« ZurückWeiter »
Sir Henry Wotton became a petitioner to that state for their lives and enlargement; and his request was granted: so that those (which were many hundreds, and there made the sad examples of human misery, by hard imprisonment and unpitied poverty in a strange nation) were by his means released, relieved, and in a comfortable condition sent to thank God and him for their lives and liberty in their own country.
And this I have observed as one testimony of the compassionate nature of him, who was, during his stay in those parts, as a city of refuge for the distressed of this and other nations.
And for that which I offer as a testimony of the nobleness of his mind, I shall make way to the reader's clearer understanding of it, by telling him, that beside several other foreign employments, Sir Henry Wotton was sent thrice ambassador to the republic of Venice. And at his last going thither, he was employed ambassador to several of the German princes, and more particularly to the Emperor Ferdinando the Second; and that his employment to him, and those princes, was to incline them to equitable conditions for the restoration of the Queen of Bohemia, and her descendants, to their patrimonial inheritance of the Palatine.
This was, by his eight months' constant endeavours and attendance upon the Emperor, his court, and council, brought to a probability of a successful conclusion, without bloodshed. But there were at that time two opposite armies in the field; and as they were treating there was a battle fought, in the managery
whereof there were so many miserable errors on the one side, (so Sir Henry Wotton expresses it in a dispatch to the King,) and so advantageous events to the Emperor, as put an end to all present hopes of a successful treaty; so that Sir Henry, seeing the face of peace altered by that
victory, prepared for a removal from that Court; and at his departure from the Emperor was so bold as to remember him, “that the events of every battle
on the unseen wheels of Fortune, which are this moment up, and down the next; and therefore humbly advised him to use his victory so soberly, as still to put on thoughts of peace.” Which advice, though it seemed to be spoken with some passion, (his dear mistress, the Queen of Bohemia, being concerned in it,) was yet taken in good part by the Emperor; who replied, “ That he would consider his advice. And though he looked on the King his master as an abettor of his enemy, the Paulsgrave; yet for Sir Henry himself, his behaviour had been such during the manage of the treaty, that he took him to be a person of much honour and merit; and did therefore desire him to accept of that jewel, as a testimony of his good opinion of him;" which was a jewel of diamonds of more value than a thousand pounds.
This jewel was received with all outward circumstances and terms of honour by Sir Henry Wotton. But the next morning at his departing from Vienna, he, at his taking leave of the countess of Sabrina, (an Italian lady, in whose house the Emperor had appointed him to be lodged, and honourably entertained) “ acknowledged her merits, and besought her to accept of that jewel, as a testimony of his gratitude for her civilities :" presenting her with the same that was given him by the Emperor: which being suddenly discovered, and told to the Emperor, was by him taken for a high affront, and Sir Henry Wotton told so by a messenger. To which he replied, “That though he received it with thankfulness, yet he found in himself an indisposition to be the better for any gift that came from an enemy to his royal mistress, the Queen of Bo
hemia ;" for so she was pleased he should always call her.
Many other of his services to his Prince and this nation might be insisted upon; as, namely, his procurations of privileges and courtesies with the Ġerman princes, and the republic of Venice, for the English merchants: and what he did by direction of King James with the Venetian State, concerning the Bishop of Spalato's return to the Church of Rome. But for the particulars of these and many more that I meant to make known, I want a view of some papers that might inform me, (his late Majesty's letter-office having now suffered a strange alienation), and indeed I want time too; for the printer's press stays for what is written: so that I must haste to bring Sir Henry Wotton in an instant from Venice to London, leaving the reader to make up what is defective in this place, by the small supplement of the inscription under his arms, which he left at all those houses where he rested, or lodged, when he returned from his last embassy in England.
“ Henricus Wottonius Anglo-Cantianus, Thomæ optimi viri filius natu minimus, à serenissimo Jacobo I. Mag. Brit. Rege, in equestrem titulum adscitus, ejusdemque ter ad rempublicam Venetam Legatus Ordinarius, semel ad confoederatarum Provinciarum Ordines in Juliacensi negotio. Bis ad Carolum Emanuel, Sabaudiæ Ducem: semel ad unitos superioris Germaniæ Principes in Conventu Heilbrunensi, postremo ad Archiducem Leopoldum, Ducem Wittembergensem, Civitates imperiales, Argentinam, Ulmamque, et ipsum Romanorum Imperatorem Ferdinandum secundum, Legatus Extraordinarius, tandem hoc didicit,
•Animas fieri sapientiores quiescendo.' To London he came the year before King James
died; who having, for the reward of his foreign service, promised him the reversion of an office, which was fit to be turned into present money, which he wanted, for a supply of his present necessities; and also granted him the reversion of the Master of the Rolls' place, if he outlived charitable Sir Julius Cæsar, who then possessed it, and then grown so old, that he was said to be kept alive beyond nature's course, by the prayers of those many poor which he daily relieved.
But these were but in hope; and his condition required a present support; for in the beginning of these employments he sold to his elder brother, the Lord Wotton, the rent-charge left by his good father; and (which is worse) was now at his return indebted to several persons, whom he was not able to satisfy, but by the King's payment of his arrears, due for his foreign employments. He had brought into England many servants, of which some were German and Italian artists: this was part of his condition, who had many times hardly sufficient to supply the occasions of the day: for it may by no means be said of his providence, as himself said of Sir Philip Sidney's wit, “ That it was the very measure of congruity,” he being always so careless of money, as though our Saviour's words, 66 Care not for to-morrow, were to be literally understood.
But it pleased the God of providence, that in this juncture of time the Provostship of his Majesty's College of Eton became void by the death of Mr. Thomas Murray, for which there were (as the place deserved) many earnest and powerful suitors to the King. And Sir Henry, who had for many years (like Sisyphus) rolled the restless stone of a stateemployment, knowing experimentally that the great blessing of sweet content was not to be found in multitudes of men or business, and that a college
was the fittest place to nourish holy thoughts, and to afford rest both to his body and mind, which his age (being now almost threescore years) seemed to require, did therefore use his own, and the interest of all his friends, to procure that place. By which means, and quitting the King of his promised reversionary offices, and a piece of honest policy, (which I have not time to relate,) he got a grant of it from his Majesty.
And this was a fair satisfaction to his mind: but money was wanting to furnish him with those necessaries which attend removes, and a settlement in such a place; and, to procure that, he wrote to his old friend Mr. Nicholas Pey, for his assistance. Of which Nicholas Pey I shall here say a little, for the clearing of some passages that I shall mention hereafter.
He was in his youth a clerk, or in some such way a servant to the Lord Wotton, Sir Henry's brother; and by him, when he was Comptroller of the King's household, was made a great officer in his Majesty's house. This and other favours being conferred upon Mr. Pey (in whom there was a radical honesty) were always thankfully acknowledged by him, and his gratitude expressed by a willing and unwearied serviceableness to that family even till his death. To him Sir Henry Wotton wrote, to use all his interest at Court, to procure five hundred pounds of his arrears (for less would not settle him in the college); and the want of such a sum 66 wrinkled his face with care;" ('twas his own expression ;) and, that money being procured, he should the next day after find him in his college, and “ Invidiæ remedium” writ over his study door.
This money, being part of his arrears, was, by his own and the help of honest Nicholas Pey's interest in Court, quickly procured him, and he as quickly in the college; the place where indeed his happi