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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 (vide Camden's Britannia), having been sent nine times Ambassador" unto foreign princes; and by his being a Privy Councellor to King Henry VIII. to Edward VI. to Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth; who also, after he had been, during the wars between England, and Scotland and France, three several times (and not unsuccessfully) employed in committees for settling
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 VIII. made one of his executors, and chief Secretary of State to his son, that pious Prince Edward VI.-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—(vide Hollingshead); and that he died not rich, though he lived in that time of the diffolution 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 pofterity; 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 his many surviving friends, some one of
“ Cromwell, a purse by Wolsey, a sword by Brandon, and must now send the law by “you.” (Lloyd's State Worthies, p. 107.) He was considered as possessing the qualifications of a statesman in a very eminent degree. “Every younker speaks as politic as Bishop “ Gardner or Dr. Wotton.” (Spenser's Letters to his friend Immerito.)
* It appears from the inscription on his monument that he was sent Ambassador twice to the Emperor Charles V. once to Philip King of Spain, once to Francis I. the French King, thrice to Henry II. his son, once to Mary Queen of Hungary, governor of the Low Countries, and twice to William Duke of Cleves: That he was also a Commissioner at the renewal of peace between the English, and French and Scots, at a place between Guisnes and Ardes, in 1546, and also at the castle of Cambray, in 1559, and lastly at Edinburgh, in 1560.–See his life in a very valuable work lately published, entitled, “Some account of the Deans of “ Canterbury, from the new Foundation of that Church by Henry VIII. to the present Time. “ By Henry John Todd, M. A.”
higher parts and employments had been pleased to have commended his to posterity; but since some years are now passed, and they have all (I know not why) forborn to do it, my gratitude to my dead friend, and the renewed request of some* 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 prefent all readers 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 has often answered, “That if
ever he did put on a resolution to marry, he was serioully resolved to « avoid three forts of persons, namely,
“ Those that had children;
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 refifted), 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 * Sir Edward Bilh Clarentieux, King of Arms, Mr. Charles Cotton, and Mr. Nick Oudert, sometime Sir Henry Wotton's servant, and one of the witnesses to his last will.
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) he 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 a higher form (which was very early), he was sent to Winchester-school, a place of strict discipline and order ; that fo 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 a Commoner of New-College in Oxford; both being founded by William Wickham Bishop of Winchester,
There he continued, till about the eighteenth year of his 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 graveft of that fociety declared he had in a sleight employment given an early and a solid testimony of his future abilities. And though there may be some four dispositions, which may think this not worth a memorial, yet that wise knight, Baptist Guarini (whom learned Italy accounts one of her ornaments), thought it neither an uncomely, nor an unprofitable employment for his age.
i He was admitted of New College in 1584.
The famous author of the « Il Pastor Fido."
But I pass to what will be thought more serious.
About the twentieth year of his age he proceeded Master of Arts', and at that time read in Latin three lectures de Oculo; wherein he having described the form, the motion, the curious composure of the eye, and demonstrated how of those very many every humour and nerve performs its distinct office, so as the God of Order hath appointed, without mixture or confusion; and all this to the advantage of man, to whom the eye is given, not only as the body's guide, but whereas all other of his senses require time to inform the soul, this, in an instant, apprehends and warns him of danger; teaching him in the very eyes of others, to discover wit, folly, love, and hatred.
After he had made these observations, he fell to dispute this optique question :
“ Whether we see by the emission of the beams from within, or recep“tion of the species from without?"
And after that, and many other like learned disquisitions, he, in the conclusion of his lectures, took a fair occasion to beautify his discourse with a commendation of the blessing and benefit of “Seeing:-By which,
we do not only discover Nature's secrets, but with a continued content “ (for the eye is never weary of seeing) behold the great light of the
world, and by it discover the fabric of the heavens, and both the order and motion of the cælestial orbs; nay, that if the eye look but down
ward, it may rejoice to behold the bosom of the earth, our common “ mother, embroidered and adorned with numberless and various flowers, “ which man sees daily grow up to perfection, and then silently moralize 4 his own condition, who in a short time (like those very flowers) decays,
1 According to Anthony Wood, Mr. Henry Wotton fupplicated in June 1588 for the degree of Bachelor of Arts. But it did not appear from the records of the University that he was ever admitted to this degree, or to that of Master of Arts.
m Sec an accurate History of the Causes of Vision in Dr. Smith's Optics, volume II. P. 23
“ withers, and quickly returns again to that earth from which both had “ their first being"."
These were so exactly debated, and so rhetorically heightened, as, among other admirers, caused that learned Italian, Albericus Gentilis, then Professor of the Civil Law in Oxford, to call him “ Henrice mi Ocelle°;" which dear expression of his was also used by divers of Sir Henry's dearest friends, and by many other persons of note during his stay in the univerlity.
But his stay there was not long, at least not so long as his friends once intended; for the year after Sir Henry proceeded Master of Arts, his father-(whom Sir Henry did never mention without this or some such like reverential expression; as, “ That good man my father,” or “ My father the best of men.”)- About that time, this good man changed this for a better life, leaving to Sir Henry, as to his other younger sons, a rent-charge of an hundred marks a-year, to be paid for ever out of some one of his manors of a much greater value.
And here, though this good man be dead, yet I wish a circumstance or two that concern him may not be buried without a relation, which I shall
* The classic reader, and indeed every reader, will be highly gratified with this beautiful paffage from Mr. Wotton's Lecture.
Quasi Sulstitialis Herba, paulisper fui:
Plaut. PSEUDOL. In ali languages the life of man has been compared to the flower that is soon withered, and pafseth away.
• « Volo placere Philolachi, meo ocello, meo patrono." (Plaut. Mof. A. I. Sc. 33-11.