiress to treat more at large.
He was the youngest son of Thomas Wotton, by a second marriage,-great nephew to the Dean,--and half-brother to the Baron." His father appears to have Been 'á respectable, but a retired and unambitious
country gentleman. His mother was the daughter of Sir William Finch, of Eastwell, and at the time of her marriage with his father, the widow of Robert Morton, both of Kent.
Sir Henry Wotton was born at Bocton Malherb in 1568. He was educated at Winchester, and removed at sixteen years of age to Oxford, where he remained five years, having beer a resident at two different Colleges. On the occasion of his supplicating for a degree, he composed and read three lectures in Latin, on the subjeet of vision.
In the year 1589 he lost his father, who bequeathed him by will a younger brother's portion of one hundred marks a year, charged upon his estates. With this scanty provision, the year after his father's death, he commenced his travels; and during the six following years, visited most of the principal cities in France, Germany, and Italy. How he employed this portion of his time, may be collected from a series of letters written by him to Lord Zouch, and preserved in the Reliquiæ.
He seems to have assumed the character of a political student, acquiring languages, collecting facts, and informing himself respecting the statistics of the several countries he visited. His industry and application are conspicuous in every letter of this series, as is also his prudent management of his contracted income. In a letter to his noble correspondent, dated at Venice, December 9th, 1590, he remarks, “I am now to a certainty for a table and chamber with Doctor Blotius, master of the imperial library, which I have gotten by great means made to him, and am the only person in his house besides his own family. My study