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Sir John Mennes was the third son of Andrew Mennes, Esq. of Sandwich, in Kent, by his second wife, Jane Blechenden, and born at that town May the 11th, 1598. His father being in good circumstances, he received a liberal education, and in due time was removed to Oxford, and placed at Corpus Christi College. He devoted himself to the sea service, and during a long life rendered himself conspicuous for his enterprise and knowledge of maritime affairs, his loyalty and his wit, and general literary attainments.
He held a place in the navy-office during the reign of James the First, and in that of his successor was appointed Comptroller of the Navy. Durin the grand rebellion as it is called, he took an active part both naval and military in favour of the crown, and honoured with the dignity of knighthood at Dover in 1641, being at that time a Vice-Admiral. In the following year he commanded a ship called the “Rainbow” but was soon afterwards displaced from command by the authorities then in power, on account of his attachment to the unfortunate King. His name occurs in the account of the Kentish insurrection in favor of the King which took place in 1648, but how far he was actually engaged does not appear.
At the restoration he was reinstated in his office of Chief Comptroller of the Navy, and Charnock asserts, * but probably erroneously, made Governor of Dover Castle. In 1661, he was appointed to coinmand a ship named the “ Henry," and received a commission to act as Vice-Admiral and Commander in Chief of
Biograph. Nav. 1, 61,
the fleet employed in the North Seas. In the following year he was selected to bring back the Queen-Mother to England, and during his absence had the misfortune to lose his wife, who died at Fredville, the seat of John Boys, Esq. and was buried in the parish church of Nonington, where a monument was erected to her memory. This lady's name was Jane Liddell, of the family of Ravensworth Castle in the county of Durham.
Sir John Mennes himself survived until 1670, when he died February the 18th, leaving behind him the character of an honest, stout, generous, and religious man, whose company had always been delightful to the ingenious and witty.* He was buried in the Church of St. Olave, Hart Street, London; where a monument exists to his memory.
Sir John Mennes is reported to have been the author of a Poem called “ Epsom Wells,” and several other fugitive pieces. In one instance only he published a collection of his poems, in conjunction with his friend Dr. James Smith, and their compositions are blended without
marked distinction. The volume containing the joint productions of these friends is exceedingly scarce, and not within our reach. It is a small Daodecimo of 101 pages, with the following title:
66 Musarum Deliciæ: or the Muses Recreation. Containing several pieces of poetic wit. The second edition. By Sir I. M. and Ea. S. London. Printed by I. G. for Henry Herringman, and are to be sold at his shop at the sign of the Anchor in the New Exchange. 1656."
We regret that it is not in our power to lay before the reader more than one specimen of the wit and talent
* Wood's Athen. Oxon. 11. 482.
of this honest seaman. The following, which is generally assigned to him, is 'of its kind unrivalled for excellence.
Upon Sir John Suckling's most warlike preparations for
the Scottish War.
Sir John got him an ambling nag,
To Scotland for to ride a,
No errant knight went ever to fight
With half so gay a bravado;
He'd have conquered a whole Armado.
The ladies ran all to the windows to see
So gallant and warlike a sight a,
Sir John, why will you go fight a.
His heart did not relent a,
Till then why should he repent a?
The king God bless him, had singular hope
Of him and all his troop a ;
For joy did hollow and whoop a.
Who took him for John de Weart a;
My gallant was nothiug so peart a.
For when the Scots army came within sight,
And all men prepared to fight a,
He swore he must needs go s
The colonel sent for him back again,
To quarter him in the van a;
To cure his fear, he was sent to the rear ,
Some ten miles back and more a,
And ne'er saw the enemy more a.
His money which lately he spent a,
it went a.
Sir John Suckling's troop certainly behaved lly, but the cutting remarks upon his own want of spirit in this lampoon, are probably more severe than just. The following account of Sir John Suckling's death, is given by Spence, upon the authority of Pope, and is sufficient to warrant an opinion that regard to personal safety was not a main ingredient in his character.
so Sir John vas a man of great vivacity and spirit. He died about the beginning of the civil war, and his death was occasioned by a very uncommon accident. He entered warmly into the king's interest, and was sent over by him into France, with some letters of great consequence to ihe Queen. He arrived late at Calais, and in the night his servant ran away with his portmanteau, in which were his money and papers.
When he was told of this in the morning, he immediately enquired which way his servant had taken ; and in pulling on his boots, found one of them extremely uneasy to him, but as his horses were at the door, he leaped into
away with t.
his saddle, and forgot his pain. He pursued his servant so eagerly, that he overtook him two or three posts off, -recovered his portmanteau, and soon after complained of a vast pain in one of his feet, and fainted
When they came to pull off his boots, to fling him into bed, they found one of them full of blood. It seems, his servant, who knew his master's temper well, and was sure he would
pursue soon as his villainy should be discovered, had driven a nail up into one of his boots in hopes of disabling him from pursuing him. Sir John's impetuosity made him regard the pain only just at first, and his pursuit hurried him from the thoughts of it for some time after : however, the wound was so bad, and so much inflamed, that it flung him into a violent fever, which ended his life in a few days. This incident, strange as it may seem, might be proved from some original letters in Lord Oxford's collection.