Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

offering him a knighthood, (she was then with him at his Bocton-hall,) and that to be but as an earnest of some more honourable and more profitable employınent under her ; yet he humbly refused both, being a man of great modesty, of a most plain and single heart, of an ancient freedom and integrity of mind. A commendation which sir Henry Wotton took occasion often to remember with great gladness, and thankfully to boast himself the son of such a father; from whom indeed be derived that noble ingenuity that was always practised by himself, and which he ever both commended and cherished in others. This Thomas was also remarkable for hospitality, a great lover, and much beloved of his country; to which may justly be added, that he was a cherisher of learning, as appears by that excellent antiquary Mr. William Lambert, in his Perambulation of Kent.

This Thomas had four sons, sir Edward, sir James, sir John, and sir Henry.

Sir Edward was knighted by queen Elizabeth, and made comptroller of her majesty's household. He was (saith Camden) a man remarkable for many and great employments in the state during her reign, and sent several times ambassador into foreign nations. After her death he was by king James made comptroller of his household, and called to be of his privy council, and by him advanced to be lord Wotton, baron of Merly in Kent, and made lord lieutenant of that county.

Sir James (the second son) may be numbered among the martial men of his age, who was in the 38th of queen Elizabeth's reign (with Robert earl of Sussex, count Lodowick of Nassau, don Christophoro, son of Antonio king of Portugal, and divers other gentlemen of nobleness and valour) kniginted in the field near Cadiz in Spain, after

they they had gotten great honour and riches, besides a notable retaliation of injuries by taking that town.

Sir John, being a gentleman excellently accomplished both by learning and travel, was knighted by queen Elizabeth, and by her looked upon with more than ordinary favour, and with intentions of preferment; but death in his younger years put a period to his growing hopes.

Of sir Henry my following discourse shall give an account.

The descent of these fore-named Wottons were all in a direct line, and most of them and their actions in the memory of those with whom we have conversed; but if I had looked so far back as to sir Nicholas Wotton, (who lived in the reign of king Richard the second,) or before him, upon divers others of great note in their several ages, might by some be thought tedious; and yet others may more justly think me negligent if I omit to mention Nicholas Wotton, the fourth son of sir Robert, whom I first named.

This Nicholas Wotton was doctor of law, and sometime dean both of York and Canterbury; a man whom God did not only bless with a long life, but with great abilities of mind, and an inclination to employ them in the service of his country, as is testified by his several employments; having been nine times ambassador unto foreign princes; and by bis being a privy councillor to king Henry the eighth, to Edward the sixth, to queen Mary, and queen Elizabeth; who also, after he had been during the wars between England, Scotland, aud France, three several times and not unsuccessfully) employed in committees for settling of peace

[ocr errors]

*

* Camden in his Britannia.

betwixt

betwixt this and those kingdoms, died (saith learned Camden) full of commendations for wisdom and piety. He was also by the will of king Henry the eighth made one of his executors, and chief secretary of state to his son, that pious prince Edward the sixth. ----Concerning which Nicholas Wotton I shall say but this little more: that he refused (being offered it by queen Elizabeth) to be * archbishop of Canterbury; and that he died not rich, thongh he lived in that time of the dissolution of abbeys.

More might be added : but by this it may appear, that sir Henry Wotton was a branch of such a kindred as left a stock of reputation to their posterity; such reputation as might kindle a generous emulation in strangers, and preserve a noble ambition in those of his name and family to perform actions worthy of their ancestors.

And that sir Henry Wotton did so, might appear more perfectly than my pen can express it, if of bis many surviving friends some one of higher parts and employment had been pleased to have commended his to posterity. But since some years are now past, and they have all (I know not why) forborne to do it, my gratitude to the memory

of

my dead friend, and the renewed request of somet that still live solicitous to see this duty performed; these have had a power to persuade me to undertake it; which truly I have not done but with some distrust of mine own abilities, and yet so far from despair, that I am modestly confident my humble language shall be accepted, because I shall present all readers

• Hollinshead.

† Sir Edward Bish, clarencieux king of arms, Mr. Charles Cotton, and Mr. Nick Qudert, sometimes sir Henry Wotton's servant.

with a commixture of truth and sir Henry Wotton's merits.

This being premised, I proceed to tell the reader, that the father of sir Henry Wotton was twice married, first to Elizabeth, the daughter of sir John Rudstone, knight; after whose death, though his inclination was averse to all contentions, yet necessitated he was to several suits in law, in the

prosecution whereof (which took up much of his time, and were the occasion of many discontents) he was by divers of his friends earnestly persuaded to a remarriage; to whom he as often answered, That if ever he did put on a resolution to marry, he was seriously resolved to avoid three sorts of persons :

[ocr errors]

(that had children. namely, those that had law-suits.

that were of his kindred.

And yet, following his own law-suits, he met in Westminster-hall with Mrs. Elionora Morton, widow to Robert Morton of Kent, esquire, who was also engaged in several suits in law; and he, observing her comportment at the time of hearing one of her causes before the judges, could not but at the same time both compassionate her condition and affect her person (for the tears of lovers, or beauty drest in sadness, are observed to have in them a charming eloquence, and to become very often too strong to be resisted,) which I mention, because it proved so with this Thomas Wotton; for although there were in her a concurrence of all those accidents against which he had so seriously resolved, yet his affection to her grew then so strong, that he resolved to solicit her for a wife; and did, and obtained her.

By her (who was the daughter of sir William Finch, of Eastwell, in Kent,) be had only Henry his youngest son.- His mother undertook to be tutoress unto him during much of his childhood; for whose care and pains he paid her each day with such visible signs of future perfection in learning as turned her employment into a pleasing trouble, which she was content to continue till his father took him into his own particular care, and disposed of him to a tutor in his own house at Bocton.

And when time and diligent instruction had made him fit for a removal to an higher form (which was very early) he was sent to Winchester school, a place of strict discipline and order; that so he might in his youth be moulded into a method of living by rule, which his wise father knew to be the most necessary way to make the future part of his life both happy to himself, and useful for the discharge of all business, whether public or private.

And that he might be confirmed in this regularity, he was at a fit age removed from that school to be commoner of New College in Oxford, both being founded by William Wickham, bishop of Winchester.

There he continued till about the eighteenth year of bis age, and was then transplanted into Queen's College, where within that year he was by the chief of that college persuasively enjoined to write a play for their private use, it was the tragedy of Tancredo,) which was so interwoven with sentences, and for the method and exact personating those humours, passions and dispositions, which he proposed to represent, so performed, that the gravest of that society declared he had in a slight employment given an early and a solid testimony of his future abilities. And though there may be some sour dispositions, which may think this not worth a memorial, yet that wise knight Baptista

Guarini

« ForrigeFortsæt »