Page images
PDF
EPUB

WILLIAM SHAKSPEAR,

BORN 1564,--DIED 1616.

say you of Kent?

From King Henry VI. part 2d. Act 4th, Scene 7th. Scene Smithfield.-Present, Cade and his company,

with Lord Say, prisoner. Say- -You men of Kent! Dick-What Say-Nothing but this : 'Tis bona terra, mala gens. Cade-Away with him, away with him! he speaks

Latin.
Say-Hear me but speak, and bear me where you will.

Kent, in the Commentaries Cæsar writ,
Is termed the civilest place of all this isle:
Sweet is the country, because full of riches;
The people liberal, valiant, active, wealthy;
Which makes me hope you are not void of pity.

[ocr errors][merged small]

This passage is marked by Malone, in his edition of Shakspear, as one corrected only by the mighty bard. This editor has been hardy enough to venture upon a lineal definition, in the historical plays, of passages actually written, only corrected, and not written by Shakspear; but in a matter of taste his accuracy may be questioned. The above quoted passage bás all the characters of Shakspear's style, and has that peculiar flow of sweet melody which none of his contemporaries ever attained to. The stigma upon the Kentish-men expressed in the Latin sentence, doubtless had its origin in their aptness to rebel. Hollingshed 'had a similar opinion of them. “ The Kentish men, whose minds be ever moveable at the change of princes," &c. Sir Thomas Wyatt's rebellion was then fresh in memory.

From King Henry VI. part 3d. Act 1st, scene 1st,

Present, York and others.
York.—Richard enough; I will be king, or die.

*

You, Edward, shall unto my Lord of Cobham,
With whom the Kentish men will willingly rise :
In them I trust; for they are soldiers
Witty * and courteous, liberal, full of spirit.

From King Lear. Act 4th. Scene 6th. Scene the country near Dover,—Present, Gloster and

Edgar.
Glo.--When shall we come to the top of that sanie hill ?
Edg.You do climb up it now : look how we labour.
Glo.Methinks the ground is even.
Edg.

Horribly steep :
Hark! do you hear the sea ?

Edg.-Come on, Sir; here's the place: stand still !

How fearful
And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low!
The crows, and choughs, that wing the mid-way

air,
Show scarce so gross as beetles : half

way

down Hangs one that gathers samphire ; dreadful trade! Methinks, he seems no bigger than his head: The fishermen, that walk upon the beach, Appear like mice; and yon tall anchoring bark, Diminished to her cock; her cock, a buoy Almost too small for sight : the murmuring surge,

• Of sound judgment.

That on the unnumbered idle pebbles chafes,
Cannot be heard so high :-I'll look no more ;
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
Topple down headlong.--

*

Edg.-Hadst thou been ought but gossamer, feathers,

air,
So many fathom down precipitating,
Thou hadst shivered like an egg : but thou dost

breathe;
Ten masts at each make not the altitude,

Which thou had’st perpendicularly fell :
Glo.—But have I fallen, or no?
Edg.-From the dread summit of this chalky bourn :-

Look up a-height; the shrill-gorged lark so far
Cannot be seen or heard.”

[graphic][merged small]

SIR HENRY WOTTON,

BORN 1568.- DIED 1639.

On earth he travelled often,-not to say
He'd been abroad to pass loose time away;
For in whatever land he chanced to come,
He read the men and manners,-bringing home
Their wisdom, learning, and their piety,
As if he went to conquer, not to see.
So well he understood the most und best
Of tongues that Babel sent into the west ;
Spoke them so truly, that he had, you'd swear,
Not only lived, but been born every where.
Justly each nation's speech to him was known ;
Who for the world was made, not us alone.
Nor ought the language of that man be less,
Who in his breast had all things to express.
He did the utmost bounds of knowledge find,
And found them not so large as was his mind.

(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, have sunk into the

grave

-ignotique longa
Nocte, carent quia vate sacro.
Paulum sepultæ distat inertiæ
Celata virtus.

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.

Several individuals of this family obtained distinguished rank and employment under various sovereigns, bat 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 holdding other high temporary employments. He was a

« PreviousContinue »