Page images
PDF
EPUB

was never accused of being a platonic lover, and at the time of its composition was a grave diplomatist of the age of fifty-two. It proceeded from a feeling of chivalrous loyalty; and when connected, as it always should be, with the anecdote of the jewel, forms together a trait in his character, which the mind may contemplate with uninixed delight.*.

Sir Henry Wotton does not make much figure as a Jadies' knight, either in prose or poetry. In an age, when every votary of the Muse attuned his lyre to notes of love, he has left upon record only one memorial of his susceptibility, and as that relates to some disappointment in the early part of his life, it is rather severe upon the sex. Walton entitles it,

* Some of his letters to the Qaeen of Bohemia are printed in the “Reliquiæ.” The following is subjoined as a specimen of their style:

1626. “ Most resplendent Queen, even in the darkness of Fortune.

« I most humbly salute your majesty again, after the longest silence that I have ever held with you, since I first took into my heart an image of your excellent virtues. My thonghts indeed bave from the exercise of outward duties been confined within myself, and deeply wounded with my own private griefs and losses; which I was afraid, if I had written sooner to your majesty, before time bad dried them up, would bave freshly bled again. And with what shall I now entertain you sweet spirits?"

" The last and inwardest consolation that I can represent to your Majesty, is yourself, your own soul, your own virtues, your own Christian constancy and magnanimity: whereby your majesty bath exalted the glory of your sex, conquered your affections, and trampled upon your adversaries. To conclude, you have shewed the world, that though you were born within the chance, yet without the power of fortune.”

A Poem written by Sir Henry Wotton in his Youth.Oh! faithless world, and thy more faithless part

a woman's heart ! The true shop of variety, where sits

nothing but fits And fevers of desire, and pangs of love,

which toys remove. Why was she born to please, or I to trust

words writ in dust? Suffering her eyes to govern my despair

my pains for air ; And fruit of time rewarded with untruth

the food of youth.
Untrue she was: yet I believed her eyes,

instructed spies,-
Till I was taught that love was but a school

to breed a fool.
Or sought she more by triumph of denial

to make a trial
How far her smiles commanded my weakness?

yield and confess,
Excuse no more thy folly; but for cure

blush and endure
As well thy shame, as passions that were vain,

and think ’tis gain
To know, that love lodged in a woman's breast,

is but a guest.

H. W.

[ocr errors]

Sir Henry Wotton was not married; and there is only one intimation of such an event ever being probable during the whole of his life, to be found in any

a

part of the volume devoted to his memory; which is, the following passage

in letter to Sir Edmund Bacon of the date of 1612 or 1613, In your last you mentioned a certain courtier that seemed to have spoken somewhat harshly of me: I have a guess at the man; and though for him to speak of such as I am, in any kind whatsoever, was a favour : yet I wonder how I am fallen out of his estimation, for it is not long since he offered me a fair match with his own tribe, and much addition to ber fortune out of his private bounty. When we meet, all the world to nothing we shall laugh ; and in truth, sir, this world is worthy of nothing else.”

During Sir Henry Wotton's residence at Vienna, the following correspondence occurs, memorable for the celebrity of the parties concerned in it.

Lord Bacon to Sir Henry. Wotton. “My very good Cousin

“Your letter, which I received from your Lordship upon your going to sea, was more than a compensation for any former omission; and I shall be very glad to entertain a correspondence with you in both kinds, which you writ of: for the latter whereof I am now ready for you, having sent you some ore of that mine. I thank you for your favours to Mr. Meawtus, and I pray continue the same. So wishing you out of that honourable exile, and placed in a better orb, I ever rest, Your Lordship’s affectionate Kinsman,

And assured Friend,

FR. VERULAM CANC." York House, Oct. 20, 1620.

Sir Henry Wotton to Lord Bacon. “Riglit Honourable, and my very good Lord

“I have your Lordship's letters, dated the 20th of October, and I have withal by the care of my Cousin, Mr. Thomas Meawtis, and by your own special favour, three copies of that work,* wherewith your Lordship hath done a great and ever-living benefit to all the children of nature; and to Nature herself, in her uttermost extent and latitude, who never before had so noble nor so true an interpreter, or, as I am readier to style your Lordship, never so inward a secretary of her cabinet: but of your said work, which came but this week to my bands, I shall find occasion to speak more hereafter; having yet read only the first book thereof, and a few aphorisms of the second. For it is not a banquet, that men may superficially taste, and put up the rest in their pockets: but in truth, a solid feast, which requireth due mastication. Therefore when I have once myself perused the whole, I determine to have it read piece by piece at certain hours in my domestic college, as an ancient author,-for I have learned thus much by it already, that extremely mistaken in the computation of antiquity, by searching it backwards, because indeed the first times were the youngest; especially in points of natural discovery and experience. For though I grant, that Adam knew the natures of all beasts, and Solomon of all plants, not only more than any, but more than all since their time; yet that was by divine infusion, and therefore they did not need any such Organum as your Lordship hath row delivered to the world ; nor we neither, if they had left us the memories of their wisdom.

* The “ Novum Organum.”

we

are

“But I am gone further than I meant in speaking of this excellent labour, while the delight yet I feel, and even the pride that I take in a certain congeniality, as I may term it, with your Lordship’s studies, will scant let me cease: And indeed I owe your Lordship, even by promise, which you are pleased to remember, thereby doubly binding me, some trouble this way; I mean, by the commerce of philosophical experiments, which surely, of all other, is the most ingenious traffic ; therefore, for a beginning, let me tell your Lordship a pretty thing which I saw coming down the Danube, though more remarkable for the application, than the theory. I lay a night at Lintz, the metropolis of the higher Austria, but then in very low estate, having been newly taken by the Duke of Bavaria; who 'blandiente fortunâ, was gone on to the late effects: there I found Keplar, a man famous in the sciences, as your Lordsbip knows, to whom I purpose to convey from hence one of your books, that he may see we have some of our own that can honour our King, as well as he hath done with his “Harmanica." In this man's study, I was much taken with the draught of a landscip on a piece of paper, methoughts masterly done: whereof inquiring the author, he bewrayed with a smile, it was himself; adding, he had done it, Non tanquam Pictor, sed tanquam Mathematicus. This set me on fire: at last he told me how. He hath a little black tent, of what stuff is not much importing, which he can suddenly set up where he will in a field, and it convertible, like a windmill, to all quarters pleasure, capable of not much more than one man, as I conceive, and perhaps at no great ease; exactly close and dark, save' at one hole, about an inch and a balf

1

« PreviousContinue »