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Essex, (then one of the darlings of fortune, and in greatest favour with Queen Elizabeth) invited him first into a friendship, and, after a knowledge of his great abilities, to be one of his secretaries; the other being Mr. Henry Cuffe, some time of Merton College in Oxford, (and there also the acquaintance of Sir Henry Wotton in his youth,) Mr. Cuffe being then a man of no common note in the University for his learning; nor, after his removal from that place, for the great abilities of his mind, nor indeed for the fatalness of his end.
Sir Henry Wotton being now taken into a serviceable friendship with the Earl of Essex did personally attend his counsels and employments in two voyages at sea against the Spaniards, and also in that (which was the Earl's last) into Ireland; that voyage, wherein he then did so much provoke the Queen to anger, and worse at his return into Eng
whose immoveable favour the Earl had built such sandy hopes, as encouraged him to those undertakings, which, with the help of a contrary faction, suddenly caused his commitment to the Tower.
Sir Henry Wotton observing this, though he was not of that faction (for the Earl's followers were also divided into their several interests) which encouraged the Earl to those undertakings which proved so fatal to him and divers of his confederation, yet, knowing treason to be so comprehensive, as to take in even circumstances, and out of them to make such positive conclusions as subtle statesmen shall project, either for their revenge or safety; considering this, he thought prevention, by absence out of England, a better security than to stay in it, and there plead his innocency in a prison. Therefore did he, so soon as the Earl was apprehended, very quickly, and as privately, glide through Kent to Dover, without so much as looking toward his
native and beloved Bocton; and was, by the help of favourable winds, and liberal payment of the mariners, within sixteen hours after his departure from London, set upon the French shore; where he heard shortly after, that the Earl was arraigned, condemned, and beheaded; and that his friend, Mr. Cuffe, was hanged, and divers other persons of eminent quality executed.
The times did not look so favourably upon Sir Henry Wotton, as to invite his return into England: having therefore procured of Sir Edward Wotton, his elder brother, an assurance that his annuity should be paid him in Italy, thither he went, happily renewing his intermitted friendship and interest, and indeed his great content in a new conversation with his old acquaintance in that nation, and more particularly in Florence, (which city is not more eminent for the Great Duke's court, than for the great recourse of men of choicest note for learning and arts,) in which number he there met with his old friend, Signior Vietta, a gentleman of Venice, and then taken to be secretary to the Great Duke of Tuscany.
After some stay in Florence, he went the fourth time to visit Rome, where in the English college he had very many friends; (their humanity made them really so, though they knew him to be a dissenter from many of their principles of religion ;) and having enjoyed their company, and satisfied himself concerning some curiosities that did partly occasion his journey thither, he returned back to Florence, where a most notable accident befel him; an accident that did not only find new employment for his choice abilities, but did introduce him to a knowledge and an interest with our King James, then King of Scotland; which I shall proceed to relate.
But first I am to tell the reader, that though Queen Elizabeth, or she and her council, were never
willing to declare her successor, yet James, then King of the Scots, was confidently believed by most to be the man upon whom the sweet trouble of kingly government would be imposed; and the Queen declining very fast, both by age and visible infirmities, those that were of the Romish persuasion in point of religion, even Rome itself, (and those of this nation,) knowing that the death of the Queen, and the establishing of her successor, were taken to be critical days for destroying or establishing the Protestant religion in this nation, did therefore improve all opportunities for preventing a Protestant prince to succeed her. And as the Pope's excommunication of Queen Elizabeth, had both by the judgment and practice of the Jesuited Papist, exposed her to be warrantably destroyed; so, (if we may believe an angry adversary, a secular Priest? against a Jesuit,) you may believe, that about that time there were many endeavours, first to excommunicate, and then to shorten the life of King James.
Immediately after Sir Henry Wotton's return from Rome to Florence (which was about a year before the death of Queen Elizabeth,) Ferdinand, the Great Duke of Florence, had intercepted certain letters, that discovered a design to take away the life of James, the then King of Scots. The Duke abhorring this fact, and resolving to endeavour a prevention of it, advised with his secretary, Vietta, by what means a caution might be best given to that King; and after consideration it was resolved to be done by Sir Henry Wotton, whom Vietta first commended to the Duke, and the Duke had noted and approved of above all the English that frequented his court.
Sir Henry was gladly called by his friend Vietta to the Duke, who, after much profession of trust and
1 Watson in his Quodlibets.
friendship, acquainted him with the secret; and, being well-instructed, dispatched him into Scotland with letters to the King, and with those letters such Italian antidotes against poison, as the Scots till then had been strangers to. Having parted from the Duke, he took
the name and language of an Italian; and thinking it best to avoid the line of English intelligence and danger, he posted into Norway, and through that country towards Scotland, where he found the King at Stirling. Being there, he used means, by Bernard Lindsey, one of the King's bedchamber, to procure him a speedy and private conference with his Majesty; assuring him, “ That the business which he was to negociate was of such consequence, as had caused the great Duke of Tuscany to enjoin him suddenly to leave his native country of Italy, to impart it to his King."
This being by Bernard Lindsey made known to the King, the King, after a little wonder (mixed with jealousy) to hear of an Italian ambassador, or messenger, required his name, (which was said to be Octavio Baldi,) and appointed him to be heard privately at a fixed hour that evening.
When Octavio Baldi came to the presence-chamber door, he was requested to lay aside his long rapier; (which Italian-like he then wore;) and being entered the chamber, he found there with the King three or four Scotch lords standing distant in several corners of the chamber: at the sight of whom he made a stand; which the King observing, 6 bade him be bold, and deliver his message; for he would undertake for the secrecy of all that were present.” Then did Octavio Baldi deliver his letters and his message to the King in Italian; which when the King had graciously received, after a little pause, Octavio Baldi steps to the table, and whispers to the King in his own language, that he was
an Englishman, beseeching him for a more private conference with his Majesty, and that he might be concealed during his stay in that nation; which was promised and really performed by the King, during all his abode there, which was about three months ; all which time was spent with much pleasantness to the King, and with as much to Octavio Baldi himself as that country could afford; from which he departed as true an Italian as he came thither.
To the Duke of Florence he returned with a fair and grateful account of his employment, and, within some few months after his return, there came certain news to Florence that Queen Elizabeth was dead; and James King of the Scots proclaimed King of England. The Duke knowing travel and business to be the best schools of wisdom, and that Sir Henry Wotton had been tutored in both, advised him to return presently to England, and there joy the King with his new and better title, and wait there upon fortune for a better employment.
When King James came into England, he found amongst others of the late Queen's officers, Sir Edward, who was after Lord Wotton, comptroller of the House, of whom he demanded, “If he knew one Henry Wotton, that had spent much time in foreign travel ?” The Lord replied he knew iim well, and that he was his brother. Then the King, asking where he then was, was answered, at Venice or Florence; but by late letters from thence he understood he would suddenly be at Paris. “Send for him," said the King, “and when he shall come into England, bid him repair privately to me.” The Lord Wotton, after a little wonder, asked the King, “If he knew him ?” to which the King answered, “You must rest unsatisfied of that till you bring the gentleman to me.”
Not many months after this discourse, the Lord Wotton brought his brother to attend the King,