« PreviousContinue »
modest as well as a prudent man, having repeatedly refused his proposed election to the ecclesiastical bench; and as he died poor after having witnessed the plundering 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 amused 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 possess.” 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 extinct by his death without male issue.
Of Sir Henry Wotton, the third distinguished individual of his family, it is our business 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 a 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 in
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
joins upon the library, and I have that to my free use, besides such discourses of state, and observations of his own, as he hath in his travels and services of the Emperor gathered together.” In a subsequent letter of the same month, he further observes—“I am now at two florins a week, chamber, stove, and table; lights he finds me; wood I find myself; wine I have as much as it pleaseth me, for my friend and self, and not a stint, as the students of Altorpb. All circumstances considered, I make my account that I spend more at this reckoning by five pound four shillings yearly, than a good careful scholar in the universities of England.” The exact purport of his correspondence with Lord Zouch does not satisfactorily appear. It is probable that he was commissioned to procure political information for the use of that nobleman, and that he received a pecuniary or other recompence in return. In one of his letters, he expresses himself as follows:-“ It were my shame, after so many bountiful friendlinesses received at your honour's hands, to be negligent in any. thing that might be taken of my service and duty;"and “neither account I myself farther than your servant, and shall be ever 'right glad if I may by any possible means deserve a number among them.” Of the nature of this correspondence, the following may perhaps be considered a fair specimen :
May 8, 1592, Florence. Any point in this that concerns myself, I beseech that no man may see
“I can defer this duty no longer, though my leisure by this present little to perform so much as
is occurrent unto me, concerning this last journey of mine, or rather adventure, wbich, leaving all unprofitable words apart, hath been in this manner. Since taking of my humble leave of your Honour in Padua, have passed three months, of which time I have spent one month and two days in Rome, eight in Naples, the rest in continual motion, till the 25th of April, on which day I returned to Florence. From Venice to Rome I had the company of the Baron of Berloc, with whom, notwithstanding his Catholic Religion, I entered into very intrinsical familiarity, having persuaded him that I was half his country-man, himself being born, though under the D. of Cleeve, yet not far from Collen, which went for my town. I found him by conversation, to be very indiscreet, soon led, given much to women, careless of religion, qualities notably ser. ving my purpose, for while a man is held in exercise with his own vices, he hath little leisure to observe others; and besides, to feign myself an accommodable person into his humour on all points, was indeed most convenient for me; looseness of behaviour, and a negligent kind of carriage of a man's self, are the least faults that States fear, because they hurt only him in whom they are found. To take the benefit of this, I entered Rome with a mighty blue feather in a black hat; which, though in itself it were a slight matter, yet surely did it work in the imaginations of men three great effects. First, I was by it taken for no English, upon which depended the ground of all. Secondly, I was reputed as light in my mind as in my apparel, they are not dangerous men that are so. And thirdly, no man could think that I desired to be unknown, who, by wearing of that feather, took a course to make myself
famous through Rome in a few days. The judgments and discourses of the people passing by me, and some pointing at me, I was fain to suffer. Safety, and a conscience clear before my God, were the things I sought there. Credit is to be looked uno in England ; and thus stood my entrance. Ten days after my arrival in Rome, 1 departed towards Naples, occasioned by a fever that had taken me the day before, which I imputed partly unto the streight and rascal diet of that town in Lent, and in part to the ill weather which we had on the way; though perhaps it were not without some disorder, after the Dutch manner, amongst as mad Priests as I think may be found in this world. To Naples I came on the 18th of March, certainly, through the goodliest country that God hath allotted unto mortal men to run their glory in, if virtue were as frequent as pleasure. From this town I departed on the 25th of the same, by water, in a wherry of Genoa, that I might so consider the maritime towns, as before I had seen the principal Me diterranean of that Kingdom: a course not without danger, as well in respect of the Turk's Corsairs, as likewise the smallness of the vessels prepared for transport of passengers: yet was the event good, and I arrived at Neptune in two days. Neptune is a town situate upon the bank of the Tirrhen, thirty-six Italian leagues from Rome, by land, and from Ostia by water, belonging to the House of Colonna, though in the Pope's territories : in commodity of fish, thought to bring yearly about 13,000 crowns ; of reasonable strength, but meanly peopled, and, as it seems, some colony of the ancient Greeks, whose attire the women yet hold, though the men, as commonly more stirrers from home, bave heard of the