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ness then seemed to have its beginning; the college being to his mind as a quiet harbour to a seafaring man after a tempestuous voyage; where, by the bounty of the pious founder, his very food and raiment were plentifully provided for him in kind, and more money than enough; where he was freed from all corroding cares, and seated on such a rock, as the waves of want could not probably shake; where he might sit in a calm, and, looking down, behold the busy multitude turmoiled and tossed in a tempestuous sea of trouble and dangers; and (as Sir William Davenant has happily expressed the like of another person)
Laugh at the graver business of the State,
Which speaks men rather wise than fortunate.” Being thus settled according to the desires of his heart, his first study was the statutes of the college; by which he conceived himself bound to enter into holy orders, which he did, being made deacon with all convenient speed. Shortly after which time, as he came in his surplice from the church service, an old friend, a person of quality, met him so attired, and joyed him of his new habit. To whom Sir Henry Wotton replied, “I thank God and the King, by whose goodness I am now in this condition; a condition which that Emperor Charles the Fifth seemed to approve; who, after so many remarkable victories, when his glory was great in the eyes of all men, freely gave up his crown, and the many cares that attended it, to Philip his son, making a holy retreat to a cloisteral life, where he might, by devout meditations, consult with God,” which the rich or busy men seldom do; " and have leisure both to examine the errors of his life past, and prepare for that great day, wherein all fesh must make an account of their actions: and after a kind of tempestuous life, I now have the like advantage from him,
that makes the outgoings of the morning to praise him; even from my God, whom I daily magnify for this particular mercy of an exemption from business, a quiet mind, and a liberal maintenance, even in this part of my life, when my age and infirmities seem to sound me a retreat from the pleasures of this world, and invite me to contemplation, in which I have ever taken the greatest felicity.”
And now to speak a little of the employment of his time in the college. After his customary public devotions, his use was to retire into his study, and there to spend some hours in reading the Bible, and authors in divinity, closing up his meditations with private prayer. This was, for the most part, his employment in the forenoon. But when he was once sat to dinner, then nothing but cheerful thoughts possessed his mind, and those still increased by constant company at his table, of such persons as brought thither additions both of learning and pleasure: but some part of most days was usually spent in philosophical conclusions. Nor did he forget his innate pleasure of angling, which he would usually call, “his idle time not idly spent;" saying often, he would rather live five May months than forty Decembers.
He was a great lover of his neighbours, and a bountiful entertainer of them very often at his table, where his meat was choice and his discourse better.
He was a constant cherisher of all those youths in that school, in whom he found either a constant diligence, or a genius that prompted them to learning; for whose encouragement he was (beside many other things of necessity and beauty) at the charge of setting up in it two rows of pillars,'on which he caused to be choicely drawn the pictures of divers of the most famous Greek and Latin historians, poets, and orators; persuading them not to neglect
rhetoric, because Almighty God has left mankind affections to be wrought upon : and he would often say, “ That none despised eloquence, but such dull souls as were not capable of it." He would also often make choice of some observations out of those historians and poets; and would never leave the school, without dropping some choice Greek or Latin apophthegm or sentence, that might be worthy of a room in the memory of a growing scholar.
He was pleased constantly to breed up one or more hopeful youths, which he picked out of the school, and took into his own domestic care, and to attend him at his meals; out of whose discourse and behaviour he gathered observations for the better completing of his intended work of education : of which, by his still striving to make the whole better, he lived to leave but part to posterity.
He was a great enemy to wrangling disputes of religion; concerning which I shall say a little, both to testify that, and to show the readiness of his wit.
Having at his being in Rome made acquaintance with a pleasant priest, who invited him one evening to hear their vesper music at church; the priest seeing Sir Henry stand obscurely in a corner, sends to him by a boy of the choir this question, writ on a small piece of paper;
66 Where was your religion to be found before Luther?” To which question Sir Henry presently underwrit, “My religion was to be found then, where yours is not to be found now, in the written word of God.”
The next vesper, Sir Henry went purposely to the same church, and sent one of the choir-boys with this question to his honest pleasant friend, the priest: “Do you believe all those many thousands of poor Christians were damned, that were excommunicated because the Pope and the Duke of Ve
nice could not agree about their temporal power? even those
Christians that knew not why they quarrelled. Speak your conscience." To which he underwrit in French, “ Monsieur, excusez-moi.”
To one that asked him, - Whether a Papist may be saved?” he replied, “You may be saved without knowing that. Look to yourself.”
To another, whose earnestness exceeded his knowledge, and was still railing against the Papists, he gave this advice: “ Pray, Sir, forbear till you have studied the points better; for the wise Italians have this proverb; He that understands amiss concludes worse. And take heed of thinking, the farther you go from the Church of Rome, the nearer you are to God.”
And to another, that spake indiscreet and bitter words against Arminius, I heard him reply to this purpose :
“In my travel towards Venice, as I passed through Germany, I rested almost a year at Leyden, where I entered into an acquaintance with Arminius, (then the Professor of Divinity in that University,) a man much talked of in this age, which is made up of opposition and controversy. And indeed, if I mistake not Arminius in his expressions, (as so weak a brain as mine is may easily do,) then I know I differ from him in some points; yet I profess my judgment of him to be, that he was a man of most rare learning, and I knew him to be of a most strict life, and of a most meek spirit. And that he was so mild appears by his proposals to our Master Perkins of Cambridge, from whose book, “Of the Order and Causes of Salvation” (which was first writ in Latin) Arminius took the occasion of writing some queries to him concerning the consequence of his doctrine; intending them, it is said, to come privately to Mr. Perkins's own hands, and to receive from him a like private and a like
loving answer. But Mr. Perkins died before those queries came to him, and it is thought Arminius meant them to die with him: for though he lived long after, I have heard he forbore to publish them: but since his death his sons did not. And it is a pity, if God had been so pleased, that Mr. Perkins did not live to see, consider, and answer those proposals himself; for he was also of a most meek spirit, and of great and sanctified learning. And though, since their deaths, many of high parts and piety have undertaken to clear the controversy, yet for the most part they have rather satisfied themselves, than convinced the dissenting party. And, doubtless, many middle-witted men, which yet may mean well, many scholars that are not in the highest form for learning, which yet may preach well, men that are but preachers, and shall never know, till they come to heaven, where the questions stick betwixt Arminius and the Church of England, (if there be any,) will yet in this world be tampering with, and thereby perplexing the controversy, and do therefore justly fall under the reproof of St. Jude, for being busy-bodies, and for meddling with things they understand not."
And here it offers itself, (I think not unfitly) to tell the reader, that a friend of Sir Henry Wotton's being designed for the employment of an ambassador, came to Eton, and requested from him some experimental rules for his prudent and safe carriage in his negotiations: to whom he smilingly
this for an infallible aphorism: “ That, to be in safety himself and serviceable to his country, he should always, and upon all occasions, speak the truth.” It seems a state paradox. “ For,” says Sir Henry Wotton, “you shall never be believed; and by this means your truth will secure yourself, if you shall ever be called to any account; and it will also put